Do you have plans to be an entrepreneur? Mark Asquith says first, take care of business. | Rise Grind Repeat 101


Mark Asquith created Rebel Base Media, a U.K. tech company that helps businesses become as successful with podcasting tools as he has been. Getting his start in web design, Mark says he didn’t know he was an entrepreneur until somebody told him he was.

He was just taking care of business that came through the door, not worrying about scale and capacity. He says a lot of would-be entrepreneurs would be better off thinking of themselves as business owners first. “Do the work, tell the people, let people know where you are,” Mark says. “That’s business. When you can prove you’ve done it four times, then you’re an entrepreneur.”


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Mark Asquith

| Rise Grind Repeat 101 |


On today’s episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, we talked to mark from rebel based media, talking about how he accidentally fell into his business and why that was a good thing. Let’s dive right in. Mark, thanks so much for joining on another pod or episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat, always excited to have another podcaster on the podcast, and really more so because I just know the impacts or the powers that has on businesses, which I’m really excited to chat through. But before we dive into that, would love to kind of hear your story, introduce yourself to the audience and kind of hear how you got on your path to entrepreneurship.


Well, first off, thanks for having me. This is good. I like a good chat. And yeah, it’s a funny one, actually. So I work you know, I am a podcaster. But I work in podcasting. You know, my business is a sass founder, you know, we have a podcasting SAS business called captivate and I sort of been in business for myself since 2005, which is started nearly 20 years. Yeah, it’s been a while man. And I just, I just didn’t like working for idiots. You know, it was a it was a real problem. That lack of good a control problem. I did a TEDx on this, where, you know, I don’t really like people telling me what I can and can’t do is like a classic, classic, you know, business person problem. And I just could never fathom why, why the working days were boring and why it was like why people were just telling me things to do that were clearly stupid. You know, just because that always been done like that. I remember getting this job. I was working for pensions like a financial company. When I was 23, and I got a new job. So I went from Leeds, which is a city just like 20 minutes that way to Sheffield, which is a city that’s 60 minutes that way. And, you know, it was it was the same job. But it was for about three grand more per year, and walked into this job on the first day with this new job thinking this is brilliant. I’ve got a brand new job, like the things are looking good. And I walked into this job, dude. And it was like, it was like I walked into the old job in a new build. And it was just the same crap. And I was totally deflated. So I left. I just left that day. I got to meet there 12pm, midday and just left and just never worked for anyone, again, as an employee, so I wouldn’t say it was a path to entrepreneurship. I think it was a path out of working for someone, which is a subtle difference, but it’s a big difference. You know, I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just couldn’t fathom working for these plonkers. You know, no, totally hear you. So, you know, you leave the job and, you know, you start your own thing. What is that thing that you started, you know, back in 2006?


Well, is a tale. So as you might be able to tell, I can talk a fair bit. I’m a talker, I’m a pretty loquacious person, which is done all right for me in podcasting, you know. But I actually went, it was funny, I went, I worked on my dad for about three weeks. So a quick, very quick backstory, my dad’s an electrician, when I was younger, 16 1718 I was sort of going through an apprenticeship with him, worked with him for a few years, like, you know, I can do electric To this day, pretty well, you know, I’ve done the house and stuff, but you know, building controller watching this, he’s totally fine. And I sort of got back into that. So I went back to work my dad for like, a month, right. But at the same time, I was taking interviews for pretty much anything, you know, just to see what the situation was because I didn’t want to, I didn’t know that I wanted to start a business. Right. So what happened was, I I was getting like 20 grants or like 20k when I left my last job, I was like 2223. And I got because I’m a talker and added a little bit of training background, a little bit of project management background, I’ve got an interview for a project management and training role missing, which is basically teaching like NHS National Health Service stuff, to the NHS, got the job, like I’d never really done it before I just blagged into it got the job, but I saw I had the confidence like, I have no idea that the Richard Branson called the whole say yes, and then figure it out. I had no idea that that was a thing. Like I was just doing it. So I get this job and the salary it was it was a Delray salary and I was working full time. So I went from 20 grand a year, this month of working with my dad again, just to kind of pay some bills. And then when I got this job, I jumped into earning like 200 grand a year man at 2023 years old. Yeah, it was nuts. But what happened was, I mean, there’s a whole other story about this how I quit doing that went back to earning 20 grand a year like that’s a whole the tale but what that did was it kind of gave me the space to do that job was easy. Like, they didn’t need me full time, but they were paying me for full time. Because of ir 35 law in the UK, I had to work from home when I wasn’t on site. So Dude, I was like earning all this money. And I had all this free time. So what I did was I reinvested that into learning. And I learned how to code without code websites, and, you know, really invested in my own train and in my own knowledge, and then did the inevitable bear in mind. This is 2005, I started a web design company. Which, you know, we scaled, we, I mean, there was a couple of ups and downs. And you know, there’s a whole story in there as well. But we ended up scaling this business to working with like the New York Times, and Bosch, and Adobe and all these people, and that that led me into podcasting later. But yeah, started a web design business because the people were paying me days that I wouldn’t work and it was like 23 years old, but it was the dream, you can’t ask for more. Yeah, exactly. Awesome. That’s awesome. Simon left the job got this nice paying gig, which allows you to kind of reinvest back into your knowledge kind of grow a side hustle. So web design to now what you do now, which is help podcasters would love to kind of hear the journey to that fast forward to like 2014, so excuse me. Um, so fast forward to 2011. So you might see like, kind of a bit of a geek, you know, I’ve got a sort of backdrop similar to you, like, in the background


noise, the x men will down there. If you can see if anyone’s watching a video, you can see I’ve got some DC Comics stuff. And that’s like my first love with DC comic stuff. So 2011 DC Comics do a relaunch of all that line, and I get back into two reading comics, right. So at the same time, I’m a voracious consumer. If I’m into something Dude, I am into something which serves me well later on in podcasting. So what what I did was start consuming all this content, start this blog with a man and gas called two shots to the head. And he said to me, dude, we should do a podcast and I was like, Dude, why would I? Why would I want to do a podcast? It’s not 2005. loft isn’t on TV anymore. Like a like to wear trousers. And I don’t want to sit in my basement, like what we’re going to talk about is going to be weird, right? That’s what podcasting was geeks in a basement talking about, right? So he made me do it. And I still got the microphone that he made me buy in the studio in the office. And we started this podcast, I was listening to Kevin Smith. He was my first foray into real podcast and listening to Kevin Smith has made me start this podcast. Now, like I said, I get obsessed with stuff, right? So I got obsessed with podcasting. I’m on holiday that year with my girlfriend at the time. And thinking to myself, well, I’ve managed to scale this kind of design and digital business in this really small mining town to work in not only profitably but working with some really sweet brands. And a lot of people thought I said, How have you done that? So I thought, Well, wait a sec, and a while do in 2012, or whatever it was 2013 I started podcast interviewing people like me, so that I don’t have to answer these questions. I can point them to the podcast. Right? So I started thinking this, and, you know, became friends with like, john at your fire. And you know, he’s a close friend. And you know, we worked together for years. Because what I then did was because of my obsession, I, I instantly, like the day of creating my first podcast, I also created a business in podcasting called podcast websites, which was, this is what I do when I get obsessed. So we started this business, Karen and myself, who is my co founder. And then we did a partnership with Johnny or fire for a year. Like I said, we years and years, we worked on that. And we we just brought WordPress as a service to podcasting. Still, the number one WordPress service out there for podcasters. And you know, it’s still around it does its job. And that’s what got me into podcasting do like that was the catalyst I was low. And then sort of fast forward was about 2017 2016, maybe I was a little bit bored. I was going through some personal stuff, and I was like, I need to change. podcasting was was kind of in this weird place. Like more people were sort of saying it’s the golden era of podcasting, but had been in it for four or five years. I’ve been in it for a while at that point. And so I closed the agency got out of the agency game and started the wider business that we’ve got now, where we build captivate and productivity and continue with podcast websites. And that was the transition dude, it was it was it was weird. It’s just because I got obsessed with things. You know, I love I love digging into stuff.


Well, and that I mean, that’s, that’s the best part of I mean, entrepreneurship, if you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t seem like work and you kind of navigated your your what how you’re making money in the current time based off of what you’re currently loving. And that’s one I mean, a way to wake up happy every single day and to I mean, make money while being happy. I mean, you can’t really ask for more. I mean, that’s literally the the dream


Yeah, I mean, you know, it is on paper. I mean, it’s tough. Don’t get me wrong, like captivate, you know, is a business that scaled very quickly, you know that the hosting platform and the distribution platform? You know, we’ve we scaled that to like seven figures within 12 months, you know, it was it was it was quick and it was it was focused, it was hard. And yeah, I mean, you do get that I do love what I do, but dude, it is, you know, it is tough. Like, you know, we’re having a ropey week this week, it’s you know, when these weeks when things don’t seem to go right. And as much as it is, as much as I love doing it, like, you still get the forum wake ups, you still get the stress and the worry and the headaches. And a lot of people sort of cliche that a little bit, a lot of people will say, yeah, just outsource everything and hire in and you know, work on your business, not in your business. And that’s a really naive way of looking at it. It’s like this is not a, that’s realistic, up to like a million books. And that’s cool for a lifestyle business. And that is cool. Don’t get me wrong, and I love you know, I love the ability to do that. But if you read to scale it, you know, it is tough. So there is an element of that waking up and loving what you do. But there is also the stress and the you know, everything that goes with it. So he said, and I’m sort of saying that because it’s easy to paint that picture of entrepreneurship as being like this ideal. And he is tough man. You know, it is tough. There’s no doubt he’s hard.


No, it’s it’s it’s definitely hard. I mean, there’s constantly something that you got to solve figure out whether it’s, you know, the product or services that you sell, or internally within the business, someone leaving, you got a couple big new clients, or whatever it may be, you got to figure out how to scale up, come back down. I mean, it’s, it is hard, but at least you’re not taking orders from from someone and I guess that’s the reward right there. You know, you got to get kicked in the mouth, you know, every once in a while every, you know, it’s sometimes wake up going, why do I do this to myself, but at the end of the day, it’s so that, you know, we don’t have to hear someone tell us what to do when we go and look at that task. And it’s like, How is this even going to impact the business at all? I think it’s it’s the wanting to make a difference and drive value. And that’s, that’s the reason why it gets hard. It’s sometimes it’s if you feel like you’re not driving the value that you should be it’s it’s kind of get frustrated, but at the end of the day, it’s not having to listen to someone else, you kind of march to the beat of your own drum, which is is the the most ideal scenario.


Yeah, it is, I think, you know, that’s one thing that I talked about in my TEDx. It’s called choose happiness, choose control. And the notion of is that the, it’s the it’s this idea that we originally chase money when we’re a little bit younger. And then we sort of believe that money, this is sort of back to that 200k year story. And I quit doing that, because there was still, when I really didn’t want to be where they wanted me to be, there was still someone saying, if you want that great salary, and that great a freelancer it, you have to be there when I say and, you know, regardless of why I’m saying I want you there, that’s the price of it. And I was like, screw this, I’d rather have less money, I’d rather have the control. And it’s it’s it’s a weird scenario to find yourself in especially because led sort of that comes sort of with age, you know, especially now, we, you know, I was brought up in an age when I was just crested into the internet, like my first exposure to the internet was at age 1516. It wasn’t age 123. And four, you know, I didn’t have a cell phone or mobile phone until I was 17. I’m of that generation that just about remembers the other stuff before this. And there was no instant gratification, there was no Instagram, there was no needing to make sure that someone believed I was doing well, when I wasn’t I was, I could genuinely do it for myself without the externals having an impact on it. So Wow, that was a fascinating time to come up and then mature, and then to see that sort of swing that change, you know, entrepreneurship become the sexy thing. And it’s not, because people want to do the work and have a business, it’s because they don’t want to have a job, which is fine. But yet, they’re not making money as entrepreneurs, because what they’re doing is chasing being an entrepreneur instead of chasing making money. And we all I think what’s fascinating as well is like, we also live in this world where it’s a little bit scary to say that you’re making money and you want to make money. You know, everyone will say, you know, put your clients first Yeah, obviously, you can’t make money without doing that, you know, provide value. Yes, sure. That’s sort of a given. Like, that’s sort of, that’s like a plumber turning up my house and wanting to be applauded for being able to do plumbing. That’s, that’s the baseline. You know, that’s the basic that you’ve got to do to turn up. And I think I suppose what I’m saying with that is that there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of people now, that chase the idea of entrepreneurship and the tag of being an entrepreneur. And then then also like we really want to teach entrepreneurship before they’ve actually made some money. Like, show me that you’ve paid your mortgage off, and that you can work whenever you want, and that you’re actually spending time with your kids. But show me on your terms, not on Instagrams terms, then I’ll believe you when you say you can help me with my entrepreneurship. You know, it’s What a weird world man, you know.


Yep. No, I agree. I mean, you mentioned the Gary Vee, she, she is, I mean, he mentions all the time how there’s, you know, these 1920 year old life coaches out there, and it’s like, which life Have you really lived to where you can coach someone else on on their life? But But I agree. I mean, I think there’s a lot of a lot of great entrepreneurs out there people out there that just want to make a difference and help solve a problem. But I think there’s a lot that is doing it for the vanity of just doing it. But I think it goes back to how long is that going to sustain waking up? Just, you know, dealing with the the hardships of entrepreneurship, if you’re just doing it to look good on on Instagram?


Yeah, exactly. Man, I think to your point, as well, there’s a lot of good small business owners, that if they prove they can do it once, twice, three times and get better and keep scaling. And I’ll keep pivoting and moving sideways after creating one success after another, then they become great entrepreneurs. But right now, there’s a lot of small business owners that are doing really well. And I think that’s a real distinction. I remember someone years ago, so I had this conversation with, like a business coach. And she was freelance worked on her own. You know, she’d not scaled anything, she’d not sold anything, which fine. I’m not saying that’s for everyone. But somehow she was getting paid to help me with that stuff. And I was like, Well, wait a second, like, I’m a terrible golfer, why would anyone pay me for lessons, you know, I didn’t work out in my head. So anyway, so she said to me, this is back in the web design days. If you’ve got a scale, you’ve got to understand your capacity. I was like, Well, I have no capacity. She said, What do you mean? Are you too busy? I said, No, I have no limit to what you must have a limit. Like if I came to you with 10 websites, what would you do there? Well? Well, first and foremost, I give you a lead time. And secondly, I hire a resource in to cover these on a freelance basis. And then you know, we will cover them. She said, Yeah, but then what if 10 more cameras, I just rinse and repeat that. And she didn’t get it. Like she didn’t get that you could think in that abstract manner. And in that scaling manner. And when she, I didn’t know this, but about six months later, she was having a conversation about me with someone that I got to know later. And apparently should describe me as entrepreneurial. I didn’t know that like, I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur, I’ve never seen myself, I’ll never call myself one. She described me at age 2324 as entrepreneurial. I didn’t know that. But it was because of that lack of boundaries that I had almost that naivety in, you know, that willingness to scale when all she wanted to do was do business projections. And I totally get that and I understand there’s a place for it. But she couldn’t compute that that didn’t work. Like in my, in my mind, I was just a small business owner that would handle what came through the door. And I think that’s what a lot of entrepreneurs these days, don’t do you know, they’re more interested in you know, 10x, your, your whatever and explode your x and you know, Rocket Power you Why is it so rubbish? You know, it’s just the tried and tested methods have always been the same. Do the work, tell the people and let people know where you are? Like that? Is it that’s business? Keep doing that. When you’ve done it four times, when you can prove that you’ve done it four times, then you’re an entrepreneur, you know, so stop chasing the label.


Yep. Now, it’s funny, you bring that up, because I totally agree. And I think love to hear your thoughts on how many people may be over planned rather than just execute and go do because basically what what you’re leaning on is, you can see that I’m playing, I’m playing, I’m playing, but you might get 10 websites, and you take it on, and you might get 10 more. And basically, you got to figure out a lot on the fly. And that’s I mean, it is difficult to do whenever you got I mean 20 3040 moving parts going on at the same time. But what are your thoughts on how people navigate over planning rather than just kind of, I mean, there’s a point to planning how you can just, you know, live by the seat of your pants, but at the same time, there is a point where you’re over planning and now you wasted so much time because 80% of what you plan for didn’t happen you had to adjust in real time anyways.


Yeah, exactly. It’s a good question. And you know, planning all good plans falter the second you start them, because there are so many assumptions and there’s easy inevitable and I think, you know, if you if you think about going on a journey, you look at the overview of the journey around going from there today. It’s going to take me a day to get there. You know, whatever. I’m going to drive from New York to Florida. It’ll take me a day. Whatever. And, you know, you turn out of your street, and there’s a car crash. So you reverse and you go the other way a plan gone, you got the overview, you know, the destination, but the tactics and the route is different, all right. And that’s the same in business and all you can do is is is, is assume the next three steps, but know the destination, you know, and, and if you can, if you can, really make sure that you are fully aware of what you want to achieve. And in particular, what you, not you the Royal hue, as in you the business, but you the person want to achieve, you know, the lifestyle balance, the revenue, the how you want to work, the way you want to work, the what you want to do, the plan becomes a lot clearer, because you know, what you’ve got to put out and what tests you’ve got to overcome at any given time. So I always like I like to equate sort of startup approaches to this, which is, everything that you do in is just one more experiment, you know, so we, we, we had a client on captivate before, before it could do anything, apart from generate an RSS feed and publish. I may be measured some analytics, it could measure them, but it couldn’t display them. And if you know, if I had a plan, everything would have never got a client, but this champion friend of mine that I know he was planning to start a podcast, I was like, dude, I’ve got a hosting platform. Alright, let’s use it. Allow. Okay, what now? Yes, now Oh, right. Okay, here you go. And we got it on. And it was, you know, that way I told him, I was like, Look, dude, this is MVP, here’s what you can do is what you can do. And you know what the platform was better. The second he jumped on it, because he was like, man, I really love this. But if you move that button to that my life would be easier. So we moved the button to there. And that was it. But the plan that we’ve made for that button was different. And and that can scale, you know, that that idea ship and that that that where you implement that MVP, attitudes, scales, you know, what’s your marketing, release MVP? What’s your attitude to, to whatever? What’s your attitude to opportunities, its MVP, what’s the what’s the quickest thing that we can do to test properly whether this thing will work. And suddenly, after 50 tests, you know, you’ve got X amount of users and people paying you or you’ve got clients, and you’ve got other things going on. And, you know, the planning is brilliant, because it gives you like the best case scenario, it gives you the best case scenario. But the MVP approach, the minimum viable product approach gives you the worst case preparation, because you just do one thing at a time. You know, it’s like, if you if you sprint in a cross a road, and you know, something happens is difficult to get back to the other side. Whereas if you sensibly walk in, you take in everything and use the reason that we don’t tell kids to run, you know, you’re looking at what the dangers are, your recession is easier to step back one step at a time than to try and get all the way back because your plan was to go there. So you’ve got to really, you’ve got to plan and measure every little step. But do it just like that step by step by step. And I think a lot of people do it through fear a lot of people, you know, the over research stuff. And they’ll, but then they also under research stuff like this is the weird thing. So what they’ll do is they’ll over research stuff, but the only real research stuff that helps with their positive biases, so the research stuff that tells them that their plan is going to work. Whereas really, if they’re if they want to have a plan, they should be researching things that are risks to their approach. And they don’t instead what we’ll do is Yeah, we’ve looked at the data now this podcast network definitely going to work, or why have you launched it yet? Well, we want to get a few more data points to make sure that it’s really going to work you’re like, well, what if if, if you’re confident that it’s going to work? You’re either afraid of putting it out, which is totally fine. Everyone’s scared to summon or research, the things that are the risks, what are the competitors doing, what the technical, and the sociological changes that you’ve got to be aware of over the next six months? You know, so it’s it’s bizarre, man people, people get analysis paralysis, or the their own research to things that will positively bias their belief already, is that it’s weird money. You know what I mean? It’s weird.


No, I 100%. I mean, I, you know, running an agency. I mean, we’re always there’s a acronym that we have abt and it’s always be testing and it’s to your point, it’s, yep, with a new client. They want these huge robust forecasts and plans and all that and I’m like, 98% of the time. As soon as we hit go, and all the ad platforms start start running, we get data back that pletely just washes what we planned and you have to navigate in real time, it might mean new, creative, new mess it whatever it may be. But I think to your point, the analysis paralysis is a huge thing. And where I was going with the agency stuff is deal deal with that when it comes to campaign planning. It’s, well, what about this? And what if we hit that and that it’s all these what ifs, and it’s what what if 90% doesn’t happen, we never will know until we just get going. And the longer that we wait, there’s opportunity costs, we’re not getting in front of people, which is not driving sales. So you seem to have a really good grasp on this and don’t let this impact to you. So I guess my question would be, what is your suggestion to avoid this? Because I think a lot of entrepreneurs, small business owners, whoever it may be, can really relate to this. So how would one navigate to not go down this path and just get more on the side of just going and navigate in real time? Knowing what the end goal is?


Yeah, good question is is about that Reed Hoffman quote, and to paraphrase, it’s, you know, if you, if you if you’re not embarrassed by what you ship, then you ship to let you know, that’s a paraphrase. It’s not the exact quote, but the notion is that and it’s, you know, if you, if you if you’re running creative for an ad campaign, for example, you base in that initial creative on assumptions, if you’re building software, you know, the use cases is what you use a testing as you do, is based on assumptions. The second you put it out into the real world, those assumptions will be tested. So you have to really get ahead of that and say, we have got to test these assumptions early. And that comes down to just saying, you know what, let’s just get this out. In his most embarrassing stare, like I call it the blue tack, and sellotape approach, like, you know, when you sort of build something that you’ve kind of sellotaped it up and blue, tacked it together, and it’s sort of a little bit rickety. And you could push it over if you really tried. But, you know, let’s assume you added let’s assume you build in like, you know, some in somebody’s in the garden or whatever, or, you know, whatever it is, you kind of map it out, and you’ll I tell you, the best example actually is, so you’re buying new furniture, you know, if you’ve ever bought new furniture, and you do all sorts of crap, you like get cardboard cutouts, you like put cushions where the measurements are for the surface and all that stuff, you know, you get all all these different things, none of them at the real surf or on the couch. It’s just, here’s where we think it will be. If that’s the thing that you’re here, because it’s even that’s in the wrong place, then you don’t buy the couch, you don’t buy the server, because this thing is in the wrong place. And that’s this, that’s the MVP. It’s the same resaas like, we, you know, with captivate, we could very easily have polished up an entire platform that looks like it does today. But we’d have got like 80% of it wrong. Instead, it was like, Okay, can you publish episode? Yes. Does it generate an RSS feed? Yes. Does it measure analytics? Yes, that is enough. Let’s test if people find that part useful, then we’ll build around it. And we’ll ask people, what do you want next, because that’s the other unseen thing is that if you stick to your plan, they are your plans, not your users plans and not your target markets plans. And if your target market and your user base are wanting one thing and you are so bullheaded in your own desires and wishes to fulfill the plan that you so powerfully made, because you are the mega expert, then you you know you’ll they will go wrong, it will it will go wrong, you know, your use is dictate and it’s like podcasting man, you know, the second you press publish, someone else is a stakeholder in your podcast. So your listeners of theatres in your podcast, not you. You know, if they say we don’t like listening to mark, I ain’t coming back. You know, if they don’t like this segment, you do or they don’t like how you approach x, unless you change it, then they ain’t coming back. And it’s the balance. You know, it’s the all powerful, mighty creator, the person that knows everything, because this is my baby, versus the people that actually use and pay for this thing who were actually the real masters. And this goes back to the entrepreneurship thing. You know, if you don’t MVP, push it out, test it, measure it, tweak it, iterate it, make it perfect for the users, you ain’t got a product. But the problem is that entrepreneurs don’t want bosses. So you become an entrepreneur. And what you do is you swap one boss who granted is usually a bit of a longer and you opt them for 50 bosses, 1000 bosses, a million bosses, all the people that pay for your stuff. They have the power, but the difference is is a collaborative power that you can help direct and you can you can, you can control the feedback from and you can share and you can twist and you can work with it you can appreciate versus the boss, who’s a true dictator. So I think when it comes to the MVP, I think he’s all about like, it’s about defining that first assumption and testing that first assumption. We worked on a startup A few years ago, and I sort of was, it was fun, but it really wasn’t. You know, it wasn’t anything that I was mega passionate about. And we were building this AI platform to help people with like busy people like you and me entrepreneurs like, you’ve been in the doghouse 50 times for missing Valentine’s Day and missing like birthdays. We all do that. Crap.


That was yesterday. Yeah, exactly. So we built this sort of this, this idea whereby what we were going to do is we were going to get you signed up to this AI platform. And what it was going to do is going to learn a little bit about the people that you were popping, that you had upcoming events for an upcoming occasions for, and it was going to suggest gift ideas and get ahead of time with it. And it was going to buy the things for you eventually with integrated payments and Twilio. And, you know, the kind of text message back and forth that we had, because that’s the easiest method of interacting with you. We’ve actually now I’ve said it backs a bad idea. I just wasn’t into it at the time. So I was in podcasting. And we should revisit that. But the idea was sound. But what we did was we had to prove that people wanted help. That was the biggest assumption. So what did we do with blue tact and sensitivity. We got some free Twilio credits from the accelerator that we were working with. And we linked Twilio API to slack. And we managed, we basically got all of the text messages. Sorry. We basically went round all the entrepreneurs and founders that we knew in our startup community, got them to text as an occasion and for who the occasion was for and what they liked. And we manually sourced gifts and presents and reminders. We manually did it. But we tested the assumption that they wanted the service and they did you know that? We actually, you know, we got we got a couple of the founders genuinely out of some some heat for forgetting their kids birthdays. But was it tough? Yes. What were your plate? Yes. Was it sexy? No. Was it seamless? No. Was it powerful? No, it was none of these sexy things. It was just like me and Adam on a text message, you know. So that’s the approach you got to take. But again, back to the entrepreneurship point, like a lot of people don’t want to get their hands dirty. You know, you see with podcast hosts now. Yeah, if you want to be on the podcast, you’re going to need to fill in these 50 questions when I used to do this with my interview show like, but I’d only get people to fill in two. And then give me some actionable takeaways. It’s like, you must promise to read and review this show, you must promise to share on LinkedIn. I’m like, I don’t want to be on your show. Because that sucks. What? Why would I review your shirt just cuz I’ve been on it. That’s like me saying I’m s. I just That’s silly. So it’s this weird. It’s this weird thing. People don’t want to get their hands dirty and do the hard work anymore. Some of them are that you know, they want to do. They want to do the sexy stuff. And you can’t to get like I can now and the team can do sexy stuff. But we’ve put like 20 years of doing the crap behind this, you know. And when we do another startup, we’ll do another 10 years of the crap. And then we’ll do another 10 years in case what you do, but a lot of people chase the tag. And I know that’s a very digressive answer, but I think it’s kind of all related.


Yeah, no, I think well, because everyone’s posting the glorious, you know, times of running a business or whatever it may be, people don’t see the hard work behind the scenes that get it to where it looks sexy and fun. The waking up at 4am staying up till midnight, the late night conversations and calls and decision making that needs to be done. People don’t document or show that they only show the the whenever all that stuff led to the big deal. And then I want to be part of that. And then you get people that, you know, alright, that’s exactly what I want, and then don’t realize how truly hard it is to take an idea, get it out to the world to where it actually drives revenue to where it can employ people, you know, have the resources to actually grow it. I mean, it’s, it’s extremely hard.


Yes. And humility is a big part of that. You know, it’s, you know, to put it into context, like we’re, you know, we work with 1000s and 1000s of podcasters we captivate you know, 1000s and to get to that point, we had to put deep time and you know, from 2013 going to the conferences across the world, you know, we’ve been speaking at podcast movement for years now. I’m talking six years of getting up at 2am to travel and being tired and jet lagged and being away from family. And you know, there are times when I’ve been I’ve done conferences on like, two hours sleep per night, something that jet lag, but I needed to, uh, wanted to put the time in getting to know people and genuinely are building genuine friendships in podcasting. And, you know, you look at what’s going on now not in podcasting. But generally a lot of the time on like places like LinkedIn is, you know, someone is asking you for a favor, and then asking you to work around their schedule, and then asking you to do the work for their team so that they don’t have to tell you what’s going on. And you think, look, we’re keen to do this, and everyone’s happy to help. But like, it was a bit of the work, you know, and I think that’s a symptom of a lot of entrepreneurship these days. And a lot of I wouldn’t say founders, but certainly a subset of of startup founders who they’re sort of taken the entrepreneur tag and the founder tag applied, it allowed that to raise their ego. And then sort of expect everyone because they’ve got founder on their Twitter bio, to be beholden to them. And that’s real tough, you got to the fastest way to accelerate your business and to build your business is to be just the most humble person in the room. Like without a doubt, that is the most powerful way of doing it completely


agree. I mean, grew up playing baseball, and that’s one two, really young and went to go talk about the night before how many strikeouts or whatever my dad, you know, no, just let let your actions do all the talking, just stay quiet. And people will notice if you put in the work, and the results are showing and all that. So totally agree. I mean, just head down, grind away the you know, if you’re really, you know, if you’re more concerned about what you look like to other people, then that’s a pretty selfish thing to do, because you’re trying to grow this business, which is there to help and serve your your prospective audience. And so the more you focus on just doing, it’ll show and people will follow. But you know, one thing I did want to ask he been doing this for a while you’ve had quite a bit of growth, is there a single tactic or a group of tactics over the years that you can attribute to really seeing tons of growth with the business? Whether it’s a Google ads or a certain marketing tactic, whatever it may be?


Yes, so there’s a few of them? I mean, you know, which way should I go on this one, there’s the classic marketing stuff. And all of that comes down to content and community, you know, content and community and consistency. You know, be consistent with content and community, and good things will happen. I could go deeper into that, I’m sure and, you know, go on about it for a while. But the most powerful thing has been leveraging a personal brand. You know, like I said, I will we launched captivate did well out of the gate, because everyone in podcasting knew me. And it wasn’t because I marketed to them. It was because I had bad drinks with them. And I’d spent years traveling to all these conferences and being tired and being away. And, you know, being the person that was never at home, and there was always late and that was missing birthdays, China service for that. But there was always these these things that I was, I don’t want to say sacrificing wasn’t a sacrifice, like it was my choice, but I was trading them off. And I would do it again, because I was trading them off for friendships, and I was trading them off for relationships. And I was trading them off for genuinely giving to a community. And there’s only a couple of reasons that something will succeed in a market. And having a reputation in that market beforehand, is the single biggest thing that you can do is why Gary Vee can pivot so much. You know, I’ve been very fortunate to spend time with Gary and done some work with no media and well, you know, I’ve kind of been to been to that place a few times and not a good chat with my guest and and a few of that play people that work. Yeah, is there a sweet people and you know, we and I’m very grateful for y’all to do that. I’m not saying that she’s like, look at me, and Gary’s my friend, like, He’s not my friend. I just, I just know him. He’s a he’s a good guy. But there’s so much that we’ve done and I’ve been very fortunate to go to those places. On a very speculative basis, just going to help like legitimately do like as I’ve flown to Apple for a meeting for one hour. So I’ve gone from the UK to LA driven from LA to San Jose to Palo Alto, Cupertino, had a meeting, got back in the car, drove back to LA got back on a flight and came home. I’ve done that a couple of times. And that is the single biggest thing that you can do in any business is be willing to cultivate relationships without the need to tick, tick, tick and to just Be there. And to just build those friendships now, no, that’s not a solid marketing tactic is not? What did you spend your money on? It’s not where did you come in? We can talk about that. But you know that that’s the short answer that will be content content content, you know, and very focused content in particular. But it’s relationships, man, you know, a lot of people forget that businesses Commerce has been going on. Since day dot, you know, since that since day one, before we understood anything as a species, we were we were trading. And we were trading because he and we were trading in ways that will always mutually beneficial, you know, and we were building relationships before the internet. We were building relationships before booking links, and before schedulers and before, you know, people got so busy that they couldn’t chat. And you think just going back to some of that will really surprise people like how effective that can be. I know that’s really cliche. Like, that’s the sort of stuff you find in a $97 course, you know what I’m saying? But that it really is like, the it really is the most powerful thing.


Yeah, but I mean, it’s, it’s to your point, it’s not I spent money and build relationships. But what I will say is, I mean, when it comes to tactics and channels, and all that it’s take a step back, and what is it that you’re saying your perspective audience a sale here or buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, what you could do is more workshops, more in person events more? What if you know that it’s relationships that lead to growth and scaling? What can you do from a tactic perspective that grows those relationships, and I think you can really put fuel to the fire using Facebook ads, YouTube, I mean, all the things that are out there today to then create the in person events, which then nurture relationships, which then lead to the the sales and growth that you’re wanting. So I think that’s a good observation that that that’s how you guys have been able to grow is just really nurture relationships and just do good in the industry.


Well, I agree, man, I think he’s in all that top of the funnel stuff, that tactical stuff is the stuff that you would instantly Google, you know, if you’re a business person with a product or a course or whatever, and you were trying to sell it, you know, you would instantly, you would instantly just search and start to learn a little bit about how to get more more traffic. And scaling the middle part of the funnel is the challenge. The top of the funnel stuff is easy. You just like you said, you find something that works, you fuel it and, and I’m not being reductive. I know it’s not easy. But I’m saying that is the easier part of getting the sale, you know, is actually converting, that’s the much more challenging. And it’s, I think, what’s, what’s interesting with that is that it doesn’t have to be, you know, a lot of people struggle like they can a lot of people buy traffic in and they’ll do it through Facebook ads. They’ll do it through podcast advertising, they’ll do it through whatever, whatever channel they do right at the top of the funnel. And they find the middle and the bottom of the funnel so very difficult because they’ve not done that work at the middle. So they’ve not been present, they’ve not been available and they’ve not doing they’re not doing any alignment. They’re not doing any research into messaging, they’re not doing any language guidelines, they’re not doing anything to to scale the understanding of that relationship. And that’s where that relationship really comes in. So just to your point on that one one of the it’s a bit of a kind of alliterative term for it. You don’t have to call this but I’ve always said I’ve got something called a presence promise. Where you know inevitably every single week for my audience I will be available this place at this time every single week. 4pm Uk 11am Eastern 8am Pacific every Friday for the last seven years I’ve done a facebook live without fail. I mean, I know that’s not true. We can live for three months while we revamped it I’ve been there promised to be present now that is the perfect stuff because guess what? It fosters community it builds people it bolts extra people on and like you said you can fuel that fire by putting Facebook ads into it by pushing it through your email list by running a pile of Google ads to it and but what the fantastic thing with that is that all of that top of the funnel stuff which really works all that content stuff, you know the alignment with the audience, the top of the funnel prospecting, you know things like for us in like in podcasting, the big longtail questions like what’s the best podcast mitochondrial 100 books, like your content strategy where the top of the funnel is Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang we are ever, ever present on the present. What a lot of people do and rightly so, you know, funneling people through to an email sequence, funneling people through to a sales process. It works. There’s nothing wrong with that. But in this increasingly busy online space, presence promise, a place that you will always turn up. There’s not really that much effort, you know, workshop or office hours or webinars. You know, I’m a fan of the more informal stuff. I think the webinars are great, but they’re a little bit one way. But aware that you can workshop things aware that you can give value and, and presence without necessarily making people feel like the turning up to a sales page like that is really, really important. And I think the busier the world gets, the more personal we’ve got to become at the middle stages of the funnel to turn people into advocates, because if you get them on side, we know the old classic tropes. The cliche is no like trust. No one’s doing the like bit and the trust bit they’re all doing no cell No, so no. So. So it’s Yeah, I’m not gonna talk about this all the time. And it’s fascinating to me. But yeah, that’s some of the stuff we do.


Yep. No, I completely agree. I think it’s that middle of the funnel and just being present, there is what’s gonna cut through the noise as everything gets more digital and busy. And, and I love hearing your perspective on that. I mean, you’re helping a lot of people grow their podcast. And really, it sounds like helping, what are your goals? Let’s help you get there. What do you guys doing in the next three to six months are trying to accomplish from a business perspective, but also you personally?


Yeah, podcasting is is the passion that we’ve got, you know, so far, this is all our goals are tied hand in hand with dow, you know, I’d still be podcasting if I didn’t work in podcasting. So the my own personal goals are to just give the team a good life and you know, have a good life for the family. And, you know, that’s facilitated by having a good business that helps other people to have good lives. And, you know, podcasters, you know, that they’re what we do, you know, we help them to grow, we give them a way to build revenue, or where to promote and build their own audience and monetize in ways that they want. And that, as long as we keep doing that, you know, whether it’s through feature set, whether it’s through community, whatever it is, that’s the goal for the next year, and you know, it’s really improve the lives of podcasters when it comes to growing the audience and helping them to monetize because obviously, that will help fulfill our personal goals, but they get to benefit from it as well. So that’s the real goal for captivate. He’s got to be sort of equalize the playing field for podcasters a little bit you know, let them see that they’ve got options beyond 10 bucks CPM and 20 bucks CPM. You know, let’s give them more targeted specific monetization options. That’s that’s the big thing I think is important to let people achieve their goals. That’s what we that’s what we exist to do you know,


that now love it. That’s what we’re in business to do help change family trees and help people achieve their their personal business goals. This has been great. I mean, I feel like consider and chat with you for 1015 hours straight. Love everything that you’re about, and I can’t wait to continue to watch your growth.


Thanks, dude. This has been awesome. Like, like you said, I could, I could chat on this all day. And it’s, it’s a pleasure to chat to you, man.


Yeah, appreciate the time and look forward to to seeing your growth. Thank you, sir. Thank you.

Where To Find Mark Asquith


Twitter: @Rebelbasemedia

Facebook: @Rebelbasemedia

On the previous episode of RGR, Dustin talked to Dan Tyre of HubSpot who devotes as much effort to giving away what he’s learned as he does at his job. Dan was the first salesman on the original team at HubSpot in 2007. Now he’s sales director, overseeing “smarketing” — sales + marketing — for more than 750 employees.

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