GE 295: How Founder Mike Roberts Started With Only $3K But Grew SpyFu To $7M ARR and 11K Customers (podcast) With Mike Roberts

Mike Roberts SpyFu Nacho Analytics
Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Mike Roberts, the founder of SpyFu and Nacho Analytics, software that is called the “Holy Grail of Competitive Intelligence”.
Tune in to hear how Mike built SpyFu with only $3,000, why historical data matters when it comes to digital marketing and how the company was able to make over $7 million in annual revenue.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • [00:42] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast!
  • [01:58] Mike founded SpyFu about 12 years ago in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • [02:25] His office is nearby, so he commutes on his electric skateboard.
  • [02:55] His favorite metric is earning per employee.
  • [03:05] They make over $7 million in revenue annually.
  • [03:45] Mike started SpyFu with only $3,000 left in his bank account.
  • [04:01] Everything mattered and every mistake was personal, in his experience.
  • [04:23] Entrepreneurship is a journey and you’re constantly learning.
  • [05:25] SpyFu is $39/month for unlimited use.
  • [05:55] It allows you to fully research your competitors.
  • [06:39] SpyFu generally has more historical data, whereas SEMRush will give you 18 months of data.
  • [07:00] History matters: people make mistakes early on and it’s important to see everything that they have done and if they worked.
  • [07:41] With SpyFu, there are no limits, unlike every other one of their competitors.
  • [09:00] He doesn’t want to cut his prices, but acknowledges that you can make more money per customer if you have more customers.
  • [10:46] SpyFu has around 11,000 paying customers.
  • [10:56] A lot of their customers use the free option.
  • [12:07] Their launch brought in $20,000 MRR.
  • [13:18] Nacho is the “Holy Grail of competitive intelligence”.
  • [14:40] The entire internet is built on anonymous user tracking.
  • [15:05] So, Mike’s team wondered what would happen if they collected data, but didn’t use that to display ads.
  • [15:21] They take all the data and push that into Google Analytics.
  • [15:37] Then you can look at that info as if it were your own.
  • [15:57] They are not sponsored by Google, but are legitimate.
  • [17:12] This sort of data has always existed, but it’s only been accessible to billion dollar companies.
  • [17:30] $99 gets you information on 5 websites.
  • [19:51] If Mike had gotten capital for SpyFu, they wouldn’t have $7 million in revenue, they would have made $40 million. However, their attention would be diluted and he wouldn’t have been able to launch Nacho.
  • [20:20] Raising capital sometimes costs control of the company.
  • [21:10] VC money can get in the way when you have a failed entity, but you won’t quit because of pride and debt.
  • [22:00] Mike has more failures than he can count and actually has a podcast where he talks about them.
  • [22:50] SpyFu has a lot of servers and environments.
  • [23:30] He set things up so that certain environments don’t get scanned and indexed by Google.
  • [24:15] There was a time that they meant for the site to get indexed, but it accidentally did not.
  • [24:38] Robotto is a great resource for monitoring text robots.
  • [25:37] Mike has 10 electric skateboards and hover board-type items.
  • [26:00] He is looking forward to getting an electric bicycle.
  • [27:20] Mike’s favorite tool is VWO, as it has helped him make millions.
  • [30:25] Mike originally thought he had to set aside a certain percent of his revenue.
  • [30:55] He later realized that there are better ways to do revenue sharing.
  • [32:12] One book Mike recommends is How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Resources from the interview:

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Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.