Adrian Tobey

Founder of Groundhogg

Adrian is on a mission to democratize digital marketing as the founder of several marketing and sales-focused WordPress plugins that help over 4,000 small businesses around the world launch their funnels, grow their lists, and scale their businesses.

Where did the idea for Groundhogg come from?

I worked in the family business focused on training digital marketing skills for business owners.

We used Infusionsoft for a lot of our CRM training, and later implementation.

I didn’t want to do training or implementation forever and thought about moving into the product business.

Having worked with Infusionsoft and many other CRMs, they all had a lot of drawbacks and didn’t work easily with WordPress.

So I decided to enter the space with a WordPress-focused option and improve the user experience for agencies and small businesses that use WordPress.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m still very involved in the day-to-day. I do calls, answer tickets, code, you name it. I have a team surrounding me now, but I live and breathe this stuff so it’s hard to remove myself from it.

Productivity hacks? Yeah… not me lol. I have a workflowy account where I haphazardly put things in that have to get done. Prioritize based on which one will bring in revenue the most revenue (direct or indirect), and then hyper-focus on it till it gets done.

Right now I’m focused on improving our search visibility, so we’ve hired writers and an SEO firm to design a content plan.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I really like the Shape-up process that Basecamp promotes. I find its an easy way to work through defining the use case, and how you’re going to solve a specific problem and the best user experience to do that.

That being said, I skip a ton of steps and go straight from whiteboard sketches to writing code most of the time.

This is an easier process these days because we have a massive library of reusable code we’ve built that we can use to build products within days instead of weeks or months.

Eventually, you just have a feel for it and you can go from idea to production by feel.

Back in 2018 when I started Groundhogg though, I was drowning in marker and paper sketches, and we had this massive kanban board with a bunch of sticky notes on it of stuff that we “needed” and we’d just move one at a time.

But, we released our MVP within 2 months of having an idea, and started making money almost instantly.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Data protection, privacy, and regulation. Don’t get me wrong, the money is on the list! The bigger the list, and the more data-rich the list, the more money there is to be extracted from it.

Traditionally, these lists are centralized around Social media and search companies, and with the business community becoming more aware of how their data is being used, and how their customer’s data is being used, business owners are starting to look at other venues for hosting their data.

WordPress is one of the best options for businesses looking for data ownership and control. With an increase in businesses making data privacy-conscious decisions, we’re seeing a ton of people leaving SaaS to create their own self-hosted walled gardens of data.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Hyper-focus. Not sure if this is a habit or just a brain condition, but I can fixate on something and pursue nothing else until it’s accomplished.

I also move fast. A lot of entrepreneurs take their time perfecting a product and making sure it’s “perfect” before moving onto the next step.

For me, as soon as it “works” and is semi enjoyable to work with, we release it and then work on it on the fly.

Getting to market fast with innovations and new features has been one of our greatest strengths over the years and has kept us competitive in an increasingly crowded space.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Charge more.

We lost a lot of money in year 1 because we didn’t charge enough. The easiest mistake for a new founder to make is to try and undercut the competition and chase the economy of scale. Bad move.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’d say the jury is split on this one.

Lifetime deals are a great way to make sure you can never sell your company, and kill future potential revenue.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Engage with customers and do sales calls.

When you lose sight of what people are asking for, you lose sight of what makes your company different and special and then you waste 100K on a feature no-one asked for like I did.

+ Engage in others’ communities and be an all-around good egg.

By answering questions and engaging in communities that might not be your own, you are leveraging the universal law of reciprocity. When you add value to the universe, the universe adds value to you. It might come in the form of new friends, wealth, colleagues, an Idea, or something, but it’s the reason I’m on this podcast today.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Pursuing podcast opportunities like this one! It spread our company name around and established me as a “personality” so that I could continue spreading the company name around.

Lots of organic backlinks!

When doing podcasts, the goal is never to promote yourself or your product, but to add value to the host’s audience through lessons learned. In exchange for that, you get the 30-second plug which is usually all you need.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I spent 100K on an update that wasn’t needed when I should have focused on listening to what my customers were asking for, I could have spent that 100K so much better than I did because “I knew better.” Hot take, you don’t.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Telemetry/metrics and retention tools for LMS companies.

Course & community abandonment.
Better metrics on engagement.
Identifying lessons & videos that perform well vs poorly.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent $100 on a license for a plugin that I could have gotten for free from a friend, but I think supporting your friends and colleagues by supporting their product directly buys a lot of goodwill and is a great networking tool.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Workflowy is what I use currently for Project management

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Inside Advantage, Rob Bloom.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” Zig Ziglar

(Universal law of reciprocity)

Key Learnings:

  • Add value wherever you go, don’t sell, just help.
  • Charge more until people stop paying
  • Listen to your customers, do pre-sales calls, they’ll tell you what they’ll pay for