As part of the Everest Program, Catapult hosts monthly in-depth discussions with cleverbridge managers and functional experts on various topics. Since the beginning of the program, Catapult residents have benefitted from the experiences of Craig Vodnik, cleverbridge's co-founder and VP of Operations, and his knowledgeable team. This month, the cleverbridge folks talked in-depth about the top 5 mistakes they made at cleverbridge in the early years of the bootstrapped startup. Check it out at Built in Chicago: Top Mistakes We've Made at cleverbridge.
Among the key mistakes, and the lessons learned (with some additional tidbits from the discussion):
- Not Firing Fast Enough - Set expectations up front and have a clear process for managers to provide feedback. Don't keep someone on just because they are doing a specific job - everyone else will need to step up.
- Too Passive Sales Approach - Empower everyone to be more pro-active - networking, getting leads, etc. "Every person in the company is a sales person in the early stages."
- Growing Point to Point - "Think bigger." Have a long term plan (2-3 years out) for the future, but still re-evaluate every 6-12 months.
- Waiting For "That Pretty Girl" to Notice Us - Take it one step at a time...keep going after bigger clients but don't overreach (hit singles/doubles and then move towards the home runs!). As you grow, engage with these bigger companies on different levels (go to trade shows, executives connect with executives, etc.).
- Not Knowing how to get Proper PR - It's important to invest in this early on. Good PR can really help your business grow.
Thank you to Craig, Soren and Mike for sharing, answering questions, and letting us learn from your mistakes!