How To Make Slack Work For Your Business

There is a tidal wave coming and it’s changing the way we do work. We caught a glimpse of it in 2014 when Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Forget for a moment that the company only had 30 engineers. The fact that Facebook was willing to pay such a high price for this asset was a window into the world to come. That window showed us how important and scalable messaging can be. That window of messaging is only getting bigger.

Less than two weeks ago, Slack completed a $200 million round of financing at a $3.8 billion valuation. This is largely due to the fact that they were able to grow from about 15,000 daily users to over 500,000 daily active users in less than a year. That’s over 33x growth in just 12 months. They could be the fastest growing software company of all time.

People now are beginning to ask why? Why are companies rapidly adopting conversational platforms like Slack? Why do we need it when we already have things like email? And more importantly, how can we use it in our organization when it seems like just another tool to add to the mess of tools? As one CEO of a large technology company told me, “we already have email, Gchat, Facebook messenger, text messaging and WhatsApp. What do I need one more tool for?”

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to look at one of the most successful CEO’s of all time, Andy Grove from Intel. In the 1980’s he also saw a tidal wave coming and he used it to his advantage to outperform his competitors, namely the Japanese DRAM manufacturers. The Japanese would work in the same rooms, side by side, in order to foster the most efficient means of team communication. However, the tidal wave that would help shift things in Intel’s favor, was their rapid adoption of electronic email, especially as the business became more global. From Andy Grove’s, High Output Management:

The informed use of e-mail— short for computer-to-computer electronic messaging— results in two fundamentally simple but startling implications. It turns days into minutes, and the originator of a message can reach dozens or more of his or her co-workers with the same effort it takes to reach just one. As a result, if your organization uses e-mail, a lot more people know what’s going on in your business than did before, and they know it a lot faster than they used to.

Now we have electronic conversation and thanks to companies like Slack, which have matured and polished this form of communication, it is now easier than ever to collaborate and work. It doesn’t turn “days into minutes” but minutes into seconds.

So how can you create “high output management” process and organization on top of Slack to accelerate your business and productivity? Here are five tips to best utilize Slack to organize your teams for optimal efficiency.

  1. Organize around key objectives. You have a sales team, a customer success team, an account management team, and maybe 5 other teams that touch the customer. Do you create one channel or group for each team? Do you create one channel for each customer? Do you create a generic sales channel? This answer will largely depend on the size and scope of the company. Consider the following scenario, which could be taken from an ordinary day at a large enterprise software company. You have an account executive working on large multi-million dollar deal. That deal represents one customer but requires the help of at least 10 people from various parts of the company including management, product and engineering. We’ll call that deal the “IBM” deal. In this example, it probably makes sense to create one dedicated channel for IBM, however it probably does not make sense to create channels for each and every account. Understanding the most pressing key objectives at your company is a good guiding light to how your team should organize in Slack.
  2. Real-time leading indicators. One of Slack’s innovations is their ability to integrate with third party systems and services. For example, every time our engineering team pushes out an update or fix, I can see the real time update and context around that update in a stream. Our engineering team uses this to gauge the pulse and health of our company’s engineering output. Before slack, this data was more obfuscated living in different silos. Now the entire team can optionally check in to gauge velocity on product. This concept of real time leading indicators can work in a sales situation too. Consider the scenario where a sales rep has five meetings but forgets to follow up with all five customers. Wouldn’t it be helpful to automatically and in real-time notify the sales rep that they forgot to follow up? This is the power of Slack. We can now seamlessly integrate with third party data sets and make those leading indicators available in real time for all, or just some, to see.
  3. Workflow. At Troops, when someone signs up for our newsletter, we get a real time alert that someone signed up. Moreover, we append third party data in real time so we can give the team greater context of who exactly the person is. For example, if john@smith.com signs up, we can quickly determine who he works for, what the company size looks like, where it’s located, what he’s been talking about, all in a fraction of a second simply by looking at just his email address. If we think the person is a VIP of sorts and needs immediate attention, we can quickly start a dialogue around the alert. The team can quickly give an emoji thumbs up or thumbs down on how valuable that person is, and if enough ‘thumbs ups’ are accumulated, a sales rep can reach out in real time. There are all sorts ways the messaging stream can be adapted to custom workflow but this is just one example.
  4. Cultural Development. If you ask someone about Slack that has any familiarity with it, you might hear them mention the word “giphie” within the first five seconds. Many people recognize that Slack itself just makes work more fun. But fun, has a very real implication on culture and productivity. If left unchecked, it can erode productivity. However, if embraced correctly, it can enhance culture and subsequently drive happiness and efficiency. At Troops, we are automatically surfacing client wins in real time in Slack. This happens automatically and ties in unique content to drive a stronger, sales-oriented culture. Before Slack, companies would resort to things like trophies, sales gongs, and bonuses, which is especially hard if teams are spread out across multiple geographies or time zones. Now, there is a greater ability to increase culture through “digital gongs” and celebration, across large teams or sub-sets of teams.
  5. Speed. As you are reading this article, it’s likely that you have over ten web browser tabs open. Each tab represents entirely different context, modes of thinking and ways of working. When you consolidate systems and services into one stream or one messaging interface, you can begin to increase the speed at which you do work. For example, at Troops we are able to execute commands in third party systems like Salesforce, Gmail, Calendar, and GitHub all from within one command line. This is very analogous to the google search box. Instead of having to click through a set of listings to find information, you can simply type a request and have Google spit back the information to you. Slack represents a similar opportunity, only this time, you can get more creative with what type of information you search for, what is returned, how it is returned, and who it is returned to.

This is just a short, high-level list of ways you should be thinking about maximizing the use of Slack and the other conversational platforms to come within your organization. If you think this trend is fleeting or that these messaging tools are just a fad, consider this. WeChat, another messaging platform in China, already has 20 million companies selling and marketing products through a messaging interface. This change in user behavior is so profound that it has driven Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, to orient the company around this paradigm shift, and it seems this is his first major product decision that deviates from Microsoft’s legacy product lines. It’s still early days and we’re going to see the next wave of enterprise solutions being created through messaging interfaces like Slack.

What questions or comments do you have about Slack?

5 Tips Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

With companies like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly helping people create their own e-commerce stores, taking a business online has never been so easy. And yet, it’s still a challenge to run an online business successfully. “It can be difficult for a small business to really make an impact online, even when it has a beautiful site,” says Olga Vidisheva, the founder and CEO of Shoptiques.com. The 4-year-old business is an online destination for customers to shop brick-and-mortar boutique stores. Having recently signed its 5,000th store, Vidisheva’s company is now the largest of its kind. I sat down with Vidisheva to get her perspective on what it takes for small businesses to thrive online.

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Shoptiques has over 5,000 small businesses on its platform.
  1. Have a point of view and unique product offering

Commodity businesses such as books and electronics were the first to see e-commerce really squeeze out mom and pop stores. The product offering is uniform and easily comparable. If you’re looking to buy a copy of the latest bestseller there isn’t anything distinguishable from one copy to another. If the differentiators are only price and speed, then purchasing from an e-commerce giant like Amazon is a clear choice even if there is a shop down the street that sells the same item. Amazon may be able to deliver it to your door before you have time to stop by the store.The more difficult industries for Amazon and others to compete in are those with high degrees of differentiation and low degrees of uniformity. “Your offering must stand out and have a point of view,” says Vidisheva. “If what you’re selling is not special, your business will never get off the ground,” she adds. This maxim is true for both e

The more difficult industries for Amazon and others to compete in are those with high degrees of differentiation and low degrees of uniformity. “Your offering must stand out and have a point of view,” says Vidisheva. “If what you’re selling is not special, your business will never get off the ground,” she adds. This maxim is true for both e-commerce and traditional retailers. Vidisheva explains, “for fashion, we really believe that boutiques selling unique items will continue to thrive and those are the boutiques we’re bringing to Shoptiques. It’s not enough to be unique to your zip code or postcode. Once your customers can access product from around the world, you need to be offering something truly special in the global marketplace.”

  1. Logistics are key

Consumer expectations today are heavily influenced by companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Uber. Consumers want products and experiences that are intuitive, operate smoothly, and arrive virtually on-demand. Once customers take the leap and buy from your store, restaurant or even a dry cleaner, it’s important you don’t lose their trust with a bad delivery experience. “Items need to arrive in perfect condition, quickly, and nicely packaged,” notes Vidisheva. “It is no longer enough to just offer the product, whether you are a large or small business, the consumer expects a lot from the start to finish of their purchase experience.”

  1. Embrace the omnichannel

Your brand is your brand, wherever customers experience it. “Cultivating a brand identity is critical for a small business,” says Pinkyotto boutique owner Peter Hsia. “Whatever the client sees or experiences becomes your brand.” That means your site, app, social media, and in-store aesthetic should be consistent. “The website shouldn’t feel like a departure from your product.” Vidisheva adds. “A customer should immediately recognize the look and feel. It builds recognition and repeat rate.” Eliminate the ‘e’ in e-commerce and think about how to use technology to serve all of our customers across every touch point. It shouldn’t matter if your customer wants to walk in the door and try something on or if your customer wants to purchase via a tweet from the other side of the world. Technology is what will allow small business owners to operate on a global scale.

  1. Always be on their minds

There are more ways than ever to be in touch with your customers. Social media is an essential communication tool for a company to engage with customers on a regular basis, and so is email. For brick-and-mortar stores, an online presence is also a way to cross-promote. Elliot Dejmal of New York’s Dor L’ Dor boutique explains, “I love being able to market the website to customers in-store and market the physical stores on the web.”

  1. See what else is out there – and use it

Companies like Shoptiques, PostMates, and OpenTable make it easier for small businesses to compete in a global scale. As Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local wrote, “As a result of technology, services that were once only available to multinational companies with millions of dollars in revenue are now only an app away for small businesses.” Small businesses shouldn’t shy away from using these types of services to grow their digital footprint.

Have more thoughts on tech and small businesses? Share them in the comments section below. And check out the independent boutiques on Shoptiques here.

This Startup Failed In Year One And Is Now Doing Over $6M In Sales Per Year

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

On January 19th Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, a sales technology startup out of Atlanta came to chat with the Building The Sales Machine community here in New York City about the challenges of building company as it relates to culture, values and building the sales organization. Kyle and the SalesLoft story is compelling because the business was pretty much a failure in the first year. But now, they are an 80 person company and grew sales by 1000% in 2015. Moreover, they went from $1M to $6M run rate in the past 5 quarters and was rated the #1 Best Place to Work in Atlanta.

As someone who is building a sales-facing technology startup myself, this story is especially compelling to me.

So how did they do it? Here is what Kyle had to say.

Dan Reich: How did you get started with Salesloft?

Kyle Porter: When we started this company, we flat out failed in the first 12 months. In 2011 I started the company and had no idea what I was getting into. I was a really good salesperson but had no idea had to start a company.

A sales person is the closest job to an entrepreneur. It’s the role where you control your own destiny the most. And you have to have this relentless pursuit to make it happen. I had that gene inside of me. But I didn’t understand software development. I didn’t understand the culture of an Engineering Org, the prioritization of product management philosophy. I didn’t understand that you can only do so many thing at once. I had these guys build, build, build and ultimately I scattered them too thinly.

The other big thing that I was missing was the people’s culture. Think to yourself right now about how you think people should behave… If you start a company you HAVE to inject those things into your business. I didn’t make that happen. I had people that I hired that I thought might be good, but the culture spun out of control.

On the reboot: I’m going to start over from scratch but do 2 things wildly different. 1 I’m going to put thought into product management 2. Pay a ton of attention to culture.

Reich: What has become of the modern sales organization?

Porter: You either have a modern sales organization or you don’t. Are you striving to do things better? Are you using the processes and tools that are available today to drive your team forward? What I keep learning is that there’s stages inside these sales organizations.

When I started sales loft we had this hot thing that a lot of people wanted. So we could reach out to anyone with a “soft touch” and were able to kind of “carpet blast” the universe and get some really good numbers. Eventually, you need to go deeper and build real relationships with people.

If you’re out there and have a sales process that’s working but doesn’t require significant sales skills, you should be skeptical.

If you’re sending emails and people are responding, but you’re not actually diving in and solving problems and going deep, building relationships, connecting with people… those sales are going to eventually dry up.

That’s what I’ve learned about the modern sales organization. The good ones aren’t taking anything for granted. They’re going deep to build true problem-solving relationships with their buyers. They figure out ways to get really personal and interactive with their customers over time.

Reich: What should the SDR and Account Management interaction look like?

Porter: Two years ago this was shocking stuff, but now we’ve all seen the SDR [Sales Development Movement]. We’ve seen the specialization in sales between the people who prospect and bring in the business, and those that nurture the relationships and close it down. Now with the specialization, you’re seeing both disciplines get better at their craft. But now those two roles are coming together a bit more. They have empathy for the role of the other person.

Reich: What are your core values and why are they important to SalesLoft?

Porter: As an executive at your company, work hard to inject your personal core values into your business. What are the 3 things that matter most to me? 1. Positive 2. Self Starting 3. Supportive. The first person I hired: are they positive, are they self-starting are they supportive. This ran down to everything we’ve done. The difference has been night and day.

Now as you grow, it get’s harder and harder to control this at a company level, but you can definitely control it at a team level. So hiring the right people to start, then putting your best people into leadership positions, that embody and understand your values, then having them hire their teams to those values and letting them run with it; eventually you have a solid team, built around your culture.

We went from 3 core values, then my team came to me and said, hey I see a few other things we’d like to talk to you about. “We see people who are positive, supportive and self-starting at this company but they leave a bit to be desired. We also see people that are doing things that are not 1, 2, & 3 but we love it. So we went out to dinner and I asked my team to write down: Who are the top 7 people at this organization, that if we cloned them it would lead us to market domination? Write out the top 5 traits of those people and put them in the middle. Sure enough, 1. Positive. 2. Self Starting 3. Supportive. rose to the top, from that we mined out 3 additional core values. 4. Empathetic 5. Transparent 6. Exceptional.

Reich: How can you use your core values to measure a team (hire, fire, train)?

Porter: I’m a super broken record when it comes to core values. I’m sure people say “Kyle’s an idiot, he says the same things over and over and over again.” Well, I might be. But you better believe everyone at SalesLoft remembers those 6 core values. No matter how long they’ve been there, they can walk you through them. That’s important. That means they run deep.

I’m a parent. I have an 18 month-old baby girl, Brooklyn. Every night before I put her to bed I tell her the rules of the house: be nice to Mommy and Daddy, be nice to others, be nice to yourself. I say that to her over and over until she gets it. If she does something dishonest or not fair. I’m going to tell her, “share, share share”. People think that the job of the CEO is to be some mad scientist and write these elaborate equations locked up in a whiteboard somewhere… The job of the CEO is to ingrain the vision and the values into your team. That simply takes repetition.
I’m the chief reminding officer.

Then I’m injecting it into the hiring process. We have a matrix. Anyone hiring at SalesLoft score candidates on a Matrix according to our core values. By the time I see a candidate in the 3rd round, “I’ll walk right in and ask what are the SalesLoft core values?”. If that person doesn’t know it, they’re out.

Then we work it into management. If I’ve seen that Alex has shown a ton of empathy to a vendor. I’m going to pull her aside, look her in the eye and tell her “thank you”, and explicitly call out what she did, how it tied back to our values and how great it was. All of our managers are trained to do that as well. It makes a difference.

I’ll do the same thing if with negative responses to the values. If I notice that Alex wasn’t attentive to a note that was sent around the office. I’m going to pull her aside again and say hey, you need to be up on this, it’s part of being successful. When you’re not up on this, it hurts our company and here’s why… and “I know you’re better than that”. That matters.

Now, the reprimands are like 1:6 on the compliments. Go heavy on the positive. But stick to your cultures. That’s how you inject that shit right into the business!

Promote on culture values, hire on culture values, fire on culture values.

 

How This New Podcasting Platform Pulled Off The Perfect Product Launch

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

In the world of technology startups, it seems many people look to a few select sites to figure out what products are new and exciting. Product Hunt is one of those sites. At the time of this writing, Product Hunt has 4,007 products listed, 15,795 comments, 71,842 upvotes, and 29,021 subscribers from around the world. So I was fascinated to see a company called Zula generate as much engagement as they did during their launch of their new product called ZCast.

Why was I fascinated?

ZCast is a podcasting product. It enables anyone to podcast live with friends and let anyone listen and interact in real time. In other words, it removes the barrier to podcasting.

With the world moving towards augmented reality and virtual reality, it seems like sometimes we take for granted tried and true mediums that people are accustomed to. According to the Washington Post, podcast downloads passed the 1 billion mark in 2014, and monthly podcast listeners reached as much as 75 million per month. By mid-2015, ad marketing spend on podcasts reached $50M. Several new podcasting services launched in the past two years, each promising new and exciting ways to allow users to broadcast themselves.

I sat down with Hillel Fuld, the CMO of ZCast, who recently led their launch to gain some insights into their product, their space and into their product launch.

Hillel Fuld
Hillel Fuld, CMO of Zula.

Dan Reich: This ZCast launch was pretty nuts. Most upvotes on Product Hunt, tons of press, and from what I can see, tons of traction. I opened the app and there were tens of upcoming casts. How did you pull off this launch?

Hillel Fuld: Yes, the ZCast launch was bonkers. I mean the team worked for months preparing for it and we hoped it would be good, but definitely exceeded our expectations. I’d like to offer some magical answer that anyone can just do and pull off a launch like this but the truth is, it was a whole lot of hard work. Building relationships for years on Twitter and other platforms, writing content myself so when I ask friends and followers to support the launch, most people were happy to after reading my content daily for years. I mean, there are definitely some useful tips I can offer like to coordinate the Product Hunt aspect of your launch way in advance. Choose the tag line, the person who will hunt it for you, write your first comment in advance, and make sure to spend time on Product Hunt for months before the launch. I wrote many more tips on Medium the day after launch. Read that post here.

Reich: I actually want to focus on Product Hunt a little more. It has become quite a central platform in product launches and you nailed it. I’d love to know five things you would recommend to anyone launching a product on Product Hunt.

Fuld: Sure. Here we go.
A: Spend a lot of time on the platform well before you intend on launching. Give back to the community there because without that, you can’t expect them to support you during your launch. By the way, apply this rule to all aspects of marketing. Give a whole lot more than you take.

B: Before you decide on your one liner, write 20-30 options down, gather feedback from people, team members, colleagues, and anyone else who will offer their opinion. The tag line should obviously talk to the Product Hunt community so be geeky but also make sure the tag line says clearly what your product does.

C: Make sure your graphics stand out. Whether it is screen shots, a video, or any other visual assets, remember that all people will see when determining whether to upvote is the name of your product, the tag line, and the visuals.

D: Find the right person to hunt it. In theory, you, the maker of the product should hunt it but if you don’t have a large audience there, then find someone who does and can hunt it for you.

E: Here’s something I learned the hard way. Coordinate the Product Hunt launch time with the press. In other words, if you sent out your release under embargo till 9:30 AM, then don’t launch on Product Hunt any earlier than that. If you do, the press can and probably will see the product on Product Hunt and write about it before, which might annoy other reporters and prevent them from covering the launch. I made this mistake and almost paid the price.

F: Bonus: Never ever ask for upvotes. Sharing the link to your page on Product Hunt? Totally fine. Asking for Upvotes in a Facebook post, tweet, email or any other way? Not ok.

Reich: So tell me about ZCast.

Fuld: ZCast is the most exciting product I’ve ever been involved in building. I can tell you that over the last five years, I’ve tried many times to podcast. I’m a big believer in content of all kinds and audio content is no different. The problem is that creating a podcast is super challenging. Either you sit in a studio with your guests and record the podcast with high-end equipment or you need to use some serious software to record the conversation then edit it after the show to make it into a podcast format.

With ZCast, choose a topic, invite your co-hosts and go live. That’s it. You’re podcasting. Approximately ten second setup time. The goal with ZCast is to do to audio content what YouTube did to video. Make it accessible to anyone. For now, it’s iOS and a full-fledged web app that enables you to listen, interact, and cast from your web browser. On Android, you can use the browser as well but an Android app is obviously on the roadmap.

Reich: What are your next moves with ZCast and what are the challenges?

Fuld: The launch was the “easy part”. Now getting content flowing into the platform is the challenge. The amount of casts we had on the first few days is astounding but now we need to take this momentum and leverage it to build out the community. Of course, there is also the fund raising, which is an essential part of building out a vision as ambitious as ours. Finally, we will be working closely with some strategic partners on ZCast. Think entertainment, think podcasting networks, and think different types of content creators who always wanted to podcast but simply couldn’t.

Reich: What was the most exciting part of the ZCast launch?

Fuld: Well we haven’t spoken about this publicly yet but we had many, many visually impaired individuals interact with their audience while ZCasting. Taking questions, answering them, and just literally hosting their very own interactive podcast. I am not talking one or two people, there were many. It was inspiring.

Reich: So I’ll just ask what many people want to know. What does being number one in terms of votes on Product Hunt, getting countless positive reviews in the press, and endless social promotion do to your download numbers? How is that going?

Fuld: Well, obviously it is too early to talk numbers but what definitely matters to us most is the amount of time each user spends on the platform. Downloads are less important to us since the web app has all the functionality needed to ZCast. Having said that, the numbers both in terms of downloads, average ZCast time, and just overall ZCast sessions are super exciting. We didn’t expect them to be this high and that’s an understatement. The retention, in other words, the people that start a ZCast, then come back to do another one? That is the number we are most proud of!

Reich: What’s the stage of Zula, the company? Are you raising capital now? Tell me about that.

Fuld: Zula is a small company with 6 team members. Two marketing, one iOS, one UI/UX, and The CEO. Super lean. Yes, we are talking to a few investors now about raising a round of financing primarily to be used to build out the ZCast platform and make it available to more people, starting with Android users.

Reich: If you had one wish for ZCast, one goal, what would it be?

Fuld: I think our dream here is to offer users everything they need to create high quality engaging audio content. My dream? To have ZCast accompany talk radio shows, sports events, and other less geeky and more mainstream events. We see ZCast as sort of the next-generation talk radio.

Reich: And you? What’s your end game?

Fuld: Well I am super excited about the future of ZCast and I think there is tremendous potential here. I can’t wait to start my own weekly podcast. Soon we will add recording in ZCast and I’ll be hosting my own show. The topic? Stay tuned. Other than that, helping push the Israeli ecosystem forward. It is exciting times for us with ZCast and exciting times here in the Israeli startup ecosystem!

The Captain Of You

I feel like I’m a passenger of my own life.

I’m not afraid of going on welfare. I’m afraid of being ordinary.

As I heard him say the things I saw my life flash before my eyes. I recalled the decisions I’ve made, the places I’ve traveled to, the friendships I’ve made, the speeches I’ve heard.

But most importantly…

The things I’ve done.

Right or wrong, good or bad life is all about the choices we make and the choices we follow through with.

It’s about doing.

It’s about being the driver and captain of our own life and not being a passenger that’s merely along for the ride.

The irony here is that what holds us back to start, becomes the thing that drives us forward in the end. It’s what rips us out of apathy and tells us that something is wrong.

That thing is called fear.

Being afraid to fail leads us down a path of passiveness. And as we walk down that path we begin to realize just how bleak the path is.

Most of us have seen it before.

It’s a straight line and the roads are smooth from all of those that went before. The speed limit signs of society tell you to that you’re a million miles and decades away from your goal.

Your goal.

You forgot what that was because you were busy thinking about the next pit stop as you stare at the clock of life counting down the seconds and days until you reach a checkpoint.

Marriage. Kids. Buying a house. Paying off a mortgage. College tuition. Switching jobs.

Each pit stop you look back and wonder if you got on the right path.

Each pit stop you look forward and wonder if you can get off.

Where would that exit take me? Am I even capable of getting off?

You realize that the other path, the path of uncertainty and maybe even failure, is a lot less scary than this path of passiveness of ordinary.

You wonder what if you just got on that windy, uncertain road to begin with? And then regret starts to settle in. What if I did those things I was afraid of doing? What if I didn’t settle and do what was expected of me? What if I followed my dreams and put myself out of my comfort zone?

I read a quote somewhere once that said most people overestimate the cost of doing something and underestimate the cost of doing nothing.

Truth.

That person is a smart guy.

And right or wrong, the smartest thing we can do as people is to live life to the fullest. To be the captains of our own lives and to embrace fear head on.

The best thing we can do is to do.

Something..

Something that is extraordinary, scary and defines who you are and who you were meant to be.

It’s not too late.

It’s never too late to look fear head on and say it’s my turn to drive. It’s my time and I got it from here.

And in that moment, you realize you can do anything and that you are in control. You’re the driver again and the captain of your own life.

The captain of you.

How These Founders Built A $1 Million+ Business And Acquired A Competitor All While Bootstrapped

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

These days, it seems rare to meet entrepreneurs who have opted to bypass the route of raising venture capital in favor of a building a business that sustains itself through revenue. Josh Goldstein and Chris Muir, cofounders of an NYC-based hiring startup that’s quietly amassed a customer list with some of the best-known technology companies in New York and San Francisco, including companies like Kickstarter, Warby Parker, and Etsy, have done just that. Underdog.io took to its blog today to announce that it had acquired Sourcing.io, another company in the recruiting space, for an undisclosed sum.

I had the chance to catch up with Josh and Chris about bootstrapping their business, financing an acquisition out of revenue, and how they see themselves within a broader recruiting industry that’s rife with venture dollars.

Dan Reich: How did Underdog.io come about?

Josh Goldstein and Chris Muir: We started Underdog.io as a side project back in April 2014. At the time we were working on a different business – enterprise software for real estate property managers – but we weren’t close to making any money with it and started brainstorming some other products that would help us pay the bills. Underdog.io was one of those ideas, and probably the one that we felt the strongest about. After getting some early traction with it, we decided to go all in.

Reich: You both have experience at venture-backed startups. Did you guys plan to build a bootstrapped business?

Goldstein and Muir: We’ve never set any hard and fast rules about fundraising. The only rule that we had when we started Underdog.io  – and this was probably a result of both of us having worked at startups with no revenue – was to build a product that people would pay for on day 1. This was super important to us…much more important than raising tons of money or getting a write-up in TechCrunch.

Reich: Where did the idea to acquire Sourcing.io come from?

Goldstein and Muir: Both of us have been big fans of Alex MacCaw (the founder of Sourcing.io) for a while, in particular his blog and his writing about the state of recruiting in SF. As part of building Underdog.io, we tried out a number of sourcing products, including Sourcing.io. We loved the interface and some of the social and team features that Alex was building. Fast forward a few months and we jumped at the chance to meet with Alex when we found out that he was looking to move on and focus on another business.

Reich: Now that you’ve made this acquisition, what are your plans?

Goldstein and Muir: We’ve got lots of work to do to integrate our two products, onboard some new customers, and make sure that our existing customers understand where we’re headed. After that, it will be business as usual for us, which means staying focused on giving candidates the best experience possible and giving companies a cheaper and easier way to hire great teammates. The recruiting technology space is full of companies with big war chests and even bigger financial expectations. One advantage of bootstrapping is being able to stay focused on what matters to you, which is a luxury that we’ll take advantage of for as long as possible.

Reich: What’s one piece of advice that you’d give others that are looking to bootstrap a business?

Goldstein and Muir: Prepare yourself for a slow grind. Bootstrapping is neither harder nor easier than raising money, but it’s definitely slower. Almost every roadmap you have – from product development to hiring – will be extended because you have fewer resources than you need and, more than likely, fewer resources than other companies in your industry. Stay focused and try to use that slowness to your advantage in some way.

A Student – Learning, Living at the Intersection of Business + Technology + Innovation + Culture.