The Marketer's Journey from Side Hustle to Startup: Jay Desai

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jay Desai has always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

At 11-years-old, he had a newsletter business. In middle school, he was reselling sticks of gum bought at Costco.

While working for Trend, a B2B startup last year, Jay came upon a problem: how to collect content from around the Web for future reference.

One thing led to another and Jay created Swpely, which he describes as Pinterest for B2B. It's a free service that makes it easy to collect digital content, social media, updates, videos, and photos.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Jay talks about the transition from full-time employee to entrepreneur, and how he plans to grow Swpely into a full-featured content aggregation platform.

I Mark Evans and welcome to marketingspark podcast it delivers inside for marketers and entrepreneurs and thetrenches in twenty five minutes or less everyone seems to have a side house.It's not enough. Just ave O on job anymore, most side hustles are at best coke ormicro businesses, but sometimes a side household turns into a real businesscat, an talking to j design, a bt marketer, who recently launched newbusiness swipey that has perceived an enthusiastic response. Welcome tomarkets. Part Hey mark great, to be here great totalk about. You know swiftly and everything else in between. So let's start at the beginning, itwasn't that long ago that you were a full time B. TB marketer, mostly aroundcreating content to drive, leads. You were doing what a typical B T Bmarketer was supposed to do, but in the midst of the pandemic, you youdeveloped this side Houshold and this side house hole turned into somethingelse. So maybe we can give a little bit of a back story about you, your track record as an entrepreneurand what how that evolution from full time, employee to start up founder,actually happened. Yeah for sure I think a lot of it goesback to my parents, so my dad owns his own business and you know just beingaround in that entrepreneurial environment. It kind of puts that sparkinto you. When you see someone working every day to grow their business. You know I did some things that some otherentrepreneurs might have done in the past, so you know, and in the fifthgrade I used to even have like this little newsletter that we made onMicrosoft, publisher. I don't know if it's still a real platform anymore, butwe used to print these out and sell them, and one thing that was superawesome is one day I was able to get up to to five employees and was able topay them actually a dollar each, which was a really like awesome moment for me,is someone who is like eleven years old, no concept of money. It was a reallyfun thing to do, and so you know that that entrepreneurial spirit continue tomanifest. You know I sold gum in middle school. I go to COSCO and get the biggum, packs and resell the sticks to people in middle school to make alittle money, and then you know I really knew I wanted to be a founder,probably at the age of like fifteen. I knew I wanted to start a business andit was more so a matter of when not, if actually you know talking about sweptly,that was another project that I started and before that I actually gave mychance at a full run of of business back in March. So I started a sportsnewsletter. That ethically failed did not do so well, but you know I spentway too much money then I probably should have before validating, but Ilearned a lot of things from that, and so I've been able to kind of translatethat into my own business and in terms...

...of like the shift for me. You know Ispent some time a few years in marketing. Just really getting my myfeet: We kind of understanding the environment and like learning, how tobe a better marketer, and you know it was kind of like a culmination ofhaving that entrepreneurial fire in me and then also being able to be in agood financial position to take a business risk like anyone. That's goingto start their own business. Obviously, there's a risk involve because you haveto spend money up front with no guarantee of return, so that's kind ofhow I ended up here at swiple. So let's take a step back and talk about whatyou were doing. What was your full time job? How long had had you been there?What did you like about it and how did the entrepreneur it start to emerge atwhat point did you recognize? There was a problem? Maybe you look for othertools to sove that solve that problem and you couldn't find them and itsuddenly dawned on you that maybe it was time to shift from a full time jobto start up describe that journey lastyear. So your heart at work, it's a mule of a pandemic. You've got a fulltime job to do, but something's happening in the background. Can yougive us the back story yeah for sure, so I've been in my last company trendfor about a year and three months. I think so you know like I said. I'vealways had this like entrepreneurial spirit. Maybe it's something that's inme. I like to be in control of my environment, and so you know as someonewho's working for someone. Obviously you know you get a degree of autonomyand stuff like that, but I knew it one day I kind of wanted to run the shipand give it a shot and see. If you know I could fight out there for myself tosee how successful I could make it out there. So that was a big part of methat played into it and it was really just kind of you know. I wanted to be afounder for a really long time and it was kind of just figuring out what thatidea was and in terms of swipey. You know, L and a problem I faced as I kindof entered you know. I've entered and linked in, and I've kind of like beento that space now and creating content, and now I'm on twitter and creatingcontent. So as someone in the be to be creator economy, I kind of face theproblem that's swiftly as solving myself, so I really had a hard time youknow producing content after I gave away everything that I felt that I hadyou know it was hard to to come up with content ideas and figure out how torepurpose stuff- and you know, even as a marketer at my old job trend, we hada newsletter. We had a podcast like constantly looking for ideas for thatstuff and creating content. You really need to keep your ideas organized andreally have a backlog, and so I think, all of those factors together kind of created this this product over hereswipey they just all kind of climax together and help. Put me in thisposition. We've talked about swiple there's somemystery still among the audience.

What's swipey actually is so what issisily? What problems does it solve and how does it work and how much does itcost and where are you at so far in terms of its launch for the audience? So swipey isbasically the way that I describe. It is hinterest for me to be an all anpack that a little bit more, so it's a tool for you to basically save allsorts of modern content. So I think you know we've all seen like a bookmark barand have probably used like a bunch of book mark APPs. Maybe we're also takingscreen shots and doing like a link dump and things like that. But content hasreally evolved over the past ever since you know that the ever since socialmedias entered the landscape- and you know nowadays we have you- know videopodcast, like this one tweets linked in posts, all sorts of this modern content,and so when I kind of think about traditional content, it's like your websites and images and that modern content is kind of everything. That'scome after that and there's not really a solution that exists out there to beable to save modern content and really organize it, and that's the piece.That's really growing. The most right people are writing blogs all the time,but I think I read this crazy stat. You know there's like five hundred milliontweets that are going on in a day and only like, maybe fifty million blogposts that are posted a day. So that's a really big discrepancy over there,where you're, seeing like modern content out pacing, maybe traditionalcontent by TEX and so just being in that type of environment and figuringout, like micro content, seems to be the play where a lot of people areleaning into shorter pieces of content is kind of why it brought me into aninterest for Swipe Ley. I just faced this problem myself and you know I wasreally looking to go out and solve it. You know it's interesting because, assomeone like myself, who creates a lot of content, I'm on linked in I'm ontwitter, I have a podcast and I create a lot of content as as well. I've usedpocket ever note notion all kinds of different tools to collect and curatecontent and never found something that did the trick, and what I findsurprising is that there wasn't something like pin, trust for be to becontent. It's interesting to me that swiple didn't exist before and all of asudden, you came on the scene. Had this problem and discovered that hey,there's an opening here for something like this tool, were you surprised thatthere was a gap in the market that you could just walk into yeah, maybe a little bit. You know Idid some researches someone who was a collector like I was. I was looking forthat solution myself right. I didn't expect to to go out and build it. Ithought there might be something out there. That would be helpful forsolving that issue, but there really wasn't- and you know when you combine-that with my with the entrepreneurial fire that I have you know it was- itwas pretty pretty. I really wanted to go out andand go and do this and create sweitly...

...and create a tool like this, and youknow it's actually pretty interesting. I think content is constantly evolvingand I think, even for swiple as it exists today, the thing that we'regoing to have to decide and look at is you know how can we stay up to datewith the evolution of content and that's something that a lot of platformstill struggle with, and so I think, there's going to be a lot of openings,not just today, but in the future for tools that have a hard time, keeping upwith changes that are going on. I mean you're, seeing new APPS like club housecome in that are just audio only so I think there's always going to beopportunity for people to come in and there's always going to be some sort ofmarket gap that needs to be filled. I think it's a matter of how do you feelthat dot and then how do you continue to keep feeling the different gaps thatpull up right next to you? What I'm curious about is, when youhave a full time, job, these days, being a B B, marketers you're on allthe time, andd you're, trying to create content and publish content and socialmedia. How do you go from coming up with this idea? Actually developing theproduct, the vision for it and the strategy for it when you're, whenyou're spending so much time at work? How did you allocate the time? Who didyou collaborate with what was the process to turn it from an idea intoreality? Yeah, it was really hard. You know, Idon't think I mentioned that Curlier, but the company I was working at trendwas also a start up itself. You know there was five of us. It's a team offive. Obviously there's a lot of work. I was basically doing a lot like mostof the marketing for the team and really managing everything and buildingany start up is a is a lot of work. Trying to build two startups issomething I would not recommend to anyone out there, but you know it really started out withme. Thinking from that experience that I have with the sports news letter likehow do I create a more minified version of what I have, and so you know I hadthis grand idea for Pintes for B to B, and I really had to sit down and kindof unpack that like how do we get to something that that's that big rightpincers is a, I think, they're a publicly tradedcompany. They are yeah, there are publicly traded company and they domillions and millions of dollars in revenue. So you know you can't justbuild that in one day, they've done tons of rounds of funding and all ofthat stuff, and so what I really had to sit down was okay. How do we get therelike? What can we do is like a first step to move closer to that, and so I really had to work through that andkind of landed on our first version, which is what you see currently goingon, which is our chromic session, linked to our Dash Board for contentsaving. So you know I figured hey. If we can save the content, then we canstart continuing to keep adding stuff that are there. We don't have to getanyone to create new things reinvent the wheel, and so it was really justfiguring out. What's that minimum step...

...and then going out and basically doingas little as I possibly could to get this idea out there and not in thesense of you know, I didn't want to support the idea or do any of thatstuff. It's just that launching a product and the more things that youadd to a product take a lot of time. It's very easy to underestimate that,and so by taking a step backwards and thinking hey, how do I provide the mostminified like experience and still kind of plug in some value there, and so youknow even for when we started the product. You know it started out as aas a sketch, I have a sketch book, that's sitting in my cabinet over here.I sketched the idea out the last week of October, put together a single pagewebsite, just grabbed it from a template change. Some things out, youknow, put together a text, only logo that was pretty easy to build and thenjust put it out to the network to see, and so you know the product wasn't evenin the getting built right now. What I saw was we were able to get a lot ofmarket validation. You know we had a lot of people sign up for the weightlist. There was a lot of interest generated over there, and so I actuallyhad to go back to my one of my friends who's a developer and I called him up,I think, maybe after we hit a hundred people on a weight list- and I was likeHey- I have this product that I haven't built. I put it out into my networkpeople kind of validated and said they'd be interested, and I have ahundred people looking for this product that doesn't exist, and so, after thatwe kind of got into building the product and really working backwards,and even our email sequence like I think I only had a one email that gotfired right after you signed up, and you know occasionally, we'd send outone email a week. We ran like a small give away. That was really like lowsteaks, and so it was a lot of low stakes, things that allow me to keepworking on my full time, job and kind of just plug into swiple, where I could,and obviously I've taken more responsibility in that sense. But youknow that's how we're still operating we always ask ourselves like. Is thissomething we actually need to do like? Is there a way to take a step back onthis? Is there a simpler way to do this? That'll provide you know? Maybe onlyseventy percent of impact is maybe like the full blown thing, but it's going totake us. You know, like thirty percent less time, and so those are the kindsof things that I'm thinking through as we're running the business. I think it's really interesting,because I could remember when you threw that idea out on linked in and thereaction to it. Obviously there's a lot of marketers on linked in so it was a.It was a great target audience for your a great way to throw out the idea andsee if it if it had any traction. What are some of the lessons you've learnedalong the way as you evolve the idea as you developed the product and it becamea reality, some of the things that went well, some of the things that you woulddo differently next time. I think the biggest advice that I would give toanyone is you, your product or whatever...

...you're offering doesn't need to be ascomplex or perfect as you think it is, and that's really like easier said thandone, but the only person who's going to know what the end product issupposed to be. Is You you know the people that are viewing your productare only going to see the product, as is in terms of like what I would dodifferent? I honestly would say there. There would be nothing that I would dodifferent. You know I'm thinking about it right now, but you know we've madesome mistakes in terms of things that we've done and things that you know Iquote unquote, maybe wished I did different, but I actually probablywouldn't change those because without those failures over there therewouldn't have been whatever the lesson that's learned, and so you know interms of like missteps, and we really haven't done very much. You know it'sgreat that we've been able to promote the product without sharing that much.You know, even the the website that I put together the first iteration of it,the single page site that got a hundred people to sign up. There was nopictures of the product on the web side at all. There was literally nothing,and so you know I just tell everybody to take a step back and don't let thosefalse objections like don't let yourself disqualify you from launchingsomething because you think something's missing or you know something needs tobe a little bit better. You'd be surprised at what people would love tojump into and the only person that knows what that end thing is supposedto look like. Is You that's what I would say there and the traction hasbeen incredible. I mean we've seen some great growth, which I'm happy to jumpinto as well, but it's just been an awesome awesome experience and Iwouldn't really change anything, because it's really just gotten us heretoday and I've learned so much from any of the mistakes that I've made. Somaybe you can talk a little bit about the girls, because obviously there isdemand for this type of product. There's lots of people creating allkinds of content. These days, content marketing landscape is shifting, as youtalked about, with more micro content being developed to what are you seeingon the platform so far right now, the big thing that we'retracking is activations, so user growth think I don't know when this episode isgoing to air, but for context right now we're about ten days over here into ourin bi only Betala and the last user count I checked was that five hundredand twenty five, which is absolutely crazy for for ten days, our big goal-is to hit a thousand users and thirty days, which I'm feeling really goodabout our chances on. But it's just been incredible. I mean user activationis the main thing and and kind of we're working backwards. We have a little bitof a product market fit survey as well in the application that we're taking alook at, but right now it's really just getting people in a D and getting themto not only get in but selling them on. Not What swiple is today selling themon what it can be tomorrow, and so that's something that's really big tome too. Is You know every user that...

...comes into swiple isn't just joiningfor this modern content. Saving tool, as it is right now, like you, know,we're saving images, videos, podcast, tweets linked on post website. Thatstuff is all cool, but we still have a lot more to go, and I really wantpeople to buy into the long term vision, because and actually one of the emailsin our on boarding sequence that mark you'll probably get at some point isbasically a list of the next things we're planning on building. I want tobe completely transparent and get people to buy into the vision and sayhey if you can help us bring one or two people to swipe lay. We can build allof this stuff for you and that's really what I'm trying to sell on, and sothat's the stuff. That's really important to me. The next obvious question would be: Howare you going to make money because from what I understands, wifely a freeproduct, at least for now you have any thoughts about how you monetize theplatform. Is it something that you thought about from the beginning whenyou had this great idea, or is it still working progress when it comes toidentifying the different avenues to for revenue, yeah there's, definitely a monetizationplan. I think the big one that we're going to have is probably ad revenue atsome point and that's when we kind of turn on our social functionality. Sothat's what's coming next on the swiple road map is you know, we're going tooffer a full social solution and we'll probably plug in a little bit ofadvertising. But one thing that's really important to me is having likepurposeful advertising. I think a lot of advertising nowadays on social mediais like stuff that might be like irrelevant and and stuff that you'rejust not really interested in, and you know I hate getting bombarded with thesame ad like a few times, but for more than a few times. But one thing I dothink- and this is what I love about ads- is when you get the right ad atthe right time. Like let's say you know, I was on a website with a cool likepair of shorts or something or someone sent me this website for a cool newproduct. That's an ad that I'd want to see again,and so you know that's something that I'm constantly thinking about is howcan we create those like purposeful experiences? So that's a big part of itand then another big part. Is We really want to empower creator so with thatadvertising revenue, I think we're probably going to be taking a differentapproach to most companies in the sense of I want to empower everyone in the Bto be creator economy to be able to get a piece of that ad revenue withouthaving to do very much other than just creating your audience. So that'ssomething that's important to me. We've got a couple of other plans in terms oflike Apis that we can offer more content features and more content,saving that we can do maybe even like private swipe files. I mean there'sjust a whole bunch of different directions. I'm not super concerned onthe monetization piece right now, because right now, it's user growth andyou can't have you can't monetize...

...anything without the users there in thefirst place, I'm planning on keeping the show free for as long as I can runit I mean we have like no operating cost, we're spending like fifteen bucksa month in our website six months a month on my email. We have our servercost, but they're basically credited because we have as credit so that'sbasically free and then I've got like a a Zappi integration that I'm payinglike twenty five bucks a month on. So we could realistically run this thingfor a really long time for free. For me, it's about how do I create morepurposeful experiences for everyone and then the money part. I think it's goingto happen at some point. I'm not super concerned about it, but right now to me,what's most important is just providing an incredible experience for everyone.That's on there. Well, it's a very exciting proposition, and I'm reallyfascinated by the transition from full time, employee to side Houshold tostart up work. Can people learn more about you and swipey yeah, so you can head over to swipleit's S, W P e Lycom so swipe without the eye and then lycom go ahead andjump on. There will actually give you a Promo code as well, so you can skip theweight list over here. If you use mark's name, Mark Evans you'll actuallybe able to skip the weight list and go straight into the product. Sodefinitely take advantage of that code and get in there mess around with it,and we have a lot more things coming the more users we can bring to theplatform. The more I can build for everyone, that's listening! So that's.What makes me really excited is the building peace but yeah check it out.We save a lot of content right now, a lot more to come in the future andwould love to have you as a user on swiple awesome, that's Jay and anybodywho's interested in Jake and go to link Don he's got a pretty good presencethere as well. Well, thanks for listening to another episode ofmarketing spark, if you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review andsubscribed by Iton spot ify. Were your favorite podcast APP for show Nos oftoday's conversation and information about j? Is it marketing spark do cost?Last blog, if you'd like to learn more about how I helped ptsoe companies as afractional Co, I advisor and coach and an email to mark at market park comI'll talk to you next time. I.

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