#8: Exploiting business opportunities with Mony Gueorguiev

by | Oct 19, 2020 | Podcast

Today’s Guest – Mony Gueorguiev

Our guest today is Mony Geuorguiev, a Bulgarian who grew up in the USA, and the founder of Maidily, a software that helps cleaning companies manage their clients and schedules. We met a few weeks ago when he responded to my request for entrepreneurs to answer the question “What stopped me from starting my first company?” If you haven’t seen the post yet, his response was a fear of failure, which I found to be a very common answer among those I received responses from. Eventually, he got tired of being in the “rat race”, and he decided to start his own e-commerce business. After building it into 7 products across 3 brands, he sold the business. After that, he started a turnkey, fully automated, cleaning business! While running the new business, he realized that cleaning business owners needed to use specific scheduling/CRM software to operate, and his current company Maidily was born. I normally do introduction calls with all my guests, and the typical call goes for 30 to 45 minutes, but Mony and I struggled to get off the phone after 2 hours of talking because we found we had so much in common, for example that we’re non-technical founders running technical companies in the B2B SaaS space and have completely remote teams, and he lives in Atlanta where my brother is, and he was trying to move to Singapore (where my company is) before the virus made it impossible. So today we honor his drive to find and exploit opportunities, and let’s give Mony a warm welcome!

Let’s give a warm welcome to Mony Gueorguiev


You’ll Learn About

  • Being an immigrant in the US

  • Fitting into life in the US

  • Being multi-lingual and how it’s beneficial for solving problems

  • Discovering the American dream isn’t what they said it was

  • Figuring out how to take advantage of a situation and turn it into a business

  • Why ecommerce businesses are hard

  • How to approach any new business

Resources

And remember, Entrepreneurship is a Marathon, not a Sprint, so take care of yourself every day, so that you can live and love, and have the energy and the passion to run your business, and to invest in your team, and to find a way to appreciate those moments of happiness.

Sean:
Our guest today is Mony Gueorguiev, a Bulgarian who grew up in the USA and the founder of Maidily, a software that helps cleaning companies manage their clients and schedules. We met a few weeks ago when he responded to my request for entrepreneurs to answer the question, "what stopped me from starting my first company? If you haven't seen the post yet, his response was a fear of failure, which I found to be a very common answer among those I received responses from. Eventually, he got tired of being in the rat race and decided to start his own e-commerce business. After building it into seven products across three brands, he sold the business. After that, he started a turn-key, fully automated cleaning business. While running the new business, he realized that cleaning business owners needed to use specific scheduling and CRM software to operate. And his current company, Maidily was born. I normally do introduction calls with all my guests and the typical call goes for 30 to 45 minutes, but Mony and I struggled to get off the phone after two hours of talking because we found we had so much in common. For example, we're both non-technical founders, running technical companies in the business to business software as a service space, and have completely remote teams. And he lives in Atlanta where my brother is and was trying to move to Singapore where my company is before the virus made it impossible. So today we honor his drive to find and exploit opportunities. So let's give Mony a warm welcome.

Sean:
All right. Thanks for joining us Mony. It's nice to be able to talk with you again so soon.

Mony:
Thanks for having me. Thanks for talking again. I'm excited to do this and I'm excited to just contribute as much as possible.

Sean:
I want to know how old you were when you arrived in the USA from Bulgaria?

Mony:
I want to say five and a half or six. It was my first time on an airplane. It was a big change. I mean the biggest change possible. I didn't realize it back then. I thought, honestly, on the airplane, I thought we were going to my grandma's house, which is like an hour car ride away from where we used to live in, in Sophia from, from, you know, the apartment we had. So I was very aware of the fact that we were in this huge machine going very fast, and I didn't understand why we needed to do this if it was just an hour and a half away via car. And, uh, you know, my mom, I remember asking her like, why are we going to grandma's house? And like how we were going to actually pull off stopping from the air going this fast, when it's literally, you know, a five minute airplane ride. And I didn't understand that. And she laughed and obviously said, no, no, no, we're going to America. And I had no idea what she was talking about. It was a very interesting experience.

Sean:
So would you say it was exciting or fear-inducing being on the plane?

Mony:
It was super exciting because I had never been on an airplane. Didn't really know the purpose of those machines or what they were doing. Obviously I could feel the speed, enjoyed takeoff, enjoyed landing. I enjoyed the service. I remember playing with everything. So even back then there was, you know, buttons on the seat recline and doing all kinds of things, walking around, just being very curious and enjoying like, the ride itself, you know, flying through the clouds, landing, the takeoff, where you kind of get pushed back in your seat. I thought that was the coolest thing ever really put no thought into what the U S was or what America was or what exactly my parents were doing. So to me that it just never, it never really phased me up until I realized that everything's great, people are still people, but there was this huge language barrier.

Mony:
And at that point, I think that's what kind of scared me a little bit because I realized that, uh, you know, I'm different and we cannot communicate. So I'm fluent in Bulgarian and that is my native language. Even at that age, obviously I ended up going to a first grade, I believe. I think at that point it became a little overwhelming to, to be able to walk into a class because we, we, we came, um, in summer, in the summer. So by August when school started, I was obviously enrolled in school and just walking into that classroom, everyone was really nice. And I just remember looking at the teachers and they were saying things to me and I didn't understand it. And I knew that, you know, behind the door, the teacher came out to greet me. There was just, you know, a bunch of kids and it's an important aspect to feel like you fit in and to feel like, you know, you can get along and socialize with kids and play. I think I understood the fact that I wasn't gonna be able to do that that easily.

Sean:
How long do you think it took until you felt comfortable being there?

Mony:
I was very worried, and I think my dad saw that and he ended up, uh, just kind of giving me like a, like a pep talk where he basically said, Hey, there, there are people, you're a person. They communicate in their own way. You communicate in your own way and you're going to get along just fine. And I think that was just the reassurance I needed to just step in there and just do my best. So communication wise, it started off with pointing. I would look at you and it would just kind of work itself out. By Christmas. I could understand them. And, you know, I didn't have a concept as to why or what happened. And at that point, because they realized that I understood them. Things just became very smooth.

Sean:
And that's why you sound American.

Mony:
Yeah, yeah.. and from there, you know, you start progressing into middle school, you start progressing into high school and you know, you have groups of friends you're going out. Everything is English at that point. So, you know, it's been, it's been a long time and I didn't necessarily work hard to perfect any aspect of speaking, but it just, I guess naturally happens. Still fluent in Bulgarian, still talking Bulgarian with my parents and my family. And anytime that, you know, I'm speaking to another person that's Bulgarian, it's, it's Bulgarian, but outside of that, it's all English for me. So just naturally kind of worked itself out.

Sean:
Yeah. This happens for a lot of immigrants that come as kids, especially I know kids that are from India and China. Um, I went to school with, they were obviously born overseas and they spoke without accents. So, you know, I've always been fascinated by the brain and language and, uh, I've taught myself several languages and it's been a very fun experience. Can I say I'm fluent? Definitely not. But I would say I can understand a lot and I can speak a lot. But for me to reach a level like you've reached would require me to go to those countries as a kid.

Mony:
It wasn't anything that I put effort into, it just kind of happened. But at this point in my head, certain things come at me in Bulgarian and then certain things I process in English and there's no rhyme or reason to it. So there's always like this split, this dichotomy in my, in my head between both languages in both worlds, you know, no idea why that exists, but it's always there words, certain counting is, uh, comes up in Bulgaria and versus processing, uh, hard concepts as English. It's just very, it's very interesting sometimes. Once you realize like, wait, wait a second, why am I thinking in this language versus the other language?

Sean:
What happens is when you become fluent in a second language, and you're able to think in that language and dream in that language, you have essentially developed a second personality.

Mony:
Yeah. That makes sense.

Sean:
This doesn't mean that you're insane or anything like that. It just means that you've effectively figured out how to compartmentalize your personality so that you have actually two ways of thinking about the world, thinking about solving problems and communicating. And it's quite fascinating. I'm able to do this in Chinese and so..

Mony:
amazing though.

Sean:
Like, there'll be times where someone's speaking to me in English and I'll think about it in Chinese because maybe the way that I want to respond, there is no appropriate response in English, but there's an appropriate response in Chinese.

Mony:
Yeah.

Sean:
But because they don't understand it, I can't use it. And that's slightly frustrating to me sometimes.

Mony:
It is, yeah.

Sean:
So for example, sometimes my, my girlfriend is Vietnamese and she understands a little bit of Chinese, very, very little, and sometimes all respond to her in Chinese when she's speaking to me in English or, or I may say something in Chinese and she responds to me in Vietnamese or in Russian because she just doesn't know what I'm saying and she wants to be funny back. But sometimes even just the context of what you're saying is enough for the other person to understand. Going back to the dichotomy you're talking about that, there was a study I read, I don't have the details of it anymore. This was a long time ago that I read it. Uh, but it was talking about kids who are bilingual, aremore likely to succeed at standardized testing, because they have the ability to think about how to solve these problems in two ways.

Mony:
Two ways, yeah.

Sean:
Whereas most people who are only able to speak one language, which is most white Americans are at a disadvantage because of this. So when you look at most European countries, they speak two, three, four languages. If you look in Asia, a lot of them grow up speaking, at least their language and possibly English. And some of them also have a dialect from like the grandparents in the village. So it's actually quite rare in the world that someone only speaks one language. It's quite common for European Americans and by European Americans. I mean, white people, Caucasians.

Mony:
Yeah. That makes sense. I do the same thing, uh, with, with my girlfriend as well. Sometimes I, I, I have concepts that I can, I believe would sound better or would resonate better if I was to speak or lay them out in Bulgarian, but I'm not able to, but the words that I have to choose in English are different. The idea kind of translates as well, obviously, but I just, in my head, if I could just get it out in Bulgarian, it would be better said, but I mean, I agree that that happens to me all the time. I do the same thing. Sometimes I just start speaking Bulgarian to her, say something and Bulgarian, just to be funny. But there are moments where I feel like I can express myself better using another language. In this case, it would be Bulgarian and yeah, you're right.

Mony:
People that are my parents' age, mostly they were taught to speak Russian, German, Czech, whatever it is that they know multiple languages. And that was very common. And I believe it's not as common now, but there you're still correct. Like most people, most Europeans, for sure, at least their language and English plus probably something else because they're all in those general areas next to each other. And you know, it's worthwhile to speak another language, especially if you're bordering another country. And that test where you just mentioned about having two ways to think through problems. Um, whenever I have to spell a word out, I would always just kind of phonetically sound that out in my head and be able to spell it out correctly in English. Uh, always excelled at spelling things. Maybe not writing, but spelling. It is very interesting.

Sean:
Yeah, for sure. I was thinking when you were talking about Europe, that when I, when I go to Europe, I love the trains because you can essentially get on a train and go from one culture to another culture in like two hours, right?

Mony:
Yeah. It's amazing, man.

Sean:
And so that's one of the reasons why people are fluent in multiple languages, where if you're in America, if you've take a car and you drive two hours, you're basically in the same exact culture.

Mony:
My dad's, hometown is on a border close to the border of Bulgaria and Turkey. So that's why he was a kind of fluent. There was a lot of Turkish people and growing up, you know, there were in his class, there were in school, but it's very interesting. You're right. Going to the neighboring state, it's still, it's still gonna be Florida, right? For me, I go down to Florida. It's still part of the US is still English still the same. In Bulgaria, three hour car ride gets you to Greece or Turkey, different language, different culture. And it's really, really cool. I love that part about Europe. I love it.

Sean:
I would love to see Greece.

Mony:
Every time we go back, we try to just step out because it's literally just a three hour car ride. Like it's just, it's nothing to go to another place. You can eat dinner and just stay a night or two, enjoy it, walk around, enjoy the culture, enjoy different people and come back. I feel like that just adds a ton of perspective. And it's definitely my favorite thing to do. And because it's just experience other cultures, other people, what they do, how they do it, I think provides a lot of insight.

Sean:
I mean, that's one of the reasons that I'm still in Asia. I'm absolutely in love with the idea of not being in the culture that I was raised in. I know that culture. WEhy do I want to spend the rest of my life living in it? There's so much more to life and so many more countries that exist and all of them have their own way of doing things. And there's something romantic about not being in your own culture and kind of forcing yourself to try to adapt to the way other people live in life. And I would have to say China is probably one of the hardest countries to adapt to North Korea is probably would be harder. I imagine, but China is quite difficult. I think it requires a very strong person.

Mony:
Meaning in a like what kind of way?

Sean:
Like mentally.

Mony:
To, to be able to adapt to mentally to their values and customs and?

Sean:
Yeah, because they're so different. I mean, from my experience living there, I can understand why the president of, you know, the US and the premier of China don't get along. It's because when you get to the table, the way that they look at life is fundamentally different. So when you get to the table and you want to talk about something, it's impossible to understand each other, because you don't know what they've lived. You can't understand, you can't possibly understand the experience that this generation had. I mean, if you think about the 1930s with the nationalists fighting the communists in China, and the end of 1940s, when the communists won and declared The People's Republic of China to the cultural revolution of the 1950s and the great leap forward, and the deaths of millions of people through starvation and execution and hard labor to the death of Mao, to the opening of the country and the, the end of 1970s, early 1980s, just a whirlwind of the last, nearly hundred years.

Sean:
And to think that a generation before all of that started, they had thousands of years of dynasty.

Mony:
Dynasty, yeah.

Sean:
You know, they've lived thousands of years through the words of Confucius. And when mouths don't came to power, one of the things he did in the 1950s was said, basically, Confucius is dead. Let's get past that now. It's not so easy to change the minds of the people. But one of the things that really lasted was a lack of trust in the other. And so this kind of came out of the cultural revolution as well, where if you were an intellectual, you would be put to death or in hard labor. And so people would literally tell on each other, they would go, Oh, this person's an intellectual, I have proof. Things like that. I mean, obviously I don't know the details of how it happened.

Mony:
The point stands. Yeah.

Sean:
You essentially created a generation of young people who were taught to be afraid of showing intelligence and to find opportunities to turn in the people that were closest to them because they were hurting the government through being an intellectual, through being a naysayer or having difference of opinions. So now several generations later, they're afraid to be different. They're afraid to show their difference. They're afraid to show their intelligent because of a fear of this could happen again and I don't want that to happen to me. So if I just pretend that I'm dumb and everything is good, then I won't have any problems.

Mony:
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That makes, that makes sense. That's interesting,

Sean::
When you look at life from these different points of view of what Chinese youth went through, what their parents went through, what their grandparents went through. On one hand, the grandparents are like, well, when I was a kid, I was eating tree bark. Now I got KFC on around the corner. For them now, life is amazing, but a lot of the old school mentality has not left their culture. It's stuck. People have this collective consciousness that's passed down, whether they know it or not. And so when let's go back to the language, the culture that you received from your parents affects you to this day, whether you realize it or not, you will never fully be American because you have this Bulgarian part of you. But because you have this American part of you, you'll never fully be Bulgarian.

Mony:
Yeah, exactly.

Sean:
A lot of people actually have this problem inside of them where they don't really know where they belong, especially among people who are born to mixed parents. So for example, if I have kids with the person I'm with now, they're going to be half white, half Asian. How are they going to think of themselves? Well, if they grow up in Vietnam, maybe they'll think of themselves as Vietnamese. If they grew up in America, maybe they'll look at themselves as American, but no matter where they grow up, they'll always be considered a foreigner because since they're half white, Vietnamese, won't look at them as Vietnamese. And if they grow up half-Asian in America, they won't look at them as American they'll look at them as immigrant.

Sean:
Even as an adult, I kind of experienced this in China because no matter how deeply I learned their culture and their language, no matter how fluent and flawless and fluid my language and my accent was, I'm still white. They'll never accept me as a Chinese person. They'll always say you don't understand China. You're a foreigner.

Mony:
I guess it's not so much searching for some sort of answer as to where I belong, but the feeling of the differences, like I'm not fully American. People here, no matter what, we'll always see the fact that I'm Bulgarian. So I'm European. Go to Bulgaria, people understand that I stand out immediately from that fact that I haven't lived there all my life and all these years that you would assume I would have lived there so I'm immediately not Bulgarian. You know, I'm from America at this point, I'm an American and my whole life is here. So I tried really hard to fit in with the American side of things, because maybe that split was a little more heavy on me when I was younger. And I decided to identify with just being more American, uh, you know, making sure I was fitting in with the crowd, fitting in with friends.

Mony:
Didn't really want to be looked at as this Bulgarian guy with the weird name, because my name just stuck out from every direction. And people immediately knew that I wasn't from here. You know, at the end of the day, there's nothing wrong with feeling like you belong in both places. Both places are home. I feel just as comfortable at this point here as I do over there, there is no difference. Um, you know, I, I feel, you know, good, I guess you can say being in between. So it's very interesting and that can be pretty tough. I guess, if you don't get past that point, um, you know, you can't just force yourself to fit in one place, especially when that place doesn't see you that way or rejects you, um, whatever you believe isn't going to work. So you're going to definitely feel, um, confusion even more so at that point and you got to really be okay with, Hey, maybe there is no correct one answer. Maybe you're in both places, both places are equally important. Equally the same to you, both are home. There's nothing wrong with it.

Sean:
The original goal for this podcast episode was to talk about opportunities and finding opportunities. So as an immigrant stuck in between two worlds, how did you find your first opportunity in business in America?

Mony:
Yeah, that's actually a really good question. The idea was you come here, go to college, go to law school, become a lawyer, you know, but I derailed that. So at that point, how to get a job, I didn't really have the appropriate skill set for a regular job. Like, you know, an engineer couldn't, couldn't be that. Business, couldn't be that because I have a business degree, I had a psychology degree. It was very difficult. And at that point, my parents retired and they moved back to Bulgaria and I was basically left here to kind of figure things out. Finally landed a job at a big corporation. I was some sort of research associate. I had experience with data and that kind of added to it. And I was able to just pitch myself to the company. And I got a job after a lot of failed interviews, a lot of tries, but I just felt like I was just a, like a cog in a wheel.

Mony:
And it was literally, I don't even think, you know, it was more or less like an employee number, not even a name, you know, everything was just very set. You know, you wear certain clothes, you go in, you sit in your cubicle, you have things to do. At 5:00 PM. you're done. Like, it became very monotonous. And I didn't think that there was any potential there. And I just really disliked the idea of being part of this huge corporation and just feeling like a number. Maybe I wasn't a number, but that's what it felt like. So at that point, I decided to give another kind of industry a try, just a smaller business, a more family oriented business. I didn't want to just do the same thing over and over. So I jumped into sales, very niche market, uh, specialized in, uh, large scale maintenance projects for factories.

Mony:
We were contracted out to fix smokestacks or whatever needed to be fixed. And obviously had a lot of things go wrong at any point in time. So that was very, very interesting as an interesting industry, but being in sales there, seeing how just unorganized and chaotic a small business like that is. Uh, and I didn't like the idea that I was working for someone else who I was producing revenue for. I just felt like, Hey, if I could do it for them, I could do it for myself. I had a long commute, it was like an hour, hour and a half maybe. So I spent my time listening to music. Once I was all out of music, I started listening to podcasts, never listened to podcasts before I just was out of options. It was a long commute. And I went from financial podcasts, to investing, to even Dave Ramsey, just, you know, making sure that I'm financially, you know, doing the right things. Got bored of all those tried investing, tried to, you know, go down that route.

Mony:
Like literally, you know, penny options, just crazy things. Anything I could get my hands on. And that kind of started, I guess, getting those creative juices flowing in me and I got into podcasts about, you know, starting businesses, what kind of business? E-commerce kept coming up, what kind of e-commerce business? You could start your own products. You can just go on Alibaba, hook up with the manufacturer, uh, negotiate a deal, create your own product, start selling it, create the brands around it. And then next thing I know I was going down this rabbit hole of consuming more and more information on that. And there was really, you know, no rhyme or reason as to why I went down that route other than like, Hey, you know what? You have to start somewhere. I can just continue listening to podcasts forever and not do anything.

Mony:
And then nothing's going to change. Really, I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted to be in control of where I was going. And I thought e-commerce was a great idea. I had experience with computers, I have experience with websites and I tried everything. I started reaching out to manufacturers, gathering ideas, looking into a software that could help me narrow down to the niche. You know, what's, what's less competitive. What can I get into? Started looking at how to price accordingly, how to, you know, budget this entire thing. And eventually it just all kind of came together. I think after a year of listening to podcasts, I launched my first product and you know, I, I did a buildup. I tried to generate interest before launch and it worked out really great. And then from that point on, I knew that like, Hey, I want to steer this, you know, and grow it.

Mony:
Um, I didn't know what it was going to grow into. I didn't know I was going to sell it. I had no plans to do any of that. I just knew that I wanted to replicate what I'd just done. Um, and that was gonna be my ticket out. That one product turned into one more product and just the different variation, different color and the same niche. And I think about a year later, that business turned into three different brands with six different products. So across two or three different niches. So it was just trying to scale it up. But one of the hardest things about that for me, was managing the inventory. So I had no experience in any of this stuff. So I was kind of learning as, as I went, you know, hiring designers, hiring people that can help me build websites, negotiating prices with, uh, Chinese manufacturers was really tough because the differences in the way we communicate was staggering to me.

Mony:
So it was very difficult in the beginning, but I got used to it. I got an idea of what the right approach for them is. Um, the right approach for people that I do business with in the US is different. It's all very different. And from there, once that business was to a point where I felt like I could sell it, I didn't feel comfortable growing it anymore because the management of inventory, just the constant need to always create a new product. Because once you purchase something from someone, especially the products that I was selling, you're not going to need to come back to me unless I have a new product. And I didn't like that because that constantly meant that I had to be pushing out new products, creating new products. And it was very intensive for me and creatively, I didn't enjoy that process. And I figured the best thing to do would be to sell that business and to think of something else that could plug that gap. I wanted a more re-occurring revenue model, like just, I needed something that was going to be a little more stable. Sales is very unstable at that point. So I ended up selling that business and starting a cleaning company.

Sean:
I want to stop you there. You've said a lot. And it's really cool to hear the whole story kind of in one breath. You answered some of my questions I actually wanted to ask, so thank you for that. So I want to ask, how many years did you run the e-commerce brands and what was the first year like in general?

Mony:
Yeah, That's a great question. So I ran it for two years and the first year was just chaos, very difficult to manage, you know, being out of stock with timelines and shipments and customs and negotiating with manufacturers. How do you check for things? How do you get a shipment over customs? Now I've never shipped anything over from China in large quantities. I didn't know anything about that. Having to deal with advertising, how do you advertise a product? You constantly have to have it on sale, how do sales work, how does pricing work for this order margin supposed to look like. Financially, How are you supposed to organize everything on the backend and make sure that it makes sense marketing budgets? How do you get that? So it was very, very chaotic and it required me to just work non-stop, especially with the 12 hour time difference. So I was, you know, pretty often was just, you know, 12:00 AM 11:00 PM would just, you know, talking with manufacturers, going over things because I needed certain things to be done, certain deadlines so we can get shipments out. It was just a wild process that I felt was essentially kind of growing out of control that I wasn't equipped to handle.

Sean:
Did you ever think about living in China?

Mony:
No. I didn't understand enough about what I was doing here that even want to move somewhere else. I just really wanted to, I guess, stabilize it and grow it even more and to replicate it. I knew from the podcast that, you know, have people in place that are expecting this product so you can generate sales off the bat. So learning that and learning how to, you know, how do you create that? How do you create that demand, you know, about a brand or a product that people don't even know it exists because it's not out yet. So just learning how to create Facebook groups, how to market ads on there, how to create newsletters, how to curate emails. Then what do you do with the emails, MailChimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign? What are you going to use? I didn't know any of those. It was all very new and the first year was just rocky, but super fun. I learned a lot.

Mony:
And then the second year was probably more about replicating and scaling at that point.

Sean:
What did it feel like selling the company?

Mony:
I wasn't really into it anymore, and I knew that I wanted something else and I didn't feel comfortable scaling it more than it was. So the process for selling it started months before actually sold it, talking to brokers and talking to people, talking to lawyers was overwhelming. I felt very strange though. Um, I still check on the products. I still check on the website just out of curiosity, but it felt very strange to sell the first company that I, I started. Um, it was just very, very weird, very kind of like a surreal feeling because once the sale was done, it was no longer mine, but all of the things that I created still exist. Um, and it was, yeah. I mean, I enjoyed it, but looking back there were there, there's probably a lot of things I would've done differently, but moving forward now, um, I know what I would need to do in order to go through that process in a much smoother way. And I think that's super important.

Sean:
Well, I have to congratulate you because very few people get to sell their first company.

Mony:
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. I didn't know. I didn't know what to do with it. So, you know, it was either that or potentially keep it going and allow me to screw it up because again, I had no experience in any of this, um, managing it. I just didn't really know at that point, how to continue replicating it and growing it without me losing control. I didn't know who to hire and what place and how to do certain things that I don't even think I could have hired somebody for, you know, certain things like inventory management, um, timelines. I would be the one that has to deal with that. And it really wasn't into that product development really wasn't into that at all. Yeah, it was, it was definitely the right move. I appreciate it. It was pretty exciting though.

Sean:
Yeah, I remember when I was trying to set up my current startup, I was thinking between Malta Estonia, uh, Singapore and the US I avoided Estonia because it was part of the EU. And one of the problems with it was that you have this, this Value Added Tax. It's not like the US where you say, okay, you have a sales tax, you have sales tax, and it's different for each country that you operate in. And if you sell more than X amount of euros worth per year in that country, you have to get like a local VAT ID and you have to pay local taxes. So essentially, if you want to, if you want to serve all, I think it's 28 countries in the Eurozone. You have to potentially have 28 IDs and pay taxes 28 different times. I don't know about you, but I chose Singapore because they don't have that nonsense.

Mony:
No, you're exactly right. I went through it and I ended up going through that entire process to get into the UK. And it was just so intensive. I had to register my company, get that number register it with Amazon. I had to hire a CPA in the UK that would do this for me. And every quarter, I would report sales, pay the VAT tax on those sales, and then obviously pay that CPA to send in my documents. It was just crazy. And then I would've had to have done this over and over for every other country that I wanted to expand into, but I just felt like there were better opportunities. At that point, I had gained enough experience from the e-commerce business and it was not something I wanted to do, um, uh, for like a long-term future. And yeah, so it was time for me to kind of exit and find something a little more stable and you chose cleaning, finding another business idea that I could do basically just meant sitting down and thinking through everything in anything.

Mony:
I mean, I literally went through lawn care, pool maintenance. I live in Atlanta looking around at all the buildings, the highrises, the apartments that we have here, I think coincided with the point where I needed a cleaning service for my own apartment, I was going to catch a flight and I didn't have time to clean it. So I tried to hire someone and I think I went through Yelp and I found a lot of dead end phone numbers, a lot of businesses without websites, a lot of businesses that just didn't do a good job at marketing their services. And I didn't really understand what, you know, how I could communicate with someone when no one was picking up the phone. I couldn't book anything online. Um, the ones that did pick up the phone wanted estimates and quotes and pictures, and I had to catch a flight.

Mony:
I didn't have any time for that. I think it was on an airplane. I realized that like, Hey, I can leverage the experience that I had and maybe create a better version or a better service for everyone in Atlanta, because if I was experiencing it, it means other people are experiencing it too. You know, a website, maybe an easier way to check out. Maybe people can just book a cleaning without talking to someone. So I started looking around the US and started looking at cleaning businesses, set up in different cities and what they were doing and how they were doing it. And then just got inspired from there. I thought it was a great idea. I spent probably, I think that entire trip there and back just kind of mapping everything out. And then when I finally got back home, I just executed it. You know, I spent a long time dissecting the demographic in Atlanta, dissecting the different parts of Atlanta, different income levels, seeing what areas I wanted to service.

Mony:
What were the most beneficial areas for the business to service, how you would structure this idea of having an automated checkout, designing a website that's very towards having you do it yourself versus the rest of the businesses that were here. It's more or less, you know, give me a call, fill this out. And someone will give you a call. In other words, there was a lot of friction between, you know, a customer checking out and you getting that job, um, versus what I was trying to do, which is make it really easy for people to just book a cleaning service. And then you get into like, well, what do you do in a cleaning? You know, do you have a checklist? What does everyone do? How do you produce a checklist? How do you hire people? You know, just totally different, 180 experience from e-commerce where I was dealing with products. In this case, I was dealing with people and it's been fun and still is fun.

Sean:
Yeah. I always love going between different industries. I said this in another podcast I recorded. Our last guest. He was working in a recruitment and then he went over to like social media and then into product management and all that. And for me, I started out in education. I moved into event planning to corporate training, to international trade, to blockchain, to, you know, software development. So I find it to be fantastic because it's like learning a new language. You're starting from scratch. You don't know anything. You don't know anyone. You have to build everything from zero. And hopefully you build something that's better than everyone else and you can make money with it.

Mony:
Exactly. I found that to be super exciting, uh, did jobs myself in the beginning because I really wanted to understand, like what it took, I really wanted to make sure that the first couple of customers that we secured were just happy that we did a good job, that we were doing it correctly, that we met expectations. I wanted to meet them. I wanted to present myself as the owner and I learned how to do what it took to do it. So that way I could build a team, manage the team and just kind of have an idea of what to say and how to guide other people that I hired to do the job. So I did it in the beginning and then eventually just focused on hiring people. I didn't really have experience hiring for positions like that. So that was very new to me. It was very intense. Finding good quality candidates took a long time. I think that's probably the hardest part about that job is finding good employees by far.

Sean:
How long after starting your cleaning business, did you realize that there was a larger opportunity to become a platform?

Mony:
As soon as the idea came around to make it automated, you know, to where people can just use self checkout and book the service it was apparent. Because you have to have something on the backend to capture those customers. And at that time, scheduling slash CRM software was really expensive. And I didn't see the point in paying that much money. I think on the last day of the trial, I had someone that said, Hey, don't do that. I'll build you a really basic table, essentially that's connected to the website that once people check out and they'll be placed in this little backend table and we'll keep it simple. And if you ever want to revisit this and grow it into more, let me know. So I thought that was super amazing. Did that, didn't really focus on that too much, focused on a cleaning business and it worked. But what happened was over the course of time, I would come back and I would say like, can we add a button here?

Mony:
Can we add this? Or, Hey, I need this. Can we do that? Can we do automatic email notifications? It kept piling on different functions, and at one point I realized, okay, this suddenly isn't just a simple table anymore. This is now, you know, has the potential to be a software, like a standalone software that maybe other people can benefit from. Because if I was in that position, um, where things were too expensive, I didn't feel like there was value in paying that much money for what the companies out there were offering. Maybe other people are in that position that I am in and maybe they could benefit from what I've just built.

Mony:
And my focus shifted on software development. How do you build a team? How do you, how does it even work? How is it possible to develop this and package it into something that can add value to other businesses? So spent a long time brainstorming, reading, kind of consuming information and really studying what my competition was doing. From there, I focused on putting in the right people in the right places to be able to pull this off, and I worked with them, you know, software developers, designers. I wasn't aware of any positions like that before. No experience there again. So it's just like another roller coaster ride.

Sean:
Yeah. That's been my journey the last two years. I know we mentioned on the first call. I'll say it here again. When I started developing a software...I can't code, I can't read code. I love tech. I grew up around hardware and software my whole life. I had my first computer when I was like five, I was very fortunate. And I got really excited about the hardware. I would, you know, by seven or eight years old, I was pulling the computer apart and putting it back together, that kind of stuff. But when it came to like a career in software, it just wasn't for me. I had a class in middle school and high school about coding and I would just copy my neighbors code. Like I didn't, it just, it just wasn't for me, I've always been a human language, not a computer language kind of person.

Sean:
And that's served me well, but I didn't understand anything about what I wanted to do. And so I had to learn from the team how to be a project manager, how to be a non-technical CTO. And, you know, I had to do all of the wire frames myself. I did the first version of my wire frames were literally on a piece of paper with a pen. I like took a picture of it and I showed it and they're like, okay, well now explain to us what the hell everything does. I was like, what do you mean? They're like, well, great. We've got a picture, but what does it do? So I wrote a 60 page document explaining how every screen was. I, you know, this button is supposed to do this. And this thing does that. And these are the animations and the behaviors. It took me two months to do the wireframes and the documentation for the first version of the app. And three or four months later, it all got thrown away because it was crap.

Mony:
You have this idea, you can draw it out, whatever wire frame it. But when they come back and say, explain how everything works, you know, the, the buttons, the functions, how does it look? How does the pop-up even appear. Does it have an animation, like what that sort of level of detail blew my mind. And then you go from that to, you know, button, color, font, size placement, et cetera. Like it just, the level of detail that this required was absolutely astonishing to me. And I completely underestimated it. So it gives me like really, um, like a renewed kind of sense of appreciation to every time I see something on the computer, on the TV, it's an app or some sort of design layout. I really appreciate what others do and how it's designed and how it's done. And the thought that went into it. Like I have like a new found appreciation for that, that I did not have before starting this.

Sean:
Well, imagine you're doing a web app. I started at mobile. I pivoted to desktop. So I spent two years doing all of this UI/UX and the documentation for Android. And then when we decided to pivot to desktop because of the virus, I was like, I have to start over again because you can't just say, all right, I'm going to take this screen and make it wider. Like, no, you have to change the layout of the screen. I've never done it. I've just done Android. So now I have to teach myself again. Mostly right now, what we're doing is we're applying what we know from Android to the Windows version. And then next month, we're going to have a designer come in and give us some actual designs for Windows. And then in January or February, we'll come back and actually apply the design once the features are there to support what the design actually is meant to look like.

Mony:
Exactly. I get to talk to a lot of business owners because it's B2B and I love calling each one of our customers, even potential customers, trial users. It doesn't really matter. I just, I like talking to other people. It's super important. I'll learn a lot from them, but I get asked all these questions about the cleaning business and how I do certain things or how MaidToGlow is set up to do certain things. And really, I have no idea if what we do is correct. If you know, there's no blueprint, I'm following, I just make mistakes, correct them. And do the best that you can do. There is no one to say that what you're doing is right or wrong. I think that mentality, I think I learned from doing this for the last couple of years now, just bouncing around different businesses and doing all that as there's just no right or wrong, no blueprint to follow. There's no secret code. It's just, you try, you fail and you do it again. You work hard and you have a best mindset approach to everything and just do your best, whatever seems right. Based on any sort of research or any sort of amount of effort you put into understanding what you're doing is most likely going to be right? Because there is no wrong answer.

Sean:
I was going to ask, what's the most important piece of advice that you could share. It's like one of the last things that I ask people, and you answered it without me having to ask. Your answer was quite good.

Mony:
It's something I keep in mind every day. I mean, I just do it. I mean, it's, it's literally that simple. I don't know what the best way to do things are or know how to do anything more or less than you do. And I didn't read a book or have a blueprint that told me, Hey, this is how you're going to do this or this what you need to follow in order to build this or do that. Just nothing. It was, and at one point you kind of transitioned into this, um, analysis paralysis situation that I try to avoid. And I think the best advice that I can give is literally to just do it. I mean, if you do nothing, you're going to get nothing.

Sean:
Yeah, I totally agree. I think it's extremely important. And I think that's one of the reasons why I keep reinventing myself, because I feel like if I spend too much time in one industry, then I'll just kind of get bored of it or I'll feel like I've learned so much that I don't really know where to go from there. So how can the audience find you online?

Mony:
Go to our website: Maidily.com. I mean, I'm on there. My contact information is there, the software's there. If anyone wants to take a look at it, read through it, just see what we're about, what I'm about. There's a link to, um, MaidToGlow as well. The, the cleaning business that I own. And I think that's just the best way to contact with me or anyone from the team. And I'm always open to talk to anyone. So if anyone wants to shoot an email over, reach out via chat, whatever it is, I am always open to talk.

Sean:
Brilliant. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Mony:
Thanks, Sean. I appreciate it, man. Thanks for, thanks for having me on.

About the Community

On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.


Discover through these amazing episodes the courage to open your mind, heart, and soul to the world so you can be the best entrepreneur possible, respect the people you work with, and improve the world with your company while not hurting others or yourself in the process.

Sean Weisbrot

Sean Weisbrot

Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.

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