Early-Stage Founder 25: Brian Casel on How to Validate and Pre-Sell Your SaaS Idea

Brian Casel on How to Validate and Pre-Sell Your Idea

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For the next 3 weeks, I’ll be releasing an episode on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to gear up for MicroConf on April 9th. These episodes will be focused on self-funded, often solo-founders. Some are on the smaller side, while others have ARRs over 7-figures, but they all have valuable lessons to share for any founder.

Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Brian Casel, the founder of Audience Ops, a startup that makes content marketing easier for busy founders, by offering done-for-you services as well as software tools. 

Most people assume that running a service business means you’re selling your time for money and that it is impossible to scale with healthy margins, but Brian has proven that doesn’t have to be the case. 

While we get into the ins and outs of how he has productized his services to allow him to grow, where we really dive in during this chat is the process he followed to validate and launch the software component of his business, the Ops Calendar.

I’m sure you’ve heard countless experts preach about the importance of validating your software idea by pre-selling it before building it, but rarely do they get into the details. Luckily for us, Brian gives us the step-by-step process he followed to do just that.

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Early-Stage Founder 24: Mike Taber on How to Balance Product and Marketing

Mike Taber on How to Balance Product and Marketing

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For the next 4 weeks, I’ll be releasing an episode on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to gear up for MicroConf on April 9th. These episodes will be focused on self-funded, often solo-founders. Some are on the smaller side, while others have ARRs over 7-figures, but they all have valuable lessons to share for any founder.

If you already have a team or have raised money, don’t skip these weeks. To succeed as a self-funded startup, you need to be hyper focused and these guests share the tactics that have allowed them to build a business with limited resources.

And if you are just starting out, then these guests will help give you a plan of action so you can avoid some of the same mistakes they made.

Regardless of where you’re at with your startup, I know you’ll get actionable lessons out of this series.

Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Mike Taber, co-host of MicroConf and the Startups for the Rest of Us Podcast, founder of Moon River Software, and the author behind The Single Founder Handbook.

In our chat, we talk about Mike’s new startup, Bluetick, and cover everything from how he validated the idea to why having a pre-existing audience isn’t necessarily a big advantage, but where we really dive in is how he handles the balancing act of improving the product while also marketing it.

If you struggle to know where to focus your limited efforts, then this is the episode for you.

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Early-Stage Founder 23: Christoph Engelhardt on Doubling Your MRR with Email Marketing

Christoph Engelhardt on Doubling Your MRR with Email Marketing

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m doing something a little bit different as I gear up for MicroConf in April.

MicroConf was started by Rob Walling and Mike Taber and is an amazing conference for self-funded software companies that I look forward to every year because the community is great and the talks are invaluable.

So what I’m going to do is release 2 episodes a week for the 4 weeks leading up to MicroConf and these episodes will be focused on self-funded, often solo-founders. Some are on the smaller side, while others have ARRs approaching 7-figures, but they all have valuable lessons to share for any founder.

If you already have a team or have raised money, don’t skip these weeks. To succeed as a self-funded startup, you need to be hyper focused and these guests share the tactics that have allowed them to build a business with limited resources.

If you are just starting out, then these guests will help give you a plan of action so you can avoid some of the same mistakes they made.

Regardless of where you’re at with your startup, I know you’ll get actionable lessons out of these next 8 episodes.

For the first interview in the self-funded series, I’m talking with Christoph Engelhardt, the founder of LinksSpy and Author of the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook. Today he shares why email marketing is such a powerful channel for SaaS startups and lays out simple but effective strategies you can implement in your startup today.

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Early-Stage Founder 22: Collin Davis on Fueling Growth with Tradeshows and Partnerships

Collin Davis on Fueling Growth with Tradeshows and Partnerships

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Collin Davis, the CTO of the automotive video tech company, WheelsTV, where he launched Dealer Video Showroom, a startup within a startup as he calls it.

In our chat, we cover everything from how he got early validation for the product to how he and his team are preparing for rapid growth, but where we really dive in is how they achieved that growth using trade shows and partnerships. 

These are strategies I don’t hear enough startups talking about, so when I had the chance to pick Collin’s brain about how he has applied them at Dealer Video Showroom, I jumped at the chance.

If you’re tired of hearing about the latest and greatest growth hack and want tried and true strategies for growing your startup, then this is the episode for you.
 

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Early-Stage Founder 21: Rob Walling on Life After Acquisition

Rob Walling on Life After Acquisition

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Rob Walling, whose resume is hard to cover in this short intro, but I’ll do my best. He was most recently the founder of Drip, a lightweight marketing automation tool that was acquired by LeadPages in 2016.

Before that, he bought, grew, and sold the keyword tool HitTail, is a co-founder of FounderCafe, an online community of entrepreneurs helping each other succeed, author of Start Small, Stay Small, co-host of the Startups for the Rest of Us podcast, and co-founder of MicroConf, the world’s biggest conference for the world’s smallest self-funded software companies. He also has bought and sold many, many other smaller apps and websites along the way.

If you couldn’t tell, Rob embodies the term prolific when it comes to building companies and sharing his knowledge, and is one of the driving forces behind the self-funded startup movement.

Since Rob is so prolific, I wanted to focus on something he hasn’t talked about as much: what happens after you sell your company. In most cases, you don’t ride off into the sunset with bags of money. In fact, you almost always are required to stay onboard, sometimes for up to 3 years.

In this interview today, Rob shares what the post-acquisition transition was like, what could have made everything easier in hindsight, and his advice for founders who see an exit in their future.

I’ve looked up to Rob ever since I read Start Small, Stay Small years ago, so having him on the show was a real treat for me, but I think this is an episode you’ll get a lot out of as well.

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Early-Stage Founder 20: Christopher Gimmer on Bootstrapping to $20k MRR in One Year

Christopher Gimmer on Bootstrapping to $20k MRR in One Year

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Christopher Gimmer, the co-founder and CEO of Snappa, a SaaS tool that lets marketers and entrepreneurs create graphics in seconds.

Chris has only been in the startup world since 2014, but in that time he built a Bootstrap theme store up to $10k/mo in sales before selling it and bootstrapped his current startup to $20k MRR in the first year while only charging customers $10 to $15 a month.

In our chat, we cover everything from how Christopher made the decision to go all-in with entrepreneurship to how he validated the idea for Snappa, but where we really dive in is discussing the exact steps he followed to achieve such fast growth in the first year of the business, and the unexpected challenge he and his team faced along the way.

You don’t want to miss this one because Christopher holds nothing back.

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Early-Stage Founder 19: Randy Rayess on Building a Startup by Scratching Your Own Itch

Randy Rayess on Building a Startup by Scratching Your Own Itch

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Randy Rayess, the Co-Founder of Outgrow, a growth marketing platform that enables marketers to build interactive content/tools to increase customer engagement and boost demand generation. 

Outgrow is Randy’s second startup, and in our chat today we cover how the idea for Outgrow came from running his first startup, VenturePact, how they dogfooded their software to help grow the startup, practical tips other startups can use to accelerate their own growth, and how Randy and his partner prioritized their hiring decisions as they grew.

Randy has a ton of experience growing startups as he works with them every day to help get results from his software, and in this interview he doesn’t hold anything back.

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Early-Stage Founder 18: Andrew Dymski on Becoming an Authority by Podcasting

Andrew Dymski on Becoming an Authority by Podcasting

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Andrew Dymski, the CEO and Co-Founder at DoInbound, a company that provides the software, processes, and training to grow your inbound agency.

I spoke with Andrew’s co-founder, Gray MacKenzie on Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, and absolutely loved what they were doing to help agencies grow, but as I dug deeper it became clear just how good these guys are at growing and building their own business.

I’m also a bit podcast obsessed and was blown away that they’ve been able to put out 4 different podcast series to cover all of the information their target market could need.

Today we dive into why Andrew found it worth the investment to produce 4 podcasts, how they use those podcasts to drive their content marketing, and how they make sure all of that interest actually helps increase their bottom line.

If you’re struggling to reach your target market or feel like your content isn’t standing out from the crowd, then this is the episode for you.

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Early-Stage Founder 17: Kai Davis on Growing Your Startup With a Podcast Tour

Kai Davis on Growing Your Startup with a Podcast Tour

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Today, I’m talking with Kai Davis, the founder of Double Your Audience, a consultancy that helps business owners manage their most valuable relationships, build new ones, and promote their business.

In our chat, Kai shares how to grow your startup by going on a podcast tour. A lot of founders are wising up to the value of building their audience and authority by appearing on podcasts, but few are taking full advantage of this opportunity. Kai is here to fix that by telling you why podcast tours are so valuable, how to get started, and how to be sure you get an ROI.

If you know you need a bigger audience, but aren’t sure where to begin or aren’t getting results, then this is the episode for you.

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Early-Stage Founder 16: Drew Sanocki on The 3 Ways to Grow Your SaaS Startup

Drew Sanocki on The 3 Ways to Grow Your SaaS Startup

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Today, on the Early-Stage Founder Show, I’m talking with Drew Sanocki, the CMO of Teamwork, a SaaS company that creates business management apps to help streamline processes, connect with customers, and collaborate with your team.

Soon after getting his MBA from Stanford, Drew founded an online design retailer and quickly grew it to a leader in the space. After eight profitable years of operation, he sold the company and started consulting with other businesses, including a 10-month stint where he took an 8-figure business from bankruptcy to profitability. And today Drew helps build growth systems for 8 and 9 figure retailers.

While his background is in e-commerce, the framework he operates within applies just as well to SaaS startups and he is getting his chance to prove that by coming in as Teamwork’s CMO.

It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in tactics while losing sight of the big picture and today, Drew is going to help simplify things by laying out the 3 ways you can grow your SaaS startup and how he is implementing that plan at Teamwork.

If you ever feel like you’re churning through marketing tactic after marketing tactic without getting real results, then this is the episode for you.

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