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Bootstrapping Using Services: James Kane, CEO of RWS (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Dec 1st 2016

Sramana Mitra: As you identified that opportunity, what then did you do to execute on it? What changed?

James Kane: We identified that the opportunity was significantly large here. We then reimagined the company to pursue a much larger opportunity. We moved the business from a small, sleepy college town in New York to Phoenix, Arizona. We had a lackadaisical team. We started the process of building a proper team to pursue the larger opportunity. It all started with the idea that there’s a larger opportunity out there. The first step was the realization that major changes would be needed to realize the opportunity. I wound up bringing on my sister who’s our Chief Operating Officer. Together, we reimagined the business from scratch.

Sramana Mitra: Why your sister? Did she have any background in any of this? What was the logic?

James Kane: My sister and I have been very close our entire lives. She was a music therapist. She had finished her degree and her residency. She was practicing in the Phoenix area. She didn’t particularly care to keep doing that anymore. She wanted to try her hand at business. Between the two of us, we felt like that would make a good kernel to build a company around because we have complementary strengths and weaknesses.

Sramana Mitra: In terms of business strategies, what were some of the key execution pieces?

James Kane: Over what time scale?

Sramana Mitra: After your sister came on board.

James Kane: Over the next two years?

Sramana Mitra: Yes, let’s take it in that slice.

James Kane: We relocated the company to a larger city so that we could recruit a team, which we did. We reimagined the business as a non-lifestyle company with a proper organizational structure. We, organizationally, reimagined things to divide our work up into the six teams that we have today. Then we executed an aggressive product launch strategy. We launched a solution to independent appliance retailers that allowed them to easily build a fully-featured e-commerce website for their store. We aggressively sold that solution and started expanding on from there.

Sramana Mitra: Talk to me a little bit about customer acquisition strategy. What worked during this period?

James Kane: The same model we had used acquiring customers for the RetailDeck product worked for the WebFronts product, which is the website development service that we offer. We built most of our sales initially through face-to-face sales at trade events. Afterwards, we added telesales as a key driver for our sales growth. That’s where it sits today. It’s roughly split 25% face-to-face sales at trade events. The balance of sales volume comes from working with dealers over the phone.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping Using Services: James Kane, CEO of RWS
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