Josh Melick was the Co-Founder and CEO of Broadly.com, a local small company mobile CRM and messaging platform. Josh grew Broadly from zero to over 10,000 paying SMBs while raising approximately $30 million in venture finance. Before joining Broadly, Josh had product leadership positions at three different firms.
Josh spoke to us about his experience as a startup founder and entrepreneur and how he came up with the ideas for his businesses.
How did you come up with the idea for Broadly? What motivated you to get started?
Basically, it was a combination of two things. First, I had been in the marketing tech business for a long time and saw all these problems around local advertising and how local businesses market to their customers. But, at the same time, I noticed that all these SMB marketing products were complicated to use.
So, the combination of that left me thinking there’s a massive opportunity for a product in the space that brings technology to market in a way where it’s actually usable by small businesses but also has enterprise features…
I didn’t have any technical background; I just had a lot of experience in the marketing business. So that made me think that there was an opportunity to build something that could really change how small businesses market themselves at scale using technology.
Josh, what are some common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make when trying to find their idea?
Well, this is probably not a surprise to anybody in the room, but it’s going back to what you already know. I think that entrepreneurs are looking for an idea that is so new and so different than anything else out there, when actually they would be better served by evaluating their own experiences and thinking about what needs they see in the world every day…
I think all the data supports that you’re better off thinking about things from a vantage point of what I know and who I know, rather than trying to find something utterly foreign to me.
How did you validate your idea? Did you always have a great team in place? How did you grow it?
Well, we didn’t have a great team in place when we started. In the early days, especially in the tech business, you can get by with just having technology. But when sales are involved, it’s really how many customers you have and if your product works for them.
I don’t think anybody gets to scale without a great sales organization. Having said that, the first couple of salespeople we had were friends of mine, and they’re still our top performers. It comes down to finding somebody who believes in the vision and has a passion for it, and just being good.
How do you think about pricing? And also, tie that into how you got your first customers.
As far as how we did pricing, I think that it’s really about the value and reselling to your customers at the end of the day. So we thought about our pricing regarding what people were willing to pay for this product and what value looked like to them. In our case – it was a CRM, so it was helping drive sales.
We didn’t do a lot of discounting early on because we believed in our product and thought that offering discounts diluted the value proposition… So I guess you never want to start with discounts, and I think if you do, your unit economics aren’t going to work.