The Andrew Warner Story: How a 21 Year-Old Created a 38.5 Million Dollar Business by Returning His J.Crew Clothes

andrew warner

The chances are, you probably haven’t heard of the name Andrew Warner. And if you have, all you will see is a young man who throws local web conferences and interviews successful entrepreneurs. But the thing is, there is a lot more to Andrew Warner than meets the eyes.

Although Andrew spends most of his day interviewing successful entrepreneurs, he himself is more successful than the people he is interviewing. On top of that you can probably learn a lot more from listening to Andrew than if you listened to Internet celebrities such as Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin.

By no means should you stop listening and learning from Internet celebrities, but you need to start listening to people who are more like you. Andrew Warner wasn’t a rich kid who had everything handed to him. He had to return his old clothes to J.Crew so he could have enough money to start his first business, and it happens to be that company made 38.5 million dollars a year.

andrew warner revenue

Here is the Andrew Warner Story!

So Andrew, tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m an entrepreneur and salesman living in a world that has little appreciation for either.

In elementary school, I had this little business where I bought packs of gum from the candy store and sold each piece to kids in my class. I bought each pack of 10 for 50 cents and sold the pieces for 10 cents each. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but I doubled my money and I was proud.

You think the teachers were proud? If a kid wanted to draw or write poetry or do anything artistic, they were full of praise. But as soon as they found out what I was doing, they shut me down. Sharing your candy with others if fine, but there was something disgusting to them about commerce.

Isn’t the same true on the Internet? Everyone cheers user-generated content. But if one of those users wants to profit from all the time he’s spending online, the community is turned off.

Ever since elementary school, I wanted to show that businesspeople are the heroes and encourage others to become entrepreneurs. After I cashed out of my Internet company, I dedicated myself to doing that.

How old were you when you started your first .com business, how much capital did you put into it, and where did you get the money from?

When I was 21, I discovered the business that would make me my first (mini) fortune. It was the mid-90s and I got this daily word-a-day email newsletter. I liked it, so I called up the guy who wrote it and said, “I love your email newsletter, but why aren’t you running ads in it? You can make some money.”

“You don’t understand,” he told me. “If I ran ads in it, it would taint my work.”

There were a bunch of email newsletter guys who felt that way. In their stupidity, I found an opportunity. My brother Michael is a brilliant coder, so I partnered up with him and in about a week, he whipped up a system that allowed us to manage our own email newsletter.

Within a year, we were making a profit of about $1,000 a day.

What inspired you to create an online greeting card business?

In the mid-90’s, people would subscribe to just about any email newsletter because email was still a novelty to them and they wanted to see something in their inboxes. As the excitement wore off, people were less likely to go out of their way to sign up for a service that sent them more email. We were constantly looking for new ways to get people to join. Michael is a fast developer, so when we saw something promising, he coded it up quickly and we measured the results.

Then I read a BusinessWeek article that changed my life. It talked about virtual gifts. There were web sites that let people email each other pictures of flowers. The concept seemed ridiculous to me, but it was insanely viral. So I showed it to Michael and in about a week he built what we simply called “virtual gifts.”

Mostly we copied the people in the BusinessWeek article, but we added one thing that I don’t think the others were doing. When users sent virtual flowers, we also let people join our mailing list.

Since flowers did well, we wanted to see what else people would want to send. We let them send virtual toys, gag-gifts, whatever. Eventually, we realized that greeting cards were the most popular, so we focused on that.

Suddenly we got hundreds of new subscribers every day–for free!

You took your business from 0 dollars in revenue to 38.5 million dollars. How did you get your revenue that high and how long did it take you to do that?

Great question!

Getting hundreds of people to send our greeting cards was exciting, but we were too ambitious to be satisfied with hundreds. We wanted millions.

So we took the basic functionality of our greeting card system and opened it up to other Web sites. Using Michael’s code, anyone could add a greeting card section to their site. And when their users’ sent out a greeting card, we asked them to join our newsletters.

Now we were getting thousands of people to join our newsletters. But remember, we wanted millions, not thousands.

That’s when we decided to pay web sites to use our system. We’d give them 10 cents every time one of their users sent out a greeting card. Now that was powerful. Suddenly millions of people were using our greeting card engine and our newsletter had millions of subscribers.

That was great, but as you can see, it’s also scary. Because for every million people who used our greeting card engine, we had to pay webmasters $100,000. We didn’t have that kind of money. The newsletter business was profitable, but revenue was slow. Every day, we made a fraction of a penny on each user. That added up to real money, but it took a long time to get that money. And the affiliates that sent us all those users didn’t want to wait.

So we needed a way to bring in money quickly.

This is where that salesmanship that teachers tried to beat out of me came in handy. I noticed that there were some venture-backed firms with a lot of money and an urgent need to get new users. So I told them that every time a user joined one of my mailings, I’d urge them to become members of the venture-backed company’s site.

They loved the idea so much that companies offered to pay us anywhere from $1 to $3 per user.

Millions of people used our greeting card engine each month. Venture-backed firms paid us $1-$3 every time we convinced those users to sign up for their services. You can see how that adds up nicely.

Your business had high profit margins. How did you keep your costs so low?

I’m amazed that you noticed our margins Neil.

Let’s do the math. We paid webmasters 10 cents every time one of their users used our greeting card engine. We got paid up to $3 by venture-backed firms every time we got those users to register for these venture-backed firms’ services. That’s how we got our margins.

Even when we raised our payouts to 25 cents, our margins were good.

But those are gross margins. From that, we had to pay for servers, salaries, office space and more.

I reached for the moon and rented a floor of office space in mid-town Manhattan. That alone cost over a million dollars a year.

So, in 2000, the only year we had our finances audited by Earnst & Young, our revenue was $38.5 million, but our net profit was $6.7 million.

You sold your company to Brad Greenspan, who was one of the MySpace founders. How did you go about selling your company?

We sold the business in pieces to people we did business with over the years.

Netcreations, for example, bought our opt-in email database. They were the leaders in that space and managed that part of our business, so they knew what it was worth and how to run it.

Brad Greenspan bought the last of the business. He was one of the few people who discovered our company on his own. He must have been monitoring traffic rating services to see whose traffic was spiking. As soon as our business hit his radar, he called me and tried to buy me out.

I turned him down, and over the years we became both competitors and friends. We competed fiercely with each other, but we also did some mutually beneficial business deals.

Brad’s company had a super-smart group of guys working in it. So when I needed to move on, I made a deal with him. I knew his guys could run the business without needing me to stick around through a long transition period.

What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t have much money and wants to start a business?

I hate the pansies who whine that “it takes money to make money.” No it doesn’t! It takes a sense of mission. If you’re on a mission, you’ll find a way.

When I didn’t have money to start my company, I called up J.Crew and asked if they’d take back the clothes I bought from them over the years and give me a refund. Believe it or not, they said, “sure.” That J.Crew refund check helped put me in business.

The problem with most people who want to start companies is that they’re not real entrepreneurs because they’re not enterprising.

I have shelves full of biographies or great businesspeople who all started with nothing but somehow found a way to build their businesses.

Any last words to the Quick Sprout readers?

Keep learning from others. We’re fortunate in the Internet business because successful entrepreneurs are willing help startups. We have to take advantage of that.

In college, I worked on Wall Street. The guy who made it in the market had zero interest in helping out the younger guys coming up.

Today I run a Web site called Mixergy, where successful Internet entrepreneurs teach others what they learned. There is no way that anything like that would happen on Wall Street. It’s too competitive and people are too ruthless.

We need to be grateful for this environment and soak up as much knowledge as possible.

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Comments

  1. Insane interview Neil! Really learned a lot and agree with the fundamentals pointed out by Andrew. To be successful, people need to willing to act like sponges and absorbs all the free opportunities out there and fill their tool boxes before they build their empire.

    • I happened to read Ted Turner’s life story in the same week I read Warren Buffett’s. They’re so different–Turner can’t site still, and Buffett constantly analyzes companies in quiet–but the one thing both billionaires have in common is that they both read biographies and absorbed their lessons like sponges.

      • I’ll have to check out Ted Turner’s story. Thanks for the heads up.

        • That was a great story, even better headline but I missed the part about J Crew and how that really had anything to do with him starting his e-greeting business ..just a catchy title I guess.

          Pretty inspirational story and I agree with his last statement that “it doesn’t take money to make money” It only takes creativity, ingenuity and a bit of truthfulness. Greed should never take over, and it’s apparent that it worked since he was offering back 10 cents a signup to their mailing list. That’s really high, 25 cents is even more insane – I can’t imagine how thin the margins must have been at times.

      • I am definitely getting my sponge on today. Thank you for the info. Real darn good. lol. I am buzzing with so many ideas that I got from reading this.

        I have at least 2 “million dollar” ideas from reading this, that will work perfectly with a youth sports site I am working on now.

      • andrew warner from jamaica :

        hey we have the same name I’m from jamaica,i have a bar and grill do you have any tips for me >?

      • Awesome Interview! Really inspiring, though I read it really late.
        I have not read Ted Turner’s life story, would surely read it.
        @ Andrew It is really amazing to read how you have reached the top.
        I am seriously thinking that it is not difficult to become successful if one is dedicated and updates himself with things happening around, to make the best use of it.
        Now I am becoming a fan of this blog for inspiring so many people. Kudos!

    • Thanks! Andrew is an awesome guy that more people should know about.

    • Bernard Grate :

      I am part of an online fashion design company for tween girls. You can Actually design a t-shirt online and have it made and sen to you next day. The great thing about this site is that you don’t need to know photoshop or illustrator. It is all set for you. This story is very inspiring. Take a look at the website. http://www.esttoday.com/design I would love some feedback.

  2. Neil, I’ve been much more open about my business experiences since you urged me to talk about them. Thanks for the encouragement. And thanks for doing this interview.

  3. I love this story. Amazing how much you and Andrew have in common. Could not think of a better place for this interview to appear.

  4. Khuram Malik :

    I have been visiting Mixergy.com for just over 4 weeks now. At first, i just watched the odd clip it, and now i make sure i watch EVERY interview.

    Its so packed with useful information for startups like me, and you just cant get that information anywhere else. The reason is because Andrew really plugs his interviewees for information and really gets to the core of the ideas and solutions, which means more benefit for us viewers.

    You can tell he is someone who is often smarter than the people he interviews because of the questions he asks, but doing interviews always brings a new angle and different people package their thoughts in different ways, and you only need one idea to resonate with you, for it to change your life.

    Not to mention, Andrew is a very stand up kind of guy and for someone so successful, if he can take the time out to give me a advice for free, when consultants want to charge good money for advice that isnt half as good, then its worth mentioning.

    Mixergy, really IS the home for ambitious startups.

  5. Andrew, I love your story and observations. I personally share a number of similarities with you and so very much appreciate your thoughts and observations.

    Would love to touch base with you sometime as we have a startup that I think you’d really appreciate and perhaps you’d have have some great insight to what we’re doing.

  6. Wow, great interview. I love the tenacity to make it work even though some tell you that it’s not a good idea or give push-back.

    • Right. The “be satisfied with what you’ve got” crowd are pushy. But they’re much easier to stand if you realize they’re people who reached for some big dream and failed. And their evangelism comes from a place of pain.

      • Indeed, this is so very true. I fight it constantly as I am not satisfied with where I am and have received that type of feedback for years. Growth comes through stretching and its associated pain and endurance. The endurance seems to be the hardest part, especially after the pain.

    • Andrew is very determined. If he doesn’t like what someone is saying he will call their bullshit or tell them that he disagrees in their face.

  7. Hellok,

    Oh look, its Andrew Warner being interviewed for a change :) Its nice finally hear a bit of his successful story. Great Interview.

    Salmiler

  8. So weird how i was just reading the interview he did with shoemoney yesterday and to find out the guy doing the interview was just as successful as shoemoney…great article neil!

  9. Fantastic interview. There really is nothing that replaces passion and unwavering drive. Thanks Neil and Andrew.

  10. Andrew – thank you for sharing a little bit of your story with us.

    Neil – thanks for pressing Andrew, we all benefit.

  11. Great interview, Neil! And Andrew, it’s great to finally hear the whole story. Wow!

  12. Thanks for a great interview and loads of info to help me drive my “sense of mission” to turn an idea into reality.
    So, do you think JCrew will still buy back your old clothes? ha – genius!

    • I am not sure after this post, but you should try it out. ;)

    • I think they were sued in Germany a few years ago because of that policy. The government said that there’s no way they can really give all their customers refunds any time they wanted. They called it a scam on J Crew’s part.

      Not sure if that’s why the company stopped offering this generous refund policy.

  13. One common thread across most successful entrepreneurs is that they’re constantly learning, Andrew’s no exception.

  14. Super interview! Very interesting, helpful and down-to-earth advice which just makes sense!! Thank you!

  15. Great interview. Thanks to Andrew for opening up and giving us a look into what has made him such a profound success. Andrew’s interviews at Mixergy are such a wonderful resource for entrepreneurs. Cheers!

  16. Great story and congrats on your success Andrew!

    So being an entrepreneur myself, I’m curious as to how you got matched up with venture-backed firms to work out those $1-$3 per user arrangement. I’ve got a blog template site that gets 5k+ uniques and hundreds of opt-ins per day. Nothing nearly as large as your viral site but I’d love to hear how you got in touch with these vc-backed firms and how you pitched them.

    Thanks,

    David

  17. What is the name of the virtual greeting card co you founded?

  18. I’m turned off by the comment that people who didn’t want to commercialize their email newsletter were stupid. I’m neither pro, nor anti-business, but I find it troubling to assume the goal of everything should be money. Money is not the only measure of value, and it’s important to recognize that many wonderful things which we all agree have value could not be created by someone with an enterprise-focused mindset. That is what artists are getting at when they whine about “selling out” or “tainted work”.

    • Why go into business if you aren’t going to make money? It doesn’t make sense to not make money.

    • I might have said it harshly, but the truth is that money is fuel for businesses. Those guys could not keep paying their internet bills and ended up closing up their mailings.

      Even today, sending out email is very expensive. I spend more on my little mailing list than I spend to host my site.

  19. Neil thank you for convincing Andrew to do this interview. Andrew congratulations on all your success. Its great to see there are people out there who want to help others with their knowledge. I have been to different Mixergy events and they were all great. Andrew takes time to learn about your company so he can connect you with the right people. I love this quote “If you’re on a mission, you’ll find a way.”

    • That is certainly true. It takes serious dedication to make your way through this world.

      It’s also so good to hear about people like Andrew who are willing to help make connections. It’s such a rough thing unless you’re in the right location.

      We’ve struggled being in the midwest, but do have some great contacts within our circle now with the attention that GirlinYourShirt.com received from being on the front page of TechCrunch.com. It’s always good to have a helping hands in the community.

    • Nice quote there. Feel like watching a Tamil movie. Lolz

    • The next time you see Andrew, you should tell him “congrats”!

  20. Wow, I never knew this. I have to admit he is one of the nicest and most humble guys out there. Such a successful man, who is always helping others. He deserves all of the success in the world!

  21. This is one inspiring story. I never heard about Andrew Warner before. Looks like he made his name outshine there.

  22. I’ve never heard of him before, but this is definitely a very inspirational story. Looks like he had the business attitude since he was very little.

  23. Finally..I’ve been waiting to read this on Mixergy since forever!

    I came across a blog post today on Mixergy pointing to this article.

    Thanks, Neil!

    PS You should offer to sign people up to a mailing list when they submit a comment on this blog ;-)

  24. Great story i had never heard of Andrew before and i love finding another person to follow.

  25. Kurt Daradics :

    Andrew Warner is the post modern Napoleon Hill. I’m honored to call him a friend and he’s doing good work with Mixergy. I’m stoked that he’s getting HIS story out there. I wonder how long before Andrew gets a book deal??

  26. Very inspirational indeed..thank you

  27. Amazing interview Neil.

    I was actually introduced to Andrew at one his Mixergy events by you. I was also fortunate enough to personally meet with Andrew just a couple months ago. He is definitely one intelligent dude. Andrew gave me a great piece of advice that I’m currently in the midst of working on that can be potentially huge jump off point for my career in acting.

  28. I love Andrew’s stuff, but did not know his past; I just assumed he was a guy just trying to break out and got a great niche to start. Something similar to ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – Napoleon Hill.

    I think I have hit on a potential winner. So going to take some inspiration here and run with it. Just need to get the right developer on board.

  29. Hi Neil, thank you so much for this. Definitely inspirational and something to put up on my cork board! I’m checking out Andrew’s Mixergy blog now.

  30. Hey Neil! Tell you what! My blog DAILY 3 THINGS is bringing out a tips book and I am really making a difference now. Don’t know why, but thinking out of the box works for me.

  31. Neil, what an inspiring story! Thank you for publishing this wonderful interview. You don’t have a video clip do you?

  32. Awesome interview! I came across Andrew’s blog, Mixergy, for the first time a couple weeks ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Not only does he get some amazing entrepreneurs (in every vertical) to interview, but he always asks all the right questions to get the info his audience wants to hear.

    I didn’t know much about his background until this interview, and its great seeing where he got his start. Thanks for sharing!

  33. Hey guys, brilliant interview,

    I have followed Andrews interviews at Mixergy, they are sensational. For any readers, its a “must have” resource for any entrepreneur.

    I had no idea about Andrews past. He should teach more from his experiences on Mixergy!

    Being a sponge is a brilliant way to describe a real entrepreneur.

    Thanks!

    • The cool part about Andrew is that he will never stop learning. Whether it is advice from an old person or a kid, Andrew always listens to people and soaks in what they have to say.

    • Scott, I work like mad to do those interviews. I love hearing you say that they’re helpful. Fires me up buddy.

      • I don’t know anyone that puts that much time and effort into them. You also come up with a list of questions that you think would be good to ask before the interview.

      • Interviews are often repetitive. That is not the reason why I use them for. I use them for more of inspirational purposes. If you look deep in the interview, they all get to the main idea differently. The over all picture might be the same but the process is often different, and if you learn one new process you learn’t something new.

      • May i also thank you personally for all the interviews you have done so far. The last few have been totally awesome, and especially now with the introduction of video it makes it even better.

  34. Neil,

    This article really was inspiring. At this time, I’m at a turning point in my business and I needed this “push of inspiration” to get going again.

    Tax season, contract job ending, and massive business start up work has drained me mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m tired of waiting around and this article gave me that little “get over the hump” that I needed.

    Thanks for reminding me of my mission!

    Cheers,

    Brad Spencer

    • No problem. If people like Andrew and I can figure out how to be successful, anyone can.

      • Perhaps more valuable than anything is understanding that very point. We’re all just humans and I think everyone should be more approachable like unto yourself and Andrew.

        It would be nice to see more folks interactively sharing such experiences. It really does help to learn from one another. We all have different experiences that could help if we were s of placed in the proper position.

        I certainly could talk to the trials of working out a startup with five children… I have four of them crawling all over and kicking me as I attempt to type this. LOL :D I never knew it could take 5 minutes to type a quick little comment until now!!!

        • A lot do, it is just hard to find it all in one blog post. Most people share their experiences through speeches, writing on their blog, and life stories.

          • Right, and in the proper place to interact. The web makes this easier when we are in less conducive locations, such as my position in the midwest. Not very easy at the moment to take a quick jaunt to socal or such. Nothing quite beats real interpersonal interaction though as folks don’t ever *really* know you until they meet you.

            Hopefully that will become easier as I move forward, but would love to associate with some folks like you guys.

            • You can get that anywhere. There are conferences in all parts of the world.

              But you are right, the web makes things a lot easier.

              • Maybe in the US, but not here in the UK. I live in no mans loads. Books and Web are the only real sources for me, so i cherish every opportunity i get to learn.

                Skype also helps in interacting with people on a one to one level and im certainly taking advantage.

              • Just take a trip to London. You will find something. ;)

  35. Great post! I was hooked by the chewing gum story. Thinking – YES, EXACTLY, you get that though process pounded out of you. I knew several kids who got in school suspension for similar infractions.

    Luckly my niche was typing up papers for kids who would rather play basketball than type their own reports. They write-em and all I had to do was type it up and print it out. $5 at a time baby.

    Thanks for the post Neil, well worth the wait (been coming back for a month now, and was this close to proposing to write a guest post for you. :) ) Of course now I am left with the task of finding a bookmark to delete since I added Mixergy to my Favorites. – that will be a site I am going to start following.

    • Mark, I’ve started getting emails from others who told me that they also had little businesses going in school and that their teachers shut them down too.

      It’s so frustrating that this kind of ingenuity could be snuffed out.

      • Teachers need to change their attitude. If I ran the school I would encourage that kind of stuff.

      • It didn’t matter to me when my teachers shut me down because I just kept it going it going secretly. She would take my products away but usually it wasn’t enough to stop my whole profit.

      • Khuram Malik :

        My experience was a bit of a mixed bag. One of my teachers kind of put me down, but another teacher i had was always happy to see i was being creative and trying new things.

        I dont know what its like in the US, but in the UK schools dont encourage children to think out of the box the way they should; the teachers, rarely have much real world experience themselves.

        • Things are pretty robotic here in the US as well. Perhaps not as bad in that some individual spark exists and I had some teachers that really seemed to value unique children.

          In particular I was fortunate enough to be in a special group of gifted students who were encouraged through a unique weekly experience. We had one day a week in which we separated from all of the other students in the schools and worked on special projects and mind expanding activities. The activities ranged wildly and really gave some unique insights to the world.

          So yeah, I guess it depends on where you are and the lot your dealt as well as the self motivation. I am fortunate to have both, but unfortunately I’m also in an area in the world that makes it difficult to associate with like minded people.

          • Khuram Malik :

            Yeah, same here actually.

            One thing that drove me to seek like minded people was when i watched a Les Brown video called Mindest Maintenance last November, and he talks about “upgrading your relationships”. i.e surroung ourselves with positive and successful people.

            I took it seriously but couldnt imagine how i would meet like minded people, im kind of the black sheep in my area, but then eventually it occurred to me, that maybe i dont need to be searching offline and with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, i’m sure i could find the right people, and i have done.

            I’ve met lots of interesting people on Twitter, though the idea of ‘Masterminding’ doesnt seem to have taken hold much yet.

            I know a few guys who do teleconference calls everyweek as part of a mastermind activity, and they swear its the one thing that really helped their lives and businesses.

            Maybe its something to consider?

            • I’d be interested. Perhaps we should brainstorm.

              • ylluminate, i messaged you on Twitter.(XSPRO)
                Anyone else want to join for a brainstorm?

                Do Neil and Andrew have any suggestions?
                Are you able to facilitate something?

              • Let me know if you guys come up with something cool.

              • Neil,

                Just remembered, i was supposed to let you know if i or we came up with something cool.

                Well, i got together with George and Mark off this board and we had our first masterminding session 2 weeks ago on Skype. Went great.

                We have another one this saturday. The last meeting lasted 3 hours, and we all definitely got something very positive out of it, even if we are all at different stages of our business, careers and lives.

                You’re welcome to join, if you feel it would be of use to you, but let it be known, i’ll be picking your brain till it fries about the 300 million ways i might get more traffic for my site. lol.

                You’re bro in law gave me some cool ideas mind you, and i’m hoping to make some of the changes he recommended very soon.

                In all seriousness however, i think what made the meeting so good is that we didnt restrict ourselves to just talking and brainstorming about business, but we made it broader and about living a successful life. Also bringing a structure to the meeting helps and everyones commitment and realisation of the potential made a big difference.

              • I love that you’re doing this master mind. Hope more people join. Let me know how I can help.

              • Khuram Malik :

                Thank you.

                Right now, im seeking eager advice on how to get the best out of each session, and how to really make it work for the group.

                I know you gave some tips to George, so we’ll try those this week.

                What are your thoughts on people using the sessions to go through the book and pondering over it?

              • You mean, what do I think of having a book discussion in a master mind? Makes sense to me.

              • Sorry I couldn’t make it Khuram. I will try and make the next one.

            • Yea, it is something to consider. Must be good if people do it every week.

            • I am pretty taxed out at the moment, but I would be very interested to learn more, share ideas.

              I just followed both of you on twitter.(@JohnnyOptimist)

          • You could always move to a different part of the world.

        • Yea, it is the same in the US.

      • I have formulated, and gone back to several times, an idea on a “small business club” type of thing for students after school. I have thought this was a need thing for quite a while.

        Haven’t put the thing to paper yet, but plenty of noodling in my head about it.

        All the schools have their student council, sports programs, and a bunch of other groups, I don’t know that I have seen a Small Business Club though.

        The idea is that the club as a group would be its own little company and build something that would be continued each year. Of course if the thing actually made money it would be used to fund scholarships for the members as well expand the business to other schools.

        With the ease of the internet, I have already formulated several programs to use.

        It would teach kids about the basics of business (filing papers, tracking income/expenses, staying out of copyright issues, etc.) in a real life situation.

        • Interesting. We actually have an organization like that here in the rural midwest. It is a business development organization where students come together who may be interested in business, break into groups and “mini companies” in which each is voted to or assigned a position of responsibility within “the company.”

          The mini company then has to operate throughout the quarter or 1/2 year to generate profit with a product that all of the mini companies are given; kind of like a contest between the companies.

          As noted, local small business people or executives volunteer their time to mentor the students throughout this process.

          It’s a lot of fun for many students here in this area, but may be something unique to our area I am learning.

          So you know, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve been very fortunate with the methodology used as I was growing up that encouraged creativity, business, and really all of the qualities of entrepreneurship… notwithstanding, we lack the infrastructure post elementary and high school education to keep the students engaged.

          It has been my quest to make a difference and alter that, but when no one else is thus engaged it makes it difficult. I’ve always seen why folks leave the area in the brain drain effect like unto so many other economically challenged nations. I simply want to shift that paradigm here as the quality of life seems generally higher, yet we need the additional boost from some startups and higher tech infusion that could evolve the shift.

        • I love the concept. There is nothing better than real life situations to teach kids about business.

    • That sucks. If I didn’t get in trouble for selling pirated music and black boxes, no one should be punished for selling gum.

  36. The title of this post is sensational. So basically the guy created a spam list, and eventually targeted them and spammed them. Great job, this is not new. Happens every day across the world for past 10 years.

  37. I have great respect for those who seize on an idea and then have the confidence to act. Congrats to Andrew and thanks to Neil for an inspiring story.

  38. I agree with Andrew. It does not always take money to make money online. It takes creativity and ambition to be successful in almost any business.

  39. Thats what makes a few of us special. Very encouraging!

  40. I know Andrew. I recently saw the interview of Jeremy on his site. And I left a comment. He replied back to my comment. I was quite suprised. I replied back and he again replied back. I noticed he personally greeted new readers and replied to all of them which is amazing. Needless to say i subscribed to Mixergy immediately.

  41. Khuram Malik :

    I guess it was a bad idea to subscribe to email notifications for new comments huhn :p

  42. Interesting article. I agree that you don’t need a lot of money to start a business but you need to be enterprising. So if you generate some cash on some side line businesses and then use that to fund your main business that helps. I am in my own start up business and recently got a paid consultancy job to pay for research I needed to do anyway for my business….sweet……

    Yabadaba doo from rainy Ireland….

    Ian

  43. I have a ton of things to say about this post. But right I will just say, dang, this was a really good one.

    You got me all pump up! I feel like I can do anything. We need that sometimes.

    One of my favorite parts of this post was your “sense of mission” statement. So, true! When you have this, nothing can stop you. Because you’re willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

  44. Hoping posting another comment with notify box unchecked will stop the torrent of emails I’m receiving. Good god man, it should only send direct responses or one email per visit.

  45. Very true.
    Mission is important always.
    Claps for Neil and the person.
    But the sad fact is few men are very rich and few not. And the distance huge.
    How to reduced the same ?

    • I don’t know if it will ever be reduced. There will always be the rich and poor. Over time there will be more of a middle class, but I don’t think financially they will be in the middle of the millionaires and poor people.

    • Everyone loves a story. And when that story is about someone overcoming adversity, it becomes even more engaging. It’s human nature to cheer for the student who earns a high school diploma in spite of a multitude of roadblocks thrown in his way. We want the person fighting a debilitating disease to come out on top.

  46. Yes thats your right you can do anything what you want to do with your mind.

  47. Sulumits Retsambew :

    WOW thats called luck by chance :D

    • I rather take luck than smarts. Andrew has both in this case, but most investors would bet on luck.

      • Struggle for survival on this planet is not easy. Competitions and daily problems compel a person to improve his or her luck. Rich or successful persons are considered lucky. People think if they have luck on their side they can be successful in any field even if they don’t work hard. And if stars are against them then it will not be easy to succeed; any amount of hard work will prove fruitless. It is sheer escapism. Persons sitting at luck-repair shops may befool you with their phoney quick-fix methods. They mostly drag you in their net and loot your money.

        • To some extent you need that attitude, but things like timing can’t always be planned. For example YouTube did really well because of the time they came out. If it came out 5 years before, it probably wouldn’t have worked.

  48. Great interview and very inspiring. The only exception I’d take is with the notion that information isn’t shared on Wall Street. It is, but it’s quite different that Mixergy.com. “Traditional” industries share information differently.

    Web folks jump to the web and make a video. Seems very open. Wall Street and traditional industries go with their strengths and often times that happens to be mentoring. I’ve been mentored, by a couple folks, and it didn’t cost me a dime. My mentors had mentors, and it didn’t cost them anything but time.

    All it takes is the same initiative to go find the information. The folks that have the initiative to start a biz, also possess the drive to find others that have done what they’re trying to do.

  49. always amazes me what people do to make money. great job andrew!

  50. if you want a tension-free business, you will have to look more closely. It is essential to do a thorough research because although there are several genuine companies offering you the right kind of business, there are an equal number of scams out there too. So, you must be very careful before you make your final decision like Andrew

  51. That’s incredible. Very inspirational. Really shows that all it takes is a good idea and some know how to get it rolling.

    Also shows how important it is to have some sort of newsletter available for your own website if you are looking to monetize.

  52. Great article man. I am glad you are posting again. Big ups to J. Crew for letting him return his clothes.

  53. Interview Questions :

    Wow, what a great story, very inspirational, thanks for the find Neil.

  54. Hey there Neil. Love the new design. I see you darkened the background though from yesterday.

    Looks good though.

  55. Great interview Neil.
    It just shows one more time that everyone can make money IF you have enough WILL and IF you TAKE ACTION.

  56. Wow. Great interview.
    Especial the truth about most successful entrepreneurs is that they’re constantly learning and that they are not real entrepreneurs because they’re not enterprising…

  57. Andrews whole story definitely inspires me. He really made something huge from nearly nothing.
    I have to say this though, you do need money to make money in most cases. But the thing is, if you work at it you can make that money.

  58. I love mixergy, deep props to Mr. Warner. Thanks Neil!

  59. I have recently begun with starting my own websites and have become very interested in Internet success stories. This is one of the most inspiring first stories to begin with. It does motivate me to be more enterprising.

  60. We need more people like Andrew. I learn so much from Andrew and you. I appreciated the time you guys are taking to teach other how to become successful. Thank you guys.

  61. Hey Neilster,

    I’m glad you were able to get Andrew to talk about his life. I always knew Andrew had a compelling story. Andrew, congrats and I’m glad you were able to share that.

  62. i think that’s high net income..

  63. Kampanye Damai :

    wow incredible, very young but success with million dollar. Really want to be like him :(

  64. Never heard about this guy, but if he’s making that much cash, then I think I should start to listen very closely

    -Josh

  65. Triad Trading Formula :

    Thank you for this interview!

    Even though I’ve been in the internet marketing business for quite a while it’s still very refreshing to read about the essential concepts of success.

    Indeed, thinking about having something go viral is the first key to success in internet marketing if you want enormous results without needing to spend a fortune on advertising.

    Hayden

  66. Scott Conrad :

    Do you have a great recommendation or list of biographies you found inspiring? I have Richard Branson’s, but a list would be neat.

  67. Andrew,

    It is a great pleasure to finally hear your story.

    I have known you since you moved to LA and hosted the very first Mixergy event. Back then I was still working on my ‘other’ business, and teaching, etc. I recall thinking you were definitely an outlier when I first saw you speak to the group that gathered in that small art gallery in Sta Monica. Many things have contributed to my “leap of faith” into starting KlickSports, but I can say that your energy and enthusiasm counted big time in my decision.

    I too listen to your interviews regularly. I guess one day soon we might free up and end up doing that interview we talked about – maybe I can share some stories of my own.

    Great Interview Patel!

    Cheers!

    Jose

    PS- Andrew, I told you before, you are a natural and Mixergy is definitely making a mark. Keep dreaming big!

  68. Hi Neil..
    Really a awesome interview.I totally agree with you.If you want to set you mind to do something,and bite down like a pit bull, you can obtain the end result.ant it will be good.

  69. that was a great interview, very inspiring to get out there and get things done to build a buisiness

  70. mark harrison :

    Great article Neil. Now that is what I call inspiring. Instead of looking at my computer screen all day and pushing out 30 minutes actual work, I am going to take action today and start today on all those ideas that I have that I never get around to doing. I’m also glad that you have featured someone who is ‘under the radar’ so to speak.

  71. I haven’t read any of her books.

  72. Hi Neil, Its nice to about you and the interview was inspiring.

  73. Good point, Neil really inspiring and i really learned more valuable lesson today.

    Thanks,
    John

  74. Nice of you to share your experiences, Andrew. I really enjoyed your interview with Shoemoney. That was another mind opening one. Just like you, he started with nothing.

  75. It’s really amazing to see a young person come up from rags to riches, but the getting there is the thing. This guy is amazing. Make millions of dollars by simply offering a simple service sending through mail. This is a great inspiring story.

  76. I’ve listened to so many of Andrew’s interviews with others, and offered wondered about his story.

    Makes for a really interesting read and another inspiring story!

    Thanks!

  77. Wow, amazing. This is the kind of stuff that keeps us smaller guys motivated and inspired to do what we do. To see some of the big guys tell their story from the same point that a lot of us are at just makes the story that much better and motivating. Congrats and best of luck to Andrew, and hopefully we can all reach the same heights, if not greater ones sometime soon.

  78. cheap designer handbags :

    I had no idea Andrew made so much. I have been at Mixergy many times and I loved his interview with Tim Ferriss… I do believe his interview with Marc Phillips is next on my ‘to listen too’ list

  79. I think consistency is the key to success, but success as a teenager or young years……one can only marvel at the “ability” to focus on the goal. That is really rare, but becoming bigger in today’s world. Excellent success story!

  80. TheNextBigCloud :

    Wow, that’s impressive and quite a lot of money for a 21 year old.

  81. I can not name it as something other than luck. And i think it’s not bad.

  82. I have been gobbling up your blog posts from the past 2-3 days and have been loving every post that I’ve read so far!

    A lot of top bloggers never take time to reply to the comments on their sites, but for once I can see someone responding to every comment on his site! Damn, you’re definitely good at what you do (and a perfect example for “practice what you preach”).

    I am lazy when it comes to commenting on blogs and was amazed to see so many comments on yours. Now I know how you get so many comments, it’s not because you have a popular blog, it’s because readers like me connect with what you have to say!

    I’ve been trying hard to be successful and I don’t know how long I’ll have to keep trying and if I’ll ever be successful, but reading your posts has certainly given me a new high. If I ever succeed, be sure that you definitely have had a part to play in it :)

  83. You are right; this is the first time I have read of Andrew. It’s amazing that he spend his days interviewing others, it’s a very humble thing to do. Wow, Andrew got into the business world at such a young age! Yes, I think its sad that selling almost seems like a something to be frowned upon, its too bad his teachers didn’t realize the potential Andrew had to be a businessman.

    -Randy

    • Well, even though they might not have realized, it could have been what gave him that boost. Andrew is an amazing entrepreneur that deserved everything he got and more.

  84. Sweet!!
    And only 21. Damn. If I knew then what I knew now…isn’t that always the story? I guess some people are naturally inclined towards entrepreneurship while others slowly grow into it.
    But what is always consistent, it’s always very inspiring to read the success of others.

    Glenn

    • Well, I wouldn’t say naturally. There were definitely a series of events that occurred in Andrew’s life that helped him get the opportunities he had.

  85. Wuhoooo – Balance Sheet looks HUGE Neil. Andrew seems to be smart chap to make so much of money at such an Early stage of his life. Awesome inspiring story for me and others who are struggling these days in such a HUGE blogging industry.

    Regards
    Ricky

    • Even though so many people believe blogging is over, it really has just begun. We’ve made such giant leaps in a short period of time, imagine what will happen by next year.

  86. Neil i just came to your site today and I cant tell you how impressed I am with your writing skills. I love it all. Great stuff on the site and specially this interview one of the best posts on this site.

  87. Excellent write up Andrew and Niel. As I read it, I felt like I was living it over all again. I was right there with you during the ecard affiliate programs and the days of NetCreations (which is still paying off 10 years later!)

    What an amazing ride it’s been. Congrats on everything and great to still see you thriving as always!

  88. Very cool, I never knew about Andrew Warner, 38.5 million dollars a year is awesome, and something I know alot of us would love to reach. I can relate to Andrew’s story, as when I was 5th grade, a few us would sell alot of “WarHeads” candy as it was really popular then. It’s kinda of funny reflecting on it now.. I didn’t think much of it, until I read your interview.

    Till then,

    Jean

  89. Hi Neil
    I’d really love it if you could more interviews with guys like Andrew who are are probably a bit ‘under the radar’. Interesting and inspiring at the same time.

  90. Awww! That is such a great story! Well done Andrew and Neil. You guys both bring so much to the tech scene in Los Angeles. Very inspiring!

  91. PS: Andrew can you expand on your J Crew experience? Didn’t really get how that worked (did you call corporate? what gave you that notion?) and what you got out of it exactly. Thanks!

  92. Andrew Warner you are very lucky person and intelligent as well

  93. Wow, I was laughing at his story about selling gum at school. This was actually one of my first enterprises as well. I would purchase large amounts of Gum at Costco (it was called Price Club back then. I would end up paying about 25 cents a pack and selling them out of my locker in Junior High for a dollar. However big league chew and bubble tape was at a premium of $1.50.

    I normally earned between 7 and 10 dollars a day until it got around to the powers that be, that I was selling Gum on Campus. Of course chewing gum on campus was a no no. I was dragged into the principles office and promptly put out of business.

    Not a problem though, because the next day I had a locker full of Candy bars:-). I would bring a lunch cooler to keep them from melting.

    It worked better in Junior high because by then most kids had some disposable money. I learned in elementary school, that most kids were only sent to school with the $1.25 that they needed to get the cafeteria lunch.

  94. Hımm, This is one inspiring story.

    I never heard about Andrew Warner before. Looks like he made his name outshine there…

  95. I’ve listened to so many of Andrew’s interviews with others, and offered wondered about his story…

  96. Thanks for the great interview , its heart warming to see people make it, and look back at where they came from. Also you can’t help but notice how similar you too are.

  97. In short, It is inspiring !
    Andrew’s one line speaks a lot and gives a wonderful message.

    “I hate the pansies who whine that “it takes money to make money.” No it doesn’t! It takes a sense of mission. If you’re on a mission, you’ll find a way.”

    Neil, You are simple Awesome. It’s Second day here at Quicksprout and I am lovin it.

    Thanks

  98. Really andrew earned a lot neil. Nearly, with a e-mail newsletter subscription, he earned millions.

    Really that is not easy. But he did a really good work. I was shocked when i see this page, because i thought how can a 21 year old can earn millions.

    At Last, i agree after reading article.

  99. I love reading stories of guys who had nothing, and made their way to a place where even those who have everything, would love to be. Really inspiring.

  100. Hey Neil,

    Great interview, I have been regular visitor of Andrew’s site Mixergy until he started subsription based service. Now I know he provides great value, but I would have preferred he used to monetize the traffic. Where I live the bandwidth is expensive so once a week I drive 100 km to cafe and get his podcasts it takes alooooooong time to download. I would have preferred he came with a CD in end of yr with all podcasts.

    Whatever the case is I learned ALOT from this man! Keep up the great work Andrew!

  101. Hi Neil, I’m just wondering what does J.Crew clothes look like? :)

  102. yes, we got money everywhere
    we just have to learn to see and get it :)

  103. The 90’s were definately the time to get on the .com bandwagon!

  104. Andrew is a real inspiration. The thing I like best of all is that ALL of his interviews on Mixergy get straight to the point. No filler, just things like, “how much did you make last year”. He has really come on as an interviewer as well. Great guy.

  105. When will I have 38.5 Million Dollar……

  106. The billionaires of 1970 had invested in housing, 80 in computers, 90s in telecommunication and 20 in internet. where should the next billionaires invest. Thanks.

    Edwin Uganda

  107. An inspiring story!

  108. Awesome interview and learning here. People like Andrew are real motivation and it really help me believe that a business can be built if you are willing to build it. Money or other barriers are there to be crossed.

    keep sharing more interviews like this Neil.

  109. Great story! This shows that all you need to start a real successful business is just an idea. Like you said, people usually think that they money in order to make money. This is true at some point, but first you need an idea and than you can make money. Having money doesn’t help you to make more money if you don’t know how to invest them.

  110. I really enjoyed this article. It just goes to show if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it. He found a way to make his business grow with a little innovation and knowledge! This is really inspiring. I would have never known who he is if it weren’t for this article. Thanks for the post !!!

  111. This was just the interview I needed to read today. I’m ALWAYS hearing people say “it takes money to make money” and was looking for another entrepreneur to say that wasn’t the case. I never believed that- what it does take is a huge amount of effort and ambition, focus and determination (i.e. ACTION).

    One question about how Andrew made money through selling his database- does that mean the more emails you collect via your website and newsletter that those pieces of your site can be sold off as separate parts of your business, should you decide to sell it?

  112. Amazing. I don’t think you can ever truly duplicate these kind of success stories. This guy has learnt how to play the game. Sometimes, you just hit the sweat spot.

  113. Would it be possible to get anymore interviews with people like this? Reading this gives me the extra determination to make myself rich :)

  114. It has been my quest to make a difference and alter that, but when no one else is thus engaged it makes it difficult. I’ve always seen why folks leave the area in the brain drain effect like unto so many other economically challenged nations.

  115. Excellent point.

    Although we dont have the results to show (just yet) the biggest change in our business has resulted from our adoption of the idea of speed of implementation and persistence, and when i observe other businesses around me, i can see the differentiating factor between successful and un-successful business is often this key idea.

    To be honest, i think that’s the same in our personal lives too. After all, we want to make money because its our envisionment of success, and we are not quick to implement in our personal lives, then if business is a reflection of who we are, then it wont happen there either.

    At least, this is my own personal observation.

  116. Good point, I agree that business dealings are very similar to personal dealings.

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