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Bootstrapping to $20 Million From London: Guy Mucklow, CEO of PCA Predict (Part 4)

Posted on Friday, Sep 9th 2016

Sramana Mitra: Tell me about how you sell. Whom were you selling to? What was the sales decision making cycle?

Guy Mucklow: Our main target audiences were e-commerce businesses. Another really important learning and a key theme that underlines and underpins our whole business is about choosing your routes to market very carefully. Most of our competitors tend to congregate in certain channels and markets. We made a conscious decision to power our own furrow – to be a business that went against the grain. One of my first trade shows had around five or six of my competitors there.

Being the sixth or seventh conversation, it didn’t matter how well differentiated our technology was to everyone else’s. When you’re the sixth conversation in that chain, everyone is thinking exactly the same about you. Everything tends to merge into one. What we did was we chose a number of specific trade shows to go to where none of our competitors were. We made those completely about us. In every other aspect, we aimed to be different.

A major thing for us was, how we sold our technology. It was very unusual I guess for most SaaS businesses to be looking at a mass market opportunity as opposed to the high-value, low volume end of the market. Most SaaS businesses got started by developing a product that meets the key requirements of one or two very large enterprises. They work very closely with those. Then they tended to move down into the lower value end of the market. We started at the lower value end of the market.

We were very fortunate in having a piece of technology that you can understand. Very simply, it doesn’t require too much education or too much configuring. What we did was to build a self-service model. That obviously had to be incredibly frictionless to take customers on a journey from discovery all the way through to the repeat purchase process, but do it in a way that they wouldn’t need to pick the phone up. If you’re selling a $50 pack to a customer, the point at which that customer picks the phone up and says, “How much is this? How do I integrate it?” is the point at which you lose any margin on that sale. We’ve been very successful in doing that.

95% of our sales come through a self-serve type of channel. We get paid upfront for our services. We have very lightweight relationships with those customers. That, in some ways, is very good. In other ways, it holds us back. Increasingly, I want us to become more than skin deep with our customers. At the moment, the main experience that our customers have with our technology, if they go down the self-serve route, is the experience they have in set up which is generally really good, and also in the re-billing side of the process.

I want us to develop a platform that is used on a day-to-day basis by our customers. I want us to be having those conversations with our customers on a regular basis to enable them to help shape future product developments for us. I don’t want to say that we want to become very cooperative or communal in the way in which we make decisions because ultimately the decision is going to rest with us. I do want our customers to feel that they have some buy-in and that we have a much tighter relationship with them than we do at the moment.

It’s a theme that has been consistent with our business for the last 16 years. It’s about daring to be different – to be doing stuff that our competitors are not doing, to be leading our market as opposed to following it, and to be plowing our own furrow. That was really important for us in the early days. It’s exceptionally important to us now as we look to drive innovation in our market.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping to $20 Million From London: Guy Mucklow, CEO of PCA Predict
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