This post was written by Aditya Shukla, who’s been doing founder outreach at Mixergy.
After receiving a warm response on the last post, Andrew and I went into a small brainstorming session, the topic of our discussion was what should be the next question for the founders. At the end of it we decided to ask the founders about their first sale. It is a very interesting question as it digs into the actions of past which have led to present success.
We also encourage you to give us new ideas which we could take to founders and bring back the lessons to you.
Till then, enjoy and learn from these stories.
My first business was a SEO company. So when I was trying to find clients I looked for companies who were spending a lot in paid search advertising. I went to a site called Overture, looked at which companies where spending a lot of money and I cold called each one until I could get someone on the phone who was interested in talking about SEO.
Out of a few hundred calls I was able to close a handful of clients, but the first one happened to be a DVD duplication company. It wasn’t a big contract, but I was able to close them by showing them how I could save them money.
Scott Lahman, Founder of GOGII INC
In the early days of JAMDAT, we were very fortunate to have Sprint PCS as the lead investor in eCompanies Wireless (which was our Series A investor). At the time, Sprint was very interested in mobile games, and their investment came with a lot of access to their team.
In early summer 2000, we were visited by three Sprint marketing execs – Chip Novick, Jeff Hallock and Laurie Thomspon – to brainstorm game ideas for their WAP platform. We didn’t really know many carrier execs at the time, and worried about a potential culture clash. Because of this, we pitched a pretty conservative slate of standards like Blackjack and Trivia.
At one point, Chip suggested we make an app called “send a fart.” That suggestion certainly broke the ice! From there on out, the mobile gaming and carrier walls were broken down, and the ideas started to flow. What came of it? Gladiator, a multi-player fighting game that went on to generate a bazillion minutes of usage on the Sprint network, and, in many ways, set the table for JAMDAT’s future success.
Meanwhile, we never really explored the fart genre, but it continues to be huge today. Chip was certainly a visionary.
Scott Gerber, Founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council
When I was 18, by relentlessly cold calling a top executive at a Fortune 500, I was able to finally pester him (politely) enough to get a face to face meeting. How? I promised him that if he gave me 10 minutes to meet with him in his office I would never call again (unless he wanted to me to, of course).
At the meeting, I asked him how much money his advertising agency charged him for his last industrial video. He shared the ball park figure with me, which was roughly 8x what I would have billed out. I made him a deal on the spot. If he let me take on his next project, I would charge half the competition and guarantee its delivery ahead of schedule. Most importantly, if he didn’t like the final product, he wouldn’t have to pay me. He took the deal. Ten years later, he is still a client.
Pre-Launch Mailing List
Gauri Nanda , Founder of Nanda Home
Our first sale was made direct online. Because of all of the publicity we received prior to the product’s launch, we created a mailing list on our website where people could pre-register to order a Clocky.
Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo
My first sale for my last startup happened with Andrew. I called him after we launched our first product and asked him to refer any person who would be interested. He gave me Chad’s number and I called him on Thanksgiving. After a week we had our first revenue generating customer. Always ask for referrals, even from rejections. Chad was critical in getting our next customers.
We will bring part 2 of the series very soon. In the meanwhile, feel free to share your first sales experience and yeah don’t forget to ask each other for referrals.