1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
Hey my name is Frederick Lansky but I go by Freddy. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia but spent most of my adult life as a digital nomad. Mexico City has been my homebase since 2015. I’ve had the travel itch since I was a kid and took my first solo backpacking trip to Spain when I was only 17 years old way back in 2004.
I’ve always considered myself an entrepreneur though a lot of social pressure from family made me think I was going to end up working corporate, but after getting fired from every corporate job I tried I realized it wasn’t for me. After that I took off to go backpacking first through Europe and then settling in Buenos Aires Argentina for a year. I tried working various odd jobs for entrepreneurs but my main goal at that time was simply to make enough money to simply keep traveling and not have to return home. It was there that me and my former business partner started our first business selling chess videos and chess tutoring. We managed to scale that business to 7 figures revenue per year, though I recently exited that business in January 2019 after 8 years, seeking to start a new business.
Since then I’ve recently started a new business called Points Panda in August 2019 that helps entrepreneurs leverage credit card signups and their personal and business spend to take as many business class flights as possible for free. The business is just out of the MVP phase with 35 clients so far, mostly friends or friends of friends virtually all referrals. I started the business 4 months ago and so far it’s done about $10k in revenue.
Currently I have only one offering which is unlimited consulting and award flight booking for one flat rate. Soon I will be splitting it into 2 offerings. One that is unlimited credit card consulting and award flight consulting but we do not actually handle doing the bookings themselves, and another tier I’m going to call the concierge that is about double the price and includes doing award flight bookings as well.
Eventually I hope to pivot to a full blown credit card and frequent flyer blog that makes the majority of the money off affiliate commissions for credit cards and financial products.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
I got the idea by the fact I was already offering this service to friends essentially for free. Also in my last business selling chess courses we worked with some of the worlds most famous grandmasters including the highest rated female player in history. Many of these players would only fly in business class, and when we were going from USA or Mexico to Europe for only a few day business trip, business class was essential for us as well. So with the massive stash of points we had from credit card spend, I learned about airline transfers and finding the best deals, and I’ve taken that knowledge into my new business.
My current marketing techniques are just word of mouth and referrals – though I’m working to move into pay-per-click advertising soon to get more clients. So far most customers have been surprisingly easy, the unlimited service is quite simple, I tell my clients which cards they need to sign up based on their personal and business spending to optimize the amount of points they get. Then I help them book their long distance business class flight with points, but typically most clients don’t contact me for months at a time.
So far I’m not sure how many customers will stay on after 1 year as my business has not been open long enough to see how many people will renew.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
So far my biggest challenge so far has been actually handling the bookings themselves. When I started Points Panda I vastly overestimated how much time it would take to find the best deals which actually typically less than 1 hour maybe 2 at most even if I have to call some airlines. However, I vastly underestimated how long it would take to actually handle the bookings; for example, if someone has an infant or a pet I have to call the airlines to add it, and if there are multiple passengers there is lots of back and forth to get everyone’s details. Then there are also security risks with holding people’s credit card and airline information. Most likely I will pivot away from this and charge only for consulting or charge a lot more for a service that actually handles the bookings.
Either way after doing more research it seems like all the biggest travel and finance blogs such as The Points Guy started as a points booking service and then used that to fund the business until the credit card and financial services affiliate commissions were vastly greater than points booking signup fees. This is probably a route I will take with the business, eventually shutting down the points booking service once it’s not longer necessary to fund the business.
This is not all that different than the route I took with iChess, my last business, where we first started offering private tutoring – but once the chess courses really took off, we shut the tutoring down. Trading your time for money is a great way to fund a business in the beginning until your product and affiliate offerings can stand on their own.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
Rich Dad Poor Dad, the E-myth Revisited, the 4 Hour Work Week, and The 7-Day startup by Dan Norris are some of my favorite books. My favorite events are private Dynamite Circle events, which is a private community you and I are part of 6,7 and 8 figure internet entrepreneurs. I find “regular” business conferences quite boring.
A great decision I took was selling my last business. I was generally unhappy after 8 years and didn’t want a partner anymore. My former partner was great but I wanted to try things out on my own. Unfortunately I sold during a bit on a downturn so the exit wasn’t quite what i hoped for, but personal happiness is way more important than money and I’m happy with my decision.
The best thing thats worked for me to grow my business is find a product that sells easily and leverage other people’s audiences to quickly scale. This is especially useful if you are just starting off and your SEO and/or social following is basically zero.
5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?
While some people such as Design Pickle, WP Curve and others have had huge success scaling productized services, you are almost definitely going to hit scalability issues, decide if you want to work through these scalability issues or simply use your productized service as a stepping stone to move towards something more automated where you don’t have to deal with clients.
Nevertheless productized service is a great way to sell your time because you are paid based on results instead of per hour.
6. What are your plans for the future?
As said previously I will eventually transition from productized credit card consulting and award booking service into leveraging SEO and social media traffic to sell financial products as an affiliate, in particular USA credit card signups.
I plan to reach this goal by taking what I’ve learned with deal flow recently to purchase smaller financial blogs in the space to quickly scale. My goal is to spend between $150-$300k on strategic acquisitions in the space.
My goal for 2020 will be 6 figures in net profit and to pay off all the acquisitions I made by the end of 2021, so by 2022 I will be back to making a steady $10-$20k a month or more as I was before the sale before my last business.
Big blocks I anticipate is this a big space but brutally competitive, I may find SEO to be totally blocked off, which means I may need to move more to the PPC space, as well as social media. It may be that I simply cannot gain enough momentum as a financial services blog, and will have to keep the booking service permanently.
7. Where can we learn more about you?