Bootstrapping as a Non-Technical Solo Founder After a Failed VC Funded Startup | Amman Ahmed, MusicForPets
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In today’s episode, Melissa In today’s episode, Melissa sits down for a (virtual) drink with Amman Ahmed, founder of MusicForPets. After Melissa pours her sparkling pineapple lemonade and Amman his mineral water with ice, Amman introduces himself and his company. He first started MusicForPets in 2011 and it is a company that has relaxing music for dogs and cats who are left at home alone and have anxiety. Last year, 50 million cats and dogs had used the content and his company has an 87% success rate. They measure success rate by asking the owners if they see a change in their pet’s behavior, and if the music is helping their pet.
Next, Amman shares how he is the only non-technical founder. His previous company was venture capital funded and was a raw mix music discovery discovery for independent artists. He raised money for this company because he thought it was the only route for success. It was a very slow process with multiple workers and explaining everything to everyone took away from why they built the business. Amman got caught up in people pleasing a lot and bootstrapping came out of frustration. He did not want other people’s opinion, but wanted complete control. He started his new company, MusicForPets by making money on YouTube for music therapy for humans. The idea to create music therapy for pets came from his music producer, Ricardo Henriquez, and his friends. They came up with the idea to make specialized music therapy with frequency and visuals to help pets, and then the idea grew as they experimented.
Amman’s goal in founding the company was to give him financial freedom. The questions he asked himself in creating the company were: What lifestyle do I want? What company do I want to build around that lifestyle? He wanted complete control, but a level of financial wealth where he could still have happiness and freedom. In order to get the company off the ground in terms of technicality, Amman monetizes on non-technical assets. He hired freelancers to build tech and try to make products as simple as possible that any guy could. He is in a rare position with having gross margins of 60%, owning 100% and no investors. He is still using freelancers today and knows how to interview, find the right people and communicate well. His suggestion is to go work in sales or recruitment that will really push you and teach you how to communicate. The biggest challenges of a non technical founder is finding the right people for the job, creating buffers and backups.
His market strategy was first on a Youtube algorithm, but Amman believes in aggressively pursuing customer service. He says when you engage in the fan base as much as possible, you will genuinely care about your customers and that goes a long way. This first started off with Youtube comments and the customers used the free content until Youtube invited Amman to monetize his program. He owns the subscription platform now and he says the business got easier in 2018 when he finally took it on full time. He only has 4 full time employees on his team– the rest are all freelancers. His opinion on bootstrapping versus venture capital now is to do everything you can to bootstrap and make money. You need to create more revenue opportunities- even side hustles that don’t have anything to do with your business- in order to exhaust every opportunity to raise money. He also says to go to the market as quickly as possible and create a low marketing budget. Even if your product isn't perfect, just get it out there as soon as possible. Amman also states that it can be lonely when you don't have a cofounder, but power through and find your tribe. Keep the faith– it is a lot harder in the beginning, but worth it in the end.
0:55 - Welcome to this episode, in which host Melissa interviews Amman Ahmed.
3:44 - Amman introduces himself and his company, MusicForPets.
5:32 - Amman’s previous company and why he chose to raise capital for it.
11:05 - Where did the idea come from for music for dogs and cats?
12:17 - Amman’s goal in creating the company.
15:17 - How he first got the company off the ground.
20:04 - The biggest challenges of a non-technical founder.
21:23 - How he got his first 100 customers.
27:19 - Bootstrapping vs. venture capital.
31:04 - Amman’s final advice for anyone starting a new company.
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Amman Ahmed, relaxmydog, relaxmycat, MusicForPets, bootstrapping, capital, venue, founder, cofounder, customer engagement, netflix, Youtube, company, marketing, budget, freelancers, freedom, gross margins, investors, lifestyle, happiness