SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Michael Brown

demio saas breakthrough featuring michael brownAbout Michael Brown:

Michael Brown is the CEO and founder of nDash, a content creation platform backed by the world’s top writers.

Learn from top SaaS marketers inside of the new SaaS Breakthrough Community​​​​  Facebook Group.  Join today:

Show Notes:
Helping Agencies And Companies Scale The Written Content Creation Process
Pivoting From Agency To SaaS
Leveraging Early Business' Data To Find The Right Direction To Launch The SaaS
Knowing The Use Case You're Going After
Marketing To Writers By Creating a Platform That Empowers Them More Than Elsewhere
Creating Education Content To Help Users As They Sign Up
Adding a Referral System As Part of The MVP
Marketing To Agencies Using The HubSpot Ecosystem And LinkedIn
Should Be Paying Very Little For Software But Paying a Lot For Content
Writing Strategies: Author Authority And Answering Audience's Questions
Product Emails Personalized To User Activity On The Platform
Hard Lessons: Launching a MVP Way Too Robust
Next: Getting a Little Bit More Data-driven On The Marketing Side
Lightning Questions

DA: 02:29
Hey Mike, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. Excited to have you here, have nDash on the show. Lots to talk about, a really good plan of attack around marketing initiatives. But, before we do that, how are you doing today?

MB: 02:43
I'm doing great, David. Thanks for having me.

DA: 02:45
Yeah, it's a real pleasure. Love to chat and to learn more about what's working over there at nDash. Before we do that, why don't you give us a quick rundown on nDash itself, when it was founded, who the customers are and what you guys are doing uniquely in the marketplace.

MB: 03:03
Sure thing. So nDash is a content creation platform backed by the world's top freelance writers. So we usually help, larger agencies and, you know, companies directly to scale the written content creation process. So that can be done, you know, with our network of freelancers, that can be done with the company or agencies in house writers. But for people that aren't super familiar with this space, I often say it's, you know, kind of a combination between a project management tool, like Basecamp, and then a freelance network similar to Upwork, but, I guess similar in theory to Upwork, but geared exclusively towards freelance writers.

DA: 03:44
When did you start this project?

MB: 03:46
So nDash the, the first version of nDash was just me as a freelance writer, in 2013, that kind of quickly grew into a content creation agency. So we had in house writers, we had project managers in house and you know, so we were sort of looking for a way to, to scale this process with an on demand community, with some tools that could skew, you know, streamline efficiencies and things like that. And ultimately found that the tool we were looking for, in the community that we were looking for just didn't exist. So at that point, you know, we decided to pivot the business, build our own platform and you know, the, the version of nDash that people would experience today has been online since 2016 so just about three years now.

DA: 04:32
Nice. Yeah, that makes sense. A lot of these great platforms are built from your own pain point, right? Kind of scaling your business. How do we do that? Let's build that. When you're first starting in the market, in your products coming to market, how did you find product market fit? Are you just bringing it to your current customers, the customers of your agency? Did you have to figure out who that ideal customer profile was and what does that look like?

MB: 04:54
Yeah, so I mean, we were, in somewhat of a unique position in that the product market fit was established, you know, during the early days of, of both myself as a freelancer, and that of an agency. So we kind of understood the, the workflows and the pain points. And of course we were already working with our ideal customers at that point. So, you know, for us the, the platform wasn't so much of a leap of faith as it is for other, you know, SaaS companies that are just getting started and that we, you know, we, we knew all of these details and you know, our customers and our experiences to date sort of led us to, you know, the platform that we knew that we had to create. So yeah, I mean I think that's, you know, sort of the backstory. It was definitely a luxury to have the, the, you know, the, the early business even though it didn't scale cause it pointed us in the right direction of, of what would.

DA: 05:45
During your initial kind of like agency and, just kind of being a freelancer, what was that process like to learn your ICP? I just love to have this conversation because I think there's so many lessons to be learned. Did you have to evolve that over time when you were writing? So just so I can kind of get a frame of reference because it's probably changed over time. And by the time you launched your SaaS, you had this really great understanding of that ideal customer profile. But how did that evolve, I guess from freelance all the way till to launching a SaaS to them? Was it bigger companies? Is it enterprise? Is it just like knowing the segment of the market that you're going after?

MB: 06:18
Yeah, I think it's knowing that the segment of the market, but also, you know, really the use case that you're going after. You know, so historically nDash has worked with companies that range from solo consultants all the way up to you know, fortune 500 brands. And you know, typically, you know, for us the ideal customer profile, the ICP I guess as you call it, is, is less about the, the company size itself and more about the use case that they're going after. So in other words, you know, how much of a content creation is done in house versus how much is relied upon by freelancers. Is the use case more of a, a volume bandwidth type of play? In other words, you know, the company or agency just doesn't have enough resources to produce the content that they want, or is it that they need a you know, a subject matter in a certain vertical or industry.

MB: 07:10
So those were the types of things, you know, again, that we learned early on in the agency days that we were able to extend to the SaaS model that we have today. But you know, I think it was also, a question for us or, or an issue for us to kind of determine the work we didn't want to be doing. So early on, you know, so nDash today is, has always been, you know, almost exclusively focused on written content creation. And you know, over the years we've gotten a lot of requests for design. We've gotten a lot of requests for things like social media management or, you know, marketing automation set up, a lot of things that, are somewhat related to content but not obviously, you know, content creation directly. So we, you know, we've, you know, we made some mistakes in that area early on I would say, but over time like we really understood, you know, the, the types of service and the type of value we want to provide. And if we can't provide it then you know, we're not going to, we can either refer people to partners or point them elsewhere. But definitely wanting to, to stay in our lane, so to speak.

DA: 08:16
Really, really good lessons that you just explained there. I think focus being such a critical piece using use cases as your ICP build out. Like that's fantastic stuff. So you guys come to market, with your SaaS, with your SaaS, basically inDash ready to go. You have kind of a customer base already built up, but you're also having to market to two different audiences. Now you need to bring in new writers. I mean, you had the agency, so maybe you had some writers, but surely bring in some freelance writers and you also have the consumers, the marketers, agencies, people coming in with, you know, the need. How did you guys determine where to put the priority on marketing to both sides? Where are you focusing first initially? Like, do you need to bring in the writers first? Do you bring in the audience first? How did that work?

MB: 09:01
Yeah, so I mean we, you are, are, were at the time and still today a bootstrapped company. So we definitely didn't have the, the resources or the bandwidth to actively market towards both, you know, the brand side and the writer side. So our approach to the writer's side has been to create a platform that that empowers them a little bit more and gives them more opportunities than what they would find elsewhere. So to give you an example, you know, most crowd sourcing, you know, freelance type of platforms, the worker or the service provider, they sign up and they just kind of wait around for someone to send them a, you know, a gig, whether it be a writing assignment or design, whatever the, you know, the platform might be. so you have a lot of inactivity on the supply side.

MB: 09:47
So we looked at it and said, no, we want to give, in this case writers the opportunity to, you know, to really create opportunities for themselves and to provide value you know, for our brand users as well. So the way that manifested itself is that when a writer signs up to our platform and after they become verified, they can actually see our entire database of companies. And it's not just that they can see them, they can see them and then, you know, proactively pitched them unique content ideas. So right now this is about how it's ranged historically, anywhere from 50 to 60% of all the completed transactions on the nDash platform have originated as a writer pitch. So when you do that, things like that in, again, in our case, we gave the writers the ability to sort of set their rates.

MB: 10:34
So this is a writer coming in, charging $1 per word, you know, we're not going to limit their earning potential. So those types of things allowed us to, get really good word of mouth in the writing community. So there's a lot of platforms like this, that launch, but very few actually give good opportunities to writers. So I feel like we did a good job of that early on and word quickly spread in circles that you know, nDash is a platform for, you know, elite writers to, you know, to, to really sort of make their mark. And because of the way we set that up, we were then able to, you know, really focus on bringing marketing to and selling to, you know, the demand side. So agencies and brands directly.

DA: 11:17
I love that. So marketing efforts to the agencies, to the brands internally, it's more of a product focus. What's the services that we can do to serve our writers who are maybe, you know, are possibly the most important users in this system, right? They, they definitely are. When you're working with them, did you guys have to like put in educational resources? Were you thinking about just ways to support them more just internal marketing initiatives, retention, activation? What did that look like? I mean, obviously you're working with the writers in that way, were you giving them ideas on how to pitch their product? Where you telling them what rates were good rates or was it just kind of you're, you're letting them out there and letting them do what they need to do?

MB: 11:58
No, a lot of it was really guided. So, you know, we did create, you know, we created a help section for writers that answers some of the basic question, questions I should say. And then we also created a series of content really geared towards helping these writers, you know, increase their, their freelance revenue on or off the nDash platform. So one of the, I think one of the best examples of that is sort of, we created a guide to pitching content ideas where we sort of outline, you know, some of the basic tenants, what are brands and agencies looking for in a pitch. You know, ways to craft it, everything from, you know, titles and abstracts, all the way down to pricing. So that guide is presented to new writers as they sign up to the platform today and then just kind of guides them in the right direction of landing more freelance work through this process. Again, whether that's on or off the nDash platform. So, you know, again, on the writer side, I think we were sort of forced to look at tactics and measures to, to scale it immediately just because we, like I said, did not have the resources to you know, to manually train each writer as they signed up to the platform.

DA: 13:10
And with them you also did what, like a lifetime referral system built in to how kind of bringing that virality as well?

MB: 13:17
Yeah, we did. it was actually, quite a debate that we had early on, but I was pretty adamant that a referral system built within the platform should be part of the MVP and it was, so really today, any writer that signs up, they're automatically given a referral link. And with that link, they, you know, any brand that signs up with their link or from their profile, that writer will collect a percent of that spend for the life of the customer. So we've always viewed writers, in a lot of ways as our de facto sales team, they're the ones engaging the brands that we sign up with. They're the ones doing the work. They're the ones pitching content ideas and ultimately, you know, for a large percent of brands and agencies that we bring on every month, they're the ones that actually make the referrals. So, yeah, that's been, that's been huge for us to start.

DA: 14:08
Do you guys provide your referees, you know, materials, graphics, text to use? Are you giving them the resources that they need to do that or is it really just like, Hey, you'll get credit for just word of mouth? Is it more organic? Have you guys had to dial in on that?

MB: 14:24
Yeah, it's been, you know, I would say it's on the roadmap for, for 2020 to really look at that as its own separate use case. So, you know, content specific to making referrals, it's limited right now. Writers seem to get that, you know, sharing their, their at their public nDash profile or sharing that referral link is really kind of what it comes down to. But certainly want to, you know, invest more in the referral affiliate program going forward. And that would include, you know, content specific to that use case for sure.

DA: 14:54
Got it. So really the writing build-out or the writer builder I should say was really just around product focused education, making sure that they were successful and then a great experience, meaning also referrals coming out of that as well. So that started to grow organically, that writing process. And then on the marketing front, you had to go after those agencies and bigger clients. What type of marketing initiatives were you doing to, to bring those people in?

MB: 15:21
Yeah, so we were doing, you know, for agencies, it was a lot of, it was, it was pretty hyper-focus. So we decided early on to focus on the HubSpot ecosystem or sorry, the HubSpot agency partners. We had had really good success in that channel, as an agency. So, you know, sort of extending that to, or extending the product to that audience wasn't much of a, wasn't much of a leap. We also found that, you know, agencies in that ecosystem were for the most part already using or had tried a similar platform in the past and may or may not have been happy with it. So there was a lot of direct sales, early on, you know, before the, you know, the, the large scale marketing kind of took hold. And then from there, you know, it was a lot of targeted audiences on LinkedIn, on Google, making sure that we were creating content that would be helpful to these companies that are looking to, to bring freelancers into the fold and build what we call like a modern writing team. So really it's been a lot of, you know, content creation and, you know, podcasts like this to be, to be quite honest, we're not, you know, doing anything real, groundbreaking in terms of the channels. I think it's just the, the focus and the execution that's, that's given us a leg up.

DA: 16:35
Yeah, no, absolutely. That's definitely helpful. And obviously you mentioned you're going into a market that already has some solutions, so you know you're going after people that may have already tried something that's failed. What's the languaging or the campaigns that you do when you're going after those people? People that have maybe already tried it, it's failed. I don't know if it's going to work for them. They're a little skeptical, but they want a solution like this. I think it's a common use case. A lot of times for SaaS companies, they're competing against other platforms, competitive platforms, maybe, you know, their competitors have failed their ICP before. So what kind of languaging do you guys use for maximum success there? How have you guys had to refine that messaging? That's such a critical piece of everything, right? Finding the right messaging. What's gonna resonate? You knew your ICP already, like you said. Did you already know how to talk to them or was this something that you had to test along the way? Are there, you know, website tasks with this language? Are you going out and, you know, doing one-on-one pitches to test the messaging? How did you, how'd you figure it all out?

MB: 19:02
Yeah, I mean, we look at conversion rates. We, you know, there's a lot of, scientific and non-scientific ways that we measure it. I think that early on our messaging was really, it was too heavy on the freelancer side. And as a result, you know, some of the personas that we're going after specifically, you know, in house content marketing managers, may have looked at nDash as a threat, to what they're doing. And we obviously don't want to be perceived as a threat. Like we want to empower these people to, you know, build bigger teams and build bigger brands. So I think over time we, we've scaled back the, you know, the, the freelance talk and made it more about, you know, how do you build a, you know, a scalable, content creation team that, that doesn't sacrifice on quality.

DA: 19:53
Got it. Yeah, no, that makes sense. And, with the website itself, as you're kind of fine tuning that messaging, you're also opening up registration to everyone. It's free accounts to sign up, pay when they complete a project and they finish their content. So how have you guys had to fine tune that messaging on the website itself to drive the right users? Are the right target market or does that even matter? Are you guys looking for anyone that will come in and then the writers will kind of weed that process out?

MB: 20:21
Yeah, that's a, that's a really great, great question. Something that we talk about on a, on a daily basis. And quite frankly, I think it's something that we, we don't do a great job of communicating today. So our view is that, you know, the software or our view of the market is that the cost of software is basically starting to approach zero. so the, the nominal value of features is going down. It's been going down for like, you know, the last eight or nine years. But because we have a free version of the platform, we don't want to be synonymous with cheap. So our view is that, you know, companies and brands, agencies, they should be paying very little for software but expect to pay a lot for content. And so that's kind of the, the way our system is set up. And I think that because we have a free version because right now anyway, it is sort of a pay as you go type of model. That that sets the wrong expectations with some companies thinking that, you know, we're a low cost resource when really it's, you know, we're, we're anything but so the, you know, the average assignment value on our platform is typically two to three times higher than what you would see, on, you know, some of our competitors' platforms. So our writers aren't cheap, our solution isn't cheap. It's just that we think the software should be as close to free as possible.

DA: 21:42
Yeah. That's a tough thing to balance too, right? Like value is often driven from price and people are looking at that and be like, well, what is, you know, what is the price of this isn't going to be as valuable as, you know, hiring a person or something like that in house. So I could see how that could be a really tough kind of conversation to figure out and takes some testing over time. But what I want to switch to now is just talking about writing strategies. You guys are obviously on that side of things you see, probably a ton of different projects come through the success and failure, different projects, you know, continually, in questions that we ask here marketers talk about how important copywriting is and their actual blog content and you know, the different lead magnets that they create. What have you seen, maybe some key things you've seen from the writing side that have been essential to drive engagement in writing or successful writing campaigns?

MB: 22:36
Yeah, I think that, you know, recently there's been a big emphasis on, the authority of the author. So it's one thing for a company to put out a blog post a day and a white paper a week and a lot of content and volume. But if that content isn't really diving deep, like if it doesn't reflect the expertise, and if it isn't really on par with the expectations of your audience, it's kind of a waste of time. And so the way that I think, you know, the, the companies that I see being successful, you know, both on nDash but you know, with content creation in general are, are really focused on the subject matter expertise. Like yes, you do need a good writer. Yes. You know, sentence structure and storytelling is important. But what does the writer know? Like what, what value can they provide that the audience or what questions can they answer that the audience doesn't already know.

MB: 23:33
And a lot of times, you know, the people that can do that don't necessarily consider themselves to be writers. They might be former sales people, they might be former product people or former engineers or lawyers. So the practitioner as writer use case has really exploded. And that's been huge for us is that, you know, a lot of the successful writers that we have on our system think of themselves as experts in something first and a writer second. So you can kind of see this being reflected in the way that, you know, Google has changed their algorithm over the years and that it's really about the, the questions you can answer and how authoritative they are. It's just, it's less about keyword stuffing. I think we're, you know, there, there's a colleague of mine who's trying to coin the term the answer economy and I kinda think that's, that's what we're looking at now. I (inaudible) answered those questions for your audience.

DA: 24:26
Are you seeing people come in with like a list of specific questions like maybe questions from their audience that they continually hear? Then they're searching for a subject, subject matter expert to come in, answer those questions, each question becoming their own individual post, for instance, like a blog and then filling that out you know, obviously with enough content to be ranked but just not keyword stuff, driven by question only. Is that kind of how you see it?

MB: 24:51
I do. Yeah. So I see the, you know, in the past, I feel like a lot of companies would have a list of keywords, and they would want to create content based off those keywords. Now I see it as, as having evolved to those keywords are now part of a question. And the, the brands are coming to us to find writers that can answer that question, you know better than somebody else. And so really where this, this often takes the form of, I guess in the platform of what's called like pillar pages. So companies will want, you know, a page on their website or a gated asset that, you know, really dives deep to, to answer this question. So we're doing a lot of that work, but then we're also creating content based off, you know, that pillar piece or that gated asset. So subsets of that question, in the form of blog posts and case studies, all, all types of, of format, but really all, you know, from the foundation of answering, you know, the important questions that their, their users or their prospects have.

DA: 25:53
I love that. And you guys have a closer connection to HubSpot. I think they do a lot of that. A Hub and Spoke post method, so that makes a lot of sense. You got people coming in and kind of building that out.

MB: 26:02
Yeah, they've, HubSpot's always, you know, been ahead of the curve when it comes to this stuff and the, the pillar pieces were, I was a little bit skeptical when they first came out, but they really shown to, you know, perform for these companies and it's a, it's a, it's a good format for them to follow in, and good for the writers as well. So, yeah, I'm excited to see where this goes in the next couple of years.

DA: 26:27
I love that. I think we're just in such a content heavy world right now. There's obviously so much content out there. They're going to almost be overwhelming for people, right? Like to know who to listen to, what do I click on, what do I go to? And so I love the idea of being an answer economy using subject matter experts as kind of a, the leaders, not necessarily just writers and just writing posts to rank for keywords is literally about what can answer my question the best way. So that's fantastic. And what about emails? Are there any tips, strategies that you've seen for companies doing emails to increase open rates, clicks, engagement, anything like that?

MB: 27:03
On the, so, so we don't do a ton of emails to like prospects or you know, buying lists or anything like that. Like we're not very big on that. You know, for us the success of email is really tied to the platform. So for us, the, the emails that get really good open rates, response rates, and you know, people taking action on them are all ones from the platform. So for example, if you were to sign up, you know, to the nDash platform, you'd get a welcome email. There's some actionable stuff in there, but the emails that you're really going to care about are, you know, when a writer pitches you a content idea or when a writer has submitted a, you know, a first draft of an assignment, things like that. So we tend to let the, the product and the users determine, you know, email in that way. So not, not a ton of tips for the, you know, the, the prospect marketing. But I can, I can speak to the product side pretty well.

DA: 27:56
Yeah, let's talk about that. Cause obviously those are critical moments in the user process, right? If someone's pitching you, you want as many people to open those emails as possible, obviously that's, you know, more writers getting in front of, you know, agencies or businesses. What have you guys done to test those or to look at what works, what doesn't work?

MB: 28:13
Yeah. There's a lot of, you know, for example, we, you know, the, the subject line of, our pitch emails used to be very generic. And now we, you know, we personalize it to that company. So we're acknowledging the user, the company, but also, you know, putting the title of that pitch or the abstract, you know, into the email itself like that, you know, brought, brought the email open rates up quite a bit, when we, when we first made that change. But it's all based on, you know, their activity. So, you know, we, we have a nice marketing automation set up over here, so all of the emails that our users get are based on their activity or lack thereof. So it's all personalized to, to what they've been doing in the, in the platform and how active they are and where they might need some help. So I think for us it's the, the personalization versus, you know, things like subject lines or, you know, CTA buttons or anything like that.

DA: 29:12
Yeah, it definitely makes sense. And I think that's exactly where we're going with, with everything is that personalized touch and really having that nice experience. And it obviously is important for you to make sure that both the writers have a great experience, but also those users coming in, whether it's like a really well thought out pitch for them too. Right? It's not just about getting more jobs for those writers. It's also like, you know, the companies that come in want good pitches, don't want to lose a lot of time. So it makes sense that you want great experiences across the board there. And what about, you know, over the past three years, looking back and looking at any hard lessons, any experiments or initiatives that you ran that didn't work the way you expected. I love those. I think those are where you learn so many lessons. Any opportunities that you feel like you missed out on or you know you would do differently today.

MB: 29:58
Yeah, I think, in launching the platform we probably had, I don't know, 60% of the features in that MVP that didn't actually need to be in there. I think we could have launched this, you know, six to eight months sooner and gotten, you know, some actionable feedback right away and kind of continue, you know, determining product market fit at that point. Our MVP was, was way too robust, but I'm told that a lot of companies make that mistake. I think the, you know, other things that we, I think we had really had it in our mind at the time that this was going to be a completely hands off self-serve type of, experience for the brands. So we want to be easy to work with, and we want to, like we want to reduce friction as much as possible. So we built the platform, you know, for companies to find these writers on their own, start these engagements, answer questions that they have on their own.

MB: 30:56
And I think early on, we didn't factor in that a lot of these companies would, you know, want to hop on a call or want some, some personalized help getting started. And I don't think we were well equipped at the time to deal with that. We are now. So we have a nice customer support customer success team that handles all of this today, but it was severely understaffed, you know, when we first launched. So, I think we could have understood, understood the use case a little bit better, but who can't say that in launching a SaaS platform. But those would be some of the, the opportunities that I think we missed early on was just being making ourselves more available for people that you know, wanted a little bit of handholding to get started.

DA: 31:41
Yeah, I think that's a common mistake on both sides. One launching a very robust MVP, so not actually the bare minimum which I think feeds into the second one, which is you don't have enough early feedback, user data understanding to, to start building in the right place as customer success, white glove service, all that kind of stuff that will just improve that platform or create differentiation in the marketplace. I know we made that mistake. A lot of SaaS companies making that mistake, but it's a really good lesson to look at and just remember, even as you launch new features and stuff like that, we try to remember that all the time here is like we can launch an MVP, we can learn from it and grow on it even with a feature. But that's fantastic. So, you know, we're kind of approaching the last month here in 2019. Any new opportunities or, or challenges that stand in front of you that, you're excited for or you're looking at, you know, approaching maybe from a marketing point of vieww?

MB: 32:34
Yeah, I think we want to get, you know, a little bit more data-driven on the marketing side. Think we, you know, we, we've spent a lot of time trying to iron out what that brand identity is and I think that now we sort of know what that is going forward and now's the time to start looking at, you know, how well we're doing. And that could be things like sign up rates and conversion rates, you know, churn rates and things like that. So I think for us, you know, going forward, the challenge will be to not only collect the data that we're looking to, but you know, know what to do with it and know how to act on it. And early on, you know, you can, you can kinda count these, these use cases in these problems on, on one hand. But as the user base grows from tens to hundreds to tens of thousands, you know, you have to do it at a much higher macro level. And I think we're just starting to get accustomed to that here. So that'll be the challenge for us going forward. And I would suspect that would be a lot of the, you know, a big challenge for, for your audience as well.

DA: 33:36
Yeah. You know, I think, you know, looking at that data, the big thing becomes how do I now attack this? Where's the priority? What does all this data mean? I oftentimes think that data can be very overwhelming, right? Like you have so much data, like what do I do with all this? So you really have to break it down to the different chunks and the different objectives and then attack it piece by piece. And that's really, you know, the only way to do it. There's some really great actual podcast episodes on here with data companies that have a lot to share about that. But I think, you know, each specific segment of data, whether it's churn or it's activation or it's product usage, all of those things can really be dialed in on and it can be a big, big journey.

MB: 34:15
I was just going to say like, I think there comes a time when you have enough data to you know, to, to know, to trust it basically. So in other words, like in your first a hundred companies, you might get all of them to stay and think that you have a business with 0% churn. But those a hundred companies are like, you know, close friends and family and things like that you know, as the, as the numbers start to grow, you know, it becomes easier to kind of figure out what the, what the real patterns are, what the real problems are. but it's hard to know, you know, when to actually make that mindset shift. So just to add that point on there.

DA: 34:53
A hundred percent. Yeah, absolutely. No, I think it's so great that you guys have that too. And I guess that's one of the good things, but also that free plan is that you get a lot of other data, you have more conversations that are available to you, and it's not just a smaller kind of marketplace, so you really kind of build that marketplace out bigger. But, it's going to be an exciting time. You guys have a, you know, a big challenge ahead of you, but it's going to be really, really good. What I want to do now is I want to switch over to our lightning round questions. Five quick questions about, that I will ask you and you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You're ready to get started?

MB: 35:25
Let's do it.

DA: 35:25
All right, let's do this thing. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

MB: 35:33
Come up with a model where you can bootstrap. I see a lot of companies that have a really cool idea. Maybe they have a clickable prototype, but the only way it can work is with gobs of VC money. figure out a way, model out a way where this can work, bootstrap because that funding might not be there.

DA: 35:53
Are you opposed to funding or just how you start your business needs to be done in a bootstrapped way?

MB: 35:59
I'm not opposed to funding at all. I think for some companies at some stage, like you kind of have to do it. But if you are starting a company and it's reliant on VC, I think it's a little bit shortsighted. I think there's always a way to bootstrap, you know, some version of what you're thinking. At least give yourself that chance.

DA: 36:22
I love it. Yeah. We're bootstrapped so we totally believe in that same thing. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

MB: 36:31
Ooh, storytelling. You know, being able to, you know, communicate value, share stories, make, make it interesting basically.

DA: 36:42
I love it. That's a very good answer. Very common answer. We will do a wrap up at the end of this year 2019 kind of looking at these answers from SaaS companies across the board, but I think storytelling will definitely be a top one for marketing teams to improve and build on. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

MB: 37:03
Probably the content marketing Institute. I'm big on those guys. I'm big on HubSpot. Those are sort of the two that I keep my eye on. pretty closely. yeah, I think those would be the two

DA: 37:15
Nice, good answers. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

MB: 37:20
Stripe, literally could not live without it as we would not be able to collect revenue. So big fans of what those guys are doing over there and obviously plays a huge part in our operation.

DA: 37:31
Yeah, ours too. Yeah. Great company, great product. Always improving, really love them. And I'll follow that up with the brand business or team that you admire today?

MB: 37:40
Oh, that's a good one. I'm, I'm big on the bootstrap brands. So companies like Basecamp, MathWorks even locally here there's a lot of companies like Ipswich, have built long standing, very successful, very profitable businesses, without VC funding for one reason or another, maybe they didn't want it, maybe they couldn't get it. but regardless, like, you know, they built these brands, you know, on their own steam. So definitely admire that.

DA: 38:10
Yeah, no big huge fans of Basecamp here. They're big part of our cultural beliefs in what we're trying to build with a remote first bootstrapped company. So a lot to learn there and from all those companies you just mentioned. But I do want to say thank you so much for coming on, Mike. It's been really fantastic to learn about nDash, what you guys are doing, what's working, how you built this all out. And it's been an incredible journey for you. So you know, thank you for coming on and thanks for all your transparency and knowledge.

MB: 38:39
No, of course. David. Thanks. Thanks for the opportunity.

DA: 38:42
It was a real pleasure and we'll talk to you soon. Take care.

DA: 38:45 Thanks so much for listening today's episode with Mike Brown from nDash. It was a fantastic episode and a big shout out to Mike and the entire nDash team for being so transparent and sharing so much great knowledge with us. (...)

Learn More About nDash:
Connect With Michael:
Follow along on Our Journey to $100k MRR
A shaky start? No doubt. Yet, three years later, we've got our eyes set on $100k MRR. We'll be sharing everything along the way.