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John Bonini on November 9, 2017 (last modified on September 27, 2021) • 3 minute read
It was a web design agency, called Yazamo, that he started before he even graduated from Arizona State University.
“A lot of people in school, myself included, they think they need to find the perfect thing that they’re passionate about [right away],” said Ellens. “For us, we just got out there and started building this company doing service work, and then we started finding problems in the industry and continued to adapt to those problems and the type of business model we wanted to create.”
Ellens and his small team of engineers that he’d met while at ASU would develop websites for clients, but soon they realized that simply designing websites wasn’t driving marketing or business results. If they were to retain business and grow, that would need to change.
So they created a quiz. One quiz for a client in the healthcare space changed everything.
“We had one client, a hormone doctor in Seattle, she wanted to go from being a local practice to selling online to have a great impact,” Ellens remembers. “We put together a hormone quiz that was something like, ‘Do you have low testosterone? Take this quiz and find out.’ We built it and started advertising it on Facebook and over the course of six months, we built a list of over 35,000 contacts at just 19 cents a lead. We were like, let’s see if we can make this repeatable and get predictable results from this.”
Off the back of one business, another was born; LeadQuizzes.
In just under two years, Ellens has bootstrapped LeadQuizzes, a software product for easily creating lead generating quizzes, to over $1 million in annual revenue, helping its users generate 2.5 million leads in the process.
I had the chance to catch up with Ellens recently to talk about that transition from a service-based agency to SaaS product.
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“Mentorship has been huge.
We joined a program called Entrepreneurs’ Organization. We were first in their accelerator program. One of the biggest things that came from that was meeting our mentor, Loren Howard. He built an 8-figure business in a year and a half and is a really sharp guy that’s good with systems and scale. He helped us transition from service-based to SaaS.
A few of the things he got us to focus on were:
Create focus days: Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I focused on selling for the entire day during the transition period from service-based agency to a software product.
That enabled us to go out and hire people to take on and handle work instead of me having to balance both of those roles of selling and fulfilling at the same time.
Predictable leads: It was around this time that we started using Facebook ads. We’d call every lead; that’s how we started making our campaigns profitable.
Systems that scale: Loren helped us learn all the things you’d learn in books like Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, all these systems like workplace training, job descriptions, the metrics to be able to measure people by–these were really important for us.
Those three things were some of the biggest ones. Mentorship has been really important in helping us grow.”
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