How We Started A $20K/Month Digital Marketing Services Company

Published: July 8th, 2020
Matt Pru
Founder, Stackmatix
from San Francisco, CA, USA
started June 2018
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Matt Pru and I am the Cofounder & Managing Partner at Stackmatix. We provide integrated digital marketing solutions for businesses at any stage of their lifecycle from startup to growth-stage, to enterprise. We believe that a marketing strategy that is managed holistically with a strong understanding of how the constituent pieces work together in harmony ultimately drives the best results.

Our happy customers would agree and we have been able to scale our business to $20K MRR in under two years and we’re pacing towards our goal of $50K MRR in another 6 to 12 months.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I started Stackmatix with my business partner James Critelli in 2018. We both worked together at MightyHive, one of the most successful marketing services companies globally that went from 0 to a $150M acquisition to S4 Capital in just a few years. I was the Head of Sales and James was one of the earliest employees at the company responsible for managing our largest and most intricate customers. We took everything we learned from the experience and joined forces to accelerate the growth of Seed to Series C growth-focused startups.

You can’t do everything yourself. It’s important to set up the framework to scale ahead of time.

MightyHive was focused on servicing a specific set of enterprise tools for large customers, whereas Stackmatix provides a more holistic and consultative approach to our marketing services. We start working with businesses from the ground up so that we can influence marketing architecture and operational decisions so these businesses do not run into scaling challenges at a later stage in their lifecycle.

We started Stackmatix so that we could have full control over how we manage and operate our own business but also to have more autonomy in growing our clients’ businesses as well. Working with founders and CEOs, we’re given a lot of authority in the marketing domain and are able to make decisions quickly without a bureaucratic process like you will have working with most enterprise organizations.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Initially, we thought we would go straight for enterprise clients servicing enterprise platforms like DoubleClick, but we quickly found the sales cycles were long and risky and so we also targeted early-stage firms to score some quick wins. In working with earlier stage companies, we prioritized the platforms that made the most sense for these companies like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads instead of platforms like DoubleClick.

Before we knew it, our portfolio of startup clients ballooned, and we became very focused on servicing this segment of the market to get our business off the ground. We are quickly working our way upmarket as we gain more testimonials, reviews, and case studies to validate our credibility.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching our business was as easy as creating a website, updating our LinkedIn profiles, and beginning to reach out to folks in our network to see if they needed digital marketing support. We developed a large network from years of working in the industry so it was fairly easy to get the ball rolling and to get work underway with customers.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Recently, we took some time (nearly a full month) investing in rebranding our company. Business moves at the speed of trust and while we are highly credible to individuals in our network, we needed to make sure that our website, social media presence, marketing materials, and other customer touchpoints lived up to the same level of credibility.

Seeing what success looks like a first hand can greatly improve your confidence and expedite your journey. Intern or find a role at a growing startup and learn everything you can from your leadership team and your colleagues.

From a customer acquisition standpoint, there is no silver bullet. We do everything from sales outreach, to SEO, to digital advertising, and more. We are constantly networking with founders and investors to continuously build relevant contacts in our customer segment. Every testimonial and case study makes it easier to acquire the next customer.

Business moves at the speed of trust, and there is a large lack of trust in the marketing services vertical. As such, working through our network has been the most efficient means of acquiring customers as to when one of our colleagues or customers vouches for us, then we’re not just another marketing agency looking for their business, but we’re instead a trusted and proven resource.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Our business is thriving. Our MMR is over $20K and growing quickly -- our goal is $50K in MMR by April 2021 which we’re on pace to hit. We continuously move upmarket and we consistently provide a great customer experience for companies with which we partner. An old colleague once said, “what’s the difference between a pyramid scheme and a great business? Retention.” This mantra is important to our business. If we’re providing a great service, then we should be retaining and excelling in the growth of our clients’ businesses.

Our team continues to grow alongside our book of business to make sure we can provide consistent service as we scale. Our core focus is to move further and further upmarket. Currently, we are largely engaging Seed to Series C stage companies, but we’d like to get to a point where Fortune 2000 companies rely on Stackmatix to drive their digital marketing program’s success.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

You can’t do everything yourself. It may seem efficient in the short term, but you’ll reach a point where you feel your business cannot continue to scale. It’s important to set up the framework to scale ahead of time so you never need to stop or slow the growth of the business. About a year or a year and a half into the business, we needed to restructure our operations so that we could grow continuously and not in starts and stops.

Another factor we realized is that we need to bring on clients who are not too small so that we actually have some margin to work with to provide resources to the account and so that we don’t feel forced to manage the full workload ourselves. It’s important to set a business model and stick to it. Flexibility may help with short term wins but hurts the overall business growth in the long term.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Our team is diligent about using 3rd party tools where they are helpful, but we are also adamant about developing our own tools and solutions that can give us an edge of the competition. As soon as you have done any task twice and can see that it will be a task that will come up time and time again as you scale, automation needs to be considered.

Any investment of time you can make that will be ROI profitable in time over the long term needs to be taken as soon as possible or you’re slowing down the growth of your business.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

We’re not too excited about a lot of the content and information online or in books as it relates to digital marketing and so we are in the process of writing tons of content that we will be featuring on our new blog (coming soon!). We learned a lot of what we know by doing the work and thinking critically about how best it can be done.

A few book recommendations overall: Getting More by Stuart Diamond. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Don’t start a company just because you want to start a company and don’t try to reverse engineer success. You should start a company if you have an incredibly strong conviction that the business needs to be created and that it surely is a more valuable proposition than what is already on the market.

Young founders (like me many years ago) think that you just need to start, iterate, and eventually, you will find success. While this may be true, the journey may be very long and painful with this approach. Seeing what success looks like a first hand can greatly improve your confidence and expedite your journey. Intern or find a role for a growing startup and learn everything you can from your leadership team and your colleagues. If you’re a true entrepreneur, you’ll get bored at some point or strongly desire more control, and then go out and start something with the support of your network.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking for talented digital marketing specialists who know Amazon, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, or some other ad platform. We also maintain a network of web developers, graphic designers, branding experts, and copywriters to deliver the best results for our clients.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!