Vested Capital
Vested Capital

Episode · 11 months ago

Ryan Born: Founder Of CloudCampaign.io Explains How He Scaled His Social Media SAAS To $1 Million Annual Revenue

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

During some evenings I like to spend a little time on the IndieHackers.com website. 

I explore the companies there, see how much revenue they are generating and what they are building.

One such company, CloudCampaign.io, stood out because it had just cracked the $1 million ARR (annual run rate).

I read through the updates that Ryan Born, Cloud Campaign’s founder had written over the past few years and noticed he had an advisor, Noah Kagan, who I am friends with.

I asked Noah to intro us so I could invite Ryan on to my podcast to hear his story. I’m excited to share that interview with you today.

From Startup Intern, To Founder, To Product Pivot

The first half of this podcast is a fun trip through Ryan’s past as we learn how he became an intern for a tech startup, which turned into a full-time job after he graduated.

During this time Ryan dived into some side hustles, one of which became his main business after he lost his job when his employer’s company was acquired.

That first idea sounded pretty cool — a way to send automatic emails to promote your product based on triggers like what the weather is like today.

Ryan spent several months putting in 16 hour days coding up the MVP version of his software, did some early promotions on sites like ProductHunt.com and found himself with several hundred test users.

Unfortunately, when it came time to make some money, once Ryan switched on the premium version of his software, only one person signed up at $5 a month. Ryan was devastated.

This section of the podcast is especially worth listening to because Ryan explains how he pivoted his idea.

While trying to drum up business with enterprise customers for his email SAAS business, he was connected to social media agencies, which opened up a window to a new idea — the idea that today his business is based on.

I’ll leave you to listen to that story in the podcast to learn more.

How To Scale To $1 Million

I asked Ryan to break down how he went from pivoting his idea to scale it to $1 million in annual run rate, the amount his company was making at the time this podcast was recorded.

I was surprised to learn that even after the pivot, Ryan and his new co-founder almost gave up on the idea as they were struggling to get to $10,000 a month. Then thanks to a few new marketing experiments, things started to take off, and are still working today.

I feel like Cloud Campaign is still very much in an early phase, despite the fact that Ryan has gone on to do two funding rounds and has scaled his team to 10.

The entire story thus far is shared in this podcast, which I know you will enjoy.

Talk to you soon,

Yaro

The timing was pretty crazy. Ipublished this on April Nineteen on April twentieth. I show up to work thenext day and HR calls us into the conference room for just a meeting kindof out of the blue and they actually announced that they were shutting downour office, so all of us were getting laid off honestly. The time I couldhave not have been better because I launched this side project is startingto get some traction. I'm sitting in this meeting with HR. My phone is justfuzzing and I'm like who is WHO's, calling me right now and I look downand all text Novitians that new customers are signing up for this newidea. Welcome to Yar's podcast for you'lldiscover the stories behind world class performers, business builders andenlightened leaders. Can you believe it? This podcast started in the year twothousand and five, it was one of the very first interview, podcast everpublished and I've loved doing it ever since the very start. However, the mostimportant thing to me is the fact that you're here listening to my show itmeans a lot to me. I put a lot of work into this and it's all for you now itwhether you're a long term listener or perhaps is the first episode you'veever downloaded, make sure you subscribe. If you have not done soalready, it's easy to do just open up an apt on your phone, or perhaps yourcomputer, wherever you listen to podcast, could be apple or Googlesporific. Just click that subscribe, but and you'll get all my latestepisodes as I release them thanks again for listening hi. This is aroand thanks fordownloading today's episode, featuring Ryan born the founder of cloud campaign,a social media content and distribution tool that he founded and has grown toone million a year in annual run rate. So it's a big milestone that he justpassed here in two thousand and twenty September actually was when he hit thatgoal, which I discovered actually because I found his company listed inIndia. Hackers Com, a website that I spent a bit of time on recently. Itfeatures a lot of founders and companies and people kind of keep adiary of how their business is going. All the behind the scenes stories kindof like blogging back in the old days, but it's all in this one site greatcommunity there, and because I saw a connection to Ryan. In fact, throughNoah Kagan, I decided I should try and get Ryan onto the podcast to share whatthe journey was like to get to that one million run rate with his social media,Sass software as a service company. So you can hear that interview with Ryancoming up. He shares the full story going from. You know: College graduateto intern to employee, to this first side, hustle, which ended up actuallyfailing and in the pivot from that to the current version of cloud campaignand then how they ramped it up to a million dollars in annual run rat andeven took on investors, he's done a seed and an angel round as well. Soit's well well and truly becoming a proper start up company with venturebacking CO founder a team of ten and frankly, the tool is really good too.I've started using it for my social media campaigns to automate, and youknow, create a calendar so that my content goes out. I found it very easyto use and what I especially like about it is how easy it is to connect to allyour social media accounts, including you tube, which is unusual. I find tohave automated posting to you tube as an option for those you tubers who makevideo out there so make sure you check out cloud campaign as an option, but,more importantly, this is a great interview with a SASS founder. So ifyou're interested in SASS or any kind of software base start up and howsomeone was able to go from a standing start, basically created himself havesome values along the way and then almost give up, in fact, but finallyhave a break through discover some powerful marketing methods that helptake things to the next level. You're going to hear all of that in this storywith Ryan, I hope you enjoy it. Let's begin now, I ran thanks for joining me today. Ioar thanks so much for having me so I'd love to learn about the back storybehind cloud campaign, dot Io, which is the company I discovered you through orcorrectly. I actually discovered you through indie hackers, that's a websitethat is spending a bit more time on. I know you're a fan of using India acresas well kind of a place to track the progress of your business, but also seewhat other people are doing and talk to other entrepreneurs. I came across yourcompany and then I just read a little bit of a background about you know whatyou were doing what's interesting by any hackers. You can reveal your runrate. As you tell you, a story which you were very generous to explain. Thelast post I saw from you was your you just hit the one million annual runrate mark back in September of two thousand and twenty. It is awesome,congratulations thank you and then I saw noah. Our mutual friend was anadviser, no Kagan. So I was surprised to see the connection may be notsurprised because no was pretty well known, so I'd loved to hear how thatcame about as well, and you know why...

...you chose to get an advisor in that way.But before we do any of that, I mean we can give a quick intro to what cloudcampaign that I always but actually like to die even further back and talkabout your your younger years, no matter how many there are there so, butfirst of all what is cloud campaigned on io sure. So cloud campaign is adigital SASS platform that helps marking agencies essentially scalesocial media management. You know today, social media management is reallydifficult for agencies that manage a lot of different brands and most of thetools that are out there are focused on individual brands or consumers, and sowe saw this opportunity to build a platform. That's really designed fromthe ground up for marketing agencies, so they can increase the number brandsay manage and in a lot of ways charge a higher retainer, because they're ableto provide more value for their clients by using our product and I've actuallybeen using it. I dived in and became a free trial and customer now to I'veused a few tools similar to years I'd love to talk more about differentiationstrategies. You know heading into what you might call a somewhat crowdedmarket place before we do. Any of that. Can we go back in time where you bornright, sure yeah, so I grew up in southern California and I then moved upto Santa Barbara, where I went to college at Cs and then kept moving upnorth and just following the coast and ended up graduating there and moving upto San Francisco Barea for work. What the degree did you graduate with? I gota computer engineering degree. So what's the plan to work for a start upfrom day, one as an engineer not necessarily start up, I kind of followmy brother's footsteps. He's three years older than me, and he alsostudied computer engineering and he went more of the corporate route andworked at bowing and then more recently, Microsoft, and so I thought I was goingto do something similar and it was actually a funny story. I was standingat the career, fair Cs, you know where all the different companies are showcasing the different roles that they have and the cool technologies they'reworking on and there's this huge line in the front of Google and I'm likestanding on this line, and I look over and lock eyes with these two guys thatare standing a different booth for for some, like small start up, I've neverheard of like shoot. I lock guys, I should probably go say hi, so I walkover Don, introduce myself and they're like oh we're, we're sitting andGrandon we're with lunch mobile and we're doing clouded security for mobiledevices. It's really cool, interesting new space. You know, would you beinterested in like intervene with us? I was like. Ah, why not like you know?It's always good to have options and anyways long story short and upinterning with them for summer and then the next year when I graduated, I wentthere and worked full time and it was just the total God send. I got reallylucky during this amazing team of entrepreneurs, and this was, I think,their third start up now and all the other previous starts were successful,that they exited from and were acquired. So you know it just got really lucky tolearn more about startups and the Entrepreneur Journey right out ofcollege nice, so you kind of were the inside of a new company rising ratherthan a giant like Google I'd love to know. What's the difference, or eventhe experience you had going from studying computer engineering within auniversity environments actually working in a company and assume as oneof the earlier engineers in that case, with that company yeah, I mean it'svery different. You know, I think, had a traditional four year university. Youlearn a lot of theory and you've course learned some practical knowledge andskills that you can then bring to your your work force and it translatespretty well, but in a lot of ways there is just so many things that you need tolearn on the job, such as working with an existing code base. That's beenalive for three years and maybe has some ugly portions to code that no onewants to touch, and you have to figure out how to understand it and read it,and I think that's a part of the CS degree that you just don't learn incollege. Is You know, reading other people's code that maybe wasn't builtin the best fashion a lot of times you have to learn a new language, so itmight not be a language that you actually learned an university or maybeyou had one course on it, but you didn't really go deep on it. So takingyour learnings in your foundation to then translate out to a new syntax, Ithink is- is definitely one of the more difficult parts of moving from acomputer, Daneen degree or computer science degree and going into the actual workforce. The other part ofit, too, is just understanding what you're working on and, while you'reworking on it right so like there's, obviously real business reasons behindthe priority of features that need to be completed and especially had a startup where you have a small scrapy team and there isn't a ton of resources, youreally need to prioritize what features you're working on based off of what thebusiness needs and really what's going to drive revenue and retention. Sotaking on that role, what did you I, I...

...guess, discover and was there a pointwhere you had to shift from? I see myself working for other people'scompanies to now, starting my own, if that was where you got that shift. Yeahdefinitely happened around that time and I think a big part of it is justrealizing that the founders of the company were just normal people right,like sometimes you see, jetees on on the internet or Mark Zucker, and it'sreally hard to relate to them and you're like no I'm, not an entrepreneur,because I don't look like Jep deses, but the reality is. There are thousandsof other entrepreneurs that look just like you that are starting successfulcompanies that you probably don't hear about, because you know they're,moderately successful and they're not worth billions of dollars, and I thinkthat's what helped me realize you know. Maybe this actually is something I cando. I've always wanted to invent something or be an entrepreneur evenfrom like an early stage of being a kid, and I think just going through thisprocess and working for the start up and seeing the founders, who are justnormal people, like yourself and and me and just rising. You know. I think thisis something I can actually do. You saw the founders on a day to day basis, soyou knew what their life was. Like is that those any kind of takeaways whereyou saw okay, I know I need to do this when I start my own company based onwhat you saw them doing or perhaps the opposite, don't do what they're doingwhen you start your own company yeah, I mean it is slightly different, so Iguess for context. The start up that I joined was vcate and at the time Iwasn't wanting to raise money. I was hoping that just blood strap ofbusiness- and I was thinking you know I can build this small business formyself and maybe it's just like me and a couple other folks, and we can builda nice profitable business and for that reason I think there's some learningsthat didn't necessarily translate over, because when you are BCA business youdon't necessarily need to make money from day one, and so the company Iworked out was very engineering heavy. We had a very small good market teamand most of the folks were king, were just working on product and becausethat we're burning cash pretty quickly but ended up being fine end up gettingfired for our technology for the product, but I think viewing that, frommy perspective you know I was like. I don't necessarily want to go this rout.I want to make sure we kind of have our fate in our own hands and we aregenerating revenue and we're really mostly focused on revenue first andeverything else. Kind of just contributes to making sure we cangenerate money, so we can stay alive, okay, so what happened? Next? Was it acase of figuring out a site, hustle or or you actually going to fully quit ajob and start something from scratch? So I started a lot of different sideprojects. While I was working at that company just on nights and weekends,and I wasn't really sure you know what was going to take off and what wasgoing to be a business is more of like hey. I see this is a problem of ten.This is something that's interesting to work on. I honestly just really enjoywriting code, and so that's how it spend my nights. It's like yeah, I gethome from work and I can work on my own project that I found really interestingand really exciting, and so there was a few different projects that I hadlaunched during the couple years for the few years that I was working atthat company and most of them didn't really gain much traction. You knowmost of them had a handful users that would just sign up for free, no one'sactually pain for it and then there's this one called cloud campaign whicheventually, as you grab in this conversation here, your way, turns intoa natural business. I wanted to like watch the website back in April of twothousand and seventeen and published it on Indi actors just to get feedback oflike hey. What what do you all think about this idea and the laney page andthe timing was pretty crazy. So I published this on April Nineteenth onApril twentieth. I show up to work the next day and HR calls us into theconference room for just a meeting kind of out of the blue and they actuallyannounced that they were shutting down our office. So all of us were gettinglaid off, Oh wow, and this is because we were at this point acquired. We havebeen with the quarant company for a couple of years. The main goal was toreally take our technology in Agrati into their solution, which we hadpretty much completed at that point and there's a team up in Vancouver B C thatwas taking ownership of the product, and so they decided that they weregoing to shut down our office and honestly, the time he couldn't not havebeen better. You know, because I launched this this little side projectof this website. I was starting to get some traction, I'm sitting in thismeeting with R my phone is just buzzing and I'm like who is who's, calling meright now and I look down and it's all Texians- that new customers are signingup for this new idea right. This website that I launched, I was evenactually a product, yet it's just an idea, and I think, like maybe twentyfolks signed up that day and then another like twenty signed up in thenext couple days. S, and so this was a...

...really good indication that, like hey,this is something you ought you want. I just got laid off and so I'm getting aseverance package. So I I just treat this. I was like seed money to getgoing and boot strap this thing and that s really. When push came to shove-and I was like okay- I think the time is right. I should just go for it. So Twentyfour customers, US saying,came from this post you made on Indi hackers. Can you explain a little bitmore a? What was that initial offer? I guess, because you had an idea to solvea problem and then you were you say customers, so you were charging moneyfrom day one. How do you do that without an actual product or servicelike what was that offer yeah? So sorry, let me correct that, so these were notactual paying customers at this point. These were more prospects. Saying I'minterested in this like once you build it. I will pay for it. Okay, it wasthis, so it's it's actually different than what we have today. So initially,one thing that I noticed is in email, marketing, there's this concept ofdynamic emails that are based off the weather, right so let's say you're inSeattle and it's raining, the company might send you a rain jacket and sopants in your email versus. If I'm in Boulder Colorado and it's sunny, Imight get shorts and hiking choose, and so this concept already existed. Itjust didn't exist on social. So do you mean that, as from an e commerce sense,so they're going to promote you to bide these products based on the weather,exactly okay, yeah yeah, and so it was predominantly used in e commerce there.We were other industries that were leveraging this technology as well, butmy thought was: this exists, an email and no one's really doing it for social,and I think we can build this like this. Doesn't seem that difficult? So thatwas the initial idea. It was hey. You can now trigger social media post basedoff the weather or trends you know given it have to be for a brand that ison the smaller side and at given geographic region. Just because I wassocial media, your broadcasting you're not sending direct messages yeah. Thatwas the initial idea that I started getting folks to sign up for expressinginterest in. You basically created a simple web page. That said, Hey I'mlooking to create a new tool that will allow e commerce and tts direct toconsumer alantean as product creators to send tailored messages to email andsocial based on conditions, like maybe the weather or maybe you're, probablythinking like times of the year Halloween, for example. As we record,this is about to happen and that's just an idea. You flow, and then it's likeinto your name and email address if you're interested in this and you callthat a prospect is that kind of like a summary exactly, and it was rather thansaying hey. This is an idea, or this is what I'm thinking about making. It wasmore of hey here's, this product, which did not exist yet, but they didn't knowthat I had. I created mock ups of what I thought the product would look like,and so hey here's this product, you want early access, put in your emailaddress and give your contact in Bo God it. So it's not like I'm going to makethis it's. This actually exists. Here's the pictures of it she's not quiteready. Yet you want to be a first user. So it's a it's a very lean way oftesting idea so and you just posted that to the indie hackers community,which is like a forum like website and that's where you got that initial twothousand and forty sign ups exactly yeah, so the initial initial sciencecame from Indi hackers and then I later posted on Batals and received another.I believe, like eighty sign ups from that, and then I post it on product ona little bit later, once the product had a actually launched and got, Ithink a couple hundred users actually sign up and start using it from that.Let's bring that go because I'm curious, so you get your email sign up saying Iwant this, that it doesn't actually exist yet in terms of something that'sfunctional. Do you just go home and you've been laid off so and you gotsome buffer of savings thanks to Severne, you just sit at your computerand buy yourself and code a first version of this like Weba. Is that canyou do that yourself or would you need other people involved, yeah now soyou're exactly right? I just sit of my computer. I can't even tell you maybesixteen hours per day, just working through the night many times and justbuilt it by myself, and you know I think, having that list of prospects.That said, Hey I'm really interested in this gave me the motivation to justwork as hard as I could to get this thing out as quick as possible. My fearwas, if I took six months to build this, then people that said they'reinterested in April are going to change their mind by the time I actuallyrelease it, and so I thought was. I need to get this out as quickly aspossible. So how I'm going to take you to make that first Bata version, soI've launched the Bata version, I believe, as June fifteenth. So it ispretty quick okay, so that's you months, one men show two months of more thanfull time work boom. You got a Beta. How do you sell it? Do you put togethera sales page for it or just send people pay piling? What is your you know? Howdo you take money yeah? I know it's a good question. So initially the thoughtwas, I'm just going to try and get as many free users as I can and then I'llffigure out how to convert them to pay...

...customers. Like you mentioned, I didhave some offer of savings, so I wasn't. I didn't need to necessarily make moneyday one, but I definitely had to make money and your one and my thought was:I should hopefully be able to convert maybe five to ten percent of the freeusers into pay customers, if they're actually serious about this- and so Ididn't worry about building until closer to the end of the year of thetwo thousand and seventeen okay nice. So you send it out just with aregistration for him into to create an account, and those are your testers toright. They can help you figure out the bugs and what features they want next.So I guess that takes us to the point where you've actually launched the Betaon product hunt. Just for those who've, never don't know about Proton and neversubmitted something to Protin. Is there give us a sum way what it is, but alsowhen is the right time to put something on port tons, yeah sure so product kindis a website where hunters, as they call them, can publish a product thatthey discovered. You can be your own hunters if you are the the individualthat made the product. You can also hunt your own product and essentially alot of individuals come to the sites to find new, innovative tools that theycan try out services. They can pay for there's a wide range of products it getlisted on there. So everything from you know your indiae posting their ownproduct that they made all the way up to you know some random hunter, findinga new feature that got added to slack, for example, and they might hunt thatso anyone can hunt any product. You do don't necessarily need to have any sortof affiliation with a product or ownership of it in terms of the bestway to get a lot of publicity for your product and get up boats. Timing iscritical, so you typically want to publish it shortly after MidnightPacific Standard Time. That's when kind of the votes reset, and that'sessentially gives you the best time to make it to the top of the list. As I'msure you can imagine, the products to the top of the web page are going toget the most clicks accordingly, they're, no, the most boats, and sotypically, if you can start the day towards the top of the website, you'lltypically stay towards the top interesting, a little hack there forproduct times, but it doesn't sound like you need to have. If it is yourown plug, you want to promote, you don't need to have a certain level offunctionality is just here's something I mean I've seen people even just postpictures of what they're planning on doing. I think I'm Ponoton without afinished version. So how did you go so you did you? You follow that Strabo andwhat's the result or for cloud campaign yeah, so it worked out decently. Wellfor us, we all, we actually found someone else to hunt our product for us.The reason being is, if you have a lot of followers on product hunt, yourfollowers will get notified any time you hunt a new product and so there'svalue in finding someone that has set them a cloud on the platform, and so wefound someone to hundred brows. It did fairly well had a good number of upvotes. It was not the top product of the day, but definitely ranked prettyhigh. We had a good sloo traffic come from product hint. I don't remember theexact numbers, hundreds, thousands millions. What's the roughly, not millions? No, I believe I believeit was thousands okay, not bad low, single thousands but yeah for a websitethat you know just kind of spun out of nowhere and didn't have any traffic.Otherwise it was definitely a really exciting time, and I believe that theend of this after the few different launches we did had about three hundredfolks that were now using the platform for free okay. Now we should clarify atthis point cloud campaign has nothing to do with what it currently does. It'sstill about tailored based on weather and so forth. OPAN for commerce thankUS forward, so you've got three hundred people using it you're getting feedback.How long was your runaway to in terms of your own financial savings and whatwe've planning to do next? Yes, I actually had a couple years of runawayjust from my savings- and this was you know, living off of a peanut butter,sandwiches and Roman, so yeah, it wasn't living a looks life paying SanFrancisco rents, though you know, I was fortunate, so my partner, her parentsown a apartment in San Francisco and they were giving us subsidize, rent,otherwise, there's no way I was going to be able to afford living in SanFrancisco, trying to start this company fair enough yeah, so extremely fortunate, with thecircumstances had a decent amount of runway, but I still wanted to try toget to red ne as quick as possible, because I thought was if I tried tocharge this product and no one's going to pay for it. I need to figure outsomething quickly and if I just wasted a year working on this one project andisn't the right product like maybe I need to build something else, and thenmaybe I need to go, try a different idea, and so after getting those threeunderd or so free users, my thought was: I need to build building as quickly aspossible and ended up integrating with strike, which was pretty seamless, andI need to now start charging for the product and it did not go as Plannedi.

Okay. What happened? I just have tassumption that you know maybe five to ten percent of customers or free userswill convert to pay product, and you know if I offer some really compellingreasons to then I can start making some money and I essentially flit, switchand emailed all of our users saying hey the free plan. They you're on we'regoing to keep it for life, but it's going to be limited in terms of whatthe functionality, if you want to continue using the product to its foolcapacity. You need to upgrade to this, I believe, is five. Das. A month of thetime is extremely extremely affordable and one person twitched over, and thatwas it okay ouch. So how did you feel at that point totally deflated? Youknow I thought I man, I thought I was doing really well. I thought thesethree hundred users love the product at the time. I didn't really have any sortof analytics to see how active these users were right, like I didn't knowhow frequently they're logging in how frequently they're posting their socialmedia accounts. I just assume that they're they're busy and happily usingthe product- and I think what I realized. I was no that wasn't the case.There was only a handful of folks that were actually using the product andonly one of them was actually willing to pay for it. Okay. So how did youpick yourself up from the floor after that experience? What happened yeah, soI had some friends that were starting a company around the same time and theywere going more enterprise and it just seemed like okay. I can take kind ofcontrol the rains here and I can force this this to work by going down asimilar path, and so, instead of just focusing on marketing, I pulled on seenconnections to get in touch with its like turbo TACs and met with you'reboth into IT companies. I got connected with their marketing team and I pitchedthem on the product, and you know their response was wow. This seems reallycool, singall innovative. I haven't seen anything like this, but we workwith a marketing agency and they manage all our social media. If you want like,I can put you in touch and you can pitch them, but we're not going to payfor this product on our own, because we don't do our own Social Ling andmanagement, and that was kind of a ligabed moment of like wow. Okay, if Ican sell this agency now when I get termo taxing tent as an end client. Atthe same time, this agency works with thirty other brands that are equallysized. Maybe this is the right path and, like I can just go after agenciesinstead of going directly towards the brands kind interesting. So it is howyou did exactly yeah, so that was the big pivot. Is You know, brands aren'tgoing to pay for this there's a lot of different products that are in thespace. That's really crowded. There isn't really much price elasticity, socustomers aren't willing to pay a time for this product. I think the biggeropportunity is agencies, because no one is really building a tool for them andthey're struggling to use these different consumer platforms, and so Iessentially ask for the Intro to the agency that into it worked with and hada great call with them and they're like yeah. You know these are differentproblems that we have. We don't really have a great solution today. You know,given my product was over near where it needed to be at least help lay downkind of the framework of what I would have to build in order for to becompelling for them, the switch and with that kind of. In the back of mymind, I just started doing customer research of just contacting otheragencies and around this time I was also looking for a co founder now thatI knew that I wasn't going to go with this like strictly marketing approach.I need someone with the sales background that could actually get onthe phone with the agencies and sell them on our product, so correctly foundwrong. When you spoke to that agency, and they said they had problems thatwere not being solved by other tools as anyone, I guess who works in socialmedia knows. There are plenty of tools in like whatever, like a buffer, Laurarouter. Has Meat Enter plenty of similar tools that do automated socialposting scheduling, basically, there's tools for managing social media forcompanies and that's what agencies used. But what were you finding? That wasmissing because it's it's obviously a crowd is based. Social is a ismarketing. Today, almost besides paid ads, you know organic social and andpay social or is what people in most companies will focus on marketing,especially small businesses, so as well served as a market by agencies andfreelances and so on, and for those who've never used club campaign. Thecurrent version very much needs that need, but you must have seen some problems or not met needs within thatvertical. Could you explain it what it was or you know, did you grasp it fromthose initial conversations? What did it take more time? Yeah I mean it isfairly apparent from the initial conversation. So when I was talking tothis agency, you know I started the call like I start, every call, which ismore discovery and just understanding how they are managing social mediatoday and the agency just started explaining and it seemed reallyoverwhelming and inefficient. So the way t they were doing it at the time iseach client had their own different...

...tool right so like for into it. Theywere using spread fast and maybe sprinkler, and then they had anotherclient that brought buffer to them and then another client that was outen,hoot, sweet and so for the agency now they're having to train their accountmanagers on using ten different tools. You know each one has different logansor have like a sheet of paper where they have all the different passwordsthey're trying to remember: There's no consistency across brands. Every timethey hire a new account manager, they need to train them up, and so it justseemed like this really chaotic and inefficient structure that they hadtoday and I was like well, why don't you just put it all under one accountand just have your clients use food sweet for example, and they're likeyeah, we tried and we just can't. The problem is, wood, sweet, wasn't builtfor multi brand management and when you try to put three five thirty differentclients in there, it's all comin gold and we've had issues where accountmanagers actually post the content, the wrong client so they're managing socialmedia for men, and now they just posted one of mice posts to know- let's justsay Cocacola, which wasn't the case. But you know just say one of the otherpoints and that's that taters a huge issue right yeah, you lose thatcontract, pretty evly landrey posted to the cocolate, okay. So two things youwant to get a CO founder and obviously you know have a plan to build whatsounds very much like an almost completely new company compared to whatCloud Campana was so did you have to start brand new code base from scratch,or was there something you built from? You know your previous Beta that wasstill usable for for this new new plan. Yeah I mean. Fortunately, most of theproduct was reaonable. There were portions of it, so I called the theweather base posting triggers. That was the predominant feature of the productand that quickly became a little side. Tab Now and the main defense was, Iknow it was you were say, what's funny, is I tried to like? Letthat feature live on for about a year and a half and customers wereconstantly confused like what is this? I read ve heard of this before I waslike okay, it's time to just on, so let's remove it from the product, aSendin yeah, but yes, anyway. Fortunately, alot of the project was reasonable. We kind of just shifted the focus, sothere's more focus on the content, library and everything revolved aroundcontent started, adding a new features that agencies needed, such as flintapprovals and quite reporting, but kind of the bulk of the system. Save thesame and just start tacking on more agency features to make it work forthem and then, of course, making it. So an agency can have multiple work.Spaces is what we call that and each client gets their own workspace. So youdon't run into that that issue of posting the wrong content. It Theronclients account got it. So You keep saying we did that mean you had to cofounder and a team with you by that point was that still the Royal Wees?Just you really just the Royal Wee yeah? I had the tendency of saying weed tomake the company seem larger and add more credibility when when pitchingcustomers, but it was still me at that point- got it now. You must be young. Iwant to hear about the CO founder and the expansion of the team, but itsounds. I know from thinking back to myself. I'm thinking early ties and isthe idea of going to the agency. That's running all these big companies, socialmedia and saying hi. What are your problems right now? You know kind oflike that sounds daunting and scary, and they wouldn't take you seriously do.Did you not feel that or did you have a way of getting around that I felt so alittle bit in you know. Coming from an engineering background, I think I was abit more intrepreted and at the time, especially not extremely comfortable,pitching prospects or getting on the phone. You know, I think part of it wasjust out of dire need and necessity right like I knew I would have justwasted a lot of my own money and a lot of my own time if this didn't work out.So I just kind of bit the bullet, and I was like you know. I just need to beconfident, and I need to do this. I think the other part about it isagencies are in a lot of ways, thought leaders and are more risks, tolerant,so they're willing to try out a new tool- or you know, take a risk onsomeone or something just because they want to kind of be on the Blakang ageof technology and provide a better, better experience for their clientsversus. I think, if you were to pitch enterprises a lot of times, it's notthe case, you have to go through a form of procurement process. They want tomake sure you've talked to compliant right, there's just a lot of hoops tojump through, whereas agencies, I think, are constantly looking for better waysto improve their business and provide a better service for their clients. So itjust seemed a little bit easier to broach that conversation got it okay,we like, as for so. How did you go from now the idea that eventually became thecurrent version of CO campaign to to girl the team t, get your customers andso on absolutely yeah, I mean so step.

One was now that I rise we had to make.This shift was finding a CO founder, and I was super fortunate to find my cofounder Ross through a mutual friend and Ross comes from more mark tin salesbackground, which was exactly what I needed, and he has all the skills thatI lack so step. One was once roster in the team. It was doing more customerdiscovery and really understanding two things, one. What more features do weneed to add to make this product kind of best to market for agencies and tohow do we actually sell these agencies that scale? And so what Ross end updoing is calling? I believe I was around five hundred to six hundredagencies within that first year through just this, like repository this, likelist of different agency owners and getting on the phone with them actuallydoing some interviews with them. Understanding like what their biggestpain points are. What solutions are using today and like why the existingsolutions don't solve their problem and that really again help us in form tothings like one. It kept me busy with the long list of features that I had tobuild in the product before we could actually launch it and might go tomarket successfully and then to the different features that we could callout in our marketing. That way, we could actually advertise in market hadscale and catch a marker's attention, because we now know hey here. The topthree features a markers looking for in a social media tool that doesn't existtoday. Okay, so when it came to actually launching this, is it asimilar story to the the previous version you had going to product huntgoing to indy hackers getting a a page up and getting free users or war? Is itdifferent this time? No is different. This time it was more Hanahana combat.So during those initial customer interviews during the cold calls, thatrose was making we converted- maybe ten or so pilot customers from that theyweren't paying us the full down. But the kind of the trade off was like look.You can use the product at this kind of rate. All we ask is that you meet withus once a month and give US product feedback and make sure that we're onthe right path, and so that's where, like the initial ten customers camefrom, and then we eventually started experimenting with ads and we'rerunning, really small campaigns. So, let's say a hundred dollar campaignhere, two hundred Dar campaign there just to try and see if we could get anysort of traction that we could then scale and we were trying. Google Odwarwe're trying facebo or try and twitter linked in and nothing was reallyworking and we almost actually got to the point where we shut the businessdown so well. This was in September of two thousand and eighteen, we kind ofsaid a goal for ourselves. For like look, I don't know if this is going towork out like we've tried, really forcing it by doing cold calls- and youknow people are interested, but no one's really painful price. In the timeit just doesn't seem right and it's really difficult and like if we can'tget to ten thousand rnor by December. Maybe we just shut the business downand you know we go separate ways and call a day, and you know we got superfortunate and that we set up this AD in October on face book targeting agenciesand the main Carrat that we were selling was white labeling. So werealized, Hey. Agencies want to white label our product with their ownbranding their own logo, because they can actually charge their clients more.My saying it's their own platform- and so this is kind of a last to effort-were like, let's just throw three hundred lars, been sad like it'ssomething, we've heard a lot. Maybe this will actually like resonate withagency owners and sure enough, almost overnight our business change and wejust had a ton of leads of customers saying or prospect saying hey. I wantto demo this. I want to learn more about what this product is and weactually fell short of our NK Mro goal for the end of the year, but we gotextremely close to it and we're growing by. I believe it's about twenty totwenty five percent month of per month at that point. So in this is like endof two thousand and eighteen and now you're in a million annual run right.So obviously it's grown about eight fold. Something like that. I withrefold, take us through that Chunk of growth. So obviously your team expands,I know also reading indy hackers- it's like an inside in your company here,ten people working for you, so that was o the team has grown. How do you scaleand manage and hire, and is it all just that face book an still driving allthose new customers? You know it's a pretty large percentage of it. We'vegotten pretty fortunate that we have some awesome customers that are nowreferring us to other customers and so about fifty percent of our customersthat sign up now on a monthly basis, come from either referral or organic,and then the other fifty percent are coming from our advertising and effortson Face Book and we've shifted our our target, like our targeting a little bitand now about half of our atpins going towards generative leads that willactually go through a demo with our sales team. The other half is focused Oon just self service and putting our...

...product out in front of customers andjust getting them to kind of sign up on their own start using the productwithout actually talking to anyone on our came, and how did the team growbecause I know hiring is a challenge. We actually running a company as well.It is absolutely yes, we actually, we hired our first employee in June of thethousand and nineteen, so you know after making it through two thousandand eighteen, almost going out of business, we were still head foundforbid. We went through an accelerator program here in Bolder Colorado calledboom town, which I think really helped us set the foundation and figure out.There is a bigger opportunity for this, and you know no one has really ownedthe agency space and because that I think, there's an opportunity to raisemoney and like bro this to be an actual c back business, and so we ended uphiring our first sales person in gin, because that was kind of like where abiggest bottle neck was in two thousand and nineteen. We then raised a smallangel round of a hundred and seventy five tousand just from local angelshere in Colorado in August of of two thousand and nineteen, and then we kindof proved out of this theory. So we have this idea of like hey. We havethis this face book out and it's working coming about small scale, we'regetting A to Tex Ri on it. Our payback period was about a month at that timeterms of, like our tack to our you, know, monthly subscription, and so thenumbers made a lot of sense and the thought was like if we can just add alittle bit of money to this, and it continues to scale. We can have areally big business on our hands here, and so we raise that hundred andseventy five sand to just prove that out and everything scalled exactly aswe were expecting to, and so we said. Okay, I guess we can do that with twohundred thousand. What could we do with? Let's say a million dollars, and so weset out to raise more formal CEDRON in October, two thousand and nineteen andthen ended up closing that in January and raised one point, five billion andthen that just gave us the field to double down on our acquisition channels,but then of course, grow the team kind of in all areas of the business. Sowhat's it like? Raising money, the way you did because that's a big transitionfrom boot, strapped to angels, to seed or a round that means you know notrunning the company means pitching and means doing presentations. It meansputting together documents with financial figures, and you know NicePower, point presentations and so on and so forth right. How did you findthat, as I'm assuming the CO founder you're, the one doing a lot of that aswell yeah? It was extremely time consuming and really difficult, and youknow it's worth noting that that time when we're raising the SEATAND, I wasthe only person working on the product right so like everyone that we hadhired. The one person we had hired in June Andrew was on her sales team as anaccount executive, and then we hired an SCR Becka in December while we're inthe middle of raising their round. Who is an SD, and so during this process,I'm trying to make sure there aren't any bugs in the platform and make surethe platform a stable when the project is still continuing to progress. But,as you mentioned, a majority of my time is focused on getting our financialstogether and building a deck and pitching investors and just managinghonestly emails and responding to investors and making sure that we'resane top of mind and is yeah is extremely difficult and I think reallystressful for me just seeing that the product was kind of sating stagnant fora bit. For the first time since I started the company, while I was justout kind of doing the road show China raise money, much exciting, though,when the money does close- and you know you can now spend it, but how does itfeel like having a boss? In inverted commas? You've got bosses now withinvestors. How do you feel any different pressures to perform at acertain speed now that you might not have otherwise? I think it's honestlybeen great. I think it's helped us think a bit bigger picture and see thebigger opportunity in front of us. I mean we're fortunate and that we stillhave board control, so we gave up one board seat and then Ross myself withhave board seats. So you know if there ever was an issue where we didn't agree.We'd still have the ability to kind of choose the direction we want to go in,but there hasn't been a situation yet where we haven't agreed with our boardand our investors, we've been really deliberate about finding investors thatbelieve in the vision that we believe in, I think sometimes money can beblinding and folks to say, yeah. You know what we don't see I die but like.Let me just take this money and well figure it out later and we'll work itout. I just don't think that's the right approach. You know we were reallyfortunate and that we had about two point: five million soft circled forour seed round, and so we're able to pick and choose which investors weworked with, because we only took ole point five million. So there's a fewinvestors that we did not go forward with. I think because of that we wereable to find the right investors that were previous operators. They brandcompanies of their own. They know what it's like they've been through theringer, and I think just just taking that approach. We've been reallyfortunate having a board and a group of investors that completely back thedirection we're going in and the decisions that we make is that whereNoah comes into this as well or is he a special case so actually connect withnow a while back yeah? This is, I T I...

...was back in the really days when Iwasn't sure if we were going after agencies or going after e commerce andthat's why I initially connect with Noah and it's kind of a funny story. Soyou NOA's fairly well known, he has his own very large audience. He publishesyou tube videos and Podcast for folks that are familiar with them, and I waslistening to one of this podcast and he always ends his podcast of the question,and so I just sent him a tweet and answered his question to his podcastand the next day. He messages me he's like Hey, like what's cloud campaign?Are you building this on? Your own seems really interesting like how do weget involved and that's how the conversation started and yeah this was.I think this is in two thousand and eighteen, so this is like right aroundwhen the company was going out of business and like we were really surewhat was going to happen and like no is just focused on keeping me accountableand he's like Dudy. If you want to make this work, you got to put an effort andlike pick up the phone, stop billing product and just sell this thing andyeah. I think it was really helpful and honestly, just like the motivation ofhaving him push me was was good at the time and he came on as an adviser to sothat's more formalized roll, and that happened before you raised funding. SoI guess that was almost like the start of you looking for investors that couldbe strategic and help you with growth as well. Yeah, it's an extent, so noahdidn't actually invest, but he was more of just like a mentor advisor role. Youknow it's funny as I I had offered Noah advisory shares at the time I was likehey. I really appreciate you helping me so much and I want to compensate youfor it, like, let's formalize, an a visor, gramen and I'll, give you someequity in the company and he he wasn't interested he's like no dude, likedon't give me into your company, I'm just happy to help like I love thegrind. I love the like. I love the fact that you're just going for this, so youjust keep doing you and I'll be here to help. So I think we got extremely luckythat someone is prolific and well establishes. No cagion was willing tojust help for for the goodness of it. That sounded like the words you woulduse to you just you do you and any else, okay. So as we moved to the end of theindede here, I know what's on the cards, I'm guessing just continuing growth andexpanding the team and and improving product at some point, maybe raisinganother round. Is that the that's? The typical plan is that your plan yeah?You know, I think it's definitely definitely in the cards. As youmentioned, we just crossed the million dollar run rate, which I think is anexciting mile stone, there's obviously a lot to still accomplish, but I thinkit gives us the opportunity to lift our heads up a little bit and start tothink a bigger picture and figure out where we want to go in the next year ortwo, and one thing that we noticed is social mean management is just one ofthe issues that agencies have. I think a lot of agencies struggle with youknow. How do I envoie my clients like? Where am I supposed to host theirwebsite? If I'm doing that like? Is there a good agency tool for emailmarketing, and this is something that we ask for all the time? Is Our agencycustomers come to us and like look, we love your social lemage product, butwe're using Xiz for email. Is that something you guys want to integrateinto your producers? That's me, you can add, and for the bigger opportunity,lives his building this platform for marketing agencies where, if enagencies trying to grow, if they're just getting started, you know cloudcampaign is the place for them where they can just put in a credit card, andwithin twenty minutes they can start on boarding their clients. They can manageall their social campaigns. They can manage all their email markingcampaigns know whatever. It might be. That's that's kind of the direction wewant to go in and that, of course requires pretty significant investmentin product, and I think that kind of raises a question of like. Do we raisea series a or do we continue just investing based off our our revenue andwe're not we're not entirely sure yet we're starting to build up a model forthe next couple of years here and really see like? Is it possible to justbuild it based off our revenue and you know not dilute anyone on the teamanymore or should we go raise a series a, but I think either way that themissions the same and I think that's a pretty big opportunity in front of usawesome what's exciting times. I feel like we're hearing. Maybe only pays twoof ten in the growth of cloud campaign, so it's exciting to hear that originstory and thanks for sharing it a right and it's been a fun ride, and it'sgreat to hear that you know it was started as something turned intosomething completely different lot completely different, but somewhatdifferent and the people that have come through like Noah, like your co founderthat if you know kind of made a difference and helped you move forwardwith it. A good luck too for the future. I I think you're in a a busy space, butyou found a sweet sponte with agencies there and but also there's somethingabout your software. I know from my experience with it to I've used a fewscheduling social tools. I just found yours the simplest. I like the big, youknow, click this to do this and that's all I have to do you know. So I appreciate that and you know lookforward to to watching it grow as well. So last question any website other thana cloud campaign. I oh you want to...

...recommend about yourself or, and alsoyou know anywhere. You want to send people to yeah. I mean you mentioned itduring the show, but indie hackers is a great resource. I honestly started thecompany out of Indi Hackers and now I've come full circle and I was ontheir podcast last year and I talked to court Lin a decent amount, theirfounder, so I think that's always a great resource for for folks that arejust getting started and don't really know you know where to begin like howdo you incorporate a company? How do you charge for your product gettingfeedback on your landy page? I think that's just a great resource and, asyou mentioned, we're pretty transparent on there. So we share all of ourrevenue numbers our website, traffic and different updates, and so, ifthere's anything helpful for for folks, they can always go check out our indiactors page and then I also blocked on medium from time to time. Just at Ryanborn and I'll typically go deeper into insides there. So, like this past year,we start down the process of acquiring a company and we actually backed out ofit and decided not to do it, and so I shared the whole journey on there andwhy we didn't do the acquisition, and so, if there's anything, that's youknow of interest that is probably the best place to die deeper into it. Okay,interesting all right, so you've got cloud, campaigned that io yourcompanies page on Indie hackers and it was at Ryan born on medium. IS THAT YEP?I believe. That's it. If you just are trying born a medium, it should showokay, we'll put the link in the show notes as well. So like thanks for yinga prey. Take your time yeah, I think so much for having I ar. I appreciate it thanks for listening to Yar's podcastfor more episodes visit, Yaro Dat long and subscribe on. I tunes or Google T.

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