Interview with Josh Fechter, Founder of Badass Marketers
Josh Fechter’s background is reminiscent of your classic rags to riches story. Dropping out of college to start his own company, Fechter spent his early twenties amid a montage of two- minute noodles, instant coffee and cramped living quarters. At age 23, and with a trail of failed ventures under his belt, Fechter had reached rock bottom and was desperate to change his fate.
Devouring every book he could on marketing, psychology and philosophy (to name a few) Josh Fechter began to rewire the way he thought about former failings, finding humility and wisdom in his past ventures. Discovering solace in writing, Fechter used his innate communication talents as a gateway to growth marketing, something of which he attributes to his success today.
Now with back to back speaking engagements, seminars and workshops, Josh Fechter is a far cry from his twenty-year-old self. We managed to catch him for a 10 minute Q&A about his journey from copywriter to founder, and what advice he’d give marketers looking to follow a similar path.
Hey Josh. What made you decide to follow the road less travelled and start your own company?
The intention was never to start my own company. The intention was to solve a frustrating problem that ended up turning into a company. I was like, ‘Why isn’t there any tangible advice for startups?’. I went online and there were sites like inbound.org and growth hackers.com and I just thought that the advice was totally useless.
I’d been a founder before and head of growth for a number of start-ups. I just couldn’t find any really helpful information as no one really knew what they were doing. I felt like I did know what I was doing so I started experimenting and putting out these step by step guides. I also got together with a small group of people in a conference room that I advertised through Meetup and people responded really well to it.
What surprised me was that I really didn’t think people cared so much. But then I realised that startup founders are looking for any sort of help and they’re so sick of all the rubbish in the industry because there are so many people trying to sell to them.
Many startup founders are like, ‘Hey I used to work for Deloitte so now I’m going to jump into starting my own startup’, and there’s this period where they have a lot of savings and there’s a lot of people trying to take those savings away. It’s annoying because they’re just trying to sell them crap and I sincerely want to help these guys.
I figured I was good at growth hacking so I wanted to try and ‘growth hack’ my events and see if it worked. People started showing up and I was hosting more and more of these events – it still wasn’t even a business then! I then started a Facebook group to expand the online community and through that, I started to get people interested in working with me. I ended up reaching out to this company called Autopilot, asking them if they’d like a community of people to promote their brand. That ended up being my first partnership.
You studied economics and political science. How’d you go from that to what you’re doing now?
I didn’t really study at college, to be honest. Early in high school, I had this cousin who had a genius IQ and he wrote for one of the top economics blogs in the world. He knew a lot about political science and we would talk back and forth about stuff throughout my latter years of high school. So once I went to college I never studied anything and I just sort of aced all the tests.
Oh wow okay, you’re ‘one of those guys.’
I know right, everybody hates those people! I actually was trying to triple major in five years because political science and economics was so easy. I was halfway through my last degree (finance) when I left to start my first startup.
So you were going for the triple threat there?
Everyone was going for a double major so I was like ‘I’m going to do three!’
What would you say was your biggest failure? And how did you bounce back from it?
I would say….(laughs) there was a lot of screw ups! Gosh…which one? Well, I’d say nothing is really a failure, it’s more so a learning curve. I was involved with a startup a year out of college and in my first week I had a mentor, Scott Chase (Founder of Priceline) told me that our app was a failure. I remember telling him how I was working with people from Google and Amazon and his response was, ‘Just letting you know, people don’t know much about anything in the startup world, I don’t care where they worked.’ And over the next two weeks it turned out he was totally right!
Four months later the startup was going to fail, so the team decided to pivot and I wasn’t keen on the pivot so I ended up leaving the company and applying for marketing positions for other startup companies. None of them wanted to hire me because I’d just worked for a failed startup, I’d had my own failed startup and, overall, I just had a weird background. I literally ran out of all my savings and had to move back in with my dad so I just started writing a lot of content and publishing online and that ended up getting me a job as a copywriter.
A lot of what you post is quite personal and honest – do you think people respond more when it’s relatable?
You immediately stand out because no one is transparent today, people just build these big online personas which makes it really hard to work with them. People want to work with you because they know they can trust you.
Your best bit of advice for digital marketers?
If you can’t write well you shouldn’t be in marketing. It’s really simple- if you don’t understand how to write a great status it translates the same to Facebook ads. Even general stuff, like emailing people, requires good writing skills. And it’s funny because 99% of marketers are not good copywriters.
Check out Josh Fechter’s company Badass Marketers