In this first in a series of articles with his panelmates, Joe sat down with RevBoss founder Eric Boggs.
As an entrepreneur, Eric Boggs reminds me a lot of myself. He's not in it for the accolades or the press or to be like Elon Musk or any the rest of the bull that comes with the public perception of startup. Startup is just what he does.
Neither he nor I golf. We don't have man-caves. And we confirmed a couple days ago over beers at Tobacco Road (conveniently situated between our two offices) that we share one other trait in common -- our guitar collections are gathering dust more often than they're melting faces.
Startup is our rock band now. We both had youthful dreams of rock stardom, but as we got older, we both saw the short and sweet career of stardom as a trap, and we both found that same passion in building companies. This is where our free time goes. It also happens to be where the our work time goes. In that sense, it's one hell of a hobby. And in any sense, it's an amazing adventure.
We agree on this.
Where we differ is in what we do to make that adventure happen. I love to figure out how to build product and Eric loves to figure out how to sell product.
But the way Eric is evolving RevBoss
, it turns out that it's really not that different at all.
It was almost a year ago when he and I sat down to talk about RevBoss
, a consulting services firm he founded that focused on outbound sales development. After he parted ways with Argyle Social, Eric had spent some time consulting and working with various companies around the Triangle. Now he had figured out what was next, and he was making a run at it and already doing quite well by the time he formally announced the launch of the company.
Early this year, RevBoss got the first hit with a piece of technology they created and were using in-house to figure out email addresses at companies. This internal tool, which originated as a hack to help RevBoss to better do what it does, started to become a bigger and bigger part of the process.
"It was February when we got the first hit," he says. "But it wasn't until April or May when we realized, 'Hey, we've kind of got something here.'"
Now named RevBot, it's one of a handful of tools that allow RevBoss to replicate what they do faster and more efficiently, and those tools also allow Eric to bring aboard other employees to do what he does.
RevBot is deceptively simple. It runs through a number of combinations of first and last name until it gets a hit and can also check the name against social networks to find a match. The match rate has been consistently hovering around 50-60%, and they've verified tens of thousands of prospects through RevBot. The true value however, is the still-necesary-though-much-smaller service component, as it takes someone with Eric's skill set and experience to know when RevBot will work and how to use it.
Now they're turning around and selling RevBot, and the consultative component that goes along with it, to other businesses. They have 14 active clients, and they've worked with about 20 over the past nine months.
I asked Eric how much of his business is this tool set and how much is straight consulting, and he said it's about a 70/30 split.
That's why what he and I do are really not that different, and it's something he hinted at back in December when he first started.
Two of the startups I worked for and two of the startups I've founded have taken this service-to-product path. My own personal guide is that when you're at 70/30, like RevBoss is, you're a service company with some very valuable IP. If you can get to 80/20, you've got a framework. And at 90/10, you're pretty much a full blown product company.
That's when the margins go way up.
Not that it's that easy. The path from zero to 70/30 is hard for sure, but going from there to 80/20 is just as difficult if not more. 90/10 can be a crapshoot.
But Boggs is the kind of entrepreneur who can get there. Like I said, this is what he does, and it's not his first rodeo. In the meantime, he's doing what he loves, helping other companies sell their product. And as a guy who likes to make the product, I find this extremely valuable.