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The SaaS Venture
37 minutes | Sep 8, 2022
39: Positioning - "Why Choose You?"
A recent tweet from B2B SaaS positioning expert and author April Dunford had the takeaway of "why choose you?" from your product demo. Aaron and Darren discuss positioning in your product demo, messaging, and marketing. In a crowded market with many solutions and choices, you need to understand and leverage what makes you unique and win in competitive comparisons. Here is April's Twitter thread.
56 minutes | Aug 15, 2022
38: The Burn of Churn
We last talked churn in June 2019 on Ep. 8: https://www.thesaasventure.com/episodes/08-churn-figuring-it-out-and-fighting-it
48 minutes | Jul 13, 2022
37: SaaS Marketing in 2022 - Part 2
Part 2 on what Leadferno and Whitespark are doing for marketing in 2022. Aaron talks about exploring paid search, co-webinars and hiring a service for cold outreach to book demos. Darren has been launching a ton lately and talks about their video marketing, landing pages and referrals.
35 minutes | Jun 17, 2022
36: SaaS Marketing in 2022 - Part 1
Darren and Aaron talk about the SaaS marketing strategies for Whitespark and Leadferno in 2022. We covered marketing your SaaS features, podcast interviews and events. In covering just some of what we are doing - we declared this part 1, with part 2 to come! No doubt marketing your SaaS is so important in 2022.
47 minutes | Apr 25, 2022
35: Mining For Growth Opportunities
Looking internally at your data, customer behavior and more can surface growth opportunities for your SaaS. Aaron and Darren discuss how to find these growth opportunities, some of Darren's discoveries and Aaron has a personal health update.
47 minutes | Jan 27, 2022
34: All Aboard User Onboarding
User onboarding in SaaS is a critical part of the user experience. Aaron and Darren look at the process of guiding new users to find value with your software product including sign-up, emails, in-app notifications, support and more. It all needs to work together to onboard a user and lead them to success with your SaaS.
47 minutes | Dec 22, 2021
33: What To Do In 2022
A look ahead at what 2022 holds for Whitespark and Leadferno. Aaron and Darren lay out their hopes and wished for what they can build, accomplish, market and sell in the next year. 2022 should be a year of big growth for both SaaS companies.
41 minutes | Nov 26, 2021
32: Just 6 Weeks
Full show notes coming soon ...
45 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
31: SaaS Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
FULL SHOW NOTES[INTRO music]0:00:11.4 Aaron Weiche: Episode 31, SaaS is a marathon, not a sprint.0:00:16.2 INTRO: Welcome to the SaaS Venture Podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses shared in each episode from Aaron Weiche of Leadferno, and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.0:00:42.2 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture Podcast. I'm Aaron.0:00:45.4 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.0:00:47.0 AW: And if SaaS was a sprint, I would just already be collapsed at the finish line. And I probably wouldn't have finished first in my heat anyway Darren just...0:00:58.4 DS: Yeah, me too.[laughter]0:01:00.6 AW: COVID has taken its toll on my physical well-being. I need to keep working on getting that back under control, so... How have you been? 0:01:10.9 DS: Oh, I've been so busy. I've been...0:01:14.6 AW: Yes you have.0:01:15.4 DS: It's... The last few days have been nice 'cause I'm like, "Oh, just got so much free time now." But the summit, yeah, so we put on another local search summit, 30 speakers, three days, Holly, that is an endeavor. It's a lot of work to put on a virtual conference like that. And so it was all-consuming for the last couple of months, for sure. And all consuming for Jessie Low our marketing manager for the past six to eight months, for sure. And it was very successful. So I thought it was great. We had 3000 registered attendees. Lots of fantastic feedback. I think we did an even better job this year than we did last year, incredible speakers, an incredible talk. So I thought it was great. We came out profitable in the end. So, we're happy to break even because it's more of a marketing play than a money-making thing.0:02:13.2 DS: And a brand exercise, and we're really just trying to build our brand with the summit. And so we definitely got that and we didn't lose money on it. So there was some profit in the end so that was good. We're all a success. I have a post-mortem call scheduled with Jessie this afternoon and Sydney to discuss what went well, what didn't go well, and what changes we'd make for next year. That's what's going on with me. That's it.0:02:40.8 AW: Yeah, no, and I totally get... And you and I were texting a little bit last week during it, and even inside of those three days you had highs and lows, right? 0:02:51.6 DS: Oh man, it's the roller coaster of emotion. It's just like, yeah, I felt kind of low on the second day. I was like, "Oh, why are we doing this? My life is a failure."[laughter]0:03:05.7 DS: And then like day three, at the end of it, I just felt like just so elated with how well it went. That's just the life of a founder.0:03:15.0 AW: Yep, no. Same roller coaster as being a founder, right. I probably should have just taken a screenshot where one of your text was like the low, like, "Oh I'm second guessing everything." And then a couple of texts later was the next day and you're like, "Everything is awesome."[laughter]0:03:34.1 DS: Totally. Yeah, that's how I felt about the summit. Now I've kinda settled somewhere in the middle. Just trying to evaluate it logically and think about like, alright, is this a valuable thing for us to do and do we wanna invest so much effort into it next year? 0:03:48.6 AW: Well, one thing that I definitely noticed from the sales side of me is you put in a lot more calls to action for your products and services and things like that, and the breaks and slides and different things like that. Do you have zero visibility... Right, we're on the couple of work days outside of the event ending, do you have any visibility to... If that's made an impact or will it be something that you'll let run a little bit and then evaluate? 0:04:23.0 DS: Yeah, we've had a couple of really big days since the summit. And so I do think like I could tell just straight up finances being like, "Well, that was a good day." And then a couple days later, "Well, that's another good day." And so seeing that and noticing how close that was to the close of the summit feels definitely like there is a direct business boost. More sign-ups that kind of stuff. And so I wanna give it a bit more time because a lot of people don't take immediate action. They're like, "Oh, I saw the summit, I learned about this thing at Whitespark summit." And a week or two, or three or four later, they finally get around to signing up for the thing or trying our software. And so I'm gonna give it a month and then I wanna do a comparison of our accounts, like new accounts and new sign-ups from that period... From the last period and cross-reference it with attendees at the summit and then we'll see. Yeah.0:05:21.1 AW: Awesome. Well, I can only think or feel that it will be stronger than other things you've done just because I have either been a part or have watched other things that you've done all the way from your weekly videos to things like that. And this by far in a way was your most sophisticated or visual call to actions with what Whitespark offers and does. So I think that's a really good step forward, as you and I have discussed in some of our conversations like, "Man, you crush at education, you crush it, putting stuff out there." You have a lot of opportunity in the trade. I'll give you all these great things. Please just listen to how our tools and services can support you in some of these things that you're doing. And just being a little more firm in asking them to do a free trial or to look into your services and tools. I felt like you really... I was looking at that and part of me was like, "Oh, this is good. This is good, do those things Darren." So good job.0:06:30.5 DS: Yeah, calls to action. You gotta call them to action, if you want them to take action, you should give them a call.0:06:36.3 AW: Yes, it's great, it's great to be top of mind because of all the goodwill and how you've positioned yourself as an expert... Yeah, those things are totally great. And so in six months, if they have a customer that needs something specific that folds into that. Yes, you will likely be top of mind because of how you've established yourself. But there's a lot of people that you can get to take a next step, while they're also feeling that euphoria and feeling like, "Oh, I'm learning new things, it's time to do new things, it's time to change a tool I'm using or to start using something like this, and now I have trust and I have excitement and I wanna do it right now." So just make that road really... Or that bridge really easy for them to cross.0:07:19.4 DS: Totally. Well, you're a master at all of that, so I always appreciate your advice and yeah, I agree that that's a key thing that I'm really trying to get better at, and I appreciate you pushing me on some of that.0:07:32.3 AW: Yeah, well, like I said, if you look at the world of like, you can only get what you give, you give. So I totally think you asking for a little get, that's no problem at all. And speaking of that, you had to compile and put out the local search ranking factors report as well, which is a massive undertaking.0:07:56.1 DS: That... Yeah, so that was a big part of what consumed me leading up to the conference, 'cause not only did I have to deal with some organization. Jessie, of course, took care of most of it. But it was really just compiling the data and analyzing the data and putting my own presentation together. That was a ton of work for sure, and so now that that's off my back, I just feel very light right now, but I do have to get around to writing up my findings into a blog post and get it published.0:08:26.3 AW: Yeah. When do you exhale harder? When you log off the summit on the last day? Or when you wake up the next day and you just don't have all of that hanging on you? 0:08:38.7 DS: Yeah. I felt pretty relaxed after the moment the summit ended, I was like, "Yeah cool, I don't have it, I don't have to do a anything." And then the next day, actually, I had a bunch of wrap-ups stuff I had to deal with, so... Yeah.0:08:55.1 AW: So you clicked close and then you're just like, "Joe, get me a beer." [chuckle]0:09:01.3 DS: Well, I would have gotten my own beer. I would never... I would never do that, that would not go over very well. So I'm very capable of fetching my own beer.0:09:11.1 AW: I just meant in a celebratory way, right? 0:09:14.4 DS: Yes, I definitely did go down to the beer fridge, yes, immediately.0:09:18.8 AW: And just possibly being passed out in your chair. Like nonstop, three days, all of the emotions, everything else, you might have just been tapped out, so.0:09:29.2 DS: I was very tapped out. Absolutely.0:09:31.3 AW: Oh, awesome.0:09:31.3 DS: How about you? What's up with you these days? 0:09:34.7 AW: Since we talked just the week before we were launching, so Leadferno has launched, and it's gone okay, there hasn't been any part of it where I'm like, "Oh my gosh." We talked before, I wanted to hit 50 trials, and you said 10. And yeah, we were closer to 10 than 50, so you were spot on there ...0:10:04.3 DS: Wait, didn't I say the opposite? You said 10, and I was like, "No way, you can get like 700."0:10:09.8 AW: No, no, no [laughter] you were more of the voice of reason with it, but it was... It definitely went well. And I look at... Right, it's not like the world was waiting for this, and the fact that news broke, that Leadferno has launched, didn't send people running into the streets and...0:10:31.4 DS: Yeah. I did see it on CNN actually, that was huge. That was huge.0:10:35.6 AW: That would be bad. I can't imagine a scenario where I get that kind of press of something great, it would be like, Leadferno took down the internet, everyone is mad. I don't know what else.0:10:47.5 DS: That's right. Weren't you responsible for that Facebook outage? That was you guys, right? Just so much traffic, you just ruined the servers.0:10:56.2 AW: I was... That was interesting, between the... When the whistle blower interview happened, and then the next day they have that outage, it's hard to believe like, "Oh, maybe someone inside was also like, yeah, I'm not gonna go that far, but I'll sabotage something on the inside to make an outage."0:11:09.4 DS: I know. That wo
42 minutes | Aug 25, 2021
30: Prepare to Launch
Show notes coming soon ...
48 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
29: Prioritize or Die
FULL SHOW NOTES[INTRO music]0:00:10.5 Aaron Weiche: Episode 29, Prioritize or Die.0:00:16.2 Intro: Welcome to the SaaS Venture Podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses shared in each episode from Aaron Weiche of Leadferno and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.[music]0:00:42.5 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture Podcast. I'm Aaron.0:00:46.0 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.0:00:48.0 AW: Did you see what I did with that clickbait title of our episode today, Darren? 0:00:52.9 DS: I did actually. I wrote something different, but yours is way better, yeah, that's good. [chuckle]0:00:56.8 AW: I think I was mostly trying to avoid, right? You had wrote prioritization and I was like, that just sounds like a word that I will somehow mangle when we go to hit record, and then yeah, I just went all-out sensationalism and clickbait and...0:01:12.2 DS: And I actually think, not only is it clickbait-y, which is great, but it also was accurate. I think that it's really the theme of this episode.0:01:20.9 AW: Yeah, and it's not... As we get into it, it's not an instant death, it's just probably a slow death if...0:01:28.8 DS: Absolutely.0:01:29.8 AW: You don't adhere to it. And yeah, I'm super excited to get into that. But it's been five weeks since we've last recorded, and we caught up a little bit before hitting record. Sometimes I think we should just hit record the second we get on and let people hear all of our small talk, and then maybe wrap that into the after show. We usually have really big... We just had some really big ideas. We'll see if we can put those into play someday. But...0:01:57.2 DS: Yeah.0:02:01.7 AW: What has been consuming your time this last handful of weeks? 0:02:07.0 DS: I've been busy with the summit. Just, I've been on lots of calls with the team, planning our software, and lots of summit stuff. So just trying to get all work...0:02:19.3 AW: So you're talking about, for those that don't always listen to us, you put on a local search summit, virtual last year, it was your very first one.0:02:29.2 DS: Yeah.0:02:29.3 AW: Remind me again, how many speakers... I know the attendee number was super high. Like frame up how the very first one went.0:02:36.8 DS: So our Whitespark Local Search Summit, the first one we did last year, a virtual summit, it's free to attend, pay if you want the recordings, and we had 6,000 registered... People registered for the event. We...0:02:56.7 AW: That's so awesome.0:02:56.8 DS: It was huge, yeah. So I was a little bit shocked with how well we did. We had 32 speakers, I think, a three-day event. And so it's a lot of work to put it together. So this year, I'm really excited about how things are shaping up. Our line-up is phenomenal. We've got incredible speakers like Aaron Weiche speaking. [laughter] So it's gonna be fantastic. I can't wait for it. We really put a lot of polish on it this year. I gotta give a shoutout to Jesse Lowe on our marketing team, she is our marketing team, and she...0:03:29.8 AW: Go Jesse.0:03:33.2 DS: She's done such an incredible job with the design, and we're building our website now and our sponsor deck, and just everything is just getting really nicely tweaked and polished, and it's gonna be an incredible event, and I think that we're shooting for 8,000 registrations this year, but it really feels like that level of conference quality that you might see at a Moss Con, I feel like we're hitting our stride with it this year and really kinda taken it to that next level. So been really busy with that, trying to get that stuff working out.0:04:03.5 AW: That's just so incredible, like when you say those numbers. I remember that attendees were in the thousands, but again, first-time event, you pull it off during a pandemic.0:04:15.1 DS: Yeah. [chuckle]0:04:16.1 AW: Some of it probably helpful 'cause people were just so hungry for good information, good interaction. I remember, I super enjoyed... So many of the speakers are like friends and people that we see on the conference circuit that you get to see in person and have a beer with or grab dinner with, and it was just like... It was just great to hear David Mihm present. It was just great to hear people that you're used to that are smart and have something different in your day than Zoom calls with your internal team. [chuckle] So...0:04:50.1 DS: Yeah.0:04:51.3 AW: Those are some lofty goals, man. 8,000, that's awesome. I can't wait.0:04:54.3 DS: I'm a little bit worried that instead of increasing our registration count, we might drop, and one of the concerns I have is just virtual conference burnout. It's like we kinda hit it and at a sweet spot last time around, whereas it's been a full year, and I don't know, my inbox is blowing up with virtual conference invites all the time, and so I just wonder if people are a little bit burnt out from it, but we'll see.0:05:20.4 AW: Yeah, could be, but I would say in the local space, other than local you, nothing else comes close to the level of content that you put into that event. So I think no matter what, even if you stay the same, even if you're a little bit lower, like you've put something great in motion that I can't wait for it to be like an in-person, just imagine like... Imagine if you're able to pull off a 1000-person in-person conference event in local, that would be nuts.0:05:54.7 DS: While we plan to do it, I actually have already looked into doing the conference at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, and so one day we're gonna go to... It's like castle in the mountains, in the rocky mountains, it's so beautiful. I wanna do it there. I've looked into pricing. I would have done it if I felt confident that by 2022, we wouldn't have weird COVID variants locking us down again, but their cancellation policy is like, "You gotta sign that contract, and if you back out, you lose 75 grand." So it was like, "Okay, I can't commit." But 2023, I feel like we're gonna do it. We're gonna do it in the mountains, it's gonna be great.0:06:35.1 AW: Oh my gosh, that sounds epic to say the least.0:06:39.1 DS: Yeah. I want that to happen.0:06:45.3 AW: On my side of things, you and I talked during this as friends, and then professionally on a couple of things, but I had a hard two, three weeks of being able to focus on work, which is really strange for me because I'm definitely a workaholic, work is a hobby, I just love being immersed, but the short of it is, my mom has Lewy body dementia, and it's gotten to the point where she can't live on her own, and so we had to transition her into assisted living, and the combination of visiting facilities and finding the right one for her and organizing everything that goes into a transfer like that and to some of the medical things and records and application and process, and then she was living in a town home that we owned, so cleaning that out, and then my wife and I decided to sell the town home as well, with my mom moving out of it, we just felt like the timing was right, and real estate market's great.0:07:46.3 AW: So it was really hard. I'm normally like a lot of hours, 50, 60 hours easily of high-output work, I was probably more in the 30-hour range and having a hard time focusing 'cause of these bigger things, and it was really hard on me for a little bit because I'm just so not used to it. It was just jarring off of my normal schedule and what I usually put myself into and everything else. So it's nice to be on the other side of that now and feel Mom has moved and settling in and that's a really... That's a good situation for her and everything else, and the town home was sold and closed and that's wrapped up, and so we're not spending nights and weekends over there getting it ready to sell and that whole process. So it's definitely threw me for a loop that when I was in it, I definitely felt like I was just like kind of treading water, if not drowning and looking around, like, "What direction do I go here? This feels awful weird."0:08:49.4 DS: Oh man, I'm so sorry. It's gotta be... It must have been really tough, must continue to be really tough for you with your mom, so I'm really sorry to hear that.0:09:00.0 AW: Yeah, no, I appreciate it. You and I, we had some personal conversations that were helpful, easy outlet for me to talk through some of those things. But yeah, it's just... The reverse parenting and the things that go along with that is you enter the next stage of life. It's definitely interesting, and yeah, it can be overwhelming and... I don't know. I guess I just wanted to share that for those of you running a company, starting something, all those things are hard enough, and that's not even throwing in what real life throws at you [chuckle] sometimes, and when you're an entrepreneur, you just live so much of your life in the business, and it can get hectic. So know if it's getting hectic for you, you're not alone, and hopefully you find the right people to talk to and the right ways to sort through it, and you get to the other side of that moment.0:09:51.9 DS: Yeah, for sure. We all have the things that come up that we... We try to run a business, but life interrupts often. Yeah.0:10:00.9 AW: On the plus side of life, I'm fully vaxxed, that says of like three and a half, four weeks ago, so I've had weeks now to live as a vaccinated person. I booked a flight just two days ago. I felt like such a noob going into my Delta app and like, "Oh, how do you book a flight?" I had completely forgotten. And booking a hotel, all of it just felt... I felt like I was making these huge purchases on something literally... I used to probably do 30 to 40 flights a year, something that I used to do a lot. I probably illegally was booking flights while driving somewhere. It was just that common of a repeated process. And then I actually bought tickets to SaaStr. They're doing in-person in September. They said you have to be vaccinated. I think almost the entire conference is outdoors. They're using a big outdoor facility out in California ____.0:11:00.6 DS: Oh wow.0:11:01.0 AW: So I'm really interested to check that out and see that and looking forward to it. I th
50 minutes | May 4, 2021
28: Vision and Mission
FULL EPISODE NOTES:0:00:12.1 Aaron Weiche: Episode 28: Vision and Mission.0:00:16.0 [INTRO]: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.0:00:44.2 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.0:00:48.2 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.0:00:49.5 AW: And, Darren, I think from our conversations that we have weekly, you and I, we've both gotten one shot in the arm now, which is nice to report.0:01:03.6 DS: That is really good to report, yes. I'm just waiting for the second shot and hoping things come back to normal, but a bit apprehensive about things going back to normal, because of variants and whatnot. But it's definitely a step in the right direction, feels good to have some protection that I likely won't die from COVID now.0:01:26.6 AW: There you go. Yeah, that's pretty much... Once you're fully vaccinated, that's proven to be 100%, your protection, depending upon what you're getting, 50% to 90%, mid 90%, depending upon which shot, what application types. But the fact knowing that it won't take you out is definitely reassuring and that's awesome. And, yeah, I can... I've fully accepted the way things were 16 months ago might never be the case, but...0:02:06.8 DS: Same.0:02:07.3 AW: I just... I've come to, like, "Okay, here's how to hedge your bets and to be smart, get vaccinated, all those other things, and... " Yeah, I'm excited to just dip my toe a little bit more into the social world. I'm definitely gonna get on a plane in June, so I'm excited about that. That'll feel awkward.0:02:32.0 DS: Amazing, wow. What an experience.0:02:34.0 AW: Both my co-founder and I will be fully vaccinated, so it's like we're long overdue to have a two, three-day jam session in person, melt some white boards and do something more than Slack, Google Meet, Zoom, everything else we've done.0:02:53.3 DS: I like that, it's a SaaS jam session. Rather than melting faces with guitars, you're gonna melt brains with white boards.0:03:03.6 AW: Yeah. We're just gonna be so high off of expo markers, it's gonna be wonderful. [chuckle] Other than that, what's new with you? 0:03:17.0 DS: What is new? Let's see. In the world of Whitespark, we did launch our new account system, I think I talked about that in the last podcast, that we were about to launch that. We launched it, and it was generally a pretty great launch. Nice and smooth, team did a great job on that. We have obviously lots of kinks to work out post-launch, as there would be with a whole new billing and account system. With that, we launched our new services packages, which have been very successful, so businesses thriving on a listing service side of things, so that's great. Busy planning the next Whitespark Local Search Summit for 2021, that's coming up right away. We're gonna be having that near the end of September, so we gotta get our speakers lined up, everything pre-recorded, get our sponsors in place, we're working on all that.0:04:09.0 DS: I've been really busy with these Whitespark weekly videos. I put in a good five to 10 hours every week, making these videos and then getting them published. It's going really well. I think that they're driving business for sure, we definitely feel the uptick. And we're growing our YouTube channel. We're at 1200 subscribers on YouTube or something, so that's been good.0:04:30.5 AW: That is such a massive undertaking. I would feel that that is so daunting, and you do such a great... I mean, when you tackle these topics, it's not just, "Hey, here's a few things in this direction." You are pretty exhaustive in what you're putting together on these, and great long-form content, blog posts, the videos, I see it all on my social channels. These things are legit and take a whole day out of your week, too.0:05:03.3 DS: Yeah. They might take me five to 10 hours to build and to actually prepare the deck, prepare my notes, figure out what I wanna do, all the research, record the video, then... I don't know how much time my video editing team spends on it, then I got Jesse working on getting it all up on the blog and doing all the promotional stuff. This is just a ton of work, but I believe in the rewards, particularly believe in the long-term rewards. If you can stay with it consistently week after week, month after month, year after year, you end up hitting this point of... It's like the TSN Turning Point, where all of a sudden now we have 50,000 subscribers on YouTube. And the thing is just a snowball that continues to drive value. So, I'm just gonna keep at it a good two years in. If two years we still don't have more than 1200 subscribers, then I'll totally give up, but I believe in the power of this, particularly long term.0:06:04.5 AW: We talked outside of our podcast recordings on this, and I think... And it's something you agreed and you're gonna implement, finding more calls to actions within this content. Because it is so great, it's attracting eyeballs, and it's taking it that last mile and giving people a clear next step on how to get a little bit deeper, start using one of your tools, investigate one of your services, but really working not just a traffic tool but a conversion tool as well.0:06:40.1 DS: I have already started implementing that, yeah. So, that's already... We're going through our content and finding good spots to drop, like little subtle banners. It's not like in-your-face blinking, but it's like, if you're looking for help on this particular aspect, hey, we have this software, we have this service, whatever it is. And so we're definitely integrating that into the content. And again, speaking about long-term value, that content will continue to drive views and people checking it out, and so that's getting our products in front of more people all the time.0:07:14.7 AW: Now, I feel that's especially important with the amount of time you and even the team is sinking into this, for you to have clear metrics that even go past traffic acquisition. I think you need to see... You can definitely tell, right? You feel there's a relation between putting these out and seeing just spikes in sign-ups and things like that. But you definitely wanna get probably pretty confident in the data that's there when you're gonna peel a quarter of your week off on to one thing, right? 0:07:52.7 DS: For sure. And we have... All the little ad placements we'll put within the content will have GTM tags, and they will track conversions in Google Analytics, so Analytics will be able to see if you can go to the campaign and see actually how much money they generate. We're getting all of that technology connected, making sure that we're tracking it well and pulling it into a dashboard. That is another thing we're working on actually. Within the launch of new accounts, we had everything, all of our subscriptions, in Payflow, which is a PayPal product, and we have since launched on Stripe, which offers a ton of benefits to us. And I didn't realize this, but you can send an email to PayPal and say, "Hey, we've moved to Stripe, can you please send us a dump of all our subscription data?" And then you can... Stripe will import it. We're gonna get everybody off of our legacy payment provider and put them on Stripe, which is phenomenal, so that gives us... Within the next week, we're gonna have everybody on Stripe, which means I can set up their metrics, gonna have excellent reporting. Can't wait.0:09:01.5 AW: That's awesome. That's a big win, and not having to cycle through users and have them re-add credit card information over time everything else, that's huge.0:09:14.0 DS: It's super huge, 'cause that was actually our game plan, was every time someone logs into an account, it'd be like, "Oh, we've got a new billing, can you please reenter your credit card data?" That was what we were planning to do, but this is way better.0:09:25.9 AW: Yeah. Yeah, that would have been scary.0:09:28.1 DS: Yeah. What's new with you? How are things going at Leadferno? 0:09:32.1 AW: They're going well. The general consensus is good momentum, especially April has just felt like it's gone really well. I'm spending a lot more of my days on demos and sales type opportunities, lining up pilot customers. And what's been really nice, especially our last couple of pushes and with the amount of features releasing in those pushes, my early demos were, "Here's what's there right now, if you were to test this, but here's 75% of the things that will be coming."0:10:13.2 AW: And now we've hit the point where 75% of it is there, and it's just kind of 25%. And the 25% are bigger things not necessarily features, per se, as infrastructure items, like how our profiles work, which segments locations or departments, where sales team would have one shared inbox and the service department would have a shared inbox, our internal admin tools for managing accounts and customers and things like that. We're using Stripe as well, so just starting to get some of the billing stuff tied in. And those are the really big pieces. We probably only have two or three features left to build for wanting to launch in June.0:11:01.1 DS: Great.0:11:02.0 AW: Yeah. But we have those big pieces. I go back and forth. Some days I'm like, "Man, I feel 90% confident we're gonna nail this and be out there in June," and then the next day the stand-up feels a little wishy-washy and there's a few new blockers, and then I'm like, "Okay, maybe I'm about 50% we're gonna make it to launch in June."0:11:21.7 DS: Sure. I'm always overly confident, to my own detriment. I'm always like, "Oh, this is gonna be great, we're gonna totally launch next week."0:11:29.7 AW: I'm probably more... I don't know if I'm pessimistic, but I definitely fall into reality, and doing just so many releases and doing small features and big features, and just so many different things, I feel like there's some key indicators that you kind of see where you can truly have comfort and confidence that you're gonna deliver. And until I see those, then I'm usually like, "Yeah, I'm not going a
47 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
27: Plan the work, work the plan
49 minutes | Feb 8, 2021
26: A Big Change
FULL SHOW NOTES[INTRO music]0:00:12.2 Aaron Weiche: Episode 26, A Big Change.0:00:16.0 S?: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.[music]0:00:44.6 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, and welcome to 2021. I'm Aaron.0:00:50.3 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.0:00:51.6 AW: And Darren did you know that 99% of the time for lunch, I eat a turkey, pepper jack cheese, mayo and avocado sandwich? 0:01:05.9 DS: For how long, is this for the past seven years, you've been eating this for lunch every day? [chuckle]0:01:11.4 AW: I would definitely say the percentage has kicked up highly during COVID, so the last year now, but yeah, just because I'm home just about every single day that's kinda... If I'm home, that's the sandwich I'm making. And my kids just laugh at me, they ridicule me about just how basic, boring and the same I am.0:01:39.1 DS: Oh, that's funny 'cause I'm exactly the same. This is a life hack, Aaron, it's like you're reducing your decision fatigue, you don't have to think about what you're gonna eat for lunch, you just know what you're gonna eat and you just go and make it, and it's one less decision to weigh on your brain. It's like the Steve Jobs thing, he just wears the same thing every day, he gets up, puts on his outfit. [chuckle] So yeah, it's a smart... The smart move.0:02:02.6 AW: Right. I'm gonna choose to look at it as an optimization then. I just got done eating lunch before this, that's why it was on my mind now is just like, I make the sandwich, I have a basically... What do they call it? I think they call it a sandwich cut or a deli cut pickle. So it's not a dill pickle spear, it's like the flat slice but ridged, so it's got some texture to it so...0:02:28.9 DS: Okay, good.0:02:29.7 AW: Every day.0:02:30.0 DS: So that's what we're talking about today, just we're talking about sandwiches [laughter] on the podcast.0:02:34.2 AW: Totally, I love sandwiches. Someone tweeted this week talking about that they forgot to exclude mayo on a sandwich that they ordered from Jimmy John's, the sandwich franchise. And I was like, "No, it's not a sandwich without mayo, that is the ingredient, that's like sandwich glue. You need that, without it, it's just bread with stuff like." [chuckle]0:03:00.6 DS: I used to love when I was a kid... This is really weird. [chuckle] When I was like, I don't know, between the ages of 10 and 13, I used to love to eat... This is the weirdest sandwich, it was just two pieces of bread, mayonnaise and jam. [chuckle] It was just this disgusting sandwich that I ate all the time when I was a kid, really weird.0:03:21.9 AW: Wow, yeah, the mayo and jam combination that definitely... I was waiting for peanut butter, bananas, there's definitely some variations. I don't think I've ever heard jam and mayo. [chuckle]0:03:34.1 DS: And mayonnaise, I don't... I was just on a jam and mayo sandwich kick for a while.0:03:39.6 AW: Oh my gosh, for me at that age, it was like peanut butter and jelly and nacho Doritos. I think that was my lunch, especially during the summer at home as a kid, I made that every day.0:03:52.5 DS: Well hey, you and I, our next SaaS product is gonna be sandwich related.0:03:56.5 AW: Oh, this is brilliant. I would love a company that was named after a sandwich or something like that, I'm all in, so.0:04:03.8 DS: Alright.0:04:07.1 AW: Right, well hey, let's catch up on some other things besides our sandwich habits and our sandwich secrets. I hope our listeners feel really good about what we bring to the table...0:04:18.4 DS: They've all stopped listening at this point, I think.0:04:22.9 AW: This is what you got for 2021, sandwiches? [laughter] Anyway, catch us up on how the year started for you, Darren.0:04:31.6 DS: Alright, it's been a good start. We kinda went out with a bang at the end of 2020. We had a big launch of our Rank Tracker, and it was, I guess, probably in June, we launched our updated local citation finder and man, we've just been on a roll, it continues to grow. We were going through some declines on our subscriptions for a while, and that trend has been completely reversed and yeah, every week numbers keep going up, so it's been great on the software side of things. Great on the service side of things too, I've just been so busy doing marketing and lots of presentations because of the local search ranking factors, which I officially released at the end of the year, so just been doing tons of webinars and podcasts and presentations around that. So that's been... It's been good and it's been driving business for sure.0:05:24.5 AW: That's awesome.0:05:25.8 DS: Yeah, so yeah, it's been good. Got lots of stuff coming up in 2021 as well. It was a good end to 2020, a good start to 2021. And man, we have so much in the pipeline about to launch for in the next month or two, and I think it's just gonna be a great year. Yeah, it's looking good. Lots of optimism.0:05:50.3 AW: Yeah, that's a really great feeling. One thing, you and I, we did a non-recorded call, just catching up and seeing how things were, and one thing that obviously really stood out to me just 'cause we'd had many other conversations about it, but you were commenting on your engineering team has really found its sweet spot in efficiency and what they're kicking out. And that was great to hear just because prior months we had had talks, it felt like things were... Something was missing structurally or process, or even possibly people, and you were working hard to get your finger on it and change some things up, and it sounds like that's worked.0:06:32.3 DS: It worked really well. So step one for me was getting myself personally tuned into it, because the software team is busy doing stuff all the time, but I wasn't really hooked in, and I didn't know what they were doing, and so as the founder I just always had these lingering doubts. I'm like, "Are they doing anything?" I'm like, "Why is this taking so long?" But I wasn't really involved enough to know how things were progressing. So I started a daily stand-up. So we now do a daily stand-up. It takes about 10-15 minutes and everyone just kinda outlines what they do. We're recording all of this in Confluence, which is Atlassian, same company that makes Jira. So record that every day, and it's just so... That immediately dissipated any doubts I had. It was just like, okay, cool, I'm now in this. I'm involved. I know what's happening. It was really helpful for me, personally, to be able to see what was happening, and I think it was helpful for the team too, because it just sets the day every day. Every morning, we set up, like, "This is what we're doing. This is what I did yesterday, these are things we're doing today."0:07:38.6 DS: And then at the end of the year we did annual reviews for all of our staff, and I promoted one of our developers to a team lead position. So that's been really helpful too, because I'm not the best person to be the team lead, and I was kind of the go-to person for all software team-related decisions, and I was a bit of a blocker in a lot of stuff. And so putting Troy into our team lead position has been really helpful too, and so now we've got processes in place and we got the daily stand-ups, and then we ended up hiring two more people too. So we've got one more full-time guy, and we have a part-time student developer, and it's just like, "Wow, it's all... " All systems are firing, and the dev team is building stuff faster than I can review it. It's like I got a backlog of like I have to review this app and I have to review that app, and it's like, "Dude, they're waiting for my feedback on stuff, 'cause I've just been busy with other things." And so things are really going awesome on the dev team. Love it.0:08:45.2 AW: Yeah, that's fantastic to hear. Do you see the team themselves feeling it and having a new burst, or a new outlook, like has it crept in there? 0:09:00.2 DS: Yeah, it feels just really positive all around, and I think everyone just... It's that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, right? You're just getting stuff done and it's like, wow, this app has come to life. It looks good. It's like, "Wow." We're really putting a polish on it and everyone just feels good about it. So generally, I'm seeing a lot of momentum. The daily stand-ups are really good to keep everyone connected too. When... 'Cause we have a lot of different things happening and different people are working on different projects, and so I always felt like one developer is just working in a silo, on his own, doing his own thing, and he's not really communicating with the rest of the team, whereas now, everyone is a little bit more connected, and it's really helpful.0:09:39.7 AW: Yeah, that's awesome. I definitely think we can dedicate a future upcoming episode to... Related to efficiencies and sprints, and builds, and shipping code. That's just one thing I've always been such a proponent of, is it's great to be doing work, but what's so important is tying it off, like, at what point are you shipping? And when you can get a team to have those better visibility into each other and that produces better accountability and gets everyone to that same level, and then you get everyone just more committed and performing to a level where they're shipping, not just doing... It's so easy in work to be busy. Being busy is not hard, but getting something done, that's hard, and that's where you need to get a team too, so that's great.0:10:37.7 DS: Yeah, and actually it's really important to define that cut-off point. We're already... The main thing that a lot of the dev team is working on is our new account system, all of our billing, our authorization, our transactions, all of that, signing up for all of our different things and all... The flow of all that has been in the works for a while, and it's already much better than our existing system. So it's like we can keep polishing it for the next three months, but gosh, we might as well just push it out the door, because it's alread
42 minutes | Dec 29, 2020
25: OK, 2020
[INTRO music]0:00:11.4 Aaron Weiche: Episode 25. Okay 2020.0:00:16.2 Intro: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.0:00:44.1 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.0:00:47.4 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.0:00:49.7 AW: And we are here to look back at quite the year that we've had. Wouldn't you say? 0:00:57.6 DS: Let's say, yeah, it was a year for the history books, this one. It was... It was a bad year. 2020 really sucks for most of the world's population. It was a crummy year. But I guess... I don't know, I took some notes before the podcast and I have some positive things to look back on, but yeah, definitely it was a tough year.0:01:18.8 AW: Yeah. As we break it down, I think for me, at the end of it is like, "Okay, we survived this year," right? 0:01:30.3 DS: Yeah.0:01:31.3 AW: Being able to just make it through and not be as dinged up in some way or another as others, when you look around and there are certain industries that are completely shut down, have your doors closed. It's amazing when you think what it must be like to be in those types of industries.0:01:54.3 DS: That weighs heavy on me, I really feel privileged to be in the digital marketing industry, building SaaS software that people still need and are actively looking to sign up for. We're just in such a fortunate position, whereas so many other industries have been devastated. And so I think about that all the time, about like, "Wow, we gotta recognize our privilege here."0:02:24.7 AW: Absolutely. For better, for worse, however it happened, accidentally, on purpose, it isn't hard to look and be like, "Man, thank goodness, my industry has survived this well." Obviously, some aspects of our industry have absolutely taken off because of what COVID has forced.0:02:45.9 DS: Yeah, totally.0:02:47.9 AW: If you are at Zoom, a Zoom shareholder, any of those things, like you know how true that is. Or just probably any product in the video conferencing or live communications world has just sky-rocketed based on immediate demand across the board.0:03:06.6 DS: Totally. I really wish I had thrown some money into Zoom when, back in like March, early March, be like, "Oh quick, put all of our investments into Zoom, it's gonna be huge."0:03:21.0 AW: Back the dump trucks up to every tech stock in the last 10 months and you're not doing too bad anyway, right? 0:03:26.8 DS: Yeah, it's true.0:03:28.5 AW: Oh man. What is your overall... It's like you have the feeling of survival and whatever else, but maybe let's start to dig a little deeper into that. Like when you look back, is there ways... Do you feel like there's any ways you could break down, you know, the year into thirds or quarters, or things like that? And how you feel about, like are there transitions where you guys felt differently about it or adjusted, like what are your thoughts on that? 0:03:57.2 DS: Yeah, that's a good way to look at it actually, because I come to the end of the year and I can think, "Alright, great, we have some... We survived. We even thrived in some places." And I can look back at that and feel overall the sense of, "We did it." But then... Gosh, if I think back to March, April, May, it was a dark period. We had to... We saw massive decline in revenue, we had to do some layoffs, we had to put... We had to get all the government programs in place. And it was stressful and it was like, it was this period of uncertainty for myself and for all of our team members.0:04:40.4 DS: And so people were stressed and worried about the pandemic, and we came out of that after about three months, things just started to recover. It was almost like people instantly had this fear of the world falling apart, and so everyone really tightened up expenses and weren't spending any money. But then it was like, "Oh, well, I guess this is our new reality and life will go on and we still need to buy things," and so business picked up again. How did those first three months feel for you? 0:05:14.0 AW: Definitely when you're dealing with the unknown, that's one of the hardest things where there's no game plan for it. You can't research your way out of it, you're just taking sometimes hour by hour as it comes. And that same thing, I was just kind of wondering to myself while you were talking, I just wonder how much have people changed or where are they at in that progression.0:05:44.9 AW: Those first few months were so uncertain and just as you outlined, like you can imagine this Doomsday scenario where what you've built, what you're working on, whatever else, where it almost collapses on itself. You kind of envisioned, "Oh, everybody holds up." Business is just kind of killed off in every way. It felt like, "What's gonna go on and continue on?" You entertain those kind of thoughts, and then as time goes on, some of that regresses in certain areas. In the world of software at least.0:06:24.9 AW: And then you find, "Alright, well, here's the next thing we can do." And I think we started doing a lot of short-term focus things like, "Here's the 30-day plan, here's the next 30-day plan." And it was kind of focused on just taking small chunks, 'cause you can't predict or look at anything further than that.0:06:40.1 AW: I think we saw... That was one thing that I took from some of the larger companies at some point when they were like, "Hey... " And I can't remember if it was Apple or Twitter or Google, or whoever did it first, but a couple of them definitely said like, "Hey, we're remote until June 2021." They just said, "Let's stop trying to look at this as like in two weeks, in two months, in two quarters."0:07:05.9 AW: And they just said, "Yeah, well over a year from now, we're gonna revisit this. But that's not something we need to deal with right now, because it's just gonna be vacillating all over the board." And I almost kinda took that as like, and applied that to other areas and said, "Stop. Stop just vacillating on all the what ifs, you'll drive yourself crazy, and focus on the things that you can control and that you probably should control," and things like that.0:07:35.2 DS: Yeah. It was funny to look back at some of the emails we got from that time, like in early March, it'd like, "We're closing our shop, but we expect to be reopened in three weeks." [chuckle] People were like, they really thought this was gonna be a short-term thing, in so many ways.0:07:55.2 AW: Well, we've never experienced anything like it. So you just... No one knew, right? Everything was like... It depends on how much optimism you carried at the time. Or in some circumstances, and you can get this, a business would also look and be like, "Hey, anything longer than this and we are in trouble." That's where I feel with so many of these restaurants is like, they're not built to just shut down for a month, much less... Here in Minnesota, where I live, they're on their second six week to eight-week shutdown of no indoor dining at all, in any capacity, in any way.0:08:34.8 AW: And then to top it off, there's this time around, there's absolutely nothing that's lined up for support of what they need or helping them out. It's just this really wonky scenario of the government saying, "You can't operate and we also can't help you." And my hope is they should have already had help lined up before they ask them to do this again, or mandated they did it again.0:09:00.1 AW: But we're really starting to see some rumblings here between restaurants just all saying, "We're not gonna do what you're asking us to do because you give us no other choice to... You're basically saying, your business is dead. That's the only choice you have."0:09:16.2 DS: It's gotta be so tough. Be it in the restaurant industry or in the travel industry right now, just like, "Oh man. How are we gonna get through this, right?"0:09:26.3 AW: Yeah. When you look back, Darren, what's one thing that you feel like, okay, based on what took place this year, what's one decision you really feel good about that you're like, "Alright, I nailed that one. Pats on the back."? 0:09:43.5 DS: Well, it's tough to decide which one. I got two big wins over the past year. I think it was really a good move to launch, we came up with this concept of the Yext Replacement Service. And the timing was really good, right around the pandemic, right around when the pandemic first came out, because a lot of people were looking at their expenses or going through the credit card statement, and Yext stood out as a really expensive recurring fee. And people were like, "Is this something we still need?"0:10:16.3 DS: And then I think so we launched our service at the right time where we could offer a better price, a better quality service, right when people were looking for it. And so that was a huge success, it actually managed to keep the whole citation side of our business, not just surviving, but we actually did better than usual. So, I think that was it, that was a smart pivot, a smart launch. I think we did that one just right. How about you? What's your biggest win? 0:10:48.0 AW: Before we get to that, I'm interested, did you guys look at keyword volume as well, of people typing like "Yext replacement or Yext option or Yext alternative," or what does that look like? Or did you look at that at all? 0:11:02.6 DS: We were not analytical about it at all, it was just a complete gut feel, just like, "Quick, let's launch this thing." We were honestly in panic mode after seeing the decline of our revenue and being like, "We need to get something to replace that revenue as soon as possible." And we just built it, pulled the trigger and launched it as soon as possible. But yeah, we were not... We didn't really dig into it at all.0:11:29.0 AW: See, here I am doing a search on quick Yext, and I just look at the related suggestions and Yext cancellation policy, what happens when you cancel Yext. And one of the suggested terms is "Whitespark Yext and Whitespark versus Yext."0:11:44.5 DS: Sweet. Whatever, Google picked up on it.
44 minutes | Nov 27, 2020
24: Raising Prices
FULL SHOW NOTES[INTRO music]00:12 Aaron Weiche: Episode 24: Raising prices.00:16 INTRO: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrapped SaaS company. Here are the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.00:45 AW: Welcome to the SaaS venture podcast, I'm Aaron.00:48 Darren Shaw: I'm Darren.00:50 AW: And the best way to sum me up right now is I am malaised in Minnesota, if that's even a correct way to say that.01:00 DS: I have no idea, I have to look it up.[laughter]01:03 AW: I don't know if I should be inventing words, but as we were just talking before hitting record, Darren and one thing, we haven't recorded in almost two months, which is just silly of us.01:18 DS: It's been a while.01:20 AW: Yeah. Too long, we need to do better. If we wanna keep listeners going up into the right, people have probably forgotten about us, so we'll try to win your hearts and minds back, but yeah, we were just discussing... I've just been in a little bit of a funk for various reasons, some of the obvious things, COVID and restricted or compressed life of not as many freedoms or...01:47 DS: For sure.01:50 AW: Especially, I don't know, I consider myself to be a creative person, and so I feed off of other environments and travel and observation and things like that, and my world just so much consists of home, work, home, work, and work is just pretty much zoom, home, zoom, home. So...02:09 DS: Yeah. We would just call it Groundhog Day around here, it's like every day, it's like that movie Groundhog Day, where it just feels like you're going through the motions day after day, and there's no variety in life right now.02:21 AW: And... I don't know, I was trying to talk about it with Marci, my wife, and there's just this little piece of, when you don't... I don't know, and I just might be messed up in how I see this, but when you don't have certain things to look forward to like time with friends or an outing or a trip, or being at a sporting event, things like that. Those are things that definitely provide a little bit of spark and optimism and all those different things and yeah, it's just so severely lacking, and with the season change in Minnesota, we've flipped back to life being a lot more indoors, at least until we get some snow on the ground and then hopefully I can get... I'm gonna... I'll probably do more snowboarding this year than the last five years combined, so...03:09 DS: Yeah. What are you gonna do about the hill, like when you go to the hill, are you gonna bring your own lunch? Are you gonna go into the lodge? Are you gonna eat lunch in the lodge? Are you gonna use the washrooms in the lodge? Just... I'm all super COVID sensitive, so I'm just wondering how you handle that.03:22 AW: Yeah. I haven't thought that far yet. The hill that's closest to me literally only takes 25 minutes to get there, and it's super small, it's like eight runs, so going there for two to three hours of runs, and then you can call it a day, but there's definitely... There's a couple of others around here that take an hour, a couple of hours to get to that are worth it, and yeah, then I'll probably... I probably just bring something along and bust it back out to the car and refuel, so...03:56 DS: Yeah. Yeah, sounds good. [04:00] ____.04:01 AW: Yeah, that's easily one of the consistent things I just not have been... I have at any point had a meal inside of a restaurant, cafe, anything like that since all this started, I did use... We have some very nice and well-spaced outside patios and things like that, but we've done a few times within the local community, especially to support some of the local business owners in addition to doing take out, but that's been above it.04:28 DS: Yeah. We've been like all meals all the time, making them at home. No take out either. So it's been... It's a lot of work. This is a, that Groundhog Day thing where we're just going through the motions all day along, it'd be nice to just get a break from dinner where just shows up at the door, right, but we're... We're just extra careful.04:50 AW: Yeah. No. Totally get it. So anyway, I feel like I'm working my way out of it, I'd probably hit the bottom of it a couple of weeks ago, and just been trying to pay more attention to exercise and alcohol intake and screen time, and just all those different things, it's not... There's not one thing to cure when you do feel that way, you gotta take all the pieces and say, "How do I bump all of these things up a level to contribute to finding a better place to be."05:25 DS: I think it's just a natural ebb and flow. You're gonna go through really solid awesome months and you're gonna have some time where you feeling a little lower, like, gosh, it's just a constant up and down for me over the months.05:39 AW: What have you been doing to fight that off? 05:42 DS: So exercise has been a thing for sure, I'm trying to get more sleep lately, I've been really diligent about my exercise routine, actually COVID's been great for exercise because it's just part of my routine and I have it all kinda locked in and my schedule has gotten really good. I've got a new morning routine, I'm feeling productive and focused and it's going pretty well actually. I'm going through a good period right now.06:09 AW: Awesome. Good for you.06:11 DS: I don't feel like I really need too much. I think I might be a little bit introverted in some ways, where I'm like, if I didn't see my friends in person for two years I'd be like, "Oh. That's okay." And then I'll see them in two years, and be like, "Hey. Great to see you." It doesn't wear me down. Really, I've always been... As a teenager, I just spent every weekend locked in my bedroom, playing video games, so I'm used to this. I come from a long history of COVID times.06:40 AW: See, I'm definitely more social, I would say I was probably in the social extreme in my youth where I was always with friends, always playing sports, always doing things. And then as time has gone on and especially just being more dedicated or turning into the workaholic or whatever, else, that isolation has crept in much more, but I still like if I had to put a time frame on it, every once a month or once every couple of months, I would like to have a day or an evening of adult socialization, something to do conversations to be had to... I don't wanna go for years without seeing some of my friends and things like that, so I need a little tighter cycle.07:30 DS: Yeah. And I used to get that all the time. Every week there would be multiple things happening because my wife does such a good job of sort of organizing our social calendar, but now it doesn't exist anymore. I guess one thing I'm just noticing is that I guess it doesn't bother me too much, which is, I guess maybe a little surprising.07:47 AW: Yeah. Well, good for you. You got it under control. I'm working on it and I'll figure my way out the other side, I can see if you raise the light, I'll get there.08:00 DS: I feel like I'm unusual. I think most people certainly want more social engagement, I want it too, but I'm able to progress without it. What's going on with the business? What's happening with your SaaS company? 08:16 AW: Yeah. A lot of... End of the year, I always kinda look at like this, you have to face the reality of what you actually can accomplish for the remaining couple of months of the year, and it's usually not what you had planned, so that's the facing the reality part of like, Alright, we still have these five things, and we actually can do two of them now, so that really kind of shapes up how the year is gonna end, and then you start Q1 planning with what's there, so that's been... I'm used to how that works. So that feels pretty normal. We had an opportunity pop-up, we're using an integration partner? So we're using a solution called Tray.io, and the easiest way to explain this is they help make integrations direct integrations possible with their software, and more of like being able to create like a Zapier-type connection inside of your product, so we'll be able to have an integrations tab, the first one that we're working on right now for us is Salesforce...09:26 DS: Nice.09:27 AW: So within a handful of clicks, you'll be able to sink to your Salesforce account and start going through those, and... So Salesforce is our first one, and then we will have four others in the subsequent sprints, I think we're just gonna try to tackle one integration every sprint, so probably like QuickBooks Online, Mailchimp, just some of the ones that when we pull customers or what people have asked about for integration, so excited about that, but that kind of popped up into the radar within the last few months and rapidly shot to the top, so that's also been part of throwing off some of the product plan and roadmap, so...10:08 DS: That's interesting. So basically right now, integrations are kind of... The onus is on a customer to create this Zap, they've gotta go and create that Zap and on their own, whereas now you can just press a button in the software. That would be the difference? 10:22 AW: Really what exists now is we will do an integration for a customer and use that product's API, or a customer could use our API and do the integration if they have a home-built CRM or a different piece of software that they wanna integrate with, and then obviously, Zapier is like a third-party marketplace where you build... We've built the GatherUp Zapier app years ago, and there's 2000 apps in the Zapier marketplace, so you can use Zapier and pay them, and then you get to build as many connections as you want between different tools and things like that, and then... Yeah. This basically, I use Zapier the same kind of way because you don't have to do any coding with it, it's a series of selections to set up the integration, and what's the trigger and what's the action and things like that, Tray is the one that handles those... So they basically have done the work from the API of all those other solutions into their interface, and then they take our API and do th
42 minutes | Sep 29, 2020
23: Course Correcting
FULL SHOW NOTES:[INTRO music]00:12 Aaron Weiche: Episode 23, Course Correcting.00:16 INTRO SPEAKER: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode. From Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.[music]00:43 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.00:46 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.00:47 AW: And I just finished eating a chocolate chip cookie. What do you think about that? 00:52 DS: It sounds pretty good. I just finished eating a salad. It's the exact opposite. [chuckle]00:58 AW: If my wife listens to this episode, I'm gonna get yelled at, but when I got gas at the gas station, they have these big chocolate chip cookies, and, yeah, this just looked like a great afternoon snack.[chuckle]01:09 DS: Totally, yeah. And now you made me wanna go get one.[laughter]01:13 AW: I'll mail you one.01:14 DS: Wow, I don't know if it'll be good by the time it gets here.[laughter]01:18 AW: So what's been going on other than salads and cookies? I know what's been going on. You spent all week last week hosting a massive virtual summit with 4000-5000 attendees. Let's talk about that a little bit before we get into our main topic today.01:34 DS: Yeah, so it's been huge. This summit was a massive success. We had actually 5500 people register for the summit.01:41 AW: Wow.01:42 DS: And pretty great attendance to all the different talks, and so it was big and we've been getting nothing but a steady stream of positive feedback about it. Just people comparing it to other conferences and saying how awesome it was and, yeah, so it was a great success. People love the content, and of course, I had some of the best speakers in the world such as Aaron Weiche, Mike Blumenthal, Joey Hawkins, so we had fantastic speakers. Basically, all the most known speakers in local search were there. Some heavy hitters outside of the local specific space like Rand Fishkin spoke. Michael King spoke. Brodie Clark, who was really building a name for himself down under in Australia, he spoke as well. And so, yeah, it was a great conference. We had huge visibility and, yeah, it was good. It was all good.02:31 DS: It was so much work though. Oh, my God, I can't... I'm glad it's over because not only was it so much work to put it together, I had my own presentation to do, the Local Search Ranking Factor survey had to get done out there, recreated, re-pull all the data, re-analyze all the data, build a slide deck, build a presentation around it and present it. And I handed that in like Monday night. The night before we were going live with the conference, I handed in my recording, and it was just a very stressful time. Glad it's over.03:01 AW: Yeah. Now, I wanna touch on a few benefits that we noticed in having myself and Mike both from GatherUp speaking at it. Our parent company Traject was a sponsor as well. They used their sponsor slot to tease our social product, which has been rebranded, called Fanbooster. But I wanna get back to seeing if you can quantify the work you put into it all, but on our side, the benefits with two speaking topics, we had great exposure, I can only guess you basically led off the conference with Mike, which I'm thinking was another hit. For a decade, he has been probably one of or the biggest thought leader in the space.03:50 DS: Totally.03:51 AW: And, yeah, a great draw and just the reason I love working with Mike is just the levels he can think on, and he gave a great talk around review attributes, which plays heavily into our platform and things like that. And then two days later, 'cause it was a three-day conference, and I talked on some things strategically related to reviews and reputation management. But for us specifically, we saw double the leads last week of what we had been averaging like the four to six weeks prior, which really great.04:30 AW: Any time you can 2X something is fabulous, and it returned our leads to pre-COVID for a week, which is awesome. I'm probably gonna be a little maybe frowny face next week when they jump down most likely again a little bit, but maybe some of those that paid for the videos and things like that are watching in this week, and then they'll still be interested to sign up. So we had a really great experience. A lot of Twitter conversation, which is always awesome, great, in the moment mentions, new Twitter followers, things like that. So from our standpoint, it was fabulous. From yours, what was the amount of work that it took you to put this together? I guess I just wanna frame up for any of our listeners that might be considering hosting a virtual conference as a marketing vehicle.05:24 DS: Yeah, I would love to be able to quantify the hours. It's tough to say. We've been working on it for about six months. Heavily working on it certainly through July and August, lots of recording. So there were 34 presentations, one of them mine, and then all the other ones I had to book an hour to record with that speaker. There was a ton of setting up all the speakers, doing speaker agreements, lots of chasing with regards to sponsorships too. So getting sponsors, going back and forth with them on a lot of stuff, writing up sponsorship agreements, getting the platform launched. We used the system called HeySummit, which turned out really well. But getting that whole website set up, my own team, if I think about what Jessie and Sydney put into it, it was almost a full-time job for them. And so hours, probably hundreds, a couple of hundred of hours have gone into launching this thing, and so it was a lot of work. And not only that, we worked with a company called HeySummit, and they were great 'cause they keep everything organized, and they also did all of our video editing, all the videos launched onto the site, and so...06:40 DS: Between all of us, maybe 300 hours is what it takes to put on a conference like this. If I had to guesstimate at it, maybe 400, 300-400. So that's a big investment. That's a big expense. The expenses broke even, so it's not really a money-making venture. We took any money that we got from sponsorship and we put it back into Facebook ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, to market the conference. So our whole goal was to get that attendance list up as high as possible, and we managed to get 5500 through all of our marketing efforts. And then ticket sales are covering all the expenses, expenses of that company that we worked with and speaker gifts, and so there's really nothing left in the end. It's not a money-making venture on its own. It was completely a marketing exercise for us to just get our brand in front of more people.07:28 AW: Yeah, and so you did that at a very large scale. You also, too, because of... The local search community is very niche and they're really... There's been a couple of attempts. MozCon created their own local event, and now they've just folded local into MozCon itself, which is a very large event in the SEO community. But I really saw it as you took the opportunity of a premier event in local search has been vacated, and you just claimed it heavily with what you did, and I think that's pretty cool.08:03 DS: Yeah, I think it's cool that way. And it's like, this one was so successful that we can't not do it again, so it's gonna be an annual thing. There's also some talk about doing spin-off conferences. Because we have all the talks pre-recorded, we could pull in a few new speakers that are specific to, let's say, dentistry. Like we'd get some top dental marketing guys to come in, and we'd do a few presentations with them, and then we'd pull out eight good... Our favorite talks from the summit, and we've got a new conference and it's really easy to spin it up now. And so we're actually thinking about doing a bunch of industry-specific conferences. A whole new set of sponsors, a whole new marketing push. So it's an interesting angle that we can keep running with for additional exposure into different markets in terms of marketing Whitespark. So the marketing potential of this is pretty huge.08:52 AW: Yeah, that's awesome. Now, you guys did a really great job. Internally, I was saying it made me miss 2019 because conferences and public speaking have been so important to GatherUp's growth and something that Mike and I are just wired to do, to share and network and connect through those events. And having that completely shut off in 2020, has been... It's removed a major marketing arrow out of our quiver, so it was nice to see that bump. We've seen it with a couple of the local universities in small chunks as well, but it was really nice to have that happen. And yeah, I'm looking forward to what else you guys can do with it with what you learned year one and what went right and what went wrong. You brought a lot of great speakers and you got some new faces in there, and I think you worked really hard on that, so well done.09:44 DS: Thank you.09:46 AW: I was definitely proud, excited, jealous, all of those things, which are all good.09:51 DS: Yeah, I'm excited about it too. I'm excited about the future of it. One thing that stood out for me is that you talked about the surge in leads that you saw from your presentations. It was fascinating to me that we did not see that. As the premier sponsor, the premier, we had four presentations from Whitespark. At the end of so many things there was all these like, "Hey, Whitespark deals," but we didn't really see a big lift in leads or sales from it, and it speaks to me about we just don't have the greatest products and services that are of interest to people.10:27 DS: We are very heavily citation-based, and that's part of it. Citations are losing interest in the industry right now but it's a big part of what we do, and so it just wasn't like, "Oh, awesome, citations." If I had done this conference six years ago, then I'm sure it would have been a massive business booster on the citation side of things. But our GMB service is amazing, and I think that there's a great potential there, and we saw some growth from a conference there. But our products, they're a little bit scattered.
42 minutes | Sep 3, 2020
22: SaaS Pricing - Is The Price Right?
Links from this episode: Whitespark Local Search Summit Summit Beast Pricing expert Patrick Campbell on Twitter and his company ProfitWell FULL SHOW NOTES:[music]00:10 Aaron Weiche: Episode 22, SaaS pricing. Is the price right? 00:16 [INTRO]: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins, and losses shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.00:41 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.00:44 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.00:45 AW: And I think summer has just about set for me as we are in the last week of August here, and soon enough, hopefully, we'll be enjoying long weeks of Minnesota falls and then the inevitable winter abyss, but...01:04 DS: Yeah.01:05 AW: So so far, I've been doing a pretty good job this summer on spending my weekends up at the family cabin, and out in the boat with the kids, and on the water and things like that, which has made my July and August feel really great, much different than how like March, April and May felt. And how has that been for you, Darren, since... We haven't really talked in well over a month on the podcast anyway.01:30 DS: Yeah, it's been a while. The summer's been nice, we've been trying hard to get our backyard all nicely set up, so we got things like a new swing, and we got a hammock. We just recently invested in a nice projector and a screen, so we can do backyard movie night, and so...01:46 AW: I saw that.01:47 DS: Yeah, we're trying to take advantage of the summer, and because this particular summer is the summer of COVID, we're mostly staying home. We're not going anywhere and so we're trying to make the most of our backyard, and enjoy being outside because we have such a short period here in Edmonton. It's getting cold, I'm wearing a sweatshirt right now. It gets cold the end of August. September is our only month of fall, we start seeing snow in October, so yeah. We've tried to cram it in, as much as we could.02:19 AW: No, we're not there yet. I do... Fall's my favorite season, but we've still been doing 85-90 degree days last couple or so.02:27 DS: Yeah, yeah it's getting cold here already.02:30 AW: No, no good. Well, I know you have been extremely busy, Whitespark is putting on a local search Summit with 30 speakers? 02:41 DS: Thirty-three or 34 in total. So yeah, basically, if you are a somewhat known local search speaker or writer, like you kind of write about local search, you're mostly speaking at our... You're pretty much gonna be speaking at our conference. So I'm so excited about that, we have a huge lineup and yeah, it's been busier than ever trying to get all of these talks recorded, so the whole thing's gonna be pre-recorded, so I've been really busy with that. I'm also super busy trying to set up the local search ranking factor survey for 2020. That's getting put together right now. Aaron, you should get an email in your inbox this afternoon with an invite to take the survey, that's what my talk is gonna be on so I've been busy trying to put that together. And also another thing is, we have three different, sort of mini product launches that we're trying to time with the Summit, so...03:37 AW: Oh. Wow.03:38 DS: Dev is busy and yeah, it's been busy as hell.03:41 AW: Yeah, what would you say, what's your weekly time commitment to the Summit so far? 03:47 DS: Yeah, over the last couple of months, it's probably been 20 hours, 20 hours a week for the last eight weeks-ish.03:54 AW: Wow. Yeah, a considerable...03:56 DS: But I would say the return on investment is going to be huge 'cause it's already big, we are already feeling it and it's because we're doing the marketing for the Summit, and so that ends up generating a ton of buzz. All the speakers are talking about it, everyone's sharing it, everyone is seeing the Whitespark brand everywhere, and so our business is better than ever right now, and we're seeing really good growth right now. And I think it's just gonna continue to grow up until this sort of pinnacle of the conference, and then we'll have a really good drop off from that, but then it's evergreen content, we're gonna keep using it. We'll do it again next year, and then we have like a year's worth of content we'll be pulling out for more marketing, so I think it's gonna be kind of nuts. I really think this is gonna be a great Whitespark.04:43 AW: That's awesome. And I think that's a great little marketing tidbit in there, even... You can look and see right, the event itself, the day it's carried out and you play all the presentation over those days, that's the marketing and that's the buzz, but just as you alluded to, it's like it's all of the pre-marketing with it right, where you guys are... It gives you a ton to post about socially on Twitter, I know you guys have been using LinkedIn and seeing great traction at LinkedIn, and then you have 30 plus speakers that they're all putting it out on their channels, there's some really great ripple and carry effect on this, and you're still a couple of weeks away from the event itself.05:27 DS: It's just kind of amazing, and I'm gonna have to give a shout-out to Summit Beast. We've been working with this company called Summit Beast, run by Matthew Hunt and Edyta McKindsey. And they've been really instrumental in helping us put this together in terms of getting organized, what we need to do, helping us develop our ads, our sponsorship packages, our outreach, everything, it's... They've been really great to work with. So if this is something you're thinking about, I couldn't recommend them more. They're awesome.06:00 AW: Yeah, well, I think I heard through the grapevine that Traject, who is our kind of group of products for GatherUp is likely gonna be a sponsor.06:12 DS: It's gonna be great. Yeah, I had a talk with Katelyn about that, and we're looking at a sponsorship program with them. That's actually another marketing vehicle too, because these sponsorship packages, they end up getting the Whitespark brand in front of their audience too, right. And so... And then what we're doing is any sponsorship dollars we get, we funnel right back into advertising for the Summit 'cause our goal is to get as many attendees as possible, so it's not a money-making venture in its own right, we don't care to make cash from the event, but it's the brand building and authority we'll build through doing it.06:51 AW: Well, make sure you take detailed notes on some of this stuff 'cause I think this would make a great topic of conversation after everything wraps up when you're able to do a post-mortem on it. Kind of break down all of those things and to see like, "All right, what did the 30 or 60 days after the event look like as well as pre, for how it impacted our marketing and sales and things like that. I think there's a lot there.07:17 DS: Totally will do. What's going on with you these days? 07:20 AW: Probably, if anything, right now, just kind of sitting in this holding pattern 'cause the kids start school the second week of September, and my two oldest ones are in the high school, so they're on what's called a hybrid, so they'll be in school two days a week, and then they alternate an additional Friday every other week, and then the other days they distance learn. And then my third daughter, she's in middle school. She'll be alternating as well, and then my little guy, he's not in school yet, he's just four. So I don't have to worry about that with him. But yeah, so it's just gonna be interesting to see how this plays out. To some extent, like how long will this last? Will it be able to be carried out the way that they're thinking, will we see a spike in cases? You watch what's happened with some of these universities and reversing course from in-person classes to distance and... Yeah, it's just kinda like all right it's... I don't know, you definitely know you're getting on a roller coaster and it's like, "All right, well, you're getting on the ride and be prepared for the ups and downs, and fear and fun and [chuckle] whatever else is combined in it."08:30 DS: Sure. Yeah, totally. Yeah. Violet, our daughter is staying home, so they haven't... Our school board has put out an online option, and so we're gonna take advantage of that 'cause honestly, for us, we just... There are too many unknowns. It's like we don't know enough about the virus. But it looks like the majority of her school's going back so she'll be one of a few that are just sticking with the online option, but we're just gonna play it safe. We'll see how it goes.08:57 AW: Yeah, totally. Other than that, on the professional side, I have been missing lately, like conferences and travel and that just free time to get inspiration and things like that. And I really didn't, for the first three, four months of everything that's gone on since March, and it's like... I don't know, it was obviously so focused, there were so many things going on and you were focused on customer retention, and it's completely overwhelmed personally with figuring things out and keeping your family safe and all of those kind of things. And as those things have matured like just lately, it's like, "Man." And I'm just not built the way to like, "Wow, yeah, I just wanna get up and have five Zoom meetings every single day. Day after day."09:42 DS: With everyone.09:45 AW: Yeah, I like these breaks where it's like, "Hey, for a few days I'm at a conference and I'm talking to smart people, and I'm immersing in that experience," and it just allows me to get my head around other things, and network, and learn, and all of that. And I've definitely been missing that lately, so I'm looking for... I'm looking forward to your Summit. A few months back, we had the LocalU Advanced and that was a really fun day. It was great to see so many other familiar faces and just learn and see what people are talking about and things like that. It's not as good as in person, but it's still just access to so much great information, which obviously is great to spur in the brain but it just...10:26 AW: It feels really weird, right. I was thinking about this 'cause there's another
40 minutes | Jul 15, 2020
Full episode show notes:[INTRO music]00:13 Aaron Weiche: Episode 21, Frameworks.00:16 INTRO: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses shared in each episode from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.[music]00:43 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast, I'm Aaron.00:46 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.00:46 AW: And I am currently living summer to its fullest the last few weeks. How about you? 00:55 DS: I wouldn't call it to the fullest. [chuckle] I'm living summer to the "halfest". I'm doing some summary things, but I feel like I need to get out more. We're a little apprehensive about going out, spending enough time outside. We should get out more. More walks, more bike rides.01:10 AW: There you go, I think it's a good idea. In regards to COVID, I would say that the easiest way I surmise our family and definitely having kids with high school activities and sports and those things are like on their own trajectory, but we've moved from isolation to limitation. And a lot of it's just limiting like what are bad ideas? Going to a bar, for me, I'd rather not go get a haircut, I'm lucky Marcy's been cutting my hair. I'm in no hurry to jump on a plane. I'm not going to the health club. I'm doing long walks just about every day, but no weights or strength training or any of that but yeah, just trying to get back to as much as normal. If I'm in a store, I'm in a mask, just that kind of stuff, just trying to be as smart as possible and distancing and preventative things without... Yeah, the bunker life in a family of six and when you have a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old, it just won't work.02:10 DS: I can imagine, yeah. Yeah, it's not that dissimilar from what we're doing, so pretty much every night after dinner, I get outside with Violet, and we'll go for a walk or bike ride and Jill comes for most of those, too, so we're doing that, we're getting out and just sort of going outside when the weather is decent. Yeah, and definitely, mostly not going into any stores. If I did have to I would bring a mask. But for the most part, I haven't been to a store in over a month 'cause we get everything delivered. Our groceries are all delivered or curbside pickup and so it's been really easy that way.02:42 AW: It's an interesting thing when you're out, and when you're wearing a mask, and just the human energy between those wearing masks, those not wearing masks, just all... You see the collision in people's eyes of political views and personal views and their rights and oh, so many things, I don't know.02:58 DS: My freedom? 03:00 AW: Yes, it's quite an interesting thing.03:02 DS: Yeah, totally. I follow this group on Nextdoor for our neighborhood and wow, some of the posts over there are really blowing up with the two sides clashing, people talking about their freedoms to not wear masks, and people trying to educate them on the benefits of masks. But man, there's that one group that can't get their head around the mask only being for them, and they don't see the benefit of it from the other perspective, which is you wear the mask to protect others. And it's faced with all of the information being presented to them, they still can't wrap their head around that. It seems to me. There's probably lots of people like that.03:36 AW: Yeah, it's tricky folks. Definitely, I don't know, I don't know if it's pride. If it's vanity, I don't know if it truly is freedom or just being told what to do, or the fact that there's just so many people not willing to believe anything from any source at any time, right. The... I don't know, I can't handle all the conspiracy theories, what a hole to go down these days right.03:57 DS: Oh my God, yeah, I know, I haven't really gone down the holes, but I've seen glimpses of them and I'm like, Wow.[laughter]04:04 AW: Who knows? 04:05 DS: Some things they're thinking, yeah.04:06 AW: Yes, you'll never get out if you go in. So I think what you're doing is why it's just kind of walk around the edge and find a new path.04:13 DS: Yeah, totally, totally. How are things going at Gather Up these days, what's going on? 04:18 AW: Good. I think the easiest way to state it is just stability, things have become more stable from what's gone on as we've talked. We've had over a month since our last episode and things have really stabilized. The things that you see more than anything is, one, for me personally, like new sales are just slow and I'm mostly dealing with larger multi-location all the way up to enterprise-type deals, and really more than anything, it's like taking on something new, implementing a new tool and building process, or some companies would call change management. That's the obstacle right now. More so than spending budgets. And when you look, it's really easy to understand, it was the same for our business, especially the first eight to 10 weeks of COVID and what was taking place, it was like every minute was filled with a special meeting or a task force, or talking about how things were trending, what numbers churn, paused billing. So you can understand that inside of these other businesses that not only have that, but then have entered a reopening phase and changing protocols and health measures and communication and all these other things. So it's easy to see why they've probably just said like, "Hey, just keep on keeping on right now and let's not introduce anything new, look we have enough to deal with."05:45 DS: I think that's exactly it. Everyone's busy and they're getting back to business for the most part, but some things are lower priority and that concept of stability makes perfect sense. Let's just keep things going as they are, so we can focus on all this other stuff.06:01 AW: And as I pointed out with our stand-up team meeting today is what has really spoken well for us is just retention. Our April was down, but our May, we were not down, we were on the plus side, very little, but still on the plus side, which was really encouraging. June, as we record this headed into the last few days of June, is trending nicely for a percentage point or two of gain, which sounds fantastic, right now.06:29 DS: Any gains, sounds pretty good.06:30 AW: Exactly, and all of that's being done with basically almost no new sales, we have some of our resellers and agencies are expanding, our partners that resell us are expanding, but as far as things direct with us, that really isn't happening. So it's having just a high level of retention and you've already peeled away some of the people that were very fringe customers, not heavy users, don't find value, things like that, but overwhelmingly, the massive core hasn't needed or wanted to make any of those changes, so that's really sound. And I just shared with our team, that's a compliment all the way around, 'cause I really do believe that we have an outstanding product, but we have a phenomenal service layered over the top of it, and those two things combined absolutely lead to retention.07:19 DS: Yeah, totally, I think there's also some nature of the business too with yours, I notice certainly, 'cause we're a GatherUp reseller white label version of it is like that always stayed relatively stable. We certainly saw some drops at the end of March, early April, but then it stabilized and we didn't see much because it's the kind of service that you just will always need, it's one of the ones where you're like, Yeah, okay, I can't cut that. It's a bit of an essential service, and I think that that's really helpful for GatherUp, and we're seeing it on our side too. Yeah.07:52 AW: Other than that a lot of small little releases like a number of things it's interesting, I think we kinda have these cycles where we push and we'll have a really big feature or two, and we're really pushing and grinding on that, and then the minute that happens, I think especially our engineering team kind of needs... They need a little break and then we've also kind of built up a lot of small things that need to be tended to, and a lot of those tend to be behind the scenes, like migrating to a new version of something, shoring something up, test code, whatever it might be. And so we made it through a couple of weeks of that after some big, really big pushes to start the year, but then now we're getting into this middle ground where they're smaller things, but they're very visible things. We're pushing things out, but it's things that we can blog about or market or talk to our customers about things that they notice or they can engage with, or not so much a feature release, but an enhancement to an existing feature that's there. That's been nice to hit these patterns of that happening, like every couple of weeks out of a sprint.09:00 DS: I'm a little jealous of that position because I've got most of my dev team focused on building our brand new accounts system, which is like all of our payment processing, user management, receipts, all the order forms, if you're gonna go and sign up for something, all of that accounts stuff. Right, and it's one of those big huge beasts of a project and also migrating it all from the old system, and so we're not gonna have any feature releases for a while, until we get this thing wrapped up and out the door, so it's gonna be a quiet period for us, I think.09:32 AW: But what a new level you will hit when you get that done.09:35 DS: Yeah, it would be nice because we've been really held back that this system, we built it in 2011, I think, and it's just this Frankenstein system I think I mentioned it before on the podcast, but it's just terrible, so it's time to definitely centralize all of that, and it'll also really help us with our reporting and understanding our metrics better, so looking forward to it.09:54 AW: Now, I think it'll be a... It'll just elevate the level that you're playing from, and then I think a lot of the things that you wanna do moving forward from that will just be so much more impactful and in sync and consistent and all those other things.10:11 DS: Yeah, it also is the foundation of what we're trying to build overall as a company, kind of
45 minutes | Jun 3, 2020
20: Big Launches & Big Challenges
FULL SHOW NOTES:[INTRO music]00:10 Aaron Weiche: Episode 20, Big Launches and Big Challenges.00:16 Intro: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses, shared in each episode, from Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.[music]00:42 AW: Welcome to the SaaS Venture podcast. I'm Aaron.00:42 Darren Shaw: And I'm Darren.00:45 AW: And we are back in front of the mic and ready to catch up on... It's been about a month since we've connected, and we definitely have plenty to talk about and catch people up on. But I thought a great place to start... Just from some of the things that we've been talking about regarding Whitespark and some of the things on your plate. I definitely wanna hear about your big launch that you've recently had with the Local Citation Finder and get the nitty-gritty details on that.01:21 DS: I know, it's exciting times. It's been really weird, actually. We haven't talked for a month, I think, 'cause we're both really busy. Kind of in a reactionary mode. With all this COVID business there is so much going on and everyone's trying to do their best to launch some stuff and put stuff out there. So yeah, feels like its been a while since we talked. Oh, yeah. Can't wait to talk about the launch of the LCF? But I guess before we get in there, I just... How are things going, what's going on with you at GatherUp? 01:47 AW: Yeah, well, we can get to some of that. I'm more of the big challenge part. We had a challenging week last week with a little bit of a reduction in staff. A few off of my team and that was incredibly difficult. And talk about, I guess, some of the more difficult parts of that, but within this, it's no different than a lot of businesses. There's hard decisions that have had to be made just based on so many aspects of what's going on in the economy and how it affects when you primarily serve small and medium-sized businesses and, in some industries, they've been so susceptible and have their doors shut and not had a way to even adjust, or if they have adjust, it's been a much, much different look to their business so that was definitely really difficult. We've seen some things leveled out from what April looked like as far as that first wave of panic churn.02:50 DS: Yeah, totally.02:50 AW: Yeah that kinda kicked in. And now we're just seeing stragglers in some of those situations from what's there. So just kinda adapting with that. But everything on the homefront is good. Everybody's healthy and the weather's been nicer. So we're getting outside more and just grateful for all of those aspects, and we've done a pretty good job of just shifting the... What we're happy with instead of what is different or what we're missing out on and things like that.03:20 DS: Yeah, right.03:21 AW: What about you? 03:23 DS: Yeah, so everything is going alright here. I've always worked from home. So it's not a huge shift for me in terms of my work and family life. It's not that much different. Just not seeing, not socializing as much really. And we had a bit of a health scare at the beginning of this, we were all worried that we had it. So we had to do some distancing in the house, but we've come out of that and everyone's healthy again. And so, we still don't know actually if we did have it. Even though we got tested. Apparently, we hear all the... All the tests are somewhat unreliable, especially if you're only carrying a small viral load. So we don't know if we have it. We're interested to get the antiviral test, but because of that, we're extra sensitized. And so, we're not seeing anybody. We get everything delivered. We sanitize everything that comes in the house. We're just really playing it safe now for two reasons. One, we had a bit of a scare and was like, "Well, we don't wanna mess with it." And two, we don't know if we're carriers now and so we're extra careful around other people too, right? So we had that, but gosh, now that that's over, it's so nice to just be back to living our quarantine lifestyle.04:35 DS: I spend a lot of extra time together, really connecting with my daughter these days. We all have really fun play time every night after dinner. So, family life has been good and the business has been surprisingly good too. We had a real big scare in at the end of... End of March, it was getting kinda bad. Lots of cancellations. And so it was like, wow, not looking good, and so we had to make a bunch of hard decisions. Similar to you. We did a few lay offs and we reduced hours across the team. And some of that was defensive planning for what was to come, but in the end, April actually turned out okay for us. So our revenue started to climb back up. We launched a new Yext service, which is Yext replacement service which was well received, and then we launched the new Local Citation Finder. So yeah, it's all been going back in the other direction. So we've brought our team, many of our team members back up to full-time hours and we're forging ahead with a lot of stuff. The business is starting to come out of it looking healthy, too.05:38 AW: Nice, that's good to hear. I feel like, on a sales and new business side, that has been... Was really, really quiet and I feel like in the last week or two, we've started to see more of a pulse there, which I'm...05:51 DS: Same, yeah.05:52 AW: Excited about so.05:53 DS: Yeah, like the last two weeks. It really starts to feel like the sense that people are... There was this panic mode at the beginning, everyone's getting defensive, cutting expenses 'cause they don't know what's gonna come, but now they're like, "Okay, well, it's been like this. I think we're kinda getting used to this, and we still have to build a business. So what are the ways we're gonna do that," and then... We both run marketing technology companies, so they start looking to us, and so leads are starting to come back in again.06:20 AW: Yeah. Awesome, let's...06:21 DS: Yeah.06:22 AW: Hope that continues. Ride that wave back up.06:25 DS: Yeah, definitely. What are some of the things you've been doing at GatherUp? What are some of your offensive strategies that you've been working on? 06:34 AW: The one thing that we've really gotten into is we just double down really heavy on content. I finally got it kind of pulled into a thought process the other day, but we were on a call and talking about shipping product, and the importance of that, and things like that. And I was like, "Well, I think what we're doing, we're just shipping strategy right now," because we have a really robust feature set. And sometimes with that, there's just a lot of elements to it where people don't understand all of the pieces, or how to string 'em together, or how to best utilize the features.07:15 AW: And I've found it almost cathartic to be writing and pouring myself into teaching. So, a lot of strategy type blog posts, and execution, and webinars. We had you on a local AMA we did. You, and I, and Joy Hawkins, and Mike Blumenthal. Yeah, really great. And we have our monthly customer webinars, and we had our agency webinar. So, we've just really gone all out with sharing things that, with not doing as much outbound, without as many demos things, like that where it's like let's just give people as much education as we can and try to help them through it to do the best that they can and for their business. So...08:00 DS: Yeah, I've seen really great content coming out from you guys lately. It makes me be a bit jealous, we're a bit quiet on the content front. You're like, "Okay, we've got all these great features, let's focus on content." [chuckle] We're like, "Oh, we got a good content list, let's get some new features launched." Yeah.08:15 AW: Yeah. Yeah, it's that's really it. That's not to say, I still have one heck of a wishlist.08:22 DS: Yeah. No, I agree.08:22 AW: And keeping those things moving forward, but it just definitely felt like for, especially for our customers, we wanna help you, we wanna make it through this together, 'cause if they don't make it, we're not gonna make it kind of deal. So, how do we help them understand how to best use our tool, even come up with different ways. Like one of the things that I like the most that I'm trying to get myself on some other podcasts and find some other ways to talk about is a post about just reopening during COVID, and just how important it is to have these tight cycles of you're making changes, you have new guidelines, and safety guidelines, and new ways that you're selling. You need really tight feedback loops to understand if what you're doing is actually building trust and confidence in the consumer and they will continue to come back, because...09:19 DS: Your content strategy there, it's so smart to really get into that, because people, as they start seeing this, and then it's sometimes they may not even be on your mailing list, but they're a customer, and they happen to see something on Twitter or something, 'cause it gets shared, all that stuff. So, it's really great to be bringing them back and thinking about the product.09:38 AW: Yeah. And like I said, it's been a good, just a great way to focus. And it's one of those things, it's nice when you get into it and you're able to write these things and string so many ways that you can use the platform and go deep and whatever else. And if anything it's just really renewed my love of what we've built, and how it works, and the potential it has, and everything else. So, that part of it has been a good grounding, gratitude, exciting, all of those things. Even though I love it much more if I'm talking to people about it on sales calls, that is a greater level of excitement than just riding out into the great wide open, but it has been great to help customers and then hear from them after our webinars or have them mail and say, "Thanks, this is something very tangible that I could use. I am using it. This opened my eyes." It's great to see things like that.10:33 DS: Yeah, totally. Yeah, awesome. Good job. Yeah, I actually saw a thing today, I don't know if we're both members of that, Aaron Kralls' SaaS Grow
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