Willie King over at WorthPoint reached out to me earlier this month via LinkedIn, "Congrats Lance on 2 years" he said. How time flies. He is talking about my time at Half Off Depot/nCrowd.
It has been quite busy. So busy that I have not really had a chance to practice my preach of updating your resume every year just to remember what you have accomplished. Doing that and keeping it to the required two pages is just way too time consuming. So at the risk of being self aggrandizing here are the bullet points of the past two years (one of the reasons I have a blog is to find things that are important to me) that someday I am going to have to whittle down and properly format for a resume.
Played a significant role in the company securing $7 million series A.
Selected expansion markets and in conjunction with CEO set expansion strategy.
Successfully expanded into first additional market within 60 days of joining company.
Based on the results recommended to board that we accelerate expansion.
Expanded into four additional markets with 100 days of joining company.
When Groupon botched its IPO recommended a market rollup.
Took over direct duties of CTO and Vice President of Marketing.
Personally led the negotiation of two asset acquisitions.
Identified and made initial inquires to major acquisition target, oversaw due diligence and closing of the same.
Oversaw the development of proprietary platform and assumed direct management of the darn thing. As in doing sysadmin and committing code.
Assisted in securing venture debt for major acquisitions.
Acted as corporate secretary.
Started as employee number 21, employee base now reported to be 70.
3.5x revenue run rate growth.
Not a bad list for two years. It will be interesting to see what the next two bring.
I have written a bit about the stages a successful startup goes through in the past. Covering theories such as concept, seed, early stage and growth stages for those that were not reading in 2009.
One of the things I have always believed is that at some point, in the $50 million revenue range, a startup is no longer a startup and is really a small company. Maybe I was wrong. I now think sometimes it happens before that mark.
I am basing this on my current experience with nCrowd. Back in January when we announced the CrowdSavings acquisition All Things D reported that nCrowd had 70 employees. That number goes down a little as we rationalize the organization and up a little as we purchase the assets of Tippr. But for the sake of discussion let's use it.
If you use David Cumming's Employee Counts as a Proxy for Startup Revenue post with $150,000 (I have always used just a straight $200,000 myself) of revenue per employee for a venture backed startup without a recent large round of funding one could estimate that nCrowd has revenue of about $10 million. That estimate would be low, because our revenue per employee is higher, but it is no where near $50 million. and nCrowd is starting to feel more like a small company than a startup.
Why is this? The answer is three fold.
One, the way we have grown is partially due to organic geographic expansion and partly due to executing a rollup strategy that also quickened our geographic expansion. The latter has lead to more time being spent on integration then one would normally see for a company the size of nCrowd.
Two, due to the headwinds created by Groupon and LivingSocial, the financial markets are not receptive to investments in the local e-commerce space (and have not been for some time) so our actions are driven by profitability and building long-term value. This is not a bad thing, it just makes things feel a little more small company like than startup like.
Three, I personally don't get to spend as much time as I want talking to customers, growing our member base, and building product. The startupy stuff. My job is much more corporate whack a mole. I get involved in acquisitions, handle the duties that a company Secretary is required to do, the administrative things that our CEO does not have the time or inclination to do himself, and oversee parts of the technology integration of the assets we purchase.
This is all good. But it points out that some startups become small companies much before others and that the $50 million number I have been throwing out there could be a lot lower in certain circumstances. Sometimes a startup becomes a small company before you know it.
nCrowd is no longer a startup. It's a small company. And that is great progress.
All Things D broke the news this morning that nCrowd has purchased the assets of Tippr out of Seattle.
It is the largest acquisition that we have made to date. The purchase includes the Tippr and Groupalicious web properties, a subscriber base of more than one million consumers, and some intellectual property rights.
This is nCrowd's 20th acquisition. It pretty much solidifies our position as the number three participant in the local offers market as we continue to evolve away from the deal space. Our operating footprint is expanding from being focused on the Southern/Plains regions to a national footprint where we will be able to provide merchants online customer acquisition services from New York to Honolulu.
At the moment we are executing well on the rollup strategy that we devised in the fall of 2011.
The fine folks over at Atlanta Business Radio invited me in to talk a little bit about what we are doing with nCrowd and why both consumers and merchants like our business. Lee Kantor and Stone Payton were great hosts. I was first up. If you have an interest and 10 minutes you can listen to the interview here.
It was also great to catch up with my friends from Clearleap who also happened to be on the show at the end.
This move came about shortly after David Cummings announced his plans for the Village. I reached out to him, told him we were about to sign a lease, and wanted to see if there were a possibility for a company of our size to get some space. The reply was "we have a perfect suite" for you. And they did.
While not a big fan of Buckhead (I have spent the vast majority of my time in Atlanta working within two miles of 14th and Peachtree in Midtown), we decided to make the move for four reasons. It was less expensive then our current cost and the Midtown options we were considering. The lease was shorter in duration. There is more flexibility if our space needs expand beyond expectations with the option to rent co-working spots and pay in advance additional offices in the building. Finally, like ATDC (which nCrowd is a little mature for) the ATV setup promotes serendipitous interactions.
The Atlanta Tech Village was a pretty easy call for me. David and his team were both flexible and easy to work with to get the deal done. To give you an example the lease was only four pages long compared to the twenty one page version that was provided by an alternative building. Our employees that have seen the space love it and are looking forward to the move.
In a short time ATV has created a second hub beyond Tech Square for technology companies to consider. Looking forward to being a part of this new community.
It is a union that has been a long time in the making. Seems to me that most deals work that way. I first approached CrowdSavings CEO Chad Jacquays about a how we might work together strategically in April of 2012. We kinda sorta know we were going to do it around Thanksgiving and the transaction closed mid January. Once we got real serious it took a solid two weeks to get it closed. Truth be told the transaction itself was more of an acquisition then a merger.
But putting the companies together is another story. Chad and Doug Bauer, the CrowdSavings CFO, have built some solid systems and a solid team that are going to make our combined entity much stronger. Going forward we are going to be using best practices which is always an interesting exercise.
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The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone (with the exception of comments by others of course). They do not represent the opinion or position of any other person or entity. All postings adhere to my personal values.