GE 186: How Klout Founder Joe Fernandez Sold His Business for $200M and Started Joymode (podcast)

Joe Fernandez

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Joe Fernandez, co-founder of Joymode, a business that lets you access everything you need for great experiences. Joe previously founded Klout, an app that measures social media influence.

Listen as Joe shares the journey from launching Klout to selling it for $200M, the lessons he learned from pitching Klout to 200 small investors to later raising $3M for Joymode from big-name investors, and how Joymode consistently sees 25% monthly growth with just word-of-mouth advertising.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Klout Founder Joe Fernandez Sold His Business for $200M and Started Joymode

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:42 – Joe approaches entrepreneurship from a productive marketing perspective
  • 02:22 – Even before Joe started Klout, he already had Joymode in mind
    • 02:26 – Joe was living in New York with his then girlfriend, now wife
    • 02:37 – Every time they bought something, they got rid of something in order to function in their small space
    • 02:48 – The limitations they had became Joe’s inspiration for Joymode
    • 03:05 – It’s no longer about how much “stuff” you can fill into your house—it’s about the experiences you have
    • 03:58 – When Joe transitioned from the sale of Klout, he took a break before starting with Joymode
  • 04:27 – Joymode owns the products they rent out
  • 05:02 – The business model:
    • 05:03 – Subscription of $99/year with your first experience free
    • 05:11 – The Backyard Movie Night package is the most popular service – it includes chairs, blankets, screen, projector, and a popcorn machine
    • 05:31 – Delivery and and pick up are done by Joymode
    • 05:37 – Reservation fees after the first free experience is less than 10% of the retail value of the equipment
    • 06:42 – Some other offers include camping packages, karaoke packages, Kitchenaid equipment for baking, cleaning gear, etc.
  • 07:23 – Joymode was launched in April 2016
    • 07:35 – All their growth came from word of mouth
    • 08:06 – Consistent 25%+ monthly growth
    • 08:32 – Customer acquisition also comes from word of mouth
    • 08:59 – Joymode wants you to enjoy your experience so you can tell your friends about them
    • 09:21 – They made a pop-up this month to showcase the experience
  • 09:57 – Joymode was able to raise $3M from investors
    • 10:11 – Raising money for Joymode was easier than when Joe raised for Klout
    • 10:53 – With Klout, Joe pitched more than 200 investors but only got 37 small investors
    • 11:29 – A lot of those investors were not ‘big names’
    • 11:49 – Joe networked with investors when he had the chance
    • 12:07 – Joe always struggled with pitching
    • 12:49 – What helped Joe was deciding the kind of company he wanted to build and that eased his comfort in pitching
    • 13:09 – It’s perseverance and believing in your story
  • 13:47 – There are a lot of lessons Joe got from Klout that help him in his journey with Joymode
  • 15:00 – Joe grew in his leadership abilities
  • 15:46 – What’s one big struggle you faced with growing Klout to the $200M sale? “The transition from being able to like design and build product that end users touched to being completely out of the process…was a painful and challenging transition”
  • 16:21 – Joe realized his product is now the “organization”
  • 16:38 – What’s one big thing that has affected your life dramatically? “I always wanted to take on big challenges and build cool things”
  • 17:22 – “Startups, in general, are like an emotional roller coaster”
  • 18:05 – They became well-known for their Klout Score
  • 18:36 – They’ve had billions of API calls per day to provide insight and support
  • 19:19 – There are also thousands of brands who paid to connect them with influencers
  • 20:22 – “Our fate was out of our hands”
  • 21:04 – Klout was the right product at the right time
  • 22:26 – Klout was super optimized on growth
  • 23:46 – “It’s a lot harder now…than in 2012 or 2013”
  • 24:14 – What’s one new tool that you’ve added in the last year that has added a lot of value to your life? “The Sous Vide is like a product that you can cook almost anything perfectly”
  • 26:00 – What’s one must-read book do you recommend? But What If We’re Wrong?
  • 27:16 – Klout had about 10-20K users before it was sold
  • 27:34 – Connect with Joe on Joymode and on Twitter

3 Key Points:

  1. Remember to consider customer experience and satisfaction in everything you create—whether it’s a brand, a product, a service, etc.
  2. Your past experiences equip you and make you ready for your next journey.
  3. Every startup is an emotional roller coaster, expect the highs and lows.

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