SPI 082: Getting Paid Before Building the Solution—From Research to Validation to Profit – A Listener Success Story

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In this session of The Smart Passive Income Podcast, I’m really excited to feature the details of a success story from a listener who decided to take action after listening to one particular episode of the SPI Podcast – and it was this action that helped him discover a new path in his life, quit his comfortable corporate job and go full time with his online business. The crazy part is that in our chat together, he shares every single step he took along the way to help him build his online business – from how he “idea hunted”, to validation tests of those ideas and how he was able to get paying customers for his product even before it was created.

Carl Mattiola of Clinic Metrics joins us today, and not only does he share exactly what he did to build a business and get paying customers before he left his corporate job, but he also shares exactly how he felt along the way – and you’ll see that like most entrepreneurs, it was not an easy overnight success. Carl shares a lot of the fears he had and other entrepreneurial roadblocks and barriers that he had to break through in order to succeed, and if this episode doesn’t get you to take action, I seriously don’t know what will.

More specifically, in this session you’ll find out about:

  • How Carl discovered  a market to create a solution for.
  • The criteria that Carl used to “green light” further research on niches that he selected.
  • A “play-by-play” account of exactly what Carl did to get ideas for his new business.
  • The first steps that Carl took, which was related to “getting over it”.
  • The exact script and questions Carl used to validate his idea.
  • How Carl got paying customers even before he started building his software solution.
  • What the transition was like from corporate world to entrepreneur, including all of the fears and roadblocks along the way.
  • Plus much more!

Resources and Links Mentioned in this Session Include:

Right click here to download the mp3 file to your desktop.

Thank you Carl!

If you enjoyed this episode and have 3 seconds, please click on the link below to thank Carl on Twitter!

Click here to thank Carl on Twitter!

Leave Me a Voicemail!

Every once and a while, I’ll be recording podcast episodes that are completely driven and made up of questions asked by you, so if you have any questions that you’d like potentially answered on the show, simply record a voicemail over on my Speakpipe Page.

And Lastly, Thank you!

This is usually the part of the show notes where I usually ask you to leave a review for the SPI podcast. This week, I just wanted to thank you! The SPI Podcast just surpassed 1000 5-star reviews, and I couldn’t be more humbled and thankful for  you! The success of the SPI podcast would not happen without you, so instead of asking you to do anything this time, I just wanted to express my gratitude. You. Are. Amazing! Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed this session, and hint: make sure you listen all the way through…

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below. Cheers!


Click Here to Download the Transcript for Session 82 (PDF)

  • http://smallbusiness-ideas-for-women.blogspot.com/ Richo

    I am glad to read this article, and inspiring

    • http://sectorius.blogspot.com Eric Holmes

      Do not just be a spectator, the most important is the real action if you do not want to lag behind the others.

      • http://www.cloudpail.com Eric T

        Agreed. I cant remember who said it but I like the phrase, “Don’t be a consumer, be a producer”. So, yeah you either watch from the seats (ride the bench lol) or get down to business!

    • http://www.allstuffweb.com Serge

      Another Good One is This Article by KissMetrics. It talks about building a successful company without a product 😉

      It’s actually pretty ironic that I read the KissMetrics post today and saw Pat’s Podcast today as well; I’m in the final few stages of Launching a startup here in Portland, Oregon, and already have a profitable model; this “startup” has been making me money since the beginning of the year and is growing quickly enough that I was actually able to leave my day job to focus on it more.

  • http://www.TheProfitJam.com Rushin @ TheProfitJam

    Great Nice to see some off beat sites other than Make Money Online Niche!

    • http://ACEproductivity.com Timothy Moser

      I second that… So many successful online businesses are geared toward content creators, it’s nice to see a real-life example of success in implementing SPI content in a completely different industry.

  • http://upliftedliving.com Meg Sylvia

    Awesome- great to hear about an entrepreneur who tested his business and found customers before quitting the day job. Definitely taking some tips from this since I’m working on doing the same :) Thanks, Pat and Carl!

  • http://www.moneyahoy.com MoneyAhoy.com


    Great story. Very inspirational. My wife’s a PT in Virginia… I’ll pass on your info to her and maybe she can run it up the ladder to the owners :-) I think they have maybe 20 locations?

    • http://www.moneyahoy.com MoneyAhoy.com


      It’s actually 31 locations in Virginia. My wife is a clinical director at one of them – just sent her an email now about it to run it by her regional director and the CEO. Here’s their website if interested: http://www.tpti.com/

      It’s funny, because every month I’m helping her in excel trying to define and run through different metrics for their productivity meeting. This software would solve so many of their issues!

      Good luck!!!

    • http://carlmattiola.com Carl

      Thanks! That’d be awesome.

  • http://carlmattiola.com Carl

    Thanks Pat and everyone! I’ll follow this thread so feel free to ask me anything and Ill do my best to answer your questions :)

    • sharon

      Hi Carl, Great story. I learned a lot from hearing your story. I’ve heard Dane Maxwell discussing the opportunities with creating software. One thing I can’t wrap my head around is how does the product get to the customer. Do you create a version for PC and Mac and they simply download it from your website and install on their computer? Do you need to set up/maintain a server? I know you have a developer who is also invested in the company, but for the typical Foundation member, how do they handle the technical side, bug reports, software updates, etc.

      • http://carlmattiola.com Carl

        Hey Sharon,

        Its a web app which we host through Heroku online. All they have to do is hit the url like you did here to access the product.

        You can find developers pretty easily through services like odesk or other online job forums. We use github for bugs.

        Hope that helps!

        • j


          Very inspirational.

          I have been looking at developing a saas
          product. To spin further on your reply if you don’t mind – is it a web app
          (html 5) that is then wrapped in a native container OR did you get an app
          developed and the site which are both sharing the same database?

          This is where I am getting stuck – if a
          web app is stable enough or do I need to get an app developed.

          Thanks for your insights


  • Michael P

    Another inspiring story Pat , and thank you for all you do! Next sentence may sound cynical or negative minded , but I am still waiting for a success story featuring someone who goes from unemployed (or who is able to leave their uncomfortable fast food minimum wage job) with no startup money, no good credit, no degree or network from former job, no car and massive debt to passive income freedom. Is having a corporate job and/or consulting job, a “safety net” of savings, credit cards you can “max out” investing in your startup a prerequisite for success as a passive income entrepreneur? Hard work, persistence and learning all you can is a must for sure. I apologize for the downer tone, really do want to know if anyone has a story like that. Not giving up! :)

    • George

      Instead of waiting to hear that story why don’t you take action and create your own?

    • http://yahoo.com DG

      You only need a domain ($9.00/year), web hosting ($2 to $3/month), a brain, hard work plus lots of learning, research and being scammed along the way, never giving up until you know what a legitimate online business looks like.

  • http://www.lifecoachspotter.com Tom Casano

    You’re a stud Carl. Keep it up 😀

  • Scott

    Such a breath of fresh air to come hear and not see another pitch for a “make money online” product 😉

  • http://smartbusinessrevolution.com John Corcoran

    Nice work, Carl! I enjoyed watching the video Andy & Dane released recently and enjoyed hearing more about the backstory behind ClinicMetrics. I’m glad to see you getting this recognition.

  • http://thegreenmicrogym.com Adam from The Green Microgym


    Great job! I particularly appreciate humanizing the process and showing that anyone can do it if they have the guts to start making phone calls and asking questions.

  • http://ACEproductivity.com Timothy Moser

    Awesome! It’s so great to see a success story like this. Sure, Carl isn’t in online business per-se, but it’s a great example of actually taking action instead of just consuming content. I also liked the discussion on productivity within tight time constraints. Very inspiring.

  • http://herbolab.com Fran

    It’s always nice to hear the stories of people who leave their careers for a dream

    • http://www.smartdailywritingtips.com Kingsley Agu

      Yea, Fran. You’re quite right on that. I’m currently downloading the PDF version of the podcast. I want to study further what Carl really did.. Who knows, I might end up being the next big story!

  • http://www.websitetips4u.com Glenys

    It’s always great to read of an online entrepreneur who has been able to quit their job and do this full time.
    Well done.

  • http://kwinpeterson.com Kwin Peterson

    I just heard Carl’s story on The Foundation website a few minutes before I put on this podcast, it was great to hear more.

    Keep these coming, Pat–I think your judgement is pretty sound. While Dane kinda rubs me the wrong way, and I won’t be joining his program, I learned a ton from your earlier podcast, from his interview with Hiten Shah, from this episode, and from his website. Every success story has some lesson to be gleaned from it if we are willing to look.

    Congratulations on your success Carl!

  • DG

    If you think about it, we all have a starting point.CEOs did not become CEOs overnight.lt’s about setting priorities.A domain costs only $9.00 a year and hosting starts from $2 a month.The rest is what you can do with your brain.

  • Ian

    Hi, Pat and Carl,

    Thanks for this monster podcast! I’d joined a program that has a lot in common with the Foundation. Its called Tiny Little Businesses. They also advised us to read A Lean Startup and their basic framework is the same as yours.
    I’m in week 5 of the course and there’s just so much work! I’d fallen into the trap of thinking that this course is taking too much time and effort but reading Carl’s story was the kick in the butt I needed. I’d also over thought the process of interviewing my future customers by saying it was hard, they’d reject me etc etc, my niche is super-crowded etc, etc.

    Pat, look out for an e-mail from me.
    Congratulations on your success so far, Carl.
    Looking forward to seeing you again on the podcast soon.

  • http://entrepreneurshipvideo.com Florian

    Hi Pat, the audio player isn’t working with Firefox 23.0.1 for Mac.

  • http://bloggerbloggingtricks.blogspot.com/ Adeel Qamar

    Nice podcast, really inspirational for me.

  • http://breakingferriss.com Nate

    Hey guys. Great ‘cast. One thing sticks in my mind:

    “I knew that because I had a software background, I could probably build a better product than [my competitor].”

    Carl said this toward the end of the interview, when he was discussing his early fear that someone he reached out to would ape his idea – a fear that ended up being unfounded.

    As I listen to these success stories, they start to fall into two categories – people with software or finance expertise, and people without. I listened raptly to the Dan Maxwell episode as well, so I’m aware that plenty of people with no prior software experience can and do design things successfully, but I think we should be honest and acknowledge it’s an obstacle. (Tim Ferriss, whose presence looms large in this community, had a working knowledge of molecular biology and kinesiology, when he started Brain Quicken/Body Quick, the business that became the template for the “muse.”)

    Most of the “non-expert” success stories from SPI seem to revolve around people who were doing something *anyway*, who realized its monetization potential. The guy who was already rolling Juijitsu and started a gi review site, moms who were already blogging about child-rearing – even Pat himself, who was already dropping science on passing the Leed AP Exam.

    If there’s anything I’ve picked up in my only 9 months trying to make my way in “internet age entrepreneurship”, it’s that we all have to find our own individual path, and one person’s solutions might not be right for everybody. That said, I think Dane’s model has sticking power, precisely because it puts the central premise of effective business – solving problems better – front-and-center. I’m trying, in small-scale, to validate, then crowd-fund something in the vein, but the edict to start with a blank slate and listen to your market is hardly ever bad advice.

    Sorry to ramble – just stream-of-consciousness…

    • Therm

      I agree with you and I think it just goes back to Pat’s podcast with someone (can’t remember who) where they spoke about your “unfair advantage”. The folks you mention used their unfair advantage.

      I liken it to growing up in and around a family in a certain industry. For instance, it’s likely that the guy/gal who comes up with a better way to paint street lanes, had a parent (or someone) who used the machine to paint the signs. That person might’ve been exposed to things that allowed them to come up with an idea for that industry. It’s seems like the best path to take instead of trying their had at say, real estate.

    • Jay

      Eloquently put Nate, I wish I had your clarity 9 months in. Be sure to keep that front and center – wavering see’s me 4 years in and many many thousands of dollars down, highly educated in IM but still trying to break out the barracks.

  • http://EssentialsOfTheOnlineBusiness.com Chris Trynkiewicz

    Very inspiring interview. Thanks, Pat!

    I have found that if you discover competition is under way, it eigther will boost you or make your project die. It is important to decide correctly, whch is the right solution. If this was a well-known figure in the industry, making you competition, you might be better off just letting go and moving on. For smaller fishes, like said in the interview, you need to use this competitor to make a swing around him to get more momentum. It’s just like propulsion techniques for spacecraft around a planet – you approach, get close, study, make photos and use the mass and gravity to boost your way at higher speed toward your destination.

  • http://www.medxpower.com Clark

    After long time read such interesting Post. It give very Inspirational Post.

  • http://profiterdumonde.com/ Changer de vie

    Great and inspiring story !
    Would love to have success one day…

  • http://www.careerexitstrategy.com/ Matt

    Listening to this episode reminded me of Daniel Pinks Great book A Whole New Mind. The premise was that left brained dominant jobs like engineering and technical work would lose prominence to jobs more right brain dominant like design and art. However you hear left brained activities like data mining that bring success to Carl. Just reinforces choosing your niche based on skills and interests.

  • http://londonandproperty.com Pavi

    Good tip, to get easy with making cold calls. Take a piece of fruit, hold it up, in front of you, pick up the phone in your other hand and pretend you are making the call to a potential customer. Speak to the fruit as you would speak to them (just imagine it speaking back to you!). Do this 2 or three times and it reduces your fear of picking up the phone to a real person (it’s important to hold the phone up to your ear/ have your headset on to mimick a real call). Test it, it works!

  • http://lolbuildacademy.com Jim Weston

    Another great podcast Pat. The concept of validation is an extremely important one for any new entrepreneur to grasp, as most businesses fail for a reason.

  • http://www.kingged.com Metz

    Session 82 is about a listener’s success who started from scratch. It is impressive to hear the story about how the success booms.

    Carl Mattiola inspires us and gave us great ideas that we can use soon. I am thinking that listeners will be happy to hear this, most especially to those who are planning to build their own.

    Can you imagine? Getting paid before building the solution? All in all, this is worth of my time. Nice!

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  • http://herbolab.com Fran

    This is great Patt, I wish I had listened to this before launching some ventures…

  • http://www.navidmoazzez.com Navid Moazzez

    Awesome episode Pat, I really enjoyed it!

    Very inspiring story! I got many of tips I can use to test out some new business ideas as well, thanks a lot!

    Congrats on your great success so far Carl, again very inspiring!

  • http://techwayz.com/best-wordpress-contact-form/ Pramod

    This is yet another inspirational post Patt ! There’s a lot be be learn from this podcast . Thanks for sharing the information .


  • http://www.clancypannell.com Clancy

    Love your stuff! Thank you so much for helping us out. I thought it would be nice, on a usability standpoint, if there was a “next” and “previous” button on/in your podcast entries page. For those of us just discovering your great content, can go from podcast to podcast. Just a suggestion. Thanks again!

  • Melissa Wilson

    Another great episode, Pat! I really enjoyed listening to Carl’s story. It was very inspiring and an example of how you can be successful if you put in the effort. I really liked hearing about how Carl had to overcome his fears along the way and how he was able to do that. It keeps things real to show that there are going to be challenges but that they don’t have to stop you in your tracks. Overall. a great success story!

  • http://thefoundation.com Dane Maxwell

    I’m grateful that Carl took the plunge and joined The Foundation last year. Thank you to Pat for being gracious enough for having me on the show, and to Carl for taking a chance on The Foundation.

    To those who listened, Carl will be an official teacher in the next Foundation program. He was that good :-)

  • http://collaboblogging.com Jimmy

    When I first heard Dane Maxwell’s episode I remember thinking that it was particularly good, so to find out that it is one of the most popular and has led to a success story like this makes perfect sense.

    Personally, I think the key here is to find a programmer who will be willing to work on the project for equity. I know its harder to find but I think there are a lot more programmers out there who are willing to work on a good idea than we all tend to think.

    • http://www.untetheredincome.com Allen Underwood


      The equity thing really works well in the case of Carl simply because he was friends with the developer. In most circumstances though, I would think it might be hard to talk a programmer into sweat equity as payment, but it’s always worth a try. However, going back to earlier stuff Pat has mentioned, it might be worth looking into overseas programmers – Pat’s friend Chris Ducker has a service called Virtual Staff Finder where you could potentially hire a qualified programmer. Just some food for thought.

  • http://www.beapharmacist.com Jerry

    Great post! Wish I had listened to this before starting some of my other projects.

  • http://www.snapper.vu Adrian

    I have build http://www.snapper.vu after the last year foundation, and i`m not a photographer and I didn’t know anything about the industry until I started foundation. As they said, started from nothing.

  • http://www.mistyspears.com Misty Spears

    This was awesome. I’ve been toying with a software idea myself, but you know…fear creep! Really great inspiration to hear this. Congrats on your success Carl!

  • http://www.nickykay.com Nick Kizirnis

    Carl, I had a very similar experience that you describe where someone you talked with decided they were going to come out with a product … this person said it to me at the end of an interview with me! Talk about awkward … nothing ever came of it, but I felt very nervous about it for a while, and then realized there was nothing I could do, and that I was focused enough that there was plenty of room out there for multiple products in the market.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I really appreciate the details you shared about the process you used.

  • http://www.covershub.net Hammad Baig

    Thanks Pat and everyone! I’ll follow this thread so feel free to ask me anything and Ill do my best to answer your questions :)

  • http://www.multilevelmarketingmasters.com Justin

    When I first heard the podcast with Pat & Dane a few months ago I attempted following the steps Dane listed, by building an email list of just over 100 managers in the industry I chose. I ended up with no email responses, gave up there and wen’t back to school in September.

    After listening to this podcast i’m going to give it another go, and this time I plan on continuing through to a finished product.

    Thanks Pat & Carl for this amazing & inspiring podcast!

  • http://www.sidehustlenation.com Nick Loper

    Love to hear side hustle success stories like this. Carl, thanks for sharing so many details on the specific actions you took to get your business off the ground!



  • http://www.thinklikeaninvestor.com Tom

    Thanks for the great info. Carl, you mentioned databases where you were able to search through industries and specific companies to determine a qualifiers. Could you possibly share a link to those services? Thanks.

    Congratulations on your success. It sounds like a blast and it also sounds like you are really helping people. Great stuff!

    • Pradeep


      I think the database you are looking for is BizBen.

  • http://berichandrich.com RM

    Great information and podcost like always. I just started listen your podcast since 2-3 months ago. And I found that there are lot of great stuffs.

    Thank you for your hard work. :)

  • Matt Henn

    Awesome info! Thanks Carl and Pat! Much appreciated.

  • mike Stewart

    That was by far the most beneficial, cost saving podcast that I have heard from SPI that works for me. Thank you Pat and Carl for PRICELESS! information. Inspirational beyond my what I can fathom!!! Awesome! Totally Pumped!!

  • Mark

    Great interview!
    But I am a bit surprised you didn’t disclose you are an investor in thefoundation, the paid program from Dan that Carl used to build his business.
    Keep it up.

  • http://www.untetheredincome.com Allen Underwood

    Carl, or Pat if you guys had a conversation about this, I’m just curious as to what made Carl leave his day job based off the numbers alone mentioned in the podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly excited to listen to the podcast, and I will likely go back and listen again because I felt this one was just incredible. However, it sounded like Carl had only gotten $3,500 (or $3,700) from signups, which isn’t a ton of money – definitely not enough to quit a job. Granted, we don’t know what his savings were or any of that, but I’m just curious what made him leave his job at Tesla to do this. The primary reason I’d like to know what got him to leave the rat race so quickly is the fact that if I remember correctly he said this this product wasn’t going to be out until May (so I assume May 2014). I’d just love to hear the insights as to why he would have bailed so early on Tesla when it sounded like great progress was being made on the software and client sign up.

    Thanks and seriously Pat, thank you for what you do. Killer content as always.

    • Kevin

      Good question. Would like to hear about it, too.

  • Paul Potter

    Great interview. Carl seemed like a humble guy willing to overcome his fears and step into a new venture. Well done!

  • Kaylene

    If I want to offer the developer equity, what if the developer runs away after creating the software? Anyone knows any steps I should take?