Aaron Mentele, Co-Founder, Electric Pulp

Aaron Mentele, Co-Founder, Electric Pulp

Electric Pulp came of age in the early days of the web, back before Y2K, smartphones or civilization as we know it today. Back then, it was like the Wild West: few competitors, few rules…With more work than they could handle, Electric Pulp left it to businesses to come calling—and call, they did. From Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to the global rebranding of Ford, Electric Pulp was scoring huge projects based on word-of-mouth marketing and a simple elevator pitch: “We build websites.”

Aaron Mentele, Co-Founder at Electric Pulp, looks back on those early days, and says they didn’t need to pitch, or talk about the work they were doing. They were just launching cool stuff. Fast forward to today, and it’s a different story. Now, they're launching work that’s improving businesses. And that changes everything.

Take a trip down memory lane, and revisit the web industry past, while learning how agencies are adjusting to the present and planning for the future. We’re talking PR, spec work, RFPs and all sorts of dirty little words that may turn you off—or may just change how you do business.

 
 

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Carl Smith: What's happening everybody? Welcome to the first full work week of 2019. I hope you are kicking maximum buttocks. That was not what I intended to say, but we're just gonna roll with it. Today's show is a great one. We have got a friend of mine, Aaron Mentele, from Electric Pulp, who's gonna talk about what it was like to launch a shop in '96, how they got some of their high-profile clients, but what mattered most to me, a decision they made to start pitching work.

Carl Smith: Being a new year, we've also got some new partners we want to introduce you to. The first one is VOGSY. If you're looking to grow your business and become more efficient and profitable, you gotta give VOGSY a look. They are the only professional services platform that is built on Google Cloud and G Suite. It integrates all aspects of the quote-to-cash lifecycle into a single, powerful but easy-to-use solution. You can be up and running in just a few days. With that, let's get on with our conversation with Aaron.

Carl Smith: Tell everybody a little bit about Electric Pulp. I've known you since the mid 90s, and annoyingly watched you do tremendously better in this industry than me. Tell everybody about Electric Pulp, how you guys got started, and just bring us up to date.

Aaron Mentele: Sure. Electric Pulp, I think, '96 is our founding date. I've got two partners, Michael and Stefan. They were doing work really at the end of their college careers. Final months, both of them had plans to go out into graphic design and programming jobs. I was doing the same thing at a different college. I was going out to be an architect. It was really that point where it was the first feeling that maybe you could do web as a full-time job. It's hard for people to put themselves into that place. There were no iPhones. Websites were something that not everybody had. Really, it was a brave new world kind of a thing, wild west, but we all came straight out of college and decided to drop the plans from college and go towards web development instead.

I think that picked up until maybe probably 19 ... Well, we came out. We were fine from the very beginning. I think really it was probably '99, 2000 before we could look around and see other businesses like us. Jump forward a few years probably to like 2004, and we were starting to focus on maybe some lifestyle companies, eCommerce in Southern California. Really, the work that we've done has not really had any geographic location.

You've already said it. We're from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That's off the typical path. Our work has been something that has taken us all over. It's hard to do 22 years in a quick rundown. I'm not really sure what to cover. I know, it's crazy.

Carl Smith: 22 years.

Aaron Mentele: We're putting together a proposal yesterday, and my bio said, "Aaron Mentele has 18 years in the industry." I started to type up my email to the person that's putting together the proposal. I'm like, "I've done actually 22 years." Then I stopped and I thought, "Man, that just makes me feel so old." I'm like, "You know what, just leave 18 years. We'll go with that."

Carl Smith: The vanity years, that's the best. Let's just keep it at 18 from here on out.

Aaron Mentele: Yup.

Carl Smith: It'll be fine. It's the company that never ages. Now, talk a little bit about how you broke into some of the clients that you had. I mean, you did the We Are the World. You had Ford. Obviously the Beeb, right? We don't want to talk about it. You got into this celebrity stuff. How did all that happen?

Aaron Mentele: Because we were doing eCommerce early and we were starting to do some work with lifestyle companies in Southern California, we got into a crowd. I think that we had two things going. One, we were doing work with a company called In Case. They were the first third-party vendor in the Apple store. They do cases, laptop cases, phones. They've since been purchased by their group, but because we're doing work with them, we started doing work with other lifestyle companies.

At the same time, we were playing around in, well depending on the year I suppose, something that briefly was called Web 2.0, that software as a service model before it was a model. We ran ...

Carl Smith: I'll tell you what, the rates on Web 2.0 were tremendously more. If you wanted a Web 2.0 site, it's gonna be two-and-a-half times. It should have been Web 2.5.

Aaron Mentele: I think so too, but we never really got passed that freemium. We're big on the free part of the freemium side of things, but we started doing some work with Guy Kawasaki and this saying you have to put yourself into 1996. I don't even know how to explain it. Well, when Guy Kawasaki was blogging back when blogs were the place to go for really everything, he had huge following. He still does, but he's now on Twitter. A blog post though is going to hit more people. It's going to hit a little bit more loudly. People are going to take it a little bit more seriously, and they're going to follow through.

When we started working with Guy and he started talking about some of that work that we're doing and how easy it was to start something up, we started getting leads from that as well. We had leads coming in from the lifestyle retailer angle and then at the same time, we had leads coming in from some really the, I hate to say it, but the entrepreneurial crowd. Both came together at the same time. We had work that we're doing locally and regionally. Then we had these two markets that we're hitting outside of the area as well.

That's where the Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, some of the Beiber type projects came in with. Some of them, we had not even met, so we'd catch them on a phone call, and then we'd build them a website. Some of it was a quick turn, build the site, move on. Other was long-term relationships that we worked with a lot of these people for many, many years. We had a client that we worked with for 21 years. There's a lot that was coming from word of mouth.

There was a time, I think, around that 2006 timeframe, from maybe 2004 to 2006, where word of mouth really was pretty significant because of the blogging traffic and all of that. That's where, I guess, we pulled out of or we got beyond geographic limitations. Maybe it was a little bit before the 2003-2004. That's where they came in. You get someone who really has a following, and they mention your name, and you get some surprising leads.

Really for us, our early years, we're just figuring out how to turn those leads into work.

Carl Smith: Then you've got this amazing work that you can share that you're doing for huge names, right? Having Jon Stewart ... Was it Jon Stewart or Colbert that you had on the site for a while? I remember one of them had a quote that was just hilarious [crosstalk 00:09:10].

Aaron Mentele: Well, we had quotes from both. I think, Stewart was, "I gotta go get some staples. Maybe it was paperclips." Then Colbert was from HTML to PHP Electric Pulp mill soy beans. With Colbert, he called our main line. I don't even remember who it was, picked it up, and [crosstalk 00:09:36].

Carl Smith: Oh my God.

Aaron Mentele: Stephen Colbert was talking about a website. Everybody is like, "Yeah." Some joker is on the line saying Stephen Colbert. Anyway, they were lots of fun. Like you pointed out, the minute that you're able to say that you've done work for a large brand, we helped with the global rebranding of Ford. It gets you in some doors. I think that in our early years, even though we had some fantastic opportunities and some of them just by luck, we were terrible about parlaying that into long-term work.

Cobbler's kids have to wear shoes kind of a mentality where we were terrible about our own PR, or we weren't talking about the work that we were doing. We still to this day have that problem. We're trying to figure that part out, and I think that in certain cases, it's probably our biggest mistake that we didn't spend more time doing that, but you get busy as a web company, a production-based company. It gets really hard to market yourself.

Fast forward 10 years beyond that, we're finding that there are probably a lot of things that we're doing today that had we started 10-15 years ago would have totally paid off many times over. I'm sure you've heard this before, but I wish I knew then what I know now.

Carl Smith: I remember when Electric Pulp put out their website that was just in big letters, "We make websites." Screw all this other noise. Everybody is saying this crap. If you want a website, we make websites, okay? That to me was hilarious, because it was so against the stream of where everybody was going. Did that play well for you all?

Aaron Mentele: I think it did. We're at South by Southwest, and Brian Oberkirch was doing a ... It was laid in the session. I don't know if you know who he is, but he mentioned at one point that you need to have your elevator pitch figured out. You need to be able to explain to people exactly what it is you do, what your value statement is. He was going on. He's talking in a super sophisticated route that you really have to be able to deliver on your message. I'm sitting in the front row probably planning on my trail.

I think, it would have been about pre-iPhone years. He looked up, and he's like, "Aaron, what's your guy's elevator pitch?" I said, "Well, we make websites." It just stopped him. You could just see the look on his face. Like, "Come on. I called on you. I mean, do me a favor. What would be your ...?" It was something, I think, that it came in response to a lot of things. We're in a market. Sioux Falls is about 200,000 people. It had gone to the point where I couldn't grab a coffee without somebody saying, "Hey, you guys do websites. What is it that you can do for me?"

It was always that kind of a question. It got to the point where people wanted to talk about what you do. I always seemed so like how I have a little bit of an issue with certain things. Words like CEO, I call it done. Entrepreneur, I get it going a little bit. Those words, they have this different meaning that is like self-imposed. Anyone can call you [crosstalk 00:13:28].

Carl Smith: That's your personal brand, Aaron. Your personal brand is not to like those terms.

Aaron Mentele: Maybe I'm a little bit cynical. The "we build websites" got us out of that conversation, because what it was is we wanted to say, "You know what, I wanna sit back and listen to what you're looking to do because the interesting part of the story is what we can do for you, not starting off with what we can do for you before we even hear what it is you're looking to do." That whole "we build websites" was really just a reaction to get people into that mindset where we're different things to different people, and we need to hear what their goals are before we respond.

We've been using that we build websites for a really long time. It's the apps and the web apps, progressive apps, SPAs that really get to the point where we couldn't use it anymore, damn it, because I still feel to a certain extent I wanna continue to say that but I have to stop myself now.

Carl Smith: Well, it was one of those things that I felt when I saw it, which was like, we're all really good at something, and we're just gonna say we're good at that, and the leads are gonna come in. It worked really well for a long time. You said something to me that I'll never forget. This was also in Austin itself by, I think, we're having dinner, and you made a comment that if you do really good work, you keep your word, you charge a fair rate, all that kind of stuff. After seven years, the work starts to come in more than you go out looking for it.

I just remember that whole idea of the flow reversing its self after seven years if you've done a good job. Even if you haven't really promoted yourself that well, at least the word of mouth is gonna get out there. Then the reason I was thinking about having you on the show today was we were going back and forth on something, and you mentioned how much traveling you were doing pitching. That seems so out of character, or not out of character even, but just such a huge shift from a company like Electric Pulp that it had huge high profile work.

Carl Smith: I was just curious. What was the impetus for that change to start going after work?

Aaron Mentele: Sure. Well, people stopped coming to us.

Carl Smith: That happens.

Aaron Mentele: I'm eating an orange here. I hope you're not hearing me chomp it. There was a point, I think, where the work was coming in, but it got a little harder to be able to say that we were in control of the lead flow. There might be a month where we didn't get the types of leads that we wanted. Then there would be months where we'd have too many. It just really felt like we'd hit a point where we needed to change a little bit. It was also probably let's call it four years ago where sites like Shopify were coming up, and Wix, and Squarespace, and some of these tools that would let people build a crappy website for free.

I'm not saying Shopify or Squarespace or Wix are crappy for the record, but it got to the point really where anyone could put something onto the web. What it did is it took out that low-end market.

Carl Smith: You've been to the Bureau website then.

Aaron Mentele: No, come on. It's all pro at the Bureau.

Carl Smith: First-based pro.

Aaron Mentele: There was a lot of stuff going on that changed the market. There were internal teams and all of this. Really, what it seemed like it to us is that it was time where maybe we had to grow up a little bit to keep getting the kind of work that we wanted and actually turn it into a longer term. The longer term relationships take a lot more work than this one-off rapid deployment work that we had done a lot of. We came up doing that. We build websites mentality, always launching, always launching and moving on to the next, and onboarding of a new client, everybody knows, takes a lot more work than working with an existing client.

To smooth things out, we thought, "Well, we're going to actually change up our onboarding." I actually came out production at that time so that I could start helping with leads as a team and to help not only to pre-qualify but to make sure that we had the right plan in place, and really set things up the way that we should have been doing all along, so more strategic, a little less tactical, maybe both. That changed up pretty quick, because the first thing you do when you say, "I'm gonna get more responsive, or I'm gonna start going after work," is you have to respond differently to leads.

The way that you do that is you take a lot more. You put a lot more effort into the front end of it. That means that you're gonna get to know the client. You're gonna find out what the objectives are or what the goals are. You're gonna get to know the person more so that you have a relationship before you put a proposal in their hand. That just takes more work. It certainly can't come from someone whose sole job is to be a project manager or even further from the mix like actual producers.

We needed to focus a little bit. It didn't take long to figure out that just coming out of production and spending more time at it wasn't gonna do us any good. It needed to be something where we're actually onboarding in a pro manner rather than just reacting. What that means is putting together a proposal that packs in some of the surprise factor or actually puts together a recommendation that's gonna improve a person's business rather than just responding to requirements. That path just leads to pitching.

It took a little while for me to get over some of my initial issues. Again, maybe I don't like certain words or I'm all cynical or whatever, but the idea that you would never in a million years submit spec work is something that I even challenge a little bit today, because I think that there might be a time and place for it. We work with some large agencies. I see them do it. There's a really solid rationale for it. I'm tripping myself up, because I know people, they just shut off your podcast.

Carl Smith: People just tuned in. No, they just tuned in. They were like, "Holy shit, they're talking spec work."

Aaron Mentele: Well, the idea, it's simple. A traditional agency or a large agency is going to go into Toyota. They're going to say, "We have this fantastic idea." That is their value. They're gonna say, "We're gonna sell you this idea, and to sell you this idea, we're gonna give you a little bit of production to get your mind in the right place so you understand what it is that we're going to put on top of you. Your head is just gonna explode." A webshop goes into that same situation, and they say, "We've got this fantastic idea, and to tell you, it's going to be a parallax site because everybody does that. And it's gonna be [crossalk 00:21:22]."

Carl Smith: Our website is cool, man.

Aaron Mentele: Totally. We're gonna hijack your scrolling, and it's gonna be so cool. They're gonna lay it out, and they're gonna tell you what it is. They're gonna say, "But we're not gonna show you it. Shit, there's no way we're going to accompany any of this stuff up." The big agency, the big thinker is going to say, "Well, we've got this idea to sell you, and here's a little bit of production that's gonna get you in the right mindset so you know what it is we're talking about just to get you excited."

The small traditional webshop mentality, they're gonna go in and they're gonna say, "Well, here is the idea, but we're not gonna show you any production. We'd never do that." It's a shift. I think that one of the things that every webshop owner has in their mind is that we're definitely total paradigm shift from a traditional agency. We're totally different. There's a reason that we don't do what they do. It's really popular to say, "We're never gonna do spec work." It's really popular to say, "We don't pitch."

All of that is something that needs to come into question a little bit, because there's a reason why some of these agencies are still around and they're doing better than ever. It has nothing to do with them doing broadcast work. It's that they have a totally different model on onboarding work, handling working with clients. Actually, I think that there's a lot to learn, and so just that idea that you would pitch. I'm not saying we do spec work, just for the record.

Carl Smith: You don't do spec work. No, and here is the thing. I think, everything you just described I wouldn't call a spec work. Spec work is only when that company asks for it. They ask you to do something if they are wanting you to use your experience and talent and resources to create something that they can see how good you are versus if you say, "We have an idea. We took it to this level to share it with you." Those are two totally different things.

Aaron Mentele: I agree, but I think that the clients today are still asking for it. A lot of times, it's a matter of education, where they've done it before. We'll even have people say, "Well, we can't see you work. How would we be able to make a choice?" We work with a lot of other manufacturers. If we have to go in and talk to ... I won't name one. If we have to go in and talk to one of those companies, that comes up. They'll say, "Purchasing department needs you to handle all of this." We got procurement. We got purchasing in the mix.

We got people who need to be able to say, "Does this vendor know what they're doing?" They're not all going to be looking at your portfolio and saying, "Okay, they've done that site for Beaver, so they must be able to do something for us." The reality is that a lot of these agencies, and typically, we do a lot of bidding against super large agencies. If you just think about the turnover in those agencies and the number of people, if we're bidding against an LA firm that has 300 people, nobody knows if you're getting the A team, B team, C team, Z team, whatever.

That idea that they're gonna comp something up really is meaningful. First of all, they all do that. They're all gonna go in with a comp. If you don't, you're basically just putting together your proposal to be thrown away. Some of it is just forced. I think, my point there is that the clients are asking for it, but they're not coming out and saying, "We want you to build us a website, and we'll know it if we see it. And we'll tell you if you got the job." What they're wanting to do is see something beyond mood board that lets them know, "Can this people get us? They've got some cool ideas. I wanna see more."

There's a little bit of time and place. Just to back up of that spec work idea, pitching, I think, a lot of times falls into that same category where people just don't wanna do it. What they wanna do is put together proposal and to get back to production. For us, we're 16 people. We're not a huge agency. We would like to do that too. We would love to just shoot out a proposal, and then go ahead down again and get back to work. That model is not gonna get us the kind of work that we want, so RFPs are another similar related idea.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Just don't respond to RFPs." It just seems like that's part of the religion of web development. You just ignore RFPs.

Carl Smith: It's just bidding.

Aaron Mentele: Totally is.

Carl Smith: People make a big deal about it.

Aaron Mentele: Half of them who say that respond to it anyway.

Carl Smith: How much do you know? Come on.

Aaron Mentele: What I can say though is that there are some great big leads that will come in your door packaged as an RFP. If you don't want to respond to it, you're too proud or whatever, you're just not gonna get that lead. I would say that RFPs are tough. I wouldn't just say just start responding to every RFP, but a lot of our largest clients, a lot of our biggest relationships and certainly probably our top maybe four partnerships that we work on right now came in the door through an RFP.

I would say that we have a terrible track record winning RFPs, but the ones that we've won have turned out to be our biggest clients. You have to figure that out, where you can't just follow dogma and say, "We're never gonna do anything that feels like spec work. We're never going to pitch. We're never going to respond to an RFP if you wanna grow." I know that there are a lot of agencies that will just get in this mix, and they hit their baseline, and it covers expenses. They love what they do, so that's fulfillment. I think that there is a point where we hit where we hit where we thought, "If we're gonna do this, maybe we'd get a little bit more serious about it."

To grow, you have to change your mentality. If you're on this plan where you're covering your expenses and you've set up goals, you can look at it on a monthly basis. If you passed that and everybody's paid, then one month, you have a really bad month. Something bad happens. You missed a goal. All of a sudden, you get to the end of the year, and you've gone the wrong direction so now you're on a decline. To avoid that, to get out of that, people just need to think in longer term relationship mode where you're actually looking at bringing in someone who's gonna be around for a long time rather than this one-off project work.

Carl Smith: You nailed it, because traditional agencies are relationship-based, right? I mean, that's the thing. I remember reading this research when I was at [inaudible 00:28:56], it's the agency I started at, where Northern shops, the creatives made the most, and Southern shops, the account service people made the most because account service in the south was you just gotta keep them happy whatever it takes. A lot of this that span out of traditional agencies rebelled against that model and said, "We're gonna do project work so we never make a bad decision to keep the relationship intact."

We really hurt ourselves. I mean, I can imagine how much more quality work we could have had if we hadn't been assholes about it. I mean, you can just call it how you want, but for us, we were just jerks about it. We're only gonna do this one project, so let's do it great.

Aaron Mentele: Well, what's funny is that the people that came out of these agencies and doing their own thing, and they're these assholes, those are the pillars of the web development world. Those are the people who everybody looked up to and they're saying, "Okay." Well, they're the ones who came out and said, "Well, we're never gonna do something to make the client happy that results in bad work just like you're saying and all these other things." I think that what they've done is they've set up a precedent that over time is just bad advice. I mean, like, "I blame you personally for all of this."

Carl Smith: Good. Hey, I suffered. I've paid my penance.

Aaron Mentele: No, it's funny. I know that you had people on the podcast who are incredibly successful, and you almost wouldn't know it. If you just said, "Okay, take them and let's do a poll and let's grab somebody who's got a bunch of followers on Twitter. And let's just ask everybody who is more successful," I think the crowd is gonna miss badly who's actually got the better business practice. That whole business advice coming from the wrong people is really something that has been around for a long time, and maybe it's getting better now.

I think, right now, the industry has gotten so broad that now there are so many different people in it, that the little circle that used to be the core of what I thought of when I thought of the web industry is now just a little pod, like the standards people, the people who would ... Well, I was gonna say who went to the South by Southwest, but the people who went to South by Southwest that you and I hang out with. That's actually a pretty small segment at this point. A lot of people set in their ways.

I know that happens everywhere, but really for us because we're doing some work with some large clients, a lot of times, we'll be in partnership with a large agency. These agencies just have their shit together in ways that just blow your mind. I think that there's a huge amount to learn from that whole industry that a lot of the pillars went running from and are screaming, "Emperors got no clothes. Some of the emperors have some pretty bitching clothes." You go back and you look. You just hang out with them a little while, and they're going out.

They're flying out to see the clients. They're pitching, and they're doing a tiny bit of spec work. They are nailing these relationships and doing the kind of work that any of us would kill for. That's the change for us, the shift for us, that maybe we've seen over the wall a little bit. Some of it is just we're gonna have to do a little bit of changing. Some of it is that you can just see other people doing it a different way more successfully, calling everybody's ideals or principles into question.

I think that there's a lot to learn from outside of the industry. I guess outside of the industry, a lot of these agencies sure like to act like they are the core of the industry. That is some of the broadening as well, but I mean, these larger agencies, I mean, they got their shit together.

Carl Smith: I remember pre-web, going to a pitch a client, and my boss said, "All we need is for them to realize they're better with us than without us. And we need to do the amount of work that shows them that." We would do all kinds of research. I mean, if you want to talk bout spec work research to get the idea of who the client is is much heavier than any level of putting together a comp. Actually, we were going after a big seafood restaurant chain. I did customer interviews. As people were walking out of the restaurant, asked them how their experience was, this and that.

We showed this whole video. God, I must have taken three weeks to put this thing together. We not only got the project. They didn't even know the stuff they were gonna hire us to do.

Aaron Mentele: Totally.

Carl Smith: They wanted us to start going around the country to talk to other customers leaving their restaurants.

Aaron Mentele: These webshops who were like they just wanna build the websites, there's so much more really good work that they'd be doing if they would think a little differently like that. I think that that's just something for everybody. If we were going to start an agency today, and we took that same number of people with generally the same skill set and said, "Okay, what is it that we're gonna focused on," I don't think that it would look like a website only. I think, you'd come in and you'd be like, "Okay, we're gonna do a lot of experiential work. You're gonna have a lot more of the web app. You're gonna have a lot more of the AR and VR stuff integrated in with it."

It just would be a different model. I think, it would be broader. You'd have more services because there's so many that go together, and you could be doing cooler work. You could be getting better clients. I just think that people would stop and thing like that. I'm a little jealous of some of these brand new companies that could come out and form themselves however they want. That said, it's pretty hard to jump into the industry right now, set up a shop that's bigger than two people or bigger than a freelance group, and actually be able to cover all of your expenses, because again, there's a lot of competitors.

We started off saying there is a point in your trajectory where things get easier because the people you've worked with start to come back. Your word of mouth is a little more saturated, so you have more work coming in. Whether it's four years or seven years, I've heard both. For us, there were probably ... We hit both. At four years, it got a little easier. At seven years, it got a little easier yet. I think that there is a lot of that that both prevents people from coming into the industry but also means that the people who are in it are setting their ways, the whole both ways.

Aaron Mentele: I just think that there's a lot. The people I find super interesting right now aren't always web developers. I get these questions on agencies, bigger agencies, just because the stuff they're doing is super interesting. Honestly, off the record, don't tell them I said this, but there's a lot of the things that they do that we could do better. The few agencies we worked with were always in there cropping them up, but they're the agencies that we're then competing with. In partnership with these agencies, I see these others that are going out saying, "We've got this new web app or interactive tool that we're gonna build for you."

They don't have any business building that kind of a tool, where we could go into it and just crash it, or we could go into it in partnership with this smaller agency and just crash it. There's a huge amount of work into these large, large agencies. I'm not gonna name them because it'll get me beat up, but would come in and they would say, "Here is what we're gonna do." The very next thing they do after they comp this thing up and explain it to the client to win the work is go figure out how to held it to it.

We're all going into this thing saying not only is this the idea, it's like, "We've already done this. We already know how to do it. We could tell you exactly what it's gonna be," but that burden proof is something that slows us down, but these other agencies are just going into it not worried about it at all, kind of the fake it until you make it at scale. I sound like I'm just reaping an entire industry, but I think that their mentality is just really great in a lot of ways. I think that a lot of the things that we're doing is gonna shoot themselves in the foot.

Carl Smith: The way that you're describing it is tale as old as time. Somebody gets in there and sell something. This is the bad side of selling the idea is when you haven't figured out if it's possible, and you don't talk to the people or don't have the people. That's obviously where the partnerships come into play. I'm curious. Aaron today and Aaron in the height of say Ford or Jon Stewart or any of that work, totally different daily life, which one do you like better?

Aaron Mentele: If you went back to just everything being inbound, I was totally NFG or I can just do whatever I wanted. I didn't have a lot of stress. I would say today, my stress is way higher. [inaudible 00:39:20] the old model where you didn't have to worry was the way to go, but we're doing much cooler stuff today than we were doing then. I think that the stuff that we're doing today is actually making a dent in ... It's definitely helping business. We can go in and we can measure results today that we weren't then.

We were just launching stuff, and it was fun and cool, where now, we're launching stuff that's actually making people money and improving businesses. I think that it's more fulfilling today. I just think it's probably more work.

Carl Smith: Well, it sounds like you've got more control over what's coming in now, because you're actually going out looking for it. I appreciate you swinging by today and the little diversion into spec work and talking about inbound versus outbound. I can't help it. When I talk to you, when I talk to Marty, when I talk to people from that time, I think, "You know, those calls are still warm. I could heat it up. I could never do it again."

Aaron Mentele: I can come back in, and the water's warm.

Carl Smith: I'm so glad for your success.

Aaron Mentele: Thank you.

Carl Smith: I'm so glad for your success and to see Electric Pulp still rocking and still at the size that you're happy with. It would have been easy for you to decide we're gonna go ahead and grow headcount and all that crap, but you've done a good job keeping it the size you want it. Good for you, man.

Aaron Mentele: Thank you.

Carl Smith: For everybody listening, we'll be back next week, and we'll talk to you then.

Image via Electric Pulp


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