The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Ben Knosby is up.
Who are you and what do you do? I'm Ben Knosby, the CEO of Lucid Travel - a travel software built for sports teams & events. Currently, my time is split between 3 major categories:
(1) Team goal setting & management - 30% (2) Sales & integration partnerships - 40% (3) Product management & UX - 30%
I'm a very sales-oriented entrepreneur and believe that revenue and customer-centricity solve most of the problems that founders have.
What did it take and how did you get started? Throughout college, I spent a lot of time working for small companies in sales roles. I always tell young founders that learning how to sell is, by far, the most important thing you can do early in a company's growth.
Lucid started with a simple form on a webpage and phone (total cost was < $200). We cold-called hundreds of prospects in different micro-markets to gauge how various groups/teams book and manage travel. This exercise gave us enough insight to build a simple MVM (Minimum Viable Market) which ended up being university club sports. By our official launch date, we were able to lock-in 10 universities which gave me enough confidence to jump into Lucid full-time.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle? Since our launch in Aug '17, Lucid has grown to serve 150+ university club sports departments, 10,000+ sports teams, and 4 major integration partnerships. Our strategy in the university space will be to network into other departments like varsity athletics, staff travel, and eventually university-wide procurement deals.
Within the last year, we've identified what we believe will become the future of Lucid Travel - Integration partnerships. Integration partners are other software companies that have products built for markets that we also serve. This alone has already changed our business from primarily outbound sales to almost entirely inbound (meaning customers come to us without paid marketing &/or cold outreach). What drives / motivates you? (1) Relationships - Family, friends, employees, vendors, clients, etc. - building genuine relationships is what makes the struggle worth it and makes life fulfilling.
(2) Creative Freedom - The ability to make my own decisions is very important and a lot of entrepreneurs sell their souls to investors and partners. Know that as soon as you take someone else's money - your interests come second & the clock starts ticking.
(3) Financial Upside - I'd be lying if I didn't include this one. The point of all of this is to provide financial stability and profit - that doesn't mean it's the only priority but it's definitely important.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do? Focus on sales in the beginning. You can usually piece together a product for close to nothing (especially in software) but figuring out what people need and are willing to buy is the hard part. Become obsessed with your target market and spend nearly 100% of your time talking to them.
What has been the hardest part of the hustle? Bootstrapping a business is hard because you have to forfeit all of the profit so that you can reinvest in great people and growth. You're also always attempting to solve the age-old 'chicken or the egg' paradox - "I need more people and resources to grow but I have to grow to get more people and resources."
What are a few resources that you'd recommend? I'm a big Youtube & Podcast fan. I like these mediums more than books because I can listen to them passively (driving, at the gym, etc).
Youtube: - Harvard iLab - Y Combinator - Standford Business
Podcast: - 20 Min VC - Startup Therapy - Masters of Scale
Side or full-time hustle? Full Time.
List the founders Ben Knosby and a long list of what we call the founding team (Nick Karagiannis, Chase Summers, Troy Miller).
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle? 40 hours in the office with teams & ~20 hours outside normal hours on tech, email, events, and customer support.
# of Employees (part-time and full-time) 3 full-time (CEO, CTO, Director of Sales), 3 Sales Contractors, 1 Developer, 1 Customer Success Manager, 1 Marketing Specialist
When did you start? August 2017
How much did it cost to launch? Roughly $10k to build the MVP (finding our initial market fit cost just a couple hundred bucks)
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised? We've raised no money to date. Our goal is to get to $10M in bookings and $1M in net revenue before raising any money. I funded the company in the beginning and didn't take a salary for the first 15 months.
Annual Revenue Gross bookings are $200k to $300k per month. Net Revenue is $20k to $30k per month.
Our goal is to hit $500k net revenue in 2020 and $1M by 2021. My LinkedIn: Ben Knosby