Leadership: How to Start a Software Company

how to start a software company - an interview with Laura Roeder

 

Today I interview Laura Roeder, who founded LKR Studios in 2009. Laura has built quite a name for herself teaching people how to create internet fame and how to use social media to further their business objectives. Out of that business she got an idea for a software product that helps people to use social media. The name of the software is Edgar.

Today we talk about the challenges of transitioning from an information products only business to the software business. Laura details the different skills and approach that are required to run a successful software business.

If you are thinking of starting a software business this is going to be a great interview for you to listen to.

Listen now and you’ll hear Laura  and I talk about:

  • (01:10)  Introductions
  • (04:41)  Why did you decide to get into the software business?
  • (08:10)  How did you begin to develop Edgar?
  • (14:30)  When did you start to talk about your product?
  • (18:50)  How did you get your first users?
  • (21:50)  How did you get ideas for additional features?
  • (27:00) What should you do if you still have a job and want to start a software company?

Resources

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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Transcript

Trent:
Hey there bright idea hunters welcome back to episode number 171 of the bright ideas podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid and this is the podcast where we help marketers and entrepreneurs to discover ways to use digital marketing and marketing automation to dramatically increase the growth of their business. If you’re a marketer or entrepreneur and you are looking for proven ideas as opposed to just theories and puffery this is the podcast for you to listen to.

The way that I make good on that promise is in each and every episode I bring a proven expert on who has achieved some extraordinary results. We get them to share what those results are and then we get them to explain the tactics and strategies that went into achieving those results.

So that you with pen and paper in hand can take good notes and model their behavior to get a similar outcome. In this episode my guest is a woman by the name of Laura Roeder. She is the founder of LKR Studios and has built quite a name for herself teaching people how to create internet fame and how to use social media to further their business objectives.

Out of that business she got an idea for a software product that help people to use social media. Because that is her bread and butter to spread their content around the web in a way that is more time effective than other tools that are already in the marketplace. The tool they created is called Edgar and you can learn about it at MeetEdgar.com. In this interview we are going to talk about the challenges of transitioning from an information products only business to the software business.

As you’ll hear Laura explain they are very, very different businesses and require a completely different set of skills and a completely different approach and there were a number of things she found quite surprising and far more challenging than she anticipated but none the less there is some significant benefits to being in the software business as well. In this interview you are going to get all sorts of great ideas as well I am going to mention the links to quite a number of other software as a service company founders I have interviewed and all of those folks got funded by 500 Startup.

If you are thinking of starting a software business this is going to be a great interview for you to listen to. Before we welcome Laura to the show, the only announcement that I have is that if you are looking for ways to attract the attention of your desired audience so that you can build a more profitable business and generate more leads we have a whole bunch of free resources for you over at GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/resources.

There you will find a library of ebooks as well as an archive of webinars that we have done in the past and it is all accessible for free. With that said please join me in welcoming Laura to the show.

Hey Laura, welcome back.

Laura:
Thank you Trent, very happy to be here.

Trent:
Happy to have you back, so we’re going to talk today about the transition from an info products business into a software company with your new product Edgar but in case folks have not heard of you before or didn’t catch my other interview before that I did with you. And I don’t have the pretty link available for that right now. I’m trying to look it up and I’ll get it as soon as I do and while I am doing that, maybe you can give us an introduction of who you are and what you do.

Laura:
Yeah, I’ve been running LKR Social Media since 2009 and that is a social media training company for small businesses; teaching small businesses how to leverage social media marketing and we are also big on creating fame as on becoming the number one go to person in your industry using online marketing. This year in 2014 I launched my newest product, Edgar, which is a social media marketing tool.

The big difference that Edgar does as opposed to tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, is that we automatically repurpose your content for you. So you put in a library of all your best social media content and Edgar just takes care of sending it out every day.

Trent:
Nice, and the pretty link by the way folks if you want to hear Laura’s prior interview is BrightIdeaas.co/44. So that was a hundred and forty some interviews ago [laughing].

Laura:
Wow, [laughing] you’ve done a lot of interviews.

Trent:
Yeah, I have done a lot of interviews. We are coming up, between the prior podcast and this one we have over 200 now I think. Anyway, it has been very helpful to me but that is not what this interview is about let’s stay on topic [laughing]. So why did you decide that you needed to get into the software business.

Laura:
It actually came directly from one of our training programs. We have a program called Social Brilliant where we teach the framework that our company was using for planning social media marketing because I found that is one of the huge holes for most small businesses is they are still doing their social media on the fly, live every day.

They are logging in to Twitter hoping to think of something to say and then posting it which is like most things in your business probably not the most effective method.

In Social Brilliant we teach about batching your social content. So you are writing a lot of it once, putting it in categories and then we have this really complicated spreadsheet that we were using internally to basically go through your categories, make a nice even mix on social media. And you had to just fill out this big spreadsheet and then copy and paste everything. Obviously images; there was no good way to handle that.

So we had this complicated spreadsheet and then it just became obvious; why isn’t there software that does this already? The thing that seemed really weird to me is that none of the software solutions save your content. Some of the other tools they’ll show you stats of how well your update is doing, it is not an option of, “Okay great, use that one again if it drove so much traffic to my site.”

Edgar is really Social Brilliant translated into software and since people were loving that system we knew we weren’t the only ones so that we’re onboard with this idea.

Trent:
Alright, so for the folks who are thinking they might like to get into the software business and transition from either consulting or info products or whatever else they are doing. Let’s give them an idea of the kind of results that you’ve achieved to set expectations for what would be realistic.

When was Edgar unofficially launched, when was the first month of zero revenue?

Laura:
Basically in July 2014, we had some early beta testers in June, so July.

Trent:
So July and we’re recording this here in November and I think you said you had $30,000 a month in revenue now?

Laura:
Yep, we just had $30,000 recurring revenue.

Trent:
Now that sounds great but obviously there’s more to it than that because to cut the cost you cannot forget the cost of customer acquisition or COCA as it is called. You’re spending quite a bit on Facebook ads at this time and you already started with a pretty sizable list of your own that you spent the last few years building correct?

Laura:
Yes, and I should point out we have a team of nine people because we’ve transferred the LKR Social Media team to also be the Edgar team. We’ve made some new hires in the past few months as well. So I don’t want anyone to think that if you are starting out as a one person operation it is going to take a little longer.

Trent:
Indeed it is. So Laura, your spent on Facebook is how much per month?

Laura:
About $10,000 a month right now.

Trent:
Okay, and you had a list of how much when you started this, like a mailing list of subscribers?

Laura:
About 75,000, so a pretty substantial list.

Trent:
Okay, and do you happen to recall what your open rate was because we all have big lists but the effective open rate makes the list actually a whole lot smaller?

Laura:
Yeah, it us usually around 15 – 20% in that range for that list, our Edgar list is higher because it is new and people are excited.

Trent:
Yeah, newer subscribers always pay more attention to your stuff. The old ones tend to fade as time goes by. So what were some of the initial challenges? Not having been in the software business before, first thing you got to do is figure out, “What are we going to build?” And then what, what did that process look like for you?

Laura:
For me, I am married to a *inaudible* developer.

Trent:
How convenient [lauging].

Laura:
Very convenient, so that is how Edgar was created. Me partnering up and my husband Chris built Edgar. He is now overseeing and we have other developers on board. I think it is so important to have someone who is an expert in software development and whether that person is a co-founder, they can be someone that you hire, they don’t have to be a founder of a company.

But if you have never done software before, it is a lot more different of a business model than I realized going into it. It has been such a huge learning experience for me and the way that you develop software is very different than the way that you develop training.

One, it is a lot more complicated, I was used to being able to have an idea, put a nice PowerPoint together, make a recording. That is the whole product more or less, there is a little bit of technical backend to deliver it but all that stuff is pretty straight forward. You don’t have to be very technical to do it.

You have to have a lot of technical expertise to build software. So that’s step one, whatever kind of partner or hire or consultant you need to make, don’t go and try to hire a development team if you have never made software before. It is probably going to be a disaster.

Trent:
So if someone isn’t married to a developer and they and they don’t have the bank of unlimited funds behind them it would seem to me like finding someone to be a co-founder would probably be the best approach.

Laura:
Yes, I think finding a co-founder is a great way to go. If you were looking for a technical co-founder you need to have a skill to bring to the table. My skill is marketing. He is my husband right, even if I was terrible at marketing I probably could have convinced him to help me with the project [laughing]. But a big mistake I see a lot of people out there making is they’re like, “I’m not technical, I have this idea for software so I am going to look for a co-founder.”

But in my opinion you need to bring more to the table than just the idea. Lots of people have good ideas and you just having one initial idea and then expecting your co-founder to do everything else is not really going to be an even partnership and I haven’t really seen that work out. But if you’re great at marketing for example, I think that is the best pairing; a technical person and a marketing person.

You are in charge of getting people through the door using the software and your partner is in charge of building the software and making it great and easy to use.

Trent:
So you didn’t really have to go out and find yourself a developer. But do you have any advice on, if someone was looking for a co-founder how they might be going about doing it?

Laura:
I think I would definitely start with all the in person stuff that is around nowadays. There is so many types of Hackathons and accelerator programs and Incubator programs. I know you wouldn’t be ready for the Incubator yet if you haven’t found your co-founder but they often have other events surrounding them to come check them out. And meeting people in person is so important.

This is a commitment they are getting into starting a business with someone. You don’t want to just put it out on Craig’s List and see who will respond. You need to make sure that you really want to work with them. There’s so many of those resources available now. Meetup groups; that is where I would definitely start.

Trent:
So if you have a consulting business already, the piece of advice that I might give would be try and find a client that needs a very small software project done, find your potential co-founder, collaborate, do that project and see how the experience goes.

Because I can tell you from firsthand experience, and Laura I don’t know if you have experience in what I am about to explain but if you pick the wrong co-founder it doesn’t go very well [laughing].

Laura:
Yeah, having the right partner is very important. I love your advice to start with a smaller project and that is also a lot of these weekend Hackathon things. They do pair up technical and non-technical people so you can show up to one as a product person or as a design person or as a marketing person. You do a little project with someone that you like over a weekend then you can decide from there to keep working together more.

You don’t want to just meet them and immediately decide, “Okay, we both like this idea so we are going to start this whole business together.” Have little project along the way.

Trent:
Because everyone is all excited and it is all rainbows and pixie dust at the beginning but it is amazing how fast that changes when the developer you are working with figures out it is going to take five times as long before they ever see any money out of it they can become disillusioned very, very quickly.

Laura:
I am glad you brought that up because I think that is something really common that happens as well is the two people don’t have the same level of devotion to the project. I was recently chatting to a friend, he is a marketing guy and he’s recently done his first software project.

He found a great developer and did a 50/50 split with the project. But the problem is the developer is no longer really interested in running this and has been off the scene for a few months now and they didn’t really work out what it’s going to look like when that happens.

Because the developer was doing this as more of a side project, the guy I was talking to was more, “This is my business now.” You definitely need to be on the same page and you need to work out , “Okay, what is our agreement going to look like if someone decides this isn’t what they want to work on anymore.”

Trent:
And then there is all of the other issues of if your developer has your code and you part companies and they don’t want to give it to you. How are you going to deal with that? It can get really, really ugly.

Laura:
Yes [laughing], there are some horror stories out there for sure.

Trent:
Alright, [laughing] now that we have completely discouraged the heck out of everybody, let’s talk about some of the things that happened along your journey. So you and your husband, the developer you knew quite well, started to develop a product. You got to a point where you had an early version and had you talked publicly on your blog or to your list about Edgar up to that point or was it all kind of under the hood and you started to talk once you had some workable version?

Laura:
We kept it more under wraps. I think we could have done more teasing along the way that it was coming out. I think we wanted to see if it was useful for our own company before we publicly announce that we were going to release it.

Because I just view everything as an experiment and I really didn’t know if it was going to work out. So the first phase for us was making a version we could just start to use internally.

With our own company see, “Is this something we are finding valuable? Is it panning out how we imagined?” Then from there we got some early testers in to try it out and give us feedback and stuff. Then once we were sure this is really a business, we are going to release this, people are going to pay for this. We really waited until that point to start telling people about it.

We just brought in customers. We don’t have a free model, we don’t have a free plan, we didn’t do any kind of, “First 500 people get this for free,” we waited until it was good enough for people to pay for and that is when we released it.

Trent:
Did your husband have a job that he had to quit to devote time to work on this?

Laura:
No, he was working freelance. He has always done freelance so it was pretty easy for him to shift his time to this.

Trent:
Okay, I read an article somewhere and I wish I could give credit to the person. I interviewed a bunch of Incubator founders. Hopefully it will come to me. So this was a previous interview that I did and they came up with a service that was a software as a service company were they were going to allow people to I think it was buy clothing or something online.

Anyway, one of the things he did and I thought this was pretty smart, to validate that there was demand for the product. Before they write a single line of code they put up the website, they had they interface and they allowed people to “use” it but it wasn’t software behind the scenes that was executing it. They had a whole army of people that was just actually doing everything.

From a risk management perspective, if you’re an entrepreneur and you think, “Well I don’t know if there is a demand for this.” Before you start putting your time and effort in to finding a developer and that kind of think -Bernie! That was his name. Hold on, let me get the link because folks might want to listen to this.

Bernie Yoo, BrightIdeas.co/ 91 if I remember correctly because his start-up was kind of a failure and he eventually turned it into a seven figure business. I don’t imagine you did anything like that because you actually were married to the developer. You pretty much just jumped in.

Laura:
Well actually that is not so different than how it evolved from the Social Brilliant program. I think that is great advice in validating your idea and we did it differently but it sort of gets to the same point because we knew from Social Brilliant, we were teaching, we weren’t executing it for them but we were saying, “Use this methodology.”

And we saw that people were using it and having success with it.

All Edgar really does is does that methodology automatically. So if you’re willing to do it manually it is kind of obvious that you’re willing to let software do it for you.

Trent:
And in your case people were paying you to learn how to it manually.

Laura:
Exactly.

Trent:
So it is kind of not a huge stretch to think that they would also pay for a tool that would save them time when it came to actually executing what you were teaching them.

Laura:
Exactly and we didn’t do a ton of customer validation stuff besides that. We definitely didn’t follow the traditional lean start-up model of talking to a ton people and making it how they wanted it. We really solved our own problem that our own company was having. We just felt pretty confident that if we were having this problem other small businesses are as well.

I always thought worst case scenario, we’ll just use this tool for ourselves and we’ll just have awesome social media and save ourselves a lot of time. It wouldn’t be great [laughing] there would obviously be a lot of sunk costs there but that was kind of my worst case, “Well this is really useful for us.”

Trent:
Alright, so when you started to talk about it, when you had a workable early version, what did you do? Just tell your list first and then have some type of limited beta group or how did you generate some excitement and some users?

Laura:
We started talking about it a little bit before because we did have a landing page that you could sign up for with just a little bit of information. We didn’t do a ton of promoting on that but we built up a list of maybe a few hundred people or something from that. And then we had a launch party event for our audience where I just got on a live Google Hangout and chatted about the software and what it did.

Make it sort of a party as opposed to a teaching webinar and we gave away two months free trial. A lot of it though; we didn’t really do a big splashy launch. That wasn’t a huge event, that live online event.

We did a more sort of testing out different angles and different sequences for different customer segments because we have this list already, we have people who have bought Social Brilliant, we have people who have bought our

Creating Theme Program, we have people who haven’t bought anything so we sent different offers for free trials of Edgar with the language depending on their customer history with us basically.

Trent:
Was there any stark differences between one method versus another or were they all more or less roughly the same and the aggregate value of them was effective?

Laura:
It was more a lot of little things adding up. We didn’t see like this on channel as our magic bullet I think it was more trying a lot of different things. Also things like guest posting and being interviewed and stuff like that. Our big strategies for us: being on social media. Obviously when you run a social media company you want to practice what you preach so that was actually kind of interesting because we started social accounts from scratch with Edgar on Twitter and Facebook.

So I really got to see, “Okay, does this stuff that I am teaching people really work?” Because now I know it works when I reached a certain momentum but now I am starting from zero again. And we already have a few thousand followers on each of those accounts so it does work.

Everything that we are teaching we just use for ourselves and we definitely get customers on via social as well.

Trent:
But you are spending $10,000 a month on Facebook, if you are spending $10,000 you should be able to build some following, Good Lord?

Laura:
To be fair that is on Twitter as well and we’ve never advertised for likes on Facebook. You do get some just peripheral likes from your ads which is awesome and it is a great benefit of Facebook but we are driving people to our Edgar site, we are not driving people to like our page.

Trent:
Okay, that is what I thought but I wanted to be sure. I’ve interviewed a lot of software company founders and they all kind of have said the same thing, that once they got their first X number of users the future direction of product development and features and so forth largely came just from listening to the users that they had on the platform. Was it like that for you?

Laura:
Yes definitely, we paid very close attention to what people asked for and especially after you launch with just the core products, what are the most important features of the product and then from there you’re adding on what people are asking for probably for the next year or so. It is going to be a while before we are adding anything that drastically changes the functionality because now it is just what are these little fixes that make the software smoother?

We found that people really want to see – the amount of social networks that you have is very important to people. Even to people who don’t use them, it is just something people like to see on the marketing page before they sign up. So we’ve added things like Facebook groups and LinkedIn pages, we’re like, “Who uses LinkedIn pages?” But people keep asking for that.

So we decided to add them and I think people like just seeing that we have all the different platforms on Edgar. It makes people feel better about their purchase, like we can do more I think.

Trent:
So when you say LinkedIn pages do you mean like the LinkedIn company page?

Laura:
Yeah.

Trent:
What would you say has been your biggest surprise?
You go into this, this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ve been around business for a while and you think you are kind of smart and you know what you are doing and you know your market and bla bla bla.

But obviously something comes along and you go, “Wow, I didn’t see that one coming.” What was that for you? And not just from a marketing perspective, it could be from product development, anything to do with being in this business.

Laura:
I am trying to think of the most distinct way to say it. The way that people buy and what they are buying is very different in a training program than software. I didn’t expect it to be so different. The thing with training is that training is very aspirational even if it is boring training like social media. People have this idea that they want to get better at social media marketing; they buy the training program.

As anyone who’s ever sold training knows most people don’t even log in, don’t even use it which is very frustrating for the people that sell it. But the way that you are selling training is very much like selling this dream of what you can be on the other side once you’ve gone through this and put this in place in your business. Selling software is much more straightforward, for better or for worse.

You are telling people, “Here’s exactly what this is going to do for you. You have this problem. Here’s how it’s solving it.” Like our software makes that happen. So in some ways it feels easier because it can be a clear communication but in some ways it’s harder because you don’t have maybe as much creativity, if that makes sense.

Trent:
You don’t have as much creativity in your marketing messaging you mean?

Laura:
Yeah, we still have creativity with Edgar, we’ve had a lot of fun creating this little octopus character for Edgar and giving him personality but software at the end of the day people are still like, “Do you have Facebook groups because if you don’t have Facebook groups I am not going to sign up for it?”

People get very hung up on very specific features. One thing is a must have for them for whatever reason. We got a customer email this morning of someone being like, “I need to be able to schedule the same posts on the same day and have it go out every year.” And Edgar doesn’t have that functionality. That’s what their looking for you know [laughing] very specifically. So we lost them.

That’s unique about software.

Trent:
Yeah, absolutely it is. I use a lot of it as I am sure you do. I’ll use a combination of two different CRM products to combine, get what I want because I like the features of one and I like the features of the other but I wouldn’t want to use the one without the other. It is very finicky.

Laura:
Yeah, I do the same as a customer. There are some specific things that I am looking for and if the tool doesn’t have it I’m out. But that is hard as the person making the tool because you’re like, “It has everything else you want and it can help you so much.” But they want the one thing that they want.

Trent:
So what would you say to the listener who still has a job and they want to start a software company?

Laura:
Are they a developer or not?

Trent:
Let’s say not. Ehh, we’ll answer it both ways, let’s go with first of all not, not a developer.

Laura:
Okay, so like I said, if you are not a developer you need to find that partner. And I’m going to be honest, I think you’re going to be in the most difficult position with a full-time job. I would look more towards a path, can you make a game plan of saving up a certain amount of money where you can either quit your job or go part-time or freelance or have some other option.

You’re going to have a life without a lot of free time trying to start a company.

Trent:
Let’s call that one nearly impossible.

Laura:
Yeah, my advice is make a plan for yourself about how you are going to be able to free up more hours. Developers on the other hand are going to have an easier time because the work they’re doing on the side, whether it is just on the weekend or whatever they will at a certain point be able to get a finished product out of that. Of course a lot of developers have no idea about marketing and have no idea how to sell anything.

A lot of developers I think don’t realize how much they need marketers; where marketers always know they need developers. So they create this product and then it never sells, it was just a waste of time anyway. So I think you need a realistic game plan about how at a certain point you are going to free up more hours of your time.

Trent:
I would agree. And for those folks as Laura did and as many other folks have done, the Basecampguys over at Jason Fried over at 37 Signals, start a consulting business first. It is a much, much, much easier way to get that cash flowing so that you might get to the point where you have $30,000 or $40,000 or $20,000 a month in money coming in where now you’ve got, “Okay I’ve got the people on my team, I’ve got an extra $5000 or $6000 that I can spend every month to hire a developer, I have some time to hire a developer.”

That is a feasible scenario, the quit your job and jump off a cliff, I don’t know if I would go that approach.

Laura:
Well I also think we should bring up another common problem as consultants and agencies that have the resources and want to start software but they haven’t been able to make it happen because they say that time keeps being dragged away by client work. I think that if you are in that scenario you also just need to make a realistic plan, what are you going to sacrifice now for the long term?

The problem is people are used to making $15,000 a month. Well you’re hoping for some magic day where you are just going to build the same amount of time but like magically make double the money. It doesn’t work out.

You are going to probably have to say, “Okay, you know what, we are going to have to cut down our hours on client work, that means we are only going to have $10,000 coming in for the next six months. But we are putting that towards what we believe is going to be a much bigger long term investment.”

Trent:
You mean I can’t just set goals and think positively and visualize [laughing].

Laura:
Hey I love that stuff [laughing] but in addition to a plan.

Trent:
Yes indeed, what was it that the guys that came up with The Secret. They said a few years after the fact, “Oh yeah, now that you all have bought our little video you actually have to do more than just think positively. Sorry we didn’t include that in the sales messaging before.” [Laughing]

Laura:
Right, [laughing] think positively and have a plan that you follow on every day.

Trent:
Absolutely, before we wrap this up Laura, what else should we talk about?

Laura:
I think another big road block that people run into when they are doing software is really boiling down the mini viable product.

Trent:
MVP, yep.

Laura:
That is something that my husband Chris really taught me a lot about. It is a very easy concept to understand, “Oh you just do the minimum and then you ship it when it is ready.” It is so difficult to do on your own software. Chris gets huge credit for really pushing us towards really defining what is the core idea that is unique about this and we just need to get it out ASAP when that core idea is executed?

Like I mentioned for Edgar, repurposing content, that is the unique thing that we do. So as long as the tool is able to do that the tool is ready to go. But when you are looking at your own thing it is so hard to do that because you have so much bigger ideas for what it can do.

Edgar, we still haven’t launched stats, it is something that it is almost launched, it is in testing but I didn’t want to launch the software without stats because people want to see stats about how their social is performing obviously. It is something that is important but it is not our number one core idea. We have Bitly integration which allows you to see some stats without us having to do it ourselves.

But it is so hard with your own thing to be really, really objective and say, “This is not MVP this is not the one main idea.”

Trent:
Version one is better than version none is the expression that encapsulates what you just described.

Laura:
And so many people just spend like a year making it better and then you release this and you realize that you’ve built the wrong thing anyway. Like you referenced earlier, then you just listen to your customers and you know what? I am passionate about stats, our customers seem pretty happy with the Bitly integration actually. It is not something that’s been asked for a lot.

Trent:
Well if you think about it stats don’t save you any time.

Laura:
It is true, it is more of a fun extra. Also most people know they are supposed to look at stats but they don’t actually do anything with them. So it doesn’t actually make a huge difference to their business.

Trent:
Yep, I would agree completely. We live in a world where we have tons of data. Between Google Analytics and if you use Hubspot you get Hubspot data and you can have split testing and Bitly but how much time do you have to spend looking at it all?

Laura:
Right, so there could be something that you think is so important. And you think, “Oh, no one is even going to use the tool if we don’t have stats” when actually your customers don’t care and actually they want LinkedIn company pages which you would never think anyone cares about.

Trent:
Before we wrap up I am just going to include as I mentioned I have interviewed a number of software as a service; all of these folks went through the 500 Startups Incubator; a fellow by the name of Paul Biggar at BrightIdeas.co/94, Ethan Anderson at BrightIdeas.co/95, Adeel Ahmad at BrightIdeas.co/96 and Elyse Petersen at BrightIdeas.co/97.

You can tell I did a little run there with 500 Startups founders.

If this is a business that you’d really think you’d like to be in you’ll find all of those interviews to be exceptionally helpful because those are all folks who did get invited into the Incubator and did get a seed round of $50,000 worth of funding and that types of stuff you need to know about as well if you are going to get into this business because there is money available if your idea is good enough and you’ve got some traction.

And as Bernie Hugh figured out you don’t even need to write any code for you to go and get traction.

Laura:
I’m going to check those out myself.

Trent:
Yeah, you might find them helpful. Alright Laura it has been a pleasure to have you back. I wish you nothing but the best. Oh, you know what, one last question. So you’ve got this one unique feature, your content library, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. So Hootsuite decides, because they’ve got a lot of customers, a lot of cash flow, “We’re going to build a content library” and so they have essentially now everything you’ve got from a features perspective.

Don’t you worry about that?

Laura:
That is a great question because I think that really stops up a lot of people from creating what they want to create. But it is kind of a pointless worry because it can always happen and there is nothing that you can do about it, you know what I mean?

No matter what type of business you are in, if you are manufacturing something, if you’re making software, if you’re consulting, there’s nothing to stop anyone from doing the same thing that you do unless you actually have some sort of scientific patent about what you do which I think everyone that is listening; that is not really the types of businesses that we’re in. So no, I don’t worry about it.

Another important thing to remember is that there is plenty of room for competition. Obviously in my industry we have Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer. Email we have Constant Contact and Aweber and Mail Chimp, there is plenty of customers. Even if you are the exact same as another business, some people would choose you and some people will choose the other guys even if you are offering the exact same feature set.

So I really don’t worry about it.

Trent:
Yep, I would agree with you on that. The ocean has plenty of fish in it there’s enough room for everybody and no one company can monopolize marketing on a very specific niche. You could for example have the exact same set of features but just choose a market and choose to go narrower to the point where you’d get a tipping point worth of traction in a way that a bigger company would never do.

Because it wouldn’t necessarily be in their interest do it. They can outspend you on a simple girth perspective,
“We have more money that you so we can outspend you.” But can they really be better for a specific niche than you could? I don’t know, I suppose if they wanted to –

Laura:
Online businesses always worry about this but I always tell people, if you wanted to start a dental practice you wouldn’t Google and see if there was another dentist in your town and then be like, “Someone is already doing that!”

Trent:
I know [laughing]. Or restaurants or flower shops or barbershops or lawyers or accountants or car washes.

Laura:
Exactly, you wouldn’t be like, “There’s already a car wash in Austin Texas, well that blows my idea.”

Trent:
Yeah, very true, Alright it’s been fun, thank you very much. And Laura if people if they want to try this thing out it is at MeetEdgar.com, right?

Laura:
Yep, MeetEdgar.com.

Trent:
Hoky doke, thanks very much Laura, it’s been a pleasure to have you on.

Laura:
Thank you.

Trent:
Alright, to get to the shownotes for this episode go to BrightIdeas.co/171. And if you enjoyed it and want other people to discover it please head on over to BrightIdeas.co/love where there is a tweet awaiting the click of your mouse. So that is it for this episode. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid.

If you’d like to learn more about inbound marketing we have a free library of resources for you if you just head over to our agency GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/resources. There is a whole bunch of good stuff there to help you increase your knowledge.
Thanks very much for tuning in, looking forward to having you back for another episode soon. Take care, bye-bye.

About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar, a new social media automation tool designed to prevent social updates from going to waste.

Since 2009, she’s been teaching entrepreneurs how to harness the power of social media marketing and create their own fame at LKR Social Media.