Arjun Rai is the founder and CEO of HelloWoofy, a social media and blog management platform driven by artificial intelligence that helps small businesses (or as he likes to say, “underdog marketeers”) with smart marketing for the digital age. He lives in New York City with his girlfriend, two cats, and dog. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram at @arjunraime.
Where did the idea for HelloWoofy come from?
HelloWoofy comes from the idea of your dog as a “best friend” and how a platform like HelloWoofy is, similarly, always there for you, teaching you how, when, and where to post. The idea of using smart marketing for the price of a cup of coffee came from just making incredible technology accessible for the smallest of small businesses around the world. Today, serving more than 5,000 incredible winning SMBs around the world means we’re on the right track toward realizing that goal and giving hope to so many amazing business owners who otherwise would be simply “winging it” when it comes to digital marketing. A true best friend. Woof!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have an alarm at 7:45 or 8 a.m. so I can get up and immediately jump into a daily standup meeting with my team from 8-9 a.m. every single weekday. Before that, I’m checking emails, Slack notifications, etc., as my team is seven to nine hours ahead, so every couple of hours I check in to make sure the team is good to go and answer any questions they have. I have an intuitive connection with my phone and Slack, so I can figure out when people have needs and respond accordingly.
My first client call is by 10 a.m., and then it’s back-to-back meetings. Usually, every 30 minutes, I have a call with a client, a pitch, or something of that nature. From 1-2 p.m. is family lunch with my girlfriend and pets. Then I usually work from 2-6 p.m. with back-to-back meetings every half hour. In the evenings, if we’re watching a movie and I’m getting Zendesk tickets or whatever, I try to respond to them sporadically. My girlfriend and I have come to an agreement that I’m on-call with customers pretty much 24/7.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I tend to simulate ideas in my mind and try different scenarios to see whether the idea would or would not work. I iterate and then, finally, draw the interface in Adobe Illustrator or build it using wood if it’s a tangible hardware invention. I’ve built software and carpentry inventions over the past decade, and I love pushing the limits and thinking outside the box.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One of the biggest trends that I think is taking over and will continue to expand is smart speaker marketing. The smart speakers of the world, such as Amazon Alexa, will become a new channel of content distribution and communication. At Woofy, we are about to launch the world’s first scheduler for sending content into the homes of your customers, fans, listeners, etc., so as long as they opt in. This allows anyone to become a TV channel of sorts with their own programming.
Creators who do this can schedule audio, video, or text read by Alexa, and within a few seconds, someone can have that content playing inside their living room. This trend is great for a post-COVID-19 world where everyone is already working from home. The market itself grew 82% in the past four months.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
To make it a productive day, the most important thing I do is automate tasks. Calendly is helpful, as it is a way to schedule meetings and send a follow-up email after asking for feedback. Zendesk is helpful for automating customer feedback as well. Content Masters is the official HelloWoofy Facebook group that I use to communicate with customers directly. We use our technology as well to automate social posts using the HelloWoofy platform.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get started ASAP. My name, Arjun, is a mythological character from India. He was an archer who started going into war very early because he was known for precision and bravery as he fought alongside the gods. You have to start early and hone your skills as early as possible.
For entrepreneurs, getting out the door ASAP with your minimum viable product is super important.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You have to be perfect and pay attention to details ALL the time. Some people think how they act or behave in one situation means they can turn on another behavior in another situation. The fact of the matter is, how you cook, draw, talk, write, etc., is all related to your ability to pay attention to the finest details in any situation. I sometimes ask people, “Do you cook and clean up at the same time? Or do you cook, eat, and then clean up?” The subtlest details like that can tell a tale. Mediocre work or level of attention breeds a mediocre lifestyle, and I often drive people to the edge when demanding perfection, but that’s the lowest bar we can set.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You should always have a creative outlet. The most famous people in the world always had creative outlets at the beginning of their stories. If you look at Tiger Woods, his uncle recognized his talent for swinging and precision when he was young.
It’s OK to fail, but you have to keep iterating because there’s a fixed amount of time (10,000 hours, according to Malcolm Gladwell) you need to spend before you can be an expert in anything.
Also, have a dog who’ll make your life better.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Delegate tasks to extremely affordable experts. Our marketing side of the website HelloWoofy maybe cost $4,000 to $5,000 for WordPress customization, audio editing, and copywriting, but if I had hired an agency in NYC, it would’ve easily cost 10 times as much.
Using tools like Fiverr has helped me keep costs down and make it look like we have a full-scale team behind the operation when it’s only me and the engineers. We work with a good pool of freelancers as well, and it’s a couple of hundred dollars here and there, but it keeps us super lean.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Hiring too fast or trying to conform to the rule that investors want co-founders working on startups, not solopreneurs. As a result, I hired one of my friends, who we ended up having to let go. I made the decision because of a rule that doesn’t matter at all rather than bringing on someone who was experienced, passionate about the field, and ready to push the business forward no matter what it takes. I ended up having to do that — and more — with less than $12,000 in the bank and turn around a company within a year to now be on track to doing $250,000 or more in revenue in 2020.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One idea I ended up making is a self-cleaning HEPA filter-powered cat litter box. You can see the idea on my Instagram and Twitter pages, but the concept was simple: build a solution that would allow my girlfriend’s cats to use their litter box while the cover seemed like a piece of furniture. We went one step further and put in motion-detecting lights, LED ambient lighting on the outside, etc. As a result, the living room smells great!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Part of life is showing up, which grants you opportunities to succeed in different ways. This means spending $100 on several meetups and pitching the startup in front of investors as much as possible. I always say yes to speaking opportunities or pitching options that arise, even if they’re paid, because the exposure and practice are worth a lot more in the long run than the $25 or $50 you spend per event.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Calendly helps us optimize all of the demo requests that come in and automatically sync them with my calendar. As a result, I can manage my personal and professional calendars easily. (My girlfriend and I have sent calendar invites to each other since day one, which helps us navigate our busy schedules, too).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend the audiobooks of “Expert Secrets” or “Traffic Secrets” by Russell Brunson. The books teach you not only about sales funnels, but also how to create a loyal customer base to exponentially grow with your business. The author is also one of those amazing self-made entrepreneurs who just has the “scars” of what it takes to build a company and be in the “trenches.” Very inspirational.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
• A color-coded calendar is essential for maximum organization.
• Entrepreneurs need a creative outlet separate from the business.
• Delegating tasks to affordable experts is a secret weapon for doing more with less.
• Attention to detail is crucial to achieving success.
• Read “Expert Secrets” or “Traffic Secrets” by Russell Brunson