Founded four startups, all >$1m revenue, all profitable, sold two, bootstrapped and funded, working on #4 (WP Engine) with nearly 400 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 tens of millions 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.
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!
Jason gave us a no-bullshit opinion about our business from the point of view of someone unrelated to us or our industry. This was exactly what we were looking for, and it helped us further clarify our options going forward.
Jason was very helpful. Quick paced call with no BS digging into potential problems and mistakes I was making in the business.
He helped me with planning a phone sales strategy, a better way to measure our churn and segment customers, a missing link in our MVP process, and great insights on who we might need to hire next, as well as clarifying potential with investors.
Such a great call. Jason helped me think through a few potential paths we could take with our business and sales process and helping us avoid a major potential roadblock. He's a seriously smart dude that cuts through the BS and has ton of experience to back his thinking up!
Jason is extremely smart and always provides incredibly useful and actionable advice that impacts key business decisions in a positive way.
Excellent advice as always. Made me take a different approach that saved any hours and drive more revenue. What more can you ask for? Highly recommended.
Wow. Sooo much helpful information. Started with some tough and important questions followed by a ton of advice. Definitely worth the time and I look forward to consulting with Jason again in the future. If you're considering working with Jason, do it!
Jason was lightening fast to provide really focused advice at an important stage. He is able to cut through the options to outline a much simpler and focused plan to get the company to the next stage saving countless hours. Will schedule another follow up call in a month or so. Do yourself a favour and get some advice from Jason.