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INTRO Build a $1.2MM company at 18 y/o. AMA!

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Alex Edson

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Hi everyone,

My name's Alex Edson, Founder and CEO at MailTag.io.

I'm new to the forum (just finished reading Fastlane and Unscripted by MJ!) and just wanted to say hello!

I'm an entrepreneur who built a $1.2MM company at 18 years old and am now building my 2nd startup, MailTag (a free browser extension that provides free real-time email tracking for Gmail).

Would love to help other entrepreneurs who have any questions or general ideas about startups! Ama!
 

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A. Rodriguez

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Hi everyone,

My name's Alex Edson, Founder and CEO at MailTag.io.

I'm new to the forum (just finished reading Fastlane and Unscripted by MJ!) and just wanted to say hello!

I'm an entrepreneur who built a $1.2MM company at 18 years old and am now building my 2nd startup, MailTag (a free browser extension that provides free real-time email tracking for Gmail).

Would love to help other entrepreneurs who have any questions or general ideas about startups! Ama!
Welcome to the fastlane forum and thanks for your willingness to help build other entrepreneurs.

I'm very sure you had lots of hurdles and problems while building your business, can you throw more insights on how you overcame them each time.
 

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"Over the 24 months that followed, PowerTV grew into one of YouTube’s largest talent management firms, with with nearly 10 billion annual views and 40 million subscribers under management (organization-wide), now representing major celebrities including individuals such as Jake Paul."

Wow. Looking forward to your input.

When I was 16, I did absolutely nothing of note. So it's cool to see young people kill it.

Are you still involved with PowerTV in any way? If not, then what caused that decision?

What is the end goal for Mailtag? I see a browser extension, and it's being given away for free. There's a lot of these types of things on the Google web store, so I assume it's part of a bigger picture.
 

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Did you have a partner or was this all yourself?
At what point did you hire employees? (If at all)
"A boutique YouTube talent management firm specializing in the servicing of top-tier YouTube celebrities." - Did you have any experience in this beforehand? How did you break into this sector? How did you initially prove credibility to potential clients?
 
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Alex Edson

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Welcome to the fastlane forum and thanks for your willingness to help build other entrepreneurs.

I'm very sure you had lots of hurdles and problems while building your business, can you throw more insights on how you overcame them each time.
You bet.

There was rarely in a day in building my previous company (PowerTV) where there wasn't a crisis or "doom of the day".

I actually recently wrote a blog post about some of the lessons I've learned, just to pay it forward and help other entrepreneurs.

9 Life-Changing Business And Life Lessons
 
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Alex Edson

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"Over the 24 months that followed, PowerTV grew into one of YouTube’s largest talent management firms, with with nearly 10 billion annual views and 40 million subscribers under management (organization-wide), now representing major celebrities including individuals such as Jake Paul."

Wow. Looking forward to your input.

When I was 16, I did absolutely nothing of note. So it's cool to see young people kill it.

Are you still involved with PowerTV in any way? If not, then what caused that decision?

What is the end goal for Mailtag? I see a browser extension, and it's being given away for free. There's a lot of these types of things on the Google web store, so I assume it's part of a bigger picture.

I actually just exited PowerTV less than a month ago. We received a great offer that I couldn't turn down (can't disclose deal details due to contract, sorry!).

Now I'm building MailTag, which I'm self-funding with the proceeds from the sale.

MailTag will be the #1 chrome extension for sales professionals. Our goal is to be on every browser for every salesperson in the world.
 
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Alex Edson

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Did you have a partner or was this all yourself?
At what point did you hire employees? (If at all)
"A boutique YouTube talent management firm specializing in the servicing of top-tier YouTube celebrities." - Did you have any experience in this beforehand? How did you break into this sector? How did you initially prove credibility to potential clients?
Nice questions.

I started the company alone and (foolishly) didn't hire anyone for nearly 2 years.

When I finally saved up enough money to be able to afford to hire people, that's when things started to take-off.
I scaled the team to about 20 full-time people (including a 16 person international sales team).

I hosted sales training conference calls 3X a week over Skype from my apartment at 6 AM (the best time that worked for our entire team) and we grew the company exponentially from there (generating $10MM+ in total sales by our 3rd year).


I started working in the YouTube industry when I was 12 (making silly Minecraft YouTube videos) and eventually took a job as a talent recruiter at a large YouTube talent management firm (at 13).

From 13 - 16 years old I worked sales positions at 3 different talent management firms, learning everything there was to learn about sales and YouTuber management.

At 16, I left my job as a Senior Exec at a large talent firm I was working for at the time (forfeiting all of my recurring commissions and year-end bonus, I should add!) to found my own talent management firm, PowerTV.

At our peak, generating 10 billion annual views and $10MM+ in sales, representing some of the largest talent on YouTube.

Fast forward, 3.5 years later, here we are! As of last month, I exited PowerTV and am now self-funding my latest venture, MailTag.

Regarding "how did I prove credibility to potential clients", I was an expert (still am, haha) on everything YouTube. I can tell you more about YouTube than you will ever want to know. And I studied everything about YouTube optimization you could find -- literally, everything. If there's an ebook, article, or YouTube video, I've consumed it!

I learned everything there was to learn about YouTube and eventually built a "portfolio/track record" of clients that I helped build into major successes that my YouTuber prospects would recognize. For instance, Jake Paul joined our firm when he "only" had 20 million monthly views. Within 6 months of becoming a client, he was generating nearly 500M monthly views.

The early days were the toughest (getting my first few clients), but once you get over the initial hump, it's a lot easier.

Hope this helps.
 

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Damn. At 18 I was wasting my days on video games, booze and other crutches.
Im sad to say I went to 38.
 

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PTP

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Nice work Alex!

I scaled the team to about 20 full-time people (including a 16 person international sales team).
Can you go a little bit more in depth on this. Did you have an office space, or was it a remote work station? How did you find your first 1-5 employees? What hiring mistakes did you make early on that could have been avoided?
 

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Impressed with what you've done so far, good work @Alex Edson!

I will soon be bringing on 1 or 2 full-time employees into my business.

Can you share a bit about how you select employees, things you are looking for, the process to get them on-boarded into your company, how to make sure they're a good fit, etc.

What's your opinion on contracting vs. bringing in house? For example, say, choosing between hiring an ad agency to run your paid traffic, or hiring a full-time marketing manager instead.
 

MB2

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It is absolutely great to have you here.

I'd like to know your process?


What has been your process to achieve those accomplishment?



I started the company alone
Also did you programme/code those website by yourself?
 

404profound

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You bet.

There was rarely in a day in building my previous company (PowerTV) where there wasn't a crisis or "doom of the day".

I actually recently wrote a blog post about some of the lessons I've learned, just to pay it forward and help other entrepreneurs.

9 Life-Changing Business And Life Lessons
That blog post was very educational, thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom!
 

Parker fields

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Love the pure power of your drive at a young age! I wish my time wasn't plowed into a guitar at that age, but into business. I noted and looked at your blog, and can say It looked very good so far, and enjoyed seeing Mj's book noted near the end. There are always willing minds to mold in here to give and receive advice. Most of us are looking for ways to hone skills we have or don't know we will have.

Looking forward to more content. Thanks
 
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Alex Edson

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Nice work Alex!

Can you go a little bit more in depth on this. Did you have an office space, or was it a remote work station? How did you find your first 1-5 employees? What hiring mistakes did you make early on that could have been avoided?
Thanks.

No, we never had an office space. Every member of our team worked remotely (we communicated via Skype).

Our 1st employee was an individual I met while working at my last talent management firm I was working for (actually, he was my higher-up!). I developed a friendship with him and when I told him I was going to leave to start a company, he was interested in becoming our Head of Sales.

Every other hire from that point forward actually came from his Rolodex. He recommended people that he knew who could also help build the team (other sales leaders).

Hiring mistakes?
Chronologically or alphabetically? Too many too list, ha! But here are 2:

No. 1: To hell with resumes. Forget them completely. The people who I've regretted hiring the most are usually people with the most polished resumes.

No. 2: Hire bilinguals (and trilinguals!) -- people who can speak multiple languages (in my industry at least) have huge advantages, they can help you tap into massive markets.

Hope this helps.
 
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Alex Edson

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It is absolutely great to have you here.

I'd like to know your process?

What has been your process to achieve those accomplishment?

Also did you programme/code those website by yourself?
Process:
By process, I'll assume you mean routine/work-ethic.

Nowadays, I usually start each day at 2:30 - 3:30 AM. Our team is based all around the world (Slovakia, US, India, and Venezuela) .. this time is generally the best time to host meetings for everyone else, so I make it work.

The remainder of my day is spent mostly working on marketing and advertising projects (usually about 12 hours each day).

On most days I also manage to squeeze in a few hours dedicated to reading (the goal is to read 3 books a week).

It's a 7-day routine .. and I rarely take time off. But when I do, it's always re-charge so I can work more. To some, this routine may seem like "hell on earth" .. but I really enjoy it. It's extremely stimulating.

Code:
Yes, I code (Python), but 90% of back-end technical stuff is managed by our CTO.
 

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Great job Alex!

For MailTag, are you planning to introduce a CRM feature? I'm paying Streak $50 a month, and only because they have the CRM built into Gmail.
 

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Alex Edson

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Impressed with what you've done so far, good work @Alex Edson!

I will soon be bringing on 1 or 2 full-time employees into my business.

Can you share a bit about how you select employees, things you are looking for, the process to get them on-boarded into your company, how to make sure they're a good fit, etc.

What's your opinion on contracting vs. bringing in house? For example, say, choosing between hiring an ad agency to run your paid traffic, or hiring a full-time marketing manager instead.
Thanks!

With regard to building a sales team, I prefer to hire exclusively full-time people. I've hired part-timers but they rarely work out.

I'm looking for people that:
1). Do not have polished multi-page fancy resumes. The better the resume, the worst the hire.
2). Intelligent people, but not geniuses. Geniuses rarely work out, generally too difficult to manage.
3). (Not required, but preferred) People with experience in the industry (aka, industry veterans -- such as people that have worked for your competitors).
4). People who read books, they must have read a book in the last 14 days or I'm not hiring them.
5). (Not required, but preferred) People that speak multiple languages is a huge plus, they can help you expand into new markets.

Generally speaking, the best people you hire will not come to you. You have to go to them. In my case, I hired a sales manager who knew lots of other great salespeople that were also industry veterans. That enabled us to scale the team to 16 full-time salespeople very quickly.

And when you hire someone who's really good .. ask them "Who else do you know?"

The fastest way to grow your income is to get more people to sell on your behalf.

Hope this helps you in your hiring process.
 
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Alex Edson

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Great job Alex!

For MailTag, are you planning to introduce a CRM feature? I'm paying Streak $50 a month, and only because they have the CRM built into Gmail.
A CRM is in the works ... we are planning massive improvements in the coming days.
Stay tuned for a big email announcement! :cool:

And yikes, $50 a month ($600 a year!) is pretty crazy. MailTag PRO is $3.99 a month. ;)
 
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Alex Edson

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Love the pure power of your drive at a young age! I wish my time wasn't plowed into a guitar at that age, but into business. I noted and looked at your blog, and can say It looked very good so far, and enjoyed seeing Mj's book noted near the end. There are always willing minds to mold in here to give and receive advice. Most of us are looking for ways to hone skills we have or don't know we will have.

Looking forward to more content. Thanks
Thanks so much, glad you enjoy my writing.

Always happy to share the lessons I'm learning along the way!
 

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Hi @alex, I read your "9 Life-Changing Business and Life Lessons" article before you removed the link, and in that article, you said "Don’t change your lifestyle as you make more money".

The article also has a quote from Kevin O' Leary saying "Alex, it’s simple. As money piles up, don’t change your lifestyle. Don’t change how you live in proportion to your income."

Does this mean that even if we "made it" one day, we should still be clipping coupons, saving every nickel, eating overnight food, no cars, no exotic holidays.....

Or is it just a concept and not to be taken literally? Sorry if I'm slow, because that's what I am lol

Thanks.
 

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At 18 years old, I was..

Damn good at computer games lol.

One hell of an introduction post, and I look forward to hearing more about your progress!

Quick suggestion for Mailtag!

LTV per customer looks a little too low to consider paid advertising, seems to me like focusing on building out a GREAT product and incentivising users to spread the word Dropbox-style like 1 free month per user referred etc could potentially lead to a viral snowstorm of new customers?
 
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Alex Edson

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Hi @alex, I read your "9 Life-Changing Business and Life Lessons" article before you removed the link, and in that article, you said "Don’t change your lifestyle as you make more money".

The article also has a quote from Kevin O' Leary saying "Alex, it’s simple. As money piles up, don’t change your lifestyle. Don’t change how you live in proportion to your income."

Does this mean that even if we "made it" one day, we should still be clipping coupons, saving every nickel, eating overnight food, no cars, no exotic holidays.....

Or is it just a concept and not to be taken literally? Sorry if I'm slow, because that's what I am lol

Thanks.
His point was that you should never live beyond your means.

It's not to say you "stay frugal forever", but rather, while you start to amass a large amount of money for the first time (when you get your first "big check"), you need to build the discipline of not spending.
 
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Alex Edson

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At 18 years old, I was..

Damn good at computer games lol.

One hell of an introduction post, and I look forward to hearing more about your progress!

Quick suggestion for Mailtag!

LTV per customer looks a little too low to consider paid advertising, seems to me like focusing on building out a GREAT product and incentivising users to spread the word Dropbox-style like 1 free month per user referred etc could potentially lead to a viral snowstorm of new customers?
Thanks! And yes, this is actually planned for our upcoming V2 update (coming in less than a few days)! Stay tuned!
 

MB2

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Process:
By process, I'll assume you mean routine/work-ethic.

Nowadays, I usually start each day at 2:30 - 3:30 AM. Our team is based all around the world (Slovakia, US, India, and Venezuela) .. this time is generally the best time to host meetings for everyone else, so I make it work.

The remainder of my day is spent mostly working on marketing and advertising projects (usually about 12 hours each day).

On most days I also manage to squeeze in a few hours dedicated to reading (the goal is to read 3 books a week).

It's a 7-day routine .. and I rarely take time off. But when I do, it's always re-charge so I can work more. To some, this routine may seem like "hell on earth" .. but I really enjoy it. It's extremely stimulating.

Code:
Yes, I code (Python), but 90% of back-end technical stuff is managed by our CTO.
Exactly, I meant the routine and your daily habits.

Thanks a lot for the reply.I truly appreciate it.
 

JT388

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I noticed you had a huge team, what do you do for project management / delegation of roles? I am 19 and built up a 3M business over the past two years, but I haven't been able grow past project management.
 

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