Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Marks, Co-Founder of SuccessHACKER, located in Granite Bay, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are the global leader in Customer Success training and coaching. We have more than 16,000 students on our platform from more than 70 countries. Everyone from large multi-national public companies (e.g., IBM, CDW, HP, Red Hat, VMWare, Broadcom, GE Digital) to small venture-backed startups have invested in our coaching programs for their customer-facing teams. While we have many technology companies that seek out our services, our programs are suitable for any company looking to train their customer-facing teams on how to keep their customers by helping them achieve value with their investments. In addition, we are seeing more and more students from non-technology companies attending our programs, including healthcare, industrial manufacturing, logistics, management consulting, and hospitality. Anyone who wants to keep their customers coming back for more of what they have to offer can benefit from our training and coaching programs.
We have a bifurcated subscription model offering B2C customers (individual users interested in growing their skills and career) and B2B customer teams. Our program is accredited by a global accreditation body (CPD), and we offer 5 levels of certification.
Tell us about yourself
I've been involved in post-sales customer-facing roles since my first job out of college 30 years ago when I started working at Apple Computer in their customer support center. Since then, I have spent 23 years building and running highly effective post-sales customer support, client services, and customer success teams across a broad range of technology solutions. What motivates me every day is that we're helping people. Our programs help people progress in their careers. We enable customer-facing teams to deliver the best customer experience, which is personally gratifying and makes us a very "sticky" offering. As we teach in our courses, the more you can help your customers support "their customers" better, the more mission-critical you become.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We've been in business for seven years. My founding partner bootstrapped this organization from scratch. Over the last five years, we've grown our revenues by nearly 9X and have been profitable since day 1. We've built a substantial subscription revenue stream with spectacular results (from a YoY growth and EBITDA perspective). That in itself is a pretty big accomplishment. But I think what nailed it for me, as one of our biggest accomplishments was when we inked a partnership with the University of San Francisco to offer our 12-week coaching program as an executive certificate under their school of management. In the new Princeton Review college survey, USF rates as a top university in the United States. That's when I knew we truly arrived. Students participating in the 12-week program not only earn an opportunity to receive our globally recognized certification, but they can also earn continuing education credits through the university.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
When you're getting started, and things are complicated, and you're living deal to deal, it keeps you up at night. I didn't sleep well for the first 2 1/2 - 3 years. For 18 months, my partner and I only took out about 50% of our monthly expenses from the business. We had to pay all of our subcontractors before we paid ourselves. Then, because we're both well known in our industry, we got hit up for full-time roles all the time, and it was tough not to go back to working for someone else with money in the bank and a guaranteed paycheck.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't go at it alone. I don't think we would have been successful without the partnership I had with my co-founder. We supported each other. We divided up the work. We bounced ideas off of each other. Of course, we didn't always agree on everything and had plenty of arguments about different strategies and aspects of the business. But what was key is that we respected each other, and now we're considered the gold standard in what we do. We were also fortunate to add another partner later into the business, who has been a tremendous asset to us, along with several subcontractors who help us in part-time capacities.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
My partner and I built this business with a 100% remote workforce. Everyone on our team works from home. While we occasionally travel onsite to deliver private training for our customers, the vast majority of our revenues over the last two years (~95%) were through our autonomous online learning programs and our virtual instructor-led training delivered via Zoom. So we were pretty fortunate to weather COVID well. I know it threw a wrench into everyone's plans. We didn't grow at the rate we expected for 2020 (I don't know many people that did), but we still experienced double-digit growth for that year.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.