Mike Slaats

Founder of Upvoty

Founder of user feedback tool Upvoty, host of the SaaS Pirates podcast and community. Vlogger (weekly startup vlog on YouTube, Podcaster, and serial entrepreneur.

Where did the idea for Upvoty come from?

The idea for Upvoty really came from scratching our own itch. In 2018, we were working on a SaaS product that attracted more and more customers. And with that customer growth, the amount of customer feedback grew too. So, we needed a more efficient way to collect and manage all of this feedback. When we started searching for software, we really couldn’t find a great fit that was both affordable and was doing a great job. We then decided to build one our own, which became Upvoty.

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

I always start my morning prioritizing what to do today. I work with my self-developed Now, Next, Not Yet method. Which is basically a framework in which I determine what I absolutely need to do today (Now), what I can work on after I’ve done with my main tasks (Next), and what I could work on if I even have more time free today (Not Yet). This makes me super productive and focused. I have all my to-dos stored in my project management system and by prioritizing based on the Now, Next, Not Yet method, I can start working in, for me, the most efficient way.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Validation is key for me. Just by sending a tweet with just a random idea can be a sort of validation by seeing how people respond and if they’re interested. I’m not the only one with a closet full ideas, but I tend to really focus on my main business Upvoty, my YouTube channel, and my 2 Podcasts (SaaS Pirates and Founder Mornings). But the idea for Upvoty was really validated by just setting up a landing page with a sign up form, get the word out, and see if people were interested and signed up.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The virtual and autonomous world we are heading towards really excites me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my car, and I love to drive. But seeing all these cars riding on the highways, stuck in traffic, and on top of it all the parking garages and spots that are being build, to me, this is not sustainable. I believe a future with only electric autonomous cars will help us drive more safely and reduce the amount of cars necessary because of car-sharing. And creating virtual worlds, such as virtual offices, will reduce the time we need to spend to head to offices and appointments as well. To some, this is scary, but I can’t wait.

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

Dividing my days into mini-tasks. So, for example, I start my day with an 1 hour block of emailing, then 3 hours of work (based on the above described Now, Next, Not Yet method), then 30 mins of lunch, then 2 hours of work, 30 mins of reading (to have some screen getaway), 30 mins of email, and to end my day with some last tasks I absolutely need to complete.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t overthink. Go out there and validate. You can think all you want, but until your idea isn’t really out there in the wild. it’s just an idea in your own head.

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

You can have focus and success while working on multiple projects and things.

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

Keep on learning. I will never stop listening podcasts, reading other people’s tweets and posts, or reading books in general. We’re never done learning. We can absolutely learn one new thing every day.

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

Narrowing down our target audience. Our customer feedback software can be used by basically any company with customers and a product, but by really targeting narrow on just a specific small audience, we could easier write blog posts and setup our landing pages and copy. This resulted in a much faster growth among this audience and we could then expand from there.

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

Thinking I had a great product and to blindly go all-in with my savings. This was actually my first business. I went all-in with a product idea I thought was great. On top of it: I wanted to launch with a “complete” product. Turned out, it’s better to invest little money first in an MVP and to test your assumptions and to validate the idea and product before you go all-in. It’s never the way you think. Never.

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

Please, someone out there, build a service platform for Airbnb where I get to order my favorite food and wine and other essentials for my stay. Preferably, already placed in the Airbnb.

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

Apple Magic Trackpad. Replaced my mouse with it. It’s so much more ergonomic.

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

Simplify for Gmail. I absolutely hate Gmail, but can’t live without it. Simplify, well, simplifies working in Gmail for me.

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

I always recommend ‘Intercom on Starting Up’. Especially if you’re into SaaS. And one book that I can recommend to everyone: ‘The Obstacle is the Way’.

What is your favorite quote?

Even the longest journey starts with a single small step.

Key Learnings:

  • How you can work efficiently on your to-dos
  • Why you don’t need to go all-in on your idea
  • Why the Now, Next, Not Yet method helps you prioritize tasks
  • Why MVPs matter