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February 16, 2023

Building a $40M Company in Public with Obvi Founder Ronak Shah — EP 013

Episode 13
Ronak Shah

Ten Years In The Making is a weekly podcast on how to effectively grow a startup.     

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Adam Robinson: So, my guest today is Ron Shah. I'm very excited about this show because I know I have more, I feel like I have more to learn from Ron than just about anybody else that I speak to. I'm sure the audience will agree. Ron is a total beast, founder, CEO of Obvi, and he's helping a ton of people like me out, which I think is just a very interesting way to navigate your career. And we're going to get into that as well. And just the breadth of knowledge that this dude has and his understanding of the entire machine and how everything works, which is like a theme that has been resonating with me lately. Like, I've been talking about MrBeast has been doing a podcast tour. If you listen to this guy and how long he took and how deeply he understands how to create viral content, like if you ask me, which Daniel Murray did yesterday on his podcast, he's like, "What is the advice you would give to a young person?" I was like, "Listen to that MrBeast interview and whatever your job is, do what he's doing for your job, whatever the version is. Understand that sh*t better than anybody else and you will crush and then start expanding the breadth of the parts that you're understanding, right? So, like there's the technical aspect of your job, and then it's like, "Well, why is my boss telling me to do this?"

Ronak Shah: Right. Right.

Adam Robinson: And then you'll get to a point where you're like us and you're like building the machines like it's just a matter of time. Anyway, I'm just very impressed with every conversation I've ever had with you. So, I'm excited about jumping into this. Here's something that I don't know. So, you are hungrier and you have like more of a growth mindset than like just about anybody I have conversations with. I'm wildly energized by it. Where did all of this come from? Like, is it a growing-up thing? You know, if it is, can you tell us?

Ronak Shah: Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, Adam, thanks for having me. And I think I echo exactly what you said about me, which is every time I speak to you, I want to put my phone down to start thinking because, like, you'll just say one line, and I'm like, "Holy sh*t, he's right. Like, okay, this is the direction, right?" So, Likewise, I love the energy, and again, thanks for having me on. As for the growth piece and why I think my mind works that way, when I initially kind of grew up, my dad's been an accountant his whole life. He's been working at Ernst & Young for - he's been there almost 30 years now. He's a partner and has done that route. I was an accounting major. I worked at a Big 4 at Deloitte Consulting. I was supposed to follow that track and I didn't know anything else existed. Okay. So, my first learning of something else existing was me taking a leap of faith and becoming a controller at a start-up supplement brand. Okay. And when I did that...

Ronak Shah: Huge leap.

Ronak Shah: Huge leap. My dad actually had to come and meet the founders to make sure that his son is being handed off to the right group of people. It was intense. But the thing was when I saw that and even though I was doing the same kind of work, what I learned was there are people that know so much more about everything. And when I saw that and when you find out that it's actually unlimited, then that race becomes it's either your mind just gets wired to want that and the chase begins and the good and bad part about it, the chase doesn't end. You can think that will end and you have some number in your mind or you have some whatever it may be, some milestone, but it doesn't end there. That's just the gateway to the next thing. So, I loved that factor because that also tells me if it's unlimited for me, it's unlimited for everyone, which means you have an ability to at some point catch up to someone that you may look up to and catch up to someone that may be light years ahead but you may kind of be able to course through that. So, I just figured like, okay, wait, there's this whole new world I have to explore and I have to learn what it takes to explore it.

Adam Robinson: Man, I love that. Another thing, I'm having to give speeches at events now just as part of the game, and I don't know how to do it yet. Every time I get done, people are like, "Man, I got to help you out with your speaking or whatever." So, I was reading Talk like TED, and it's this book that I got like five years ago when I was making sales for my last business. And it's all about narrative. So, it's like trying to come up with like a 30-minute speech that has three different stories in it. I was like, "I got one story. It's great." It's one that I shared to you about like five years ago this is an idea in your head. But then transitioning my bio into like the statistical stuff, it's like this thing that's going on with these proof guys, the Jasper AI guys that I share my office with, it's incredible. I was looking through our old texts and this is the theme of you just found out that there's this whole other world that's possible and that exists. So, like, I thought I was a guy who was going to create bootstrapped lifestyle businesses my whole life, be super comfortable under the radar, or whatever.

Like, at the time these Jasper AI guys started Jasper AI, I had two bootstrap startups that were both like 3 million a year, million-and-a-half bottom line. I was like, "Dave..." Like they were sucking wind with proof. They were, like, running out of money like they were about to sell it for $2 million or something. I was like, "Dave, if you fire everybody, get rid of this expensive office and then start one or two more of these things. You guys are going to be printing money. It's going to be amazing." This guy sends me one text on like December 20th. He's like, "Hey, we got early access to GPT-3." And at the time we thought that there was like a novelty kind of like nerds making technology that they didn't know how to sell and us making UI in a marketing engine because that was kind of what I had done with GetEmails first. He's like, "I think this a GetEmails. Seven days later, sends me a Stripe receipt. He's like, "$100, first customer." Hopefully, this is my GetEmails, right? So, like the bar for us was this business that, by the way, at the time I hate it. It was 267K MRR. Dave got to 50 million in a year. 14 months after that text, he raised $125 million to $1.5 billion valuation. And literally, I f*cking watched him do it and like I...

Ronak Shah: That's insane.

Adam Robinson: We were such close peer. Like, think about how close of a peer you are at that point, right? I'm like, "Dude, like come up here. Come up here." And then he's like, "Bro, come up here." You know what I mean? It's like this idea of mindset and like another thing MrBeast said in this podcast which I love. They all ask him, they're like, "What recommendation would you make for someone wanting to be a YouTuber?" And he's like, "You've got to be extremely judicious about who you hang out with because you need friends that will tell you if your content sucks." Right?

Ronak Shah: Exactly.

Adam Robinson: And a different version of that for us I think is like I want to be around people thinking bigger. I want to be around people playing bigger.

Ronak Shah: That's right.

Adam Robinson: I just can't tell you. It's like so seductive to think about this idea of like a cash-flowing business and I'm like living in Aspen and, like, whatever. But I will tell you, I'm going as hard as I f*cking can right now. It is so much more invigorating than like cruising in this lifestyle business, you know, making a couple of million but whatever.

Ronak Shah: It gets old in a couple of days.

Adam Robinson: Dude. But it's like, not like I'm working around. It's not like I'm a slave to this thing. It's giving energy to my family life. Like, I'm so excited when I wake up everyday and, like, I just want other people to have that, you know? And the crazy thing is like I didn't know that it was possible for me. You know? It's like it's a f*cking Tony Robbins conversation we're having something like this but like it's real. Like, I watched it.

Ronak Shah: It's so real.

Adam Robinson: I watched it happen so fast. Like, you know, I was showing my wife the office that we're moving into on South Lamar and it's one of these things like we work the show like you would not even believe this place these guys are moving into. And Dave just likes having me around. He's like, "Dude, I'll barely charge you anything. Just come along." So, she's like flipping through this office. She's like, "I cannot believe how much these guys' lives has changed." They were like down and out two years ago, you know? Anyway, that's just like, I'm going to be telling that story to everybody because I think it's like I would not have believed. It would not have changed my life unless I was sitting in the same room with these guys. I could have heard it on a podcast and I wouldn't have thought it applied to me. But I watched this guy who was more stuck than I was at the same spot, "Do it," and now I'm doing it. You know what I mean? It's so wild.

Ronak Shah: It's fascinating, too, because the one comment to what you said, too, is like and I always think about this when like, I mean, it's usually if you're offline hours when you're thinking about this but like I always think about if I didn't meet this guy in this random elevator that was looking for a controller. Okay. And you fast forward to today, right? And I'm like, "Wait, I was just supposed to be an accountant. That's what I was supposed to be and a CPA." And now I'm whoever I am, right? And I'm like, "What about all the people that aren't getting a random experience thrown at them? Could there be buried talent that have way further potential exploration than even you or I have had? And you always think about it's that moment where you ran into something that kind of broke the trajectory of what you were going to do." And it's something so measly sometimes, you don't even give it much thought but that moment changed everything. And it's like how many more moments can we create for others to change? And I think that's what tech is doing, you know, what you're doing, and then so yeah.

Adam Robinson: I mean, that I think is like this content creation stuff which you work in public, founder, brand, whatever you want to call it. We both believe in deeply. From my perspective, I just think it's like the problem that I see for, not the problem, like what will make our company accelerate the most is if we keep hiring better and better people. Like, I can't believe that people that are signing up to work for, I literally just like I'm like, "I can't believe this guy wants to spend his time working on this project," because it's just so different than it was two years ago or whatever. So, I think the founder brand stuff, at least on LinkedIn, is great for that. I think that like when you're crushing it, revealing your financials is just spellbinding for people like literally. So, I had Tommy hit my LinkedIn post with that spreadsheet. And I literally had three people saying like, "I will work for you," as a direct message like, "What openings do you have?" which is amazing. And there's this idea that like, "Oh, like what about your competitors?" I just think it's like if you did it and you saw the effect of it in like the vibrations it has through like recruiting and like if you needed money from investors or whatever, and I feel like everybody would do it.

And then there's this last part which we're talking about, which is like if you can just like it changes somebody's life so much to hear stories like that, if you can just like, okay, let's say like, I don't know, 500 people listen to this podcast or whatever in the next week. Like, if one of them is like, "I can relate to that Dave and Adam story like I'm going to just figure out how to go bigger," and it doesn't happen in a day. Like, it took me like kind of six months from this conversation I had with Dave to actually really be gunning it with all the people in place. But that's a benefit that I think it's what keeps you going. Me at least, right?

Ronak Shah: Yes, 100%.

Adam Robinson: So, tell me about Obvi. So, idea, MVP, first hundred customers.

Ronak Shah: Absolutely. Idea was prior to this, myself and my two co-founders, we actually ran a marketing agency and myself and my two co-founders, we actually started at that company I told you I became a controller at. Us three were employees there, okay? And we turned into best friends, best man at each other's weddings. And so, we're trying to break the stigma of working with your best friends because we've been doing it for ten years, so I highly recommend it. Anyway, we were running a marketing agency for about five years called Ghost3Media, focused around helping digitally native brands grow their footprint by building websites, running paid media, and branding and design. Did that for five years and we said, "All right. We've built so many 7 to 8-figure brands for others. Let's extract everything we learned to do and learn not to do and apply it and basically see if we can create a thesis out of this." And really what Obvi was can we apply everything to do and not to do and actually make something out of it? So, the first thing was...

Adam Robinson: So, literally, it was basically like an experiment.

Ronak Shah: It is and it still is. It was a fully experiment. And what we did was, was first thing was when we said we know health and wellness and supplements the most. Let's stay in that category. So, staying in what you know best and perfecting it, first lesson. Second lesson was, okay, you cannot create a product that is not disruptive. So, how are we going to disrupt this supplement market? So, we looked at collagen, which had the highest Google trend, right? So, in the right direction. And then we said, "Well, what's disruptive about collagen?" Collagen is actually a very utilitarian product. It's an unflavored product. You're supposed to throw in a milkshake and you forget about it. You take it because it's good for your hair, skin, nails, and joints. So, we looked at that and said, "Wait, if it's so good for your hair, skin, nail, and joints, why can't it be a standalone product that people are enjoying taking like whey protein or your matcha tea?" Like, people are excited about taking these products. So, he said, "What if we did flavored collagen that actually tasted delicious, gave you nostalgic reasoning of taking it, and you actually feel the benefits?"

So, he said, "All right, cool. This could be something disruptive. No one is doing flavored collagen. Let's get to R&D." So, that was the second part. When we came out with the first two flavors, we had perfected a fruity cereal and a cocoa cereal. It tastes like the Froot Loops and a Cocoa Puffs milk with cereal leftover. And we said, "All right. This is it. This is going to hit the people." And the first thing we did, day one, we created a really good website because that's what our background was. We got really good photography done and we started running Facebook ads from day one. It's what we knew, right? And it's all we knew. We didn't go the whole route of let's build organic. Let's try this. We ran ads from literally 12:01 midnight until which is June 1st, the start of the brand until literally seconds ago. We're still running ads. Right? And then that was our goal. And our main focus was stop making collagen boring and start enjoying it. And now about, you know, $40 million in revenue later, I think we were able to prove the concept, at least.

Adam Robinson: For sure. And then what about, was the work in public always the plan there?

Ronak Shah: Yeah. So, the thing we wanted to give back while kind of conducting this experiment was when we started and when we saw people building brands, everything was uberly secretive. Like, it was like, "Oh, my God. We figured something out on Facebook ads. Don't let anyone find out." As if the algorithm is so small that one other person finding out is going to kill it, right? And we were just like, "Wait. If we actually start sharing every detail about our brand building, do you think somebody else will?" And not that we fostered this. This has been around but we wanted to bring it out to a little bit more in the social space. So, whether it's Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, we just started sharing everything like, "Hell, we just had our first $100,000 month. Oh, we just hit a half a million month, etcetera," and it turned into where people were like, "Oh, sh*t, I'm craving an update like it's been a while. Like, what's going on?" And what people were able to extract, at least from when we've been building public was, I think, mistakes and learnings from how we were able to take certain steps. But also, I think it made other people feel like it's okay to share too. And so, I think that was our goal. And I think no matter what business I'm part of or what I do in the future, I'll always want to build in public.

Adam Robinson: And like have you seen any, has it helped you in recruiting? You know what I mean? Like, all those others. Did you see that other stuff that I'm seeing or is it like...?

Ronak Shah: Yeah. Actually, I'll give you the other side of it is I think when we started building in public, we had wins like this, okay, call it hockey stick or whatever. I think because we were layered with so many wins, we maybe sometimes made people feel intimidated. So, there were a lot of people looking into the window but very few wanted to come through the door because they're like, "Holy sh*t. Like, I don't know if like I can level up to this," and this is back in 2019-2020. And so, I believe post-pandemic, though, even for us during the pandemic, I think people's mentality of like, "F*ck it. Let me try." Like, maybe I can be good enough for this became more comfortable. And so, building in public since pandemic kind of really kind of hit. I feel like that's where it's opened a lot of doors for us where people have just kind of flooded the gates. Opportunities have come through the door, and I think it's also the mentality of people has changed, though.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. In what way?

Ronak Shah: I think there is not so much to lose by trying. Whereas before, it was like, "Holy sh*t, I got to go interview here. I got to go in-person to this office. I got to go do this. And what if my manager finds out?" Now, it's like, sh*t, I know some people who are doing three full-time jobs and like making it work somehow. And I think there's comfort and there's accessibility and then there's on the other side, as a business owner, I think we are constantly craving talent, right? It's like, "All right. I have a growth mindset. I want talent." And you're willing to scrape through talent right now because the other thing is you're also able to say, "Hey, this didn't work out in a few months. Sorry." This whole idea of what used to be the salary mindset, which is, "Damn, I'm hiring this person for $150,000." Like, how am I going to get? It's more like, you know, I'm hiring this person for $12,000, right? And it's like, okay, I can see if after $36,000 if this person can be worth it. So, I think there's a whole dynamic shift and then, mentally, I think people are just open to the accessibility they've gotten in their lives now.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. So, you are super connected and I'm just very, you know, I sell into the Shopify ecosystem. You kind of provide services to some other vendors like me. First of all, I love this ecosystem because I find the founders to be like us, you know. Especially when you're selling in the Shopify Plus stores, it's like, "Dude, you're a special person if you made it to Shopify Plus." And like generally, I feel like the products are being created to improve the world. You know what I mean? Like everybody's trying to like get some liquidity event for their future family or current family, right? It's just a very similar mindset between the brands, the vendors, and the agencies. And I feel like everybody wants everybody else to succeed. What a great ecosystem to be part of. And it's super tight-knit. And my observation, which I just started learning about this literally a month-and-a-half ago is influence is concentrated in very few hands, which is wild. So, I want to ask you two questions. The first one, you are incredibly tightly networked with these influential people. Was that intentional? And if so, is there tactical stuff behind it that people should be doing? Start there.

Ronak Shah: Yeah. I would be lying to you if it was intentional. I think the intention was that if I'm sharing information, I'm hoping that I'm able to also extract information. And so, that barter, whether it was public or behind a wall of DMSs, that barter started to become stronger and stronger. It was like, "Hey, I see you're doing this. Here's what's working for me." Maybe we can jam, right? And the amount of jamming that I did in 2020 and 2021 was a lot, right? Which was just, I'm going to give you my time. Let's do it. And I think it turned into like, okay, now I have this person in my back door. So, whether they're going to engage with me or like support me, I got this person. Okay. So, I think that was like step one of just giving unlimited amount of time to people who could be valuable or could not be. You can't look at the number of followers they have and think that they have value. I know people who have no presence on social. They are some of the most strongest influential people.

Adam Robinson: Right. And that's interesting.

Ronak Shah: Yeah.

Adam Robinson: Can I just add to one real quick question? So, this started with your building in public effort like the increase. So, another benefit that I didn't even highlight, like which I haven't really seen it but like Chase Dimond talks about this all the time like he had like the 37 singles guy who's been an idol for mine. He's like, dude, he like wrote me the other day and said he loves my content. It's like, the more you produce, these people who are actually the daddies at it, like, they like your sh*t, you know?

Ronak Shah: They do. They do. That's the biggest part. That's the biggest part. I remember I was hunting around and talking to some VCs, and this is when it hit me because I was just looking at like, hey, potentially raising some capital for Obvi. And I realized there were VCs that were saying, "Hey, I follow your content on LinkedIn." And I'm just like, "Huh, I don't remember seeing you like it. I've never seen you comment on it, but they follow it." So, it started hitting me like, okay, wait, there is the reach, that number of reach where it says like how many people saw impressions. That is probably the most powerful statistic. More than your engagement, more than comments or shares, the most powerful statistic is how many people can see it. And I think what I realized was, okay, if I start getting more content out there, right, whether it's on Twitter or LinkedIn or both, would I be able to get more eyeballs on me? And then the second layer to it was that's going to create a lot of inbound of people who want to talk to you and people who want to spend time with you. How do you create layers of making sure that now that infinite time that you are willing to give can start becoming targeted?

So, there are a couple of things I did was I joined MentorPass, which I think was phenomenal for me because I was able to put a price to my timing for the people who are like, "I want to pick your brain." And then there were people who were like scouting, which is like, "Hey, like I have X, Y, Z brands I work with," or, "Hey, I have X, Y, Z, SaaS companies I work with. Let's maybe connect some dots here, right? And I love those people because now like, "All right. Cool. Let me add you to my pool. When an opportunity comes, I'm going to plug out." And I kept building that. And I think one of the things I did was I have this, it's in my Apple notes, okay? It's just people who can connect, just their names and their email or their handle. And it feels like, you know, when you have to kind of make a call and it's like, "All right. let me go make a few calls," and there are people that I just tap into now, right? And I think that built, though, because of putting the content out there and starting to read out my conversations as I, but I started with, "Hey, I'm going to talk to everyone."

And so, I think it, again, was not intentional but what I learned was there's a huge desire out there for people to connect and network, but not just for free knowledge and information. They want opportunities. So, what I started doing was with this group of people that I keep building on is I'm going to feed them opportunities. I want nothing in return. I don't care if you make $10,000 Off of this. I don't care. But I'm just going to feed you opportunities. Make me look good. That's my only thing is reputation. So, I think it started becoming one of those things and it's like now I know there's at least 20 to 30 people that I've gotten some life-changing opportunities to. And it's like, "All right, cool." One day it'll come around and if it doesn't, at least reputation was preserved. So, I think that's how it's kind of domino-effected.

Adam Robinson: I just love so much about this and so like back to what you... Here's what I'm trying to do. I had this guy. I can't wait until this episode comes out. The last guy I interviewed, his name is Jon Cronstedt, and he was the president of Kajabi, basically Shopify for info products from 6 million ARR to 100 million ARR over six years.

Ronak Shah: Crazy.

Adam Robinson: And it started, it was a bootstrapped lifestyle business when he joined it and then it ended up with Tiger putting a $2 billion valuation. This guy's perspective on so many things is so incredible for people who have not taken VC yet because, like, they went through like they had this moment where they were looking at it and they're like, "This could be so much bigger." And then all of this discussion about like the thrill of giving it everything you got or whatever, incredible. But this guy, I became interested in him because I was at 6 million ARR when I heard him talk at War Room. And they asked him, "What is the one thing that you would advise people to do if they're going to go on this path that Kajabi went on?" He's like, "I would start posting on LinkedIn daily today about what it's like to work for your company." And I got to dig into that with him and he's like, "Look, man, all of this, you know, great resignation, employee like disengagement, like even people having several jobs, whatever," he's like, "You know what fixes all of that?" He's like, "Picture watching Yellowstone." He's like, "You know what doesn't fix that? The executives writing mission statements or whatever, values, vision, all that sh*t."

He's like, "Marginally better is if the employees contribute but it's still something that the executives that doesn't even work because it's like two people compromising." So, it's like not even like strong belief set of either side. He's like, "You know what f*cking works?" He's like. "You kind of know what it's like to work on John Dutton's ranch if you watched Yellowstone for how many seasons it was." That guy showed you what it was like to be inside of his life. He's like, "If you can create that on LinkedIn, you've won the game," because people are going to raise their hand and be like, "I want that." And when they opt-in, when you have a pull system for recruiting, he's like, "I think employee engagement is like through the roof because people know exactly what they're getting into and they are like, 'I want to be associated with that.'" So, it's this inbound thing that you're talking about. I'm trying to do a big secondary deal of like a unicorn valuation in like a year. I'm doing the same thing with investors, right? It's like I'm putting together a list of people who are capable of doing that deal.

I'm reaching out to them and saying, "I'm going to, A, disclose an insane amount of financial and operational information over an email once a month. Like, you won't even believe it. I'm going to give you an updated model of my progress toward 50 million ARR. B, I'm making a TV show called Billion Dollar Challenge. So, like, you can literally watch a ten-minute episode every week. And then, C, if you're not interested in a year, opt out but like they that will have... You know what I mean? It's like this whole other like when the deal comes around to be done, there will be hardly any work to do because these deals are about trust anyway. Like, they're going to know me how I operate my team so well. So, that's another benefit I think of this like content creation work in public, like whatever. It's just so powerful. And it just seems like on LinkedIn especially, there's like this. It's like only 1% of people are creating content or whatever.

Ronak Shah: I think the one piece that people forget, though, is it's so hard to be consistent. Your consistency is not something that is a nice-to-have. It is actually the lead-off in the formula. Like, don't do this if the first thing you don't commit to is consistency because you're going to see, first of all, peaks and valleys in it. But regardless, you have to stay constant in output, and if you don't stay constant in output, the whole objective of this you will never actually fit into the ecosystem because the ecosystem is fueled through consistency. So, I think that's the only thing that I see a lot of people do. Like, they'll try something or start something and it's just like, okay, I'm going to stop because I'm getting back to work. And it's like, no, this is also work.

Adam Robinson: Oh my God, I have the best quotes here right now. So, I want to talk about, after I share this one thought, I want to talk about tactics that we can recommend for consistency. I'll tell you what I'm doing and share what you're doing because I think that's super valuable. Like, for me, it took me forever to get over the hump of committing to this but it's just like, dude, every day I see another soft unquantifiable benefit of this, right? So, like, I was experimenting with some paid ads and it just, you know, we're going after such a small slice of the world that like targeting people on social media with ads, and it's not the way to do it. I think everything else I'm doing is going to work a lot better. However, the guy that was running these ads for me is a genius. I love this dude. I'm going to figure out a way to work for him in the future. It's a guy who runs paid ads for this influencer called Ryan Pineda, among many other things. He's a real estate guy. And then the whole time this guy was doing it, he's like, "I think you should be building organic audience because the statement that you make, I got to 13 million ARR with six people in two years is insane."

He's like, "Every person who has a business is going to hear that and they're going to think, 'I have less revenue, I have more people.' So, like, you should just..." And I'm like, "What does that even mean?" I made zero posts over the last, you know, ten years of my life six months ago and now I'm doing 30 a week or something like that. So, he's like, "I'll connect you to Ryan's organic guy. Just talk to him." And this guy is so f*cking cool. He's so amazing. So, I'm like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He's like, "Stop." He's like, "What I hear you asking me is, is this going to be worth it?" Because like I had this feeling, I was like, I was doing a podcast, one work in public a week, and then Tommy was taking that and putting two LinkedIn posts a day. This guy was like, "If you just spent like one more hour a week and were able to crank out a work in public every day, if you had the right content manager and the right video editor, you could be literally everywhere." Think about that. And he's like, "The question that you're asking, will this be worth it?"

And I love this quote. He's like, "I don't know what exactly it's going to do for you in your given situation but what I can promise you is it's going to do way more than anything else you could do." And he's like, "I know it because I've seen it happen over and over and over again." And he's like, "This will slowly become what you spend all your time on because it is the most valuable thing that you can be creating.".

Ronak Shah: Well said.

Adam Robinson: So, like, I just see like and, I mean, just the way he said it, I'm just like, "Motherf*cker, you are right." I need to like hire like figure out how to get everybody else doing all this. Because the stuff that and, I mean, this might be a little bit different if you're like a 20-year-old and you just graduated college but, like, dude, I've been banging my head against the wall for ten years flat, and then all of a sudden, it's vertical, right? Like, there is so much that I can talk about that is so valuable to other people in the game and like, "I don't even know it's in here," and I just keep pulling it out. So, let's move into tactics, right? The problem that I had was, you know, and to some extent, I still have this problem. Like, video is a very easy thing for me to create fluidly but our audience is like LinkedIn and Twitter, which are not really video-native platforms. Thankfully, I have a lot of free cash in my business. I can hire Tommy for $4,000 a month to take my videos and make them text. So, here's my routine. I'm now making a daily work in public, and I haven't even started with the show yet. The first interview is today but like, I'm going to just tell you exactly how I do these daily work in public.

So, I open a spreadsheet and then a guy who is like talking to me about how to make him effective, he's like, "Do a hook, tell a story, give me three lessons, a soft CTA, and then summarize it in one sentence." So, that's the format that I'm making these little three-minute videos and they're actually getting posted at the company page, and they're getting a lot of views. So, they're getting like a thousand views. It's crazy.

Ronak Shah: Are you doing Reels and TikToks?

Adam Robinson: So, I'm not doing that yet because I didn't want to do that without the proper formatting and editing, which your guys are going to help me with.

Ronak Shah: Correct.

Adam Robinson: But I wanted to just get in the rhythm of creating, getting in the flow of creating information. So, now I'm to the point where I can basically take an hour during the week and do five hooks, stories, lessons, CTAs, and then it only takes me like an hour-and-a-half or 2 hours to come in my office. I have this whole setup now and I have a teleprompter screen and I can put the story on top of the teleprompter. And then I use these little whiteboards and I put the lessons or whatever, and I flip through them. And I can bring out five videos in an hour and a half.

Ronak Shah: It's incredible.

Adam Robinson: So, that's three total hours. I do one podcast like this. I try to be like three or four ahead. So, if I'm traveling, I'll do two or three that week and whatever. And honestly, dude, like, it doesn't feel like much. Like, I have Monday morning walled off for content creation sometimes like my wife has a book club on Sunday night. I'll come in on Sunday night and do it. But like with that amount of content, it fuels Mason writing my newsletter two times a week, Tommy doing LinkedIn and Twitter. He'll do a thread a week and then I think he should be doing way more Twitter, but like, whatever. That's just going to come at a time. But like, that's my strategy. It's like this format of a three-minute video that hopefully will be actually in a video native format on the right platform soon. But like it was just getting a muscle like it's powering everything else and it's a super-efficient way to do it if you can chunk it like that. So, that's what I do. What about you?

Ronak Shah: That's solid. I wish I was that robust. So, my piece is so I have my podcast to chew on this, right, which I have to talk to you about coming on too. But the concept there was obviously just to create a podcast that's more digestible. That gives me the ability to get about two posts a week to just curate and post about. So, I believe that posting video is possible on something like LinkedIn and Twitter, even more often than not, only because if you partner it with the right thread, people will like the kind of offline and online experience of sound and text at least from the engagement I've seen. So, the first thing I think before even jumping is like needing material is the start of this race, right? It's like you need to be doing not something impactful but you need to be doing something, right? You can't just start with nothing. So, I think material starts, for me, on one pillar is my podcast being able to really break down different ways to live and lessons and different things we've learned from our business and what other people should do. The second part is my day is broken up. I know a lot of people have different methodologies of how they conduct their day.

My entire day is so calendar to the point where my calendar itself tells me what to do during a free block. So, like 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every single day, it's blocked off for retention. Not but is a big part of that now but it's to just focus on retention in my company. 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., it's heavily focused on me-time to see if I can curate some content for that week. And then I have a block from 5 to 6 p.m. that's focused on actually doing my MentorPass calls. So, that's the only hour you can book me on MentorPass. And then like midday, I think it's like 12 to 1 where I'm like trying to refuel my energy. I'm actually consuming content because if you don't keep learning, then you're also just in your own ecosystem just spinning a wheel. So, I'm consuming content while I'm having lunch or something like that. And so, my calendar is my to-do list. I don't have a calendar and then a to-do list. And I think that's been the most powerful tactic for me because we get so caught up in what we need to do but we run out of the time to do it. And so...

Adam Robinson: I mean, you put a little infant in there and you're just screwed.

Ronak Shah: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That piece is a completely X factor. And so, like what I think my largest tactic was completely getting rid of the to-do list. I don't care if you're writing it. I don't care if you're using Notion. Whatever you're using, in my mind, it is useless because you'll never get through it and you're going to rewrite it and you're going to keep working through it unless you're some animal in complete optimization in your life. So, what I did was my calendar, which is what I live by because I can't reschedule stuff, right? What I can do is cross off something on my passes and say, "I'll do it tomorrow." Okay? But what I can't do is reschedule anything. So, I was like, "Wait, if I'm actually a slave to my calendar, let the calendar drive everything I need to do. So, even when I have to post a tweet, it's a 30-minute block which requires me to curate and post that tweet in my calendar." And so, I think that has been probably my strongest tactic was everything is going to live and breathe by this to the point where I have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to feed my son. That's in my calendar.

Now, if he wakes up at 6 a.m., that throws my calendar off but there are going to be things that come up. So, that's been really, really helpful for me. And then on top of that, I think the last piece I'll say is like on the content curation end like in terms of what am I putting out, I think the biggest piece is outside of like the podcast post, the biggest piece are on what I want to put out is I literally want the main objective is somebody reads my posts and they say, "Oh sh*t, I didn't know that." And so, one thing that even if I'm writing 90% of it being fluff is there at least 10% that someone is going to say, "Oh, sh*t, I didn't know that." And even if I write the whole post or curate the whole thread and I don't walk away saying, "Wait, I don't know where that moment is going to be for someone," I don't post it. So, that's my lead-off and...

Adam Robinson: Barometer. Yeah.

Ronak Shah: Exactly.

Adam Robinson: The like bar you got to get over.

Ronak Shah: Exactly.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. I mean, look, different tactics but like I think that if you were listening to this, you would say the common thread between what I said about my content creation and yours is that it gets prioritized like systematically, right? Like, I have built this machine that does it and like your machine is your calendar, but like it gets done like...

Ronak Shah: It gets done.

Adam Robinson: Like, there's no exceptions. It gets done. Cool. So, I wanted to ask you, you're working on a ton of stuff. I mean, I imagine it's a carryover skill from your agency days like use a calendar, you live by it, but like how do you choose? How do you get, I mean, well, we've touched this already. Like, you created this inbound machine, right? How do you vet projects? Why did you want to work with me, for instance, versus somebody else?

Ronak Shah: I actually care less about what you're doing. I care more about who's doing it. Like, I'll give another example. When I met the founder of Finaloop, which is an AI-driven automated bookkeeping system, I didn't even ask him what his product was. I just let him talk and just I wanted to hear how far his vision was going for something. And when you listen to someone's end vision, it tells you if they're talking to you because they're stuck or they're talking to you because it's going to be an explosive machine. And I want to be on explosive machines. I can help people who are stuck, but there is a time and place for that. And so, I feel like my vetting process is purely to the person I'm talking to. And if I feel like it sounds weird because it sounds romantic but if you feel a tingly feeling, like if you feel like, "Oh sh*t, there's no way I'm not being part of this." That's the vet, right? That's like, okay, that's what you're feeling now. Power through. I think the next step is, okay, do you actually have something viable that's going to take you there or are you smoke and mirrors? I think that's when you go and say, "Okay. Well, how big is the business, this and that?"

But like for me, when I spoke to you, it was you could be doing anything, right? But the vision you had, you never talked about and it's not because you've had no challenges but in our first conversation you never talked about the challenges you're facing right now. You talked about all the opportunities and how you want to conquer them. And that's almost 90% of all conversations. We'll have challenges because we're in negotiations with something or blah, blah, blah, but if 90 to almost all of your conversation is opportunity, then that's when you know you can make a difference. Because otherwise, you're going to become an employee to the system. And I don't look for that opportunity. So, that, for me, I just feel like you know it from the founder.

Adam Robinson: Yeah. And this is something I talk about also like everything is changing for me personally very quickly. It's like I all of a sudden became a hot girl or something. You know what I mean? Like after years, right? Like, I can say what I'm doing and like I see it in people's faces. They just like want to be associated with it. I feel so grateful for this. Like, I don't know. There was no magic bullet. It was just a combination of everything that happened in the last ten years, finally, all came together. Santosh, he's transitioning to our COO. He is the key to the trajectory and finding that guy has changed literally everything. One thing that he says, he's been involved in like three other situations like this one like Zoominfo was the one that everybody knows about. He joined at 8 million ARR. He left two years later at 100 million ARR, and he was like the growth architect of it. And he's like, "When you're in one of these situations and everything is right like the team is right, the product is right, the time is right, the pricing is right," he's like, "Every single door you open there is like a glowing opportunity behind it. There is no stuck because it's just this crazy thing that happens where only opportunity is coming your way."

And he's like, "I've been involved in a lot of businesses that were in that predicament and it's like you just have to push hard." He's like, "These situations, like where you're just getting pulled." And he also has this thing he's like, "I think our sort of vision and values should be centered around accelerating the personal and professional growth of everyone working on it before the customers." He's like, "We're in a unique environment where if you think about your career as a product, being tied to this will elevate your status and your value as a product more than anything else." And then it's impossible to work inside our organization and not just be dumbfounded by the sales velocity in the way. You know what I mean? So, that energy gets projected to the outer world, to the customers, to other people who are recruiting. You just see why the winners keep winning. It's magnetic and it keeps pulling people who have been in that environment before and want it again because it's like so lightning in a bottle. Like, if I just describe what I do every day, I'm so enthusiastic about it that I know that it's affecting people, you know? And you can't bullsh*t that. It's just like it's wild.

Ronak Shah: It's either the one piece that I will say that you said, which is like, where it always boggles my mind is like you said a comment right now, right? It was all of a sudden, I feel like the hot girl, right? But then your next sentence was, "After ten years of doing it."

Adam Robinson: Right. Yeah.

Ronak Shah: But the thing is and that's the thing, which is like I feel like what happens sometimes is like when you're working at something for so long, right, and you see these unlimited doors of opportunities, you think it's all of a sudden. But the thing is you've been building and every step you took is what's making that door opening glow more. And it's like the doors were always there. You were just climbing to it and it's like everything you worked on. You know, obviously, some systems are more of a psychological shift but like I think when it comes down to it, it's like I think we sometimes discredit the growth and the journey we had because now you go and have this hockey stick. And the thing is like you still have to learn how to play hockey to have a hockey stick and it took years for you to do that. So, it's just like I think when I had my first conversation with you, guys, like your journey from GetEmails and now to this, you didn't stumble upon something. You built this, you know.

Adam Robinson: I mean, my podcast is called Ten Years in the Making.

Ronak Shah: Right. Exactly.

Adam Robinson: Everybody I have on totally relates to the title. They're like, of course.

Ronak Shah: Exactly. Yeah, of course. So, yeah, I just find that part like you may think you're a hot girl all of a sudden but you've been doing every piece of plastic surgery you can to become the hottest girl out there. And it's like it takes years and years to become perfect. So, I always find that to be fascinating.

Adam Robinson: Indeed. So, where do you see yourself in five years and what's your ultimate sort of what is the, yeah, what about like five years? And then like, what do you want to be doing in like 20 years?

Ronak Shah: Yeah. Five years, I want to focus on being able to make the world a smaller place, high level. So, high level, I feel that everyone that is working on something, whether it's a brand or a SaaS piece of tech, I feel that in the middle are all these consumers and brands and people and founders and stuff. I feel that we have a way to enclose this ecosystem and almost weed out what isn't going to work and give a chance. And almost it sounds weird but I want to monopolize a lot of what we're trying to do, like what Shopify did with building websites. Okay. And where Klaviyo is doing with email. I believe that we can get to a point where we can do more. We can get to a point where more and more things become very prudently the only way to do it. And I feel like I can help get things to that. I know it's a very lofty and sought-out goal but I just think that if I can pull more things into the center, then you're going to see a lot more similarity in what's working for everyone and I think that we're getting closer and closer to seeing them.

And that's why you go to these seminars or you go to these events and dinners and stuff because you're trying to really find where one thing I've always learned is what people are, even while you're doing a keynote speech and all these things, people are trying to find out what you're doing. And so, if more and more people are starting to do the same stuff, how do we make that dramatically more present? And I would love to work on that. I don't know how. I don't know how. That's what I want to do, though. And 20 years from now...

Adam Robinson: Playbook, that's not the right word, but like here's how you do this, right?

Ronak Shah: Here's how it's done, you know.

Adam Robinson: Failsafe or whatever.

Ronak Shah: Yeah. And then 20 years from now, I think the biggest piece that I'd like to do is I love the side of being able to help people avoid mistakes. And so, I know I hate the word consulting but I would love to continue to help people avoid mistakes. And I want that to be the title. Like, I help avoid mistakes. And the biggest thing is, is if you're going to pay me, I always want to pay myself through money I save you. And that's like the mentality and like if I can become that in 20 years is a person who saves money, pays himself, and helps you avoid mistakes, that's what the ideal title would be.

Adam Robinson: Incredible. So, what are some of the best D2C tech play like tools that you think people don't know about in the market right now?

Ronak Shah: Yeah, I think there is outside of which going through it yesterday with Clint was just incredible.

Adam Robinson: It's so powerful.

Ronak Shah: For us to have like 24,000 emails in less than, what, 12 days that we were not going to get, I don't even know how to like... I was like, "Wait, I should be building a whole new series for this." It was too powerful for me to understand like how much impact is going to create and besides knowing how much revenue it's already generated, right? The impact is much bigger than the revenue generated right now.

Ronak Shah: I mean, this is like Ryan Pamplin from BlendJet. He speaks on panels. He's like, "Guys, literally, like this is half my revenue and I have a nine-figure annual business. I don't know what else to tell you." And he's like, "If you are not using this like you are leaving money..."

Ronak Shah: And I love the way Ryan calls it. He's like...

Adam Robinson: He can't even explain how valuable it is. It's like, "Guys, like, listen to me. Like, I'm doing this better than anyone, and like this is half of my strategy."

Ronak Shah: Right. It's insane. And so, I'm thrilled for this and even bringing some of our MentorPass clients and stuff on it very soon. But outside of that, I look at this as like if you break down your P&L, okay, each part of your P&L has tech that can make it better. So, when I look at like finance, I think Finaloop, like AI is moving to a direction which we're not going to be able to stop it, right? So, why not start letting that? So, Finaloop in bookkeeping like automated bookkeeping, why wouldn't you want that? No mistakes. And it's live reconciliation. The other one, which I think is pretty powerful is retention with subscriptions. When you're looking at subscriptions and instead of it just being, "Hey, subscribe and save," the back end of what you can do to customers and help them like say, "Hey, I'm not just going to incentivize you to stay on. I'm going to change that complete way to look at our brand. I'm going to let you pick this. I'm going to give you this. I'm going to maybe even have you come down and meet the founders if you stay on for three more months." There's just so much creativity as it becoming a channel.

So, I love looking at that piece. And then I think one of the other pieces that I really love in the tech space is within finance, there are so many tools to extend your runway for your business for marginal points instead of getting massive loans and then figuring out how to blow the money. Whether you look at Parker or Plastiq, Plastiq lets you pay any ACH via credit card for two points. Okay. Think about that. Like, if you have a credit card that gives you net 60 like Parker, you can use a Parker credit card or Plastiq, right? For two points, you get 60 days on paying an ACH. So, if you have inventory that's due and a bill that's due and they only take ACH for $100,000, I can pay $102,000, okay, and get 60 days to figure out how to sell that inventory.

Adam Robinson: That's amazing.

Ronak Shah: Use your brain, you know. So, like there are so many tools now that I feel like each part of your business has to become optimized. And then I think the largest tool that I feel is super powerful for us is something like a Shogun, which is the ability to create landing pages within seconds based off images of chopped-up PSDs. So, like you don't need to become a developer anymore. You don't need a developer to put something out there. You can test the landing page now same day after your creator is done making it. So, I just think there's a lot. I could probably be here for another few hours talking about tools, but I'll stop there.

Adam Robinson: Sweet, man. Well, we're coming up on time here. So, how can everybody, well, actually, I'm going to do the final stuff that we do. If you write one thing on a billboard, what would it be?

Ronak Shah: You'll never learn everything.

Adam Robinson: Love that. Constant student of the game.

Ronak Shah: Yeah. There's no stop to this.

Adam Robinson: And then the final five. Where do you live?

Ronak Shah: New Jersey.

Adam Robinson: Relationship status? Family?

Ronak Shah: Married with the infant.

Adam Robinson: And then who is the most interesting person you're following right now?

Ronak Shah: Who is the most interesting person I'm following right now? I'd have to say Bill D'Alessandro. He is a roll-up of different brands but he's a CPA like me that came in a space and looked at everything in a very, very tactical way of I'm going to buy profit and I'm going to keep rolling that up. And now his roll-up of Element Brands is nearing nine figures.

Adam Robinson: Sweet. I'm going to start following that guy. What's your favorite book?

Ronak Shah: Winning by Tim Grover.

Adam Robinson: Love it. And then favorite vacation you've ever been on?

Ronak Shah: I'd have to say Turks and Caicos.

Adam Robinson: Rock on. Ron, thank you very much. Where can everybody find you if they want to hear what you're talking about, see what you're working on?

Ronak Shah: Yeah. I think two places. @obviceo on Twitter and then just Ronak Shah on LinkedIn. Probably the easiest places. And I'm pretty loud in both those places. So, it shouldn't be too hard to find.

Adam Robinson: Awesome, dude. Thanks. This is great. Amazing.

Ronak Shah: No. Thank you.


After working for a marketing agency and helping many companies scale to 7 and 8-figures, Ronak Shah realized he had the blueprint to building a successful brand. So, he decided to launch a company of his own.

That company is Obvi, a collagen-focused supplement brand that he co-founded with two of his best friends, and grew to $40M in revenue in less than 3 years.

Today, we dive into Ronak’s mindset, routine and daily scheduling advice for juggling the many demands of being an 8-figure founder.

You’ll also hear about the value of building in public, simple strategies for impactful content creation at scale, and how to grow a beneficial network by offering everything and expecting nothing.

Key Takeaways from Ronak Shah

  • Ronak's leap of faith from working at Deloitte to joining a start-up supplement brand.
  • The chance moments that can change your career trajectory.
  • Attracting qualified employees by building in public and being transparent with your financials.
  • The lessons around disruption Ronak followed to build Obvi to a $40M company.
  • Why Ronak believes in building in public.
  • How to shift away from the "salary mindset" when hiring employees to be less concerned about how much you’re paying.
  • How can founders create a network of influential people?
  • The most underrated social media KPI that most founders aren’t tracking.
  • The future benefit of offering no-strings-attached value to your network.
  • The biggest mistake Ronak sees from people using content creation to build their businesses.
  • A simple five-step format for creating multiple build-in-public videos in under two hours.
  • The single most important factor to winning on social
  • A powerful tactic for getting sh*t done!
  • How can you vet inbound leads to prioritize the ones that will benefit you the most?
  • What are some of the best overlooked D2C tech tools right now?

Ronak Shah | DTC Collagen Brand Goes From $0 to $40M in 3 Years

Ronak Shah Inspiring Quotes

  • You may have some number in your mind or some milestone, but it doesn't end there. That's just the gateway to the next thing.” – Ronak Shah
  • I think the one piece that people forget is that it's so hard to be consistent. Your consistency is not something that is a nice-to-have. It is actually the lead-off in the formula.” – Ronak Shah
  • “There is not much to lose by trying.” - Ronak Shah


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