Hey! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?
Hello, I’m Robin, the founding father of SmartCue – a demo automation platform to assist software program gross sales groups create customized demo libraries and shut offers quicker.
I’ve a pc science diploma from India (2003) and an MBA from Willamette College in Salem, Oregon (2010). Publish my MBA, I spent 10+ years with startups of assorted sizes, all within the B2B SaaS house promoting to Enterprise purchasers, largely within the US.
As founder & CEO of SmartCue, I put on all of the hats you may think about – CEO, CMO, CHRO, CFO, and the workplace errand boy! SmartCue, then again, performs a selected position for enterprise gross sales groups – serving to them create a repository or library of customized product demos that may assist them shut their offers quicker.
We at the moment have 10+ pilots working, each free and paid, and are getting rave critiques for SmartCue and the way it’s including worth to our patrons.
What’s your backstory, and the way did you provide you with the concept?
In my earlier position as a Options Guide or Options Architect, my staff and I had been liable for gross sales coaching, which has now reworked into the buzzy time period Gross sales Enablement.
It was simply plain Gross sales Coaching or Gross sales Readiness again then. However even then, I watched gross sales reps battle to do justice to our merchandise with their vanilla, cookie-cutter demos and pitches.
My staff and I carried out a number of options, whether or not LMS options like Highspot or instruments like Reprise or HelpHero. Nonetheless, none of them labored in making certain that we had constant product demos tailor-made to the client’s ache level.
The large aha second for me was after I heard one of many reps say, “These effectivity instruments & processes don’t assist me in any respect. They solely add friction to my workflow! And we gross sales people stay & die by the quarter, so how do you count on us to undertake these instruments in the event that they don’t assist us now!?”
Quick ahead to 2020 – the pandemic hit, and digital promoting has turn into a lot extra commonplace. A aspect impact of digital promoting was that gross sales reps may take not simply wine & dine or schmooze their prospects. That they had a brief 30-minute Zoom name to persuade their prospects that their answer or product solves the prospect’s ache factors. And NOW – the Product HAD to shine! Product demos had been now an much more vital piece within the gross sales course of.
That basically was the right storm for me to try to remedy this downside of standardized but customized product demos. I went again to first ideas, and somewhat than complicating what I wanted to unravel, I noticed that I wanted to make it extraordinarily straightforward for the gross sales rep to ship product demos. That’s when all of it clicked for me – if we’re to construct any environment friendly product for the gross sales groups, the bedrock must be – Scale back or eradicate friction within the gross sales reps’ workflow. And that’s what culminated in SmartCue.
Take us by way of the method of constructing the primary model of your product.
Constructing SmartCue was (and continues to be!) fairly the journey. As a startup founder, I shortly realized that there are numerous sleepless nights, and low turns into your finest good friend. But it surely was all value it once we lastly launched our product.
The method started with a variety of market analysis and buyer interviews (100+ interviews with gross sales leaders!). We needed to grasp the ache factors of B2B gross sales groups and what they had been in search of in a demo software program.
We additionally needed to make sure that our product would stand out from the competitors. That’s when the concept for SmartCue was born. We realized that personalizing demo experiences for every prospect can impression gross sales groups and their closure charges.
Subsequent got here the prototyping part, the place we had a variety of enjoyable. We obtained to mess around with completely different options and designs.
One in every of my private favorites was once we examined a function that will make a digital unicorn seem through the demo – an inside joke of how we’re on our technique to turning into a unicorn and may help our prospects get there as nicely 😛. It was a success with our staff, however sadly, it didn’t make the ultimate minimize, which was additionally apparent!
But it surely was reminder that you must be prepared to experiment and have enjoyable as a startup founder.
Lastly, we needed to handle the authorized stuff, which included incorporation, laws, tax filings, and all that jazz. It was a little bit of a headache, however it’s all a part of the startup life. It was not a cheap course of, however we managed to safe funding by way of private financial savings and a few small checks from angel buyers.
I’m excited to see how B2B gross sales groups will use SmartCue to shut extra offers. It’s a dream come true for me as a startup founder, and I can’t wait to see what the long run holds for SmartCue.
Describe the method of launching the enterprise.
We formally launched SmartCue on ProductHunt in September 2022. And it was fairly the expertise!
As a solo founder, I needed to put on many hats, one in all them being the “advertising and marketing staff.” I shortly realized that I wanted to get inventive if I needed to face out. First, I knew I needed to construct a group earlier than the launch. So, I diligently saved my shut family and friends up to date about our imminent launch by way of my month-to-month publication and had clear asks from all of them. Secondly, I knew I wanted to get a powerful ‘hunter’ to launch us and was over the moon when Kevin William David (one of many OG hunters on ProductHunt) agreed to hunt us!
I additionally reached out to my community, together with buddies, household, and even former classmates from highschool (sure, I dug that deep). I requested them to upvote, remark, and share my product on launch day.
On launch day, I awoke early, made my espresso, and began refreshing the ProductHunt web page each 5 seconds. It was nerve-wracking, however I knew it was value it. After which it occurred, SmartCue hit the entrance web page and have become Product of the Day! I couldn’t imagine it, I felt like a rockstar. My family and friends saved their promise and helped me to get there.
On reflection, I did a number of issues that helped me stand out on ProductHunt. One in every of them was to construct a buzz earlier than the launch, which helped me to draw early adopters. Secondly, I reached out to my community, which helped me to get extra upvotes and shares on launch day. And lastly, I promised digital unicorns, which helped me to face out and be remembered by the ProductHunt group.
I wrote intimately about it right here and created a playbook to launch and turn into Product of the Day on PH.
Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain prospects?
For the reason that launch of SmartCue, we now have discovered that constructing a powerful group, creating a private model for the founder, and being genuine in our outreach has been key to attracting and retaining prospects.
Constructing a powerful group has been essential to the success of SmartCue. Now we have prioritized participating with our prospects, understanding their wants and ache factors, and utilizing that suggestions to enhance our product.
Now we have additionally actively fostered a way of group amongst our customers by making a Substack publication to maintain people up to date, a public product roadmap for our prospects to affect the product, and a Buyer Advisory group on Slack the place they will share ideas, ask questions, and supply suggestions. This has helped to create a loyal buyer base and improve word-of-mouth advertising and marketing.
As well as, creating a private model for the founder has additionally been an important consider attracting prospects. On my Youtube channel, by being clear and open about my journey as a solo founder, I’ve been in a position to join with my target market on a private degree. This has helped to create belief and credibility with potential prospects, which has led to extra gross sales.
I’ve additionally tried exhausting to be genuine in my outreach. Whereas it’s exhausting and time-consuming, I made it some extent to personalize my outreach and tailor it to every prospect’s particular wants and ache factors. This has helped to extend the effectiveness of our gross sales efforts and construct stronger relationships with our prospects.
How are you doing right now and what does the long run appear like?
A lot of issues are occurring at SmartCue! We’re rising quick – from a buyer standpoint and an worker standpoint! We launched SmartCue on ProductHunt in September and had been pumped about being Product of the Day. We’re additionally elevating a pre-seed spherical, so potential angels hit me up!
We’ve additionally signed on a bunch of latest purchasers over the previous 2-3 months and are gearing up for some unbelievable stuff from a product perspective subsequent yr – we’re constructing performance to proceed to make a gross sales rep’s life simpler extra environment friendly and to assist them shut offers quicker!
By beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something significantly useful or advantageous?
Constructing a staff as a solo founder is a course of and it might take a while to seek out the correct match. Do not be afraid to check out completely different approaches and be open to studying and adapting as you go.
Very first thing I noticed was — do not be afraid to delegate. Simply since you’re the boss does not imply you must do every little thing your self. Delegating duties will release your time and power to concentrate on the issues that solely you are able to do. And bear in mind, your staff is there to assist – they are not simply there to fetch you espresso (except they volunteered for it, through which case, go forward and delegate that process too).
Additionally, be open to completely different views and approaches. As a solo founder, you have most likely developed your method of doing issues, however that does not imply it is the one method. Be open to listening to new concepts and approaches out of your staff – it is like having a gaggle of superheroes with completely different powers working in direction of the identical aim.
And lastly, be sure you have a transparent imaginative and prescient and mission for your corporation. It will assist your staff perceive what you are working in direction of and the way they will contribute. And do not be afraid to share your imaginative and prescient and mission along with your staff – it may possibly assist construct a way of possession and dedication to the success of the enterprise. Plus, it is at all times good to have a little bit little bit of “why” behind the “what” – similar to how the Avengers needed to save the world from Thanos (sorry, I needed to throw in one other popular culture reference).
So, to sum it up, constructing a staff as a solo founder is all about delegation, open-mindedness, and having a transparent imaginative and prescient. With the correct method, you may carry collectively a dynamic and proficient staff that may assist your corporation soar. Simply remember to have a little bit enjoyable alongside the best way – in spite of everything, constructing a enterprise is a journey, not a dash (except you are in a rush to avoid wasting the world from an alien invasion, through which case, go forward and dash). Good luck!
What platform/instruments do you employ for your corporation?
Our stack at SmartCue is fairly normal for lots of startups our dimension:
Stripe – for fee processing
Intercom – for buyer assist, information base, and stay chat assist
Webflow – for our web site
AWS – for our cloud internet hosting wants
Figma – for all our design collaboration
Microsoft Readability & Mixpanel – for consumer habits and insights into our consumer’s journey
Hubspot – as our CRM
Google Suite – for e mail and productiveness (slide, sheets, docs)
TL;DV – for assembly recording and transcription
As we develop, we hope to have the ability to use ZoomInfo, Gong, and LinkedIn Gross sales Navigator for our Go-To-Market movement so we will goal, analyze and attain out to people in an efficient method.
What have been probably the most influential books, podcasts, or different assets?
Presently studying – Arduous Issues About Arduous Issues by Ben Horowitz and On The Street by Jack Kerouac (little little bit of wanderlust)
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
Born To Run – Chris MacDougall
Sapiens & Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari
Forty Guidelines of Love – Elif Shafak
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Trip of a Lifetime – Bob Iger
Favourite Podcast Episode – Naval on Joe Rogan’s podcast;
Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who wish to get began or are simply beginning out?
Being a solo founder will be intimidating. I’m the one driving the ship, and lots of days, it seems like a variety of strain to make all of it work. However after nearly 2 years at it, I feel it’s attainable to construct a powerful enterprise, at the same time as a solo founder.
One of many key issues I’ve realized is that I can’t await alternatives to return to me – I’ve to exit and create them myself. Whether or not it’s reaching out to potential companions or prospects, networking at occasions, or exploring new channels and markets.
One other vital tip is to remain targeted and prioritize your duties. As a solo founder, you’re sporting many hats, and it may be straightforward to get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to set clear objectives and priorities and concentrate on the duties that may considerably impression your corporation. And don’t be afraid to delegate or outsource duties that you just’re not expert at or don’t have the time for – it should release your time and power to concentrate on what you’re good at.
And lastly, be at liberty to ask for assist or hunt down mentors or advisors. Once I began as a solo founder, I hesitated to ask for assist as a result of I assumed it made me look weak. However the reality is, nobody has all of the solutions, and it’s okay to ask for steerage or recommendation. It may be among the finest issues you are able to do for your corporation.
Are you seeking to rent for sure positions proper now?
We’re rising and hiring aggressively! All our positions are listed on Angel.
The place can we go to be taught extra?
You probably have any questions or feedback, drop a remark beneath!
Founding father of SmartCue
Need to discover extra concepts that earn a living?
Hey! 👋 I am Pat Partitions, the founding father of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute e mail publication full of enterprise concepts and money-making alternatives, backed by real-life case research.