Jordan Pease is the Co-Founder and Head of Product at Groopt, a simple and mobile database for nonprofit and member-based organizations.
Leaders that excel have the ability to say “no.” Too often in a startup, leaders want to pursue every market, build every feature, and establish every partnership that comes their way. Good leaders need to be able to say no and protect their vision from getting distracted or diluted by the non-essentials.
At a startup, headcount and resources are scarce, and there usually isn’t a ton of capital around to invest in sales, customer service and account managers. At Groopt, we created the Happiness Expert super position that merges all these responsibilities together. I can’t tell you how successful it has been in generating new customers, partners and general relationships that help move our vision forward.
Recently, we co-sponsored a Meetup in the bay area called “Tech for Good” and even applied to start our own nonprofit foundation, “Groopt for Good.” This allowed us to network and build relationships with our potential customers in a forum where our goals were aligned: to create as much social impact as possible while driving the growth of the “Good Economy.”
Our best recruiters have been those already on our team. We are currently 15 employees strong and the large majority of them came from an existing employee referral. This makes the hiring process much easier when someone on your team has already vetted the candidate and can provide insight about them you may not have gained by interviewing a stranger.
We have allowed our product team to start working remotely more often. Between the commute, the distracting hustle and bustle in the office, and the advent of Google Hangouts, our product team has become exponentially more productive. If done right, I think there is a lot to be gained by the whole “virtual office” concept.
Focus on building a relationship with your customer instead of dollar signs, the commission or closing the deal. A good relationship is the strongest glue for retaining customers and generating repeat revenue from them. It is these relationships that have helped us establish channel partners that will put our product in front of millions of nonprofit clients.
Starting a company in the first place was daring. The founders and I had just graduated from UC Berkeley, the economy was in the dumps, and fundraising was at an all time low. It was the toughest and most courageous thing any of us had done.
The most valuable thing you can bring to the table when seeking early stage investment is an awesome team. More so than revenue, traction, or a solid product, most investors are gambling on the team being able to make it happen. Building a good team is priority #1 in my opinion.
When we moved our office into a beautiful victorian mansion in the Haight/Ashbury neighborhood, the landlord was pressed for liquid cash and we locked down a 40% discount per month on rent by paying upfront for 7 months. We’ve now used the property as an office for 2.5 years and we’re still paying the same low rate while prices have sky rocketed all around us.
In the early days, our CEO was practicing for a big pitch and decided to dress up like batman (including wearing his underwear). The thought was that if he could keep a straight face in that attire, he would kill it on stage. Unfortunately for him, I decided to leak the video to the rest of the team and a few of our close friends…