21 Apr How do you grow from zero to boom?
The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem”, a bi-weekly blog…
“This is probably the most appropriately named event ever”, mused Grier Allen, the CEO and Co-Founder of BoomTown. “The Startup Grind. For those of you who are in it, who know what I’m talking about. It’s a helluva grind.”
Grier’s opening statement in his interview with Jeremy Berman at this month’s meeting of Startup Grind Charleston reminded me of another wise saying I once heard: “Being an entrepreneur is not sexy. There’s always homework to do.”
As a business coach and entrepreneur, I’m always fascinated to listen to someone smart, who started with nothing but an idea, and grew it into a multi-million dollar business. That’s what Grier and his partner, Cooper Bane, did with BoomTown, which made the list of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies for 3 consecutive years.
For those not familiar with BoomTown, they created a web platform that real estate professionals use to generate leads and close more business (www.boomtownroi.com). They must be doing something right. In a little over a decade, they have grown to 250+ employees and are part of the brand new, Google-like campus at Pacific Box & Crate.
Tidbits I took away from the down-to-earth Mr. Allen:
“We spent our first year trying to understand the pain points in the real estate industry and how we could use our skill sets to solve those problems. We wanted to get under the hood of our prospective customers and understand their business.”
That’s so smart. Many budding entrepreneurs create a product or a service first, then bring it to the market and hope it sells. It goes against Solution Selling 101: Diagnose before you prescribe.
What about their first product? “We wanted to build something that was an amazing experience. ‘Create an amazing experience.’ It’s one of our core values to this day and one of the things that Cooper and I believed in from the very beginning.”
I love that. In this day of tech companies rushing to build “minimum viable products” just to get something to the market, it’s refreshing to hear an entrepreneur that wanted to create something that out of the gate, was a “Wow!” to a customer.
One of their early mistakes? “Taking too long to switch from the What to the Who.” Grier shared how they knew their stuff when it came to technology, but they weren’t prepared for BoomTown’s crazy, initial success. “Even with the great people we had, we were in hyper growth stage and didn’t have the right talent to help us scale.” His point was to think early on about the high level people you need to really grow a business.
One smart thing they did initially? “We created our core values when we were about 30 people. We truly live by them. Everyone who works here is a custodian of them.” That’s great stuff. I believe the foundation of a company’s culture is their core values.
It’s probably a reason why Grier and his team went from zero to boom.
“The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” is a twice-a-month 500-word blog by Thomas Heath, CLC that explores the world of business from an entrepreneur’s perspective. Its goals are to educate, enlighten and get conversations started. Join Thomas with a Share or Comment, he loves to respond. Be sure to follow him here on LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram: @AskThomasHeath.