Ben Raffi | Business Secrets of an Underwater Entrepreneur (ep 4) 

By ASG

Ben Raffi had a problem. He was building a business in an industry with slim margins.

The solution: outsource, be efficient… no wasted marketing dollars.

He turned what he learned into a successful operation… that was soon acquired by a major corporation in his niche.

Now, as the co-founder and CEO of Growlabs, he helps other businesses use super-targeted automated marketing to land the clients they need to create their own transformation story.

Ben credits a lot of his success with the time he spends “underwater.” Tune in to find out all about it, as well as…

  • The “micro-segmentation” technique for turning more leads into clients
  • How to compel your ideal clients to create your products (and then buy them)
  • When perseverance can turn “no” into “yes”
  • Why you should always “drink your own champagne”
  • And more
  • Transcript

David Elmasian and Ben Raffi Episode Transcript:


This is The Hub of Success, the Boston business podcast with your hosts, David Elmasian and Michael Delaney.


David Elmasian: Welcome to The Hub of Success. I’m your host, David Elmasian. Today, I’m with Ben Raffi, CEO and co-founder of Growlabs. Growlabs is an all-in-one lead generation and sales automation platform, that fuels meteoric growth for companies of all sizes. Prior to founding Growlabs, Ben was the CEO and co-founder of Universe.com, a social marketplace for events. In 2015, Universe.com was acquired by Ticketmaster. When he’s not growing his business or his clients’ businesses, Ben can be found underwater.


Welcome to the podcast, Ben.


Ben Raffi: Hey, thanks for having me.


David Elmasian: No problem at all. I’m really excited to talk to you about how you’ve been able to grow and scale businesses, not only that you started, but also to grow other businesses. I know a lot of our listeners are going to really want to hear your story and how you’ve been able to accomplish that in such a short period.


Ben Raffi: Yeah. Happy to share.


David Elmasian: Great.


Ben Raffi: Thanks for having me on the podcast.


David Elmasian: Okay. So Ben, tell me about Growlabs, how did it all start?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, for sure, it actually started by a previous company. As you mentioned, I started a company called, Universe, and it’s basically an event ticketing app for event organizers, and grew the business, grew the team, built a really good product, and then realized what we’re missing was a really good go-to market strategy. How to get really effective at generating new clients.


Mostly because we weren’t making a lot of money, the margins were pretty small in our industry, and so we had to be very efficient. So I spent months and years playing with different tools. I had some contractors in India, and the Philippines in the lead generation. I had a bunch of scripts that I had written to clean the data to make sure we didn’t duplicate our efforts. Then a lot of outreach, in terms of sending emails and follow-ups and trying to be smart about it. I had to duct-tape a lot of different things and it was very messy, very difficult. [inaudible 00:02:12] but I ended up finding a lot of interesting things, experimenting with a lot of things, and we ended up being successful, so we converted about thirty-two thousand event organizers in three and a half years with only a team of ten sales reps.


David Elmasian: Wow.


Ben Raffi: It was a really big reach. So, after I sold Universe, I stayed at Ticketmaster for a year and a half, two years. But I always had this idea in mind of, “Can I build a product, a platform, to have all the companies do the same thing? Can I productize a revenue machine that will help older entrepreneurs, older business owners find their ideal client and convert them at scale. That is exactly what”-


David Elmasian: So, Ben, let me interrupt you for just a second. You hit on something that I hear a lot in today’s world, ‘productize.’ So explain to our listeners and myself, what it means to productize a service, in your words.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, for sure. So for me, at my first company, I had to solve our own problem internally. As I said, you had to duct tape different things. What I wanted to do is build a product where a client could come in, could they own the criteria, could they own the requirements of who they’re targeting, and from there, add the same benefit and be able to target whoever they wanted. Instead of having them to rebuild and re-sharing everything I had learned with old entrepreneurs, I was like, “Can I build a product where people can just sign up and I would be paid to get those results?”. That’s what I did, and that’s where the idea came from.


David Elmasian: Okay, so it was started by yourself and were there others that started with you?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, we’re three co-founders. There’s myself and there’s actually, my first employee at Universe, Jaclyn. She was our first intern and then became our first employee, she’s been with me for a long time and we always had a similar colored vision and she’s always understood all the pain that we went for Universe to do that and to go to market. Then, Safeer, the CTO, he worked with Jaclyn, he actually had a different style of consequence here in the Bay Area. The three of us got together and brainstormed the idea and where we wanted to go and then from there we got two prototypes and got the product.


David Elmasian: Oh, okay. Now, when did- you know, you guys were official? As far as Growlabs go, what year was that?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, we started October 2016. The last two years, which is crazy cause we’ve come a long way and now we were with over 400 companies so it feels like it was a long time ago. We’ve been able to move in a really fast- I think because we knew what the product market fit, it came pretty fast for us, so we’ve been able to grow since then.


David Elmasian: So, in less than two years, if you don’t mind sharing, I heard something- maybe you can tell me if it’s true or not, what’s your revenue currently?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, we have over four million dollars of ARR with a team of only sixteen people.


David Elmasian: ARR, so that’s monthly revenue or annual?


Ben Raffi: So that’s an annual recurring revenue-


David Elmasian: Recurring revenue.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, you take your monthly recurring revenue multiply twelve, that’s your current ARR.


David Elmasian: Wow, that’s unbelievable Ben, unbelievable.


Ben Raffi: Yeah.


David Elmasian: In less than two years with a team of ten-


Ben Raffi: Team of sixteen, yeah.


David Elmasian: Sixteen? Oh, well that makes all the difference in the world! Forget about it Ben, never mind what I said. Ha.


So, let’s go back to those early days again, kind of give- paint a picture of what it was like. What were the priories, was it chaotic, was it organized? I mean, you had been through this before, but what was different about Growlabs as opposed to other starters you’ve been involved with?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, I mean we were very focused on the product at first and talking to other businesses with similar problems. It was really a kind of approach where we had a really good idea of what we wanted to build so we start building this. While we were building it, we started to talk to businesses that we thought could benefit from it really early on.


I think we had our first client before we even had our product live, and it was really about understanding the pinpoints, understanding how we could help them, and how to fit the product into theirs. We started with a client in the first month, second month we had two clients, and then third month we had four clients. It took about six months to really build a full product, from there I had a couple of sales reps, then we kind of announced to the world we were live and taking on clients. From there it was just crazy growth.


David Elmasian: Sure.


Ben Raffi: And we went from there.


David Elmasian: Right, so, what types of businesses did you target? Were those the types of businesses you ended up acquiring or having as customers, or was it different?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, I would say obviously at the beginning we were targeting a bit more of businesses, we still work with a lot of small businesses, but now we’re building up fixtures of functionality that we can target larger businesses as well. In San Francisco we have our biggest clients over there, there’s thousands of sales reps worldwide-


David Elmasian: Wow, yeah.


Ben Raffi: We don’t work with all of them, we work with several teams. We work with a lot of small agencies, small start-ups, medium sized start-ups, people- companies that have raised five, ten million dollars and really want to accelerate their quote. The common theme, though, is we work with B2B companies exclusively-


David Elmasian: Sure.


Ben Raffi: Companies that sell to other businesses, and we have them find the lead and who they can target and then our software help them engage them and convert them.


David Elmasian: Right, any success stories that came out of those early clients that you’d like to share with us?


Ben Raffi: Tons of them, from clients being able to raise funding because they were able to accelerate their growth to clients not needing to get funding because they maybe didn’t want to get funding and reached profitability. There’s a lot of real interesting weird cases like- what’s fascinating to me is that every day we work with a different company, different start-up and sometimes it’s things that we don’t really understand, I didn’t know existed-


David Elmasian: Ha.


Ben Raffi: So when we were able to help those businesses that I didn’t even understand the business model, how they were operating, that to me is fascinating.


David Elmasian: Yeah, that’s so cool.


Ben Raffi: [crosstalk 00:08:59]


David Elmasian: Yeah, wow. You guys have put on a bunch of webinars, I’ve attended a couple of them. Full disclosure, I’m a client of Ben’s and Growlabs by the way. One of the things, you’ve said, and some other people on the webinars have said, is this thing called ‘micro-segmentation’. Please share with us what micro-segmentation is, for the uninformed.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, for sure. Basically, we’re really digging- in terms of micro-segmentation, you’re definitely right about this, we talk about a lot about this to our clients. Basically, the idea to split your market into smaller segments.


To give you an example, I’m going to talk as Growlabs- as I’ve mentioned we’re targeting really big companies, we target smaller agencies, we target smaller start-ups but even within these groups, we can divide them into smaller groups. Upon small start-up world, we may target E-commerce platforms, we may target fact companies, we may target recruiting agencies. For each of these micro-segments, we can define who’s the agile decision maker, who’s making the decision, who’s going to be able to buy the software and based on that we can write very specific messaging and have very specific content.


Right, so if I talk to you, who’s the CEO of a small company, I can have very different messaging than if I talk to the VP of sales of a large company where he’s managing fifty sales reps. You get very different pinpoints and you can talk to them in very different ways. Micro-segmentation is really about splitting your market into a smaller segment, identifying the agile customer, agile profile decision makers, and from there crafting a strategy to reach out to them, find them and convince them that your software is the right solution for them.


David Elmasian: Right.


Ben Raffi: We spend a lot of time with all of our clients to do that. Sometimes we have two, three, four micro-segments- some have like hundreds, like for us we have thirty-five core micro-segments that we go after. As I’ve mentioned, every day we can learn about new industries, new segments that we didn’t even know about and if it works well for one company, it may work well with others. We’re actually adding new micro-segments, new messaging, neutrality almost every week.


David Elmasian: So, that begs the question, how do you come up with these micro-segments? I know part of it sounds like, when you have a company that signs on it kind of opens your eyes, but I imagine there’s to it than just that.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, for sure. We’re very big at listening to our customers, we’re very big at asking for people for referrals, so if they’re happy with our software we’re like, “Hey! You have a small company, do you know any other companies that like you or some of your other friends or other fields that you know that could benefit from us?” A lot of the time we just go over new areas, new niche from just listening to our clients and people that they know. Sometimes we’ll befriend some other team, we’re like, “Okay, we work really well with E-commerce, with E-signatures, we work really well with companies targeting this and this businesses, what else can we do after? Who else do we think would make sense?” It’s all about reaching out to them and starting a conversation, sometimes we get it wrong; sometimes it’s just not the right business model, it’s not the right fit. In a lot of cases, it actually is and from there we start getting advice from either one or two clients in a niche, then we can go after the rest of them.


David Elmasian: Sure, I remember listening to the first webinar, I believe it was yourself and there was another partner that you had on the webinar. I had a light-bulb moment, it was when I really put it together that, in essence, you guys use your own product to grow your own business. I know that sounds so crazy-


Ben Raffi: Yeah.


David Elmasian: To say it that way, but I thought it was so cool when I realized that and talk about credibility, it just went through the roof. At that point, I was an evangelist, I was a believer, I still am! It just-


Ben Raffi: Thank you.


David Elmasian: It just made it so real that you’re not telling people, “Use us to grow, it may work, this is what we did!”. So, you know-


Ben Raffi: Yeah and a lot of times, clients actually have the light-bulb moment- like doing a demo, we demo them and we’re like, “By the way, if you find out about us because you’re in one of our campaigns, we actually found you like we had no idea who you were before you actually responded to an email saying yes I’m interested in your demo.”


David Elmasian: Right.


Ben Raffi: And once they get a demo, we actually show them our software found you, sent you some very target emails with the right messaging, we sent some forward, and then when you responded it gets passed to the sales reps and the sales reps are able to build the relationship. Yeah, a lot of clients have that light-bulb moment.


David Elmasian: Sure.


Ben Raffi: So, we actually have sixty-five percent of our new clients coming from us using our own product.


David Elmasian: Wow.


Ben Raffi: Which is, as you said-


David Elmasian: Yeah.


Ben Raffi: It’s a really good way for us to grow.


David Elmasian: I mean, yeah-


Ben Raffi: But it’s also a really good way for us to do research and develop and grow, like we are our biggest and most annoying client because we always have new requirements, we always want to push the limits. We’re usually the first ones to break the system and push the limits.


David Elmasian: Yeah.


Ben Raffi: It’s a really good way to-


David Elmasian: That’s funny. You’re your own biggest annoying client.


So, for the people listening who aren’t familiar with Growlabs, could you give us the- we call it the reader’s digest version, the very short version of what it does. You mention email, you mention micro-segmentation but if you’re in an elevator and someone says, “Hey, what do you guys do?”, how do you explain that to them?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, basically, Growlabs is a sale-automation platform. What we do- we combine two things, one is a regeneration, so we have clients find the agile customer profile like [inaudible 00:15:12] and we have a database of about three-hundred and twenty million prospects that you can filter we have some optics and intelligence that we can physically help you find who you should target based on your existing clients and then from there we help you engage them. The second piece is engagement. We help you engage micro-segments through the right messaging, we use machinery optimize to when emails are being sent, when quotes are being sent. It’s one to one, highly targeted, highly personalized messaging. Then, what we do as well is not only email, but we help you go into different channels. We just released a new version of new integration we can do LinkedIn automations where you can add people on your link that you’re targeting on LinkedIn, send them a message automatically. Really, the end goal of what we’re doing is delivering max new clients to our clients, max new prospects- so they can build their businesses.


David Elmasian: Sure, yeah. It’s so cool, like I said, I am a customer myself. One of the other aspects of it, Ben, that you didn’t mention because I know you’re a little modest; as a business owner myself it literally takes me five to ten minutes every morning to generate leads through your system. For a lot of us, especially for small organizations like myself, time is the most precious commodity, so having a product like that, that can do so much in such little time, now we all know why the product has grown as fast as it has.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, and that’s a big part of what we realized, whether you were doing sales yourself as a business owner, or even if you’re a sales rep who’s doing sales one hundred percent of the time, you realize that a lot of the people you’re prospecting spend a lot of time on low activities like doing the research, finding the information, putting into a database, sending the emails, sending the quotes- all of this is very manual, and actually not very optimized because it’s very manual. We add the luxuries of the machine to actually do that in a more optimized way, and also save a lot of time.


Actually, what our software does is it goes beyond that. When people respond to the email campaign, we actually analyze the responses, and you know, that by August a lot of people are out of the office and on they’re on vacation. So, a lot of these out of offices are hard to actually analyze them and send a quote when they’re back into the office. Eliminating that extra step from the sales rep, so they don’t have to do all of these follow ups, we don’t have to respond to all of these messages of people who are not interested, not interested right now.


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: Only when there is a qualified lead, so when a person says, “I’m interested, I’d like to get on a demo.”, then we pass it to the sales reps. Our goal is reaching like the sales reps so the business owner really focuses on closing this qualified lead.


David Elmasian: Yep, it’s awesome, it really is.


Let’s switch gears just a little, let’s go back a little. We’ve touch upon it a little, and we don’t have to cover it with a lot of time, but I know people are always interested in your whole story. So, let’s talk about universe.com, I know you mentioned it was a platform for ticket and event sales?


Ben Raffi: Yes.


David Elmasian: Okay, so there’s a rumor out there, and you need to confirm or deny it now, I’m putting you on the spot, is a rumor that the sale of that business was all started by you sending a cold email to the CEO of that other company, is that true?


Ben Raffi: It’s true, yeah.


David Elmasian: Ha.


Ben Raffi: I emailed Jerry Smith, who’s the CEO of Ticketmaster, with a cold email and he actually responded and that turned into a meeting with the callback team and meeting with Jerry and the rest of the team and that’s how it all started.


David Elmasian: Wow. So, the old expression ‘Hey, don’t ask, don’t get’, is absolutely true, I guess, huh?


Ben Raffi: Yes, we’re big believers. I always say, we all use our own products, but we don’t say we eat our own dog food we say we drink our own champagne.


David Elmasian: There you go, I like that better, I like that much better.


Ben Raffi: [crosstalk 00:19:26] in cold emails, again, it has to do with personalization, it has to do with the right messaging at the right time to the right person-


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: That’s really how to do it-


David Elmasian: Sure.


Ben Raffi: We’re big believers in that.


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: So, you sold the business- you know, hindsight is always twenty-twenty, were the things you learned from that sale, that you kind of learned and used in Growlabs, in terms of just a lesson? Were there any lessons that came out of that from the sale?


David Elmasian: Yeah, absolutely. We learned a ton, we built Universe for like over six years and it was an amazing journey, and really learned that it’s all about investing into the team. You can’t build a good product or good technology without a good team. So, really investing into the team and really prioritizing saying the right things, cause there are a lot things you can do as a business owner that, at the end of the day, doesn’t necessarily have an impact. So, really being able to really focus on those things that are going to have a big impact at the end of the day. That’s not only just for the product but also for all the meetings, I’m a big believer of no meetings, like when people put something on my calendar I’m like, “Can we actually, you know, chat over Slack or can we extend it to emails”.


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: And deal with that in two or three minutes-


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: Instead of having, you know, a thirty minute meeting.


Ben Raffi: Right.


David Elmasian: So, my calendar actually is a lot less busy than it used to be at Universe, where we had a lot of meetings that were always good, but now I’m trying to be a lot more efficient-


Ben Raffi: Right.


David Elmasian: With everything that we do.


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: I’m trying to have everyone on the team be the same. So if I see a lot of people having a lot of meetings, I start questioning them like, “Do you need these thirty minutes?”


Ben Raffi: Ha. What’s going on here?


David Elmasian: [crosstalk 00:21:16]


Ben Raffi: You see people gathering. Ha.


David Elmasian: Exactly, but the team is actually in and out, kind of like we say we’re allergic to meetings.


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: Then the meetings are usually really quick.


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: I like to talk about things, the agenda-


Ben Raffi: Yep.


David Elmasian: A very close time frame of what we’re going to talk.


Ben Raffi: Right, so let’s switch gears a little. We’re going to go back, we’re going to go even further back. I know I’m not going to get it right, so you’re going to have to correct me on it- but you grew up in a small city in Western France called Nantes, please correct me-


David Elmasian: Yeah.


Ben Raffi: How really-


David Elmasian: No, you got it right.


Ben Raffi: Alright, so, you know that’s a lot different than living in San Francisco. Tell me about it, paint a picture of what it was like growing up in France.


David Elmasian: Yeah, it’s a small city in France, very nice city. I grew up, actually, with a small business on the side. I’ve always tried to make a little of money, selling things and trying to do things outside of school. I’ve always wanted to go to the U.S. and I’ve always had that dream of building something big in the U.S. and that’s- as a kid was really energizing. I actually went to see my dad when I was like sixteen, I was like, “You know, I want to go and study in the U.S.”, and we kind of looked at options and we traveled a lot and was always open-minded to that, and was kind of proud that I wanted to do that, I actually decided to move to Canada, first.


Ben Raffi: Okay.


David Elmasian: Canada was a really good stepping stone, education was a little cheaper and I got accepted into a really good school, I studied engineering at the McGill in Montreal.


Ben Raffi: Oh, okay.


David Elmasian: It was a really good school, a lot of people from the U.S. actually go there, as well. It was a really good stepping stone for me to just force myself into having to study in English and prove my English, which at the time was pretty rough. My first semester in college, was really hard.


Ben Raffi: Well, yeah.


David Elmasian: One, I was studying engineering which is-


Ben Raffi: Wow.


David Elmasian: Difficult, but also-


Ben Raffi: Yeah, learning a language, too.


[crosstalk 00:23:15]


David Elmasian: Sure, yeah.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, so I moved there on my own, I was eighteen. I had a great time in college and then after college I actually moved to Toronto, which is the largest city in Canada, for work. I started in management consulting at the Boston Consulting Group, which is general business consulting and management consulting. I didn’t know much of anything, I just wanted to learn all of these businesses-


David Elmasian: Right.


Ben Raffi: When I knew I wanted to start a business, I was like, “The best way to start a business is probably to learn about businesses.” Then I was just eight months in, and actually decided to quit this job that I worked really hard to get, but I was like, “I think the best way to start a business is to actually start a business.” So, I decided to just jump in and learn from making mistakes and it ended up working out really well, a lot of meeting people, met a ton, actually, at Universe. I always say to people- people ask me, “How do I start a business? What do I need to learn?”, I always say, “My biggest advice is to start today.”


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: There’s no groove, there’s no people talking to you or experts you can really gain that are going to be more variable than trying yourself, making mistakes and just learning from them.


David Elmasian: Sure. So, you worked for Boston Consulting Group, were you based in Toronto or were you based in Boston when you worked for them?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, I was based in Toronto, they have offices all over the world.


David Elmasian: Yep, it’s a big company. Did you ever visit Boston?


Ben Raffi: I did, yeah. I’ve been to Boston a couple times.


David Elmasian: Okay.


Ben Raffi: Great city, I wish I could come there more often.


David Elmasian: Well, you can, you can come anytime, Ben. You can stay with us, don’t worry about it. You know?


Ben Raffi: Thanks.


David Elmasian: When you went to school, you got a job at Boston Consulting Group, this was what 2008, 2009, 2010, somewhere in that range?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, 2009 I believe when I got my first job-


David Elmasian: Okay.


Ben Raffi: It was right- 2008 was actually really hard because the [inaudible 00:25:14] had happened, and a lot of internships and jobs were gone. So, it took quite a while to get a job-


David Elmasian: Well, I was going to say, the timing wasn’t great for all that but you landed a gig with Boston Consulting Group. Did you have an uncle that worked there or something, how’d you land that gig?


Ben Raffi: No, I got really lucky to be honest. I, honestly, think one of the biggest things then was I- they actually told me no. So, I applied to the Boston Consulting Group and a bunch of other jobs and I got two offers over the summer. It was a good oppor- one was called Investment Bank, one was called some other-like consulting group but I really loved the BCG, Boston Consulting Group.


I had a really good set of interviews that I think I did well.


What happened is usually they took five or six interns for the summer, and that year they decided to shrink it because of the economy and took, I think, two interns, so they actually declined me and said, “You know, we don’t have a position for you, we really like you, we’d like you to come back next year and apply for full time. We can’t give you the internship because we only have two positions and they’re full.”


I came back to them and I basically said, “No, I really believe in you guys, I’d really like to be a big value to you. I have two other offers on the table and I’m willing to decline them both today if we’re going to do something together.”, and then they thought about it and I had to meet with Steven [inaudible 00:26:39] and convince him as well. They ended up coming back to me and said, “We really like the tenacity, we really like you and we decided to make an extra spot for you for summer.”, and that was a really good kind of learning to that sometimes when people say no, you just have to persevere a little.


David Elmasian: I think you probably shared that with some of the sales people that have worked for you over the years, huh?


Ben Raffi: Ha.


David Elmasian: How that persistence pays off sometimes, huh?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, absolutely.


David Elmasian: So, you know, fast forward- you built two hugely successful businesses now, and I’m sure you learned a couple things along the way- actually, I know you have. If you had to pick two or three things that you could share with others that are kind of on the same path right now, what do you feel were some of those things that led to your success?


Ben Raffi: I think number one, I think I mentioned it earlier with the team, invest in the team, recruit people that are smarter than you in areas of their expertise. You really need to hire the right people, the first twenty-five people at a company are super key, and you really need to have experts who need to have people that work really well together. That’s number one, invest in the team.


Number two, I would say is talk to clients and figure out what is the pinpoint of and how we think we can solve them, that’s the number one thing. Also, the number two thing is once you have a really good team- you know, you can build anything there- a lot of markets, with a lot of perks- you can build a lot of things that can be up to nicest in the world. Once you have the right team to build it, focus on what other pinpoints you’re trying to solve. The best way for that is try to solve your own pinpoints of things that you have done in the past, but number two is try to understand what other companies other people that you know are paying things or pinpoint how you can help them. That’s really important to get to market faster and grow faster.


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, I think those are my two-


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: Two big things I’ve learned over the years.


David Elmasian: Yeah, those are great ones.


What’s next for Growlabs, I know you mentioned LinkedIn, but big picture- what’s next?


Ben Raffi: Basically, our goal is to get a revenue generator. I want to be able to have any businesses get new revenue and we’ve invented a lot of very cool database of leads, of prospects, of company data and from there we’ve built a real interest in what you engage with in the curb of that, but we have a lot more product that we want to be able to run with. Right now we’re investing to data in Richmond, so a lot of people are behind the CRN that is outdated so we can make it more up to date and that’s really important for our organization. We can help people discover what market they should focus- one of the questions was like, “How do you find those micro-segments with new micro-segments?”, well we have a lot of data- and pulling data points that we can have companies find their next agile target or the next market they should enter. There’s a lot of products that we’re building around that-


David Elmasian: Oh.


Ben Raffi: But really our ultimate goal is to build a revenue generating machine, and we’re just getting to that. I would say we’re just scratching the surface, we’ve been around for a couple of years. We’ve hit [inaudible 00:30:10] with our core product, but there are a lot more things we can build to help B2B businesses gain new revenue.


David Elmasian: Yeah. I would imagine that’s gotta get a lot of attention, you know? So, that’s cool stuff, man. That’s great.


Ben Raffi: It’s exciting.


David Elmasian: Yeah. So, let’s wrap things up a little, let’s switch gears and have a little fun, alright? I’ve been doing my due diligence on you, Ben, I’ve been stalking you on the internet.


Ben Raffi: Okay.


David Elmasian: The first question I have for you, I just gotta ask it, what’s your fascination with being underwater?


And for those who don’t know what we’re talking about, explain to them what I mean by that. Ha.


Ben Raffi: Sure. Being an underwater person, mostly I do a lot of spear-fishing. Spear-fishing is basically when you go underwater, you’re holding your breath, trying to go a little deeper and while you’re holding a breath and you have a kind of harpoon and then you catch some fish. I’ve always been- I don’t know, it’s a really good way to one, do something outside and I’ve always loved the water and it’s a really good way and healthy way to catch fish because you’re very selective, you can see the fish. You can only take what you can eat.


David Elmasian: Yep.


Ben Raffi: It’s a really good way to one, combine an activity and exercise, but also it’s challenging, it’s a little of hunting, it’s really fun.


David Elmasian: Yeah.


Ben Raffi: I’ve been doing that more and more, I’m really enjoying it. I also do a bit of kite-surfing, San Francisco and the Bay Area are a really good place for a lot of wind. So, I’ve been doing a little of that, as well.


David Elmasian: And what’s the stuff about underwater hockey?


Ben Raffi: Yeah. You know, it’s part of the training to spear-fishing almost. You need to hold your breath for a long time, so underwater hockey- I’ve actually done underwater rugby, as well, which-


David Elmasian: Wow.


Ben Raffi: I didn’t know existed. Yeah, a lot of different sports like that where you’re holding your breath and playing different games. Yeah-


David Elmasian: So-


Ben Raffi: I love- I used to be better at it, I used to be able to hold my breath for over three minutes.


David Elmasian: Well, that’s what I was going to ask you, at this point you must be able to hold your breath for an awful long time to be able to either catch a fish, spear a fish, or play hockey or rugby.


Ben Raffi: Yeah.


David Elmasian: That’s unbelievable.


Ben Raffi: I really like it.


David Elmasian: So, moving on, why watermelon themed birthday parties?


Ben Raffi: Ha. You did do-


David Elmasian: Ha. I told you I’ve been stalking you. You know?


Ben Raffi: I don’t know, I’m just a cocktail person, I like cocktails and watermelon makes cocktails really pretty and that started as a one-time thing and people really liked it. Now for my birthday, it’s a watermelon theme.


David Elmasian: Ha. Yeah, so-


Ben Raffi: I’ve never been asked this in a podcast before.


David Elmasian: There you go, like I said I’ve been doing my homework. Last one, I promise, why would anyone want to live in a camper van in New Zealand?


Ben Raffi: Oh, wow. I don’t know, it’s a great question. I mean, for me it’s-


David Elmasian: Do you know anyone who wants to live in a camper van in New Zealand, Ben?


Ben Raffi: Oh, tons of people.


David Elmasian: Ha.


Ben Raffi: Absolutely.


David Elmasian: Are you one of them?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve done a lot of camper-vanning trips. For me, it’s a really good way to travel, see a lot of different places. The beauty of it, I like the most, is you don’t need to replant. You get a camper-van, you have three weeks or two weeks, it’s really inexpensive because it combines having a cabin- you actually sleep in it, you don’t need a hotel and you can just go around and when you find a place you like. Especially being in Australia, it’s very easy, you can just stay there for a day or two or three. If it’s nice, maybe even longer. If you don’t like it, you can keep moving, keep driving.


David Elmasian: Sure.


Ben Raffi: You don’t have to organize everything, you don’t have to- it’s kind of like add up, and you cover amazing places, amazing people, and usually that’s flexibility. Again, I spear fish from my camper-van, I can find a lot of good fishing, maybe some lobsters. We actually end up eating probably better than you would eat at a hotel.


David Elmasian: Right.


Ben Raffi: It’s always been an adventure.


David Elmasian: Alright, you sold me on it, now it all makes sense. From the outside looking- it seemed a little different, but when you say it that way, you’re absolutely correct.


Well, Ben, it’s quite a story that you shared with us and I really appreciate it. I know you and I could talk for much longer, but unfortunately we’re running out of time. Before we finish up, can you tell everybody how they can learn more about Growlabs?


Ben Raffi: Yeah, I would say our website, it’s GrowLabs.com. I’m at Ben@GrowLabs.com, as well, you could push me an email if you have any questions. Yeah, if you think it could be a good fit for your business, for your targeting, if your B2B, you can tell other businesses just simply sign up for our demo. You can do that right on the website, and then from there we can evaluate if it’s a good fit and hopefully help you guys and build a relationship.


David Elmasian: That’s great, Ben. I really appreciate you taking the time, it was really a lot of fun learning more about you in your adventures in business and all the success that you’ve had. Hopefully-


Ben Raffi: Yeah.


David Elmasian: Hopefully we’ve inspired others.


Ben Raffi: Thank you so much and amazing questions and you’ve definitely done more research than anyone ever, so congratulations.


David Elmasian: I try.


Ben Raffi: It’s been amazing.


David Elmasian: It was an easy one, having such a fascinating subject.


Thanks so much again, Ben.


Ben Raffi: Yeah, thanks for having me.


Speaker 1: The Hub of Success Podcast is sponsored by Appliance Energy Group- discover how to get unlimited technology support for one low monthly fee at ApplianceEnergyGroup.com.