Matt Faustman is Co-Founder & CEO of UpCounsel, the easiest way to get amazing legal services for your business.
Delegation. The worse thing you can do as a leader is be a bottle neck for your team. You have to find talented people to perform the core functions of your business and let them own that piece of it – no easy task for a founder who is used to doing it all! For example, we brought in a talented young woman to run our attorney community because 1) it was a core piece of our business and 2) I did not have enough bandwidth to own it. The attorney community is now on pace to rival many of the worst biggest firms as far as headcount – needless to say, by delegating the task to a talented person, that part of our business is performing better than ever.
Digging very deep into our customer segments. Instead of trying to target every type of business or industry, we surgically attacked businesses that were desperate for our business. A great example is the technology and real estate industries, two of our biggest industry groups. There was a clear need for the product and it required little to no sales cycle for these type of businesses to start using the product – exactly the customer we should be targeting.
Each segment of customer needs it’s own channel analysis i.e. we use a lot of customer acquisition techniques depending on the customer. There are rarely silver bullets. A great customer acquisition strategy typically requires many different channels or methods working in harmony.
We look for problem solvers. When we interview new candidates we try to dig into their past and find moments where they solved hard problems or prevailed in the face of challenges. This typically lends itself to some great stories at the very least.
Making Mondays about team check-ins. We like to keep everyone on the same page which is why we do a 45 minute all-hands meeting on Mondays (similar to a scrum), where folks can chat about what they accomplished last week and what they are working on this week. We also use Mondays to check-in with our teams, reducing the need for meetings throughout the week. We are not a big fan of lots of meetings.
We went to startup and technology meetups, hustling to get the first 50-100 beta users in the door. From there, we relied heavily on word of mouth and content about the legal needs of startups (our first customer segment).
Before you start building your product, have your first set of core customers picked out. These should be the thirsty folks in the desert and the promise of your product is like cold water – they should want to use it no matter how bad it is. This way, when you release your most early stage product, you have users to give you feedback, and you can quickly iterate on it.
When we launched the first version of UpCounsel, it was very rudimentary – we didn’t even have an email system build in – we were still building it. To our surprise we had several customers come through and post jobs to UpCounsel, so I had to send emails back and forth between customers and lawyers, which looked automated, to help the transactions go through. Luckily this only lasted a week, but it was super “hacky” and we laugh about it to this day.