“I love that constraints breed creativity. That’s the way I like to build a business.” — Aaron Foss, Nomorobo
Discover the three growth hacks that propelled Nomorobo to an 8-figure exit in a decade
How do you go from an idea to an exit for eight figures in a decade?
“Number one: create value,” Aaron explains in this episode of the Sub Club podcast. “Number two: consistency. That sounds so cheesy, but those are really hard to do.” As both an MBA and a programmer, Aaron had the tools to build something great, but it still took 10 years and a lot of hard work along the way.. It also took a lot of low-risk bets with the potential for asymmetric outcomes.
One such low-risk bet: entering a Federal Trade Commission contest to stop robocalls. Aaron ended up winning $25k in the contest, which provided just enough funding to take a few more bets in the early days of Nomorobo. What low-risk bets can you take? And what can you learn from Aaron’s story?
Here are a few key takeaways:
Validate your idea publicly: Capture interest and press attention by building a landing page, and get your idea out there without fear of how it’ll be received — or that it’ll be stolen. Another winner of the FTC competition had a better algorithm, but Aaron capitalized on the opportunity to share his own as publicly as possible because of the other guy’s fear that someone might steal his idea. “I knew that that was my cheat code … the thing that I had that no one else did,” Aaron says.
Look for leverage in organic user acquisition: For Nomorobo, an app that stops robocalls and spam texts, the problem and the demand to solve it were there from the get-go, which meant the company never had to spend on paid acquisition. “I would rather spend $100,000 a month [to] block robocalls and then funnel that into something usable on the SEO side than [on] an ad budget,” Aaron highlights. “I felt that it was better to build the product and then bring people together.”
Use freemium strategically: Do your free users bring quantifiable business value? If not, it might be time to re-think your strategy. For Nomorobo, spending tens of thousands of dollars providing the landline product for free gives the company data that helps make the product better for everyone. It also drives people to the mobile product, which has a free trial, but no free tier.
On the podcast, Aaron talks about his experiences from bootstrapping the business with the $25,000 in FTC prize money to struggling to keep the bills paid when the company bank account hit $944. . Thousands of small compounding decisions and a few major ones — including a deliberate freemium strategy, programmatic SEO, and expert press management — all led to a successful eight-figure acquisition 10 years after Nomorobo’s founding — with Aaron owning 66% of it. Not bad for a company that only ever hired three full- and two part-time staff, along with a handful of contractors.