There is more to podcasting than just talking and expecting people to listen to you. As the CTO of TetraNoodle, an entrepreneur, investor, and technology enthusiast, Manuj Aggarwal knows exactly how to bootstrap startups. In this episode, Manuj talks about his podcast Bootstrapping Your Dreams, how he started it, the mistakes he has made along the way, and the solutions to growing the show. He shares some tips on how he was able to book his guests using LinkedIn as well as how he encourages engagement amongst his listeners in the show and in real life.
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Bootstrapping Your Dreams with Manuj Aggarwal
I’ve been doing these great Center of Influence interviews with top podcasters. Some of them are newer. Some of them have been podcasting for a long time if you haven’t noticed, but they all have interesting tips and interesting journeys. Manuj Aggarwal who has Bootstrapping Your Dreams is one of them. I’m so excited to have him because he’s an entrepreneur, an investor and a technology enthusiast. Manuj started his career at fifteen working in a factory. He’s twelve hours a day, six days a week, $2 a day. It’s a different life than many of us and that is so interesting. He had no contacts. He was determined to make something out of himself. He managed to get an education and become a technical leader and CTO in multiple startups.
He knows how it is to be bootstrapping your life, let alone your dreams and your companies. He’s been interviewing interesting people who’ve also been bootstrapping their companies and talks about resilience, adaptability, bending the rules, serving the customer over your own desires and want to build something cool that happens way too often in the tech industry. He’s the Principal Consultant, Architect and CTO of a software consulting company called TetraNoodle based in Vancouver, Canada. He has helped various startups founders bootstrap their dreams and bring innovative products to market quickly and efficiently. I love that. It’s one of my favorite areas to talk about. We might have to do another interview at some point and do an Inc. article on bootstrapping innovation. We’ll have to talk about that further. Manuj, thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited. Thank you for that long introduction.
We’ve got to make sure everybody knows who you are. You started your podcast earlier in 2019 in February. What made you decide to start one?
I’ve been listening to podcasts on and off for years. I’ve been trying to expand my business. I bootstrapped it and I’m trying to get more clients and all that. Through that journey, I’ve been trying to understand digital marketing and how things work. I tried a lot of things with sales funnels, SEO, email marketing, what have you, like Facebook ads and everything. One of my good friends suggested that I tried podcasting and I’m like, “I don’t know about that.” I was intimidated because putting yourself out there in a live environment, it’s not something that I’ve done before. I didn’t even know whether I’ll be able to pull it off, but then I said, “Let’s give it a shot.” He gave me that advice and I was like, “Let’s put that on the back burner and see if I can do something around it.” As they say, things come together through sheer luck. I ran into a person who is an expert in getting podcasts started and help podcasters set up their infrastructure and get started with the podcast. I took that chance and then produced a couple of episodes. It was difficult to figure out how things will transpire like what is happening. It was total chaos initially, but then slowly I got the hang of it.
Now you’re 30-something episodes in and it’s starting to feel good.
We’re in 66 now.Listening to other podcasts brings in more ideas and relevance to your own show. Click To Tweet
When you submitted to me, it was 33. I was like, “I thought there was more,” because I thought that I’d listened to episode 50 or something like that.
I’ve been having so much fun. We’re doing on average one episode a day.
You’ve been building up fast. I love it. Has anything interesting or exciting happened to you already since you started the podcast?
A lot of interesting things like being able to talk to many experienced people, many people with so much wisdom and they are sharing it away freely. A lot of these people, if I approach them one-on-one, they will not be able to give me any time whatsoever. Here we are talking to one-on-one about their life, learning from them, getting mentorship. That has been interesting. The other thing is putting yourself out there, it has opened up my own beliefs that I can do things even if I initially think they are too difficult for me. If I take on the challenge and if I apply it to myself, I can do it. That goes for everyone. That’s one lesson that I want to share with everyone. If you sit down and decide to do something, doors open up and people show up to help. I know it’s a cliché, but it has happened to me in the past few months. I’m sharing that as a firsthand experience.
What about something going wrong, funny things that might have happened to you when you’re starting up?
I had this amazing guest. He has an amazing, award-winning podcast. I went through this interview with him. It was a very interesting conversation and then towards the end, I’m telling him, “This is when the podcast will be published and all.” I realized I did not turn on the recording for the whole interview. It was a casual conversation and he was nice enough to say it happens. It has happened to him as well as being a podcaster. He came back, but that was quite funny.
That is my biggest fear and as you said that I’m looking right into the corner to make sure. Even though I know I turned it on, but it’s one of those things. I now have my Zoom automatically set to record so it records all sorts of junk, but I have a production team, so it’s easier for me than other people. A lot of times I’ll turn it off and turn it back on, but at least it’s always on. I know it’s not going to mess me up because that’s my biggest fear is I’ll start talking and you won’t get it. I can’t repeat myself because it comes out of my mouth and I was like, “What questions did I ask?” I can’t repeat that. I know that agonizing like, “I have to do this over.”
The second interview was totally different. It was along the same lines, but the content was quite different. The conversations that we have, we cannot always repeat them. It went in a different direction. The second episode was pretty good as well, but that was a funny thing. To your point, now I switch on the recording by default so that I don’t have to worry about that.
Let’s please do that. You’ve got some advice from someone when you first started, but what would you do differently if you started again now?
I will plan it a little bit better. I will think about what will be the format of the show. Who should we get and come up with some calendar according to which we will publish the episodes. When we started, we were spamming other people begging them to come to our show. Some people said yes and then they forgot and then we followed up. There was hardly any process there. Slowly we improved. It would have been better to learn a little bit how to launch a podcast and plan it out. There is a certain science behind it. A lot of people, the expert podcasters have it down to certain steps like they have planned launch date and then you do some preselling and premarketing before the launch.
Maybe have a little strategy beforehand.
That’s something that I would have done differently.
Let’s talk a little bit about your show, Bootstrapping Your Dreams. That is very personal to you from the introduction that I gave you. Are you finding that it’s resonating, that it’s hitting a note for the audience and for the guests that you’re having?
I’ve been getting this direct feedback that these are the questions that are relevant to people. I listened to other podcasts as well. A lot of the podcasts have all these mega-successful people like billionaires and millionaires and they talk about their life journey, but they are at a level where mere mortals like us, we cannot relate to that. When I talk to people, even though they are successful, I talk about their initial struggles. I talk about how they got through because at the end of the day, that is what I want to know. I think a lot of people want to understand that as well.Producing is a work in progress. It gets better and better the more time, money, and experience you have. Click To Tweet
I mentioned before that I have an Inc. column on innovation. The reason they gave me the column a few years ago and they gave it to me from my podcast. They heard me on a podcast and said, “That’s the kind of things we want. It was because people want to start from where they are. It’s great to be aspirational about it, but being able to start from where you are and figure out what that next step is that is going to take you on that path, that’s important to know. Often, we can’t follow the same model as Elon Musk. It’s not going to happen. Maybe we can follow the same model as Manuj and get ourselves where we need to go.
To your point, you’re exactly right. We may not be able to follow Elon Musk as a model, but what I want to know is not about how do you sleep or what kind of food do you eat? You are mega-successful. I want to know how did you feel when the first rocket that you launched did not go well and the second one did not go well? How did you overcome that agony? How did you have the courage to keep on going? At some point, from what I know about Elon Musk’s story, he was about out of money. He barely had a little bit of money left for the final launch, which was the success for his space company.
We want to know those stories like how do you keep moving? Has being a podcast host changed your ability to get invited to events and do speaking engagements and changed your industry authority?
It’s still in the works. I’m getting noticed. It has only been a few months, but it is going in the right direction. I can see it is going to have a good effect. It’s coming. It started to happen. I haven’t booked any speaking assignments yet, but it’s happening.
I’m so glad to hear that because that should be what’s working for you. Do you find that when you were planning out your show in the way that you did and you said you’re a podcast listener, did you plan for uniqueness? You did an episode on being unique. Did you plan for differentiation and for setting yourself apart?
Here’s the deal. I have worked with a lot of startup founders and entrepreneurs. I know they have a certain mindset. They’re always adopting an image that is not their own image, that’s not who they are. They are always trying to emulate Apple or Amazon. They’re trying to emulate successful people, yet they are not there yet. I wanted to remove the curtain and show the world that entrepreneurship is not about projecting this type of image. It’s more about something real and grounded. It’s more about customers. That opinion, I did not find in the real world while working with lots of entrepreneurs it existed or it was not apparent. I wanted to bring that up, how popular that opinion is. I didn’t know that. It was an experiment. Now I realize that a lot of people in their minds think that way. They want to listen to these real stories rather than fictional or aspirational things, pretending to be something that they are not or how they say it, “Fake it until you make it.”
Please stop doing that. Let’s make it where we are. I did an interview with Jim Beach of School for Startups Radio and he has that same philosophy that taking in money isn’t the answer. Sometimes we have to do these bootstrapping things, our learning experiences that we must go through. Some times when they take the money, they didn’t get this learning experience and then they aren’t even able to apply it and achieve the success that they wanted to. It can be a curse as well as a blessing as you get that. I love that you’re focusing on that. I think that’s a unique area and I’m sure it’s going to continue to serve you well as it already has. Let’s tap into some of our tips because you’re still on, but you’ve got some lessons learned I’m sure. These are our “best ways to.” What are the best ways to book great guests?
I’ll speak about my journey and the lessons I learned. When I started off, I use LinkedIn heavily. I looked at people who are relevant and try to approach them. There are some directories online where people who want to be guests, they list their names and email address and whatnot. I tried to contact them. I try to craft an email in such a way that tells them that you are inspired by the guests and you want to learn from them and they are open to sharing your story. As you gain more success, you should capitalize on that. My show hit the top 200 within a few months. After that, when I started to approach people, I did highlight that fact that it’s a top 200 podcast. That made it quite easy for people to say yes because they see that I’m committed and I’m doing something serious. Those are some of the things that I did and I’ve been successful in getting the guests. Now I have a huge backlog of guests and I have to figure out how I’m going to accommodate them.
Keep doing the interviews. What about some ways to increase listeners?
Start with friends and family. LinkedIn has been good because what I have been doing is repurposing the content. When we do an interview, we also record video, we put it on YouTube. We transcribe the interviews. We put it on our website and we take small content pieces, something important that the guest said. We take those slices of video and post them on LinkedIn as well. That way, it’s spreading the awareness to the audience and asking them to check it out. Once they listen to a few episodes, then they find value and they stay.
Producing in a professional way, what are some best ways to do that?
I’m still trying to figure it out. Before this interview, you gave me feedback about the mic and I changed it. Thanks a lot for that. It’s a work in progress. None of us is trained videographers or audio engineers or whatever. It’s hit and trials. I use Logitech webcam and I had a Yeti mic, which has some echo. I also got a Lavalier mic, this is better. It’s still trying to figure it out. My room has an echo. I’m trying to figure out how to soundproof it and all that stuff. That may come in in a few months.
You’re falling into the same problem most people do. I’m going to make sure because I can hear, we have links to our best microphones and the environment fixes as well as ways to improve your sound. There are a couple of episodes we’ve done on Feed Your Brand. I’ll make sure they relink them right here. What I can tell everyone right now is get rid of your Yeti microphone unless you’re in a sound studio. It’s making it worse because if you have an echoey environment, the Yeti picks up sound all over the place. It’s a different type of mic. You want a dynamic microphone. That’s why we recommend this type because you’re only picking up sound right in the front. It’s not picking up sound from around. It’s picking up less of the bounce, which makes your production easier. There you go. We’ve gotten tips going back and forth from both sides here. You’re right, producing is a work in progress. It gets better and better the more time, money, experience you have and see how that works. I agree with that. How about encouraging engagement? Have you been able to engage with your audience?
That’s a work in progress. The first few episodes, I didn’t know what to do about that. As we made progress, I’ve added a call-to-action at the end of the episodes. I launched a Facebook group. I’ll add some call to action for people to join the Facebook group and create a community. Once they get some education from the podcast, they can get into the community and exchange ideas. If they have any problems in their professional or personal lives, we can help them out. That’s what I’m trying to do to build that community and not just have listeners, but have more engagement in real life. We’re able to solve their problems and help them move forward.Entrepreneurship is not about projecting a type of image. It's more about being real and being more grounded. Click To Tweet
What about some of the best ways to monetize your show? Are you thinking about that as you move into the future?
I’m not too sure. I’ve looked at certain models. A lot of people say ads, media, ratable. I don’t know whether I feel good about ads. What I may be able to do is look at certain products which I’m passionate about and recommend them. Through that recommendation, it could be a genuine recommendation, there may be some monetization opportunities that come up. Otherwise, I already have my consulting services. I have my IT professional training services. It’s getting our name out there and telling people that these are the options available. We have a lot of experience in these fields and if we start to get some leads through that, that could be a good enough way to monetize it.
I’m assuming that LinkedIn might be one of the best ways to reach you. It’s one of the best ways to reach me as well. I agree with you on that. Do you have your name or your show name everywhere on social media? What have you done there?
My name is there. I don’t remember if I have added my show name on LinkedIn. There are links to the podcast for sure, but I haven’t advertised it in a way on my profile that I’m the host of Bootstrapping Your Dreams Show. Probably I should but in my daily posts, I mention them once in a while that this guest came on and that short snippet of audio and then I post the link to the podcast. That’s what I’m doing right now.
You have your show notes and everything at TetraNoodle.com, which is your website for core business and you put your podcast there, which is a super smart strategy by the way. Everyone out there, think about it. If you already have a core business and it’s related to your podcast unless it’s truly unrelated, keeping them together can be very powerful. That’s a good choice there. What about some future great guests? You’re full up on your schedule, but is there someone that you would drop everything to interview?
You mentioned that name, Elon Musk. I admire him tremendously. What he’s doing is pushing the boundaries of humanity. Some of the core problems we are facing right now, nobody’s doing it in the way that he’s approaching it. I’d love to get into his mind and see how he gets his inspiration from doing all these things. Other than that, anybody who has bootstrapped and whether they have been successful or not so successful. I’d love to know what were the factors that contributed to their success or what are the mistakes they made that led to the failure. I always believe that mistakes are not failures or mistakes as we take them. They are ways to learn and grow.
We learn so much more from our failures than we do from our successes. It’s unfortunate that way but it is. We are tough learners. We have to go through the hard knocks. You have a five-day week, that’s Monday through Friday then?
We have about 20 to 25 recorded interviews. I think over the next few weeks we’ll also post on over the weekend so that we can catch up.
You’re touching into a point that can happen to people. When you do have a backlog, it hurts your relationship building with your guests because they’re like, “Why isn’t this posted?” It feels like a waste of time. That hurts that relationship you built and that rapport you built. Trying not to be that far ahead can be helpful. A great way to do this is to post some extra episodes. Why not? Hopefully, your audience will catch up. Bootstrapping Your Dreams, five days a week, you can catch it pretty much anywhere. You’re syndicated all over. I checked you out. I was listening on Google Podcast. I saw that you were also on Stitcher and iTunes. You’re a little bit everywhere. Are you on Spotify yet?
You’re everywhere already. I appreciate you coming on the show, Manuj. It’s so wonderful to meet you in person. I’m so glad we could get this going and get to know someone who’s up and coming but has a great strategy for their show in terms of its audience connection and its message. I love that you’ve married the two. Thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it. Manuj Aggarwal, Bootstrapping Your Dreams, five days a week. It’s out in the air in the podcast realm. Go check it out. I’m Tracy Hazzard on Feed Your Brand and we’re going to bring you more Center of Influence.
We are on social media everywhere at Feed Your Brand and you can also find me on LinkedIn, Tracy Hazzard. I would love to connect with you and hear more about it. All of these are turning into articles on Authority Magazine. Be sure to connect and check out the follow-up articles that are coming from this. If you have a podcast and you’d like to be featured like Manuj, you’ve got to reach out to us. You’ve got to apply at FeedYourBrand.co/prnow. Thanks. I’ll be back again with a new episode of Center of Influence on Feed Your Brand.
- Bootstrapping Your Dreams
- Jim Beach – past episode
- Facebook group – Skyrocketing Careers for Software/IT Professionals
- LinkedIn – Manuj Aggarwal
- Stitcher – Bootstrapping Your Dreams
- iTunes – Bootstrapping Your Dreams
- Spotify – Bootstrapping Your Dreams
- Tracy Hazzard – LinkedIn
- Authority Magazine
About Manuj Aggarwal
Manuj Aggarwal is an entrepreneur, investor, and technology enthusiast. He started his career at the age of 15 working in a factory. 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Earned a cool $2/day.
He had no contacts or resources, but he was determined to improve his life. He realized education and the right training was the only way to achieve my goals. Somehow, he managed to acquire modest education. From there he went on to become a technical leader and CTO in multiple startups.
All this happened because of education and training. So he’s very passionate about learning and sharing knowledge.
he like startups, business ideas, and high-tech anything. He loves to work on hard problems and get my hands dirty with cutting edge technologies. He favors pragmatic solutions over complex ones. He favors scrappiness over lavishness. He favors fast execution over endless deliberation. He favors serving the CUSTOMER over my own desires to build something cool. He favors bending the rules (without breaking them) over abiding by them. He believes in the resiliency and adaptability of the human race, and knows we can overcome any challenge if we work together.
Currently, He is the principal consultant, architect and CTO of a software consulting company TetraNoodle Technologies based in Vancouver, Canada. They work with various startup founders and help them bootstrap their dreams and bring innovative products to market quickly and efficiently. They also train engineers on cutting edge technologies.
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