Episode #19: Larry Kim (MobileMonkey, WordStream)

Episode #19: Larry Kim (MobileMonkey, WordStream)
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Episode #19: Larry Kim (MobileMonkey, WordStream)

In this episode of the RealLifeSuperPowers podcast, we speak with Larry Kim. Larry is the CEO of MobileMonkey, the world’s fastest growing Facebook Messenger marketing platform, used by millions of users. He’s also the Founder of WordStream, the World’s largest PPC Marketing software platform, managing over a Billion dollars of ad spend for tens of thousands of customers (acquired by USA Today in July 2018 for $150 Million). He’s a top contributor to Medium Magazine and CNBC. He’s received ‘Marketer of the Year’ awards from Search Engine Land, US Search Awards and PPC Hero.

It takes seconds into the interview to sense just how humble Larry is. He’s super down-to-earth and despite building a very successful unicorn he tells us “I would argue that I did everything wrong, so this time around I’d do the opposite to what I did the first time around”.
His mindset is one of “if you can dream it, you can do it”. It’s clear he’s not in it for the money, for him it’s about the challenge. “I want to see if I can do something twice as big in half the time, or take the company public”.

Despite massive success turning WordStream into a unicorn, Larry feels in retrospect there are many things that he would have done differently and, in fact, plans on doing differently this time around. Some examples:

A total addressable market – creating a software that every business could use. He explained that there are about 100M small businesses on Facebook but only about 5M do online advertising. Those businesses were the potential WordStream customers. This time around he wants his product to have a wider pool of potential customers.

Be crazy. You get the people and the investors you deserve. Be more aggressive and take bigger risks “I like to project big bald visions and I wonder if one of the problems was if I wasn’t bold enough”. His big dream was to be a 100M USD business, he then thought it was crazy and hilarious but they actually surpassed those numbers significantly. That made him wonder what might have been if they had bigger and more strategic goals.

Larry attributes his entrepreneurial success to his mom. She was a piano teacher and as a small kid growing up in Canada he learned everything about marketing sales and product differentiation by observing how she managed her small business.

He went to grad school to study engineering. Being the free spirit that he is it’s probably not surprising that he had a hard time being part of the system, needing to “jump through hoops, dealing with assignments and finals and labs”.

After graduating he immigrated to the US and worked at a software-related job for a few years. He then quit and started his own marketing consultancy business, his first client being the company he had quit, and from then, on one client referred another. “As a 20 year old I was making between 150-200K USD a month, it was pretty crazy I was buying houses and cars”. When he got to about 10 customers he realised this wasn’t scalable, so instead of hiring more people he wrote software to automate his “stupid repetitive tasks”. He then figured that instead of trying to build a scalable business he can sell the software instead. He cold emailed hundreds of VCs and through that got tens of meetings and eventually 2 offers. “Anyone who says cold-mailing is useless, just tell them Larry Kim raised 20 million from that”.

Larry shared with us that his friends and family compare him to Forrest Gump. The reason being that as we’ve learned – he’s autistic. He says that’s his superpower as well as his kryptonite. We find this so very impactful and inspiring. It comes to show that everything comes down to mindset. And wow does Larry have the “right” mindset if there’s such a thing. He’s wired for success and nothing will stop him. He envisions and he executes overcoming whatever is required.

One of Larry’s current goals is to take a company public. We’re placing our bets on him to do just that.

Check out the full episode – you’ll thank yourself.