390 - Noah Kagan
Noah Kagan is the co-founder and Chief Sumo (CEO) of AppSumo, the #1 daily deals site for entrepreneurs. Since its founding in 2010, it has saved 1.5M+ entrepreneurs over $550,000,000 via software deals.
He was previously employee #30 at Facebook and employee #4 at Mint.
And now, he is an author. He just published his new book Million Dollar Weekend: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours.
He has two primary workspaces. An office for the majority of his work and a studio where he does all of his recording for his 1,000,000+ YouTube subscribers. Let's take a look.
Inside Noah's Workspace(s)
The below interview is lightly edited and condensed for clarity from an audio recording.
What is the most useful item in your workspace(s)?
So I've got two spaces... I have my office and I have my studio.
I'd say in the office which is the one with the iMac that it's my 3x5 cards... and it's the view. You can see the 3x5 cards on the desk and it's just kind of like "yo what are you doing today?" and keeps me focused on the things I really need to do and I also just love having light.
You can change your environment pretty easily where you work like you can go to a Starbucks, you can go to a hotel lobby, you can try different places... being able to not work from a kitchen table which I did for 15 years (and still do sometimes) it's really nice to have something to look outside at and get some nice sun.
The #1 most useful item in the studio where we record the videos is the Steam Deck from Elgato. I can literally come in and hit one button and be on a podcast with someone else, do my own video, or I could do a podcast if someone comes in person.
You know, you hear these ideas like if you want to workout put your shoes outside, it's the same thing with creating content. How do you make it zero friction? So, it's been super lucky to be able to walk in the room, hit a button, and it's just recording.
How do you spark creativity?
I'll tell you, it's not at a desk. Almost every time I have some idea, it's anywhere that there's not technology. So... going on a walk, talking to an interesting person, going in the sauna, being on my bicycle.
A lot of times with creativity you can get from looking at totally opposite industries. For my book launch party, my girlfriend and I were looking at baby showers. I was like "oh wow that's actually kind of interesting... looking at different baby showers and using that as inspiration for our book launch party".
So I'd say most creativity comes where you're not.
What was the most challenging aspect of growing AppSumo in the early days?
It was honestly really fun! It was like I found something that I liked and people wanted.
So, I think the challenging aspect early on is what do you do when you plateau?
So, maybe in year 3 after things subsided, we're trying a lot of things and nothing was working. And I think that moment in all of our businesses where sometimes it's just not working just yet but it's been working. Just trying to be patient.
How did we solve that? We stuck with it.
We hired people who could support sticking with it as well. You don't have to do it alone.
Why did you write Million Dollar Weekend? What did this process look like from start to finish?
For Ryan Gilbert (laughs). I think when you're doing a business think about "who?". Ideally you're the first customer and then who's your second?
It's someone like Ryan Gilbert that maybe lives in Wisconsin or maybe they're in Northern England but it's an individual who's always wanted to start their own business. They've probably tried it, maybe they've watched some fake gurus, read a lot of indie hackers like myself and then just want a simpler path.
And so it's the book I always wish I had for myself and now I can give it to people like yourself too.
Otherwise, think about it... if someone said "hey I want to start a business" what's the book you give them? Million Dollar Weekend. Because you don't need a lot of money and don't need a lot of time to actually get it going and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.
The process from start to finish was a four year journey. About 15+ years ago I had a dream to write a book so it started then. But I never felt ready, and that's kind of what Million Dollar Weekend is about too... it's like we're never ready, you're never ready to get your first customer, you're never ready to post on Facebook "hey does anyone want my photos?", or you're never ready to send the text message that's like "hey can I do this service for someone?", but you can do it right now.
I think we all have to believe that there is something that we can have out there with optimism.
And then the journey was something I wanted. And I thought okay this is going to be a long and hard project and I wanted to commit to something hard and I think once people do that for themselves they almost always appreciate that "damn I did that hard thing and I'm proud of myself".
So I was like I'm going to do a four year project, which is how long books take.
This project started in March, 2020. The book came out January, 2024. And I like that. I wanted that.
So the process was definitely super long.
High level it was have a belief and dream and go after it.
And I got rejected in the beginning. My agent was like "you're not serious". Then I took it serious. Which I think is something for people to think about like "are you actually taking things serious?".
I always imagine the analogy of trying to swim but you dip your toe in the water and you don't actually get in the water. Of course you're not going to learn how to swim.
So maybe people can think about what's the long cut instead of the short cut.
I spent a year writing the proposal. I spent two years writing the book with my dream writer. Find people around you to support you that are better than you, so Tahl Raz, I cold emailed him and ended up being able to work with him. Then I spent about a year working on the launch and marketing.