Sramana: One thing I know from personal experience as well as the experiences I have learned about from numerous entrepreneurs is that they understand what types of leads to get, how much it costs to get them, and what it costs to qualify and nurture those leads before converting them. That process is the key to each business. Can you explain how you went through that process and found those answers?
Colin Day: Early on when we ran out of money, the only thing we could afford to do was email. Our product could not be held or touched. We built something called “Build Your iRecruiter,” which was a Flash-based application with which you could create your own virtual e-tracking system for recruiting. We had cool graphics that would illustrate the applicants going in to review your jobs and applying for them.
We would allow people to print out a copy of what they had built so they could take it to their bosses and show them. When they did that, we captured their contact details so we could turn them into a lead. Everyone does demo download pages today, but we had never seen it done like that. We would get email lists and send out links to that iRecruiter app, and it would churn leads for us out of that email list.
Sramana: Email is one of the most affordable and effective mechanisms of marketing. There is no doubt about it. If you know how to do it, well it is incredibly effective.
Colin Day: We did it well, partly out of necessity and partly because our employees were young and understood it. In 1999, not a lot of people were doing email marketing.
Sramana: Once you started finding your stride and got your lead-to-sales process down, how did the business grow?
Colin Day: We started paying off our original loan and interest. We then had a wonderful day where we had completely paid off the entire loan. We were a viable standalone company with no debt. We became our own funding partner. Instead of using profit margins to pay off loans, we used them to purchase email marketing lists and buy SEO campaigns. We were able to fuel that lead generation machine that we had built.
Sramana: How many customers do you have today?
Colin Day: We have more than 1,400 customers.
Sramana: Where have you found the best traction?
Colin Day: Out sweet spot is companies with 2,000 employees. We certainly have segments. We have a segment for companies with fewer than 100 employees which uses an “out of the box” software and is purchased directly through the website. We then have a segment for companies with 100 to 500 employees, with 12 sales reps serving that customer base. Our next segmentation is the mid-market, which consists of companies with up to 15,000 employees, and we have 10 sales reps supporting that segment. Finally, we have an enterprise team for companies in excess of 15,000 employees, with three sales reps supporting that market segment.