Serial Entrepreneur Michael Casey on 8Dates, His Book and Intergenerational Convo

December 29, 2020 Alex Romanovich / Michael Casey
Serial Entrepreneur Michael Casey on 8Dates, His Book and Intergenerational Convo
Serial Entrepreneur Michael Casey on 8Dates, His Book and Intergenerational Convo
Dec 29, 2020
Alex Romanovich / Michael Casey

Today we are joined by Michael Casey, who is an extraordinary product developer & co-founder of a dating platform called 8Dates. Michael is TEDx speaker on "How to Design a Billion Dollar Product". He developed, patented, and commercialized 100+ various exercise innovations. Executive Producer of over 50 long-form direct response commercials and international ad campaigns. 

His ads and campaigns have aired in 121+ worldwide markets, with sales exceeding $3 billion. Created some of the Direct Response’s most prominent global hits, including Ab Roller Plus, Ab Doer, Ab King Pro, and his latest billion-dollar product, the Ab Circle Pro.

For more information, links, social media profiles and other, please visit our website.

Listen now on all major podcasting platforms!

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Show Notes Transcript

Today we are joined by Michael Casey, who is an extraordinary product developer & co-founder of a dating platform called 8Dates. Michael is TEDx speaker on "How to Design a Billion Dollar Product". He developed, patented, and commercialized 100+ various exercise innovations. Executive Producer of over 50 long-form direct response commercials and international ad campaigns. 

His ads and campaigns have aired in 121+ worldwide markets, with sales exceeding $3 billion. Created some of the Direct Response’s most prominent global hits, including Ab Roller Plus, Ab Doer, Ab King Pro, and his latest billion-dollar product, the Ab Circle Pro.

For more information, links, social media profiles and other, please visit our website.

Listen now on all major podcasting platforms!

Support the show (

Alex Romanovich (00:00):
Hi, this is Alex Romanovich and welcome to GlobalEdgeTalk. Today is Monday, December 28th. We're about to start ringing the bells for the new year 2021 after a very difficult COVID-based 2020 today. We have an amazing guest, Michael Casey. Hello, Michael.

Michael Casey (00:21):
Hi Alex. How are you?

Alex Romanovich (00:23):
Michael has been a guest of ours in the past. Today we're going to talk to Michael about his new book that he just launched: how to launch a billion-dollar company or billion-dollar company. We'll talk a little bit about his experience being a TEDx speaker. And most importantly, we're going to talk about the company that he is launching on two continents, which is an affiliate marketing based dating platform, a very different dating platform, which Michael has recently launched in the United States is now launching in UK and soon to be launched in Europe. Michael, welcome to our studio. It's amazing to have you back. And you know, I absolutely love talking about our stories, traveling together all over the world. And finally, we get to I get to catch you in this crazy 2020 year to talk about your recent experiences.

Michael Casey (01:19):
Thanks Alex. It's great to be back. I miss traveling with you in Europe and going to all those venture conferences, but this is exciting just to be back in it a little bit with you and be talking about business again. I mean, we've all been locked up for eight or nine months.

Alex Romanovich (01:37):
Absolutely. It's been a crazy year. You know, I sometimes don't even recall whether you and I traveled in 2020, 2019 or 2018. That's how crazy it's been, but let's talk about some of those things that I mentioned. You're in Austin, Texas, which is now becoming by the way as we know from the news and you'll Mecca for a lot of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley investors, and maybe some of the larger companies like Oracle and some of the other ones moving to Texas. So we'll talk about this topic separately, but let's first talk about your experience during this crazy year difficult year, a year in which you are launching a platform or it hasn't been launching a platform. And let's definitely talk about your experience in doing so tell us a few words about that.

Michael Casey (02:33):
Well, the platform that I'm watching is an affiliate program, which requires people to go out. So you and I, as you know, you helped me build this with your tech team in Ukraine. And we built the largest dating platform for affiliate marketers in the world. And right before we were about to launch, COVID hit restaurants closed. Everyone said, stay home. But the beauty of what we is, we were able to pivot to where you can meet online, have mutual interests, and what we believe is going to happen when the vaccine takes place and, and the world opens back up, I think commerce is going to be better than it ever has been in our lifetime. And we're positioned in this beautiful spot to send out couples that get together on our platforms, to all these tremendous affiliates, you know, from British airways, all the way to, Knightsbridge in London, the beautiful Italian restaurant to, you know, Oh two arena, anything you want to do, we're set up to do. And we're excited that the world is going to go back to normal. Eventually. We're not sure when in 2021, but we know at some point, but if it, but like the guys in Austin here we are just, we're ready to go. We're ready to travel. We're ready to get international and restaurants are ready to start serving us again. And that's what we built. So we're, we're locked and loaded.

Alex Romanovich (03:59):
I I'm, I'm certainly hopeful that with a vaccine now taking place in multiple States we will get over this major, major hump you know, the hospital ICU is being loaded and so forth and so on, but let's talk a little bit about the model, right? So we are typically used to, when we talk about dating platforms, we're typically used to platforms like Tinder and Bumble, and some of the other ones, you know, Anastasia dates, you know, and so forth. And you know, the variety of different models, right? The typical model for dating platforms is people, you know, connect on apps or in the community and so forth. It's a little bit more challenging right now with COVID, but your model may be a very, kind of an interesting alternative to this type of a quick get together dating versus affiliate marketing based on the affiliate partner based model that is very respectful of the relationship building. Tell us more about that.

Michael Casey (05:11):
Yeah. thanks Alex. We, we decided to come up with a way to slow the flow down. There's a, there's a movie in America called Hitch, where Will Smith tells you what to do, where to go, what to say, what to wear. We don't go to that extreme. But we, we use that movie as inspiration to help you after you match. Cause all the dating apps you mentioned when we started the podcast basically leave you alone. So I, you know, Bill, here's Mary. Good luck. And I thought, well, boy, I need you more after I meet her than before. So we came up with a model that, that helps you after you meet her. We tell you what she likes. She knows what you like, and we'll send you to the affiliate that fit into your profile. And we use, as you know, could you help me build it?

Michael Casey (06:02):
We use AI machine learning to, to build your profile into the perfect girl for the perfect guy. And it's a better way to date because we all need help and slow it down. You know, take the pressure off of both people and follow the ADA flow. And we based it on his study that it takes eight dates to really vet somebody. And it's kind of fun because the first couple of dates are just get together, coffee meet, and then next day might be coffee and dinner and a walk. And when you get to five, six, seven, and eight, you're having dinners at each other's houses with hello, fresh and blue apron. And maybe on day seven, you're going to a BNB with some of our affiliates and date. Maybe they tenured at the Wynn in Las Vegas. You know, if you're, if you're in the U S side of the affiliate programs in the UK, you might bounce into Ireland from London for the, for the weekend. And you know, the option of having separate rooms is still always there, but let's face it. If you're on eight dates with somebody, you probably have somebody pretty special.

Alex Romanovich (07:06):
Just want to make sure that our audience understands. It's not just about the girl and the guy it's could be basically the dating partners could be anybody, right?

Michael Casey (07:15):
I don't, that wants to like somebody else's welcoming.

Alex Romanovich (07:18):
How does your strategy change entering 2021 with COVID, you know, locked down with the imminent lug down with United Kingdom United States and so forth. What are your, you know, what is going to be your strategy in attracting affiliated partners in marketing this online and marketing there's through social media and so forth, how will you be approaching it in 2021?

Michael Casey (07:44):
Great question. What we did was we set this up even before lockdown, before we even knew COVID was coming our way. When we start building this in 1918 and 19, we started to create a model where you can actually talk to somebody before you meet them before you go in person and you can meet them on video, you can meet them on phone. So you have a way and you know what she likes already. So, you know, you're not wasting your time. You have somebody that is a spin instructor, likes to do hiking, likes to maybe do outdoor biking. That's somebody. And she's cute, right? If it's a boy and a girl, you like her, but you also love what her interests are because you can see them. And she also likes Paul McCartney, and you want to go see him at the [inaudible]. So you have that already, but because it's locked down on our app, you can talk to them, get to know them better and line up everything you want to do for when we come out and what we found the affiliates are coming to us now and saying, we want to be on your platform because the affiliates are looking for ways to get people back in their doors and, you know, God bless them all.

Michael Casey (08:50):
They, they, the people that stayed open through this lockdown they're going to be ready to service us and we're, and we're going to be there for them.

Alex Romanovich (09:00):
Excellent. another question I have is and that's an important one, I think is that it's been a very interesting experience with not only attracting affiliates, but also attracting investors. I know you self-funded a lot of this company yourself. It is now crowdfunded. What's in the process of collecting funds through crowdfunding platform in UK. And you know, you had some Angela's invested that accompany as well. What, what has been your experience in engaging with investors in what is going to be your strategy for 2021? What are you seeing in terms of the investment community, eagerness to invest eagerness, to embrace a digital platform, a digital community-based platform, such as eight dates.

Michael Casey (09:47):
What I've found is capital's looking for home, Oh, there's a lot of capital in the world looking for a home. They're looking for brands and they're looking for startups that have potential to be a global brand. And the, the, the money that I've talked to, the people that represent the money that I've spoken with are looking for slow plays, not quick in and out. And what I'm building is a global slow played platform. And from an investment standpoint, I'm looking at three to five year growth and building something that you're capital save. It's methodical. We have really strong partnerships and affiliates. I mean, to partner with companies like British airways, those brands partnering with you gives you tremendous credibility for your brand, because you're only as good as your partners when you're, when you're in business and you have to have partners that can, they can hold you up at the beginning and the money that's that's come to us.

Michael Casey (10:45):
And, you know, we, we went on, we partnered with in the UK, which is one of the hottest venture capital platforms for funding, a company in the world. There's, there's Crowdcube and theaters. They control 98% of the European startup capital online. And where was, where was one of them. And in fact, they they're merging. So we're with the biggest. And we were able to get an anchor investor for 300,000 pounds to lead the investment. So we're already 85% funded on the platform. And what we're finding is that people that are coming on and investing in us are, are looking for a solid, slow, methodical growth company. That then our exit strategy is, is probably merger or acquisition with one of the global billion dollar dating platforms, because we will be the first dating platform in the world that actually has a an affiliate program built on.

Michael Casey (11:48):
I mean, we're a recommendation engine. We basically took Tinder and put it top of Google maps and, and open table. So we built this tremendous recommendation engine where it works, it even works out of the dating space, but as a dating platform, it's it's something that doesn't exist. And the capital that we've, we've, we've spoken to the, you know, the guys who represented the big money in Europe. I mean, they're really excited about our platform and we're hoping that angel investors and, and people that like crowdfunding also will, you know, go on and see what we built and get excited. Like the, like the anchor guys had put 300 in.

Alex Romanovich (12:30):
Excellent. let's switch gears a little bit and talk about a different topic. So you've recently launched a book as well called the billion dollar company. Well, how to build a billion dollar company. Let's look a little, little bit about that because you are, this is your six or seven company. You have your building. I know you come from the world of sports equipment sports innovations, you're an innovator, you're an inventor. You have a number of patents. And it's mostly in the sports equipment side and the hardware side and some innovation side. And all of a sudden you building a software platform tell us about the difference between building a product, which is more physical and more consumer oriented versus a product that's also consumer oriented, but it has a pretty significant B2B portion and affiliate portion of Nate and the partner portion. And what it's like to actually do another project like that for somebody like yourself.

Michael Casey (13:38):
So my book, I, I changed the title of the book. It's called the billion dollar product and concept to consumer. And, and the concept that, that the book covers is how to take any idea you have and get it into somebody's hands. And for the past 40 years, since I was in college, I've been making products and selling them to people. And I started with barbell equipment, big Jimmy equipment, home gyms, and, you know, the, the big total gym stuff that the side effects and all that. And I, and I turned it into a, I merged into more home fitness equipment that was smaller stuff. And I brought the Aberlour to market back in the nineties. I did almost 2 billion in sales. Then I brought a couple of other ad machines out that did over a billion. And what I've learned from that is how to get into 120 countries.

Michael Casey (14:33):
First of all, which is very important to understand global distribution and fulfillment. And what I learned is whether it's a, and I talk about this in the book, whether it's a shiny product on the shelf, in target Walmart, or on or it's in the app store, it still has to be shiny. People still have to like it, and it still has to have the what's in it for me element, why do I need this? And if you know, the Witham is the, is the acronym, but what's in it for me. And, and you know, what's in eight dates, eight dates is in it for girl what's in it. We're going to help you. We're going to coach him. We're going to coach her. We're going to coach whoever your partner is. We're going to get you through through the beginning of the relationship and make sure you have a chance to making it.

Michael Casey (15:17):
And in the case of my fitness products, or I have a cosmetic company I'd built and sold in 2003 called pure minerals and sold it to all the guys at Alltop and the same thing, what, you know, what's in it for the lady that buys that cosmetic. Well, I made something that nobody else has and made. And, you know, I did a university study back in the day nineties with a group of guys, because we wanted to find out why people were buying our products. We thought it was because of celebrities. And we thought, well, boy, I got to get Bruce Jenner. You know, I got to get, you know, his family, Kim Kardashians on this, you know, recent, and you know what we found out, we were so surprised entrepreneurs think that the celebrities, the star, the people products with star 67% of the reason people purchased our products was because of exclusivity.

Michael Casey (16:09):
The product was a star and I, and it was, you can't get it anywhere else. 17% was celebrity. So then we rethought our whole marketing campaign. It's like, the only time we need to bring in a celebrity is if the product just can't be a star by itself. And, and so when we go to market, like what they date, you know, I had a talk with there's a show, a famous show in, in the US for the people in Europe. It's a, the real Housewives of all these different cities, New York, you know, at orange County. And we had Bethany Frankel the real housewife of New York who wanted to partner with eight dates. And then it all becomes, it was like, well, is this about the real Housewives as it about her, or is eight dates enough to be a star on its own?

Michael Casey (16:56):
And we made the decision my, my team of founders that, you know, what eight dates is going to be the star. We don't need to take the focus off the ball and the ball, the ball is the recommendation engine. And if celebrities want to come use the platform like they do on Tinder, that's fine, but I didn't want it to be about her. I wanted it to be about the product and in most of my fitness equipment, and even in my cosmetics, I didn't use a celebrity because I came up with this formulation. That was, that was, I felt was a celebrity. So that's, that's why I feel like I could develop anything from a to Zed now, globally, as long as it's shiny. And instead of sitting in target, it's now sitting in the app store and it looks really good, right? So when you see the advertising and you hear that it's flow dating versus fast, now I grabbed you.

Michael Casey (17:48):
There's a, there's a great book from a fellow Ted talker Seth Goden called the purple cow. When you're driving down the street, you don't pull over for cows, but when you see a purple one, you pull over. So how do we make our products? And this is for all your entrepreneurs that are listening, how can you be the purple cow? Why am I going to pull over and see what you have? And I think about my marketing for eight days. And I think about the guy dressed in the statue of Liberty foam on the corner, flipping the arrow at tax time. He's getting you to pull in. And I picture people on Facebook. In my mind, I pictured them in cars and I'm trying to get them to drive into my store. I'm the guy flipping that arrow in the statue of Liberty outfit. So it's, it's, you gotta have a reason why they want to come into your business. If you can't get them into your store. And in our case, we're digital marketers, our case. If they don't click on that link, I can tell you one thing you're not getting as you're not getting their business. So I learned, and it going back to the book, if you can get them to come in and buy what's something exclusive that nobody else has, you have a better chance of being success and being a, me too.

Alex Romanovich (19:02):
Excellent insights. Thank you so much for that, Michael. I was a little long-winded. I apologize. That's okay. That's actually a lot of great, a lot of great gems there. And I'm sure our listeners are going to be very interested in learning more about this, by the way. I want to tell you that our podcasts are transcribed and that means that all of the transcriptions are available in written form. Obviously if you want to read them, you can do that as well. Now, Michael, let me ask you another question. Kind of an edgy topic, and I'm going to ask a sort of a sensitive question. You're 58 years old, right. And you know, when we talk about entrepreneurs, when we talk about startups and launching new products, you know, typically investors are expecting to see somebody a little bit younger, somebody who is a little bit more I don't want to say naive, but maybe a little bit more, a little bit less experienced, I should say.

Alex Romanovich (20:09):
Right? And and then the investors and the legal team and marketers and salespeople love to, you know, operations, people love to teach this folks, have mentor them and sign them up into accelerators and so forth and so on. But you're 58 years old and you are you're you're on your sixth or seventh or eighth product. You know, having all the scars in the bag, having all the experience and so forth. And here you are in front of an investor doing a pitch session. And right next to you could be a 25 old could be a 30 year old and an investor themselves could be, you know, a generation or two that are, you know, they're younger. How does it make you feel? How does it, how do you, what do you say to somebody who is 25 years old, 30 years old, and an investor, or somebody who is your peer in that particular pitch session?

Michael Casey (21:10):
Great question. And it's funny, you know, the last conference you and I were at in New York, everybody was 25 and then there's me. And I was talking to, after we got off the stage, I was talking to a, a woman that runs a beat, a venture capital firm. And I said, what'd you think of all the pitches? She said, well, if you think we're given a lot of money to a 25 year old dummy, you're wrong, we want to talk to you. And I thought, well, you know, great. Maybe, maybe an age helps in a world of who, you know, who's going to entrust their, their, their finances on you. But what I think is I love being older and doing this. And I love that these guys are 20 in the room and they're using acronyms. And I have to look up because I don't know what it is because I have something they don't have.

Michael Casey (22:03):
I have this, I've been there. I've been on the street. I've been in retail. I've been in catalogs. I've been on the internet. I've been waiting on customers. They don't even know a waiting on a customer means you and I do. Right. We've worked retail. We've worked. I've done everything. As, as the market changed. When I started in 83, I went with it when customers got off at TV and went to the internet and you and I both went to the internet. We're like, okay, that's where they are. We're going to find you, you can run, but you can't hide from us because we're going to find a platform that services you, wherever you go. And if the internet goes away and people are flying around on the moon, we're going to go to the moon and open up something. So I feel so much more at an advantage now at 58.

Michael Casey (22:46):
And I'm noticing at these angel groups where these 62 63, you know, 51 year old entrepreneurs are pitching ideas. And I love it because if you can always reinvent yourself and I'm not so much reinventing myself, I'm fine tuning myself. And there's a difference I'm getting better at, at, at how to do it and what to do. And I'm getting smarter at what projects to get behind versus past. You know, I have a friend that never met a product. He didn't like this guy has done 5,000 infomercials, I think, to have worked. So you have to be careful. You can't like everything. But I think when we get older, we get smarter. And I have a system that I teach in the, in the, in the book and on my e-course that basically tells you how to eliminate most of what comes your way, because most of what comes your way is just noise. And I would have known that at 25, well, I would have had eight dates I would have up there and God knows what I would've done with their money, you know, the investor, but now I know what to do with it. And I, I know, and, and I know what to say and, and you know, and who and who to talk to. So I've cut a lot of the wasted time out by being older and being more experienced.

Alex Romanovich (24:04):
Well, I think most importantly, you know, whom to hire, right, who may be smarter than you are, who may be, you know, better than you are, who may be more creative in, in, in, in developing those interfaces and testing

Michael Casey (24:17):
You're out, what you don't know, right. Alex, when you get older.

Alex Romanovich (24:20):
Exactly. And so I think what we're going to come back to this intergenerational conversation, my co-host Pauline Sushko, she's going to be part of it. And we're actually going to be interviewing a bunch of folks to talk about that particular topic, because I think, you know entrepreneurship innovation is ageless. You know, there is really not an age that you have to worry about. I think what you do have to worry about is that what you just talked about, which is experience and applying that experience faster, better, so that you can get your performance out, you know, faster and better, and maybe learn from the mistakes of others or, you know, sort of reach into your you know, data of failures and experiences and not to repeat them, you know, ever again.

Michael Casey (25:11):
Yeah. I mean, I've had, I've had more failures than successes because I'm in product development, but people don't see your failures, they only see your successes. So they, so they think everything you did worked, but you and I both know not everything we do works, but that's what makes us smarter. Right?

Alex Romanovich (25:28):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Listen, Michael, it's been a pleasure. It's been an incredible conversation. I think we should continue this conversation. We want to follow up and see how successful you are with eight dates check in with you. And then in three months, six months keep an eye on what's going on with COVID and affiliate partners and so forth. I think it's a, it's an amazing story. We wish you a lot of success. And I want to thank you once again for being for being a guest and welcome you to their next session. Thank you so much.

Michael Casey (26:04):
Yeah. Thanks Alex. For having me. I really it's great talking to you.