Episode 8: Andrew Kamphey

Mon, 08 Mar 2021 19:59:23 +0100

Andrew is the creator of Better Sheets - here he talks about how he trains thousands of students how to use Google Sheets more effectively, and his journey as a course creator.  

Episode 8: Andrew Kamphey

Show Notes


  • Better Sheets website
  • Andrew's website


  • Andrew previously used Google sheets to build the operational and customer relationship management (CRM) processes as well as things like scraping YouTube for a startup TV network. Over 4 years he built up a lot of knowledge.
  • It really helped that Andrew had a bit of VBA experience as it meant he was the only one in the (non-technical) team who knew what to Google for
  • He'd witnessed how effective use of Google sheets could free up huge amounts of time - e.g. eliminating manual copy and pasting of YouTube channel video links.
  • Andrew got his first experience teaching others about Google sheets training up his colleagues at this startup
  • Now on his own projects, he uses Google sheets to keep projects managed and create business models
  • Andrew created Better Sheets because he read an article saying you would never use the Google sheets transpose function, and he knew of multiple use cases - this generated anger/motivation. He realized there was no resource that showed creative uses of these functions
  • Andrew set himself the challenge of launching in 24 hours - he made 8 videos. Four were free (on the landing page) and 4 were paid.
  • This allowed him to get his first sale and perhaps more importantly - some positive feedback from a student
  • Andrew then rapidly added more videos (15 per week)
  • As he has built out Better Sheets, Andrew has made it a huge point to talk to his students. He has spoken over email with some 500 students of his students.
  • Andrew likes teaching with video because it helps both visual and audio learners. Video also gives you the queue of understanding how long things take
  • For this reason, Andrew deliberately does not edit his videos so students know exactly how long things take
  • In many cases (where the context is not too confusing) Andrew directly converts student questions into new content, answering queries in video form and making these videos available to all students. Stats: Andrew has made 280 videos, 143 are available to everyone. The excess is where a video was to answer one person only.
  • Andrew notes that these tailored videos also have value and are monetizable.
  • Customer service is a huge thing for Andrew - he views time spent solving individual student issues as time spent creating advocates for his product + brand.
  • Andrew got a lot of success selling his course via AppSumo
  • With one or two excpetions, Andrew has iterated on his course in small steps, rather than attempting huge changes
  • Andrew will be adding a certification to his course to encourage students to show "before" and "after"

Quotes from the Episode

I created Better Sheets out of anger!

What if it was the other way around: Here are really creative uses for this function that you never thought you would use...

I realized there were no resources to teach people this stuff

I set myself a challenge: I said I'm going to launch this thing today - in 24 hours I'm going to launch this.

Three days later someone bought it, and they sent me a before and after screenshot of their Google Sheets. They said "I just watched your videos and did this - thank you so much."

I had no sales goals, no revenue goals. The only goal was to make 100 videos

At the time of recording, 1600 people have bought Better Sheets. I've [spoken via email] to maybe 300-500 of them.

I got this weird amount of experience teaching someone

I couldn't have done Better Sheets without Loom to record a video.

Having someone in the room with you is a hundred X better than reading a tutorial. But you sort of need it all - every single person on earth learns in a different way and video tends to be the best because it's both visual and audio so if you learn visually or auditorilly then video covers both.

Every single question that someone asks me, I'll reply in a video and that video will be available to all students


Chris: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the course maker podcast. Today I'm delighted to introduce my guest, Andrew Kamphey. Who's the creator of better sheets, which is an online course about how to create better Google sheets. So, Andrew, thank you very much for,

Andrew: [00:00:23] yeah. Thank you for having me. It's wonderful to be here.

Chris: [00:00:27] Well, let's, let's begin by telling listeners a bit about your, your background, Andrew. How did you begin your journey?

Andrew: [00:00:34] But yeah, as a course maker, I just, it's, it's really weird. I made better sheets actually sort of out of anger. I don't know if that's a common thing. It was, I was very angry at myself for not launching another product, a different product that I was trying to launch. And it was taking a long time of code and a lot of stuff. And, [00:01:00] and also with a co-founder, we, we, we just had a lot of stuff to do that we couldn't launch. And I was just really pent up with anger at myself. Like, why haven't you launched this darn thing? And so quite literally I was reading, I was reading an article and I will show, I will shout them out. The next Bab wrote an article, someone on the web wrote an article about the leak, the Google sheets function. You'll never use. Something to that effect, but it was about the transpose function. And I had spent five years working in Google sheets at a store at a startup TV network. We literally, I literally created all of their operations with Google sheets. And for five years I Googled the heck. Uh, every single day out of every, every question anyone had of like, Oh, can I do this? Can I do that? I Googled it, thinking it out and made it happen. I wrote a lot of Google scripts. I've created a lot of different Google sheets and like for five [00:02:00] years I was working in the middle of Google sheets and now working on my own projects, I literally just use Google sheets to like keep projects, manage, or to keep like create business models of my co-founder. Um, and then I saw this next web article. About the transpose function and formula that like was Lee. They were like saying, you'll never use this. And immediately I could think of 10 different uses for it. I'm like I've used that so many times. And from this anger, I had so much anger over this, this, this article that I was like, wait, Like there is literally no resource right now that exists, that shares with you. Creative uses of these functions. I went through my last five years of like Googling these functions and figuring it out step by step. Yeah. The article that said like, Oh, you have to use this formula because this one is this. And I was like, what if it was the other way around? What if it [00:03:00] was like, Here's really creative uses for this function that you never thought you would use, or here's this creative use of this function that you've always used in this one way, but if you add it to this other formula, it does this whole different thing, because I could remember that there was like a function like indirect acts differently, depending on if it's inside of a function or if it's on its own. You can make functions, work different ways. If you have them called to different cells. All of this I had in my mind, literally just a minute. And I was like, Oh, I better just make this right. And so literally that I think I read that article like on a Wednesday and then. On a Friday for 24 hours, I set myself a challenge. I said, I'm going to launch this thing today. Like in 24 hours, I'm going to launch this. And so I made eight videos. I made four available for free on the landing page and four were paid and [00:04:00] it was the most shoddy like rip rip cord, kind of like, just get it done, launch it. And nobody wants nobody can. But then like three days later on Monday after I launched it, someone bought it. And with within 24 hours of buying it, they sent me a before and after screenshot of their Google sheets. And they were like, I just watched your videos and did this. It's amazing. Like, thank you so much. I didn't ask for, like, I saw the person bought it and I emailed them and said, yo, thanks for buying this. I haven't set up a welcome email. Like there were so many things I haven't set up. Like you have so videos now and yeah, got that. Gushing email. And I was like, Oh, this is actually gonna work. This actually changes people's lives. That's an

Chris: [00:04:58] amazing bit of feedback. [00:05:00]
Andrew: [00:05:00] Yeah. And then there was another two weeks until I got another set. This is like such a roller coaster. And then it was like two weeks that I didn't get any sales. And I struggled so much, but I struggled with like buying. Pushing out stuff. I, I added like another 15 videos per week. So by the time the next person bought it, it was already like five X, the size that it was before. And I had already made myself a personal mission. I had no sales goals, no revenue goals. I literally have the only goal was to make it.

Chris: [00:05:37] I definitely want to dig more into this. This creative process and everything. But before we do that, can, can you talk a little bit more about that, that five-year period and you know, you're using Google sheets, intensively there for listeners who maybe haven't used Google sheets that much, like what sort of stuff were you able to do with it?

Andrew: [00:05:58] Yeah, it's so [00:06:00] funny now I'm like, if you asked me this question before I did better sheets, I wouldn't have any answer like I have now, now I think there's somewhere between 1500 and 1600 people who've bought better sheets up until now, as we're recording this more and more buy in every day, but I've talked to now probably 300 to 500 of those people, and I've found I've sort of uncovered this nascent demand. Because for Google sheets, like creative uses of Google sheets that I didn't know when I was using Google sheets, I didn't know these things were possible. And a few of, a few of the weird things like created. It's not going to sound weird now, but I created an entire CRM, our customer relationship management system inside of a Google sheet. The key point of this was that [00:07:00] we had working. On our customer outreach was eight separate people and they needed to assign each other like customers. I can actually say more about this, but I don't want to say it exactly because I don't want it. It was like hard to find a piece of software, a CRM, even five, five, six years ago. That we could use right away in exactly the way we needed it. Every CRM is usually built for like a mature company. That's able to pay, you know, $20 per user, per month, but it was like, we were a startup. We didn't really have cash. Nope. No one on the team knew who could pay for it either. Like, we're just like, we just need to outreach to these people. And then Mark, where it is. Oh. And also. The person who worked before us, we all got like hired at the same time. So eight people start, seven people started on [00:08:00] a sheet that one person maintained for six months and it was really difficult to figure out like, yeah, do we take this data and just put it into a new system? And then we all learn this one system. This person has used this Google sheet for six months and they'll continue to use it, even if we switch to another system. So it's actually easier if we all go to their system, but then that person got maniacally. Maniacal is the wrong word, but like, it was very stressful for that one person to teach seven other people how to use their sheet that they've been using for six months. Yeah. And that person was not able to quickly switch. Cause they've been using that for six months. It would be even more stressful for them to switch over to a new system. So I'm sort of, I was a PA in this company and I had no business doing this, except I had a couple hours every day after work. Cause it was LA and I didn't really want to sit through traffic. So I just sat in the office after work. [00:09:00] And I noticed this going on, like, and I had already had Excel VBA experience from a previous job when I. Got really lazy getting information. It's an Excel sheet from other people that I was like, Oh, fill this in. And an Excel VBA will do it for us. So I had a little Google strip does the same thing as Excel VBA I'll have to do is figure out what does, I know how to do it in VB? How can you do in Google sheets? So you have to know like what to do before. Whereas no one else had that background. There was an entertainment company. They were all like very good at their job except not Googling stuff. And so within two weeks, about two hours per day after work, I coded these Google scripts to essentially be a CRM. When, when these status has changed, they, they, they went to different pages when people wanted to assign other people something or found duplicates, sort of all the feet, all [00:10:00] the basic features of a CRM. People could see their own view instead of looking at a master sheet and sifting through it. And one of the weirdest problems that happens all the time when two or three people want to use a sheet and everybody wants to sort it in a different way. So you have filter, but if you click filter, it changes the view for everyone. So I had to create little tabs for each person that then filtered their things so they could just work on it. And because I hadn't worked on this sheet, I had no anxiety towards like telling someone how to use it. So I started teaching. I had to teach everyone how to use a sheet. And then literally like two months later, I got a promotion to operations director or something. I forgot the title. And I just continued making Google sheets. And I, I scraped a YouTube. We had to grab YouTube information. I was using Google sheets like five years ago to scrape YouTube information, figured out a way to get every single video off of a channel. Previously we had been literally, there was like eight people copied [00:11:00] copying and pasting information from a channel to a shape. And I was like, Oh, you could just use import XML for that. And here here's a little code done.

Chris: [00:11:10] Nice. Yeah. It's amazing. How much a little technical know-how can transform operations in a non-technical company. And it sounds like you had a lot of experience there teaching others how to use these things. Do you think that informed how, how you went about creating your goals?

Andrew: [00:11:27] Yeah, exactly. Cause it's like, it's hard to tell one person, like, here's how you use the sheet, but like I got to do an eight times, like, cause every position had like eight people to domain it. There were like eight PAs, eight producers, eight outreach people. And so. I got this weird amount of experience of iterating teaching someone. So I could see like, Oh, that worked when I told them here, do this first. And then the next person, I was like, Hey, do this first. Don't listen to me. Or I would make videos [00:12:00] for them. This is well before there was a thing called loom loom sort of saved my life here and literally couldn't have done better sheets without the program called loom to record a video. I'm like, I also knew five years ago. Having someone in the room with you guiding your eye, guiding your hand is a hundred X better than reading a step-by-step tutorial, but you sort of need it all. Like every single person on earth learns in a different way. And video tends to be the best because it's visual and audio at the same time. So. If you learn visually, you'll get a you'll you'll understand the video. And if you learn auditorially, you'll get you. Don't just get a video. If you do need to read it, then you're probably gonna not, you're probably not a good, better seats [00:13:00] user member, because like you probably already Googling stuff and you're used to reading and you want to read it and you maybe read faster than you can watch a video. But also that's like two out of three ain't bad.

Chris: [00:13:12] Yeah, no, no, it's true. And everybody does learn differently, but yeah, the videos sort of perhaps captures a largest way that people

Andrew: [00:13:20] and yeah. And it's also like, no, like. The person is important here that like that it is a person instead of like a step-by-step tutorial written by someone later like that the person is they're giving you that energy, the flow of things, knowing how long things take. I noticed when I was Googling things like a few years ago, or even just this year, I still Google a lot of stuff. A lot of people ask me questions. I do not know the answer to, and I'll notice a video will. Obviously for obvious reasons. If you posted a video on YouTube, you want to edit it and you want to cut out all of the, the, the time waiting. But my videos, [00:14:00] I specifically do not edit, not necessarily out of laziness, but actually it becomes a really good thing to know exactly how long does something take. I see. When I click that button, I will tell you, Oh, this is going to take awhile. I'm going to pause the video and come back in a second. But it took a while or I'll just sit there waiting for it to happen and be like, Oh, that took like five to six seconds. It'll take that for you.

Chris: [00:14:26] Yeah. And did I understand correctly? You said you'd spoken with some 300 or so of the students.

Andrew: [00:14:34] Yeah, I would say at least, I mean, by email, by. Some, some, I've been on a call with like a couple, but mostly by email, by them sending back looms and very asynchronous conversations. Like they'll send me a Lumion, like, Hey, I can't figure out how to do this. And then my answer is not, not like, Oh, here's the answer. My answer is like, I have no idea how to do this, but here's the direction I would [00:15:00] start. And then they'll send another video and be like, okay, I did that. And here's what happened. But now I'm at this other stopping point and I'm like, Oh good. I didn't know that would happen here. And so those conversations happen asynchronously, but they're conversations still.

Chris: [00:15:16] Yeah. I mean that that's really valuable for an instructor to have those touch points with students. How would you say your approach to teaching has changed as a result of those conversations?

Andrew: [00:15:28] Okay. So one of the biggest things is I knew the day I started this. That every single question anyone asks me is going to I'll reply in a video. And that video is going to be a video that's available to everyone, or at least that was the intention. And since then, for my own sort of time savor, sometimes I will not. Purposefully mate, I will purposefully not make a video available to everyone because I [00:16:00] just didn't want to give the context of the question. Like I got the question, I know the answer. It's going to be a 32nd video, or it's gonna be a five minute video. Cause I'm like, I think there's a few ways that I would do this, but it's not a concrete like way I can't really title it properly. And like, you really have to have a context of the question or their biases to know like, Oh, this is why he did it this way. So, so since then, I think I made. One, two, something like 280 total videos, 143 of them are available to everyone. The Xs are ones I've answered one person that they got. That one video makes me feel more like I'm doing, like, I never thought about this before, but it's going to be a part of how I switch in the next couple of months or a year. Those are private videos. Those are like, like you would sell that on cameo or you would sell that on only fans. And I don't think I [00:17:00] would have done that unless those things existed in the zeitgeist. And I knew like, Oh, you can sell, I'm going to send this one person, this one video for X amount of dollars. I don't think I would have done that if I knew, if I didn't think in the back of my head, that's a monetize, double access of the access as a monetizer. Yup.

Chris: [00:17:20] Yup. And from these interactions with students, how, what would you say the most successful students do differently?

Andrew: [00:17:30] Just try, Oh my God. I have so many emails that I've answered their email, but I just literally don't have an answer to, they never replied back. They. That one, they haven't replied, Hey, this didn't work, which is, I guess. Okay. But also they never applied. Hey yeah. What you told me to do did work and here's the result. Those who do answer, I noticed like are way more excited to [00:18:00] continue and, and they're not a drain in the indie hacker world and sort of bootstrapper and like software engineering world that I'm sort of a part of. Customer service is looked down upon mightily, like eat two, to answer an email. You want to do it in as, as quickly as possible and maximize your sort of profitability. Whereas for me in this particular course, I think if I can actually solve your problem. And help you. You're going to be an advocate for me when somebody D rails me, you'll, you'll be an advocate in the face of, to defend me, but you also go out and just speak nicely about me. And I want that. So, so I have noticed that like those who reply and share their, that, that result. Are really excited and they'll do more. They'll actually finish their project. Yeah. I don't know if that was the answer to your question. [00:19:00]
Chris: [00:19:01] Makes a lot of sense. I mean, effectively, like starting up the dialogue a little bit of accountability there, right. As well, just by showing your, your results as a student.

Andrew: [00:19:12] Yeah. And I thought of this very early on and then I saw very little of it, but I would, I really, really, really like. The idea of like a show and tell or case studies or something, that's just like, this is what students are doing. And it really, I hope this doesn't come across as bad because I think this is really nice, but it sounds really terrible. But like when you're a kid and you have like an art showcase, like, and you bring your parents, like. Like the, the point isn't like you made an piece of art, but that you showed it. The point of art is to be seen. It's like the point of Google sheets and using Google sheets and making them better for your self or for others that are using it. It's just share that to share that experience. I [00:20:00] don't mean to compare show and tell to like a child's art show, but. I don't know, it has a good feeling in, in my case. Yeah.

Chris: [00:20:11] Yeah. I know what you mean. Okay. Time is flying by. So let me just ask you about what's coming next for you and then for better sheets.

Andrew: [00:20:24] Yeah. So the main, so I get emails and also because I've sold. Better sheets on AppSumo AppSumo has a review board like you can go on to AppSumo now go to the better sheets page and see 40 reviews now. These reviews are a hundred percent truthful and sometimes they hurt, but like in a good way. So people will email me and they'll email me that complaints about what's what's wrong. And I will notice [00:21:00] patterns and try my hardest to fix them in, in the way that I can like that I'm capable of fixing them. Some of those problems. I just physically cannot fix. Structurally in a payment page or something is like set up in a certain way that it won't like automatically redirect you. It's like, yes, you do have to read this PDF. But the PDF only exists because a bunch of people asked me, like, what are some of the videos that I should, what are some of the first videos that I should watch? And I was like, Oh, it depends on X, Y, and Z. So let me write a PDF here, read this. And now no one's asking me literally I get zero questions asking me what's the first videos when she wants. Cause I've provided that. And so the answer to your question is like I've tried to iterate as much as possible and not do big, huge changes to it. But I do have planned a really big change where right now it's still [00:22:00] is a single folder of videos with titles. And that still is the major complaint I've done as much as I physically can around that. So like I've made a Google sheet of all the videos. You can Mark them off as you watch them. You can, I give, given you a PDF of like, here's the first, you know, this'll keep you busy for two weeks kind of thing. If you get past this, you're a really, you're really dedicated and I'm happy to email you. People email me questions. There's a Google form. You can fill out to ask specific questions and I asked you the right. I have you. Tell me the sort of few things you need to say for me to help you as best as I can. All of that needs to be iterated again. And that's going to be a big change where all of that gets pushed into one place where instead of having all of these pieces, it'll be a very streamlined way actually. That reminds me one of the earliest complaints is like, [00:23:00] why don't you use a learning management system, like an LMS, which every course maker, from what I know, a hundred percent of them use an LMS. Some of them are platform like, you know what I mean? Or some of them are like fresh LMS or some of them are teachable from what I have gathered. Maybe you can tell me something different. None of them are capable of handling a non-linear course.

Chris: [00:23:29] Hmm. Interesting. Yeah. I, I think that's probably correct.

Andrew: [00:23:33] So I I've done as much research as I could until I realized I don't want to continue researching it. So I'm just, I'm literally hard coding this myself of like, Yes, there are going to be paths that you can take. If you say, Hey, I want to take a certain path. Like I want to take a path. I want to go in the way. And the way I've solved this before is like, Oh, just watch the videos in the order that I've produced them. Cause that's sort of a simple way to do it, [00:24:00] but then it's like, you're watching 143 videos and like not everything is going to be. Good for you. And like, you're going to at least take some time watching the first few moments. You know, I don't want to watch this. I don't want to watch this. There's gotta be a better way. So I have a, I have a test website that I've been coding myself that uses Java script to give you a little bit of search capability instead of scrolling through titles and rating them. Right now there's no Mark as seen which in the Google, it does have a check box. You can Mark it as scene and you can count downtown to seeing all of them also certification that this might sound weird, but I'm going to have a better sheet certification where you watch, but then you will apply what you learned and what you saw. And I think that will then create a ton more. Before, and after photos of like, here's a sheet may apply the [00:25:00] processes that I showed you in this video and then have the after, and then you can see them side by side. I think that'll be really cool. So yeah, I think it's, but it's just a lot of hard coding cause like it doesn't exist. A non-linear video course is just not a thing. Like I haven't heard anyone.

Chris: [00:25:21] That's really cool. The, they choose your own adventure approach. Yeah. Great. I mean, it sounds like a lot of exciting stuff coming along soon. Where can listeners go to find out more about you and to find better sheets and as you start, okay. We'll make sure that's in. Yeah.

Andrew: [00:25:39] And that'll get you everywhere. That'll get you. There's a bunch of free videos on there. That'll link you to the YouTube. If you want to subscribe to the YouTube channel, I've put out like 40, 40 of around 140 videos. Are free on YouTube. Then I also have a newsletter and you'll find the link somewhere there, but I just want to [00:26:00] push to the better tsheets.co. And then if you want to sign up for the newsletter, you can find it there.

Chris: [00:26:04] Perfect. Well, Andrew, thank you very much for coming on the podcast.

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