How I Created A $60K/Month Equity Management Software

Tom Milar
Founder, Eqvista
$60K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
15
Employees
Eqvista
from Las Vegas, NV, USA
started April 2018
$60,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
15
Employees
162K
alexa rank
213
followers
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How I Created A $60K/Month Equity Management Software

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! I’m Tomas Milar and I’m the founder of Eqvista, a sophisticated equity management software that allows companies, investors, and shareholders to track, manage and make intelligent decisions about their company’s equity. We target most companies, from seed-stage to pre-IPO companies, but we also cater to startups since it’s challenging for new founders to manage their companies at the early stages.

Aside from our equity management platform, we also offer one of the leading 409A valuations in the market. We have helped over 6,500 companies (and counting!) with their cap table, business valuations, and IRS filings. We believe that running a business should be easy, you just have to find the right resources. Eqvista has everything ready for you.

eqvista

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

Before I started Eqvista, I founded a company formation and corporate service provider in Hong Kong: Startupr Hong Kong Limited. This was way back in 2011. Fast forward to 2017, I acquired IncParadise, a business incorporation service provider in the U.S. Through these two companies, we help to manage tens of thousands of companies in Asia and the US. From our experience here, we found there was a lot of tedious administrative work that had to be taken care of to maintain a company.

One particular problem that stood out was managing equity. Back then, this would be done traditionally through Excel spreadsheets, which can be inefficient and lead to many errors. Most of our clients had messy cap tables; incomplete information, and wrong calculations, and there was the problem of not knowing which file is the most updated one. This made me think “Is there a better way to handle company equity?”

The answer? No. At the time, I saw that no one in the market had a platform where you can manage your equity easily. This gave me the idea to develop Eqvista in 2018, a smart cap table management platform that allows company founders to manage their stocks, shares, grants, and other types of equity in one place without having to rely on traditional methods like Excel. I wanted the cap table to be as accurate as possible, with real-time updates and smart algorithms that detect any errors and prompt you to make necessary changes.

At the time, I didn’t have any experience in developing software. What I did know was the end goal: making a simple system for recording company shares. This is a whole new venture compared to my company secretary firms. I had one IT person develop the initial stages of Eqvista, and it took about one to two years for us to develop our MVP. I was fortunate enough to be able to start Eqvista through bootstrapping, and self-funding the business together with my other two companies.

At the start, I was focused on making sure every client is happy. While we want all our clients to be satisfied with our services, we just can’t please everyone.

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

We started developing the cap table software in the fall of 2018. Back then, we only had one IT person to code the whole thing. It wasn’t until early 2020 that we had a workable MVP. This was due to lots of complexities and considerations that we didn’t know about when we started. Once we had our beta version of the platform, we received a lot of customer feedback that made us understand the user experience better.

With only one IT person working on the program, it was hard to keep up with the demands of our clients. A lot of our clients had good feedback, but our lack of manpower couldn’t make the big necessary changes at the time. There were a lot of bugs in the software, you just can’t avoid them honestly. It was difficult, to say the least, to keep up with the maintenance and changes we needed to make to be better.

Eventually, we found our footing and learned to only work on what the majority of the clients would want rather than focusing on the one feedback from a sole client. Once we were on the right track of where we wanted our software to be, we found it easier to plan and execute accordingly. We also hired more IT people to do the job, one person can’t do it all alone.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We officially launched in early 2020. Our website had zero visitors in the very beginning. Even having at least 100 visitors a month was a big dream I had. We worked heavily on our SEO; grabbing the necessary keywords for our articles, link building, and getting backlinks from other websites. We would push out articles on topics like cap table management, equity, 409A valuations, and other important topics that new startup founders would need.

Our content has been the driving force for reaching out to potential clients. It was a slow climb, our website only had less than 100 visitors in a month, it would grow but it wasn’t a big leap. Eventually, the number of website visitors started to grow exponentially; we saw over 10,000 visitors by the end of 2021. We trusted in our strategy and results started to come in.

A big advantage we had starting out is focusing our energy on SEO. While it’s common to use social media for marketing, we found that growing your website’s traffic organically was cheaper.

Launching Eqvista was not easy, but it wasn’t so difficult either. I was fortunate enough to have my 2 other companies to help with the financing, and I was able to fund the company on my own. I only had about 3 people in my team, one person per department you can say. We didn’t have a customer service team at the time, so we’d all have to take care of the clients we had. Despite the small number of people in the company, we never gave up on our service and our team.

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

For us, our core value is to help our future business founders from starting a company to assisting them with complicated administrative tasks including issuing shares, cap table management, and important filings. With that in mind, we focused on simplifying the process so that business owners can concentrate on growing their businesses.

This has helped in attracting our clients since we made starting and running a business easier in this day and age. Back then, you would have to spend a lot of time and money on accountants, lawyers, and other experts to manage your company’s shares and filings. Now with Eqvista, you can ease that burden by taking care of all your equity and valuation needs through an online platform.

Our major marketing strategy is SEO. We are proud of how much Eqvista’s organic traffic has grown since we launched in 2020. We started out with maybe 20 visitors a day, maybe even less than that. But now, we are averaging around 2,000 visitors a week, hitting approximately 50,000 visitors monthly. This major leap in traffic is all thanks to our marketing efforts in SEO.

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

We’re doing great, it’s crazy to think that our small team of 1 IT person, 1 valuation analyst, and 1 marketing person grew to 2 offices in the US and Hong Kong, with around 15-20 employees. This wouldn’t be possible without the continuous support and feedback of our clients.

Our website traffic has increased immensely in the past 2 years. We started out with just a few hundred visitors in a month, to having over 50,000 website visitors each month. We used to only have a handful of clients, and now we are trusted by over 6,500 companies for their equity management and valuation needs.

We are constantly developing new features for our platform and we can’t wait to unveil what we are working on to the public. We are currently focusing on providing consultations on business transactions using our new neobank Cheqly, which was launched just this year. We are still in the alpha phase but we are optimistic about its future developments.

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

At the start, I was focused on making sure every client is happy. While we want all our clients to be satisfied with our services, we just can’t please everyone. Eventually, I learned to not try too hard to please just one client. At the beginning of the business, we didn’t have a lot of features that met all of our clients’ needs. We just couldn’t offer it at the time since we were still figuring things out on our end. This led me to realize that it’s okay to say “sorry, we don’t have that yet”.

We had many missed opportunities because of this though, since we couldn’t offer everything, we lost quite a few clients along the way. Timing is key when it comes to releasing a new product and marketing it. But it’s okay to miss some things, it makes us reflect on our service and we push ourselves to become better each time. Sometimes, it’s the missed opportunities that help you see your areas for improvement.

A big advantage we had starting out is focusing our energy on SEO. While it’s common to use social media for marketing, we found that growing your website’s traffic organically was cheaper, and more accessible to businesses since they are on Google most of the time compared to social media. I’ve also had my fair share of Googling how to run my business in the past haha! Having a solid SEO strategy has been a great asset to our marketing efforts.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use several tools, for starters, we mainly use WordPress for our website. It’s still the most popular and versatile web tool out there since we can customize it the way we want it to look and function. Of course, we can’t forget Google Analytics for checking our website’s performance and other important data that helps us determine our next strategies.

As we are a software provider, we deal with bugs often. To keep track of any errors we find, we use Trello to make records of what needs to be fixed and relay these to our IT team. We found it to be very insightful for this kind of task since it’s like a list-style, Kanban-style application.

We also use Calendly when scheduling any calls with our clients who need valuations or have any inquiries about the Eqvista platform. Calendly is great for setting your available times for calls and having clients choose from them. While we want to meet with our clients as much as we can, we have other responsibilities to take care of and Calendly helps in providing that time and space for us and our clients.

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

One book I read was Atomic Habits by James Clear. It opened my eyes to how important habits are, and how consistency is the key to achieving good results. This is where I learned about exponential growth; how starting something small can be hard to maintain, but eventually, when you keep doing something, it pays off in the long run. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to make new habits and get rid of old ones. Having good habits is not just for your well-being, it’s also important for running a business.

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

When you are starting a business, don’t be afraid to look for talent elsewhere. Be open to international hiring, and having remote work available. There’s talent everywhere, and this can help you to build your business. Our team at Eqvista is multinational, and they are all important players in the business.

A business doesn’t have to be in one place. With the trend of working from home, and more work-life balance, you can run a business anywhere you are. It’s all about trusting your team, and knowing that they will bring their best in everything they do. For most startups, the initial grind is hard. But, as cliche as it sounds, hard work does pay off. You might find yourself on the verge of giving up, but if you remember the sole reason why you started your business in the first place, you gain the motivation to push harder until you succeed.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

You can check out our careers page to learn more about what we do and who we are looking for. We’d love to hear from anyone who has what it takes to be part of our company! We are looking to expand our marketing team, sales, and valuation team. Please send your resume to [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?

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

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Tom Milar, Founder of Eqvista
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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