So I started a company. I had no customers or product. Really, nothing to sell and no one to sell to. But my friends told me that I could make alot of money by selling software. So I started a software development company (we will call LebX). I can't code but hey I'm the CEO.
I looked at what other companies put on their website and I copied it. So now, we can do something called Cloud, CRM, Native & Hybrid apps (whats the difference?), and custom software development. I put on my website the dream team, UX designer, Database Developer, iOS and Android developers, and some testers (Quality Assurance I learned is their title). Ofcourse with no real employees, I put up cartoon pictures called avatars.
Now all I needed is customers. My father is in the financial industry so his clients were the low hanging fruit. I asked him for some names and phone numbers that I can apply my sales pitch to. He gave me 8 contacts in 8 companies. Getting the meeting was easy, since they all know my dad personally. To my surprise? Everyone was interested. Everyone seemed to have a need and some pain to relieve and I was their solution to all their problems, atleast thats how they perceived me. Here is a young kid that just graduated, he must know the latest technology. Since these people were not technical just like me, we could speak the same language. They wanted their website to be more flexible, or their Microsfot Access software to show their new address on the invoice. There were willing to pay just a few hundred dollars, here and there but guess what... I was more than happy to take any work. I learned something quickly, the reason they didnt go out of their way to seek out help from established companies is there were afraid. Afraid of being overbilled mostly. This is the same fear when you go to a car mechanic and you know nothing about cars, you know that it could be a $40 issue but he may charge you $400 and you would never know. So my brand must be to build trust. LebX is our friend and we trust them. Word of mouth became my biggest (actually only) marketing channel.
From the 8 contacts I would end up working with 4 and making a few thousand dollars with a high profit margin. How so? For a $500 job I would outsource it to a freelancer in India or Poland or Russia for $50 and they were more than happy to do it.
Being a non-developer turned out to be an advantage. New startups like mine ussually require the founders to code themselves and that leaves them with very few hours to spend on sales and marketing. I did not have this problem, because even if I wanted to code I could not. The next discovery blew me away. I was able to learn technical concepts very easily, it's really not that complicated. The coding is, but the concept is not.
There were some challenges, some clients wanted to come to my office. My office does not exist. At one time I took a nerdy friend with me to meet a new lead so he can assist with the technical as the meeting was with an IT fellow. I let my friend do most of the talking and things were going great, then the lead asked "how many employees do you have?" Me and my friend replied at the same time and it was embarrasing... he said "10" and I said "15." Needless to say we did not get the deal.
I never really felt that I was being unethical for one simple reason: I was providing great value and doing a great job at it. Questions like how many employees do I have are asking an outdated topic. Today, and especially in Silicon Valley, companies large and small are using a virtual team so they do not hire much and rely on freelancers or contract based work. Later on, I learned to just be blunt about it: "I do not hire full timers so I can keep costs down while working with only the best." I would ellaborate about how this is the future and how its used all over the world. Some get it, some love it, and some simply are living in the stone age past.
There is so much more I want to share. And hopefully this is just my first post on Confessions of an Entrepreneur. I also encourage you to share your (sometimes embarrasing) adventure in this game.