Owned and Operated #97 - From Tech Startups to HVAC News: Alec Stevanovski's Niche B2B Model

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John Wilson and Jack Carr interview Alec Stevanovski, founder of Homepros, a niche-focused B2B media business. His newsletter goes out once a week and you can check out the HVAC industry news here. Stevanovski discusses his journey into the industry, highlighting his background in technology startups and his pivot to focusing on HVAC industry news. He elaborates on his strategies for audience building, including leveraging personal contacts and maximizing platforms like LinkedIn.

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John Wilson: @WilsonCompanies on Twitter
Jack Carr: @TheHVACJack on Twitter

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John Wilson, CEO of Wilson Companies

Jack Carr, CEO of Rapid HVAC

Owned and Operated Episode #97 Transcript

John WIlson: I'm John Wilson. Welcome to Owned and Operated. Twice a week, we talk about home service businesses, and if you're a home service entrepreneur, then this is going to be the show for you. We talk about our own business in residential plumbing, HVAC, and electric, and we also talk about business models that we just find interesting.

Let's get into it.

Jack Carr: This episode is sponsored by Home Service Engine. So this is a company that I would highly recommend if you are thinking about getting onto the Service Titan, or if you're like me and you have to rebuild your Service Titan every few months because you set it up incorrectly. So this is my go to team for any Service Titan needs, and I really wish I had them from the start.

Give them a call today and start utilizing Service Titan to its fullest potential.

John WIlson: Today on the show, we have Alec Stevanosky on with the Home Pros HVAC Newsletter. We just got introduced to Alec, a couple weeks ago because we've been reading the newsletter and it's kind of interesting. So it's news specifically in HVAC, but obviously, you know, Jack and I were attempting to run a small industry focused, media, little business here and we thought that what he was doing was really cool So we brought him on to deep dive into b2b hyper niche news, how to grow it what that looks like how he thinks this runs it at scale it was an awesome conversation.

Thanks for tuning in Welcome back to owned and operated. Today, I have Alex Stevanowski on with us from home pros, which is an HVAC business focused newsletter. Welcome out to the show.

Alec Stevanowski: Hi, John. Thanks. Thank you guys.

John WIlson: Yeah, we're pumped to have you here. This is going to be interesting for Jack and I, because one, it's obviously a little outside of like building a service business, but it's a totally new business that we've never covered this type of business before. And the focus of your thing is on HVAC, which obviously is what we talk about every day here.

We're pumped to dive in. So before we get too deep, I'd love a quick background on how you ended up running an HVAC focused newsletter.

Alec Stevanowski: First of all, so thanks both of you guys to have me on I follow you guys online and have been for a little bit, so definitely appreciate it.

John WIlson: We're famous on the internet, Jack.

Jack Carr: Finally, and for a good reason.

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah, if it works, I mean, I'll give you kind of a little personal rundown and I'll just segue into what I'm doing. So I was born in Michigan came down. I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina now. And so I've been here for this August, it'll be 16 years. And I went to school around here and went to UNC Charlotte.

My interests actually have always lied in technology and startup companies and like venture capital and that, that whole world. So when I got outta college, I ended up at a company, a startup company that was in Charlotte called Pacer. And Pacer was basically a software company.

Just to give a simple analogy, we directly competed with ServiceTitan and those players in that space. And so we had a whole software system that helped contractors do everything from schedule appointments, invoice collect payment spent three years there and two out of those three years, I was directly on the sales side.

So I would sell to contractors, I would talk to them all day long, listen to what they complain about, think about care about and about a year and a half in to me being there is I started getting fascinated with the industries themselves. So most of our customers at Pazer were HVAC and plumbing.

And they started studying them and trying to understand what are these things that contractors I'm talking to every day are experiencing what does all this mean? And so I went down a pretty deep rabbit hole of trying to understand all of that. And I basically got curious and said who supports all of this from a media standpoint?

So who's covering it? What publications exist? Who's writing about it, who's kind of served, who's giving this information like to contractors. And basically found that there were a handful, at least in HVAC and plumbing, really just a handful of legacy magazine publishers that exist and they've been around for 50 years, 80 years plus.

And so I thought that was interesting. Looked into them a little bit, try to understand what they do. What I thought they didn't do well, how do they work? And that led me to a second rabbit hole, which was digital media and B2B news publishers and who they are and like how they work. How they make money, how they grow.

And so long story short, this probably all happened over a nine month period of me just in my free time doing research I basically came to the conclusion that I thought at least there was an opportunity to build a next generation, like a digital news platform for all of the home service industries, ultimately HVAC and plumbing too, being two of the biggest ones, but really like the dynamics that apply in HVAC or the dynamics that exist in HVAC apply to roofing and pest control and landscaping, cetera, et cetera, down the line. So I started, I basically thought there was an opportunity and I gave Hayes. I'm trying to think, so I was really close, still am with our it was our COO there. I joked and I joke with people, I consider it the greatest sort of tip that I'm leaving.

So I gave him a three months notice that I was going to leave and ended up leaving this past July or July, August timeframe to start what I'm doing now. Really what the plan was I'm going to leave. And I'm going to give it 12 months. I'm going to pick one vertical to start, HVAC, because I knew it the most.

And I knew what the best and I knew the most people. So I said, I'm going to publish once a week. I'm going to do it just digital. I'm not going to print magazines or newspapers. I'm going to do it through email because I thought that news consumption was well, it is going continuing to go digital, but that email is a good format.

So I'm going to publish once a week. I'm going to pick just HVAC. I'm going to go try to build an audience, build a model develop a playbook and kind of see if there's a business there. And so that's what I've been doing for give or take five months. I know that was a long rant, but it helps to give some content.

John WIlson: I thought it was

Jack Carr: No, that's awesome.

John WIlson: So what you left Pazer seven months ago. Okay. I think of Pazer as a legacy software in the industry. Like they've been around for a while. How are they faring against service titan? It feels like service Titan is just like beating. Is that actually how it's going from the industry?

Alec Stevanowski: Yes. Well, so a couple of things. So technically Service titan has been around, they had started, and I could butcher this a little bit, but what I remember, it was 2009, maybe ish, give or take a year, pazer was actually 2012, 2013.

John WIlson: Oh, interesting.

Alec Stevanowski: The thing that, Pazer started as just a credit card processing product.

Whereas service Titan started with, I'm just going to build software, like we're going to do software. So I wouldn't say it's legacy in that sense because they came out, they were all cloud based. It wasn't, physical server based, like some of the really legacy ones.

John WIlson: Yeah.

Alec Stevanowski: But to your point, how are they faring? They're doing well. I think they target a different market. So service Titan, like contractors what you got, what you guys are doing, John, for example, where you have a hundred plus employees, you have different business lines, service Titan is, that's their market.

Like they go after what we at Pazer are considered really big contractors, Pazer sweet spot was a little bit down market it might've changed a little bit over the past seven months. The strategy was always to work up.

Yeah, I definitely think service Titan has carved out a really strong position with like larger contractors, but it was almost like we were going after two different segments.

John WIlson: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think, I guess the hope is that you get in while there's smaller and then you just like run with them until they're bigger

Alec Stevanowski: Pretty much. Yeah. And a thing too, that might be interesting to you is there's actually financial benefit in that two, because we would make money on credit card processing. They're processing more payments, since they're growing revenues

John WIlson: Yeah, that makes total sense. I don't think people think about this, but that is a component of a ike a CRM relationship, if they have captive processing fees, like that's a part of your relationship. So we try to rebid our fees once a year with Service Titan, but we missed once for like two and a half years, I think just COVID and it just missed, I don't even know but in that same time period, we went from processing a hundred grand a month to like 1. 2 million a month and like big difference.

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah,

John WIlson: Yeah, note to anyone listening. If you run credit cards through your software, it's a part of the relationship. So continue to renegotiate it. Okay. All right. So you left, pacer and you're like, Hey, I'm going to launch a small media company. Aspirations to not be a small media company, but you're going to solo launch a company. Yeah, that is interesting. Obviously like we run a media right? We're on the media that we run. but it was launched on the back of like I had a larger midsize. I don't know Twitter following. How do you just launch something? I've never really understood how people just launch it without some type of platform already, so can you walk me through like the first week

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. I can take this in a million directions, I think your question is like very, like tactically speaking, like what do the first five days look like in terms of launching the media product itself?

John WIlson: That and like how do you get your first hundred subs because for me like when we launched our newsletter our first hundred subs It's just a different game. Like for us, it was like a tweet or something like

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. So a couple of things, I think the first thing that, or one of the reasons I wanted to start with the HVAC is because I knew people so I had a handful, I had probably tens of contractors in my phones, like personal contacts that I had become friends with, or they were like a customer that I signed up.

So one of the first things I did was I literally just went on my contacts and I would filter out. Cause I tried to be smart a year ago when I started thinking about this and I started tagging all my new contacts with HVAC so I could go in and search.

So what I basically had to do was I just pulled up everybody, my contact notes or contacts that was a contractor. And I just texted them or I called them and said, look, here's what I'm doing. I'd love to get your interest and subscribe and do it. I'm not going to start it yet, but it's basically an email you get every Tuesday morning.

And most people said, yeah. So I think from that, I astarted with, I think it was like 45 ish people. That's the answer for the first 45. I knew that there was an advantage to pretty much like to your point, having a social audience. And so I knew that there would some benefit in taking what is included in the newsletter and then repurposing it for LinkedIn or Facebook, for example, I didn't pick Twitter.

I really picked LinkedIn and Facebook So I just have the Facebook there to stay updated. So I started a LinkedIn page and I would maniacally, I still do this. And I'm still very much in the weeds of doing this, but like I would, I max out my connection requests every single week.

They give me 200. So I go in and I search for heating, for example, and I can filter by title. So I put anybody that is associated with heating in there, like title. But then also like either manager or president or owner, and it just literally gives me 20, 000 results. And I would just go. One by one connect, send a connection request to 200, it would max it out. And then I would wait, two or three days. And by the way, again, I'm still doing this. So I'd wait a few days, whoever responds to me or whoever accepts it. I would just shoot him a DM. Just Hey, here's what I'm doing. I know what's your business. I do this thing. If you're interested in it, most people don't respond or they look at it like cool, but a handful of them do it.

So that is like another incremental thing that I'm continuing to do. Then the third, I'd say just to going from like zero to a hundred is just referral people forward. So like making sure that the actual substance is good enough to where people want to share it. And so I think a combination of doing those three things was kind of like, we want, you know, first month, first two months.

John WIlson: Yeah. Like highly personal connection to newsletter.

Jack Carr: Yeah. And so with that, the most important thing with a media company and one of the hardest things in my opinion, I've tried this multiple times in multiple different ways is going from the audience to monetization. What does that path look like for you?

Alec Stevanowski: A couple of things. So I'm one of them. I'm still figuring it out. And I'm still working on it. Again it's extremely early. So part of the 12 month investment that I wanted to make the beginning was to develop a playbook a big part of that playbook me that I'm developing, but also still to be developed.

But really like in simple terms. It's as the subscriber base grows, you of course get more leverage from an advertising standpoint. So the basic business models, if you have a lot of executives and decision makers, which is who I'm going after not necessarily technicians or, it's really people up the chain, people like, like you guys that are worth the advertisers sort of dollars and a 10.

And so. it's advertising, but as the subscriber base grows, you're willing to charge certain rates based on how many subscribers or, basically also who those people are. And so one thing that is, that I like about B2B media is that you don't have to have a million readers

if I wanted to launch like a consumer media company where I was like trying to compete with I don't know, like Axios or. Maybe you could argue they're B2B, just like any consumer, like general news media, the rates are much lower and you need a higher volume. So the thing about B2B that makes it special is like you could go out and get 50, 000 HVAC, like owners and operations managers and service managers and charge literally five times more per, certain units that sell these at.

And so that's the beauty of it. But the simple answer is like the path is grow subscriber base. And, start developing a network network of partners who are companies in the space that specifically want to target contractors. And then go sell them placements in the news. That's kind of like be one.

Again, the revenue model can expand and we can get into that. Like the basics is that.

John WIlson: Okay. What do you think the minimum subscriber count is to start churning on that?

Alec Stevanowski:

I think it depends. I don't know that there's a solid answer. There's one answer where it's like this is the number and nobody's going to pay you a dollar unless you're above that. To start making some meaningful money, like in this case like in HVAC, if I were to have 10, 000 email subs.

I can make meaningful money just because of how valuable each of those people are. But again, like on top of that, like I remember I had a conversation. There's a guy here in Charlotte who he built a successful local media business.

And so I've gotten to know him well, he helps advise me on some things. I remember I was having a conversation with him just Hey, what should I do? I don't really know what to do. I mean, It's got kind of thing. And he's like, dude, you should go out and start talking to some of these partners before you have a single subscriber and just launch with one, or just go do it anyway.

Even if a hundred people, it doesn't matter because. If you can build a relationship with them, like early on as the audience grows, the relationship could grow, the doc, you know, so my current stance is a mix of both of those things. So I'm actually doing that now where I'm trying to, go out and work with a handful of partners.

John WIlson: Yeah. We did that, this is like two and a half years ago now, but like we were starting to launch the podcast early 2021 or mid 2021. And I was like, yeah, we should just try to launch with a sponsor already. I think we did, but it was, know, obviously the audience was not zero. Podcast is like different too, where it's just a weird medium.

It's hard to grow, but it's really dense. If someone listens, they tend to listen. Because they have to like me and they have to like Jack. Which, is complicated like reading something. And I don't know that I'm that likable. But yeah, okay. you Leave Pazer, you launch it. Do you think eventually Pazer could be a partner?

Alec Stevanowski: Yes, the companies who are going to be advertisers are tech, not our companies. So the payers of the world, the service types of the world, et cetera equipment companies, suppliers, training development, coaching organizations. There are general small business slash like financial services companies.

So that I think Amex is even in the Carhartt and tool companies. There's a pretty diverse set of potential advertisers, even in home services.

John WIlson: I'm thinking through all of the different people that sponsor, like the legacy magazines that you referenced.

Yeah, it's then the plumbing one, it's like Spartan for the drain machines or I'm sure service Titan is in there. I'm sure Pazer's in there. Who tends to pay the highest do you have like a hit on that yet?

Is it the tech companies like who has the highest value?

Alec Stevanowski: That's actually a good question. So I don't have an answer. I don't know, but like what I do know a little bit about though, is that it's the conversations with huge manufacturers, for example, like the carriers, Lennox is trans of the world. They just have so much more money compared to even these software companies that like, that's something that I'm thinking

John WIlson: Yeah, makes sense. I hadn't even thought of as like a potential partner.

Jack Carr: Yeah. They'd be great partner too. One huge budgets, but also two, they're all fighting to grab owners. That's their key is they can grab owners. They lock those in and they're selling a million, 2 million in units a year.

John WIlson: If you like what we talk about on our social media, on Twitter, on this podcast, then you should be signed up for our newsletter. Go to ownedandoperated. com where every Friday we break down our business, we break down insights, things we're learning, things we're working on, and it's good stuff. Check it out, ownedandoperated. com.

So monetization. All right, so you've been doing this for the past six, seven months. I asked about the first week or two, what's it been like after that? Like, how's the snowball been? How are you getting new content? Cause it's good. I've been reading it. It's a cool newsletter.

Alec Stevanowski: No, yeah. I appreciate it. Yeah, a couple of things. It's overall it's going well. I'm extremely impatient, so I obviously want it to go way faster and bigger, but I have learned that it's much more long term valuable to really nail the product before you try to like super scale it, because just having a really concrete idea of, for example, people like you, the guys like yourself, when it comes to HVAC, what do you really care about?

What do you want to learn about? What are the knowledge gaps or what information is critical and is really important to you guys that you're either not getting, or you're getting in a kind of, it could be better. And so just like really. Improving the product right now is a huge focus.

So that's something that I do a lot. But of course, the more subscribers you have, the more data you get. So the kind of goes hand in hand. So I've been doing that. And then I think you asked, like, how do you get the news? So that's actually pretty interesting. So I would argue, so like, for example with your newsletter, a lot of that is like your experience and your knowledge from building actual service business.

And so you have to Kind of net new, I don't want to say new, but like these ideas come from you just fresh off of your experience and what you've done. The difference between that and the news is that the news happens. So something happens and I didn't create that necessarily. Like I didn't make it up. At synchrony buying ally financials, like lending arm like that's a thing that happened.

And so really the way in which to answer the question it's like more, how do you stay on top of that stuff? And then how do you make sure that you're finding that and that you don't miss any of those things? And so I use, it's a cheap software system. I basically pay 10 bucks a month and I plug in all these different sources and a source could be literally anything.

It could be your blog. It could be the newsroom at Lennox. So anytime Lennox makes an announcement, it could be legacy magazine companies, every time they post an article, it can be a Twitter account, whatever. So I have this thing, and I basically have 60 sources, give or take, plugged into it, and it displays everything on one feed.

And so literally throughout the day, I just watch it like a maniac, of just everything that's happening, and I tag different things, and I'm like, okay, I want to cover this, or that's interesting. And then throughout the week, because I'm publishing once a week right now, what I do is I, again, I tag everything and at the end of the week, like I literally have, I don't know, I probably have a list of 30 things or 30 stories that I go back and I chop them up and I pick two main ones.

I pick, seven things that I want to put in the bottom section of related news, three that go here. That's how I'm getting everything. That's how I'm finding the stories.

John WIlson: Yeah, and then are you writing them personally right now or like how do you handle the journalism side?

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah so I am, so I'm doing the writing. I do most of the editing. I actually have my cousin help me with some editing, but yeah, Yeah, but I am I'm writing, editing I really like writing. I do it personally anyway. And I have for a number of years, I don't know. It's just one of my favorite hobbies or things to do.

It's a good outlet for me. It's hard, but it's not like something that I have to like, that I dread and I have to force myself to do and that I'm like horrible at I think I can be a lot better, but I think I'm dangerous enough at it.

Jack Carr: I think that's a sweet spot anyway. That's where you want to be where you like it enough to get past to a point where you can hand it off and still not be too sad about handing it off one day. Question. So you mentioned Ally being bought, Ally Financial being bought by Synchrony. Any other big news that we may have missed or give us an example of something big going on right now in the HVAC industry that we might want to hear

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. There's no, we can talk about this for a while. There's a number of things is it okay if I answer the question in like a, from a high level and not like a specific company deal or something like that?

Jack Carr: Yeah.

Alec Stevanowski: So I think there's a handful of things, I think. First of all, like to what we've been talking about, technology is a huge thing.

Just everything from software providers like surf site and pagers of the world, just building out functionality to serve you guys in a number of different ways, whether it's ordering or integrating with your distributors and suppliers, helping you order through them, manage inventory. Different ways in which you can connect with homeowners through text marketing campaigns, a set of emails, things like that.

So technology is a big story. I think the software side is just one part of it. And I think the other part is the equipment itself. People like homes are becoming connected systems are becoming smarter. There's this whole thing about, predictive maintenance how does that integrate with either a software system that the contract, like so there's a lot to be figured out.

So technology is a huge story. And to be honest, that's one of the things I like covering the most because it's at the forefront because it's at the cutting edge, because that's where I actually see a gap in the media news world in this context. So technology is a huge story to answer the first part of the question.

Jack Carr: Yeah, definitely. There's a ton of cool tech coming out to which it's so exciting watching. It feels like the service industry has always been slightly behind just other industries for whatever reason, plumbers, I guess, aren't at the forefront of technological advances, but we're starting to see it now, like even the IOT on plumbing devices and water loss in your house and all this kind of stuff just is really neat stuff.

And that's just on the home side, but on the other side, there's crazy advances in the actual, like HVAC units themselves, full inverters and all that. So it's going to be, it's a good spot to be in the next few years to be able to report on that. It's going to be fun,

A bit jealous

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. I agree. I think a couple of things are happening. I think there's a couple of reasons for that, and this is another big developments, they tie into each other. But I think the demographic in the industry I think like it's getting younger. All the service industries are becoming more sophisticated.

They're professionalizing. And there's this, I forgot the number. I might not stop my head, but there's a huge 10 years or so.

John WIlson: Yeah, the numbers different every time I hear about it. Yeah, ten trillion dollars

Alec Stevanowski: Obviously not all of that is home services that counts restaurants and barber shops, et cetera. There is a chunk of that is home services, that is HVAC plumbing and roofing. And so I think the demographics shifting and those people are more technologically savvy.

I also think there's also almost a need for it now just because consumers on the other hand, and from a commercial standpoint, it's like property managers, people that you've interfaced with on the commercial side, like the expectations are changing, you know, like people, you and I, us three, like we go out, I'm going to go somewhere.

We take an Uber, there's this experience where we could see the Uber, I get pissed if sometimes the Uber will be like, it's one minute away, but then it won't show up for another eight minutes, but I can see that. That's what I think. Consumers just have different expectations and as a contract, if you don't adapt to a lot of that, there's just, you risk a lot.

I Yeah, there's reasons behind it.

John WIlson: I've been in the industry my whole life. I only had one other job and it was at a ski resort and I was like a lift person, so I helped you get on the lift. Like I've been in the industry my whole life and I've lived through the change that a lot of people are going through.

Like, I remember when, we call them floor savers, but booties became like a real thing. I remember that. Like now it's just like, Oh yeah, of course. Like I remember rolling out that change in our business like a decade ago, which I just think is funny. Google reviews becoming a thing.

I think we've talked about that here how legacy businesses Seven years ago didn't have an online moat they do now if they were able to sustain it, but there was this like moment where like newcomers could take down incumbent businesses And then obviously service Titan and everything that's followed.

Yeah, it's been a wild Like amount of innovation focused on the trades that has really shifted the landscape over the past five years.

Alec Stevanowski: One thing to add to that, I think, so there was a chart that we used to look at a couple of years ago and it was percentage of, and the data could be again, may change, maybe skewed or whatever, there was a chart, it was pie graph and it was percentage of the overall contractor base that even has a software system. They literally still operate using pen and paper.

John WIlson: I wonder how that is now. That would be interesting to know. I'm like rolling through my head

Jack Carr: I haven't talked to one recently that doesn't. I talked to a lot of smaller contractors in this area and all of them are using one. But a lot of times what they're using is the bottom tier. And they're not using it.

They're using it for dispatch.


John WIlson: It's the cheapest thing. Like I see a lot of smart service, which is like a really legacy software. Actually, we are talking to a company right now that doesn't have a software.

We've been talking to them for two or three years, but think that's the only one. But what I will say is most of them, like just cause the company has a software doesn't really mean anything.

So what we consistently see is like they have a software that they use like 2

Jack Carr: percent

Alec Stevanowski: They use 10 percent of it, 2 percent of it, whatever it may be. And that actually to give some perspective into the software world or into the, how they're thinking about it, that's a big reason for churn. As the software companies, people will like, we would sign up contractors we would get on board with them and then they would just never use it.

And then six months later, they'd call and be like well, I got to cancel. It's like, well, why are you canceling? Well, I don't use what do you mean? What is that even supposed to be?

John WIlson: Yeah. We talked about that a little bit a few weeks ago, we were talking about home service engine and it is kind of a crazy thought and I always wonder, like, how many of these software companies have walked into a million or two million dollar Like plumbing shop. Cause if you did, then you'd be like, yeah, no wonder they didn't deploy our software.

Sure. Like it's complicated and like the person that's going to run that integration is probably the call taker who has a hundred other things to be doing and didn't sign up to integrate a software. So I think service Titan, they don't even accept. I think they changed the rules for the minimum size contractor. Yeah, I think for exactly this reason, like you have to be big enough to deploy it, to reduce churn.

John WIlson: I've said it before and I will continue saying it. It is a ridiculous software. I understand why. It's a lot. We've been on it for seven years now. This is our seventh year on this software and we're still unlocking more and more all the time. It's crazy. We feel like we use a lot of it, but yeah, it's a lot to expect these contractors to deploy. So I understand how it is, but all that to say, we deal with a bunch of contractors that are like we've bought them in the past where, yes, I'm on service Titan or what are the other ones, the house call pro.

They're all in something, but like they still use paper invoices and they're not doing anything. So we've dealt with some where they're on service Titan purely for the schedule. And then they have paper invoices. They're not running credit cards through service Titan.

Like they have a different processor. They're not running phones through there. They have a different thing. Yeah, it's kind of wild. So I wonder if that's more of the data of do they not have a software or are they still pen and paper?

Cause those are two different things where I have walked into plenty of companies that have software, but are still pen and paper.

Jack Carr: Yeah.

John WIlson: It's just funny. Okay. all right. so we launched a media company. It's moving well. We don't know how monetization works is going to go yet. What do you think this thing looks like at the end of the year, like total subs or team size or give me

Jack Carr: Yeah. Next goals

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah, Team size, I don't know. I'm still debating on that because there's a couple different paths I could take. There's solo completely a 100 percent bootstrapped, which is, has its pros and cons, slower growth, but you own the thing, et cetera.

Then the other path is get it to a certain point where I can build it to where there's enough evidence and validation from the market and quote unquote, to use a fancy tech terms, product market fit of there's a need, there's a demand. They actually want it. People care about it. They're engaging with it.

I've gotten X amount of feedback, X partners are interested, et cetera. And then I take that as almost like a business case. And then I go maybe raise a little bit of money to then go build a small team and to work, to build a profitably from there, I don't see this a lot of venture capitalists would never touch a media company, you know, they're looking for exponential return software type companies. And so I wouldn't even want to go down that route just because then you have so many hands in the pot and you have different people that have different motives and timeline. Yeah.

I don't know. So I just, I'm not really interested in that. I am intrigued by the idea of raising a little bit of money and then using that to build durably and profitably for the longterm. Now like what specific goals or numbers to, your question do you need to do that? A couple of things, I think in the B2B space, I'm not gonna get too many specifics, but like I'm saying a couple of thousand email subs, having a good, strong engagement, which would be, 50 percent plus email open rate.

And a really solid click rate is good evidence of like engagement, the open rate and click rate is the number itself. If it can hover around, even between 1 to 2000 is good to me. But then also having inbound interest from say, 1, 2, 3, 5 partners or potential advertising partners and data on like what they're saying what are they looking for?

What are they willing to pay so that I can gauge like what I think this could look like at scale. That's what the next six to eight ish months look like for me.

John WIlson: Yeah. what do you think at scale is?

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. So long term to, really what I'm looking to do over the super long term is I imagine this being as a multi revenue stream business. And the really like right now, I mean by that would be, you'd have an advertising stream of revenue. So that would be companies like Pazer, ServiceTitan, all the other ones we mentioned sponsoring newsletters.

There's placements in there. They have native, brand marketing sort of messages, links to different things, whatever it's advertising. And then events. So media companies are positioned well to host events where I imagine there's opportunity. I've thought about a little bit, but because I'm just focused on doing what I'm doing now, but like that would mean high end summit slash conferences where you bring in as executives and you have different panel sessions and you can sell tickets and sponsorships.

So events is the 2nd and then the 3rd that you could add in there would eventually be subscriptions. So that would be. Either contractors, paying for some sort of data subscriptions that they can see different things in their region for like, so you'd be able to look in your region and say, here's how much contractor X is paying their technicians.

I don't know just things like that. And then also supply an opportunity to sell data to suppliers. So it's really a longterm at scale, I think is a three legged stool. It's, you have an advertising business and events business and then a subscriptions business. And I'd like to have that stool in 10 to 15 home service industries, horizontally aligned.

All that stuff running in HVAC, plumbing, electrical, roofing, pest, landscaping, pool etc. That's what I think it looks like in scale.

John WIlson: Yeah. That's interesting.

Jack Carr: Yeah. Have you ever considered so one of the monetization pathways that I love for media companies, that's, I think is underutilized and not talked about very much, which I would absolutely love in this industry would be a job board. Oh my goodness. Yeah. So you're in HVAC, you have 10, 000 owners, right?

Now you have a job board. Cause a lot of times these are young guys, they're in their twenties or thirties. They're looking to make a big jump, some big money, man. That would be wonderful. One of them that we used to use in the wine industry was called winejobs. com. You don't go to Indeed for a winery job in Napa.

You go to wine jobs. That would be cool to recreate that for HVAC or plumbing or whatever the vertical is. I don't know if that was a question.

Alec Stevanowski: No, yeah.

Jack Carr: Something I love

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah, no, I think it's a great thought because I think, so I'm I'm laughing in my head, so I was having one of the guys who I come really close to that pays or he sort of advises me now and I'm a good friend of his, we got into an argument recently because he was saying the same thing and I was pushing back on it.

First of all, right now, I'm not going to do that.

Jack Carr: You need a bigger group.

Alec Stevanowski: But even just about the idea in general. And so I think like my thought on it is. Simply speaking. Yes, it is a good idea and it's a real model for media companies do it. They do it successfully.

Like it works. And I agree with. The thing I think that would be interesting to like, think through this case, so with HVAC would be I'm thinking out loud here is it a job board for hiring technicians? Is it a job or for executives to go to other companies and be an executive at another company or a P platform or something like that?

I haven't really figured that out yet.

Jack Carr: That's up to you.

Alec Stevanowski: I agree.

Jack Carr: The way I was thinking about it though, is that when I look at them, job boards, I find that they're highly successful with the lower tier jobs like entry level, mid range, and then you can filter in some higher level, but the higher level ones, they tend to, I mean, John has a recruiter on staff, so if he's going for a, high end job.

He's using his recruiter to go out there and like headhunt versus, techs. I mean, Just put it on a job board, I'd pay 15, 20 bucks to put on a job board and in the hopes that I could get somebody that was interested in moving to Nashville. They're HVAC tech, skilled, six years in, Oklahoma, I don't care, and then get here and they're working.

That's how I view it. I think that when you go too high the headhunters have that kind of taken over.

Alec Stevanowski: No, that's a good point.

John WIlson: I always, I think of Peter skewed, you guys follow him, the onion like Vidalia onions. com or whatever. Yeah.

He has a, what do they call that? A domainer where you like buy a domain and it'll just be like a random domain. And then you build a business depending on whatever that domain was. He happened to buy one called like ranch works or something like that.

And he turned it into a job board for ranching jobs. and I guess it, I guess it's been successful. Yeah, recruitment in the trades is interesting. See, the problem is in the trades. It's a problem that a lot of people are trying to solve and there's a dumb amount of money behind it.

I don't think anybody was trying to solve that in ranch. Like nobody was like, yeah, let's go get a ranching job. But like a lot of people VC backed are attempting to solve like trade shortage problem because there's so much money to whoever saw like cracks the code. Like we get pitched it pretty often of Hey, we're a venture backed, whatever. Here's how we think we can drive new talent to your organization. So maybe it's we've got a school or we've got a training program, or we figured out how to make trades sexy or like whatever it is. But we get a pitch a month on it basically. So there's a lot of money focused, but so you'd have to get really niche, like duct cleaners septic

John WIlson: I think you got to get really niche. Like ranch workers is very specific that nobody else was trying to solve. No one's trying to solve septic drivers. That'd be a good one.

Jack Carr: Septic.

John WIlson: Everyone's trying to HVAC techs Like everybody,

Alec Stevanowski: See if septic drivers com available.\

John WIlson: Yeah, that'd be good. Poop Taxi, PoopTaxi. com. Alright man this was good. So we got introduced to launching a B2B newsletter, some modernization strategies, the three legged stool, how you see yours going. This was fun, and genuinely love following along for the listener, this isn't like a sponsored thing.

Alec, he just has a good newsletter that's industry focused. So we liked that. and I, encourage you to check it out. So if people want to check up on the newsletter or if they want to follow along with what you're doing, how can they find you and see what you're working

Alec Stevanowski: Yeah. So the easiest is, so I have a simple landing page set up and it's just read home pros. com. It's R E A D H O M E P R O S. com. And it's just literally a landing page. You can pop your email in and then you'll get the newsletter from there. Also we're on LinkedIn. So you just type in home pros, a little black logo.

You follow us there.

John WIlson: Yeah. I had not even thought about LinkedIn for customer acquisition. I honestly try not to think about LinkedIn at

Jack Carr: I also try to avoid LinkedIn at all

John WIlson: I really try to avoid it at all costs, but

Jack Carr: think I have to.

Alec Stevanowski: The thing that's for me, it's nice is. It's so much easier than Twitter, for example, to filter people. Because the whole thing is the whole profile is built around what's your job title and what company do you work at?

For me, it's okay.

John WIlson: Yeah.

Alec Stevanowski: title contains owner.

John WIlson: Yeah. I've also heard it's ridiculously easy to become a LinkedIn like influencer or whatever, because yeah the content over there is literally so terrible that it's very easy to stand out. Whereas like Twitter, like you get some real players on Twitter, but LinkedIn. Is so miserable that it's not complicated to make good content on LinkedIn.

Alec Stevanowski: I agree with you.

Jack Carr: One last thing before everyone goes, Septic Drivers is available, septicdrivers. com. So just keep it in mind,

John WIlson: Tossing that out there.

Let's make a job board.

Yeah, I think Peter's dropped financials for his ranch works. It's a small thing. I think for domainers, you have to be like. It's okay if it's like a 2, 000 a month revenue business. And I think that's roughly what it is. But if all your whole job is just managing these little like cashflow websites, then I'm sure it'll continue to work. Sounds like fun. Cool. All right. Well, Thanks for coming on today, Alec. And thanks for telling us about the project you're working on and everybody should check out the newsletter.

Yeah, man. No, I appreciate you guys. It's good to be able to spend some time and I, yeah, I really appreciate it. Look forward to being in touch too.

Thanks for tuning in to Owned and Operated, the podcast for home service entrepreneurs. If you enjoyed today's episode, please hit the like button and subscribe to the podcast. If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover, feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter at at Wilson companies.

I'll see you next time.

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