Episode 252 | The Unconventional MVP with Jesse Mecham

Show Notes

In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Mike interviews Jesse Mecham about the unconventional MVP. Jesse talks about his background and company as well as his first product he put out in the market.

Items mentioned in this episode:


Mike [00:01] In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us I’m going to be talking to Jesse Mecham about the Unconventional MVP. This is Startups For the Rest of Us, episode 252.

Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

Jesse [00:25]: I’m Jesse.

Mike [00:26]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. How you doing this week, Jesse?

Jesse [00:30]: I’m doing very well.

Mike [00:32]: Excellent. Well, I wanted to have you on the show today because I wanted to talk to you a little bit about your story and share the background of your company with the listeners and talk a little bit about the MVP that you essentially put out in the market and the product that you started with. But before we get to that point I wanted to let people know exactly who you are and a little more about your business. The company that you started is called You Need A Budget, and when did you start this company?

Jesse [00:57]: Back in September of 2004.

Mike [01:00]: Okay. And today you essentially sell personal budgeting software for, I believe it’s $60 per license, correct?

Jesse [01:08]: It is, yeah. It still does top software for the time being. 60 bucks, one time and then we’ve sold upgrades over the years to keep the revenue going.

Mike [01:16]: Right. So you call the company You Need A Budget. It’s kind of colloquially known as YNAB. Where does YNAB stand today? Like how big is the business, what’s your approximate revenue look like? How often do you do software releases and how many employees do you have, that kind of stuff.

Jesse [01:31]: Yeah. Software releases, we haven’t done one for a long time because we’re right in the middle of a big, completely from scratch re-write, moving to the web and changing our business model into a SaaS model. That part has changed quite a bit. We’ve been just heads down on that for a couple years. Size-wise, employees, I think we just hired our 30th or 31st. She starts next Tuesday. Her name’s Carrie and she’ll be managing our customer support team. So pretty good size team. A mix of part-time and full-time people. About two-thirds of them are full-time. We’re engineer heavy and we’ve got a couple designers. We need another designer here pretty soon. I always say we won’t hire anymore and then we hire again.

And then revenue-wise, last year we did about four and a half million and this year we’re looking to do maybe a smidge more. But just around there again.

Mike [02:24]: Right. So essentially 30 employees, four and a half million dollars in revenue. And this is a downloadable, one time purchase software.

Jesse [02:32]: Yeah, that’s kind of funny. But yeah. Just recently, Intuit, who’s our main competitor, they sell Quicken and QuickBooks and Mint. They own all those properties. They just mentioned that they were going to sell off Quicken, which is a good signal for us that we’re doing the right thing, getting out of the desktop software business as well. Little step.

Mike [02:56]: Okay. So, as I said, I wanted to focus in on the big picture first to give people an idea why you’re on the show because I think that the backstory behind YNAB is extremely important because essentially of where the business came from and where it started. So let’s start walking backward a little bit. What were some of the major milestones that you hit along the way? Were there specific software releases that you had that were extremely beneficial to you or certain things that happened in the market that really took you to the next level? Kind of give us an idea of what major milestones there were.

Jesse [03:25]: Yeah. There were some interesting ones along the way, maybe a handful. Our software- like our releases, which we’ll probably dig into a lot with the MVP, but moving from my original product into our first bonafide software product, that was monumental relatively for us, early on. Each new release we then moved into the Mac platform a couple years later. And as that platform grew in popularity over the years, we rode that. The app store, the whole mobile thing, we rode that with phones that sync up with your data and everything. And that’s also standard now, but back at the time, it was a big deal. So that wave we rode. We had a funny one where we would sell the software on the Steam gaming platform from Valve. And that was –

Mike [04:09]: Really?

Jesse [04:10]: – yeah. So we didn’t even think it would work but we were one of a few titles that they let in as kind of a little test to sell non-games. And we did really well in like their Flash sales and other things like that. That was a significant boost to our revenue back two years ago. The gamers, they buy compulsively. It’s a hilarious side story. It’s funny that you’re selling budgeting software and people are impulsively buying it and not considering the purchase. So there was some irony. But that was a big one. It got us out in the market quite a bit more. There were a lot of new users. So that was another big- there are tiny ones all along the way, but those are kind of big highlights.

Mike [04:52]: Right. When was this business founded? It was back in what, mid-2000’s? Something like that?

Jesse [04:57]: Yeah, I officially did the paperwork for it in 2007. So like three years later.

Mike [05:02]: Okay.

Jesse [05:04]: Where I started making money, very, very small amounts of money, was end of ’04.

Mike [05:12]: Okay. So you basically operated it probably as a- did you even file for a DBA yet or just run it through –

Jesse [05:17]: No way. I didn’t even think about that. I wanted to make rent with the money. It was like totally- nothing official about it, you know.

Mike [05:25]: Got it. I didn’t realize that. I thought you at least had a DBA in the early days.

Jesse [05:30]: Yeah, I don’t even know if I knew what that was at the time.

Mike [05:33]: Yeah, that’s okay. I guess you filed for the business back in 2007. When was it that you had hired your first employee? Was it after that or before that?

Jesse [05:40]: It was after that. I had been working with Taylor, that originally built our first piece of software. He and I worked together in ’06 for the first time. And then middle of ’08, I was able to convince him to jump ship from the video game industry and come over and build budget software.

Mike [05:57]: Got it. Okay. I guess take a step back a little bit. Where was the business financially when you decided to start hiring people?

Jesse [06:05]: That one’s tough. Every hire is scary. And early on especially. It’s not as scary now. Taylor, he and I originally worked out a revenue share because I couldn’t guarantee a salary. And I remember he took a significant pay cut from what he was making. No benefits. And I could probably back into it actually. Let’s see. The year that he came on we probably did maybe half a million in revenue. That’s a pretty good guess.

Mike [06:34]: Okay. So it wasn’t as though the business was struggling but at the same time, probably when he first came on, you didn’t necessarily know how well things were going to go with him on staff?

Jesse [06:43]: Yeah.

Mike [06:44]: You were kind of making an educated guess in looking back for your sales and kind of looking forward and doing some projections. But you still weren’t quite sure. It was still a risk in your mind.

Jesse [06:55]: Yeah. He took the bigger risk, in my opinion, because he left this career with the cash flow, a dip in cash flow and all that. I’m happy that it paid off for him later on. But it was an educated guess. It still was super scary, which I’m really conservatively wired. So where I feel scared, most people don’t feel anything. And I think anyone else would have probably hired quicker than me and it would have been batter. I just would drag my feet.

Mike [07:19]: Right. Okay. Let’s talk about your shift into the business. Where was the business when you finally decided to go full-time on it?

Jesse [07:26]: I was working as an accountant. I got a Master’s degree in accounting and I was working down in Dallas for a big accounting firm, working 80 hours a week for months and months. It was getting old. I had two little boys and a wife in this new city. It was rough. I had big, personal incentive to not do accounting. And also it’s really boring work. But to highlight how crazy conservative I was, I was making about twice in profit from YNAB what I was making at my day job. And I was working on it maybe an hour a day, if I could squeeze it in. So it took me so long to jump. When I was at about 15 grand in profit per month, that was where I felt comfortable, where I said, “Okay, I can start working on this more as a full-time endeavor.”

Mike [08:18]: Got it. So the business was hitting that 15,000 a month, which is ballpark 180k a year. And that’s when you felt comfortable leaving your full-time position and coming over and doing this full-time.

Jesse [08:29]: Yeah. And I still actually did other stuff on the side because I didn’t want to raid the coffers of YNAB. So that 15 grand in profit, you can look at it and you can eat it and feed your kids with it or you can reinvest it back in the business. And I was definitely more inclined to reinvest than to consume it. So I really tried to built up other things on the side as well and try and reinvest that profit as aggressively as possible.

Mike [08:54]: Right. Now you said at this time your day job was essentially as an accountant. And you have a Master’s degree in, I think you said, finance for accounting.

Jesse [09:01]: Yeah.

Mike [09:02]: You’re not a software developer.

Jesse [09:02]: No.

Mike [09:04]: What was your first product?

Jesse [09:06]: The very first one that we sold and made money was a spreadsheet. I originally built it for me and Julie, my wife, when we first got married. And it worked well for us. We were super poor but the budget seemed to be working well. And then I wanted to Julie to be able to stay home and be a stay-at-home mom when our first baby was born. That was a big deal to her so I was pretty motivated to try and make extra money. And about 350 bucks a month was my target. If I can make that on the side, selling this spreadsheet, we’d be good. We could get out of school. We would have to borrow money for it, that type of thing.

Mike [09:40]: So how much were you selling the spreadsheet for?

Jesse [09:42]: I tried at $9.95. Nine dollars and ninety-five cents. So like Bic Mac pricing. But I tried it at $9.95 and I couldn’t get any traction. For about two weeks I was paying for visits through Pay per click way back when it was cheap and easy and no one bought it. I had enough visitors hit the site where you should have seen some purchases just from the law of numbers, right. But no one was buying it. So then I had chatted with a friend one day on the bus and he said, “You ought to double your price. People aren’t buying it because it’s cheap.” And so I doubled it to $19.95 and saw my first sale that first day.

Mike [10:19]: Interesting.

Jesse [10:20]: I had to refund that sale but it was still a good thing. So still good.

Mike [10:25]: It’s ironic that you doubled your price and then you immediately had to refund that first sale.

Jesse [10:30]: I was at a negotiations class the other day. It was fascinating. This guy’s major negotiation work with countries and things. He was giving us this clinic and there was one little bit that jumped out that would apply to every single person listening. He said, “You never want to bargain with yourself.” And when we go to price our own services we always bargain with ourselves well before we’re bargaining or negotiating with someone that’s actually going to pay us. So you’ll bargain with yourself and just talk yourself down. And when you bargain it’s always about price. It’s never about value. So he was trying to get us to say, “Don’t bargain. Always negotiate.” And then do not bargain with yourself, especially. I think it’s applicable for anyone just getting started. We’re so quick to talk ourselves down to this barebones price and it’s not helpful at all.

Mike [11:20]: Yeah, that’s fantastic advice. And I think it especially applies to software developers who tend to undervalue what other people are willing to pay for their work. Especially given their average salaries, just to be honest.

Jesse [11:32]: Developers are wizards. They’re like magic people. How do you place a price on that? You got to think of yourself as a wizard and then maybe you could price more appropriately. From my view, I just see magic happen. And where people that are in the know, you have the cursive knowledge where it’s like I could build that. I could do that. That’s the worst place to be.

Mike [11:53]: So your first product, it was just this spreadsheet. You were selling it for $20 per download, I guess. And you said that at some point you got it to the point where it was making what, $15,000 which was when you decided to make the leap –

Jesse [12:06]: No, by that time the spreadsheet really capped out at making about five, six grand a month. Where I started making about 15 in profit was when we had launched our software, about two years later. That was the big jump.

Mike [12:22]: Got it. So there was this time period during which you were only selling the spreadsheet.

Jesse [12:25]: Oh yeah. About two years just selling the spreadsheet.

Mike [12:29]: And how long did it take you to build the spreadsheet?

Jesse [12:32]: When you’re building it for yourself you don’t really count that time, but if you were to start from scratch and build it and knew what you wanted and had a clear spec on it, it took me a couple weeks. Of course I tried to make it fancy first and then I pulled back as it got complex, which is a classic trap we all fall into. But over time I actually simplified it, stripped things out of it. But it wasn’t a huge endeavor. I mean two weeks, that’s not long.

Mike [12:54]: And that’s something you said you were making what, five, six thousand dollars a month from?

Jesse [12:58]: Yeah, toward the end when I learned how to market, that was the ticket. But I pulled up some stats while we were chatting. My first full year – so I launched in September of ’04. It didn’t really do anything. And then in ’05, by December of that year, I’d made in profits, 2500 bucks. And that was when I was in school as a college kid. I was working a 30 hour job, going to school full-time and doing this little business on the side. I wasn’t investing tons of time. And I was learning a ton as I went along. So I’m trying to paint this picture that even for someone to get to a grand or two with the information that we have available now, it’s totally doable. And the product, it was a spreadsheet. It’s a spreadsheet.

Mike [13:42]: Right. So you said that you launched the software product in 2006, right?

Jesse [13:46]: Yeah, end of 2006, right at the tail end there.

Mike [13:49]: How long did it take to build the software product itself?

Jesse [13:52]: It took Taylor, he was the sole developer, it took him nine months. We just worked over the phone. We didn’t beta test it, which is funny. I kind of used it a little bit but we did not do anything formal. Yeah, nine months with just a solo developer. And we were basically porting the functionality of the spreadsheet over into a Windows application.

Mike [14:13]: Right. And I think that’s the part that is really interesting because you start out with this MVP, which is nothing more than a spreadsheet which takes you about two weeks, and then you make this leap from – you’ve got a market, you’ve got people paying for this spreadsheet, and they’re clearly willing to pay for it. There’s a demand there that you have proven with this spreadsheet –

Jesse [14:30]: Absolutely.

Mike [14:31]: – and then you say, “Let me take that information and I’ll predict the future a little bit. If they’re willing to pay for this spreadsheet, I bet they would pay for this software product that I could build based on this demand.”

Jesse [14:42]: Yeah. I felt confidant enough about it that even risk adverse as I am, I had been saving money up to that point to put a down payment on a house, because in the U.S., if you think back to like ’06, ’05, real estate’s going crazy, right. So Julie and I are going to graduate in ’06 and we’ve got this baby, another one on the way, and I’m thinking we’ve got to get a house because everyone’s buying houses. So I’m saving for this down payment. In the meantime Taylor comes along and says, “I could improve your spreadsheet,” and I said, “No, I’d rather have you build separate software.” So he just agrees to like a project rate and it was a lump sum, milestone payment. Pretty standard stuff. And we do that over nine months. But I was confident enough in the move, I knew people would pay more for this software. And I knew that the software would also be, obviously, more attractive to more people. So I could charge more and appeal to a broader market. And I used our down payment money, for the house, that we had earmarked for that. I came to Julie and was like, “Hey, what about this thing instead? I have this stranger down in Texas that wants to build this.” She was game. But I felt confident enough because I had market knowledge. It was priceless. I didn’t feel like it was risky at all.

Mike [15:57]: That brings up a separate point. Because you’re not a developer, you didn’t start by building a piece of software because, quite frankly, you just didn’t have the skill set. How do you think that affected the evolution of the product? I think most software developers would immediately jump into building a product, but you went in a different way, I think, because you were forced to. How did that impact, not just the financials of the business, but how did it impact your approach to the future of the business?

Jesse [16:22]: It’s been a huge advantage for us that we started with that spreadsheet. When you think about building a piece of software, and it was fairly complex, that we had built in nine months, but because we were riffing on an MVP built on a spreadsheet, it naturally constrained the normal desire we have to add, add, add, and make more complex. Because it was just like listen, take this, make it so it can run without Excel. And it was like, okay that’s good. So how should the UI act? Well, let’s just have it kind of look a lot like the spreadsheet. Okay, that works well. Taylor and I both aren’t designers and weren’t designers back then even more so. So it forced us to just recognize we’re going to do still kind of the minimum, but take this obvious next step. I feel like a lot of times when you build first, with this grain-like open field in front of you, you have a hard time making decisions because you have so many options. Where we just didn’t have the advantage. It would be interesting to think how we could, as a budding entrepreneur, as this developer, how you could create artificial restraints for yourself to try and control that.

Mike [17:33]: Right. And I think that’s the problem that most of us as developers face is that we’ve got this open-ended problem that we’re trying to solve and we say to ourselves, “I could do this or I could do that,” and “It’d be really cool if I added this other thing over here,” and you end off into the weeds trying to add some stuff in that ultimately you don’t even know whether or not anyone is going to use it or going to care, unless you’re doing a lot of heavy upfront customer development. But because you had that MVP already in place and you knew what people were paying for, it was really just a process of replication so that you could produce incremental improvements on it and increase the price and do lots of other things.

Jesse [18:10]: Absolutely. Like just to give people an example, we launched the software end of ’06, that is supposed to compete with Quicken or Microsoft Money at the time. And it’s a check register with a budget laid on top of it, essentially. We didn’t even allow you to have multiple accounts in the software that we originally sold for $40. So we would just tell people every transaction goes in one big register. And we sold it and people bought it and it worked. It really worked. It wasn’t like we were selling them something broken. But you didn’t import from your bank, we didn’t handle reconciling to any accounts. We had very rudimentary reporting. It was so barebones and it still just gave us that much more knowledge to keep heading down the path. And that’s what you want. You don’t want to know the end goal. You just want to know that you should stay on the path you’re on and be content there. So we try to build, a lot of times for the destination and then who knows where that ends up.

Mike [19:13]: You mentioned Microsoft Money just a few seconds ago. Didn’t they go out of business or didn’t they shut that product down?

Jesse [19:19]: They did. They shut it down. Several years ago, actually.

Mike [19:22]: And now Quicken is being spun off. How does it feel to basically have run them out of business?

Jesse [19:27]: It’s hilarious. I feel really good. I feel like we conquered them. No. Intuit’s revenue for consumer non-tax revenue is like $340 million a year. They’re a four and a half billion dollar a year company. There’s such a far distance between them and the next guys it’s crazy. I don’t even know if they’ve heard of us. But maybe they have. That would be fun. It is cool to see that we’re headed in the same direction as the big guys because I think they obviously have major market knowledge with all the exposure they have.

Mike [19;58]: There’s a lot of benefit to having hindsight when you’ve gone through this process –

Jesse [20:00]: That’s true.

Mike [20:02]: – are there other products that you can think of that in hindsight you could have potentially come out with that were also not software related or were not directly pieces of software that either could have done well or had the potential, maybe not quite as much potential as what you ultimately ended up with or maybe something that could have exceeded it. Are there anythings that you can come up with that fit that mold that were non-software?

Jesse [20:26]: They’re all kind of related to YNAB and its core business but we’ve tested all sorts of different monetization strategies over the years. We’ve tested partnering with companies that we like. Like Betterment is one that we like. We don’t take commission from them anymore but we still refer them. We were kind of going like a blogger route early, early on where it was like affiliate relationships. I found that to be fairly distracting from the core. We did some servicing around, literally over the phone type work, coaching with business owners to try and teach them how to manage their cash flow better. And I actually ended up selling that off to my friend Mark who was running that for us anyway. And he now runs that Budget Nerd. But for us it was working, it was just I felt like we were losing focus.

Mike [21:17]: It was a distraction.

Jesse [21:18]: Yeah, it was a distraction. I’m very, very susceptible to the new shiny and so I really have to check myself and make sure I’m focused on just a few very core things, and then obviously drive that to the whole team.

Mike [21:32]: Now I think that focus is probably something that all software developers who are starting out and trying to find that product that they want to invest a lot of their time in, maybe it’s the next six months or maybe the next ten years. But what sorts of other advice do you have for people who are specifically looking at building software first? Because as we discussed, you had the spreadsheet first and that’s probably more of a non-traditional MVP. What other shortcuts could people come up with that would help them get to the point where they have a product that people will pay for?

Jesse [22:04]: I like the idea of utilities. So if you’re thinking software specifically, I’m trying to go that route. I like the idea of looking at a very, very concrete problem where the MVP, where the problem is so small and so specific that you can’t add too many features on top of it. I know the open source is a great solution for a lot of these, but I think you could not do the open source route potentially, and just say what is this utility that does this one thing that people on Stack Overflow are constantly asking about or that I’m constantly having to do again and again? Whatever it may be, and just release something very small, very concrete, one off, no subscription, only so that you can cut your teeth on the transaction, the marketing. And so the smaller the problem is the smaller the solution, super niche, the easier it is to market it, which means then you can- it’s tough to find the pain when you’re trying to sell financial software. It takes awhile. It’s complex as far as marketing goes. But when you’re solving this very, very concrete problem that like a little utility solves, suddenly it’s very clear. What I want to do it get people to a very clear value proposition and a very clear solution and get them to be able to build it quickly, release it quickly, have a defined market, just to practice that aspect. Once you start making money, the desire to build, it’s minimized a little bit because you realize this thing that I was procrastinating to selling, isn’t as hard as I thought it was. But all these developers, you guys don’t find it easy to sell but you find it easy to code so you procrastinate the selling and just keep coding and coding and coding. That was a long answer.

Mike [23:59]: No, that’s okay.

Jesse [24:02]: That’s like if I were to coach someone on, I’d be like find a smaller problem. Find a smaller problem, really, really small, and then see what you can do. Like a little ruby gem or whatever it may be, but just something super small and then go for it.

Mike [24:14]: Well I think the natural inclination for developers is to look at stuff like that and because they minimize the value of the particular problem that they’re trying to solve, and they say I could whip up something to fix that in a week or a month or something like that, they minimize how valuable that is to a base of people. And I think the other mistake that they make is that because they try to make something that’s a little bit more generic or bigger, it makes the marketing, as you said, a little bit more difficult because it’s not so well defined. Selling financial software, it’s not abstract, it’s just there’s no concrete pain point that you’re solving. It’s just, it’s financial software. But what specific thing are you doing that somebody might have a particular problem with? And it doesn’t allow you to focus in on the marketing.

Jesse [25:02]: And so that’s the- you can do it. Like in our field we know a lot about the market and how you talk about money. It’s basically around stress. But the idea if I were a developer releasing some little thing that I said could supposedly whip out myself for two weeks, that’s the value proposition right there. You talk to that developer and you say, “Listen, do you really want to spend two weeks doing this? I’ve done it for you and it will cost you half and hours wage.” And then suddenly you get some traction, the value proposition’s really clear, and then you can start to test the waters. I like the WordPress plugin market. I like it for that reason. Those can also totally metastasize on you. But I like it for that reason that you can do small little solutions and get used to the marketing. It’s not a slam dunk but it’s some – I’ve just had some thinking along those lines lately.

Mike [25:51]: Yeah, I think the other thing that that also helps people with is it helps somebody starting small because they don’t have to think about creating 30 or 50 pages on their website. They only need to create one that says, “Hey, this is this exact problem I’m solving,” and they tend to get very specific, highly targeted traffic, which somebody else or a competitor would treat as long tail traffic so they don’t care about it. So you’ll rank higher for it. And then over time you gradually increase the size of the product and it’s capabilities and what it does. And eventually ten years down the road you end up with youneedabudget.com, 30 employees and four and a half million in revenue.

Jesse [26:26]: Yeah, that’s not how I started, right? So you start super small and you don’t worry about how did Jesse do this or that because the answers are obvious when you’re in the moment. I know where we’re going now. I’m hopeful our decisions are solid. But it feels just as obvious to me now as it did six, seven, eight years ago because you just deal with the information you have on hand and you don’t try and predict the future, you just try to keep things small and concise and tight. And then when you’re deciding should I start a new product or should I keep going whole hog on this one, I would tell you to not start the new product.

Mike [27:04]: Something else that you brought up early was that you were doing marketing for this spreadsheet. And I know that there’s a lot of techniques that were probably highly applicable back when you first started this process, like for example, you mentioned Google AdWords were much more cost effective at the time. What other types of things were you doing to market this spreadsheet?

Jesse [27:25]: I was trying to get in with- blogging was just starting up and financial blogs were one of the first because people were pretty intrigued by the idea that you’re sharing finances online. That took off. And I would try and get in the blogging space and it worked to a degree. I tried to recruit affiliates for a while and have people be paid commissions to push YNAB. And I had some that were great but 98 percent of them were horrible and would sell one copy a month and then they would want the world from you as far as “Can you do this, can you do that?” So it was just kind of a time sink and we shut down the affiliate thing. The best thing I did marketing wise was an email course. It was no comparison. The absolute best thing I did early on was I wrote a ten-day budgeting, I think I called it a bootcamp back in the day. And it just taught them my four rules, my method for how you should think about money. And it was super soft sell. And it, I think, quadrupled, actually I have it right here. It doubled our revenue month over month and then doubled it again the next month. It was insane. It still works, too. We still use that as a marketing technique.

Mike [28:36]: Right. And I think that that actually illustrates a gap that a lot of people who are getting into entrepreneurship face also is where the initial expectation is I’ll create this product and I’ll create a website and then I’ll put a buy now link on my site and people will search for it. They come to the site, they click the buy now link or they download a trial and then boom, they’re a customer. But it doesn’t really work that way. The email course that you put out there, that’s basically building trust. It’s not just website, click the button, payment. There’s this time period in the middle where you have to build some level of trust before they’re going to give you money.

Jesse [29:12]: And you’ve got to recognize they’re not all ready to buy right away. They’re in different stages. And the email course does a good job of keeping its arms around them while they’re moving through those different stages.

Mike [29:23]: Right. And that’s something that in some cases re-marketing helps with that where you’re cooking people and then you’re advertising to them later on to help bring them back to your website. But the basic idea there is they’re not ready to buy today, they might be tomorrow, they might be six weeks from now but you still want to be able to maintain some sort of open line of communication with them to help bring them back when they are ready.

Jesse [29:45]: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, the re-marketing didn’t exist back then but it would have been gold. Works for us now. It’s the nature of the beast. And in our field with financial software people just aren’t ready. They’re in research mode and things like that. So it’s critical that you recognize that they’re in different phases. And some markets aren’t. Some are like I need to book a hotel, and if you can capture that, you behave differently. But most there’s a long process. I’m thinking about buying a new car, right. Guess how long it’s going to take me. And those marketers know that. You just got to make sure you understand what your cycle is for your buyer and respect that and keep in contact.

Mike [30:24]: Yeah, all great advice. Are there any parting words of wisdom that you want to leave for the listeners?

Jesse [30:30]: Enjoy it while you’re doing it, like enjoy the whole process and make yourself uncomfortable. Do things that you are procrastinating. There was a good book called the War of Art. I didn’t really like the second half of the book but the first half it’s about overcoming your resistance to really doing your best work. It’s been a book that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The creative types and developers are extremely creative, designers, obviously extremely creative. That is a book for you. You want to make sure that you’re overcoming what the author calls “Resistance,” and I think that’s just part of the battle. But enjoy the whole process. Just be in the moment with it.

Mike [31:12]: Thanks. So Jesse, it’s great having you on. If people want to learn more of the different you have to say, if anyone’s interested there is a video from Jesse’s talk from last year over on the MicroConf site. You go to microconf.com and then check out the videos there. His talk from 2014 is there. We’ll probably have the 2015 video up there because you were a speaker this past year as well. Where can people find you online and where can they specifically learn more about You Need A Budget?

Jesse [31:37]: So youneedabudget.com if you’re interested in the software specifically or if you just want to look at how we market and things like that it’s good to visit and see what we do there.

Mike [31:47]: I’ll second that. It’s actually very fantastic the way that you have a lot of information there and you do a lot of educational stuff around personal finance and helping to draw them in and kind of tell a story to them about this is what your life could look like if you follow this process.

Jesse [32:02]: Yeah, I have a good team there. And then the software’s excellent so there’s that as well. If you want to follow me online, I don’t tweet a ton but it’s @Jessemecham. I occasionally will tweet something trite. I go to MicroConf so if you ever want to meet face to face. That’s kind of the only conference I regularly attend. Just hit me up at email if you want. It’s Jesse@YNAB.com and I’m happy to chat or give unsolicited advice.

Mike [32:34]: Excellent. Well, thanks for coming on.

Jesse [32:35]: Yeah, you bet. Thanks, Mike. It was a lot of fun.

Mike [32:37]: If you have a question for us you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Out of Control by Moot, used under Creative Commons. You can subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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3 Responses to “Episode 252 | The Unconventional MVP with Jesse Mecham”

  1. Abdelkrim says:

    To whom it may concern,
    Could you please share the details of the book described at the very end of the podcast by Jesse? Was it the wall of art? I can’t find it.

    Thanks and long life to the podcast

    Kiss from Brussels

  2. 23:00 – This is what I did with Dedupely.com – Taking a single problem and selling in a niche. This was my first profitable subscription product.