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Sherpa Founders Series: Signaling Strength via .COM for a B2B – with Daniel Vassallo

I speak with startups and entrepreneurs all the time and WOW this gentleman is special! Meet Daniel Vassallo, the former AWS Software Dev Engineer who quit his $500k/year job at Amazon and founded UserBase.com.

Learn how and why Daniel:

  • Invested 25% of his B2B capital on upgrading to the premium .COM version of his domain name
  • Chose to invest upfront in a premium domain to lower operating costs , thereby lowering odds of failure
  • Recognized the vital importance of upgrading before launching
  • Utilized .COM to signal his tech company is a serious company, not a “weekend project”
  • Identified the necessity of .COM for building trust from clients, particularly in a space where clients trust his company to manage their data
  • Leveraged the discoverability of a .COM to stand out in a crowded B2B space
  • Acquired the .COM via a very unique situation, and acted decisively when recognizing a unique price opportunity
  • Launched an incredibly helpful ebook, The Good Parts of AWS,  prior to launching his company, and made $70k off the ebook in just a few months
  • Proactively built his Twitter audience to 22,000 followers in a year, and values it as his greatest current asset… and much more!

Any entrepreneur or domain broker will benefit from today’s show!

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Daniel Vassallo
Daniel Vassallo
Daniel is a software developer who recently took the plunge into entrepreneurship. Before that, he was with Amazon for 8 years where he worked in AWS, the cloud computing wing of Amazon. Daniel's popular article on The Good Parts of AWS is an essential read for developers.

Daniel lives with his family in Seattle where he is now focusing on his new business, UserBase.com, a service that allows other software developers to easily build applications on the web. Daniel writes about his journey in entrepreneurship at DanielVassallo.com.

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Okay. I feel like I just met Jeff Bezos. Not really, but I’m telling you, I speak with startups and entrepreneurs all the time and this gentleman is special. I’d like you to meet Daniel Vassallo. We got together to discuss his acquisition of UserBase.com and why he spent 25% of his entire startup budget on a premium.com. Not just for any startup, but a B2B startup, which you know, generally spend less on their domains than a B2C. This interview is so much more than that though; Daniel has very unique perspectives on business. He discusses how he made $70K off an ebook he just launched a couple months ago, and how he proactively built his Twitter audience to 22,000 followers in a year. I hope you enjoy the show and meeting Daniel just as much as I did.

EFTY was built by domain investors to increase your inquiries, sales and profit, forget spreadsheets and archived emails. Manage your entire investment portfolio in one place using a secure and completely confidential platform. Learn more at ft com. That’s E F T Y .com.

Hey, Sherpa network. I’m Tess Diaz, executive producer of domain sherpa.com and today we have a founder and entrepreneur here to tell his story about upgrading to the best version of a.com. Joining us is Daniel Besano of userbase.com hi Danielle. How are you doing?

Hi tests. Thank you for having me. Very good. Thanks.

Oh, it’s a delight to have you. So you have founded this company itself funded. It sounds very enterprising and it sounds like it was part of your plan. You developed it on userbase.dev and then before launch just, uh, about 10, 12 weeks ago, you transitioned to user-based dot com. Is that right?

The act? Yeah, so the getting the dotcom was in part of the plan. Originally I had set it on userbase after brainstorming some name ideas and I, the only thing I looked for was that there are well-intended businesses that I could see running. I did at st Mark’s search, saved my course available, like files it, it’s Mark, uh, paperwork. And, uh, I acquired the dot because, you know, I saw that the.com was unavailable and, uh, I didn’t pursue it. I didn’t think it was important for me. This was a B to B business, is that B2B business for other software developers. And initially I didn’t think that the.com it was essential. Um, actually I still think it wasn’t, it’s still not essential, but Oh, we’ll talk about it. Uh, I chose to buy it anyway. Um, uh, so yeah, so it starts with the plan to launch with the.com Dan sort of the opportunity Ally’s w w with the.dev and then the opportunity as I was to uh, to buy the.com and this was a bit of a dilemma because first of all, I had never bought a domain before.

This wasn’t sort of ocular nine 99 for was 99 available on the market. Um, and um, and there had a fixed budget for this. This was still an experiment that I had set some, um, had some money, how much I wanted to invest and buying the.com was going to be a significant, a portion of that budget. And that was sort of the luck tends to exceed that. I wanted to stay disciplined and not sort of make a bigger investment. And I wanted to set up a totally new age, potentially losing side because the business hadn’t even launched yet when I bought the.com, like I said, for the speculative, um, bet and I that it’s going to hopefully a pay off in the long term.

Yeah. I, and I’d really like to pick your brain about that because a lot of entrepreneurs is nationally in the B2B business, don’t see a reason for the best version of.com of their brand or domain. And it’s really interesting, you know, and especially being self-funded, you have a very limited budget and that you chose to invest a significant portion in this. Um, let’s walk through that thought process. Um, but first, so you came over from, uh, about eight years as a software engineer for Amazon. Yes. Okay. Tell me, tell me a little bit what you did over at Amazon.

Yeah, so I was working in the cloud computing division. Uh, it’s basically the, the wing of Amazon that’s um, that builds software for other software developers to build their own websites and web applications on top of it. So I wasn’t part of the amazon.com, the eCommerce sites. I trust more on the technology side and yeah, uh, eight and a half years. Um, and I was building mostly my customers at Amazon where other software developers and certify the I they enjoyed that space. And this is also so what user base basis doing, um, uh, helping other web developers build web applications very easily without having to set up servers, uh, databases and deal with security and other complicated things. Um, and uh, yeah, so my journey as Amazon was, I mean, I think, uh, it was, it was good by many measures. I was fairly well compensated, so I got promoted as many times as if I had my reputation there.

Things were working fairly well, but I think something clicked in me probably nearly about five years ago. So it started I think commitment, my mids point in the, in the, in the journey there. But I think either you’re license probably, yeah, I caught it there as a full time employee. Wasn’t the ideal part for me. I was basically looking at other peak fill that had been there 10 years, 20 years. And I tend, I didn’t sell the MV their position and don’t get me wrong, like it’s not like I, you know, there were seven this list skills. People were knowledgeable. I would have envied their, their knowledge and skills, but sort of their day to day job. I didn’t see myself being satisfied on the ward doing that. And um, it has been mostly been a mental exercise of trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, what other universe would exist that, um, would it be better for me.

And I think initially I was considering many people, uh, many of my peers that have had left to do something on that on their own typically would have gone. The Silicon Valley is outside, call that side. They start a business, they start to get VC funding, um, to build something big. And initially I think my idea was sweating clients was that part. But I think then I also realized that that’s what have probably have come with similar burdens if even if not even more than just full time employment. Because once you take investments, you’re still essentially reporting to someone. And probably even more, because at least you know, when you’re employed, you could always leave two weeks notice. Um, but if you were to take something like that, you felt more, um, uh, that’s like, that’s what you can do if things are not working out. So my, my mentor does is to evolve to imagining a bootstrapped part.

So that’s where I’m building something on my own where I’m self funding gets, I call my own shots. I don’t have to sort of, uh, I could, um, uh, I could tickets how I wanted to pursue things that I want, not to pursue things that I decided not to pursue. Um, and uh, that’s basically what I ended up doing. I pretty much left my job without a concrete plan though. So I spent, I knew that I was going to live off my savings for the wild. I spent some time just to searching ideas. Um, I started building an audience a little bit, mostly on Twitter. Initially I started blogging, but then Seth, if I settled on documenting my journey on Twitter and it sort of formed a little bit of a community of other people and sisters and following someone else doing something like this.

And, um, uh, and that’s how a lot, because sort of there’s somebody listening now, it’s not like I’m doing things and just releasing them into the void. Like I get feedback and, and so then today the name user base came from, somebody suggested it. So I’d actually, I was the brainstorming online, literally in the open. I had some other ideas. Um, and anyway, long story short, um, this has been my path like as much 20, 19 had been, uh, in February I left my job and sort of spent a few months brainstorming, came up with this, this business idea has been developing pretty much until the end of the year. It was at least the first version, uh, in late January of this year. So a couple of months ago. And now I intends to keep going. It’s sort of working on that side. There’s still lots more to do. Um, but that’s basically it, uh, in, uh,

that’s unusual. Um, you started, Oh, with the idea of being an entrepreneur. I mean, most people start with an idea, a problem. They want to fix a product they want to sell or a service. You started out with a lifestyle you wanted to pursue and step-by-step have gone about it. That’s, that’s,

no, absolutely. And I think, uh, I think you described this correctly, that it was, this change had to been a life. I wanted to basically idealized that when I was a full time employee. That’s my lifestyle wouldn’t have changed. There was basically [inaudible] for in people’s minds, regardless of how much more I was getting compensated or how much more I was getting promoted. And uh, this was an attempt to design my lifestyle in a way that better matches my preferences. That’s where yes, I have more freedom to do things. Um, but I completely, yeah, I completely see it that way, that I think it’s, um, I prefer

yeah.

Uh, starting with my constraints and my preferences and the life into idea to an idea as a result of those things though other than, um, I think it’s more likely to succeed as well. I think the, the, the, the, the approach where you have your idea and your side to do with the total cost side. I think it’s a, it’s a potentially insidious SAP or for this King more than you intend to this collection just to just get, you know, so, so tied to that idea that you start taking compute into risks site and um, um, I basically decided to carve to I life to the idea by starting with, first of all, what’s, what can I afford to build? Like it was not half of the thing I could, I could do by myself. What are my interests, which was another important thing. I wanted to do something that I would like to continue doing for a long time. And um, and again, like what, what, what, what matches my skills in terms of what I can promote and keep to keep operating and things like that. So it wasn’t the loss of self elimination more than a big light bulb moment where I just say, you know, this, I said, this is my life’s work. I go to do it. That’s all it costs no matter what.

Yeah, that’s, that’s really unique thinking. Um, and very Mmm, forward thinking and somewhat some might say visionary to see yourself in the bigger picture. I like that. So tell me, Danielle, at what point did you recognize, well, first of all, actually, so you started on a dot. Death, which like you are the ultimate geek. You are every geek’s dream, right? First of all, you’re a native of Malta, which is like geek headquarters. It’s like an Island full of developers, right? I mean, I know everyone in the casino industry loves being there. The gaming industry. I mean, I picture like your nightclubs as like the matrix and people like coding while they dance or something crazy, I don’t know. Um, and then, then you moved from there to Amazon and after eight and a half years at Amazon, you’re still in the Seattle area, which is pretty much, you know, I mean geek headquarters, USA. Um, so then, so I think first of all, just being surrounded by that ecosystem for so long must affect your way of thinking, all your perceptions. But, um, dot death. Not every may surprise you, um, but not everyone knows about doc Daz. So, you know, it’s for developers. How, how did you get a.dev in the first place? Just real quick.

Oh no, I’m, to be honest, I didn’t care much about the domain initially. I was considering even, uh, something, uh, that wasn’t the exact name. Like use it, get user base or something like that towards our user base. You know, some of these other creative ideas. Um, I had, I had heard, I knew several developers, uh, that had, uh, being, getting the.dev when Google announced that, I think, I don’t remember. It was probably,

it was about a year ago, 19.

So yeah, I didn’t think much about it. I looked at topics was available and I grew up, that’s the type of business that I have. It was the one that I was imagining that, um, uh, business and customers and unlikely to becoming a to B, coming in from not even search engines or not even from, uh, you know, uh, this was mostly word of mouth and high touch onboarding. So I didn’t select things that, uh, having, uh, the signal of, uh, you know, if a good domain mattered much at that time, I’d done sort of my, my, my thinking evolved a little bit on that aspect. Uh, but yeah, initially I didn’t think much of it and I was very happy, like I had the domain, um, and I didn’t think much about it. Um, then, then what happened? Uh, if you want me to get into it, like, uh, out of curiosity, uh, I met, I was talking with someone online that sort of a bit of a domain geek and uh, so the F he mentioned to me that I might want to look at acquiring the dotcom and he recommended a broker.

And again, like I thought, let’s give it a shot. And um, uh, I had a fairly low budget. I taught well, I was already starting to feel that, uh, that there might be some benefits that wasn’t necessarily in terms of discover the ability that, which is what I, at the time, that’s what I thought the.com mattered most. But I thought then I was starting to think that just having the.com was just a signal that this is not some hobby projects that type builds in the weekends. I tend just too out there like this, I’ve invested a significant amount of money in that this was something, um, cause a year land professional and I was already starting to think about that. the.com my signal deck, I somebody using it might say, okay, um, you know, again, like this is nuts. Yes. Potentially something smaller. That’s subconscious company.

That’s exactly right. And especially in this space, there’s lots of debts. So I’d like for the, we can projects, we call them that somebody that somebody sys puts it out there. If it sticks a would say it was definitely not the case. But again, like I didn’t know what to expect. I have out, I had absolutely no idea where there’s something like user base.com would go for $5,000 or $100,000. I would have absolutely no clue. Um, so I, I reached out to this bloke parent, he indicated that the price would likely be between 20,000 and so on and so forth. That was a, there was a $1,000 fee with the bill credit that the initial, uh, and to tie to the child’s to the owner and I paid debt. Again, just, I said that’s mostly what’s has been just an experience I have to want them to learn and understand.

Um, and long story short, the bilker managed to the child to the owner and the owner was asking for $100,000, which was beyond what I was expecting. And again, like I didn’t really know whether it was the large value or whatever, but it was definitely outside of what I was willing to spend $100,000. So it’s basically the full budget that I had for this project. So I said that’s, that’s how much I had a located in terms of how much I was going to invest, um, in terms of initiative developments. That, so, um, so, uh, and then basically I forgot about it so that, um, but I, I did that who was lookup up and I realized it was going to expire. There’s, I do that funny story. So I tends, I don’t know, um, how common it is, but it was going to expire in, in about two weeks.

I, so this happened in an arid, in November, like when I reached a Diplo kicker, and this was going to expire I think on the 20th of November. And I set a monitor with God’s idea to get alerted just in case it expired again, like to my complete ignorance about how all these things work. I just set this up, pays the fee, whatever it was, spent $2 or whatever to set this up and to my supplies. Like sometime in December I got an email that this had expired, which to me sounded quite unbelievable that somebody was asking me for $100,000 for just five weeks before. And um, and I wasn’t, obviously I could participate in the auction and again, like I was, I was very, I was thanked to basically either utilize that this was enough for, you know, probably my only opportunity or it was very unlikely that I was going to be able to buy it at a, at a lope size, sort of a lowish size, um, after they gained, like, so it was one of the reasons why, uh, I chose to end up doing it.

So just because it was an opportunity, right. And I was starting again to the realize that even though as as a potential long before that, even though I don’t think the dotcom is important for discoverability purposes in my business, the type of business that I have is that I’m expecting quite a lot of tasks from my customers and holding the data for their websites and their web application site and sort of, I started to think again like whether the signaling of like this is something, you know, that there’s money invested in like that this is, you know, basically I was psychological, I was imagining that if I was able to, you know, purchase an expensive domain, this is definitely not a, not something that I’m just doing. What’s no, no domains, signal trust. And if that’s important in your B2B relationships. Mmm, yeah. I think the top two immediately back expectation and also to differentiate yourself from the other weekend projects.

And I think the dilemma was it’s definitely [inaudible] is different important, but how, how, uh, how important it is basically what prices basically that’s what it said because I knew it was important and obviously, um, again, like I had to operate with that with, with the constraints of my budget. So I uh, and uh, it was basically figuring goats, um, how much it was where I did anyway. So I started participating in the, in the, in the auction I lives up to $25,000, but it kept going up. Right. So it’s a much, but fairly quickly, it kept going up to two territory to five and it stopped at 35. Yes, of course. Had you ever bid on a domain before? No, this was my first ever experience. Yeah. So again, I was completely unaware of what again, like even small details, like how would I pay for it?

Like I didn’t have a credit card that had up to $30,000 limit, like small things like this. Yeah. Like, um, so, so, but I was like, I was ready to pay. Like somehow I w after that bit like, again, like I kept thinking about it, I said, okay, sure it’s expensive, but this was probably the only opportunity that I have. Like I listened to it besides the Dilliner 25,000. It’s basically once it’s kept going up by the lies that’s again, like I, it’s what’s going to become an impudence risk for me. Like this is, this business hasn’t even started yet. I didn’t even know if I’m going to get even a single customer. I didn’t know anything cause I’d so yeah, I wanted to keep, um, you know, basically my money for me. Like now, now that I’m living off my savings and trying to put the money means no, uh, just gives me a second chance to try something else as the works outside.

So I was basically saving golf that optionality of doing some other things that if this wasn’t working, go outside. So it was, um, uh, the risk reward matrix, what our access was just at the tipping point. Yeah, exactly. And this is all very hard to quantify lights. Uh, so I was just playing it by gut feeling. So I stopped there. Uh, so it’s went over and uh, um, and uh, again, like I forgot about it. I thought, okay, it’s lost. I, I, I sort of convinced myself that, okay, maybe if the business succeeds in the future, I see what I gained and if not I’ll just make, make, do without it. Um, uh, uh, but then again, like another fascinating thing that’s happened, upended the top two bidders didn’t complete the purchase, which I thought was quite a bizarre. Uh, I actually, I thought to was quite a quite a strange thing again.

And then the ptosis, like I was very tempted to build at 35,000 from keep bidding sites, which, uh, it’s, it’s seems, it seems to me very unfair that there were like, you know, bidders but didn’t get that price range that didn’t even compete, complete the purchase. Um, but anyway, go that they called me once at 6:00 AM in the morning and say, look, if you’re still interested, pay within 24 hours and it’s yours. Like the top two bidders, um, bailed out. And, uh, and again, like I had gone like those 24 hours go on again. Even like I had the other decide the line of 25,000 I had between, between then and the time I thought I lost the bid, I had a little conference, my status was okay to, to start to talk to. So I had to gain, we went to the Duplos, this office is still worth it.

Um, but I went to it, so I, so I ended up acquiring and get and um, uh, and that was the story. Um, in terms of the results, to be honest, I think it’s too early to say, like, I don’t say no. Um, so the business so far had, you know, it’s, it’s, it started started as well in psychology. I have my first 50 paid customers, which is sort of in line with what I was hoping to do by this time. Um, I don’t think they have a before and after comparison. And even if I did this, probably the numbers are still too small to do an infer anything.

That’s okay. We’ll have you back in a year.

Um, but, uh, I think, Mmm. Uh, I sort of, I’m still, I, I would definitely appreciate more like it was me, the flecting light and done like looking at it from a different angle. I, because as we were saying before I, before, uh, I was saying pretty much like there was no value in it, but no, I definitely, and I’ve put my money, uh, to, to, to, um, you know, where my mouth is to believe that there is some value, uh, some significant value lights and uh, in the signaling aspect at least even if they discovered it. But it is unlikely to be, uh, important for me. Yeah. Uh, so yeah, that’s pretty much, uh, the, the, the host,

that’s a great story. So you had no plan on how to make payment. I mean, clearly you had the money, but you didn’t have a plan on how to make payment and go. Daddy said you have 24 hours. What’d you do?

So, um, uh, I had a credit card with cha. I had took her the cards with that, with a bank with chase that neither of them had enough limit, but Dem combined had enough. And then I called the bank and they actually very quickly put all my limit on one of the cards and that was sort of enough. And that just paid by credit card basically the whole, the whole sum. Um, I think if it didn’t work Carto would have likely reached out to go with daddy to see what other arrangements. But, um, I didn’t get to that step, so I don’t know. You probably didn’t know more than me what, uh, what people tend to do. But again, yeah, it was, I think for me, if I got something out of it, it was again, like this whole experience of of how, how, how this, how domain or thing and auctioning and things like that works. Um, I don’t think the lesson was worth $25,000. It’s a hope for that, get something more out of it. But, uh, it was, there was a little bit of that,

well, you got flights, a story that is a very unusual story. I mean, I read your article on medium.com that you wrote about a year ago. Why I left my 500 K job at Amazon. Um, and this too, you have another really unusual story. Most entrepreneurs don’t like. This is not the typical acquisition process.

Hm.

But this is very um, interesting to hear how, you know, you went through the thought and decision making process three times first when you reach out to the broker then at the auction when you lost,

when they gave you a second chance and each time you really concluded yes. The, the credibility, the signaling was so vital to what your doing. How many startups do you see with all your friends and in your general ecosystem start and fail or change paths? No, it’s a, I think, I think it’s very, it’s very common life for startups to, to change parts at least. I think it depends a lot on the type of startups, the way they are bagged, most likely active. Mostly I think the big category difference is whether you take, you have investors who are not. So I think once you take an investments, the set and expectations, if it looks like you’re not going to them, you basically you get forced to either change parts or, or quit sites. Um, I think in my case or in the type of boots I have to businesses does, I’m doing work.

Costs are low in terms of operating costs, even though developing was quite expensive, but now running it is, is, is quite low. Um, the odds of failure are quite low because it’s not taking much time for me to operate. It’s not expensive for me. Basically even the France 50 customers that I have to do as much or do baking even with all my expenses. And, um, so it’s like the worst case scenario. Here’s a slow success, like call this. I did this takes five years, 10 years, and I’m like, this is the type of business that I’m willing to wait for it so that I have nobody pressuring me. I could do other things on the side as well, which I’m doing lots of other smaller sites, projects. Um, and, um, uh, it’s, uh, again, I could sort of, it’s how I, I’ve been thinking about this taking in this case, I didn’t want to a take on something with lots of obligations that has a high likelihood of failing because, uh, as we discussed before that this is this, this, um, basically, um, I’m taking a feather this first episode, which I would, I would call the sides.

It’s basically a, I’m trying to make decisions such that this lifestyle that I’m enjoying a lot doesn’t get taken away from me. That’s a lot of downtime to maximize, does that fit. So I sort of trying to sort of maximize my opportunities. I’m just making decisions where I miss it, minimizing the chance that I have to go back to full time employment essentially. Um, and, and again, this even distinction that’s sort of played a factor in my sort of what I do, the line of how much I wanted to spend in my domain again, just because my runaway is my savings balance light. And that was sort of a chipping gun thumb it. Um, but no, I mean, uh, all business are speculative at the end of the day. That so I think so the one way of mitigating that risk is just to have [inaudible] plans for either do other things simultaneously or just make, making sure that some things, something that throws on the anxiety or do the expenses are low. So that sort of, there’s, there’s very little cost [inaudible] letting get, um, you know, Def Allah and uh, and not, not type to sort of the Tucker, the timer, the where you have to make its work within six months. Otherwise you have to sort of desal Jeff for the thing. I try to, I avoid those situations. That’s a really, really good advice and clearly comes from someone who’s been around it a lot and seen a lot. You took your time making this decision.

What do you expect in the coming year for user-based dot com? Yeah, I’m uh, I think I’m expecting a slow success. Uh, I’m expecting, um, so, uh, again, like this is the kind of business that, uh, it’s not an impulse buy or, you know, you announced it and people are just going to get the credit card out of their wallet and pay immediately. I have to wait for people to have an idea to build a website or a web application or a mobile app, uh, and then sort of they need to consider the options and then they need to choose me. That’s, so there’s that lag between the pillows being available and the sort of, the customer’s timing and aligns with, um, Dan being, cause I like to do something about that. So I think, uh, so far or the sickness, all encouraging as we said before, is that of, uh, lots of people decide that some became paying customers or this weekend, actually there were a couple of my customers that announced that on web applications that it was sort of the first time that, uh, my customers are building their own businesses, top of my business, which is, which is good, at least the first time that I know about it.

Um, so, uh, I think, uh, I don’t really have a plan, actually. I, I’m not a big fan of the, of even planning cause I think I sort of like to keep options open and I take it step by step, play it by ear. Uh, definitely if there was a plan, definitely I intend to keep this going cause I have no intention of, you know, if this doesn’t save some goal I’m going to shut it down or I’m going to do it that or this, that. So this is basically a keep improving, um, slowly like listening to customer feedback, adjust accordingly and um, and basically, yeah, keep isolating sides. Uh, I think for me personally in the meantime since sort of, I still, I, I still haven’t, ya, I still constantly and if I have made self-employment completely sustainable, I’m still sort of not earning enough money from user base to sort of pay all bills.

Um, I’m still potentially exploring other small sites. Things like, for example, um, I, I wrote any ebook recently, which is, it’s very well about my sort of, some of the technical book about sort of some of the work I did at Amazon, um, which, which did spectacularly well actually believe it. Uh, I was quite surprised as I managed to sell. So I noticed I released this on Christmas day, so about I think 11 weeks and managed to sell about $70,000 of worth of, uh, pretty much, this is why it’s in the ebook. I saw my costs were practically nothing. Um, and this was all marketed, uh, on, on Twitter. I saw, I w we talked about it before. That’s where I started building this audience. That’s which, um, I’ve been documenting, uh, my whole journey. I told these details that we’re talking about even the domains, the mindset of society.

I, I shared on Twitter when the first time I reached out to David ochre and the bill came back with Honda’sK I tweeted about it. It got some attention. People who are interested and saying, what about the auction? I just w after life I’ve, I thought I lost it. I posted that, I lost it. Zayden you sort of Zoll all pieces of information that helps me gather. I think, uh, about 21,000 followers on Twitter where I started with much from nothing, um, uh, last year, uh, all bit much by documenting, uh, what’s, what’s, what, what I’m doing. And so what I think this book was another idea I like again, like an experiment I time bogs at the much and months of working on it. I didn’t even spend a month, I spent about 20 days basically. Um, it was a topic that’s pretty much without itself. That was topic, something that I understood that it well and I just had to basically articulate it in the words and I put it on this platform called Gumroad, which allows you to sort of um, sell digital, uh, creations, like things like that, like eBooks or software very easily without having to set up merchant accounts with banks and so and so forth.

And I just tweeted about it on Twitter that basically I load this, I would be honored there. Have you check it out and put as much on the first day I sold like $10,000, which was quite incredible. Again, like I had never logged tenanting and never been paid for, um, for lighting before. And uh, and since then sort of sales have obviously declined since the launch day, but I’m still making a couple of hundred dollars a day. Like I expect them to slow down cause I think that’s the nature of this business where is like this big spike initially. And um, but basically this opens up another opportunity for me and I just, I could probably do something like this again like and sort of supplement my income. Um, uh, and I’m thinking in fact I was just thinking about that this week probably. Uh, my, my, my audience on Twitter has been very curious about the process of building an audience, the eyes.

It’s as if I’ve been talking about it a lot in terms of how I’m sort of being able to, again, like without pretty much any social media experience until last year, I’ve been just experimenting. This started with that blog posts that you mentioned. And then sort of settled on Twitter. Um, and I think there’s another topic that there’s lots of interest about the could probably like something on. Um, that’s again like would sort of be an other, it’s part of the whole answer scenario. The journey. Like I sort of multiple basically multiple income streams. It’s something that I underestimated in the beginning when I left, I thought that I’m going to sort of focus on one thing and then if it doesn’t work out I’ll do something else. Like I had like this idea that things are going to be, I do things in serious other than Paula LAN, but uh, now I’m realizing that, uh, it’s even at the cost of efficiency or losing some focus that it’s nearly easier to do somethings in pilots.

Just, you know, the, the, the, these things are very the, and I call them, that’s where you’re starting a, uh, a business that you don’t know if it’s going to work out. If it’s going to work out, you don’t know when or how long you’re going to have to wait. I think having like two or three sittings and Pella makes it just more comfortable. Psychologically you don’t, you’re, you’re just not feeling, you have all the eczema and baskets if you have this and this and that. It’s just easier to shift attention to one or the other sometimes sites and um, uh, it just stains the answer, the uncomfortable, uncertain part of it. I tell it a little bit.

I think that’s a quotable quote. Teams, the uncertain uncomfortable part event. Right? Very much so. So, um, your ebook, I do want to give you a little shout out, um, gumroad.com and if you just search like AWS good right away and then this book is essentially, it helps, um, people understand which parts of AWS or what features they may be missing or what they may not need to utilize. So it kind of gives a guide, I would say like an expert levels guide to using AWS.

Yes, it’s a, it’s a, so I’ve chosen to, most technical guys tend to be the exhaustive comprehensive guys where you get like a to Z, all the details, all the quirks. Um, this is a very, like this AWS light. It’s the sort of the products that Amazon sells for developers, but it’s ex super extensive. Like there’s like [inaudible] Towson’s have small features and things like that. And you sort of in this book I focus on the most important. I, that’s why I said it’s not an exhaustive guide, it’s just the really, really valuable things that if you where to know about them. Um, I think it’s like 95% of what you need to, to know about. So at the end it’s, it’s meant to be a dance exchange of information that it’s short. It goes straight to the point again, like at least out details by design, uh, so that it doesn’t get into the weeds, things that are not very important.

Um, and uh, I think that’s was, I think this format worked well for both things. I again, like because I time boxed it, I wanted to do something quickly. I couldn’t, I didn’t want to invest a, a, like some of friends of mine that have [inaudible] technical books like spent like months and years slides and working with a publisher and like, it’s a big full time commitment. This was again, like an experiment. I had no idea what I, what I was going to sell one copy or a hundred copies. The outcome was definitely beyond what I expected, like selling. I think I sold like over 2013, 2,100 or something like that. Copies so far. Um, but at the time, again, like it was another speculative that a spec of theirs is bad and I wanted to keep it small.

I like when you post it on Twitter, you’re like, I’m kind of honored that someone used fraud by my book. Like, that’s when you’ve made it. Danielle, I’m going to steal someone’s credit card so I can find it. Hilarious. So, um, you know, I think that our audience would love to hear just a little bit.

I doubt your Twitter journey. You’re saying you started on Twitter a year ago.

You, I’m looking, you’ve only posted Mmm. Oh, Oh yes. Six little over 6,000 times, I guess in a year. That is a lot. Um, but you have one 81 point 2000 followers

[inaudible]

and you are an extraordinary subject matter experts. So I think, you know, you always have to look at what you have to offer first, but then you, so the first thing you did was write the post for medium on why you and a great title, why I quit my $500,000 a year job at Amazon. Mmm. And then just from there, what, what was your journey tips do you have for others?

No. Yeah, this, this started again. Uh, I, it wasn’t part of my initial plan to focus on building an audience, but I was literally in the first week I remember. So I left my job on February the first, like it was a fly day on Monday. Like I sat here at the same desk and I was thinking of I’m going to start building something. I building a product. But very quickly I had a little bit of an sort of a, of a small crisis. I was imagining myself spending two months, six months building something and then I announced it and nobody shows up. Right. And then what? Like, so, um, I had heard some other people like that. It’s good to have an audience. Like I didn’t say even know what it’s meant to be honest. Like it was like a vague term that I heard before. Mmm. So I spent that week instead of the time to build that product. Right. So I have to imagine, to be honest, the searching a little bit, what’s building an audience meant and sort of thing too. Think what I had that I could offer it. I just might be insisting,

but again, look at how you thought at the end when I launch, who’s going to buy it? That’s so important. It doesn’t matter how great your product is if either there’s no one to sell it to or you’ve spent all your money creating it and you don’t have the outlet to sell it. So I see you did that on Twitter and on your domain name. Where am I going to play this and how am I going to be positioned? Well in that.

No, absolutely. I think when you have skin in the game, that’s when it’s your money, your life, your business, these things near that become automatic. That it’s, I think, and that’s I think what, what changed? That’s why I didn’t think about the audience before because once I realized that, you know, does this, this is, this is important. So this is sort of something in me made me realize. It’s like, it’s sort of, um, um, so, uh, so again, like, so I kept thinking of what, what does it, what does it, what do I have all I do? That’s how I started thinking that I could share and maybe get to get some attention. And then again, like play it by ear and see where it goes. And the first thing I lost was that blog post and the inspiration came because like the week before I had basically told all my colleagues at Amazon like that I was leaving and I thought I was going to be basically telling them in 15 minutes, okay, I’m leaving doing something else.

But the discussions, most of them ended up taking like two hours. Like I ended up spending time in the office until seven, eight in the evening just talking with my, my peers. Like and I could sense there was lots of insects like why are they leaving? Things were working out so well. Very interesting. And others were telling me that they had other ideas themselves and we kept discussing it. So I sense that that that could be an interesting topic. I had to just share my perspective of uh, an unusual way of leaving a car there that was working out well. And I think, to be honest, I think I was, I was a bit lucky. I loved it on blog, on medium. I posted this on a couple of places. Like there’s a hacker news community and there’s like [inaudible] and a couple of places and of course at the time got, got done ton of visits I think got something like 40,000 views in the first couple of days.

Got to pick it up by a few sort of high profile people on Twitter. And it got me my first, I think it got me my first 800 followers. I started from [inaudible] see you though and those couple of days. And uh, um, and then I kept pretty much building slowly from it. I think initially, uh, I D like th the next couple of weeks I thought a few other blog posts, um, for as much sort of like share, I think a bit of details about my financial planning, about how I allocated my savings and how I dealt with health insurance, life insurance and other things that, um, I thought, well, interesting, got a little bit of extra attention, but I set it on Twitter as my platform of choice because I mean, I think a block posters takes time and a time in that block was, took me a couple of days to do it.

So I, and um, Twitter just felt more natural in terms of documenting something as it’s happening. Basically. I realized that that’s where the insist as like people seem to be very fascinated by, uh, following a story along in the old time the ice. Because I think when you’re explaining a story, you know, and that’s all spective light sort of, you always get the sense like you’d never really know what the author is leaving out. Just, you know, shedding on it the good parts and like leaving out all the other things that failed and whatever. But I think Spotify sends that there’s, there’s, there’s interest, that item, you know, let me just explain a little by little what I’m doing. Calm thinking about options. Um, and um, uh, I again, like it’s very hard to measure in the beginning. Like I was just experimenting with sharing different things and I always thought of sense thing that just by people responding and people liking my tweets and engaging that there’s insist in don’t join the documentation basically.

And it’s what I kept doing. And I think initially the following started to cause, Oh, after those initial 800 followers by, um, by, by engaging with other people, right. And by basically, um, uh, uh, is applying to people that’s asking the questions. Like, how did you do that? And sort of, it’s pretty much word of mouth. [inaudible] uh, initiatives was quite slow. Now nowadays, uh, this is, I see the manifestation of word of mouth pretty much every day. I like wake up and I see notifications on my phone, like people saying, you should check out the diva solos, [inaudible] checkouts user base, you should call with this. Like these are strangers that I don’t know, but you know, but they know me a little bit just by following me and they’re just, uh, they’re commending me to their friends. Um, and this was happening even in the beginning at a much lower scale, but I think this is how the cause out started sites where, um, you get sort of a small base of people that have started to know you a little bit.

Sometimes they, they, they, they email you, you communicate back and sort of [inaudible] format is a bit of a, of a relationship and they keep telling their friends about you. It just keeps going like that. Um, and no, this was a fascinating dynamic and a very fascinating experience as well. And probably I would say that my biggest assets, if you were to call it, that’s where the of built over this first 12 months has been the audience side because I think it’s just the ability to be able to announce something and somebody is listening back is a super valuable, um, like the book for like too much to try to measure that. And financial terms like the book, I could have written it like 12 months ago. That’s as soon as I left the job. But I to that I wouldn’t have sold any. I thought maybe a couple of friends, that’s what have sorts of backers and then the five.

But for me, exactly. Um, the fact that like, it managed to sell so well, I had to make $70,000 and just very quickly and it wasn’t, it wasn’t necessarily my own followers that bought, it’s that it was just this effect where some did obviously, but some, uh, just just mentioned it to other people. Latin just said, you, you might want to check out this book like, uh, from this guy and it’s, uh, uh, it’s fascinating. Like I the the tweets where and those, the book or something like 400,000 views I, which quite way beyond my normal organic reach of to pick a 20,000. So it’s, it’s um, it’s a, yeah, it’s quite, quite acceptable. It’s sort of, I think social media has made word of mouth if again, like, like after nearly essentially dominated by big businesses, sort of dominating advertising and marketing by like one way, you know, T V AdSense, expensive marketing. It has allowed, you know, somebody just with uh, with limited resources I have to do something and just, uh, the [inaudible] people just buy word of mouth, like organically Mark Guy. I really feel like you are going to go. Oh yeah. Thanks.

Everybody really wants to know what it’s like to work at Amazon. Oh yeah. Actually in the cloud tech area. Give us some details. Yeah. So Amazon has a reputation of being a bit of a [inaudible] employer and I think, um, I think it’s a bit tech saturated. Um, it’s uh, I think, I think there’s a culture of big tech, I call it site where Amazon, I think it’s quite similar to any other big tech company like Microsoft or Apple or Netflix and so on and so forth. Uh, I can’t speak firsthand experience, but from other people that I worked with, the [inaudible] explains that things are very similar. Um, it’s a, I think, yeah, the [inaudible] D D D the deposit at Amazon is that, um, I think if you like or if you fly this or if you thrive in a structured environment with a decent, with still some amount of Liberty that almost as a little greater environment because I think it’s allows, especially technical engineers and product managers and people that are building products, digital products two make several decisions locally within a small team.

Like I was in a team of like, I think it never was more than 10 people. It was average between five and 10 people. Um, and we made lots of decisions locally without having to ask for permission from directors and general managers and so on and so forth. Um, with some exceptions. Obviously there were other things like pricing and other important things that had to go all the way up. It does. I think especially in the earlier part of my career, it was still important to me, right? I think I would have left much sooner if after the small decision had to be like, um, uh, uh, had like lots of red tape and lots of bureaucracy like to get something done. Um, as Mike co as my sort of my cause it evolved there, things did, became more bureaucratic. Like I was getting, uh, involved into bigger projects that enforce much more people, more stakeholders and a two are basically in the last couple of years there.

My job at fault too, even though I wasn’t a programmer, I had very little written a line of codes in the last two years that I was basically Mmm. A point of contact between my, the team that of programmers and my managers and directors and, um, uh, and this is where it’s, where the company believes I was most more valuable ads and I did get some satisfaction that if I’m getting everyone aligned and I’m once again, as we discussed before, like it wasn’t something that I could imagine myself doing for a long time. Um, but no, I think all in all, uh, big tech in gen ed as I, the big companies, Amazon is one of them. I think, uh, it’s definitely, I was highly recommended, especially for people just starting out their car there. Um, I think you learn a lot, especially initially pay is very good and just goes very quickly, uh, again, like, cause it would be on my expectations and, uh, and I think you’d get the opportunity to, uh, see how things got done that without suffering the consequences on your own lights on, on your own skin.

Right. So it’s just that experience of seeing things being built, mistakes getting made so that with a little bit of insulation from some of the consequences that, um, so, so yeah, I would definitely like, I would definitely recommend Amazon, like despite me leaving there, um, and I got a lot out of it probably I think if I were to look back, uh, I would have wished that the ATS were a bit more condensed into like four years or something like that. But, but you never, you can’t. So let’s say like, I think it’s the whole period that enough’s making you who you are. That’s so it’s hard to tattle in, in the, in hindsight. Um,

yeah, that makes sense. Thank you for sharing all sorts of different arenas. I’m truly Daniel, I’m interested to see where are you go. You are a fascinating thinker. Um, you have that, that social knack four, catching on to what interests people and how to utilize that. Um, I think user base is going to be very successful, but I’m sure you are going to be very successful. So promise me you’ll come on in a year. All right. We’ll say goodbye to our network. Uh, we’ll see you all next time. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Of course.

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2 Responses to “Sherpa Founders Series: Signaling Strength via .COM for a B2B – with Daniel Vassallo”

  1. Carl says:

    Great story, You can see how incerto has influenced his thoughts, words and actions. Long live fat tony!

  2. albert says:

    Great Interview Tess. It takes a lot guts to quit a $500K a year job to go out on their own. Congrats. on the domain and good luck in the new business.

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