How I Built a Mildly Successful Six-Figure Business in 14 Years

The following is an interactive timeline of my "journey" as an "entrepreneur" and how I "built" a "six-figure business" from "scratch."

It only took me 14 years and 9 failures. But since this is the internet, it was an "overnight success."

And it all started with my first venture: starting a rock band!

Matt Giovanisci

Years 1 - 5

Gain Skills and Formulate Ideas

My First Website

I learn how to build a website for my band because we couldn't afford to pay a designer.

Remember Tomorrow Website One of the first websites I designed in Flash™ for my band. November 11th 2002

My First "Real" Business Idea

I have an idea for a new website that would teach people how to take care of their swimming pools and hot tubs.

I worked in the pool industry since I was 13 years old, so I knew the industry well. And no, I was not a "pool boy."

February 21st 2004

I come up with the name, "Swim University" for my pool website idea.

I buy two domain names: and

October 16th 2005

The band breaks up, but I continue to just talk about my pool website idea.

Remember Tomorrow Band Photo This is press photo we used for the band. I have NO idea what I'm doing with my hands. April 17th 2005

While I just talk about my website idea, I lose the domain names I bought the year before 😞.

I buy them again, but had to pay $150 for because someone else scooped it up.

December 19th 2006

Lesson Learned

Procrastination costs money!

Tweet This

Years 6 - 8

Start a Business and Try to Make Money

My First "Business"

I finally build Swim University after my friend (and former bass player) said, "shut up and build it already! I'm tired of hearing you talk about it."

Swim University Website The first design of March 30th 2007

I purchase "The AdSense Code" book to help me make money with Adsense. I Immediately regret the purchase.

The Code Book April 1st 2007

I redesign Swim University and build a custom content management system (CMS), even though Wordpress is a thing that's free (but I didn't know it at the time).

January 5th 2008

I form The Ace Media Group LLC under my parent's address to look professional when people (eventually) write me checks.

June 11th 2008

I join an online forum to help increase traffic and make money.

Instead, I learn how to spin 300-word articles and submit them to link farms 😞.

April 14th 2009

I move Swim University to Wordpress. Something I should have done on March 30th 2007.

December 29th 2009

Swim University makes less than $100/month in Adsense revenue. So...fuck me.

December 31st 2009

Lesson Learned

Tricking people to click Adsense links and spinning articles was a terrible way to make money.

Tweet This

Years 9 - 11

Lose Interest and "Pivot"

Swim University isn't growing fast enough, so I create a bunch of "niche sites" to increase my chances of success.

Site topics include: snowboarding, home audio recording, and Crocs. Yes, the fucking rubber shoes!

April 25th 2010

I'm fired from the pool store because my boss found out about Swim University. Specifically, he found a guest post I had written on a site called

Just one reason I think guest posts are stupid.

November 9th 2010

I immediately start working as a marketing director for a fire and water restoration company.

November 16th 2010

My First Google Penalty

Swim University gets hit by the Google Panda update and drops by 67%. I deserved this because I spun articles and tricked people to click Adsense links.

Google Panda Update on Swim University May 16th 2011

Swim University still isn't growing fast enough, so I build a social network for dogs.

August 25th 2011

I give up on because I realize I don't care about people who want a social media account for their dogs.

October 18th 2011

Lesson Learned

Crocs are stupid.

Tweet This

Years 9 - 11

Collect Unemployment and Start Making Money

I start creating regular videos on YouTube for Swim University because I liked making videos more than writing articles.

May 30th 2012

I finally start making money from Swim University!

I made $300 from a single sponsor. Plus, $806.54 with The Google Affiliate Network and $155.49 with Adsense this month.

September 10th, 2012

My First "Small Business Loan"

I'm laid off and collect unemployment, roughly $2,800 a month. I use it to bootstrap my business.

April 27th 2012

I meet Andrew Fiebert and help redesign his site, Listen Money Matters. In exchange, he helps me monetize Swim University.

Listen Money Matters Redesign This is my first attempt at a redesign for May 20th 2013

My First Rap Video

I create the "Pool Care Rap Video" which was the first thing that went "viral" on Swim University.

June 25th 2013

I stop collecting unemployment checks.

September 15th 2013

Andrew and I launch the Listen Money Matters podcast because his wife overheard us talking on Skype and said, "you guys are ridiculous, so you should start a podcast."

Original Listen Money Matters Podcast Art This is the original podcast artwork for Listen Money Matters. October 30th 2013

I switch affiliate programs on Swim University, from LinkShare to Amazon.

Also, I create a custom plugin that helps improve how Swim University is monetized.

March 3rd 2014

I quit Listen Money Matters because Andrew and I had different opinions on the future of the brand/podcast. I focus back on improving Swim University.

November 10th 2014

After I finish my end-of-year report, I realize the business made a little over $40,000 in 2014. I get taxed on $28,899.

January 1st 2015

I launch a podcast called Driven that only lasts eight episodes.

Driven Podcast Website Design June 10th 2015

I start to see if I can replicate the successful business model of Swim University in a different industry.

Original Roasty Coffee Homepage Design This is the original design of March 1st 2015

Lesson Learned

An intense hyper-focus on making money works with enough time.

Tweet This

Year 14 & Beyond

Make Six Figures and Continue to "Pivot" Forever

After finishing another end-of-year report, I realize the business made a little over $150,000 in 2015. I get taxed on $95,094.

January 1st 2016
Money Lab

I launch (this site).

Money Lab January 18th 2016

My First Money Lab Challenge

I team up with Jason Zook and relaunch his "How To Get Sponsorships For Anything Course" as

Get Sponsorships February 13th 2016

I write, produce, and drop a rap album about being an entrepreneur in only 30 days. You can buy the album here.

August 2nd 2016
Spruce Metrics

My First SAAS Product

I team up with Jason Zook again to create Spruce Metrics: a simple analytics platform to help people grow their businesses.

Spruce Metrics Dashboard November 17th 2016

I take a massive month-long break from working on my business because this shit is hard.

That said, I look forward to working again in 2017!

December 6th 2016

Lesson Learned

Never stop building & creating! Mild success can take a while.

Tweet This

Building a Business Sucks and It's Worth It

My goal from the beginning was to make at least $100,000 a year. Okay, that's not true – I wanted to be a rich and famous rock star.

Instead, I built a pool website. I still wish it didn't take 14 fucking years though!

But it did. And every step was important. If I didn't go through them, I might have blown all my money on a mansion in Florida in 2008.

Instead, I bought a modest condo in New Jersey in 2008. And I still got screwed.

I got fired, laid off, and collected unemployment. I'm glad it all happened. Without those moments, I wouldn't be where I am today – in my home office in Boulder writing about becoming mildly successful.

I have no regrets. I fucked up and fought my way through. And the best moment was when my mom stopped asking me when I was going to get a "real job."

I love you ❤️

This page was designed with some help from Cody House, Stephanie Halligan, and Jason Zook.

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