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How a Founder Successfully Pivoted His SaaS Business – with Geoff Atkinson [219]

How a Founder Successfully Pivoted His SaaS Business with Geoff Atkinson

How a Founder Successfully Pivoted His SaaS Business

Geoff Atkinson is the founder and CEO of Huckabuy, a SaaS platform that takes SEO to the next level by automating the creation of structured data to help search engines better understand your website.

In 2015 Geoff started an affiliate website. It was a simple business model — promote other companies' products and get commissions from the sales.

So his priority was to do a great job with search engine optimization and drive plenty of traffic to his website. And in order to do that, he needed to create lots of content. So he built a software tool to help him generate content.

He struggled with that business for the next two years and he got nowhere. He knew that he had to either shutdown the business or pivot quickly.

And he had two interesting insights at this point:

  1. Even though his affiliate business was a failure, he had several people asking him if they could license the software tool that he had built for himself.
  2. After doing so much SEO, he realized how important structured data was becoming for Google and wondered if he could get ahead of the curve.

So based on those two factors, Geoff decided to pivot into a SaaS business. This was something that he knew nothing about.

And it became even more challenging when he had to try and sell his new product. Initially, there was no user-interface, so he was going to sales meetings and trying to explain to prospects what his product would do for them but he had nothing to show them.

It was too much of a leap of faith for many prospects, but a few decided to give him a shot. And finally, after three and a half years of working on his business, he started to get sales.

Today is business is almost $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

So in this interview, you're going to hear Geoff's story and how he went through three and a half years of lean times for his business, how he pivoted into a SaaS business, what he learned about sales and the importance of structured data and how it could help you with SEO.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

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Omer Khan [0:09]
Welcome to another episode of the SaaS podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies and insights to help you build, build and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Geoff Atkinson, the founder and CEO of Huckabuy a SaaS platform that takes SEO to the next level by automating the creation of structured data to help search engines better understand your website. In 2015, Geoff started an affiliate website, it was a simple business model, promote other company's products and get commissions from the sales. So his priority was to do a great job with search engine optimization, and drive plenty of traffic to his website. And in order to do that he needed create lots of content. So he built a software tool to help him generate a lot of that content. He struggled with that business for the next two years and got nowhere. And eventually, he knew that he had to either shut down the business or pivot pretty quickly. And he had two interesting insights at that point. Firstly, even though his affiliate business was a failure, he had several people asking him if they could license the software tool that he had built for himself. And secondly, after doing so much SEO, he realized how important structured data was becoming for Google, and wondered if he could get ahead of the curve. So based on those two factors, Geoff decided to pivot into a SaaS business. And this was something that he knew nothing about. And it became even more challenging when he had to try and sell his new product. Initially, there was no user interface. So he was going to sales meetings, and try to explain to prospects, what his product would do for them. But he had nothing to show them. It was too much of a leap of faith for many prospects. But a few decided to give him a shot. And finally, after three and a half years of working on his business, he started to get sales. Today, the business is doing almost $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue. So in this interview, you're going to hear Geoff story, and how he went through three and a half years of lean times for his business, how he pivoted into a SaaS business, what he learned about sales, and the importance of structured data, and how it could help you with SEO. So I hope you enjoy it. First, real quick. Firstly, don't forget to grab a free copy of the SaaS toolkit, which will tell you about the 21 essential tools that every SaaS business needs, you can download your copy by going to theSaaSpodcast.com. Secondly, enrollment for SaaS club plus is now open. Plus is our online membership and community for you an early-stage SaaS founders. So if you need help launching and growing your SaaS business, and you want to connect with other founders around the world, and build recurring revenue faster, then plus will help you do just add, just go to SaaSclubplus.com to learn more. Okay, let's get on with the interview. Geoff, welcome to the show.

Geoff Atkinson [3:19]
Thank you so much for having me.

Omer Khan [3:20]
So what gets you out of bed? What inspires and motivates you to work on your business every day?

Geoff Atkinson [3:25]
Yeah, I'd say it comes from I have an athletic background, I was a ski racer, and runner and soccer player. And you know, I like to win. And I like to compete. And that's really my motivation, I kind of look at this similar to a sporting event. And I'm competitive. So that's what gets me going.

Omer Khan [3:43]
So Huckabuy is the company but it's made up right now have two different products. So can you tell us, number one, what did the products do? Who are your target customers? And what problems are you hoping to solve?

Geoff Atkinson [4:01]
Yeah, absolutely. So our products essentially, help translate a website for Google. So I always say, you know, websites are built for human beings. But I argue that in any given day, the most important visitor is actually this little Google bot, because they kind of end up dictating how much traffic you get. And so we take a site and essentially translate it using structured data in SEO cloud, so that Google has this wonderful, you know, user experience as a bot. Our target customer is really anybody that's interested in increases in organic search traffic. So it ranges from SaaS to eCommerce, travel insurance, you know, we really span across the board nonprofits, and what we solve for them, you know, essentially, their their sites, you know, are aren't fully optimized today for a search engine to come understand. And we help that communication between a website and a search engine.

Omer Khan [5:05]
Now, most people when they think of SEO will think of the traditional stuff like all my pages optimized for being crawled, and do I have high quality backlinks to my site and all the other stuff, which is really focused on? Can I get ranked on the first page of Google for whatever keywords I want with those 10 blue links on the page? But with structured data, there's more to it than just that. So for people who aren't familiar with the concept, can you explain, like what structured data means in the world of SEO?

Geoff Atkinson [5:43]
Yeah, absolutely. So structured data is essentially a language that is Google's is search engine, sort of preferred language to communicate with a website, you can have, it's called structured data markup, and you can have markup for almost anything. So a human being a location, an event, a product, you know, on and on, almost anything can be represented through structured data. It's authoritative. So as opposed to metadata, which is stuff like title tags, and meta descriptions, those are really suggestive with structured data, it's authoritative. So if you say the sports score is three, zero, and it's the bottom of the seventh, it has to be three, zero at the bottom of the seventh. And if they find that you're not giving them accurate information, you actually get dinged, so needs to be very accurate to authoritative and then you'll see Google use it and lots of interesting ways. So anytime they're called rich cards, anytime that you see sort of a unique feature in search results that aren't, as you said, just a blue link. If you search for a recipe, and the recipe just shows up, or you see star ratings on products, or you see move, you know, search for a movie time, and the movie times just show up and you can book right there. That's all powered by structured data, they are leveraging it more and more. So it's very important from an SEO perspective to have world class structured data. And they keep encompassing it into their search results. And also, they use it for voice search. So voice search is essentially if you search for something using a voice search, it's essentially reading to you the rich cards that are available on the page. And so as Voice Search becomes more prevalent in every industry, structured data is is the way to sort of capture those interactions.

Omer Khan [7:33]
So I just watched Spider Man, far from home last week, with my kids. And so if you search for that on Google, you see a few things. First of all, you'll see the 10, blue links, links to websites, but you'll also see the sort of the module on the right hand side, depending on which kind of variation of the search results page you're looking at, where I can see the movie. And it shows me the IMDb rating, it gives me an overview of the synopsis of the movie, etc, stuff like that. And then above the the 10, blue links, I've got the movie showtimes, which is showing me like local movie theaters where the movie is playing and at what time, most of that in the two things I talked about excluding the 10, blue links, that's the structured data. And that might be coming directly from somebody's website, or it might be something that Google is putting together themselves. Right?

Geoff Atkinso [8:24]
Correct. So just to be specific, so the showtimes are being driven by what's called event markup, which is telling Google Hey, this is happening here. And when on the right hand side, that is what Google calls their knowledge panel that's being powered by what Google calls their knowledge graph, which is highly influenced by structured data. So pretty much everything I just did the search as well, pretty much everything above the fold on this page is going to be powered by structured data. So

Omer Khan [8:54]
Tell me about how you came up with the idea for this business. What were you doing before you started this company?

Geoff Atkinson [8:59]
Yeah, so I was the SVP of marketing at Overstock. And we had a great SEO story, we took it from a very little channel to a very big channel, hundreds of millions. And, you know, I really got into SEO, that wasn't the only thing we did there. But I was just sort of fascinated by it. And it ended up transforming the business and you know, helping us become profitable. And it's just such a interesting and special channel versus your typical paid media channels. You know, it drives the best new customers always has the highest ROI, you know, I could go on and on and why it's so important. But yeah, I just really got into it, and especially around sort of the technical conversation between a website and in a search engine turned out to be particularly important. I think it was really cool just to be on the front lines of SEO for so long. And really recognizing what moves the needle and what didn't, I think the industry, SEO is sort of broken, where there's a lot of agencies, there's a lot of consultants that are sort of telling you what to do. But a lot of these folks don't have sort of the track record of really actually driving something through the roof. And so I just saw something kind of missing in the market where people were kind of being sold a lot of snake oil, and not getting what they wanted from the industry. And so we're here to try to fix that.

Omer Khan [10:24]
So tell me about like, how did you come up with the idea for the product? Which product came first? And how did you get started?

Geoff Atkinson [10:33]
Yeah, it's kind of a funny story, actually. So we started as a B2C site, it was an affiliate site, it was basically a comparison shopping engine, plus coupons type site, it was a total SEO play. And at the time, Google really started to not like affiliate sites. And so we were really swimming upstream, we had built a product, a software product that we use to generate content, on pages, it's a product that we just a few of our customers use still today, it's really not what we sell it all this product called hot news. And you basically grab the idea was like, let's grab, you know, an Instagram post or whatever, and write a short comment on it. And you could add content and change the page in a meaningful way. And a really short amount of time, as opposed to someone having to write an entire blog post or whatever, it actually ended up being a very effective product. And it worked well on that site. And people that knew Huckabuy wanted to start licensing it, we were getting nowhere in terms of revenue with that model. And so we pivoted into a SaaS company. And that was really our first product. The other piece that I knew was just really important from my Overstock days. And just by monitoring Google was just how important structured data was. And we figured if we got ahead of that curve, and could really learn structured data, and what and what it does, and how to optimize it correctly, and, and all those things that would really have something pretty significant on our hands. So that was, that was sort of our go to market, it wasn't out of any sort of clear thinking or strategy. It was really over, like, how do we get to revenue, and these affiliate commissions are happening? Let's pivot and start licensing this thing. And now I've come to realize how wonderful the SaaS world is.

Omer Khan [12:21]
So you've been in business for about two and a half years. And at what point did you pivot into a SaaS product business?

Geoff Atkinson [12:30]
We've been in business, I think, a little long in that for four and a half years, and we pivoted our two and a half years ago, so and then we've kind of once we built the product, we've sort of really been honestly selling it for about a year and a half.

Omer Khan [12:43]
And what are you doing in terms of revenue at the moment,

Geoff Atkinson [12:46]
We're approximately 1.4 million in ARR.

Omer Khan [12:49]
And so I want to kind of dig into, like, where that growth has come from, because like, if you've really been into sort of selling for the last year or so, like, in the first year of when you pivoted to a SaaS business, roughly like what sort of revenue were you doing then?

Geoff Atkinson [13:07]
Oh, zero. I mean, I think our largest affiliate commission check was like $5 or something.

Omer Khan [13:14]
That's coffee money. So So really, the growth to getting to over 100k in MRR has happened in just over the last year.

Geoff Atkinson [13:31]
Yeah, a year and a half.

Omer Khan [13:33]
Call it? Yeah. So what have you done? What's driven that growth so quickly,

Geoff Atkinson [13:39]
we haven't done anything special in terms of marketing or sales, I don't think I think we were very product driven, we had a product that was exciting to a lot of people, because it was really unique. And it made sense. It was like, Okay, this software is is going to move the needle, it has a track record of moving the needle. And so just really resonated with some internet marketing folks and smart SEO folks, a lot of which I already knew. And so I reached out to my network really, and said, hey, we've built something kind of cool, and it's working. And I'd love for you to try it. And so that's really how we got started was was within my network, my networks, network, people that worked at Huck buy. And that's really how it got started, we would take any business that we could get our hands on. And we we have a pretty high, you know, relatively high conversion rate, people were interested, and very sort of product driven, and then network driven at first. And then we got some lucky breaks, like we were introduced to SAP, for example, when we were quite small. And we learned that boy, this thing really works for SAS companies. And I can kind of get into why it does a little bit later. And that was a big deal for us to get SAP as a customer. And then we got Salesforce. And so we started getting some really big logos early on. And I think that that really verified the product to make people feel comfortable that we had these enterprise contracts. And yeah, then it really has happened, you know, more organically than it probably should have looking back on it. I wish we pushed harder on the sort of sales and marketing side earlier. But I think being product focused, we did build a great product. And that ended up moving the needle significantly for these companies. And once you have a bit of a track record, in SEO, people are willing to give you a shot.

Omer Khan [15:33]
So tell me a little bit about what the sales process look like. So you were getting most of these leads, as you said through your network. And so when you say to people, I'd love for you to try this out, what did that entail? Could you just send them a link and get them up and running? Or did you have to initially get in front of people and do some demos, and then be pretty involved in helping them to get on boarded? What just what did that look like?

Geoff Atkinson [16:00]
Yeah. So this has been until recently a very myself driven sales process. And what's interesting about Huckabuy so far, and we're starting to get past this where we're going to have, you know, a dashboard and the UI. What's unique about us is that there's really nothing to see other than the numbers grow. So structured data, you can show what we're doing. But there's no login, there's no real something to demo, which is honestly heard us. We're getting past that where we have actual we're working on an actual UI that people can see exactly sort of like the Google Analytics of instead of looking at users looking at what Google is doing on your site, and how well they're interacting with the site. So there wasn't really much of a demo, because it was me talking and whiteboarding. And it's incredible to think you know that. So relieved to just have like a phone conversation. And people will just sort of got it. But that was, you know, that's not normal. We do have kind of a demo, but it's really sort of conceptually describing what we're doing, showing the numbers to back it up. And it is a little bit of a leap of faith. But if, as I mentioned before, you know, smart internet marketing, people just got it really quickly. And they're like, yes, this is important. And this is the way that Google's heading. And we need to be doing this, I think didn't hurt having the track record that I did at Overstock made a lot of people trust what we were doing. And it was totally different. It was a totally different pitch than any other SEO pitch from, you know, an agency or whoever. It really resonated with people. And they're like, I've never even heard SEO talked about this way. And it's really refreshing. And so I think, you know, people have been pretty drawn to it drawn to the product and made it a lot easier to sell.

Omer Khan [17:49]
Okay, so now the story is getting more intriguing, because it's like, you're going out, you're getting front of prospects. And you're selling them a product that they can't see or touch, or use. But it will help them if they take that leap of faith. But you've also got the challenge of how do you present it in a way? And how do you pitch it in a way that people can understand the value and are willing to pay? Because on the one hand, like I can also, I don't know whether this happened, but I could kind of easily see this going in terms of you having a conversation with somebody. And you're kind of explaining how structured data works with some people who said, Well, yeah, that sounds great. Thanks. And we can probably create some of that ourselves.

Geoff Atkinson [18:42]
Absolutely. Yeah, you know, as we get more mature, I think it's getting easier to convince people that you know, this is real, and something's visible. And you know, we have this track record of results. But, you know, most SEO successful SEO teams almost do everything internally. That's how we did it at Overstock, you're really good SEO teams do almost everything internally. So there's a very, especially with SEO cloud, we talk a lot we you know, we sell as much into technology as we do into marketing, there's a lot of that attitude, what we have to do to overcome that is prove that we know what we're doing, and that this is a complicated thing to accomplish in house. And you're better off outsourcing it to us, which hasn't always been easy, you know, we have had plenty of companies turn us down and saying they're going to do it internally. We've also had plenty of companies turn us down and come back to us 6, 12 months later, and say, we just can't we're not getting this done. We're not seeing the results that we want SEO wise, we're interested. And that's really reassuring to feel that. But yet, it hasn't been easy. I'd say that we're getting a lot better at sort of making a product much more tangible. so that people know what they're getting. They know what the results to be expected are. And, you know, they sort of rest assure that they've got this terrific SEO software platform, that's going to make a big difference for them.

Omer Khan [20:08]
Right? Because when people can't see a product, I guess that that potentially leads to some confusion about are you selling a product? Or are you selling a service?

Geoff Atkinson [20:20]
Sure.

Omer Khan [20:20]
So it would be good to kind of understand, like, maybe you can give an example of maybe a real life SaaS company, or we can kind of talk about just general approach that you take. But if you're working with a SaaS company, and they say, okay, Geoff, we're going to give this a shot, we're going to try this out what's involved, like, what are the main steps that you need to go through, or they need to go through to get them on boarded and start seeing results?

Geoff Atkinson [20:47]
Yeah, so I would say maybe the first thing when we talk about SaaS companies, which is really our bread and butter, or why it works for SaaS, and even before that, I'll say, we do have situations where we did have situations where, you know, we have SEO analysts on our team that help our customers and the software will go live. And at the beginning, we'd be you know, at some point, the customers start thinking of us as a service, because the only interaction that they're having is with this SEO analyst that's giving them advice, and then forget that the software was up in life. So we've done a lot to prove to companies that you know, the software is live, it's what's really driving your results. And here's what it's doing. The reason that it works so well for SaaS is if you think about a an Overstock or an eCommerce site, that's a site that's relatively easy for a search engine to understand they come in, there's these really well described categories like men's watches, or patio furniture, those are all the same format. And so it's easy for a bot to understand. And they get to a product page. And those are all the same formats kind of product name and price and a description and reviews, impact your Amazon or Overstock going to have a huge API that points back to Google with all their product information on the live feed. So they understand eCommerce sites really clearly, when you think of SaaS, all that structure just goes away. So you have much more complicated products. You have integrations and all sorts of things happening on a SaaS site that just doesn't happen on an eCommerce site. And so when Google wants to know everything they can about Salesforce, they know there's tons of backlinks, very high domain authority, but they're left sort of scratching their head as to like, what exactly is this. And so structured data ends up being this fabulous mechanism to educate a search engine on a SaaS product. And so implementation is really relatively easy, you know, we send them line of JavaScript to get our code live, we then insert this little packet of it's called a JSON LD packet of structured data that contains all the structured data, we put it up as high as we can on the page. Google comes in and recognizes a structured data, and just understands each and every page throughout the site way more clearly than they did before. And the more they understand the more search results they end up giving them. So that's why it works so well, in SaaS, it's a light implementation, and the search engines are struggling to understand these businesses. If the CEO pitches the product, to a potential buyer, the buyer is going to learn so much more about that product, then what Google understands by going and crawling a SaaS site. And so our software really helps that communication.

Omer Khan [23:40]
So can you give an example of a SaaS company that's kind of used the product? I mean, I'm just trying to get a sense of maybe one page on some SaaS site? And what was that structured data? And how did it help them?

Geoff Atkinson [23:58]
Yeah, for sure. So an interesting one for us is a Salesforce app exchange. So the app exchange is it's almost like the e commerce world of software. And Google, who was pretty confused as to when they come in, like, what is this? There's actual software application markup that we provided throughout that site. And once Google recognized exactly what these apps were doing, who were building them, who they integrated with, they're just like, Oh, thank you, we finally understand what's going on on this website. And the results, you know, came similar concur, you know, is a really sharp, very smart SEO company. What's also interesting is SaaS companies come to SEO much later in the stage, then then your eCommerce like an e commerce, you can't survive without SEO, and software, you can survive for a long time without SEO, but really smart CMOs and marketing people found in the SaaS space, they invest in SEO early, because it's the real scalable channel, if you're just completely relying on PPC, or these other paid media channels, you know, at some point, they sort of tap out and so concurs a great example, like they have a huge, more than 50% of their sales pipeline comes out of organic search. And Google was similar to Salesforce just sort of confused as to what exactly the site did, and what the product did. And they have a great internet, we have like 20, something international sites, and we have markup all over them. And boy, did they just take off once we layered our software on top, and if you think about, you know, a huge portion of their sales pipeline coming out of organic search, you know, if you double that, or whatever, 50% or 100%, that hasn't real meaningful impact on their business. So those are a couple examples. We also have some relatively smaller SaaS companies that that still are trying to, you know, have this conversation with Google and have them fully understand what they do. And it really helps, you know, it really moves the needle. There's other things you still have to do, like backlinks and such. But this really helps facilitate that conversation and rest assure that Google is going to understand what you're doing what your product does.

Omer Khan [26:19]
So I'm curious how that structured data is generated, like you talked about, okay, there's some JavaScript snippet that needs to get installed on the site. But in terms of the actual structured data for each page, how does that get created? Is that something that's done programmatically through your product? Does it initially involve some human having to look at the page and figure stuff out? Like, how does that happen?

Geoff Atkinson [26:45]
Yeah, great question. It is done as much as we can programmatically. It's really done based on what we call page type. So most websites will have, you know, five to 10, different page types a landing page, product, page, Q and A page. And we then once we sort of divided up the page types, we know what to look for on each page, we know to look for a software application or look for review or look for a Q and A. And the software is automating this as much as possible. So it recognizes what page type any given pages, and then what content is important and useful on that page type. And then it adds the structured data accordingly.

Omer Khan [27:28]
Got it? Okay. So I think it's really interesting that you're a former VP of Marketing at Overstock, the products you have already about helping companies grow with SEO. But you've done very little marketing. And you've done pretty much very little on SEO as well to grow this business. So how did that happen?

Geoff Atkinson [27:50]
Yeah, a little embarrassed about that, it's getting better. The main reason for that was, I really wanted to fly under the radar are. For a while, I didn't want to shout from the rooftops, what we were doing, mainly because it was so unique. And the product at first was pretty light. And now with SEO, cloud and other things, it's gotten way stronger, way more defensible. But I was like nervous that someone would just steal it. Now I feel comfortable that it's really hard to steal what we do. And so it's much easier to talk about it and to market about it. I do regret that though. I wish we had sort of spent more money, especially around SEO because you're not really shouting it from the rooftops, you're just scrolling organically. But we are investing pretty heavily right now in our own SEO, we always try our products on our site before we try them anywhere else. So we have the benefit of these, you know, brilliant developers building SEO products for Huckabuy.com and seeing how that influences our traffic and what we do. But yeah, it was backwards. You think being a month driven CEO, I would have played to my strengths and and just gone crazy on digital marketing. But we really haven't done any until the last couple months. Yeah.

Omer Khan [29:10]
And I think it's also interesting that this started off as an affiliate site.

Geoff Atkinson [29:13]
Yeah, I mean, what's wild about that is that, you know, now I see all these VCs that will only invest in SaaS companies. And, you know, your podcast is about SaaS, and how big a deal SaaS was when when we pivoted into a SaaS company. I probably didn't even know the term. I didn't even know the SaaS, I didn't know the value of recurring revenue, I didn't know the value of SaaS companies were so much higher. So it really was sort of dumb luck that we ended up this way. And I've had to learn a lot about how to market a SaaS company and how to I know I've never done never done sales before never managed a sales team, you know, and Overstock, it was just a lot of numbers and a lot of traffic. It's a totally different game that I'm still learning to this day. But yeah, very, very fortunate for that to happen. And I really didn't appreciate what I was doing when when we did it.

Omer Khan [30:08]
I think it really, you did really well whether it was luck or not to learn some of these customers like SAP and Salesforce and Concur. I'm sure that's helped to open the door and kind of get conversations with more prospects beyond the sort of working your network. Like, how are you finding new customers today?

Geoff Atkinson [30:32]
Yeah, so we still do a pretty significant amount of outbound email. We're pretty clever about it. For example, I was a Dartmouth College alum. And it's a fiercely loyal alumni network for some reason, like unreasonably loyal. And so we we email Dartmouth alumni that are executives and such at various companies. And they almost always take a conversation, which is really nice. And sometimes it leads to something and sometimes it doesn't, but that's sort of a clever marketing move. The other one is, there's a lot of SaaS companies in Utah and so we will, we're in Park City, but a lot of SaaS companies are in Lehi and or in Provo. And so we'll, we'll set appointments will take people to lunch will drive down there and spend the day in Lehi and just go sort of door to door but they're literally so many that they're all in the same office park, you know, you can hit go to five SaaS companies in a day and in Lehi and not leave the office park. So that's where a lot of it's coming. We're just cranking up the marketing engine. This is the second podcast I've done, really, sort of the first public conversations I've had about occupy. And so it's it's early days, we are not getting a ton of inbound right now. But I think that's going to change pretty quickly, we're starting to get our first trickle of inbound leads. Lo and behold, they convert like crazy, because they have interest already. So we're just learning on that front. Obviously, I have a marketing background, but it's B2C. So I'm learning as I go. Fortunately, we have a board member, who is the CMO of Pure Storage. And he was the CMO of New Relic before that, and the CMO of Concur before that before, you know, well, before we actually worked with Concur. So he's teaching me a lot on how to market as a SaaS as a SaaS company. And what's crazy about it is his obsession over SEO, because it's like, it's just that's it that really is a channel that scales and works. So we're still learning, but it's been scrappy, and we're looking to, it'll be exciting when we have sort of a steady influx of inbound leads that we can really rely on.

Omer Khan [32:52]
So you have a team of 14 people right now. Yes. And how many of those are focused on sales and marketing other than you?

Geoff Atkinson [33:03]
Five of them five of the 14 are, and most are in sales, we really have one person focused on marketing, and the rest and I'm sorry, for four total, beyond me, not five and three in sales and one in marketing.

Omer Khan [33:19]
And so all these team members have been doing the same thing in terms of it's all outbound sales, very little marketing, and you're just working your network, you're, you've been using things like you know, outbound email, and then just getting in front of anybody locally that will listen.

Geoff Atkinson [33:40]
Yeah, yeah, it's been pretty scrappy. I'd say that the the marketing piece is definitely picking up. So you know, hopefully your listeners find this engaging and might want to give Huckabuy a try, especially if they're in the SaaS space, which I'm just in they are. So we are having more and more conversations with people are reaching out to us which great, but it has been pretty scrappy so far today.

Omer Khan [34:03]
Yeah, no, that's great. I mean, you know, I mean, by the time a SaaS company gets to over 100 k MRR. Typically it's they've got one sort of growth channel working well, most of the times what I see is it's either some kind of inbound channel, whether it's content marketing, or you know, whatever, what you've done with a very kind of scrappy approaches is pretty impressive, because it's like, Hey, we, you know, we've got to over you know, 1.4 million ARR, and we're still getting our marketing machine sort of up and running. So that's, that's pretty impressive.

Geoff Atkinson [34:43]
Yeah, thank you. I appreciate you saying that. Now, one thing I want to just kind of

Omer Khan [34:47]
answer before we kind of wrap up here is like, I didn't ask you is like, how do you price the product?

Geoff Atkinson [34:53]
Yeah. So typically, it's about 2000 and $4,000 a month, depending on how big your website is, and what products you're going with that sort of the range. I think we have some smaller customers that are down in sort of the 1500. area, but typically, it's 2000 or 4000 a month, annual contracts. We do a discount for prepays. Yep, that's what it looks like, contract wise.

Omer Khan [35:21]
Got it? Okay. And, you know, you don't have to mention names if you don't want to, but can you maybe give me an example of like the type of results a customer has seen by implementing these products?

Geoff Atkinson [35:33]
Yeah, no, I'll give you a number for sure. So our average customer, I take all of our customers, and you look at their growth rates, after 12 months of having this software installed, your average customer grows 62% in terms of organic search traffic. And we're really proud of that, I mean, that moves the needle. And those are some big companies in there. It's not like we're taking a startup from zero to 500 visitors a month. These are off of relatively big numbers, work with companies of all size, but yeah, your average customer will grow 62% terms of organic search traffic in 12 months. And these

Omer Khan [36:14]
are mostly companies who already have at least one person so dedicated to SEO, if not a team of people.

Geoff Atkinson [36:21]
Yeah, it really varies, right? What's hard about SaaS is just how under invested they are in SEO, you know, you'll have massive companies, public companies that will have one or two people working on SEO, you know, Overstock, we had like 40

Omer Khan [36:34]
Wow.

Geoff Atkinson [36:35]
So it is somewhat of an elected channel, I think it's sort of like the oxygen of the internet, the Saa world really isn't breathing any oxygen. And so it's under invested in. And some companies won't even have some working on SEO. Or they'll just say, well, SEO is something that we need to be doing. And so they'll start looking, and they'll find us as opposed to an agency or whoever it is. And they like we're here. And so they sort of we say we take a really technology first approach, you know, I I look at SEO is really a technology driven problem. And yet the industry is almost entirely services driven. And so we take a technology first approach, very science versus art focused, and we believe in the science. And that tends to resonate. But even if they are small companies that don't have someone specifically working on SEO, they can start with how to buy, they get not only the software, which is going to help Google really understand their site. But they're also going to get the advice of a company that works with a lot of big SEO driven software companies. And that experience definitely helps.

Omer Khan [37:44]
Great. That's a really good number. I'm glad you shared that. All right, we should wrap up. So we're going to get into the lightning round, I'm going to ask you seven quickfire questions just kind of answer as quickly as you can. You ready?

Geoff Atkinson [37:58]
Yeah, absolutely.

Omer Khan [38:00]
Okay, what's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Geoff Atkinson [38:05]
So probably be my my mentor was Patrick Byrne, who is the CEO of Overstock, very fortunate to have him as my mentor. One thing he taught me is that you gotta move quick, there's no reason to sort of wait around to make decisions a day that goes by without a revenue growing opportunity is revenue lost. And so move quickly take risks, but you also have to learn really quickly. So if something isn't working, you got to be able to respond to that as quickly as you do. Something is working. So there that's a you know, move quickly, take risks, and also learn quickly, is the best business advice that comes to mind. What book would you recommend to our audience and why I love Warren Buffett's investing in life lessons to Patrick actually has a connection to Warren Buffett, his dad was the CEO of Geico, which was really Buffett's really one of his first big investments. And, and it's just it, I don't know, it really kind of encapsulates what's a good business, what sort of makes the markets work, how that on fellow ticks and what he thinks about which is totally rational and smart. But I got a lot out of you know, I've learned a lot around Warren Buffett, every time I sort of dig in, I feel like I get a lot brighter on the on the business world.

Omer Khan [39:26]
What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?

Geoff Atkinson [39:30]
This is going to sound strange, but I'd say endurance. It's not easy. It's not easy. And you do have to hang in there. And even when things aren't going well, you know, I think a CEO has to absorb a lot of difficulties and problems. And so that requires endurance.

Omer Khan [39:49]
What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

Geoff Atkinson [39:53]
I'd say Slack, we kind of live and die by Slack. I know that's probably not the most creative answer. But we live and die by Slack and smooth crowd. I mean, it's an incredible platform. And we get a lot done there. And it's, you know, always on my computer and on my phone, and we leverage slack as much as we can.

Omer Khan [40:11]
What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the extra time?

Geoff Atkinson [40:15]
Yeah, this is a great question that I actually have a flaming answer for. So one of my best friends has a house on Nantucket. I'm actually from the Boston area. And we were there like a year and a half ago. Everybody there is obsessed with these vintage SUVs that you can you know, drive in the beach stuff for Broncos old Land Rovers. And so I bought the domain NantucketSUV.com, want to start a business that takes all broken down Ford Broncos and trucks from around, you know, the country that aren't valued at all, and fix them up and brought them over to Nantucket and sell them. I think it would be a lot of fun. And it also I think do pretty well.

Omer Khan [41:00]
I'm going to keep an eye on that domain. What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

Geoff Atkinson [41:08]
Yes. So this is a funny one. Well, I've to one is I was actually on the US ski team as a cross country ski racer A long time ago. Wow. And second is I have a very handsome six year old chocolate lab that actually served as a dog model for car heart. In advertisements, a handsome Labrador. That's my dog, James.

Omer Khan [41:35]
And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work.

Geoff Atkinson [41:38]
I love to golf, I play a lot of golf. It's summer here, Park City. So it's golf season, playing in a member guests with my friend Bart this weekend at victory ranch and really looking forward to it actually heading out there shortly after this podcast.

Omer Khan [41:53]
Awesome. Well, I wish you all the best. Well, thank you for joining me. First of all it's been, it's been great to sort of dig in and kind of hear your story and how you've kind of discovered this business. It wasn't a sort of a straight journey. It's been an interesting way that you've got to discovering and building a SaaS business. But once you did pivot there, it's pretty impressive how quickly you've been able to get traction and build a sizable business. And so thank you for sharing that story and telling us a little bit more about the world of SEO, specifically from the perspective of structured data. And and it's probably an area that you know, many of us probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about, and it could be an untapped opportunity that more people could take advantage of. So if people want to find out more about either of the products, they can go to huckabuy.com which is h-u-c-k-a-b-u-y.com will include a link in the show notes to that as well. And if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Geoff Atkinson [43:01]
They can find me on LinkedIn is a great way and they also can just email me at Geoff, G-E-O-F-F at huckabuy.com.

Omer Khan [43:09]
Awesome. Thank you, Geoff. And I wish you all the best

Geoff Atkinson [43:12]
Thank you, Omer. It was a real pleasure.

Omer Khan [43:16]
Thanks so much for having me. Cheers. Thanks for listening. I really hope you enjoyed this interview, you can get to the show notes by going to theSaaSpodcast.com, where you'll find a summary of this episode, and links to all the resources we discussed. If you enjoyed this episode, then subscribe to the podcast so you can get more content like this. And if you're in a good mood, consider leaving a rating and review to show your support. Thanks for listening. Until next time, take care.

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The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.