“As an entrepreneur, you need someone you’ve been through shit with already” — and that’s exactly why Dagobert and Lucie are the perfect power couple co-founders. I chatted with @dagobertrenouf about overcoming struggle, growing a business together, and dealing with the lack of motivation when things get complicated.
We discuss the power of Twitter and building an audience before creating a product. Dagobert shares his personal journey with Logology and how he lost motivation before finding inspiration from his Twitter community. He also talks about the importance of understanding customers’ problems before building a product and how he plans to apply this lesson to Logology 2.
Hope you’re ready for an emotional journey of entrepreneurship.
Arvid Kahl 0:00
Hello and welcome to The Bootstrapped Founder. Today, I’m talking to Dagobert Renouf. We discussed the power of Twitter and building an audience before creating a product. Dagobert shares his personal journey with Logology, the wonderful people who made the logo for my own brand, The Bootstrapped Founder and how he lost motivation before finding inspiration again from his Twitter community. He also talks about the importance of understanding customers’ problems before building a product and how he plans to apply this lesson to Logology version two. I hope you’re ready for an emotional journey of entrepreneurship. And before we get on that roller coaster, let me thank the sponsor for this show, acquire.com. Imagine this. You’re a founder who’s built a solid SaaS product, acquired customers and is generating consistent monthly revenue. The problem is, that you’re not growing for whatever reason might be lack of focus, lack of skill or just plain lack of interest and you feel stuck. What should you do? Well, the story that I personally would like to hear right now is that you buckled down and somehow reignited the fire and getting past yourself and all the cliches and start working on your business rather than just in the business. You then start building an audience and you move out of your comfort zone and do sales and marketing like a pro. And in six months, you’ve tripled your revenue. The reality isn’t as simple. Situations may be different for every founder facing this crossroad. But too many times the story ends up being one of inaction and stagnation until the business becomes less valuable or worse, worthless. If you find yourself here or your story is likely headed here and down a similar road, I offer you a third option. Consider selling your business on acquire.com. Capitalizing on the value of your time is the smart move. Acquire.com is free, free to list and they’ve helped hundreds of founders already. So go to acquire.com and see for yourself if this is the right option for you. And now, here is Dagobert Renouf.
Over the last year, I think I’ve seen you tweet one particular kind of message. And you tweeted that several times. You said that you expected entrepreneurship to be different than what you found it to be, things took much longer than you thought and you’re still doing it. So you must have found a way to deal with these ups and downs of being a founder. So what’s the mindset that you have now approaching your business and your life on Twitter compared to what it was when you got started?
Dagobert Renouf 2:39
So you know, when we started, we just had this dream of because it’s me and my wife, you know, it’s really like my wife and I team in this whole thing. And when we started, we were so naive. We basically saw a logo generator website online that was making a ton of money. And we thought, oh, we can do better because we have better logos. So we are better, which is gonna you know, that’s like, I think a lot of people have is that we think, like, you just look at one dimension of a successful startup. And you think, oh, I can do better than this dimension. So for us, it was like, oh, we can do cooler logos. But you know, we will shit at marketing. We didn’t have the high process to talk about it. We didn’t do enough validation, like all these mistakes. So eventually, that’s why it takes longer than, you know, we thought. I don’t think we’re like that slow. It’s just that this fantasy that because like the drive to build a startup, you have to have this kind of fantasy that’s gonna work out. Like you have to think, oh, yeah, it’s gonna work out. We’re gonna do this crazy idea and it’s gonna be successful. So eventually, we found that it wasn’t the case after a couple years. I mean, we found out pretty quickly, but you know, it kept going for a few years like this. And I think the reason we didn’t stop is that I mean, we are at a stage in like our work life, where like both of us have more than 10 years experience. And we’ve done the rounds. Like, you know, we’ve been working at companies, mostly freelancing also. We’ve worked on ton different projects. And for me, like, the reason I started Logology is because I thought, there’s no way I’m gonna be happy otherwise. Like I tried everything because I didn’t want to build a startup initially because it seems too scary. I always knew it was scary and dangerous. But I was but at this time in my life when I was like 28, I had done so many things that I realized, okay, if I want to be happy, if I don’t want to be miserable, I have to do this even though it seems impossible. So that’s why I kept us going is like the alternative seems too bad. So even if you don’t make money, even if you feel like it’s impossible, even if all that, she doesn’t wanna go back to client work and I don’t wanna go back to a job or client. We really don’t. So we’re just gonna try everything that we can. And I remember after like two years on this, I thought, oh, you know, we spent like a third of our savings and then it’s gonna be successful. And when we reach that point, it was like, we’re not making any money. We’re not making like, maybe like, $70 a month or something like, we were making nothing and we’re spending all of our savings. And I was thinking to myself, okay, I can either stop or like, go all in. And it was scary, but we thought, okay, we’re just gonna go all in, put everything like until the last, maybe like 10k so that we have still have, like, survival in time to find a job, you know, in terms of like, the apocalypse. But if it’s, but basically, it was, like, go all in. And once we decided that it was like, you know, fuck it, like even when we had no clue how to succeed because at some point, it was like that for a few months. We had literally no idea. We were stuck. And we’re like, still better than the alternative. So let’s keep trying, you know?
Arvid Kahl 6:08
Do you think having a business with your life partner made that easier or harder? Because I remember building a business with my own girlfriend. And while it had a lot of benefits, there was always some kind of tension in there, too. How was that for you?
Dagobert Renouf 6:24
So one thing that changed is that we used to split everything in terms of money because when we met, we were both freelancing and struggling. So we always had that thing of like, we’re not gonna mix money because it’s gonna complicate everything. And we’re both trying to find our footing. So it would be, you know, a building for any of us. But then we kept that going for almost 10 years. And it’s only you know, during the startup, but that we thought because I had more savings that we said, you know, we’re just gonna mix everything together. Like it’s just one thing now. And I think for us, it’s really like, we had no problem building this all together. There was nothing bad. Like nothing bad happened in our relationship. And I think also, it’s because we decided to do it after like, eight years together. And for eight years, we always try to not mix things up. But we had still the opportunity to work together on a couple of projects because she’s a designer and I’m a developer. Sometimes, when freelancing, we teamed up. So we knew we could work well together. But yeah, and I think that’s the thing we have a co founder because we had also another person at some point for one year also that was in the team, but that didn’t work out. And I think it’s because it’s so stressful. You need someone you’ve been through shit with already. And you know, with Lucy, we had overcome quite a deal of, you know, challenges in our relationship because like, when you’re together for eight years now, it’s like, almost, oh, shit, I don’t even remember. I don’t know if it’s 11 or 12. But like, I think it’s between 11 and 12 years and like, to reach that stage in like, relationship. And also now we are married. So like, you know, in marriage, I mean, you’re gonna have to deal with, you know, shadows, deal with your dark things and overcome it together. I mean, if you want to have a nice relationship, you know, because like, I guess people from the 50s, they could have a shitty relationship and that was normal. But for us, it’s about, you know, love and supporting each other and all that and we wouldn’t, we never compromise basically. So we always tried to go together. And we managed to do that. So yeah, honestly, doing a startup wasn’t the hardest thing we went through together. So
Arvid Kahl 8:45
Well, that says a lot, you know, because I think many people, they are interested in maybe building something with their partner because there’s always you know, communication channel with your partner that you just don’t have with other people.
Dagobert Renouf 8:56
Arvid Kahl 8:57
They can be more honest, you can see and feel how they feel, right? That’s something that you don’t really have with just co founders, but then there are afraid of the potential of ruining their relationship if the business doesn’t work out. You know, that’s one of the big things that keeps so many people from even attempting this. So what I hear you say, is that, if you already went through something really hard together, then this is just, you know, one more thing to do together.
Dagobert Renouf 9:24
Yeah, that’s it.
Arvid Kahl 9:25
Is that right?
Dagobert Renouf 9:26
Yeah. Yeah, basically, we could have split like two or three times in the first six years, like big crisis and like what we expect from the relationship, you know, our goals and all that. And so once you’ve went through all of these, basically, we felt like it was right. Like we felt because like, we were very careful not to jump into that. But then eventually became, yeah, you know, it’s gonna work but like, it was out of maturity and not naively dreaming of like, oh, I’m gonna build a startup with my girlfriend I met six months ago. It was more like okay, we basically, I think the whole and I think this should apply to any co founder now that I’ve had other bad experiences too, is that you should pick someone you could have a baby with. And like, if you can’t, like, I mean, even like, if you’re attracted to them or like you know what I mean. Like, you could raise a baby with, let’s say and if you don’t feel that level of confidence that you would like, be able to overcome, for example, differences in how you want to raise it, then it’s not gonna work with a startup because it’s the same thing. I mean, I don’t have a baby and people hate me when I say that, oh, you don’t have a baby, like, you don’t have kids. But you know, I still feel like it’s a good analogy. And because like, you’re just gonna have to confront everything. Because now you have so much skin in the game, it’s so scary, like, it’s so survival on the line, especially when you go all in. And like, all of these, I mean, all the shit is gonna come up. Everything is gonna come up. It’s like, it’s a crisis, like startup for, especially at the beginning, it’s crisis mode for a long time. So if you don’t trust the partner or co founder, you know, you end with is gonna, I mean, it can turn out okay. You know, maybe you’re gonna have a good surprise, but it’s like, you know, it’s flipping a coin.
Arvid Kahl 11:12
Yeah, that’s a big risk. And honestly, I very much relate to this. I had the exact same experience, building our business and particularly selling the business. Like once we had to hand it over to somebody else. Like, there was grief involved, it was like some something had just died or was, like, taken away from us. So you saying that it’s like a person, it’s like your child. Of course, it’s not your child, right? It’s a business. It doesn’t love you back. But
Dagobert Renouf 11:39
It’s even worse than a child.
Arvid Kahl 11:40
It’s the worst version of a child, some even like a pet, right? It’s kind of cute. It’s never cute. But giving it away, that felt like such a painful experience for both of us that there was some kind of separation anxiety, all that stuff that you don’t expect, but I very much relate to this. And I think I love the approach of making sure that the person you are going into business with is like a co parent for that fictitious child, makes so much sense to me because you will have those fights about where it’s gonna go to school, you know, how it’s gonna grow out, when you gonna feed it, who’s gonna play with. All of this in the business can be translated into business things. That’s a very good analogy.
Dagobert Renouf 12:23
And for example, co founder we had with whom it didn’t work is like, he always wanted to get funding, wanted to do YC, he wanted to do all these things. And he was pushing us to do that. And, you know, I was like, we were open to it. But like, when we were digging and trying to prepare like everything to do that, we noticed it’s not who we are. Like, it’s not what we wanna be, you know, but like, so like, when you truly know the person, you’re probably more likely to be more aligned on these things, too.
Arvid Kahl 12:52
Yeah, it’s also an honesty thing, right? Like, for some people, it’s hard to even express what they really honestly think because they’ve never really reflected on it. I’m just assuming like your co founder, they had this vision of what a startup is. And if you never have the conversation about what a startup looks like
Dagobert Renouf 13:07
Arvid Kahl 13:08
Your kind of startup, right? Then, of course, you go into different directions. And it’s easier for a couple to have these conversations because they just come up when they come up. You don’t have to force them. You just talk about these things over time. I want to ask you a couple more, that said operational things about running a business with your partner because I feel super interesting to me. And you’re on my show. So I’m gonna ask you.
Dagobert Renouf 13:30
Yeah, yeah, go ahead.
Arvid Kahl 13:32
I wonder is people sometimes have different styles of productivity, different kinds of approaches, how work works. Like, how they work, how do they communicate. How have you found a balance between your wife and yourself in your own business? Do you have different styles? Or do you have the same style? And how does that work in the day to day of your business?
Dagobert Renouf 13:54
So we have different styles. She usually goes through huge list of things. And I tried that but like it’s too much for me, it’s too overwhelming. So I ended up like having almost nothing and trying to go day by day. I basically focus more on habits, then on goals. And she’s more goals oriented. But for the team part, I think a good thing is we have very separate holes. You know, there’s very few times that we need to work together on one specific thing. So that’s very helpful because you know, by doing this, it’s way easier to collaborate. She does her own way, I do mine. No problem with that.
Arvid Kahl 14:40
Did you set these roles up intentionally in the beginning? Like did you ever have like a meeting where you said, you’re gonna be responsible for this? I’m gonna be responsible for that like for all kinds of things or did that just organically grow?
Dagobert Renouf 14:51
It really happened organically like, basically she does everything design related. For a local startup obviously is very important. And I’m more like, into business stuff. So I’m gonna do of course coding, but also all the business building shit also and also marketing now, but you know. But I think one thing that I’m remembering now is that for the first couple years, it was very tough. And what was tough was actually the commitment we expected from each other. That was one area where we had to, you know, had some crises and had to overcome it because like since when we started, we had this dream of like, yeah, we’re just gonna work three hours per day and make millions. That was basically the assumption, didn’t work out. So for the first year, we actually did that. We didn’t work much, we were full time on it. But she was working two days a week and I was working everyday, but only three hours. So you know, kind of the same results. And eventually, I started, I think I was the first to notice we need to push hard. I think we both realized, but she was like hesitating. So I ended up working way more. And then for a few months, she had seen like some other engagement that she was doing. Like she was also teaching design for a couple of days a week and stuff like this. And there was kind of like a friction between she was doing way less than me for this like couple months because I started working way more on the project. And she was still like, engaged with other things. So eventually, we had to really go through this and like, okay, what are we doing? Like, are we going full time on this? So eventually, we decided to do this, like and to both, you know, work ourself on it, basically. But yeah and then once that was done, that was also easier to collaborate because then you know, since it’s both a priority in our lives, when there’s a need to collaborate, we can just do this. I mean, we can just decide to work on it together. Like it’s I don’t know, like, I think once you have the motivation thing down, productivity is easier to happen. Now, also, one thing I noticed is that I really stuck with deadlines. I never meet them. For me, it’s mostly like goals. It’s like a carrot in front of a donkey. Like it’s making me move. But I don’t actually care about eating the carrot. I’m just like, I’m using it as a way to move. But like, so I would have this beautiful calendar of like all of my goals and showing it to Lucy, like, hey, these are my goals. She’s like, oh, awesome. And then two weeks later, when I haven’t met any of these goals because for me, there was just carrots. She’s like, what the fuck? It’s like it was freaking her out because she’s completely different. So yeah, so I definitely had to, you know, had to find a middle ground here in what we call like deadlines and all this stuff. So it’s not too stressful because also a problem we had is that she would work on something. And before the time that she was done with it, I would lose interest and move to something else. And so I would never basically do the last bit that we need to merge her work into production. And that was very painful to her, which I definitely understand. But to me, I was used to working solo. It was hard to like learn to, okay, I need to do this even though I lost interest. I’m not motivated. But we need to do this because she worked on it. And eventually, after doing this a couple times, I realized also it’s also just a better idea to ship faster and not wait and keep bouncing between ideas. And instead, okay, what I did this week, ship it and then move on. And don’t move on until you ship it.
I wonder because you just mentioned this divergent way of dealing with work and goals and deadlines and all that. Did that play a role in how long it took you to fully commit to this? Like, take me back to the day when you had the conversation. Or the weeks or probably months that you had this conversation about should we do this full time now or should we put more effort into this? What were the doubts and the skeptical parts of this, like what was holding you back until that point?
So I think what was holding her back is that she has a personality where she always has tons of things going on. Like she’s also a novelist. She’s writing her second novel now. You know, first one is published a couple of years ago. She also used to have a radio show that she put on hold now. You know, she does tons of things. And I’m like one thing guy. So I think that was the big thing is that at first, I didn’t want to commit because I was kind of lazy. I was like coming back from the job life wanting to take it easy thinking would be enough to succeed. And she was doing kind of the same but from the perspective of wanting to do this in parallel to other projects. So it worked out to having the same number of kind of hours. But then eventually when I started seeing it was failing, it wouldn’t work without full commitment. I mean and it’s not even gonna work with full commitment. It’s not enough, you probably need more. But like at least we had to do the full commitment to at least get a shot. And so yeah, when I realized that first I was pretty frustrated that she wasn’t. But like, it was mostly like just having to sync each other. And then we had the conversation and I think the pain was that it was hard for her to decide, am I giving up on other things? You know, is she giving up on the radio show? Because like, we didn’t make any money back then. It was like about one year and a bit more than this that we decided that and we hadn’t even launched, you know, so we weren’t making any money. We were still trying to improve the product and all that. And yeah, it was, yeah.
Arvid Kahl 20:50
Man, I’m holding back the cry here.
Dagobert Renouf 20:53
I know. I’m commenting myself, you know, in my head. I see all my tweets in front of my know, in my head, all the things I tweeted about to advise people against it now. But yeah, so
Arvid Kahl 21:06
Yeah, it’s so hard to take your own advice sometimes, right? With that kind of stuff is
Dagobert Renouf 21:10
Arvid Kahl 21:10
I understand perfectionism. Like, particularly if you work with a designer or in the field where design matters. And logo creation, obviously is important. Like you want it to be as good as you can because everything you put out is gonna be seen by lots of people, right? That must feel like a lot of pressure. It’s not some back end system that you build where people connect to an API. And it doesn’t matter like what your implementation of the API looks like, as long as it works. Like you’re creating visual stuff.
Dagobert Renouf 21:38
That’s a really interesting point. That’s a very interesting point. Because I think for us there are some areas where we have been, where I have been perfectionist, though, was useless. Like the tech stack and bullshit like this. I wasted a ton of like, six months for me, that’s huge time trying to reinvent the wheel for everything. Because I come from engineering. So I was basically so happy to finally have all the power to decide what I was gonna do. So now I can waste time freely. So you know, that kind of mistake. But yeah, that’s a very good point because I think the reason why we kept going with Log ology is because some people really loved it. And I think the reason that they really loved it is that on the design side, we didn’t compromise, like, Lucy was being a perfectionist. But that was useful because you’re designing logos for people. And we differentiate it with quality, you know, in a lot of ways, which isn’t easy to do. Like, if you want a differentiated quality, you have a lot of work. But to be honest, I think if she hadn’t been a perfectionist and maybe we would have given up, you know, before we had some success. Because even though the product had problems and all the marketing wasn’t right and all that, when we asked for feedback, we always had like a percentage of people who said, shit, this is miles better than everything that exists because of the quality. And because it’s a designer, it’s not like a random database online or something like that. It’s like a designer who spent time crafting everything. And she’s experienced and she’s good. And it shows. So yeah and also for like the design of the landing page or stuff like this, these are the kinds of things that can still count, like it still counts. And like, of course, if you design a beautiful landing page for useless product, it’s not gonna work. But like, at least it shows people I don’t know, I think it also gives people a reason to check it out. So I’m not saying it’s optimal to start like this because I think you have better ways and more effective to get a product to market. But I think the silver lining of being perfectionist with the landing page and all that is that it got people more interested, more curious and feel like oh, this is not just a stupid product. It’s like something people have put work in. And let me check it out. So there’s still like a silver lining to this against this mantra or like ship ugly things and stuff like that.
Arvid Kahl 24:11
Let’s talk a little bit about Logology because I just love the idea of the product is like a high quality, automated software product. That’s hard to pull off, right? It’s always, either you have these gigantic, massive amount of customers and you just give them as little as you can to make them happy. Or you have a few really select customers and you’re bespoke and custom. And you seem to have found really good middle ground to produce high quality for whoever needs it. It’s great. I love the idea. What I wonder about Logology as a tool and this is kind of both a business question and a technical question because I am also standing between both of these worlds. Like how often do you need to update the product like how current and in many ways is the product? Because design to me is a very trend focused thing, where do you have a lot of things changing over time?
Dagobert Renouf 25:04
Arvid Kahl 25:04
But good design doesn’t necessarily need a lot of changes. But the technology might like how much goes into that, like, how often is Logology being, you know, improved upon?
Dagobert Renouf 25:16
So we mostly updated because we want to give more choice to people. And since it’s only Lucy designing the logos, because basically, you know, it’s a tool that you use and it’s gonna generate a logo for your startup based on designs that she made ahead of time. And so the first thing we do is, since we are slow at adding designs because it’s just her, even though she’s very fast, but she’s alone. So I think she did more than 800 now, which is a lot of logos, you know. And the thing is, we still don’t have enough for many industries, like if you’re in the food business or you know, hair salon. So basically, we just started with startups, so a lot of tech because that was our entry market. But for example, we add a lot of designs often for all these other categories that we haven’t attacked yet. I think our goal is to have, I think a minimum to have a good answer to anyone would be 2000. An ideal would be five, so that’s a lot. So we have time, you know, she has time to still work on it because she loves it. So that’s like for us to like, she loves doing that every week. So that’s perfect. And then we’re also gonna add new fonts and new colors for now and then. And you know, there’s always more to do. But to answer your question about design, we’re really not aiming to be trendy. That’s really not the goal. Like the dream with Logology that we’ve had from the beginning, and especially Lucy, is we want to make something that’s lasting 100 years. Like it’s like universal, forever kind of logos, like that’s the level of quality she’s going after. So I don’t think we followed any trend, you know, the references to use for inspiration are like super strong logos that lasts a lifetime. So that’s really the mindset and the goal. And the dream of Lucy, I mean, one of her dreams is that one day, we have enough logos and we release a book with all her design because like she’s so proud of it. And she’s like to make a book with like all the designs she’s made in our catalog that people can pick from. Yeah, so that’s really like
Arvid Kahl 27:37
I love that!
Dagobert Renouf 27:38
That’s how we approach it. Yeah, it’s not about trends at all. Nothing like that. Yeah.
Arvid Kahl 27:41
That’s cool. I love the idea of taking an info product idea. And that as well, which book is to me like is the most traditional kind of info product is the physical book, like the coffee table design book, right? That’s
Dagobert Renouf 27:41
Arvid Kahl 27:56
It’s inspirational has all these things. I love that that’s part of your journey because I’ve seen you, you in particular, include info products into the whole sphere of your business. The best example to me is your Twitter course that you’ve recently released to great applause and success, which I’m super happy for you for. That went over so well, that also got to say like the design part of it in particular. I feel this is intentional. It’s super well designed.
Dagobert Renouf 28:27
Arvid Kahl 28:28
And it points people back at the other business, right? Is that part of it?
Dagobert Renouf 28:32
Oh, you mean to bring back people to Logology? It wasn’t.
Arvid Kahl 28:35
It wasn’t connected?
Dagobert Renouf 28:36
So it wasn’t connected. But it will be because by launching the course, because Logology no matter how like, we managed to bring it to 3k per month with only you know, Twitter, you know, all that, you know, that we managed to pull off with marketing. And we have also a lot of stuff we’re working on. We’re working on for SEO, so we can definitely go it further. But over the time, we noticed logo isn’t the biggest problem. So we’re actually thinking of pivoting away from that. But by doing the course and releasing it. And so Lucy design everything, obviously the logo, the landing page. Landing page is a team effort because she hates the web. And that’s actually why she’s such a good designer. I think it’s like, she thinks it’s ghosts. It’s not so there’s nothing interesting in there because like she comes from print and like way, you know, super high quality stuff. So I think that’s what also make a great team is that I know how to do web design because I also used to do it. But then we’ve hurl sensitivity for you know, doing something a bit different. We always create something that stands out, so I love that. So anyway, a lot of pies I got home for the course was actually for the landing page. And because of this we realized we never had as many pies for the fucking logo. As I was like, people don’t really care as much about logos as they care about, you know, the whole brand. And that was the direction we were going towards. But the course only made it clear that you know, that’s where we should go. Like, instead of just give people a logo, give them also some illustrations for the landing page, a whole vibe of like, how to do your buttons, how to do navigation, how to make your landing, like everything. So that instead of just getting out to weave a logo, you get out of like, kind of like the landing page of the photo Twitter course, like you get out of kind of landing page assets. And so it will be more connected. But yeah, there’s not really a big jump from one to the other. I haven’t noticed anything like that.
Arvid Kahl 30:45
But you seem to have like, interconnected ways of talking about your product, which is why I thought this might be connected, right? Because you with the memes that you post on Twitter, they kind of always, they go back to Logology. There’s connection there. And the quality of the website of the landing page for your course is so apparent that if I didn’t already know that you are a part of this design business
Dagobert Renouf 31:14
Arvid Kahl 31:14
I would try to figure out who made this. That is the connection I’m looking for. Let’s talk about the memes a little bit because I want to really bring out the importance of your Twitter communication strategy that obviously you talk about in your course. It is such a refreshing way of somebody talking about a design business by not really talking about design at all. But by just being visually present in the space. How do you approach your customer acquisition strategy on Twitter?
Dagobert Renouf 31:47
So the main reason why I don’t talk about design is that I don’t really know as much. I think if someone was to do it, it would be Lucy because she’s the design expert. And so it’s not natural for me to start schooling people about design because I don’t feel like an expert. And, but like, as I started tweeting, I noticed, since my target market is startup founders, since this is the target market of Logology. Just talking about my startup and my journey, is enough to make startup founders notice and engage. And then, you know, after some time, they get curious, they check out my startup, and boom, since it’s a product targeted to them, they might buy something. So my acquisition is like and I like this because, you know, I still hate to promote stuff. I still feel bad. I still don’t like being salesy. Still like I’m always shaking when I do something like that, like when I did my Twitter launch course. You know, I was like, oh shit, like, it’s hard when I’m promoting shit. I really don’t like that. So it was really nice suited for me that talking about my journey is enough. Because also I talk about very, I mean, often I try to talk about authentic stuff, whether it’s with the memes that are more funny or with the story tweets that I do like to do tweets or like a few lines telling a small story about my startup. And but these make people curious. Because, you know, I can check stats and I see some tweets get literally 1000 people to my profile, like real people that didn’t check my website, which is huge. Just because they got curious as startup founders, that oh, wow, he’s telling about something I went through. I wonder what his startup is. So that’s really like a kind of sideways strategy. It’s never I’m never like, this is my product. I’m always this is my journey, you know, oh, good thing, you were on the same journey and probably in my product. But it’s kind of like, but I didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened because I was started building in public kind of and I noticed that it was working. And the memes is the same. Like it’s just a meme is basically just a story in a different form factor. It’s nothing else. So it’s not just mean to say hold the same thing. It’s all the same story, basically, which is 99% sharing my own experience, you know?
Arvid Kahl 34:25
So you draw, like, I was wondering, like, where do you find your inspiration for what you post about? And for building in public, that inspiration comes from your lived experience, obviously, but if you use memes, there’s an abstraction layer in between, like you have to find the right way to express what you feel through the meme. So how does it work for you? How do you discover your content that you are posting on Twitter?
Dagobert Renouf 34:50
So yeah, it all starts with the tweets. I started doing textwidth before I started doing memes and then I started turning my texts into memes. So basically, step one is tweet about stuff. I mean, no step zero is engage with other people because that’s how I get the best ideas. Because like, if I’m just like, you know, in front of like my Twitch scheduler or trying to write something impossible, but if I’m just engaging, connecting, first that would be awesome because I don’t feel alone anymore. I feel like, you know, being part of a community and that’s enjoyable. And I can think of good ideas. I can have, you know, by responding, you know, some days, I’m not gonna have any, but some days, I’m gonna have five awesome ideas just by replying to people because they give me the topic and it’s way easier to reply to someone than to come up with something. So that’s step zero. Step one is gonna be turn that into a tweet. I turn my best replies then become tweets. I even have like a note because I reply so much now. So now I even have an automation on make.com that checks all my replies for the past week, all those them but most likes and then I automatically, I can then turn them into drafts for my tweets that I use for my best replies. That’s pretty fun. And then from these tweets, I can make memes. And for memes, the only difference is that, again, as you said, I need to find the good kind of template. So originally, I was just going to meme templates, websites like image flip. But you know, as I do one per day and I tried to always do another template, I did more than 400 now. So that’s like, I quickly ran out. So now I go. So basically, I have all these ideas. And then one or two days a month, I’m gonna just create memes, that’s gonna happen for like one day or two. And then for the first half of the first day, I’m just gonna spend two to four hours going through all the meme websites. So I’m gonna go to Reddit, I’m gonna go to 9GAG, I’m gonna go to ImageU, gonna go to all these kind of websites and take, you know, I don’t know 100 screenshots of memes that inspire me, it’s exhausting. It takes hours. And then once I have the screenshots, I just saw through them and try to create like 30 memes for the month based on the ideas that were successful in my tweets, but turning them into jokes.
Arvid Kahl 37:10
This is incredibly instructive to me because it shows that you have a process. This isn’t just happening. It’s just not you’re randomly coming up with memes. There’s an intentional strategy by this.
Dagobert Renouf 37:22
It’s always been my thing. With everything I do is like, I try to mix authenticity with strategy. That’s always been like my balance of because I think a trap we can fall into is to think, oh, this person looks natural. And some people I like that, for example, I think someone like Pieter Levels is natural. He’s like, he’s not strategizing for shit. He’s just like, just, you know, I mean, with his product he is but I mean, like with his Twitter or his like, engagement and all that, he’s not doing anything. With whatever content he puts out, he doesn’t calculate or strategize. And it works. But for me, I think it’s too scary. Like, it’s too scary to just be fully. Yeah, I’m just gonna tweet wherever I want. And also, because I noticed, you know, to be honest, most people who just tweet whatever they want, it’s bullying. Because like when you just don’t confront yourself to like, okay, what people want to read and trying to, you know, not compromised, but put yourself in a different light. So it’s more understandable. Like, kind of like design, what you want to share. I mean, you can get way further. So yeah and also with the strategy like Twitter, you can be like, you know, some people and usually it’s people who suck at Twitter, sadly, they’re gonna say, I mean, suck who failed, sadly, is that they’re gonna say, oh, yeah, I’m just doing whatever I want. I’m just posting whenever I want. And that’s kind of like, a cop out. It’s like, it’s a way to avoid actually putting work into it. Because if you put work into it, then you can fail. And if you fail, you feel like shit and it hurts. So you don’t want to feel that. But yeah, I always try to. So yeah, even my posts, which are, I think, pretty authentic. I mean, they are, it’s like very honest. And that’s how they come across, I think. There’s this whole strategy behind it to how to give them the most visibility and all that. I always think, you know, these two things.
Arvid Kahl 39:15
Yeah. And with you, what is very apparent to me is that you authentically want to help people. Like it’s not that you want to authentically sell them as much as you can. That’s not behind it, right? Behind your Twitter stream. If I just open up your Twitter profile, I see you giving meaningful advice that is actually coming from a place of empowerment, instead of a place of just trying to commercialize it.
Dagobert Renouf 39:43
Oh, definitely, yeah. And sometimes I miss out on sales because that’d be, but like, I think it’s better long term, you know, to be honest, yeah. There’s always this strategic thing in my head because I think of all these things, you know, what you said like, it’s something I’m aware of, like I’m not like again, I’m authentic, but I’m aware of what I’m doing. I’m aware that that’s my vibe. And my vibe is to be nice and to be helpful. So it’s my real vibe, but I’m aware of it. And so I see also the strategic benefit to it. I see that there’s a benefit to me being authentic because long term, it builds my brand as someone like that, like, it’s proof that I’m the real shit. I’m not trying to sell. And that’s the brand I want to build. So it’s both authentic and something I’m aware of. And actually, I wanted to say something about the way you do things. And, like, I noticed that so like, you have a Twitter goals, right? And you still supported the shit out of me when I launched mine. And I was like, wow, this is Arvid’s vibe. This is definitely his vibe, completely authentic, completely you. And at the same time, my strategic brain was thinking, but long term, this is awesome for Arvid because it puts him in this position of the godfather of community. And that’s amazing also, you know.
Arvid Kahl 41:09
Yeah, I guess
Dagobert Renouf 41:10
I mean, you know and I’m sorry for like saying it like because it’s really not a way to, like, call it out or anything, but it’s just saying and as the same like Daniel Vassallo, you know. And there’s this thing about, you can be authentically selfless and support each other. And at the same time, it helps you too and it’s good and it’s okay. And it’s like and I think there’s often like, too much of over focus on either you’re like, selfish or you’re like altruistic. And you can be like, kind of like a mix of both. But I feel like you need both if you want to, like, survive and be happy. And also you have purpose and meaning.
Arvid Kahl 41:50
Yeah, if it doesn’t make money, it’s not a business. But if it just makes money, then it’s a grift, right? Then it’s trying to extract money out of people without giving them anything in return. So you have to be in between these two. I love that you mentioned Daniel Vassallo and also give right. I think like I want to support you because I consider myself a person that supports the community. And through my actions that shines through, that’s kind of the idea. That’s my strategy is to be nice because then people think I’m nice, which is your point, right? I want to be that. And I want people to understand that about me because then I get to actually have connections with people who are also nice because they want to surround themselves with nice people. And then I benefit from being surrounded by cool people and my experience that you had with me just now highlighting your course even though I have one myself. I had the exact same experience with Daniel Vassallo. When I released my course in January 2022, must have been around that time. I DM Daniel and I said, hey, I’m gonna release a Twitter course. I know, you also have a Twitter course. So I hope you don’t think that’s infringing, you know.
Dagobert Renouf 42:58
So funny because I sent you this email a couple of months later.
Arvid Kahl 43:00
Exactly! And he responded with, hey, I said what I said. I said everything I wanted to say and there’s more room for you to say what you want to say. And I love that reply because it shows that he doesn’t mind, right? Not only does he not mind, he wants there to be more for the people who need it. And that’s who I want to be as well. So, this has been a Twitter course circle jerk, I guess. But it is what it is.
Dagobert Renouf 43:33
But there’s also some, like 4D chess to this, you know, I was totally like, I’m like, there’s some 4d chess because they know Daniel Vassallo, like, he now has you and me and other people who create stuff, kind of in his pocket in a positive way. Again, I’m sorry, because like, all these terms sound shady, but it’s not. And like and at the end, you know, he goes bigger because of that, like
Arvid Kahl 43:59
We all do.
Dagobert Renouf 44:00
Yeah and we all do. We all do. But like, I feel like there’s this. Yeah, I just love to think of these things. And, yeah, I don’t want to make it sound dark because it’s really not what it is. But it’s you know.
Arvid Kahl 44:12
Yeah, it’s not. I definitely don’t think it is dark at all. But I just think that our understanding of the word authenticity is often colored to mean something like aimless or not wanting anything for yourself, like authentic is completely selfless. I don’t think so. And none of us like no person who becomes an entrepreneur is completely selfless. That just is not happening, right? Otherwise, you would just go into an NGO or do charity work all the time, but we want to build a business for the reason that we want to create wealth. And that’s a good goal because we want to support ourselves and our families and the people around us, our local community and our digital community, everybody around us and by helping other people, that is how we get there, right? So the selfless part is in the act of entrepreneurship. But being an entrepreneur is the selfish part. So it kind of, it’s hard to phrase this, but like self selfless, self promotion is in there somewhere like you have to be kinda selfish, kind of selfless. It’s a mix of both. But you can still be authentic. You can still say, hey, I wanna make money. And the way I want to make money is by making other people’s lives amazing. I don’t see a problem with that, right?
Dagobert Renouf 45:33
Yeah, it’s something I say a lot with the way I tweet is that because you know, to be successful on Twitter, you have to engage with people, it’s part of the algorithm and all that. And so in my strategy, I always say I’m selfish. No, I’m selfless in the morning and selfish in the evening. Basically, in the morning, I engaged with other people’s content. And in the evening, it’s only my tweets that matter. You know, because it’s strategic to give them more visibility and all that. So and it’s the mix of both, it’s selfless and selfish. Because that’s the only way you can, you know and also, if you want to help others, you have to first go yourself, you can do more, you grow yourself. And the more you grow yourself, the more you can help others. So it’s really like if you’re not taking care of yourself, like, you know, you’re not gonna be useful to anyone.
Arvid Kahl 46:29
It’s the oxygen mask and the plane situation, right? Yeah, first, you have to pull it down, put it on yourself and then you can help anybody around you. Because if you’re out of breath, you will not gonna help anybody. And that’s kind of an important lesson to learn, I think as a creator, too because too many people get, like, caught up in what other people expect of them. And then they don’t have capacity to just do the things that matter to them that keep them going anymore. And and I was wondering about this because you were talking about how long it took for you guys to get to 3k MRR and how many hardships that were along the way. Did you ever have any major fails or problems or challenges in your business like along the way over the last couple of years, that were really kind of like scratching on the surface of your mental health or your willingness to stay in the game, like were there those kinds of moments too? DONE
Dagobert Renouf 47:24
So when you say that the first thing that I think of, it’s more like the emotional journey, and like the personal stuff alongside for example, we decided to do Logology. And two months later, my mom dies. Like, surprisingly. So that was like, you know, a big mess. And you know and then I think it was a year and a half later, we still don’t make money. And the co founder we were splitting with, it gets ugly, like the split is ugly. We really think that’s like, that’s when all of the shit with my father in law happened, by the way that I do memes about because he was panicking that, you know, we were in such a bad situation, because we had to, we paid him money and all that. And that was stressful for a few months. And so and then, of course, after that there was having no idea how to do marketing, no idea how knowing that we should do it starting to understand this after a couple years, okay, we need marketing, we can’t just do a good product. And then I mean, having no clue and having no, I remember saying to myself after like hide before I started tweeting and finally got some traction. I remember saying to myself, I know I need to do marketing. And I’m not the guy to do marketing. I can’t do it I am shit. I’m like and Lucy like she didn’t even try. She’s really not her thing. So it was like, It’s hopeless, like because so but I think all of these things, all of these painful moments, they’re all related to kind of like our own goals. It’s always related to with like this, this, I thought there was going to be a bump in the hole and it’s a fucking mountain. Like, It’s way bigger than I thought. It’s so hard. It’s so challenging. And that is the moment where like, it goes down like emotionally and you know, the motivation and all that. And I think it’s really at these moments that it’s hard. But then, you know, basic advisor, like if you stick with it, and you keep trying and you keep learning, you can either overcome it or find a way around it or you know, realize you don’t give a shit about that mountain. I’m just gonna do another one. You know, but there’s always something about. It’s always like personal goals. Basically, it’s I think it’s the same in life, like the big times the hard times. It’s also when you have the opportunity to go the most it’s just that we have a startup it’s like every three months. But as the same thing never stops. Yeah.
Arvid Kahl 49:57
Have you found that community to be a helpful part That’s like finding that motivation and the support.
Dagobert Renouf 50:05
So, I’ve always been so motivated, you know, in my life. And I was very surprised that after two years of doing lock ology, I lost it. That was the first time in my life, I lost motivation of something I still wanted to do. You know, kind of like a subtle difference. IDPA I wanted to do it, but I had lost drive. And that was the first time that happened to me. So that was very shocking, because I thought I could depend on that my whole life, I thought I could just depend on motivation and brute force my way through it easily. So then it became harder because I started, you know, having insomnia and all that stuff. But and that’s where it became more important. Yeah, that’s when going on Twitter. And I don’t think that it’s directly motivating, to me does, there’s two things, there’s first something that I because I used to work alone for, and my wife, so we both will kind of like alone, we old, we have each other, each of us have an office, at home, but like we all work in our separate things. And that was very shocking to me to see that by going on Twitter, and engaging other people and connecting with their story and giving a shit about their story instead of mine all the time. You know, well, you stop being depressed about it, you stop feeling bad about it, because now you’re thinking about somebody else’s story. So you’re thinking about, Okay, this person is going through that, and maybe I can even help them sometimes. So that’s amazing, because when you feel when I feel down, so that’s why now it’s part of my routine, you know, every morning, and it’s mostly for like, getting sales on my startup, getting awareness, getting traffic, getting photos, all negotiate, but also, I’m going there, because every morning, I know I’m going to be happy after I engage with people, and connected with their story. Because it took me out of my own. And I stopped thinking about my shit. And, and that’s a huge thing. And then the other part is, when you see very inspiring people that are killing it, it’s also pushing myself, sometimes it can be crushing when somebody is successful. So like, you have to find a balance, it can be crushing to think somebody’s making 100 or 1000 times more money than you, even though they have basically the same tools at their disposal. They’re just killing it, and you’re not so it can be crushing. But you know, into high dosage. And if you and if you do some work on yourself to take a step back and focus on Okay, I can see my own progress. And I can be proud of that. And I can be inspired to think oh, well, it’s possible, I can keep pushing and one day it’s gonna work. So yeah, these two things. Very good to find the passion and losing motivation.
Arvid Kahl 52:47
Yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s a great way to see to be inspired right? And to in those communities, I would also caution against comparing yourself to these people because that is just like you don’t know now even though they might also be building in public. You don’t know the full story? Oh, yeah, I don’t know. Like the years they’ve put into it, or the fortunate moments of luck, where everything can align for them and multiplied something or maybe they have like funding that you never thought about right? They have a family has supported them and the crucial moments. So it’s you don’t know these things. So compare yourself just to yourself. And I think that’s, that’s good enough. But yeah, I love that. I love that your morning routine, where other people have a coffee and do some journaling is going on Twitter is awesome. I love that. Same for me, it’s kind of I find a lot of my motivation to because there’s there’s something about leaving traces of whatever you’re doing on Twitter in the evening, and then coming to it in the morning. And having people say something about it. I don’t know if you feel the same way. But sometimes when I release a blog post or an interview like this, and then I see a message with Hey, I really enjoyed it. That just gives me energy for the whole day. Like every single day I see a message like this. I was like, Alright, keep doing what you’re doing. Apparently people like it. It’s a big deal. Yeah, but what do you think you would be? Good? Could you build the Golgi the way you’re building it without you being on Twitter as a distribution channel or as a way to find customers?
Dagobert Renouf 54:20
The Phils Ville actual version that is still not pivoted Yes, because I think we could just do with SEO. And we didn’t change. I mean, since doing Twitter, we were so desperate to get sales and traffic that I mostly didn’t touch the product for the past year. So the product didn’t move much. So it was mostly built before that. So I can’t say I got a lot of help from building probably because of this. But so I think yeah, with doing SEO instead could have worked, probably wouldn’t have helped as much with the motivation part and all that that we just said. However, now, I notice how this way of building a product is Good, you know, because I know we all know, you know, you need to start asking customers and then you validated and you know, we know all of these things. But knowing and realizing and really fully understanding is a different thing. And men, my course is the opposite approach. And it worked so much better. Now a part of it is because it’s easier to sell a course we all know this. But there’s some delta that is also not that that is just the way I built it. And I built it by the opposite of what I did log ology, the course was like, not wanting to do it initially. But having an audience on Twitter, talking with people seeing I could help them with that. So for a while, I just sent people tips on DMS, then eventually compiled those steps, starting asking people more precise questions about what they wanted to know, then design the landing page to see if I could solve these problems. And I could make it sexy with a landing page, not even visually, but just the copy. Can I make it appealing? Can I turn it into oh, I want this kind of product. So I iterated on the copy before even doing the course, copy of the landing page. Then when I thought Okay, this, this can be killer. This is awesome. Then I started doing the course. And then I sent it early access to a few people. They gave me feedback improved it released it, you know, andragogy was the opposite. It was like, we have a genius idea. We’re just gonna build it. And then oh, shit, who do we sell this to? Then find who we sell this to. And then oh, we need to build an audience around it. And which, which is the complete opposite. And so now it inspired me and so now next step is rebuilding lithology I’m gonna keep thinking of like logo ology, to it’s like Nagata, G two. And the Golgi two is going to be this way. So even though I gave you I told you ideas we had about how to pivot. We’re gonna start with people with problem. So I have my audience. I mean, my audience know, like, those people who follow me, let’s say, and I just need to figure out their problem. And I already have some tips of that. So I’m going to build around that a vision for a landing page for legata Jeetu. And can it be a pet appealing? Can it be sexy? Can it be, oh, shit, I need that product. And once that’s done, build lithology to and you know, so yeah,
Arvid Kahl 57:17
that’s like, it’s like, starting with your audience is a pretty good idea. Am I hearing that right?
Dagobert Renouf 57:23
Oh, yeah. I mean, it’s like, I mean, you know, I know we, I mean, we know this, it’s something that it’s an idea that you helped quite a lot, for example, but like, really going through that and experimenting, the difference in efficiency and success between my two products, like do call center like ology, such a, like, now, I really don’t understand how it seems to be to do it otherwise now. Because do it differently. Because like, it’s basically 10x easier. Instead of I mean, stop thinking of products, start thinking of audiences, people you care about people you want to help, and then build credibility with that, and then build whatever the fuck they want. And that, you know, yeah, and that you can do obviously, like something that you resonate with, don’t pick something that you don’t want to do. But then, you know, we’ll still going to pick something we want to do about design, for example, but you know, do do this, and, and you can only have way more success.
Arvid Kahl 58:19
Yeah. Yeah, that’s your special skill, right? And that moment, like whatever you create the design part the, the technical skill that’s yours, but the the product, the problem, the need, that’s theirs. Yeah. For you to think that you understand what their problem is without talking to your customers. That’s just like, that’s arrogance. In some way. I feel I also I come from the same background, I come from a product background and everything was like solution solution solution, but nobody talks about the problems. Nobody talks about the you know, the specifics of people’s underlying foundational issues. It always was. Yeah, something that you just kind of thought you knew, and then you built, but obviously, the best info products, the best courses, the best books, well, they come from somebody understanding exactly who to talk to, and then listening, and then building what people need creating the thing that people
Dagobert Renouf 59:14
you need all the skills like translating a problem into an actual product. And that’s a huge Yes. skill to have. But that’s the skill we used to have, you know, but you need to evolve. Yeah,
Arvid Kahl 59:25
I’m glad you had the opportunity to learn this because I love that your experience with your Twitter course is now translating or will be translated into your product into a software product. Yeah, just a really nice you know, evolution of your entrepreneurial understanding. Thanks for sharing all of this with me that was a lot of insight into from the outside it looks like oh, yeah, that guy just has a softer product on the course but man there’s so much more behind it right there’s all this the journey the story the the man any things you could have done didn’t Yeah, didn’t do should have done. All of this is really nice. If people want to follow you, where should they go? Where should they find you, and the things that you have to share with the world.
Dagobert Renouf 1:00:12
So I would just direct people to my Twitter. You know, I don’t want to make people go on 10 links, but let’s say Twitter, so that’s Daigo. Woof and then log ology, because that’s the baby. So log ology that CEO. It’s within why at the end? And yeah, as you see, I still suck at promoting.
Arvid Kahl 1:00:34
Thank you doing a great job. Just you talking about the things you care about that is promotion enough. You don’t need to drop drop anything more than that. I think that’s, that’s kind of one of the big learnings that I had. And others if you’re just a person that people want to be interested in, if you’re interesting enough, they will find the stuff that you have to share with them. And you don’t have to push it in their faces. You just have to be yourself. And that shines through you very, very clearly.
Dagobert Renouf 1:00:59
That’s way easier than doing marketing.
Arvid Kahl 1:01:03
Oh, absolutely. It’s just being yourself, right? How hard can it be? Thanks so much for being on the show today. That was wonderful. Thanks.
Dagobert Renouf 1:01:12
I love that. Thank you, man.
Arvid Kahl 1:01:15
And that’s it for today. Thank you for listening to The Bootstrapped Founder. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl. You’ll find my books and my Twitter course does well. And if you want to support me and the show, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get the podcast in your podcast player of choice and leave a rating and a review by going to (http://ratethispodcast.com/founder). Any of this, will truly help the show. So thank you so much for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye bye
What We Talk About
00:00:00 Introduction to today’s episode.
00:02:39 It’s going to work out
00:11:12 It’s like selling a child
00:14:52 The first couple of years
00:18:43 What was holding you back?
00:24:11 How often do you need to update the product?
00:27:38 Turning an info product into a business
00:31:55 How to use memes
00:41:50 If it doesn’t make money, it’s not a business
00:46:56 Major fails
00:52:47 Don’t compare yourself to others
00:57:17 Starting with your audience