CEO of Leading Comparison Website, Finder.com, Describes How He Leads Global Growth via Reinvention

Episode 27 July 02, 2020 00:52:02
CEO of Leading Comparison Website, Finder.com, Describes How He Leads Global Growth via Reinvention
The Breakout Growth Podcast
CEO of Leading Comparison Website, Finder.com, Describes How He Leads Global Growth via Reinvention

Jul 02 2020 | 00:52:02

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Show Notes

In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews the Global Co-CEO of Finder, Fred Schebesta. Finder is on a mission to help people make better buying decisions with comparison tools, guides, and news, and their breakout growth story is one of constant reinvention. Fred wants Finder to be more than a unicorn, and to sustain growth long into the future (12:50). To do this, he believes the company needs to take big risks. Today, that means shifting the organization from a media company to a product and technology company.

The company’s mobile app represents the beginning of this shift. Finder has already helped consumers make 74 million decisions, but their goal is to help the world make a billion decisions. That’s difficult when consumers are wired to use Google for every search, but as the Finder app intercepts and predicts purchasing intent, the company hopes to disrupt both itself and the market (11:15). In this discussion, Sean digs into the mindset and approach to growth that is allowing Finder to thrive and expand on the global stage. 

The company serves more than 10 countries with over 300 employees, and Finder recognizes that product/market fit is not a constant across the globe. Fred explains his personal passion for listening to and identifying customer needs and the importance of this approach as the company reimagines itself into these markets, and we also learn why this approach has helped the company adapt to the challenges of a world swept by Covid-19. While nothing can fully prepare an organization for a global crisis, Finder has been able to use its reinvention-based DNA to continue growing through this period.

We discussed: 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08.6100000 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis interviews, leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis. Speaker 1 00:00:24.3800000 In this episode of the breakup growth podcast, I interviewed Fred Shasta who is best known for co-founding. One of the world's leading comparison websites, finder.com. Their breakout growth story is one of constant reinvention, but overall their mission has remained to help people make better buying decisions. Finder is based in Australia where VC opportunities are a bit less prevalent. So Fred and his team have bootstrapped their breakout growth, expanding the team to more than 300 employees and the company's global presence to more than 10 countries. Despite this exceptional growth, Fred continues to take risks as he has set an ambitious goal for finder to help the world make a billion decisions, constant evolution, and a willingness to take risks has also helped the company thrive through the challenges of COVID-19. So let's jump in with co founder of finder, Fred chips. Speaker 1 00:01:23.1800000 Hi, Fred. Welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Hey Sean, thank you so much for having me a number of see everyone who's listening there found the ultimate podcast. Absolutely. It's a, it's still a relatively new one, but hopefully it's, it's a one that is on the favorite list for the people who are listening. Um, so it's great to reconnect with you. It's been a lot of years since we connected back in Australia and it looks like the business has come a long way since then. So, um, it would be great if you could give a quick explanation of what finder is so the audience can, uh, can catch up and understand what you guys are working on. I mean, maybe I'll also the problem you originally set out to solve. You know, we started in Australia. Um, I actually wanted to build a blog, um, back in 2006, again, a long time ago when blogs were kind of fancy and new and I wanted to, uh, rank number one for the keyword credit card. Speaker 1 00:02:19.1600000 And it was just a fun thing to do. Um, and um, I thought, what kind of website could we build? You know, what kind of problem could we solve? I thought, well, you know, making decisions and learning and how to save money and get a better deal on your financial products is summit, which I naturally do. And I'm very passionate about, and I thought, Hey, let's start writing about that. So we, you know, we wrote a student credit card blog and a whole section on that and that sort of ranking really well in Google. And I realized as we kept on building it, this business is a real, a real, um, I guess a real growth engine in that it's, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a business which, which helps people at the end the day it's service and helps you make a decision about your life. Speaker 1 00:03:03.7000000 And we started in credit cards. We also moved to mortgages and loans, um, you know, insurance, uh, all sorts of things. I think we compare thousands of categories now, but, but, but you know, going back, I think the mastery we spent of building websites and marketing them on the internet for all the clients that was our first business, was a digital marketing agency. That's the mastery we took to building our own business, which I don't think, um, you know, re we set out with a great strategy. We, it was really, I'd say we remixed someone else's business model, which is comparison. And we added a lot of our own marketing techniques to that, Speaker 2 00:03:51.2100000 But you got, but it sounds like even from your earlier agency days, that you could at least see where the demand was in terms of, in terms of like Google volume. And if you could, if you could fulfill that demand with some information for competitor Speaker 1 00:04:05.2200000 You're, you're providing something that customers are looking for. Yeah. We are like quite Google data driven in that sense. Um, we check, we check, you know, the trends like that, but, you know, there are emerging trends that go Google doesn't have, um, immediately, which is, which is, you know, more fun as well. We sort of evolve past that. And, you know, I think that's, that's, that's sort of the, that the idea is if you can start from some sort of demand and always be fulfilling that and looking for that next thing that people want and being able to deliver that to them, that's, that's, that's the, that's sort of the foundation of how we think and how we try and, and operate Speaker 2 00:04:51.6600000 Today, the business then as an extension of that, it's, it's comparison for a lot of different financial instruments. And does it extend beyond, uh, finance? Speaker 1 00:05:02.1900000 Yeah, so, um, you know, we, we went into, um, we compare cryptocurrency a lot, a lot about cryptocurrency. That'd be journey on that. Um, and blockchain and all this kind of things, uh, you know, where to buy certain coins. Um, we, we, we help people, um, compare on, uh, online mattresses, um, compare shampoo, barbecues, you know, there, there, there's, it's a pretty long tail then. Right. You know, and, and like zooming out, but there are some big categories, right? So flights and hotels have pretty, pretty solid red oceans today. Um, and not something that, you know, we're going to innovate on overnight, but there are gaps, there are different places in the value chain where we tend to focus. And I think that's, that's the kind of business we've, which is a very content led business. And then we build products and services, which go over the top. I can talk about some about that new things, which is we're trying to change from a media company, I guess, into a product and technology company, which is, which has caused a massive pivot as an organization. Speaker 3 00:06:14.6500000 Right. So, yeah. Please tell me what, what, uh, what, how, what does that look like? What is, what are the specific products look like? Speaker 1 00:06:22.6300000 So, uh, a new, uh, first product, uh, we built is an app. Um, it's the fonder app. Um, but what it does is it it's, you connect up your bank account, you connect, uh, you get a free credit school. And then we start to tell you a way you can save money. So we've got thousands of comparisons, right? And we analyze your transactions and your, and your credit profile. And we basically can give you automatically ways to save money and get a better deal. And I know that sounds like science fiction, right? It sounds like a robot that's working away and managing all your money. And that's where we want to get to, that's what we want to build, because we realized, and I'm not a big fan of Clayton Christiansen. What is the biggest impediment in terms of people consuming more comparison and our product, and, you know, we were trying to make an innovation. Speaker 1 00:07:13.5100000 Um, and, and, and we realized it's just really hard and annoying to compare things it's like, and we think that the actual barrier is not our competitors. It's actually nothing to do with that. Um, and there are lots of other businesses that do what we do. We're not first we're like, well, and truly Samsung when it comes to, um, smartphones. Um, and, but what, you know, we're a great fast followup, but we thought, Hey, let's how are we going to innovate? Well, we're not just going to skate to where the pockets we need to skate to where the puck's going, right. And, and the park right now, we think is that the world is going to be an open data where you can give permission for your data, and you want to get back valuable information and decisions that you want to make about your life. Speaker 1 00:08:05.7100000 I think there's this new world emerging. This is wave cresting and forming. It's really falling up around the world. And certainly three different governments around the world are actually putting open banking in place. I'll give you a quick background on what's open banking. It's basically where you can give the permission for a third party application to use your banking data. And so we think this is where the, what the future's going to look like, and we want to build towards that future. And, and, and, and we think that's kind of like disrupting our stills in a way, which is, you know, pretty, pretty wild in and of itself, you know, but the, the core thing is, is coming back to the customer, right? The original idea, and we talked about this thought is, what's the problem they're trying to solve. I think it's the same problem. Speaker 1 00:09:00 They want to make a decision, which home lunch should I get, right. Which one should I, which one, you know, how can I save some money? How do I get a better deal on my car insurance? That's a cool question. I think everyone thinks that every day I don't do it every single day that do it, you know, depending on the product, every three, six months, you do a big cleanup of all your products. And, but in that moment, right in that moment in time, what's stopping people from doing that. And we think that is it's too hot. It's just too hard. And what we want to do is bring an easy, simple way. That's easier than, than anything else we don't want to compete on necessarily. We're not going to be, we're not the biggest brand. Like people don't know us in the U S and they don't know us in the UK. They know the finer brand in Australia, but, you know, it's to grow up where we're growing in the U S and the UK, and there could businesses, but we don't think we can compete on that. We need to compete on delivering a more convenient and better product than, than an, a better experience that exists out there. Speaker 2 00:09:59.9000000 And so it sounds like you're also kind of going from where today you're sort of intercepting that intent as they, as they come and look for for better deals and whatever kind of, uh, area that they're, there's, they're seeking comparisons with what they already have. And you're looking to replace that with kind of storing already what they're using and being able to potentially push deals to them that, that shows, you know, you could save on your car insurance here, or you could save on your credit cards here. Is that, am I getting it right in terms of what you're looking at on the product side? Speaker 1 00:10:33.4100000 That's exactly what it is. It's a, it's an easier experience. It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a faster way to compare. Speaker 2 00:10:41.6900000 Yep. So once you, once you're connected in with the bank accounts, I guess that you, you have the ability to see what they're paying for just about anything and, and can offer, can offer, uh, alternatives that can save them money without them necessarily taking the action of going out and looking for those alternatives. Cause you already know if there, if there's a way to save money, which, which makes a lot of sense. So I find it really interesting that you're, you're looking at that pivot, um, yet, uh, yet the businesses is really, um, at a point where, where it's already a very valuable business and it's something I was reading earlier today, had you listed on the, uh, the young rich list and, and, uh, it looked like putting your, putting your net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And I assume that's all tied to, to find her. Um, so, you know, to me that, um, that, that shows that you're, you're clearly, you clearly have gotten the business to a point where it's already very valuable and, uh, and then that's a kind of a bold move then to, to essentially say, okay, what's, what's the next direction that we take it in that that potentially disrupts ourselves. Correct. You know, and that's, Speaker 1 00:11:54.3700000 I think, I think, you know, Sean, when, when you look back in time, I think to go from being a good business, to being a great business, you got to take big risks. And, um, I actually think, unfortunately, and this is just, I guess, talking out loud, but you know, Australia, you know, we're, it's a culture of not taking as big of risks. I say, I think, you know, I think Americans do an incredible job and I love America and I love the ad. I have so much admiration for American entrepreneurship. Um, but I think we've gotten ourselves and we've tested a lot of things. And now it's time to back ourselves. It's time to say and show the world what we've learned and go and execute and deliver that. Not exactly, not exactly, you know, the, the, it's a pretty scary thing to do, right. Speaker 1 00:12:51.7900000 If you go and build an enterprise and it's got a lot of value and then you put it back all back on the line, um, and I don't want people, you know, wouldn't necessarily do that. You're right. But, um, I think, you know, I want to create a, I don't want to create a unicorn company. I want to create a Phoenix who's reinventing itself and keep keeps reimagining itself and, um, carries on forever. Uh, you know, I think one day finder will die and everyone inside the company right now is preventing that for as long as possible. And, and, and, and I'm gonna make sure that, and one of the ways to do that is to, to reinvent yourself and that's, that's, that's, this is not going to be the first time we're going to keep doing this every three years at Fonda. Speaker 3 00:13:41.5500000 So you've, you have gone through these reinventions along the way already. Speaker 1 00:13:45.8100000 Yeah. So we were, you know, a credit card company in the beginning, just credit card comparison, that's it? And there were a lot of great thoughts out there and businesses. Um, and so we thought, nah, we're going to reinvent ourselves and we're gonna, we're going to do more than that. And then we started getting into shopping, you know, we've got discount codes, so we've started reinventing that side of the business, um, and, and broaden that, um, we've, we've then obviously, um, started to goop products and technology now and offering, um, you know, I guess robo advice and in some way shape or form. Um, and I think that's, that's the path, that's the journey where yes, it's probably the same problem, but we need to go and reinvent how we deliver that and create a better product and a bit, and an easier way for customers to do that. Speaker 3 00:14:33.3300000 Yep. And so have you, each time you do that, do you really need to dial in product market fit again each time? Or how, or where do you have most of it from what you're moving from? How does that work Speaker 1 00:14:45.8400000 Constantly? You know, I just, I constantly, I spend a lot of time. I dunno, maybe this is an, I don't know if all the founders do this as well, but I, I listened to customers, you know, I interviewed them, I dial in and listen to their, um, um, you know, what they put to say and what they're into. And, and, and I, um, you know, I, I listened to their problems and, and, and what they're trying to solve. And I think that's where a lot of my ideas and vision come from, um, is, is, is, is intimate. It's not necessarily asking the questions and getting confirmation on something. It's, it's, it's the comments and, uh, sort of feedback they give that is unprompted. And that's really hard to translate unless you, you know, you're there listening to customers. Um, but, but, you know, I think I always come back to the same problems and I'm thinking about that, that customer. And I put the picture of them in my mind, and I think, you know, what would they do with this product? How would they feel about it? It's probably what a lot of other founders do, I could imagine, but it's, it's, it's definitely one of my passions. Speaker 2 00:16:04.8700000 Right. Well, I think it's interesting though, because I think there are a lot of founders that, um, you know, you go into a customer conversation with the, with the goal of confirming your hypotheses, rather than the curiosity of really trying to understand and adjust what you're doing to feedback that you're getting from customers. And it's, it's really hard to, to keep that open mind and keep, keep, you know, stay really flexible, as opposed to just that, that confirmation bias of, uh, whatever you hear. Oh yeah. Okay, good. That supports exactly what I want to build. Speaker 1 00:16:39.1300000 Yeah. So, um, Speaker 2 00:16:42.5700000 But it's interesting. I think the other piece for you, as you're looking for product market fit, it sounds like you've in a single market, evolved the product quite a bit over the years, but then as you've pushed you into some of the other countries, I assume you have the same thing. You're, you're running into a different competitive landscape in each country and certain needs that you fulfill. Well, maybe in Australia in the UK, that's already fulfilled pretty well by someone else. And so how, how has been the path of kind of dialing in product market fit in each of the countries you've expanded into? Speaker 1 00:17:16 No, it's interesting. Each, each, each market, um, I, we apply a similar process, but the stakes get higher, right? The competition gets more fierce and, and there are markets where it's not where it's much easier. And, and, and, and, and that's a little bit, you know, you can use some of the prior knowledge and prior insights around the customers and the, you know, a good 84% is on the money. And you've got that last 16% where you really got to understand the local environment. You know, the travel insurance is a, is a popular product in the U S no one buys travel insurance. You know, you can, you can compare energy, uh, in the UK. And it's a very, very expansive, there are 76 different energy companies in the UK, but in, in, in the U S you know, mr. Edison, he invented electricity. And so he's not, you know, he's still turning the crank and he's, he's, he's, he's scratching on the lid going, let me out. Speaker 1 00:18:15.5700000 Right. And, and, and, and so, you know, you, you, you, you go, you go to, uh, you know, you gotta be really mindful of when you, when you, what we, what is very challenging and quite unique about the problems that we experienced is that a problem we solve in one country is not necessarily a problem in another. And, um, what, um, what, what we are learning to do is operate as a global company to solve global problems. And, and I, and again, that was a reinvention of us as a company, you know, we could have just been in the greatest trading company cool. But to become a great global company requires very different contexts thinking and interviews with customers. And that's something which, um, you know, I've always found challenging, but, um, now I'm, um, I'm actually loving the problem and, and, and, and see it as a great challenge. Speaker 3 00:19:10.2800000 Yeah. It has, uh, has COVID affected your business very much or is it not, not too much of an effect on your, Speaker 1 00:19:17.6300000 Uh, definitely, you know, we, the credit products, um, um, w w w w really affected all around the world, you know, banks really pulled back and that affected that revenue, but because you were very diversified as an enterprise, um, we've been able to, um, build up a lot of other categories, um, and keep it very quickly because we're quite a nimble, a third value is five values of find it, but the third value is go live. And that means we have a bias to putting things live on the internet. Like we really go live fast, probably sometimes a little too fast. Um, but, but, but that's what we get stuff out there. Right. So, so as we came alive, the cause Speaker 3 00:20:00.5200000 In a crisis, having that mentality can be really helpful. Speaker 1 00:20:03.3800000 Yeah. Um, um, um, the, the, the, the, the, the other thing, um, the hats on it to happen. Um, and, and the way I look at this is I think during, you know, real deep part of, of covert, what happened was, is it's like all the, all the, all the pieces of the board, the map got changed. It reshuffled, you know, reshuffled the deck over and put it away and laid out the new faces of the internet, you know, and so many massive internet companies were broken and it created this huge opportunity, you know, like, um, if you typed in a personal trainer into Google, you didn't get in, you couldn't on the first result. You couldn't actually get personal training from that company because they weren't, they couldn't see you in person. And so every blanking had a problem in Google. It was broken, which creates a huge opportunity for, for, for, for companies to pivot and adapt and evolve. Speaker 1 00:21:11.9800000 And, and, and, and so we, we really, uh, we did that in the personal protection equipment and the PPA stuff, right. We, we launched a massive face mask, hand sanitizer, um, comparison, and, and, and people didn't know where to buy those things. And so connecting buyers and sellers became a new business for us, which we were already set up to do. And, and it really skyrocketed, uh, our us business to, to offset some of the, uh, the challenges that we're having, um, in Australia. But again, that doesn't come. The only reason we could do that is because before we reinvented ourselves, we were ready to sacrifice a focus from our core business of what makes money and go look in the future. We need to go and do more than that. Let's take some focus and diversity and investment of what's already working and go, now we're going to reinvent our sales and be ready for the future. And so when it did happen, we were ready for that. It played into other parts of that businesses that, that ordinarily wouldn't have been an advantage. In fact, they probably were, were annoying and distracting, but they became the actual assets that, that, that have helped to drive the company forward. And now, obviously things are re re re the decks reshuffling again. Um, but I don't, I think those new businesses will always be quite strong and, and carry us forward. Speaker 2 00:22:39.2100000 Yeah. And then, and then the old ones as they come back online, hopefully you're still in a good position to, to have that part of the business going. So hopefully, hopefully it means you come out the other side being stronger than you went in out. So one of the questions that I probably should have asked a little bit earlier, and I think I know the answer, but how, how do you guys make money then? Is it, is it through Speaker 1 00:22:59.8800000 Referral fees? Yeah. So referral fees, or some, some models are different. So there's cost per sale in shopping there's there is cost per click. So some, some verticals are cost per click. Some are cost per lead. Some are cost per, um, you know, um, approved applications. So they need to like, actually, for example, you know, turn on their credit card and activate it. There are also different models. It all comes back to the same thing. It's all just a conversion rate CPC, whether it's CPC, CPL. Cause it's just a, it's just a factor of conversion. Speaker 2 00:23:33.3000000 Sure. Yeah. It's a low acquisition cost of some sort, correct. Speaker 1 00:23:37.7400000 Correct. It's just a, we offer more, more ways to be able to monetize and pay for that as a, as a, as a, as a punishing perspective. Um, and it's just, you know, we don't really mind which way you do it, as long as, um, you know, we get, we obviously can get a fair remuneration for the traffic that we've got. Speaker 2 00:23:58.1200000 And then do you do negotiate each one of those deals separately with partners or, or is it, um, are you kind of plugging into standardized programs that they have Speaker 1 00:24:08.2000000 Some, uh, you know, some off the shelf, you know, it depends on the maturity of the business, you know, obviously in the U S and the UK that they're younger, they're about three year old businesses that they don't have direct relationships with everyone. Um, but you know, the majority of, of partnerships in Australia would be direct. Uh, there are some that will see that changes over time. And I think, I think it's a maturity thing, right. It takes time to, to build those relationships and share the value. Speaker 2 00:24:37.1900000 Makes sense. Yeah. I assume you probably, you can, you can plug in a whole bunch right in the beginning and then, and then over time, you you're able to demonstrate volume where you can go and, and, uh, kind of talk through, we're going to keep you plugged in here or not, and be in a better position to kind of work out what, what makes the most sense on both sides on more of a direct, direct deal. Um, so, uh, so one of the, obviously the, uh, the key focus of this podcast is really trying to understand growth and how it works. And I think we've got, I got a pretty good idea just for up to this point, even part of it is just, there is no growth without product market fit. So a lot of it is just having that, that nimble approach to, uh, evolve the business model as, as kind of intent, uh, evolves from, from people out there and expanding into other categories as they start to emerge, particularly like crypto and things that, um, you know, when you started the business, there probably was not much intent around that. And as you saw that emerging, you could, you could start to plug into that better. Um, but w how would you describe what kind of the key growth engine for the business, what do you think is kind of the most important thing that's, that's driven growth up to this point? Speaker 1 00:25:47.2600000 I think it comes back to starting without the customer problem and focusing on the marketing first, um, you know, as an enterprise, you know, we, we, we work out how to, how to, how to, uh, fund problems. And then we've, we've, we, we obviously adapt that with very quickly to, to how are we going to mock it and bringing in customers to, to solve that in a very quick way. Um, and then I think now the future, um, we, you know, we're evolving that to, to build products which are, you know, sticky and, and, and, and, and, and, and longterm valuable for people. Um, so, so, you know, I think a lot of companies when, when they think about, and maybe this is just us, I, I, I think about marketing a product before we even build it. Um, I'm thinking about how are we going to market it, I, and maybe just my mind, or maybe it's where I was trained and, you know, in the beginning, um, and then from there, I, I, we kind of build the product to fit the marketing, which is, I don't know if that's the right way to do it or not. Um, but I think that's probably a, a big centerpiece of our, uh, growth engine. Speaker 2 00:27:05.2399999 No, that makes sense. That makes a ton of sense. Um, yeah, I think, yeah, too many, too many companies kind of start with need let's, let's just fulfill that need and then, okay. We'll figure out growth afterwards. And then they, they find out that there's not really any way to drive rapid sustainable growth on the business. So, I mean, ultimately a successful company is going to have to check a bunch of boxes and growth is going to be one of those boxes. So thinking upfront, is there a need, can we fulfill that need? And can we, can we capture the market of people who have that need and, and getting all those pieces going is a big part of, of building a interesting business. You can build a small business maybe without that, but, uh, who wants to do that? That's kind of a, you know, not a very, um, fulfilling way to do things. So, um, I, I know I looked, uh, at the company and some of the, some of the twists and turns that you've taken over the years. And it sounds like one of the, one of the more challenging times, or maybe more than once is, is some of the changes to the Google algorithm as you've, uh, as you've navigated, um, growth over the years, what would you say? That's probably the biggest challenge that you've faced with the business? Speaker 1 00:28:15.4100000 Yeah, I guess pivoting, um, you know, I know we have some group, we had a big Google penalty that was not easy, uh, to deal with. Um, and, and, and, and get out of that, um, which, you know, we have a Ninja still a real Ninja, so that hangs in our, our, uh, reception area. Um, and it reminds us of, um, our tactics can be very sharp and can cut us, but also be very powerful. So you gotta be careful, you know, you pushed your tactics too far and you get caught, right. Um, yeah. Speaker 2 00:28:48.3800000 Yeah. Especially with Google, Google can be pretty harsh. Speaker 1 00:28:52.4600000 Um, and, and, and, and, and that's fair, right? I mean, I think they offer service. Um, the other things, you know, I think there's, COVID experience has been extraordinarily challenging as well. And I say that because, you know, if you're 12 people sitting around in a room and you have an old hands and you buy a couple of pieces and you can turn around everyone and save them by name and tell them what we're going to do, you know, that's cool, but you know, when you're 300 people and you're in, you know, 10 different countries and you, you, you, you know, different times zones and different languages and different, um, you know, government rules and different government responses and, you know, all sorts of cultural intricacies around, uh, a global pandemic, I would say that was something which, you know, the Google penalty kind of prepared us full, but I don't think a global, um, you know, challenge, uh, I was, I was ready for what I feel we, we dealt with quite well. You know, the Google bouncy was overnight as well. Right. It was just, you just lose your traffic bang. It's gone. Speaker 3 00:30:02.1600000 He could wake up one morning. Yeah, exactly. And it's a Speaker 1 00:30:06.1200000 Absolutely. And I think this is a similar one. It's like, well, you know, we just had four of the biggest banks turn off your turn off our programs, bang God. Right. And, and what are you gonna do? Well, let's go and reorganize and re you know, what's the opportunities. And, you know, I think we've kind of looked at it in two ways is defense and offense. And in, throughout that Mo you know, my other founder at Fonda, we have a co founder, Jeremy. So Frank really led the defense and Jeremy as well. And, and, and they focused on that and I kind of led the offense. So we kind of split, split up our focuses. Um, and I think that's how you go to a purchasing situation, right. I love when big things come and sidetrack, um, and, and, um, figure out how to, um, uh, adjust and how to, um, find ways to, to evolve. Speaker 1 00:31:06.3000000 That's awesome. That's, that's because you've got problems that you now realize a weaknesses in your company that you need to go and solve, and you turn all of this, you dredge up all the stuff that sort of metastasized to your company and processes, and, you know, you weren't actually ready to deal with, and you realize that the weaknesses in your company that you can harden up. Right. And on the second, what I think it also does is presents a whole range of opportunities where some of the, some of the things which weren't working in the past actually now potentially will work. You just needed to give it a little tweak or something was just into little adjustment. And I think that's what I found through this experience. And maybe this is just, this is just my personal experience, right. I'm sure everyone's had different experiences, but when I take the lens and look from a new paradigm from a, from a, from a different perspective, it gave me incredible insight into Fonda and what it's all about and what it needs. And I wasn't, I wasn't, uh, able to see that, um, before, um, but I think I would never, uh, I actually felt we, we, we adapted quite well and I would have never expected the things that I've meant to be able to live without it. So I'm kind of, I'm actually, this, this sounds strange, but I'm kind of grateful. Speaker 3 00:32:25.8300000 Okay, good. So, Fred, you were talking about that you, um, you've got, you know, 300 people across all these different markets and having to navigate COVID with this big group of people. I'm probably a little challenging than when you were Speaker 2 00:32:40.1000000 In the super early days, if you were having to do it. So maybe you could give a little bit more context into how you're organized, sort of, what do you have marketing and growth teams, or what's, what's sort of the majority of the employees do in the company and then who, who focuses on actually trying to grow the business? Speaker 1 00:32:56.9800000 Yeah. So today, uh, quantitative, I would say it's majority made up of, um, Rodriguez and, uh, publishes and data crew. Um, and, and, and that's, you know, it goes back to our content history. Um, and I think that'll still be very strong. I think it'll carry on. Um, and I don't think it'll ever end. I do think that, um, the, the, the future of Fonda will be a lot more engineering and product led, um, which is, you know, the next sort of, I'd say chunk of hires at Fonda will be from, from that perspective. I think another bit of context as well, Fonda's never had any funding, so it's a completely bootstrap company, um, which is kind of different, I think from, from, from some companies out there and maybe comes back to out, you know, there's a real lack, or has been traditionally a lack of, um, VC and venture, uh, an angel funding in Australia. Speaker 1 00:33:58.1800000 It's just not as market. Um, and it's not as big a scene, an ecosystem yet it's growing. It's not about that, but, you know, and so you kind of have to power your own shift and power and steam, which was just kind of interesting, cause it makes you run a real business, you know, and make profits and pay dividends and do what real companies to, um, and, and, and I think, but that does also in pay growth, right? If you can't take as big a risk as bigger pots, um, you know, so when you get a big crisis, you know, we have to really rely on our structure. Um, you know, and now our diversification of leadership around the world and, you know, we have local CEOs in each of the countries and they manage their crew. Um, and then there's kind of like a, uh, um, a leadership global leadership team that runs the company, uh, which I think is great. Speaker 1 00:34:56.2600000 Right. I think the, the, the, the main thing that sort of happened, um, to, to get that information out was, you know, just really off the communication frequency dramatically, um, which was very unusual. We send everyone home probably, um, you know, quite early in March, um, because we just thought this is going to get really out of hand. And so we just made a note, um, and we just started communicating, you know, over and over again. And, and, and, and, and that, that I think was, it was, it was a key way to build that, that, that, um, you know, get that and communication. Now, I don't think it's easy to get frost context. You know, it's a bit slower. I've also found, you know, we stopped, we started to write all the narratives now. So, you know, we write down a story about what's happening in the background. Speaker 1 00:35:52.3500000 And we share that before meetings now, which is traditionally not been, um, something we do we've done in the past, but now we've started to do, and that's been able to share that context when everyone's remote much quicker. Um, and I found that to be a very, very effective technique to, to give the why the, why is much harder to give, I feel digitally, you know, when you, when you, when you get to walk around the floor and just bump into people and just share the context of what's going on, why that's, that's, you know, obviously, um, an organic way of doing that. But when you're old, you're remote, it's a little bit more challenging, more difficult. And I found, you know, that's probably where we need to evolve and try to figure out how to get around that and what to do about it. Speaker 3 00:36:39.7100000 And so how do you actually keep everybody focused in the same direction? Is there, do you have a North star metric? Are you familiar with the concept of a North star metric? Speaker 1 00:36:50.0900000 Yeah. You know, um, our, our goal is to, um, heal the world, make a billion decisions. So we, we, we, uh, we're up to about 74 million decisions that have been made on fonder. Um, and so, you know, we've got a fit journey to go. Um, but, um, you know, that, that, you know, when you start from that ID, right. And work backwards and go, okay, how are we going to help people make decisions? And you're like, well, what did you just use they're gonna make and what the information they need to go and make those decisions. And what's the way in which they gain awareness about those decisions and how do they stop those journeys. And you step all the way back to the customer and where it all begins. Then it kind of informs you where we find it informs us to what to do or where to go. And I think the other thing about that is how do you see that approach? I think that's where we started to realize, and styles are really focused on, is making it easier. Um, and we have enough, we have a few other metrics that sort of splinter off that North star metric, but that we always come back to that idea of let's get comfortable with like a billion decisions. Speaker 3 00:38:04.4900000 And so why do you look at it on a kind of a weekly basis number of decisions, or how, how sort of, what does that, what does that decision dashboard look like? Is it just that cumulative number growing over time? Are you able to compare progress month to month, week to week? Speaker 1 00:38:18.8300000 Right, right now, I think, you know, it's broken down by country by niche by vertical or niche. Um, and so each one, you know, that's more realistic day to day, but the overall goal, anyone can sort of tap into that and look at that in an overall sense at any point in time. But it's kinda, you know, it's a group high level meta ID or a number, but I think that the better number is when you zoom in and yeah, everyone knows every day and every week. And we review that weekly, you know, the decisions that we've helped people make. Speaker 2 00:38:52.0799999 And then obviously as a, uh, as a, as a company that's funded off of its cash flow, probably probably decisions that generate a lot more money are going to carry more weight. So it's probably not just purely on a day to day execution, just, just maximizing number of decisions that you might go. You might put all your eggs into the basket of little, little decisions that don't generate much. Speaker 1 00:39:17.4900000 Yeah, definitely. Uh, I think there are bigger decisions that people make and obviously, uh, you know, a mortgage is a pretty big decision in someone's life. Um, probably the most expensive thing that most people will buy in their lives, um, would be pass, right. Um, or, you know, an apartment or someone to leave their home. Um, and, and, and, and, you know, maybe there's a cop as well, but I think they're pretty big decisions and you should take some time and you should, you know, invest the energy to get that into, uh, into a, you know, uh, get a good deal on that. Cause it doesn't save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Speaker 2 00:39:55.3800000 Yep. No, that meant, that makes a lot of sense. So let's look at now going back to this customer from kind of the very first time that they discover finder to where now they're using it to drive a lot of their decisions. What does, what does kind of that journey look like starting with how, how to most customers find, uh, find her today, Speaker 1 00:40:15.8100000 Most of them come through, you know, some sort of content, um, um, I'd say today, um, or some sort of, um, paid media, whether that's a banner ad, uh, an Instagram post of a YouTube ad or a, uh, every single internet channel that there is, we've probably bought some ad space on it. Um, we also do, um, maze days, we do a lot of above the line media in Australia, you know, radio, TV, uh, we sponsor the football. Um, you know, it's, it's, it depends on the country, right. But in the U S and the UK, we're not at that level today, but I do see us evolving to that eventually. Um, it just takes time. Um, so, you know, I think that it comes back to our old school days of internet marketing. You know, you start off with the, the performance channels and you move up to the branding and awareness channels eventually, and that's kind of narrow perch, you know, maybe it's not the right one, it's just, maybe we're a bit old school, but, um, you know, I think that's, that's sort of where I started and that's what we believe in. Speaker 2 00:41:27.5100000 No, I think that who knows what the right approach is, but it sounds right to me. Um, so it sounds like it, you know, initially even if it's with, with content and I assume somewhat, even if it's paid media that it's tied to some type of intent that, you know, that they have, is that, or, or are you doing even just like impulsive, hoping that you intercept somebody when they might be looking for a mortgage, even, even if you don't necessarily know anything about their intent? Speaker 1 00:41:55.3000000 You know, I think there is definitely some, um, um, intense and some, uh, very high level ones that we've experimented with and we keep experiencing with, it's just, it's just much hotter and we're monitoring that. I don't know if we're experts at it yet. Um, but you know, that's, that's, that's an evolution, um, that would be working on, I think we're much better when it's closer to one of our intense, um, you know, it's like with everything showing, you know, every day in a small way, we're trying to get better. And we've always seen, you know, if we can start from very generic awareness and boil it down all the way to, to understanding and unpacking someone's, you know, ultimate decisions and, and intense that they want to go and achieve. Hopefully we can be there and hopefully they remember us. And in some small way, I think starting to build those products and services, which keep reminding them and bringing them back to, to ultimately go and make a good decision in their life. Speaker 2 00:42:58.2000000 So it sounds like probably the activation though, would be kind of the first, first decision that they make using the platform. But it would, would you say that's kind of the aha moment? Speaker 1 00:43:10.1500000 I think it's part of it. I think it's, it's when, you know, after they get the product and off to, they tell their friends about what they did and how they got to that situation. You know, I think that's when, you know, you're an expert and you've learned something and you've told someone else about it, that's in our case, it's not so much, they refer necessarily to product. They go, here's what I learned, and this is how you can do it too. So it's a bit different in that sense, because we're, you know, we're much more of an education platform. It's the same. I think it's the same idea. It could be, I could be wrong, but I think it's, it's more, we, you know, people share the ideas that they get from Fonda and then that leads them to, um, you know, go, ah, that's how that works. Ah, you know, that's what a revolt right. Is, or that's what a healer does. So this is what an ETF means for like, ah, I get that now. And then that leads them to, Oh, okay. Now I know how to make a decision about, you know, the question I had in my life. Speaker 2 00:44:09.4000000 Okay. So, so your content is, is to the point where it's, it's providing so much kind of information and value that there's, there, there may be an aha even in the content itself. Yeah. Okay. And then, and then how do you go from there to actually get that habit dialed in that, that over time that they start to know I amount to come to find her when I'm looking for anything, because I'm going to find the information that I need to make a good decision. Speaker 1 00:44:36.6200000 No, I think we've mastered that, um, yet. And it's going to take a long time to do that in some of, you know, in the U S and the UK. Um, I think in any country, um, um, you know, I think Google holds up pretty, you know, I'll just say, I think a solid monopoly on searching for attention. Um, and, and, and, and so I think that's going to be very hard to change and it's pretty baked into humanity. I think that that brought these, you know, I think today, um, you know, the, the mapmaker is getting paid more than the actual, um, uh, map itself, right? I think Jeff basis talked about that as well is right now we can know all the money's going to, to the person who tells you where to go and look for something else, as opposed to people just going straight there. And eventually that's going to change, right. Eventually you to skip that and just go straight to it. Like, you know, I think when you're going to look for a flight, you tend to go direct to certain places and it just takes time. It's a time theme shot, Speaker 2 00:45:43.8800000 I think like with Crunchbase or something, if I'm going for specific company information, it's usually structured. And I know it's got all the pieces of information I need, and that's, that'd be an example of something where I would skip over Google to get that information. But a lot of times Google is going to be the starting point to get, to start starting a, a search for anything. If you've got intent, Google, Google's the arbitrary of intent. But, but then I do see, you know, as, as you talked about with the app, how the app has the ability to start to create intent, so it can identify a problem you're paying too much on this card, or you're paying too much on, on this, uh, telephone or whatever it might be that, um, that by kind of prompting someone that, that ultimately it feels like that, that your journey ideally, would be leading people to the app so that you, you have that kind of built in, built in intent creation that the app could, could provide, because that's a, it's, it's helping to educate people that there some additional ways to save money that they may not have even known to. Speaker 1 00:46:49.7000000 Yeah. I think you rot, you know, I, I think we, we, we could probably, uh, you know, that world is going to take a long time to build and we're all pathway there and I could be wrong on that, but, you know, it's just, this is my thesis of where I think the world's going and you don't know, you know, so I couldn't tell you if that's the word, but, um, you know, we're up for making mistakes and learning from them and adapting and changing. And there's a, there's a massive graveyard of failed ideas and finder, and we celebrate every single one of them. Um, um, but they, they were the, they were the seeds that for us, you know, the trees and the, and the, and the pillars that exist today, right now there reminds me of like the skiing or surfing. And if you're not, if you're not falling down, you're not getting better because you're not pushing yourself hard enough. Speaker 1 00:47:42.2800000 So you gotta, you gotta have a few failures in there. You're not really kind of pushing the limits of the model. So it, it makes a lot of sense that you, uh, you don't know exactly where you're going to end up with it. And I think even this idea that the, that the app can start to identify needs that the person may not know they, that they have, it's only gonna be four categories where they already have an existing solution and you can help them find something better. But, but it seems like finder extends well beyond sort of, uh, you know, you may have four or five financial instruments and, and that finder could, could help you add a lot more that that could potentially be beneficial for you. So, um, do you foresee a time where, where it potentially is only the app and the rest of it is not there? Speaker 1 00:48:26.5000000 Or do you see them being more interdependent directly? They have to be connected. I think that's the future. I mean, you always have the desktop, um, internet, browser audience. I think the new generation probably is going to be app focused. I think they that's the way they see their world is just see, uh, they grew up with, um, being on their Facebook app and they switched the Instagram app, and now they get to switch to their phone or app. Yep. No, that makes a ton of sense. Well, this is amazing. It's, uh, I'm, I'm really impressed with where you've gone and the, and the kind of flexibility with where you, where you potentially see yourself going. Um, but I, I agree that it's, it's really, it's impossible to have the absolute clear road signs because it's going to be a little bit of trial and error as you, as you go along the way to get there. Um, but I like to end with one last question, which is, what do you feel like you understand about growth now that you may not have understood even a couple of years ago? Speaker 1 00:49:28.8900000 I think that I imagined a growth to be very straight line, um, and, and formulate, I kind of also then evolve that thinking to, you know, Oh, it's trial and error. And then now I think I have a slightly, even more hybrid view where I think you need to make a, uh, a different sized investment into that initial trial where it may be actually be a bigger trial. Um, then, you know, then a very, very small one. I think that was very binary, not only try very, very small, um, tests and experiments in the beginning, and that's probably a factor of capital and confidence and experience in the world. Um, and, but I think that the process is the same, you know, it's a trial and error, but I think there's a, this probably, I didn't realize that you can dive off initial investment, a dollar Speaker 2 00:50:28.3400000 Down and gain just as much information, if not more, but you can also gain a lot more ground and any result and insight if you make a biggest splash in the stock. Um, whereas, uh, I didn't realize that I kind of didn't realize those were the planes and those were actually perfectly feasible and valid approaches to innovation and growth. I love it. Yeah, I definitely, it is. Speaker 0 00:50:57.9400000 And an interesting evolution that that experimentation tends to be a kind of becomes part of the culture of a company Speaker 2 00:51:05.3800000 Slowly starts to get a little addictive. It's fun to run that experimentation, but that it, uh, I ideally, it leads to bigger and bolder experiments that, um, that have that potential to really provide a step change in the business to take things to the next level. Um, obviously with big, bold experiments comes more risk too. So there's a little bit more, um, a little bit more to balance there, but, uh, this has been fascinating. So thank you so much, Fred, and I really appreciate you opening up and explaining everything that's going on there and to the audience. Thank you everybody for tuning in. Thank you so much. Speaker 0 00:51:41.4100000 <inaudible> thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you're at it subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.

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