Digital Tips Finance – collect rent via ACH without a headache

TL;DR: We became landlords (again) shortly before leaving the US to nomad around South America for 8+ months in 2022. I found Avail, by to process ACH rent payments. It’s free for the tenant and $5/mo/unit for the landlord. If you use my referral link to sign up, we both get 10 months free.

Before my wife and I left the United States to travel as nomads around South America, we had to figure out what to do with our house in Austin. We didn’t want to sell it, but we also didn’t want it to sit empty while we were gone. That’s when we decided to become landlords and rent it out.

We had it on the market for a few weeks, first furnished, then unfurnished, until we found a family to enjoy our place as much as we did.

One of the things we had to do was find a way to handle the rent payments. We didn’t want to deal with checks, as they can be a hassle to work with, especially as we are traveling. Instead, we decided to look for a way to process ACH (Automated Clearing House) rent payments.

After some research, we found an early stage startup that seemed like it would be a good fit for us. They handled the ACH payments and made it easy for us to keep track of everything from afar. However, unfortunately, this startup folded after a few months, and we had to find another solution.

That’s when we discovered Avail. We tested their services for a few months, and we were really impressed with how easy they made it for us to manage the rent payments and communicate with our tenants. It’s free for the tenant to use, and it only costs $5 per month per unit for the landlord.

We’ve been using Avail since September, and it has been a lifesaver. It has made it easy for us to keep track of the rent payments and communicate with our tenants, even though we’re not in the country.

Overall, becoming landlords has been a great experience for us and using Avail has taken the guesswork out of the rental payment process.

P.S. the photo is of the actual house.

Digital Tips

Mint Mobile – A US number for digital nomads

I wrote this review from Argentina, after 8+ months of using Mint Mobile while traveling through South America.

I will get paid if you sign up via one of the links in this article, and so will you. Switch to Mint Mobile already and stop spending so much on your wireless plan. Use my referral link to get $15 in renewal credit.

Mint Mobile is a prepaid wireless carrier that has gained popularity among digital nomads for its affordable pricing and flexibility. One of the key features that makes Mint Mobile appealing to travelers like us is its support for WiFi calling and texting.

With WiFi calling and texting, you can make and receive calls and messages over a WiFi connection, rather than relying on a traditional cellular connection. This can be especially useful for travelers that don’t want to lose access to their main phone number.

You can swap SIM cards between Mint and the local network you get on as you travel to new countries, or you can use a second phone as a hotspot for your Mint one if you are not near a WiFi.

To use WiFi calling and texting with Mint Mobile and not have to remove your SIM card every time, you’ll need a DSDS (Dual SIM Dual Standby) or DSDA (Dual SIM Dual Active) enabled phone. These types of phones allow you to use two SIM cards at the same time, one virtual eSIM, one physical SIM. It’s fairly easy and quick to install a Mint Mobile eSIM on your phone. It took 5 minutes on my Google Pixel 5.

This means you can have one eSIM for your Mint Mobile service and another for a local physical SIM card when you are traveling abroad. This can help you save on roaming charges and stay connected when you are outside of the United States.

The main benefit for us is that we can keep your two-factor authentication enabled. Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code sent to your phone in addition to your login credentials – like for banks and credit score accounts. This can help protect your accounts from unauthorized access, but it can be inconvenient if you don’t have access to your phone. With WiFi calling and texting, you can still receive the codes you need to log in to your accounts, even if you don’t have a cellular connection.

Overall, Mint Mobile is a great choice for digital nomads who want an affordable and flexible wireless plan that includes support for WiFi calling and texting. Whether you’re working from a coffee shop in Argentina or taking a call from a client in Colombia, Mint Mobile has you covered.

P.S. If you’re using a VPN service on your device, make sure to turn if off on WiFi at least until your WiFi calling and texting becomes available. Then turn the VPN back on.

Photo by Nestor Barbitta on Unsplash

Advertising Digital Tips

eBook Review: How to get started with Facebook Ads in B2B

Earlier this week, a friend of mine announced that he published a B2B Facebook ads guide. I got the ebook almost the same day and wanted to share a few thoughts about it here (with his permission).

I think how to’s are great subtitles, and here, “How to get started with Facebook Ads in B2B,” feels like it needs a bigger story to attach to. I would recommend going for an evocative title, something that speaks to the value of getting started with those ads – maybe brand awareness, cost optimization or untapped audiences.

The eBook starts with a contrarian view on B2B marketing trends, and tries to challenge the myth that Facebook only works for B2C/DTC brands. I would have loved to see a few goals to expect, or some sense of scope for using Facebook as a B2B channel. They anchor the ads then to the funnel – mid- and top of the funnel activities, that complement SEM and other intent based efforts. Arguing that there’s behavioral data on Facebook you can use for tracking makes sense, but an example would have helped me understand the thinking behind the theory. What are some of the attributed you use on Facebook to target a buyer audience?

I agree that Facebook is underutilized for B2B, but you compete with B2C brands, and the people you may be targeting with your B2B ad might be prime buyers for DTC brands, so your costs won’t go down that well. Something to think about.

The SMB argument is interesting, since it seems that the goal of the ebook is less about brand awareness and engagement, but more direct buys via Facebook. This certainly doesn’t work for B2B enterprise solutions, but I wouldn’t discount the leadgen component for that segment.

The options discussed below seems to steer back into enterprise, since option B specifically talks about CMOs being the target audience. I would have loved to see a more SMB example here. I’m also confused on why you would need 10-15k users for Option A, and only 200 for Option B. I would also want to understand more about collecting event data, and intent actions – what tools, what events etc.

I’m assuming that’s the pixel installation and config, but a transition would help clarify that. I would also add additional structure to the pixel setup, based on event types, going beyond the click. That’s very well done in the audience setup part of the eBook, where you leverage that traffic you collected in the pre-requisites.

Do not spam with retargeting is always good advice. No one wants to be followed around by ads.

As the eBook continues with tips and tricks, the advice is great, but I feel the need to anchor it to an example that is used throughout the book, unpacking it piece by piece, and showing what worked and what didn’t at each stage of the experimentation. This is especially important for creatives and messaging examples, as well as targeting.

I wanted to see more in the learning phase, almost expecting their story and learning, and some guidance on how many experiments to run, how big those experiments should be and where common pitfalls are, with specific examples. I’m sure they spent a sizable amount of money and time learning, it’s just not reflected here clearly enough.

Here’s what’s not that great – in the lead magnets section, the narrative shifts specifically to the SaaS platform that’s authoring the book. In the shift is not clear whether they are using this as an example or promoting some of their features, so I would recommend clarifying that. The deep dive into the platform screenshot then feels too sales-y for this eBook, which promised me Facebook Ads for B2B and instead is promoting a platform/CRM. I get the need to connect it to the product, but there are better ways to do it and you can wait until the end, or invite the reader to a separate mid-funnel doc.

The experiment section is great advice, and I would add some more detail on structuring, measuring and iterating on experiments – KPIs, duration, methods to launch, track and iterate.

The conclusion page could expand on the types of goals B2B marketers have and summarize how they can achieve them by following this eBook’s advice. This is where you can invite people to check out the platform and combine their B2B Facebook efforts with

Overall, I think the eBook helps people think differently about B2B ads, but it takes a bit of time and I had to read it a few times to extract that “what would be applicable for my use case” essence.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Digital Tips

Beware of Covid-19/World Bank Compensation Funds scam

Beware of Covid-19/World Bank Compensation Funds scam over email from a James Oatman.

Just got this email today:

I know it looks like an obvious scam to me.

  • it’s asking for detailed personal information
  • it’s coming from an unverified email address
  • claims to want to wire me money internationally
  • there are some failed autocomplete items in the copy
  • points out to a 3rd person that should offer “legitimacy” to the transaction
  • is deemed as urgent
  • it features poor use of English
  • Gmail flagged it as suspicious

If, with this article, I can save at least one person’s information from these scammers, I’ve done my job.

Stay safe out there!

Blockchain Digital Tips

Breaking into Blockchain – Crypto 101

Breaking into blockchain is not hard, but requires some time invested in learning about the basics. I personally started by reading white papers – namely, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Dash, and tons and tons of ICOs. Of course, if you know mathematics, polynomes and cryptography, you’re already 3-4 steps ahead of the game and can understand the probabilistic models better than everyone else.

Here’s two of the best resources when it comes to taking the first steps into blockchain – collection by A16Z, bitcoin-focused link list by James Lopp. These two alone will get you far enough to begin with. From there you’re going to branch out into the wild and discover your favorite coins/algorithms/programs, whatever you understand and makes sense for you. There’s no right or wrong at this stage, mostly trials and scams.

Since I already mentioned I’m a big fan of Ethereum, here’s a link to a collection of applications build to top of this ecosystem. Mostly wallets, trading, gambling, games, just like any early stage medium and just 240ish. The internet started like this, too. It will eventually grow beyond this. After all, you need to build the foundation, lay the piping, create the structure before you can start operating the mall. I don’t know why I chose the mall analogy, but it fits the context very well. It evolved from the street market into the steel and stone edifices we find everywhere nowadays.

You need to keep up to date and if you don’t want to get all the newsletters from Coindesk, CCN, Bitcoin Magazine etc, then it’s easier just to follow Crypto Panic. It will aggregate the best news for you, along with community signals. Sure, there’s bias, but where isn’t one? Do your own research, don’t follow the shillers or the FUD (fear uncertainty doubt) spreaders or the FOMO peddler (I won’t explain FOMO).

Ok, you did the reading, time to grab some coins. Here’s a few lists of exchanges. Do your own research and choose the ones that make sense for your needs/strategy: Crypto to Crypto exchanges (I mostly use Bittrex and Binance); Fiat to Crypto Exchanges (Coinbase and Gemini are my favs here).

Now you have the coins, but where to store them? Definitely not in exchanges, as you won’t be able to do much with them there. I use a few wallet combinations, like Scatter, Metamask (protect your private keys), MyEtherWallet, Blockchain Info, Jaxx, Coinomi and several others that are coin-specific. Make sure you check the HTTPS, the URL and bookmark your wallets. Phishing is very common.

Lastly, for those who want to dive deeper into ICOs, here’s a primer along with the Price Waterhouse Cooper new global ICO guide, hot off the press from Switzerland.

Remember, it’s still early days, so the tools will be pretty rudimentary, but as the industry matures, the tools will too. Right now we don’t know what are the best ways to do things because we don’t know what are the best things we can do yet with blockchain technology. That’s enough to excite a lot of people out there to build, test, launch, fail, learn, build, rinse and repeat.

Digital Tips Startups Strategy

When do you need a Growth Manager?

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I won’t quote the Harvard Business Review article that decisively said that every company needs a growth manager because I think that’s a wrong approach. Only businesses that have a strategic goal to grow need a growth manager, all others need a manager that can maintain the status quo, the market share, the profit margin, the shareholder returns a.s.o. The latter companies will suffer from having a Growth Manager as will the Growth Manager suffer from being in such companies, because growth does not come without pains or changes.

If you don’t leave room for some pain in order to grow towards the reward, you will never get to the reward.

Another article I’d like to mention here is the Intercom piece about the bullshit that is growth hacking and how bad it is for an organization to turn it into a strategy. Sure, it’s scrappy, lean, works for a while, but the price you pay in the long run is a lack of foundation for the growth you hacked your way into. That foundation is done with investment in tools, strategies, deliverables, templates, methods, people, offices that don’t deliver right away. Hell, they may even push your organization at the very edge, stretching the runways, cash flows and giving the C-levels some nightmares. But the ones who choose to grow this way are the most likely to reap the rewards in the long run.

One of the best places and times to hire a Growth Manager is when the company is opening up a new office in a new geography. The founder / C-level / co-founder that is in charge of opening this new office should first hire the growth manager to essentially build infrastructure for operations, sales, recruitment and marketing and benefit from their network and expertise, especially regarding process design and management. Without this person to drive the new office growth, the pace will be significantly decreased due to the lack of bandwidth of the person opening the office alone.

It’s here that the redundancy rule stands very strong – have at least two people in the company with overlapping skills, that way if one gets hit by a bus or goes on vacation, the other can keep running the shop.

Hire a Growth Manager that is curious, hungry, that has built at least several other projects, managed business units or functions from zero to regional if not global impact. Give them resources and freedom to act, trust them to build the infrastructure which will enable the product-market fit startup to grow, the established company to expand and the team to specialize and move from a learning – jack of all trades type of roles to production focused, quota focused, ROI, KPI focused machines that will deliver the results for your next round or the IPO or the results you will need 3-4 quarters from now.

Remember, it’s not just about the 10x growth requirement or the go-to-market readiness that needs a Growth Manager. The best companies hire one before that so he/she will have time and resources to build the vehicles to be used in the future growth process.

Digital Tips Startups

Breaking into Startups in San Francisco is not like on HBO

When I moved to Silicon Valley, I thought to myself:

Man, opportunities will come at me from every corner!

While it took me just over two weeks to break into the startup world, others aren’t so lucky to have pre-existing connections or traditional startup backgrounds and get rejected a lot. I got rejected too, before hitting it big at DigitalGenius.

Last night, a few awesome folk launched a different kind of startup podcast: one that’s about beating the stereotypes, conscious and unconscious biases of Silicon Valley startups. Not just white, male, top tier school graduates should be the ones joining companies backed by top VCs or household names like Google, Facebook or Twitter. Everyone should have a shot, but they don’t.


That’s one of the reasons the community behind Break Into Startups came together and supports one another – the only way to break the pattern is if we all work together. No more job board rejections, no more interviews where you are given a hard time because you don’t fit the pattern.

If you agree with what I said, listen to their stuff, subscribe and leave a review to help spread the word. Share, tweet, post for a more inclusive, more creative world.

Digital Tips Strategy

SEO doesn’t work without branding

Even though TechCrunch now has gone tabloid, they still nail it from time to time. This week, I was reading an article on how the digital marketers decided to skip school, reinvent the wheel and discount all strategic management tools to go directly to instant gratification tactics and/or hacks.

My fight to pick right now is with the SEO. It doesn’t matter if you have a good SEO ranking if you are an unknown brand. As a corollary, SEO strategies are not effective in building brands if they focus solely on the SEO factor and not on the mix of PR & branding impact.

Just look at the A(wareness) I(nterest) D(esire) A(ction) model, a simple tool from the corporate marketing world. I, as a potential customer for your product, need to be first aware of it, then be interested in it, then desire it, in order to click and buy. If I’m not quite there, then what I will do is click to see if I’m interested, if I desire and then maybe buy. But the SEO article has to deliver, in this case, interest and desire, which, sadly, not many of them do. This is because the SEO people rarely work together with the PR people and they just run bland content, which doesn’t incite much interest, let alone desire. They focus more on action and on the link juice and that’s where they lose points.

The right way to do it is to link the PR, content marketing & overall branding strategy with the SEO by placing articles that are engaging, interesting, exciting and brand aligned on SEO properties to generate conversations, shares, social proof alongside the ranking increase. Hey, in the end, all those social signals end up actually boosting SEO.

So stop being boring, work with PR people and look beyond the DA/PA/other metrics you might be using.


Photo taken from the Relevance Agency website

Digital Tips

How to copy/duplicate a page or a post in WordPress – 7 easy steps

One of my hobbies is to fiddle with WordPress in my spare time, as it’s a CMS I have been working with for the past 7 years. Usually, I work with the template files to replicate design and layout, but recently, with the growing popularity of page builders, I found myself to want to duplicate pages I had already build, but without saving a new layout. I needed several signup/error pages for The Extra Dish site and needed to duplicate pages. WordPress does not make it easy for people like me. There is no default way to do it, but there are several plugins to help us.

I used WP Bulk Post Duplicator and followed these steps:

  1. Install the plugin and activate it
  2. Go to the Pages/Posts category and mark the page/post you are trying to duplicate as Pending Review
  3. Make sure that this is the only page/post you want to duplicate
  4. Go to Settings > WP Bulk Post Duplicator and select Page/Post
  5. Choose post status as Pending Review
  6. Click duplicate and you are done
  7. View duplicated posts or pages in the respective categories and continue editing

Please share this post if you find it helpful.