Having unlocked “the first scalable revenue channel in 10 years” BounceX has become a powerhouse in the world of tech and entrepreneurship.
The company’s CEO, Ryan Urban, sat down with TechDay to share his insights on what it took to turn his idea into a business worth millions.
Along with building the right team, securing the company’s first enterprise customer and staying disciplined, Urban relays his key strategies for startup success so you may follow suit.
Was there a specific instance or event that spurred the initial idea for BounceX? What kind of need did you see that wasn't being served?
I answer this question so differently now than I used to. The initial idea for a new company or product just doesn’t matter that much, in all honesty. If you want to build a great business, it’s going to be closer to a seven to ten year process--and at year seven, it’s going to look nothing like the original idea. If it looks something like the original idea, it means your business is not doing well. Stubbornly sticking with that idea will leave you in a world of hurt. Find a need that isn’t being served but know that these needs change. Your company has to grow and develop if you don’t want to end up commoditized with a million competitors.
Despite BounceX solving a a very real, ubiquitous problem for marketers, was there any pushback in first launching the company and attempting to acquire users?
If you don’t get pushback when launching a new company, it means you’re not pushing it far enough. Think about it like the Mario Andretti quote, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” You want a lot of pushback, then you can keep going until you figure out where the boundary is.
When we started, barely one percent of companies were trying to capture emails or using overlays. We basically trained the internet and its users to do this. Almost everyone in the U.S. has opted into a BounceX email capture at some point. So, of course, there were reactions to that, but then we showed results, and people realized that their websites could actually be thoughtful and could come to life to really talk to people.
What were your primary methods of reaching your target audience in the beginning? How did you start to build awareness for BounceX?
The first step here is to be innovative. If you’re doing things that are interesting and that are tied to revenue rather than buzzwords, you’ll get organic inbounds. At the beginning, BounceX had no white papers, no content, no paid media, no social media and no outbound sales, yet we were getting one to two thousand inbounds a month. The key is to have an interesting product, great partnerships with other vendors and, most importantly, a team that’s willing to hustle. You can’t be afraid to put your product out there. Once you have those original clients, work with them for client referrals and you’ll watch your client base grow.
As BounceX grew rather rapidly, what sort of growing pains came along with this and how did you overcome them? From a marketing perspective, what major changes were associated with becoming a big company?
As you grow, there are two things you really need to be wary of: don’t grow too fast and don’t hire the wrong leaders. A lot of companies see a growing client base and automatically start hiring like crazy. You see this interesting reaction that as brand awareness grows, the talent actually waters down. Don’t get me wrong, you need to fulfil your hiring needs, but you have to hire the right people, too, and that takes time. To get it right, companies need to put emphasis on talent, including building a big talent acquisition team. Be disciplined about who you put in each role.
What are the primary things you can attribute to BounceX's success?
First and foremost, our success comes from putting the right asses in the right seats. More eloquently put, we hire the best people for each position from an experience and personality perspective. If you have the right people, you won’t need a lot of bureaucracy or middle management. You can let people have autonomy and ownership and let them make the company better.
After that, focus on your customers. At BounceX, we’re a customer revenue-driven company. We are laser-focused on delivering revenue for the people we work with. It’s forced us to be super disciplined and to ensure that we have a great product-market fit. I always say that companies need to cut the menu. At a great restaurant, they have a few amazing signature dishes that they do better than anyone else. At diners, you can get the same cheap pancakes you’d get anywhere. Be a great restaurant, not a diner and you’ll find success.
What would you say are the keys to getting a company off the ground? What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are struggling to turn their idea into a reality?
The absolute, number one most important part of getting a company off the ground is getting your first enterprise customer. How do you do this? Find people or businesses who would make great customers, then hound them until they’re willing to try your product for free. After that, provide value to them and you’ll be able to charge them money. That’s it. You have to hustle until your first customer and then your first set of customers. You won’t be able to charge a lot at the beginning, so make sure your product works and works well.
What's coming up next for BounceX?
In the past few years we’ve successfully opened up a new revenue channel, which is great. But by the end of the year, we want to be the third marketing pillar alongside Google and Facebook. We want to become a ubiquitous part of the marketing stack in which we’re the most valuable partner for our clients.