Hear Amish playbook to scale companies, from apps to online publishing to software, to 7-figures in revenue and his 8-figure exit to a public company that went bad.
Learn how Amish has scaled 4 companies including marketing, apps, online publishing and software, past 7-figures.
How he sold with a 8-figure valuation but ended up with nothing and how he’d do his next exit deal differently.
His shift from focusing on money, to founding a company that gives him a greater purpose, which gave him both.
Amish Shah who is a humanistic digital entrepreneur specializing in marketing and technology. His numerous online businesses – from apps to online publishing to software – have drawn over $50 million in sales over the past 11 years, and earned him a spot in the Inc. 500 (three times) as the CEO and Founder of one of the fastest growing companies in America.
Today Amish focuses on Deep Origins his passion: a digital marketing company focused on wellness media, content, and ecommerce products that builds digital tribes in various niches related to wellness, consciousness, personal growth & spirituality. His vision is to combine ancient wisdom and harness emerging web/mobile technologies to transform how people learn and evolve.
Amish is an expert in harnessing practices from the ancient for modern living, where he has been featured on Inc. magazine, Virgin on the Travel Channel. Learn more about Amish at: http://amish-shah.com/
Brandon: Today, we have Amish Shah as a guest. He’s a friend of mine in San Diego. He lives in Encinitas, I believe. He started four companies. He’d gotten four companies over a million dollars in revenue, and he’s been on the Inc. 500 two times. He just recently last week was featured on Inc. and Virgin. And I think sometime next month, he’s gonna be on the “Travel Channel.” So, really excited to see that. And welcome to the show, Amish.
Amish: Thank you, Brandon. Great to be here.
Drew: Yeah, Amish. We’re glad to have you. I think, you know, just hearing that introduction, it kind of begs a question, what is your playbook to get a company over a million dollars? Because, you know, a lot of people maybe get one, but to have four over a million, that’s pretty impressive.
Amish: Yeah. Thanks, Drew. Well, you know, I can’t say they were all very easy to build. And I can’t say that they were all successful. You know, before that were successful, I also built eight to get to those four, or nine to get to those four, right? So, what happened was, you know, you learn as you build these companies.
My first company was a marketing…I started off an affiliate marketing, and then I kind of converted it into a SaaS company, which was really interesting. So, the way I look at kind of when I go into the market or when I’m looking at, “Okay. Do I wanna enter this, or do I wanna do this?” or like looking for my next idea, I guess you could say, I’ve always looked at the market and said, “Okay. Where are common tools and practices used across different industries but they’re not talking to each other?”
So, an example would be this. When I started my affiliate marketing company, it was just me. I was just doing it at home. And I brought it up to over a million dollars in the first two or three years. I was working my full-time job at the time actually. And my full-time job was a business analyst. I was working in New York at Morgan Stanley. And, you know, just like everyone else I’m like, “I need to get out of this thing,” got started tinkering on the internet. And I was like, “Okay. I’m gonna figure this out. I’m gonna figure this out.” And eventually, two and a half years, three years later, just sticking to it every single day, I figured it out. And, you know, my first year, I had gotten over I think like maybe $5,000 or something like that in revenue, then the year after, and it just grew. And on my third year of tinkering around, I had hit like, you know, 150, 200 grand. And I was like, “Wow. This is more than I’m making here. I’m about to get out of here.” So, I ended up quitting my job. The next year, I took it to 700,000. And the year after that, I took it 1.2, I believe.
And what I realize was I always look for opportunities where no one’s really hanging out but there’s a lot of traffic. And what I mentioned before also is where they’re using similar tools, and they’re using similar services. But again, they’re different kind of like audiences. So, in this particular case, I was building an affiliate marketing company. I’ll be honest with you, I was in the early Google days and the early affiliate marketing days, so I just think a lot of it was much easier back in 2003, 2002. So, scaling up to a million dollars back then I feel like was much easier than it is nowadays. But again, I found I was selling software. No one was really actually advertising selling software. So, I sold software. That was my big program. Then I sold eBay Affiliate Programs. No one was actually going out and doing it smart. I was scraping all of eBay’s top sellers. And then I put up in the ad words ad that said, “Get 10% off” keyword joining eBay today. And they were paying $36 at the time per sign up, which is crazy. They would never do that anymore, but that’s what they did when they want to come at rank the company and get more sales going.
So, that was kind of what I started. But then what I realized is this, I realize that I couldn’t scale any more beyond the $1.1 million. And that was just my own limitation. It was only me, maybe a programmer to help me out on the side, and that was it. So, I said, “Okay. So, how do I take this to the next level?” So, I started developing software to automate my campaign. I realized that there was no software out there. And if there was, it was like enterprise level software. We’re talking 2005, 2006, think back then. Everything was very expensive. There was no…the Joe Schmo was doing PPC in his backyard, which was kind of like me at the time.
There was no software for a guy like me. So, I just started developing my own. And sure enough, three, four years later, it got to the point where I was like, “Man, we can sell this software to the consumer because it’s so powerful. It’s so ahead of its time. It can, you know, split test landing pages. And it can, you know, measure your ROI analytics from all your ad words campaigns, and auto bid, and did all this stuff that people were like mind blown at the time. This was in 2008, 2009.
By then, we had scaled the company up to over $5 million a year just on affiliate marketing income, and we were gonna add on this software. This was gonna be a huge addition to the business. And what I realize that this software, so the affiliate marketing side of the business, around the same time, I had gotten into the internet marketing side of the business. And what I mean by the internet marketing is the personality types, the people who sell their info courses or digital courses, and they have affiliates, and, you know, they drive a lot of traffic with affiliate. But specifically on digital products, I didn’t really understand that world at the time but I had learned to understand it very well.
And so, what I did was I created this software that would bridge the gap between those two people. So, I started off an affiliate marketing. But then what I realized was that this software is not only used for affiliate marketers. It can be used by internet marketers who sell their own products, or anyone that sells their own product, even e-commerce stores just because it would track pixels and things like that. So, that’s how wide we went with the tool. This was probably like in 2010 is when we launched that. And that’s what helped scale our company. So, that was the first company. I kind of started off by finding where there was a lot of traffic, and not enough, I should say, where there’s a lot of demand and not enough supply. So, I’ve kind of filled those gaps. And then…
Drew: Amish, quick question on that…
Drew: …if you don’t mind. You know, so, we have a listener who’s like, “Man, I’d love to find this idea of, you know, where there’s a lot of traffic.” But, you know, I realized you said around hanging out. But nothing is there. What are the indicators or what are the things that you, you know, tools, or resources, something I could use to find that?
Amish: Sure. Google AdWords has, you know, keyword research tool. You can plug in your keyword, whatever your main keyword is multiple keywords if you want. And it kind of spits out if it’s competitive, if it’s not competitive, what the average bid price would be for advertising. The higher the bid price, the more competitive it is. And that’s just the easiest way to look. Another thing you can do is just type in your keyword or whatever your idea is into Google and see if anyone doing exactly your idea. And if they are, check how much traffic they’re getting to their website. Check that on alexa.com. There’s also quantcast.com that you can plug in, you know, other competitor’s website.
There’s also some sneaky tools out there where you can look at your competitor’s ads and how long they’ve been running. Now, this is a pretty interesting thing that’s come up. In fact, our tool that we sold in 2010 actually did this. So, you could type in a keyword, and then it would spy on their competitors on people who are bidding, and then deliver those results to you. So, what happens is no one would go 150 days advertising if they weren’t profitable. So, you’re able to see how many days people are running. Now, there’s a couple of tools that do this right now. The first one that comes to mind is WhatRunsWhere. I believe that’s probably the biggest one right now, I believe.
So, using kind of some of these tools, you can kind of get a gauge of where the market is at, who’s serving them. Particularly now, Facebook is really popular, and you can take that keyword, pop it into Facebook, see how many fan pages out there, see how many likes they have, see what the engagement is on these pages, see if anyone is selling these things in this market. These are all indicators that you will eventually, you know, your first one may not be successful, so you try another product or try another thing. But these are the things that you can sway the results in your favor, basically.
Drew: So, you kind of looked at a market analysis from that and see, “Man, there’s something here. There are some profitable things. You know, where could I solve a problem that hasn’t been solved in this space?”
Amish: Exactly. You got to fill the gap. There’s always a gap in these marketplaces, so how do you fill that gap?
Drew: Nice. So, you did the first company. And then I think you said the second company was an app company. Tell me a little bit about how that came about.
Amish: Sure. So, that was born off the same idea of when I first started internet marketing in 2002 or 2001. Back then, my goal was to build at least one side every three days. I said, “I don’t care what it takes. I’m gonna stay up all night. So, I would sit there and code it, and program it, and design it myself literally. And I forced myself to put up a site every three to four days. And that was my mentality. And sure enough, it started bringing in some money. And then I got smarter. And then I understood it better. Then I understood traffic. And then, you know, it kind of just leads you to the next step.
So, I followed the same thing in the app world. In 2009, 2008, I was still like in the process of building that software. But I also wanted to try something new. I’ve always been like the type of guy to be like a serial entrepreneur type, like, “I wanna do this. And I wanna do that. And I wanna try this. And I wanna try that.” So, I decided to get into the apps just to see if I can get an app on the marketplace because back then, 2008, 2009, people were like absolutely like all hot and fresh, you know. And everyone was all over. In fact, the iPhone was still pretty new back then as well.
So, again, I saw the opportunity. There wasn’t a lot of apps when you searched certain keywords. So, an example would be Las Vegas tour guide. Well, guess what, there wasn’t anything in there for Las Vegas tour guide. Even though on Google, it gets massive amounts of searches, right? So, the same principle that I used. I was like, “You know, the App Store is nothing but a search engine. And people are looking for exact terms whether you believe it or not.” People are typing in full on search queries into the App Store as if it’s Google. So, what I did…
Drew: That is a great idea.
Amish: So, what I did was I just…
Drew: So, you knew the high-traffic words, and you basically said, “You know, how many of these can be app-ified?
Amish: Exactly. So, then I got to the point where I got two or three apps up, and I’m like, “Wow, okay. I’m gonna start outsourcing this.” So, my mind, the way it works is I find an idea. If I can get 3 sales, 4 sales, 5 sales, 7 download, 10 downloads, whatever the metric is that you’re tracking, I can push it to 1,000, I can push it to 2,000, and I can push it to 3,000.
So, what I did was I just created a whole entire system. You know, that’s probably the key, building systems that are repeatable. So, I created a step-by-step system that I outsourced this whole entire process too where, “This is where you get your RSS feed from. This is how the title should be. This is what the description of the app should be. This is how you submit it onto the App Store. This is what you need to do over here.” And so, we created a literally like a conveyor belt type of system where we were now pumping out apps like every four days, five days.
Drew: So, were these people doing that Google Search concept. And then does that constantly identifying app opportunity and then building?
Amish: Exactly. Yep.
Drew: And then did you oversee the ones they picked, or did you just kind of say, “Hey, any time you see this gap, here’s the system. Go make it.”
Amish: Yeah. I gave him a general idea and niches. Anything that people are passionate about dogs, you know, cats, you know, animals, babies, kids, anything that people are really, really passionate about. Those are the kind of things that I kind of went after because passion is what drives people to search. So, that’s where we started. And then from there, I kind of just created a system that says, “Okay. It has to have this many searches. And it should have this much competition level,” because the more competition, the better. That means people are making money in that space.
Brandon:[inaudible 00:27:07] for those happened? And where did you get your cost down to for apps, do you know?
Amish: Yeah. We did actually end up calculating our cost per app, and it came down to like $12 or $13 per app.
Amish: Yeah. Because it just became a system. So, that’s how I scaled the second one to a million dollars. And again, I use a very similar model that I used in my other company where again, we license the piece of software this time. And so, while I was doing the apps, I’m like, “Okay, I wanna keep growing this app stuff. That’s great.” But on the side, I’m gonna build a piece of software that automates it for me internally.
So, I licensed the piece of software. We customized it. And then it showed us our metric, showed us what we needed inside of this app or inside of this piece of software. I was like, “Okay. This is great. We’ve automated our process. Now I can take this software and turn it into money.” So, I was like, “How do we turn cost centers into profit centers?” You know, I think sometimes we look at that in business as like, “This is the massive cost center, but how can I turn it into something that actually makes money?
Drew: And you did this in the previous company while you’re managing kind of your Google ads and all that kind of stuff? You’re saying you also made that into a…
Amish: A software, yep, exactly.
Drew: Well, that’s great. How many apps did you ultimately get to in the App Store?
Amish: We ended up getting up to 300 plus apps in the App Store. Some of them are still active, but you got to search way to the bottom of the pool for them, yeah.
Drew: They’re all orphans now.
Amish: Yeah, exactly.
Drew: So, I mean, I love this idea. I mean, basically, you’re saying to get to, you know, build a seven-figure value company, you know, you talked about building systems and scaling that, automating that, and then identifying ways to make your cost centers profitable. So, you know, it sounds like this company now, you know, has value. I believe this is one of the ones that you sold. So, how did that go down?
Amish: So, this company, within nine months of starting the company, an app company with such a kind of big eco spirit to play with, you know, we were getting thousands of downloads a day, thousands and thousands of downloads a day. And we were up there. We were on the radar of a lot of the kind of people who are interested in the app space.
So, a gentleman approached me. I believe I had gotten a common introduction through someone and he’s like, “You know, we’re looking to invest in an app company.” And I was like, “Well, that’s pretty cool. I got an app company, you know?” And I never took on investors before that. And I was like, “Maybe I’ll take on an investor.” And he was thinking like, you know, or we go public with this company because apps are hot right now. And building a public company around apps would be a great idea.
So, I was sold on that idea. Truth be told, my previous company that I did have, the marketing software and, you know, all the websites and affiliate marketing campaigns we’re running, I brought a business partner on when I had moved to California and we just didn’t get along. So, that deal didn’t really sit too well with both of us. It kind of ended up in a bad relationship. So, this was kind of like…I was still kind of feeling that, you know, when this opportunity approached with the app company. And I was like, “You know what, maybe, you know, this is my time. They’re were older. They’re like 50s.” They’re in their 50s, like, yeah, these are the people I need to be working with, you know. And gray hair. They’ve been there. They’ve dond that, you know.
Brandon:That’s why I started working with Drew.
Drew: Oh, come on. I’m not that old, bro.
Amish: So, then, yeah, so basically, they approached me. It moved so fast. And so, I moved my assets into this company. Well, they took my name.
Drew: Wait, wait. Slow that down. I mean, did they offer you something? Like, talk me through that.
Amish: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, of course, of course. So, the deal was, “Hey, roll your assets into this company. We’ll scale the company to 10 million, to 20 million, to 30 million, to who knows 100 million market cap. And your company that’s only making a million bucks a year right now or two million bucks a year can be worth infinitely more in shares. And I was like, “God. That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard for the life of it, right?”
Brandon:Were there any cash exchanged at that point? Or was it kind of just they pulled their shares into this.
Amish: There was no cash exchanged. Yeah. There was no cash exchanged. So, the company took on my company name. We did like a reverse…not a reverse. I forgot what it was called. But anyway, my company became the name of the publicly traded company, my company name. So, they gave me $1.9 million in shares.
There was a small cash exchange which was technically paid out of the money that was being made in the company at the time, which would be, it was like $30,000 upfront. And then I was gonna be paid on salary at $18,000 a month. And then I said, “Okay. Well, you know what, that’s gonna be kind of just enough for me and my wife to get by for a little while. I’m kind of looking at the carrot at the end of the stick here, you know. I wanna grow this thing.”
Brandon:How long was this process? Like, how long did it take from the day he called you, and so you managed the camp and had a deal?
Amish: I would say this one moved quickly I’d say about under four to five months. I’d say somewhere in that range. So, it was very quick. It was definitely under six months from…
Drew: So, there’s like a due diligence process? Like, were you loading up data or any of that kind of stuff?
Amish: There was a due diligence on their part. They looked at just to make sure that I did have the proper kind of company that I said that, you know, I had. So, they looked at P&Ls;. They looked at revenue statement. They looked at, you know, what assets do I have and how much passion I really wanted to build this thing, and they saw that.
From my side to their side, I’ll be honest, I didn’t do much. I Googled some of them. And, you know, I saw some great track records. You know, these guys have worked at some of the largest digital agencies in the world. I shouldn’t just say marketing agency, forget digital. You’re talking about, you know, $100 billion company. And I was like, “Well, these guys work at massive companies and they’ve got the experience.” Again, I was impressed because I was like these are guys I should be hanging out with. They totally get corporate, and public, and taking things public, and, you know, all that kind of stuff. So, I did a little bit of research. Could I have done more? Yes, I probably should have, to be honest with you.
Drew: Why is that?
Amish: Because it blew up in my face. And, you know, it’s one of those things where like you’re unsure but, you know, when you get that feeling inside that your gut is telling you you’re unsure and you don’t know if you should do it. But then your mind is like, “Oh, man. You got to do this. This is like your only thing right now. You’ll figure it out. And this is such a great play.” I went against my guts, you know. I’ve truly just went against my gut. And I knew something was wrong but I just couldn’t put my finger on it, you know? It’s just that when everything seems too good to be true kind of, you know. So, anyway…
Brandon:Oh, go ahead.
Amish: Oh, no, go ahead.
Brandon:Oh, I was gonna ask the details of kind of how it stands out.
Amish: So, the public company deal ended up not working out, the management on the public company. So, I had stepped into a management structure that was kind of in place. They kind of had the good old boys, I guess you could say, and the management. And I was joining the good old boys. And I didn’t know that they had that relationship prior to me until after getting in.
And so, it turned into like my vision versus their vision, versus what needs to be done. And so, we quickly, actually ended up acquiring, I don’t know, four other companies. My company got acquired for 1.9 million in shares, and then the salary that I mentioned. And then all the other companies, I don’t remember. I honestly don’t remember what they got acquired for. But here we had an app roll-up, basically app company roll-up, and got in the marketing cap up to $10 to $15 million.
Now, throughout this process, there’s these papers that come flying at you when you’re in the public company and you just got to sign them, and you got to keep pushing them along. And basically, I got screwed to not being able to sell my shares first. There’s like there was a priority schedule. And I was like number four on the priority schedule. So, whoever is number one, gets to sell their shares first. And that is ultimately where I had got screw into out of this whole entire deal. I saw this coming before actually the whole company busted. I saw the change in vision. They pivoted three or four times. Salary wasn’t being paid every single month and employees were not happy. I kind of saw the wheels were trembling, you know. So, I exited. I said, “Hey, guys, I’m out. I’m gonna continue to keep my shares or I think we set a certain percentage of the shares. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to exit. And I’m going to take my assets with me. And you’re gonna have to deal with it.”
So, through some a lot of back and forth through lawyers and all that kind of stuff, I ended up exiting. I was able to get all my assets back. So, I got all my apps and my app software and marketing back, which was the good piece of it. I said anything that happen, I at least got my assets out of it. And so, those revenue streams went back, started coming back to me.
Brandon:I would think that they would just start threatening you with all sorts of law suits and [crosstalk 00:37:21]…
Amish: Oh, they did. They did. Oh, they did. They did.
Brandon:How did you end up getting that?
Amish: I basically just stood my ground. I said, “Look, you guys are doing something weird. I don’t know what it is but it felt shady to me. And I am going to exit. And I promise not to open my mouth if you just give me back my shit.”
Drew: So, you had negotiated for the assets, or you just kind of called the deal off?
Amish: No. I negotiated the assets because I was like, “This is my shit. You guys start taking it. And then you’re gonna kick me out with nothing?” You know, like, that’s not fair. I should at least get my stuff back or I should be able to sell the shares.
Brandon:Yeah. Do you think when you signed the document thing that you couldn’t sell your shares, is there a lesson there where you should’ve had a better lawyer or a lawyer at all to look at those documents? Or was that kind of just something that you had to sign?
Amish: It was like one of those things that you have to sign where, you know, it’s like four out of five people on the board agree. And if they don’t agree, then I don’t really have a choice either way, you know. That’s why I said I felt like the good old boys, you know. So, honestly, I feel like I was scammed. I think I was scammed, to be honest with you because…
Drew: Do you know where they are now? Is it still going?
Amish: The company since then has pivoted like six more times. They went into like fashion. And then they went into like after that, they went into more app stuff, and then they went into fashion. Then they went into this. And then now, I don’t even know where it is. It’s worth nothing. It’s like half of half a penny. And if not, it might have been already sold to another person or thing.
Brandon:Do you think that they had the right idea, though, for kind of just looking at that model for rolling up the app industry and kind of buying a synergistic apps? Do you like…
Amish: I think it’s a great idea. Yeah. As long as you can find synergistic idea, and you can create one common vision in the company. The problem was I had a vision, and someone else had a vision, and someone else had a vision. Because it was a roll-up, it was being run by entrepreneurs who all had a vision.
Drew: So, let’s say we have, you know, listeners that are in a similar situation where, you know, someone is saying, “Hey, let’s do a roll-up. We’re gonna bring two or three companies together,” because I was a part of something similar where they put like four entrepreneurs together. And it, you know, eventually, you know, sold for almost $1.5 billion. So, it was a good situation. You know, how do you do due diligence on them, or what would you do differently to better vet and see whether your vision and the company’s kind of direction are aligned?
Amish: Sure. I think when I first did it, you know, don’t react to your current life circumstances. Make sure you do your due diligence. I felt like I was in a reactionary mode, so I just pulled the trigger without having a lawyer look at the initial contracts, understanding what the consequences are, what’s the real agenda behind the management, doing more diligence behind the management. If it is a public company then you’re going into something bigger. Who are they? What do they do? What have they done in the past or what have they been involved in in the past? Have they done public companies in the past? What did they do? What was the track record, you know? You know, success leaves clues, and so does failure, and so does scammers, and conman. So, if you do enough diligence, you will find in, you will uncover it. So, it’s like listening to your gut. If anything seems off, you know, dig in.
Brandon:Yeah, absolutely. What about, you know, they said, you know, anytime you’re doing a roll-up or any acquisition, or even a transfer of sale of a company, there’s always that kind of culture shift in setting the vision. I knew Drew is probably one of the best people I know that, like, if you were the one calling the shots, what would you have changed about kind of merging all those cultures and visions together so it would’ve run smoother?
Amish: I think the group of entrepreneurs that were put together should’ve been in charge of running the business, not this good old boys management crew. And perhaps hiring a separate CEO to kind of reflect back to these entrepreneurs and say, “Okay. This is what I think everyone is saying.” So, better team and better team support, and making sure all of us are on the same page because there’s no doubt that those four companies that we acquired if we work together. And if we did what we said we were going to do from day one and not change the vision a billion times, we could’ve taken that thing to very extraordinary height, I really believe so. So, you know, it all have to do with your team. It all have to do with how you get along with them. So, yeah, you know, I think that team is everything and making sure that you’re cool with everybody on the team.
Brandon:Yeah, absolutely. I think Drew’s big fan of kind of bringing everybody to the table, setting the vision and getting out of the way, it sounds like that’s kind of what needed to happen, right? You took your assets back. What was your next step there?
Amish: So, after I took my assets, now that I rebranded and I relaunched the software and the educational course around building apps, got back out there, got a lot of affiliates involved, and kind of ramped it back up, getting it back to kind of where I needed it to be. At that point, to be honest with you, I just…I was jaded. You know, two businesses that I had failed back to back takes a tremendous kick to the ego and your nuts at the same time, and your bank account. So, I was kind of just depressed from the whole thing. I was like, I don’t wanna do apps anymore. I hate this shit, you know. Maybe I’m not meant for tech companies because this was my second tech company that maybe I should just step off, you know. Maybe I should do it something different.
And so, what I did was I ended up bringing someone on as a partner, small-time operator operating manager. I think I just said, “Okay. I’ll give you a small salary and I’ll give you 30% of rev share and equity of the company over time.” And he was great. He helped me. We got the product back out. He took me out of the day-to-day stuff. And he said, “Look, I’ll do this as long as I can sell this thing for you or find a buyer for you. Give me the permission to go find the buyer.” And I said…
Amish: Pretty much from day one, yeah, because he knew if I’m gonna be doing this, then I wanna be able to do this, you know. So, I said, “Okay, cool. I’m cool with that, you know.” So, he did it. And sure enough, like within a year, he had found a buyer. And I was like, “Wow.”
Brandon:Do you know more about that process of how you’re finding a buyer? Was he just looking at that…
Amish: So, yeah, we found out with a broker, business broker. So, there’s a lot of…
Drew: And I’m not screwing around this time, huh?
Amish: Yeah, exactly. We’re going through a business broker. We’re gonna find someone legit. We’re gonna make sure they have the money, and that this isn’t just some like stock play or whatever, you know. So then, he did that, you know, and I did that, too. I was obviously involved in the whole process.
So, a lot of due diligence, ex-oil kind of tycoon kind of guy, a lot of family generational wealth, a lot of diverse assets in their portfolio, and they knew apps and technology was something that they wanted to invest in more. They just didn’t have much knowledge on it to be honest with you but they found our company sexy. And so, we got to talking and, you know, this due diligence process was an extremely long time. I think I wanna say it was a year, to be honest with you. We needed to build a very strong relationship with him. He was flying out like on the weekly. He wanted to have a business plan developed. So, we hired a growth think out of LA to build a whole entire business plan and financial forecast and, you know, if this business model is viable. He wanted to prove that this business model was actually viable.
And so, that process took a very long time, looking at financials. And when you get someone that doesn’t know much about technology and you’re in technology for a decade, some of the questions are like, “Okay. So, what do you mean your employer programmers are in a different country?
Brandon:How do you work in the computer?
Amish: And what do you mean…
Brandon:Why does the cup holder keep coming in and out?
Amish: “What do you mean you don’t ship them anything? Like, you don’t ship them anything?” I’m like, “No. It’s like a digital virtual app maker.” And so, these were the kinds of questions we were getting, to be honest with you.
Drew: But a year, man, that is a long due diligence process. Like, why were you willing to endure that?
Amish: I didn’t want anything to do with the company, to be honest with you. And this is around the time I actually started my third company. So, I was just like, “Hey, dude, I’m giving this to you, my new operations manager. I want you to go run it and pay me every single month. You take your cut and see if we can find a buyer and we’ll both be happy.”
Drew: Did the buyer ever pull the trigger?
Drew: Did he ever actually buy the company?
Amish: He did, he did. So, he ended up buying the company. We ended up exiting for around…the sale price was 1.2 million. We got half of that upfront. The way we structured it was half of it upfront. Half of it was put into a new company, new co that we developed that was going to hold the assets of another idea that we had. So, he was gonna invest $200,000 into that idea, which was a whole separate entity. And we’re like, “Yeah. You know, we’re gonna go do this app thing like in a big way.” I would be left with 10% of the old company. And the new company, I wanna say I own like 15% to 20%, somewhere in that range because he wanted us to work. He wanted us to take this thing to newer heights basically.
So, he was willing to put 200 grand into new co. He was willing to cover all of the overhead of the operation that we want to hire. And the other $400,000 was going to be paid as an earn-out basically. We need to hit these numbers and I’ll start paying you. And he had a very specific parameters. I think once it reached over a million or a million and a half bucks in revenue, he would start paying us out on the earn-out.
Brandon:And what was that sale price based off of? Was that a multiple or something, or how did you come up with that number?
Amish: It was a multiple. Yeah. It was a multiple of just gross, one year’s gross. We didn’t try to get fancy with it and trying to put extra numbers around it. We’re like, “Look, this company does a million dollars a year. You want in or you want out?”
Brandon:Got it. And what was the impact of just, you know, emotionally and, you know, to your life kind of going through these kind of sales and the experience you’ve had?
Amish: It’s not…I mean, in my case to be honest with you, it wasn’t easy, both of the sales, I should say, you know. I felt I might have exited too early and I should be focusing on one idea longer. Everything was very quick start. My first company was much longer. I was in there for like eight years but that was because my business partner and I didn’t get along. This app company, I was in there only for like, you know, a year and a half, two years before I decided to sell it, three years at the most. And, you know, I wish I had gotten a little bit more revenue under my belt, traded more system, hired more employee, and built it out a little bit, you know, before trying to do something like that.
So, I think it was rushed. And it felt that way. And it took a toll on my energy. It took a toll on my life personally and emotionally because you build something and then it’s like having a baby. It’s like you build something and you’re like, “Oh my god. I put all this energy, and time, and sweat, and money into this thing. And now it’s producing money. And I wanna grow this thing. And I wanna scale it.” And you think you’re doing everything right. And then you realize you’re not. And, you know, it’s harsh. It’s the harsh reality sometimes of situations, you know. You just have to recover. You just have to kind of bounce back.
So, that deal did end up…what happened with that one was we hired a bunch of new programmers immediately because he was gonna put the money in. We started driving the vision of the company. I had stepped away from the day to day. I have been removed off of salary because the operations manager and director that they hired said that he was gonna run new co and old co. So, I said, “Okay, great. Awesome. I’ll just be the visionary. I’ll tell you what to do. I’ll tell you some ideas that we should execute on.”
So, we hired like two or three programmers. We all got an office here in Encinitas. And we started cranking the way of the company. Before you knew it, we were kind of running out of cash and we said, “Okay. We got to make decisions here.” The guy who bought the company was like, “We got to do something.” The programming team wanted to move on one direction. The operations manager kind of just threw up his hands and said, “I don’t know what to do.” I said, “We need to move this way.” And the guy who bought the company basically said, “Okay. This is my company. I’m taking the programmers, you and operations manager. I’m not talking to you anymore.” He just stopped talking to us.
So, we’re like, “What the hell?” Like, this guy just took our programmers and left. Pretty much kicked us out of the company and just said, “Okay. I’m going to do this.” And so, over time, he said, “I’m putting 200 grand more in. I’m basically diluting your shares, diluting your shares, diluting your shares.” And he diluted us. Until eventually the company just flopped and stopped producing revenue. And all the other programmers were let go and never got the earn-out side of it.
Again, it’s just like when no one is there to set the vision of the company and like set those milestones, like, now the programmer has an idea, now the other programmer has an idea. Now, the guy who bought the company wants to go and invest in lacrosse app. And you’re like, “What the hell is going on?” I don’t know. When you sell a company, there’s an emotional attachment there. And you wanna see your baby thrive, you know. It’s like you wanna see your baby turn into something big because there’s nothing more in my life that I would’ve loved than to see that company go to the next type even if I didn’t own any of it. Unless I know I can just be like, “Oh, that company is still rocking? Well, that’s pretty cool. It’s my idea, you know.”
Brandon:Absolutely. Is there anything you would’ve changed in that deal, in this kind of second deal?
Amish: You know, I wish I was more present in the company post-sale because the guy was willing to put a lot of money into the company if he saw some kind of results. But my heart wasn’t there and I just had no desire to. But in hindsight, if I had just put in, you know, that extra effort, I feel like we could’ve taken it places.
Drew: And how is this kind of shaping what you’re doing now?
Amish: So, yeah, since those two kind of companies, you know, what’s funny is my first company that I was talking about that me and my partner didn’t get along, around all this kind of chaos, we ended up selling that company for a short amount. So, that was also a successful sale, I should say, but it was a short sale. So, we just want to get rid of that. So, that’s what we did.
And so, I took a lot of that money that I had made from these two exits and put it into a new company where I just want to do something more aligned with my, I guess, you could say like more aligned with who I am and I guess my purpose. And my wife and I are really into like eastern kind of wellness. And that has like yoga and meditation and like eastern natural healing, I guess you could say, you know, natural modes of health basically. And we decided we also wanted to work together on something like that. And so I said, “Yeah, I would love to work with you on something like that.” And, you know, that’s something that we’re really interested in bringing ancient wisdom back to the world through modern, improving it with modern science. So, it’s not just saying, “Hey, go do this because it’s fun and it’s like the ancient said it.” It’s like, “No, this is actually helping your heart, or this is actually helping your mind, or this is actually helping, you know, this part of your life.”
So, that’s what we’ve been focused on for the last four and a half, five years. And we’d took that, I also took that company over a million dollars. So, that one took me a little bit longer to get over a million dollars. Took me two and a half years or so, but that’s because I stepped into a whole another world, and I had to kind of get my ground. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I stepped into that world. And now we’re on scale to 4x this year, so pretty exciting time.
Brandon:I know I’ve had a lot of kind of deep conversations with you kind of, you know, when the other company kind of failed, when you were working on that company, you really didn’t like what you were doing. And correct me if I’m wrong, but you really didn’t like what you were doing. You’re kind of depressed. You kind of didn’t have your kind of meaning and doing something that was really fulfilling. I think you not only started this company, but you’ve completely changed your life and your lifestyle. Do you wanna talk anything about that as well? [crosstalk 00:55:47]
Amish: Yeah. You know, I would love to talk about that. You know, I think growing up, you know, my parents were immigrants. They moved here from India in 1978. And so, I’m first generation. I was born in New Jersey. I was born in Edison, New Jersey. And so, I grew up, you know, in America with the American dream. And my parents didn’t make much money growing up, you know.
So, I was the man, you know. I had to break out of that cycle. That was my thing. So, I feel like I was just taught that I need to make money, make money, make money, make money. I was never taught to build a business. I was never taught to grow, or to expand, or to optimize, or to focus on one thing and put your heart into it, you know. I was always taught, “Go make money and buy the Ferraris, and the Lamborghinis, and the watches, and the expensive shit and party, and take private jets.” That’s not even making money, right?
But that was my life now for a very long time. And before I knew it, I had gotten very, very, very sick living that lifestyle with my first couple of companies. And it’s like a massive toll on my body. And, you know, I was 30 years old, or 29 or 30 years old sitting in the doctor’s office. And I was severely depressed. I was suicidal. I had like eczema going all over my body. I was like, there’s blood in my stool.
Amish: So, he took all my test and he’s like, “Dude,” he’s like, “You’re messed up, man.” He’s like, “Your cholesterol is 380. Your liver is about to pop and your kidney is about to give up on you.” And that’s when I was like, “Holy crap.” I was like, “What the hell am I doing?” Maybe what I’m trying to do in the technological affiliate marketing like make money, like here just go make money, go make money, go, go, fast, fast, fast, you know, instead of like thinking, consciously thinking about what I’m doing and feeling what I’m doing was a big issue, you know. It got in the way of my life. I did surround myself with the Maseratis and Ferraris and the beautiful houses in La Jolla. And I wasted a shit on the money.
I had great experiences, don’t get me wrong. And I wouldn’t look back on it at any point in my life, you know, just because I’ve had experiences that I don’t think anyone half of the world may not have had, more than half of the world. But in hindsight, man, it’s just like, you know, really go deep into one thing. And make sure you love what you do, you know. If you don’t love what you do, you’re gonna look for other ways to make your life happy. And I think I was just miserable in trying to build like a kind of marketing company when that’s not really what I wanted to do. I wanted to be more involved in this ancient wisdom, and yoga, and meditation and actually do good, you know. I wanted to see if I can shift the world a little bit instead of just make money for myself.
Brandon:Absolutely. Good words.
Amish: That’s really, you know, what it’s been about.
Brandon:In the end, I ask the kind of the biggest takeaway that you learned from your experience, do you think that would be it or…because that sounded so amazing?
Amish: That is it. That is it, you know. Do what you love. Do it from the heart. Make sure you…and give it your all. And try and focus on one thing, you know, and go deep.
Brandon:Absolutely. Well, thanks for coming on this show today, Amish. It’s great advice. And we’re really excited to hear about the rest of your story. How can our listeners follow you or get in touch with you?
Amish: Sure, yeah. You can go to deeporigin.com, that’s my company. Or you can check me out on my own website which is amish-shah.com. So, not dash like the word but the hyphen, so amish-shah.com.
Brandon:Great. That’s so great.
Drew: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Amish: Cool. Thank you, guys.