This is how SecondWrite turned the corner from a struggling enterprise to a growing startup that has secured additional funding and is preparing for expansion in 2020.
SecondWrite was put in contact with Straight Talk after a year of zero growth in 2018. The company had burned a year of expenditure without the required sales to achieve their targets. Straight Talk’s goal was to bring the company back on track, and make it profitable and ready for growth.
Read on to see how we brought SecondWrite back from a year of zero growth.
SecondWrite is a sandbox working on patented technology that was developed as part of the founder’s PhD. The technology offers market-leading results for detecting zero-day malware.
When SecondWrite signed with Straight Talk in January 2019, they had a backlog of potential leads, no sales process and outdated sales material. All of the focus up until then had been on the product. The founder was exceptionally knowledgeable in the area of malware and the CTO had a background of working with startups. This provided us with the benefits of industry thought leadership and efficient development work.
Due to SecondWrite’s year of zero growth and the lack of sales process, we knew that the two biggest challenges would be:
- Bringing the company to a financially stable position as soon as possible
- Working through the backlog of leads in a structured way
At the time of signing we also discovered that there was no product/market fit analysis or process. As a result we knew we would have to review the company’s positioning and messaging to see if it was resonating with the correct audience.
We soon concluded that the company did not in fact have good product/market fit, and was targeting companies with the wrong messaging. The result was that many of the leads were poor quality and had to be marked as closed lost.
This brought additional challenges as we had to spend time working on product/market fit, reducing how much time we could dedicate to sales.
With the problem clearly articulated, we had to get the company financially stable, achieve product/market fit, implement a sales process, and begin acquiring new leads.
We achieved this in the following ways:
- We started by undertaking a full review of the company. We needed to understand the full financial position of the business including the amount of runway and where the money was being used. With a complete understanding, we were able to recommend cost saving measures. It also showed us that there would be zero budget for any lead generation activities.
- During our product/market fit analysis we identified four potential markets for the product. We insisted on focusing on a single market at a time. Once we had made a decision on who to target we knew that we needed to speak with those people. At this stage, most startups struggle between qualitative and quantitative data. When you are a small organisation you should focus on qualitative data collected from interviews with key people. Through this process we were able to pick up on key problems not being served by existing sandboxes. By incorporating these features into SecondWrite’s patented technology, we would have a winning formula for our first market. The process could then be repeated for each market.
- We implemented a structured sales process. Every new prospect passed through a structured methodology in which they would either qualify and be moved through the sales process, or be disqualified. No prospect or lead fell through the gaps.
- With our findings from the market research we overhauled the website, sales material, sales presentation and POC process to provide a standardised experience with clear messaging. In the updated POC process the team insisted on speaking with the user/person testing the product before the POC was started. This gave us a clear understanding of how they would use the product and set expectations appropriately, leading to a big jump in engagement and product usage. In contrast, in the past SecondWrite would speak with C-level executives while the testing would be done by mid-level employees whose only experience of SecondWrite was through the executives. This resulted in a poor experience and often left the user unsure of what SecondWrite’s product did.
- We created a structured outbound lead generation process using Linkedin to connect with people who fit our customer profile, engage with them on the platform, arrange a call and demonstrate the product.
After nine months of working with Straight Talk, SecondWrite had:
- Created consistent messaging based on customer feedback
- Created a development process based on customer feedback
- Created consistent branding across all channels
- Implemented a structured sales process
- Over 30 leads working through their sales process
- Secured additional funding based on the last nine months
- And would become profitable with the extended runway the extra investment provided
In addition to these results, Straight Talk taught the SecondWrite team our process for achieving product/market fit. This allowed the internal team to achieve product/market fit in the three additional markets that we had identified while working together. The result – additional markets, additional revenue and additional growth for 2020 onwards.
Paul Talamo – COO
Straight Talk is a growth consultancy. This means different things to different companies, but for SecondWrite, it has meant tailored tactical advice on business operations multiple times per week. Unlike advisors, whom you interact with monthly, StraightTalk consultants help by being involved in the day-to-day.
I think of the StraightTalk folks as members of our company who also have a knowledge of how many other startups have solved problems similar to ours.
Straight Talk have helped us with everything from:
- developing new investor & customer presentations
- creating a lead generation process
- a sales pipeline
- discovering customer personas
- collecting customer success data
- new product definition and launch
- long-term funding strategies
- overhauling our financials