Darius Moravcik is Head of Growth for Reflectly, a popular journaling mobile app. Learn the ingenious strategy he’s implemented for accelerating their customer acquisition.

What would 20-30k new users per day mean to your business? Darius has implemented a brilliant strategy for customer acquisition that involves soliciting user-generated ad content and using empirical data to guide ad deployments across a variety of channels and segments. In this interview Darius shares the details on how he’s added over 4 million new users in a year since joining Reflectly, his philosophy of A/B testing, thoughts on a new exciting channel he’s discovered and his life as a digital nomad. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Time   Topic
0:01:57   Welcome and context
0:02:39   What is Reflectly?
0:04:06   What makes Reflectly the Number 1 journaling app?
0:05:17   The pace of acquiring new users
0:06:22   Preparing for the New Year and the New Year – New Me resolutions
0:08:29   Using the power of influencers to promote your product
0:14:09   The process of soliciting user-generated content
0:16:47   How can you support 5 million users with a team of 7 people?
0:18:57   Are the app specifications and functionalities decided on intuition or empirical stats?
0:21:06   How does Reflectly alter your journaling experience?
0:23:40   A day in the life of Darius
0:28:27   Why has Tik-Tok boomed in popularity?
0:30:32   How do you decide what to do each day?
0:34:12   How would you describe the different social media platforms as if they were people?
0:37:37   Your thoughts on habits and how to rewire your brain?
0:44:17   Product market fit vs Growth phases
0:49:17   Have you guys been approached by investors?
0:57:22   What is one book that profoundly affected you?
0:57:39   One person you’d love to have dinner with?
0:59:48   What is your favorite tool or hack that saves you time, money or headaches?
1:05:07   What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
1:06:26   If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?
1:08:13   How can people get in touch with you?


Reflectly – A Journal for Happiness
Headspace: Meditation and Sleep Made Simple
Google Design Material Award
Selina: Experience the World – Stay, Work, Surf and Explore
Zero Fasting App
Dare with Darius (podcast)
The Power of Habit
Sean Ellis
Web Summit 2020
As a Man Thinketh
Richard Branson
Oura Ring
Joe Rogan Experience #1109 – Matthew Walker
Why We Sleep
Jeff Bezos’ Secret to Work-Life Balance Is Great Advice
Thoughts To The Younger Self



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Sean Tierney: 00:01:59 All right. Hey everybody, this is Sean Tierney. I’m your host of nomad podcast and welcome to the show. I am here sitting across from Darius Moravcik, right, right. Darius is head of growth at reflectively and Reflectly is a digital health company with the most popular journal app in the world. It’s a top five iOS apps in health and fitness in the U S a. Darius is fascinated by human behavior and startups loves challenges where he gets to learn and is driven by solving real problems with exciting products. His growth hacking efforts at reflectively have translated to over 10 X growth in the past year since he joined the company. Moving them from 400,000 users to 5 million users today. Welcome Darius to the show. Thank you so much. Alright, well let’s just jump right in. What is reflectively? What does this app

Darius Moravcik: 00:02:45 Reflectly is a journaling app, kind of like a diary. People can track their feelings and emotions that can vent their thoughts. And then we have more of a sort of like a journaling feature where you can actually write down how you feel, how your day was and we give you some clues and and questions to reflect upon. And you guys are the top journaling app. Is it fair to say? Yeah, I mean like I think we’re the biggest one journaling app in the world. So yeah, we’re in the health and fitness category and a lot of people use it together with meditation. So meditation is sort of a passive way of being mindful and during is more active. We were actually participating. So a lot of people sort of team up reflectively with other mindfulness practices. And you guys are ahead of apps like Headspace at one point I saw it like, I think of them as like kind of the top right health and mindfulness app and then yet you guys are above that, which is amazing.

Darius Moravcik: 00:03:34 Yeah. So in terms of the user acquisition right now, and we’ve been consistently above Headspace for example, I don’t know where they are like as of today, but we’re top five almost every day in the U S and top 10 sometimes. But yeah, we’re looking at, for example, calm.com there, you know, by far number one, almost every single day. So we’re trying to, we’ve been in number two a couple of times, so we’re trying to sort of be in that, but that level. But we’re also a very, very different team and the fan resources as you know how, okay. So journaling is obviously a crowded space. There’s a million journal apps out there. What, what do you attribute, like why are you guys the number one journaling app? What do you think is unique about what you’re providing? The product, it’s, it’s the product is people really, really love the product.

Darius Moravcik: 00:04:18 And the fact that we, we didn’t, we launched two years ago and since our launch and since we started getting a couple of million users, we saw a lot of apps come in. And then sort of tried to copy paste and raise capital just based on our success story. So a lot of people are joining now because they see like there’s some sort of success. But if you look at the reviews and at this point we’re getting 205 star reviews on the app store a day and he should just go through them and it’s all public. You can see people just love the product and the design specifically. Actually we just won the Google material design award for innovation I think two or three weeks ago. Yeah. So also Google sort of seeing that, that it works. But what people will users tell us is that they love the design and the simplicity of it.

Darius Moravcik: 00:04:58 That we’re not trying to push you too hard to like, Oh, you have to journal every day or we’re not trying to overwhelm people with too much stuff. It’s just, it’s simple, easy and people tend to love it. And what is the, before we started recording, you were telling me about like the pace at which you’re acquiring new users. Can you just speak a little bit about what that is? Yeah, sure. So right now we’re acquiring about 20 to 30,000 users a day, 20 to 30,000 users a day. That’s the new knowledge we’re getting in a, and this is also like public information. So it’s, it’s workman’s caling quite a lot. Like you mentioned that we text in the last year and the, the rate of growth is also accelerating. So the next few months it’s going to be super, super interesting for us. Just like all the other apps in the health and fitness category, January is a very important month, is the new year new me, you know, all these new year’s resolutions.

Darius Moravcik: 00:05:49 So I’m really much looking forward to how January it’s going to sort of propel us forward. W what are you doing to prepare for January right now? So first of all, a lot of, I mean a lot of the excitement just happens on the market side. So, I mean, people will just start downloading so much more in the prices of ads and all of this will be, will be very different. We obviously have a sort of, we have to do a lot of testing and prep to get ready for it, but it’s hard to test specific for example, content because people’s behavior and their mental framework is very different in January. So we could test something and now it doesn’t work, but it’s going to work in January. So we just want to make sure that the process of testing is ready and that’s what we’re working on, you know, every day. That’s, I mean, that’s the growth job anyways. So nothing specific. And then, then of course, like trying some of the specific like new and unique campaigns and all these things. But yeah,

Sean Tierney: 00:06:41 I love, okay. So, so just some quick context for the people listening. We met at Selina, you had given a talk, one of these kind of digital nomad growth talks where you just like got up and like basically share the story. And it was, I was blown away by just like how data-driven you are. I guess how your, you have a very like not a very scientific method by which you go about this stuff. And I’m hoping you can kind of explain to people like, what is your, what is your approach to this whole space? How do you, how do you navigate it?

Darius Moravcik: 00:07:12 Right. I, I think a lot of my work, a lot of it and perfectly as well. I mean I work very closely with Jacob. I’m the CEO and where you’re looking at like the acquisition and all these things. And I think our approach is very analytical because we, so we believe the market is always right. And we basically have zero creative judgment. So, I mean, the way it works is that we just tried to test as much as possible, as fast as possible, as much content as possible. And then we just see what the response of the market is and then we adapt so we can double down or whatever works. And you know killed what doesn’t work. But we have zero creative judgment. So we just have to test as much as possible. And that’s sort of the whole growth game is I think the, the company that can experiment, experiment quicker is the one that’s going to win eventually. Cause I mean, whether it’s the, the platforms and, and but there’s like Facebook, Instagram or tick sock or Snapchat or whatever. Like what’s in general, you’re using, they’re moving so fast and things are changing so quickly and they’re introducing new features. It’s just, it’s impossible to the only way to stay on top is just to experiment constantly all the time.

Sean Tierney: 00:08:14 Yeah. Well, and you guys, if I recall, you do something unique where it’s a, you don’t have an affiliate program necessarily, but you have people actually making out, like your users are making the videos and the ads that then sell your product and then you’re buying the rights to those and running ads with their content. Right. Can you talk a little bit about like the, the rationale of why you’re doing that?

Darius Moravcik: 00:08:36 Yeah. So influencers have been sort of big buzzwords of, of 20, 19 and before as well. And, and, and going forward and will be, and influencers that are incredibly powerful tool but not the way people think about it. It’s not the influencer per se where somebody will, you know, record an ad for you and posted on an Instagram picture, Snapchat or all those things. That’s nice. But that’s not really the valuable part. And that’s what most companies are thinking. Missing the real value comes from the content that they post. And then if you own the right to the content, you can run ads with that content, then it’s so much more powerful. So it’s more of a content generation strategy rather than distribution strategy. So then we’ll, we’ll, we’ll buy that content and then we’ll, yeah, we’ll run it on, you know, you could get one influencer to do like a very simple selfie style video talking about your app.

Darius Moravcik: 00:09:22 And then I can take that video and then run it on Facebook, Instagram tech talk, Snapchat everywhere, you know, Google, like I know all the placements. And that’s the real value because it’s, the thing is, and again, it goes back to the, the market is always right. And if I tried to make an ad, I would be nowhere, nearly as effective as an influencer that is in the right demographic, the right sort of a mindset in the right country, like right placements, right? So that’s the real powerful thing. And the beauty is that you can be hyper contextual and, and sort of relevant. So if my, let’s say your target audience is is 25 year old guys in the U K that like cars, then you could just have a bunch of micro influencers that are, you know, in the same geographic 25 year old guys in the UK that could record your, your ad. This is a very simple selfie style and you can run it towards that audience. So it’s relevant and to, you know, to those users and they’re much more likely to sort of follow through and click in and you know, trust the brand afterward.

Sean Tierney: 00:10:21 Yeah. So what are the dimensions on which you segment people? I mean obviously like geographic could be one and then gender and age, but it seems like that gets really complicated quickly once you have, you know, this is kind of an infinite potential segments and then how, where is the line between like diminishing returns where it’s just too many, too many things to manage and now it’s not necessarily worth the hassle. Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good point. So this is an advantage, depends on which skill scale you’re at, right? So if you’re just starting out,

Darius Moravcik: 00:10:51 It might make sense to focus very much on one small audience and then find the influencers or content relevant to that. And then you could do sort of lookalike audiences around there and sort of start expanding from there. At our scale, we have to run campaigns that are so broad that we’re not really that you don’t really sort of focus on one geographical area. But again, we don’t have creative judgments so that you’ll sort of test everything and then different piece of content resonate with different audiences and then you can notice what works, what doesn’t work,

Sean Tierney: 00:11:20 Sort of adapt very quickly. But we don’t, do you ever, I mean you must, in your head when you, when you are uploading these ads, kind of play that game of like predicting which one you think is going to do well of course like what has historically been, how does it line up with what you think is going to work versus what works? I realized that I really have no idea. Of course I played the game where I get, you know, let’s say I get 20 pieces of content a day and then I, I launched it and I think, Oh this looks really cool and this like they hit the right points. Is it like, like writing? Like it’s, it might be the right audience

Darius Moravcik: 00:11:53 Or the like the person might sort of have chemistry like resonate really well and then I launch it and like I realized that I know nothing when it gets to Compton. I think it’s impossible to predict. It’s not just like me specifically. I think anyone you, it’s just impossible to predict. And what do we see is that it’s not always like the pre pretty girl Instagram that you know gets the most attention.

Sean Tierney: 00:12:15 Yeah. You had like a woman with her daughter or something. I remember there was like a very like crappily shot video and it’s you look at it and you think like this is like there’s no way this is going to produce. And that was like the best performing one I think.

Darius Moravcik: 00:12:27 Yeah. So like I had this one ad where there was like this girl was recording the video and she put like a weird sepia filter on the thing. It was low quality, her baby’s crying in the background. Like it was all terrible. If you look at any, like if she would judge the creative by any way, but then it just works incredibly well presentably cause it’s like people, because it’s real, it’s not an addict. We have this sort of ad filter that as soon as you send out, you click away. But if the ad doesn’t look like an ad, if it’s, it looks like somebody like to see your friend that you could trust, then you’re likely to listen to. It’s going to stand out in that way. And it still says sponsored. So it’s still officially an ad. We’re not hiding or anything, but it’s much more, you know, it’s driven by the people.

Darius Moravcik: 00:13:07 It’s not, yeah, we’re not creating it that way. One sort of little caveat, caveat one where most of our users come from like us, UK, Canada, Australia, English speaking countries. But early on we’ve sort of ran tests in, you know, almost all the countries that we could. And I noticed that in Asia actually all of the Asian countries, the produced ads worked better there, which was interesting. So we’re not focusing on Asia and I’m not experimenting there. But when it did it, that was sort of [inaudible] there was a little interesting cultural shift. But in all the other Western markets, it was very much the the, the more amateur non produced ads that worked really well. And there’s been a couple of nights where I genuinely thought that I’m not gonna run them cause they just look bad. Like if, if, if you were in a bigger company and you had somebody looking at your brand and like worrying about is this on-brand or are they representing us properly, they wouldn’t run some of the creators that we ended up running and they ended up being some of the best, you know, that’s performing creatives we ever had.

Sean Tierney: 00:14:04 And so do you w what is your process for soliciting this user generated content? Do you just, can anyone create a piece and upload it and you’re literally looking through everything or do you have other people screening it and you get the best ones or how does that work?

Darius Moravcik: 00:14:16 So now we need so much content that we reacted with reach out. So we just have somebody sitting on Instagram all day, every day and DM and people in and getting the content on. Or it’s a Snapchat or tick sock or whatever that may be. But we need so much content that we are actively, yeah, but even at our scale, all you need is one person really to do the outreach. And then we have one outsource editor [inaudible] sitting in the Philippines. He does all the sort of cuts, Diaz, when he gets to creative, he puts in subtitles, all these things. And then I get the content and actually run the, run it on the platforms. Cool. Okay. And how big is the team? So I’m were, I think seven people full time right now. So seven in total. There’s a couple of freelancers here and there, but you know, we’re seven people and you’re signing up between 20 and 30,000 people a day.

Darius Moravcik: 00:15:00 That is mind blowing. And we’re competing with, well not competing, but we’re playing in the category with calm.com that has 100 employees. Headspace is 350 I think. Yeah. So we’re definitely very different in that way. Hopefully they’re not listening to them, but we’re not, like I said, we’re not competing. You know, I, a lot of people use both reflectively and column or Headspace. It actually works really well. It’s, it is a combination and also Apple features us a lot and bundle us with, with the two, cause it’s sort of your mindfulness package. So think we’ve played together very well. Have you done anything in the way of like business development with peripherally related companies like a Headspace or a a calm.com? Yeah, I mean there’s obviously there’s a lot of opportunities in there, a lot, a lot of exciting things. So we tried to be very, very focused.

Darius Moravcik: 00:15:45 If you look at sort of when Headspace and calm were both starting out in, in the early phase, it wasn’t sure it was going to be the winter. And now public comments is $1 billion company. And I think one of the reasons, because they were super, super focused and they grew just on the back of, you know, Instagram story yet send the type they got to where they are now. Mainly. So of course there’s a lot of ideas that we have. And if you, if you go to three websites reflect Lee, there’s a little work button. So we, we, we’ve got also got a lot of, lot of inquires to do like a B to B product. But you have, like I said, we have less than 10% seem. We only have three engineers working on the entire product three engineers supporting 5 million users.

Darius Moravcik: 00:16:25 So you can imagine how strapped there for time. So we have to be super focused and reflectively is, you know, it’s not done it people love it, but there’s still a lot of really cool new features that are coming out and improvements and, and some really exciting stuff that we’re, we’re going to be releasing very soon. Okay. Yeah. So I’ve got all kinds of questions running around in my head like how you can possibly support 5 million users with a team of seven, three of those being engineers. Right. So that’s one. And then how do you pry out, like how do you prioritize the feature development because that’s a very small team. You have to be hyper focused. So how, how are you doing that? I’m sure you get a lot of suggestions for, you know, things that people want the product to do. What is your air?

Darius Moravcik: 00:17:04 What is your lens by which you’re, you’re choosing this? Well, so the first reason why we can do it, because the three engineers that we have are amazing. They’re really, really world-class. And and all three of you guys are just incredible at what they do. And they, I think they could be able to connect, you know, any other company that could be a Google or Facebook or whatever pretty high up, but they decide to, to, to do, reflect me. So I think that’s by far the biggest reason. They’re just super talented people and super committed. The team is really, really rockstar and we do have to expand engineering team. Like the, it is crazy the way it is right now, but that’s the number one and what we’re doing. And so we have Daniel’s working there as a CTO is working on the back end with euros is sort of looking at the front end as well.

Darius Moravcik: 00:17:51 And then Jacob he’s the chief product officer who’s the thing, sort of the design and the, the front end as well. And he splendidly designed the whole product. I mean he basically won the Google award. And he’s the one that does all the, a lot of the sort of thinking of, you know, which features are going out and and, and what is the next thing to build. Obviously we have a lot of feedback from users, but it’s not necessarily as easy as just building exactly what people ask for. We also have to think more strategic strategically in terms of like which direction we want to go in and, and not to, not to build too many things.

Sean Tierney: 00:18:25 So this is a question I have. So with marketing, like you said, you’re very empirically driven. The market speaks, it tells you, you don’t like, you know, speculate any ideas that you have, you would reserve judgment and let the market kind of dictate what, what works there. With the product though, if you do that, it seems like you get kind of wagged around. Like you kind of have to lead with a vision and then validate some of that. So how is that different and how do you guys operate on a product? You know, what’s your, I guess, yeah, how do you, how do you design with vision and yet still give users what they want?

Darius Moravcik: 00:18:59 Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good point is, and a good distinction that like in the marketing is very much zero sort of judgment and you just totally try everything and listen to the feedback and your level down. And the product, I think it’s, it’s much more driven by the internal vision and then sort of pushing it forward.

Sean Tierney: 00:19:17 Which is what, like what is your guys’s internal vision? Like do you have a long, like a philosophy or like a grand goal you’re trying to accomplish with this app?

Darius Moravcik: 00:19:25 Yeah, so I mean, the reason why we started as just anxiety and depression are obviously on a huge boom. And it’s not, it’s everybody is all the age groups in all the countries. It’s like a global epidemic is really, really a big problem. And it’s specifically hitting the teenagers and the younger generation as well. It’s the whole, we call it the Instagram generation where you get a lot of the negative feelings and people would feel jealous and you look at Instagram, scroll through their feed and they’re feeling miserable because I’m not on a yacht or I’m not, you know, traveling around the world. They’re just living their life. And a lot of people like intellectually, you know that it’s filtered content that people are supposed thing, stuff that looks good, but it’s still, you know, makes you feel like crap. So that was sort of, and I like you can see it everywhere.

Darius Moravcik: 00:20:12 I have four younger siblings and and it’s, it’s a real issue when I, when I look at sort of the behavior online and not just them, but also amino, like our brains are just not designed to take so much input. It is so much chaos. And with all the sort of anxiety and depression and stress and everything around reflectively was a way to let people not only vent their feelings and thoughts, but also understand where they are emotionally at this very moment. And that sort of really helps to, to be more grounded and be able to deal with all this stuff.

Sean Tierney: 00:20:45 Is there anything in the app? I haven’t used it so I don’t know how it works exactly. But you know, journaling you could do with a piece of paper. It’s the oldest thing in the, you know, or digitally you could use Evernote or some text based tool to do like just log your thoughts. Is this app do anything interactive or prescriptive based on what you’re writing? Is it like somehow altering what it does based on your input?

Darius Moravcik: 00:21:08 So the way it works, you basically go in and you can, you can sort of with the, it’s like sliders and buttons very easily track your day. How it was good, bad. But because of my friends or over my relationship or my work or whatever and what kind of feelings I was feeling if I was stressed or if I was happy or grateful. So you can very quickly sort of Mark your Mark your mood and if you want you can elaborate and actually write down the journal so you can, you know, have paragraphs and paragraphs of what you want to put in. When we’re listened to, if you look at like the reviews and listen to people and what would they say about perfectly, they use it instead of a paper journal because it’s so much easier for them. It’s just more convenient. And it’s not a scary, if you sit down with a blank piece of paper and a pencil, you sometimes sit there and you’re not sure. I’ll just start. So we give people also questions to think about and reflect. Okay. We are careful with being prescriptive. Like we are not qualified to be like psychologists. And this is not a replacement for therapy by any means. And I think we’re pretty clear about that. This is not like if you have actual depression and you need to, you know, to speak with professionals,

Sean Tierney: 00:22:15 But do you like, does your app sense of potential risk when like someone has had like seven days of I feel like shit and like does your app say, Hey, maybe you should think about getting therapy or something like that? Or do you guys not want to touch that?

Darius Moravcik: 00:22:28 We’re very careful with that as well. We are working on improving all of these things. So if somebody is having a really shoes, we want to, you know, make sure that we have a place to send them or you know, wait to help them without interfering ourselves. Also, we don’t want to, it maybe is just somebody who’s just feeling, you know, you just maybe. Dot. Have a couple of great days, but it doesn’t mean you’re depressed. And if reflecting was suggested, you might be, that’s also, you know, not very good. So we’re being very careful in sort of what we tell people.

Sean Tierney: 00:22:58 Right. Cool. can you talk me through just the, the funnel, like the app is free, I’m assuming. And then you charge what for a subscription at some point

Darius Moravcik: 00:23:09 There is a premium feature. So we have annual and monthly and I think also three months where the testing. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:23:16 Okay. And with 20 to 30,000 users a day, are you able to talk about like what portion of those people are then going on to start paying for it or is that a,

Darius Moravcik: 00:23:26 That’s the [inaudible] we’re not talking about that right now. Got it. Cool.

Sean Tierney: 00:23:32 Can, okay, so give me like a day in the life of Darrius. Like what, what are you actually doing everyday when you, you’ve got these content, this massive supply of content and then you’re somehow matching it up and trying to get these into ads that reach the right people. What is your process for doing that?

Darius Moravcik: 00:23:47 Yeah, so vast majority, I mean the exciting part is, it’s a little different every day, but the vast majority of it is running the campaigns on all the different channels that we’re running on and led to looking at new channels that we would introduce. By channels you mean like Facebook, Instagram, yeah, like all these channels. So running the campaigns and like seeing which ones work and which one don’t work. So you get sort of, it’s when I talk about it, it’s more of, I think the, a good comparison is like a stock trading like day trading where as dr dangers, like watching sort of or watching and expecting what the price is gonna if it’s gonna go up or down and you buy or sell based on that this is very similar in a way that we’re just buying and selling the attention. So I could see what’s the price of attention on each of the different channels and then we sort of either spend more money and spend less money there. So that’s like sort of the biggest portion of it. And there’s obviously like the getting the content in, but a lot of that is outsourced at, it’s quite an autopilot. Yeah. So I think that’s the, the biggest part of the of the day. And,

Sean Tierney: 00:24:49 Sorry, do you, do you notice that certain ads work, is there any patterns to the platforms of like, Oh, these types of ads work really well on TechTalk talk but not on Instagram or,

Darius Moravcik: 00:24:58 Yeah, definitely. So like each, each platform has its own behavior and even though it might be the same users but they behave differently on each of the platforms, that’s super interesting. So you can’t just copy paste the same ad from Facebook or Instagram or like listen from Instagram to Snapchat cause that’s quite different and just not going to perform the same way. Like each channel has its own sort of nuances and there’s different features, different targeting from demographics. You can have different levels of targeting. So each channel is quite different. And the, and also the volatility of the prices is very different. So on Snapchat, on Facebook and Instagram, the price and move very quickly. So every few minutes they’ll change. You could refresh your campaigns and they’ll change very quickly. And there’s also normal fluctuations throughout the week. So you know, Wednesday might be a different price than Saturday, for example. And that’s just the same every weekend. There’s still just the monthly. Right now we’re, we’re in, in coming close to black Friday. So the price of starting to grow up everywhere because he come around and spending a lot of money in the market. So you’re competing with all those, cause it’s your sort of, it’s a, you’re bidding on a certain price per install or conversion or click or whatever your, your objective is. Are you

Sean Tierney: 00:26:05 Using any automated bidding tools or are you, or is this literally you in front of like Facebook ad business manager with a spreadsheet tracking thing?

Darius Moravcik: 00:26:14 All manually? Yeah. We’re not using any tool. So it’s me and Jacob to see always also looking at this quite a bit. And we’re doing everything manual. We tried a bunch of automation tools, but nothing works better. Nothing gets better results than we can get right now. And I’m sure like in the future there will be something that can automate it better. Whether it’s like some AI driven tool or something that can sort of be quicker, but not right now. There’s also, like, if you speak with, with Facebook, they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t be adjusting the budgets too much because it sort of spooks the algorithms and you could affect it. But the, the frequency in which you adjust budgets, he’s also not sort of obvious. So we’re, we’re doing everything ourselves manually right now.

Sean Tierney: 00:26:57 What can you say? I didn’t follow that. So you said spook the algorithm, meaning if you’d play with the budgets too much, then it just kites up the price.

Darius Moravcik: 00:27:03 That’s what Facebook is saying that I think they’re, when I talked to them, their official recommendation is like, you should maybe once a day. But you could, you know, like you could try to do it, you know, adjust the budget 10 times a day or like three times a day based on the price fluctuations and you might see different results. So, again, it depends on what scale you’re at, but that would, where we’re seeing right now and where, and I think a big part for us going forward is introducing more and more channels and just having bigger audience because that, you know, at this point we’re 5 million users and we’re still far away from saturating the big markets like the U S but introduction of new channels will be exciting part for us.

Sean Tierney: 00:27:41 And so your biggest ones right now I’ve got, I’m assuming it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and then talk. Are those [inaudible]

Darius Moravcik: 00:27:47 Yeah, I think like, and this is a bunch of other ones, but this is what the demand thing would like. Everybody in the health and fitness category is using. Yeah. And I think tick-tock is a, has an interesting one going forward for a lot of people. I’ve been looking down on the tech talk, but I think as of August, tick-tock is getting more installs per day than Instagram, which is super fascinating. And I think that’s a sort of a big change in and, and the playing field. So I think tick-tock is something that people should pay a lot of attention to.

Sean Tierney: 00:28:14 Yeah. So we were talking the other day when you’re over here about a tick talk, and I’m just trying to get my head around why now, why vine was here and died. Right. And now it seems like this is a resurgence of something. It’s essentially vine, like reincarnated. So what in your opinion, why has this tick tock thing just catapulted in popularity all of a sudden?

Darius Moravcik: 00:28:35 Yeah, and we still don’t know if it’s going to be, if it’s going to work well, like, you know, tick like my die and I’m like within three months it’s going to be another vine. Like that’s a possibility. But as a marketer, I think you’ve just wouldn’t care because if you can get amazing results today and tomorrow, then like it doesn’t matter if it goes down the week after you keep those results or do you built it a banquet or you can carry forward so you could, you know, jump to other platforms, but carried that brand equity or the performance with you. So I think it doesn’t matter whether tech Docker works or not in the long term. And a lot of people are still discussing like, should I commit the time? But I think it’s definitely worth a try. So that’s that’s very exciting.

Darius Moravcik: 00:29:11 And the reason why, why it works, if you look at the, the, the ratio of people that actually create content versus people that consume content on tech stack is really, really high for the creation. And I think the major reason for that is because a tech tech makes it super easy to create content because it’s more about, it’s more about the music that you did. You could choose music and then you sort of create a video to get there with that music. But it makes it super easy. You don’t have your, you know, there’s no sort of pressure of like producing nice pictures like an Instagram or, or if you’re doing Instagram stories, like having certain these backgrounds and all these things and not just about you. It’s really about the music. And then you can add your own sort of your own expression to it. So that’s why I think a lot of people are, are just much easier to produce.

Sean Tierney: 00:29:53 Got it. So it’s almost like the same, the same effect that it’s at work with you guys in journaling where you’re prompting people and you’re making it easy to kind of get them started and feel comfortable with it. It’s almost like that exact same effect as maybe what is accounting for the success of tech talk there. They’re like, the music is kind of like the, Oh, here’s a nice thing. You can just like plop in whatever story over that. And it’s, it’s not necessarily, I feel like Instagram is like this pressure to be like those very high quality production, you know, instant influencer. Yeah, absolutely. This is the convenience, like people

Darius Moravcik: 00:30:23 Really understanding the power of convenience. I think that’s like probably number one reason why [inaudible] is getting so many users from, in my opinion.

Sean Tierney: 00:30:32 Cool. here’s a question. Like how do you decide what to do each day? Like, are you, is this your, you’re very committed to this approach of like, we’ve, we know that it’s these, these platforms, we’ve got this strategy with user generated content and I’m basically just like day trading. Like you said, you know, all day long, but at what point do you step back and say, like, is this still the best use of my time or is there something bigger that I should be working on?

Darius Moravcik: 00:30:57 Yeah, that’s, that’s a good question. So the goal is very clear, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. And we haven’t raised venture capital so we don’t have the luxury to just burning through a lot of cash. We have to actually, you know, we have to be very careful the way we run companies that we have to make money every time we spend money. So I think in that way we also don’t have the luxury. So when I think about what to do next, it’s sort of, it’s like a, well, it’s like a daily mix of, as long as things are working really, really well, then it’s great. But everything starts with, it’s stagnate at some point. You know, like Instagram prices have and tick-tock is working really well, but that’s also going to stagnate at some point. And once things slowed down, it’s good to have that a bit of an emergency because it makes you like sort of you wake up and you realize like, Oh, should we have to do something?

Darius Moravcik: 00:31:43 And you start experimenting and different platforms everywhere. So part of that is like, like the ability to run small tests and a lot of interesting and new platforms for example, or different creatives or different targeting. And then just as long as things are working well, you’re going all in, but everything slows down at some point. And then those are, I think those are also the, the very interesting points when things slowed down. Did you have to, you have to be creative and sort of innovate and build new things that you haven’t tried before. So it’s good to sort of you’ll get kicked every once in a while.

Sean Tierney: 00:32:13 W w D give me a feel for the, these loops, like these experimental loops. Are we talking like you run a week of ads or are we talking like you run an out these ads for a day and then kill off the ones that aren’t working? Like what timeframe are we working with?

Darius Moravcik: 00:32:25 Yeah, so again, it depends on how much money you’re spending and what’s your scale. At our scale, like we have to grow so fast, you could literally get launch 50 new campaigns on Facebook and within a few hours you’ll see a if they’re working out and you can just whatever is not working and then, you know, double down and things. I think Facebook’s official recommendation is that each creative should have at least 8,000 impressions. From my experience, I think like 2000 impressions, enough for you to see a pattern and then you know, what’s your baseline price. And if it’s just a little bit lower than the baseline, you could try to push a bit heavier. You could, you know, sort of doubled the budget. And if it still stays there, you could just keep increasing the budget until you know, at some point you’ll spend $10,000 on one ad and then you know, it sort of slows down and then you have to find the next one. But I think at our scale you have to be testing a lot, lot of campaigns and the quicker you can act the the, the easier it is on like on Snapchat and tick-tock and Google or search ads or some of the other platforms. You, you don’t get the results as quickly so you have to sort of, you can’t iterate as fast.

Sean Tierney: 00:33:25 Got it. So it sounds like we use a tool called optimize Lee on our website for AB testing, like landing page copy and whatnot. And it sounds like it’s exactly the same thing. Like based on the SIG, like the size of the difference. If it’s like a huge result, you don’t need a whole lot of trials to be able to kind of know that there’s a, an effect at work. But if it’s like a very insignificant result, you’ve got to run far more just to be able to tell if that’s [inaudible].

Darius Moravcik: 00:33:49 So like when you’re running camp, you either have time or money, right? So you could either have like a tiny budget of 10 bucks and you could run an ad for four weeks because you have the luxury of, you know, you’re not in a rush or you have to spend, you know, 1000 bucks a day. I’d like to see what, but then you get the results within a few hours. So it’s just you have one of those two variables and then you can, yeah. See how fast you can go.

Sean Tierney: 00:34:11 Dope. if you had, this is an interesting question. So if, if these four platforms like personify them, pretend that Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and tech talk are people, how would you describe, like who is it? Who is each character?

Darius Moravcik: 00:34:24 It’s an interesting one. Well, okay. So the first one that comes to mind is tick tock. That’s like the 16 year old dancing girl in the U S that’s doing silly things and the cheerleader. And she gets a lot of attention. And in her high school is that at 16 and her school, that’s like the first one that comes to mind. Facebook is now like the grandpa Facebook because it’s getting all the audiences also getting older and then the kitchen is, it’s not as much.

Sean Tierney: 00:34:51 Yeah. Young people I guess are fleeing that platform. Like they’re just not using it at all.

Darius Moravcik: 00:34:54 Yeah, exactly. So it’s, it’s Instagram is still getting a lot of attention and then, and that’s interesting. But yeah, not nearly as much as Facebook and tick-tock is like the new kid on the block. And then Snapchat is like, I think the sad kid that took doc overshadowed it even though, you know, Snapchat was before but never got the potential to grow as much as snap. But it’s also sad because like Snapchat invented the story format and then Instagram borrowed it very quickly in Facebook stories as well.

Sean Tierney: 00:35:21 Yeah. Well I think it was Evan, their founder turned down a buyout offer from Facebook. Why can’t I think of his name and Zuckerberg and so I think it was kind of like the vengeful, like, okay, we’re just going to rip off exactly what you did. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And,

Darius Moravcik: 00:35:38 And that’s, let’s kind of the game you’re playing. Like we’re not in the patent pending world anymore. Right. And we consider it reflectively, like we like a bunch of apps, just basically copy, pasted everything we do and then raise capital and then try to like outdo reflectively. So that’s just, that’s the world you’re playing in. Yeah. So, but the defensibility, it sounds like is maybe your process for growth. Like the, they can copy the whatever front facing features they can see in the app itself, but unless they truly understand your method by how you’re approaching this, this sounds like a, an important part of the whole, the puzzle that you to do. Yeah, but I think that’s also fairly easy to copy. I think the only real defensibility in like going forward for any of these companies is brand. I think that’s like really the only, like if we fill another crisis next year and shit goes down and everything breaks I think like brand is the only thing that’s going to sort of keep you alive.

Sean Tierney: 00:36:31 I think. Have you thought about doing any kind of like user to user type stuff? Like cause that, that, that it’s an area where if you do that right, user supporting other users seems like a very defensible, it’s impossible to steal your user base at that point. Right?

Darius Moravcik: 00:36:45 Um yeah. So one thing with reflectively is that it’s very intimate, right? So journaling, like by definition you’re putting your biggest fears and dreams and thoughts into into reflectively. So people are very private about, you know, doing it like everyone sharing or anything at all. We do have a strong community on Facebook, like a group and that’s growing super fast and, and people are like really, really engaged and very happy there. But but also we’re very careful about what we do in the product because it’s a very personal experience. There’s a reason why, you know, like you can buy the diary with a little lock on it. And I think it’s the same with, with reflectively. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:37:26 Cool. Well, let’s shift gears a little bit. We had started talking before we started recording about this idea of habits and rewiring your brain. Just talk about that. I, I mean, I have my own thoughts, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts about, you know, if that’s possible and how it works and, and how you guys recommend that.

Darius Moravcik: 00:37:46 Right? I mean, well, like from the results you can see it’s obviously possible to, to build new habits and, and killed all the ones. It’s not the, it’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s definitely very doable. And I think what, like one of the key things when we look at habits is, again, it’s convenience and like lowering the bar and making it super easy to get started. And then you habit. So I think w like if you compare it to exercise, I think the best exercise routine is the one you’re going to stick to. Maybe it’s not 100% optimized and you’re not, you know, you’re not, it’s not the best diet or it’s not the best exercise, but like, as long as you are doing it, it’s better than, you know, having the best exercise routine in the world that you’re not doing. And you’re looking at it on a sheet of paper, on a cupped, for example.

Darius Moravcik: 00:38:30 Perfection is the enemy of good enough or very much so. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s the reason reflectively has been so popular and, and a lot of people ask you the same question. I’m like, why don’t you just use a paper and pen journal? But it’s, it’s, it’s the, the convenience of it. And that’s, I think that’s why we’re able to build that habit is, is because it’s so easy to get started. And I literally, it’s, it can take, you know, 20 seconds and you’re done if the touch you want to do, or you can sit there and you can write for an hour and you know, that’s also a possibility. And I think a big part of it is also one lowering the barrier and then two, knowing that when you’re building a new habit, you’re not gonna be hitting a 100% success rate.

Darius Moravcik: 00:39:07 So you might, you know, fall off the wagon and shit is going to happen and not beating yourself up or like not thinking like, Oh, I exercise for seven days in a row. Then one day I didn’t. And now like it’s all over. And the same with journaling. Like if I stopped journaling for, for a week, like I think we’re very, very good and we’re very focused and reflectively to not make people feel bad when they’re not using it and not like creating additional anxiety. Like the whole point of perfectly is that you should, you know, relax and get yourself out there without feeling the pressure. And if we would send people notifications every day and emails every two days, then like keep pushing them people who are just freaking out. Exactly. And then like you’re killing the whole, the whole idea. So I think also a big part of that habit building is stepping back and say like, Hey, if you don’t use [inaudible] for three days or week, like whatever, it’s fine.

Darius Moravcik: 00:39:54 We’re here, we’re here whenever, you know, you need reflecting.

Sean Tierney: 00:39:57 Yeah, yeah. I use so we were also talking about zero, well actually let’s say you have a podcast of your own that you’re starting with [inaudible] recorded your first episode so it can go out. Yeah. Thank you very much. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Darius Moravcik: 00:40:08 Just yeah. Yesterday we recorded the first episode and we talked about habits for hour and a half with a, with Matt. He’s the head of product that zero fasting and you and I both users of zero. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:40:20 And that’s one I came recommended to me by buddy and I’ve been using that now for about two months. And it’s just a timer. It’s like the simplest thing and yet, and yet it’s, so the usability of it is so nice and exactly. It’s just enough where you want to keep the street going and it makes you feel good when you hit the fast. And so it’s just like it, I think it’s just like the perfect, like hitting all the right dopamine triggers or whatever you want to say to make you feel good when you continue doing it. Absolutely. But like the functionality of it, it’s just a timer.

Darius Moravcik: 00:40:53 And it’s the same question people have, like when they talk about zero, like why don’t I just use my alarm clock? I’m like, sure you could. But if you look at people’s behavior and pattern, they’re so much more likely to stick to it if they used zero. So zero grew to 3 million users organically, they have zero paid acquisition and they’re in 3 million users. Endeavor like similar team, like reflecting, I think they were on 10 people now. So it’s like really, really incredible what they’re working on. And that’s the whole conversation we had with, with Matt yesterday, I think.

Darius Moravcik: 00:41:20 And the way they work on habits. And it was sort of, we had like a discussion, like what is it about zero and also like Fitbit, he worked at Fitbit before. What was it about these companies that are great at building sort of habits? So the one was having a goal that’s visible, like knowing that you’re zero and you know that you want to fast for 16 hours and then eat for eight hours. Number one. Number two is like knowing your progress on that goal. So whenever you open the app you see like, Oh I’ve already done 15 hours of fasting today and it makes you feel really good cause you have the little circle. That’s all it’s complete and it’s really satisfying. And the third part is like knowing that you are going to fall off the wagon and then not making it feel bad. And I think like these three things are really the, the key. I like, that’s sort of the conclusion we had yesterday with Matt as the key to building habit forming products and companies.

Sean Tierney: 00:42:06 Yeah, there’s a, an amazing book I read called power of habit where there’s a three part loop and I’m probably going to screw up what the parts are, but it has to do with like the queue, the response and the reward. And it’s, it’s no more complicated than those three things. And when they’re all aligned, you can, like they’re saying basically that is the secret to rewiring your brain is to get all three of those things in alignment. And it turns into this nice little kind of like feeding self-feeding iterative loop.

Darius Moravcik: 00:42:29 Absolutely. Yeah. And yeah, that’s, that’s also what we talked about. Like you have to have those sort of triggers and you have to have the feedback and, and the reinforcement for that. And I think also a big part of habits and what we spoke with with Matt is that you have to if you want to kill a current habit, you have to replace with something else. So for example, I, I’m not drinking alcohol for half a year now. I think it’s been like five months. And the like, the most difficult thing is when I’m standing at a bar, I need to have something in my hand, right? So you have to replace the habit. So I do not want to call it beer. And that’s you, you get, you know, is the easiest way to sort of get over cold turkeys is, it’s not ideal if you don’t replace it with anything else.

Sean Tierney: 00:43:10 Yeah. Well because then your friends come up to you and then Hey, you’re asking, it’s like, it’s just easier to have a, like for me it was like a soda with lime in it. Yeah. It looks like a vodka soda, but it’s just like a club soda with lime. And yeah, if I hang out with my friends that drink a lot and party a lot,

Darius Moravcik: 00:43:25 I just do the tonic without the gin that it fools them enough where I can still have the social life and all that. But yeah, that’s also part of habits. You have to sort of have a habit replacement if you’re trying to kill any habits. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:43:38 Way back in the day in college I smoked briefly and it was, I remember getting over that involved a combination of pistachios, sunflower seeds and gum. I realized it was just a habit. It was just like an oral fixation. I had to do something, just pass the time and like failed at quitting until I had those things. And then that, that was kind of like the replacement of that that was necessary. Well congratulations.

Darius Moravcik: 00:44:01 Was that on quitting? A lot of it’s really hard thing to do. Obviously there’s there’s the, the physical actual addiction, which is, you know, much more difficult to, to quit. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:44:11 Cool. All right, well, so one last kind of major line of questioning here and that is let’s talk about the role of product market fit versus growth hacking and when it makes sense. Like you said you’ve got, you got hired on and I think you said you just dismissed the growth hacking team because it’s like, no guys, we’re going to focus on product market fit first. So can you about the relationship to product market fit and when it makes sense to then transition and focus on growth?

Darius Moravcik: 00:44:37 Yeah. So the, when people look at lately or when I talk about Reflectly I think my, the biggest point I’m trying to communicate and get across and if you should, if you take anything out of this whole talk like this is the most important thing is that product is way more important than marketing or growth in your, these things at the early stage. Like when you were kicking off and you’re starting off, you absolutely need to have the product market fit and then you, you pour money into marketing and growth to really, really scale it. And this is why I think reflected has been so good and the, that the founders had been so focused is that when the three founders started reflectively they grew organically to 400,000 users. They haven’t spent any money like nothing. They just focused on the product.

Darius Moravcik: 00:45:20 And then they hired me to come on board and like start, you know, paid acquisition and then scale it from there. And that’s how we got two to 5 million users. But like you mentioned, there’s been other companies where I’ve joined where what I would, I would get on the team and they have like a gross team of let’s say five, six people, but they don’t have product market fit yet. And it’s like you have this huge leaky bucket and you’re just trying to pour more water into it. But that’s sort of a waste of time. Like we should. And that’s, I’ve joined other companies and that and I’ve, it’s like my first, first thing he did was like getting rid of the people on the growth team because you don’t need a growth team. Honestly, a product market fit.

Sean Tierney: 00:45:55 But how do you know, I mean there’s always some just amount of attrition in any SAS app, right? Like it’s just a fact of life. But at what point does it make sense? What is an acceptable amount of leakiness and when should you say, no, we’re leaking too much. We should stay focused on product market fit.

Darius Moravcik: 00:46:13 Right. That’s, well that’s very tricky I think. And that’s where people get confused cause it, it depends on like your vertical and separate business. And all these things. So Y Combinator, they have a good saying. I think that that says that you have product market fit when you’re, the men’s grow so much faster than you can keep up with. Like you literally cannot keep up with the demand. And I think that’s so, so super rare and hard to see like and one way to sort of describe it is it doesn’t feel like you are pushing a Boulder up Hill. Is that as the other way around where you, you know, you try almost anything in the works, like when you’re growing organically and it’s hard to, yeah, like I could tell you for like, specifically, you know, health and fitness app category, like what is the number you should be hitting?

Darius Moravcik: 00:46:59 I think the best metric to look at is retention. And again, the specific percentages depends on your vertical, all these things. But if you look at from like day one, retention day seven and day 30, like very simply, you people are coming back to your product. They like it. Like that’s the simplest, simplest sort of way to look at it. At the, at the very beginning to get a sense of how much people love the product and you could do some other things like understanding that like NPS score and all these things. But I think like at the very basic is retention. Yeah. Cool. And now let’s say retention is off the charts. You should not be putting money on, into growth in marketing at all. Yeah. There was a one measure of this, I heard Sean Ellis is a really popular growth marketer guy and he says, it’s like when 40% of your users, once they find out about your product, say they couldn’t live without it, right?

Sean Tierney: 00:47:48 When you’re, once they get a chance and they get a taste and they’ve tried it and then you take it away and they say, I know I need that. I can’t live without it. That’s kind of the litmus test. But I know there’s different like retention based or like it depends on, you know, if it’s, if your app is meant to be used every single day, then people should be coming back every day. If it’s eCommerce and they spend thousand bucks one day a month, then you’re good to go. And that’s what you need. So it depends on what, where, where you’re playing. Right. But I think the best measure is look at are people coming back? The tricky thing like founders by definition are very optimistic people. Otherwise they would not be doing this and you almost look at like any signal from the audience and they go like, Oh my God, this must be, this must be it.

Darius Moravcik: 00:48:27 Or like we just do one more feature and that’s it. But it’s information bias. Exactly what they’re going to see. Yeah. So I think that’s where a lot of founders that, like myself included when I was like building startups previously you would see any sort of, you get one positive review and I’m like, Oh my God, we got, I look now we’re going all in. But it’s this, like I’ve, I’ve spent, for example, like before all this, I was trying to build a language learning startup and we spent three years and we haven’t gotten to prime market fit. But because I thought that like any positive signal is really the positive signal and I was sort of confused and we dragged a number three years versus I could have just looked at retention and be like this is terrible, you know, and then then you know like you have to be realistic enough to, to, to understand that if it’s bad you need to change it.

Darius Moravcik: 00:49:09 And it’s not about, you know, adding more features necessarily. It’s about, you know, like maybe fundamentally you just have the, you’re procuring the wrong problem for example. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:49:19 Do you guys get approached by investors? Like I’m sure there were just people throw money at you at this point. Like yeah.

Darius Moravcik: 00:49:25 Yeah. Like at this point I’ve been contacted by every VC in the world I think. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 00:49:30 What was your decision in not taking any money? And I, by the way, Pagely the company that I worked for is self funded as well. So we are in the same boat in terms of agreeing with bootstrap. But what I’d love to hear, like your rationale, why you guys don’t want to take money.

Darius Moravcik: 00:49:44 Yeah. So we did raise it a little bit of sort of like a, like a ramen money, I would call it just to like to pay for rent and expenses at the beginning. So we raised a bit of like angel money from from a friend of the founders, but no like sort of venture capital and well like the obvious reason is that we don’t like it’s, we don’t want to give away any more of the company than we have to. We want to be able to not just own more but be able to control and make decisions as we do. And that’s hard to do once we have sort of people on board that can also have a Cola, have a saying. Obviously we’re looking for super smart people that could join the team and that might be a way to like bring an investor on board that could help us in that way, but we just didn’t need to raise money. So we didn’t cause like everything was just working well and there was, there was no outside pressure. So not to say that we will never do it, but we’re in a good position where we could choose to take money from anybody at this point. I think that’s amazing. It’s good. And I know that like big part of that is again to the founders diff. They’ve done a lot of these decisions early on and they’ve made like a lot of amazing decisions. The founders are really, really amazing what they do. All of them. So there’ve been very, very smart the way they approach it.

Sean Tierney: 00:50:59 That’s dope. Okay, so I lied. Actually I want to ask you one more question and then we wrap up here. So you are not from here. Where are you from?

Darius Moravcik: 00:51:08 I was born in Slovakia. And then I moved to the States when I was, I think 14 or 15 ish. What part of the States? Minnesota. Yeah, I, I had a scholarship to play hockey. So Minnesota is the best place to play, you know? What is it? 13,000 links with all the bond hockey can go crazy.

Sean Tierney: 00:51:25 I went to a wedding in Owatonna, Minnesota. Like the, I guess they’re there, what her claim to fame was the largest Cabelas or the [inaudible] or something like that. So

Darius Moravcik: 00:51:36 There’s not much there other than ice hockey. But I had the pleasure like I lived in, I went to school in Minneapolis and I had a great time.

Sean Tierney: 00:51:45 Cool. And then, but you’re in Lisbon now, but not permanently. W what’s your, so your, your nomadic basically, which is why I’m going here, cause [inaudible] podcast. So talk about like what that travel has meant to you and where you’re going next and

Darius Moravcik: 00:51:58 Yeah. Yeah. So after States I lived in Denmark, actually lived there for I think almost 10 years. And the last two years live in Copenhagen, which is how I, I met the founders. Actually, so it was funny thing I started using, reflected as a user and I thought it was a Silicon Valley company at first. I had no idea. And I just emailed the company and I know like it was an amazing product, but they’re not doing anything from the growth or like marketing. And I just emailed the guys and I said, look, Hey, this product is amazing. I noticed that you guys are not doing anything growth related. So like, I’m happy to help out for free cause it’s like really good product. Let me know if you need any help. And then I found out that actually the guys were also like moving to Copenhagen and one thing led to another and I joined like shortly after.

Sean Tierney: 00:52:38 Wait, so that was why you moved to Copenhagen or you are already I was already there.

Darius Moravcik: 00:52:42 Okay. Yeah, I was working for another startup at the time. And then, and like afterwards, I so it was very sort of serendipitous situation where they just happened to be in the same city at the same time. I thought it was a Silicon Valley company for some reason. Yeah, so I wasn’t opening in for two years and then I started no matting this year and I’ve, I was sort of doing the new country every month, like very, very actively. Nobody ain’t going around and everything from like Austin, Texas to like Budapest Rica, you know, brought us lava. All of these things are really, really good time. And I was supposed to be in Lisbon just for one month. It was again, just one of them. And he stops and like I did zero research about Lisbon. I had no idea what the community or like the tech scene or anything, I just thought like, Hey, sunshine in November, I’m in.

Darius Moravcik: 00:53:27 So I came here, but within the first week I just fell in love with the city. I was like, wow, this is really cool. And actually I’ve decided to stay here long term for the type of longterm, like at least I think for a year. So yeah, but like the really just the, the tech community’s incredible here. There’s so many, so many nomads and it’s, it’s really amazing place and I’m like a meeting, a lot of incredible people here, so I’m going to stay for 20, 20, at least as well. And it’s very affordable. If you don’t work in Lisbon, I think it’s, you know, the lifestyle is as amazing as you can work the sort of the way we’re doing. And it’s, you know, sunny and just now we’re in, in November, but two days ago I was, you know, surfing at the beach, it’s like 30 minutes away. So it’s a very good lifestyle here,

Sean Tierney: 00:54:15 An amazing quality of life for what it is. But if you’re listening, you didn’t hear that cause we [inaudible]

Darius Moravcik: 00:54:21 But now also I think the like web summit is going to be here for the next 10 years. So I think it’s only going to grow as a, as a, as a tech community, which is not necessarily the best thing cause the breasts will go off and all these things. But yeah,

Sean Tierney: 00:54:37 Well there’s a real issue. There’s a very real issue for locals here in terms of, I mean, this isn’t unique to Lisbon. This is happening in San Francisco for instance, but a displacing locals who are making Lisbon wages. But now you have such an influx of nomads and people like us wages, Denmark wages, and it’s driving out some of those locals, which I don’t know the right answer to that actually. It’s an interesting, do you have any thoughts on that issue? I’m,

Darius Moravcik: 00:55:03 Yeah, so it’s, it’s tough. I like on one hand I feel guilty because you could look at it like I’m contributing to the problem cause I make money somewhere else and then I come here to spend it. But also we’re sort of spending it in this economy, right? So like in a way we should be sort of helping, but I have a lot of digital nomads friends and they’re buying properties. And the locals are depressed, they’re going up. And I heard, especially in the last five years that Brexit really boomed like real estate, but also everything else. And I think the average salary, like, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s like around 800 euros. But like you’ve won find a comfortable apartment under a thousand in the city. So like nobody can really, the lockers are being disposed, like you said.

Darius Moravcik: 00:55:43 So it’s, yeah, it’s a tricky one, but, but yeah, so a lot of, actually a lot of people from, a lot of my friends that are here from the U S they say that it feels like early San Francisco, not only because it looks like San Francisco with the Hills and it’s the same bridge, the same market, the trolley cars every exactly like it looks the same, but like it has a similar vibe where there’s a lot of arts and culture here and now tech is starting to move in and it seems to be like going to similar patterns. So I don’t know if if it’s going to be sort of the San Francisco of Europe, but yeah, that’s a tough one.

Sean Tierney: 00:56:15 Yeah. I mean it seems to me the solution has to involve some kind of, you know, as much as, I hate to say this, but like a tax on foreigners just to, you know, escrow some money and then contribute that back to the locals to subsidize their rent because they just don’t have the same level of income.

Darius Moravcik: 00:56:31 They’re actually doing the other thing, like they’re going the other way where, where the government has just created a bunch of common visa and yeah, they’re like people to move here. I don’t know. And there’s all these like, so most of the experts are getting on this specific program where you get, you can, you sort of get like a, not citizens but residents here and you pay, I think the income taxes or like the PR, it’s like 20, 22%. So they’re actually incentivizing people to move in and pay less tax here, which is why look a little moments are moving you. So it’s the other way around. But yeah,

Sean Tierney: 00:57:02 I definitely have zero experience or expertise in gentrification problem today. All right, well, so this last part of the interview we’re going to just shift into a very tactical, rapid fire thing. I call this the breakdown. So are you ready for the breakdown? Oh, let’s try it. Let’s see. Okay. Break down baby. What is one book that has profoundly affected your thinking

Darius Moravcik: 00:57:27 Or sculpted you in some other way? Okay. The first one that comes to my mind is as a man thinketh that’s not business book at all, but I think you should look at like, which one book changed my behavior the most. That’s as a man thinketh.

Sean Tierney: 00:57:40 Cool. That’s all my good reads. Maybe I’ll elevate that to the top pick. Cool. what about, what is one person you would love to have dinner with? Can be living or dead? Oh wow. I think Richard Branson.

Darius Moravcik: 00:57:53 Okay. Just because I started like the whole entrepreneurship and like trying to build companies after I read his first, the first time I read one of his books and he was really like sort of the guy who was looked up to and he seemed to have like the great balance of being obviously a great business and Ben, but also like having a good lifestyle and doing crazy adventures and you know, like going off and I’m a bit of a adrenaline junkie myself. So I, I liked the idea that you could do both. You don’t have to be just a suit and tie or you didn’t have to be just a poor athlete or somebody that just lives in a cave. So I think Richard Branson and I got to, I got to sit in a charity dinner once where he was attending and I got to ask him a question.

Darius Moravcik: 00:58:34 So that was like one of the highlights of my life where I was the question. So this was, I, when I was in college, I built a nonprofit that was sort of working with similar construction. And my question was, when you’re, when you’re building a company, like how much effort should go into, into business versus like giving back to the community and all of these things I think my question would be very different now. And also what he said is that building a business is so hard that the only thing you should be focusing on is building that business. And once it was exceeded, then you can think about like giving back or having a state, like all these things. But it is just so hard that if you’re distracted by trying to be too charitable, you’re going to end up being bankrupt. Cool.

Sean Tierney: 00:59:12 It’s funny. One of my guests Christian Oosterveen. Danish guy, I forget what episode he was, but he cited that same book and he was, when he read it, he was in prison when he read that book, when it was the thing that like turned him around, he kinda like hit bottom and then that was like his inspiration. Oh, crazy. Yeah. Yeah. That has been really good.

Darius Moravcik: 00:59:32 And like for me, I have to say within combination of coaching, so I got a performance coach this year and like my level of happiness and productivity has changed drastically this year in the last 12 months. So I think it’s a combination of those. Cool. Check that one out too. What is one tool or hack that you use that saves you time, money, or headaches? Um give me a piece of software. It can be just like a, a work around or something.

Darius Moravcik: 01:00:00 Uh I think it’s the the ordering. I think you have to say. Yeah, I’ve got the same one. I actually just got it a few weeks ago, so it might, this might be recency bias, but being able to improve my sleep has such a big impact on everything else and like properly sleeping at least eight hours a day. It just makes it productivity, happiness, like everything is just so important. It’s another book. I just finished reading is why we sleep. Literally I’m, I’m 20 pages away from finishing that one as well. So my mind is like, I thought sleep was important before, but now it’s just Holy shit. Like 100% of my bedtime is sacred now. Yeah. It’s really sort of makes you, makes you wonder and I think like a lot about, cause I was a athlete for like a big part of my life, so I like I knew about the performance aspect, but when I shift to like longevity aspect, then really like I see that sleep is super important in that way.

Sean Tierney: 01:00:51 Yeah. I mean, I’m going to link in the show notes to a talk that he did on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Matthew Walker is the author of that book. I’m 100% concur that that is just a game changer. I recommend everyone read it or at least listen to that episode because it is, it’s, it’s frightening how important it is and how under prioritized it is in our society. Totally. And when like, I guess the thing that just gets me is like, he says you can’t pay down a sleep debt. These things that are happening and like, you know, if you’re an REM sleep doesn’t occur and it doesn’t clear out their neurotoxins and then like, that damage is done. You don’t get to like, Oh, I’ll just sleep it off on the weekend and I’ll get, you know, I’ll recapture some of that stuff that I lost. It’s like, no, that is just damage.

Darius Moravcik: 01:01:36 Exactly. It’s so scary and everything. So like if you’re building for trying to build a business, like you absolutely need to read this book and understand sleep because like everything from your own behavior to your employee’s behavior. I think will be massively effected. I think it was just based off the road, an article that said like why it’s profitable, that Amazon employee sleep at least eight hours a day. I think that was a title or something in this where he talks about like brilliant work. We think of like hacking of like sleeping less and all that. And I just like tried it when I was in college, like living on four hours a day and now that every book, it scares me how much damage I must’ve done to my body. And like everything else it’s, it’s insane. Yeah. Yeah. Well our our readiness,

Darius Moravcik: 01:02:21 It was actually, I should be ashamed because it was really, really low and this morning I was not doing very good job sleeping yesterday. Yeah. Yeah. How do you, so I’m just curious, cause I use this, I’ve had it now for about two months as well as with like the zero fasting app and I find it to be useful. Like it doesn’t actually change your sleep, right? It’s just logging. It’s just, you know, analytics basically on, on various factors. But how are you using it? How does it help you to change your sleep?

Darius Moravcik: 01:02:47 So this like this ties in very nicely. Two habits, right? Like how we talked about that a having a goal of habit and then knowing where you are in, in sort of that face. So the biggest thing is just awareness, like knowing, and I tried to use like all these in like a sleep analysis apps and so I compared them with the ring and skipping also would show me like I’m getting 100% or I’m like efficiency of sleep. And then I checked my outer ring and it’s like, no, it’s actually 72% or something really, really low. So it’s like one knowing where you stand and it just gives you so much in depth information, like it tries to suggest the best bedtime for you. And then you have all these like heart rate variability and temperature variation and heart rate, you know, and all these things. So you can, I think the really interesting part of the ring is going to be like in five years when I’ve been able to like measure all these vital signs and that I could really correlate. Like if I’m fasting for example, what are the effects if I’m exercising or how much I’m exercising. I do a lot of like long runs so I’ve just trained for a marathon and then see like what your body does when you just run 10 20, 40 K what are the effects? I think there’ll be the really interesting part where you can accumulate and then going even more for forward. Like once you can connect the data from zero fasting two to reflect Lee to, to borrow ring and like,

Sean Tierney: 01:04:04 Well they have their own note. You write like they have a notes capability. I use that if I didn’t sleep well one night I’ll go back a day and I’ll know like, okay, well what did I do last night? And try to like see if there’s a pattern start to log things. But it seems like if you guys tie into Apple health, which do you tie in Apple health? We don’t perfectly know. No we don’t. But yeah, at some point like zero, zero and aura and like Runkeeper and all these things I use that are feeding data into Apple health. And then, but yeah like the journal overlay would be an interesting, you know another yeah that makes put on topic how was your day and yeah, I think like once we, and I think this is really interesting thing to consider

Darius Moravcik: 01:04:42 Going forward. Like we have so many data inputs and just like if you could just get some of the information from your phone, like do you have your location and how much you moved and how much time you spend on your screen connected with your, like how much time you spend working on your computer and having that light in your eyes for example, late at night. Yeah. I think being able to like collect all this information, that’d be super interesting. And I’m sure a lot of people are working on like sort of bio OOS and connecting this. But I think there’ll be a super, super cool company. Whoever builds that

Sean Tierney: 01:05:08 For sure. All right. Two more questions. What is one important truth that very few people agree with you on? Is it the, the Peter teal question?

Darius Moravcik: 01:05:21 I’ve, I’m going to cheat on this one. I didn’t have a good answer. I, I’ve given it a lot of thought cause I, yeah, I read it with, with PTL. That’s a tough one. I don’t have a good answer that I’m comfortable sharing. No, that’s fair. Yeah, I actually don’t either. And I’ve asked this question of 30 plus people and it’s, it’s a tough one. It’s, there’s a reason why he asked it. Yeah, guys. Yeah.

Sean Tierney: 01:05:43 Well he asked it to determine of founders usually if they have a firm conviction that is like, you know, he says the way you went and investing is by betting big and on something that’s very controversial and like everyone else thinks is wrong, but you’re right on it. So I think it’s his way of getting to that question with a lot of new founders. Absolutely.

Darius Moravcik: 01:06:01 Yeah. I mean like if you want to get super like specific, it’s for example, like the way we use influencers and my Korean friends first, you know that it’s not really the distribution but it’s the content. But I’m not at all the only one. Like this is Gary Vaynerchuk has been preaching this for the longest time and I’m sure there’s a bunch of other people. So there’s nothing like unique that I haven’t heard that people agree with. Exactly. Okay, cool. All right, last question. If you had a time machine to go back to your 20 year old self and give yourself any bit of advice, what would you say? It’s an interesting question cause I actually wrote a book on this. Oh wow. Perfect. So we’re not like when I was, I think so now I’m 30, but I think when I was 26 I basically asked a lot of people this question, everybody from like Noam Chomsky’s and then the biggest philosophers to yeah, like super innocent people.

Darius Moravcik: 01:06:50 And I ask them this one question and then I like put together, put together a book and, and, and published it. That’s awesome. So so two parts to this question. What is your answer to this and then is there a pattern that you noticed of all the people you surveyed? So the answer is the same for both. Like my, my answer is the pattern, but okay. So the answer is it’s going to be all right. She’ll be fine. You’re going to be okay. Like you didn’t have to freak out. But I’m like, if I could actually go back and give myself advice, I wouldn’t because I love my life right now. I, I’m enjoying every single day and I would not want to change anything. And I’m scared that if I would tell my younger self to chill out, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Darius Moravcik: 01:07:30 So maybe it’s, and I think like, so this was also the pattern book. Like a lot of the, I spoke with a lot of successful people. They are, and they also like just, you know, come down and sort of chill out, like enjoy yourself and it’s going to be all right. But maybe if you would chill a little too much, maybe you wouldn’t be able to, you know, build whatever success and look on your own terms, whatever that might mean for you. So I’m, I, yeah, a little bit of healthy dissatisfaction is kind of a good thing. Yeah. Maybe it’s not, I dunno, maybe I was just stressed for no reason or I was, you know, frustrated for no reason. Maybe you don’t lose that drive, but I love my left too much to be like willing to risk anything. That’s awesome.

Sean Tierney: 01:08:11 I think that’s a great, great piece of advice to end on. Darius, if people want to check out your new podcast, how can they find it or how can they connect with you on social media or where do you want to send them? Um right. So I think the easiest way, so I don’t actually, I don’t have the name for the podcast yet cause we just started recording the first couple of episodes. I think the easiest way is probably my website. So if you go to appmarketingguy.com they’ll direct you to sort of my, my site. And then I like, I sort of write about like my thoughts on, you know, app marketing and marketing in general. And the podcast will be there as well.

Sean Tierney: 01:08:48 You have to be named podcast and I will update this, the show notes, awesome new name whenever you come out with it. So. Yup. Awesome. Derek, it’s been an amazing time to have you on the show. Thank you so much.


Sean is host of Nomad Podcast, author of the Nomad Prep eCourse to help others successfully transition to the nomadic lifestyle. Sean is also founder of Problemattic, a global movement to mobilize knowledge workers for good. Read more from Sean on his personal blog or his business blog.

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Nomad Podcast is a series of conversations with nomads, founders and domain experts to help get more people unstuck through transitioning to a nomadic lifestyle. Add your email to get special access to private AMA sessions, pre-release products and other VIP shiz.