May 31, 2022

It’s a Match! Swipe Right on this Revolutionary Book Dating App with Brant Menswar Ep 72


Multi-hyphenate, Brant Menswar, is one of the country’s Top 10 motivational speakers, a best-selling author, award-winning musician, Top 200 podcast host, the creator of the fastest growing book discovery app in the world and a self-professed coffee snob. His books and podcast (Thoughts That Rock) expand on his ground-breaking work around values-based leadership described as “disarmingly simple and incredibly powerful.” 

He has helped to change what’s possible for industry-leading organizations like Netflix, Verizon, Anthem, SunTrust, Microsoft, ESPN, Hilton and dozens more.

Passionate and engaging, Brant encourages audiences to discover their Black Sheep Values® and move forward with deliberate intention. His interactive and entertaining ways of defining what matters most compels audiences to dig deeper into their lives and start living on purpose.

Where to Find Brant Menswar

Website: https://www.brantmenswar.com


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This episode is sponsored by Entire Productions- Creating events (both in-person and virtual) that don't suck! and Entire Productions Marketing- carefully curated premium gifting and branded promo items. 

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Transcript
Brant Menswar:

They're thinking, "I need to do a banner ad on Amazon. I need to do this ad in a newsletter.." But it's all for a moment or for a one-shot deal. I'm going to appear in this one thing, one time and it costs me $1,500 and I hope that enough people see it and click on it and maybe that's it. What we offer is one-on-one. People are forced to make a decision on your book. They either have to say, "Yes, I want to add this to my to-be-read list," or "No, I'm not interested."

Natasha Miller:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. My book RELENTLESS is now available. Everywhere books can be bought online, including Amazon and barnesand noble.com. Try your local Indie bookstore too. And if they don't have it, they can order it. Just ask them. The reviews are streaming in and I'm so thankful for the positive feedback, as well as hearing from people that my memoir has impacted them positively. It is not enough to be resilient. You have to be RELENTLESS. You can go to therelentlessbook.com for more information. Thank you so much. Brant Menswar is one of the country's top 10 motivational speakers, a best-selling author, award-winning musician, top 200 podcast host, the creator of the fastest growing book discovery app Booky Call. And a really nice copy. Brant and I talked about the inner workings of his startup Booky Call, what a black sheep refers to and why it's a good thing, and his successful speaking career. Now let's get right into it.

Brant Menswar:

Expecting to play professional baseball. That was the path that I was on doing quite well. And then I got hurt. And so I had to pivot quickly in college to try to figure out something else to do. And so a bunch of my friends had joined the concert choir and I'm like, I don't know if that's my bag, but I decided to go ahead and do it. And found out I could sing a little bit. And then that led to 20 years in the music business of touring first with Fort Pastor and then with the band, Big Kettle Drum. That was like an amazing time of having to learn how to do everything yourself. If you're not on a major label and you don't have people, then you are your people. And so you have to do the marketing, you have to do the promotion, you have to find the fans to come to the clubs, and you have to do everything. You have to create your merch. You have to pick up, go to Walmart and buy your shirts and spray paint them because you've run out of things because you didn't budget properly for the tour. You're eating gas stations, you fill up your big gulps, you do all those things to save every penny you can and you'll get smarter as you go each year.

Natasha Miller:

Were these bands, your bands? Or was it just a collective but you were...

Brant Menswar:

Yeah, these were my bands. Yeah. Yeah. These were my bands and me and my band mate, JT Keel. For Pastor was a trio. We were a sort of a world music trio centered around the didgeridoo, believe it or not. So that was our first record deal. And then we did that for a couple of years, almost three years, and then decided we weren't going to do the next album with the same label. And so we jumped and I did the solo thing for a little bit and then on a whim, called my old band mate from Fort Pastor, JT Keel. He's an amazing multi-instrumentalist guitars. And I said, "I have to do this tour with four rock and roll bands. And I don't want to be John Denver on stage with blinkers. Can you please come and at least do something?" So we put together this sort of like swampy suitcase, kick drum, side guitar, Louisiana bluesy feel. And by the fourth show, we had a drummer. By the end of the tour, we had a record deal and it was like my farewell thing I was doing on the solo side. And it just blew up into 10 more years of touring and that was totally unexpected.

Natasha Miller:

Did you ever have management, or did you manage?

Brant Menswar:

We did towards the last few years with Big Kettle Drum, we had management. We shared management with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, if you're are familiar with that band at all, but we did. I got started really late in the game. I was dinosaur before I even started in the music side. I think it was 30 before I started my music. Wow. And so for most is, that is ancient. And so I knew that I wasn't going to be in my fifties, sixties, pounding out the tour in a van with sweaty men. I have those not just interested and to find an exit strategy at that time, my son had gotten sick and I needed to find a way to be a little closer to home for him. So it was something that I just needed an exit strategy. And that's what sort of got me into the keynote speaking game.

Natasha Miller:

And when did you make that switch from on the road keynote?

Brant Menswar:

I eased into it about nine years ago and started with a group called Banding People Together. That was my first sort of intro. So a buddy of mine, Alan Schafer, the founder of that organization, it started off as..

Natasha Miller:

Team building outfit?

Brant Menswar:

You would go in and we would take organizations, break them into groups. Those groups would become bands. They would write an original song. We would teach them how to collaborate based on our co-writing principles. And we would take those songs back to the studio, record them, like you'd hear on the radio and send them back to the organizations. And that was my first foray into speaking. Every one of these sessions started off with a general session. "Here's what you need to know about collaboration and why it's important." I did that for years, as building a bridge to get off the road. And then really, it was probably around 2010, 11, 12 ish. That's when I transitioned to heavier, to being more speaking than playing. And then the last six or seven years now, I only play with the band on charity gigs, basically at this point.

Natasha Miller:

How did you find yourself developing a speaking career? I know a lot of entrepreneurs have an entrepreneurial endeavor. They get to the top of their game and then they want to start speaking. So we're speaking to those people, right? That's our target demographic. So what was that like for you?

Brant Menswar:

When I first got into the speaking game, when you're on the road with a band and you go see another band, I think we all are in the same boat, which is like, "How the hell did this band get this gig?" is that not where we all say, "Why am I not up there playing? This is ridiculous. I'm 10 times better." All those things. We would have those same arguments, "Who do they know? Who's their uncle? What's happened?" And so in the speaking game, what I've come to realize is, it is a very crowded space for presenters, but there are hardly any speakers, people who leave enough space to capture the truth in the room. There's a massive difference to me. And there's a handful of people that I would say are great speakers. And then..

Natasha Miller:

I'd love to know, like name one that we would all recognize.

Brant Menswar:

I don't even know if you would recognize, but Scott Stratton is like the quintessential. He's the benchmark for being a keynote speaker. He's a hall of fame speaker.

Natasha Miller:

Not someone like Simon Sinek?

Brant Menswar:

No. Simon as a presenter of information and he presents it well..

Natasha Miller:

So is Brené Brown? And yeah, I got it. I'd like to see. Yeah, I'll check that out. And I think people listening to know whether you're a speaker presenter and I don't think there's much thought to that differentiation.

Brant Menswar:

There's a bunch of zeros that are the difference of that. In the speaking game, presenters aren't going to get 20K plus a talk. They're just not going to get there.

Natasha Miller:

Lisa Nichols, is that a name that's familiar to you? I know her speaking fee and it's more than what you just said, and she's a storyteller and there's some motivation and inspiration baked in, but it is not prescriptive.

Brant Menswar:

Right. You can't be a formula. So presenters, if you took their slides away, they would panic. And a storyteller, you could lose power, the whole place could be burning around you, and they still are like "Here, I'm right here."

Natasha Miller:

Thank you for teaching me. I was wondering, am I a presenter? I can be a presenter on the things that I am an expert atm but what I've turned into my book. Performance keynote is storytelling and it has music woven in. It's pretty amazing. So I don't know. Maybe we'll talk later after this and you can tell me what I am. Yeah, it's fantastic is what I am. Just kidding.

Brant Menswar:

Listen, this is the thing. People think you've got to have enough swagger to command those types of dollars. You just do. And if you are unsure of yourself, every client that hires you is going to be unsure with you too. And you know that. And so the idea for me is, can you leave enough space in the room to capture what's happening in the room, or you just going to present your information? People get nervous if you're not quick witted. If you're not able to use something that happens in the moment, then you need to steer away from that because it could be a disaster. But for those that understand how to structure a talk, that leaves enough room for that to happen and still be on path. Those are the ones that you walk away and you remember their talks three years after you saw them, right? It's just powerful.

Natasha Miller:

This is bringing up something really strong for me. And I really want to talk to you about your app endeavor. I don't even want to spoil it yet, but I found myself recently giving these keynote musical presentations and they had a structure. And I know that I'm a unicorn because not many people are comfortable doing this, but I found that including the crowd in the talk, asking them questions actually conversing with them, but there's that very fine line of letting it go on too long or doing it too many times. And when I started doing that, first of all, everyone is more engaged. It's almost like being at a comedy show or a magic show where the comedian is calling on people. And if you want to be that person called on you, where do you sit? In the front right?

Brant Menswar:

That's right.

Natasha Miller:

But I'm calling on people, raise of hands. "Has anyone done this?" And if you raise your hand, it doesn't matter if you're in the back, you're coming into my spotlight. And I know a lot of entrepreneurs and a lot of speakers really just are terrified of improvisation, so that just takes time and coaching. And, okay, so back to you, did you have, or do you have a speaking agent?

Brant Menswar:

Yeah. So I started off by myself. The speaking community is very tight. And so if you start doing well, you start to get the attention of bureaus, right? So speaking bureaus, there are hundreds of them. And so you start on your own and you build up enough momentum and you start to get your fee to a point where they take an interest. You can't really be below 7,500 to $10,000 and work with an agency before.

Natasha Miller:

Cause they don't make any money. It's just like band booking.

Brant Menswar:

Exactly.

Natasha Miller:

Nobody wants you until you are making enough money that they can make money. Nobody is into the developing of artists or speakers these days.

Brant Menswar:

A hundred percent. And so I started there and it took me years before I got to a point that I could get enough attention from bureaus for them to be interested.

Natasha Miller:

Was that a goal?

Brant Menswar:

For certain. Yes. If you're going to make a living at this and you're not famous, then this is the game. You have to have a bureau, at least one bureau representing you, who has these relationships with clients that are looking to book speakers. And so my best bud, the co-founder of the app is Jim Knight. Jim was a former hard rock international executive and Jim has been one of the most popular speakers in the country for the better part of 10 years. And he literally walked me in to his agent and said, "You need to meet Brant," and so that sort of, at least got me in front of them. Now I will tell you, shit didn't happen for at least another year. Even with that walking through the front door, it's a tough game to break into. So Keppler Speakers, I was with exclusively for a year or so. And they represent 700 speakers so you can get lost real quick, right?

Natasha Miller:

Yeah. It's just like, "Oh, I got signed to William Morris, but it doesn't really matter." It's great. Bottom of the list.

Brant Menswar:

That's right. So that's what ended up happening. To be honest, I love my Keppler family, but I couldn't stay exclusive with them because I told them just raw, honest teas. "You've got about four show ponies and I'm not one of them. And if I'm going to stay exclusive, you either need to build another stall for this show pony, or I can't be exclusive anymore." And so they were very honest and they were just like "We're just not in a position to do that right now." I'm like, totally cool. So I left my exclusivity just before the pandemic. And honestly, it's been really good because now I probably have seven or eight bureaus that are out pitching me every day. And I get calls several times a week with a put a hold on this date, and this is what it is and here's the offer and here's the client. And so it's worked out well. I couldn't have done that if I hadn't reached that level.

Natasha Miller:

You couldn't have done that without the hustle that you had to learn as a musician, are you in a really good position with your past knowledge? Okay. We're moving on to something that is current. Not that speaking is not current, right? That's still happening people, if you want to poke him, reach out to him. What was the impetus of Booky Call?

Brant Menswar:

Hiring an awful book publicist. That's why it was just this truth. I released two books. My first book was self-published. My first one, I like to call big boy book was published in September, 2020 with Page Two out of Vancouver.

Natasha Miller:

I've heard good things about them.

Brant Menswar:

They're absolutely amazing. And so at that time, they didn't have a marketing department really to help promote your book. So you had to figure out what you were going to do. And so I hired this really well-known honestly, well-respected book publicity firm out of New York and spent a boatload of money and..

Natasha Miller:

Boatload meaning? Let's just break it down like $5,000 to $7,000 a month more?

Brant Menswar:

Double that. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And so when you're looking at a minimum three months, right? So they want six in the book game after three months, you're at about 80% of what you're going to sell.

Natasha Miller:

And what is the name of this book that we're talking about?

Brant Menswar:

The book is called Black Sheep. It was centered around my talks and the book was birthed out of that. And it was this idea that I had no idea why farmers didn't actually value black sheep, like the rest of the flock. And when someone told me the truth, it just rocked my world to the point where I had read a book about it. So the truth is that farmers don't value black sheep because a black sheep wool can't be dyed. So every black sheep is 100% authentically original and it can't be made into something. It wasn't meant to be. When I heard that, I'm like, that is literally like my life's goal, to just be that 100% authentic, original I was made to be and nothing else. And why are we running away? Why are we ostracizing being a black sheep on this is what we should want to be? And so the book led to building a framework for what I call black sheep values. You have to identify your flock of five black sheep values that are your non-negotiable values. The ones that no matter how much someone wants to try to influence you or twist or change you, they simply will not be moved like a black sheep. And so the idea is you discover your flock of five and then you start to use those five to choose your purpose and once your, what in your why, or in alignment with each other, you program these values into your day so that you can speak them into existence with authority and watch what happens is you have way more control of your life and you are living a far more authentic life than you were prior. You're living with deliberate intention and you're not winging it.

Natasha Miller:

I love that. First of all, you did not, of course know where black sheep came from. So thank you for educating me. Let me ask you this. Did the publicity company, they never promise anything, which is great because they can't write, they don't know for sure anything, but what was the implied promise of the kind of coverage that you would get that you didn't know?

Brant Menswar:

The magazines, the morning shows. If we can't get the morning shows, the regional shows all of the same stuff. And they got me an interview on a psychic network. Like what the hell is going on?

Natasha Miller:

They didn't need to do the interview if they're psychic, but get anyway.

Brant Menswar:

I wouldn't think they would have known that it would've been bad. And so they just didn't get the book. They didn't get even what the book was about. And so they're asking me to write articles on the Kardashians and write it about the big one, because she's the black sheep. And I'm like, what? I'm disgusted with even the suggestions that are happening. And so I fired them and I'm like, I can't deal with it. And I was just frustrated and upset over the whole scenario that I just took everything back over myself. And I started to use some of the same tactics that we would use to sell albums, to try to sell books. And I dove deep into the sort of the book community, right? The Bookstagram community, the book talk community, these book clubs, libraries, all these different places where books are sold beyond. Barnes and Nobles and your Books-A-Millions and that sort of thing, and started to have some success. And so I went to Jim, my business partner on several different businesses and I'm like, there's a gap in the market for a formal book promotion, and we need to fill that gap. So we started bookstore PR, January of last year, January, 2021. And we learned a lot real quick. We only did things that we could guarantee. So that was the difference.

Natasha Miller:

Was it a pay to play then? Was a switch, so you weren't charging people ahead of time, but you were like, if we get you this, then you pay this?

Brant Menswar:

No, we had three different packages, three levels of packages. And it was the cheapy cheap was. These were all three month campaigns. And so the cheap one was like 500 bucks a month. The next level up was 1500 a month. And then the top level up was 3000 a month, but that was it. So our total free month campaign was less than one month with an actual big publicity house. So these three things were like, we're going to guarantee you X amount of Amazon reviews, X amount of influencer reviews, press releases, and it was everything. And these are things that were guaranteed. If we don't do it, you don't pay for it. So that's how it was. And that was the big thing for me was that, as you said earlier, publishers don't promise you. And I'm like, that's just bullshit. They should get paid what they're worth. And if they don't get you anything, they're not worth anything. And so we have to get to this point where we can guarantee something. And so we did it for a while. And what we realized is that we live in Amazon's world And Amazon decides to change things. You have no recourse of anything whatsoever, and you have no real power. They upload about 7,000 between six and 7,000 books a day. They have 33 million books in their catalog. And if you think for a second, your book's going to hit their algorithm and it's going to be recommended by any way, shape or form. It is incredibly difficult to make that happen. You are a unicorn who happened to hit that algorithm because your background, your history, your everything that wraps into you being you and the brand that is you really allowed your book to go to number one.

Natasha Miller:

Also, we chose really good categories.

Brant Menswar:

That's exactly right. Which is part of the strategy, that you should have with a great publisher who says, "We're not going to put you into a giant bucket. We're going to put you into..". It gets crazy. And books about ant farts released on a Tuesday at 6:36 PM. And you're..

Natasha Miller:

Number one best.

Brant Menswar:

Yes, but listen, it still holds weight and it still goes a long way. And so we, in that process of working with authors, we started to see that there were certain things that made it more difficult to guarantee because they would arbitrarily take down verified reviews. They would do just whatever they want to do.

Natasha Miller:

They're supressing verified reviews.

Brant Menswar:

Oh, Amazon does whatever they want to do. And you just..

Natasha Miller:

Why would they want to do that? Don't they want to sell books?

Brant Menswar:

They don't need to sell books. Books has been a loss leader for them since they really started. It's frustrating. It very frustrating. And so while this is all happening, I had this sort of crazy idea and I'm like, what if there was an app that functions like a dating app, but it would match you with books instead of people?

Natasha Miller:

Okay. Really? Where did you come up? Like how had this worked? That's a stretch.

Brant Menswar:

So my talks that I speak about when I'm out doing my keynotes are all about values, right? And so the number one shared value of all humans is connect. And it is 50% margin to the next closest value. So it is so far out there that you can't really deny the power of connection. So my question was, the publishing world has greatly overlooked how people choose to connect in today's digital world. And so when I looked and saw that three out of five marriages now are started online and it's 44 million people using dating apps every single day, just in the United States. I'm like, why has this not happened? We know the psychology works. It's been proven that it works. Why has no one taken this and said, if we know what you look for in a compatible mate, why can't we look for this in a compatible book?

Natasha Miller:

Or compatible music. Okay. Not to broaden your..

Brant Menswar:

Oh, listen, this is, you're looking at the long-term plan now of what we've built. Because it could be restaurants, it could be movies, it could be music. It could be anything that we wanted it to be. So the idea of what we did was rather than try to sell the off. And rather than just allowing somebody to read the back of a book and hopefully it connects, or most people get recommendations from friends or family. Why don't we use the same emotional connection that people have on a dating app that they want to swipe right. On someone that they're interested in. And so we took nine questions from real dating apps and we simply crafted a book review in the answers to those questions. So we are getting people emotionally connected to books like they've never done before. They actually have a conversation with the book. When you swipe right on a book, it goes to your DMS and it sends you messages that are like, "Oh my God, I can't believe we matched. Do you want to meet up in real life?"

Natasha Miller:

It's very clever. It's really clever. Really well done. The app looks great. It's really cool. So if people are listening to this, I just want to wake you up. Because Brent has a very soothing, beautiful voice and go download right now, the Booky Call app. And then you can see for yourself, but keep going.

Brant Menswar:

Yes, we did. We wanted to the namesake of the app, this was the, how are we going to service the lazy reader? That's ultimately what we were talking about. And so here's a little known fact that I don't think I've even told anybody. That's the initial name of the app was by Bindr. And we were going to use that..

Natasha Miller:

You mean like Grindr but Bindr?

Brant Menswar:

Yes.

Natasha Miller:

I don't know. Yeah.

Brant Menswar:

So it was, we're going to do this whole thing with being bound books the whole bit. It was this whole thing using Bindr. And then..

Natasha Miller:

That could go a lot of ways.

Brant Menswar:

Yes. And that was part of the, even with Booky Call, you're walking a very tight line.

Natasha Miller:

And the way you say it is really cute, because you've really adapted it to booty call. So you're saying Booky Call. I haven't quite gone there. I'm still calling it Booky Call.

Brant Menswar:

Two things happened with that. So we knew we wanted to call it Booky Call. And so we created the character of Boo from Booky Call. So we are the logo, everything that you see, the monocle and the hat and a mustache made of a book the whole bit that's boo, the host of the podcast. And the idea was you would understand that BU is the person making your recommendations in Buki call. And so that was how we were training people to say, Buki. But really the namesake was on Wednesday nights and Saturday nights in the middle of the night, you get a text from the app that says "You up?"

Natasha Miller:

I know. "Can I come over?"

Brant Menswar:

That's right. It gives you three recommendations of potential book ups. And so for us, it's all tongue in cheek. But the design of the app, when you do something as kitschy as Booky Call as a name, the app better be frigging amazing, or it's going to be left out the window. And in the design of..

Natasha Miller:

It's a very formidable app, like I'm very technically forward and I'm into technology and it's really good. Keep going.

Brant Menswar:

It needs to feel like a speakeasy. That was our entire design motif. If you looked at the mood board and the whole..

Natasha Miller:

I'm looking at it right now and I know some people are going to watch this.

Brant Menswar:

Yeah, and the idea was, can we make it look and feel elevated so that it balances out the name. And I think we accomplished that. And now it's just a matter of proving that you're going to be around a year from now when we deal with, especially the large, the big publishers.

Natasha Miller:

So I'm a new author and I'm going to ask you questions the listeners might have, I also will take them along and speed them up on how it's done. I'm one of the authors on Booky Call and I am able then to do some other promotional things on the app, which I haven't engaged with yet, but in the works, ultimately you're taking people off the app into where they can buy the book, which is Amazon links. Is it also Barnes and Noble links? Is it just Amazon?

Brant Menswar:

So it's bookshop.org and Amazon and libro.fm, depending on.. Okay.

Natasha Miller:

And so my question to your team was this, because I come from a media buying background and I have to be scrappy and I have to, in most places be able to measure an ROI. So you get the data on who's swiping, right? And I know that people are on your app for a long time, which is amazing, especially with the attention span that's happening these days, but you're not able to parlay yet, specifically the buys.

Brant Menswar:

So we can never tell specifically the buys and that's because of Amazon to be quite honest.

Natasha Miller:

Is there any way to embed a code or secret flag and then what brands and then what happens?

Brant Menswar:

Here's the challenge when you work with Amazon, here's the challenge of many. This is especially for anybody who is an affiliate marketer, right? Because that's ultimately what we are is we're an affiliate marketing company that is very clever. And so Amazon's affiliate links expire after 24 hours. Yeah. So if they don't buy the book in the first 24 hours, you don't get credit for that book. You don't even know if they bought the book. Okay.

Natasha Miller:

First of all, backing it up. I just didn't understand or pay attention that you were an affiliate. It's totally cool that you are. And so you're going to get a piece of whatever the sale is.

Brant Menswar:

Four percent.

Natasha Miller:

Okay, whatever. Awesome. Awesome that you're getting a piece of it. Yeah. But then what are you going to do with my books tomorrow? So for the code, for the thousand people that are going to buy it tomorrow on your app?

Brant Menswar:

Yes.

Natasha Miller:

So refresh that every day?

Brant Menswar:

No, it doesn't happen. It's a one-time code. So if we don't get it in the first 24 hours, we don't get credit for it. So when we first launched, we were structured as a full-on affiliate marketing company and these different affiliates. So Bookshop and Amazon and Libro, and some of the other ones that we had initially talked to. It makes it really tough to compete with Amazon, right? Because they're the gorilla in the room and you can't ignore them if you want, especially for us, because we grew wide much faster than we anticipated. So we thought we're going to end up with mostly North American users and that's what it's going to be. And then what the reality was, we grew huge 200 countries.

Natasha Miller:

How did that happen?

Brant Menswar:

Google ads.

Natasha Miller:

Are you also doing that in-house?

Brant Menswar:

In-house. Everything's in-house. So I'll tell you what happened. We got really lucky. And when we launched the app, there's a group within Google that sort of works specifically. They considered to be high potential apps and you get access to some of the machine learning of the Google ads, stuff that you don't get. If you don't spend a bunch of money with them, they reached out to. And one of the people on this team just fell in love with the app and she's I just want to help. So we just want to work with you. We believe there's massive growth here. There's nothing like you, there is no competition in the market yet. So we said, okay. And we committed to for us a substantial amount of monthly, which I'm sure to most organizations is nothing. It's a drop in the bucket, but when you're a startup, every time you're squeezing.

Natasha Miller:

And let's talk about startup really quick. You're self-funded bootstrapped at this point, at the point we're talking

Brant Menswar:

about now. Okay. We're still, yeah, we are still, everything is friends and family investors. That's all we have. So Google took us in and said, here's what you need to do. And they gave me like this masterclass in how to maximize your Google ad spend and figure out how to use their machine learning to the best of its ability. So we did. And we ended up getting our CPIs, our cost per install, down to 15 cents. And so we were getting 5,000 installs a day. No. We had one scenario where there's a very large book club on Facebook called bitchy bookworms, which. And you should join it. It's a great place for people to share about books and the app went viral and bitchy bookworm, and they crashed the app because it has 80,000 members.

Natasha Miller:

That's so cool. That's so cool. I'm writing it down now.

Brant Menswar:

We love them, but we were very frustrated at the same time. Wow. They have been very good too, and for us yeah.

Natasha Miller:

So that's cool. So let's talk about funding future you're bootstrapping you and your partner are putting money into this. Do you have a budget? Are you limiting it or yourself? Are you just going crazy and okay. To mortgage your home. Okay. To sell a few of those guitars behind you are you just balls out going for it?

Brant Menswar:

So it's a yes. And right. We've invested a significant amount of money into this, and we have a reserve in that we know we can go, man, probably the end of the year and still be fine based on our sort of monthly budget that we have set for what we're spending and how things are happening. The app is growing really fast on the reader side. It's now earning the trust of authors and publishers on the other side, because they paid to put their book in our library. And so it's a slow burn to earn that, they all want to do beta tests. They all want to see the data. They all want to do all these things, which is fine. It just takes time. And so you got to have your book in the library for more than a week to get a significant amount of data. And so that's where we're at right now. We are talking about. Doing another round of funding, just because we want to keep as much as what we have to be able to make the decisions without it getting sticky and too heavy. And on the VC side of things of just giving up too much control, we have big plans for what this is going to be and how this is going to work. What you are experiencing is still the MVP. It's still the first version of this thing, and we have some really big plans. Live events for speed dating events and bookstores all over the country. And the app allows us to do that. We can send notifications to people within 10 miles of this particular location.

Natasha Miller:

You do have great information then at your fingertips. It's wonderful. So I'm interpreting that you would prefer to skip the venture part and

Brant Menswar:

just the bring more than for me, they have to bring more than money to the table. It's not about the money so much for us. Fortunately, we'd never shark tank it ever by. We know people who have been on that show and what they've had to give up that has nothing to do with an offer on the table, by the way, it's what you give up to the producers for being on the show. And it's just not worth it. On the surface. It's great. Again, for what we do, this has been an exercise in creating a new sort of genre, right? There's nothing that exists. That's like us, you don't go onto apple store or Google play and search for book dating. There's no keyword that is going to help you find our app in an easy way. You have to jump through three or four stones or a couple of hoops before you get to where we are. And it's been a really difficult thing for us to find the right places to put money behind, because it's not anything that has existed prior to now.

Natasha Miller:

So what is your advisory board look like? Or do you have fun? Yeah,

Brant Menswar:

we do. The way that we built it was we had five pillars that we wanted people who. We're very well-versed in each of the pillars. And we went after people who fit that role. And so that's how we filled our advisory board. So we have have someone in the publishing space. We have someone in the VC fundraising space. We have someone in the tech data programming space. We have someone in the networking marketing space. We have five seats on our board and. Every single one of them has a very specific role. They play on that board. Yeah.

Natasha Miller:

That's good to know. So we talked a little bit, we can infer your biggest challenges and your number one strategy for growth, but I'd like to give you the opportunity to say them. So for starting today, what is your number one strategy for growth? Going on for the rest of the year. Is there one thing that's like top of the list that you're just going to nail?

Brant Menswar:

I don't know that there's one specific thing. We sort of work in a spider web. And what I would say is that the things we have to make sure happen is people need to know that we exist, which is a big hurdle for us because of the sort of market that doesn't exist in our category. The second thing is it's got to be quality books. That we have in our library.

Natasha Miller:

Are you jurying them then?

Brant Menswar:

Yeah. You can't just put your book in a library. There's a process of, I made it through, you did make it through and we don't judge on content. That's sort of something for us that is important. We can't be content police per se. But what we do judge on is a shittily written book. And so if it's got a ton of misspelled words or the structure's not there, there's fragments everywhere. It's not going to, it has to be professionally edited in order to have a shot. We have 20 genres of books that we represent. And if it's outside of those 20 genres, we tag it specifically with what it is, but there should be an umbrella genre that it fits under. Yeah.

Natasha Miller:

And then for today, if you and I were talking one-on-one which we are, but this is going to be aired to a lot of people. What would you say when filling this burden on Natasha? We really have this challenge and I'm trying to figure it out. What is it? What is it right now?

Brant Menswar:

Perception of value,

Natasha Miller:

right? Okay. Yeah. Perception of value. Let that sink in on both sides, right on the author and the readers,

Brant Menswar:

mostly on the author publisher side. Yes they are. Yes. And the real thing, that's been our, one of the biggest hurdles that we've had to face for those with. In the book business, or you've written a book, you've done things where you understand how the process works. There's a very short window from the time that you release your book before it falls off the planet. And it's usually a max of about 12 weeks at the end of 12 weeks, your sales significantly slow down. Like most of the 8 75, 80% of your book sales are going to happen in those 12 weeks. And then. For the rest of the life of the book, you'll make up that extra 25%. And that might be 10 years before you actually get to what that is. That mentality does not align with what we are offering in our app, which is a year's worth of math. Meaning that every time a new user joins our app and we have thousands and thousands of users who join our app every month, every time they join your book, if it's in what they say they like to read and immediately starts getting matched to these readers and. We've got 250,000 downloads already. So the idea here is that with about 40,000 monthly active users, these are users who are swiping on books. We get like this opportunity to put your book in front of people every single day for. And most authors and publishers don't know how to process that. They're thinking I need to do a banner ad on Amazon. I need to do this ad in a newsletter I need, but it's all for a moment or for a one-shot deal. It's I'm going to appear in this one thing one time and it costs me $1,500 and that's, I hope that enough people see it and click on it and maybe that's it. What we offer is one. People are forced to make a decision on your book. They either have to say, yes, I want to add this to my, to be read list or no, I'm not interested.

Natasha Miller:

And I would also say, as the author, with my book up there, it's a value to me for someone even who swiped left for them to see cover, it's an impression they might see it again somewhere else. And in their mind, there'll be like, It looks familiar. They might even think, yeah. I wanted to read that. Not even remembering that they swiped left on it,

Brant Menswar:

so we see all the data. And so we have an internal goal that. If we can't get 25% of the people to swipe right on your book, then we go back to the written profile and tweak. Yeah, that's amazing.

Natasha Miller:

You can do that now, but can you do that at scale? And the answer will be if you scale, if you plan to scale well, I have enough revenue to drive more head count because that's a very hands-on thing. It's not something you can automate. It's not something that you can,

Brant Menswar:

it's the skill of the writing staff. Right? And so fortunately for us thus far, we have 2000 books in our library right now, there is a very small number of books that fall below 20%, swipes. And that for us is a great sign that our writers are doing a great job. And if the quality of the writing goes down, We will be in trouble. So we are constantly looking for talented writers to become the people who write these dating profiles for books.

Natasha Miller:

For more information, go to the show notes where you're listening to this podcast. Want to know more about me, go to my website, official Natasha miller.com. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast. I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to fascinating entrepreneurs.