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Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil: Diego Gomes, CEO of Rock Content (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Sep 3rd 2020

Sramana Mitra: The first year revenue was $800,000, and then how did that grow?

Diego Gomes: It started at $800,000, then it grew to $1.3 million to $2 million to $8 million. I would say between the year we grew our revenues from $2 million to $8 million was when we accelerated the most. We also started targeting outside of Brazil at that time. 

Sramana Mitra: How many customers do those values come from?

Diego Gomes: I don’t have the exact numbers, but I would say it was around 300 to 400 customers. In the beginning, we were focused on the small and medium-sized businesses, so we had a higher volume of customers but with a lower ACV. We were getting bigger gross revenues when we started going upmarket. 

Sramana Mitra: Now talk about going from Brazil to Mexico. What had to change? Did you need to have a Spanish writer?

Diego Gomes: Yes. The first thing that we did was to hire a Mexican team member. She started operating our blog in Spanish before we started selling to attract people from both the talent side and the branded side. For our first big customer in Mexico, we didn’t have the talent base to deliver.

We found a big university which later on became an internationalization playbook for Latin America. The idea was for their students to write for the university blog.

We bootstrapped our talent network with that base to be able to start creating content in that market. That allowed us to sell to let’s say a health brand where we had medicine students creating content for that company and with the same idea with engineering students writing for an engineering company. The university seeded the talent pool and marketplace for Mexico. 

Sramana Mitra: Great strategy. What kind of numbers was Mexico doing at this point?

Diego Gomes: Mexico started slowly with a few customers because of our bootstrapped focus strategy. We were focused on trying to sign a few bigger customers. We were already thinking about going upmarket at this point and start targeting big brands. Our revenues in Mexico would have been $100,000 to $200,000 in the first year. 

Sramana Mitra: Now we are at 2018?

Diego Gomes: In 2017 to 2018, we were doing $8 million a year. 

Sramana Mitra: With the revenues up from $2 million to $8 million, what were the strategic levers? It was going upmarket in Brazil, and also bringing in Mexico?

Diego Gomes: That was the moment when we nailed our inside sales operations. We also started to segment our customers by size. We had hired an amazing CRO, Matt. He is like a co-founder to us. He is American. He came from HubSpot and had a solid experience in scaling.

In that year we had a highly successful demand generation machine, but we didn’t have a proper sales team. Matt was able to quickly expand our sales team. We went from 10 sales reps to 50 sales reps. The engine started working.

We also segmented another important lever. We segmented the customer base into small businesses with a short and quick ACV sale cycle. The mid-market remained inside sales – higher ticket but still 100% in the office. In 2018, we started specializing in enterprise and food sales both in Brazil and Mexico. 

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil: Diego Gomes, CEO of Rock Content
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