Reuben Swartz of Mimiran.
Tell us about yourself?
26 years ago, I visited Texas for the weekend, thinking that if I didn’t, I’d never set foot in the state. Now I’ve been a Texan for 25 years. I have a software engineering background and mentality, but I love working with people.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
We learned the most important lessons in kindergarten: connect instead of network, teach instead of market, help instead of sell.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I wish I’d know that I already knew what I needed to be effective at sales (helping) and marketing (teaching), instead of trying to copy the strategies and tactics of my very successful clients. (I was a sales and marketing consultant. If someone could have drowned in irony, it would have been me.)
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
There are 24 hours in a day. There is not time for everything. I try to structure my business to have flexibility while my kids are still around. It’s not easy, but having clarity on my priorities helps me function.
If you can never draw boundaries, you can never be fully present for anything.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
When I was an independent consultant (ironically enough, a sales and marketing consultant), I found the (CRM, or Customer Relationship Management) tools my Fortune 500 clients were using to manage their pipelines cumbersome and frustrating.
I started adding tools to make my life better, starting with automating proposals, so I’d know if and when a prospect had a read a proposal.
The idea was to plug this into the CRM tool. I told some folks about this, and they asked for access. So I turned the tool into an application. And then people started asking for more features.
I remember them saying, “I love Mimiran– it’s simple and easy– but I hate my CRM. Can you make Mimiran do the CRM stuff, too?” And I remember saying, “the world doesn’t need another CRM.” I had tried dozens, thinking that surely the one I needed was out there.
But I realized my customers, as usual, were right. Traditional CRMs are built for the VP of sales to keep track of the sales team.
But for my tribe of independent consultants, the consultant was the VP of sales and the sales rep and the VP of marketing and the marketing analyst, all in her spare time.
We had to rethink what a CRM means, and create an “anti-CRM”.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
As noted above, the traditional CRM is for the VP of sales to keep tabs on the sales team. But that just frustrates consultants trying to do business development in their spare time. So the whole experience is different.
Mimiran helps you nail your messaging, because you don’t have a VP of sales handing you a sales playbook with all that information.
It lets you convert your website into a lead generation system tailored for a small volume of high value leads, unlike the automated systems for e-commerce or enterprise content marketing tools that rely on teams of sales reps pounding the phones.
It tracks referrals, automates proposals, and makes it easy to nurture your relationships without stress. Perhaps most remarkably of all, it makes sales and marketing fun, instead of a necessary evil.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
Sales (and marketing) gets so much easier when you have clear niche. It took me some time to find mine, because I got interest from so many other customers.
That was flattering, but a distraction. I’m in the business of helping my past self, which means I have an intimate understanding of the challenges, and a deep emotional connection with my customers.
This is very different from when I was helping huge companies solve problems. There isn’t one right or wrong approach, but I like being so closely aligned with my customers. If you have the chance to solve a problem for your past self, that’s a great opportunity.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
Lack of time is the biggest problem. I try to prioritize, but I won’t pretend that I have done that perfectly.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Texas over other states in the US?
Texans are friendly and eager to help each other. That has been helpful for me not only in receiving help, but in setting the expectations that I should be helpful to others.
On a less important level, it’s also nice to be in the middle of the country, both for physical travel and for scheduling virtual meetings.
Are there any disadvantages of operating our business in Texas?
Our startup ecosystem doesn’t have access to the same kind of venture capital as Silicon Valley, but I think that’s changing.
Texas has a pretty diverse population. How have you found the quickly changing demographics have impacted your business? Have you got new opportunities? Managed to expand your business into new areas?
Texas has always had a diverse population, but we are now attracting talent from across the globe. If we can keep doing that, the future is bright.
It is often reported that, in Texas, politics and business are intertwined. Have you noticed this? Has it impacted your business?
For my business, I’m not directly impacted the way some people are. However, our hard right political turn is impacting companies’ ability to attract talent, which will have a drag on our overall economy if it continues.
With rising prices across Texas (and the US as a whole) have you been impacted? Do you have a plan for dealing with inflation going forward?
Software usually has the advantage of having deflationary costs, but with the ongoing chip shortage, that’s not the case, so I’m trying to optimize at the software level to keep costs down and not pass any price increases along to customers.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?
To keep helping more independent consultants make a bigger dent in the universe.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
If you’re an independent consultant who wants sales and marketing to be fun and productive, but you’re finding it frustrating, check out www.mimiran.com and the Sales for Nerds podcast at www.salesfornerds.io.
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