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Bootstrapping a Tech Company by an English Major: Kevin Groome, Founder of Pica9 (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Nov 23rd 2019

Sramana Mitra: What’s the next major inflection point?

Kevin Groome: The introduction of Campaign Drive. We kept on building the software and getting more of our legacy customers over to the SaaS platform, which was an enormous risk point. By 2014, we were able to say that we had 90% of our legacy customers on our new SaaS platform.

Sramana Mitra: When did that finish?

Kevin Groome: Around 2016.

Sramana Mitra: It took a while. 

Kevin Groome: When we try to move a customer, we have to move all of their creative content. In order to do that, we had to wait until they have a new campaign. We didn’t force them all at once. As we did that, the platform was getting stronger. The cost of converting was less because we weren’t moving creative. We were installing a new creative for them.

Sramana Mitra: During this period, were you closing new clients?

Kevin Groome: Yes, one client a month. Sometimes they were existing clients who expanded their systems. We kept that going pretty steadily up until recently where we’re seeing more large enterprises. The onboarding of brands has slowed, but the onboarding of users has accelerated.

Sramana Mitra: The last revenue number was $1.6 million. What was the revenue situation in 2016?

Kevin Groome: We were around $5 million.

Sramana Mitra: In that duration, did you do any other financing round?

Kevin Groome: No, we have financed our growth out of profits.

Sramana Mitra: You didn’t really raise money to finance your growth. The money you took in was to buy out a set of investors. 

Kevin Groome: Just to be completely candid, a couple hundred thousand dollars was left at the end of the transaction that we were able to put in the bank. It probably would have financed two to three months of operations.

Sramana Mitra: But largely it’s a bootstrapped company.

Kevin Groome: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What happens after 2016? What’s the next set of events?

Kevin Groome: We brought on a CEO. I now play the role of Founder and looking at the marketplace. That was a big change. John is the COO. By 2016, SaaS was what we were executing on.

The CEO brought on a whole new culture. It’s much more metrics-driven. We are looking at churn rates and net revenue retention. The discipline of SaaS has been the theme since 2016.

What I found was that the numbers are starting to march steadily upward because we are in a business that compounds. When we win a customer, that revenue just compounds year after year. We’re beginning to see that.

Sramana Mitra: Basically it’s more of the same pure execution led by an external CEO.

Kevin Groome: Yes.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrapping a Tech Company by an English Major: Kevin Groome, Founder of Pica9
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