How Foundr Built an Entrepreneurial Empire with Instagram

How Foundr Built an Entrepreneurial Empire with Instagram

Nathan Chan, CEO and Publisher of Foundr, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss powerful strategies for organic social media growth.

Please Support Our Sponsors:

Huge thanks to our amazing sponsors for helping us make this happen. Please support them; we couldn't do it without their help! This week:

Full Episode Details

Reach Your Audience Where They Are

When you’re starting a business, you won’t find anyone who tells you that social media is optional. Regardless of your personal affinity for it, it’s undeniable that social media is an essential asset to growing your business.

That’s not to say that blindly firing out content on all social channels is the way to go. There is certainly strategy involved and not every avenue is right for your business. It might take a bit of testing and plenty of trial and error, but you can find where your audience is hanging out and focus your efforts.

That’s the idea presented by Nathan Chan, CEO and Publisher of the aptly titled Foundr magazine. He’s no amateur when it comes to social media strategy, having grown Foundr’s Instagram following from 0 to over 500,000 in just one year! That’s no coincidence either; he specifically chose Instagram after running multiple tests across various platforms and discovering where his audience is.

In This Episode

  • How to strategically grow an organic following through Instagram
  • How diverse content formats can help you leverage influence
  • Why being good at sales is just as important as being good at social
  • How to choose the right social channel to focus on
  • Why live events can be extremely challenging
  • Why life skills can be more valuable than traditional education/work experience

Quotes From This Episode

“Part of mastery for any platform in the social space is just testing, testing, testing.” Click To Tweet

“If you’re good at sales and as long as your product or service is good, you’ll be okay.” — @NathanHChan


See you next week!

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Social Media Operations at Sam's Club

In this 5-episode social media Deep Dive, you'll learn how the busy team at Sam's Club operates their social media strategy. Meet 5 different team members and find out how Sam's Club uses social across their entire business. All 5 episodes are available now, so get ready to binge! Listen to episode 1 of the Sam’s Club Deep Dive now.

Listen to Episode 1 of the Sam's Club Deep Dive Now

Episode Transcript

Jay Baer:Welcome everybody to Social Pros, the podcast for real people doing real work in social media. I am, as always, Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert, here on episode number 301 of Social Pros, fresh off our 300th episode celebration. We had frolicking, we had finicky guests, we had all kinds of extravaganzas. I was joined in the big 300th episode celebration, and today as well here, culminating the beginning of season eight, he is the executive strategist of Salesforce, marketing cloud, my special Texas friend, Adam Brown.
Adam Brown:Jay, congratulations on 300 episodes. Seven seasons now, as we start our eighth. I am so glad to be part of this show. It's been a fantastic ride, and I cannot wait-
Jay Baer:It's like the Simpson's of podcast, right? Where's our syndication checks? I keep waiting. We haven't gotten them yet but one of these days, we're going to start just getting checks in the mail from iTunes or somebody, I don't know. You know who's getting checks in the mail, because he has built this incredible business relatively recent, it's just blowing up, is massively popular. Really, really smart. He's calling into the program from Melbourne, Australia, it's Nathan Chan, who is the founder, ironically, of a company also called Founder. I know that's curious. The company is Foundr, F-O-U-N-D-R, F-O-U-N-D-R, so if you're looking it up online, and I certainly suggest you do, that's where you'll find it. Nathan, welcome to Social Pros.
Nathan Chan:Thank you so much for having me Jay and Adam, it's an absolute pleasure to be here.
Jay Baer:Tell us a little bit about the company and all the things that you do. It's an interesting structure. You've got several different pieces and parts that you offer to your community. It's also fascinating to me, because you have a very specific type of audience that loves everything you put out. Tell us about it.
Nathan Chan:I started the company about four years ago, and just started as a digital magazine, and didn't know, had no idea, where it would go. I'm really interested in marketing and I read a couple of books around entrepreneurship and business, and I thought to myself that there wasn't really a magazine in the space that I could relate to, as an aspiring or novice founder, or an entrepreneur. I created this magazine. It wasn't actually even called Foundr at the time. I was actually sued for trademark infringement by a pretty big business magazine in the states and had to change the name to Foundr. I just started as a side hobby passion project on the side, while I was still working in a day job in IT support.
It just took off, and we're at, I think, issue number 60. It's a monthly, digital publication where we interview and showcase and feature some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation. As time has gone on and the brand has grown, we've really built out a lot of other media assets and we've become a fully fledged media company. We started off as a digital magazine, just in the app store and Google Play store. It's not a magazine, you know how sometimes people call blogs magazines. It's an actual, legitimate publication. Now, we're printing magazines and so we do digital and print. We've got an interesting model there, where we print the magazines and then as time went on, as well, we start to roll out content across audio and written, as well, online.
We really want to double down on video next year and then we're really trying to tackle the educational piece, as well, because that seems to go hand in hand, and that seems to be quite a powerful piece. We're a media company that puts out a lot of content, but at the same time, we've got an educational arm of the business, as well. That's us. We have millions of people that consume our content every single month and yeah, it's been a great journey so far. Still lots of learning. My goal and my vision and my mission is to build something that is a household name, entrepreneurial brand that impacts tens of millions of people. It's at the same stature of a Forbes or a Fast company. I know that that's going to take time, and I'm prepared to do the work.
Jay Baer:You're certainly succeeding with it, as you said. Millions of people are interacting with your content every month. I think it's fascinating, and such a sign of the times, that you started digitally and are now producing a print publication, as well. I love that play. You have built the following for Foundr largely through social, correct? What happens with a lot of media companies, of course, especially legacy media companies, if they have an existing audience, they have an existing print audience and an existing radio audience, or an existing television audience or what have you, and then they use social to distribute pieces of their information and to amplify their story.
You went backwards. You largely built your audience through social, and now you continue to give them more and more content, and the educational content you talked about a minute ago. Can you tell us how that happened, how you decided to use social to drive Foundr forward, and some of your successful strategies and tactics for doing so? I know Instagram has been a big part of your success, for example.
Nathan Chan:For sure. I think the problem that most people face when they're starting a business, especially we're a very consumer facing brand. I think it's very difficult to get your brand out there, to get your voice heard, if you have a personal brand or a company brand. It's very difficult to get attention and cut through and there's so many platforms out there, it's difficult to get noticed, and how do you know which one to start with or how do you conquer them all? For me, that's something that I faced, so when I started the magazine, we built up the subscription revenue and the way I grew it, at first, was organically from SEO in the app store, and that's how I built the subscription base so we could build enough recurring revenue so I could leave my day job.
I was faced with the challenge of still no one had really heard of what we were doing at Foundr, no one had heard of this magazine, and still to this day, not many people have heard of it, but a lot more than did, let's say, a couple of years ago. I looked at all the different channels and I did a lot of testing. I tested media buying in certain places, I tested ad words, I tested Facebook ads, I tested all sorts of media buying to grow the subscription base.
That was quite difficult to get profitable, and then I tested all sorts of organic tactics and strategies for other social media platforms, like Twitter, Pinterest, SEO, and all these other things, but I couldn't really get any traction. The one that seemed to stick for us, we're starting to conquer some of the other channels now, but the first one that really stuck with us and really rapidly grew the subscription base was Instagram and funnily enough, it all just come from the kind of content that we posted because this was the challenge.
The challenge was, how do you produce entrepreneurial content or track people that are interested in entrepreneurship, startups, even if they have a business currently, how do you attract those kind of people to your Instagram page? You can post, and I live here in Melbourne. I'm doing most of the interviews, I can post the covers of the magazine, but you can only post so many covers, because we produce one a month. What kind of content can I produce? I looked at all the other big publications, and I noticed that a lot of them were posting quotes, like, "Startup tips and facts," and all sorts of things like that. That's what we started posting, but it wasn't just that content. I really tried to post unique content around design graphics, and the content itself was a little bit different to what was in the landscape.
A lot of it was the motivational, touchy feely kind of stuff, and I wanted to put out real kind of stuff. There was also a website that produces posters called Startup Vitamins, and I was really inspired by the kind of messages that they were putting out there if you were a startup founder. By just starting to post that stuff and actually really starting to grow tech that platform, I really started to master it and understand how to grow an audience there, and from there, I noticed a rapid increase in subscriptions so I just doubled down.
I think part of mastery for any platform in the social space is just testing, testing, testing, but then also speaking to very smart people, listening to podcasts like this, and just going really, really deep and locking yourself in a room and just speaking to anyone, anyone and everyone that knows or is doing some really cool stuff, that is really good at growing, like at that particular channel, jumping on clarity, and then just mastering self and coming up with a repeatable system where you can plug somebody else after you've mastered it, and that's what happened.
Jay Baer:When you're doing your testing and deciding where to post content or what type of content to put out in Instagram or other places, are you using a lot of analytics to say, "All right, this time of day is more effective," because I know you've got an audience all over the world, or, "This particular style of photo is more effective, or this type of quote." How are you thinking through the optimization of that over time?
Nathan Chan:Great question. Just for some clarity for your audience as well, we grew our Instagram following from zero to half a million in about 12 months, and then yeah, it's kept growing. It's well over a million. There's particular things that I did to test what was working because I look at when we talk about Instagram, I look at it in two folds. I look at one in engagement of the account, and the engagement of the photos, and then two, I look how much leads that that particular traffic source drives, and then also, how many sales. The things that I'm looking for when it comes to engagement and then also follower growth, there's a tool called Social Blade, and if you go to, you can search any page's accounts, if it's being logged, and you can see the growth of that account.
I was looking at my Social Blade every day. I don't look at it every day now, but I could see if I posted a certain piece of content, if there was a spike in follower growth, and then also, I look now at the Instagram insights. That tells you a lot around how many people are saving that image. I think that's a really key metric to look for, in terms of engagement, if you're really hitting home. Also, I look for as well, like some comments. You can really see the kind of pieces of content that hits home, and that's what I look for in regards to engagement and follower growth.
In regards to times, I did used to look at that, Jay, and there's a tool you can use called Iconosquare, which is quite good for that, but as time has gone on, what I've found is from my experience, Instagram rewards your consistency. We post on our Instagram five to seven times a day, upwards of sometimes even nine times a day. The general rule within ... Our kind of team that is managing our social, and it's literally only one VA, the rule is that every two to three hours, we've got to put out a post, and then we can probably leave it while that person's sleeping so there's no longer than a five hour gap in between content, and our account grows at least 30,000 new followers per month and it hasn't slowed down. We've found that seems to be-
Jay Baer:Is that based on a lot of shares, or hashtag usage, or both, do you think?
Nathan Chan:It's a combination of a few things. I think we post a lot of stories, as well. We have a rule, as well, with our stories that we never leave ... There's always at least one story. During that 24 hour period, there's always at least one story, even through the weekend. I think what I'm finding, from my experience is I think Instagram wants to reward organic content that is constantly produced from a page. We just keep that pumping, man. It seems to do quite well.
Hashtags, there's all sorts of things you can now follow certain hashtags. From my experience, we use hashtags to reference our content, but I don't think, to me, from my experience, hasn't really, I don't think, made that much of a difference these days. The biggest thing in terms of tracking growth and sales is looking at how many people are swiping up on your story, or clicking on the link in your bio, and we get tens of thousands of people that are doing that every single month.
Jay Baer:That's fantastic, I love it. Do you feel like it is good for you or harder for you, being in Melbourne? I know a lot of things you cover come out of the US, not everything, of course, but some of them. Subjects in the magazine and other things that you do, there's lots, of course, social media based here in the US. Do you think there's an advantage to being outside the US and looking at all of this stuff from a little bit of a distance, or is it harder with the time change, and those kind of things?
Nathan Chan:Man, 100% harder. To be honest, one thing I want to do is set up an office in the states. We've already started to do the early stage pieces, so for the interviews and stuff, I'm actually prepared to step down and not do them anymore, for sacrificing the growth of the brand and actually building the company and I'm going to find a superstar journalist, and we're going to do all the interviews in person and somebody's ... That person is going to go to the office, and we're going to chop up the video content.
You got to think because we're not in the states, a majority, 99% of the people that are being interviewed and featured in the magazine, or the podcast, or both, it's just done like how we're doing right now. If [inaudible 00:14:32] and Skype or Zencaster, whatever it is. I think that's hurting us, and I think it's hurting our growth, because I think video is a big, big medium that we need to conquer, especially YouTube. We haven't done anything YouTube and that's our biggest focus in 2018, YouTube. It is hurting us in a big way, and I need to move fast on tackling that.
Jay Baer:You have mentioned in the past that Gary Vanderchuck, who has been on this show a number of times and has done some stuff with Foundr in the past, that his philosophy overlaps a little bit with your philosophy and obviously, his tribe is your tribe at some level. He said recently something I saw, I don't know if it was a quote from Foundr on Instagram or where I saw it, but Gary said that, "Nobody gives an F about your feelings." Do you feel like that's true today in the entrepreneurship community, that it's all about just go, go, go, and the softer, emotional, intelligent side of business growth in employees is no longer important?
Nathan Chan:I haven't seen that one. I'm not sure, it's hard to comment, Jay. When you say employees are no longer important, I definitely disagree there. I'm the face of the brand, but we have an absolutely incredible team behind us of A players. I consider them, everyone in our team, founders or entrepreneurs, everybody has the entrepreneurial spirit. It's interesting, I've been thinking about this one a lot. At Foundr, we promote entrepreneurship and encourage people to do stuff they love and build a business, if that's what you want to do. At the same time, one thing that I've realized is building a business actually isn't for everyone. That's okay. I don't know, I'm not sure if I agree with that-
Jay Baer:I'm glad it's not for everybody. If everybody was building a business, it would be even harder than it already is to succeed with a business if everybody was starting a business, there's no question about it. Hey, you mentioned Zencaster a second ago, and before I hand it off to Adam, I wanted to have you talk about your own podcast and your podcasting experience, and how that ties into all the things that you do at Foundr, it's a great show.
Nathan Chan:Thank you. What we do is we try and get as much leverage as possible for our content, so if we do ... We do an audio interview for the magazine, and that majority of the time, becomes a podcast episode because it's a digital magazine, we embed the actual interview into the magazine so you can read the feature, but then also at the end, you can hit play and you can listen to it, if you want to, as well. We usually find our best interviews and put them into the podcast. We really try and get as much of repurposing that content as possible.
The powerful thing as well, with these podcast interviews, is we use the magazine as the authority influence builder, so that opens a lot of doors for us to be able to interview really, really hard to reach founders that a lot of people, like if you just ran a podcast, can't usually get in touch with. Now, I'm not saying that this interview is going to happen, but we've been in talks with, say, Serena Williams' PR team, all sorts of incredible people, generally founders, and then she's actually, funnily enough, got some incredible businesses and is doing some amazing things. That's where we use the magazine as leverage, but then also because of that leverage, we're able to produce insane audio content for the podcast, which in turn is free, and is a great beacon or a way as a taste tester to put out content that really attracts people to the brand and welcomes them into our ecosystem and into our world. I hope that answers your question, Jay.
Adam Brown:That's a great answer, Nathan, it is the cross pollinization of all of your media. It's certainly the way to be able to promote your podcast with the magazine, promote the magazine with the podcast, and vice versa. I'll tell you, you've done some amazing things. As founder and publisher of Foundr, F-O-U-N-D-R magazine, I'm curious, one of the things that I've thought about is the skills that today's entrepreneur has or needs to have, as versus just even a couple of years ago. I want to ask you a couple of questions and I would love for you to answer them, both through the lens of your personal experience as being an entrepreneur and founding your own, your magazine, both digital and now traditional, but also your audience being many entrepreneurs, as well. Do you have to have an understanding of social these days to be a successful entrepreneur?
Nathan Chan:First of all, thank you for the kind words, Adam. From the gut, no, I don't think you do. I think you just need to be good at sales. I think if you're good at sales, and I'm not a sales guy, mind you. I'm not a sales guy. I think if you're building anything, I think if you are good at sales and you can sell and as long as your product or service is good and it provides value and you have a strong understanding of what value is, then I think you'll be okay. If you want to build anything of true worth and significance, I think if you look at brands, household brands, or anybody, especially in the online space if you have an online business, you need to have or be good at social. It doesn't mean you have to be good at all channels, but you definitely need to be strong at a couple.
There aren't many people that are good at social just from a media buying side, from a PPC side, just paying for traffic. They don't care about the organic stuff, and that's okay, too. I think that's another good one, as well. Something to think about, you could just have a great product or service that provides a lot of value in the marketplace or niche that you serve, and if you mastered, let's say, just Facebook ads or just ad words, if you're a local business, or whatever, I think you can do well. It's so hard to build a good business.
It's so hard to build anything of true worth and significance, Adam. I think there's so many things you have to master. For me, we're very focused on scale and I'm pretty big now. My biggest focus is getting very, very good at attracting great talent and hiring superstar talent, because that's what I'm finding, from my experiences, is one of the fastest ways to grow your company, where we're at now. Finding people that had done it before, what we want to do, and I think that's a really key skill. In the early days when you're starting something, if you can sell, you'll be okay. You don't need to master social, I don't believe.
Adam Brown:You mentioned, in that response, the need to focus on a couple of channels. In this case, social channels, to put your efforts. You also mentioned that you have over a half a million followers on Instagram, and that's a very lucrative and productive platform for you and for your magazine. Is that the channel that you're finding more entrepreneurs? Is that the place if you were a young entrepreneur trying to reach other young and small medium sized businesses, would that be the channel that you would go to? So often times, we think, "Small, medium business, we're going to go to LinkedIn." What are your thoughts?
Nathan Chan:Great question. I think it really depends on where your ideal customer hangs out. I looked at what we were doing, and I saw just an opportunity in the marketplace where I believed a lot of people that would follow the brand hung out. We have a lot of people that follow the brand that aren't particularly young, quote unquote. I looked at the marketplace, and that's where what we were putting out there stuck, and where we were getting traction so I just tripled down on it. I think with LinkedIn, I think it's a great place, especially if you're in enterprise sales, you're going after enterprise. It just really depends. If you're going for small business owners, look, I think on Instagram, it is a good place. It's an unknown place, but then at the same time, you could say Facebook and doing all sorts of PPC stuff could be really powerful there, as well.
I don't think there's an actual the place where a certain blanket small business owners hang out. If I look at my phone, I spend a lot of time on Twitter, as well. I'm always looking Twitter, I spend a bit of time on Facebook, and I spend a bit of time on Instagram, as well. I like to watch YouTube videos now. There's certain YouTube videos, I love Gary V. I love watching his videos every now and then. I don't know if there is a "the" place, but one thing I can tell you, Adam, is if I was starting a new company tomorrow, and it was a B to C play, even relative B to B play, I would use Instagram.
Probably not a B to B SAS. I wouldn't use Instagram, I'd use content marketing and just produce great blogging content, a great ... Written blogs, to build a B to B SAS. If I was producing a B to C, consumer facing brand like as an example, I helped my girlfriend launch a physical product business just for fun. One of the fastest ways, one of the cheapest ways, it doesn't cost you anything except time to build, is using Instagram to build an audience of physical product brand, and it's absolutely killing it. That brand is at a six figure run rate, and we've only been building it for six months.
It doesn't even cost us anything to pay for traffic. The only traffic we're paying for now is retargeting people that come to the site, and we're getting great return on ad spend because they're being driven and people are finding out about the brand off Instagram. If you ask me the question B to C brand, where's the place to build the audience? Bang, Instagram. I'll do it every time, because that's what I know, and that's the easiest place I know to build an audience that's not going to cost you anything.
Adam Brown:You and Jay spoke a little bit about starting a business, the focus is a lot on entrepreneurial social media in Australia. I want to take that question just one step further. I know with all the people that you interview, you're interviewing international entrepreneurs, celebrities, all these amazing folks for your digital and principal printed magazine. Do you find that creating a business in Australia is different than a startup in the United States, in Asia, and in Europe? I'm curious, what are those distinctions? What are those ways that you've approached your business, compared to the leaders and executives and entrepreneurs that you interview in your magazine?
Nathan Chan:65, 70% of our audience is in the states, so we cater to you guys. In regards to building the company, there are some challenges. Mainly, I think, talent. It's just not the same. We have a bit of a hybrid organizational structure. I actually had this thing where I really wanted to build the culture in Melbourne, and I still do. There's, what, six of us in the Melbourne office? I wanted to only build out the Melbourne office at one point, and then it got to the point where it's just so difficult to find the best in the world at whatever, CRO, or just a really good CRO person, for example. I just gave up, to be honest, and I said, "You know what? I don't care where the person is. If they work remotely, that's fine."
Now, we've got a bit of a hybrid team where it's some local, and then majority remote now. We've got, I think, six locally and about 15 to 16 remotely. That's okay. We use a lot of contractors and all sorts of things, so I think that's probably the biggest challenge, just that talent isn't here. If it is, because we do have some great startups in Melbourne, like 99 Designs or Red Bubble.
There's some really, really killer startups here [inaudible 00:27:52]. Great startups, also in Sydney as well, like Canva and just Campaign Monitor, some really, really [inaudible 00:28:00] some great startups. The thing, the problem is, is these startups are funded startups and they make a lot of money. They pay premium salaries, and we, we're a bootstrap startup. We can pay above market rate, but not extremely well above market. It's difficult to get that talent, as well, because the best of the best tend to go to these bigger startups, if they want to work at a startup.
That is probably the biggest challenge, and then also like I said around with Jay, I think for us, because I think video is so extremely important, for me I don't really want to move to the states. It's probably inhibiting our growth, as well, to be honest, but family and friends and stuff are important to me. I think building what I want to build, I can do it from Melbourne and that's a challenge, but it's a fun challenge. Like I said, we will start to build a presence and set up the space in the states probably it's looking like it's going to be New York. That's going to be an interesting challenge, so that's ... How I'm tackling it, and the challenges we're facing right now.
Adam Brown:Nathan, one quick follow up and then one more question before I hand it over to Jay. Clarification, when you say remote employees, are you talking remote in Australia, or are you saying remote literally all over the world?
Nathan Chan:All over the world, man.
Adam Brown:That's incredible.
Nathan Chan:We have people, some in Southeast Asia, some in the states. 100%, man.
Adam Brown:That's great. Last question for this section. I know you've had your digital publication for years, the print magazine a little bit newer. I'm curious of the way that you market each of those products is different, in other words, have you found that the audience for your print publication is different than the digital magazine or the way that you market it? I'm just curious how you go about that and how you're measuring the efficacy of whether this marketing or this podcast drove a print purchase or a digital purchase.
Nathan Chan:Great question. That one's difficult. Very, very difficult. I wish I could tell you that we were superstars at that, but unfortunately, we're not. One thing I can tell you, though, just on the print side, is our model's a little different to most, and that's what I find cool. We don't, for a media company, most make money off advertising, and I think that's a very flawed model. You're starting to see it now, like with the BuzzFeed's, how they created that Tasty brand, and now they're creating all sorts of physical products. You've got to build a multifaceted channel, multifaceted channels around revenue, but what we do, which I'm really pumped about, is we choose our best.
We're choosing our bestselling magazine issues, doing limited print runs. We can print more, I'm cool to print more, but limited print runs of, say, 10,000, 20,000. We're giving them away for free and people just have to cover shipping and handling and then from that, we welcome people into our world and our ecosystem, and we offer a series of upsells, like a Vista Print, how if you get your business cards for free, would you like your logo printed on a mousepad, or would you like your logo printed on a mug? Similar kind of, not too many upsells, only a couple.
From there, we can acquire a custom [inaudible 00:31:49] profit and with Facebook ads, we can acquire [inaudible 00:31:53] profit. I haven't got it scaled yet, but will soon. That's the model where we incur no loss to print a magazine. We don't even have to put ads in that magazine, so that's the model that we're going for, which is very, very powerful, I'm finding.
Jay Baer:I love that idea of thinking it through the different directions. One thing I wanted to ask you, Nathan, is when are you going to do the Foundr event? It seems like you've got the digital magazine, the print magazine, you've got some online courses now, which are massively successful, and you've got such a powerful, powerful tribe. When is the event series going to come?
Nathan Chan:Great question, Jay. Very, very smart. It's one of those things I'm scared of, to be honest. I think you know him, our friend, you must have interviewed I'm sure, Mr. [inaudible 00:32:50]. He runs an event and he usually does it in Queensland. You've probably spoke there. It's one of those things where there's some complications if we want to run it in the states as an Australian based company. It's just another thing we have to master if we want to do it well. I'm very scared of it. I do want to do something, we will do something. We will do a Foundr Con next year, but it will be pretty small scale, and I know it's something that we have to do, and we have to align the tribe. It just really scares me, to be honest, Jay.
One thing that I'm finding from my experience as well is it's really hard just to master so many different things. We've got to try and work out audio with the podcast, now we're going to try and do video with YouTube, then we're going to master social with PPC and then Instagram and organic, then we've got to master content and grow traffic to the site and essentially, SEO and written content. We've got to master educational courses and then we've got to master magazines.
There's only so many things that we can focus on and master and for us, next year, I see a massive opportunity in the educational space for a brand to align and find experts and influences and what we want to do is essentially do exactly what we've done with the magazine, but now do that with educational courses. We'll find out what our audiences biggest pain points are and how we can further serve, and then we'll pre-sell whatever that problem is, and then we'll go out and pitch the Richard Brants' of the world. A majority are going to say no, but I think we can get some to teach an element of business.
Jay Baer:What MasterClass does, but focus on entrepreneurs.
Nathan Chan:100%, we are modeling A really high level production. We've already started to do it at some test pilots, and it's working really, really well. We want to do that at a big scale, so we're producing 15, 12 to 15 next year, and then in 2019, I'd say, between 30 and 40. That's our biggest focus. I'd love to do a big scale Foundr Con, but focus is so key.
Jay Baer:They always say events is the hardest way in the world to break even. It's a tough business. I've been doing this a long time, and I've thought about doing an event a million times and I'm like, "Nah." It's also hard when you have ... It's so encompassing over that one period of time. You have a growing team, but it's still a small team and you're like my concern is always can you keep doing all the other things that you got to do every day while you're doing an event, because the event sucks so much energy out of your team? Does everything else fall apart because you're working on the event? It's not like Dreamforce, where Adam's got 150,000 people showing up, and you've got everybody in the company's focused on it, and you've got whole brigades of people that produce it, it's a little different story.
Nathan Chan:100%. For us, focus is key. I do want to do it. We'll do something small scale next year, hopefully, but man. I would love to, but it's just one thing at a time. I'm patient. I've been building businesses, this is my first business, I've been doing it for, what? Four years now. I'm still learning and I'm still on my path to mastery. It takes at least seven to 10 years to build anything of true worth and significance, so I've got another five to seven years to really give it a good crack to build this brand, and the events piece will come.
Jay Baer:Absolutely, well said. Speaking of Salesforce and their giant Dreamforce event, one of the things that they put together every year for smart social media professionals like our Social Pros listeners is the Business Leader's Guide to Becoming a Social Business. This is downloadable for free from our friends at Salesforce marketing cloud, go to bitly/socialbusinessguide. That's bitly/socialbusinessguide. What are you going to find in this eBook? Hey, great question. You can find out how to assess the skills of your current social media team, track missed opportunities that maybe are just outside of your grasp in social, how to position social for real success in your organization, as Nathan has done with Foundr, and how to analyze the results of your [inaudible 00:37:11]. Good piece, grab it. Won't cost you nothing. Go to bitly/socialbusinessguide, all lowercase.
Also, just a quick reminder here on episode 301 of Social Pros that every single one of those episodes is available at Show notes, all the recordings, links to sponsors, all kinds of extra goodies that we don't talk about here on the air. Go to to get all of that stuff. Thanks to everybody for listening in 2017 and the previous six years here, as we kick off season eight of the show. Adam, back to you.
Adam Brown:Jay, thank you. 2018 is going to be incredible, and upon the shoulders of those 300 episodes that you have done so far. Nathan, Nathan Chan, founder and publisher of Foundr Magazine, great to have you on the show. Looking at your profile online, really interesting. I think one of the interesting things is you have your MBA, but you also have a lot of experience in technology and IT. Now, a lot of people would say, "Okay, that's the perfect combination of skill sets." I'm curious of which part of your experience and the jobs and the businesses that you've worked with and started up to this point really led you to say, "Hey, you know what? I want to be a publisher."
Nathan Chan:Great question. Look, I'm going to be very, very clear. My MBA taught me nothing. Those other jobs were jobs that I absolutely, utterly hated. The work was extremely degrading. I was working in IT support so if somebody, their mouse didn't work, they would call me up on the phone and this is literally three years ago, four years ago. They called me up on the phone and I'd walk over and I'd disconnect their mouse from the USB port and then plug it back in and say, "Yeah, problem fixed." That previous work that I did professionally didn't really serve me with the work that I'm doing today.
However, there were some key things that it did serve me, one around problem solving. I think as entrepreneurs, you've got to be able to be a good problem solver. I learnt every day, I was fixing people's problems. I learnt how to problem solve really, really well. I also learnt how to produce exceptional customer service, which I think is very, very important, and just really caring and just really learning how to put yourself in the consumer's shoes. In regards to the other jobs, working at McDonald's, I don't put that on my LinkedIn, but that was incredibly powerful, really understanding how to have a great work ethic and just little things. Even just working in the workplace professionally, just working with other people and understanding people and making friends with people and all that kind of stuff. I think that's really, really powerful when you go out and put yourself out into the world.
Look, in regards to have any of those skills, yes, they have served me as a publisher and producing a magazine, but I don't come from a journalistic background. The reason that I was working in IT is because I love technology and I love geeking out on things. I did my MBA, it's not even really an MBA, it's just a Master's of Business specializing in Marketing. The reason I did that job or that degree in particular, is because I went back to Uni to do that degree to get a job in marketing, which I could never get but I was really passionate about marketing. I found it fun. Have those skills served me as a publisher? Some yes, but more general life skills you pick up as a professional working in a professional environment.
How did I know I wanted to become a publisher or produce a magazine? I really didn't, Adam. I just fell into it and just started it as a passion project, a side hobby passion project just for fun. I fell in love with the business and I fell in love with the work. I think the moment that that stops is probably the moment that I should move on, but I don't know if I ever will. One of my mentors, he runs a 300 million dollar annual revenue company. It's one of the largest Venture Travel companies in the world. That was the previous company that I worked at. I'm lucky enough to call him a mentor and a friend. He's been doing this stuff for 25 years, building that company, and he hasn't slowed down or it's still not fun for him anymore. It's one of those things, I just fell into it.
Adam Brown:I love that concept, Nathan, of problem solving because there's that piece, of problem solving, of common sense, of work ethic as you mentioned, of tenacity and just getting stuff done, I think, that is so important. All of the education and training means nothing if you don't have those things.
Jay Baer:Nathan, I'm going to ask you the two questions that we've asked every single guest here on this show for, now, eight years. First question, what one tip would you give somebody looking to become a social pro?
Nathan Chan:Focus on one channel and find people that are the best in the world at it, achieving the success that you want to achieve in your business, they're achieving it with their business, and learn from that person.
Jay Baer:The one channel is really good advice. It's so typical that we get spread so thin in social because we feel like we've got to be everywhere. We end up being mediocre at everything. I couldn't agree more. It's hard advice to follow, but it's good advice. Last question for Nathan Chan, founder of Foundr, if you could do a Skype video call with any living person, who would it be? You've interviewed a ton of great people for the magazine and your companion podcast, but who would it be? You mentioned Serena Williams recently, you're going to try and get her on your program. Who is your dream conversation that you just haven't been able to do yet?
Nathan Chan:I'm a big fan of Drake but probably for the premise of the brand, probably Elon Musk.
Jay Baer:We've had several people on the show answer Elon Musk to that question, and such a fascinating dude. Talk about a successful entrepreneur with no boundaries. It's like, "Hey, let's build a company that digs holes. Let's do that." It's just like everything he comes up with, you're like, "Wow, I didn't even think that was a business, but if he says it is, I guess it is." That would be great. I think you're going to do it, man. I very much believe in you, and I think that there is no question that by this time next year, so that will be episode 353 of this show or whatever, season nine, you will have interviewed Elon Musk for Foundr. I believe that's going to happen.
Adam Brown:Or Drake.
Jay Baer:Or Drake.
Adam Brown:We had Drake at the marketing [inaudible 00:44:13] keynote here at Dreamforce this year and I was blown away by his eloquence and his business acumen. Blown away. He was a really great speaker and I have to admit, going into it, I wasn't expecting that.
Jay Baer:I think the best interview would be Drake and Elon Musk on the same show. That's next level right there, man. That's one plus one equals three. Nathan, thanks so much for being on the program. We really appreciate your time. Congratulations on all the continuous success at Foundr,, ladies and gentlemen. Follow on Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, soon to be YouTube, getting serious about YouTube this year. Watch for their series of incredible courses that they're going to be blowing up in at 2018, and of course, the starting small but be big someday, Foundr event coming soon to the shores of Australia, near you. Nathan, really appreciate it. Thanks for being on the program.
Nathan Chan:Thank you so much for having me guys. It was a ton of fun, really appreciate your time, also. Absolute pleasure to be here.
Jay Baer:You bet, our pleasure. Adam, thank you as always. Listeners, we love each and every one of you. Don't forget all the archives of every single episode at We'll be back next week with another fantastic guest. Until then, this has been Social Pros.
Show Full Transcript