Batchbook, builds software that helps small businesses connect with their customers. Their core product is a small business social CRM designed to help creative, entrepreneurial businesses maintain a high level of personal touch with their most important customers and to spur growth through customer friendly relationships.
MO: How did you come up with the concept for Batchbook?
Pamela: I was hired by a small publishing business to find what the owner described as an “online Rolodex” to track her subscribers, writers, editors and advertisers. I knew exactly what the company needed, but was not satisfied with the expense and challenge of the available CRM solutions. They needed something that was affordable for a small team, but could be customized to fit the unique types of contacts they were managing. That was when I decided to pull a team together and build the perfect CRM solution for a grossly underserved market, small and growing businesses.
MO: What were some early challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
Pamela: Our biggest challenge when first starting was exercising patience as we started building our product and our brand. When there are just a few of you, and you have so many big ideas and ambitions, it is easy to start spinning up dozens of creative campaigns, ideas and efforts. We were running so many contests, partnerships, and social media campaigns, when we started to see real traction from our efforts, we could not be certain where it was coming from, so did not know where to turn up the gas. It is hard to be patient with new ideas, but we’ve gotten more disciplined as we have grown. Now we don’t launch a new feature or promotion until we have the tools in place to track the success. Sometimes a simple spreadsheet, sometimes a new report in Batchbook, sometimes custom development in our application, we always make sure we are tracking what we are doing and know where we need to focus our efforts.
MO: How do you help small businesses grow by helping them build better relationships with the right people?
Pamela: Our mantra is that a business can really only focus on a small group of important contacts at any one time. With Batchbook, we’ve built a tool to help small teams handle the “hot-and-heavy” stage of the customer relationship. This is where all the action is. It includes contacts that have been identified as hot leads, as well as customers who are active now and past customers who are identified as important to stay in touch with. Since a small business is really all about teamwork, we wanted to create one place that everyone can see important contact details and where they can contribute their bit, whether by sending a sales emails, completing a task for a customer, engaging with them on social networks, or handling product fulfillment and billing. Having contacts organized, being able to see who needs attention right now, and being able to collaborate as a team all help small businesses build stronger relationships and grow their business by being downright awesome to their customers.
MO: I love that you enjoy researching historical contexts & connecting them with problems we are trying to solve today. Can you share any recent connections that you’ve been compelled by?
Pamela: I was a History major in college, so I’ve always been fascinated by the evolution of societies, especially how small events and technologies can effect big changes. Things are changing so quickly right now with the rapid rollout of social, mobile and cloud technologies it can be overwhelming always looking ahead trying to anticipate where the market is going. Especially because my business is relationships. The technology is the tool, but the thing we are selling is better relationships. So rather than try to guess what the next gamified, geo-locating mobile infrastructure-as-a-service might be, I look at the agoras in Athens, the industrial revolution and Dunbar’s number as a way to really understand the evolution of business relationships and get inspiration on where I think it should be going. Then we use technology to take it there.
MO: How did you come up with the idea of The Small Business web? What are you hoping to accomplish?
Pamela: The Small Business Web came about as a way to encourage online software providers to provide open APIs. An API is way for software companies to build integrations with each other. From very early on at Batchbook, we saw the importance of doing one thing well and then connecting with other software that was doing something else well. So, you might manage your contacts in Batchbook, send your email campaigns via MailChimp, and do your invoicing in Xero. By having open APIs, these services can all be connected at key junctions so that small business owners can have a steady workflow without having to repeat tasks like data entry in each of the different pieces of software. It is the democratic way for small businesses to easily and affordably build what have traditionally been enterprise level integrated systems.
MO: You were one month pregnant with your third child when you started Batchbook. What are some key insights you’ve gained while running a company and a household at the same time?
Pamela: I often say that I am a mom of 4, my three children and Batchbook. I founded Batchbook in part to be able to have a healthy work/life balance. At different times, I have to focus more on my children or more on Batchbook. Every day the balance is a little different. It is a challenge, but we are proving that you can work in technology and still be involved with your kids, volunteer in your community, take your dogs for walks, etc. Most of our employees have young families and I encourage each of them to focus on their family just as much as work. If you can give it your all while at work, but still have flexibility and energy to give it your all when you are home too, you have found the right balance.