India Currents Magazine has a cover story on Indian digital influencers in its September issue. Sramana Mitra is their top choice. You can read the story here.
Want to discuss your strategy with Sramana Mitra? Come to a free and online 1Mby1M Mentoring Roundtable. Register here.
Anthony started a CRM app in Australia that became the No. 1 on the Google App Store. VCs started calling. Anthony moved to San Francisco and has built a robust company with funding from Emergence Capital. Very cool story!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Anthony Smith: I was born in a very small town of Hamilton in the northern part of New Zealand. It’s famous for its cows and
Sramana Mitra: How do you compete with these hundred different competitors?
JT Marino: We built the company our way. We cannot compete the same way they do. If we want to compete like a Casper, we cannot beat them dollar per dollar in ad spend. We have to be very careful how we purchase our marketing. We have to be very ruthless with measuring our return on ad spend.
If it’s not profitable, it just doesn’t work. We have to constantly move and reevaluate where we’re spending our money. We started opening stores and we have to be more scrappy where we measure all these things carefully. Our goal is to make sure >>>
This feature from the TechCrunch covers the highlights of the Disrupt San Francisco Hackathon held over this weekend. The winner of the grand prize is Alexa Shop Assist while ASLink and SpeechCoach.ai are the runners up. For this week’s posts, click on the paragraph links. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Where was that factory?
JT Marino: That was in Southern California. They were willing to take a chance. Their primary business wasn’t even mattresses. We had to go to a factory that didn’t produce mattresses and convince them to produce them. As far as the marketing side goes, we were using family, friends, social media, and doing some Google AdWords.
Customer service was critical to the whole experience. We did very well on that. We would follow up with every single customer and get feedback as to what they didn’t like. We used that to iterate on the product. That drove down our return rate and drove up >>>
Sramana Mitra: You have a lot of customers switching from Zoho to your platform?
Daniel Saks: We would work with Zoho as well. We have many brands in our ecosystem that include those entry-level providers. We think all SaaS brands are great but what we do see is as the complexity of what you need to solve evolves, people gravitate to special providers.
Even in AppDirect, we’ve grown from a couple of people in an apartment to over 700 people in the last several years. First we used an Excel sheet for our CRM. Then we used a basic CRM, but we’ve scaled past that. Then we gravitated to Salesforce. I think >>>
JT Marino: We shut the site down and quit our jobs. We officially launched Tuft & Needle in October of 2012. The primary differentiation for us was that we were direct to consumer. We had just one model. This was very contrarian to the entire industry. There’s no company that makes one model. There’s firm, medium firm, medium soft. We wanted to just make one. Is it possible that most people actually need the same stuff?
We take that formula and offer that at a fair price, which was easy to do by going direct. We don’t have to have as big a margin because we’re not selling it to a store that marks it up again. We can operate at a much better price. We’re simplifying the process. >>>
There are shifts happening in the world of seed investing. Some questions are emerging:
How do you process the current investment climate where capital is moving further and further upstream? How does an angel investor (or an entrepreneur, for that matter) mitigate the Series A gap? How do you parse Unicorn mania? As an angel investor, you could get buried under later stage liquidation preferences. How do you protect yourself?