Interview with Neil Patel (KISSmetrics)
KISSmetrics is a person-based analytics platform that helps online businesses turn analytics into insights that guide decision-making and growth.
I interviewed Neil Patel, KISSmetrics co-founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty fifth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Neil for the interview!
How would you describe KISSmetrics in under 50 words?
KISSmetrics is a customer analytics software that allows you to understand and optimize the user experience throughout your entire customer lifecycle from first click to the last conversion.
How did you come up with the name?
It was a team effort. We all thought that metrics should be simpler, hence the “K.I.S.S.” part and “metrics” because we are an analytics company.
Has your initial vision changed since launching KISSmetrics?
It has. We first started out as an analytics tool that was based around Facebook applications and now we are a customer analytics platform.
You spent 6 months pitching Crazy Egg to investors. What did you learn?
If an investor doesn’t give you money, it’s because you did something wrong. In most cases you couldn’t get them excited enough or you could help them understand how you were solving a big problem and creating a big enough company that they could get a good ROI from.
In addition to that, investors typically like investing in people they know or people that their friends know. So get to know them.
How did you get True Ventures to fund KISSmetrics?
My business partner had a talk with Om Malik, and he highly recommend that we get funding from True. He brought us into the firm and helped us get the money.
Because of him we were able to get funding from True, which has been a blessing for us.
You’re working on creating a 100 million dollar company. If KISSmetrics becomes that company, what next?
I probably will end up working for someone else. As sooner or later we have to create an exit for our investors and ourselves (either go public or sell). In most cases, when you sell a company, you end up working for the acquirer.
After that I probably will start another company. I just don’t know what else I am good at and enjoy other than starting companies.
What does a typical day consist of?
I have a pretty hetictic schedule that is full of calls and meetings. My day is broken down here.
Which article on your blog (Quick Sprout) has received the most views?
I wrote an article about business quotes years ago and it still gets tons of visitors each day.
To date it is the most popular article on Quick Sprout.
How do you find the time to respond to almost all of the comments on your blog?
I rarely sleep. ;-)
To be honest I just work a lot of hours. At one point I responded to all comments and these days I just respond to new comments. As I still get comments on posts that I did a few years ago… at this point it is impossible for me to keep up with all comments so I just stick with new blog posts.
What do you love being most – a blogger, entrepreneur or investor?
I love blogging. For me it is a stress reliever and I enjoy teaching others. Plus I learn so much from readers of Quick Sprout… so it kind of is a win/win situation.
I also do enjoy being an entrepreneur and investor, but I probably will always blog even if I am not an entrepreneur or investor.
You often push things to the limit. What’s a good example of this working and another of it failing?
A good example of this is my personal brand. I push it to the limit by doing whatever it takes to brand myself. From speaking at over 50 conferences a year to blogging on Quick Sprout to participating on the social web… I do whatever it takes to create a strong personal brand. And over the years it has worked well.
A good example of this not working is YouTube. I figured out how to game it and at one point I had a top 100 YouTube channel with 0 videos uploaded. Sooner or later I got caught and YouTube removed most of my subscribers.
What are the difficulties in working with big companies like AOL, General Motors and Hewlett-Packard?
They move REALLY SLOW. It’s hard to get things implemented and there is a ton of bureaucracy. If I had my choice I would only work with startups… but big companies tend to pay a lot better.
How do you think formal education can be improved?
They can teach you more things that would be valuable in your career. I can’t say I learned much in college… I kind of did the minimum amount of work and just cruised by, so it could be my fault.
You were a top influencer on the web according to the Wall Street Journal. How do you keep a zero inbox?
I have someone who works for me that helps me manage my inbox. That’s all she does for 8 hours a day.
Sadly, I still can’t keep a zero inbox. :(
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
I lost over a million dollars into a hosting company. It was my worst investment to date. The idea we had was great, but the people who ran it weren’t rockstars.
The big lesson I learned… ideas are a dime a dozen, it is all about the people.
If you could only give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Learn from your mistakes. The number one reasons I see entrepreneurs failing isn’t because they make mistakes, but they keep on making the same ones over and over again. Learn from them and avoid making the same ones over again.
Are you where you expected to be 10 years ago when you were 17?
I am not. I was hoping I would be much further along, but there isn’t much I can do other than to keep on pushing forward. :)
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I am really excited about KISSmetrics. We are making some cool product changes in the next few months. I can’t say what they are… but stay tuned.
Can you convince the reader to start using KISSmetrics in under 50 words?
What do you use your analytics for? To see how you can boost your traffic, right? But does more traffic mean more income? In most cases, it doesn’t.
KISSmetrics helps you see what causes your revenue to go up and down so you can focus on boosting your income.