I Went From $20K In Debt To A $936K/Year Online Business

Published: September 15th, 2021
Steve Mastroianni
Founder, Rockstar Mind
Rockstar Mind
from Toronto, ON, Canada
started May 2014
Discover what tools Steve recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Steve recommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Steve Mastroianni and I am the owner of Rockstar Mind Inc., which is an online coaching platform. I’ve focused on coaching guitarists and songwriters, and most recently have been doing business coaching under my HOBBY BOSS brand. Some of the main products I sell are private coaching and interactive workshops. I’m also the author of two best-selling books.


My main customers are typically musicians, like myself, who want to improve their ability to play songs faster, write their own songs, and perform them live. The business generates six figures per year serving hundreds of customers per month and it’s all run by me and my team of 3 virtual assistants.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

So I’ve been a professional musician for over 15 years. One of the highlights of my career was getting signed to a record deal by Gene Simmons and touring North America opening for KISS. That experience was really like a masterclass in marketing on how to develop and nurture a solid fan base.

While making plans with my band for our next album, I got a phone call from my father telling me that he was just diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. That call instantly changed my life; I went from being a rockstar to a caregiver and decided to put my budding music career on hold to help look after my father. During that time I needed to find a creative way to pay my rent while still having the flexibility to be there for my father. I was also in about $20,000 in debt, so I knew that whatever option I pursued had to be viable for my future financial goals.

Be okay with failing multiple times to succeed. A big part of making it as an entrepreneur is knowing how to bounce back after each loss and trying every approach until you find a way to make it work.

It was actually one of my guitar students that suggested I start a guitar website and teach online. I brushed it off at first since there are so many guitar sites online, but I kept getting more and more requests from my fans and students so I decided to go for it. Soon afterward, Rockstar Mind was born one afternoon while I was at the hospital with my father.

At the time Rockstar Mind was born (in 2014), I just needed enough to pay the bills and a little extra for some fun money. It wasn’t until my first daughter was born in 2018 that I knew I needed to start taking my business more seriously so that I could provide for my family and have more financial stability.

Take us through the process of designing the initial product.

By the time I started Rockstar Mind, I had already been coaching for over 10 years. I had a strong client base to start my business; I was really familiar with who they were, their needs, and their goals. From there it was a matter of finding more customers who were like them.

Be okay with the risks, and there will be many; that’s why starting and running your own business is one of the most exhilarating things you can do. Remember that the risks you take and the hard work you put in will often pay out the highest reward.

When thinking of my ideal customer, I went into extreme detail based on my past and current students and my knowledge of the market. I filled in any blanks by researching forums, joining Facebook groups to better understand who they were. All of my marketing research was digital, and as a result, I found a lot of people with large audiences and made some relationships with them. Because of our relationship, they were willing to promote my business to their audience. For example, I connected with JB Partners and had them promote Rockstar Mind to their email lists.

I gave 100% commissions on the first product (a guitar course), and then I kept all the commission for any memberships purchased on the back end. Startup costs ended up being really low for me - I recorded courses on my phone and may be paid around $200 for a website domain and video hosting fees.


Describe the process of launching the business.

Preparing to launch Rockstar Mind was fairly simple. I bought some WordPress plugins, video editing software, web hosting, website domain name registration, and a new webcam. Keep in mind that nothing I bought for the business was fancy, and I used credit cards to purchase all of it. Beyond that, I used whatever I had around my house.

I mentioned earlier that I lined up a lot of affiliate promotions, and that was what I used to launch Rockstar Mind. My affiliates sent promotions to their audience, I promoted to my fans on social media and my small emailing list. I had friends promoting on their social media channels, and I even promoted on my band’s fan page as well.

Systematize as much as you can early in the game so you can more easily outsource the small jobs. The goal is for you to work on the business and not in the business as much as possible.

Because Rockstar Mind is an online business, a lot of the work happened on the back end to prepare for the launch so when launch day came, it was almost as simple as flipping a switch. Like I said earlier, Rockstar Mind was born while I was at the hospital with my dad; on May 11, 2014, at 2:34 pm to be exact.

What I learned from launching Rockstar Mind is that everything that you want to do for your launch is going to take about 3x longer and is about 3x harder than you originally think it’s going to be. You really have to do whatever you can to stand out because there’s a lot of noise online. So whether that’s to your clientele or the business partners you’re trying to develop solid relationships with. It’s really all about relationships, both with customers and with your business partners.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I’ve had the best results in my business from following the principles of direct response marketing. Direct response states that 60% of your success comes from promoting to the right people, and to do that you have to know where they are and how to capture their attention.

I’m a big believer in paid advertising on social media platforms. My personal favorites are Facebook and Amazon (but I also think YouTube and Google are also great and viable options). What appealed to me was their lower entry point. I would run ads for a while, and once I knew I had a winning ad I would increase my budget.

You’ll naturally garner interest through advertising, but having and growing an email list is imperative to growing your business. I’m careful to always point any potential customers to my email list because it provides me a way to keep in touch with them.

I’m quick to respond to any emails that come in through social media or my website - I believe that relationship nurturing has done a lot to build my business. Keep in mind that my email lists weren’t always large. In 2019, my email list only had 3,000 people on it, and yet in that same year, I grew my business from $0 to over $100,000.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, Rockstar Mind is a six-figure business and I’m planning on growing it to a seven-figure business in the coming year or two. I’ve launched two best-selling books and am now coaching others on how to start and grow their businesses while still running the guitar coaching side so I can keep sharp.

My team currently consists of myself and three virtual assistants who help me with smaller tasks like website updates, video editing, or content creation. My email list has about 60,000 subscribers, and my social media following is about the same. I run ads and sell through Facebook, Amazon, and my website. I like to consider Rockstar Mind a guitar boutique website - my goal is to go deeper with fewer customers rather than trying to reach hundreds of thousands.

Let’s talk finances:

Ad spend

Ad spend is essential. It’s also important that ad spend can really fluctuate because the price of advertising space is really only going up. I’m currently spending about $10,000 a month and bringing in about $24,000 in revenue from those ads.

Customer acquisition costs

Customer acquisition costs are about $10-$20 if you get a customer from a book, so you immediately want to sell them something after so that you can eventually break even on that acquisition cost.

Customer lifetime value

Customer lifetime value can be tricky because it really depends. I’ve noticed from book buyers that their lifetime value is somewhere between $100 - $200. Others that come in are maybe between $300 - $400. But I also have had lots of customers spend thousands on my services, so it’s really hard to find a true average.


Last year we made $243,000 in profits and are on pace for more in 2021. With an online business, you’re going to see larger profits in general.


There’s plenty on the horizon for Rockstar Mind. I’m planning on new books, new courses, new workshops, new coaching programs, and new software - there’s a lot of new stuff coming down the pipeline.

Even though I know I’ll always be doing guitar coaching I’m definitely shifting my focus to growing the business coaching side of Rockstar Mind. I have two more books coming and will continue to base my business coaching on what I’ve been able to achieve through Rockstar Mind.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I’ve learned so many lessons through starting my business, but I think the most important one to share is, again, starting your own business is going to be 3x harder and take 3x longer than what you thought originally.

There’s a lot that can happen that will be out of your control, so it makes it even more important to show up and do the work because consistency wins. Also, try to do the highest impact work that you can.

Remember that your network is super important. You don’t always need a lot of people around to get the job done, you just need the best people - so try to always have good people around you and form solid relationships.

I also recommend systematizing as much as you can early in the game so you can more easily outsource the small jobs. The goal is for you to work on the business and not in the business as much as possible.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Here’s a quick list of the platforms and tools I use for Rockstar Mind:

When it comes to platforms and tools, you truly don’t need a lot. You need a way for people to pay you and you need a way to deliver your product. I’ve tried and tested probably hundreds of different platforms and tools, but I landed on the ones I did because they fulfilled my needs and the price was right.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, Winning by Tim S. Grover, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.

These are some of my go-to book recommendations. These books will help you with your goal setting and will help you figure out how to optimize your work so that you’re getting more done. These books will help you think like some of the most successful people on earth - how to get what you want but also how to reframe a “loss.” These are great starting points for anyone ready to start their business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Be resilient. Expect chaos. Be okay with failing multiple times to succeed. A big part of making it as an entrepreneur is knowing how to bounce back after each loss and trying every approach until you find a way to make it work.

Be okay with being scrappy. If you’re just starting there’s a lot you’ll have to do yourself, so get creative in how you do your work and in how you get your solutions to your customers. Experiment with different technology solutions to help ease your work, and don’t be afraid to rely on your network to call in a few favors here and there.

Be okay with the risks, and there will be many; that’s why starting and running your own business is one of the most exhilarating things you can do. Remember that the risks you take and the hard work you put in will often pay out the highest reward.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I don’t have any specific positions open but I’m always looking to hire good people who understand business! What I’m looking for would be someone fit to be a junior business coach - someone who understands business, technology, and is even great at creating content. Or an ads specialist who could manage Google or YouTube ads and create content for those ads.

If anyone is interested, they can reach out by sending a message through my website here.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!