Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marcos Rivera, Founder, and CEO of Pricing I/O, located in La Jolla, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Thank you for asking me to share my story. First, I’m Marcos Rivera, founder, and CEO of Pricing I/O, and we help software entrepreneurs and companies capture value and unlock growth. With over 300 pricing engagements and counting, we make the pricing problem simpler and easier to tackle for our clients, helping them scale by reducing friction in buying and selling, creating more pathways for expanding customers and increasing prices to align with a willingness to pay.
I am also the author of the book Street Pricing: A Pricing Playlist for Hip Leaders in SaaS, a fun and approachable field guide for entrepreneurs who want to stop guessing when it comes to pricing.
Tell us about yourself
This may come as a surprise, but my expertise in pricing is not from academia but rather a by-product of my deep experience in building and growing software products since the late 90s. I think the academic theory is great, but when it comes to really learning something, I prefer doing it.
I launched my first tech product in the fintech industry, building integrations between banks. Throughout my product management career, I’ve launched or managed over 40 software products and services, and I was tasked to price all of them in an effort to meet lofty profitability and growth goals. I’m sure every entrepreneur sits down to figure out what price will be that magic number that catapults the business to high growth, but the truth is, there is no pixie dust or magic potion that will get the right price; you have to earn it!
I later joined Vista Equity Partners as an operating executive and head of Pricing and Packaging across Vista’s portfolio of 60+ software businesses. It was an eye-opening experience to learn that so many founders and leaders considered pricing to be a black art (even the businesses that were growing). Most of the pricing models were products of sheer guesswork or copycat approaches based on competitors. My jaw dropped to the floor!
So I wondered if I should be the one to help those leaders and entrepreneurs who are resorting to guesswork. So after three years at Vista, I started Pricing I/O to help software companies shift pricing from guesswork to framework - with an overarching belief that leaders need more confidence in pulling the pricing lever early and often.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a firm in 2021, we doubled our team size (now 10), tripled our revenue, and helped 106 software companies during a pandemic without marketing spending. For many entrepreneurs out there, it is hard to work on the business and in the business at the same time. In the early years, I was dangerously close to burning out. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Being a business owner is not an easy choice of career, but that’s the point! It’s supposed to be complex, uncomfortable, and daunting, but at the same time, rewarding, uplifting, and liberating.
But one of the hardest things is letting go of aspects of your business in order to thrive and scale. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in starting Pricing I/O, and I think one lesson I wished I had learned sooner was to put in the time and energy to find the right kind of help, even though time and energy are in short supply when starting a business. Offloading work to a contractor or unqualified associate may sound like a quick fix to capacity limits, but it comes with trade-offs that you must be prepared to manage and accept.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I have three messages for all those hard-working entrepreneurs and founders looking to make an impact.
First, take a moment to be a little kinder to yourself. Incorporate breaks, take time to decompress with a loved one (pets included), and take control of your calendar before your calendar controls you.
Second, don’t guess how much your product or service is worth. After all, you’ve put in the time and energy to create value for someone else and deserve a fair reward.
Third, keep things bite-sized as you build up the business. Take small bites of the apple, chew fast, and take another bite. Trying to solve too much too soon will muddy the waters for your valued customers and make it twice as hard to capture it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Pricing is all about confidence, so step up your confidence and grab some data, talk to your customers, and price it on purpose. If you decide that you need help, it will be the highest ROI spend you make!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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