Adam Hempenstall: Better Proposals, 2020 SaaS trends, and marketing.
Adam Hempenstall – LinkedIn
Founder & CEO at Better Proposals
Adam started his first web design business at the age of 14. Since then he has written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Today he manages the marketing team to grow the business. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.
– Adam, which profession did you dream about in childhood? Did you have the aim of starting this business when you were a student?
A: I was always fascinated by art and design as a kid, then, as computers became popular, that became my obsession. Learning how they worked, building them, upgrading them, negotiating with the guys at computer fairs – that was my childhood. I did do a few entrepreneurial things like selling wrestling theme music on cassette tapes, which apparently prepared me for later life.
– Why have you chosen this industry? When did you realize it’s profitable?
A: Because of the freedom it gives to me. The software works for itself and I can work on building the company brand. I realized it was profitable when I was able to sell it to the first couple of agency clients I had in the past.
– What is the main concept, idea of Better Proposals? Is it hard to be unique on the market?
A: The main concept is to automate the process of writing, sending and following up with your business proposals. It is difficult being unique because the competition is stiff and everyone can copy your features in a heartbeat. However, good marketing, excellent customer support and the high quality of our brand help us stand out.
– Tell me about the biggest problems at the very beginning. What was the hardest for you?
A: The biggest problem was going into the SaaS business model while coming from a design/development background. I had the skills to build a good app, I didn’t have the skills to market it and sell it. The first year or so was tough until I learned the ropes and made my first marketing hire.
– Have you ever used some investments?
A: No, Better Proposals is completely bootstrapped from our own savings. We never wanted to be influenced by VC and their decisions.
– What is the main step in SaaS startup launching?
A: Find an audience that has a problem, then build a product. Don’t build something just because you think it’s a neat idea. If you can’t solve someone’s problem, don’t build it.
– You have a great personal brand. How do you improve marketing? Who is responsible for it?
A: I spend a lot of time building that personal brand. The time that other founders spend on building side gigs or traveling and hobbies I spend on being present everywhere and talking about Better Proposals. By far it’s the best decision ever.
– What are SaaS trends in 2020?
A: The biggest trend in 2020 will be AI. Unfortunately, it won’t be the real artificial intelligence. Rather, marketers will abuse the word, even more, calling AI everything that is essentially big data and basic automation.
– You have written 2 books. How long did it take for you to write each of them? Which do you like more?
A: It has probably taken 2-3 months to write each. I could have done it more quickly, but it was more of a fun-side project rather than something with a strict deadline. “Licking the Yoghurt Pot” is my favorite of the two because it’s more personal.
– What is the movie, that anyone should see?
A: “Take the ball, pass the ball.” It’s a documentary about the Barcelona football team that Pep Guardiola managed between 2008-2012. They won everything and the documentary looks at the process of learning. It shows what separates the good from the great, and how the true best in the world think. It also teaches you how to win and lose gracefully.
– Few words for young entrepreneurs. What is a must-have? And what they shouldn’t do?
A: Just look at things that don’t change. Jeff Bezos said it best: “People are never going to suddenly wake up and want slower delivery, less selection, and higher prices”. So focus on the things that don’t change and you’ll always be okay.
Enjoy the process. “Making it” is actually rather boring. Everything you think will be amazing in the future isn’t anywhere near as cool as you think it is. But the all-nighters, the hope, the failures, and sprinkles of success – that’s why you do it.
– How to make a revenue of over 10 million in 2020?
A: To make 10 million in 2020 you need to be solving 100 million problems. Think bigger than feels comfortable, ask ridiculous questions of yourself and don’t write off the answers.
If you are trying to bring in $1000, you would ask yourself — who needs a new website or maybe how you could clean 50 cars? If you want to bring in 10 million, you need to ask much better quality questions.