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Bootstrapping to $10 Million: Coalition Technologies Co-Founder Jordan Brannon (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 7th 2020

Sramana Mitra: What kind of customers were you able to attract, and how did you attract those customers?

Jordan Brannon: We primarily attracted businesses that were manufacturing products and selling through traditional retail channels. A company making garments and selling through a larger retail chain like Nordstrom was our early-stage target customer.

We found them in a lot of different ways. One of the things that we saw as an opportunity was the rarity of getting e-commerce for businesses without a significant enterprise-scale investment.

We had an aggressive price point and we targeted everyone from people looking for professional talent on Craigslist to the University of Washington alumni network, as well as looking at light cold calling once we had a couple of case studies. We would do some cold-calling in those verticals as well and reference those case studies. 

Sramana Mitra: On the engineering side, were you doing Shopify or BigCommerce kind of websites? What was the platform strategy?

Jordan Brannon: We initially targeted platforms that had some existing audience. As part of our SEO strategy, we were fairly proactive in doing platform evaluation reviews. We spend a lot of time reviewing e-commerce shopping cart software and building up a good comparison library of content.

We picked a handful of winners in 2010 that we really enjoyed and we thought were advantageous to our merchants. We often focus our development work on Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Those are the three that we emphasize on.

Occasionally, we do some custom-built solutions for marketplace or Groupon-like sites where we would have the engineering talent to build a unique product.

Sramana Mitra: Talk a bit about any field of e-commerce where you had more traction than others.

Jordan Brannon: We found a lot of success with fashion and apparel. In 2010, products that were available to e-commerce were simplistic and not nearly as robust. If you think about Shopify and BigCommerce, they were under the radar back in 2010 and underdeveloped compared to what they are capable of handling now.

We keyed in on that. Once we started to develop a number of case studies that represented what we were capable of, it was a key part of how we ended up growing our new customer acquisition strategies. 

Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you operated in this service company mode for a few years, can you tell how long was that pure services company mode working?

Jordan Brannon: We operated it as a pure services company until about 2012 when we launched our first SaaS product. It was mainly to supplement the service work. Today, service is still an important work that we do, but it’s very much driven and supported by underlying product solutions that we have. 

Sramana Mitra: At that point in 2012, how many customers did you have for the services business? What kind of revenue level were you operating at, with what kind of average revenue per customer?

Jordan Brannon: In 2012, we were still fairly small. We were averaging $2,000 per month. In total, we were doing $1.2 million. We had about 50 reliable clients that year. 

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping to $10 Million: Coalition Technologies Co-Founder Jordan Brannon
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