Adrian Tobey grew up as a single child to entrepreneurial parents. From an early age, Adrian had met and conversed with many business owners from a wide variety of industries. All of these influencers and mentors helped shape his core values and belief systems. For example, at the age of 12, a stranger on a tourist trolley in California asked Adrian “What kind of job do you want when you grow up?”. You could hear the other passengers gasp in disbelief when Adrian confidently replied “I don’t want a job, I want to create jobs.”
“My parents helped me learn 2 key skills: deep committment and focus. I take nothing for granted. They afforded me the opportunity to learn all aspects of business, from performing basic duties to making high risk decisions. I was tasked with jobs like cleaning toilets & mopping floors. I learned essential skills like time management. Dinner conversations often turned to discussion of money management. My parents made sure I could hunt and generate sales. I learned a lot about hiring/firing and human resources, as well as customer service. But mostly, I learned what you focus on expands. Which is why I’m turning my focus to Groundhogg. There is no better time than now, and I’m constantly learning” explains Adrian.
By virtue of helping out his parents, Adrian had to attend many of his parent’s seminars on digital marketing, and of course, consumed these skills himself. By the age of 17, he had developed very good core skills, selling thousands of dollars worth of digital marketing trainings a day at tradeshows and/or online.
Foreshadowing his career choice, Adrian already had a “knack” for tech, helping him win “Best Game Award” in high-school. Recognizing his strength for coding, his father asked him to join his company as a coder. His dad needed the help, and being a student, Adrian needed the cash.
That same year Adrian became an Infusionsoft Certified Partner. And by the time he was also pursuing his degree in Computer Sciences at the University of Toronto, he was working 20 hours a week or more in the family business. Adrian went on to build hundreds of sales funnels for a portfolio of clients, having to migrate or integrate many CRM’s such as Infusionsoft, Active Campaign, Sage, ClickFunnels, Constant Contact and MailChimp to name but a few.
His first passion project for WordPress, was a plugin called Formlift.net. He did this to solve a recurring problem the family operated agency was having with its WordPress clients. Essentially, Infusionsoft web forms didn’t work with with WordPress. The folks at WordPress were amazing and helped Adrian get the product ready for the WordPress repository. Formlift.net was launched and within 120 days of launch, thousands of Infusionsoft active users were integrating it into their sites. This is where Adrian learned how to monetize the plug-in, support it, and how to enhance User Experience. What began as a passion project turned into new business muscel for Adrian. Business muscle turned into a new revenue stream. Revenue turned into new opportunities. New opportunities turned into “hey, I have an even better idea that will make a big difference in the world”.
After 5 years in the family business and thousands of hours implementing complex CRM campaigns and hundreds more hours talking clients about their pain points and solving tech issues, Adrian was convinced that the CRM industry had missed 2 key opportunities.
- There must be a better way for clients to get premium functionality without absorbing the heavy costs of 3rd party CRMs. Hence saving businesses thousands or hundreds of thousands per year depending on type of usage.
- There must be a way to build the CRM inside of WordPress, so the user doesn’t have to navigate away to a third party CRM to make the automation work. The goal would be to reduce the tech stack required to make “marketing automation” work seamlessly with WordPress websites.
By fall of 2017, Adrian requested a dinner meeting with his parents. He pitched the idea that he could take their CRM and peripheral tech stack and reduce the cost from $1,500/month in software to about $200 a year. This would represent an average savings of $18 000.00 USK per year for the family business. Adrian’s plan would be inspired by key functionalities offered in Infusionsoft & Click Funnels, however, it would be cleaner and easier to use inside of WordPress. The best part is he said “you wouldn’t lose features even if it 100% free”.
Adrian made the case, that if he could save his family 18K USD a year, without reducing the features they love inside their 3rd party apps, this could also represent billions in savings for business owners across the globe. Adrian pointed to the WooCommerce freemium model as his business case. Any upgraded features advanced users may need, there could charge nominal fees for. The small fees could support salaries and business expenses for continued development of Groundhogg. The end goal? To free businesses from hard marketing costs that could prove to be zero cost within the WordPress environment.
His parents did say “Go for it!” and gave him 2 benchmarks to achieve:
1. Find your own runway money (investors),
2. Recruit and Hire your own team.
This, of course, meant that Adrian would have to drop out of University. He did, and within 30 days he had both his financing and his team in place.
As inspiration, Adrian would regularly wear his Clickfunnels t-shirt and leave his Infusionsoft knapsack by his side while creating the new code which would make “email automation” free for the potential one Billion WordPress users around the world. Groundhogg Inc. was launched Nov. 1, 2018.
The WordPress community strongly believes in democratizing the internet: publishing software that anyone can access regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or where they live in the world. Groundhogg Inc. strives to serve in that mission, making its code Open Source helping businesses potentially save thousands of dollars a year without compromising on the features that other CRMs offer.