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Bootstrapping Using Services from Atlanta: Avelead CEO Jawad Shaikh (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Apr 8th 2021

Sramana Mitra: How long did it take you to hit $1 million ARR with this product?

Jawad Shaikh: At the end of 2019, we were roughly at $500,000 ARR. Twelve months later, we were at $4.9 million ARR. We spent a lot and invested a lot in a period of three years to perfect this. We also changed our pricing model at the end of 2019. 2020 has been a blow-up year as you can see. There was a 900% growth from an ARR perspective. 

Sramana Mitra: How many customers does that equate to?

Jawad Shaikh: We were at 18 at the beginning of the year. Now, we have 92. 

Sramana Mitra: Is it a direct sale?

Jawad Shaikh: Yes. Almost all of these are direct sales. One of the things that we did is start a channel partner strategy. We had a partnership with RSM, one of the big consulting firms. They help resell our software. That is a small portion.

Now, we also have a partnership with Cerner, which is the second-largest EMR system in the world. We are also setting up a client success model. We have room to grow within our existing client base with additional products that we have added in the past 12 months. We have also added a lot of facilities.

A lot of our customers might have a lot of facilities. Our largest customer owns 90 hospitals, but we are in only about 20 of their hospitals. There is a lot of opportunity for growth with our existing client base, partners, and direct sales. Up to now, it has mostly been direct sales, but we are adding these additional sales channels. 

Sramana Mitra: Where are you doing this out of?

Jawad Shaikh: We are based out of Atlanta, Georgia. 

Sramana Mitra: All of your employees are in Atlanta?

Jawad Shaikh: They are spread out, especially with COVID. We used to do a lot of traveling to the hospitals to work with them on these things. We are doing them virtually now. About a third of our workforce is based here in Atlanta. Two-thirds are pretty much scattered in the Mid-Atlantic and eastern United States. 

Sramana Mitra: Do you still have a lot of consulting business going on?

Jawad Shaikh: We do, although in a smaller portion. We have flipped it now. Last year, we were two-thirds consulting and related services, and software was probably a third or less. Now, we are flipped. We are now two-thirds software-related revenue and about a third consulting.

One interesting thing is, we used our consulting relationships to get in the door and sell our software. Now, the opposite is happening. We are leading with our software and our solutions.

Once we get in, they would say, “Hey, your tools are great. Do you have people that could optimize with business processes and consulting?” Now, we are able to grow our consulting business on top of the software business. 

Sramana Mitra: Are you still bootstrapped?

Jawad Shaikh: Yes. One of the things that we have been doing is taking whatever we have gotten and putting it back into the company. 

Sramana Mitra: How much do you think you will do this year based on the trends?

Jawad Shaikh: We are targeting $14 million to $15 million this year. 

Sramana Mitra: Will you continue to bootstrap?

Jawad Shaikh: Currently, that is our plan. Who knows, something might change. We have been hit up. It’s a matter of doing a balancing act. If we do find the right partner that helps us grow faster while maintaining quality, we may look at that, but the current strategy is to stay bootstrapped. 

Sramana Mitra: We love bootstrapping stories. We love bootstrapping with service stories. We love stories that are non-Silicon Valley. I’m glad we reconnected.

Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping Using Services from Atlanta: Avelead CEO Jawad Shaikh
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