Kyle RackiCEO at Proposify

Canadian Entrepreneur. Founder of Proposify, a $9M ARR SaaS company with 90 employees. Interviewed on TIME and Mixergy.

Recent Answers

From what I understand, you are trying to help an SEO agency sell to other agencies that themselves sell to dental/medical companies?

It's tricky without knowing more details, since this question keeps coming to mind: Why is the SEO agency interested in white-labelling their services to agencies instead of selling direct to clients? It seems oddly specific and convoluted.

However taking the question at face value, I would say consider the following:

* There is likely a very small pool of agencies who specialize in medical/dental. How do you know the ones that do don't already offer SEO services?

* If you can pull together a list of agencies you think would make good leads, the simplest thing to do is just cold call and try to book a meeting with their owner or account director to show how you can white-label your services.

I wrote a blog post about agency lead generation for targetted niches: hope it helps.

Feel free to book a call.

My co-founder and I are not programmers. I have a design/marketing background and he has a business/sales background.

We hired a skilled developer to work on the product and after he proved himself and we were approaching PM-fit we promoted him to CTO and gave vested stock options.

Some candidates may want the title right away, or stock options right away, but in any case you don't *need* a CTO co-founder as long as you have a very good lead developer hired.

Any skilled, experienced programmer who believes in what they're building will treat the product like their baby, give them the title and mentorship to grow along with the company and you can do well without a technical co-founder.

I used to run a small marketing agency, and selling monthly retainers is incredibly important to keep cash-flow and growth steady, so you're on the right track.

Step 1 in selling an AoR type of relationship is to pitch the retainer to warm leads only, so get your foot in the door before trying to ask the client to commit to an annual contract.

The best foot-in-the-door offers are usually website audits and/or marketing strategies. They are small and don't require a lot of red tape to get approved, and they let you start dating before you get married (so to speak) to start building a relationship.

Step 2 - Once the starter project is complete, you should have built a rapport with the client and they should trust you by now. The audit or strategy you performed should include high level recommendations on what the client should be doing/changing to get results.

At this point you can pitch an agency of record relationship to stress the key benefits to the client. A monthly retainer will:

* Allow your agency to generate better results because you'll be able to measure and improve your tactics

* Let them budget and manage their own cash flow easier

* Get priority service because you're blocking off time for them every month.

You can also say that it's your policy to only take on retainers where there's a 6 month minimum commitment in place.

Step 3 - Execute the hell out of your retainer and work your ass off to make sure you get the clients the results you sold them by the end of the contract. This will increase the likelihood they'll keep using your agency and recommend you to their peers.

I wrote a post about selling retainers:

Host a weekly agency podcast:

And offer free proposal templates for agencies:

Book a call if you want to chat further.


It's a big question, but I'll try to answer it as succinctly as possible. As someone who has been a UI/UX designer building other people's software and now CEO of my own SaaS company, I've learned over the years that it is never a straightforward, linear process, but do the following:

1. Once you have your basic idea, start by doing a lot of research into your target customer and competitive analysis, to really understand where your app fits in the market. Ideally you want to have at least a couple other similar products but you should have an idea of where they fall short and how you can be better. Talk to 50-100 of your target customers and ask them about how they currently solve the problem. Your goal is not to sell your solution, just listen and take notes.

2. Once you have your idea and you understand the 2 or 3 most important features that make up the core of your product, design the UI and prototype it using a tool like Invision that lets you quickly send it out for feedback. Then use a tool like to watch people use it and get more feedback. Send it to the people you already interviewed and get their take on it. You should uncover some holes that need to be fixed at this stage.

3. Start coding your MVP, but remember - keep it minimal - Don't spend longer than a couple of months on it because it's going to change 1,000 times anyways. Just get something quick and dirty into people's hands for more feedback.

4. While the MVP is being built, you should be marketing it. Gather emails from a landing page, start blogging, get some media coverage, build some buzz. You shouldn't expect to make a lot of money from the early launch, but the key is to get a list of people (100-1,000) willing to use the product and give you feedback, then keep building on that foundation.

5. After the MVP launch, spend as long as it takes (8 months+) interviewing beta users, refining it, rewriting it, doing whatever it takes to get to product-market fit. While doing this keep building up your email list and get a steady stream of traffic through SEO/social/content but don't spend any money on ads until your at or close to PMfit.

Hope that helps! This is what I did with Proposify (and stumbled a few times) and it worked. We hit PM fit and within one year went from 30 paying accounts to 1,000+. Book a call if you'd like to learn more.

Speaking as a UI/UX designer, I think at your stage you should do as much of it as you can. In reality, it's your only choice if your finances are limited.

The CEO and/or the developer should be learning as much as they can to try and make the product as attractive and easy-to-use as possible.

Look at other apps for inspiration. Use CSS frameworks like Bootstrap. Read books and blogs, take online courses to learn the fundamentals of user-experience research (how to prototype, common design patterns, how to perform user-testing) and web design (typography, color theory, usability basics).

Will you be as good as an established professional with years of experience? No, but you don't need to be right now. Focus more at this stage on whether or not your product solves a pain for your market. Make it as great as you can make it on your own. The first versions of Facebook and Google looked like shit and it didn't matter.

Once you have proven your market, perhaps you've raised some money or have revenue from your product, then go out and hire a designer to make it look beautiful. Most of the fundamentals of UX research can be learned by anyone. As an entrepreneur, when you are low on cash you need to be that much more scrappy and DIY to get the job done.

You'll never get indexed by Google right away, it's going to take at least a few days or weeks, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process as much as possible.

1. Create at least one simple landing page while your site is being developed and include a few paragraphs of text explaining what lead machine is.

2. Ensure your content can be crawled and indexed by Google. - put the keyword in your title tag and meta description.

3. Create a Google Plus account for the business and Post a link to the website on the business account. Also submit a post on other social media accounts, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

4. Not required, but running a small Adwords campaign for the keywords you're targeting will help.

The fact that you have the domain name means you likely will be ranking for "leadmachine" fairly quickly, but the steps above will expedite the process.

If you want more help, book a call. Cheers.

Alex from Groove talks about this in one of his posts on being a non-technical founder:

I would say first off, make sure that you can drive the start-up without being able to code. ie: are you great at sales, product vision, user-experience, writing, marketing etc.?

Next, hire a freelance developer to make you a prototype cheaply. It won't be a real product yet, but just an MVP to get feedback from your target audience. Make sure the design is great, but it can be duct tape and bubble gum in the code. This will show investors that you can validate the market need, people are interested in what you've made.

Combine that with a great pitch deck and you may be able to raise $250K-1M from angels to hire a great full stack developer as your CTO and start building a team.

I've been there myself and currently run a funded SaaS startup. If you want to chat more book a call.

PS: It's really easy for other people to tell you to learn to code yourself. But not everyone is great at math logic, and asking someone to "just learn" is like asking someone to "just learn to play guitar". If you're not wired that way, it's impossible to expect you can just wish yourself to be able to do it. Besides, a couple months of Treehouse or courses aren't going to give you the ability to code a web product that users are willing to pay for. Real engineers take years of training, practice and constant reading/learning to keep their skills sharp.

It's always a good idea to start with your own website before creating a separate branded blog somewhere else, especially if resources are limited.

The added benefit to this is all of that good karma and link authority that comes from your blog, backlinks, social shares, comments etc. is right on your own company website, helping with SEO for your landing pages, instead of splitting it across several domains.

When planning your content strategy, always start with your audience and potential buyer. Who are they and what are they most interested in? Whatever content you write doesn't necessarily have to correspond directly with your product/service, it simply has to be something you know your audience cares about, is searching for and sharing on various social channels.

I'm available if you want to book a chat.

Why would customers not be your #1 priority when creating your beta? They are all that matters!

Once you have a handful of pre-orders you'll be able to find common patterns across them - similar industry sectors, geographic locations, company size etc. which will give you a tremendous amount of data to help figure out your product/market fit.

Pour your time and energy into providing the product for the group of people who are saying they want it and putting their money where their mouth is.

I used to run a small (10 person) design/development/marketing agency and one of my biggest regrets was not figuring out a way sooner to differentiate from the competition.

It's not enough to say you do better design, get results/ROI, or anything like that. Those things are now commodities that every agency has to say they do. It’s like an ice cream company saying they make cold ice cream.

Instead you need to pick a vertical. What industry outside of your own are you most fascinated by or knowledgable in? What does you and your team have the most experience in over-delivering? Health care? Software Startups? E-Commerce? Tourism?

Whatever it is, you need to find the ONE type of client you can best serve. Let's say you pick tourism for example. If you have several case studies of where you made a big impact for tourism clients, that can't just be buried in your portfolio, it needs to be on your home page and part of your entire brand messaging. It becomes who you are as a company - ‘We are the agency that helps tourism groups increase online bookings'.

Any tourism client looking for an agency to help them with marketing is automatically going to want to work with you vs the 'we make nice websites' company. It's like with photography, if you need to hire a photographer to shoot an ad for Mercedes, are you going to pick the photographer who does weddings, or the photographer who has amazing photos of cars? The answer is obvious.

Picking one industry to build all of your communications around take guts, because it means turning down or simply not going after all the other clients, but it will open up the world for your business as you won’t have to hunt as hard for clients (you’ll have one target market vs shot gunning to the world), you won’t have to compete based on price, and you can work with anyone in the world and won't be limited by location.

I’m free to chat more if you’d like to book a call.

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