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Justin Smith’s Trip From Obama-Land To Vada-Pav Land


Constantly I’m hearing negative remarks on “outsourcing” or “going off shore”  and to be completely honest I’ve even encountered my fair share of liars and thieves on oDesk. But anytime I get discouraged with my off shore team I suddenly get very hungry thinking of Vada Pav’s and Samosa Pows from the street food vendors in Mumbai. Okay, I’m clearly joking, but the food in India really is worth the trip itself.

Vada Pev
I started thinking back on my last visit to India, where for the first time I was able to sit down face to face and enjoy the company of the two guys who have made just about everything I have going for me now possible. Not only have we become friends over the years of working together, these guys are in my opinion the perfect business partners.  I met Partha on eBay of all places in 2009. I hired him to do some link building for a client and his services kicked major butt. I knew he was someone I would know for the rest of my life from day one.

He eventually invested his sweat equity into doing the SEO work for a project I was working on at the time called Property Management Ads. We penned it as a 50/50 partnership where I would handle the web development and operations and his team would handle the SEO. We generated a little revenue, had about 50 property management companies list their properties with us over the first 60 days. We built out an API with plans to develop the rest of the “Condo Rental Ads” network using syndicated rental listings (condorentalads.com, apartmentrentalads.com, officerentalads.com, warehouserentalads.com, rentsinglefamily.com, collegerentalads.com, etc) – but then we started making money together elsewhere and temporarily dropped the ball. It’s still on hold to this day, with plans to resume development sometime in the near future.

I met Roshan on Fiverr.com in 2011, about two years after I met Partha. I think I ordered like 80 or so $5 gigs on Fiverr and he created a light weight email marketing script that would later become a fully fledged outbound marketing automation platform that we still use to generate sales every single day.  We continued to work together on various small projects and then one day we discussed teaming up for the benefit of both our businesses.

Justin Smith and Roshan Sethia

Roshan Sethia & Justin Smith embarking on a night of shisha and bowling in Mumbai, India.

In 2010 and 2012 I was mostly selling SEO on oDesk and Freelancer and Partha’s team was fulfilling the contracts. My bills were slowly getting paid but I was still having trouble paying my $1200/month Sallie Mae loans. Then one day it occurred to me that we needed to take our unique selling propositions (competition based pricing and guaranteed results) and package them together as a brand. That idea eventually came into existence with the advent of Dollar SEO Club. I had a few “tested and proven developers” I could have went to, but Roshan and one of his friends Vikram was the clear choice as they had proven to be reliable time and time again. We built the first version of DSC which offered SEO at $1 per keyword per day, and integrated with some really cool API’s like MaxMind Geo-Location, AuthorityLabs, SEMRush and Web SEO Analytics. It was fresh and it was functional, far from perfect, but it got the job done.

In January, 2013 I decided to hop on a plane with my video team at the time and head to India. We were greeted by a swarm of mosquitos which left a gnarly bump on my forehead just about the entire time I was there.  Here is a photo of me with my buddy Clyde at Mani Bhavan  (Gandhi’s residence from 1917-1934).

Justin Smith at Mani Bhaven

With my buddy Clyde at Mani Bhaven (Gandhi’s Bombay Residence) in the heart of Mumbai.

Fun fact: Justin Smith visited Mani Bhavan in January 2013, 38 months after United States President Obama in November 2010. President Obama visited the historic site nearly 60 years after Martin Luther King in the 1950’s.

DSC v2 is underway now, SEO has changed quite a bit in the last year and to keep our clients on top of their game and continue stacking that paper, we’re going to keep on changing with it. Aside from DSC, Roshan and I also JV’d a couple other projects including Viral Video Voodoo (which has a FREE BETA about to drop). We have done some seemingly impossible things and I believe the video marketing technology we’ve managed to develop is going to change video on the internet altogether. And to think, none of this technology and none of these friendships would have ever come fruition if it wasn’t for me taking on a little risk and attempting to negotiate strategic partnerships with these friends I had met on the internet.

I hear about people not being able to find work, or not making enough money. This really confuses me to no end because it’s never been a problem for me. Anytime I’ve wanted something bad enough I’ve made it happen. I don’t see why anyone else couldn’t do the same. There are people who talk about doing stuff and there are people who just do it.

“Whether you do or you don’t, there is no try”

- Yoda in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back [1980]

 

You have to be a good communicator to find people you can count on regardless of their location or native language. If you can’t communicate you’re not going to get anywhere in life, on shore or off. You may try to save a little money trying to low ball people overseas (and likely end up spending even more than you would have just hiring a bad ass for $70/hr) or you may take the road less traveled like I’ve done and leverage a fair percentage of your business to get the right people aboard  at the right price. In my situation, when I started creating these online ventures with my homies in India, I had very little to offer anyone. They decided to contribute (invest) their time because they believed in the ideas and they believed in my ability to successfully bring whatever we create to market. I’ve learned to believe little of what I hear, especially from what I see in meme’s on the internet. I’ve built off-shore relationships that would last 1000 lifetimes and in my case, success probably wouldn’t have ever been possible if it wasn’t for these relationships.

One thing that should be considered is that good and bad people are everywhere. It’s important not to let one bad experience thwart you away from trying to succeed altogether. And certainly don’t be afraid to board a 16 hour flight to an unfamiliar land to do your business face to face. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. One thing is certain, you aren’t going to get anywhere if you don’t get up and make a real effort. How bad do you want it?



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Written by Justin Smith

Justin Smith is a proud libertarian who wants to get this corrupt government out of our lives. From 9-6 he's an internet marketing and web development consultant, best known as the creator of www.DollarSEOClub.com. In his free time he's always finding a way to give back, having co-founded www.PadsDr.org, a healthy homes initiative, and educating youth on the dangers and harms of drug addiction via www.DANC.us.