Liam Martin discovered through experience teaching wasn’t his “thing”.
When a third of his 300 students dropped the class he reconsidered his career path.
Starting and growing a pre-med tutoring company to 200 tutors worldwide was exciting…
until a huge problem develeoped between the students and the tutors.
A problem that threaten to destroy that business.
So in building a solution…
he changed his route again and co-founded Time Doctor.
On this productivity path he’s learned all about remote employees, systems, business growth…
and (most of all), himself.
Listen as Liam explains his jouney and what it takes to grow a company past the first employees.
Freelancers take note.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:32 — 35.0MB)
In this episode, you’ll discover:
- How do copywriters stack up productivity-wise? (Liam’s data and opinions on his copywriters may surprise you).
- Why “distraction machines” are causing your productivity problems 16 minutes at a time.
- The “World of Warcraft” cautionary tale for business owners.
- How to leverage yourself into high-fee consulting by providing this simple gateway.
- The curious “Tuesday mystery”. What Liam did to boost his productivity immediately.
- Time Doctor
- Liam Martin’s email
- Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
- David Allan’s Make Words Pay
Intro and outro backing music: Forever More by CREO
David Allan: Hey, everybody We’re back with another edition of the podcast. I’m David from makewordspay.com and we’re here today with a man named Liam Martin. He’s the founder and CEO of Time Doctor staff.com. Well I have to ask about a domain name and a bit too I’m sure because that’s very exciting one. Liam Welcome to the show man.
Liam Martin: Thanks for having me. I’m actually CEMO – my co-founder Rob is the CEO of the company. But sometimes that actually gets kind of frayed as well as I do the same jobs a lot of times but I’m very happy to be here. Yes. Everyone likes to talk about that domain name. Yes it costs about half a million dollars. Yes. We had to go here a very interesting process to be able to actually get it took about six months. Karen negotiations back and forth and at the end of the day we kind of got ripped off for both. Well I mean we originally negotiated I think the private was for 20 and then we really wanted it and we had my staff dot com as an. And then about six months later we basically said we’re going to hold off and we’re going to see whether we can all buy the product and figure out whether we’re going to achieve product market fit. And then six months later the guy came back saying Hey I have another buyer. So he’s trying to push us right as some people like to do people. People like to keep pushing us towards the be all same. He had her get caught. He got on the pot and we said well you know we can give it to you all in cash. So we just we just bought the domain cash.
So that also for those people that don’t know it like it. Another big component of having a high end domain name when you e-mail people cold and I’ve run this experiment myself. So I will run. We’ll send 100 e-mails through you know limit time Dr. dot com and we’ll send her e-mails through Leaman’s dot dot com. Just the response rate is about double. The higher end domain. And there’s no real. And these are people that are not associated with one brand or the other. They just respond more because they see the domain and they think to themselves oh that must be legit. Very interesting. It’s an interesting exercise to kind of go about trying. I would personally not suggest that
you do that until you really know that it’s something that you can forward with. But for those that want to make that type of investment it’s it’s big. Just in terms of deliverability.
Awesome. All right. Well take us back to before you were starting up these companies and stuff. What were you up to where were you and how did you get started.
Sure. So I ran a I was actually at a I guess a graduate student and I was a lecturer at a university. I was taking my Ph.D. in sociology down there and I was really excited about becoming a professor and going into academia that was what I wanted to do. So I was on my second year. And in your second year of graduate school they start to give you classes. And the reason why they get asked is because you’re really cheap and. Able to to work with. So we had I was teaching a class of round Leave it was like 200 ish
students and one of the persons working with me on it and I thought oh man I’m going to have just fantastic. I’m going to be amazing at this. I ended up being absolutely horrible at it. It was a horrible experience for me. Ended up I think at the end of the year I lost about a third of my class from people dropping out. And then I remember going back to my supervisor and I told my supervisor I don’t think I’m very good at this. And he turned to me and said you’re not good. And I said well what do you think I should do. He’s like well if you want to go into academia you’re going to be doing this for about 40 years. Bruce might want to think about that. Right.
Like I’ve heard beforehand so I said Well can I like how can I get out of this situation. He said Can you write 200 pages on any subject. I said basically yes. He’s like they don’t need your master’s degree. You want to walk out and I did. And then about eight to 12 weeks later I get it back and BAM. I was I was out of graduate school which was which was scary. And that was actually around 2000. I finished 2008 to get it before the big collapse. All right. So it collapsed you know and everyone knows and we and you know everything went sideways. So I didn’t end up
having any. You know I was I was thinking OK I’m going to go get myself a nice government job I’m Canadian so you need to get a degree for someone with degrees in sociology. You know you don’t really have any degrees in like business or marketing or anything like that. So I ended up not being able to do that because no one was handing out jobs and I ended up running an online tutoring company because I really teaching. But I didn’t really like lecturing. So that was I was very passionate about teaching people one on one. So I started the tutoring company. I turned it online I started tutoring kids to St.. Long story short about two and a half years later that turned into
200 employees in the company working teaching tutoring students on your medical pre-med classes you’re pre-med. So like math to come on to you because it’s cute. Kids pay a lot of money for that kind of stuff. We’ve been through that. We ended up. That was about two and a half three years. And one of the things that came up which was a real problem for me and actually stopped the company from scaling and getting to the next level was the tutor would say would charge the student for 10 hours and then I’d build the student and the student would come to me and
say well the tutor didn’t work with me for 10 hours. He worked with me for five hours. I got to go to the tutor and I’d say did you work with the student for 10 hours and he’d say of course I work for the student for 10 hours who’s who’s lying. Right. Who was telling the truth and who’s lying. So what I end up having to do is I’d refund the student for five hours and pay the tutor for the full 10. Can’t figure. The answer right. In this was destroying the business. There was no way remotely because these 200 tutors were all over the world they were all over Europe in North America. How the hell do I figure out what people are doing and how can I confirm that. Not just that time was tracked but that they were
actually working with that person you having a state call with that person for two hours and 20 minutes 13 seconds. That’s how we build time doctor. So that was the solution that we needed to be able to figure out what was going on. So time Doctor is what we call a time analytics tool. So it measures the website’s applications most movements and keyboard movements that you’re working on through your workday. So right now I’m on podcast with David I’m on 35 minutes and 28 seconds. As of right now and at the end of this call I’ll be able to analyze you know how long am I on Zoom How long am I on G How long am I on this how long am I on that. And that allows you to be able to figure
out different metrics and figure out different productivity variables that apply to you if anyone knows you. Most of your audience probably knows Google Analytics basically think of Google Analytics for human beings. That’s what we saw that’s very interesting.
And when you found out when you start applying that technology to those tutors What did you find out. Did you find out that the tutor was doing spending time you know away from the actual skype call.
Well actually I sold that company to be able to work on time doctor full time with my co-founder which is Rob. So we but I can tell you because we actually don’t see a huge niche for us is Tudor’s online tutors and you’ll find about 95 percent of them are actually you know what they say is 100 percent of what they actually do. There’s about 5 percent variation that or either they don’t know how to use the tool properly that’s a smaller component probably about 20 percent of that 5 percent don’t use the tool properly. And then the other 80 percent basically they’re ripping off their employer resonantly. And that’s neither. So
ripping off might be a strong word. There are some people inside of organizations and we focus on remote teams. We have hundreds of thousands of these people all over the world that currently use our software. But we have. When you focus on in-person offices there’s usually these people that I would kind of call like the office clown or like the guy that kind of holds everybody together the top 10 most copywriters actually like this. There are other personality types are very much connected to that type of archetype where they’re easy get along with everyone kind of loves them and they always feel like they’re doing things well they’re not
they’re not doing they’re not doing work in the classic terminology of what work is. But they’re actually you’re doing something else which is keeping the team together and making sure that they’re happy we’ve got a couple of those guys on our team right now and. Those guys are fantastic and they may not be the most productive employees but you need them inside an organization to have them function properly. So for us as well as well like we’ll see people on Facebook or YouTube or something like that. Like if you wanted a couple hours on Facebook and YouTube for weeks during your work week. Not a problem. It does become a problem if you’ve got a 40 hour work week in 20 of those hours are spent on World of Warcraft
when you’ve got to have a conversation. You actually had one or one interesting story from a client. We’ve had a or he had a senior level developer. They started detecting World of Warcraft on his work computer in an office. Right. So the guy says well you know with it why the plane would have work that at work. And he said well here’s my problem. I worked for you guys for about you know eight hours a day. I go home I play World of Warcraft. I go to sleep and then I wake up again and I go work you guys. They asked him like Is this a problem. I said Yeah I’ve got a kid. I’ve got a wife. I don’t talk to them I don’t interact with them. See they instead of
firing them. They went in got him some therapy in a DSM approved videogame addiction. They had him delete his videogame character and now he’s back being one of most placket employees in the company and out of I think 40 guests that he had on the team. So if you hadn’t had their technology in place what would have happened is just general dropsonde productivity over let’s say six to 18 months and it would have resulted in a. But because you were able to detect that earlier on we’re able to nip it in the bud and get him the help that he needed and now he’s you know one of the top guys in the team are back to being the top guys. So that’s kind of another variable as well. That’s super important for us when we
look at how we’re don’t. There’s a component that’s absolutely monitoring particularly for remote teams but for us we also want to say we also want to show customers you can use this as a productivity tool. Fundamentally that’s what it really is. That’s what we look for.
And then all the other factors you can secondary to that primary one now did you when you were making time doctor you sort of had you know had different versions I’m sure the different iterations to just sort of apply it to yourself.
And what did you find out about yourself in your own time.
So I actually after about six months of using it I discovered an interesting trend which was my productivity goes way down on Tuesday afternoons and I was saying to myself hey what is this trend line that’s Tuesday afternoon your shit. And I really you know I started studying what the hell I was doing from Tuesday afternoons welke to the afternoons and same thing in the United States. OK. But it isn’t Canada. It’s a cheap movie night.
Yeah that’s strange. I don’t know if that’s the same here but I’m from Winnipeg actually so I could get a tattoo. Yeah.
Tuesdays are like half trance movie nights. So what ends up happening is my girlfriend calls me. Hey what do you want to go see. Do you want to see Superman or Batman Eric. OK I want to see Batman. OK. Find out if Suzanne wants to see Batman. Can you message her. OK I’m going to messager. She does want to see that she wants to see Superman. So it’s a back and forth back and forth in what that what that creates is these notifications. And really another component connected to copy in and copy to me is not just writing stuff down I think it’s a lot more multifaceted than that. If you can get my attention you win as a marketer. Right. So what is this is a
distraction machine. This is specifically designed to distract you from the best acts in here are just the bare ass distraction machines. That’s it. So when you look at distractions you know you’re getting pulled off of what you’re currently doing. It’s a really it’s not just looking at a tweet. It’s not just looking at a Facebook messages. It actually takes you about their studies to show takes about 60 minutes to get back into the flow which you know is a flow state focus but just like this concept of just getting into flow writing properly doing your main task. So that tweet didn’t just cost you 30 seconds it costs you 16 minutes and
30 seconds and you have to be mindful of that. So what I now do is I take Tuesday afternoons off. I just don’t work on the afternoon. So pretty counterintuitive right if you were working in a company they probably like the fuck you talking about. Can I get a kick to the job. I make it up in other places I make it up at other times. But like these Tuesday afternoons I think to myself OK I’m going to knock off around 3:00 4:00 in the afternoon and then I’m going to go and do that and do the movie thing. And that is a much more when you look at the you know if you want to really measure and that’s what we measure so our mission statement as a company is we want to empower workers to work
wherever they want whenever they want.
So once you you know you had your own needs you made in your own previous company for stuff like this. What did you then do to try to reach out to people and try to grow this new company in your software.
That’s I mean that’s a very long story. One year six right now we’re at 80 ish people in the company and honestly everything anything under the sun for anyone that’s interested in that. In general I would suggest the book traction that’s a fantastic book to really kind of figure out where you’re going to start. You know the different traction funnels and how to implement them for us. We fundamentally just started talking to people. There’s a lot of tech startups are anything that you think you need to get to product market fit as fast as humanly possible. So you need to spend as much money as much time as much research as to get the
credit market that is the definition of product markets that in him. And I apologize if some technical terms are coming up but if your audience doesn’t understand them then just stop me and I’ll explain them. So you need to be able to have below two and a half percent monthly as an example customer churn inside of your is this your business needs to be growing continuously in an upward preferably. I would say at the beginning of your business you better be doing to get 300 x per unit to 300 percent growth the year. And then as you get into scale past 1 million preferably doing 100 percent year over year is fantastic. Doing a little bit lower than that is also great but you need to be able to keep that curve going
and if you can keep that curve going and then youll have 100 million 200 million 300 million dollar company. Its just math. But then you I mean its math in perception but in reality a lot are multifaceted and complicated. So you need to kind of look at it and there are some products that you probably get to a million but can never get to 10. There are other products that could get the $10 but could never get to 100 million. So you need to know where you are there in terms of. And then also possibly adjusting that product along the way. I know that’s something that you’ve really focused on is okay we’ve got this market. How can we 10x it as an example how can we get how could we
100 x it. And those are very interesting conversations to have. Once you have cash in the bank and we’re able to think strategically about your next step. So at the very beginning of the business basically we’ve started selling the product for free. So you know we would give them a free copy of time doctor and we ended up having with 6000 companies at that point using it. And when we went to no wait sorry it was out in the numbers but when we start when I first opened our doors we had six thousand monthly recurring revenue inside of the business and we cut. I think we only had about 20 percent
of our customers that ended up switching over to a paid product from a free product. But because of that we actually had something else that was very interesting that happened. Our time track tripled which was a very important engagement metric for us. So our big engagement metric is are you trapped in time you’re not tracking time you’re not using media. So we only have 20 percent of our customers stay with us and to a degree that was not great but in another context we actually started getting much more useful feedback that was coming through the business because now we had a product that people were really using. They were using
passionately they were giving us feedback on you know why it’s working and why it’s not working because once they start paying for it their feedback literally 10x. And that was that was super power for for us to be able to evolve the product to the next level as we thought we had it locked. We thought we had a bunch of engagement metrics that were doing quite well and yeah we didn’t have anywhere near as many people using it. When we went to paid by the engagement metrics just like went through the roof which was fantastic.
So was one of the big cogs was sort of giving it away and beginning to get that engagement.
I would say if I was going to do it again I personally would not give it away for free. It’s like a bit of a step or something going on or whatever it is just just let me just open up your wallet just open it up a little bit and then later on a company that we had talked about beforehand was intercom and intercom charged us $25 for unlimited users like unlimited emails on Internet like all you can eat package get 25 bucks. When we first started using it and were like that’s amazing we pay them thousands of dollars now. Well all right.
And they just wanted engagement metrics. They wanted to know they are paying for it and they’re using it as long as those two things. And I was giving them feedback I was e-mailing them all the time was e-mailing their support. We get calls. You know I was really passionate about the product because I knew that it was something that I used on a daily basis and I know that it’s a tool that a lot of copywriters use as well. So that for me that was super smart on their part. Just make it stupid cheap but make them jump through some type of hoop because if it’s free you’ll try it and then you’ll just say they’re on it.
Yeah absolutely. All right look it’s a very good point I think. There’s a lot of direct marketing companies of course are going to go that route with that minimum sort of free trial yet to get people. And even though it’s only a dollar and bringing in that it creates at least I have seen it creates a much a much different person. Absolutely true.
Even with that minimal charge I was talking to someone just a few days ago and they were trying to sell me on and of course to be able to do something connected to Facebook advertising. And I said I’m not interested in buying your course on Facebook advertising but I am interested in you coming in and helping us with Facebook advertising. So like understand your different customer as they apply to different. Like I don’t have time. We have to go through five or six guys that do the Facebook advertising you see them instead of the company. What I need is an expert to come in and help me. And you could probably make 20 to 30
x just coming in for the day and helping me. If you have that knowledge if you’re that good to be able to be able to work on a problem with that. So I think that that’s something that a lot of people don’t really like. Throw that option in you know even when you’re in this kind of goes a little bit past direct marketing and copy but if you have if you have the hey here’s the course for 500 bucks and we’ll do it for 5000 for a day. Do that. I’m the guy that buys that every time first.
And people buy it. It’s a circus. It’s obvious to some of us and others not so much. But that is basically the way you get consulting gigs if you’re smart is to teach something like that and then use that as part of your fun.
I’m still technically the person in charge of Visio inside of the company and I no longer know all of the processes that go on inside of a inside of the company because there are so many there are 20 people that are associated with it. So it’s a huge machine now. And for me I know each part theoretically but I don’t I could not actually show you I could not sit down with you and show you that process because we’ve hired experts to be able to go in and work with those different people. So think about that context and you want to you want me as your customer because I pay you a lot more money than than someone who’s laid off. Well you know I’ll pay 400 bucks for something that I’m going to do myself. If you think about that because I think that that’s so powerful
to people that don’t really get. Yes it’s a smaller demographic. Slap it up there because I understand your exactness and your demographics willing to 10x your price. Yeah yeah.
That’s a very very very astute thing to say.
People want to get a hold of you get in touch with you and check out doctors. Where do they go.
Yeah I I hate people that I was. Do you like your Twitter or something like that you can get for me. It’s it’s Liam. I am at time Dr. dot com and you can just email me right through there if you want to send us your e-mail address. You can also e-mail me through remits dot dot com. And there are those ones work that are in the same inbox. You should be interesting when you e-mail me because if you’re not my assistant will just pull it off of you and I’ll never see it. So make sure that it’s interesting and I’d love to talk.
Awesome. I really want to thank you for coming on the show. Liam this has been excellent You’ve done a lot of life experience that you’ve managed to condense and share with us here today. It’s been a real pleasure. Yes. Thank you.
And here everybody else will be back again with another exciting episode of the podcast next week hopefully with somebody sharing as much valuable information as we can.