#21: The Dealflow Blueprint with Avi Grondin

Hosted by Josh Gonsalves
1 HR 57 MIN
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Episode Description

Avi Grondin, the CEO of Variance Marketing, shares his insights and philosophies on scaling and automating businesses and explains his marketing and sales tactics for entrepreneurs.

Avi Grondin is a Canadian entrepreneur, digital marketer, and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Variance Marketing, a Toronto based full-service marketing agency. Avi has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Yahoo Finance, Chicago Tribune, and other top-tier publications for his work in strategizing sales & marketing campaigns for large scale enterprise brands. He is a TEDx speaker and loves the idea of impact. He empowers his team, other entrepreneurs, and major brands by equipping them with the strategy necessary to reach the masses.

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  • Lots of people took the time during COVID-19 lockdown to take it easy because the economy was slowed down. But Avi says you now have a perfect opportunity to get ahead of the curve while everyone else slowed down.
  • Avi was born in California and moved to Canada with his brother and his single mother after his dad left their family when he was two years old.
  • Avi's first business was selling things on classified sites like Craigslist and Kijiji
  • Avi went to business school at Shoelich York University
  • In University Avi worked at Questrade, CIBC and IBM
  • Avi's first step into entrepreneurship was starting a valet service called Vinici Valet.
  • Avi attributes a lot of his success to his mom , so one of Avi's main drives is to make lots of money to give back and help his mom that he watched struggle his whole life growing up.
  • Avi started Variance Marketing when one of his valet clients said they liked how they run their Instagram and wanted Avi to manage her business' Instagram as well.
  • Variance Marketing is a full-service marketing agency based in Toronto, Canada.
  • Avi: "We started from nothing. This came from an idea in my head when I was sitting in my car thinking I hate my job and this redundancy at work, how can I fix this?"
  • At Vinici, Avi implemented software tools to automate parts of his job. He started by using an app called TimeStation that let his employees clock in and out of work based on their location.
  • Variance set up an automated system to move new clients from MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead), to close deals quicker and easier.
  • Once clients sign up, they have an automated onboarding system for clients using Panda Doc, and they're then pulled out of the marketing sequence since they're now a paying client.
  • Variance uses for project management and delegation
  • Variance currently spends over $7,000 per month on software.
  • There are two ways to automate anything: the software approach and the human approach.
  • "automation is getting a process that has to be done multiple times delegated effectively so you no longer have to do it yourself."
  • Variance uses Zapier for general software automation and Active Campaign for email automation, and HubSpot for their CRM automation.
  • SOP = Standard Operating Procedures
  • When automating anything, the first step is to understand your business processes and customer journeys.
  • Avi says most people are not leveraging the existing software they're already using. They only scratch the surface of the tools and don't get deep enough and learn how to leverage them with Zapier by connecting them to other software they already using.
  • Variance is a done-for-you agency, so they implement solutions for their clients.
  • Avi has recently taken what he learned from his work at Variance and put it into a course to share his knowledge with other people.
  • Avi says that when people launch a service, product, or course, there is too much of an attempt to perfect it when they first launch. But what people don't realize is that they need to iterate and optimize it consistently over time.
  • When Avi first started Variance Marketing, he got their first logo made for $5 on Fiverr, but now they have a full-time designer who did a full rebrand for them.
  • You should pre-sell a "V1" of your product or course before you even finish it. You can give people an incentive to pre-buy with an early bird price.
  • You can get people to buy your product by giving them a free version of what you're selling to show them that you know your stuff, then in the case of a course, your final video can be a sales video telling them that they can buy the full version for a one-time special price before the price goes up when it officially launches.
  • Avi shares his mental model for entrepreneurial growth where you're like a seed planted deep in the soil, and as the roots begin to come out and expand upward, it might hit a rock on the way up, but instead of dying, it just goes around the rock until it eventually breaks through the surface and becomes a flower.
  • Breaking the surface isn't the beginning of your business, it's the hard work of trial and error (hitting rocks and going around them) is what makes you who you are when you finally reach success (breaking the surface and flowering).
  • Josh shares his mental model of explosive businesses as a bamboo root. The Chinese bamboo tree takes five years to grow under ground. You have to water and fertilize the ground where it is every day and it doesn't break through the ground until the fifth year. But once it breaks through the ground, it only takes five weeks for it to grow 90 feet tall.
  • The Millionaire Fastlane book by MJ Demarco
  • When you're an employee, your income is linear and predictable because you know what your salary and promotion rate is, but in entrepreneurship, your income is not linear, but it can unexpectedly become exponential growth.
  • In the beginning of any new venture or project, you must be laser-focused, because it's the only way to create systems by hiring people and creating automations that free up your time requirements for the project or business, so you can then go and start the next thing.
  • Avi just received a license to open 75 legal cannabis dispenaries in Ontario
  • Avi bootstrapped all of his first businesses, but he is raising money from investors for Modern Day Cannabis.
  • Avi believes that if you're pursuing multiple businesses, they should either be directly connected to what you're already doing, or should be able to be leveraged by what you're already doing or the skills you already have.
  • Avi sold his first business, Vinici Valet, so he could go back to school to finish his degree and please his mom, then he decided to pursue Variance, which he felt was a better long-term bet.
  • During recessions (and during COVID-19 lockdowns) the first thing businesses tend to do is pull their marketing budgets to save money in a fight-or-flight reaction, but Avi told his clients that they needed to create an action plan for their business to help them thrive during these market shifts.
  • The number one thing businesses and entrepreneurs need is the ability to adapt.
  • The thing Avi loves about agency-style businesses is that you can pivot over night and target a completely different market segment with your services.
  • Avi is "anti-niche" when it comes to choosing your industry. He says it's more profitable to not niche in the long run.
  • Niching is great because you're seen as a specialist and an authority in a certain space.
  • SEO is a massive service that can make a lot of money for any agency
  • People don't have a "marketing problem", they have a "business problem". They seek out external consultants and agencies because they do not have a good business process that is aligned with their current marketing initiatives.
  • Marketing is making a big claim in the marketplace and then backing up the claim, and providing value along the way until they become a buyer.
  • Avi says it's better to first get your business processes like client onboarding and sales flow in line, THEN you can put hooks out into the ocean with marketing.
  • Instead of niching by industry or service, niche by the problem you solve or end result and only sell to clients who can benefit from that solution or result.
  • Avi's Dealflow program only benefits people or companies who can benefit from getting more free trials or more sales appointments. If you can't benefit from one of those two things, he will not work with you.
  • If you have a holistic approach with your clients and think about their entire business process rather than just one piece of it (like just Facebook ads), then you're able to bring way more value to them and they're able to scale with you where you both end up making more money in the process.
  • Lots of people don't know what they're actually selling and to who, so Avi gets all of his clients to fill out an "offer builder" so they can understand it better.
  • You must look at marketing as a mathematical / scientific formula. $1 in MUST equal $2 out (or more), otherwise it is not worth pursuing.
  • Avi learns best through conversational learning.
  • You must understand that business is just input = output. You must DO the work.
  • Lots of people focus so much time and effort perfecting their to-do list that they don't even do the things ON the to-do list.
  • Think of building a business like building a treehouse. If you put one hour of work into building it for 365 days, you fall in love with the process along the way, then eventually you start putting more hours in per day. How nice can you make this treehouse if you put a few hours of your time in for 365 days?
  • Avi says visualization is key when setting up a marketing plan, so they use Lucidchart to map all of their processes and automations.
  • Avi has built a company instruction manual that's a massive 300+ page Google Doc with every single SOP (standard operating procedure) that explains how to do every single process in his business so that when he's ready to sell his company, it comes with an instruction manual for the buyer.
  • Starting a "Zero to One business" like a new invention or something that hasn't been done yet presents tremendous risk to the entrepreneur because it hasn't been validated in the market.
  • Avi says the best thing to do is to start a validated business - something that already exists and is validated in the marketplace. That way it's just a matter of putting in the work and making it happen.
  • Avi and Josh were both part of Next 36 - a program for young entrepreneurs in Canada
  • Reza Satchu is the founder of Next Canada
  • Avi was told by Reza that he was inadequate and that is his strategic advantage. Avi believes that if you're feeling inadequate you should be filling that void with trying to become as successful as you possibly can, NOT filling it with alcohol, drugs, video games, etc.
  • You can search for answers to any business questions you have in Google and reach out to people on LinkedIn and Twitter to find answers to all your questions.
  • When you have nothing to lose, the only way to go is up. When you have everything to lose, the only way you can go is down. But when you're stuck in the middle ground, it's easy to get confused and stuck because you get afraid to go up or down.
  • WIth business, you must go where the wind blows. Wherever the demand is, that's where you go.
  • Avi says new and early stage entepreneurs need to focus on low initial investment for their venture.
  • Avi is very excited about blockchain and cryptocurrency for the future of a lot of industries.
  • Avi also thinks voice technologies will change a lot of businesses.
  • Avi is also very excited about wearable technology like his Oura Ring and believes wearable tech will be the future of fashion.
  • Avi pre-ordered the Oculus Quest 2
  • Facebook partnered with Ray Ban to create fashionable AR glasses
  • Avi is a reactive entrepreneur. He prefers to optimize over time rather than plan very far ahead in the future.
  • When Avi goes through a trial and error process, he likes to MAP his trial and error to figure out why something did or didn't work, then maps it out to make sure he does more of what works and less of what doesn't.
  • Voiceflow (nocoded tool for voice tech) was also part of Next 36. They used to be called Storyflow.
  • Access The Dealflow Blueprint Course FREE
  • Follow Avi on Instagram
  • Connect with Avi on LinkedIn

Thanks for coming this far! if you're reading this, it is no accident. The universe brought you to this corner of the internet for a reason, and you're on the right track. I already know that you're an amazing person and I can't wait to connect with you!

— Josh

Episode Transcript

Josh Gonsalves
Mind Meld Podcast Host

Hi, I'm Josh Gonsalves, the host and producer of Mind Meld. I'm also a Canadian Academy Award-nominated director and Co-founder of Contraverse, an immersive media company. I'm a multi-media experience designer living and working in Toronto, operating at the intersection of design and exponential technologies to develop solutions that change the world for the better.

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