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About Josh Pigford
Josh is most famous as the founder of Baremetrics. However, long before Baremetrics and until today, Josh has been a maker, builder, and entrepreneur.
His career sets off in 2003 building a pair of link directories, ReallyDumbStuff and ReallyFunArcade. Before he sold those for profits, he had already started his next set of projects.
As a design major, he began consulting on web design projects. That company eventually morphed into Sabotage Media, which has been the shell company for many of his projects since.
Some of his biggest projects before Baremetrics were TrackThePack, Deck Foundry, PopSurvey, and Temper. In fact, the pain points he experienced as PopSurvey and Temper took off were the reason he created Baremetrics, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Growing up as an entrepreneurial kid
Josh was the young entrepreneurial kid before he discovered building and selling online. He would often put signs on his front lawn advertising his wares, from cakes to Lego sets.
As he got a bit older, he started to advertise his lawn cutting service and would push his lawnmower from home to home.
“I was that token entrepreneurial kid who was like always looking to you know … I’d make the poster and stick it on a stick out in the front yard saying like hey will you buy I don’t even remember like the kind of stuff I would cell I mean cakes, like random things that I would make, Lego, whatever it was, like hey stop by the house and buy some stuff. And then as I got older old enough to push a lawnmower, unquestionably, I cut some yards.” – Josh Pigford
Building his first SaaS product
TrackThePack was Josh’s first major whack at a SaaS product. As the co-owner of a toy store with his wife, Josh was constantly waiting on packages coming from China. He needed a way to collect all of the tracking numbers for inventory management.
He realized that most companies were just pushing their customers to FedEx or UPS with their tracking numbers instead of integrating that service into their own website. This was the first time he really saw a pain point and then developed with the aim to solve that pain point.
“Then my first sort of like SaaS product came out of this, which was—ecommerce is obviously like becoming a bigger thing—and other people need to offer package tracking. What was happening was they would send you an email saying your package is shipped and it included the tracking number but sent you back to the UPS website or the FedEx website. And I was like you can embed that stuff directly in your store, and that’s another opportunity to sell them another product or whatever. So I made a commercial version that was called TrackThePack Commercial, and from there an ecommerce site could embed package tracking. I felt like this was a pretty good idea, especially since at the time given the technology that was available that was really your only option or build your own thing internally. So I had a number of pretty big ecommerce sites using it. It was making maybe at its height four or five hundred bucks a month. It wasn’t great, but, ultimately, six or six years later I ended up selling it.” – Josh Pigford
The pain point that inspired Baremetrics
While TrackThePack had an obvious pain point, that wasn’t really the case with some of Josh’s next projects.
“I thought it was a good idea but it was a solution looking for a problem.” – Josh Pigford
This realization—that companies buy products that solve their problems—would serve him well in the future. He had since sold TrackThePack—actually, sold, reversed course, which is something Josh did once with Baremetrics too, and then eventually shut it down.
Between 2011 and 2013, Josh had found some pretty significant success with a pair of customer survey apps, PopSurvey and Temper. Their MRR was around $5000, and Josh was starting to think about his growth metrics.
He quickly realized that there was really nothing on the market that offered growth metrics. Even though Stripe does offer some basic metrics, they were insufficient for his needs. Baremetrics was built to solve this pain point.
“In 2013, PopSurvey and Temper are making a few thousand bucks, I don’t know maybe four or five thousand bucks a month. I wanted SaaS metrics. At the time, there was nothing out there. Stripe was starting to take off, but still just getting the analytics for that stuff was really difficult. You needed to build these internal tools or pay a lot of money to use some external service, and neither of those was a really good option. I built Baremetrics as an internal tool and then ultimately turned into this you know—it took off right like I had not planned on it taking off and even once I decided hey you know what I’ll turn this internal tool and make it external so other people can use it.” – Josh Pigford
Everyone in SaaS needs to keep an eye on their metrics. When faced with the decision between losing focus building an internal dashboard or handing it off to the experts, the answer is obvious.
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Launching Baremetrics in 2013
Baremetrics started as a simple internal project. Josh was perhaps the most surprised by how much interest there was for his dashboard, but once he saw others might be interested his entrepreneurial mindset kicked in and Baremetrics was made an external tool.
Baremetrics was an overnight success. Within six months, its MRR had surpassed those of PopSurvey and Temper. His side project became his main focus, and he spent most of the next five years working on Baremetrics.
“Even then, after I was like OK I’ll get a few paying customers, and then maybe in a year like something else will come along and I’ll just I’ll get back to focusing on PopSurvey and Temper. That’s where my head was at. Then, it just took off, and it kept taking off. Within six months or something, it had surpassed the revenue from PopSurvey and Temper. I was like, OK, clearly I should not be focusing on PopSurvey or Temper and I shou be working on Baremetrics and so ultimately I sold off PopSurvey and Temper.” – Josh Pigford
Once a maker, always a maker
While a success like Baremetrics is the end-goal for many founders, for Josh, it slowly became a distraction. He had built dozens of tools, websites, apps, and brick and mortar stores before Baremetrics and he missed that creative element.
When a second opportunity arose to sell Baremetrics, Josh decided to move on to start building his next project, or more accurately projects as he always has a few on the go. You can find the entire list of projects Josh has worked on or is continuing to work on here.
“I missed working on different things because all the years prior to that I was doing three or four things at the same time right and plus doing consulting stuff so I missed like the variety of like letting my brain work on different problems and I needed some sort of creative outlet. So I started this thing called Cedar & Sail, which is like handmade home decor stuff, so it’s like these concrete planters. So I’ll design something on a 3D printer and then make concrete molds out of those, and then there’s a whole lot of stuff at cedarandsail.com. I needed a way to get my hands dirty and not stare at a computer and just make some stuff, some tangible stuff. And getting back to the ecommerce stuff. I missed doing some ecommerce stuff too, so I wanted to have a thing that I could sell, and I didn’t want to resell someone else’s stuff. I wanted to sell stuff that I made that nobody else was producing. This is Josh Pigford original and have somebody buy it.” – Josh Pigford
Get in touch with Josh Pigford
You can find Josh on Twitter and LinkedIn. Be sure to also check out his newest flagship project, @maybe.
This week I talk with…myself! This was a live-streamed episode where I walked through the entirety of my past 15 years of business, in which I’ve started, built, and shut down over 50 different projects!
In fact, you can see the full list I covered right here in this Google Spreadsheet!
I walked through how that many projects came to be, why I started each, how I failed at most of them and the stories behind how many of them got sold and a lot more!
I also did an extensive Q&A session at the end. Hope you enjoy!
- 2:10- Token entrepreneurial kid
- 3:56- Computers coming on the scene
- 4:50- “AOL was the internet”
- 6:00- Making websites
- 8:01- Desire to make something from scratch for myself
- 8:47- The easiest thing to build was a link directory
- 11:30- Selling ReallyDumbStuff
- 12:02- All things music
- 13:30- Automatik Studios- First freelance consulting company
- 13:48- Tutorial Outpost and photoshop
- 15:18- Ad revenue was huge!
- 16:28- “After 2003, I hit a string of some of my worst ideas”
- 17:12- Amazon affiliates
- 19:20- End of 2004- Getting into video editing
- 20:01- Blogging as publications
- 20:14- TheAppleBlog
- 22:36: Sabotage Media- Shell company for all of my projects (besides Baremetrics)
- 23:33- One of my favorites…. “Survive the War”
- 27:25- Adregate (early 2006)- Sell my own ads and make more money and control who was advertising on the site
- 28:50- The week of launching Adregate, GOOGLE announced it’s own ad management platform
- 30:20- Sold Adregate
- 32:20- Fugitive Toys- eCommerce company- first thing I started with other people
- 34:00- Recession hit, sold the toy company (2006)
- 35:33- Building traditional apps/interactive things
- 38:48- First SaaS product
- 40:06- Sold TrackThePack, at the last second took it back, shut it down a year later
- 43:26- “Late 2007 is when I stop doing stupid stuff and really start trying things.”
- 45:36- TechUniversity- Mac video tutorials
- 47:27- Pop survey (2011)- Sets stage for where Baremetrics comes from
- 49:20- Wanted a SaaS metrics tool but there was nothing out there so I built Baremetrics as an internal tool and it took off
- 50:30- Sold off Pop Survey and Temper to focus on growing Baremetrics
- 51:03- Baremetrics launches 2013
- 51:11- In 2016, I got itch to work on different things
- 51:40- Created Cedar and Sail as a creative outlet
- 52:30- Rockburg (2017)- Music simulation game
- 52:48- Droptune (2018)- New music notification service
- 53:05- Currently: Forage and Fabricate- Makers show and publication on “How to make things”
- 54:10- 15 year history of 57 different companies and projects!
- 54:15- Q & A’s
How to reach Josh: Twitter