It’s been 14 years since Bob Vaez started EventMobi and he’s had considerable growth without investment from Venture Capital or Private Equity. How did he do it? It wasn’t always easy.
EventMobi’s early sales model was classic founder-led with Bob doing it all from mining his network for leads to closing deals.
His decision to bootstrap versus take external investment meant that hiring an experienced sales leader was out of the question. Instead, he hired young, hungry graduates who could listen and tell stories.
His strategy worked. Growth was great and annual sales revenue soared.
Then the pandemic hit and revenue plummeted to near zero.
Within a few months, Bob pivoted the in-person event platform into a virtual one.
Sales rebounded and are stronger than ever with a return to in-person.
Bob’s 14-year journey is a great how-to for any CEO looking to bootstrap their startup.
Watch the podcast below or on our YouTube channel.
Highlights of this Episode:
[05:20] I had this passion for events and they would give you this tote bag full of paper and this show guide that’s 300 pages. I’m like, why is this not on my phone?
[06:38] We were building a product that no one had ever heard of, software for events.
[06:57] I realized the other part of the product we have to build is a platform for planners and event organizers because their data was all over the place.
[08:10] I think honestly at the beginning for a lot of startup founders, sales is not the main concern. But in reality, you want to make sure you have product market fit and selling is the best way to determine that.
[13:10] EventMobi is a bootstrap company and so very different from a VC backed company.
[13:43] From zero to the first $500K was very experimental. I didn’t know if the company was going to exist in the next few months. After that, I couldn’t do everything myself, so I had to hire someone to do online demos using WebEx
[14:49] We weren’t really hiring traditional salespeople. We were hiring people that were empathetic. They were really good listeners and they were really good storytellers.
[15:12] I ran it like that until we had about 12 people on the sales team. I was still managing marketing and support with a few junior managers, and we hit 5 million. That’s when I realized it was too much for me so we promoted our first sales manager from within the sales team. That took us to $10M.
[17:35] I think a lot of early CEOs hire what I call full-stack salespeople – they take it from lead to renewal. This has to be divided into different roles as you grow. How you define those roles and the timing is critically important.
[22:46] When the pandemic hit, we went from $10M to 0 overnight because all of the confidence got canceled. We retooled our platform to support virtual and suddenly our leads grew by a factor of five.
[28:45] We had a two pronged strategy in terms of building the sales team. One was to promote from within. And the other was to hire staff from the industry.
[31:40] Customer demands are changing. They are expecting a different type of response and they have different pain points. We need to train and enable the sales team to be able to help them in a way that they can benefit from rather than let me show you 12 tools we have.
[32:05] Information overload is real. There’s so much noise and there’re so many competitors. The customers can’t even remember who said what.
About Our Guest:
Bob has over 10 years of experience in software, semiconductor and mobile industry in various capacities from engineering to business development. He has worked for a number of small and large companies in Toronto, Canada and Silicon Valley, California such as BTE, ATI, AMD and Nvidia.
Currently Bob is the CEO of EventMobi.com.
EventMobi is an interactive mobile event guide app that helps engage audiences, further green practices and generate revenue. We empower event organizers with simple but powerful tools to create mobile event guides for their attendees in minutes!
About Guest Company:
EventMobi’s end-to-end Event Management and Virtual Conference Platform makes it easy for event organizers to plan, promote, monetize and deliver engaging virtual, hybrid and in-person event experiences.
From website, registration and an award-winning event app, to the Virtual Space and fully managed online event production, the EventMobi platform has been used by 10,000+ event planners in 72 countries around the world since 2009.
You can learn more about and connect with Alice Heiman in the links below.