TMBA 447: The Suburban Entrepreneur

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Podcast 51:40 | Download | Stitcher | iTunes | Comment

Dan and Ian return this week with another unique entrepreneurial origin story.

In fact, today’s guest has built a business in the last four years that has revenues in the low seven figures and he now employs five employees.

Part of the reason we like to share these origin stories on the show is that there’s a moment for every one of us when we really truly did not believe that we could achieve this sort of thing.

Allen Walton knows that feeling all too well. Allen is the founder of SpyGuy.com, an eCommerce business which sells covert surveillance technology. Allen grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, and he still lives there today.

On today’s podcast, you’ll hear Allen share the story of how he grew SpyGuy.com to a seven-figure business, what happened when he cold-emailed Mark Cuban, and a whole lot more.

Transcript

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How Allen struggled with an addiction to online gaming. (8:28)
  • Allen’s first forays into the surveillance industry and eCommerce. (13:41)
  • How Allen landed a job interview by sending a cold email to Mark Cuban. (24:48)
  • Why Allen decided to start SpyGuy.com and how he felt when he sold his first product. (31:49)
  • Some of Allen’s favorite books about entrepreneurship. (45:36)

Mentioned in the episode:

This week’s sponsor:

This week’s episode is brought to you by Weebly. Don’t let the lack of a big budget or technology skills get in the way of having not only a beautiful website, but a powerful one. If you’ve got a product idea and you want to share it with the world, check out Weebly.com. As a special offer to listeners of this show, you can visit Weebly.com/TMBA to get 15% off your first purchase.

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In 2015, Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen sold their business for multi-seven figures, and although they don’t regret selling – there are many mistakes they made that were avoidable.

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Thursday morning 8AM EST. Cheers, Dan & Ian

Published on 06.28.18
  • Andrew Miller

    Another stellar episode, guys! As a “suburban” entrepreneur, whose location independent business allows me to travel for my children’s sports activities, these shows are inspiring. Just wish I could break-away for a trip to Barcelona like Allen :)

  • gregelizondo

    This felt like a ‘classic’ TMBA episode. Huge thanks to Allen for sharing his story! You should have him back on to talk tactics: e.g., ‘A Roadmap for Your First 6 Months in eCommerce’

    More origin story-style episodes please. Double thumbs up if they’re in the ecommerce space.

  • Thanks for listening Andrew, appreciate it. Barcelona ain’t going anywhere so take your time :)

  • Thanks Greg, we shamelessly ripped your copy for our email newsletter! :D Appreciate the feedback. Allen’s don’t come along everyday but we’ve got our nose to the ground.

  • Keegan McMullin

    Great episode! Like Greg mentioned, I’d like to see a followup episode to dig into the details and tactics.

  • Shaun McCarthy

    Loved this story guys, always inspiring to hear about the backstory and struggles. I’d love to hear more just like it. Keep smashing it Allen!

  • Evaldas Miliauskas

    quite fun story, when initially mentioning online gaming, I was thinking about gambling. What I liked besides the inspiration, is seeing the light side of spying, but I do wonder whats the ratio of ill intent vs legit reasons and does Allan have any moral questions about it, even tho its not on the scale of silk road. I’m not judging or anything just curious.

    Oh and regarding comments, I must say I still listen to some back catalog episodes, I think the wibe has changed in the last 100 or so, not saying its bad but I guess the engagement might be affected or just people got matured in the space and there is less activity, but this is just my take having listened to 95% of episodes so far :)

  • Allen Walton

    Thanks, Andrew! Maybe give DC Austin a go – it’s ‘local’ and you can manage 3 days away :)

  • Allen Walton

    Thanks, Shaun!

  • Allen Walton

    I’m down

  • Allen Walton

    Happy to share, Greg. Would be fun sharing more soon!

  • Allen Walton

    Hey Evaldas,

    No worries, I get this question often enough. After 9 years of doing the spy thing and talking with customers face-to-face, on the phone, live chats, emails….

    It sounds like 99% of customers we talk to aren’t using this stuff for sinister purposes. They have real, valid problems that our products solve. But, a huge amount of orders come to our website with no information at all about why they’re ordering.

    I compare it to any product sold at Wal-mart : they are all legal items with legal uses, but someone with bad intent can use it just for that, and nobody can control it.

  • Just wanted to add that I really loved working on this episode and I’ve shared it with a few of my “suburban” friends who have dabbled with entrepreneurship but have been afraid to take the plunge. Great story!

  • Allen Walton

    Dude, thanks! Hope to see you in BKK, it’s been awhile.

  • JP Ji

    Great episode Allen! We’ve met up a quite a few times but this is the first time I’ve heard your origin story =) Thanks for sharing. It’s hearing stories like these way back in the day that made me jump into entrepreneurship… if that guy can do it, then so can I! =P

  • Funny, was listening to the first half last week and figured I’d write in with a question for Allen when I had heard the whole thing – did not make the listening a priority until this evening and finished up with a gripe about the lack of commenting in the first place! So, here we are.

    Allen! Have you ever asked your father about that conversation you overheard? I obviously don’t know anything about you or your family beyond the show, but did you ever wonder if dear old dad is a genius at getting his son out the basement??? haha

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