Jimmy Kim is the CEO and the co-founder of Sendlane – a cross channel email marketing automation platform. Over the past 10+ years as a digital marketer, his need for a reliable platform that understands digital marketers, lead him to build his own platform just 5 years ago.
Before Sendlane, Jimmy built and sold two businesses in digital marketing and eCommerce.
Key Takeaways From Our Conversation
- Never be afraid to reach out
- Learn to cultivate meaningful relationships
- Recognize the value you have
- Determine which opportunities align with your goals
An essential part of success is to be continuously curious.
Once you are an expert in one area of business, you should be eager to learn about the next level of services available.
The more you expand your skill set, the more valuable you become to consumers because you can offer a wider range of knowledge and services.
“I really put forth the effort of making sure there is a customer service or customer centric attitude in our business. That is ultimately why we have some amazing stats and if you look up any reviews about us, the number one review you see about it is “insane customer support” because we believe we have to serve our businesses.” – Jimmy Kim
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Get in touch with Jimmy Kim
Resources · Transcript · Tell YOUR Story
Unknown Speaker 0:00
Hey there. Welcome back to season one, Episode 10 of fascinating founders. I'm your host, Nicole Holland and I'm thrilled to be your guide as we dive in and uncover the stories that came before the success of some of the world's most fascinating founders. hailing from a multitude of industries and socio economic starts, you're going to learn what's made these fascinating men and women realise their dreams from an inspired idea to millions in revenue disrupting, innovating and impacting humanity for the better. You never know what's going to come up in our casual conversations. So get your notebooks ready cosy up with a great Cup of Joe and join us as I dive in to learn about how these inspiring individuals have figured out how to thrive at a time where most people give up on their dreams. Jimmy Kim is my guest today and is the CEO and co founder of sandling across channel email marketing automation platform over the past 10 plus years as a digital marketer, his need for a reliable platform that understands digital marketers led him to build his own platform just five years ago before sandling. Jimmy built and sold to businesses and digital marketing and e commerce. It's a pleasure to have him enjoy my interview with Jimmy Kim. Jimmy, thanks so much for coming back over here.
Unknown Speaker 1:16
Yeah, thank you for having me always excited to be on these podcasts and really get to share and talk about, you know, not only the journey on business, but also my personal journey and, and all that good stuff that comes into entrepreneurship and being a founder as well, too.
Unknown Speaker 1:28
So much fun. And we have a similarity having grown up in Maryland, and we talked about that, and a bunch of other fun stuff. So for today, I would love to start with before you started in business, right? Because you were in the affiliate marketing world digital marketing for quite some time. But before you even started your first business, what were you doing?
Unknown Speaker 1:53
So before my first business, my first I guess I can start kind of back and I'll start back when I'm 16 because the story is very congruent. When I was 16 my first like real like, guess like the big boy job I guess more than what like I did pizzas and like worked as a client cook before that. And then I went into the car business actually no my first like job that I felt like I actually had a real job was actually being a lot of 10 and washing cars when I was 16 years old. And the story goes where it's basically like this. I was washing cars through summer in school time and eventually was going off to college. And when I went off to college, I was coming back for like winter breaks and summer breaks and coming back to wash cars for the summer because that's kind of what I knew and felt like that was a great way and it paid a pretty good Penny I guess. I look back at my life was $8 an hour but that was a good Penny back then when when I was thinking about it too as well. Right? So I was getting $8 an hour and I was working there and I came back one summer I remember distinctly was my after my sophomore year of school I came back to school and I walked into the door and and they were like Hey, welcome back. You know from somewhere and baba baba in. They gave me the hard news. They said hey, We don't really need any lot of tenants right now. We're actually overbooked and everything. And I was like, all right, well, I'll just go next door. So you also I was into this, like auto Park area, there was like 20 dealerships there. So I was like, I'll just go next door. And I was as I was walking out one of the sales guys, one of the senior sales guys just kind of seen me there for last three years, grabbing a parking lot and was like, hey, Jimmy, he's like, what are you doing? He's like, I was like, I was like, I'm gonna go see if the next door neighbour is over. The Subaru dealerships has an opening for washing cars. And he's like, Well, you know, you've been washing cars. He knows the product quite well. He's like, why don't you come inside this summer? It's hot outside. Why don't you come and just sell cars? I'm sure they'll give you a shot, right? And I was like, Yeah, sounds like a thing. So turn back around, walk back in and said, Hey, can I sell cars this summer? And they're like, yeah, I can't see why not right. And that's kind of how it all kind of started for me. And that's where I got into it. And what happened there was kind of incredible being green eyed, bushy tailed. I didn't know anything about sales. All I knew is I needed to talk to everybody. So I literally talked to everybody didn't matter. There's a 16 year old kid look in the Mustang or the nine year old man, look in the Mustang. Tear. I just talked to everybody that subsequently realised the first learning of sales that I learned, which was relationship. And I was able to form these great relationships with people. And all of a sudden Next thing I know, I had started to build this giant client base. Within the first 30 days of being in sales, I actually ended up being a salesman of the month, the first month in selling about 32 cars, and they just, you know, all Beginner's luck, you know, blah, blah, blah. So that only fired me and fueled me up as a person because I'm a competitive person. And I decided that I'm gonna have to back that up. So I did it. The second month, I did a third month. And then also ultimately came into that hard talk that I have my parents. So here I am making 1415 grand a month at the age of I think I was 19 and a half years old right now, coming back from my sophomore year of college and I went to him and said, I want to take some time off. I said, let me take six months off and sell cars. Let me make money. Let me pay off my student loans. Let me get my feet establish, build a savings and I'll go back and get into school. Well, I did really well. My first year I paid off all my student loans and I went back at the end of the year and I actually said you know what? I know I'm enrolled in school to go back to school but I don't want to go back. I want to continue selling cars and make money. Now, I'm from an Asian family, anyone listening to this, if you've got any Asian background, you know how bad that conversation really what I'm giving you the PG or the G version of that conversation, it was a very much more difficult conversation. Now, I grew up very as an independent person. So that was also the time that I decided that I'm going to completely move out of my house to as well which ultimately killed my mother and like, really hated that. But you know, I knew that that was my next step. And that was my personal journey. Now what happened there from there as I was really ambitious in car sales, and I was able to kind of drive my way up the ladder. I remember I jumped into a when I was 21. I actually went up and marched up and the funny story is like this is and it's kind of a funny story, but I went up to my direct manager like I'm supposed to, and I said, Hey, I want to keep learning. I'm really doing great in sales, but I want to learn the next step. They're like, well, what's the next step? I said? It's finance right? So I said, I want to learn finance. I want to learn how to sell intangible products to people. So I'm interest rates converted on insurances. I thought that was really cool. Well, the story goes, I told my manager He goes up to a couple days later goes up to the top, which we had multiple stores. He went to the top main store. And he comes back and he says, the general manager, his name was Gary back then. And he was like Gary told me that I don't have any positions open, and we'd rather keep you in sales. Well, me being young and hot headed and a little bit stupid. I actually marched up there angry because I'm like, I've been producing so much money for this company, like I should get a chance. And I run up there and I come confront Gary. Well, the turns out, my manager never talked to Gary, which was always like the big problem there. And that put me in a state of embarrassment. And ultimately, I walked out at that point, because I was so angry and hothead, and I would never do that now today. But back then I was I was emotional about it. I walked out and decided I don't want to be a part of this company, because they're lying to. Well, it wasn't even 1520 days I was kind of partying and enjoying life. I'd made all this money. I'd been working so hard. I didn't even get to spend it yet. And all of a sudden, I get a call from the owner of the company, and they're like, Jimmy, where'd you go? What's going on? And I told him the story. Next thing I know they're bringing me back into work in a different department to sell cars for three more months. wander here. And I'll send you the Kansas to learn school. So Kansas in Overland Park is actually where a lot of these insurance companies are and where they'll teach you a lot of education. So I didn't find a flying to Kansas for two, three weeks of learning, getting my word tracks and continuing to go man and I came back into finance. And so that was kind of how I ended up in finance. And I was doing that for couple years. And then you know, what would happen in finances, you become the secondary manager to the general manager, the sales manager. And anytime he was off, or he was on vacation, I was in charge of the store or I was in charge of that location. And it taught me a lot and also ultimate love the fact that like, I really enjoyed managing people and helping them get deals over the edge. And though I did it naturally in finance, it just kind of got me excited. So I started doing a little bit more sales manager stuff. And then I started getting poached. And what happened was at the end, I got headhunted by another local company. And they came to me and said, Hey, Jimmy, I want you to come one of these stores and hopefully become three stores. Eventually, I want you to come and sit as the general manager and kind of oversee the operations and the sales and all that stuff. So that was really fun. I jumped over to that. opportunity when I was about 25 years old, so I became a general manager at 25. I ran a store by myself, it was really fun eventually running to other stores with it. They were Saturn stores, which was really great. And then ultimately, in 2008, when General Motors went bankrupt, well, I kind of lost Saturn. And then I had the opportunity to reopen those stores again as key stores. And I didn't really feel like I wanted to be in that space. At that time, I was getting really interested in digital marketing and online stuff. And I've always had been entrepreneurial, even when I look back in college and when I was younger, before I even had my first job, I was always finding ways to make money. I was the guy who shovel the snow. The guy who had the lawn mowing services kids, the guy who sold lemonade. I mean, I did a little everything in college. During my school year I even invented a little product for cars that I thought would be a really cool way to fund my own car project. So I invented something that was a needed necessity in the in the marketplace, sold that to fuel my hobby, and that's how I actually souped up my car when I was young. And of course it was dumb back then, but it was what made me happy back then. Right. So At that time when the car dealership thing was blowing up actually knew a guy named onic, onyx and golf, and he was my friend, he's my neighbour, we're friends. We went to Vegas, we party, but we really didn't know I didn't had no idea what he was doing online. And at the time, he had a lot of issues in his business. He was running an 80 person business, you know, huge operations, big office in Maryland and big office in India. And ultimately, I found out that due to his lack of operational skill that he just had a lot of things happening inside the business. And I said, I remember having this talk, we're actually he had just come back from India. He was a little upset about things he came over. He had bought me a hookah so this was back when he was born even thing back in like 2008. And he brought me a hookah from India and was like, dude, I got this hookah thing. Let's smoke it, and let's hang out. So I didn't want it. I didn't even know what it was. So I was like, we need to go to my garage and smoke in my garage because I don't want my house to smell, you know, all that good stuff. And we ended up sitting there puffing in our garage, just talking about life. And I was like, Man, I'm burnt out. I'm tired. I want to do something different. Here's my skill set. What do you think I could do? And he's like, Hey, why don't you just come work for me? And I was like, Yeah, okay. And I said, and we made this agreement of front, I said, I'm going to work for you as long as I need to, to a, get you organised, speak, get you out of debt in your company and see that I feel like I've learned it. And then I'm going to go off and do my own thing. So we had that agreement up front, which is really important. And so that's what we did. So for the next three years, he taught me everything about digital marketing, from copywriting, to marketing, to even understanding a little bit more on the sales side of things to me helping him with the operational side, and so forth. And after three years, I exited that company and moved on from there. And that led me ultimately to my first company. So my first company was kind of like a content creator slash software company was a little bit mix of both because we're out so heavily involved in both sides. I learned early on that I love to automate things like I love to take something I'm doing manually and automate it. And that was my way of creating solutions of software. So instead of going out there and just creating something out of some idea, I literally took processes that I'm doing in my business automate, that I felt like other entrepreneurs like myself could actually relate to and that's kind of what we did with that company for years. During that time, I actually ended up investing into an e commerce store, retail store in Las Vegas through a loan that I gave them initially, that became me becoming a managing partner of the company. And that was also my other fun thing, which actually ultimately led me to move out west from Maryland. So that's how I ended up moving out west from Maryland to Las Vegas initially, because I had an opportunity because I had invested big money into a company so that we can grow that company. And so at the same time, and it was also really interesting to me to kind of jump into another sector of my life. And though I understood digital and content, I wanted to get back into a little bit more that sales type environment. And so that's where it came to. And then during all that time, what was really fun was when the e commerce store was starting to kick off my content creator world software company was kicking off, we discovered a big problem with email. Basically, the companies that were using the legacy company isn't that I don't need to name names on the show. But basically, you guys know the companies that have been around for years, and they really didn't understand digital marketing. They actually didn't understand e commerce that well, they didn't understand the idea of selling online. Their idea of email marketing was you have a brand a brick and mortar, you sell to those people, you create the list and you connect with those people where I was sitting there going, Hey, we have a completely digital front and don't have the typical customer access or POS systems in place. So no one could really truly understood that. And we said, You know what, let's go ahead and developer at this point, I was deep in software partners were deep into software. And we're like, let's just create our own or automate it. So that's what we did. So initially, what was really fun about this whole story is that now I'm running three different things. I'm running send lane, I'm running my content, creative software company, and then I'm running my e commerce company. And, you know, they're all pretty successful doing things, obviously, not settling, but the other two, and we were kind of fueling the growth of this company, and settling came into picture because it actually didn't start assembling actually started as a product called target. Lee is what we actually initially called it, and then, you know, it's 2014 we started getting people like kinda like Unicode or like other people that are like in the space and market and kind of seeing what we're doing and started asking us like, Hey, what do you guys doing? What tool Are you guys using? Can you share with us how You're doing that. And it kind of turned the wheels and we're like, you know what, let's put it out a front facing website and see what happens. And we laugh at our front facing website. We're just analysing a couple weeks ago and we're laughing. Things were misspelt, there was still that Lori some text on there, there was so much stuff broken in there. But because of our networking connections, it allowed us to continue to bring people in and sales are actually remember our first sale to the day. So it was actually when we opened beta first. It was April 20, obviously, for 20 being like a funny number, but it was literally April 20, our first customer came into the door and paid us for it. And it was when we're in beta launch. And I remember that was our first into kind of validated like, hey, we've got something here. And that's kind of how it all started off now, and that was 2014 or 2015 I was 2014 Yeah. 2014 and then we opened publicly in 2015. So in 2014, we're just promoting it to our internal audience and in 2015 we started taking off in 2015 I realised I needed to fuel the company. So what I did was actually created a course for email marketers. content creator world, I feel that product was from another company and I said, you know what I'm going to teach them selling inside of there. And I'm gonna teach them why we're better. And basically, I was able to take 22,000 people over a six month period to buy this course on email, email marketing from me. And basically from there I was fueling send lane. That's the kind of how selling grew initially and grew into the world of being an email marketing company. So that's kind of how we see me.
Unknown Speaker 14:24
I think I bought that programme. I think that's how I first learned about that. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 14:27
that might be exactly it.
Unknown Speaker 14:29
Because that was like, right when I was starting my business, yeah. And learning, trying to learn everything in the online space. Yeah. And I went through some funnel and of course, I didn't know what that was back then. But yeah, I did. I took your course. I think I got friendly, like when I was like, I was totally not ready for it. But now it's a whole different animal. Jimmy, you are about to tell us more about where you guys are at today with cently. Sure.
Unknown Speaker 14:55
So I'll kind of backup just three seconds there and then come into it. So working Really even more interesting for me was it was 2017. And it was August of 2017. And my first daughter was born and that really gave me a reality check into life I realised that two things I've got someone I'm responsible for now and two, I realised that I was kind of working too hard meaning like I was spread so thin trying to make all these businesses grow even though they're losing five 710 million dollars a year each, I realised that it wasn't about the money at this point, it was about myself and my availability. So I actually made a decision to sell everything and I sold all my other two companies but both my other two companies so I piece together parted ways with different parts of the business over on the content creator side and then my ecommerce side, I sold back to my partner through a deal to make sure that you can continue to run in and operated and all that stuff, and I jumped all into send lane and then the way that's when we kind of propelled it took off at that point, and then we ran all the way to December 2018, where we raised our first venture capital for the company so we brought in a couple million dollars into the company. Investors believed in our growth and numbers and it gave us a bunch of money. And then here today now, we continue to continue to grow and and we've made a very big core vertical shift inside of the company as well, too. We're focused on e commerce now and that's kind of where we see the future of the world as, as you're already seeing, I'm sure Nikolas wall a lot of content creators are becoming e commerce owners supplement owners kind of mixing the hybrid of it and I've realised even myself that being a content creator and learning how that side works really helped me feel even the e commerce side a lot because it's something that ecommerce owners don't have. So our product here today is an email marketing automation platform for e commerce businesses. For most obviously, we still serve content creators because we've got our native integrations, things like Clickbank and Click Funnels and all the big ones that are out there. And then of course, we also do a lot of deep integrations to e commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, big commerce, all those companies as we continue to like kind of dive through that side. So that's where we are here today as a business, we're serving a little over 5000 causes summers here today, you know, our platform is all about, it's kind of like the graduation story. So we like to say that you graduate from one of our competitors on the lower level scale and you move up, you don't pay a tonne more money, but you get the features and functionalities that you typically get an enterprise grade plaque. So that's what makes us really unique, you know, and really special. And then the biggest thing that I really layered on from a learnings back in 2011, from a book called Delivering Happiness by Tony Shea, I really put forth the effort of making sure that customer service or customer centric attitude in our business and that's also why we ultimately have some amazing stats and like if you look at the reviews of about us, and the number one review you'll see about is insane customer support because we believe that we have to serve our businesses. So currently To this day, we operate at 33 seconds of first response time 20 473 65 right now so and most of its done out of San Diego, we do have a little team in Romania as well too, but almost all of it is out of San Diego as well too.
Unknown Speaker 18:00
So cool, so cool. And we, we put something together I believe at the Nicole haulin. com forward slash send lane for folks from my audience who want to check that out. But I want to make sure that people know how to connect with you beyond this interview. And as well, anything else you haven't shared that you would like to pass on, for example, you know, your best advice to business owners who are looking to follow in your footsteps.
Unknown Speaker 18:29
You know, I'll start with that. And then I'll get into how you contact me just because that is a good place that I like to think about. You know, there's a lot of things that I can give advice around. But the one thing that I think I look back as like, you know, as I hate my 40 year old mark, and I'm like, you know, looking back as my entrepreneurship journey, the biggest thing I can tell you is focus. Think about focus is one of the biggest drivers of your business. When you're thinking about it. I'm not talking about Oh, focus on one project talking about focus on your business. I know it's really easy to get swayed by shiny objects often right? It's really easy to think that you can start four or five businesses but you Ultimately, if I look back at myself, my biggest number one regret is I didn't go all in on sunlight. Earlier in my company in world, I had the idea I had the thought I just wasn't trusting of myself that I could do that. And if I would have done this to three years before, I actually dove all in in 2017. And I really started diving in in 2015, I think the company story would be even more crazy than it is already. And I think that that's something that's really hard to overcome, because it's, it is it's shiny objects, entrepreneurs are one of the most difficult things to kind of overcome. But when you're able to kind of put on your blinders, get a little bit of tunnel vision and really focus on that and keep your eyes on the prize of what your goals are. That's literally ultimately my number one advice I can give any founder out there is just don't get muddled and tied up into what everybody else is doing work on what you're doing. And then second to that is my second piece of advice is like find other founders don't find other founders to be connected with because you will go through a journey of emotions from the ups and downs that come into place. You may only see the ups and the UPS when you're kind of talking to a lot of people but truth and reality is There's there was a great thing that I saw on LinkedIn I was laughing about it was like founder says oh businesses great means businesses terrible means Oh things are great but there's issues this is okay but things are happening and they're trying to get through a businesses horrible day closing tomorrow like founders will always be optimists and always be overly optimistic about their own business but the truth and reality is you need that support that network around you and I'm not talking about like your boys or your local friends I'm talking about other founders as well too. So leading to that for me if you're looking to find me I'm pretty wide open and available. It's not very hard to find me obviously my email JK at sembly calm that's how you directly connect with me a secondary to that if you wanted to find me on like Twitter or Instagram, which are the two places that I really live outside of it outside of LinkedIn, of course that you'll find me easily by typing my name in is I think it's at real Jimmy Kim so real legit JMY Km for my Twitter and my Instagram and I generally share more personal stuff there. I'm not a person that just goes out and sprays a lot of business stuff. So I'm more personal, different Follow but I won't really be sharing much in the business world so I but you can email me and I'll be happy to talk about anything you want. I just like to keep that side of for my kind of my, my personal branding I guess in retrospect I don't like to talk about business out in the public as much as I I do when I'm on like things like his podcast. So hopefully I answered the question
Unknown Speaker 21:18
definitely answered the question. I was great advice. And one of the things I just want to mention, you know, you've been you talked about the testimonials about customer service, but I love that you are, you're not out there marketing, marketing, marketing and your personal connections like you, you're a real person, and also how much send lane invests in real people being real people. It's just something we didn't talk about today. What that customer service looks like and that it is human beings people get 24 seven and yeah, so I just wanted to the culture that you guys have over at send lane that's so personal, and so high touch is really impressive to me. And so I just wanted to Yeah, to say That before thanking you and also letting our listeners know thank you to them to for everybody who's been with us.
Unknown Speaker 22:06
Thank you for having me always exciting to be on anything to talk about these things, but especially your show I really liked your show as well too. So thank you for that.
Unknown Speaker 22:14
Thanks again to Jimmy for being my guest on today's show and for sharing his founders journey with us. We've got links for you to connect directly with Jimmy the resources we discussed plus the full transcript of this episode and more at fascinating founders. com. Remember that successful people surround themselves with successful people and until next time, this is Nicole haulin signing off.
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