Survey your market. Ask your audience or a market if this would help. What are their biggest pain points? If it is something that you need, chances are it is something that others need.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Casey Zeman.
Casey Zeman, is the founder and CEO of the popular webinar platform, EasyWebinar, a software that does both live and automated webinars. Having had more than 14k customers come through his courses and software, he’s figured out what works and what doesn’t in the way of webinars, live broadcasts and video for engagement, and how to sell better and engage stronger with your audience and customers.
On average, his top clients are generating $10,000 to $20,000 a day ($300,000 to $600,00 per month in recurring revenue). His super-power is providing sales and scalability systems to business owners so they can work less while creating more impact and making more money.
He has consulted such companies as Harper Collins, Estee Lauder, and Dell on video marketing strategies and lead nurture funnels using webinars. Having built his own multi-million dollar software/info product business through the power of live video and webinars, he’s passionate about bringing these same strategies to your business.
Casey is the best selling author of “Build Your Audience with Live Video” and the creator of the TribeMinded system which combines the smart art of automation and engagement to build a scalable business.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have been doing online lead generation and selling products and software online since 2011. Before then I was in the mortgage industry. That business started to dwindle when the recession hit. I basically went from a job making $250k a year one year, to $15k the next year. At that time, I almost went into foreclosure twice. So I started down the path of learning about lead generation online to revamp my business. That journey taught me about online marketing. Before real estate, I was an actor. I always loved being creative, but never enjoyed the starving artist thing. With that in mind, when the market crashed it was a blessing in disguise. I was forced to discover my next thing.
That thing became online marketing, but with an emphasis on video. I love video because it bridges the gap of impersonality on the web. That is the very reason I went into the direction of creating a live stream and video marketing automation tool in the first place: EasyWebinar
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I started off as a YouTube consultant back in the day after immersing myself in it for 6 months. I started consulting and running campaigns for Estee Lauder, Dell and Harper Collins. Six months later I launched my first online course called YouTube Revealed. It was an awesome course, but I couldn’t for the life of me sell it. Until one day I had the idea of sending people from a video posted on YouTube to a webinar where I did a free workshop promoting my program at the end. That was my Eureka moment.
I started looking at webinars. And of course, that is when everything changed. I remember my very first webinar. It was a purely free, no pitch webinar. I just provided as much good information as I could. It was my first one. I remember I was so nervous. It was all about being an online marketing consultant. How I landed clients, how I created video proposals, how I priced my services. I was just simply sharing as much as I could about the results and wins and loses that I had gone through as a consultant.
I had about 65 people on live and I remember that I was just TERRIBLE.
I was stumbling over my words, I used my wifi to run it and just felt like no one was listening. But by the end…I had a TON of my viewers send out praises and gratitude for the information I shared.
At that moment I knew that I sucked at making webinars but that it was ok… because even when I was bad, I could still sell because of the know, like and trust I was building with my audience.
So I started doing webinars all the time: free webinars 100% of the time that gave free content away but also that offered access into my course. That was the other “aha moment”.
My first dollar online came by way of selling my course from a webinar. During that time from 2011–2012, I built an email list up to 14,000 and made $245,000 selling my online course.
What did I do with the money I started making? I paid off my debt first. I started to fix up my house. I took my wife on a vacation. I paid my affiliates and jv partners.
I finally took a breath… when we are in it, we don’t stop to think we finally did it. We actually start to see how we can improve. Optimize our lifestyle and marketing. Continue to make mistakes and test, test, test. That is the name of the game when creating something of your own. Not being afraid to lose. To fight. And that’s when I started to build software.
Never in my life would I have thought I’d have SaaS platforms. But that is what I did. While I was making money in webinars, I reinvested in software. I created EasyWebinar.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We had a hard time getting things off the ground when the software was first being built. I made every mistake in the book while building it. It was a new experience for me. I didn’t understand the idea of design and UI/UX or wireframing… and as such it cost me a lot of money without a lot of potential return. The software in the first year was also very buggy. So I had to create partnerships with my developers at the time to make sure the money didn’t run out.
The way we made it through was I was still working as a course creator and doing joint venture webinars while I was trying to get the webinar software off the ground. In 2014 we worked our best at just getting people results with our software. Then at the beginning of 2015, we did an affiliate launch which helped us to generate 7 figures that year. However, a big influx of customers proved to be another headache. We were a WordPress software so when we started getting more and more people using our software on their WordPress sites, we were having to help them with server problems and oftentimes we were the ones blamed for out-of-date WordPress sites, etc.
That is when we decided to start moving to hosting our own platform and move away from WordPress. We also decided after that launch to make our platform recurring yearly. Before then the pricing was lifetime access pricing. And so we basically started over recruiting more customers in 2016 on a yearly recurring pricing model.
We in fact decided to take on fewer affiliates and stabilize our own ability to generate revenue without the need of support. So we went from 75% affiliate support to only 10% the next year. We made less gross revenue but we did make more net profit.
Again we have made every mistake in the book while building the software. I wish I would have started with SaaS recurring at the time of its inception because we have been playing catch up throughout the years. In fact, we didn’t go full monthly recurring payment model until the beginning of 2018.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are really good now. As mentioned before, we have gone through a lot of changes over the years. I’ve made every mistake in the book with software coming from a non-SaaS background… but even as such, we have always been able to pivot and innovate and stay very customer-centric.
We are a completely virtual team. It took a lot of time to get our team organization right, and of course, it’s something we are consistently trying to improve. We have a good rhythm right now and we have some strong revenue goals and growth goals in place.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I remember in the beginning I got a cease and desist letter from a competitor and I literally almost shut my business down completely around that. I let it influence my speed of launch and releases because I got paranoid. The take away was basically don’t slow your speed down for anything. There are always going to be hurdles or roadblocks. The good news is that if you didn’t have roadblocks it wouldn’t be as worth it.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Back in the day, we were a WordPress plugin that only did automated webinars and now we’ve evolved so much. We are a full SaaS platform that does both live and evergreen/automated webinars, and we are used by some of the top creators in the world.
And what’s interesting is that in that time since the inception of ‘EasyWebinar Plugin’ in like 2013, the mission to give back more time and freedom while also allowing our customers to scale their impact and revenue has continued to hold strong.
You see, most tech replaces human connection… and the world has seen the effects of it. We are more connected ‘digitally’ but we’ve lost our deeper human connection. Dare I say, our human to human unity. Especially in a world right now that feels separate, we want to help to bridge more human to human connection across the globe.
My goal is to be a tool that does it’s part to use education and conversations to establish stronger relationships which ultimately are the keys to sales and marketing. A tool that leverages automation but engaged automation.
A tool that can help to ‘change people’s lives’ as April Perry said about our system. Giving them back their valuable time while creating successful sales and nurture experiences all via webinars and EasyWebinar.
As we work towards the future we want the word ‘Easy’ to not just be in our name but be the resounding theme in everything we do. From Easy to set up to Easy to generate more customers/clients.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say play the long game and look at the numbers. Once you get metrics of “I need x trials to get x customers, and if I add in x customers in every month and we are losing on average x, we will be able to add in new customer growth by 20% month over month.” Find a rhythm with your growth. Try to save the money you make, but also spend smart on a team that can do the things you CAN’T do.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would say that my wife’s belief in my abilities to create something out of nothing would be the biggest thing, but I would also say that my friend Chris Farell was my inspiration for going into online marketing and leaving the world of mortgages. And for that, I am forever grateful. I was fortunate to get exposed to a business that has been very good to me for almost 8 years.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
Currently, we have about 2000 or so active monthly recurring customers. We have had over 14k customers use our software, many who took lifetime access when we had those plans. Something else we are still ‘palm to face’-ing many years later. However, hey, it got us familiar with what to do and what not to do.
In order to build such a large community, we have stayed mostly customer focused and have gotten good referrals. Three of the main steps are:
1. Always help the customer to achieve results. It helps in spades with your branding.
2. Leverage partnerships to their fullest.
3. Paid ads to webinars have been very good to us, definitely something to implement.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
Right now we are a monthly and recurring rev product with a 14-day trial. We feel it’s the best way after trying a bunch of things.
You see, EasyWebinar started out as a WordPress plugin where we licensed the tool for a lifetime price. We built a business model similar to what Optimize Press (a WP plugin as well) did early on. In 2013, we had a one site license at $97, we had a 10 site license at $247, and a lifetime license at $347. In 2014, we got rid of the one site license and focused on the other two and started to offer live through YouTube Live.
In 2015, we changed our pricing to get rid of the 10 site license to then only have an unlimited webinar personal license at $397 or a commercial license at $477, and at the end of that year, we changed our prices again to $497 for personal and $577 for commercial.
In 2016, we started to make the switch to a yearly recurring product along with changing the product to our own hosted version. We still offered the plugin, but we wanted to simplify the way people could use webinars. Our prices were $497 per year for the personal license and $577 per year for the commercial license.
Then in 2017 we added our own live stream engine (a proprietary tool that does high definition live streaming with no latency). We still offered the YouTube Live stream hosting as well, but our new tool was something we had wanted to add for a while because when YouTube Live hosted the live streams, it would create a 15–20 second delay and it was often not 100% HD for screen sharing.
In 2018 we made the change to offer monthly and yearly and that is where we are currently at, with 3 pricing tiers: Standard, Pro and Enterprise. We do also have other courses and coaching programs that we can look at as expansion revenue as well.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Create a product that solves a problem. Can something that takes 12 hours to do be done in like 15 minutes with a software?
- Create an MVP. Money loves speed, so do product launches. Get it out there early and create expectations about where it will go from there.
- Survey your market. Ask your audience or a market if this would help. What are their biggest pain points? If it is something that you need, chances are it is something that others need.
- Price it low and grow from there. You need user experience and case studies so you can even start free beta and get users and case studies that way.
- Hire a dev team on Upwork…. or other platforms. Hiring locally is often the best way to go, but can be more money. Someone creative and who can communicate is key! Hire slow and qualify your team. Start by first doing a one-off project instead of a retainer to test their work ethic and abilities. Give them a deadline and see what they can achieve in that deadline. Maybe it would be the framework to start. Or maybe you pay for MVP, give them 30 days to create it and pay them x for it. Test their work. Fire fast if something isn’t working out.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We are definitely in a scary and trying time right now. I remember being crushed during the recession of 2008 and at that time I vowed to always have a recession-proof business. Now in this case, a pandemic proof business.
I see the reality of things when my entrepreneur friends are faced with a sudden stop of their business. For example, one of my caterer friends lost all of his parties booked for the next few months.
We are also so lucky that we can work remotely. I would start a movement all about empowering people to build their own recession and Pandemic proof businesses.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Casey Zeman of EasyWebinar: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.