Building a Community, RevGenius’ Origins with Jared Robin

About This Episode

Jared Robin, co-founder of RevGenius, a community of revenue-generating sales and marketing professionals brought together to learn, share, support, and grow with each other, stopped by to talk with Brad about building and harnassing communities correctly, the origins of RevGenius, and RevCon, where we will get a look into the next steps for RevGenius, RevGenius 2.0.

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Building a Community, RevGenius' Origins with Jared Robin

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Brad Seaman: So tell me about rep genius. How’d you get how’d you get here?

[00:00:04] Jared Robin: Oh man. Do you want the 2020 story or do you want the the, the origin story?

[00:00:00] Brad Seaman: So tell me about rep genius. How’d you get how’d you get here?

[00:00:04] Jared Robin: Oh man. Do you want the 2020 story or do you want the the, the origin story?

[00:00:11] Brad Seaman: Give me a setback because I know you’ve had a little, I’m guessing you’ve had a little adversity and that’s the kind of the, let’s talk about that. So give me 2020.

Yeah. So,

[00:00:20] Jared Robin: and frankly everyone’s had adversity, whether they realize it or not, or what, what level of it, but 2020, my, my adversity that adversity. There was I lost my job before. COVID not because of COVID. So I had maybe like a month clean of being able to job hunt with minimal competition. And I, I didn’t land a job in time for there to be tremendous competition and no jobs.

So then I I joined with everybody, but I saw a company. And when I saw it coming, I saw that it wasn’t the right fit for either of us. And we mutually agreed to part ways. And you know, I had joined a few communities and organizations to start in that job hunt search before that happened. And then it happened and none of them, you know, I, I didn’t land a job period.

Right. Like, I, I don’t want to say that one community didn’t help me or. Or none did. And that’s, that’s why I started rep genius, but it did show me that there was something not being satisfied. And then I looked at like the whole space and saw there were some paid communities. There were some email chains, there were some other stuff.

Unpaid communities, exclusive inclusive, all of this. And it seemed like there was no inclusive community that was accessible. My partner and I gave them gum. I set out to do it and sure enough, there, there, there wasn’t or at least one that was like

[00:01:53] Brad Seaman: us now, do you feel Y so, so talk to me a little, w once you talk about the community in general, cause I’m, I’m familiar with.

Revenue collective. I know there’s, you know, little communities that are kind of sprouting up all over the place. So why don’t you give us kind of a high level? Do you see that as like a new emerging thing? Like, just talk to me a little bit about the space.

[00:02:14] Jared Robin: Well, it’s been around for, for years and years and years, right?

Like, can, these are being sold for billions of dollars. Now you saw stack overflow relatively recently, exit for 1.8 billion. Let’s go back a couple of years. He saw GitHub exit to Microsoft. So. Community is at scale at like high valuations. Isn’t a new thing. Communities in general is not a new thing.

You go to other spaces and other industries there’s been messaged boards since, since the beginning of time. Right? Like you, you, if you’re a sports fan, how many of you all that are listening have gone to. Sports message board and communicated back and forth. And then if you’re really avid, you might’ve even met someone, met up with somebody, right?

Like, like I used to go to the gang green.com. I’m a jets fan. I used to go to hypebeast.com for streetwear and S but the communities in software as a service SAS space and the popularity has had grown quite a bit in the last year. Partially because of new platforms like slack and discord coming up to help and partially because of the success of, you know, communities.

Ours and showing that others could do it.

[00:03:28] Brad Seaman: Were you saying some of the ramp had to do with do you think COVID helps you guys kind of accelerate because now you’ve got all these sales guys that have lost the general community that happens, you know, on the floor and in the office?

[00:03:39] Jared Robin: I, I honestly believe so.

I believe it helped quite a bit. You had people out of work looking to figure out any way to get into work. So they were showing up in more digital spaces than they were previously. Social media. Wasn’t satisfying that, that, that itch. So to speak like LinkedIn alone, wasn’t satisfying that for those in the business world alone, I mean, LinkedIn definitely helps.

And it’s a key part of the equation for any content creator, any job seeker, any funnel creator for leads, but it was missing. It was missing a bit

[00:04:18] Brad Seaman: where you in a sales role before. Yeah,

[00:04:22] Jared Robin: roughly, I was running sales for a marketing agency and I ran sales slash growth for two-sided marketplaces for a couple of roles, which, which is interesting, right.

Because two-sided marketplaces while not quite community connecting buyers and sellers. There’s definitely you know, a mediator feel to that. There, there, there’s definitely a facility. Type role that you take. So it, that, that type of connection or connecting people has been ingrained for a little bit, but yeah.

Sales sales for the last 15 years,

[00:04:55] Brad Seaman: when you guys launched a rev genius, talk to me a little bit about kind of the early stage. Is this something that you guys come up? Is this a napkin story or is this an evolution? Obviously it sounded like. Job maybe accelerated you into entrepreneurship, but yeah, kind of walk me through how you got, like, what was going on.

Did you guys get together, had beer and decided, Hey, we want to do this community? Or what were those

[00:05:18] Jared Robin: conversations like? So no one was getting together in person. Period. Right? Cause it was

[00:05:23] Brad Seaman: COVID. Okay. So this is right. This is COVID so right before COVID you? Well, if it’s

[00:05:28] Jared Robin: hot and I lost my job right before, but we started with genius right in the heart of it.

Right? Like I’m June full go. June 20, 20. I was one of the registered our slack at the beginning of June. So like, this is like the P is it a napkin story? Well, we, we, we put it napkin into it. After we realized that we had something, we had lightning in a bottle, it’s a story of Galen and I. Going to a lot of digital events.

I was jobless. She had a job still does saying like, Hey, I keep seeing you around. Let’s talk. And she’s entrepreneurial I’m entrepreneurial. I wanted to be an entrepreneur before I went into the practicality of sales. And we’re like, what do we see here? We’re like, we see a lot of men. We see a lot of events happening and no aggregation or organization of it coming from a lot of channels.

Like what can we do to solve this? And of course I had no money coming in. So I was, I kept thinking with every downturn, there’s an opportunity. There’s a quote to like that. So I’m like, okay, let’s, let’s create a spreadsheet of all these events. Let’s, we’re, we’re really active on LinkedIn. Now I leaned in so to speak because I was looking for a job.

So I wanted to do. To become more noticed and, and seen literally so that I could potentially get a job. And really, okay. We got the spreadsheet, how we circulate it. We met friends on LinkedIn, people commenting on other stuff. Just stick them all in the chat cold at rev genius. We, we thought about the name and then we’re figuring it out.

And then, you know, eventually a much more enlightened friend than myself. I was like, oh, you need to come up with like swim lanes, business plans or, or, or at least a business plan document and all that. So I did but probably should have managed me even more. But you get the idea.

[00:07:15] Brad Seaman: Yeah. So are you, so a couple of things, one, you guys came on.

I feel like you came on the scene very aggressive, so you just start showing up and everything. And so it’s hard to imagine the world without rev genius. So I think that probably says something about your, about your branding in terms of like, when I, I mean, I see, I see you, people that we talk to, we have on the podcast, people are talking about you.

So you’ve done a great PR it’s it’s, it’s cool to see that kinda, that kind of wave. What’s the business model. How do you guys make, walk me through kind of, how do you guys make money?

[00:07:46] Jared Robin: We make money through sponsorships today. We come up with event based and related sponsorships to get software, the service companies that sell to sales, marketing, rev, ops customer success in front of our community and in organic ways We will be building in other business models as well.

And we’re working on that now, October 14th were launching the evolution of rev genius, which we’ll have some of the updated business models in it, perhaps probably if we do everything right. And as well as a new category that we’re creating. So. Yeah. We bootstrapped to five, five employees for that.

Everyone knows about a fifth to be introduced, come October. We’re actually hiring a sixth, potentially a bootstrapped on sponsorship revenue alone. And now we’re, we’re, we’re making the addition of some other. Recurring stuff as well.

[00:08:41] Brad Seaman: Okay, awesome. And then is the community, is it paid free? How’s the, how’s the community we’re talking about.

[00:08:48] Jared Robin: Okay. It’s free. You asked me by this model. I didn’t say members. I did not say membership none yet. But, but even if, and when we have member programs, there will always be the same, if not more, better, more value than you’re getting today from. You’re getting more value for no cost. And so then if we charge somebody, anything, it’ll have to be like, like way up there and value.

And we’re excited now

[00:09:14] Brad Seaman: if I’m a part of the community, what kind of stuff? So just talk a little bit about the community I’m, I’m interested. I want to join on the sales. I’m a sales rep. What kind of stuff can I look for to if I get, if I get in

[00:09:26] Jared Robin: rep genius? Yeah. So one we’ll direct you we’re getting better with this automated lead to, to meet your needs.

Whether it’s a marketing channel, a sales channel set up development channel, or a leadership channel, you know, in those roles, rev ops customer success as well or related, we have regular programming, you know, events to. Different needs of yours, there’s constant service to understand what you’re looking for and what we can do to improve we’re testing out, you know, elevated networking, mentorships, et cetera.

And when I say elevated, like one-to-one like, like lunch club, like technology within just regular. You could ask questions from our community or communities, highly engaged 50,000 messages a month on average like 700,000. Since the beginning of time,

[00:10:14] Brad Seaman: is that happening on slack? Is that happening on

[00:10:15] Jared Robin: slack?

All of that’s on slack, which is interesting because there is a law of diminishing return there we’re optimizing for engagement and it is working again. In a synchronous place.

[00:10:25] Brad Seaman: Okay. So what’s that. So talk to me about what’s that mean? Like, what do you mean it’s working against

[00:10:29] Jared Robin: you? So if you have 17,000 people that are all saying hi at the same time, that’s $17,000.

And 17,000 buys. Gotcha.

[00:10:40] Brad Seaman: Perfect. That’s where you’re you’re a man conciseness. I like it. I’m okay, man. That’s awesome. So you were able to put this all together on basically a slack board?

[00:10:50] Jared Robin: Yes. Slack is interesting. But Believer. And I’ve learned a lot, like we needed to move from slack 10 months ago probably.

We didn’t have the resources now, now we do. And we are, and, and that happens, right? Like with your growth. And we’re building a new category. We realize there are other slack communities. There’s quite a few there’s clubhouse communities. There’s, there’s, let’s just say there’s other private third party tool communities.

And then there’s LinkedIn, which is you have company pages. You might have community pages, et cetera. And we see a massive need for a new space in between. Massive, and we’re going to

[00:11:25] Brad Seaman: create it. And you guys, you guys now, do you think you’ll create a software as part of the

[00:11:30] Jared Robin: I do, but I think we’re going to create a new category period, period.

And and, and there could be some software, the software. The, the true new software is probably further down the road. But yeah, our eyes are on the prize. Like there’s the need for a new category because you can’t truly learn anything on the internet today. Unless you know where to look, right?

Like you can’t go to Google and say, how do I do anything it’s optimized for SEO and paid ads. Right. How do you know like what content is good and what isn’t right. That’s somebody guiding you on LinkedIn and social media. You can’t search. How do I do anything? Okay. You could say Quora’s an exception.

You’re going to learn sales and marketing four. So if I told you you had no network and it was just yourself and you could use everything on the internet and you had to search how to find a pot, how to host a podcast. That was the top pocket. Do you honestly think that you could, you could find something and trust that information to get those results?

No,

[00:12:33] Brad Seaman: let’s, let’s type something in. You’re going to get an article, right? If you go read those articles, a lot of times they’re erroneous or they’re not helpful,

[00:12:40] Jared Robin: right. You say enter the blank.com. Agreed, agreed. So catchy. So, so you like how I put you on the spot there? Like if you wanted it, so let’s say, let’s say you Google, how do I host the best podcast ever or, or go on.

And just put in the search function on any site. You’re not going to find something you trust, not in a core, you know, what’s funny. Quora is even worse because Quora, the people that are answering the questions are the CEOs of the companies. On multiple times I wrote, should I perfect sample, should I LLC or incorporate like when I was way early and you have people like the CEO of gust, like telling you go here and the CEO of like what’s it like Clerk the, or whatever it’s called, like another one saying, oh, you should do this and you should do it here.

I’m like, I’m not even getting the real answer. I’m getting people trying to drive me to their business. How do you trust anything on LinkedIn? Even because you’re seeing what LinkedIn wants you to see. So you think you trust somebody based on likes, based on whatever, but like, that’s it it’s, it’s what they want to see.

You’re not optimizing for what you need to know and a community without all the algorithm. Is is, is part of the equation. I truly believe.

[00:13:54] Brad Seaman: Yeah. No, that’s, that’s awesome. So tell me a little bit about, and I totally agree with you. I mean, if you go out and you do any searches, you’re going to find, you’re going to find all kinds of interesting stuff.

The people are ready

[00:14:03] Jared Robin: to stop. The people are ready to learn and find like good shit.

[00:14:07] Brad Seaman: Now, do you feel like LinkedIn tried to match, you know, what they tried to buy when they bought the, the I think you’re talking

[00:14:14] Jared Robin: about ClearSlide

[00:14:16] Brad Seaman: didn’t they buy, so they tried to make. LinkedIn have like a little educational component to it, right.

LinkedIn learning. Yeah. Okay. Do you use, do you trust LinkedIn?

[00:14:27] Jared Robin: I used it to learn about project management. I tried it, it was good. I have no idea the speaker or their credibility. I’d never seen them before in my life. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad. And you know, that brings up the concept of, I call it organizational basically.

Versus community led learning so we can call it whatever. But I think it gets the point across organizational and learning is when there’s an organizational body, whether it’s a company a tool whatever like that. That’s creating, learning for the masses and, and there’s some great value in that for sure.

But community that learning is. You know, you ha you have a topic and the whole community is poking holes to get to the best answer. Right? Like, how do I podcast? Well, we can buy a course from person ABC on how to podcast and it may or may not be good. Or we can ask a community of people. Let’s say Reddit, Reddit is a pretty good one where they have the up and say, how do you podcast?

And have people like all coming in to get to the better answer. Right. And if you have the right people, yeah. And you have the right things being, you know, the right values being promoted. I truly believe you’re not only going to get to the right answer. And when I say the right answer, the best answer, the most objectively, like poke that answer or answers, right?

Not just one. You could have a few things to test versus person ABCs course. You’re also going to get into this like open source hacker, mine. If you will, like the reason why get hub is so big or whatever people are all giving gets like this, this is how I do it. This is how I do it. Stacking it on top of each other to get the answer like, so you could be like, oh, this is how I podcast.

I use Zencaster somebody else’s. I ties Zencaster with active campaign with this cadence. You’re like, that’s what’s missing. And somebody else says I retarget after that. Facebook and that person’s like, oh my God. And together it’s the Mecca.

[00:16:19] Brad Seaman: So here’s what I think is really interesting. I think for a really long time, the sales community has been, I’m going to call it walled off and not wanting to, she still is a little, well, let’s talk about that.

Y for whatever reason you go to you know, developers, you find all these communities, right? Particularly in the development space, sales has got some competition, so it keeps people a little bit at bay you’ve cracked the egg, or at least the shell to allow people to start communicating about the stacks that they’re using, the processes that they’re using, you’re getting the wheel kind of the flywheel going on, people sharing.

What’s your opinion on why it’s so Walden. You think it’s just simply competition or do you think it’s the personality of salespeople or what you, what are your thoughts?

[00:17:07] Jared Robin: So I think it’s an evolution of the space and I think other spaces are the same. And at different points, if you think about sales 10 years ago, it was walled off, right?

Like it, it was, you’re literally competing against your coworkers. And then you had like a few people that were like a little more Sherry Sherry, and they tended to be towards the top because they’re like, Hey, this is what worked for me. But the people in the middle of the pack until they got to the top, they weren’t sure.

Okay. Right. The person at the top is like, yeah, I’ll go on joint calls. I’ll do that. And they ended up leaving the company because they hit a ceiling and they couldn’t get past it. So all they did was share right. Or they want it to management at that point. So I do think that was originally yet now. I think it’s less so, but I do think, I do think there is an air of that still remaining.

And I, and I also think there’s this idea of audience versus community ADI audiences. You’re an expert. And I agree with everybody, that’s an expert. Like let’s assume that they are truly like the best are at the top or have value to give. And I do think there’s a ton of folks that do, I’m not arguing that it’s the idea that when they project their learnings onto their audience they might be monetizing it directly or indirectly or something like that.

And they, and they hold that true. The people learn. And if you remove that person, these people. Th th the, but a community they stay. So like, you know, it’s the idea that if you’re at the top, this could be your livelihood. Right? Like, and, and, and yeah, th th th th that’s why, in my opinion, it’s a bit walled off.

People are looking at it like a zero sum game. They’re looking at. There’s stuff like their livelihood, but, but it is opening up quite a bit. People aren’t at the same jobs for as long people are side hustling and all sorts of ways. And all of this. I also think that sales is very much a fall of a leader space, meaning they see something that works.

And you have dozens of people fall on campus, so that causes some to hold things closer.

[00:19:06] Brad Seaman: So that’s a terrific it’s definitely a follow the leader

[00:19:09] Jared Robin: as I’m on podcast number 15,421. Right.

[00:19:14] Brad Seaman: So, so that’s that, I mean, there’s nothing

[00:19:16] Jared Robin: wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m just saying it’s very much

[00:19:18] Brad Seaman: a fall.

It is a vulnerable leader space and it’s very cyclical. I think you see a lot of oldest. Consistently, you know so there’s follow the leader and there’s recycling going on at the same time. Hello.

[00:19:29] Jared Robin: One of my advice I gave to other communities they used and I never used it and I’m watching them like fail and stumbled with some of the platforms they moved to and stuff.

And I’m like, ah, actually what? That way it’s crazy. And I did. And I just, I just spoke like this, like, Hey, this is what I’m thinking. This is where I’m at. And they took it and ran with it and that’s fine. That’s rad, but that’s funny.

[00:19:49] Brad Seaman: But that is, that is.

[00:00:00] Brad Seaman: So tell me about rep genius. How’d you get how’d you get here?

[00:00:04] Jared Robin: Oh man. Do you want the 2020 story or do you want the the, the origin story?

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