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Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil: Diego Gomes, CEO of Rock Content (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 2nd 2020

Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit about your first client that was in the model that you found to be a possible success model. Who was that client? What were the circumstances? What did you do for that client? How did you get to the product-market fit?

Diego Gomes: I had two close customers that started with us back then. Both are technology startups looking to increase their demand generation generation. They were having a hard time creating SEO content for their blogs. 

Sramana Mitra: Where were they located?

Diego Gomes: In Belo Horizonte, Brazil. One of them is married to my sister. His name is João Pedro Resende and he is the CEO of Hotmart. It’s a successful startup company in Brazil. They recently acquired Teachable, which is a company in the US. They were looking for help in managing their editorial calendars and in attracting quality content to educate their online education. Their blog became a significant customer acquisition channel for them and the company has grown to about 400 to 500 people today. In the beginning, we were two startups sharing the same room and both of us were barely paying the bills.

Another customer was another tech company from the same city, Sympla. They build online events platform. We were helping them get ranking for all the keywords related to events. We became a meaningful demand generation channel for them.

Sramana Mitra: For these two clients, was the content in Portuguese for the Brazilian audience?

Diego Gomes: Yes, initially it was. Our company started in Brazil and it grew fast. We expanded to Mexico and then to the US last year. 

Sramana Mitra: How long were you operating in the mode where you were facing Brazilian customers only?

Diego Gomes: Our first three years were purely focused in Brazil. We saw that there were a lot of opportunities for the same space in Mexico.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s stay with the first three years and the Brazilian customer base. You were looking for Portuguese content creators, were you bringing them on as your staff or were you operating in the marketplace model at this point?

Diego Gomes: In the marketplace model, we started creating our blog about becoming a creative professional, working remotely, and becoming a certified Rock content creative talent. We put together an online education course for freelance writers, social media experts, and designers. This became the engine that started to build our talent community. 

Sramana Mitra: So the talent community is not just writers, it includes marketers, designers, and so forth?

Diego Gomes: Yes, but we started with our focus on writing. The second role we added was copy editors, then we added designers. Today we have a broader talent range. We now have videographers, animators, and scriptwriters, but when it started it was focused on blogging, SEO, and brand variety.

Sramana Mitra: What revenue level did you reach in the three-year timeframe when you were catering to just the Brazilian market?

Diego Gomes: I remember that it was a linear journey. I think the first year was $800,000. 

Sramana Mitra: Is this $800,000 worth of revenue or gross merchandise value? Is your revenue 10% of the marketplace sales?

Diego Gomes: It’s revenue. No, we have a higher margin because its a managed marketplace. We have roles in the customer service team that process some of that. We always had around 50% on the gross margin in the marketplace. 

This segment is part 3 in the series : Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil: Diego Gomes, CEO of Rock Content
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