Troy Osinoff is a Co-founder of JUICE, an integrated digital marketing agency. JUICE specializes in results-driven growth strategy development, social advertising, search engine marketing, organic search ranking, and lead generation. Troy is also a Co-founder of Peachy, a company that designs, develops, and optimizes scalable e-commerce experiences, and a General Partner of MAGIC Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund built by founders for founders. Previously, he was the Head of Customer Acquisition for <em>BuzzFeed</em>, the Director of Digital Marketing for Watsco, and more.
Michael Lisovetsky is a Co-founder of JUICE and Peachy. As a serial entrepreneur, he has also co-founded businesses including Skylight, BuilderBuzz, and more. Alongside his business partner Troy, Michael recently became a General Partner for MAGIC Fund. Before starting JUICE, Michael was an Advisor for Covet, a full-service shipping company, and the Director of Growth for Common, a leading residential and coliving brand.
In this episode…
With all the agencies out there vying for the attention of potential clients, it takes a lot of work to stand out. So, what is the key to growing and scaling a thriving agency?
Michael Lisovetksy and Troy Osinoff, Co-founders of JUICE, are so good at growing their own companies, they made a business out of helping other agencies grow. Within their agency, they are ultra-focused on implementing growth-based strategies and hiring the best talent to deliver amazing outcomes to their clients. Now they’re here to share the business procedures that have given them the best results.
In this episode of Agency Journey, Gray MacKenzie is joined by Michael Lisovetsky and Troy Osinoff, Co-founders of JUICE, to discuss their strategies for agency growth. They talk about the lessons they learned from other startups that helped them succeed, why growth motivates every business decision, and their goals for the culture and team at JUICE. Stay tuned.
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Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Michael Lisovetsky on LinkedIn
- Michael Lisovetsky on Twitter
- Michael Lisovetsky on Instagram
- Troy Osinoff on LinkedIn
- Troy Osinoff on Twitter
- Troy Osinoff on Instagram
- MAGIC Fund
- JUICE Careers
- Gray MacKenzie on LinkedIn
Welcome to the Agency Journey podcast where we connect with agency leaders to uncover the hidden systems and processes that drive their success. Now, let’s dive into today’s show.
Gray MacKenzie 0:18
Hey, it’s Gray, I want to let you know that today’s episode of the Agency Journey podcast is brought to you by Around. What is Around the video calling tool that’s lightweight, it’s playful, it doesn’t take up your whole screen. It saved me so much CPU usage. And I was a super early adopter round back in early 2020. And I’m so thrilled that they’re sponsoring the show, we’re still using it, it is the coolest internal communications tool that we’ve added in the past 18 months here, at ZenPilot, we absolutely love it. I mean, our meetings a lot more enjoyable, the giffy integration is absurd, and really fun. And yeah, I think everyone’s kind of gotten used to here in the post COVID environment, the fact that people are working from home, but they have some super cool tech that’s baked in. Everyone talks about being AI based, they actually have AI based noise removal, camera framing and background cropping. So basically, you’re not seeing a big square rectangle of what your camera would be. It’s a circle that centers on your head and it cuts out the background stuff. And if you get people screaming in the background, I’ve got four kids at home, it’s going to cut out a lot of that noise. It’s absolutely awesome. So you can try Around for free go to around.co/agencyjourney. You sign up if you like it, shoot me your favorite filter asked me for a link to my secret room. I love to hear from other agencies who are using it. I think this is an awesome tool for internal agency teams. Alright, let’s get back to the show. All right, welcome back to another episode of Agency Journey. I am Gray MacKenzie. I’m your host. And this week, I’ve got not one, but two special guests. I’ve got Troy Osinoff and Michael Lisovetsky Co-founders. Hey, Gray, that JUICE welcome in guys. Thanks for joining. I’m gonna start with so we’ve been connected for what we’re coming up on two years now. Right now in JUICE, which the website is thinkJUICE.com we’ll get into more of your story here as we go. But you guys have done something since really early on, you’ve grown much at a much faster clip than most agencies out there originally headquartered in New York City. Now you two are both in Miami, you’ve joined the stream of folks migrating down to Miami. But Troy, I’m gonna I’m gonna push this to you first. And we’re gonna jump right in. What have you guys done? I realized I’ve got the perspective of seeing a bunch of agencies. And you’re just like, yeah, this is how agencies grow. But this is not how most agencies grow. What have you guys done on the sales front? It’s allowed you to grow so quickly.
Troy Osinoff 2:51
Yeah, I mean, the issue most people face when starting an agency and growing it out is you have that first group of clients, which are effectively friends within your network. And the issue that happens is once you exhaust your friend network, not be able to go past your friends and family network is where most agencies kind of Die, die off. And for us, like we always like, like, we of course leveraged our network to start JUICE. And then we’ve made a like, a big, big emphasis on the quality of our work to make sure that those initial clients we got think within our network can be a show can showcase what we can actually do and the results we can achieve from our team. So we leveraged the existing clients, we had to start with the fire that was next clients been putting out public case studies and how building in public show up on what we were doing, and how different we were than every other agency and how much level more level of thought and care we put into our clients. And the work kind of showed like spoke for itself.
Gray MacKenzie 3:48
Yeah. So since Michael you and Troy both have a pretty advanced pedigrees, or folks in the, in the age bucket that we’re all in, and I put myself in there because I’m, I’m the old fart in the room. And and that’s, that’s unusual in this conversation, but your background, obviously, going through a couple different startups ahead of going to JUICE. Were there pieces from that? Or like what were the most valuable pieces of experience that you had coming to JUICE to help you guys scale?
Michael Lisovetsky 4:25
Unfortunately, the some of the most valuable pieces of experience, were just working with other agencies that we’re unable to deliver on their promises. So what brought Troy and I together was a really simple goal, which is or question rather, which is why can’t agencies provide like a high level of service or a great experience? or Why? Why do so many agencies struggle in delivering that promise? And I mean, we could do a better job now at answering those questions than we did from the outside. But, uh, but no, it brought us together and enabled us to know like, at least the obvious things we’re able to tackle We learned a lot of lessons along the way. And it just just figure it out. But the idea is that we we’ve always run like a startup, some more like a traditional Silicon Valley perspective startup, whether it’s a technology that we’ve used, the approach the mindset, the principles kind of thrown through. We’ve that’s that’s all we knew, in a sense. So it was pretty straightforward to us, for us to take those values and embody them. Yeah.
Gray MacKenzie 5:28
From a, you mentioned, kind of the servicing side and seeing why there’s some of the challenges that agencies run into, on that front. You guys have have started out one of the things that I admire about your story is you started out relatively streamlined in terms of what those service sets were. So you kind of built the name, originally reminder standing in the paid social space, and then kind of layering on paid search, and then added in more of the web side, with EG the sister company to JUICE, the Dutch Shopify development, and now you’re tacking on email necklace. Was that accidental? Or was that intentional? And Michael start with you? And,
Michael Lisovetsky 6:11
oh, it’s gonna be really intentional. I mean, it was just bolt on, it was a bottom up. I mean, there are a couple of things that we we had is non negotiable from day one, such as we would never do white label work. So we, we are, I mean, the decisions we’ve made were always growth focused. And thankfully, they paid off. Now, it wasn’t always a direct pay off. And has it felt like a little bit of a boomerang effect. But it’s the key is that they paid off. So for example, we didn’t take on white label work. I tried, I reinvested most of what could be salary or take home income into salaries, we’re always trying to hire and move forward, I think the biggest challenge we’ve had is just keeping up with with headcount and talent, just given the demand. And thankfully, the demand is scaled, and everything’s moving forward. And, and we’ve scaled up, but the biggest challenge has been just giving up that demand. But really, it’s it’s just keeping consistent. It’s we first started with paid social, we wanted to make sure we were delivering there, we almost were limited by talent as well. I mean, we weren’t comfortable launching a new channel, until we knew that we can deliver on it. There’s also this element where you don’t want to be known for everything. Because if you’re known for everything, you’re known for nothing, especially as a challenger agency, as a startup agency, you can’t come out of the gate trying to boil the ocean and try to do everything for you. Because that’s a quick way for people to think that you’re a discount shop, or just, it just wasn’t the brand we were building. Thankfully, what happened was we start with paid social, we were able to build a world class paid search team. Now we’re building a world class email marketing team. And we’re doing it right. So like, with every kind of iteration, in addition, we’ve just gotten better. And we’re we’re just a lot better. Thankfully, like we’ve taken the lessons, we’ve taken the hits, learnings, and now we’re able to do this better, stronger, faster. So with every channel, we’re able to watch it faster as well. And I’ll just wrap up another the last point is you asked about Peachy. So we actually have a sister agency called Peachy. And it does web development design. So one of our partners at JUICE, he he was taking on this one development work and we had a bunch of inbound. And it just intuitively made sense to us again, because we didn’t want to dilute the JUICE brand. And we didn’t want to be everything for everybody. We wanted to make sure that we were specializing. So peachy specializes in web development design. There’s about 80% ecommerce and 90% e commerce or that Shopify, big commerce and the big ones, and then some other projects as well. So we just always wanted to make sure that everything made sense. And it was very clear and clean from the outside world.
Gray MacKenzie 8:45
Yeah, it makes sense. Troy, you’re talking a little bit about potentially looking at growth through acquisition, you guys have kind of reached a point where there’s probably some faster ways to continue to scale up. Your capacity to handle more clients is a great time to grow as an agency. The challenge for everybody right now is scaling up the ability to service that and and continue to provide good results for clients. What’s the thought process for you guys behind looking to potentially acquire what types of agencies would you be interested in potentially bringing on board?
Troy Osinoff 9:22
Yeah, I mean, we’re definitely looking at the possibilities of acquiring an agency. And of course, this helps us grow the agency from a revenue perspective, which is nice. But as Michael is touching on talent, acquiring talent is going to top priorities for us and good talent. So we’re looking at quarren agencies as a means to acquire more talent. Thankfully with JUICE like we have a lot of demand for for clients coming in and we turned down most of the business coming in. We only really take that’s something else we’ve done since the beginning but we always fulcrum and Mike and I firmly believe in is that we won’t take on a client Let’s be truly believe in them. We truly believe we can have an impact on them. So we have no shortage of clients coming in. Thankfully, trying to get one to work with us. But the only limitation on our side is talent to service that and we will never take on too many clients, we can’t properly service them and given all the attention that they need to properly grow their accounts. So the meet, so the optionality of potentially acquiring a company or agency gives us the means to actually grow in talent. So it gives us lets us one, see a group an AI can aggregate, see all their work and how they perform, and what they’re what they’re capable of. And to just, again, just acquire pa grow the company much quicker, rather than hiring one offs at a time, which we’ve been doing, of course, internally, but this just gives a quicker, quicker means to an end of getting a talented or
Gray MacKenzie 10:42
make sense. Do you guys have any kind of benchmarks around types of is it more kind of exploratory see what’s out there, or, hey, we’d like this type of size of an agency or the specific skill set of an agency.
Troy Osinoff 10:56
For the skill set, I mean, any of our core competencies that we operate in are definitely interested in. Like, I know, Mike was touching on that, like, email is a big emphasis for us right now with our clients. So like email eight, and to be great, paid social, but really any areas where we we operate in we’re always open to because our clients, we tend to be a client amount across the board. So we’re pretty open, but paid social and email are probably the the top two, in my opinion, but definitely open across the board.
Michael Lisovetsky 11:24
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I think what we’re looking for is is folks with a certain type of mindset. And the hardest thing that we’ve had is there’s really, there’s been no way to replicate the type of mindset that we were cultivating. And grant, at some point you had, you had a first front row seat, and a lot of why we’re able to deliver we’re able to deliver is is our clients, everyone they’re buying into the mindset, they’re buying into the approach, they’re buying into the fact that we take ownership, they’re buying into the fact that the team actually cares. So that’s really hard to replicate. So for us to find competent people and a talented motivated team that wants to come in and grow. That’s, that’s the most interesting thing. For us, Troy and I like we we’ve done businesses in a bunch of industries. And now JUICE is maturing, and is beginning to kind of Thrive without our direct involvement. And it’s, it’s pretty incredible to see. But it still represents us. And for us, like we want to do everything that we do well. So anybody who wants to join that journey, who wants to just kind of be in front of a firehose of new business, and be able to leverage that new business. But ideally, and more importantly, deliver, like great work for that for those clients, I
Gray MacKenzie 12:41
think the the mindset thing is the hardest, like it’s the particle to that’s the hardest thing to build and to replicate. In any business, that I can relate to that very personal level. Speaking of the operational front end, kind of growing out the team, you guys have a little bit of a track record, I don’t know, we even talked about this, I don’t know if I think you guys will relate to this right away when I say it. But there’s this pattern that you guys have, which is you’re willing to so a couple keys, I guess in the new story. One is you had pipeline, you built pipeline, and you were able to close new clients. But then you didn’t, because of this drive to deliver a different experience, you went and invested. So before I was involved at all in the JUICE journey, you put a good amount of money into trying to solve more of the operational challenges and building out the operational infrastructure. And then you made the continued investment was in pilot, you guys put a lot of money into growing it, but you have this pattern of if there’s an area of the business that needs to be fixed, we’re gonna take action and both get personally invested, and then also put money into it. And then there’s also this pattern. We’re going to spend money from the outside, and we’re going to try to bring those resources in house or a long term solution, which I think is the right way for agencies to think about it. I saw this with outside expertise, and then figure out how to replace that in house. So in terms of bringing on talent, working with external recruiters. And then this is an I don’t know how recent This is for you guys. So Mike, maybe you could touch on this but bringing in an internal recruiter, how’s that process been? And then is that an intentional decisions, they will buy outside help first and outside expertise, persona, seeing this pattern a bunch of times, but then ultimately want to enhance that and make it something native to JUICE?
Michael Lisovetsky 14:32
Yeah, I mean, the priority has always been how do we get to the answer the quickest? Again, we’ve always been grabbed everyone has a goal and a focus and approach. Ours has always been growth. It’s if we ask ourselves one question, how do we grow faster? And the fastest solution is to buy the answer. The best of our ability, like money is not always a solution. And it doesn’t always solve anything. But when we find competent vendors and like Is the two primary levers you have as an agency owner, really any business owner is your time and money. And then those dictate people and those dictate everything else, but you have time and money just as just as a human. So how do you leverage those two things to move forward? So in our case, it wasn’t about how much money can we make today is about how do we invest in our company and our team and our people? And just figure it out. And thankfully, now it’s starting to pay off.
Troy Osinoff 15:32
Right, because always look at now just saying, I can always look at long term investments rather than, like, the immediate event like, like a lot of like agencies or people immediately just, there’s money on the table, which is taken as income, like, and I always want to be slightly faster, like, you know, just we keep reinvesting and growing the company for the long term gains, because we know it would pay off later and be held for the company.
Gray MacKenzie 15:53
When did you make the decision to hire recruiter in house?
Michael Lisovetsky 15:59
We had an offset at some point, we realized, like, historically, our biggest bottleneck ever was talent. And we had always kind of tiptoed around this idea of committing to a full time. She’s a recruiter, she’s an HR lead, we were very much tiptoeing around it. And we realize like, hey, if we want to grow, if we want to solve our number one issue, we want to finally get ahead of it, then this is the move, I would say two or three months ago.
Gray MacKenzie 16:29
And Troy, you were saying, you kind of outlined some of what you wanted that person net recruiting role to do. So obviously, there’s the admin stuff that goes source talent. But were there any guidelines that I might be surprised by that you laid out for that role?
Troy Osinoff 16:51
Um, no, quirky, weird stuff, like you’d expect from me. But no, I mean, just, we have a series of interview questions we asked potential hires, making sure they’re fit for our company, as someone we enjoy working with. Getting there, it’s really important, we have not only like the executive team with the company, but you know, media buyers and team people in the different parts of the organization interviewing potential hires to get everyone’s buy in the company. It’s not just executive teams decision, it’s everyone’s decision, because we’re gonna be working with them day to day. So that’s been important for us as well getting the whole team by and realize we’re all growing this together. And we’re all a team in the day that we work together on all this. So it’s important everyone enjoys working with each other.
Michael Lisovetsky 17:33
Right? Yeah. I think as as we’ve grown as well, we’ve tried to actually increase the level of transparency throughout the organization. And the reason for that is just interesting to watch. Like, yeah, we we’ve been in this position where we’ve been trying to hire and over hire for like six months or even longer. And what we didn’t want to do is end up in a position where the team felt like we’re stringing them along or somehow not delivering. So we took a step back and right, at least a solution is true transparency. They knew they saw we saw to the most allowable extent, like sometimes you don’t want to share all the ups and downs, because sometimes they don’t materialize, they just don’t make sense. But to the best of our ability, we try to be fully transparent. We actually have, I think it’s once or twice a week, like, specifically talent pipeline updates that go out to the entire company that the entire company has bought into the recruiting process. I mean, we have referral bonuses that we give our team if they’re able to help us success, issues, successful offer that turns into a hire. So really regarding out of our way, and we’re seeing like, what, what can we do to have people buy in?
Gray MacKenzie 18:48
That’s awesome. The the talent pipeline thing. I think having those updates going out to the team ahead of time, makes a lot of sense. That’s cool iteration on the process. Never before. So you guys were on TechCrunch today. And so of course, I just texted you and said, Hey, can we talk here in a couple hours? And he said, Yes. That’s actually how it happened. So what’s the deal with MAGIC? Troy, I’ll throw it to you. You can start with an overview of what it is.
Troy Osinoff 19:22
Yeah. So Michael and I joined on MAGIC Fund to fund one was very successful and thankfully invest in a few unicorns, some great companies, and Mike and I jumped on for fun too. at a much larger I think fund one is 1.5 million. And fun twos are hitting 30 million. And we’re leading I’m leading up to you to see at Mar tech investing Mike, fin tech project, real estate tech. And we’re taking in that world. We’re just collective fat, sorry. All the techs, all the techs, we’re a collective of founders, which is super interesting, and it really made really enticing for myself to join on. I’m sure Mike as well, for the same reason, just because our whole thesis is founders backing founders, it’s one thing to be money and like, it’d be a typical, like, standard investor just be a monetary Adam, but actually have strategic insight and help, you can have these portfolio companies to actually make sure like from our side, like Mike and I know boodles about growth, so we can help all of our portfolio companies on the growth side, we have other people in the company, in the portfolio and in a fund that have other skill sets as we could all help them our own perspectives, or own insights, their own experiences, and be true value adds to the portfolio companies were investing in. So super excited about it.
Gray MacKenzie 20:39
Mike, there’s the two of you. And then 10 other GPS?
Michael Lisovetsky 20:43
Yeah, so they’re very tall GPS in total. So the whole premise of magic, I mean, trying to our hearts are and building companies. And from an agency perspective, we’re certainly like, we help empower companies in the ideal case, and we helped build them and kind of see them thrive over time. But it’s, it’s a little bit removed, and then we’re a vendor. And we always wanted to get back to our roots. So what’s it what’s cool about magic is we’re able to do it part time, the whole premise of magic is, there are so many partners to enable each partner to participate part time, and do so in a way where they’re still operating their primary businesses, and they’re still founders. That’s the whole idea is the premise of magic is that founders are the best investors. So magic was just a really great opportunity to kind of teed us up. Now we can identify opportunities that fit this venture capital thesis, that that can get really big really quickly, according to like the, the thesis on that side, and then also be able to participate in the upside.
Gray MacKenzie 21:43
That’s awesome. And that’s his most or most of the GPS. It’s not based out of Miami, right? It’s all remote.
Michael Lisovetsky 21:52
Everyone’s mobile. Yeah. Some folks in in LA, we have some folks in Africa, we works in Southeast Asia. Yeah. In America. You get some examples? Definitely in America. My brother. Yeah. It’s pretty, pretty global coverage.
Gray MacKenzie 22:08
Yeah, it’s cool to see that coming together. And that opportunity for you guys, as well. So as we’re wrapping up, I always like to see what are the types of rules agencies are hiring for, in terms of what you’re rooting for right now? What are the main roles are a couple of main roles that you guys are looking for?
Michael Lisovetsky 22:33
It’s always the same, it’s just mostly mostly folks that are executing like we try to prioritize hiring within promoting within rather. So for us, it’s like, how do we get talented people that know how to execute? And then tee them up in a way where we can ideally coach them up and then promote them?
Gray MacKenzie 22:51
makes sense to send media buyers account strategists on the paid search paid social side?
Michael Lisovetsky 22:59
Yep. Exactly. So folks that can that for us, it’s it’s strategists, folks that can manage accounts, folks that can do media buying, those are ideal. And, But to your point earlier, I mean, the goal is to like if there’s an inspiring agency that’s growing, and maybe they’re not growing at the right pace, and they want to be part of something that’s already slightly bigger, and on track to become bigger faster than that’s a target as well.
Gray MacKenzie 23:23
Right. So I mentioned in URL earlier, thinkJUICE.com. If anyone wants to follow you guys, obviously Troy can’t have you on and I’ll give you a hard time for being at yo on Twitter. So you’re the you’re the actually there’s an app, you guys heard of this app called Around Around Docker, and they’re gonna say they’re gonna say Yo app, but what’s what’s Around so Around is, is really cool. Actually, they’ll probably be sponsoring the podcast, it’s a fun video app it bill if you have these little rooms, and you can get membership of the team if someone’s in any of the rooms you can see who’s in there. But it’s got so if everyone’s sitting in the same room, it’s got noise cancellation where it’ll echo cancel out and I had this resume now I think zoom has some of the same stuff. It’s just these little circles of team members and different filters basically things some of the pressure off but anyways it’s been really fun to use in a remote world So anyways, Around dot co slash whatever their thing for rooms is slash video I made sure I went in and registered that right away just to just to troll you for down the road. That
Troy Osinoff 24:31
respect it. I respect that, however,
Gray MacKenzie 24:34
but for folks who want to follow you guys, what are the best What are your preferred channels? What are the best places for people to follow the journey?
Michael Lisovetsky 24:43
myself it’s Twitter: @yo Instagram: @troy are easy. You might need a better Twitter handle but Mike Liso on Instagram, _Liso_ on Twitter.
Gray MacKenzie 24:58
That’s right. Awesome. Well, I appreciate you guys coming on be able to share. It’s been super cool to see the journey JUICE journey and to be a part of it. So appreciate you guys coming on. Thanks Great. Great catching up.
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