Founded four startups, all >$1m revenue, all profitable, sold two, bootstrapped and funded, working on #4 (WP Engine) with 450 employees & hyper-growth in the WordPress Hosting space.
Earned more than 100,000 customers over four companies, both high-volume touchless sales and >$1m Enterprise sales, both bootstrapped and with a warchest of money.
I've personally sold both $1,000,000 Enterprise deals on down to $29/mo high-volume customers. I'm a geek who learned how to be great at sales and marketing, so I can help you do the same.
I've built several metrics-driven multi-million-dollar companies. Although I'm a code geek, I've always been my own CFO and business analyst, and I help other companies understand which metrics are important, goals, and models.
I've bootstrapped, bootstrapped-then-raised, and raised. I've raised a total of $43M as an entrepreneur and invested about a million as an angel.
Personally built a dozen products that made money.
Definitely from someone else with a successful entrepreneurial career in food.
1. You need "smart money," not just money. My wife was an entrepreneur in food for 8 years and did it herself. The amount of bizarre stuff that happens there is unthinkable. Having someone to help see around corners is a secret weapon you want to have.
2. You need someone who understands the mechanics of the business, who understands that turnover every three months in delivery drivers and dishwashers screwing the hostesses in the alley is nothing to worry about. Who understand the pay-back periods and the labor of love.
I think you should absolutely not make it free to purchase through the marketplace. It might be useful to make it free to list, so you can get some inventory.
If you make it free, even if people show up, it's unclear what you've proved.
DO NOT hire a BD person.
First, a startup with <$10m/yr revenue almost surely has nothing to offer another company that is interesting to them for BD. Not enough attention, not enough users, not enough revenue-sharing, etc..
BD only works when BOTH sides move the needle on something important to them, which usually means revenue but it can mean attention or branding or something. If you can't fulfill your end, then it's not BD. It's something else, like trying to be an affiliate.
Also, people who's title in LinkedIn are BD are not the sort of folks used to moving the needle for startups.
I have literally *never* seen a person with the title "BD" at a startup make a difference. Usually they're the subject of ridicule behind closed doors.
Not to say there isn't the person who could. I know a CEO of a startup that currently does $20m/yr and he's the definition of the consummate BD guy. But you cannot bet yourself on finding that unicorn.
Talk to any editor/writer at any place that you'd like to get written up in -- blogger, digital media, or print -- and they'll all tell you they'd rather have a relationship with a founder or C_O than a PR person.
Meaning: *they* will be more receptive to *you* even more so than the PR agency that you spend $5k-$25k/mo on.
Paying a PR agency sometimes gets inches, but rarely makes a difference you can measure on your financial statement. Ask them to track their results and the impact to your business and see what they say. They will take 15 minutes explaining how that's not possible. Correct, that's the point.
So, do something that IS useful -- create genuine relationships with people you want writing about you.
P.S. I do like the idea of an internal social media or even "media relations" person, because it's still internal. Just make sure the CEO/founder does the interviewing.
Dan Pink teaches us that people value experiences over things, and specifically over money.
Send that person a $250 gift cert to share with their spouse/sig-other at one of the top restaurants in their town. For example.
If it is stuff, something creative. Shirts, smirts. We do that too but it's just another shirt.
We send things like a care-package with local Austin foods, a nice pint glass (with our logo, but tasteful) and things like that. Something memorable.
Most marketing people I know didn't start their career in sales, so I disagree with the premise of the question. :-)
Obviously marketing feeds sales -- whether "sales" are human beings or self-service -- so it's helpful to know what "sales" means. But a career is not at all needed.
For the business, the advantage is the *potential* to grow bigger, faster, and the disadvantage is you're taking on new risk.
The real challenge is to solve for what you want from the business, and -- cheesy though I know it sounds -- from life. Do you want to stop running this company some day? Do you want to pull a decent amount of money from the company for 10 years or go for a larger sum? Are you still interested in running a business like this or do you yearn for a new challenge?
Even then, there are many more options than just raising money or not, and what kind of money from what kind of investor.
Therefore, the first thing is to decide what you want -- which is a sort of CEO-therapy -- and then you solve for the path which maximizes the chance of that path, and also takes some risk/money off the table depending on the situation.
You don't actually know what's perfect.
By not shipping, you're preventing yourself from more information and money which informs and funds your ability to get closer to perfect.
Startups inherently are about risk and imperfection. In fact, every single part of a startup is a disaster. There's no choice -- it's too much stuff and not enough time.
Much more on this topic here: http://blog.asmartbear.com/be-yourself.html
You can't control whether someone else wants to have a conversation.
I've been blogging for almost 6 years, now with 40,000 RSS subscribers. I can tell you I have 0% ability to predict which post will be popular, causing lots of retweets and comments, and which are duds. Not time of year, not topic, not how excited I am with the piece, not length.
What that means, to me, is that you write a lot of good stuff and the conversations increase overall, but post-to-post it's necessarily unknowable.
That's OK, that's just the medium.
That's how I'd pitch it.
You tell by just trying!
You tell by just stating the price and see what they do.
There's lots of ways to experiment. For example, raise prices but then use "if you buy before Friday it's only $X." Then you can play with the offer week after week without actually having "raised prices."
It's very difficult. I would start with angels -- I think traditional VCs will not do it at all due to financial regulations and lack of physical presence.
Try AngelList. Try for 500s or other groups which specifically like to invest outside of America.
This was a great call. Direct feedback, straight to the point. Jason had great insights on what we need to work on to grow the business, from pricing to customer acquisition.
Talking to Jason was awesome! He gives it to you straight - he helped craft a pitch idea while also telling me some of my feature ideas were not useful at this stage. Critical feedback I'm thankful for to help focus on the right things. We also talked demographics, sales tactics, features, and above all, TALK TO THE CUSTOMER! Can't go wrong calling Jason.
If you need someone to help you brainstorm around business models or anything related to startups, you need to speak to Jason! Highly recommended!
Always excellent, Jason can speak succinctly on topics of team growth and building a company fast, worth every penny
I have talked to Jason a couple times now as I have gone through the process of starting and building a company. I am amazed the depth of his knowledge and advice at each stage of my journey. Couldn't ask for a better person to talk to.
Jason was great to talk to and walked through several of the ideas, concerns, and approaches I am taking to my business. Look forward to speaking with him again soon. I know it's great for the future of my business and for me as an entrepreneur.
2nd call with Jason... he was able to very quickly identify a couple of sticking points in the business and where I should focus on to get growth. Gave me both great strategy and higher level thinking while helping me feel better and get a better birds eye view.
Had a paradigm shifting conversation about our company's go-to-market position. Amazing call, blew my mind. Thanks so much Jason!
Jason knows his stuff and always provides fantastic, honest feedback.
I got great insights into how to grow my business plus came away with some inspiration too :) Also, it's a worthwhile experience listening to Jason think through problems and generate potential solutions. I learned a lot. Great!
Jason was great - he definitely cleared up some confusing stuff for me regarding an acquisition I'm considering. I feel much more confident about making the best decision now I've spoken to Jason. That one call will probably end up being worth 100's of thousands of dollars to me. Thanks mate!