In this episode of Startup School Radio, cohosts Aaron Harris and Kat Manalac started by sitting down with Aaron King.
King is the founder of Snapdocs, a mortgage automation software company that launched out of YC’s Winter 2014 class. Later in the show, Aaron and Kat talked to Sameer Shariff, the cofounder of mobile English tutoring platform Cambly, which was also in YC’s Winter 2014 batch.
One especially interesting part of the episode was hearing Aaron King talk about the evolution of his approach to cold calling, which was the primary way he built up the client base for his first startup, called NotaryLink. This portion begins at about 10:05:
Aaron King : For the first two months, all I did was cold call, and try to close these deals… I don’t know if you’ve ever done cold calling before, but it’s brutal, especially if you don’t have any success.
There was one misstep I made early on which is, I had taken a sales and marketing class at a community college. I had learned all of these techniques, what I would consider used car salesman techniques. Like the ‘Porcupine Approach,’ and ‘getting them to visualize the experience.’
Some of these are probably useful, but as a 21 year old, I had no skill set of deploying them. So probably for the first 300 phone calls I made, I just sounded like this cheesy person.
Aaron Harris : …So how did you get better in that process? Because the thing you’re describing is something that I think all founders go through in one way or another.
Aaron King : I’d like to take credit for it, but it was actually just kind of out of exhaustion. At one point I picked up the phone and I was just like, “God, I just can’t go through this pitch again.” And I just leveled with the person. I was like, “Look. I know this industry really well. I’m gonna do a killer job. Just give me a chance and let me prove myself.” There was nothing intentional there, it was just, that’s what came out.
And the person was like, “OK.” And a lightbulb goes off, like, “Oh my God. If you’re just straightforward with these people, you have a better chance of actually getting business from them.”
Aaron Harris : They don’t want to feel as if someone was selling something to them.
Aaron King : I think that was a big part of it. I also think, these people are very busy, and just cutting to the chase and being very direct ended up being very effective.