Most 16-year-olds are not thinking about building an empire, but that wasn’t the case for Chop Dawg CEO, Joshua Davidson. With a talent for building websites, he set out to gain his first client by going door to door inquiring if residents needed his services. He soon got his first person to say yes, and as the saying goes the rest was history.
Chop Dawg works with entrepreneurs by taking their ideas on creating an app into development. Not only do they build dream apps, but they create dream websites, marketing strategies and identify the core audience for the product. MillionaireMatch had a chance to talk to the busy CEO about building his start-up from the ground up.
MillionaireMatch: Where did the name Chop Dawg come from?
Joshua Davidson: It’s a compromise between top dog and chop shop. We couldn’t figure out which one we wanted, so we just divided it up right down the middle. Somehow, some way people love it. It has stuck around for seven years.
MM: How did you learn to create a website at such a young age?
Joshua Davidson: As a little kid, I use to screw around on Halo Hal, Myspace, Yahoo gear, Adobe, and started learning photoshop, graphic design and editing. It was like the wild west era. Fortunately, I was too young to be in the dot-com bubble. I know if I was old enough, I probably would have been one of those people that got burned. I was able to enjoy what the dot-com bubble brought, which was the ability to create things on the internet. At the same point in time, the dot-com bubble scared away an entire generation of people who thought, ‘you can’t make money. I’m not buying any shares in this.’ I would be like, oh you CAN make money. I’m growing up on this. I’ll go and do stuff on my own. I was pretty much molded by the environment of a generation too early to be part of that bubble, but in the right generation to grow up with technology and know how it works and how to utilize it and kinda be part of that wild west era.
MM: How were you able to continue gaining new clients?
Joshua: In 2009, it was the height of the recession. At the time, I was in Atlantic City. The entire economy in Atlantic City is based on entertainment. What’s the first thing to go when people start losing income? Entertainment. People were losing jobs left and right. I started my company, which was the height of the recession. That’s number one. Number two, I was pitching websites to businesses that still weren’t on the web yet. That was 2009, which wasn’t that long ago. It was mind-boggling. We had to explain to them why they needed a website. This was before mobile websites. We had to explain what was a website design.
We convinced people they needed to be on the web because this is where eyeballs are going to make money. So at 16 years old, I was walking door to door selling that old school way which sucks. For every 100 business, you talk to you get one that says yes. That one business that says yes winds up tripling your revenue in three months because they talk to other businesses about your services. It's called the snowball effect. You start getting referrals and exponential growth.
MM: Do you think you give away too much free information?
Joshua: That’s the incredible part. Have you heard of CAC? CAC is the cost of acquisition per customer. It tells you if you spend $500, you will get $10k back in revenue. It’s a metric that tells you how much to put towards advertising. It’s kinda like a formula for success. The more free and valuable content we put out there the more entrepreneurs we can help, the more aspiring entrepreneurs we can convince to become entrepreneurs and the more potential people we can directly help, we can provide them a service. They are now discovering us. So for us, there’s no such thing as giving away too much free content. I think our issue is that we can’t put out more content. That’s why we introduced the podcast this year, and now we have a blog post three times a week. We’ve even opened it up to guest bloggers. The more you can directly help people, give them something valuable, help them in their day to day, inspire them and be a resource for them, the more you will get back.
MM: When did you realize that social media would be important for Chop Dawg?
Joshua: Around 2008 or 2009, I started to realize the power of social media. What I started realizing was that I was sitting in front of real decision makers, and talking to people who were not in my network. That’s how I knew social networking was going to be a big thing. What I realized is that social media is like the stock market. At some point, it’s over-saturated and at other times it’s under-saturated. With Twitter, we got in at a point where it was still growing. We got in kind of at the ground floor. That’s the time where it’s the most amount of eyeballs and you can communicate with people. Now, that’s happening with Snapchat.
We are not taking projects under $50k. Usually, our average customer is $75k up to $300k in a year. That’s a lot of money. It’s not an emotional purchase at that size client. The way you get in front of people is you have to give them value and constant brand awareness.
MM: What do you wish you had known when you first started as an entrepreneur?
Joshua: Thinking long-term. I was very short-sighted. I thought I was a long-term thinker. I would think, a year from now, I want to be here! The reality is how quickly does a year ago feel to you? It feels a lot shorter than a year. Now, it’s been 7 years and I’m thinking how quickly that went. When you realize time is quicker than you imagined and you start saying okay, I’m going to start to think more long-term when making decisions. Success and growth is created as a result.
MM: Do you agree with the phrase, if you chase your passion, the money will come?
Joshua: I think if you go into business for the sake of making money, you are going to fail. Usually, the people making serious ‘bank’ didn’t get in business for the money. I don’t agree with the phrase 100%. The reality is you can’t do everything you love and expect to be paid like one of the top performing people in the world. Too many people think like that.
MM: Have you ever hit a rough spot in your business where you considered giving up or pivoting?
Joshua: It happens a lot more often than anyone likes to discuss. There have been plenty of times in the early part where I thought how in the hell am I going to do payroll next month. We had no new clients come in and what in the hell are we going to do. I can’t think of one moment, because it happens all the time. Now, we are trying to push the envelope and try to take our company to the next level, the next year. We have to make some aggressive moves. The issue with that is if you fail, you’re taking ten steps back. That’s terrifying when you’ve worked your butt off and know that just one wrong move, you are back to square one again.
We’ve pivoted before and we’ve had moments where we just flat out failed and learned a lot of lessons. I like to call it paying tuition. You make a mistake, learn from it, and never do it again.