Zach Resnick (@TrumpetIsAwesom) began travel hacking as a broke college student looking for a way to see the world without spending thousands of dollars on flights. Today he's used his vast knowledge of the travel industry to create EasyPoint, a concierge service and that's generated almost $60K/month in revenue this year. In this episode, Zach emphasizes the criticality of product-founder fit, weighs in on the benefits of working with friends, and reflects on the winding path he's taken to build a business that customers both love and pay for.
EasyPoint Concierge — Zach's travel concierge, offering the best rates on luxury travel (use code "indiehacker" for $100 off)
EasyPoint Consulting — Zach's credit card consulting business for frequent travelers and small businesses (use code "indiehacker" for $250 off)
Unbounded Capital — Zach's BitCoin (BSV)-focused fund
@TrumpetisAwesom — follow Zach on Twitter
The 4-Hour Workweek — Tim Ferriss' book that inspired Zach when he was young
What's up everybody? This is Courtland from IndieHackers.com and you are listening to the Indie Hackers podcast. On this show, I talk to the founders of profitable internet businesses and I try to get a sense of what it's like to be in their shoes. How did they get to where they are today? How do they make decisions both at their companies and in their personal lives? What exactly makes their businesses tick? The goal here, as always, is so that the rest of us can learn from their examples and go on to build our own profitable internet businesses. Today I am talking to you, Zach Resnik. Zach, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Happy to be here.
You are the founder and CEO of EasyPoint Concierge. I have a ton of friends who are involved in travel hacking, and you run a travel hacking business, so I figured before we get started talking about your business and how it all works, why don't you give us an overview from Zach Resnick's perspective on what exactly travel hacking is.
I look at travel hacking as any ways to improve the experience when traveling or any ways to save money. So often in my world they overlap, but not necessarily.
Any way to save money, any way to improve the experience. I'm terrible at this. I basically am just the dope who gets on a plane and flies somewhere and pays full ticket price. I don't collect points, I don't sign up for frequent flyer programs. What area of travel hacking do you specialize in with EasyPoint?
Miles and points. And I've specialized in that my entire travel hacking career and personal life.
We are going to get into the story of how you started your business. And I think it's a pretty interesting story because the story of EasyPoint is that it's a side project. It's something that you've always done on the side and it wasn't something that you ever intended to become a full fledged business with employees at the beginning. And yet today you've got a fully-fledged business. How many people work at EasyPoint today?
We have about 10 people, of which five are full time right now.
How much revenue are you doing with these points?
We have done over 600 K a year to date with a 15% month over month growth. All organic right now.
We are going to go through the winding path of how you got to this point because, as I said, it was a side project and you're always doing different things. What do think the beginning of your story is? What did you first get into travel hacking and start to acquire the knowledge that you would need to build something like EasyPoint?
My story has a pretty clear beginning. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work and live abroad in Jerusalem before starting school. After I came back, I was infected with a disease that I imagine many people listening to are as well. It's called wanderlust. I really wanted to keep traveling, but when I started school, I didn't really have any money, didn't really have a job.
Wasn't necessarily looking to get a job. I wanted to see if there are ways to basically, for free, travel around the world. It turns out, especially for those that live in the U S, there are. I discovered the world of credit card churning and manufactured spending. Credit card churning is this concept of churning the banks for new credit card signup bonuses like you would a cow’s udder.
Then manufactured spending is the process of spending money on a credit card, getting all, sometimes more, sometimes a little bit less of that money you spent somehow back to you and then using that money to pay off the card itself. So you earn the points and spent enough to get a signup bonus. I'm sure you're asking how do I do this?
The method that I used back when I was at school in Ohio, was the music building where I spent a lot of my time was very close to the post office and the CVS. I would go on a break, put some music on, go to CVS and buy the daily limit, $1,000 worth of Visa gift cards, which, unlike all the other cash equivalent gift cards, used to code as debit cards all the time.
You can add a pin. It came with a pin. I would meander on over from the CVS to the post office, buy money orders with those debit cards, because you can buy money orders with a debit card but not a credit card at the post office. And then I would take a screenshot of the money order into my mobile banking app, pay off the credit card bill that initially bought the gift card, my cost of spending $1,000 with roughly $5 so like 0.5%.
Then for each $1,000 block I spent, I was hitting a signup bonus of maybe like two, three, or four grand that was worth at least $800. It took a little bit of time, a little bit of money. But after each new credit card I'd have like at least one round trip economy ticket to Europe. That got me hooked.
I have a ton of questions about this. First off, where do we even learn how to do something like this? Because if I was a poor college student, I would just give up on traveling.
The internet is a wonderful place, especially within the churning and manufactured spending community. While there's certainly a lot of secret, not shared on public form information. There's so much information on public forums. There's all these great websites that make it easily accessible. If you want to do this and you're listening to this, you have no excuse not to.
Just Google churning community and that exists somewhere on Reddit.
Yes, there's a huge Reddit community. There is a great community on FlyerTalk for more advanced stuff. Then there's many individual bloggers that also have their own communities in their own libraries of posts.
Second question. How are credit card companies okay with this? If they are basically giving away these signup bonuses and you're paying off your cards, aren't they just losing money?
Well, it's really hard to be an unprofitable customer to a bank as a credit card user. Even someone like me who, I mean not so much now, but in my heyday at school for a few years, I would get between four and six credit cards per quarter and basically just spend the minimum spend to get the sign-up bonus.
Then I would never use the card again or cancel it. So it's difficult to imagine that card alone would be profitable for the banks, but just the chance that I could then use another card in the future. On average, banks are willing to give out these really generous signup bonuses because on average, a new customer to them is worth at least thousands of dollars.
Even giving away one of the most generous signup bonuses ever, which I'd say conservatively valued at $1,500 Chase Sapphire Reserve a couple of years ago, $100,000 signup bonus. They're going to make that money back real quick without that much spending. They make money, a little bit of money off people going into debt and paying that back.
But contrary to what people think that's actually not how they make most of their money. They make most of their money by opening up to other lines of business. Chase has been especially successful with that in terms of getting high spending millennials from the Chase Sapphire Reserve into using them for mortgages and for wealth management and all types of services as well as just the interchange fees.
Every time you -- let's say you spend $100,000 at an art gallery. Chase is going to take at least a grand of that. So if there's just some percentage chance that you'll use that card over the next 10 years for that. All the LTV data is siloed, but it doesn't take much to make it really profitable for them to spend a lot on customer acquisition.
This is one way to do it. Even if they have a few unprofitable customers here and there, the offer by and large still really works for them. And then even if I'm getting $1,000 in value from it, it's not a thousand on their balance sheet. These are points that then transfer to other airline miles or other hotel points. The net effect for them is pretty minimal, even for unprofitable customers, probably maximally just like a few hundred dollars per card.
What you're saying is the credit card business is a good business to be in?
Yes, it's a great business to be in.
Last question in all this churning, how does this effect your credit as an individual? Because part of your credit report is you get a little bit of a ding when you open up a new line of credit, you get a new credit card. Is opening up four to six credit accounts per quarter not a thing that hurts your credit?
It is not. That is one of the biggest misconceptions about credit card churning, and in the miles and points world, that getting lots of cards is bad for your credit. If you don't pay your bills it is bad for your credit if you do that on more cards than less. But fundamentally the thing that affects your credit score more than anything else is your credit utilization.
This is the percentage of credit that you have across all of your banks that you're utilizing at one time. So the more cards you have, the greater credit you have. And as a result of having greater credit, as long as you're spending doesn't increase proportionally to the credit you get, your utilization goes down, which is the most important thing.
You are actually making your credit better by doing this.
Exactly. And then you are increasing your number of accounts, which is positive for your credit. So these are more long-term things and as you said, each credit card you get anytime you cancel it, it's a small ding. But the more important stuff is your age, the amount of accounts you have, and most importantly utilization, all three of which are helped by this.
So here you are, a member of the churning community, getting all these flights for significant amounts off. How old were you when you were doing all this?
Nineteen to start.
One of the most oft repeated refrains in the startup community is that you should start by solving your own problem because you know more about your problems than anybody else. It prevents you from falling into this trap where you build something that nobody wants.
At this point in time when you're saving money on flights, had it occurred to you that maybe this is a service that other people would want?
Yes. For years while I was doing this, I was giving lots of sometimes solicited, sometimes unsolicited advice to friends and family on what to do with their credit cards or lack thereof, how to use the miles and points that they had.
It's hard not to talk about it when you're doing something good.
Yes, exactly. People would say, "Oh wow, you went on this trip. How'd you do that?" "Well, let me tell you, I spent $40 to go to London, this trip." Forty dollars and an hour and a half of my time over the course of going to CVS and the post office. I'd say probably within the year I had my first paying customer just as an hourly rate and I didn't even think of it as a business.
It was just more like a hustle, a consulting thing. I didn't even probably use the word consulting until two years after discovering churning. But people just enjoyed the help that I gave. I really like teaching and helping others and with that spread, within two years when I was 21, I was probably doing at least a grand a month in terms of just people paying me for my time.
And first I charged way too little and then soon I read enough Tim Ferriss and hourly rate stuff that I bumped it up to $100 and then $150 and settled around there while I was in college.
Give me an idea of what it would be like to be one of your consulting clients at that time. I would come up to you and say, "Zach, I don't know anything about flights. Can you help me out?"
No, it probably wouldn't be that because then it wouldn't really make sense. It would be more like, "Hey, I have a trip coming up. I have all these points. How do I use them?"
People who already had points and people who already knew they had specific travel plans.
Yes, it was generally helping optimize for a vacation or for a business trip. Generally speaking, the pitch was, "You'll learn something, you'll enjoy the conversation, and even after my fee you'll come out ahead."
So at some point you're making thousands of dollars a month from consulting and you ended up starting another business because you didn't view EasyPoint Consulting at that point in time as an actual business. Tell me about how you got into your more tech product business at that time.
Land was an idea that I had because I love traveling internationally. I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East. After my year in Israel I've lived again in Israel and Jordan. I always felt the pain of international travelers, especially to new places. Wouldn't it be great if there was one place I can go that can give me all the essential information that I ever wanted to have?
Cultural norms, transportation. I had eight of these things that I wanted to standardize information-wise in a fun, compelling app product. It was solving my own problem. I still think it's a great product idea. I do have the MVP on the app store, if you look for Land Happier, you could find it. I made the mistake that a lot of people make, which is isn't necessarily solving a problem that no one has, but it's solving a problem which no one's willing to pay for.
Then also finding like founder/product fit. I'm not going to be really happy leading a tech project and essentially being a product manager. I'm very passionate about the products that I use and have a lot of opinions, but I'm not excited. I don't think the way that product managers do. And it took me a little over a year of some pain to realize that. I tried to solve my own problem.
I tried to build a great product for other people. And then this was near the end of when I was in college and then I was working on this while doing a bunch of other things post-college. And then I decided, "Listen, I've spent too much time and energy and my own money on trying to make this work and see no end in sight of burn and when I'm going to get customers."
So decided to pack my things and move to Jordan, focus on other stuff.
Finding product/founder fit is one of the most underrated things, I think. And starting a company, because if you don't like what you're working on, you're probably not going to be good at it. You're definitely not going to be happy.
Why do you think it took so long for you to figure out that this wasn't the type of business that was right for you? What do you think is the kind of business that matches up with your personality?
I think it took me a while because when I put my mind to doing something, I do it.
Yes, it would take something structural, like it doesn't make sense for me to do this, to even consider having that reflection, which is something I think a lot of founders would do good to have more part of their regular reflection of like, "Am I happy doing this? Should I be doing this?"
I think the types of things that make me most happy are things where I'm working with people and having interesting, stimulating conversation on a regular basis in person. I think running businesses where I'm doing some type of sales. I enjoy sales, I enjoy explaining things to others and I enjoy negotiating and I enjoy doing strategic thinking.
I do think in many ways, the role of an executive or investor is very well suited to what I like. I think doing something that's less product focused and more customer focused. But there is an intersection of those, and I do have ambitions for EasyPoint to have more tech products in the future.
Just knowing that I'm not going to be the one that oversees those products in terms of all the little stuff.
So tell me about the decision to shut down -- what was it called? Land Happier?
Yes, it was called Land, then the name of on the app store is Land Happier. It's the URL we got.
That's a good name. It's a good URL. I want to Land Happier. Tell me about the decision to shut something like that down. Because I think a lot of people work on things and they're not going well or they're not enjoying it. But like you said, they're committed.
It's really hard to know, "When should I shut this down and move onto something else?" And, "Am I going to be okay psychologically if I do that or I'm going to be depressed and not be able to start another company?" What was that experience like for you?
Well, if you're thinking about shutting something down and you've had that nagging feeling, you probably should, just as a general rule. I promise you'll feel a lot better, or at least I did. I definitely didn't feel worse. It felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.
So I actually made the decision pretty quickly while I was here in the Bay Area visiting my cousin and mentor Dan Rosen, who has been a successful entrepreneur that also moved from the East Coast to the Bay Area and we were just having a conversation about what I'm working on.
I think he's always been really good about pushing me to think and dream bigger and to do more of something that I think has more material impact on the world. He was just basically like, "What are you doing, Zach, come on." It also coincided with having this incredible opportunity to work with this amazing composer in Jordan that I've always enjoyed working with and listening to as well as playing with the Jordanian National Orchestra.
Having those two opportunities, having a yearning for more freedom, for more music and being at the time of my life, I think I moved there when I was 24. It all just seem to make very clear sense when we talked about it on some hike in Marin. The next day I told everyone I was shutting it down and I bought my plane ticket to Jordan a few days later.
So at this point you've still been running your consulting business helping people save money on flights on the side. Has it evolved at all in the course of you owning this product business or was it stagnant while you were running the product business?
Yes, I'd say like near the end of working on Land I started a productize my consulting and really get a better sense of my customers and who I can help out more as I was generally helping, I'd say family, friends, people that were my parents age, just plan vacations. But people that want to plan vacations that aren't frequent travelers, they ask a lot of follow-up questions.
They are not the amount of effort I put in reward that they get is good, but it's not as good as helping out a small business owner or even a medium size enterprise business owner where I could help them get the right credit cards, put their spending on the right cards and save them literally six figures in terms of increased return on spend or six figures worth of increased travel value to them just by doing this.
Then I started focusing more on really just people I knew and referrals. I never did any marketing for like points optimization plans for small business owners where we focused on both the acquisition of points as well as the spending as both are big areas of arbitrage and ways to get more value.
One of the, I think, most important things, especially for an early stage business owner, is to be able to tell certain customers, "Hey, this isn't for you." Because if you try to build a business that works for everybody, you're going to go crazy. You're going to have a product that doesn't really have product market fit. It doesn't work well for everybody and you're going to feel pretty bad all the time delivering a mediocre product to everybody. How was it for you deciding to focus on a different kind of customer than you'd focused on traditionally?
It was great. I loved being able to think more like a business owner than just maybe like a leisure traveler and put myself in their shoes. It helped me learn a lot more about, I think, just like good business owning fundamentals and looking at a balance sheet, looking at travel expenses and I really liked it.
How much would you say at that time, you were a student of business? Were you reading business books and then following business luminaries or were you just winging it?
Yes, I think I've been, as you put it, a student of business for a while. Since I was young, my dad was a business owner and I always learned a lot from him. I always was lucky to have a really good example to look up to and to ask questions about business. I helped out in the office from a very young age.
Then in high school I started doing more reading. When I read The Four Hour Work Week while I was living abroad before school, that really just changed my life in the way that I thought about work and lifestyle and creating value and capturing it. Since then I've been a pretty voracious reader of the way people think about business.
Are there any principles or learnings from The Four Hour Work Week that you still subscribe to today and that were infused in this whole process of how you were living your life?
Yes, it's not an original idea of Tim's but he really popularized it well, which is this idea of fear setting. So instead of goal setting, thinking, "Okay, if I want to do this thing that I'm afraid of, what's the worst thing that could possibly happen?"
Just realizing, especially for those of us that are lucky enough to grow up in the United States at this period of time, not growing up with financial insecurity, with food insecurity. There's really so much that we can do in this world and if we try something and we fail, the worst that can happen is really not that bad.
Just getting over that initially is something that I think most people in life, even those that come from having so much security, don't end up doing once in their life. I think Tim really just helped me apply a lot of the risk management principles that I think I was intuitively good at for things like poker, into my life and my business, broadly speaking.
Yes. It's interesting you mentioned that because I have a lot of software engineers on the podcast and one of the most consistent themes when I ask people, "What made you confident enough to start a business?"
Is this fact that at least as a software engineer it's pretty easy to fall back on your software engineering skills and just get a job, probably a very high paying job if your startup doesn't work out. For you, what was the worst-case scenario if none of this worked out?
For me, the worst-case scenario was I would continue to play music, continue to consult miles and points. Maybe play a little poker cash game. I've always been someone that it is hard for me to do just one thing at once and I've always tried to monetize my passions to some degree.
I was never really worried about what would – especially after that, reading The Four Hour Work Week and having the experience of living abroad. What would happen in terms of the worst-case scenario? Financially, I was more worried about just making sure that I was happy doing what I was doing.
Let's talk about poker for a second because it's come up so naturally in our conversation. You are one of the few people who I've had on the podcast who I also play poker within real life. I've been to what? Five or six of your poker games in San Francisco.
Yes. I haven't been any of yours yet.
Well mine are low stakes. You don't want to come to my games but yours are riveting. Why do you play poker Zach?
I really, really love poker. It's a beautiful game and I think one that teaches you important principles like risk management, practical statistics and math. This is the one that people just focus on and I think overblow but it's still true. Psychology, getting to understand others.
Good negotiating skills come from that. I think most importantly above all, emotional discipline and temperament. The game that we play in, and I think this is true for basically every game. It's really not that much about how skilled you are and how much you've studied the game theory and how much you know.
It's how well you execute that night and allow yourself to be your best thinking self and not let the emotions of winning against this one person, or trying to lock in a win, or trying to make up for the fact that you're down. I think that's the most important thing that sets apart the people that walk away with a ton of money and those that lose consistently.
I think that skill of being able to make quality, logically driven decisions under financial pressure is an amazing thing from poker. It is something that I think has given me the confidence as a business owner and investor.
You have far more sophisticated reasons for playing poker than I do.
It's just fun.
Yes, it's really fun and I find it a good excuse to be social while also exercising my brains. I'll get so bored if I just go to a bar and talk to people. But if I'm playing cards at the same time, it's super fun for me. All the points you made are, I think, really good.
Especially the idea of being under the pressure, especially financial pressure and yet having to make rational decisions in a situation where you're probably going to get tilted if you lose or feel overconfident if you win.
How do you think that translates into being a startup founder, which is also super risky, where you also have the potential for a financial disaster or at least the opportunity costs that you could have made way more money if you weren't starting a company. Do you think there are any parallels there?
I think there are a lot of parallels. First off, being almost any type of startup founder is so much riskier than let's say, being a professional poker player or a gambler. Being a startup founder, especially if you're trying to do the VC funded, not that most Indie Hackers are this way, but if you are trying to do the VC funded growth or go broke, statistically you are just going to lose a lot of money and time and opportunity costs the vast, vast majority of the time.
Hopefully you'll learn so much and have enough network that it's not just looking at that in isolation, it's long-term. Compared to when you break it down from a, “How much money can I earn?” standpoint. It's a very risky thing to do. It's not just about maximizing the amount of money that you can make.
It's about thinking of the other types of risks like, "What are the risks of my happiness if I do a job that I don't enjoy?" "What are the risks of like, if I want to build this business, knowing that I didn't do that and having regret?" There's a lot of other types of risks.
Startup founders, I think many are just impulsive and frankly don't think about this, especially first-time startup founders. I know I was definitely in that category when I tried to build Land. I think especially serial founders, they are evaluating risk on many different types of axis, not just money.
I think by being around risk and having to make both complex and financial and emotional decisions on a regular basis, you have a much greater comfort as well as, I think, understanding of risk than those that don't have to make those decisions frequently.
Yes, so honestly very similar to poker, but just a lot riskier and the problems are a lot more complex and there's the concept of unknown unknowns. Where in poker, as long as no one's cheating, there's only 52 cards.
You are going to know the odds. They can't – there can't be some macro-economic thing that then just pushes the chips off the table. Poker is, in that respect, and is a lot less risky than going into business or going into financial markets.
What do you think are some of the things that you learned from your previous business failure with Land and from your years of consulting that helped you on later? Because if I look at my startup journey in my twenties, a lot of it was very risky. There was lots of opportunity cost that I gave up.
I could have just gone and gotten a job at Google or something. Instead I was making pennies as a startup founder and none of the businesses that I worked on really worked out in an economic way, but I also became a significantly better developer. I learned a lot about business and marketing.
I learned a lot about talking to people in sales. I learned a lot about a ton of stuff that basically helped me build a successful business later on. Do you think your early experiences, despite the risks that you took and some of the setbacks were worthwhile?
Definitely. I think the main reason they were worthwhile are not financial. They're just the experiences that I was able to have as a result, learning some lessons firsthand. Everyone when they are giving advice or talking about their experience always says, "Oh, I wish someone told me this."
But the reality is the best lessons you learn in life, you have to learn the hard way. So with Land I learned the importance of building a great team and having a good culture and having good communication with the people you are working with. I think I would have honestly kept building Land for even longer if it wasn't for a pretty negative experience with my lead developer.
That made it just much more of a drag than if it was someone that I felt really good about working with.
So learning that and just having a lot more care in who I hired and who I brought into future ventures. I think that's worked out well now with the way EasyPoint is and the kind of culture we have there. But other lessons are looking at the thing we discussed before. Founder product fit, "Am I happy doing this?"
"Is this something that I could see myself doing?" The way EasyPoint transitioned from the productized consulting to the concierge service it is today. It started as the side hustle I'm just doing myself. I'm already doing it for my own travels. All of this consulting I'm doing I love doing it for myself.
So having the opportunity to serve customers is just more ability to get to think about miles and points in a fun way. Discovering the opportunities for doing miles and points arbitrage allowed me to just do more of this stuff that I do myself anyways.
Tell me about this transition to productize consulting because I think one of the cool things about starting a startup is it doesn't have to end up the same way that it started. You can start by doing something like normal consulting. You can take that into a productized consulting.
You can eventually scale and grow and turn your business into something that's much better than what it started as, by building on the earlier advantages and learnings that you have. I think that's not obvious to a lot of first-time founders. They think, "Oh, whatever I start today, that has to be what it's going to be like two years from now."
They have grand ambitions and it's really hard to start at the end. You need to start at the beginning. I'm curious about this midway point when you turned EasyPoint from a consulting business to a productized consulting business. What did that actually look like?
I was helping a family friend with a vacation and they are a business owner. The conversation came up for the business of some quick suggestions of how I can help. We ran the math and it's like, "Oh, if you implement this, this is easily 50K that you're going to get in increased return on spend and what it cost you to implement.”
The lightbulb went off and I was like, "Oh, if I can do a really quick analysis and provide one thing that then does that, imagine if I then get to understand their business a little bit more, put a few more hours of my time into it and give them customized points optimization plan so they're able to earn as many points as possible and then spend them in a way that makes them go longer than they would with their own knowledge of miles and points.
You are basically taking something that worked for one client and expanding it and scaling into something that could work for lots of different clients?
Yes. Every small business owner is leaving a lot of money on the table. What is your points optimization strategy for Indie Hackers?
Indie Hackers is owned by Stripe. I've got my Stripe credit card and I just have Stripe pay for my flights. I cheat a little bit.
That's not bad. Call some brothers listening to this, "What's your credit card optimization strategy for Stripe?" It's different for very large enterprises, but this is the way I would usually start most sales conversations or learning conversations of, "What's your points optimization strategy?"
And everyone is like, "Oh, I don't, I don't have one." "Oh, what's going on?" Almost every business owner, if there was an easy way to increase their bottom line by 1%, they are going to put a little time into it. But because it's points on credit cards, they just don't do it.
I've never worked with a business owner in which I haven't been able to increase their bottom line by one and a half percent, not a single one. On average. It's closer to two and a half percent. And this is simply just by getting them the right credit cards for the type of spending they are doing and then helping them use their points better for the things they already want to spend on.
This is iteration two of you helping business owners. Would you say that you had found product market fit at this point?
I did not, for the very clear reason of, you have to solve someone's problem. So with Land, I was solving, I think, people's problems, but without a market opportunity. Here I was providing a lot of value but not solving a problem.
No one knows that they don't have a points optimization strategy. No one is suffering from this. Inevitably I'd have a conversation, people would be very interested, ask a lot of questions, I'd show them the math of how I'm going to save them at least five figures after our first meeting within a year.
I have the guarantee where if you sign up for our productize points optimization plans, and I don't get you double what my fee is within the first year, we give you all your money back and $10,000. That's how confident I am in our ability to add value. I'd think, "Oh, with an offer like that, it's risk free."
But for most entrepreneurs, they are too busy, not necessarily organized. They have a lot of things and solving something that isn't their problem always goes down to the bottom of the list. The problem with product market fit there was just it wasn't solving a problem.
I was just giving people free money. And I know that sounds like, "Well, of course that should work," but it does not. I had to learn that the hard way.
So was it more the case that you're telling people, Hey, I'm going to save you this much money. You're basically going to make, 10, 15 grand if you are spending a million a year on your credit card or something like that. They're like, "Oh, that sounds great." And then they don't get in touch.
They don't actually sign up. Or is it more the case that the people you talked to were intrigued and signed up, but nobody was searching for this and so it was hard for you to get more customers?
Yes, it's somewhere in between. Whereas it would just take the trust of a referral or an in person communication to close basically every deal I've done. So I've done like 30 of those over the last like two and a half years or so. I never really tried to build an outbound marketing campaign for this and I'm sure that this business could get a lot more customers.
For any of you listening, part of the offer that I'm extending to Indie Hacker listeners is $500 off any points optimization plans that are signed up for within the first week of this podcast coming out and $250 off all plans after that. So if you're a business owner and you don't mind spending a few hours that net you at least $800 an hour in value for your time, then shoot me an email in the show notes and check out the link for examples of what it looks like.
So I just think it's still a great business. But the problem of just making people aware of the problem would take a lot of work and it was work that I wasn't particularly excited about doing and didn't have the money or the vision to hire someone to do it yet. So it never really got off the ground.
I also had other things going on. I was never trying to grow it really fast. It was just a way to make money that I enjoyed. I was just more attending to my customer's needs as opposed to thinking, "How can I drive this to be this big company?"
It is so interesting that you have, with both businesses, as you mentioned, found a way to build something that is somewhat valuable to people, but they are not willing to pay for or they are not willing to divert a lot of attention to you. In the case of EasyPoint version two, it's that as a business owner, perhaps I'm super focused on, "How do I make my company successful?"
Or, "How do I stop my company from dying?" And even saving $10,000 a month might not be that number one thing that's going to help me do that. If that's the case, even though it's free money, I'm not going to use EasyPoint because why would I? It's not my number one concern. How did you decide to take your learnings and build the current version of EasyPoint version three, let's call it?
Yes. To be clear, I, and my CEO, we are still doing these points optimization plans and we're happy to help and we love working with entrepreneurs.
V2 is still around?
V2 is still around. We're not advertising it besides this podcast. Yes, we've been working on for almost two years now as the concierge service where it's very simple flights that people want, we take care of it for them with good service and charge less than any other possible way that they could pay for it.
For example, I am flying to Cape town and December, let's say I want it to be an EasyPoint concierge customer. What would that journey look like?
So we're a flight concierge service that focuses on business and first-class international long haul travel. Flying to Cape Town would definitely apply for that. You don't want to be in economy for flights that are that long, at least if you want to enjoy the first few days of your trip. We average about 40% off retail flights.
There's a lot of variants with that. Sometimes it is just 10% sometimes it is as high as 80%, especially for last minute. The way it would work is you contact us either via our mobile app or the way most of our customers interact with us is over WhatsApp and telegram groups where my team of concierge that are available 24/7, 365 days a year.
It's a group with all of us in there. Anytime you want a flight request, you just give us the information via the app, WhatsApp, Telegram and then some over email. We get back to you with a quote that will always be cheaper than the retail price by at least 5% guaranteed, no matter what.
And then when you're ready to book, we give you a secure form and take your personal and payment information. We use Stripe for the credit card information and we never see the numbers, as a result of switching to Stripe recently. Great product.
After that we just book the flight for you, send your confirmation numbers, and take care of any changes, cancellations, meal requests, seat requests like any other concierge service. The two things that mainly set us apart are that we are available 24/7 and mainly interact over text, although we'll get on the phone if anyone wants to, but usually people prefer text. We have the best prices on luxury flights.
How do you make money and all of this, because you are basically saving me money on a flight. Where does your revenue come from?
What we do for our biggest savings, are buying miles and points from businesses that otherwise wouldn't use them effectively. Then we use those miles and points to book our client's flights.
Where we make money is in the difference between what we pay for the miles and points and then what we charge the customer. So when we save our clients 40% off, that's with our margin included.
Very cool. You are basically doing this arbitrage type thing or you're finding these miles points for cheap and you are using them on your customers and then you are taking a cut from that.
How do you find miles and points for cheap? That seems to be like the difficult part of any arbitrage opportunity. How do you find what you are selling for less than you were able to sell it for?
The community that is actively doing miles and points trading or arbitrage is fairly small and fairly concentrated within the like Hasidic Jewish community within the New York Tristate area. I didn't even know this existed actually until going to like a Shabbat lunch in college.
I was telling a visiting rabbi about this trip to Israel that I just did on points. He was like, "Oh, do you know any of the brokers?" I was like, "What do you mean, what brokers are you talking about?" And he's like, "Oh, Yes, the brokers that are brokering all the miles and points."
I was like, "Tell me more. Yes, tell me more." I'm from New York, so I went home, and I went to Brooklyn and met a couple of his friends and learned all about it.
My eyes were like, "Oh, wow, there's a big opportunity here.' Most people that are doing miles and points arbitrage, they give a bad name to that word in that their approach, broadly speaking, is buying any type of mile or point with not that much due diligence and then booking their client's flights and 5% to 10% of the time there'll be some type of issue because often what we are doing is against the terms of service of the airlines.
But there are ways to do so that actually eliminate all risks for the customers. It involves paying a bit more for your miles and points on average and not using just any supply and doing a little more diligence. That's what we do. That's how we've been able to book a couple thousand flights without a single issue.
What we are generally doing is buying a transferable point currencies like a Chase or an Amex and then transferring those directly from the business owner brokers like Amex or Chase account directly to frequent flyer accounts we make for our clients. How we do that as a bit of a secret sauce.
That's essentially how it works. Being able to do it and have access to the liquidity is not something that just any upstart person could do. I feel good about the (inaudible) that we've created and the other ways we are currently looking into acquiring miles and points.
Yes, I like how this works because like you said, as a customer, number one, I'm communicating with you over like a WhatsApp group or Telegram group. It's very informal, but very fast. I'm basically texting you, which is exactly what I want to be able to do if I'm booking something as important as a flight.
I want to make sure I save money and if there's any issues, I want you to be able to get in touch with me very quickly, so it makes sense that you're doing it that way. I like the fact that you are, as you put it, creating frequent flyer accounts for your customers. That means I could be an EasyPoint concierge customer without having any miles or points of my own. I just sign up.
Yes, there's no requirement to use your own miles or points. We also do that as a service as well, but our customers are the type of people that need to get somewhere. They are looking online for the price and instead of going out and having to deal with all that search themselves, whether it's them or their executive assistants, now they just text us.
We give them a quote and we take care of all the booking process, all of the service-related things and do it at a cheaper price without having to deal with any of the miles or points themselves.
Earlier with V2 when you had your productized consulting, you had a product market fit issue where you were basically saving people money, but it wasn't their number one concern to save money in that way. As business owners with EasyPoint concierge, it seems like you're more focused on consumers again rather than businesses. Is that true?
Yes, I'd say like our business is very much like B to C to B in that our clients are very specific type people. We really shine for the last-minute business traveler. In that last-minute airlines actually open up a ton of award availability via their miles, but they jack up the prices for cash tickets.
So our inventory and our cost to book someone a ticket goes down a lot in the last 24 hours to 72 hours and then to a lesser degree in the week before. The prices for almost everyone else goes up. The value we add to our customers on the price is probably like 2 X difference in the last minute.
And the service matters more because it's usually a little more stressful to book a ticket in the last 48 hours than a leisure trip months in advance.
Our clients are basically exclusively investors like well-capitalized founders and executives and high end international consultants, people that don't consider flying economy for long haul flights.
To date they have either worked with travel agencies that have been overcharging them or not performing on the service or just booking flights online themselves and then switching to us, we are saving them literally like thousands of dollars on every flight that they're doing.
If you like the sound of thousands of dollars off your flight, let's add another $200 to that. If you are listening to this and have an upcoming business or first-class flight that you would like to book by using the code Indie Hacker, if you book within the next week with us, you'll get $200 off your first flight and you could use that code whenever to get $100 off your first flight.
Maybe a little too late for my flight to Cape Town, but I'll keep you in mind for future reference.
Oh, I didn't say, so how does your flight to Cape Town work? You get integrated to WhatsApp, Telegram. You let us know. Have you booked the flight yet?
I already booked the flight. This is a couple of weeks ago.
I know, I'm an idiot.
I know, next time. I fly all the time. We have so many Indie Hackers meetups all over the place. I've got a lot of excuses to fly.
Okay, let's convene after the podcast and see if it is a refundable flight because you probably overpaid.
I definitely overpaid. It was an expensive flight. I think I'm on one of the very first -- there's like a whole new direct flight from, I think, JFK to Cape Town and it's brand new. I think that they're not starting until December and I'm on the eighth flight out or something.
It's exciting, but not cheap.
I have a ton of questions I want to ask about how your business works and about how you came up with it. First, the fact that you discovered this arbitrage opportunity, how involved was that in the genesis of this idea? Was it like you wouldn't have started this in the first place, this concierge idea if you hadn't?
No, yes, because it wouldn't have been possible. I saw my previous lines of business, I discovered the idea, I met the brokers and I already had a lot of my own points. I knew a couple of high net worth individuals that were traveling a lot and I just started booking them flights, just myself. I didn't even think of it as, this is now EasyPoint.
It was more because EasyPoint, the brand and the domain and everything, that didn't come to be until I was doing the points optimization plans, like the productized consulting. I didn't even think of this as EasyPoint. This was just, I'm booking someone a flight.
For me it's fun because I literally at night will relax by looking up the way to get a good deal off your miles and points to Bangkok or something, someplace that I want to go. Now I'm just doing that for other people and getting paid for it. I'm very lucky to have found something that I really love what I do.
Cool. You come up with the idea, it works. You decide you are going to be, as you said, B to C to B, because these are business class flights that consumers are taking. What was the first step in building out a team to build this concierge business? This is a little bit different than what you had been doing earlier.
It's a little bit official, in a way, a little more serious. How did you turn that into a real company?
I got pretty lucky in that, the one other time I've worked for someone else in life was a doing an internship for the points guy. Through that I got to know the community there and that they have a really big travel hacking, points, optimizing community.
When I was doing this, when I decided I needed to hire someone else, I just posted on their Facebook group and then someone messaged me, or a few people messaged me and I just got really lucky that my first hire,
Cameron was just an absolute rock star. He is with us today as COO and has the same, I think, passion for travel that I do both on the getting the best deals as well as just personally traveling. He is always on the move on the plane and that's how I lived my life for a few years as well.
You mentioned earlier that with Land you really learned the value of working with people that you like working with and that really can end up not liking a business, not because it doesn't work, but because of the people you're working with just don't vibe with you.
I think a lot of Indie Hackers have yet to ever be managers or yet to find co-founders or hire anybody and your experience going from Land to EasyPoint how can somebody more effectively find people to work with that they actually like?
I think it's just really about having integrity with yourself and just drawing lines. For me this was the culmination of advice from a lot of different people, but it boils down to, would I want to have them over at my house for dinner party? If the answer is no, they are not going to be part of the company. It’s just that simple.
Are they invited to the poker game?
Funny enough, the second hire, Peter, was a good friend that I knew through poker and didn't really have the background in travel, but it's a similar type of analytical skills that are good for finding the best deals on travel as well as that are good for poker.
Then, he started just diving into travel and, he, like Cameron has been and is here still. I've also generally hired, and I don't recommend, I'd say from what I've learned, like doing this, it just happened to work out well for me of really hiring friends and hiring friends of friends. As a way to make sure that just, I always really enjoyed working with the people.
So at this point, you're at a team of 10, I think you said.
What does everybody do? How is the team set up?
There's actually been some changes lately just in terms of how we are organizing things. It's always in flux as a startup responding to the business needs. But we have Cameron who is our COO and he manages all the concierge as well as starting our first dabbles into growth marketing.
We've never done any marketing to date it's all been organic referrals and people that I meet in person in terms of how people discover the business. We're starting to change that soon. But we've really taken the approach to date of just like improving our service offering and product and just trying to keep up with our customers versus trying to grow new customers.
I know that's not exactly answering your question, but it comes to how I've thought about hiring, which is generally been how can we just keep up with the growth as opposed to, I need to go find more growth. The more you do the business, the more you find things that you wish can be improved.
I've always taken this approach of let's try to get the business to a place where I can feel really confident, really in high integrity and say that we are the best flight concierge service. For basically anyone that flies business class, we are the best solution for you, bar none. If you are part of a large enterprise and you have a large team and need things to be accounted for in a very specific way.
We don't have a product that's great for larger enterprises now, but for any individuals or small teams, I could say that with confidence. The more I do it, the more I realize things need to change. I realized, "Hey, it's not good enough to just be available 20 hours a day and maybe not on Saturday.
We really need to be available 24/7 if what we are going to be booking people 24/7 because even if it's small, we need to be able to be there for people. So the concierge team now is five people. That's actually growing.
We are looking to make another hire right now, finding someone that is based in Asia and that allows us to basically always have two people that can help out with both communicating with the client, fixing problems, and finding tickets for them at any hour of the day.
So we have five concierges, Cameron's managing them and then we have a bunch of part time business development consultants of which each of them are doing a little bit of a different things. We have a full-time person working on business development and that has been going on for a few months. We've been growing very fast this year so it's almost a new hire every month on average.
Have you raised any money for EasyPoint or is it all self-funded based on your revenues?
Yes, I have not raised any money. I have taken out a couple loans just for growth and one for growth, one for cashflow. Got a term sheet for venture debt about a month ago. I am fundraising, doing an equity raise right now. To date I haven't done any fundraising.
So let me dig into your mindset behind this a little bit because this business seems like it has product market fit. You are talking about not having to do a ton of marketing, but you're still growing the team just to keep up with demand.
You've been through a bunch of different iterations where you've learned a lot and you've incorporated those lessons into the latest version of the business. What are your overall goals for EasyPoint Concierge and how big do you think this can get?
So I think our core concierge business can easily be a business with an enterprise value of like hundreds of millions of dollars, but I don't think billions. I do think that the concierge service positions us well for other tech products of which I've built prototypes before.
There are a few different areas of business that I think we could potentially grow to. For me the optionality is really important where we have this business with product market fit. That's going to be my focus. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of not being focused enough on finding product market fit and lucky enough to find a business with that.
I don't want to start investing a lot of emotional energy and capital into other things. We are at the point now where I feel very confident in our service and there don't need to be that many more tweaks to improve it such that I'm doing a fundraise to start to build out.
There no longer needed to be that many more tweaks to our core concierge service, which is why I'm doing a fundraise to start expanding to specifically one tech product, which will be helping consumers decide whether to use their own miles or points or cash when booking.
Imagine, let's say you sign for some frequent flyer programs and if I don't get you to cancel your Cape Town ticket and book with us, you better send up for frequent flyer program and earn the miles on your full fare ticket.
Let's say after this trip you'll have 30,000 miles on this airline, maybe you'll have 200,000 Chase Sapphire points and then next time you're booking, as opposed to trying to be the expert like me or have me that you can call, imagine if there was something that had default preferences, but you can adjust those preferences.
When you go online, let's say Google Flights or Expedia, it's connected to all of your points, all of your miles and recommends to you whether you should book with just a normal credit card or with miles or points.
So the way this will start is we'll use this engine to automate a lot of what our concierge are currently doing manually and help that on our backend. Once our back end is up to the place where our concierges basically don't have to do any searching themselves, then in tandem, but to start just working on the back end.
But at some point, in tandem, working on the consumer facing aspect for this, which will probably start as a Chrome extension and then I think eventually become its own like booking engine inside. I think that's a multibillion-dollar opportunity because there's a lot of miles and points out there. It's only growing and there's no good way to know whether you should use them or not.
How much of this ambition plays into your desire, as you said, you were fundraising and doing an equity round now. The other alternative is to basically stay independent be bootstrapped, grow off your own revenue. How much of your ambition is fueling your desire to raise and how much of it is just the unit economics of your business and running it as it currently is?
It's really just the ambition. We don't need money to continue growing our business at a pretty fast rate for the core business. It's more that I would love to work with a world-class CTO and give this other product a shot. The plan is not to continue doing like many raises down the line.
It's like, let's give myself nine months of runway to hire a tech team that doesn't put the core business at risk. Maybe start to invest some of the core businesses profits into that area of business. Get an MVP for the back end within a few months. Get an MVP for the front end in max six months. See if there's product market fit and if not, scrap it. So that's the plan there.
And still, even if I do end up going down this line of business, my focus will always be our core business with product market fit at least until we 20 X the business. Because our customers love us. We have product market fit. So I really want a 10 or 20 X the business of our core business before really considering putting a lot more percentage of my and my team's time into another product.
But I think what's nice about the product I described is that it really works in tandem with our concierge service. If we can automate a lot of our searching, that saves us a lot of time and will produce better results for our clients and we will never manually miss things.
It's an internal tool you would use as well as something that would be consumer facing?
Yes, there's the internal tool would power the consumer facing tool is just like, what is the best deal with miles or points? That's the internal tool. The consumer facing tool combines that with then some type of business logic of “Okay, here is how I value or here's how this consumer values their miles or points.”
And then is that greater or less than the cash value that you're reading on the page and then making it look nice and have good UX for that experience.
I mentioned at the beginning of this episode that EasyPoint has always been a side project for you. Yes, it's grown, it's got a lot of people working for it now. But you've also, throughout this entire story, all always been working on other things on the side. And one of those has been a fund that you've been working on. Tell me about how that plays into the story, when you started it, why you started it and how it affected your decisions with EasyPoint.
Yes, so I mentioned before that it was my cousin, Dan, who got me to dream bigger, think bigger, and then move to Jordan. He was the same person that I actually ended up starting this fund with. I ended up consulting for his company, Mosaic, in the fall of 2017 and spent a little bit of time here in the Bay Area.
While I was here, I was already investing and spending a lot of time researching Bitcoin and other crypto assets and went to a lot of meetups here and met people involved in the industry and was just really inspired by what was going on in the types of things people were building. I started co-investing with Dan, and he was like, “Zach, I think you're good at this and the way your mind works would be good for investing.’
I never thought of that as something as like, you know, I would be doing like with my main energy or focus more to something like I enjoy doing and that maybe much later in life I'd consider doing it. Dan and I were co-investing together and you know, after doing that for a bit, we really enjoy that working relationship.
I saw the types of investments that other funds and investors were making in the general sentiment. I think a lot of clear mistakes were being made. I did some analysis and consulting for two funds, both of which have now blown up since and was pretty shocked at just the way they did due diligence or lack thereof.
After that it gave me the confidence to be like, listen, I want to make good investments in this space. I was open to working for other people, but I just couldn't find a fund in which the thesis was enough. I can get behind that I would feel comfortable working for them. So I decided to start my own phone with Dan and now we've been up and running officially for a year and three months now and we are investing in the top entrepreneurs that are building on top of Bitcoin.
When you start a fund, cause some listeners might not be aware of exactly how it works. You're not really investing your own money, you're investing money from other people who basically contribute to your fund?
Yes, I think normally, especially in the VC world, that's the case. With us we knew that we needed to build a track record before being able to do that. So we started a fund at the beginning which was exclusively the partners and advisors money with just a pretty small amount of outside capital.
We've raised more now and continuing to do that fundraise. But, yes to start it was primarily those that are involved in the decision-making for our fund.
This seems like the perfect business for you because we've talked all this episode about you evaluating risk, you evaluating people, how you like really dealing with people and doing sales and how you can keep a cool head under a lot of financial pressure. I think the stereotypical line in Silicon Valley about how investors behave is not exactly being cool under financial pressure.
People making a lot of decisions based on emotion and psychology and following the herd. What do you think are the unique things that you bring to running a fund? And how do you view yourself as being able to outcompete other investors?
Yes, I think the thing that we've gotten down that is our biggest differentiator is just our thesis. The vast majority of funds don't even try to really have a focus thesis and the ones that do don't really execute on it. We're very specifically investing in the companies that are building on the BSV version of Bitcoin.
And the only liquid asset that we're holding is the either direct or derivative exposure to the BSV version of Bitcoin. So we are fairly narrowly focused. We think that we found the blockchain that basically everyone is going to be building on over the next many decades.
And as a result I think that's by far our biggest edge more than anything else. So there's our thesis. I think there's the fact that everyone in the fund that's a partner has actually built businesses themselves and has entrepreneurial experience, while I think a lot of the funds that have notoriety or popularity in Silicon Valley, they have a good deal of entrepreneur experience themselves by and large still most VCs don't really have much experience in actually building businesses from zero to one, which I think is really important for the support of entrepreneurs and we like to be the first money in when we can. Being able to help at that pre-seed and seed stage, if you haven't been there I think it's going to be really difficult.
So I obviously don't interview very many investors on the Indie Hackers podcast, but I think it's pretty fascinating that you were both an investor and a founder because as an investor you're trying to look at other founders and to tell, you know, is this a person who's going to succeed? Is this a business who's going to succeed?
But at the same time you're doing the same thing yourself. You're a founder. And so I wonder how much overlap there is on your thesis for what might make a business work and how you behave as a founder.
I've heard investors who, for example, are all about the team and they'll invest in any team if they think they're smart enough and talented enough and hardworking enough, regardless of the business idea.
And there are some investors who care all about the market and they think it doesn't really matter how good your team is if you're in a fast, promising and growing market they will put their money in because they believe in that. How would you say your behavior as an investor matches up with your beliefs and behavior as a founder?
Yes, all of it. The market is important, team is important. I know some people are pretty rad. Some investors who are radical in that they really just focus on one thing. But I think there is, it's largely overlap, but it's a little bit different in one that like, as an entrepreneur, you're not optimizing for the maximal market opportunity in EV.
You are hopefully maximizing for what you love and happiness and just where that coincides. Are miles and points the biggest market opportunity in the world right now? No. Is like investing in the blockchain that's going to be what transforms our economy over the next few decades is? My answer is yes. In that way it doesn't overlap in that, I think my fund has much higher risk adjusted expected value than my company does.
That also demonstrates in terms of where my time and focus is which is in the fund, not full time with EasyPoint. Market obviously is very important that our thesis is very narrow.
Team is important too, but like market has to be checked off where, if, let's say we meet founders that we don't think are maybe have like the same very high caliber of the rest of our portfolio companies, but they're building a business that we think is a great opportunity within a sub market that we think is a great opportunity, then we're going to invest.
So there's some overlap there but it is very different, each side of the table, whereas an investor, you're thinking over a long time horizon, you're trying to maximize your EV and minimize downside risk.
Where, as an entrepreneur you just want to build your thing. I want to build my fund, but it's a different type of like build energy. I do think what is true for both is that everyone that I work with is someone I really want to hang out with.
And one of my business partners at the fund, one of the main partners, he and I started a business together in the past, did a podcast together and have been the best of friends since college. To me that, that is an edge.
That's not a downside. A lot of people don't like doing – and I started the fund with my cousin, so it's like in terms of doing business with friends and family, I've done it.
There are certainly downsides to it, but I think the net is very positive. When you do business with people that you really care about you conduct yourself, I think in a better way. It really strengthens the relationships, even if it could be hard at times. Some people might do it with people and then they have a falling out.
I think fundamentally you're not a different person when you do business. There's just more pressure. And if under pressure you find that you and that other person aren't a great fit, well it might not have come out as friends, but you are both still people and you conducted yourselves and made your choices.
Yes. That's who you are. I didn't start Indie Hackers with my brother, but we worked together and you're right, it's great when it works well because for example, last night we needed to have a meeting.
We were going to meet about a particular document we needed to put together and we just talked for four hours about our personal lives and it's great. You know, I can't imagine a more fun way to work on something than to do with my brother.
Yes. My brother is actually is doing a little bit of business development, social media work for us for\EasyPoint and it's an opportunity to get to talk to him more.
Yes. You are running both this fund and EasyPoint at the same time. I think for most people it's very difficult to start a business on the side of their job or even to run one full time business all by itself.
It's unimaginable I think to try to run two different businesses. They are very different kinds of businesses that require very different kinds of expertise and skills and knowledge. How do you do that effectively?
Well, I'm very lucky in that for easy point. You know, I've talk a little bit about Cameron. The fact that Cameron is running the operations and the day to day allows my effort to EasyPoint to really be like strategic grand vision and then just sales that aren't an additional effort for me.
I meet a lot of people in my world of investing now that are ideal clients for the fund. Ideal clients for EasyPoint. That’s how EasyPoint, I think, has grown as virally as it has been where I'm meeting with a lot of potential companies and potential investors for the fund and I'm not just another investor, I'm another investor who has the best damn travel business and saved them $3,000 on their last trip to Asia.
It's very synergistic and I think that's also intentionally why I didn't shut down EasyPoint when I wanted to start the fund and have this ambition of being a world-class investor. EasyPoint has really helped getting my name out there and getting the fund's name out and then vice versa. Meeting people just in trying to grow my fund and make good investments, I’ve met people that have been good clients for EasyPoint. The majority of my time and my focus is on the fund. But when it's on EasyPoint it’s higher level, strategic thinking and because I'm not as involved in the day to day, I think it actually gives me a little bit of an edge in terms of making those decisions where so many entrepreneurs because they're so involved in the day to day minutiae it’s really easy to not think bigger.
The way that I've set these up, I think like EasyPoint has actually been as successful as it has been because it's been a side hustle and I think a lot of people are like, “Oh wait, you're saying if you were full time I'd be less successful?”
Maybe at this point now like I could grow the business faster if I was full time, but I wouldn't have gotten to this point of finding product market fit if I didn't just follow what my customers really wanted on the side. If I was trying to build this specific type of business, I probably would have toiled with my productized consulting for two years or something versus finding it organically.
I think they work very synergistically. I play music, I play poker. Those are things that are skills that I've developed that I continue to enjoy developing and I find – and I'm not doing either of those like a ton, but the more I do those, the better clarity of thinking I have when I'm working at the fund.
I think EasyPoint is like that as well, where it's nice to have as a way to do strategic thinking. That's something that's your baby, that's maybe not your main venture just to keep those wheels turning and also to really empathize with entrepreneurs as well. A lot of VCs, they think back to when they were being an entrepreneur, but maybe they haven't been one for 20 years now.
For me, I still run a business, so I find a lot of times that maybe my first reaction of thinking how to say something isn't the best thing I think, “Okay, how would I, how would I feel if I was the EasyPoint founder getting this and then I reflect and, and write that. It's been a very synergistic thing.
Yes. So cool to hear how they both work together because I think it'd be very difficult to do it if they didn't. It makes perfect sense that you're able to recognize that they did and then decided to keep doing both of them at the same time.
Yes. And I would encourage more people to – you don't want to have like multiple big things that just like eat away at your time. But having passions that take up some set amount of hours that you're disciplined about. It’s just like one day a week where it's a few hours on EasyPoint and then the rest is just helping and supporting here and there.
It's important to have that discipline, but if you're able to have that discipline, like having multiple passions I think is very synergistic and a lot of my like heroes are not people that like worked in one industry in one career and didn't have other things.
It's people that were able to develop skills and develop ventures or even become artists and did those all overlapping.
Yes. I have been playing a lot of chess recently in taking chess lessons and I've yet to figure out a way to make it work with Indie Hackers in any way, but I will keep my eye out. Zach, this podcast is listened to by a great many early stage founders who would love to start a business or who have already started one but are struggling to figure things out. What's your advice, given all your experiences for someone in that position, what can they learn from what you've learned?
Product founder fit. Make sure you're loving what you're doing or you're going to love what you're doing real soon. I think have really regular reflection. It's hard.
The last week, frankly, I haven't been that great about it, but every day when I end the workday or at least end any of like my larger tasks that I have to do, I think, “Okay, how did your day go well? How did it go poorly? How can I do better tomorrow? How do I make my schedule tomorrow?”
Allow myself to have the success that I want to have and the happiness that I want to have. And then, more like weekly or every couple of weeks, deeper reflection of like, “Am I really happy doing this?
“What do I love and what do I not like and how can I cut the stuff I don't like out?” And you know, this is almost therapeutic to say it out loud. Just like what I know I need to do. I've been pretty good about doing it but I can always do better. I'll do a better reflection today as a result of you asking the question.
Glad to help. Founded product fit. Zach Resnick, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. Can you tell listeners where they can go to learn more about EasyPoint and your fund?
Yes, so we'll put this all in the show notes, but our website for EasyPoint is EasyPoint dot M-E. EasyPoint.me. If you want to learn more about our points optimization plans, it's easypoint.me/consulting.
And if you want to learn more about our fund, it's Unbounded Capital and it's UnboundedCapital.com. For anyone interested in the points optimization plans, $500 off in the first week, $250 after that, and for flights, $200 off in the first week, $100 after that. Thank you for having me on Courtland.
Thanks so much Zach. Listeners, if you enjoyed hearing from Zach, I would love it if you reached out to him on Twitter and let him know. He is at trumpet is awesome with no E at the end. @trumpetisawsom. So if you learned anything or you appreciated hearing a story, take a second and say thanks. I also love it when you reach out.
You can find [email protected] which is a community of many thousands of founders and developers who are helping each other get started building profitable online businesses. So if you're working on something new or just thinking about getting started, I encourage you to make a post there and tag me so I can respond.
I'm @csallen and again, that's IndieHackers.com. Thanks so much for listening and I will see you next episode.
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