KISSmetrics’ Founder Hiten Shah On How He Built 3 Successful Companies With The Same Partner

play audio KISSmetrics Founder Hiten Shah On How He Built 3 Successful Companies With The Same Partner

HitenShah KISSmetrics Founder Hiten Shah On How He Built 3 Successful Companies With The Same PartnerToday I’m excited to share my talk with Hiten Shah of KISSmetricsCrazy Egg and Hello Bar. Hiten and his Co-founder (who is also his brother-in-law) Neil Patel teamed up just as Neil was graduating high school. Together they built nearly a dozen products that failed, but “got lucky” with Crazy Egg in 2005. The product creates a heatmap to show where people are clicking so companies can get more insights about their website and improve it.

 

Keypoint Takeaways: Self-funding vs. Venture backed

Hiten discusses the key differences and challenges between his self-funded and venture backed companies. Crazy Egg (a self-funded company) needed the founders’ own money to stay up and running, and also needed to make money sooner and plan their revenue accordingly. Meanwhile, KISSmetrics is ventured backed with someone else taking a certain ownership over the company. But that also means Hiten and Neil can invest ahead of their revenues and make different decisions in the growth process. Hiten can’t disclose specific numbers about their customers, but says Crazy Egg has tens of thousands of customers and KISSmetrics is in the thousands.

Curating content to avalanche followers

KISSmetrics’ blog rapidly grew from Hiten and Neil being early adapters to Twitter and sharing valuable marketing content with strategic hashtag use. Once they launched their own blog, it was easy to convert their growing Twitter followers to regular readers by Tweeting out their posts. Their combined following also made it simpler to get attention for their products and services.

Becoming Batman and Robin Co-founders

Hiten jokes that bringing Neil Taco Bell when he was in high school helped convince him to come onboard as Co-founder. But there was a little more to it than tacos. Neil already had one consulting SEO client before ever leaving high school. He landed the client through a speech class at a community college and was getting paid $3,500 a month for SEO consulting. Hiten and Neil eventually teamed up to start working on their software products and launching companies together.

Hiten advises to trust your partner as much as yourself, and look at your dynamic as Batman and Robin roles. On any given project, one assumes the Batman lead role and the other supplies backup. Hiten says he tends to play Batman on product and engineering role while Neil takes on Batman with marketing areas.

Waking up and realizing he lost $1 million 

Not every company Hiten and Neil launch was successful. They spent a $1 million of their own money on a hosting company that never saw the light of day. Ultimately they wanted to figure out how to quit trading time for money. They could have quit, but opted to keep trying until they “got lucky” (as Hiten calls it) with Crazy Egg.

Time is the only thing we don’t get more of

Hiten sees time as his most valuable resource and chooses to manage his own schedule. To help combat a tangled inbox, he uses Sanebox to help manage his email and time. He also listens to audio on 3x the speed to devour more books in less time.

Happiness is other people’s success

Hiten’s success philosophy to live by is pretty simple: If something’s working, do more of it. He advises to figure out what you did and make it repeatable. Like his Co-founder, Hiten is also hooked on helping people and sees it as a drug. If you help someone and their business, you’ll get more joy out of that than success in your own business.

Resources:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers” – Cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz (Ben Horowitz) on the intense challenges of starting and running a business.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles“: Author Steven Pressfield guides creative entrepreneurs through conquering the inner enemy and overcoming obstacles of ambition.

How to Inspire Email Opt-ins in 5 Seconds or Less

Headlines for Maximum Conversion: Tips, Templates & Tactics

3 Simple Persuasion Techniques Proven to Increase Landing Page Conversions

Transcript: 

Eric: Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Growth Everywhere where we interview entrepreneurs and bring you business and personal growth tips. I’m your host Eric Siu and today we have Hiten Shah who’s the founder of CrazyEgg, KISSmetrics, also at a consulting company and also has The Hello Bar. Hiten how’re you doing today?

Hiten: I’m good. How are you?

Eric: Doing well. Thanks for being on the show.

Hiten: Yeah. Happy to be here.

Eric: So Hiten, why don’t you give us a little bit about your background and then we’ll go from there.

Hiten: Yeah. In 2003 I started a consulting company doing online marketing and we realized really quickly that we wanted to try to build our own product. And so we started building product. A lot of them failed. I’d say we built almost a dozen and I like to say we got lucky with one of them called CrazyEgg which we launched publicly in 2005 and it’s basically a tool that lets you create a heatmap for when people are clicking on a page so you can see basically where people click and get more insights on how to improve your website.

From there we decided to start working on a larger project that was more of an analytics tool, like with just more data and numbers and things like that and ended up being my technically my third company called KISSmetrics, and that’s the shirt I’m wearing today.

Eric: Cool. How are things…I guess we could go…one question I have is; CrazyEgg was bootstrapped right?

Hiten: Yeah it’s called self-funded.

Eric: Self-funded. CrazyEgg was self-funded and then KISSmetrics is venture backed. What are the biggest differences?

Hiten: Yeah, I think the simplest way to think about this is; when you’re self-funding, it’s your own money and you generally want to make money sooner; make more money sooner is probably the right way to say it. With a funded business you’re basically…somebody’s giving you money to basically invest ahead of your revenue. And so the way you make your investments with your money, I think, can be slightly different. So like you can take…In a self-funded business, if you’re looking at the next three months and needing to make revenue, and payroll, and things like that, that’s probably what you’re going to optimize for.

While when someone’s giving you money you can do a lot more things ahead of that revenue. So you might say, “I’m going to have a twelve month outlook on the business in terms of how I spend the money, but I don’t need the money I put in today to come back to me as soon, as early. So basically someone else is taking owner[ship], certain ownership of your company equity for giving you money so you can spend ahead of your revenue. That’s the simplest way I’ve come up with to sort of explain the difference.

Eric: Got it. Okay. So how many, and I’m not sure if you can talk about the number of users but, how may users at CrazyEgg today and how many at KISSmetrics?

Hiten: Yeah we don’t talk about those kind of numbers, but we’re in, you know, CrazyEgg is over tens of thousands and in the hundreds of thousands and then KISSmetrics is in the thousands.

Eric: Got it. Nice. Cool. Talk about the KISSmetric’s blog. It’s one of the top tier online marketing blogs. How did you get it to become such a powerhouse?

Hiten: Yeah, umm, the story actually starts with Twitter for us. What we actually did is we discovered that there’s a hashtag on Twitter. It’s the measure hashtag and that was at a time, I would say around 2009, 2010 when Twitter was early, there was less users on it, but there was a lot more, what you call early adopters. And usually what happens with social media in general is the marketers end up getting there pretty fast.

And so there’s a lot of marketers using the hashtag measure to share articles about online marketing and AB testing and things that are of interest to them. And what we realize is that instead of creating more content we would just share content on our Twitter stream using the hashtag and that resulted in attention on our Twitter stream. It was not until about 2010, so I would say six months to a year later, that we decided to spend time on our own blog, but by then we had built a pretty substantial audience on Twitter which made it so when we tweeted something we were essentially able to see our own content with early traffic and now, obviously, the Twitter account is not as important to our business as the blog is, but the Twitter account is actually used, in our case, to get the attention of our, sort of our prospective customers in the market, in the industry.

Eric: Got it. That’s why you’ve got that hashtag. Cool.

Hiten: There you go.

Eric: Yup. And so you, you know, you’ve partnered up with Neil Patel on CrazyEgg and KISSmetrics. How…tell us about that story, how did that work out and how is it you go through businesses with the same business partners?

Hiten: Yeah, in our case I’ve known him since he was eleven and I was fifteen. He was actually my brother-in-law and I was dating his sister back then and now she’s my wife and we have kids and stuff. And so, I think the story he tells is that; ‘This was the guy who, when I was eleven…’, this is him telling the story, ‘…that would bring me Taco Bell.’ And at the time, I don’t think he knew this, but I actually like Bell Taco better than Taco Bell, but I guess I’m a nice guy or whatever and he likes Taco Bell. So, I just bring him Taco Bell, I probably convinced him to become my co-founder eventually with Taco Bell.

But anyways, at least that’s what I like to think. He doesn’t actually eat it anymore, but he used to love it. Basically, since then, obviously we knew each other, but it was not until I left college and he was about to leave high school that we decided to start our consulting company and he was barely out of high school. Technically he was still in high school. He basically had one customer paying him thirty-five hundred bucks a month for an SEO contract, doing SEO for them. It was a company actually called Elpac Electronics. And he had met the; this will tell you about Neil; he had met the person who helped us get that contract, or helped him get that contract, during a speech class that he was taking at a local community college. And that’s just sort of, for lack of a better word, the hustler he is. So he figured he could do SEO for them because he’d already been trying to do it for himself for his own site.

Eric: Got it. Cool. So, you’ve been through so many businesses with him, I mean, what are some challenges that you guys face?

Hiten:  Yeah. I mean I think it’s always interesting when you have somebody else you have to work with especially on the basis where at the end of the day you probably need to trust them in a lot of areas as much as you trust yourself. So, I’d say the biggest…I’m going to talk more about something everyone can learn from, instead of my own unique experience. So, there’s this idea that when you have a co-founder, especially when it’s two of you, let’s say, there’s this idea that I call Batman and Robining. Well, being Batman and Robin.

So the idea is that on every project, every initiative, one of you is Batman and one of you is Robin. And in my case in most marketing things Neil will be Batman and I’ll just be Robin. There’s been initiatives where I’ve been Batman as well, and I’ll explain what I mean by that. But like in most product engineering things like that I’m usually Batman and he’s Robin, although there’s been instances where that’s been switched out. So, I think the way to think about it is, who’s Batman and who’s Robin in each project. Robin just backs up Batman. That’s the way I look at it. Batman has the control. Robin comes in and helps out.

And if you’ve watched the shows and the movies and stuff, you know, when Robin is involved you basically get the sense of; that’s backup, right? And as a co-founder you always want backup and backup that you can trust, right? And if you don’t trust your cofounder you better find a new one anyways. So, my advice to anybody is, can you come up with, you know, scenarios in tasks, or projects, or initiatives in the company where one of you is Batman, the other is Robin. And again, I’m talking about in everything, right?

That’s how it works because you always need feedback when you’re doing things and if you don’t have a cofounder then, obviously you have advisors and other people that can help you in a similar manner, but you don’t have a Robin really.

You know, that’s why, literally, someone that will do the work you’re not able to or you need help. So, that’s the way I think about it. Beyond that I think…A lot of people talk about, like, “I’m going to have this cofounder on this company and do this thing. I think what’s more important is, you know, is there…how do you figure, for yourself and the other person, how do you figure out whether you actually trust each other, and, you know, doing experiments, doing projects together, figuring out whether you guys have the right amount of tension, you know and not too much, not too little and being able to actually figure out how to trust each other and make each other’s ideas better, make what each other’s doing better. That’s kind of what I would kind of try to figure out as soon as possible.

Eric: Got it. Okay. Cool. And then, so, obviously you read a lot of interesting things. I’m always looking at your Twitter stream and looking at your bookshelf in the back. So, I think you wrote something on HubSpot where you talk about how you find these things and read things in general. Can you talk about that?

Hiten: Yeah, sure. I think what I’ve noticed about the internet is that as we’ve sort of grown up on the internet, the internet has matured, whatever you call it, what we’ve seen is that information is actually cheap, it’s inexpensive. Inexpensive in the sense of, it doesn’t take you much time to skim an article or read something. I think the hardest problem, today, is finding something of value. And so, a lot of people ask me about this question and I never, oddly enough, I never became and RSS reader fanatic. Like the fact that Google Reader shut down doesn’t affect my life. So, the way I think about it, is, if you want to find content about something you will go find content about it based on doing Google searches or going to very curated sites, right?

So, some of my favorite sites, and this is a newer trend, would be things like GrowthHackers.com, or [rather] GrowthHacker, I think, dot com, Inbound.org, HackerNews before that [inaudible 0:10:23.0] Hacker news, and now my new favorite, it’s probably my number one favorite at this point because I’m a product person is ProductHunt.com by Ryan Hoover. And what we’re noticing, basically all these things, believe it or not, I think you’re going to like this, but when we launched CrazyEgg we actually launched it on Digg and we were number one on Digg for a while and we got a lot of sign-ups that day and a lot of usage. And ProductHunt is basically that category of products, but it’s like a Digg for that, or a RedIt for that, however you want to look at it.

But we launched our product on Digg, and this is why I have an affinity for their product and I love what they’re doing there. But what we’re seeing, basically everything…People used to go to Digg to find stuff. Now they go to these five, ten, twenty different sites that are more niche to find stuff. And so to me I think…You don’t have an excuse not to find any good content on any category at this point. Whether it’s Google or these vertical curated sites and I think there’s going to be a lot more of them. Another one I really like is Designer News. It’s news.layervault.com.

Layervault is like a designer tool and they built this hacker news thing. It’s a really awesome site, but I don’t feel like design, right? And I’m sure there’s other verticals where you see this so, to me, my statement is just, you know, a lot of times someone will…I think it’s funny, people email me about advice, right? They’ll ask a question or two or something and nine times out of ten I’m sending them a link to something that answers that question better than I can in one email. I guess my high-level of thought is you don’t have an excuse to go find the information you need and it’s your job to figure out what’s good and what’s bad because there’s so much of it around there. That being said there’s these sites that can help you instantly find really good stuff all the time.

Eric: Got it. And so with Twitter do you follow certain lists of people that always share good information? Because I find myself doing that a lot.

Hiten: Yeah. I have multiple lists I use and some are for information others are friends of mine and things like that. Others are just people, whether I like to retweet them, or whatever, that’s another category. Yeah, I think Twitter has really replaced a lot of the…Again, I’ll go back to Digg. I think Twitter’s replaced Digg for a lot of people. That being said, all these vertical sites are way more specific and Twitter’s a stream, right? And it’s all merged together. So, yeah, the list has really been helpful.

Like, if I wanted to…I actually built a ghetto version of, you know like; the cars category on Digg, using lists on Twitter. So I can follow all the car blogs, if you’re into cars you can do that, and I just go to that list and I can get my entertainment about all the cool cars coming out and stuff like that. You know, another thing is like, now on Twitter images are such a big deal and I think that people are not really utilizing them yet, but if you go to Twitter.com and look at the stream and it’s an image heavy account, it’s way more engaging, it feels more like Facebook, feels more engaging than the normal Twitter stream which is just text. So, I think we’re going to see more and more content shared on Twitter like that.

Eric: Got it. Okay. You said Neil is more of the Batman on the marketing side and then, if memory serves me correct, you’re Batman on the product side. How does someone become, coming out of college, become a product manager or product oriented person?

Hiten: Yeah. That’s probably one of the hardest things to do. That makes it one of the hardest questions to answer. I mean, the simplest way I can say it is, like you use products every day. There’s probably things that you like and not like about them. But then you yourself when you use a product and you like it just try to figure out why you like it, figure out what makes it so awesome. Right now I have these very expensive headphones. I bought them a few days ago. I have an older version of these that didn’t have this, but basically they’re Bose headphones and they literally quiet everything, and they’re like ear birds…buds.

They’re not like the big heavy cans and like I’m raving about this as a product person because it just works and everything about it is awesome from the way they have the battery pack and it’s very small and it’s not very cumbersome. So, I guess the short answer to your question is; just start appreciating good experiences in products that you use, in things that you use and you’ll start probably getting a better affinity for being able, at least, to see something good verses something bad. And from there it’s like build your own shit. That’s the best way because then you’ll know from customers whether it sucks or not. And there’s nothing like that signal or that feedback.

Eric: Got it. Cool. And those are your ear buds that you’re wearing right now?

Hiten: Yeah, they’re the QC20I from Bose. Yeah, they’re awesome and I can’t recommend them enough, but they’re very expensive. They’re like three hundred bucks. The trick there is to go to Best Buy and buy their insurance for thirty-five bucks for two years so when something goes wrong and you break it, whatever, they’ll replace it.

Eric: Cool. Awesome. I know you talked about the twelve…you started twelve businesses before Crazy Egg. There’s one that sticks out to me which is the hosting company. Can you share with the audience what happened there?

Hiten: Yeah. It was called [ph][Serve] and oddly enough we ended up trying to build a hosting company. I think this was back in ’04…03, 04, 05, and there was all kinds of mistakes there. I mean the big gist of it is we spent a million dollars of our own money trying to build a company. We had our own Kuji data center outside of our house…or inside of the house in Texas. It was just, yeah, a very bad idea. And I think we never got a single customer. It was probably one of the key learnings that we had. We spent a lot of money on it.

Also, believe it or not, at that time, I think, Neil would’ve been considered the product guy at that point because he knew everything about servers and switches, and networking, and all that stuff from knowing nothing about it. So, you know, I don’t think either of us wants to remember those times or those days, but yeah, it was very interesting time spending all that money just to sort of, you know, have it shut down. It’s probably one of the hardest things in business I had to deal with. Just waking up…literally it was, as bad as it sounds, it was literally waking up one day and realizing that we spent a million bucks and this thing wasn’t going anywhere.

Eric: Got it. So it sounds like a case of Ben Horowitz, “The Struggle”, almost. So how do you deal with that?

Hiten: Yeah, I mean, it’s a good question. You know, a lot of people like asking questions like that. I don’t think they’re bad questions, but the thing I’ve come to learn is; how you deal with it depends on your personality. It’s probably the shortest answer I have. I think if you ask Neil he probably dealt with it a different way than I did.

You know, but like, personally for me I think that’s the hardest thing that happened to me in business, but personal that’s definitely not the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me. So, it was just another thing on the journey. I think just remembering that, you know, any stage that you’re in currently is just another, it’s just something short. Like for example, you’re asking me about it today and it was ten years ago at least. I don’t remember anything about it accept what I told you. I mean there was so much happening, I mean it was ridiculous. We employed up to ten people, all kinds of crap, but like I don’t remember a thing. Why? So many things have happened since then. I forgot. Literally.

Eric: That’s one of the things that people can do I guess. Just forget about it.

Hiten: That’s right.

Eric: Cool. There’s a lot of…I know you live…there’s a certain…there’s philosophies that you live by, one of the Zig Ziglar quotes. What are some philosophies that you live by?

Hiten: Yeah. I’ll start with one my friend, actually Ryan Hoover, Tweeted yesterday and I believe in. He just tweeted because I think he’s finally building his own product and getting these realizations himself, but it basically said something like, if something’s working do more of it. So, I think a lot of people tend to look at the things that are not working or what more they can do outside of what they’re already doing, so like to me, when I usually give business advice in general, in anything almost I’m like, “Can you tell me what’s working? What are you good at? What’s actually going on right now that you feel good about?”

And usually my answer to any problem is like, “Why don’t you just do more of it?” So, for example, if someone comes to me and says, you know, “I have a hundred customers, but I want a thousand.” My first question’s going to be, “How’d you get that hundred?” And then they’re like, “You know, I did this and I did that.” And I’m like, “Um, can you just do more of that?” That’ll probably get you another hundred more. right? You need a hundred more to get to a thousand more. So I think one philosophy is simple, like, if something’s working just do more of it. And that’s something, you need this constant reminder, I think, because it’s hard to even know what’s working a lot of the time without really thinking about it.

Eric: Got it. And that’s interesting. So, I’ll play devil’s advocate here. The question I always ask here on the show is how did you get your first hundred customers? Always the answer is hand to hand combat, knocking on doors, things like that. So, how does that, you know, it’s been working, but how do you get to a million that way?

Hiten: Sure. If you ask that question to me I’d tell you I didn’t do that to get my first hundred customers. In every business that we’ve done that’s been successful we always had an email list that we built, which is now a common practice, before even doing the hand to hand stuff. So, what we would do is, we’d put up a landing page, again, common practice now, and collect emails for that fantastic awesome thing that we’re building.

There’s a whole site, which is another one I looked at, called Beta List, where it has betas basically. I like early access of terminology better, but whatever. And you go in there and find all these sites where it’s like pre-release, and you can put in your email and get notified when they launch. And again, its common practice now, but you can get thousands of emails, for Crazy we had twenty-thousand emails, I think like twenty-three thousand emails before we released the product with that tactic. So, we didn’t really do that hand to hand thing, you know that in person one to one thing or whatever you want to call it, to get our first hundred customers.

So, what I would tell you is that like, even, just to answer your question, if someone tells you that they…if someone told me, “Hey, my first hundred customers or whatever came from a lot of manual work what I would say is, “Can you describe to me what you actually did?” and what I would help them figure out is how do you scale that. It sucks. Because a lot of times what you did to get that hundred, if they love you and are staying with you, there’s a lot of insight into what you can do to automate that, or make it easier to do, or even hire someone else to do parts of that. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone wants everything automated and things like that, but at the end of the day, just forget what you did and make it repeatable.

Eric: Cool. Can’t agree more. And so, one of the things I notice is that you and Neil are by far the most helpful people. You guys are always helping people for free which is kind of how I met Neil in the first place. What motivates you do to it and how does that help you, personally?

Hiten: Yeah, I think [silence]…It’s a good question and one that I get asked a lot. I want to give you a more thoughtful answer.

Eric: Take your time.

Hiten: Yeah I know. I think both of us [laugh], you’re going to love this. I think it’s a drug. Like that smile you have. If you help someone and you know you’ve helped them and they come back to you and they say, “Thank you for your help.” and they’re like smiling at you, and they’re like “Dude. That helped my business” right? You get more joy out of that than probably sometimes success in your own business. You know, and so, that’s probably the best answer I have.

Eric: No, that’s true, because you, I just kind of got that fleeting drug feeling for a second so…

Hiten: [laugh]

Eric: …I think you’re right.

Hiten: Yeah, I think it’s a drug and once you’re hooked on it it’s done.

Eric: Cool. See you in San Francisco next time.

Hiten: There you go.

Eric: So, you guys started with HCS which is an online marketing company and then you transitioned out of it. Do you miss anything about the service business?

Hiten: Yeah. I think when you have a services business you have this trust that you develop with the people you’re talking to where they’ll tell you everything about their business and it really helps you learn. When you have a product I don’t think it’s hard to do that, but you’re thinking much more about having more customers and lots more of them so it’s harder to go deeper into any one customer’s business. While at a services company I think it’s very easy to. You know, I love learning. I love learning about other businesses and other people and how they think about the world and what they’re doing and all that kind of stuff and so if I miss anything it’s that part of it, of just being able to dig in and really understand someone else’s business and try to help them sort of think about it better.

Eric: Got it. Cool. And why did you guys decide to move out of service into products, I guess?

Hiten: Yeah, I mean for me personally it had to do with something my dad told me a long time ago which is, this idea of not working for anyone else and I think when you have a services business and people are paying you for your service, not your product, so they’re paying you for your time, you’re basically doing what I am now referring to; trading your time for money. And so, you know, I think we wanted to get out of having to trade our time for money.

For example, I’m sitting here talking to you, money’s being made on my behalf, right, because people are signing up for my product and they’re paying for them and when it comes to Crazy Egg there’s very few other people involved in making those people pay us, or having those people pay us. And like that means I’m not trading my time for the money. So, I’m thinking that services business is just like in a job, you’re basically doing that.

So, if I were to blame anybody or give anybody any feedback on that I would just say that my dad is the reason I think like that, because he told me that at a very young age, right around the time when I was five he kept telling me these kind of things and he’s not even an entrepreneur, but he’s very entrepreneurial. And so, yeah, we both, Neil and I realize we don’t want to trade our time for money.

Eric: Got it. Perfect. What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to your twenty-five year old self?

Hiten: Yeah, I was very…I’m thinking. When I was twenty-five I probably, I don’t know…Huh. I’m actually quite happy with my twenty-five year old self to be honest and what happened, and what the outcome was. The only advice I’d give myself is that, you know, yeah, I think this is it; if…and this isn’t even talking to my twenty-five year old self; if you think something is right just don’t let anyone get in your way. Probably what I would say.

Eric: Okay. Courage.

Hiten: Well, conviction is more accurate.

Eric: Conviction is better, yes. Cool. And what’s one productivity hack you can share with the audience?

Eric: Yeah, this is a counter-intuitive one. I manage my own schedule. And that goes to managing your time, sorry, not managing your time, but not trading your time for money. So, I believe that time is the most, it’s the only thing we don’t get more of in life and so why would I want someone else dictating my time or managing my time on my calendar. So it’s a productivity hack for me because for me there’s two things; I live in email. A lot of people resist email or think of email as a bad thing. I love email. Send me more email I’m okay with that and I try to get back to as many people as I can. I do do heavy filtering so that people that I know are a higher priority in my email inbox. I use something called Sanebox.

So, my number one productivity hack, to be honest is Sanebox. I’ll just say that. That tool is amazing for email. It’s the best tool I found in my email. It keeps people I don’t know yet, it helps, you know marketing email and junk out of my inbox even more than Gmail and normal priority inboxes, stuff like that, and it gives me a lot of control over all of that. Then number two is just, I make up my own calendar. That’s been a productivity hack for me because I get to figure out when I have the free time to do stuff and when I have the time to go meet with people, phone calls, things like that. I like managing my own time. That’s been a big one for me.

Eric: Got it. Cool. I think that’s the second or third referral to Sanebox. That’s definitely everyone should go out and use it. I’m a user too.

Hiten: Awesome.

Eric: You tweeted about it and that’s why I’m a user of it. It’s been three years I think, so thanks for that. What’s one must read book you’d recommend to the audience?

Hiten: One must read book. You got into books, huh? Well, I listen to a lot of audio books and I really love them and so I’m going to find one. I’ll give you more than one. So, the Ben Horowitz book, if you’re an entrepreneur or even working for one, or in a company it’s probably one of the best books, what is it, “The Hard Thing about Hard Things”?

Eric: Yup.

Hiten: That’s probably one of my biggest recommendations. And then I’ll give you at least one more.

Eric: That on your phone right now?

Hiten: Yeah, I’m on my Audible. I love Audible. I’m on it all the time. Hmmm, lot of good stuff. I have one that I think people should read when they’re sort of blocked. It’s a very quick read. It’s called the “War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield.

Eric: Okay.

Hiten: Really good. And the book is, it’s just about like…it’s basically a self-motivational book more than anything else, but it’s really about how to overcome creativity blocks and stuff like that. And even more importantly identifying when you’re in one of those blocks. Probably one of the best books on the topic that I’ve found. My friend Patrick [ph][Boskovich] recommended to me and I can’t help but recommend it to other people.

Eric: Got it. Cool. So, there’s another productivity hack I think that came from you. I mean, you listen on Audible. You listen at 1.5 to 2 x, right?

Hiten: Yeah, the most you can get is 3x, so I try to listen to everything 3x. There’s only one book, I don’t remember the book exactly, but some French guy. It was actually a little difficult to do 3x so I had to do 2x or 1.25x, but the majority of audio books I listen to is 3x and when you do the math there, I’ll tell you real quick, because I know you’re asking, but you know, I have these books and there’s like ones that are ten hours and sixteen hours and seven hours, and you know, twenty-three hours is “Ben Franklin: an American Life”, divide that by three. That’s how fast you can read it.

So, in theory if you have a one to two hour commute you’re reading, in some of these cases, you can read a whole book in that amount of time. That’s ridiculous. I can’t do that reading text. It’s impossible.

Eric: Totally. It’s like speed reading

Hiten: That’s correct.

Eric: Cool. So Hiten, thanks so much for all the insight. I want to have you on the show again sometime soon, but everyone this is Hiten from Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Thanks Hiten.

Hiten: Yeah, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KISSmetrics' Founder Hiten Shah On How He Built 3 Successful Companies With The Same Partner by

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