- 2020 In Review — Crossing $1M ARR
As always, I like to spend the first week of the new year reflecting on how things went over the past 12 months. What we did well; what we could have done better. What effort contributed to 80% of our revenue growth that we should do more of; what effort contribute to only 20% of our revenue that we should do less of.
We started the year by closing a $1.5M seed round on January 15th led by Active Capital and Access Venture Partners. With additional capital in the bank and big ambitions, we built an aggressive growth and hiring plan to get us to a $2.3M run rate by the end of the year.
Then, before we made any hires, news about a new virus started taking over mainstream media. At this point, the virus hadn’t yet spread through the U.S., so we weren’t sure what the impact would be.
Despite the writing on the wall, in February, we hosted a booth at a conference in San Diego (Social Media Marketing World) and shook hands with hundreds of marketers. It’s a miracle the only thing we left the conference with was a handful of new customers and slightly deflated bank account after hosting a happy hour for our existing customers.
Cloud Campaign’s booth at SMMW20
Shortly after, we were invited to pitch Cloud Campaign at South by Southwest (SXSW), but the conference ended up being canceled due to more and more Covid cases popping up in the States.
With the impending impact of COVID-19, we scaled back our hiring plans and decided to shelter for a serious economic storm. We adjusted our financial model to prepare for a 100% increase in churn and 50% decrease in revenue.
In March we had our first down month ever in terms of revenue growth. It was brutal. We felt like we were letting our new investors down and our team down (even though we only had 2 employees at this point and hired our 3rd mid month).
Despite the economic instability of Covid, we started to grow our revenue again in April and felt confident to begin growing the team.
We hired our first customer success manager, Casie, in March and our first engineer, Fritz, in April.
With new faces joining the team, it was my job to ensure we maintained and built a positive culture. Company culture is a living and growing thing, and every new hire changes culture.
The goal isn’t to find hires that match your current culture exactly, but rather move the company’s culture in a direction that you believe in and is beneficial for everyone.
Over the remainder of the year, we made 6 more hires, tripling the team from 4 to 12 over just 12 months. Recognizing the potential changes to our culture, we surveyed the team and we ended up changing one of our core values. Rather than ‘Ethics’, our team felt that ‘Integrity’ better matched our team’s values.
In April, we hired our first engineer. Finally, after 3 years, I was no longer the only person working on the product.
This also meant that we were starting to build out our product and marketing teams, which we decided would be located in Boulder, CO; we have a strong support network in Boulder and there’s great talent at a more reasonable rate than the Bay Area.
In May, I moved to Boulder with Elle and our dog, Benny. While we couldn’t open a physical office due to Covid, we were now colocated in two geographies — Product and Marketing in Boulder, and Sales and Customer Success in Portland.
With this expansion shortly following our $1.5 Seed round, we received considerable press from TechCrunch, Colorado Inno, Daily Camera, BLDRFly, and Startups San Antonio.
Seeing our local and global communities impacted so heavily by COVID-19 and racial injustice in the United States really hit our team hard.
We instituited half-day Fridays and encouraged our team to take personal days to find some staibility and mental clarity during a very trying time.
As a company, we also donated to a handful of non-profits making positive change:
- Feed the Frontlines (Boulder & Portland)
Harlem Center of Education
Black Girls Code
Personally, I also donated to these foundations, as did many of our team members.
For Giving Tuesday, we made a few more donations:
- Denver Children’s Home
Food For Thought Denver
With Love Oregon
Eastern Social Welfare Society
Growing from 4 employees to 12, and $360k in revenue to $1.2M resulted in some growing pains.
Not only did this growth test our culture, it put strain on our processes, both internal and external.
Our external board members pushed us on handling business operations in a more professional and standardized manner. This meant getting board approval on our financial budget, upgrading to a more robust cap table management system, and hiring an accounting and CFO firm.
As 2020 was coming to a close, we began having conversations with VC investors regarding a Series A raise. We had inbound interest from Accel and did a deep dive with General Catalyst.
The potential of working with firms as prestegious as Accel and General Catalyst is really exciting. I’ll hopefully be able to share more information in the coming weeks.
In parallel with the VC conversations, we were approached by a handful of PE firms. Like a majority of PE firms, most were looking for protifable businesses and wanted to acquire us for a small multiple of our EBITDA, which was non-existant, because you know, we’re in high growth phase.
One PE firm, however, had a different idea for our business. They purchased a handful of other agency-focused solutions back in 2019 and wanted to include us in their roll-up. The firm, ASG, verbally offered $7M to acquire Cloud Campaign.
While we were flattered to be having the conversation, we are confident there is a much larger opportunity in front of us and it was an easy decision to walk away from the potential deal. Shortly after, ASG announced that they acquired one of our competitors, Planoly.
Follow along to stay up to date with our journey!
- Date of publication:
- Wed, 01/13/2021 - 22:20
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