By Thomas Heath
“This is probably the most appropriately named event ever,” mused Grier Allen, the CEO and co-founder of BoomTown. “The Startup Grind. For those of you who are in it, who know what I’m talking about. It’s a helluva grind.”
Allen’s opening statement in his interview with Jeremy Berman at a recent meeting of Startup Grind Charleston reminded me of another wise saying: “Being an entrepreneur is not sexy. There’s always homework to do.”
As a business coach and entrepreneur, I’m always fascinated to listen to someone smart, who started with nothing but an idea and grew it into a multimillion-dollar business. That’s what Allen and his partner, Cooper Bane, did with BoomTown, which made the list of Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing private companies for three consecutive years.
For those not familiar with BoomTown, they created a web platform that real estate professionals use to generate leads and close more business. In a little over a decade, they have grown to more than 250 employees and are part of the new, Google-like campus at Pacific Box & Crate.
Tidbits I took away from Allen:
“We spent our first year trying to understand the pain points in the real estate industry and how we could use our skill sets to solve those problems. We wanted to get under the hood of our prospective customers and understand their business.”
That’s so smart. Many budding entrepreneurs create a product or a service first then bring it to the market and hope it sells. It goes against Solution Selling 101: Diagnose before you prescribe.
What about their first product?
“We wanted to build something that was an amazing experience, create an amazing experience. It’s one of our core values to this day and one of the things that Cooper and I believed in from the very beginning.”
I love that. In this day of tech companies rushing to build minimum viable products just to get something to the market, it’s refreshing to hear an entrepreneur who wanted to create something that was a wow out of the gate.
One of their early mistakes?
“Taking too long to switch from the what to the who.”
Allen shared how they knew their stuff when it came to technology, but they weren’t prepared for BoomTown’s crazy, initial success.
“Even with the great people we had, we were in hyper-growth stage and didn’t have the right talent to help us scale.”
His point was to think early on about the high-level people you need to grow.
One smart thing they did initially?
“We created our core values when we were about 30 people. We truly live by them. Everyone who works here is a custodian of them.”
That’s great stuff. I believe the foundation of a company’s culture is their core values. It’s probably a reason why Allen and his team went from zero to boom.
Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic advisor and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Have a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at Thomas@ThomasHeathCoaching.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/AskThomasHeath