hey everybody welcome back to another episode of the bright ideas podcast as always I am your host Trent deer Smith and I’m here to share the stories of today’s leading entrepreneurs with the hopes that we will be able to extract all sorts of gold nuggets that you’ll be

able to implement in your business today before we get into today’s episode just a couple of very quick announcements first off I want to thank all of you who have been loyal listeners of the show for years all of the wonderful feedback and all the comments on social

media that you leave for the episodes that I do really means a lot to me and it really keeps me going so keep them coming and if you have questions or guest recommendations I welcome those as well and second of all in case you haven’t gone and checked

it out yet my software companies marketplace so the company is called flow stir it lives it flow stirred-up FL o WS ter dot app it is a platform for building buying or selling and using standard operating procedures and it’s really the thing that we built for ourselves that

led to my company ranking number 254 on the Inc 5000 in 2019 and we have a marketplace there that is stocked full of pre-made SOPs for all sorts of different things and a huge chunk of them are free so I would strongly encourage that you go check it

out and see how you can start implementing SOPs in your business so that you can delegate work to virtual assistants so much easier or start delegating if you’re not doing it now so my guest on the show today is a fellow by the name of Aditya negraph and

I’ve probably butchered his name I’ll get him to correct me if I did it he’s the founder and CEO of a company called elephant learning and he focused his PhD studies on math and computer science and after he graduated he worked as a software engineer for the giant

education company called Pearson before he struck it out on his own with elephant learning and math learning platform that promises scholars will learn one year of math in just three months with a time investment of about 30 minutes per week so a date yeah you’ve had a lot

of success with your software platform want to take thank you very much for making some time to be on the show thank you so much for having me so let’s start off with this just kind of tell me what is what is it exactly that the company sells

it’s a tutoring platform I’m guessing so what it is is a gamification of a proven curriculum so what we’ve done is we’ve taken the latest in early education science and we’ve turned it into a gamification if you will so the kids play the game and and the games

are presented as a puzzle as they solve the puzzles they are exhibiting math concepts and we’re labeling them so we teach math conceptually which means we’re really working on the language of mathematics but that’s where we find that the students are typically deficient okay and just so you

folks know we’re not doing an interview about how to get better at math the reason that I’m having him on the show is that the company has grown incredibly quickly quickly and we’re gonna dive into all of the things that that he has done to make that happen

so when did you start the company well we started coding in 2016 and we bought our first customers in 2017 and how many customers do you have now over ten thousand so ten thousand customers in two two and a half years something like that about 3 ok so

that’s a pretty significant number of customers let’s kind of unpack how all of that happened so at the beginning you obviously thought hey I’m gonna create a business maybe I maybe you already knew you wanted to create a learning platform but you had to pick a niche you

had to pick a business model what made you pick the niche that you’re in and how did you research it so that you knew that you know you weren’t gonna put all this time and effort and then just crash and burn and fail miserably thank them well so

I was actually in another business I was an elephant head software which was my contract software engineering firm and and that’s the firm that had contracts with Pearson at one point amongst other companies and really what elephant learning was was an attempt to kind of walk away from

his services model and more into a product model because you know in the services business I I was beginning to realize that really what I had was just a job of my choosing right just through my company but a job and we I had this ex professor of

mine who basically approached me with this idea of doing mappings for children they had already put out some map games and what interested me about it was first that there was this social aspect to it so beyond you know just wanting the creative business I wanted to try

to have a social impact or an environmental impact you know piece of Edie’s triple bottom-line companies that are coming out to speak to us these days and basically what he told me was that four to five students start kindergarten unprepared for the kindergarten curriculum meaning that they don’t

really have a strong understanding of what the numbers are they kind of say them out loud and for a parent that’s good enough but for the school system they mean can you count to ten can you slide over ten things and stop at ten without continuing to count

which if you got a four or five year old you know that’s that’s a much more difficult skill than just saying the numbers the impact ends up being that preschool math scores predict third grade reading scores better than preschool reading scores preschool math scores predicts fifth grade overall

scores meaning that wasn’t just math affected all subjects were affected fifth grade math scores predict how you do in middle school eighth grade math scores particularly you drop out of high school at the high school level according to 2019 statistics seventy-five percent of students are not proficient in

high school mathematics and that comes from a fundamental misunderstanding originating in algebra or earlier and then when you get to the college level of course all the high-paying careers are in stem well 69 percent of stem majors switch to major with less math they used to switch to

business but now business is so statistically driven with all the computations and computers and you know data that we’re collecting on everything that even the business professors are having a hard time connecting with the students so they end up switching to humanities which in itself is not a

bad thing except from a salary perspective they’re capped around 50k a year which is below national average so when you see things on television like elizabeth warren is trying to forgive the student loans that’s why they have student loans they can’t pay him back and and they kind

of got a bum deal from beginning so that interested me a lot and then the second aspect of it was that we had a system that was already teaching years of math in just 10 minutes a day in just a couple months so just ten minutes a day

time investment 2 or 3 months we made it more effective than what he came to me with but that’s that’s the reason why I thought this would be a success because they said well if you’re showing me statistics like 75% of high school students are not proficient high

school math it means there’s not another piece of software out there that is effective otherwise schools would just be using it yeah yeah it makes a lot of sense ok so once you started once you got to the point where you needed to start acquiring customers on a

systematic basis I think you told me in the pre-interview that Facebook was the most successful channel for that is that right yeah okay so you got started on Facebook while back in 2017 I think you said oh yeah so let’s walk through we’re gonna spend some time on

this let’s walk through your facebook advertising strategy so to do that and I guess the simplest way let’s talk about your most successful campaign first of all you’ve got to identify an audience so how did you do that so the first audience that we were able to identify

was just a local Denver audience so we were just targeting parents of children ages two through ten at that time we I think we only covered through multiplication division and so we target parents and and this wasn’t you know like cost-effective enough we weren’t getting a lot of

traction there but that what ended up happening was that we had this 9 News interview that occurred and we were able to share that post at that time and then we were able to then target so one of the tips that I had learned was that if you

have a kind of a captive audience and you intersect it with your target audience then then you have a very strong audience right so in this particular case the nine news audience intersected parents say ages two through ten goddess maybe three or four hundred converts over the course

of a month or two and those three or four hundred converts got us enough traction for Facebook to get on the phone with us and teach us how to use a look-alike audience so the most successful campaign I always say that look-alike audience because once we were able

to tune the look-alike audience we were able to get converts on a very very regular basis and we were able to grow from three hundred to a thousand very quickly so if our first customer was in February we had a thousand customers in February 2018 Wow that’s phenomenal

now you also told me that once you started to use it was a 1% look-alike audience and I think initially when you did the when you use the Facebook tool that was an audience of about two million people and you chose to narrow it down further to around

600,000 people why did you do that good question so you know I belong to an organization called a oh and I went to a chapter event and some of my buddies were there and one of them says hey you know what I’m seeing your ads all over Facebook

you guys must be blowing up and looking at and I say well you know you don’t have children that are in the age range that would be using my product and he’s like no not at all my children are in college and I’m like you shouldn’t be seeing

my ads I don’t understand why the Facebook’s targeting you so you know that day I went home and I said you know what let’s just let’s just narrow down this one percent audience so take the one percent that Facebook’s identified and then cross it against my target audience

with parents to two to ten and see what happens and basically immediately we saw the acquisition cost come down to a point where I could buy my way into getting the 1% audience to work can you walk me through how you did that because you said you know

you crossed it or compared it but for the folks listing in case they want to replicate what you did let’s walk them through it sure so in facebook when you’re creating the audience you can put the look-alike audience on the top line and then after that it’ll say

like you can exclude or you can continue the filter and so once you click on that continue the filter you get back to the demographics that are that Facebook would show yeah okay because I’ve never narrowed a look-alike audience and I wanted to make sure it was so

it’s pretty much the same thing as building an audience from scratch only you’re starting with a base layer of your 1% audience and then you’re just applying the usual filters for age demographics interests although you’d the things that Facebook presents you to choose from okay you got it

yeah that’s exactly right all right so now you’ve got an audience you need to come up with a creative how’d you do that that’s great question we use promo com so this is a service online that gives you stock video stock audio and basically it’s three slides so

you can put some text on slide one you can put some sliders text on slide two and then the third slide typically is your logo and your call to action so we made like three or four videos just whatever we thought would be cute at the time and

and what we ended up with like I think three or four videos and we were sitting there trying to create the ads and we there was disagreement on what would work like well let’s just create multiple ads right and and then my wife walked in while I was

doing it because I was working in the basement at a time and I said well what do you think about any of these ads right she’s in the target market she got our child so she looked at it you know I don’t like any of those and that’s

kind of like you know what that’s it I’m done with this so what we did was I did at Google I found this tool called add espresso and by the way like you don’t need add espresso now because Facebook’s got this dynamic content thing but it does basically

the same thing but automatically so in add espresso we were able to drop in all three four videos we were able to drop in five or six headlines we were to drop in five or six texts that go above the ad and it went and mismatched and made

something like 50 or 60 ads and it would tell us oh you know what this one’s not performing as well as this other ones that turn it off this one’s not before so we just went through and started turning off the weren’t performing and what was left was

two or three ads that were performing and we were able to just run that I mean at that time the budget wasn’t huge so we were able to just run that I mean basically is from November to June without having to read up the content okay and so

of November to June that’s a pretty long period of time and you didn’t get Ad fatigue didn’t get at the T you’re not and this point sorry to interrupt your audience is still only 600,000 people and you didn’t get out fatigue well I think at some point we

took off the the caps so we took off the the the intersection so jitter we went into the 1% look like but it was it’s about the training so like once we had Facebook trained well enough we could actually turn on everybody in the United States and the

pixel would figure out who to convert oh cool okay somewhere in and around here you were contacted by a company called tap cast and they took your 1% of audience of 2 million and they waved their magic wand some way that you’re gonna explain to me and suddenly

it was 25 million tell me about that sure so tell us came to me in in about June of 18 and I saw them on I had on Facebook and they got on the phone with me and they showed me this map so what they’re able to do

is they’re able to take your one percent audience and they’re able to sort of map it to standard marketing demographics so if you will they can decompose it and they were able to tell me things like well your your one percent audience is really hot against females thirty

five to forty four and then it’s like and and then like when you’re using this tool you can highlight any demographic so like I don’t know why this one sticks out but like females thirty five to forty four that drink vodka were not in my one percent of

the only thing that really stood out so like but for example anything on there like you you could highlight it and it would tell you well this person’s ten times more likely to be in your audience or like for example didactic games were on there so if you

have a female 35 to 44 who likes didactic games they were 15 times more likely to be in our audience than then just some random person on Facebook so using this tool they were kind of able to you know maybe expand the audience by seeing like well if

we target these demographics here that’s kind of what’s in your 1% audience and their claim was that the CPM for targeting those people is cheaper than the 1% audience because you’re not using Facebook’s AI so not only will we expand your audience but you should theoretically come in

a little bit cheaper did that happen well they were able to take us from the I think at that time we were around to 3,000 customers to 10,000 by February again like for some reason February happens it’s just the one-year mark the like every February so we by

February last year 1970 19 we had something like 9,500 customers and do you still use tap cast now we’re still working with them so how do they without going into like specifics that you don’t need to roughly what like was it cost how do they bill you what’s

their model their engagement model look like do they charge you a flat monthly fee is it a percentage of ads band is it a one-time fee well my understanding of what they charge me is not what they charge everyone else I think I had one of my year

guys going there and they were charging there a percentage of the ad spend but they’re charging me of a flat fee some I don’t know that’s what the contract is so maybe they changed it from when I joined then but or it’s a perk of being and yeah

I think that I did question yeah okay by the way in case anyone doesn’t know what yo is its entrepreneurs organization you can google it and learn all about it we actually a member ourselves so can you speak to how you structured the campaign and the ad sets

in facebook business manager just to keep things manageable and tidy well that’s that’s actually then what tap casters doing and okay it doesn’t really feel manageable or tidy there’s a lot of different audiences there’s a lot of different campaigns that they were running for testing right as if

they could tune it one way or the other they were doing it are doing it all for you yeah exactly okay all right so I think we talked about this already with you doing the dynamic creative we’re using ADUs press oh but split testing so initially you used

at espresso to create all these variations and you’re saying now that people can do that using the dynamic ads within Facebook’s business manager so they don’t need to go sign up for at espresso has has there been any other split testing experiments that you have done that yielded

results that would be worthy of our talking about or surprising results yeah the site I mean the main one was this everyone in the US audience because ya know one guy would work yeah okay you basically just said when from when it came to once the pixel was

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