I'm Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo of AppSumo and Sumo.com, AMA 🤠

noah kagan
39 replies
Hola, it's your boy, Noah! Quick story about me. I was employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at Mint. Today, I'm the Chief Sumo of Sumo Group (brands/products include AppSumo.com, Sumo.com, KingSumo, SendFox, and FAM). I also have a popular podcast on business, Noah Kagan Presents. I'm all open to answer questions about business, marketing, and starting businesses. Shoot them questions! P.S. My latest obsessions is launching next week FAM: https://producthunt.com/upcoming... 👪


Aaron O'Leary
Thanks for doing this AMA @noahkagan! Excited to read your insights into everything business and of course hearing about your newest venture FAM. What I'm curious about is any tips you would give to building a sustainable community, enough to validate what appsumo was as the beginning. For a product like AppSumo to work I would think you would need to build a community fast and maintain it in order for it to provide value, any tips / learning experiences regarding this?
noah kagan
@aaronoleary Building a community was never the original intention of AppSumo. It was just helping companies promote and getting customers great deals. Over the years a STRONG community has been built around AppSumo. It makes me reflect — what are the elements of a community? 1- Shared passion 2- Place for people to discuss said passion As a company we’ve done things that have fostered a community: - spent many months updating our comments / reviews section - accidentally created our own lingo from Sumo-lings, LTD, wantrepreneur to stacking - Used language that resonated - We ARE a small business ourselves and care immensely to help other small businesses succeed - Have a public persona (myself) who shares our challenges and successes Not sure if its an exact science but at end of day we truly care about our Sumo-lings and spend a lot of time focused on that.
Emily Hodgins
Hi Noah. Thanks for being here. Congrats on a great podcast! Curious what has been your most successful growth initiative for subscribers/listeners to the show?
noah kagan
@ejsnowdon Thanks Emily. The #1 thing was doing a big contest when we launched the show in January. A few key highlights: 1- Incentivized listeners with prizes for reviews and shares. 2- Lined up a bunch of other shows to be on and / or email their list about my our show 3- Promoted through our list numerous times It's hardly ever been a guest that's driven more subscribers. I've tried numerous things that haven't worked: 1- Buying ads on listennotes and Overcast. Worked okay but not amazing 2- Getting celebs on the show What I've observed is consistency, pick a unique angle and then warm your audience into podcast (get them on email list and drive to podcast later). Most people have 15-30 minutes a day for podcasts so they have to give up someone else for you, its a zero-sum game. So you have to pick a topic or unique angle that people look to you for. Lately I've been doing biz tear downs live-on the show and that seems to be improving subscribers.
@ejsnowdon @noahkagan thanks a lot!!! how do I make a cold e-mail template to contact "brand ambassadors" to promote our product or to write an article for my blog - in return to promote them and their blog for example... cuz I have no budget...
Ben Jacobson
Hi @noahkagan. A question for you relating to the upcoming FAM launch. How has launching a product changed since the last time you did it? What tactics that were once gold are now dead and vice versa? Also wanted to ask about your plans for OKDork. I used to love that site back when it was a blog abut SEO and marketing tactics. Seems like in recent years, it's been more of a personal blog for you / distribution platform for your podcast. Was that a conscious decision or just natural evolution? Any plans to pivot it further?
noah kagan
@osbennn For LAUNCHING a product its still the same as when I helped launch Mint over 10 years ago. 1- Create a DOPE F*cking product that people actually want. 2- Figure out WHO actually wants that product 3- Choose a goal for your launch, we have a target goal of 5,000 customers within the week of launch day. 4- Do quant based marketing to calculate how its possible to even reach that many customers. 5- Pair down the activities to the things that really matter. High-level things we are focused on: A) Utilizing our own network and assets in promotion. Think most businesses under-utilize this. B) Focus very targeted on where people communicate and you can control the promotion. Facebook groups are becoming that which weren’t in the past. Blogs had more power. C) Look for complimentary partners in the Shopify ecosystem to work with and help them. One major thing I realized on this launch is how many people I’ve helped or worked with in the past I’m reaching out to again. Great reminder to always be working on your network. TO your main question if things have changed. Not really. Same stuff, different toilet :)
noah kagan
@osbennn Glad you loved OkDork too. My preferences change over time and talking about marketing in the way I was got old even though it helped grow the site. We are rethinking how to grow the site and stay excited over a very long-period of time.
Tomáš Vestenický
Hello Noah, I have a question about the lifetime deal economy. I successfully ran an LTD for my project a year ago as an alternative way to raise money. Since then, I was closely following this space (being in several FB groups), and I saw many companies run LTDs over and over again. Every few months a new "limited" lifetime deal, often more and more generous, upsetting old customers. Sometimes it looked like the company ran solely on LTDs without regular customers that would pay regularly. I saw many announcements that the company is shutting down because it can't sustain itself. This made me think about how lifetime deals can be a disaster for some companies and how it's crucial to find "real" customers for the long term. You see companies doing LTDs daily. Some of them were featured on AppSumo many times. What's your take on this?
noah kagan
@tmvst LTDs I think will become even MORE popular over time. I was skeptical from the cost and maintenance perspective but see LTD as the new on boarding for all software businesses. Get a taste of the product’s premium version and then you can upgrade at your choice to other pieces. MOST if not ALL consumers HATE subscriptions. Name one you look forward to paying each month? I mean really can’t wait. Yea, none! So LTDs get around that and provide ongoing cash to help the business grow.
Tawanda Gumbo
Thank you @noahkagan. I'm always curious about the decisions that lead people to be early employees at startups. What motivated you to make the decisions to be employee #30 at Facebook and #4 at mint?
noah kagan
@tawandarunako Hey TG. Those were both products I loved using and would have worked for free at. Those two things have helped guide where I've taken my career.
Tamas Torok
Hey @noahkagan, thanks for doing this AMA. I love your live case studies on your podcast! My question: #1 How would you start promoting a new online product without any followers and subscribers? I would love to know the very early tactics you (would) use to get the word out.
noah kagan
@torok_tomi I’ve written about this a TON of times. Really it’s just focusing on a few things: 1- Pick a clear goal and timeline for your business 2- Do your product manually for a customer. Most people build build build then try to sell the software. Go in reverse. 3- Look at your own network for potential customers and referrals first. 4- Engage to help people FOR FREE in online groups you are a part of. Not a part of one. JOIN! Nothing should really even cost you money when launching and having no audience. You being on Product Hunt alone shows you are around potential customers. Connect, help and work with them.
Shyamal Parikh
How has the LTD scenario changed for Appsumo in the last few years with some good groups eating up the Market share of Appsumo?
noah kagan
@shyamal890 There's always people competing, just part of the business process. I always think about how many restaurants are there in a city. LOTS of competition. How will you stay ahead or find your unique advantage is the question?
Paul P
Thank you for the opportunity Noah ! My Question : After how long / how much testing do you consider you should shut down a project to launch another one ?
noah kagan
@pavlos1944 I like to give myself a week. I know that sounds extreme but product-market-fit can ALWAYS be found it in a very short period of time. Having constraints to gauge if you can get paying beta customers will help you figure out if you are creating something people ACTUALLY want. Most people try to start things way out of their zone of knowledge which is why they then take 1 year or and lots of cash to build stuff that no one wants. Leverage your network, your skillset and whatever you already have access to! Make it easy on yourself :)
Chris Von Wilpert
3 questions: 1- How much sales did FAM make for Shopify customers in beta? 2- When FAM launches and everyone drops their nuts, how much does Shopify need to pay for you to sell? 3- If the sale can't go through unless you do 100 push-ups straight, are you ready?
noah kagan
@vonwilpert Shalom brother Chris. 1- FAM has done 1.3m in sales for customers in the 4 months we've been live. 2- We will get paid in a 12-pack of Doritos Locos Tacos plus a frozen margarita machine. 3- Remember that time I did a 100 push-ups for fun and then right after did another 100 to show you old people can be strong.
Mokhtar Ibrahim
@noahkagan Thanks for doing this I will be sure to check it out :)
Can you describe AppSumo's process for picking partners? What do you look for in product and in founder?
noah kagan
@davoood The Partner team makes these decisions. The deals have changed over the years from 3 month deals to content deals to Life Time Deals. Ultimately it's what our Sumo-lings want :)
Danavir Sarria
Best advice for growing an email list from 0 to 1,000 in the next 8 weeks? Topic is ecommerce marketing/copywriting.
Jack Cooper
Always nice to see awesome new products being built for a Canadian-based platform 😀🇨🇦
Thomas Lang
Lit'l boy Noah is strange as always (in a good way) ;)
Ivaylo Durmonski
Hey, @noahkagan Thanks for hosting this AMA. have a question. Do you have some tips for gaining more organic traffic to a relatively new site - 1-year-old?
noah kagan
@ivaylo_durmonski Yea, put out great content with 50% of your time and 50% of your time you should be PROMOTING that content. It’s too lazy and easy to just do the first part. What’s promoting? 1- Work backwards from WHERE your audience lives online or offline. 2- Share your content or the best parts of it all over the web 3- Comment and engage in other peoples sites to build relationships to work together in the future.
Breffni Potter
Hello Noah, I've kept seeing AppSumo on Facebook, yet it has come across as spammy/scammy/low value. As a tech guy you keep seeing "Buy Microsoft Office for £20!" offers and various scams. AppSumo came along with significantly discounted deals, and it is only with this post I've gone "oh wow, very different to the first impression, could be something good." How do you deal with "too good to be true" first impressions of your product/service and sceptical reactions?
noah kagan
@breffni_potter Ha! That’s actually been a real problem we’ve had. We used to do bundles that were literally valued at $2500 and selling at $50. Ultimately we just showed the 1 year value so people can process how amazing a deal it is. And reduced number of deals in the bundles to make it easier to grasp value.
Juan Manuel Garrido
Do you like asado from Argentina @noahkagan?
Debajit Sarkar
@noahkagan Hi Noah, thanks for doing this AMA. I need to know - what should a start up in the management consulting industry do in order to acquire clients ? In other words, what would be an effective marketing strategy to acquire clients ? Thank You.
Hi Noah, we had launched our product here in Product Hunt around one month ago (https://www.producthunt.com/post...) and was very good for us, getting honest feedback, subscribers, ideas, etc... We had worked our asses out to improve the product and understand better the needs of our users!! Getting a much better product we had to decide to launch at AppSumo, and today is the big day!! We expect to hit strong at the AppSumo community! Cross fingers! Cheers, Leandro