Welcome to our founder lessons series. This week, Sunbase Data founders reveal how started and run their CRM company. Sunbase Data is a complete CRM and Business Management Application for trade businesses operating in North America. Their primary solution includes modules for management of sales, service, inventory, financials, employees, proposal generation, quoting, contracts, and considerably more.
Why and how was Sunbase started
Sunbase started by accident and out of necessity. Originally, one of the founders was brought in to develop a business management solution for a local trade company looking to go paperless while getting more organized and efficient by utilizing automation. From there, we grew organically through word-of-mouth for a while, until we dialed in our marketing voice which leads to Sunbase becoming a market leader in the residential solar and roofing space.
Early on we recognized that most major tech companies focused on serving larger enterprise level clients, so the small to mid-size businesses were neglected in options available designed for them. Having run multiple small businesses throughout my career and recognizing the struggle that comes with trying to juggle everything all the time; serving that niche tugs a heart string in me and provides a driving feeling of contribution knowing the impact we have on our client’s quality of life. Additionally, the first niche we targeted was solar because we believe in it and want to do everything we can to empower installers to get more done faster, with less friction.
What have been the biggest success factors
Of the things that we attribute our success to, our ability to deliver a custom fitted solutions that fits exactly what our clients need, at a price well below our competitors ranks at the top. We have also developed a company culture of remaining lean and agile, always thinking in terms of systems, and investing in exceeding client’s expectations.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running Sunbase
When first getting started, we ran into the challenge of not being entirely conscious of what we didn’t know such as the countless tasks it takes to launch a successful startup and how to navigate through priority confusion. It’s also very easy to get lost in the development process and wanting to make sure that everything is perfect before you take it to the market. You can live there and miss out on the best available feedback, which is how your target market responds to your offering. It’s never going to be perfect and a much better approach is taking massive imperfect action while learning and adjusting as you go. Fail forward fast and often. Just don’t make the same mistakes twice.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
To rank each of these based on importance is difficult because all are necessary to have a sustainably successful business. If you are missing any of the elements you’re crippled. Equally important is timing. You can have the right product, the right team, the right market, and just the wrong timing and face an uphill struggle. That said, it’s my opinion the right team is the most essential element. With the right team, there are processes for identifying the right products and the right markets that can be worked through. It’s much harder to cultivate teammates with a powerful why, strong work ethic, and a twisted desire to continually run into walls and figure out how to navigate them while not feeling defeated.
Final words for those chasing the startup dream
The best advice I can offer anyone in pursuit of anything is to take the introspective time to really examine why it is you’re trying to accomplish whatever it is that you say you want to accomplish. This is where your motivation comes from and you will do far more by harnessing why power than you ever will through sheer willpower. Also, model others who are already accomplishing what you’re looking to accomplish. This will save you lots of money and time in figuring it all out yourself. Someone told me, you can always recognize the pioneer, they’re the ones with all the arrows in their back. Also, don’t rush things. Sometimes the journey helps you have time to digest your experiences and bring even more value to the world.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wanye Gretzky