Interview – Matthew White – How to scale your product through agencies?

Matthew White is the CEO and founder of Qebot which is an online and mobile advertising solution for local and hyper-local companies. It helps to purchase, access and manage all business software through one platform which helps companies to be more productive and have better automation through tool centralisation.

Matthew is an expert in digital advertising and he has a diverse background in mobile advertising operations on both supply and demand side, search marketing (both SEO and PPC), display advertising, and web and mobile development. Taking his understanding of the online business marketing world and pairing it with the forward-thinking concepts of application he created a platform that gives business owners a way to create exactly what they needed.

In today’s episode, Matthew tells us a lot about working with agencies, using their knowledge and help and how he scales his business through agency partners. We also talked about succeeding with white labeling and other strategies how to succeed as a SaaS company. Check it out..

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See the full interview below…

Pathmonk: Welcome to the show guys.Hey they’re business owners, directors and marketeers in today’s show.I’m meeting Matthew White from keyboard.I’m Lucas your host as always and I want to learn with MSU all the balance, what keyboard is actually doing. Matthew White is the CEO and founder of the company. After working in the SMB marketing agency world, he has realized that there has to be a way, to make agencies, media companies, franchises and small businesses much more productive. Much more efficient actually by centralizing the tools that the businesses need into, for the operations. This is how the software was born out of this idea to make the businesses operate a much better and more efficient. Matthew, you’re going to tell us all about it.What is it all about?

Matthew White: Yeah.Kind of the way I like to think about it, how I kind of presents it is, and this might be a little long winded stop me if I’m being long here, but, I kind of think about SaaS and different way I think than some other people and I really think that we’re coming into kind of a new stage of SaaS, like a new evolution of technology. The first one really being moving tools to the cloud, moving applications, which really I think democratized SaaS, or technology. The next one is kind of the proliferation, right? Just you saw like five, six years ago it, new applications just launching constantly all the time. You could do everything from your accounting, your social media, website building. The third was connectivity where you start to have these tools finally through APIs be able to connect with each other very well. Also, that’s when companies like Zapier started, you had that kind of connectivity aspect to increase automation and just make sure your tools can talk to each other. I think the next stage of we’re coming into now is more of like centralization, having all of your tools kind of more in a centralized area, a centralized platform, rather than them being all, kind of separated out and maybe they’re connecting, maybe they’re not. I think one of the reasons we started Qebot t was really kind of leading the charge on that. And it’s been interesting. We’ve been around for about five years, and the first couple of years trying to sell this idea, a lot of companies were like “eh, it doesn’t make sense”. We’re not really sure what you’re trying to do. But these last two years we’re really finding the market really, I think moving into this idea of, actually I do want all my tools in one place. We can create better automation, better connectivity between the tools. Because we have them all one system. Everything from even like single billing, single support channels, all that stuff just makes your SaaS and your SaaS life so much easier, so much more productive, so much more efficient. That’s what we’re doing. We integrate a number of different tools into one platform. Right now we have eight total and we have about three more launching that we’re excited about. Our clients manage everything from their website, their social media, email marketing, CRM, all those types of things in one single platform. I kinda think the difference between us and some other companies that might have kind of this idea. We don’t package the tools together. We don’t bundle the tools. We kind of look more like a marketplace, right? So you come in and you pick and choose the tools that you want. You don’t have to purchase the CRM to access the rest of the market, right? So it’s, you sign up for free on Qebot. You find what tools you need to activate them and you’re away you go.

Pathmonk: Makes a lot of sense.What do you think changed in the last two years? Because you mentioned that it’s been a slight shift in how people think about those centralized products. What happend?

Matthew White: I think that a lot of the bigger players started to release kind of this idea of centralization more, especially with the connectivity were seeing. I would say it started four or five years ago or serving connected tools really well together. I think people started to see, okay, they’re connected, but now I have to use this or that. Now we’re starting to see companies like  Salesforces and some of those other larger companies started to create their own little marketplaces. While for an SMB it might be hard for them to access and utilize a software like Salesforce, that’s pretty robust. I still think that mentality of having all your tools in one place really started to click with people. We work a lot of marketing agencies too. For them this was just a huge game changer for them to be able to manage their efficiencies just went through the roof.It’s, I think what people are seeing is just how much easier it can be to have everything in one place.

Pathmonk: You just mentioned the marketing agencies there. I was about to ask who would be the people or the types of companies that benefit most from the product?

Matthew White: Yeah, so it’s really all over the place. The nice thing about how our platform works is that again, we not tearing or packaging these tools. We can have a client that just needs a CRM or just needs email marketing or a website and email marketing. We have everything from just the small little business on the corner, a ice cream shop to a law firm. Right. We have a lot of franchise business customers as well because we have this really nice kind of overarching hub system where the franchise whore can get a really nice view of how their franchisees are using the branding, using the systems, really extract a lot of data from there. We work a lot with marketing agencies as well. The marketing agencies love it because their agents, they can jump into an account, they can, work on their social and then jump over to email marketing, then jump over to do some updates on their website within seconds. Right.It just, it’s saving them so much time and a lot of money, what we get back and feedback.

Pathmonk: Is it a particular size of agency? Usually rather big ones, small ones? 

Matthew White: We’re all over the place, we work with a lot of agencies. The cool thing about how we operate too is we work with a lot of agencies and our white labeling process for agencies is completely free. We don’t charge for any of that kind of stuff. We work with agencies that are one person. They manage 10 local businesses. We also work with very large agencies that have thousands of clients as well. We can kind of work on all sides. And we do. I came from the agency world and it’s one of those things, some of those really great tools were really marketed towards the large guys. and the smaller agencies. Some people that I know that on smaller agencies they’re just kind of left out. I think our platform really gives them the technologies that the big guys are using as well.

Pathmonk: How would they usually find you? Like how would you describe a typical user journey of somebody discovering Qebot and starting to use it?

Matthew White: Yeah, so I mean from the beginning it was a lot of cold calling. I mean from  the outset, so three or four years ago when you started going into like the agency, kind of setting. From there we’ve done some advertising. We do some marketing here and there. A lot of our business comes from conferences and conventions that are dedicated to agencies and we get a lot of business through those. A lot of it’s referral-based to what we find is, especially the medium size agencies. It’s a very tight knit community. They’ll go to a conference and say: “Hey, we’ve been using Qebot and it’s, it’s saved us this much time. Like the money savings is incredible and we’re getting a lot of our new business like this especially in the agency world

Pathmonk: Very cool. Did you build like a program around this or is it just happening?

Matthew White: At first it was just were just starting to get referrals in, right? So were seeing that  people just love their technology and be like: “Hey, if you like it let somebody else know”. We started getting that and now we’ve kind of built more of a structure, where we can offer of discount to somebody if bring in another agency. We also, I mean it’s not a lot of that kind of stuff that we’re doing still and we’ll probably look at starting to build a better funnel for that in the upcoming year as we honestly bring on some more people onto the team and kind of manage it easier that way.

Pathmonk:  So building that really up there. What role does the website play for growing the company? Is that a key element to your company? 

Matthew White:  The website itself I would probably say isn’t our most powerful tool. It is something that we’re looking to work on quite a bit because a lot of our business really does come right now from likes of the franchises, the agencies, media companies that are reselling our platform. We don’t do a lot of direct business right now and a lot of the outreach that we do is directly to agencies and directly to franchise businesses and marketing, marketing agents. We utilize the website and we push obviously traffic to it as much as possible. We haven’t really focused a lot of time and effort on that. Now that being said, we’ll start to do a lot more direct business.

Pathmonk: Are you already thinking about some type of metrics that are key for you to know? 

Matthew White: Pretty much basic stuff.Mostly we, cause most of our accounts right now are, they’re signing up for a demo and we’re kind of working through that process.A lot of our marketing that we’re working at is related, again targeted towards marketing agencies, media companies, franchises.We’re really pushing them towards the demo, level.In the near future.We’re going to want to push people more towards like a DIY path to create your accounts, set everything up, and then start to utilize our tools more kind of on their own.We’ll probably have a whole different set of, analytics.We’re going to look for there. What we really are trying to do is most of our marketing and any advertising we’re doing, we’re pushing them to specific landing pages and then trying to have them convert through there, which has been pretty good. I think our conversion rate is like 12% or something the last time I checked.

Pathmonk: I mean we’ve been talking to a lot of conversion experts, a lot of teams that are looking at conversion and 12% is, I would say very much at the upper end there. Any challenges that you would have seen or overcome or maybe, tried to tackle when trying to increase conversion? 

Qebot: I think simplicity is a key part of it’s, so we pushed people to a landing page that has, a basic outline of how our platform works. Really pushing the idea of what it can do for your agency I think is a big part of it. A lot of our the landing page I think is kind of secondary to what we’re doing. We do a lot of it through our marketing, our content creation, those kinds of things. Kind of telling the story and then saying, go here to sign up for a demo.There’s probably some more things we can do around that. But again, our conversion is pretty good. Again, I think the marketing that we’re doing is so kind of specific and targeted that when people say, okay, I’m going to click here and go visit the website, they’re already kind of in the mind of, yeah, I’ll probably take a demo of something.

Pathmonk: You mentioned, you mentioned the agencies there before. I think it’s very interesting. There’s some, what’s something that surprised you when growing, a SaaS company that is, working with agencies to grow further. Something that maybe you didn’t think about before?

Qebot: Yeah, I mean for us it took a lot of like going back to the drawing board and kind of recreating on the platform worked right. There was a lot that agencies really needed at the platform that at first we didn’t have, we built it for the small medium size business to be able to come in and access and manage these tools. We’ve kind of built it in the mindset of okay, this one business is going to come in and purchase these tools and kind of run with it. We had to build up a whole new hierarchy systems. We had to build out a new kind of account management systems, new billing processes so that we could kind of show them everything in their purchasing, how it’s all coming together, new user levels or user, systems that they can give certain people access to this and other people, love different levels of access. I think coming into the agency world, we sold our first couple agencies like two and a half or three years ago. From there they were a huge, the nice thing is they liked to, were doing and it made sense to them, but they were like, okay, you guys need to do a couple things for this to really work and the way we needed to, they were great to help us kind of get that traction and get that kind of setup. Same with the franchises too. Some of our first franchise businesses, we really worked side by side with us to help us kind of draft out what the platform should be and how it should work. I think that’s one of the key things you need to think about is, especially for anybody to start, even SaaS businesses, your are everything. Like you need to be asking them and taking their information and taking their feedback every single day and taking it to heart and really building, I mean all the tools that are in our platform have been recommendations from our clients saying. Hey we would love a better way to manage social media or a better way to manage, directory listings, what do you have that you can get us that. And so we would build on that. I think even from a UX and UI standpoint all the way to, what new product to launch, everything should be. So customer driven. I think that’s one of the big things we’ve taken and it’s helped us build into what we are now. 

Pathmonk: How did you then deal with all the feedback that was probably coming from all the different places? What was your mechanism to, keep an overview and don’t run too much into the one or the other direction?

Qebot: Yeah, so that’s evolved quite a bit as well.At first, we only had two, three agencies on, so were able to work very closely with them and start to kind of build out what the initial structure was going to look like.They were really a key factor in making us make sure the platform worked for what an agency would need.From there we’ve been able to build in really nice feedback systems when there were anything is there’s again, great software out there to help us do things like that.We can use Zendesk to not only manage our supports, but also on the flip side of that, help us get feedback and understand new product recommendations or requests and those types of things. Then, now we, are much larger than were at that point. We have to figure out how to prioritize the specific requests. What people think, a lot of times we’ll send out, to our customers. We’ll get a lot of feedback right and we’ll send out to our customers on a pretty regular basis. I think quarterly is what we are doing right now. Like a survey saying. Hey, here are the suggestions that we have. Can you rate some of these schemes for us? Tell us what you think. Tell us, what would be high priority for you. That’s helped us really start to now drive the exactly what it is that how our product roadmap works, what we’re building into it.

Pathmonk: Yeah so slowly coming to an an end of the conversation already. It’s been so quick. Thanks so much for sharing all the insights.I want to ask you a couple of things more about you as a founder and building up a business and your experiences there.If you would try to nail this down, what would be one thing that really helped you the most in order to build up the company? When you stepped out the agency world, what was one of the things that really helped you the most?

Matthew White: I think networking, to be honest. Getting out there and getting out of your comfort zone for some points. I know a lot of entrepreneurs that they go in there and saying, I’m going to build a product and sell it? Right but for us networking is how we got our first franchise businesses or got our first, agency businesses that helped us continue to grow and be who we are. That’s just, I mean, that’s networking in all facets. That’s going to local meetups that making sure you’re going to the right conferences and conventions for your business. Not just saying, okay, I went there and sat at my table. Like going out and making those connections. Some of our best advisors that we have on the company right now are all from networking. Network with this guy who introduced me to that guy and then, kind of snowballed from there. Then, those advisors, one of our advisors was really big in the marketing agency world. He’s like, I think we could do some damage here. Let’s start to build on that. I think that is, and something I think I was missing at the very start to when we first started the company, I was so just, okay, we’re super busy. We got to do this. Networking will come secondary. I really kind of jumped into it full feet and that’s really what changed our business and gave us a new trajectory.

Pathmonk: Anything else that you can share, if you would zoom back at the beginning of equip about you starting out. I think you just went out the agency before, right? If I understood this correctly, what is something that you wish you would’ve known despite the networking once you started the company? Something maybe that you kept on doing for a while when, refer back to hatch, we should’ve done that different. What would be something that you would like to have known before?

Matthew White: Yeah, let’s see.I think for me, understanding, so this is actually, cause I love the SMB markets and we definitely are continuing to grow into that. I think when we first started were like, okay, we’re going to cool call SMB after SMB to try to take our other business kind of organically.You kind of have to look for the multiplier effect. If we would have done that earlier, I think we’d be farther than we are now because we get to sell one SMB at a time and it will continue to grow. Finding the multiplier effect, finding that little niche that you can kind of really, hammer into and then get some of the larger companies will help take your company from here to, really kind of zooming up pretty quick.Find it who you are and really hone in on that.Then, you can go different ways as you continue to grow up.Who is your, who’s your best customer right now? And I think that’s what’s we struggled with at the very beginning. And I’m glad we figured it out.

Pathmonk: How would you summarize that niche? Just so for everybody who was trying to , tried to transfer your learnings to their business, how would you describe this like niche that Janae down maybe is the last question.

Matthew White: Like how do you find your niche? Is that what you’re asking? Yup. How did you find it and then how did choose, how would you describe it today? So maybe somebody else can turn for the thinking that you apply there to their own case? Sure.Yeah.For us, I mean, it just kind of snowballed.We were getting some SMBs that were signing up and using the platform. We realized, okay, these SMBs, there’s larger groups of SMBs out there if we go towards the franchise market. Right. That’s what the first kind of, multiplier kind of businesses that we would after. It’s, I guess we kind of fell into it a little, but it was about kind of realizing, if we can sell this one guy and this two person, maybe we can sell this bigger organization with a lot of those same kinds of things in there. Right. With the marketing agency, again, that actually came a lot from, networking because again, we networked, we found, we met up with an advisor we have on now that eventually was like, Hey, I’m from the agency world.This is gonna kill it there. Let’s go, let’s go start that.Yeah, I mean it’s, I guess, find who your best customer is even from a small point and then figure out how you can extrapolate from there.

Pathmonk: Thanks a lot for sharing this and you’re sharing from your own experience. Matthew, thanks for taking the time today and showing a bit of your insights and being part of the show today. Thanks a lot.Thanks so much.