From Coding With Socks on My Hands to Running an 8 Figure Company (Follow the Data Ep. 14)

Follow the Data Episode 14: From Coding With Socks on My Hands to Running an 8 Figure Company

3 years ago this week, Casey made his first dollar through Viral Launch. He was coding by candlelight with socks on hands to keep them warm in an unheated apartment. Today he is the CEO of an 8 figure company. On today’s episode hear Casey Gauss tell the story of Viral Launch and what has brought him and the company to this amazing milestone.

Follow the Data Show Notes

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Hey, guys, what’s up? Cameron here with Viral Launch. I’m here with Casey.

CASEY GAUSS:
Hey, guys.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re just dropping in. We know it’s getting really close to Christmas. And we have a special episode for you today. I know we’ve been on and off the sourcing series here and there, but we’re going to jump back on that after the holiday season is kind of over. But for now, today’s episode is something I’m super excited about. We’re actually going to talk about the origin story of Viral Launch and how Casey got started with everything. And this is actually something that I’ve been hoping Casey would do for a long time, and I’m super glad that he’s jumping in on this right now. So Casey, how are you feeling today?

CASEY GAUSS:
Thanks, man. Yeah, I mean it’s always a little intimidating to share kind of the more personal side of things. You know, sharing numbers or facts, like that’s easy. Sharing personal information, or I don’t know; it’s a little intimidating just to be vulnerable like that. So yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s a good story, though, and it’s definitely a story that I think people need to hear and want to hear, as well. It’s something that – I mean it’s something that we all look to or that we have a lot of people that look to that they don’t even realize the story of how it got started, right, of how Viral Launch came to be. And so like all origin stories, we’re going to start from the beginning. So Casey, tell us – okay, tell us how old, first off, tell us how old Viral Launch is.

CASEY GAUSS:
Viral Launch is three years and a month and a half, or yeah, so just over three years.

CAMERON YODER:
Three years and a month and a half. Tell us where you were at the very beginning and everything that has to do with where you were.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I think just to provide a little bit of context, a quick back story to me, going back maybe 6 to 8 months before Viral Launch got started. So essentially, you know, in college. I went to a small Christian college in Indiana. I was running track, pole-vault and 400 hurdles, if you were wondering.

CAMERON YODER:
Oh.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. I was studying business, and I essentially, you know, always had these ideas for businesses, but they happened to all be, you know, mobile apps, and I love testing anything before I jump in, and so I couldn’t test anything because I couldn’t build anything. I didn’t have any money, so I wasn’t able to, you know, outsource the development. So essentially I just taught myself, you know, how to code, first websites and then iOS apps. And so, you know, midway through my junior year I had actually for the majority of the year, you know, quit running track because I started to feel kind of guilty around, you know, where I was spending my time. I was essentially, you know, from my perspective at least, I was spending, you know, all this time, you know, training and going to meets and competing. And really the only person I was benefiting was myself. Like sure, it was paying for – it was helping pay for school, but like I didn’t care so much about money. I generally measure my life in the impact that I’m having on others. And so I wasn’t really having any impact.

So anyways, had kind of quit doing that so that I could really focus in on, you know, learning how to code or develop these apps and chasing after this technology, which was called iBeacon – or is called the iBeacon, essentially around iOS 7. Apple released this new technology. It has to do with Bluetooth 4.0 devices, and basically you can build contextually aware applications. So anyways, you can search Bluetooth if you want. I don’t want to dive into it. But anyways, you know, I love learning. I’m super passionate about learning. And essentially, you know, my professors, my business professors, were teaching things that were contradicting what the Fortune 500 CEOs were telling me, you know, in the articles that I was reading. I just felt like, you know, they had kind of lost relevance in this fast-paced business, you know, this techno-business world that we find ourselves in.

CAMERON YODER:
So what – they were just not teaching the right information, or they were teaching dated information?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, they were teaching this archaic, you know, like this is what marketing looks like because, you know, this is what we did 20+ years ago when I was in the workforce. And you know, they didn’t even really know how to operate an iPhone, and let alone any of the new technologies that were going on. And you know, the entire environment, from what I could see from my readings and stuff had completely changed, and they were just were not aware of it. And so I just felt like I was – I wanted to be on, you know, the leading edge of this new technology, iBeacon at the time, and I wanted to be able to continue learning, and I just felt like I was wasting time in class.

CAMERON YODER:
Do you think at its core was it frustration at that point in time that pushed you to want to do your own thing, or just a desire really to do something that you weren’t being, like that you weren’t being fulfilled in?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so like I was learning a ton outside. I had taught myself how to code, right, and I was learning a ton in kind of the business sense just from reading. And so you know, I really felt like I was just wasting my time by going to class. And one of the – I had one particular class that kind of pushed me over the line, and we were just doing – it was a 400 level course, which was supposed to be, you know, the highest level there, and it was just absolutely I guess silly is kind of the word. It was so dumb, and I was wasting my time so much. And so that was really kind of the course that had like pushed me overboard.

So yeah, so at that time, you know, I dropped out. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a business. I didn’t have any money actually. And so from there essentially I was just trying to build apps around – or build a demo app that I could – I had built a demo app, sorry, that I could then go and sell to museums, which is pretty much impossible if you know anything about selling to like these slow-moving, you know, these dinosaur public service type companies. Like you know, it’s just impossible. But anyways, while working on that a friend of mine – well okay, so actually during this time I had moved home to Jackson, Michigan, and you know, I really do not like being at home. Even to this day it’s very tough for me. So growing up, you know, I had kind of a rough childhood. My siblings have it far worse than I did, and it really sucks to kind of see all the, you know, pain and kind of suffering that’s going on there. So while I was there my brother and I, my youngest brother – or sorry, my oldest brother, but he’s younger than me, he’s two years younger. We decided he needed to get out of Jackson, Michigan, which is where we’re from, because he was getting into trouble. I needed to get out of Jackson, Michigan, because it is just a terrible environment. I wanted to go back to the college town, just not go to college. And so off of money that my brother had saved delivering pizzas – he was actually going to invest it in an FBA business.

CAMERON YODER:
Really?

CASEY GAUSS:
He was going to source glucosamine, I think.

CAMERON YODER:
Really?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah. But so, you know, I really appreciated it, but he took that money, and we moved down to Indiana. And it was kind of crazy because we had found an apartment. He had gotten a job. But we weren’t moved in yet. And so he actually had to commute – we didn’t tell his job this – 2 ½ hours to his, to the job. And the first day he woke up late, missed the job, didn’t have a job, but we did have the apartment. And so we moved into the apartment. No money coming in. I didn’t have any money in my bank account, let alone coming in. And Corey, my brother, he didn’t have any money coming in. It was just off of his savings. And we moved in. My girlfriend, my now wife, my girlfriend at the time, it was her parents that like provided the majority of the furniture when we moved in. You know, I’m really thankful that they like kind of believed in me because looking back it’s kind of crazy that they let their daughter, you know, just be with this guy that just dropped out of college, doesn’t really have, you know, anything like in the works. Like of course they knew, you know, I had taught myself coding and I was like very ambitious and a really hard worker and, you know, really care about people, but anyways –

CAMERON YODER:
But getting to this point what was your conversation like with Corey to get to, to get back to that college town?

CASEY GAUSS:
I actually do not remember, so we’re going to have to talk to Corey about this because I don’t remember how I convinced him. I think he really wanted to get out of Jackson, and I wanted to be around, you know, my friends and my girlfriend at the time. But I also just wanted a better environment for me to like, you know, try to go after these app ideas or whatever.

CAMERON YODER:
So around this – no Amazon is in your mind really right now. Like you’re thinking apps. You’re thinking app development.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s what got you to the college town.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep, so then in the college town a friend of mine – so this is in Marion, Indiana, where you know in this small apartment, and a friend of mine who is two years younger, as well, we had run track together, and he had an FBA business. So his name is Jordan. He took ASM 2, I believe, [unintelligible 0:09:11.3], and so he was doing well, and he had showed me. And I was like oh wow, this is awesome. But you know, from my perspective I was like oh, well you know you’re not really helping anybody. You are just making money. I don’t care about money. So it’s super cool that you’re able to do this, you know, at such a young age. But also, like you know it wasn’t that interesting to me. And I was, you know, doing all kinds of things for money. So I made this Udemy course on how to use iOS 8, like not even from a development standpoint, just how to efficiently use iOS 8. And I made like 250 bucks off of it. And a friend of mine knew that I needed money, so I went and worked construction like this cold, like wet day – weekend to make 250 bucks. And so I was using that money. My girlfriend at the time, she was kind of like getting the essentials for me like if need be. She was, you know, just supporting me. And it was Corey who was paying for all, like our bills, and food, and just everything. And he was supporting us. And because of this construction job that I worked this one weekend I was able to get Corey the construction job like long-term. And so it ended up being this construction job, Corey would be gone for months at a time, but it was this construction job that allowed us to continue paying our bills and for food and everything like that. So pretty insane.

CAMERON YODER:
So during this next season of time, so Corey was working this construction job.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
And you were still in app mode, or were you starting to expand in other things?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so like basically the weekend of this construction job – it’s weird that like, you know, this construction job was so, you know, arbitrary or random I guess, but a lot kind of hangs on that. So this was the day that my friend, Jordan, had sent me – he’s like hey, I have an idea for a business, like we should do it together. And so I was a bit reluctant because I really wanted to focus in on this Beacon stuff. But yeah, so I met up with him, and you know I really am so thankful for his patience because just when I got there someone called me, and I was on the phone for like 45 minutes, and he waited. And I feel so bad even to this day. Anyways, he told me his idea, and I didn’t get it because I didn’t really understand. You know, I had barely grasped the fact that most of the stuff you’re buying on Amazon wasn’t actually from Amazon. And anyways, he was like – what sold me was he said hey, you know all you have to do is throw up the website. I’ll do the Amazon stuff. I’ll work with the customers. You just build the platform, and we could probably make, you know, $10,000 a month, which at the time was an insane amount of money.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so in between the time I had dropped out of school and the time Corey and I moved to Indiana, or no, before Viral Launch had gotten started, my mom had just had her car repossessed. She had been evicted. And these weren’t uncommon things for us growing up. We moved around quite often, and you know looking back on it, my mom would, you know, not have her car some weekend when we came back from our dad’s or something like that. And so now I understand why. But anyways, so it was really tough. I remember kind of I guess looking back now, again, more vulnerable part, but I just remember you know looking out the window as kind of the tow truck came and picked up my mom’s car, and you know, being teary-eyed or whatever and like wishing, you know, that I had the money to, you know, help her out and everything and like, you know, just thinking, you know, one day I will, and I will be able to help her out, which is crazy because now I do have the opportunity to help her out. So super cool that it’s come full term. So I’m probably getting too much context, but anyways, yeah, so Jordan had this idea. And so I was like dude, let’s do it. This will help me like get some money so that I can focus more on my Beacon stuff because I really started to run down on money.

CAMERON YODER:
So the focus was still like never, never at this point in time solely focused on Amazon; it was like I’m going to do this to get more money to work on Beacon, Beacon stuff?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah. And so I had no idea what it could be. I mean neither did Jordan. In retrospect we had no idea what was happening. And so Jordan invested $700 into the business to grow, you know, our initial audience.

CAMERON YODER:
What was the initial idea? You said Jordan had an idea for the website. What was like the first idea?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so the idea for – so we ended up calling it Viral Launch, and I don’t remember who came up with the name. I think it was me, but you know, I could be completely wrong. It was so long ago. And it seemed like an insignificant detail at the time.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right.

CASEY GAUSS:
But yeah, I mean, it doesn’t matter. So anyways, it was Jordan’s idea. So the idea was essentially hey, you know we can amass an audience that we can then, you know, sell to other people. And by giving them access to this audience we can help their sales. We can – at the time it was as juvenile as that, right? And so basically by driving promotional sales we can then drive keyword ranking. And so still the same principle that we’re, you know, engendering in some of our services now, which is interesting that it’s worked so long, right? So anyways, yeah, so Jordan spent $700 to you know, get the – actually I don’t even know if we filed an LLC initially. But essentially just to build up our initial audience and create this ecosystem of buyers and sellers. And fortunately Jordan had some friends from ASM, and so pretty quick, like right off the bat we started making money. We did a few free launches, and then from there you know the value proposition was there, and yeah. So we got started, and it took us, you know, well you know it’s funny looking back. So at the time we were really, really trying to get one deal every other day. That was like our goal.

CAMERON YODER:
Every other day?

CASEY GAUSS:
Every other day, yeah. And you know, so now here in 2017 Q4, at one point we were running, you know, 700 launches a day. So pretty cool to look back. But yeah, now we’re 27,000 launches in, something like that.

CAMERON YODER:
How quickly did it scale from there? Did it just kind of take off, or was it slow and steady?

CASEY GAUSS:
No. Yeah, it was slow and steady. You know I think February we did $10,000 that month, which was like insane. And so February – I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, but February was kind of the month where – or January because I ended up having the opportunity to go – you know, this guy, he was doing something similar to what I was doing with Beacons but in Wi-Fi, and he had come across me. We had met up a couple times, and he wanted me to actually come like start to build a little iBeacon department in his like bigger company in Detroit. And so this was a kind of cool opportunity, but Viral Launch had started to take off, and like I said, we did like 10,000 – it may have been January, but in January or February. And then I was like oh wow, like you know this is something of my own. I really want to see where this can go.

So yeah, so Jordan and I got started. I had 40% of the business. He had 60%. And even then, you know, I felt like he was being very generous. I had no idea what he was doing off the bat. I was just making things, right? I was just the developer, and Jordan was the guy with the idea, the understanding and the clients. But you know, my personality is quickly I like to work insanely hard and, you know, never allow anybody to really work harder than me. And so with Jordan and I being partners I always felt like I had to prove to him that, you know, I was working so much harder than him. Just for whatever reason like that’s my natural tendency. And so yeah, I was doing that, and it was – so in December I, you know –

CAMERON YODER:
Real quick, which month did Viral Launch start in?

CASEY GAUSS:
Viral Launch started in October.

CAMERON YODER:
In October.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think we registered the domain on like October 4th, and I probably had the website up like in the next day or something.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, so October. And then you said January-ish or February was the first like $10,000?
CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay.

CASEY GAUSS:
It was after three months.

CAMERON YODER:
And now when was the last date? Where were you at last?

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh, so I do want to go to December. So December of this year I like had $50 in my bank account. I had money on my credit card. You know, again, Corey was still like paying for everything for us. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, she was helping to pay for stuff. And it was, you know, a really humbling experience because I didn’t have anything. I couldn’t reach out to my parents. Like my mom obviously, like I said, she had less than no money. My dad was like going through a second divorce and, you know, has never really cared to contribute or, you know, care too much about what’s going on. And so yeah, it was really all on me. And so I was like okay, we have, you know, maybe $5000 to $6000 in the bank. Let’s say $6000 in the bank, and I, you know, went to – in, yeah, I think I said I had been deferring student loans and I had like a payment coming up. I don’t remember the first day of the payment, but it was coming up. So I was just really starting to be concerned around like how was this going to happen. And so I went to my cofounder, Jordan, and we had a meeting every once in a while, and I was like dude, you know, I was really kind of intimidated to ask. Again, he was the one really driving the ship even to this point. And I was like dude, you know, do you think maybe we could pay ourselves a little bit of money out of like the money that we have in the bank? And he was like oh, no, like we should invest it and continue to grow the business. And I was like dude, but like you don’t understand. I literally have, you know, $50 in my bank account. My mom just had her car repossessed and was evicted, and like you know, I really don’t have anything. And he finally, like after explaining all this – he had no idea kind of my situation.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so yeah, he was like yeah, you know, I think that we can do it. I need to pay myself for the money that you know, I put in, but yeah, we can definitely do that. And so that $600 felt like $1 million. It was amazing. I just was like geez, we have so much money now. And looking back it’s crazy because I think we had like $6000 in our account.

CAMERON YODER:
Which is good from where you started with.

CASEY GAUSS:
True, for sure. Yeah, and you know one very like distinct memory is like – and I had never experienced this before, but it was so cold in our apartment, again, because you know we didn’t really have the money to pay for heat, that I could like barely type. I was, you know, wearing my winter coat, no lights because we didn’t want to, you know, run up the electricity bill. And we – yeah, it was just super cold. I had like a small candle running, and so I looked up like what to do in a situation in which your hands are so cold you can barely type. And basically they suggested going and finding athletic socks and cutting holes in the top so that you can stick your fingers through and putting them on your hands. So yeah I went and cut up some socks. Had a place for your thumb and then a place for your fingers, and yeah, so like I called them my hacker gloves.

CAMERON YODER:
Hacker gloves.

CASEY GAUSS:
So it wasn’t as embarrassing that I was wearing socks on my hands to code. But that’s how Viral Launch was built.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s how it was started.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I was coding, you know, all hours of the day, just really trying to build the platform. And so yeah, it’s extremely humbling to look back because, you know, that was only three years ago, and yeah, you know, I really had nothing. But you know, so I’m a religious person, and for whatever reason looking back I don’t think I was super scared. I was obviously very, you know, humble about like – I was very humbled by the situation, not having any money and not really having much money on the horizon. But yeah, you know I just kind of always thought like you know God was going to take care of me or something, and then, you know, when I needed him most like that we were able to pay ourselves, which is pretty crazy.

CAMERON YODER:
You said, so money is not a driver for you. Helping people is. So at this point in time what was keeping you going in this?

CASEY GAUSS:
I mean like at this point I just needed money to survive.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so at this point it was a lot more survival than anything. It took probably a couple – well, and it was the excitement of like oh wow, things are happening. People are paying us money. Like I didn’t really – I hadn’t fully grasped the concept like that we were helping people at this point. I was like actually felt a little bit guilty around what we were doing because from my perspective, you know, we were helping people that had money enough to invest. So for me it was like, you know, helping fancy people or like wealthy people to make more money. So I did feel a little bit guilty around the situation. But basically I just, you know, told myself like it’s okay because by helping these people make more money I’m allowing myself to survive. And so yeah, that’s where we were at with Viral Launch. But you know, right around April or so, then I started to take a lot more ownership. And I think around April of 2015 Jordan had said okay, I think you deserve 50% because I was working so hard, and Jordan was, you know, distracted with his friends, and school, and he was still running track.

CAMERON YODER:
He was in college, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, he was still in college because I was 21 at the time. He was 19. So yeah, he’s like freshman – or sophomore year of college or so. Yeah, so it was around May that Jordan like went on this bus trip to go help people, and he did not have internet access for three months. So from that time, though, I took the business from, you know, $20,000 a month or so to like he came back and we were doing like $75,000 a month. So it was a significantly different business. I really understood what was going on at that point, and I was even starting to like come up with new things. Like we started using the – I came up with the [super euro 0:23:29.9] or sorry, the [two-step euro 0:23:32.2], which worked far better than the quote unquote, you know, [super euro] at the time. And that was in March of 2015. So we’ve been using the [two-step euro] for –

CAMERON YODER:
A long time.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, coming up on three years now. And so yeah, I had started to like innovate in the space and take a lot more ownership over what was going on and really start to understand because we just had so much data. And pretty quickly, you know, we had a $50 million-a-year seller come, start to use us a lot. And I started building a relationship with him. So yeah, Jordan came back, and I was like dude, you know I built this business around myself. We’re growing really well. You know, I just don’t really have much need for you, you know, especially for you to be 50% of the business. And so I was kind of dis-incentivized to continue pushing. And so essentially I had given him an ultimatum, either drop out and really help me to push Viral Launch, or you sell the business to me. And essentially, like he finally, you know, decided to sell because he wanted to stay in school and wanted to continue running track because from his perspective he could make money the rest of his life. What he couldn’t do is hang out with his friends, run track and you know, be in college and enjoy those years. And so I totally get it, and yeah, he sold it to me. And yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
When did he sell to you?

CASEY GAUSS:
He sold to me in October of 2015, so –

CAMERON YODER:
So a year?

CASEY GAUSS:
Officially a year, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, and then after – so after he sold to you, then it was you.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, like it was just you?

CASEY GAUSS:
Well, it had kind of already been me for like the last like five months or something.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right. But officially, like on the paper it was you. And what happened after that period of time then?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I mean my goal was always to sell Viral Launch like as quickly as possible, the reason being is you know, I wasn’t super passionate about Viral Launch like because, again, we were still, from my perspective, it’s like yes, we’re making money, and like we can do good things with this money, but I would much rather make money by helping people that need it, from my perspective, you know, quote need it. And then still use the proceeds from that to then help people more.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.
CASEY GAUSS:
And I still, for the most part, felt like we were helping the people that didn’t really need help so much. And so, but it was around this time, though, that these stories started to come out about us being able to, you know, help people pay off their student loans, or people that had always wanted to be entrepreneurs, Viral Launch had helped them finally have that first taste of success as an entrepreneur. Or you know, this one particular story, this dad had just had a son, or I believe it was a son – they just had a child that was diagnosed with, you know, it was like autism or Asperger’s or Down syndrome, something like that, right? And he had just sold his like truck, his vehicle to get started in this private label business. And we – his goal was to build a business where they could like work from home to have time with this child. And so essentially Viral Launch had helped them go from I’m selling my truck and taking this leap of faith to success and being able to go work from home full time.

And so like the stories were pretty incredible. And you know, I had some friends that were like using the money they were making from their private label business to then invest in charities. And so I was like wow, you know, actually Viral Launch is having a pretty significant impact in some of these people’s lives, and this is pretty cool. And you know, again, looking – it all hit me kind of at the same time, and I really kind of had realized like, you know, I had no intention of starting down this path. But like, you know, God had just thrown me into it, and I’m learning so much about how to build a scalable tech company, and so much from a tech perspective, so much from a business perspective, as well as being able to have an impact in so many lives. I was like wow, you know, I think there’s really something here.

And then I started to look at, you know, what is the future potential of Viral Launch? And it seemed so vast. And so it was kind of at this point where I was like okay, you know, I really believe – I can really believe in this. I can really, you know, justify spending my time here, and I can use Viral Launch as a vehicle to continue to help people, have an impact on people’s lives, entrepreneurs’ lives, help them, you know, achieve their dreams like I’ve started to see my dreams come to fruition by being in a position that I am. I can build my resume. I can build up some capital so that I can, you know, at some point sell Viral Launch to then go build that dream company that is focused on helping those that, you know, aren’t able to help themselves or, you know, enable those that aren’t able to enable themselves or haven’t been as privileged as I. And so that – it was like that moment where I really decided okay, I’m going to chase after Viral Launch. And it was a really, you know, important time kind of in my life and obviously in Viral Launch’s life.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. When did you officially bring on employee number one?

CASEY GAUSS:
So a friend of mine from high school, Andrew, he was employee number one. And it was – it just started kind of as like a little side. He was just contractual. It was contract work, like X number of hours a day or whatever. He was helping me with our audiences’ customer service. And then he started scheduling launches. But this is like June of 2015, so I hadn’t bought Jordan out yet, but I just needed someone to help me kind of man customer service on our audience side because it had been, you know, grown to like 30,000 users or something like that. And so I was building the Viral Launch platform, our audiences platform, doing customer service for Viral Launch, doing customer service for our audience of, you know, now 30,000 people and talking with clients on Viral Launch side, managing the whole thing. It had become so much that I realized I needed help. And so yeah, I brought on Andrew, but it wasn’t until May of 2016 that I really felt comfortable hiring people because essentially like we were subject to Amazon’s algorithm. If Amazon changed up how you could rank products through these giveaways, then the business would have been, you know, dead overnight. And so I didn’t want to, you know, promise people jobs if they could potentially be gone tomorrow. So it was in May of 2016 that I, you know, we had enough steam. We had diversified, or I knew that, you know, if we pushed hard enough for, you know, six months we’ll be able to diversify our revenue enough, build up enough data so that if Amazon does make any significant changes we’ll either be nimble enough to adapt and not lose much revenue, or we’ll be so diversified that if launches do go away we will be able to sustain the team. And so that’s where we hired like our first developer at a six-figure salary, and we really started to push forward from there.

CAMERON YODER:
Where do you think the tipping point was for Viral Launch? Where was the moment, or was there a moment when it turned from – this may have been closer to the beginning – where it turned from just an idea to, okay, this is legit, and I am going to carry this through for a long time?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, well, I mean at any given stage there’s like a, you know, next chapter or an upgrade, maybe in my thinking or just in the company. So like, yeah, again, January of 2015 when I realized hey, this is actually something that like is growing and could be bigger than just this website that I built or whatever, right? Yeah, but then like May of 2016 there was a significant change in my mindset, and we really started to hire like legitimate people.

CAMERON YODER:
Actual people.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, started to hire legitimate people, so it seemed, right? And this was very intimidating, but it was building this foundation. You know, we are so focused on the long-term that any given point we are building our foundation for the next step. And so even right now I think that we’ve kind of just scratched the surface of what we’re able to do. And so right now we’re investing heavily in building the foundation for the next level, and yeah. I mean this summer was really big. We launched – or April of this year we launched a new tool, Market Intelligence, and we went to just an insane amount of conferences. And that really helped us reach the next step. We just launched Product Discovery, which is helping us reach the next step. We’re always building our team to help us like prepare for that next step, that next step.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. So Viral Launch now. Let’s talk a little bit about Viral Launch now. How does Viral Launch in its current state resemble what it was at the beginning? And what’s different now about the business?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, you know, I think I’ve been very fortunate to be someone that I guess like doesn’t have much of an ego. So I think what that has allowed us to do is kind of stay true to ourselves throughout the entirety of it. So like even from the beginning, you know, we just really cared about people. One thing that I didn’t mention is I brought on a friend of mine because I was originally planning on – so his name is Darrian. He’s my right hand man now. He’s our Vice President. I was planning on having him run Viral Launch so that I could go focus on this other business that I cared about. Viral Launch, you know, will be a place where I can make money, but I will actually go build, you know, this next whatever company that is actually focused on helping people. You know I’m really passionate about education, so yeah, in those like early days of Viral Launch still like early, mid-2015 I was actually like putting the resources together to like go build this new company because, again, Viral Launch was like okay I’m making enough money to like pay, like sustain myself. Now I will spend all the rest of my time like going and building something else.

So anyways, yeah, that’s how Darrian joined. But anyways, yeah, we’ve just always been focused on really focused on helping people. And I think this has been, you know, a big advantage for us like moving forward or throughout the entirety of the company is that we actually like – I don’t know, from my perspective, actually care about like helping people. And so we aren’t focused on like these short-term marketing initiatives that are kind of like churn and burn. So we’re not, you know, giving you false information or building things that are not, you know, incomplete just so that we can get the quick cash. We’re always so focused on like the long-term because – and like helping people. And we understand that like helping people build a long-term future for us and our clients.

I think one of the big differences is just having a team, or at least for me. So my focus is on always helping to make sure that the team is focused on, you know, our mission. Our mission as a company is to be the launch pad to success, so again, to enable entrepreneurs, to help entrepreneurs. And so this has not changed. And sorry, you asked me, you know, what has remained the same. And again, it’s just like our mission statement. So whether that’s helping people to rank on page one or helping them to source, it all comes from the same kind of mission, which is to help entrepreneurs, specifically in the Amazon space. And so again, this is what helps us decide what products to launch and what products to build. We originally started helping people rank on page one, but then we saw people had terrible products, so it doesn’t matter how good – or sorry – it doesn’t matter how well you’re doing with your launch if you have a terrible product. You’re not going to have success. So we had to launch Market Intelligence to help you like better make product decisions or help validate or invalidate your product ideas so that when you come to us with a launch you actually have a good product, and you’re set up well for success.

And so yeah, so like everything that we’re doing, we’re not like hey, making this like tool that makes your process a little bit simpler because we know that we can make some money off of it. No, like we’re going after the products that are like causing the most failure in entrepreneurs’ businesses. And yeah, that’s, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s talk a little more broad. Casey, what would you say – you’ve been at the forefront of really establishing what Viral Launch is now and pushing it, pushing it even further than what people thought it was capable of. So what, from your perspective, what does it take to make something like Viral Launch? What does it take to establish a business and keep on pushing it forward?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean it takes a lot. I think the biggest thing is just perseverance, right? So like especially being, if you’re young I think a lot of people like look down on you, don’t take you as seriously and just have much lower expectations. So you know, as an example, I was going to a lot of conferences, and these conferences had never heard of Viral Launch. I’m super young. And so like I would just, you know, casually try to bring up Viral Launch. I’m not much of a salesman, so I’m not, you know, like pushing anybody. I’d just maybe talk about it, or like people would ask me what I do, and I would, you know, start talking about Viral Launch. And people would, you know, immediately pass me off because like okay, this 21-year-old guy or whatever, this young guy talking to me about some startup that I’ve never heard that’s, you know, sounds similar to this other company. So just a ton of rejection, right? But like it was those early days of grinding. And I think it’s so funny because now we go to conferences. Everybody knows Viral Launch. So we have, you know, like a lot of people that love what we do. And so basically like going to conferences is a lot of fun now because everybody is, you know, just like oh I love Viral Launch. Like guys, thank you so much. And they’re excited to meet us. And it’s the complete opposite experience from what it was like in the early days.

But anyways, just so much perseverance. You know, we had competitors like telling lies about us in emails, saying oh, don’t use this service. Like people would email in and say hey, should I use Viral Launch or your service? And they would say oh, don’t use Viral Launch. Like they buy reviews, or like just saying that we do shady things, that we didn’t at the time, just so that they wouldn’t – like anyways, just so many hurdles. And this is not uncommon with life. But it was, you know, really those hurdles that really helped to strengthen me and helped me to be kind of the entrepreneur that I am. And so really like I just encourage you no matter the situation, no matter what’s going on, like you always have to be putting one step in front of the other, and it doesn’t – you know, even if things seem to be going well I think it’s easy to become distracted. But it’s really that day-in/day-out, putting that one foot in front of the other, marching on to that bigger vision that will allow you to have long-term success.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s about the grind, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh yeah, for sure. And like, you know, even to this day, like so many people expect okay, you know, we have 30+ employees. We’re just doing really well. People would expect me to be, you know, just sleeping in and like hanging out on the beach and like doing, I don’t know, just going on all these vacations and letting, you know, all my – from their perspective, all my quote minions, handle the actual work. But it’s nothing like that, right? Like we are a cohesive team, and we’re all focused really heavily on the mission. And so I’m grinding and sleeping just as little – grinding just as much and sleeping just as little as, you know, three years ago when I had $50 in my bank account and was just trying to survive. You know, I’m probably working so much harder because I know the opportunity ahead of us. I know the responsibility we have to help these sellers. And so many people are relying on us. People on the team are relying on me, and these entrepreneurs are relying on Viral Launch to, you know, have an impact in their lives and help them avoid bad decisions, whatever. And so I’m just grinding so hard, and I think that I’ve seen a lot of people, like they are off to initial success because they grind, and then they start to become lax and be that person that’s just hanging out on the beach and working a couple hours here and there. It works for a while, but eventually, like because things move so fast you, you know, you lose the pulse of the market, and you end up falling behind. Sometimes it’s so hard to regain that momentum. So just persistence, working super hard.

CAMERON YODER:
What does your daily schedule look like?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so my daily schedule is generally, okay, so I wake up around just before 6:30 or so, go to the gym with you, Cam.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, yeah, let’s go.

CASEY GAUSS:
And Andrew. And then get to the office around 8:30, Lee from – like, you know, shower at the gym or whatever, get to the office around 8:30, leave around 6:30 so that I can go have dinner with my wife. And so have dinner with my wife for like an hour, and then I’m back on my laptop around 8:00, 8:30, until, you know, I’ll lay in bed with her until she falls asleep, and you know, I’m right back on my laptop until, you know, anywhere between 12:30 and 2:30, or maybe I don’t even get to sleep that night. I’m trying to sleep a lot more, well, trying to actually go to sleep. But anyways, yeah, so and then it’s like rinse and repeat. So I’m not 100% on waking up to go to the gym. Like if I stay up super late it’s a lot harder for me to wake up.

CAMERON YODER:
You get there.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I appreciate it. Yeah, so I’m trying. Yeah, and then you know, Saturday – Fridays and Saturday nights are reserved, you know, for date night with my wife. But you know, Saturday I usually sleep in, go to the gym and then work at a coffee shop until my wife and I do something that night, and then Sunday wake up, go to church and then go to a coffee shop usually and just work until – Sundays are usually pretty late nights because I’ve got to prepare for the week. So, and that’s, you know, hopefully in perpetuity I continue to have this work ethic because I think like I’m in – I’m so blessed to be in the position that I’m in, and like I feel like any waking moment that I am not focused on, you know, building Viral Launch, you know, that’s that many more entrepreneurs that we’re not able to help or we’ll be helping a week later, a month later, something like that. And so I just feel like this persistent or like never-ceasing desire or responsibility to help.

CAMERON YODER:
What single piece of advice – we’re going to wrap up a little bit here, but what single piece of advice would you give to aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs?

CASEY GAUSS:
So I think the affliction of our generation – so I’m a millennial. I think so many people say that we have bad work ethic. From at least what I see, you know, my sphere of like people that I went to high school with and whatever, it’s not necessarily poor work ethic, but it’s lack of desire to delay gratification in the short term for the long-term gain. And so we see this so much in the market, and this is a major advantage that we have is like for whatever reason I’m really willing to focus on the long term. So I’ll put in the work. I’ll struggle now so that in the long term we maximize the advantage or whatever, maximize the benefit. And so please – I cannot encourage you enough to focus on the long term. We see so many people make so many mistakes because they’re focused on the short-term cash, or you know, they get distracted by the shiny object. And as entrepreneurs we see the world as opportunity. There’s endless opportunity, and really it should be your job to say no to as many things as possible so that you can say yes to the things that really matter. There’s this guy, Derek Sivers, and I don’t swear, but basically his thing is like if it’s not heck yes or other words associated, anyway, if it’s not heck yes, then it’s a no. So like you should be so stoked about it. It should be, you know, the best opportunity possible. That’s what you need to go for. You need to be so focused on that and say no to everything else.

Yeah, and again, just be willing to say no to the exciting things, the short-term gratification for the long-term success, and that, like looking back, you know, 10 years later, you will be so glad that you’ve done that because, you know, watching Netflix or watching those YouTube videos, or you know, getting a couple more likes on Facebook or whatever, like in the grand scheme those are not the things that you’re going to remember or be proud of or are really going to, when you look back, you know it’s not going to be how you measure your life. How you measure your life is going to be the impact that you have on people, or the significant projects that, you know, you accomplished, or the things that you accomplished. And the only way to do anything of significance is to invest the time. Delay that gratification. You know they always say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you know, was Amazon? No. You know, was Apple? No. You know, very few things are built in a day. So yeah.
CAMERON YODER:
One last question. Through this – for this whole thing, for all of Viral Launch, what percentage of everything would you say was luck or good timing, and what percentage would you say was skill and hard work?

CASEY GAUSS:
I think we all have kind of like a different term or way that we reference luck. Me, like being religious or whatever, I believe that it was God. So I would say, you know, at least 95% was God, and then the other 5% or 4.9% was just showing up and working extremely hard. And then, you know, that 0.1% was probably like, I don’t know, something else that like had to do with the decisions I made or something. I don’t know. But yeah, you know, I think like – I don’t know.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so you can’t control the other 95% in my equation. So you have to control the 5% or 4.9% that you can, and that is working extremely hard. And so just working extremely hard, and then the 0.1% is because I’ve always tried to focus on the long-term, right, or something like that. Or maybe it’s 2.5%. Anyways, I don’t want to get into the details. Anyways, just working hard, focusing on the long-term and then luck, or God, or whatever you believe in, right, will take care of the rest.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. Well, that’s all we have for today. Casey, thank you so much for telling us the whole thing.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, thanks so much. You guys, like I love feedback if you don’t know me. Good or bad, just honest feedback. So any way that you can give me feedback, I’d love it, and I mean honestly if you’ve listened to this whole thing I really appreciate you putting up with all the rambling and the side stories and stuff like that. So yeah, hopefully this was inspirational to some degree to somebody, right? Like that’s kind of the intention behind, you know, sharing this. And yeah, also just providing a little more insight into, you know, who we are as a company and why we exist and why we make the decisions that we do.

CAMERON YODER:
As always, thank you guys so much for listening and for being here. We love you guys so much, and we love doing this for you. We hope you have a – we hope you have an awesome Christmas, awesome holiday season. We’ll be here, and we’ll keep on grinding. Until next time, thank you, guys.

CASEY GAUSS:
Take care.

 

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