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Podcast #1 – Justin Ferrinman – From Massage Chair Vending Machines to E-Learning

By Scott Bolinger | July 16, 2019

I’m excited to release the first episode of The Product Business Podcast, and it’s a good one.

Justin has been doing LearnDash since 2012, and he is crushing it. I was curious about how he started his company, and what he did before that.

One of my favorite moments was learning that Justin sold massage chair vending machines. His life could be very different if he stuck with that.

He also created a clever business that gave away free domain names and made money through affiliates on the back end. It brought in a few hundred bucks per month until he finally sold it for $2,000. Check the “successful exit” box!

He had the idea for LearnDash in 2012, and I love his go to market strategy. This is what he did.

  1. Justin started a blog in his area of expertise, wrote articles and collected emails.
  2. After getting some traction with the blog, he hired out a firm to build his initial product. Proof you don’t have to be a developer to do this.
  3. He had a clever launch strategy (detailed below), and sold lots of copies right away.

Profitable Within 48 Hours

Justin made back his initial investment in the development of LearnDash within 48 hours of launch. Impressive!

I love his launch strategy. He had an existing list because of his blog, which is key. He emailed them that he would give away 5 copies of LearnDash on launch, he also marketed on MySpace. To enter to win, you had to write a blog post about what excited you about LearnDash.

He got about 60 blog posts written, with backlinks, before he launched.

He gave away the 5 free copies, then emailed the other 55 people who participated with a launch discount code. He sold tons of copies.

I don’t think you could replicate this strategy now, but I love that he got people involved. He created active instead of passive participation, I think that makes a big difference. You might not get 60 blog posts written when you launch, but you can do things to get customers actively involved.

Takeway: Hiring Consultants is Undervalued

One of my biggest takeaways from this podcast was that hiring outside design and development firms is undervalued.

Sometimes when we develop our own products we don’t think an outside firm can help. We want to remain in control, and we don’t want to pay for something we can do ourselves.

Justin hired top tier firms for LearnDash 3.0, and it shows. Ninja Forms did this as well, for their major UI update in their version 3.

Outside consultants can bring a fresh perspective, as well as free up your team for internal tasks.

Justin’s final advice was to give yourself permission to take a break. I give you permission to take a break and listen to this podcast.

Enjoy the show, and please subscribe on your platform of choice.

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