Greg Raiz is founder of Raizlabs, a mobile software development company with offices in Boston and San Francisco. They've been crafting award-winning apps since before the launch of the iTunes App Store in 2008. Greg is a Betaspring mentor and one of the revenue-first founders who inspired the launch of RevUp in 2015.
The customer is king in a revenue-driven company. How do you think that has shaped culture at Raizlabs over the years?
We're certainly customer oriented and a large portion of our business is referrals. We try to form a team oriented approach with our customers. That team based approach is very central to our culture and we've developed a number of tools and best practices to help build great products but also tools to measure and improve our culture, teamwork, and approach when it comes to teamwork and working with customer.
Every choice has consequences. What kinds of tradeoffs have you made in growing the business without taking significant outside capital?
Choosing to be self-funded takes the shot clock off of the business. It has also forced us to think about revenue and costs from day one. That meant that in the early years of the company we had to ignore the thousands of startups that flaunted their office perks and Foosball tables. Most of those startups aren't around anymore. There are many tradeoffs with being bootstrapped, limited resources and lack of safety net are the biggest ones that come to mind.
What advice would you offer other founders who are are a few steps behind you as they prep for growth?
We've been around for 13 years, we haven't grown fast by many startup metrics. What we have done is focused our growth on revenue and profitability. This type of growth is very rarely talked about on tech media. My advice to startups is to worry about the numbers that matter to your business. Revenue, Profitability, Utilization, Monthly Recurring, etc.
You recently launched an accelerator program for mobile app companies. How, if at all, do you think your experience running a revenue-driven company influences the guidance you offer these founders?
Having a revenue based business helps us spot revenue opportunities and business operations that are obvious to us, but not always obvious to startups. It also helps position these companies if they do pitch investors, because the revenue mechanics are oftentimes a focus for VC's, in addition to the product and team.
What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
I love getting into new technology and trying to figure out how it'll change things. In 2015 we spent a lot of time on Apple Watch devices, in 2016 I think we'll be looking at Voice, Video and AI. As these technologies become more accessible, I get excited about the type of impact we can have with a new set of tools.
My Take Away: I think Greg nails it with this deceptively simple thought: "My advice to startups is to worry about the numbers that matter to your business. Revenue, Profitability, Utilization, Monthly Recurring, etc."
It's frustrating to talk to founders who don't have a complete view of their metrics, or in some cases, are focused on the wrong things. Whether you raise big dollars, bootstrap, or power your growth via revenue, your metrics dashboard is your company North Star. It's the only way you can know what's working, what's not, and where you should go next. What you track and why you track it is also critical to how you tell the story of the business, whether that's investors, employees, strategic partners, or even customers.
Sounds so easy, but knowing exactly what metrics matter most requires founders to have deep insight into their business model and both a short and long term view on how company tactics feed into their goals. Doable for all, but not without effort. And easy to get wrong.
More about Greg:
Greg Raiz founded Raizlabs in 2003 with a vision to create awesome software. Greg is a leader in the Boston and SF technology and mobile community and has worked on a wide range of problems.
Greg graduated Tufts University and got his start at Microsoft as a program manager on Windows XP. After that, he moved back to Boston and founded Raizlabs with a focus on user experience. For the first four years, Raizlabs concentrated on designing interfaces for web applications. Then, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone.
“The iPhone was the perfect platform for us. We had spent years crafting experiences and designing software. Here was a platform that not only made it easy, but made it fun.”
Raizlabs launched their first app was launched within a month of the AppStore unveiling, rocketing to the top of the charts. One soon became two, and two soon became over a hundred.
Greg is active in the mobile and design community, in Boston, SF and beyond. He founded DrinksOnTap.org and AltConf and has spoken on mobile tech at many universities and events including MIT, MobileMonday, Harvard Business School, Bentley and Olin, as well as for companies like Microsoft, Fidelity, Staples and others. He has served on the boards of BostonCHI and the usability group, UXPA Boston.