The AI Robots Are Coming & There’s Disruption in The Air! With Special Guest Rob Walling
Rob Walling has built and sold multiple SaaS companies, most recently Drip.
He co-founded the most popular conference and community for ambitious, bootstrapped SaaS, called MicroConf.
He wrote the book on how to bootstrap a startup, Start Small, Stay Small.
And he started TinySeed, the first accelerator designed for SaaS bootstrappers.
He has also invested in more than 55 startups, including WP Engine, CartHook, and SparkToro.
Main Questions For Interview
#1 – Rob, are there any particular trends that you have observed in the bootstrap startup community in 2022 that you think are interesting?
#2 – Have you come to any conclusions yourself connected to how you see Ai/ChatGPT is going to affect the bootstrap startup community over the next couple of years?
#3 – Do you generally think it’s getting easier or harder for a bootstrap SaaS to the $10,000 a month gross revenue barrier?
#4 – You have invested directly in several WordPress SaaS; the most prominent has been WP Engine do you feel there is still a lot of opportunity in this WordPress space?
#5 – If you go back to a time machine at the beginning of your career, what advice would you give yourself?
#6 – Are there any books, websites, or online recourses that have helped you in your business development that you like to share with the audience?
StreamYard Link – https://streamyard.com/cuvig83bhq
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Episode Full Show Notes
[00:00:00.250] – Intro
Welcome to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SAS podcast, where Jonathan Denwood interviews the leading experts in WordPress e-learning and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SAS.
[00:00:14.780] – Jonathan Denwood
Welcome back, folks, to the WP-Tonic show. This shows 747. This week in WordPress and SAS got a special guest, a returning guest, a friend, somebody I look up to, somebody that can deal with my madness and deals with a lot of people’s madness. I’ve always been reasonably calm. We got Rob Rody back again. Thanks so much, Rob, for agreeing to come back on the show. In this show, we’re going to be talking about AI robots. They’re coming for us all. The developers, the writers, the designers, they’re coming for us all, folks. But in this madness, in this period of disruption, they probably are opportunities. And I’m going to be seeing if Rob’s got some views on this. I’m sure he has. So, Rob, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
[00:01:09.500] – Rob Walling
Hey, listeners and viewers, nice to see you. I’m Rob Walling. I was trying to count the other day, I started six companies, serial entrepreneurs. I’ve had a couple of exits in SAS, but I’ve been doing it since back before SAS when it was downloadable software. And these days, I run Microcom, which is the largest community for nonventure track SAS founders, bootstrapped and Mostly Bootstrapped. And we have an online community in-person events. And I run Tiny Seed, which is the first startup accelerator for SAS bootstrappers. We’ve funded 105 companies in the past three and a half years and we have $40 million in funding that we raised to invest in Bootstrap and Mostly Bootstrap, SAS founders. And then I have a podcast called Startups for The Rest Of US, which I always think I think it’s pretty cool that I have, like, 650 episodes. There are very few podcasts that have more episodes than I. So, 747, bravo to you, sir. That’s a real mile.
[00:02:11.390] – Jonathan Denwood
It’s more bonkers than that, Rob. I do another podcast that’s up to 400. I’ve got two businesses, Rob, and then I started a new podcast, the Membership Machine Show, and we’re already up to, say, 14. Well, you know I’m bonkers. His wife knows as well. They’re very charitable to me because they both know I’m bonkers. At least I know I’m bonkers, Rob is when you don’t. I’ve got my co-host with us. Kirk, would you like to introduce yourself?
[00:02:47.270] – Kurt von Ahnen
Absolutely. My name is Kurt von Ahnen
. I own an agency called Manjana Nomas. I focus largely on membership and elearning-type websites and I’m thrilled to meet Rob. I used to listen to Startups for The Rest of US way back, and when I saw the notes, I saw.
[00:03:02.270] – Jonathan Denwood
The right thing to say. Kirk, you should be saying that on your average list.
[00:03:07.930] – Speaker 5
No, it was like a reminder.
[00:03:09.620] – Kurt von Ahnen
I was like, There it is. So I was like, super stoked.
[00:03:14.730] – Rob Walling
Very cool. Good to meet you.
[00:03:16.620] – Jonathan Denwood
Right, before we go into the main part, this great interview, I’m really looking forward. It’s always fantastic to talk to Rob. I’ve got a couple of messages from our major sponsors. We will be back in a few moments.
[00:03:28.220] – Speaker 6
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[00:04:02.170] – Jonathan Denwood
Hi there, folks, it’s Jonathan Denwood here and I want to tell you about one of our great sponsors, and that’s Zolocom. If you got a WordPress website, membership website, and you’re looking to link it with a great financial management package, zolo can provide this solution. So all your bookkeeping needs are done through Zolo. If you need new inbox email functionality and you don’t want to pay the high charges that Google will charge you, zolo offers a great email inbox platform. They’ve got over 50 apps and services that all integrate fantastic with WordPress at great value levels. And they almost always offer a fully functioning free product as well. So it’s just amazing value. Also, if you’re a WordPress developer or agency owner, zolo are looking for great partnerships in the WordPress space. To get all this information, all you have to do, folks, is just go over to zolo.com and they have the products that you’re looking for. Thank you so much, Zolo, for supporting WP Tonic and the machine membership shows. It’s much appreciated. We’re coming back. Just want to point out, if you’re looking for a great hosting provider, great WordPress partner. If you’re building a learning management system for a client or a buddy boss website or combination, why don’t you look at utilizing WP Tonic as your partner?
[00:05:49.490] – Jonathan Denwood
You can earn a great initial commission and then ongoing commission afterwards, and we deal with all the headaches, provide all the technology and consultation. It’s a great partnership. If that’s interesting, go over to WP Tonic partners. WP Tonicpartners and then some more. So this goes straight into it. Rob so apart from AI, I suppose it’s all going to be AI. Is there anything that’s come on your radar in the bootstrap community in 2022 that you like to share with the audience and viewers?
[00:06:30.470] – Rob Walling
Yeah, sure. There’s a few things I’ve been noticing and I actually asked some folks on my team, I was like, help me flesh this out, because I said, AI is too obvious, right? Everyone already knows that. I think there’s three things that I can run through them quickly. Two, that I think are more interesting than the third. But the first thing is no code is becoming a real thing. No code and low code. And this has been a movement that started many years ago, but people are building more and more with this. Even at Microcomp tiny Seed, we have now three or four basically full blown SAS apps that are all built on airtable bubble, softer or softer, one of those three. And it’s pretty incredible that it’s their internal line of business apps. It’s like podcast production or video production for our YouTube channel. It’s all strongly typed workflow management for us. And if we didn’t have those, we were doing it like in Notion, and before that we were doing it essentially with Trello plus a Google Doc. So we’ve slowly just gotten better and better. There are also people now building MVPs with no code and getting to the point where, oh, now I have three, four 5000 in MRR.
[00:07:38.780] – Rob Walling
Now I’m going to go code it because I validated it. And then there are people, there is I forget the name of the app, but there is a guy with an app in the Shopify app Store that is a production app that they’re using and it was built with bubble. And he told us his revenue privately. I can’t disclose it, but it’s a nice little side income that he didn’t have to write code for. So there aren’t a ton of full blown there aren’t any full blown SAS apps, right? You can’t build Drip, an email service provider. You couldn’t build Thinewell, which is like electronic signature. Those are too big, they need too much scale, whatever. But you can get these step one businesses. These are early stage businesses. No code. No code. That’s the first one. The second one is the build in public movement. You know how that’s been something for years of like, well, I lived my.
[00:08:26.070] – Jonathan Denwood
Whole life in public. We say the podcast exactly.
[00:08:31.010] – Rob Walling
And that’s the thing, right? Like when we started start up to the rest of us 13 years ago, a big part of that was building in public. But the movement and the sharing, the transparency of revenue and the transparency of all your internal documents and salaries and all that like Buffer has done, that seems to be cooling off. There are a lot more people that are just taking down their public revenue dashboards and there are still some people doing it, but it is less trendy, I’ll say less popular, fewer people doing it. And the third one, which kind of tacks on to that, is there was a big push of Indie founder podcasts where two developers would get together and they’d start a podcast and just talk about what was going on every week that kind of crested. And 70% of those are either on sporadic schedules now or have completely stopped producing. So those are three trends.
[00:09:22.540] – Jonathan Denwood
That the third one. Why that’s happened.
[00:09:27.670] – Rob Walling
I don’t know. Well, here’s why it happens. Because two people sharing their journey their entrepreneurial journey on a microphone is a very hard format. It works for a month or two and then you just don’t have anything interesting to say. I’ve done it, I was in that trip.
[00:09:43.790] – Jonathan Denwood
I thought that was fabulous. Well, it was more about your suffering. I felt sorry for you, even though you might have done a body from it. But it was such a painful journey.
[00:09:54.170] – Rob Walling
It was tough. But see, those were the best years of our podcast. But there was a huge lull in there for like two years, years where you were just kind of straining for content. It’s like, well, nothing interesting happened in the last week. I don’t know what to tell you because that’s the journey, right? The part of the journey is a lot of boredom and then part of the journey is a lot of stuff you can’t say on a microphone at the time. And so what happens is people start the podcast. It’s super interesting for a month or two is you learn them and then it gets old and then you get to 500 or 1000 listeners and you realize, is this worth the time? I think that people start questioning the value of that. So I like those podcasts, but also I tend to listen for a few months and then I wind up unsubscribing because it just isn’t that interesting in the long term. You have to have some other thing, whether it’s guests like you do, whether it is I do all types of crazy formats. I do listen or question episodes.
[00:10:47.160] – Rob Walling
I do solo episodes, which are kind of like think pieces. I think once you start mixing up formats, you can have longevity.
[00:10:53.820] – Jonathan Denwood
And the second one, I always had mixed feelings about that because I’m English at heart. I believe in openness and a flat hierarchy. But on the other hand, I found it a bit queasy publishing everything. I think some things are private. If you want to share it with colleagues or friends, that should be you. But it must be my English side of me. I just find it a bit crazy. Everybody wants to know everybody else’s business.
[00:11:27.980] – Rob Walling
Yeah. So I always viewed it as I should separate. There’s bill in public, like you’re saying you talk on a podcast, I talk on a podcast. Then there is this transparency, like I’m going to be transparent with all these internal numbers. That’s never anything that I did, I would do just in time. Transparency, where if I was doing a microcom talk, I would say, this is our MRR because it helps set context for this. But then that talk wouldn’t go on YouTube for six months and that felt okay to me. But I did not have a live dashboard, nor did I publish salaries. It felt to me I didn’t like the idea of it. Some people call it, instead of building a public, call it bragging in public because that’s how it comes across from some people, they do a year interview and be like, look at all the money I made, aren’t I the coolest? And it’s like, yeah, that’s a little annoying.
[00:12:10.660] – Jonathan Denwood
Look, all the ratings of sorry, ratings, english slant.
[00:12:15.450] – Rob Walling
Well, and the other thing is, that has always bothered me about it is almost all the people who do it, they claim I’m doing this to help other entrepreneurs. They’re not, they’re doing it to brag or they’re transparent only about the good stuff. The only person I know who’s transparent about both is Rand Fishkin. He is.
[00:12:41.970] – Jonathan Denwood
I would say intimidate it’s to a level that kind of super impressive. I would even do it.
[00:12:51.210] – Rob Walling
I wouldn’t either, but that’s his personality and he’s comfortable with it, right? But then a lot of the others, I don’t want to name names, but kind of everyone else, all the transparency is, look how transparent I’m being. We are killing it. 5 million arr and we got this huge deal. But then when things go sideways and they’re plateauing and you can see it in their public revenue, they’re not blogging about that. There’s no blog post coming out about, wow, it’s really hard right now. Right? It’s only the good things. And that always bothered me because it’s like, that’s not being transparent, that’s just being braggy when things are going well. So that’s my personal opinion. I also think the folks I mean, Josh Pigford of Bare Metrics talked about his transparency and how it came back to bite him later because people started copying him. And that is a big issue, right. The more you disclose, the more likely someone jumps in and copies what you’re doing.
[00:13:36.290] – Jonathan Denwood
Well, if it’s you, Kit.
[00:13:39.910] – Kurt von Ahnen
I know that Jonathan wanted to talk about AI, and we were having listening to you talk about your three items there and the lack of creativity and podcasts and ideas and stuff, I wonder what your thoughts are on just kind of the natural flow of AI and how that might extend ideas and concepts and give people that starter seed to help those things be more successful.
[00:14:04.830] – Rob Walling
Yeah, I’m surprised. Like anything, AI is part hype. Like the chat GPT. Let’s just say that that’s the biggest thing that I think the most tangible thing that we can talk about, and some people don’t see the benefit of it. And then I have a project manager who’s helping me with my new book that’s going to kick start in a couple of months. She uses it every day. Every day we talk and she’s like, oh, I asked Chat GPT this and then I refined it and I’m like, this is game changing. And I’ve already asked it to like, I have to record a YouTube video on SAS sales and marketing metrics, and why not go to Chat GPT and say, outline a video on this topic and then I can look through and usually I kill half of what it puts out, but it’s a nice seed for me. To your point, I have a bunch of stuff in my head of what sales and marketing video would have in it. Chat GPT always on earth, something that I didn’t think of of, but I’m like, that’s actually a really good point and I wind up including it.
[00:15:04.050] – Kurt von Ahnen
Yeah, I put it off and put it off and put it off myself. But then I gave it that first try and then I was like, oh, that really saved me a lot of time. And then I started using it more like with other tools like what are people asking and how can I find that answer? And then how can I as a writer embellish that answer or give it my own flavor? And I found it to be a really good tool. But when I think about how it might affect affecting the bootstrap startup community or giving people ideas or helping people extend their efforts, I was wondering if you thought that that might positively or maybe negatively affect the bootstrap SAS community.
[00:15:39.390] – Rob Walling
I feel like there’s a number of angles there, right? One is I think over the next couple of years more and more tools like we see notion now has the AI. Like you can put a podcast transcript, for example, and it’ll summarize the podcast or Intercom just launched yesterday, last couple of days, where they have all this AI built in for responses. I mean, that’s amazing, right? That’s going to impact and that’s going to become easier. But from a product perspective, of course, that’s going to be integrated into more and more things. So that’s one angle. Another angle is in think about marketing and there are a lot of founders, I know it’s like a two founder team and one of them is trying to crank out blog posts. Well now that’s a seed, right? You can either say outline this, I mean with copy AI, Jasper AI, where it’s a full blown chat GPT is not for blog posts, right? It’s just for short form things. The responses are limited. But so it’s actually, I think, a benefit to help someone, especially someone who cares, who’s not just going to use the whole AI generated thing, but like you and I just said, it’s a seed that you then improve upon.
[00:16:46.220] – Rob Walling
So I think it makes bootstrap founders more efficient in terms of marketing, SEO, and content. And then another aspect of the course, is code. And even some really good senior developers I know are getting in there and saying, build me this thing based on build me a calculator based on block, blah, blah. And if you’re a good developer, again, you look at it and you say, oh, it didn’t do that, right? So I’m going to spend 20% of the time that I would have spent writing it from scratch to fix that. And there are even more angles in the interest of time. But I won’t go into it. But yeah, I think there’s a lot of impacts. What I have been trouble I’ve been having trouble thinking of is what are the potential negative. Because the three I just mentioned are all positive. I don’t know. Off the top of my head, I’d be curious to hear from either of you. Like, do you see negative? Aside from that, look, if you’re a shitty writer, yeah. You’re not going to have a job, right? Because it’s going to write better than you. If you’re a crappy developer, it’s going to develop better than you.
[00:17:44.070] – Rob Walling
But I think of a lot of net positives for Bootstrappers. I don’t know that I can think offhand of a big negative impact. Curious. If you guys do well in the.
[00:17:56.330] – Jonathan Denwood
Bootstrap this property, you’re going to be busy, tiny seeds going to be busy for the next few years. Society. Well, there was this weekend startups pointed out that Amazon Square, the stadium, they were utilizing AI to identify people’s faces. And any people that said nasty fins about Amazon Stadium on Twitter or social media, they would kick it over.
[00:18:33.410] – Rob Walling
Security would talk to them. But that’s fine. I can think of a lot of negative stuff in a society as a whole. But for bootstrappers, I don’t know. Haven’t thought of any yet. I’m sure we’ll see some. Yeah.
[00:18:43.300] – Kurt von Ahnen
The one negative that came to my mind, Rob, was the idea that it can give certain people that aren’t at that level yet, they’re not the diamond in the rough yet. They’re still the charcoal. Right. And it might give them that piece of security or inspiration to take the next step into bootstrapping before they’re ready. Like false confidence. And that’s where I thought that might be a negative. Because if we flood the market with people that aren’t ready to be in the market, it kind of dissolves it or dilutes it for the rest of the people that are prepared.
[00:19:15.130] – Rob Walling
I can see that. Yeah, that’s one. And as you were talking, I realized for bootstrappers, but for anyone who’s hiring now, people can fake it. Like, what if I’m not a good writer and I give you a bunch of AI writing, right? So that could potentially be a negative, or code, for that matter. Give me some code examples. I sent a code project out, right? We used to get projects, and now people could go to Copilot is that GitHub or Chat GPT to do it. So that means we have to get a little more creative. Right. I know that open AI released an AI content Identifier, right. It’s not great yet, right. They said there’s a bunch of false positives, but it’ll be within six months. That will be an amazing resource. And then I think if you’re hiring developers, we had actually, years ago, switched from take home projects to pair programming. And if you do that, then you actually watch them code the things. So there are ways around it. It’s just we have to get a little more creative. Cool.
[00:20:12.500] – Kurt von Ahnen
Over to you, Jonathan.
[00:20:13.960] – Jonathan Denwood
Thanks, Matt Kirk. We’re going to go for our middle break. It’s been a fantastic discussion already. We’ll be back in a few moments, folks.
[00:20:23.270] – Speaker 5
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[00:20:51.850] – Rob Walling
Get your copy today.
[00:20:55.650] – Speaker 7
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[00:21:34.190] – Jonathan Denwood
Coming back, folks, just want to point out we got some fantastic deals on the WP Tonic site around our sponsors, plus a curated list of the best plugins and WordPress services. You can get all these goodies by going over to WP Tonic, WP Tonicdils. And you can sign up for the weekly WP Tonic newsletter, which I write with the help of AI. It’s me. It’s me at the core. You can tell by the terrible English jokes. So on to the next question. I’m doing well. Get a smile for Rob. So there we go. Sorry, Rob. So, on to next week. And so do you think over the last 18 months, do you think it’s got easier for Bootstrap SAS to get to this unicorn mystical level, 10,000 income per month, or do you actually think it’s getting harder?
[00:22:42.840] – Rob Walling
Rob I love that in Bootstrapping, we use a unicorn to mean $10,000 a month, because in the rest of the world, it’s a billion dollar company.
[00:22:53.910] – Jonathan Denwood
We’re in the real world.
[00:22:55.660] – Rob Walling
Yeah, exactly. Over the long term, I think 1015 years ago versus today, I think it’s easier today and there’s more competition, but there’s more information out there and there are these massive ecosystems that you can build into, like the Shopify App Store, Heroku, app Store, WordPress plugin repository. You can build these add ons to an existing ecosystem, and getting to ten K with one, two, three of those is much, much easier than it was building, because he had, let’s say, 1015 years ago to build standalone software. And that is a lot harder. So I have a thing called the Stairstep Approach stairstep method of Bootstrapping, which talks about that. And there’s actually a firstname.lastname@example.org who has put together a list of 69 different software App Store marketplaces like I’m talking about, that you can build add ons to. And so that’s a real interesting idea. But your question was over the past 18 months, I don’t I don’t know that I’ve seen a drastic shift in 18 months. There just hasn’t been enough change. Right, there is. Certainly the economic climate is a little worse. I mean, it is worse than 18 months ago. But the bootstrap SaaS companies I’m seeing that are solving problems are still doing fine.
[00:24:16.320] – Rob Walling
There’s not a huge slowdown. There is slowdown. Big enterprise deals, especially if you’re selling to Fortune 1000 or public companies because they’re seeing their stocks drop. Big startups, Facebook, Google or whatever, if you’re selling a $50,000 deal, $100,000 deal to whatever target Facebook, they are doing a lot of hiring freezes as they’re doing these layoffs. So those things are slowing down in terms of tiny seed Microcomp companies. December wasn’t great, but it never is. And January back to business as usual, mostly. So usually what happens I’ll caveat this with like the reason I think it’s gotten easier over ten years, 15 years is there’s all these new ways to find people, right? There’s Twitter, there’s social media in general, LinkedIn, Twitter. There is captera, there’s all these marketing approaches that really didn’t exist or weren’t very accessible ten or 15 years ago. These marketplaces, the platforms, like I said, the salesforce heroku shopify like these were Nascent or Nonexistent. And so over the last 18 months, there hasn’t been a drastic shift in those things. Right? It’s not like Captain came up in the last 18 months or all these marketplaces. So I think it takes more time for it to be a big shift and make it easier or harder.
[00:25:34.260] – Rob Walling
I’d say it’s about the same.
[00:25:36.650] – Jonathan Denwood
All right, great.
[00:25:39.700] – Kurt von Ahnen
Thanks, Jonathan. Having been someone that’s made the investment in the WordPress space, several different WordPress SAS things, most prominently WP engine, do you feel that there’s still a lot of opportunity in the WordPress space, or do you think it’s just gotten crowded?
[00:25:59.250] – Rob Walling
There is always opportunity. There’s always opportunity. It’s crowded, but there’s opportunity. We’ve also invested in, let’s see, Castos, right? Which seriously or is seriously simple podcasting lasso, which is a WordPress plug in a couple of others as well. Here’s what I would say, though. WordPress is a mature you have to think about a mature space differently than a mature platform, differently than a one year old platform. The opportunities are there, but they’re different. So if I were to personally build a WordPress plugin today or want to get into the WordPress ecosystem, as specifically with a software product, obviously there’s a bunch of ways, if there’s consulting and there’s other things, but specifically with software, the basic ideas, all the basic features are built right, that’s a mature product. The way I would look to get into it is in one of two ways. Take some type of new technology, ecosystem, whatever, and apply it to WordPress. Two examples. Friend of mine named Phil Dirksen back in 2013 ish built WP Pinnet Pro, I think it was called, or WP Pinnet, which was a Pinterest WordPress plugin. It was like one of the first because Pinterest was new.
[00:27:10.120] – Rob Walling
So if a new, where’s the WP tech talk, right? Where’s the WP web? Three. Where’s the WP? AI? These are newish things that are becoming prominent. So he built Pinterest one, and then he built WP Stripe, which I believe he had to rename to WP Simple Pay, maybe, because stripe have a trademark and all that. But all that said, and he built it in 2012, 2013, as stripe came into prominent. So today, if I were to do that, it’s like I just gave three examples, right? But what are the what are the things wpvr, if that makes sense, WP drones? I’m kind of just brainstorming here, but like, what are all the new technologies we’ve seen over the past two years? And are there WordPress plugins? Is there a need? So that’s one way to do it. That’s risky. You’re timing a market and it may just never come to fruition. That that’s needed. Right? You’re kind of taking a gamble. The way I would actually do it, the lower risk way, is there’s all these plugins out there, and a bunch of them have either been abandoned or someone just wants to let them go.
[00:28:06.170] – Rob Walling
I would try to adopt or buy personally, and I have multiple friends, literally dozens of friends, who have either gone in and acquired a WordPress plug in, like, gone through the repo and been like, oh my gosh, this plug in has a kajillion five star reviews and X amount of downloads. I don’t remember what number you can see, but X amount of installs. Right. I think it shows and they’ll contact, but no update in two years. And they’ll reach out and say, can I acquire this? Can I adopt this? Can I buy it from you? I mean, Craig Hewitt has been founder, Castos has been public about seriously simple podcasting, which is his plug in that then became Castos, a seven figure SAS app. He was contacted by the person who owned that, and he acquired it for single digit thousands. Right. He hasn’t been exact, but I mean, single digit thousands, we’re talking between one and $9,000. And that became a business. So that’s where I would go. We could go down that rabbit hole a lot further, but that’s where I think those are the easy opportunities in WordPress or any mature space.
[00:29:06.450] – Rob Walling
[00:29:06.830] – Kurt von Ahnen
And I like that you hit on the luck thing, because your book that you have available on your site talks about there’s no such thing as luck marketing. As soon as you start coding and all that, and it’s like, sometimes you get lucky, but you can’t bank on it. Right? One in 10,000 chance of being lucky or something like that.
[00:29:21.270] – Rob Walling
You. Said yes. Awesome. Hard work, luck and skill are the things that I see that people who are successful. There’s a combination of hard work, of luck and a skill. You can’t change, you can’t impact luck, but you can impact the other two. You can build your skills, you can build your experience, and of course you can work hard.
[00:29:38.730] – Kurt von Ahnen
Yeah, I appreciate that. Jonathan.
[00:29:41.190] – Speaker 5
[00:29:41.530] – Jonathan Denwood
Just a quick follow up question. One of the things I’ve been thinking about this Rob, because obviously what makes WordPress is the same with individuals, it’s the same with companies and it’s the same with platforms. But the strengths of WordPress also its weaknesses. It’s a much more open platform than a satellite. WooCommerce compared. Let’s take WooCommerce to shopify. Shopify easier probably to get up and running. WooCommerce ownership flexibility. If you’re building an add on service, you’ll probably be more advised to look at WooCommerce because shopify could anytime just say we’re taking that over or we don’t like it. But the main problem with WordPress is it’s a bit of a flea market. You got these 60,000 plugins and that and WordPress and automatic for understandable reasons don’t want because they would be a sitting target if they really started recommending stuff. But that’s where I see AI, because I see one of the opportunities in WordPress and you see that with the leading influencers in the WordPress space on YouTube podcasting, if they become human creators, recommendators. I see AI helping people with integration about being able to look at all these choices and customizing the solution for somebody.
[00:31:27.850] – Jonathan Denwood
Do you think I’m on the right path?
[00:31:30.650] – Rob Walling
So are you saying that we’ll go to AI to help us pick like, what’s the best WordPress plugin to do?
[00:31:35.470] – Jonathan Denwood
XYZ yeah, we want to get a membership website up and we got these specific things and we would be able to put it in interface and it would just give us the recommendation list of plug in solutions for you to achieve what you’re looking to do.
[00:31:55.000] – Rob Walling
Sure, I think that’s totally reasonable. I think for AI to get there, it needs to start citing sources because right now it makes stuff up. And when I go to Google and I type a search, I was looking for like, what was I looking for? Oh, it was a steamer. You know what a hand steamer is, where you can steam clothes? They’re great. We didn’t have one. We were on a trip and the hotel had one, where I’m like, well, how do I not own this, right? This is amazing. So I went to Chat GPT and I said, what’s the best steamer that I should buy? Here are my requirements. And then I went to Google and I did the same thing. I went with Google’s recommendation because in Google there were ten links and guess what? One of them was like the wire cutter or something that I trust. So if I knew that the moment and actually the top two in Google were like, these BS SEO sites. You know, best steamer in, right? It’s like so I skipped those. I went to the wire cutter. So I was seeking the source that I trusted.
[00:32:54.800] – Rob Walling
Then I looked at it and I was like, cool, right there. Boom. Bought it. Chat GPT. I looked at it and I’m like, is it making this up? Like, it just fell. I couldn’t trust it yet. But if Chat GPT had said, based on amalgamating the wire cutter and CNET and Consumer Reports or whatever, this is the one we recommend, blah, blah, blah, I would have felt much more confident. So in terms of your question of which plugins should I use to do this? That ecom WordPress site with these requirements, if it recommended something to be today, I’d be like, I need to double check all this with Jonathan because I don’t know WordPress well enough. But if it cited sources of this is from the Wptonic blog and we aggregated this and that, that would make me personally feel much more comfortable with the recommendations.
[00:33:38.610] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, just to wrap up the podcast. You okay sound for a little longer. I think I’ve got such mixed feelings about AI because it’s definitely a disruptor and it definitely is real, but also these people that say it’s intelligent or it’s really got elements of them. Do you know this thing that happened in the 18th century, the Mechanical Turk, where there was a chess playing machine, but it was somebody in the bottom of the box? It’s that because it’s a bit like Alan turning. It probably will help pass Allen turning test, but it’s not intelligent. There’s no intelligence at all. It’s ridiculous that people even think that. But I’m amazed at the amount of people that even suggest that really show that they know nothing about the subject. And I literally know nothing about it. But it’s not a surprise to you.
[00:34:47.770] – Rob Walling
Like, anything. AI. Has been batted around for a decade, right? Or more. I mean, for 100 years, whatever, since Mechanical Turk. But really, in computing, people have been saying, oh, this thing is AI. If it helps you generate a few subject lines in an email marketing software. And it wasn’t actually AI. It was a bunch of if and L statements or a bunch of case statements, right? AI. Has been misused. And anyone who’s a developer or who’s technical knows a lot of stuff people have called AI is not. So, no, it doesn’t surprise me that there are folks who think it’s actually intelligent. But I will say that while you and I know it’s not actually intelligent, that it’s just absorbing a bunch of information and learning to spit it out in a new way. It is allowing us to do things that you could never do before. Right? People are literally taking songs like a Beatles song, and the AI can pull out a single track in a way that you just couldn’t do it. Or it can record. You can upload a five minute sample of your voice. I think it’s eleven Labs is what it’s called.
[00:35:53.890] – Rob Walling
You upload it and then you can just type stuff and it will say it as you. That’s pretty incredible. And the ability to I mean, I go to chat GPT, like I said, and I have an outline YouTube video and then I’ll take pieces of it. I actually want to I’m trying to figure I’m working on this now with with a friend, but I’m trying to upload all of my everything I’ve ever done, like my books. I’m working on my fourth book. It’s almost done. I am. I have all these YouTube videos I’ve recorded that are just me. I’ve had all these podcast episodes that are just me. I have more than 100 essays on my blog, but like, I want to stuff all that into an AI. And then when it comes up for YouTube, say, how would how would I outline this? Because it’s going to know now. It’s going to borrow from my previous stuff. Right? So that’s like incredible power. So it’s not intelligent, but it is a step above anything that we have in terms of the ability to produce.
[00:36:51.670] – Jonathan Denwood
I don’t know, I kind of see it’s a very powerful, sophisticated tool.
[00:36:57.260] – Rob Walling
Yeah, that’s what it is. Like anything. Right, so web three and crypto and NFTs high pipe. Pipe. But that’s actually a good technology that has uses. Those things have actual uses, I think, of the internet in the crash, but then, look, it sticks around. Everything has this hype cycle, VR and AR. So AI is a little probably like anything is a little overhyped right now because it’s new, but it will settle in and it will become something that we use day to day.
[00:37:28.260] – Jonathan Denwood
Right, we’re going to close the podcast show. Rob’s agreed to stay on for a couple more questions and a bit more discussion. You’d be able to watch the whole interview on the WP Tonic YouTube channel. Please go over there. I’ve got a ton of content and discussion. We had a great roundtable show last week. We had the founder of WP Engine join us. Jason, it was a great discussion. Rob, maybe tell people how they can find more about you and your thoughts. But also, can you give us a quick outline of what your new book is going to be about?
[00:38:11.540] – Rob Walling
Yeah, I’d love to. So if, you know, you obviously listen to a podcast or watching YouTube right now to hear this. I have a podcast called Startups for the Rest of US. Up to 650 episodes, been shipping every week since 2010. And it’s about bootstrapping and SAS and it’s the longest running, I think, and kind of the most prominent in that space. And then YouTube microcomutube. I also spit out a new YouTube video on that kind of stuff every week. That’s different from the podcast. The book is called The SAS Playbook. Build a Multimillion dollar Startup without Venture Capital. And so it’s about bootstrapping, but also mostly bootstrapping. There’s a lot of companies in my orbit that raise a couple of hundred grand. It’s not venture money, but it’s enough to get them that to escape velocity. And so I’m going to be doing a Kickstarter for the book in a couple of months. And it’s just a super compact. My books are all 200 pages. It’s like you can read it on an airplane flight, but I cover market. Like how to build a product people want and are willing to pay for. I talk about team, if you decide to build one, how to hire, when to hire.
[00:39:17.750] – Rob Walling
Talk about SAS metrics that you should know. 80 20 SAS metrics. I call it pricing structures, marketing approaches, how to find the one that works, or the one or two or three that work for you. And then entrepreneurial mindset, right? All the biggest mistakes that I see folks making as well as how to do it for the long term. So all that in like six chapters, 200 pages. And I’m really excited about it. I haven’t written this is my first book in like five years. It’s my fourth book that I’ve written, but it’s the first one since it’s The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Shit Together, which I wrote with my wife and really excited about it. Yes.
[00:39:51.220] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s great. I’ll buy a copy. There you go. How can people find out more about you and what you have to?
[00:40:00.670] – Kurt von Ahnen
Well, I’m lucky in that I have a unique name. I’m the only Kurt Von and you’ll find on LinkedIn. And I’m on LinkedIn almost every day. So if you can jump on LinkedIn, make a connection, chances are we’ll end up on an Icebreaking phone call and figure out how we can add value to each other, which I love, love, love to do. I love meeting people. Also, anything that is manyana OMAS online is typically mine. So look up myana OMAS and there I’ll be.
[00:40:25.590] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s great. It’s been a great discussion. We got some fantastic guests of the Quality of Rob coming up in the next couple of months. I’m really excited. A very diverse group of people, but all about tech. SAS WordPress, it’s all big stuff, isn’t it? Listeners and viewers in interesting witches brew. We will be back next week. We’ve another great discussion. We see you soon.
[00:40:52.480] – Rob Walling
[00:40:53.910] – Ending
Hey, thanks for listening. We really do appreciate it. Why not visit the Mastermind Facebook group? And also to keep up with the latest news, click WP Tonic.com newsletter. We’ll see you next time.
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