Mike Glanz has grown HireAHelper to an 8 million dollar-a-year business by creating an online marketplace for an offline service. He took huge risks, found great mentors, and now teaches a 10x mentality to growth that will change the way you think about your startup.
TOPIC MIKE COVERS
- The company Hire a Helper and its services as a marketplace for moving labor providers
- The history and founding of Hire a Helper
- The growth and expansion of Hire a Helper, including revenue and the number of moves, processed
- Challenges and difficulties faced by Hire a Helper as it has grown.
- The business of Hire a Helper, a marketplace for moving labor providers
- The growth and development of Hire a Helper over the past six years
- Challenges and growing pains experienced by Hire a Helper
- The use of analytics and transparency to improve performance and customer service
- Strategies for managing and incentivizing a remote team
- The importance of a positive and fun work environment
- Factors contributing to the growth of Hire a Helper, including customer service, pricing, and marketing efforts.
- and a whole lot more
LINKS & RESOURCES
WATCH THE INTERVIEW
READ THE TRANSCRIPTION
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Mike Glanz with us. Mike, thanks for coming on the show.
Mike: Thank you for having me.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, Mike, you’re the CEO of a helper. So let’s start with that. Tell us about hire a helper. What is it?
Mike: A higher helper is a marketplace of moving labor providers. We load customer shop for small moving companies that will help alone load rental trucks for kind of a way to hack together. Do it yourself. Move.
Bronson: Gotcha. So your customers are people that they’re moving. Possibly they don’t want to hire a full on moving company, but they don’t necessarily want to do it themselves. You’re kind of an intermediate strategy to hack it together, as you say.
Mike: Yeah, exactly. And usually usually suppose the cost of a full service move. So we have a lot of do it yourself or some of us take care of, you know, the big items or just the loading, unloading, and I’ll drive around the bathrooms.
Bronson: Yeah. Now, what was the reason behind starting it? Was it a personal reason or you just saw an opportunity in this market? What was your thinking there?
Mike: Actually, my my co-founder and I loaded and unloaded rental trucks while we were in college. And we saw that it was a you know, it’s kind of a better way to do this, you know, getting the manual labor of the heart and the hard stuff out of the way without paying for the packing, which ended up being a majority. The cost most the time involved in the business was not like a marketplace, was really the way to go. We knew there are a lot of other companies out there, like doing what we were doing, but not necessarily, you know, they don’t have the web presence or the infrastructure is a big company. And so we thought, you know, if we could kind of consolidate all them and put them in this marketplace, make them accessible to people, or people would, you know, like us like our parents would would use that.
Bronson: So your your real innovation is creating a marketplace, not just a one off. You know, you can hire us in your local city, but it’s a marketplace for any city, right?
Mike: It is, yeah. We’re we’re in all 50 states. We do. I think this past this past August, we did a little over 5000 moves in one month. So we’re all over the country and growing pretty rapidly.
Bronson: Yeah. And what day did you all launch Hire Helper?
Mike: I watched them. 27. Okay.
Bronson: So you have six years under your belt now. What kind of revenue have you guys had over the year or what kind of numbers can you disclose to give us an idea of your growth?
Mike: We we continually grow growing at 50% year over year. Since our first or second year an assumption, we’ve processed a little over 8 million of our parents through company.
Bronson: So yeah, that’s great. Now growing that fast, you know, processing and having to do with that many individual moves. What were some of the growing pains that you experienced? O’HARA Help her over the last six years or so.
Mike: We we have a lot of money. Every year it just seems like it’s a different thing. Early on, we got sued by a competitor and, you know, that was a year or two that it made for your tax decisions being cash. Uh, you know, Castro, I think we kind of prioritize, you know, marketing or development. And more recently it’s been getting to the, you know, more of a medium sized company. There are issues and personnel to, you know, what do we do when the capital markets are closed? Um, it’s been a every year, I guess it just seems like it’s kind of a different thing. We learn a lot every year.
Bronson: Yeah. No, it’s, it’s a lot to to go through to get to the size you guys are at now. One of the things you have to do is you have to manage a number of remote employees because like we said, you’re innovation is really making in a marketplace, which is great, but now you have to manage the marketplace and you do some innovative things to manage the remote employees and tell me if I’m wrong, but one of them is a scoreboard tracking system. So tell me about that a little bit. What what does that mean?
Mike: Yeah, we have ever since since early on, we’ve been we want to incentivize our customer service reps not to just book jobs, but to, you know, provide good customer service. You know, you read about the companies like Top of Mind, and we kind of innovated our own scoring system for what was important to us, what we thought was important to our customers. We made the scoreboard and it it tracks a number of metrics from, you know, customers call the messages and how fast the, you know, how we get back to customers or pick up the phone to the number of jobs, the number of cancelation rates and having all of that and then publishing all of that. So all of the employee, even in the customer service department, but the entire company can see has really been key. And that level of transparency is is there when something’s not performing? I mean, it’s not between you and your manager, it’s between you and your teammates. And that’s gone a long way in letting us continue to innovate and continue to be a leader in customer service and in our industry.
Bronson: Yeah, and one of the reasons I bring that up is because, you know, I talk to a lot of companies that are almost 100% software based, so they’re a little different than you guys. And analytics is something they bring up a lot being having a lot of analytics, being transparent about them. But the new guys are actually taking that to where you’re a marketplace, but you’re also a physical offline service that the marketplace is connecting people with and you’re still using analytics now that pipeline to let people know what’s going on and and make things more efficient. So I think it’s just one of those instances where we see the mindset of growth hacking. You know, eventually it’s going to be in a lot of other businesses that are purely web based. And I think you guys are kind of on the cusp of that. Now, you also give out prizes, is that right, for four different metrics and different things.
Mike: Right? Yeah, we do. We do Amazon. The card seems to be the the prize of choice, but we do things companywide, you know, go out to a bar for happy hour or we live in San Diego, go to the races. If we had a certain goal for a month to individual prizes like the Amazon gift cards for us by setting a record of the most jobs of the month or the most job product. And, you know, I mean, for most it’s just resolved just that one. The people compete, compete for a life. And we like to incentivize those things and make it, you know, the competition’s one thing or the, you know, the prize is one thing with the competition is really the key is, you know, seeing your name up there, you know you know I close 27 issues now in August 3rd of was in 13 when everyone’s going to be gunning for you and that that’s made the environment fun and you know nowadays the you know, the fun and positive work environment is so much more key to free place than, you know, than just the financial side of compensation. So and, you know, at the end of the day, my co-founder and I, we just look at it as one time, it’s just what where would we want to work? And, you know, and we do work, you know, how how do we want things to work and what’s fine and and we make a lot of decisions based on that.
Bronson: Yeah. Sometimes we overcomplicate business. No.
Mike: Yeah, definitely.
Bronson: Yeah. So is it growing your user base? What do you attribute your growth to more than anything? I mean, you guys are processing 8 million. You know, you had 5000 moves in August, I think you said, what do you attribute that kind of growth to of yet a point to a few things.
Mike: I would I would say. You know, there’s a few things that we’ve done that I feel like we’ve done right. One, we’ve always been we before it was even a word, I guess, Ali and stuff. And we’ve been very focused on, you know, in the projects that are going to be most beneficial to the company and kind of our our our history with having to run from enduring a lawsuit, kind of forced that upon us. And it’s kind of become part of culture. And then, you know, along with that, it’s really early on, we’re just in over our heads with the company, with the growth, with, you know, the legal troubles, with everything. And that that just forced both and myself to just start asking questions and seeing who could help us, what we don’t even know what to do. I think that’s something that I think most new entrepreneurs just miss, is that even if you’re a startup and doing something no one else has done before. Everything to some extent has been done. You know, there’s nothing new under the sun. There’s not was a similar issue. And and and there’ll be multiple people who’ve dealt with it in different ways. And finding those people seeking out and getting them by is as easy as following their advice. It’s not always easy, you know, sorting out what, you know, the good from the bad. But I think that that helped a lot early on, you know, is getting that mentorship.
Bronson: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of that mentorship a little bit. How did you find the people that you wanted to get advice from? Did you just find them online? Is the people that you ran into locally? Where did you find those mentors?
Mike: No, back in the day we thought we wanted venture capital. And we I we started reading about it and we found the site funded. And there’s other sites like that too. Now there’s there’s a lot more that are out there that provide access to networking with individuals. And I had posted something on here, you know, asking some questions. And the response I got back was just amazing. I just. CEOs of huge companies, you know, back and people offering free help. I mean, too good to be true. I thought everyone must be trying to sell something. And that was really my foray into this world of like small and large business owners that really are rooting for the underdog. Yeah, and they’re just amazing people. A couple of people that stand out, others a Rick Valencia of a company called Prophet and San Diego, took time for months, months and months, helped and advised us and even more time to really top down this for office space, you know, for likes, you know, because he’s a nice guy and because he was an entrepreneur once. Aaron Matos of Job Income contacted us. We sat down with him and he gave us great advice on growing a company. Focus on that was I mean, we were like two months old, you know, no one had ever heard of us. It was just crazy to see this kind of doors open, you know, just just because, you know, in this country, everyone’s rooting for the underdog and everyone’s rooting for, you know, that you knew was we were going to make, you know, your American dream come true.
Bronson: Yeah. So what did your relationship with them look like? Was it reaching out one time, getting some advice? And that was kind of it. Was it an ongoing, you know, talk on the phone once a month? How did it shape out for you guys?
Mike: You know, it is different in every circumstance. And honestly, I feel like the relationships that kind of lasted the longest were just the ones that I followed up with. I feel like all of them had made themselves available. I flew out and sat down for lunch with Aaron of Jobbing and he gave us advice. I mentioned record God use his connections in San Diego, get us office space and help us answer it. Tim Barry is the founder of the software and a writer for I think magazine. And for years he he would ask how that stuff was going and, you know, make connections or, you know, offer advice. And he, you know, he was an author who didn’t raise money. And he would give me advice on, you know, stay away from the venture capitalists. Like this is what I did and this is why it works. And Aaron would, you know, say stuff like, well, you know, I’ve raised, you know, $100 million in our government’s jobs raised. And he and he would share the other side of it. I know. And so. I feel like I mean, I can’t even think of one anyone who would offer advice one time and then not follow up. I feel like even today, if I emailed any one of those guys that they’d be available. You know, there’s just so many successful business people out there that that are just willing to share and mentor.
Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Well, what’s the what’s the best piece of advice that you ever received from one of these mentors? Something that just really was a game changer for you.
Mike: There’s a there’s one significant one that I would say probably really has impacted us more than anything. And again, Aaron told us early on, we were probably know 30 days all the time and he said out of zero. And his and what he meant by that is when you’re picking projects where you’re picking what to target and what to focus on, you have you have projects that are huge, like, you know, this could make us $1,000,000,000 in ten years. And these other small projects were like, Well, if we do this today, it’ll make us $100 tomorrow. And it’s really hard to know where to target. Should you should you aim for the things that are just going to make you the next hundred dollars immediately and you’re not going to worry about those long those far off things until you know you have time for those or should you work on the big long things and risk running out of money before you ever finish them? And so so his, I guess, guidance was that zero was if you’re doing $100,000 a year right now, then then determine what it is that you need to do that will get you to $1 million a year as fast as possible. And and and go for that. And he said, you know, I think at the time I said, you know, you guys are $10,000 and what do you have to do to get to $100,000? And he then he was like, it’s the same thing. And it’s like, I’m at $100 million now and we’re trying to get to a billion. And I don’t know what his numbers were at that time, but and and he’s like, that gives you just enough guidance to to shoot to shoot for projects that are that have long term value. But at the same time, you can’t just let the hack together quick make a buck schemes. You know, you really focusing on the combination growth of the company as well as like the long term value and quality of the company. And and that and that has been instrumental in how we look at things and how we plan for the future.
Bronson: It sounds like great advice and it’s great because it’s a moving target. You never arrive and check it off. There’s always a way to add a zero because when you’re a 10,000, you have to get to 100 and 100,000, you get to a million, and now you’re getting ready to add a zero again when you get the 10 million. And so it’s always kind of a moving target is the carrot ahead of the the dog and the dog track kind of thing of the horse, you know. So how have you guys practically put that into play? What are some of the things or maybe one thing that you’ve done at Hire a helper to try to add a zero, at least in theory. That was what you were trying to do.
Mike: Okay. So if you were nuts and bolts, real practical, we had some potential for partnerships like a year and a half, two years ago. And and we realized that kind of some of these partnerships were the biggest opportunity for growth that we had especially to go from, you know, from our at the time we’re talking 1 million to go to 10 million and. But what we really needed, you know, is we needed the products. Like we could go out there and we could say that we could do certain things, but since we hadn’t proved it, we couldn’t make those promises without actually having, you know, a tangible product to go out there and sell, you know. So we went so we went out and and that led us to two to raising a small amount of debt, a quarter million dollars. Which we are. We’re very diverse personally. So this was a big change for us in the business, actually taking a huge amount of money out and spending it before we had made any sales off of it and building out a product for our partners. And what we built out was kind of a white label platform, a marketplace for movers. This is what we had, but we wanted to give that marketplace from movers to potential partners who whose customers would want the marketplace as well. And we felt like there was demand for we felt like it was a really good, good way for us to grow. And that and that was our best chance. You know, like, okay, well, you know, this is right. If I didn’t know that’s the target, wouldn’t do it. We should do whatever we can to get there as fast as possible. So we borrowed the money. We hired some programmers, we built the platform. We went out there and like three months later, you know, we we’re on the home page of one 800 Packrat and on iPods, you know, portable storage containers and and, you know, become the service provider and alone unload these, you know, these storage containers, which is a huge industry for us. And, you know, within six months of of making this decision to go after I’m after it, we had actually signed, you know, the two biggest players in the in the industry. And after that, most, you know, almost every single small portable storage company after that came to us and said, what, from hindsight we want, you know, so and and that was it worked out really well for us. And I think that’s probably the best example of us, really. You know, it wasn’t intuitive to us at the time to borrow money to build something. We’re more conservative. Not usually, but. But it worked out.
Bronson: Wow. So when you say you took debt of 250,000, was it you said it was personal debt or like VC angel debt. What was it?
Mike: Oh, we took the money for like little lighter capital. And they do they do a turn of sale financing called the revenue based financing. So it’s and it’s it’s higher interest, but it’s not tied to, you know, me and my investors personal credit. I don’t I don’t have the credit or money to cosign alone three and a quarter million or so. That was really important to have it a little bit higher interest for it. But I mean, right now it’s impossible is medium sized business to get funding almost any other way. So, you know, it worked out for us. I think we ended up, you know, their their whole model is based on, you know, the better you do, the higher interest you can. I think we probably capped what what we paid them on interest because we did so well, but that it worked out.
Bronson: So yeah, that’s incredible. That’s such a good story about, you know, taking a big risk there is based on the advice of wise mentorship, he thought it was the best path. He went for it. And now all this extraordinary growth is because of an early bet you made that you thought would add a zero. I think there’s so much that people can learn as they’re watching this interview just from that little story right there. I mean, that’s huge. Now, let me also talk to you about the service providers, because, you know, your business is unique in that you need customers. You need the people that need something moved, but you also need the movers. So it’s a two sided market, really. How have you acquired the service providers? How are you recruiting them? And is there any words of wisdom there?
Mike: You know, it’s always come pretty easy for us. We provide, you know, if we can get the customers. You know, the one thing that all businesses want is more customers. So that’s that’s a pretty sleek card dangle in front of them. More recently, we’ve just focused on building a platform that they can run their businesses on. There’s a lot of. You know, companies out there that do currently segregation and are trying to do like the smart place. But there’s no one else out there really doing it specifically for these companies. And so we’ve tried to, you know, build a platform specifically for movers and just be, you know, this the software, basically the name of the company, you know, to run their company also. And and, you know, one of the one of my people used to say, like, you know, we don’t need any marketing fluff. Let’s just make a let’s just make a tasty pie. You know, because when you have a tasty pie, everyone wants a piece of it. So I think that the consumer side is a little different, but on the service provider side is, you know, it’s just let’s just make the best software out there that that everyone wants to use, make it easy, make it free. And and then hopefully they’ll stick around and, you know, take the jobs that we enjoy as well.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, it seems like you guys arrived at the same advice we’ve heard so many times on here, which is, you know, you got you have to find product market fit. You have to have something that’s just really delivering value. And then you can do things to grow on top of that. You can be wise about what you do beyond that. But without that, like you said, without the tasty pie, it doesn’t matter how much you market your restaurant. They’ll come once, but they won’t come back, and they may not come at all when the word of mouth gets around. And so I think you guys are absolutely right on that. And so let me get this straight, though. You guys are providing tools for the companies like POD and those kind of things. You know, it’s a white label marketplace, but then you’re also providing tools to the service providers, the small guys as well. Am I hearing that right?
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, that’s correct. We consider the service providers, those small mom and pop moving companies, you know, the biggest part of our customers. You know, if we have good service providers, you know, then customers will come. And so to the to the service providers, we do scheduling do credit card processing, we do insurance products. And we’ve kind of lumped all this together into this kind of, you know, here’s a, you know, all the software you need to run your moving company along with products like the credit, like we handle the credit card processing for them and try and make it as easy as possible for them.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, this is great. I’m now I’m starting to really see the genius of hire a helper. You went into a market that didn’t have a lot of software and you became the software of an entire market. Is that right?
Mike: That’s the goal. That’s the goal. I think we’re a long way from really perfecting it. I mean, that’s I think, you know, after we we sort of getting this, we’re almost, you know, almost at this last zero, we’re ready to go on to the next one. I think that’s really going to be our our focus, you know, for the next five years is really going to be, you know, just in dominating that software and making sure that, you know, every moving company is using our software.
Bronson: Yeah. You know, my generation said that software is eating the world. And, you know, that’s obvious when it comes to online things like social networks or whatever, mobile things, you know, apps. But you’re really an example of software is truly eating the world. You know, you have Uber doing it with Taxi. You have you guys doing it with, you know, moving. And I mean, there’s no end to where software is going to go. And so I think you example’s good, you know, if you see a market that is not software heavy, it will be in the future. So why not be the player that goes in and provides the infrastructure software that everybody can play ball on? So there’s going to be huge opportunities there. Now, let me ask you, this is kind of a final, you know, parting words here. You know, as you think about your own journey and you think about the entrepreneurship bumped into what’s the best piece of advice that you have for any startup that’s trying to grow?
Mike: I would say. You know, all the advice that I got when we you know, when we were starting out. I just don’t know if it’s applicable to everyone. The one thing that I would say is, I mean, you just got to reach out and the resources are there. I met an entrepreneur who had, you know, started a I think it was a retirement homes chain and made $100 million off of these retirement homes that he had sold. And he was saying how he did it. And he said, you know, I just read the business books and did what they said. And like like it was the easiest thing in the world. It’s like everyone reads these books and no one does it. So and that’s stuck with me for a while now. As you know, one of the more successful people I’ve met is, you know, going out, getting them advice is, is, is half the battle and taking the advice and using it is is the other half. And it’s it’s not difficult. Like I said, there’s there’s no there’s nothing new under the sun. Everything’s been done to some extent, you know, in some area. And there’s there’s always someone who has some kind of similar experience who can kind of help guide you through. And and the thing that you’ll find that’s surprising is that the people out there who’ve done it before. You know, more often than not are going to be, you know, willing and and happy to share that with you and help you.
Bronson: Yeah. To like this has been a great episode. Again, thank you so much for coming on Growth Hacker TV and just sharing all your wisdom.
Mike: Hi. Thank you for having me.