Rand Fishkin is the co-founder and CEO of SparkToro, a company that helps marketers, PR folks, entrepreneurs, and product builders to get audience intelligence without the need for expensive, time-consuming, inaccurate surveys.

Before co-founding SparkToro, Rand is also the co-founder and former CEO of Moz, a company he founded with his mother after dropping out of the University of Washington 2 classes away from completing his degree. The company, which started as a blog called SEOmoz, attracted 30 million visitors annually and grew into a consulting business and now a software company.

He is the author of the book Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Rand Fishkin talks about how vulnerable he was while writing his book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
  • The direct and indirect impacts of building a business at a time or recession
  • Why Rand turned down an acquisition offer for Moz and how he made the switch from SEOMoz to Moz.com
  • Rand discusses how he set up his employees to benefit from any potential sale of Moz
  • Rand talks about how he came up with the name for SparkToro, how it works, and who its target market is
  • Some of the best use cases of SparkToro
  • Rand talks about taking SparkToro through beta testing
  • What SparkToro improved on after getting feedback from beta testers and the top benefits were reported
  • The unique SparkToro pricing model
  • Rand advises entrepreneurs to be thoughtful of their expenses, their customers, and their teams while building up during challenging times

In this episode…

When the name Rand Fishkin comes up, many are quick to think him as the co-founder and former CEO of Moz, the multimillion-dollar software business. But what you may not be too familiar with is that Moz was built during a recession. Having come through the trenches, Rand knows all too well what it’s like to grow a company in the middle of a recession. And with the increasingly negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, businesses are also facing the same challenging times as Rand did when he started Moz.

Rand has learned many things during his time with Moz and one of them is how to best handle the direct and indirect impacts of building at a time of recession. He has since sold Moz and he founded and is currently the CEO of SparkToro.

In this episode of Inspired Insider, Dr. Jeremy Weisz interviews Rand Fishkin about behind the scene stories of building Moz through a recession, why he had to step down as CEO of Moz, and the new challenges that he faced while building SparkToro. He also talks about what makes SparkToro unique in the industry and what it can do for businesses that no one else can. Stay tuned.

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Episode Transcript

Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of INspired INsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders like the founders of p90x Tony Horton. You know what? I like to talk about the challenge stories. You know, I really, I feel like it’s inspirational to hear like, Oh my god, all these founders are just like me. They go through the struggles the hard times. And so Tony Horton talked about actually, when he before he sold hundreds of millions of DVDs of p90x. He was a street like he made us food and rent money by being a street mine, a street performer so he put his head on the street, and people would pay him that’s how he paid his food. rent money. Yeah, exactly. I mean, even on the show, I had him do it. I’m like, let me see. So if he wasn’t good, maybe he just didn’t eat that day. But it’s crazy stories like that. And even, you know, when I had Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari on you, he was Steve Jobs, his mentor, and he talked about how Steve Jobs offered 33% of Apple for $50,000. And why he said, No, so I know you have a story like that, with the acquisition offer that you’re like, Oh, my God, if I go back in time, so think of 33% of Apple for $50,000. Right? And why he said no. And in health stuff like Julie Clark, who found Baby Einstein grew her company at $20 million with five employees and sold to Disney.

But the most impressive part was her beating cancer twice throughout this whole process. And I know your wife had a bit of a scare too, and I’m going to introduce today’s guests in a second before I do tell you this episode is brought to you by Rice25, which I co-founded with my business partner john Corcoran and Rise25. We help b2b businesses connect to their dream 100 clients and referral partners, and we help you run your podcast so it generates ROI. And for me, podcasting is a lot more personal obviously, it’s it’s been one of the best things I’ve done for my business in my life over the past 10 years, because I’ve made amazing relationships and but what’s inspired me is my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor and him and his brother were in concentration camps in Nazi Germany. And they were the only members or family to survive and so was up to with podcasting while the Holocaust foundation actually interviewed my grandfather to capture the legacy stories before the survivors died and he’s not alive anymore. But his story lives on because they did that interview and I put it on my about page on inspired Insider. I watch it multiple times a year to inspire me so that I have great attitude.

So it’s it’s a lot more I consider it leaving helping my guests and in me leave a legacy beyond ourselves. And so if you have questions, I think any business should have a podcast period and if you have questions, go to rise25.com or you can email us [email protected] And, you know, ran I was talking to a guest on my podcast, Chris dryer, who has an amazing podcast, Chris dryer podcast, and he runs rankings.io, which has a podcast and they help elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings. And we were saying we’re just talking about SEO, and some of the most influential people. And of course, you came up today’s guest came up Rand Fishkin, I’m gonna do an introduction and we’re gonna go deep on his amazing background, but he went from dropping Rand Fishkin went from dropping out of University of Washington to working full time, his mother’s small business to creating SEO Moz blog. If you haven’t heard Have it, it became one of the world’s most popular community and content resource for search marketers.

Then he became CEO of SEO Moz, which is now known as Moz. Which I’m sure he paid, you know, paid a pretty penny for my moz.com like three letter domain. I mean, I don’t even want to know what you pay for. Yeah, well, yeah, I’ll have you told me that is a software company co found with his mom and they grew that company from seven employees 134 revenues from scratch, you know, 800,000 to $29 million in traffic, building to 30 million annual visitors and now ran runs and founded spark Toro and if you haven’t checked it out, check it out. spark Toro calm and it provides high quality market research and audience intelligence that should be available to everyone and not just two tech giants and those with huge budgets and if you if you’re watching the video, and you see all over Shoulder loss and founder is I listened to three to six books per week. And it’s one of my favorites of all time. If you really want to get a glimpse into a company and the vulnerability, he opens up the kimono and basically shares everything that happened, his thoughts, his feelings that most most of these things happen behind closed doors with private conversations. He, for some reason, decided to share it. And we appreciate that. So Rand, thank you for being here.
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