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From Virtual Assistant To Partner At LeadSpring

EFP 175: From Virtual Assistant To Partner At LeadSpring

Justin Cooke April 27, 2018

It’s not often you get to hear a “rags to riches” story, so when I got a chance to sit down with Jay Yap from I jumped on it.

Jay started out as a Virtual Assistant on oDesk, working for our mutual friend Kurt. After a few months and a few promotions, he ended up at a partner at a multi-million dollar company.

How the heck did THAT happen?

We dig into it with Jay on this episode. We look at his journey from VA to Partner with a focus on the work that he did and signs he showed his employers that he was ready to take it to the next level.

Whether you’re currently working at a job and looking for a way to move up or you’re an employer wanting to find exceptional members on your team, I think you’re going to dig this episode.

Also – if you’re currently buying/selling online businesses, stick around toward the end to hear how some of our clients are using LeadSpring to significantly grow and add value to their business.

Check Out This Week’s Episode:

Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week:

  • The Journey From Virtual Assistant To Partner
  • Tips & Advice For VA’s and Employers
  • What is LeadSpring and how does it work?


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What do you look out for when it comes to superstar employees? Anything we missed? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire Podcast, episode 175. We talk quite a bit about apprenticeships on this podcast. Today, we’re going to bring you a really inspiring story about a person who went from being a virtual assistant to a partner in a multi-million-dollar business. This is interesting for people who are working in a company and looking for ways to move up, but also for employers looking for characteristics that might point to someone who can handle more responsibility. Whether you’re currently employed or employing a team of your own right now, I think you’re going to like this episode. You’ll find the show notes for this one at Alright, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom, over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire Podcast. And now your hosts, Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   Alright, Joe, honest question. Do you underestimate the capabilities of anyone on our current team? What do you think about that?

Joe:                        I mean, of course. I think anyone who would say that they don’t underestimate people on their current team, either has a very, very small team or, you know, he’s lying. It’s easy to underestimate people and make that mistake, so yes.

Justin:                   I think that’s bad. I mean, of course, it’s bad, right? It’s potentially bad, because we miss out on some of the capabilities or ways for them to grow into roles in our company that we miss out on. I think people have done it to us. Can you think of a time, thinking back over your career, where you weren’t allowed to grow into a position, or you weren’t allowed to expand your capabilities, your experiences?

Joe:                        Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I remember when we went to work for NSU and you had a kind of operations job, and I was stuck in sales to start out with, and I think they were very underestimating my value to the company. Within a couple of months, they saw the light.

Justin:                   I think it hurts because you ultimately will lose those employees for that team if they don’t see an opportunity to grow, and opportunity to expand, or an opportunity to spread their wings. And I think that can be problematic. I think that’s what’s really interesting about the interview today, is kind of how we get into that with Jay over at LeadSpring. Now he started off as a virtual assistant and worked his way up through an apprenticeship to actually being a partner of this company, and we step through all the different areas in that, and the process is, I think, really valuable. As an employer, we have this need to balance, right? We have the employees’ kind of responsibility, the grind, the day-to-day work they need to do to fill a role, and we need to balance versus giving them an opportunity to grow and expand in the business. And it’s not always clear which side needs more emphasis and the time.

                                Sometimes I have a role that needs to be filled, that I need someone to do the grind, the day-to-day work, and they take over. And I just put them in a box. Do you know what I mean? Like, I have someone that does that, and they do it well, and they do their job, and I’m like, you know what, that’s good enough; position filled, and then move on. I think that’s not good because it doesn’t give them the ability to see outside of that. And then, in other instances, where someone’s always had the opportunity to expand. They’re always trying new things, and new projects, but they’re not actually filling a role that gets the work done in a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, and that’s not great either.

Joe:                        Yeah, as organizations grow, some of this naturally happens, and it’s our jobs as the managers and as the owners to ensure that it doesn’t. And it’s not an easy job.

Justin:                   Yeah, man, for sure. So we’re talking to Jay today. We’re going to get into that. Before we do that, buddy, let’s talk about the featured listing of the week. How are we going to pay the bills, buddy? What are we selling here?

Joe:                        We’re talking about listing 44479. This is a service-based business created back in April of 2011 in the travel niche. This just helps customers with immigration to a very popular country. It’s 99% organic traffic, which is how it gets all its new client inquiries. It’s making just over $15,000 net, and we have it listed for just over $450,000.

Justin:                   It’s interesting. This business had some celebrity clients. I think, Chris Brown, Jane Fonda, and some other high-profile people have comped this business. Do you know, did they try paid traffic? I mean, it’s weird for a service-based business like this, which is probably fair margins. Why didn’t they do any paid traffic?

Joe:                        Yeah, and I think those are definitely some of the opportunities to grow. Also, they have a very small social following right, just a thousand people on Facebook. It’s pretty much inactive. They have a very small email list. These are opportunities in which the seller hasn’t exploited fully, but something that the seller would have to speak to in terms of what he tried and what he didn’t.

Justin:                   Yeah, either they tried and failed, or they didn’t try it. If they didn’t try it, I want to know why. If they tried and failed, I’d like to know why, cuz maybe there’s something that I could do to improve. Either way, the business has been around quite a while. It was created in April, 2011, solid, service-based business. If you’re interested in this one, make sure to check out listing 44479, and we’ll put that in the show notes. Alright, man, time to move into the heart of this week’s episode.

Speaker 2:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   Today, we’ve got Jay. Welcome to the show, man, how’re you doing?

Jay:                        I’m doing pretty awesome. It’s pretty cool here in Chiang Mai, and I’m very excited for the show.

Justin:                   Yeah, man, it is late there in Chiang Mai. We’re doing another one of these calls where it’s mid-day for me and super late for you. Typical when you’re dealing with people that work around the world. One thing that is just fascinating to me about you is you effectively went from being a part-time VA, or virtual assistant, in the Philippines, to being partnered in a seven plus figure business. And so I thought this would be interesting for two reason, right? One, it’s inspiring for people that are working in a company on a way to kind of level up, on away to advance themselves in their career, but also get to partner and entrepreneurial levels, but also for people that are looking to hire or that have already hired and have a team. Maybe they can look for things in you or in this chat that we’re going to have, that may be a sign that they have someone on their team that’s looking for more, or they can find people that can advance. You know what I mean?

Jay:                        Mm-hmm (affirmative). For sure, for sure. I’m excited, man.

Justin:                   Alright, so let’s talk a little bit about your background and your story, and how you started. You basically quit school and went to work as a virtual assistant on Odesk. Tell me a little bit about that.

Jay:                        I think it all started when I was 18 years old. I was on my second year of college, and sadly, World of Warcraft just came out, and I got addicted to it. [inaudible 00:06:53] made me drop out of school for about a year. But, at that time, my eldest sister set me straight, put me back on track, and then challenged me into making something out of myself. So at that point, I went back to school. But I didn’t have money to pay for my school because my parents wouldn’t pay for it anymore. So I started this job at this fast-food chain, but after a year-and-a-half of working and studying at the same time, I decided that school just wasn’t right for me. So that’s when I jumped into online work. That’s when I applied to Odesk, and when I applied on Odesk, I think that’s when I met Kurt Phillip. I think he was my second employer. For you guys who don’t know who Kurt Phillip is, he’s that awesome dude behind CRO Guy, so yeah, pretty good dude.

Justin:                   Yeah, we’re actually working with Kurt right now, starting here in Q1 2018, on some conversion rate optimization stuff. So he’s helping us work on our CRO stuff. And we’ve been friends for quite a while, and you’ve known him for quite a while as well. So, yeah, interesting. So he hired you on Odesk, and you were doing some part-time SEO stuff. Did you much about SEO at this time, or was it a work in progress, you were figuring it out?

Jay:                        When I quit school, I absolutely did not anything about SEO, so my first instinct was, since I didn’t have resources to get my business started, what I did was I just started doing VA stuff to learn about SEO, and that’s when I met Kurt. He made me do super basic stuff like blog comments, forum legs, setting up social profiles, and then, I think from that, it went on to watching OMG videos for him. He’d made me watch all these OMG videos and take notes for him, so he doesn’t have to watch it himself. So yeah.

Justin:                   You got to learn quite a bit by watching those OMG videos, and getting up to speed. He had you doing some basic tasks, but then something happened. It turned and things didn’t go well, and you were barely working for Kurt. Tell me what happened there.

Jay:                        I think it wasn’t focusing too much on SEO during that the time, so he kind of put me on a retainer just to keep me employed. But then I wasn’t working too much for him for about a year, until he just said, just keep waiting, cuz he’s looking for a partner, cuz he had a good idea in mind. I think after about a year, that’s when he met Matt Diggity. They started LeadSpring during that time, and they invited me to apply for the apprenticeship program.

Justin:                   Great, so, Kurt met up with Matt, and they started working together on LeadSpring, and when they did that, they said, hey, we’re looking for an apprentice. Why don’t you apply? And you applied along with others, I’m guessing, for the apprenticeship. Did you think you had a chance at getting the apprenticeship with these guys at first? Did they invite you, you applied, and you knew you were going to get it? What was the application process like, and what were your thoughts there?

Jay:                        A bunch of people were trying to apply. I think I had a good chance, not because of skill because I wasn’t very good at SCO back then. I think the one thing that helped me get the position was I was pretty good friends with Kurt, and he knew what I was about when it comes to working. He knew I was going to bust my ass to get the job done. I think that is what helped me to get that position.

Justin:                   And this is 2014, 2015 or so. And 2015, you started the apprenticeship with Kurt and Matt. Were you working with them directly? Did you fly out from the Philippines to Thailand? What was the story there?

Jay:                        Yeah, it was my first time actually leaving the Philippines, so the only way that I could actually get the job was to fly out to Chiang Mai and do the training in Chiang Mai, so yeah, it was my first time out of the Philippines, and I was completely shocked. I was terrified, cuz it was my first time, and it was pretty new. But it was pretty fun too. They made it more fun, and they made it more comfortable for me, even though it was my first time, and I was training all day with Kurt for the morning and Matt in the afternoon. It was just a lot of work, but eventually, it paid off.

Justin:                   That’s freaky. You know, we bring a lot of new people on board, and a lot of times they’re coming from the US or the UK or Australia or whatever. We basically have them fly halfway around the world to start with us in a new country, places that maybe they’ve never been or maybe they’ve visited once but are now going to go live and work there. And it can be daunting, I think. Were there any reservations for you, or were you, like, no, I’m all in, I’ll figure it out when I get there?

Jay:                        Yeah, she set it up for me. That was one thing that really made me like this company a lot more, cuz when I got there, Kurt already set up my house. The first time I got there, I was just sleeping, and then the next day he took me out to get SIM cards, set up the stuff like bikes, so I was in good hands. They pretty much set everything up for me. For the rest of my stay in Chiang Mai, for the next two months, they were just treating me out to dinner, paying for everything. I didn’t have to pay a single dime, so it was a pretty good move for them.

Justin:                   Yeah, I think that’s typical when you’re hiring someone and you’re bringing them out is it’s much better for you as an employer to set them up with a place, set them up with SIM cards, get them comfortable and take care of all that for them. Cuz there’s a lot of decision-making and confusion around trying to get set up in a new place. So if you can take care of that for them, then they’re going to be able to work, and they’re going to be able to learn, and do all the things that you want them to do for the job. And since you’re already on the ground, you already know the layout. It’s easier for you to get them set up than it is for them to try to do it on their own. So instead of just bringing them out and having them find an apartment and do all that, if you can have them land and be set up right away and be ready to work and ready to get down to business, I think that’s really important.

Jay:                        Yeah, I think that is what’s expected these days.

Justin:                   So I met you shortly after that, I think. You were in Chiang Mai for a couple of months, and then you guys went to Bangkok. I don’t remember why you were there, but we ended up meeting for dinner or something with Kurt. I can’t remember if Matt was there. We ended up meeting up and hanging out a little bit. You were only a couple months into it at that point, right?

Jay:                        Yeah, I think I was about four months in. I think the reason why we were in Bangkok is we were trying to sell a website on Empire Flippers. I think that’s the reason we came over to Bangkok.

Justin:                   Ah, so you came out to meet us. I completely forgot that. That’s great that we got to meet up. So you started this apprenticeship, and this is where you really got some SEO chops, right? I mean, this is kind of where you sharpened your teeth in SEO. How did that happen? Was it you sitting down and working Matt and Kurt regularly? Was it more video training? Was it you trying to figure things out on your own? How did you get up to speed there?

Jay:                        It was mostly training with Matt directly. As for SOPs, we didn’t have one back then. And since I was going through the training, I was actually the one creating the SOP for the next guys. It was a pretty long process, but it was pretty good.

Justin:                   Yeah, that makes sense. We often have our apprentices document their training, document their work. It makes it a lot easier when you want to pass that on to someone else. That’s one of the points of apprentices is that you’re not stepping into a role that’s clearly defined. As an apprentice, you’re helping to define that role. That’s part of your job is to help lay out what that is. So you were given some instructions in terms of what you needed to do, and the work you needed to do. Was there any kind of like, you know, where you need off-script, I guess, or was it just do this, do this, step one through ten?

Jay:                        It was mostly stuff that I kinda know, but still need to figure out, but yeah, it was a lot of that. But the good thing was, Matt guided me throughout the whole process. After that, I was always hungry to learn more. I was asking, “hey what else can I do? What else can I help you out with?”, which helped me establish myself in the company also. I think that’s what they appreciated about me the most was because I was always open to new challenges and just to learn more and just hunger for new stuff

Justin:                   Gotcha, so in 2015, you were paid a fixed amount, but they basically paid for travel. They paid for some the dinners and that kind of thing, but you were paid a fixed amount at first. And then that shifted to profit-share at some point. How did that conversation happen? How did that decision get made?

Jay:                        I think it was about 3 or 4 months in when that started, so I was getting paid a fixed amount. They were paying for my housing, and all my travels and those kinds of stuff. And they were, like, hey, we want to reward you for your hard work, so how about we get you on profit-share for all the projects that you’re managing? I think they gave me about, I don’t know, like 5, 6% at that point, and I was pretty happy because that’s a pretty big move for them because I don’t see too many people doing with for their employees, so I was pretty stoked.

Justin:                   Obviously, you have your base salary, plus you have some upside in it. I need to mention for our listeners what LeadSpring does. LeadSpring finds partners and clients, and then partners with them, provides SEO services to improve the website or online business, and then splits the gains. So let’s say the business is making $20,000 a month. They come to you and say, hey, I think we can improve our SEO and do better. Let’s say they get up to $30,000 a month, you split that $10,000 in additionally earnings. Does that describe it pretty well?

Jay:                        Pretty much, pretty much, but the contract varies sometimes. Sometimes you do profit-share. Sometimes you do commission. It’s all different. It’s mostly based on what your company is or what your business is. We take a look at businesses individually, and then go from there.

Justin:                   What’s interesting, too, is you guys help people that are looking to potentially sell, and get their earnings up, and then get a piece and some of the benefit of the actual sale based on the improvement of the business. So that’s a potential big upside for you, but also for the people selling, right? And then you also work with people who have bought websites and online businesses that are looking to improve it, and they can take it to you, and you can work with them on that. You know, as those earnings go up, that’s a residual benefit to you. Now you guys are continually tweaking and improving to make business even better, but you get some upside on that longer term.

Jay:                        For sure, for sure, yeah. And we’re looking for just online businesses. We not sticking to just affiliate SEO, because when we first started, we were just looking for affiliate websites, but now we’re expanding to e-commerce websites, client sites, Legion, and all that kind of stuff. As long as your business is online, we’re looking forward to working with you, as long as it matches our requirements.

Justin:                   Gotcha. So we’ve established that and kind of what LeadSpring is all about. Now in 2016, you were still working as an apprentice. You got on profit-share with Matt, and then at some point in 2016, you started handling 100% of LeadSpring projects. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know, Matt Diggity, you know, a friend of mine and yours, has a bunch of different SEO projects going one. He runs a conference now out of Chiang Mai, so he’s pretty busy, and you ended up basically taking over this piece of the business through 2016. It was in 2016 that some of your partners and clients started selling their businesses with us as well.

Jay:                        Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. I think that’s when it all started. Yeah.

Justin:                   Yeah, that was kind of a big time. After 2016, there was a point at which you went from apprentice to partner at LeadSpring, and actually go equity in the business. How did that happen? Why did that happen? What’s the story there?

Jay:                        I think there’s two major points when it comes to that. Number one is loyalty, of course. When it comes to SEO, I’m sure you know this, there’s a lot of ups and downs. You get Google updates. You get Amazon accounts getting banned, and all that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of ups and downs. So I stuck through all that stuff, and they appreciated it. The next thing is just learning. When I remember starting at LeadSpring, I remember them giving me task to do, and whenever I finish it, I always ask them, what else can I do? What else can I do? I think that helped me become irreplaceable to them, and also helped me learn more about the company, so after some time, it just made me super important to the company because they were relying on me too much now.

Justin:                   Yeah, because you were working on all the accounts. You basically managed all the accounts for LeadSpring by the end of 2016, so in Q2, 2016, Matt came to you and said, hey, let’s sit down. Let’s talk about this. How did that work? What did he offer? What were you thinking?

Jay:                        Yeah, they came up to me one day. They were, like, yeah, I think you deserve this because you’ve been working your ass off, and we want to reward you for that. They came up to me and gave me some numbers, and I wasn’t going to decline it, for sure. I was pretty happy. I was, like, yeah, for sure, I’ll work with you guys as a partner. Everything’s pretty awesome.

Justin:                   What equity stake did you get? Did they hold any back, or was it all just given up front?

Jay:                        They just gave it all up front.

Justin:                   Okay, because, well, some of the ways you can do this is to tie people, or stick them with you a little longer, is you can give a percentage over time, so you vest in. Five percent a year for the next six or ten percent a year for the next three years, something like that. But it was just straight up, you’re a partner in this business from today on. You’ll be a part of the distributions and everything. Thanks, and nice partnering with you?

Jay:                        Yeah, exactly. It was just like, okay, here it is. Take it. I’m like, okay.

Justin:                   God, Matt’s crazy. You know, I know other guys like this too, where they’re able to just do that. I think the reason is because he’s got a bunch of different businesses he’s in, so he’s constantly looking for sharp talented to help him. Whereas, he doesn’t just have one business, right? Where like, that would be, I think, crazy, if LeadSpring was his only company. Just kind of like, Hey, you’re running this, here’s a piece, you know, good luck. But because he’s involved in a bunch of things and needs people he trusts and people that are hardworking and getting shit done. You were probably just a good fit for that, you think?

Jay:                        Yeah, for sure. I think one thing that most people don’t know about Matt is that he’s a big giver, and he’s always generous when it comes to compensation or information, like he never holds back. If you deserve it, he’s just going to give it to you.

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s cool. Let’s kind of shift gears a little bit and talk about, from an employer’s perspective, someone’s who’s listening to this podcast, and they’re like, how do I find a Jay? How do I find a Jay that I want to hire? I want an apprentice like him. How do I get him? What do you think employers can look for in [inaudible 00:22:02]

Jay:                        That’s a pretty tough question. If you’re looking for someone to do SEO, definitely look for gamers. Gamers are pretty good SEOs. That’s one of our main requirements when it comes to hiring people.

Justin:                   Really?

Jay:                        You have to be a gamer, cuz you’ve got to be pretty good with computers, and gamers are always fast thinkers, creative, always looking for solution, always looking for a way out, so yeah, they’re a pretty good hire.

Justin:                   Outside of the box solutions, that’s funny. Yeah, that’s so funny. There’s some truth to that too. A lot of SEOs, honestly, online entrepreneurs have done some level of gaming in the past. That’s interesting.

Jay:                        Well, I think one thing is, the biggest thing is hunger. What I used to do when I’m hiring people is that I’d email all of them to submit me questions, and then I wouldn’t reply to them for two or three days. And then whoever follows up, those are the ones that I actually take into consideration because they’re were following up, just to check in, like, how’s it going, because they actually want to get the job. So that’s one trick that I do.

Justin:                   That’s a good sign for us when we’re hiring apprentices. We have a lot of our applicants do it this last time, where they will do thank you email follow ups, but even more, they’ll give a call. They’ll actually have a chat with some of our current team and ask them about the company, what they think is successful there, what they think’s not successful. They’ll ask previous employees or apprentices and ask them what their experiences are. They’ll ask about where the company’s going and how they would be a part of that growth. So those of the types of things that we look for in apprentice hires that we think is generally a good sign. Those are good things apprentices can do to make themselves stand out, but also show that they’re hungry, and they’ll likely to be with us quite a while.

                                I have connection to the Philippines. I lived there for quite a while. We ran an outsourcing company out of the Philippines. My wife is from the Philippines. Tell me a little bit about hiring Filipinos. What should people look for when they’re hiring a virtual assistant or apprentice from the Philippines? What should they avoid?

Jay:                        One thing, though, that you guys gotta expect when it comes to Filipinos, is that you need to push them a little bit more. Some of them are just happy-go-lucky kind of people, so yeah, you gotta push them a lot. It’s kind of hard in the Philippines, but you can find a lot of good gems.

Justin:                   It’s actually interesting. What do you think about crab mentality in the Philippines. It can be tough, because when you run a team of Filipinos, some of them may be trying to take down the ones that are stepping up. So basically, they step up too high, and they get chopped down by others, and that’s something we ran across that we really didn’t like, being Americans. And look, this happens everywhere, quite honestly, but it was pronounced in the Philippines. I think identifying those ones that are stepping up on your team in the Philippines and giving them room to advance, and having them avoid the crab mentality, I think, is helpful.

Jay:                        Yeah, for sure. I think it stems from just being Asian. Asians are more family-oriented, so you hear a lot in the Philippines, they have an excuse always, hey, like, one of my relatives is sick, or something like that. Or my mom needs money, or I need an advance payment, or something like that.

Justin:                   Yeah, American’s struggle. They don’t understand that. They’re like, okay, so your second cousin is sick, so what? I’d be like, okay, send them flowers and get back to work. In a Filipino family, these loose connections that would be considered kind of family in the US are like close family in the Philippines, and it’s like super important. People are taking care of each other to crazy degrees in the Philippines. For Americans, that can be confusing and frustrating. It’s like, look, just get back to work. But they don’t understand the culture and what’s going on there.

Jay:                        Yeah, for sure, like most Filipinos live with their families and it’s not just your parents, or your brothers and sisters. Actually a lot of them live with cousins, too, and grandparents. Everyone’s in the same house, so if they’re talking about their second cousin, it’s probably true.

Justin:                   [crosstalk 00:26:17] And the other thing is, too, that we found value, in like, if you want to treat or reward your team, because generally their pay, they get some of that money, but a lot of it is kicked up to the family or the house they’re living in. It’s kind of like, almost, community money. Whereas, if you’re able to provide an experience, like a trip, or something that they wouldn’t normally do for themselves or pay for themselves, you’re able to give it to them as a treat that’s outside of just giving them more money where it go to the family. Now, the family needs it, and that’s great, and they should be paid fairly, but giving them trips or travel or experiences that are not just financially related can be really valuable.

Jay:                        Yeah, which reminds me, when I first started at LeadSpring, they were buying my trips. I was like, yes, this is great! The money was pretty good, but what I appreciated most was them taking me out to different countries, which I’ve never experienced in my life, so I was pretty grateful for that one.

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s one of those loyalty pieces, right? It’s important in any business, but particularly in SEO because once you learn some tricks, once you learn some of the ways SEO works, you can go off pretty easily and go work on your own. And that’s one of the things you didn’t do. I mean, you stuck with the guys that had trained you, and part of that was your loyalty to them, and part of that was due to the fact that they treated you well. And so you felt that loyalty to them. And you liked them, obviously. But I think that helped and kept you on board to the point where you end up being partner in the business.

Jay:                        Yeah, I’d probably give this credit to Kurt. When I first started at Lead Spring, they were taking me out partying every single night when I first got here. I think that kind of established the culture of the company, like, just being super close friends, and like being a family, and just looking out for each other, and I think that’s what got me to like, hey, I want to do everything for this company. That’s what it all started.

Justin:                   How do you view the VA culture now that you’re kind of out, right? So you’ve partnered with this business. You’re back in the Philippines visiting family and hanging out, but you’re also out traveling and being and expat in multiple countries. Obviously, your family’s still close to you. You go back and visit them. You’re not sending all your money to the community pot anymore, right? You’re building your entrepreneurial path and your dreams now. Do you view it any differently, like your days as a VA? Or do you view it the same?

Jay:                        I still view it the same. It was a pretty good process. It was pretty hard, but I wouldn’t change any of it, like going through all that stuff, going through all the hard work. It was all important, and it shaped me to what I am now. So, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Justin:                   Alright, man, let’s talk a little bit your guys’ plans for LeadSpring, and this is if anyone wants to take a look. What do you do for partners at LeadSpring? Someone comes to you with a business. Tell me exactly what you’ll do to help them out, and what you look for.

Jay:                        Well, let’s start off with what we look for. We’re looking for established online businesses. If you’re looking to offload your SEO work, we’re the guys for that. Also, we’re trying to look for people that have a company, and they’re looking to scale their company, and we can help with that. Right now, we’re just getting a bunch of clients, a bunch of different stuff. I think we just signed a Legion site recently, so it’s pretty good.

Justin:                   Will you work with [inaudible 00:30:01] associates sites? Do you work with Adsense sites? Do you work with a lead gen site, like Campus Explorer? Do you work with e-commerce businesses? Are there any types of businesses that you won’t work with?

Jay:                        If you’re an online business and you’re established, that’s our minimum criteria. And we’re not too picky. We actually look at everything. We look at tred SEO. We look at Legion. We look in at Amazon sites. Pretty much anything, as long as you’re online, we’re going to take a look at it.

Justin:                   Do you have minimum earnings or traffic requirements?

Jay:                        I wouldn’t say minimum, but just like with you guys, if a site is pretty small, then the ROI is pretty small, so we prefer working with somewhat bigger clients.

Justin:                   So they’re going to need to make at least a few thousand dollars a month. I mean, if they’re making 500 bucks a month, that’s just not worthwhile, obviously.

Jay:                        Yeah.

Justin:                   Gotcha. Okay, and then let’s say that I have an FBA business, but I have no website. I have no online presence there, and I say hey, I want to set up a website and have you guys grow an online presence with LeadSpring. That’s not something you do, right? So, starting from scratch on the side of the business, you won’t work with that. There has to already be a website that could benefit from SEO.

Jay:                        It’s not exactly what we’re looking for because if you’re doing SEO, it’s going to take a lot of time, and there’s a lot of uncertainty, so yeah, it’s not what we’re trying to look for. When we start a website, you’re not going to know if it’s going to rank or not, so yeah, there’s too much uncertainty.

Justin:                   When you guys look at the customers or the partners that you’ve worked with, with LeadSpring, that worked out best, what were the characteristics of those? Were they large earners? Were they high-traffic, low-earnings, like, you know what I mean, you did some CRO to help them? Was it mostly just they were ranked on the second page and you got them to mid or the top of the first page? What are the criteria that’s a sign of a good fit?

Jay:                        When we first started, we were just taking a bunch of small sites, like thousand dollar site, like 2000, and then most of the gains that we’ve seen came from auditing their websites, looking for holes that we can fix on onsite TO, because when it comes to SEO, onsite is 90% of the problem, and offsite is just supplementing it. SO we audit the sites. See things we can improve on. Improve the site. Build more pages that can get traffic to the website, and then CRO the hell out of the website, and then just 5x the revenue.

Justin:                   How do you lock them in, Jay? So let’s say I come to you, and I’ve got a site making, say $5000 a month. I work with you for 3, 4 months and it goes up to $7-8000 a month, and they say, hey I’m outta here. I’m not working with you anymore.

Jay:                        First off, we have a contract. You can either buy us out, or the only we can split is to buy us out. Also it doesn’t make sense for you to split ways because with us, we take over everything single thing about SEO, like content and doing a [inaudible 00:32:58], doing SEO on your website, expanding your website. So we’re taking up so much work that you wouldn’t want to split up with us because we’re doing all the work. You don’t have to do anything. You just have to sit back and relax and get more money. So there’s no reason for you to want to split up.

Justin:                   And they get the gains, and you guys are splitting those gains with them. So they can buy you out, so that’s interesting there’s an opportunity for that. So they’re not stuck. I mean, because you don’t want to be stuck in a bad partnership where neither side’s happy, right? That’s just not good for anyone. So an opportunity to buy themselves out is good. What are you guys’ long-term goals with LeadSpring? Do you guys want to continue to grow? Are you looking for an exit at some point? Do you want to build a larger team? What’s the plan there?

Jay:                        We are looking to just scale more. We’re looking for bigger clients. We’re also doing more home-grown sites. We’re building a lot of affiliate sites. We’re building an e-commerce site too. So we’re trying to expand the company. We’re also hiring more apprentices, and yeah, we’re looking to grow, hard-core.

Justin:                   Awesome, Jay. I think this will be helpful for anyone looking to hire apprentices or anyone with a team that’s looking for people they may be able to advance. I think it’s also to be inspiring to people that are apprentices now, or are working for someone else and they’re looking for ways they can move up in the company. Jay, obviously, if people listening to this are interested in potentially partnering with you, then go over to, and take a look and be in contact. What other ways can people contact you or find you online?

Jay:                        You can contact us through or you can email me or Matt Diggity. You can email Matt at, or you can email me at Those are pretty easy to contact us.

Justin:                   Awesome, Jay. Well, hey, man, thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Jay:                        No problem, it was pretty fun.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire Podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:                   Alright, Joe, let’s talk some news and updates, buddy. First off, we just finished a team meet-up with our team in Borocay, Philippines, and had a blast. Couple of weeks in the fun and the sun, and doing a little bit of work. How do you think it went overall?

Joe:                        Yeah, it was great, I mean, internet was a little bit of a struggle, which anyone who did phone calls with me can attest to, but overall it was great to get with the team. We had a huge villa and an apartment, kind of right next to each other, so there was plenty of little rooms to hang out with, have meetings, get away, work, that kind of thing, and get to know each other. As a distributed team, I think these meetups are so important, and we really picked a good place to collaborate and get work done, and get to know each other at the same time, I think.

Justin:                   Yeah, aside from the internet, I mean, it was a really big with this great view of the beach, and we got to get a bunch of work done. A lot of our team that’s relatively new, that’d been with us less than a year, haven’t met other people on the team, so it was great to get them together, and get them to hang out with some other people who have been around a little longer. I think it helps with our culture a bit. It helps everyone to understand a little bit more about what we’re doing. Based on this episode as well, it gives us a chance to look, you and I and our managers, to look for opportunities with people on their team to see if there are other things they can do, if there are ways they can expand or spread their wings that will benefit them and the company, so that was pretty cool.

Joe:                        You’re also heading to the US. I know we were just talking about the before we got on the show, man. You’re flying to the US on Friday. Talk about the conferences you’re heading towards.

Justin:                   Yeah, I’ll be hitting up MicroConf in Las Vegas over the next week, and then I’ll be headed down to the IBBA, or the International Business Broker’s Association conference in New Orleans. Do the one-two punch, and then back to Asia. But if you’re in those cities, please let me know, I would love to meet up.

Joe:                        Yeah, but if there’s an Empire Flippers meet-up, I think we got open bar something in Vegas, so if anyone’s interested in that, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. And then of course, you’re always down to hang out with some people in New Orleans. You’re gonna go pick up some awards. That’ll be fun. We’ll talk about that on the next show as well, I’m sure.

Justin:                   Another thing I want to mention for our listeners is we now have EF Live, if you haven’t seen it. I’ll link to it, but you’ll see it on YouTube. You’ll see it on Facebook, and we are basically doing live events, as he interviews the people on our team, interviews the customers, interviews with other professionals that are round buying and selling online businesses. It’s run by Jake who’s part of our marketing team. I think you’ll really enjoy it, so make sure to check out that show. And then the last bit of news we have to share is that we’ve recently made some changes to our commission structure that we want to let everyone know about. This primarily affects larger businesses, so we’re talking seven-figure-deals and above, and our commission ranges, instead of just a blanket 15%, now range from 8% to 15%, depending on the size of the deal. This is put in place mostly because we wanted to attract some of those larger deals, and also make sure that our pricing is in line with the value that we’re providing, and I think this makes sense across the board.

Joe:                        Yeah, so it’s 15% up to a million dollars, 12% from one million to two million, 10% from two to five million, and 8% over five million. We were getting some feedback from some of the large sellers on our list that they thought it was little out of step with the rest of the market. We looked into that, and made that change.

Justin:                   Alright, let’s do some listener shouts, also known as the indulgent, ego-boosting social proof segment. First up, we’ve got a tweet from Garren on Twitter who said, How much is the minimum revenue per month to list with Empire Flippers? This is a great question, Garren. Right now, we have a $500 per month on average minimum for Adsense sites and Amazon Associates sites and really basic affiliate sites. So they need to be making at least $500 a month in profit. That’s a minimum. So if we look over the last 3, 6, 9, 12 months, we want to see about $500 or more, just for those types of websites. Now if we’re talking almost any other type of website or business, we’re looking for a minimum of $1000 a month in profit, so if you have a drop shipping site that does $10,000 a month in sales, averages $1000 a month in profit, that would qualify as long as it’s over the last 3 months, over the last 6 months, that kind of thing.

                                So we’ve moved up a little bit, but one of the reasons for this is just the fact that the smaller a site is, or the less a site earns, the more unstable it is, and so our buyers are really looking for stability, they’re looking for longer periods of earning history, and this helps to meet those requirements in things they’re looking to purchase.

Joe:                        Yeah, I would just say, they’re looking for predictability, and while there’s no guarantees in life, if we have a site that makes $12,000 in one month, October, and then makes zero the rest of the time, that’s not very predictable, and that’s very hard for someone to buy in, let’s say, May, and decide that they’re going to wait until maybe October and get that money. So that’s why we try to look at averages and we try to keep it pretty steady so that our buyers have something they can depend on.

Justin:                   Yeah, I just had to respond to someone who said they were rejected. A seller was rejected and he’s like, what’s going on? I average more than $1000 a month. I think over the last 12 months, it averaged $1900 a month in profit. And I looked into it for him and got back to him. I was like, yes, over the last 12 months, it did average $1900 a month in profit, but over the last three months, it averaged, I think it was $280 or $380 or something, well below the minimum. I said the problem with that is, that’s the last three months. There’s some kind of problem with the business or at least it’s really, really low right now, to the point of, like, you know, that’s a serious decline in the business, and buyers aren’t interested in it. Now, it may have been seasonal, but that’s not what it looked like from the numbers, so it just didn’t make a lot of sense based on this. It just wouldn’t work for our buyers, I think.

Joe:                        Alright, man, I got a couple of nice mentions. We’re mentioned on Dropship Lifestyles, one of the best podcasts for drop shippers. They’re over at I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. We also got a shout from our buddy Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income on his Ask Pat series, and I’ll link to that as well.

Justin:                   That’s it for episode 175 of the Empire podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. Be back soon with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at and make sure to follow us on Twitter at empire flippers. See you next time.

Joe:                        Bye bye, everybody.

Speaker 2:           Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire Podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.


  • Can relate a lot to this one. When I first started my SEO company in the Philippines, my very best people came from an internet cafe down the street. Hard core gamers.

    We believe in doing a lot of trips and experiences with our team at least every month. Many team members have been with us for years.

    On a side, bought Matt’s course to keep up with SEO and Jay does a great job. Great interview as always J.

    • Greg Elfrink says:

      Hey Daniel!

      Glad you enjoyed the interview. Jay’s story is truly inspiring for sure. It is amazing what can be accomplished within a few years of hard work.

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