Michael was fed up with small town living. He wanted more for himself.
So in his early 20s, with nothing but a laptop and a couple hundred dollars in his pocket, he got in his car and drove west...
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Welcome to the addicted to learning podcast. My name is Gabriel Horvat, and each week I get to bring you inspiring stories. Lessons learned and insights from people who forge their own paths in life. I appreciate you guys spending time with me today. Let's get right to it. This is episode four, with software engineer turned tech founder, Michael Aubry.
Hello. Hello, lovely people. What is happening? Hope you're all doing fantastic. Today. We have a very special guest on the show and his name is Michael Aubry. I started this podcast to bring you guys, people like him. It's stories like these that we need to amplify, especially right now. You see Michael came from humble beginnings from the small town in the Midwest.
Raised by a single mom and not doing it particularly well in school, but that didn't stop him. You see Michael liked computers and he knew he could do more, be more, he had dreams, he had ambition. So in his early twenties with nothing but a laptop and a couple of hundred dollars in his pocket. He got in his car and drove West determined to make something of himself and the destination Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley.
If you want to know how he worked his way up in Silicon Valley to eventually making 200 K a year and starting his own software company. Well, Keep listening, because he's going to tell you, so without further ado, here's for you, Michael Aubry. So we have today in the house. Michael Aubryy. Thank you so much for coming on today.
Thanks for having me. I'm excited. We've got so much to talk about. Really. We're just like, um, talking about, um, prior to the show about like your background and everything. I read the medium article, you know, you came to Silicon Valley with nothing. It's just, it's a crazy story. Like, walk us through that.
How did that happen? Yeah, I think, you know, there are two things in life, uh, sort of two choices that you can make as a person. Um, obviously we're more, buy-in, we're much more than just the binary feature, but in this context, you either choose to be in your comfort zone or you choose to be out of your comfort zone, right?
Like that's sort of like the way you should think about your day-to-day lives. Like what do I want out of life and in my, in my comfort zone and the realization that that's not going to get you to where you want to go, so you have to make a choice. Do I want to be in my comfort zone or do I want to be out of my comfort zone?
Do I want the things out of life badly enough to put myself out of the conference and you need to ask yourself that question. And so for me, um, I asked myself that question and I really badly wanted to be in a place, um, of, of, um, abundance, a place of happiness, a place, uh, that was outside of my small town in Illinois.
And I made the choice. To go out of my comfort zone to be able to live the life of my dreams. Right? Like, as you can see here, like I'm in a beautiful place in San Diego, like over here as the Coronado bridge. Um, there's the Bay over there. And the only reason I'm able to live this life and by no means am I where I want to be, but I'm only able to live this in the present right now because of the choices I made in the past.
Right. The desire to want this forced me out of my comfort zone. So let's go back to, um, you know, when I was 23, I, I made the choice to get out of my comfort zone to take risks, to be able to live this life.
Yeah. So, okay, so you're 23. You're in Illinois. I take it. You're unhappy with your life. What are you, what are the steps? I would say that I wasn't necessarily unhappy. I was just more so. I felt like this style of life was complacent. And by looking at, you know, social media, the TV, all that stuff, I realized that there's an actual life out there in this world.
That's just waiting to be lit. Right. I feel like TV is an escape. Um, and that's something I was sort of aware of was that I was just living vicariously through these like TV shows, these movies and things like that. And I was like, you know what, screw this. I want to live it. Right. I want to taste it. I don't want to just watch, uh, you know, delicious food on the TV.
I want it, I want to eat it. Right. So, yeah, I mean, I decided that in order for me to make a drastic change in my life, I'd have to take a drastic. So sort of set of actions to get there. So, um, what inspired? That was a lot of books that I read back home. Okay. Um, a lot of the books that I fell upon were self-help books.
I would drive about 30 miles. To the Barnes and noble cause my, my small town, we didn't even have a, a bookstore or a coffee shop or any of that. So I would actually, when I got my car, I would actually spend the weekends driving to another city. Um, that was somewhat lively, somewhat a little bit bigger than the city that I grew up in just to get, um, a taste of.
You know, culture and, and, and some sort of energy, even though it's nothing crazy compared to what the city offers, but from there, I would read a lot of books. Like I would go to the Barnes, noble, I would get a coffee and I would just read a bunch of self-help books. And that's sort of what started the journey in funny enough, the first game in the first book that I came across was called the game.
It was a book about how to pick up women and, and, and, and that was sort of the first thing that opened my mind. Into what's, um, out there in the world. Right. In terms of abundance, right? In terms of relationships, in terms of, um, the different lifestyles that you can achieve in terms of the different friends that you can make in terms of the different narratives that you can create, the different stories that you can tell.
Right. And I sort of discovered this from this book, because it was a bunch of just average guys, you know, Neil Strauss. I think he worked at ups at the time. And I think that was a pivotal part of that book because it, it sort of. Motivated guys like myself, uh, that were just, they just felt average.
They're just like we're living this average life and it sort of yeah. Um, sort of like inspired yeah. Myself and I'm sure others included, uh, that you can go from a normal average life to living this crazy life in the Hollywood Hills to picking up Brittany Spears. Uh, and, and so that sort of like. It spoke to me, right.
It wasn't just some mythical Harry Potter book that like you go to this magical land called ho Hogwarts. You actually can go from just being an average person to living lavish, uh, areas and, and having a lavish lifestyle. Um, or at the very least like having the ability to say that you did some cool shit in life.
Right. Um, and so this book sort of kick-started it, um, and that sort of transcended into. A bunch of other information that I had to consume. Uh, and I sort of pivoted more towards like business books, like creativity, Inc. Um, but zero to one, a lot of these books at the same time, I was very passionate about making money online.
And so, uh, while I didn't have much success making money through AdSense, which was like a big way to make money back in the early two thousands, um, I did find a passion of building websites. Um, and I tried to actually monetize my websites, but then, um, you know, what I found was SEO was painful. It was, it took a long time.
I was 18 and I wanted money now. Right. Know, I was, I was bored over a summer and I wanted money immediately. So that's what I fell upon. Like web design and engineering and web development. Okay. Not all then I'll, kick-started it right there. Yeah. And then it just really, you know, the books influenced me and, and told me where I needed to go.
Right. In terms of what I was interested in, in terms of many factors that I wanted out of life. This book was sort of like a map, right? This, this book told me, okay, Hey, this is where you need to be. And so that's sort of what started at all. And so, so your 23 year in Illinois, and you, you just decide to get the hell out of Illinois or was there, what, what sparked, like what, what happened to cause it's a big step and especially being young and not having a lot of money, like that sounds scary.
You know, that's a big step. I've always been fascinated by danger to some degree. Um, as long as I knew that, like it wasn't. Like the death, wasn't the outcome. Like I think a lot of us believe subconsciously that death is the outcome of a lot of silly things in life. Like, Oh, if I quit school death, if I break up in a relationship debt, if I define my parents' debt, If I moved to another city debt, like for some reason, our brain operates like that because it wants to sort of preserve itself.
Our brain plays a lot of tricks on us, but I think I was intuitive enough and conscious enough. Just enough to realize that that wasn't the case. And it wasn't just purely by my own whim. I think it was a lot of factors from the information that I was absorbing from the YouTube videos that I was watching from the books that I was reading.
But all of that was just sort of to wake me up and make things a little bit more clear. Right. So I realized that. In order to make a drastic change. I had to make a take drastic actions and that these actions did not lead to death. Right. That was the first step. Right. Everything is going to be okay, there's a little adventure involved.
There's a little bit of danger involved, but that's fine. I'm not going to die. Right. So once I had that locked in my head, I was like, okay, now it's time to get out of Illinois because. Nobody in Illinois is what I want to be. Right. Love. I love the people I grew up with. Um, and I will always love them, but it's not what I wanted to be.
I didn't want that life. And that, that's just, that's just something that I committed to. Like, I just didn't want it. So when all those variables are in the mix and all those factors exist, then, then it's much easier to make the choices that I made. Hmm. Yeah. So you started with the inner game, like most, definitely your game in terms of Illinois.
It's not Illinois itself. Like there are environmental factors. I didn't like that as flat. Um, I liked the mountains. I like the oceans, like that matters to me, but the most important thing is the feedback loops the most important things are the types of people that you meet in, in the, in the place that you're in.
Right? So the city that you choose matters because, you know, Silicon Valley, you're going to be around a lot of. Wealthy tech entrepreneurs going to be around a lot of engineers. You're gonna be around a lot of forward thinking people. Um, now there's a lot of cons that I can, uh, describe, uh, of living in Silicon Valley, but on the positive note.
And especially what I had in my mind was this sort of. Uh, you know, grandiose view of what it was. Um, and, and a lot of that still does exist, but that's the reason why I committed to it. Despite the cons, the pros always outweigh the cons in my mind. Um, and so you really want to be in a, in an environment that creates the feedback loop for your, what you want to be out of life, right?
You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with. That's so true. Right? So ask yourself today. Am I around the five people that are going to help me be what I actually want to be. That is so true. So, um, you, you get to Silicon Valley, you have like a couple hundred bucks in your, in your pocket, right?
So, so what do you do. Yeah. I mean, even before that, like for me, it was just a real simple equation. Um, do I have enough money for gas to get to California? Uh, and that's all I needed because I was so confident that if I put an ad online that I would get a customer, right. Like when I was 19 years old, I put an ad on this website called the warrior forum, uh, to, you know, market my web design services.
Right. And at the time I grossly undercharge, I started off, I think like $400. They worked with 600, eventually $800. Okay. And for me, that's, that's a good amount of money. Like I'm looking back at how much houses are back in my hometown. Like, like a mortgage for like a mansion, not a manager, like a big house.
It's like a thousand dollars a month. Right. So for me to be making $800, that was, that was pretty good, right. At 18, 19 years old. So I was complacent with that. Nonetheless. I was really confident that I would make $800 if I just put an atom on. Right. So all I needed to know was enough money to get to California.
Right. So I did the math $300 was enough, but it Adeline and I just took off and it was the most exhilarating adventure of my whole life. Like I still remember it to this day. Um, just, you know, cause for me, I, I never left Illinois. Like my parents never really like, took me on travels, like meant to Florida once where it's like North Carolina was, but I'd never really left Illinois.
Right. So for me to go out West in a car on this adventure was amazing because I was able to see I've been to Missouri. Right? I know it's flat. I know it's corn field. And then first time I've ever been in Nebraska, it was like, exactly like Missouri flat cornfield, but instead of green, it was Brown.
That's the only difference. But then as soon as I got past Nebraska, I saw the Rocky mountains. Right. I saw, um, Wyoming and I'm sleeping in my car at the motel six. Or the super eight, one of the two. And I remember waking up, uh, at the crack of Dawn or right before the sun went up because I was scared.
People would see me in the car. So I felt like I had, I'm not a morning person by any means, but I had to wake up early. Cause I was so embarrassed that people would see me. But I remember this one workout that I got in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was like, You know what I'm on this adventure, things are crazy, but I'm still gonna maintain my discipline.
I'm going to go work out. Okay. I'm very committed to the gym. And so I remember waking up at the crack of Dawn going to this YMC and shine. Uh, it was the best workout ever. I was like, I'm know, no, what's the, future's going to hold as I like bench press this, this weight. Like I know that I'm going to maintain my discipline and I know things are going to be hard, but that it's just like the gym, right?
Like there's going to be pressures. There's going to be tension. There's going to be weight on your shoulders. And all you do is you keep pushing, you keep pushing and you keep pushing no matter the circumstances. Right. And I remember that workout and this was years ago, but that was sort of like the thing that I've always kept my mind moving forward.
Right. It's like, just like this moment. Right. So, and that was just an exhilarating adventure. I remember, uh, going through, uh, Nevada, it was super hot, super flat. Um, you know, the desert, right. I remember going from like the snowy Rockies to like the flat desert. Um, and then it was just like this, like Baron of nothingness, just barren land.
And I remember passing through Nevada. And they're hitting California. And I was like, Holy fuck. We made it. It's like beautiful. The tall redwoods, the beautiful sunlight sort of just like passing through the trees. And I remember the swervy roads going through the mountains and I was like, Holy shit, this is where I want to meet.
Right. Because where I grew up, small town, Illinois, flat lands, it's really like just disgusting looking, um, to this beautiful Oasis of mountains and trees. I just never, Oh my God. This is fucking awesome. And I remember getting into California getting into, well, I feel like this story can go on for a long, long time.
I don't want to give like the long version, but, um, it was just amazing. Like if there's something you want to do in life and you really believe your intuition is telling you to go do that thing, go do it. Um, I promise you if despite the challenges you're going to feel so amazing about yourself that you, you just said, fuck it.
And you did it did things your away, just like Frank Sinatra said. Yeah, man. Hey, amen brother. Amen. That's like, I'm getting like the chills, you know? Cause I'm like, you know, it's so visual that story, you know? Yeah. And it goes on, it goes on. I mean, I would say to, to, to wrap it up, um, you know, for me, like I was, when I was going like on tech forums and I would see like ads for companies and stuff and.
The first thing that I did was I, I accidentally ended up in San Francisco. I meant to go down to Palo Alto, but I took the wrong turn. And so this is really cool. Cause then I'm going across the Bay bridge and you know, being in the middle of a corn field, my whole life going across the Bay bridge was amazing because you see out on the Bay, you see Alcatraz, you see the sailboats, um, Just like coasting along on the Pacific.
And for me, I was like, Holy shit. I'm not, I didn't mean to take this term, but this is amazing. And I remember just driving through San Francisco and accident. And by the way, I remember it was so fuck, my car had like a cracked window because before I left, like a branch fell down, so I had this like massive crack on my window.
My brake pads are completely white. I'm going metal to metal. So what I'm doing is to stop and lightly pressing the brakes and, um, um, hitting the emergency brake. Just to not hit the metal on metal. And it was such a, it was such a clusterfuck, just try and try and ride that car. But I'm not going through San Francisco where there's like, I don't know if you've ever been there's these massive Hills, right?
Yeah. The pills, if you're going up the Hill, like if you don't stop, like your car goes backwards and if you're going down the Hill, you don't stop. Then you're going like straight down forward. Like it's like a 45 50 degree angle. It's crazy. I remember just driving through San Francisco. And I'm like, okay, I got to get out of the city though.
I got to go like set up shop in Palo Alto where it's legal to live in your car. Um, there it's a lot more spacious. It's more suburbia. Um, this is the place where Google and Facebook and all these companies are. And I just, I, I knew I had to go down there and basically long story short, I get down there.
This is when I see like Ferrari's Lamborghini's and. Porsche's and like, Holy shit, I fuck it. I'm here, man. This is cool. This is the people I want to be around. And then I remember, um, just driving down the street called, um, uh, throughout the street was called, it's like a main street in Palo Alto. And I remember just stopping at a coffee shop at a Starbucks and just getting to work.
I remember just stopping everything and I'm like, all right, Ferrari's all that put into the side. It's focused on the here and the now let's get to work. Uh, let's get some money in the door. And then basically for, for a few weeks, I was just working in a coffee shop from like nine o'clock to whatever, going back in the car, sleep in the car and rinse and repeat eventually got a gym membership.
And that's how I was able to take showers and workout and maintain my sanity. Um, so yeah, it was, it was, it was crazy, but it's so doable. Okay, so, so how were you getting that money? Were you still doing the web design gig? Like on the internet or? Yeah. So now, now it's phase two. So all that was great adventurous, but now it's down to brass tacks and get to get the money in the door.
Right. So, um, yeah, I mean, I put the ad online. I got the client interested in Utah. I closed half, half the money in Utah. Um, so I had a little bit more money in my pocket going into conference, which is great. And then, yeah, it was just a matter of having a relationship with this client building. It was a WordPress plugin at the time.
And just having the ability to code makes sense. It doesn't make your life. Doesn't turn you into like this, like untouchable, like wizard, but it gives you the skillset that you can basically employ anywhere in the world, almost at any point in time. Um, and so if you really need cash, you need to get things going quickly.
Having coding skills. Um, is, is amazing for that. Um, and so, so I was just fortunate to have that skillset, um, because yeah, I was just working remotely with this client in Tel Aviv and, uh, yeah, I was able to pull in, uh, about $800 on this project. Um, and so the first 400 came in and the remaining just came from three weeks of just intense work.
Um, and delivering this project. And then from there, what had happened was I found a coworking space. This was pivotal, right? The co-working space was this like warehouse that was turned into a maker-space full of desks and tables and the kitchen and like coffee. And you put your food in the fridge. Um, and this was, this was absolutely pivotal because I was able to make friends.
Uh, and this is actually where I found my first job was, um, to the side of the coworking space was an incubator where a bunch of startups around the world would, um, come and work out of this incubator. Um, and they needed an engineer. So it was perfect. This is why you want to go to a city in an area where your skills, your interests, your desires, all those things align with what that culture is, right.
So me having the skillset and the value to offer for where that value is in demand. That it was so much easier for me to just connect the dots. Right. I knew that going into it. So it wasn't a risk. It was a calculated risk. Like I knew going in there, I would stumble upon somebody that needed an engineer.
Right. So I got lucky at the coworking space to find that, uh, sooner rather than later. And that's when I started getting into the, into the tech scene. That's when I started working at the company and sort of working my way up to eventually San Francisco. And then now my own company. Right. Gotcha. Gotcha.
And, and just, um, just for, for everyone listening right now, so this is all pretty much, you know, self-taught, you know, bootstrapped, right? Like you didn't have a fancy, you know, education, fancy degree or anything, right? No, no. I was horrible in high school. Um, and, and th th the key takeaway, um, is that what you focus on?
Becomes your strengths becomes a reality, right? Like if you focus on getting started is you're going to get started. Like, I think like there is a spectrum of IQ, but I think the things that you focus on will manifest, right? If you're in high school and you're doing a bad job, it's not because you're stupid.
It's because you're not focused. Right. And I think that the problem with the system is that you, you can't really force everybody to focus on one thing. I think. It's important to understand what people are interested in and then help them focus on those things that they're interested in and help them succeed in those areas.
I think we're becoming more awake to that, but I was just not very concerned with. History at the time, I was not very concerned with like English and reading Tom Sawyer and huckleberry Finn. I was more interested in, you know, computers and things of that sort. And, you know, that's what I focused on. And therefore my schooling was, was, was poor.
I wasn't able to get into any school. I was raised by a single mother, so she, she only made like $50,000 a year. And so she couldn't afford school. Um, she tried to put me at a community college. Um, at the time she was, she just suggested that I become, like, I go in the criminal justice field and become a cop.
And I was like, no, I don't want that, but I didn't know what else I wanted at the time. Um, and so I just, I did it for a little bit, but then I dropped out of community college because. I just, I didn't like it, it wasn't for me. Um, and so, yeah, that's when I was just like, Hey, I gotta take, I guess I'm the master of my fate.
Like that's, that's, that's where you should be proud about yourself is the fact of the matter is nowadays. All the information that you need is available. It's up to you to take yourself up out of your situation and put yourself in the right situation, but people have your back and you have to credit the people that, that help lift you up.
But your job is to find those people and position yourself and take action, right. So I give myself props for that, but at the same time, I appreciate everybody that taught me that that helped me, uh, even if it was indirectly just through their courses and stuff. Um, I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for other people.
Yeah. Do you, um, do you sort of, um, transition into like freelancing, um, and then like full-time and scrapping or how, like, how do you go about, yeah, I mean, I, so I'm, I'm comfortable being uncomfortable. Um, I am comfortable not having a steady income. Um, I basically turn it on when, you know, I I'm running low on funds and I basically turn it off when I'm in, you know, in a decent place and I can make rent for.
Three to six months, um, I'll turn it off. And then I'll just focus on, uh, you know, going full time story crater, getting revenue in the door, um, improving the product, talking to users, things of that sort. So it really just becomes a game of basic math. Um, it becomes a game of. Okay. What's my overhead. How do I reduce my overhead?
You know, it's a sacrifice, right? Can I avoid, you know, going to the movies and paying for fancy dinners and eating at home? Can I go to Costco and stock up for, for a few weeks, um, and save a little bit of money, uh, so that I can make it for the next few months. Do I have enough money, uh, to make rent? Um, as long as I do for at least three months.
And I'm good, it's just a game of math. I think a lot of people, they just, they, they, they want, um, the comfort, uh, and I've been there too of like, Knowing exactly when you're gonna get paid on time on a regular schedule, um, and in a consistent way right now, this is great. If you want to save money, if you want to get rich by, you know, putting money in a 401k or saving up your money and investing it, that's a great way to get rich.
I've had friends who've made a billion dollars by working a nine to five. Um, by just saving, living with their parents for the first two years. Um, and, and they were making good figures, six figures, right. But they would save for the first few years, not spend any money at all, invest in the market, double their money.
And that's a great strategy. But for me, I think. I'm playing it a little bit differently. I learned this from Deval Rabat. I mean, this has always been my strategy, um, but he made it super clear. And you said that it's counter-intuitive to bleed out every single day, but the most wealthy people in the world are a willing to bleed out on a consistent basis.
And this is one surefire way to wealth. It's taking a risk. Bleeding out losing money, losing money, losing money, sacrificing, sacrificing energy for no paycheck for no paycheck, for no paycheck. And then eventually getting paid a million dollars. Right. That's something I've noticed in a lot of millionaires is not getting paid for a long time and then eventually making a massive fat check.
Right. So that's sort of the game that I'm playing. I do have, um, the advantage of being able to freelance and turn it on when I do need to make rent and stuff. But for me, as long as I have. My laptop, decent place to work. Um, uh, you know, and some of the basics. Uh, essentials, but I'm happy. Like I just love working on my purpose and my passion.
I love building things. I love creative output. I don't need all the fancy things that will just icing on the cake. I just need the bare minimum to be able to create. Right. I just need time. I need good conditions around me. Um, and then I'm happy and I feel like I have great output. And do you, like, do you take a couple of years of full-time freelancing to sort of build up your roster or was it like, and that's that?
I think that's important. Yes. I mean, if I'm giving advice to somebody else, I think it's very hard as a 19 year old, a 20 year old to, um, just like do what I'm doing right now as a 29 year old. Um, it's definitely possible. I, I I've seen some. Uh, you know, 19 year olds who are telling it with like Webflow.
Um, but I think, uh, even in his situation, my buddy Hunter, um, it's still requires like a lot of his focus. I think it requires, um, years of building up a lot of things like inner game. I think it takes built building up. The understanding of how to negotiate, understanding your value, understanding how to do it consistently understand understanding how business works.
This takes, um, a few years of, of skill building this. And then during that time, what my suggestion would be, and this is just my suggestion based on my, uh, circumstance of life, based on what I've achieved is yes, you want to gain skills. Um, that are robust, that you can actually use to build your own business eventually if you want to become wealthy.
But during that skill building phase, I would learn, learn, learn, save, save, save, build connections, build a network, um, and do that for five years. If your goal is to build a business, build a solid foundation essentially is, is the suggestion. Um, but at the same time, I've seen some, some kids that are, you know, 1920, 21 making lots of money selling courses, lots of money.
Um, You know, doing the entrepreneurship game, uh, doing the YouTube stuff, selling fitness courses, I've seen a lot of these kids do that. And that's fine. If you're fortunate enough to have like the parents to back you, if you fail, uh, things of that sort, then that's awesome. Um, but I think the, the, the, the w the, and this is just because this is my reality, but I think you want to build a foundation first.
Um, this is probably going to apply to more people than not it's. Some people are the outliers, uh, like the fitness kids that are making money at 21, but, but as a general piece of advice, Build up your foundation and then eventually take those skills and transitioned into inbuilt into building your own business.
Yeah. Yeah. Very, very good advice there. Um, so let's talk a bit about your, um, your SAS company story creator app. Um, do you want to like share a bit of like what your app does and, uh, how you got, you know, why you built it? Yeah, no, that's a good question. Um, I would say that for me over the years, I'm always been interested in, you know, making things on digital.
Uh, so I've obviously delved in the aftereffects. I've obviously made things, um, in those tools and I've always ran into, um, problems with, um, efficiency. I've always felt that, uh, for me, like to produce something amazing, um, it required downloading pre-made things like, uh, templates. Uh, pre-made animations things of that sort.
And that always gave me the better chance of success for the work that I did. Um, especially in an area that I'm not super strong, right? Like I'm strong with code, but I I'm. Creative and resourceful enough to make things with video. Um, but from my strong suit, so the more help I can get in that area, the better, um, the results will be.
So I've always went to like Envato and I've always went to these, uh, different, um, asset communities. And I would pay $30, $50 for, for, for some resources. On top of the 20, $30, whatever I was paying for creative cloud. So that got expensive really quickly. And on top of that, I never like, always liked the pack that I downloaded.
Like the advertisement was great, so they sold me and I downloaded it, but then I realized I didn't even like it, or it's really complicated to set up, which that's the case. Uh, often more often than not is downloading somebody else's work and then trying to like fit it in after effects, um, is, is a learning process, right?
So I felt going into this project, there was a need, at least in my own need for having the, the marketplace, the asset libraries and templates. Within the video editor combined. Right? And then on top of that, by having it online solves a huge problem that I had was if I was, uh, using, uh, aftereffects on one laptop, they wanted to go to a friend's house and they continue to edit.
Or if I wanted to go to a different laptop, I would have to download the same environment, the same aftereffects. Uh, software to have dealt with all the assets on the local machine. So by having it on the cloud, um, it just made it super easy to, and robust and flexible to go from computer to computer. And it only assets are just hosted in the cloud.
Right. So. I didn't see any of this in the market. So I really wanted to build this because I felt like it was a challenging project. I felt like there was a huge need. I felt like I would even use this for a lot of the projects that I was taking on in terms of social media marketing and stuff, because it's a pain, uh, you know, creating a bunch of stuff in after effects for social media.
When, if there's a tool that's tailored for it and made it super snappy, um, almost like, cause the thing I've realized, um, in my early twenties, like when I go out to bars and I would like. Meet girls and stuff is that there's a, there's a lot of power in video storytelling. Like I would like meet a girl and if like we liked each other, we would exchange Instagrams and she was able to sort of interact with my life through the videos that I was sharing on a daily basis.
And I saw Holy shit, there's a lot of power in this, this, this applies to business as well. Right. But the thing was. For me, like I had a YouTube channel at one point, and it was hard as fuck to create videos every day, like going in and doing a lot of the same monotonous tasks took forever. Right. But when, as soon as Instagram stories came out, it wasn't as like, um, compelling as like a really well edited video.
But I was able to tell a story and just a few seconds of work. Right. I could add like tax, I can graphics, but still like, that was limited. Right. I feel like. There could be a tool that's as easy as Instagram stories that you can quickly pump out content like Instagram stories, but that gives you some of the like extra elements and the ability to cut things, the ability to add progress bars, some motion, graphic elements that make your story a little bit more compelling, a little bit more, um, polished, like almost like.
Like ESPN, right. ESPN is able to crank out content quickly, but they actually have like graphics, motion elements, things that make it really engaging for users. Right. So I wanted to have a tool that was between after effects and Instagram stories. Yeah, totally. And it was like the whole, like the cliche scratching your own edge, you know, like your own, you know, target group, like your customer.
Yeah. Yeah, that was a, it was a benefit and a disadvantage at the same time, because I feel like I could have gotten to market a lot faster if I had talked to users ahead of time. Um, and that's something I re looking back retrospectively I would have done differently. I would have talked to more users. I would have validated this idea.
I would have looked for common pain points. Um, and then I would have built after getting that information instead of going straight into it. But for me, I was just like super eager to, to just make something happen. Take action. It's like, I wasn't on any hackers, which is this community of indie, you know, tech entrepreneurs up and coming tech entrepreneurs.
And you said, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you said you spent eight months building out story creator app, right? Yeah, but eight months it took me, I think, about six months or seven months to get to my first paying customer. Um, so retrospectively I feel like I could have gotten a paying customer from the first month.
Instead of the seventh month. Um, but that's fine. I, you know, you, you're gonna make a lot of mistakes. If you're trying to build your own SAS and start going coming, you're gonna make a lot of mistakes with one mistake that you can take away from me, um, is, you know, validate your idea as quickly as possible and get your first set of paying customers in immediately right now, would that have came to the product.
It could very well have tainted the product. I mean, things could have been. Better or worse? I don't know. But, um, I feel like, um, it is important to validate your idea early on. Um, but, but you should, like, for me, like I wanted to build a foundation, uh, is like a video editor, right? Like, I feel like if I would have like built something like wave or, or like the other competitors I would have built.
A very hacky solution that would have solved one probably would have solved it really well. Um, but the problem would be that, like, it didn't really align with what I wanted to create at the end of the day, which is a video editor in the web that tailor made for specific tasks. Um, so I don't know. I think the advice is sound, you know, validate early on, but I think in combination with believing in a, and you own the own.
Solution that you want to see, right? Like, like what is your ideal product? And then how does that relate to the market and then sort of finding the blend between the two. Does that make sense? Yeah, totally. Um, just maybe to give, uh, my own 2 cents here. So, uh, I initially started working on, um, like building the MVP for the it's like a SAS for tax accountants to automate part of their workflow that I'm working on.
And, um, So I initially started building out the MVP and then I realized, hang on, I got to talk to more users, like my stepdad's a tax accountant himself. So it was kind of, the target group was, you know, it was like very close, but he, he's kind of like, not my ideal customer. So now I'm talking to the taxi cabins and so far the, um, The feedback has been very like lukewarm and fuck Luke warm is the worst feedback I'm telling you.
Cause it's like, cause I still believe in the idea. I think it's great. I can save them hours of time, but you know, I want them to, to, to either tell me, you know, I love this, take my money or to be like this sucks, you know, like you're wasting everyone's time, but to be this warm in between that's tricky.
Yeah, no, that's a good. Like point that you bring up and it's, it's a skill. I mean, have you read them on tests? I actually, I haven't sitting at my desk. I haven't read it though, but I feel like for us, that would be really helpful because I think the main takeaway is people will tell you one thing. Um, but it's not Lou the direct answer that you're looking for.
There's, there's a hidden message behind what people say and to, to really decipher what the actual core problems are. Um, are you taking what they're saying at face value? So, um, this is what I was going to say. So I've only talked to, I've only spoken to three tax accountants on the phone yet. And Jason Lampkin, this other guy that you're probably familiar with.
Like, he's like a very well-known SAS, uh, person. Uh, and, um, he has this thing where it's like, it doesn't matter how, you know, how, how much it might suck for you or how much work it is. You got to talk to 20. Uh, 20 potential customers on the phone as like the bare minimum. And I've only taught two to three.
So I really, yeah. I'm like, I hate this, uh, this is tedious, but I need to get my 20, you know, tax accounts on the phone. And then I'll like, what type of questions are you asking? And are you like tracking the results of the conversations? Yeah, so I'm tracking the conversations and, um, Basically, I want to get a feel for how they're solving the problem right now.
So basically most of them are using like this hacky approach with like spreadsheets and like Excel templates and like word documents from like years ago and copy and pasting. So like very sad Sasebo quote unquote. Right. So that's kind of like something I want to hear. Um, but then on the other hand, they're very, um, Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. So the people that you've talked to and the people that you anticipate on talk to you about, like, what are they a little bit older demographic? Well, I'm trying to target younger, uh, tax accountants, or like under 40. Um, but uh, so far the people I've spoken with on the phone are like 40 plus.
Okay, well, there you go. That's something to factor in. I would definitely hit the hit harder and talk to more people, um, find the Reddits. Uh, and one thing that I found, like talking to one user, um, it's really important to ask that user, Hey, by the way, what are some communities, um, that you hang out in that I can find other people similar to you thinking and talking about similar things.
And if you know anybody like personally, I'd love an introduction, right? Things like that, um, help the process of finding more customers. Uh, it helps, uh, expedite it, right. Instead of having to go back to the drawing board and go back to scratch and creating a post to Reddit, like actually start with those three people and then, then sort of use that to navigate your way to the right communities.
It just makes things a little bit faster. Yeah. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. Um, so what was I going to say? Um, uh, Yeah, this, uh, this whole like cold outreach thing. It's, um, it's definitely a grind and it's definitely something that it's, it's, it's uncomfortable for sure. Yeah, it really is. But it's necessary, you know, that's why, you know, you train yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable because when you want to make good things happen in life, like start a business, you have to deal with these things.
Right. Um, but you know, it's, it's the thing that separates the boys from the men, you know, I mean, you just gotta do it. Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. Um, do you maybe have, like, I'm just thinking with the whole COVID-19 situation going on right now and with a lot of people, you know, losing their jobs, um, and going through hardship right now.
Do you maybe have like this one, uh, moment or just like one challenge hardship where you're like, fuck, like there was this one time I was really down. I was really struggling by overcame it. Yeah, no, I mean, I have been, uh, you know, up and down yeah. On a rollercoaster, uh, ever since I decided to leave my comfortable job, you know, I was making $200,000 in San Francisco and that was, that was comfortable know.
Um, but there was that like with that, or was it later during pain? On the inside of me saying I'm selling myself short I'm following somebody else's mission. Um, I'm, I'm not staying true to myself. I'm not going for what I want in life. And like coming out to California and making that move, um, was, was, it was, you know, it wasn't, you know, I'm letting myself down.
Right. Um, and so. It's been a roller coaster ever since I said, okay, I'm going to quit. I'm going to go after what I want, then I'm back on the fucking roller coaster. Uh, just like I was when I first came out here. And so, yes, there's that question. It's been constant battle between Holy shit. I'm going to be homeless tomorrow.
They're like, Holy fuck. We just like, are about to close the deal with this app that has like 2 million users. I feel like I'm on top of the world. Holy shit. I just got a paying customer today that, you know, they're using the tool that I built from scratch and they're paying right. I got money coming in through Stripe.
It's amazing. Um, and then like, I look at view here and like, Holy shit, this is amazing. Look what I've done for myself. And then there's another moment. Like, Holy fuck. Like all this I'm gonna be homeless. Like that guy slipping up by the tree. I'm gonna like, come, come down there in a few days. I'm going to like right next to him.
It's like, it's this constant rollercoaster, but I try to be a stoic as I can't. I try to just be balanced and grounded and I I'm willing to accept the fact that if I have to be homeless or have to like go back to living in a car, that's okay. Because I am on a mission. I am going to solve a problem, even if I have to adapt.
Uh, to the market, I am confident I am capable. And so I believe that at the end of the day, things will always play in my favor. Um, and that's actually one of the theories that I had coming out here and living in a car was like, if I could put myself through this conditions at one point in life and be comfortable with that, that even if I rise to the top, make millions of dollars.
Cause that money can be taken away. Would I be comfortable from going up there to back to the bottom and you have to be comfortable with that, right? As long as you are able to, um, create a solidarity, I don't know if that's the right word. That's like, uh, isolation, but like create. A solid framework in your mind, create the skillsets, create a solid foundation in your own sort of reality.
Um, then you're good, then you're set, right. It doesn't, you, you're not affected by whether you're top or the bottom. You're so grounded in neutral that yes, you do great things and cool things in life where you deserve to be at the top, but you're so neutral and grounded that it doesn't matter. Right. So I try to like adopt that philosophy.
I think that's still, yeah. That's like, man, that is super. On point and it's easier said than done obviously, but, um, I think we can all use a bit more of that. I would say my advice and the thing that's helped me, like what I feel like ripping my hair out and screaming is just showing gratitude. Um, taking a step back.
Sometimes I get my head in the clouds. I'm like, I start here and then I'm like, I'm going to have all these ideas. I want to go like talk to a thousand people, end up in talking to like four people. But when you're talking to them, so like so much velocity and so much words, it feels like you're putting out all this energy, but I'm like, I get to this point where I'm just like, so in the clouds and talking to so many people, um, and then I'm like, sometimes you just need to bring myself down.
I mean, I'm, I'm building so many features and like, I have all these ideas. I just need to bring myself down sometimes. Right. Cause I've worked myself up, um, out of, out of existence, out of presence. Right. I get, I get my into my head too much. Right. That's when I take a step back and I get present, uh, I become grateful for things and that grounds me.
Do you, uh, do you work in sprints? Like you just go super hard for like, I don't know, a week and then you just take like a day or two to relax or. Yeah. I mean, it's been crazy. I've been just like on, for a very long time. I do try to turn it off sometimes like me and my buddies, um, every now and then on the weekend, we'll play call of duty or I'll go on a hike.
Um, or, you know, I'll just be easy on myself and drink like a kombucha beer, uh, you know, and just relax and just like enjoy the sun of San Diego. But for the most part I've just been on and I think. That's actually something that I needed to do more of is turning off. Um, I don't know if I turn it off is the right word, because I want to be on at all times, but taking a step back and just enjoying and smelling the flowers I think is, is, is necessary.
But at the same time, Don't get, don't get too comfortable with, Oh, it's the weekend. Let me like have fun and detach because that's nine to five thinking. Right? That's average thinking. I think you have to push yourself. I think you have to work a little bit above and beyond your, your peers that are working nine to five.
I don't think there's any question about that, but do take care of your mental health. And if you really do feel like you're gassing yourself, then do take a step back. But do you realize. It's not this LA LA like sunshine and rainbows. Oh, it's five o'clock here. I can check out. That's not how this works.
If you're an entrepreneur, I was going to say, I was going to say that sounds like you have very ambitious goals. And then I was just about to ask you, what are your goals? But then I realized there's this post you put online where you can see, I did my research, you know, um, Yeah. When you said like, uh, something along the lines of like, I don't, you know, publicly put out my goals, something along those lines, because that would like make it less likely that I would achieve them.
Oh, that's actually a good point. This is actually from some spiritual wisdom that I received on any hackers, which has actually been in my mind a lot lately. Like I was like, Whoa, this is so . But at the same time, this is actually like, Holy shit. There's something to this, right? It's like a, like, um, uh, like an Indian philosophy or like a West or an Eastern philosophy.
Right. Where it's very like, I'm spiritual, but I'm like, Holy shit. Maybe, maybe like, cause like I have a lot of Indian friends and I were just talking to him, talking to this about, about the CRD and they're like, yeah, we believe in karma. Like it's a real thing. And I'm like, I never really thought about it too much until now.
And I'm like, Holy shit. I'm going to read that post. Maybe like, I should be thinking about this more. Maybe I should like, make sure all my debts are paid. Never. I don't want to owe anybody any money. I always want to make sure I pay them back. That's rule number one, never stealing now for me, I'm always like pirate movies on the fuck or not.
Now, now I've been thinking about, I just watched 2001. These Odyssey amazing Howard Hughes film. And I decided, okay, I'm going to buy it. I'm going to pay for it. It doesn't matter whatever, and little things like that. And then one thing that I almost forgot about this, but yeah, the teachers was, you don't want to share your goals too much, um, because then the likeliness of it happening or are lessened, um, which I don't know how I feel about that, but that's, that's interesting.
I mean, maybe there's something to it. It's like, I feel like, um, if people can, um, Can help you achieve those goals, then you should definitely put them out there, like this whole, like learning and public and like, you know, weekly status, status updates and stuff on your blog or on Twitter or whatever. I think that really helps because like, we wouldn't have connected otherwise.
Right. Oh, absolutely. And it's like, I put one of my goals. I want to get a paying customer and, uh, you know, I made it happen. Right. I don't know how, but it was just because I do, that's like what he said in that post, there was a lot of great teachings, but one thing that I do believe in, and it's from this book that I read called reality, trans surfing, I highly recommend it.
It's by this quantum physicist who talks about, um, you know, frequencies and energies and how to attune yourself to the lifeline that you want. And one thing that I just read the other day was that. You can never become a millionaire if you don't like. Are you believe that you can be a millionaire, right?
Like you can't put it on a pedestal, basically as the, as the, as the teaching, you cannot put too much importance on something because you put it on a pedestal. And when you put it on a pedestal, you've committed your vibrational energy, your actions, your thoughts to not go on that lifeline because you do, because you've already put it on a pedestal, you've made it a dream and not a reality.
Right. So that's why you never want to put too much important something. So maybe there's something between the two where it's like, you can put your goals out there, but you can't put too much importance on your goals because then you, you put it on a pedestal. If that makes sense. Yeah, I feel like it's a whole, like, you know, process goals versus, um, uh, set goals.
As in like, you know, you're about, you know, building a business and certainly you have certain, you know, monetary goals, but at the end of the day, you're about the process of building a business. And so, so, so much about it to the point where probably even if you have like a seven or eight figure exit, like in like one or two or three years, you probably end up, you know, starting another business after.
Cause you're like all about the process of building, right. And you're not so attached to the goal itself, but you're more, you're more concerned with your actions in the process and, um, you, you already believe that it will happen. It's just a matter of taking the right actions and the. The goals are just there to keep you focused on, uh, making the right actions, right?
If that makes sense, because what you focus on, if you believe that you can achieve that thing, and you're so focused on it, but you don't put it on a pedestal, then your actions, your vibration, your energetic levels will be aligned with achieving that thing. And you're more likely to achieve it. Right. But it's, as soon as you start putting it on a pedestal and you start saying, Oh my God, like, I want to meet like a celebrity.
I'm going to make it happen. But like, in reality, you're like, you're putting that goal on a pedestal and it's probably not going to happen. Right. Yeah. Yeah. And then there's also like, you know, cause you brought up Nepal rabbit con there's, um, like genius guy, by the way. Yeah. So, uh, many things, he also many, so much knowledge, so much wisdom, but he said the same, like where you got to give yourself a chance to get rich.
Like if you're going to be, you know, I don't know, like working in retail as like a, I dunno, a cashier or whatever, like you're not going to get rich ever period. Like, it doesn't matter how hard work, but you know, if you go into like, you know, coding, for instance and business, you have the chance to make billions.
Yeah. I mean, it's all about the decisions you make. And then even within those worlds, you're, you're statistically higher to become a millionaire if you're an engineer, but you fall into these traps as an engineer, like, okay. I self identify myself as an engineer. I don't think, uh, in terms of business, I don't think in terms of solving problems, I just think in terms of code, I'm very nary to the frameworks.
I'm very married to the coding languages. That you sort of fall in this mental trap of, of, I am a coder, like this is what I do. And then you just sort of like operate at that frequency. Um, so it's a matter of like branching out of that mindset, but by being a coder is the first step by positioning yourself in that, and that sort of world is the first step, but you got to like, be able to navigate out of that because like to see a lot of editors fall into that trap, that's why a lot of editors can't run businesses.
And this is so true, like this, this, this, this, uh, identity of like, I'm an engineer, I'm a coder. And, um, yeah, no, I don't know. Sales is like sleazy sales is like, you know, racist people doing sales and stuff. I think in that you've, you've already counted yourself out. Right. Cause sales is everything it's part of the equation.
Right. So, um, as soon as you start thinking like that, you've counted yourself out. Right. And it's crazy because. Yeah, I read, I saw Robert Downey Jr. On, um, on Joe Rogan. And he said a lot of his success was just getting out of his own way. Right? Like you said, he even said that there's times when I've, uh, you know, ruined, uh, aspects of my life because I got in my way.
Right. He said, the times that I've had the most success is when I got out of my own way. So a lot of it is just getting out of your own way. Right. A lot of, a lot of it's being open-minded a lot of, it's not self identifying. A lot of, it's not like judging, like you judge salespeople, then you've already become sort of the anti sales person, which could never put yourself in the position of selling and being open-minded to selling, which is as a thing that you need to grow the business.
Right. So, um, yeah, I mean, it's really about just at the end of day, not getting in your own way. Totally totally. That is like, uh, you know, a beautiful thing to kind of like end this podcast on maybe. Um, cause I know you have a, a theme you got to get to. Um, do you have maybe any final words, some, you know, final advice, maybe an ask, something you want to do want to say to the audience, anything at all that comes to mind?
Yeah. I mean, there's a few things. One thing I would say, um, that you can do that's actionable right now. Is, um, ask yourself, what is your pain right now? Um, I, I truly believe that there are two types of pain. There are, um, the pain in the now that can lead to Maury in the future or there's comfort now that can lead to pain in the future.
Right. So my belief is that you're gonna have pain in life no matter what, but it's important for you to be conscious of what pain you're choosing. Uh, and be very aware of it right now. What is that pain? And what pain do I prefer? I prefer to put in the work now that's do I prefer to spend 10 hours a day?
Do I prefer to do the things I'm more comfortable with the pain of that? The pain of getting rejected? Do I want a beautiful girlfriend, but why am I going to be able to accept the pain right now that I might get rejected by quite a few until I get to that point? Or do I want to not feel the pain now of not getting rejected, but to be a loner for the rest of my life?
Right? That's an example. Same thing with the business. The same principle applies. Right? So ask yourself, what pain do I want? What pain am I accepting right now? I'm accepting future pain of not having that relationship or I'm accepting immediate pain to have potential outcome, better outcomes in the future.
Right. So ask yourself. That's something that I really believe in, but something that's super actual right now. And I would say, uh, in, in, in, uh, addition to that, uh, if one of your pains in terms of, uh, video making is a, that it's a, it's a process and you don't have the tools and you wanna be able to quickly subtitled videos and make those Gary V style videos.
You want to be able to, uh, turn your audio into podcast videos so you can share an Instagram checkout story creator, app.com. Uh, and if you have any questions, let me know. You can find me anywhere. Michael Aubrey A U B R Y slash Michael Aubrey at Twitter, uh, at me or on Instagram or email Mike, absolutely beautiful.
And I'll be actually a customer myself because I actually really need this too. Dude, let me know, uh, how, how I can tailor it and make it so that you have the most success. I'm an active development. Uh, I've a few cool features that I'm rolling out this week. I'm adding a bunch of motion, graphic elements to spice up your video.
Um, we have, you know, animated texts, uh, subtitles, all that stuff, but let me know how I can help you succeed. Just follow up with me after this and we'll work together. Beautiful. We'll do Michael again. Thank you so much for coming on the show and you have a fantastic productive day. It's been fun. I'm sure I'm going to be seeing you around on the interwebs.
I'll look forward to I'll say hi a hundred percent. All right. You have a good one.