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Getting Naked with Noah Kagan: How He Started AppSumo for $50 and Got Over 500,000 Subscribers

 

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Today on The Rise To The Top: The #1 Non-Boring Business Show: I have a good feeling you are going to love this conversation with Noah Kagan. Why? In this super candid conversation, Noah tells us exactly how he created AppSumo in a weekend for $50. Now less than two years later it is a million dollar plus business with (ready for this one?) over 500,000 email subscribers that have opted in. In today’s chat, he talks about the idea, how he gets folks to opt in, marketing successes and failures, and everything inbetween. And we get naked. And Noah has a present for 3 members of RISE Nation at the end of the episode!

Also, make sure you stop by Noah’s blog! It focuses on the topics of marketing, entrepreneurship, and engagement with online communities. Check it out!

I use RISE partner Wistia for video hosting because they rock. Check ’em out.

Audio Only Player

Links Mentioned:

Noah KaganDid you watch to the end to find out what Noah is giving 3 members of RISE Nation?

Here are some of the links mentioned during the episode to check out:

AppSumo – Make sure to sign up!
AppSumo Amazon Contest Deal
RewardLevel.com
My Body Tutor

This Episode Of The Rise To The Top Is Exclusively Sponsored By GoToMyPC:

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Have You Seen These Episodes?

  • Always love learning from Noah.

    • David Siteman Garland

      He is the man 🙂

    • Noah Kagan

      Thanks Ben! Takes one to know one 🙂

  • Sandy Sidhu

    Great interview. I’m a big fan of appsumo…it’s exposed me to a lot of apps that I didn’t know I needed! 
    Thanks for the candid advice, Noah. Nice abs, David 🙂

    • David Siteman Garland

      Sandy – Great to hear from a happy appsumo, sumo? (customer?)

      And hah, thanks. Most awkward moment in show history.

      • Sandy Sidhu

        not sure I wanna be a ‘sumo’ 😉

    • David Siteman Garland

      Sandy – Great to hear from a happy appsumo, sumo? (customer?)

      And hah, thanks. Most awkward moment in show history.

    • Noah Kagan

      They really were amazing! 

  • Jerry Williamson

    LOL….this was just FUN! Not so sure that the ab demonstration wasn’t borderline fluff….but, dayum….those are some good abs bro.

    Seriously, Noah started my day off right just listening to how he took an idea and turned it into a successful business so quickly. AppSumo is definitely not a business built in a sandbox. Thanks Noah for sharing your insights with those of us just getting started and making us realize that success can be just around the corner!

    Jerry Williamson
    Teamworx Productions

    • David Siteman Garland

      Jerry – Haha, it was indeed fluff…or bribary. He promised the story if I did it LOL.

      So glad you pulled some inspiration and ideas! Go get ’em.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Jerry – Haha, it was indeed fluff…or bribary. He promised the story if I did it LOL.

      So glad you pulled some inspiration and ideas! Go get ’em.

  • Thanks for sharing this.. 

    He is really funny. I have to say that a lot of people really got the wrong idea about his business. This was such a straight forward interview and this is a lot of good content.

    • Noah Kagan

      Thanks Justice. Awesome name and appreciate the comment!

      • No problem man thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts on things.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Thanks Justice!!! (Justice has been served…couldn’t resist).

  • David

    Amazing interview. Watched Noah’s interview on Mixergy (no hate, love rise to the top :), and he strips and talks about boxer briefs. I watch this one and he’s lifting up his shirt. Dear God I’m scared to watch another video interview. I hope my gf doesnt go through my history and finds this 😉 

    But seriously appsumo is awesome, love the advice he dishes out. He’s dead serious about helping people out. I was on appsumo about 8 months ago and we chatted on snap engage for an hour. crazy

    • Noah Kagan

      Good times David. Get ready for my final episode 😛

      I do love helping good people and glad this was fun for you too!

    • David Siteman Garland

      David – LOL! Andrew and I are good buddies (Mixergy loves The Rise To The Top and The Rise To The Top loves mixergy).

      Next interview will be the opposite Noah puts on more clothes throughout the interview.

  • Anonymous

    Why did I listen via audio? I’ll have to check out the video when I have a better connection! Love listening to business advice AND seeing abs.
    The rise and Noah rocks. 🙂

    • David Siteman Garland

      Hahaha. I guess if there is one reason to have video…it was this interview LOL.

  • Andy Meeks

    Cool interview and def one of the most “real” guests. I wanna go food truck hopping next time im in Austin with that Fuckin Noah.

    • Noah Kagan

      Food truck + TACOS ftw

    • David Siteman Garland

      Thanks Andy. I need to get in on this…

  • Anonymous

    I love finding out about all the tools AppSumo offers – great interview!

    • David Siteman Garland

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Anonymous

      Email deborah@appsumo.com and we’ll hook you up with some account credit!

  • thx – very motivating to stop being a “wantrepreneur”.  Time to put the cheetos down, get off the couch and simply start…

  • What an awesome interview!  Noah’s energy and creative mind are amazing.  I have been a fan and customer of AppSumo for a few months.  Great deals! Great business model!

    • Noah Kagan

      Bear Hug!!!

    • David Siteman Garland

      Double bear hug!

    • Anonymous

      Hey Rick, we’ve got some AppSumo credit for you to use, just email deborah@appsumo.com for it!

  • David: Your interviews keep getting better and better. Keep up the great work! Noah was an awesome guest!

    Noah: Had a chance to see/hear you speak at the Mixergy event in Vegas in June thanks to Andrew. My hand almost fell off I was taking notes so fast. Your advice is so practical and honest, and AppSumo is an AWESOME site. I signed up for the consulting hour with you two nights ago. Cannot wait to chat with you!

    Cheers to you both,
    Aaron

    • Noah Kagan

      Aaron. This made my day. Glad I can help. Looking forward to chatting!

    • David Siteman Garland

      Aaron this also made my day! Thanks so much. And great to hear you and Noah are connecting more.

  • Ryan Panitz

    DSG, That was great stuff with Noah man! Two things I took away that will stay with me: 1) He fails 86% of the time – just have to keep trying and figuring out what works and then focus on that 2) Are the decisions we’re making 10x decisions! Loved it!

    • David Siteman Garland

      And he crushes the other 14% so glad you had some great takeaways!

  • Ok, this was funny (nice to know that you were not airbrushed on the blog photos, David!) and informative. You know that I travel (oh, maybe lead) in a different tribe but I really took quite a few nuggets away from the interview and of course signed up at AppSumo….

    • Noah Kagan

      Welcome to the family Monica!

  • Cory

    Sumo-ling here !  Always an great listen when Chief Sumo does a interview.  

  • Wow. Fantastic interview. I really liked the ghetto validation of new ideas and the dissection of advertising techniques. Thanks 

    • David Siteman Garland

      I love that term: ghetto validation

  • Yeeshee

    Sorry David.  Most annoying guest yet.  Pretty obvious why facebook sh*tcanned him.

    • Hey Yeeshee,

      Maybe you should listen to the interview again. Then you’ll discover how truly valuable Noah’s advice is. I’ll even send you my 4 pages of typed notes if you would like. 

      Aaron

    • David Siteman Garland

      Yeeshee – Nobody is liked by everyone. I loved having Noah on. Awesome personality, great information.

    • Denise

      Yeeshee:  No offense but you sound like a jerk and a looser.  You have your opinions made up before listening to interview; and I bet for this reason you still live with your parents, no friends, have lots of debt, no ambition or clue how to achieve or mount to anything and have a very low I.Q.   Pay attention to someone who has lots of good advice.  I have become personally successful because of the information I acquired listening to Noah. 

  • Steve

    Simple is hard. It’s much easier to make something complicated and make yourself into a constraint. Noah, appreciate how you always communicate with  simplicity- nothing more and nothing less. Also appreciate how you just cut to the chase and say what’s on your mind. David, thanks for asking really great questions that matter (ie- ‘how did you really launch with $50 cause it doesn’t just happen’)!  Both of your honesty is awesome, so helpful and motivating. 
    Noah, loved how you distinguished about your ‘calling’. Anyone can get a job, start a biz…few will pursue their calling.    Thanks again guys!

    • David Siteman Garland

      So true re: Simple is hard.

      Thanks for tuning in!

  • This rocked. Already using what I learned from the AppSumo Business Blueprint Course, and ready to layer on the next steps. It’s gonna be a busy holiday.

    Thanks for sharing real info.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Very cool. How did you like the blueprint course?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Kendra, we have some AppSumo credit for you, just email deborah@appsumo.com!

  • Zunaid Khan

    Brilliant interview. Noah is one sharp dude and David really structured this interview well.  I love how it spanned psychology, strategy and tactics.

    One question – Noah said that his friend lost momentum with the home cooked food business. I’d really like to know what caused this loss of momentum and how to overcome it.
     

    • David Siteman Garland

      Zunaid – Awesome. Thanks for the kind words, perhaps Noah can chime in on that one…

  • Matt Bailey

    Have known Noah now for 3 years and this is a solid interview. Love the inside on AppSumo and also finding one’s “professional” passion in life. Very cool and I look forward to watching this a second time!

    • David Siteman Garland

      Great to hear that, Matt. Enjoy #2!

  • Hilarious but informative interview. Thanks for being more awesome than Barbara Walters and Anderson Cooper…won’t be seeing tatas or washboard abs from them. Yay for the so not boring business show!

    • David Siteman Garland

      LOL! Thanks Iris. That just made my night.

  • Chris Campbell

    Noah Kagen never holds back when he is interviewed. I feel like I have been in a $2500 personal development seminar every time I watch something he is personally involved in. If you haven’t checked out the offerings on AppSumo.com and you run a a business online or offline you really need to get over there and beg them to put you on their email list. Just experiencing their copywriting is worth the price of admission. Cheers! C

    • David Siteman Garland

      Definitely. Good point re: copywriting.

  • Great insight in the interview. Kudos to Noah and team on their success. 

  • Stefanie

    Great insight and interview. I can only hope to have such a successful business one day. Cheers to you and your team, Noah.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Glad you enjoyed it Stef!

  • Fantastic interview and insight you won’t get anywhere else. Well worth watching for the tips and information that I was able to take away….Now if only you could teach the art of a sixpack and flabby-ness to my boyfriend..

    • David Siteman Garland

      LOL!!! Glad you enjoyed Stef!

  • Damn love the interview and I’m only half way through. Had to stop after Noah mentioned driving Ferrari.. If he had 80 mil, he might be riding in this. 

    http://www.tmz.com/2011/12/22/stretch-ferrari-limousine-harrods-london

    Thanks guys for the great interview!

    • Noah Kagan

      Ha, that car is disgusting. 

    • David Siteman Garland

      hahaha

    • One of the best interviews I have heard in a long time. Fun. Full of energy. Tons of great insight. Thanks guys! 

  • Andrew Batchelor

    Just start. Dont wait. Its ok to be rough… ok to fail, try fail, modify, try fail, modify, try, win… AppSumo not too much of interest there today… MeetingBurner looks worth a try…

    • David Siteman Garland

      Andrew – Great takeaways.

  • Allison Reynolds

    Great interview – really loved how Noah embraces that every individual has their own lifestyle goals (not just the mega consumer ones rammed down everyone’s throats by some internet knobs). Brilliant insights and I think I am doing the 86% failure rate all in one year..so next year will be 14% success!

    • Noah Kagan

      BRING IT GF

    • David Siteman Garland

      Very cool. Keep aiming for that 14% 🙂

  • Kevin

    Hey David,

    Have to say, this is best interview you’ve done in months. Noah is a stud!

    -KP.S. Disc Golf Rules!

    • Noah Kagan

      100% agreed on the disc golf 🙂

    • David Siteman Garland

      Thanks Kevin! Appreciate that. I gotta try some disc golf!

  • Ike Juar

    More abs! More business! Bring on Tim Ferriss!

    • David Siteman Garland

      LOL! No clothes interviews might be the next evolution of The Rise To The Top…that would be scary.

  • Noah, what are you doing to work on those abs? We all know it ain’t disc golf!  What does Adam have you doing over there?  

    • David Siteman Garland

      LOL.

  • Hoo Kang

    That was awesome.

    Noah Kagan, Wantrepreneur Slayer

  • Hoo Kang

    David awesome abs…

    You inspire me… currently small sumo size.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Haha. Thanks. I love it “small sumo size” LOL

  • Best.  Interview.  Ever.

    Also… David?  Nice abs.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Haha thanks MGM. One of my favs too. The abs are just for you 🙂

  • Amazing interview with Noah. It’s always good to see how transparent and direct he is.
    He goes straight to the point, no bulshit, no useless talk, only good insights and actionable tips.
    Thanks a lot Noah and David.

    • David Siteman Garland

      Totally, Rodrigo. I agree for shizzle.

  • Loved the interview, love the constant experimentation approach. We live in a great era where it is fast & cheap to make a (albeit ghetto-ish) product and put it out there to see if it sticks. I think that if you have an idea, you should just run with it. Buy the domain, set up a wordpress site, find a theme that suits you best (can probably find a free one), fill in some content and launch. The rest will follow… look at Noah and the $50 GhettoSumo.
    Personally, my 2012 new year resolution is to start throwing “startup weekends for one”, which means clearing up a weekend, at least once a month, pulling out an idea for a small product from the idea notesbook, and not leaving the computer until it’s up. Sure, the big problem to a startup is not building, but marketing, but still – you have to build it first :). Would love comments about this resolution stories about similar stuff you did if you ever participated in a startup weekend what were your biggest takeaways from those.
    Cheers, Merry Christmas 🙂

  • Loved the interview, love the constant experimentation approach. We live in a great era where it is fast & cheap to make a (albeit ghetto-ish) product and put it out there to see if it sticks. I think that if you have an idea, you should just run with it. Buy the domain, set up a wordpress site, find a theme that suits you best (can probably find a free one), fill in some content and launch. The rest will follow… look at Noah and the $50 GhettoSumo.
    Personally, my 2012 new year resolution is to start throwing “startup weekends for one”, which means clearing up a weekend, at least once a month, pulling out an idea for a small product from the idea notesbook, and not leaving the computer until it’s up. Sure, the big problem to a startup is not building, but marketing, but still – you have to build it first :). Would love comments about this resolution stories about similar stuff you did if you ever participated in a startup weekend what were your biggest takeaways from those.
    Cheers, Merry Christmas 🙂

    • David Siteman Garland

      Awesome, good luck in 2012!!

  • Hesler

    Wow, Noah definitely over delivers. I have bought stuff from AppSumo.com before and their stuff is always quality content. Amazing entrepreneur, great interview.

  • fast and smart = a lethal combo

  • Finally got away from the girlfriend long enough to watch this finally! Ended up watching it while at the gym, lol). My favourite episode ever! Signed up for AppSumo via a Facebook Ad about a 48 hours before I saw this interview pop up. Something about the AppSumo ads that just makes me want to click em! Love it! =D

    • David Siteman Garland

      Haha tell the girlfriend I’m sorry 🙂

    • Noah Kagan

      Thanks Leo.

      Please stop clicking and save me $1.50. I’ll buy you a taco when you are in Austin 🙂

  • Awesome interview, David! The ad buys increasing from $400 to $10,000 was an incredible example of a lesson to always remember–when something works, work it well.

    Thanks for pulling out the details and delivering, as always.

    Jason

    • David Siteman Garland

      Jason – Ya and I love the approach. He built up to that amount after smaller testing. etc.

  • Wil

    First off awesome interview. I just recently found Noah via Tim Ferris blog which led me to appsumo which lead Andrew Chen which lead me here to this interview. Love how you guys are all connected. 🙂 Anyway I just have a quick question that left me a bit confused. Noah mentions in his interview when he first got started that he email Imgur to promote their product and told them that he would give them $7 for every sale…Shouldn’t that be the other way around since he’s selling their product?

    • David Siteman Garland

      Hey Will! AWESOME to hear and welcome 🙂 I’m hoping Noah can hop in and answer that one!

      • Wil

        He did reach out via email, but left me still a bit confused lol…His response was he only paid them when he sold. Which leads me to believe that if the product was $25 dollars he was keeping $18.

        • Ronnie

          Yes, this makes sense because businesses spend a ridiculous amount of money on advertising and rent (for their brick and mortar stores), significantly increasing (even by 2X or 3X) the selling price of products. When Appsumo does the sale for them, rent and advertising costs do not need to be added to the product, making the product dirt cheap.

  • Martha

    Build it Ugly! Ghetto Validation. Love it.

  • Hey David and Noah
    Happy New Year – I have just been on my first Christmas Pud burning run of the New Year – just over 7 miles across beautiful Wiltshire (UK) rolling countryside while listening to your discussion.  On the Ab front, Six Pack? Four Pack? No sorry Family Pack! and its definitely not going on HD Video.

    Thanks for explaining what AppSumo is all about – I am on the mailing list but rarely open the emails.  Now I better understand the offering, I will certainly check them out more regularly.  I am sure other listeners fall into the same camp so this episode of the Podcast is definitely going to increase conversions.

    I would also like to thank you for giving me an idea for my own business around consulting which I am going to try out.  Running is a great time to think and this can be greatly enhanced by listening to great podcasts like the Rise to the Top for stimulating new ideas and really getting the synapses firing.

    Have a great New Year and thanks to you both for a great interview.  Shameless plug for my own website – The Six Minute Strategist at http://jbdcolley.com.  Thanks again 🙂
    John

  • Anonymous

     Dug the reminder how living the “four hour work week” is not literal, but a really cool achievable concept that we can choose what we want to do with our time and work on a business or project that is alignent with our goals. It just may take more than 4 hours a week 😉

  • Bhampton88

    Glad you did this interview David b/c it was the first time I had heard of Appsumo and would love the $100 credit!  I love hearing real entrepreneurs tell their story and as a semi-wantapreneur freakin appreciate your motivational words. Instead of a joke check out this imgur love http://i.imgur.com/RHUkC.jpg

  • Andrew

    Legendary interview guys! Both are inspiring gamechangers.

 

GET MY FREE CHEAT SHEET

These are the EXACT same steps I used to go from $0 to over $1,000,000 in online course sales in less than 24 months (and used by over 2,500+ of my students)

it's free!
100% privacy guaranteed, no messin' around!