Nathan Hirsch, Cofounder and CEO of FreeeUp.com, joins Neva Lee Recla to share his insights on how to start a business in college. Nathan started his first business in college and sold over thirty million dollars online. Listen in and get advice on how to start your business in college.
Hi, kids. This is your SuperPower Kid, Neva Lee Rekla. And today we have a really special treat for you. Today, we’re talking with Nathan Hirsch, and today we’re going to be talking with Nathan about how to start a business in college.
So Nathan is the co-founder and CEO of FreeeUp.com. We met at CEO Space and he sold over 30 million dollars online. So without further ado, will you help me welcome our very special guest, Nathan Hirsch?
Hey, how you doing?
I’m doing amazing. How are you?
I’m doing great. I am pumped up. I’m ready for this podcast.
I’m super excited. So what are your super powers?
So my super powers is I can lift really heavy weights. I go to the gym five days a week, but I have a weakness. I have a soft spot for animals, so I have a cute little puppy.
Any kind of animal, pony, bunny rabbit, I have a complete soft spot for that. So I’m not as big and muddy as I seem.
That’s awesome. Yeah. Any time I see an animal, I have to point it out.
Yeah, I’m the same way.
Even if it’s like the tiniest lizard, I have to point it out.
So how did you get the idea to start a business in college?
So I always had that entrepreneurial mentality, because when I was younger, my parents were both teachers, so I was a little bit of a rebel and they forced me to get these summer jobs. And I hated it more than anything else. I was working 40 hours, 50 hours a week, while all my friends were outside playing baseball and in the good weather.
But I learned so much, from the management to the sales to the customer service. But I also learned that I didn’t want to do this after college. I didn’t want to work that nine to five job.
And so when I got to college, I really wanted to start my own business. I just didn’t know how.
What I did was I just experimented. I just tried different things. I remember I went to the dump at first, to try to find products to sell. I eventually started to buy textbooks from my friends, and that took off a little bit. And then selling textbook led me to Amazon, and that’s when I became addicted and obsessed with Amazon and became a really good seller, selling baby products.
So that’s really how I got into it, was I knew I wanted to start my own business. I didn’t know how, and I just tried things until I found something that was profitable.
That’s awesome. Yeah, so I think that’s a really good idea. Try new things. Maybe the first thing you’re not gonna be into. Maybe the second thing, you’re kind of into, but it’s not the thing for you. And then you have to keep trying and trying until you find what you’re really into.
Yeah, and it goes back to even before college. I remember I would open up a lemonade stand on my street, but I lived on a very slow street. There was no one going by, so I made absolutely no money. And I tried everything as a kid. I mean, I did the lemonade and then we had raspberries and rhubarb. We grew them in the back yard. I tried selling those. Failed over and over again.
So don’t give up, even if your first, second, third, fourth, fifth idea doesn’t work. You have to keep trying.
Exactly. So where did you get the idea for FreeeUp?
So as I was growing this Amazon business, and keep in mind, I was a young entrepreneur. I had no idea what I was doing, I became completely overwhelmed. I was working 20 hours a day. I didn’t have time to hang out with my friends, and my grades started to fall in college, because I was just working all the time. And so I realized that I had to start hiring people, but who was I gonna hire? The only people that I could hire were these college kids, and they all had their own lives going on, from going to parties to studying for school. They didn’t want to work for me.
And all these 30-year-old experts, they didn’t want to work for some 20-year-old, either. So I started hiring on Upwork and Fiverr and using these remote hiring platforms, because they were the only people that would work for me. But I quickly realized that all my time went from the things I liked doing, which was expanding my business, to what I didn’t really like doing, which was the interview after interview after interview.
So finally, one day, after doing eight hours of interviews and not finding one person that I liked, I threw a chair against the wall and I said, “I need to find a better, faster way.” And that’s when I came up with the idea of FreeeUp, a marketplace where we pre-vet freelancers and make them available to clients, rapid-fire.
And I know what vetting is.
Yeah, I’m sure you guys do.
So how do you find people who want to work for you?
So just like I’m on this podcast, I do a lot of podcasts. I look for ways that I can get in front of different communities, so it might be a Facebook group owner. It might be a podcast host. It might be a business coach that has their own students. And it’s the same way that I get clients as I get freelancers.
The other thing that is so important is I created a referral program. So whenever someone sends me business, in this case a client or a freelancer, they make money as we go. So for every hour we build a client or every hour the freelancer works, they get 50 cents. For every hour, forever. And that adds up. I mean, we paid out over $150,000 in referral money.
But I did the same thing back in college. When I was buying people’s books and let’s say some guy sold me five books. Once I paid him out, I said, “Oh, by the way, I have a referral program. For every person you send me, I’ll give you 10% of whatever I buy from them.”
And so they would go out and they would go tell all their friends and it’s just free marketing. I don’t have to go buy a Facebook ad or buy a billboard or anything. I just have all these people that are going around talking about FreeeUp, because of that referral program.
Yeah, that’s really cool. So do you have an example of where someone was a scammer and you had to get them away from your business?
Yeah, absolutely. So back when I first started working, I hired these two sisters. They were in South Africa, and I hired them to do customer service. And what I found out, months later, was every time that they were both clocking in, it was just one of them answering both the emails. So they would just go back and forth. So they were billing me twice and doing half as much work. And it took me two months to figure that out. It was a very important lesson I learned about hiring people.
But what people don’t realize, when people think scam, they think, “Oh, my God, they’re gonna steal my car, my house, all my money.” Most of the time, it doesn’t happen. I mean, she probably cost me 500 to 1,000 dollars, which is a good amount of money, but in the grand scheme of life, you recover from it, and it’s just an expensive lesson. So most of the times, I consider them lessons, more than me being scammed.
Yeah. I think it was a few nights ago, my sister, she’s with us right now, we were talking about scams and what we would say to people. And it was really funny, because we came up with some interesting conversations, like pretending you’re gonna walk away. And my sister, I think her grandfather, he just keeps people on the phone for four hours. He’ll stop. He’ll walk away. He’ll forget about it, and then he’ll be back. And then he’ll leave for another hour and another hour and then another hour, until they just bore the heck out of them.
Yeah, I mean, for me, whenever I come up with a situation, let’s say it’s a scam or someone I just don’t want to work with any more, or a client that didn’t pay me or something, it almost never makes sense to escalate it. Making it worse really doesn’t accomplish anything.
So for me, I just try to remove myself and be as respectful as possible. But just remove myself from that situation as quickly as I can and just remove all avenues from that person to contact me, whether it’s blocking them, telling my assistants to block them. I’ll make sure I check all my social media channels. And just completely remove them from your life and then just move on with your life.
Exactly. I think that’s a good idea. Maybe you just don’t like their energy, so you remove yourself from the situation.
Yeah, that actually happened. It’s funny you’re saying that, because that happened today. I removed someone from the Freeeup Network, really because I didn’t like their energy. They were brand new on the platform. They were non-stop complaining about everything that they didn’t understand. I gave them my calendar to meet with me, because I wanted to help. I wanted to find out: What’s so terrible? How can I help?
They missed the meeting, didn’t say anything, and then continued to complain. And I was like, “Okay, I just want to remove myself from the situation, remove them from FreeeUp. Everyone moves on with
their life. Just bad energy that you don’t want around you.”
That sounds weird. That was on them. They missed the meeting.
Exactly. And there’s nothing you can do. I mean, I can spend hours trying to figure out what was going through his head, but it’s just not worth it. I’d rather focus on the thousand positive freelancers that we have.
Yeah. I actually have a story where I was supposed to interview this kid, and we tried about four times, I think. Four, three times to get him on. So first time, he didn’t show. My mom tried to email him. Tried to text him. Tried to get our assistants to call them. And he wouldn’t show up. Second time, didn’t show up. Third time, didn’t show up. And I’m like, “He wanted to be on my show.”
But it was really weird, because I felt like if people say they’re gonna do something, then they don’t do it, they don’t know what committing to someone is, you know.
You have to show up for opportunities.
I mean, today I woke up and I had six podcasts scheduled today, which is completely crazy. I’ve never done that before. And I could have easily woken up this morning and emailed half the podcasts and say, “Hey, can you reschedule, please?” But I don’t want to do that. I might never get that opportunity again, and these are people that, they’re doing me a favor. They’re helping me out, so I never want to put someone in a position where they think, “Hey, Nathan doesn’t value my time.”
So sometimes as an entrepreneur, you have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to suck it up, put a smile on your face, and power through, even if that means taking a client phone call on a Saturday night, when you’re with your friends, or whatever it is. Sometimes you just have to do those things, in order to take your business to the next level.
Yep. So we actually need to take a quick break. But we’ve been talking with Nathan Hirsch on how to start a business in college. But really fast, where can people go to find out more about you?
Yeah, so if you go to FreeeUp.com, my calendar is right at the top. You can book a time to speak with me. You can create a free client account, and if you mention this podcast, you get a free $50 credit added to your account, to start hiring people today.
Awesome. Go check it out, because he and freelancers are super amazing. So we’ll be right back.