There’s a $100M ARR startup you’ve likely never heard about. It went from zero to 100 in 6 short years. And there is more »» ClickFunnels, the small-business funnel-building/landing page creating tool was bootstrapped_all_the_way.
Practically zero VC money.
Did the founder have a 50 million dollar-deep pocket to fund his venture? Nope.
Can you learn from their bootstrapped go-to market path? Of course.
First, they play on the borderline of two very mature and competitive markets (positioned and differentiated perfectly): landing page builders and marketing automation.
So the lesson here is: if you can identify a large enough market that is on the overlap of two big categories, you can create a new category. But this isn’t about category creation and the clever positioning alone doesn’t get you to this level of VC-less success.
Clickfunnels’ real edge?
They had a huge audience before they ever wrote a single line of code.
The founder, Russel Brunson has had several SMB-targeted B2B companies over the 11 years leading up to Clickfunnels’ launch – and all were focused on building an audience&community.
So when Brunson got the clue from the market, he had a huge list/community to reach out to, get testers, beta users and do an initial launch.
This initial momentum was enough for the Clickfunnels crew to build out the tool and begin scaling.
“Great, we’ve got product-market fit”.
At this point, the “usual course of action” in Silicon Valley is to get VC funding and spend as much as possible on customer acquisition. But, Brunson knew better.
He wrote a book (Dotcom Secrets) and started selling that book in a “just pay shipping” funnel, and used the book and the subsequent nurture campaign to sell the 100/300 dollar-per-month saas subscription.
Now, I hear some groaning: “but you can’t sell a complex tech service with a flimsy bookfunnel today”. Keep reading.
The book funnel itself isn’t the point here – the big idea here is investing in huge, big-time demand generation and CAPTURING LEADS at the same time.
Your tech company should have unified plays that do both. Consistently.
Ps. another take-away from the ClickFunnels story is the image you see attached: in some circles in Saas, it’s considered uncool to provide professional services with your because it “doesn’t scale”. Check CF’s revenue figures: software hardly grows while services skyrocket over the last 3 years observed… (image: getlatka.com)