Brian Casel

Founder of ZipMessage

Brian Casel is the founder of ZipMessage, a tool for asynchronous video conversations with your team and customers. He has built and sold multiple businesses over his career ranging from productized services to software as a service. Connect with Brian on Twitter @casjam.

Where did the idea for ZipMessage come from?

It started from my own need. I wanted an easy way to send a customer a link where they can then record a message or screen recording for me, and I can reply back on video. That turned into a friction-less async messaging tool that we now call ZipMessage.

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

Wake up, work out, kids to school, coffee…

My morning is a long stretch of deep creative work—usually designing/building software. That’s my most productive time of day.

Then lunch and a walk with my dog.

The afternoon is a continuation of product work, or marketing tasks.

I try to avoid/reduce meetings as much as possible and stick to asynchronous forms of communication with my team. That’s a combo of slack, email, and (of course) ZipMessage for video messaging 🙂

How do you bring ideas to life?

I like to share as much of what I’m doing—while I’m doing it—publicly. That happens mostly on Twitter and my podcast, Bootstrapped Web.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’ll give you two:

1. Now that the world has gone remote, they’re also starting to embrace “async” communication as a far more productive and positive way to communicate with both and clients. That’s driving a lot of the excitement around ZipMessage.

2. Crypto and blockchain. I feel a bit behind on deep learning here but I’m fascinated and excited by all the energy happening in this space. I’m excited to learn more and see how it develops.

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

Waking up early, exercising daily. This benefits my mind and productive energy (the health benefits are nice too).

What advice would you give your younger self?

I should have learned full stack software developer earlier in my career than I had.

I started as a front-end only developer (HTML/CSS) but waited about 10 more years before I committed to learning how to build an entire web application front to back.

Now that I can do everything from design to build to marketing, I feel that’s a superpower. Not that I actually do all the things all the time, but I can collaborate with my team on a much deeper level having experienced all those things.

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

I tend to be known as the person who has launched A LOT of products, rapidly, in my career. Most people advise staying focused. While I believe focus is important, especially once you have traction, I also think that by putting lots of things out into the world—especially early in your career—has major benefits.

1. You learn a ton, fast.
2. People become aware of you, start following you.
3. You can iterate and get to the successful ideas faster.

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

I try and ship something meaningful every single day. That could be a new feature in my product, a piece of marketing material, moving a project forward with a teammate… Always keep moving.

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

I try and connect with like-minded fellow entrepreneurs and form friendships. These communities and online and real-world meetups have been invaluable in my development as a business builder.

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

I’ve had to shut down products multiple times in my career due to inactivity or lack of traction. It’s hard, but also a tremendous learning experience. It usually leads to a new product idea that solves for those challenges I faced in the last one.

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

A social network for pets to post mocking pictures of their owners.

You’re welcome.

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

A pair of Edifier bluetooth speakers on my desk. I love playing instrumental loud music while working throughout the day. Usually film soundtracks, electronica, or lofi hiphop.

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

ZipMessage! It’s how I communicate with my remote team as well as freelancers and customers, without needing to hop on Zoom calls all the time.

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

I find biographies to be more insightful than business concept books. I loved Shoe Dog (Phil Knight), the Steve Jobs biography, and Creativity, Inc.

What is your favorite quote?

Paraphrased — Before the automobile, if you asked people what they wanted, they would have told you “A faster horse”.

Key Learnings:

  • Ship something every day
  • It’s not “wrong” to build multiple public projects or businesses, especially early in your career.
  • Wake up early and exercise.