This is a follow up story for GreenRope. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi! I’m Lars Helgeson, Founder, and CEO of GreenRope. We are an integrated CRM, marketing automation, and customer service platform that serves SMBs, government, and non-profit organizations.
We have a direct sales model and a white-labeled offering that partners can use to sell under their own brand. Our platform includes sales enablement, marketing automation tools, mobile marketing, project management, a learning management system (LMS), surveys, knowledge management tools, lead capture forms, and more.
GreenRope’s ARR is about $1.8M, growing steadily and organically. Our team is small (16 people) and dedicated to helping our customers achieve their goals. We have never taken any VC, PE, or outside funding and have invested 100% sweat equity into our business.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
This past year has seen a marked increase in demand for our software, especially for our white-labeled partnerships. Businesses and consultants are finding that by offering a privately labeled platform to their markets, they can generate recurring revenue combined with services that help their clients. This is building their brand while cementing relationships with their clients, and our partners benefit from the growth that comes with it.
We launched a separate website dedicated to our white-labeled technology.
Along with that, we created a new program that removes all the up-front costs for building the partner portal, so our partners can start their businesses effectively with no money upfront and only with low recurring monthly licensing costs.
We have brought on a record number of new partners this year, and our partners have earned record revenues through our platform.
Our mission has always been to help our clients grow through the use of our CRM, and now we can extend that reach to many more clients in many different industries. We have also brought on partners that have embedded our platform directly into their software offerings with single sign-on and deeper API-driven integrations.
We also launched a partnership with two different lead generation platforms, so that website visitors can automatically be placed into your CRM and integrated with marketing and sales automation campaigns. When combined with our existing web analytics and automation, you can track and engage with anyone who visits your website in a meaningful and effective way.
We also added a lot of functionality to our platform, including more sales and marketing automation flexibility, integration with Shopify, custom fields for opportunities, and more. GreenRope and CompleteCRM offer enterprise-level features at SMB-friendly pricing.
We decided to outsource our PPC and social media management, which has been a great saving in cost and stress for our marketing team.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Our biggest challenge has been finding a systems administrator. We have been working toward extending our system out of data centers and into a hybrid cloud architecture. To do that, we needed someone with broad experience in networking and security.
That person has been extremely difficult to find, but after a couple of years of searching, we finally found our guy. It’s been frustrating, as it’s a key part of our growth strategy, and finding a good systems administrator turned out to be much more difficult than we thought.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest lesson we learned this year centered around how to price our white-labeled offering. We had originally taken the approach that since we had a lot of labor involved in the upfront setup of a partner portal, we should charge customers those costs upfront.
It was good at mitigating the risk of working with partners who didn’t follow through, but daunting for partners who had never undertaken a task like this before.
So we decided to remove the up-front costs and absorb the risk ourselves to encourage those partnerships. It was a big lesson that paid off well for us.
We decided to outsource our PPC and social media management, which has been a great saving in cost and stress for our marketing team. We are getting great results and paying a fraction of the cost of what we were for having it in-house.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our growth is now very focused on our white-labeled solution, CompleteCRM. We still sell GreenRope directly, but long-term growth will be about finding and fostering partnerships.
The other part of our business model, moving into hybrid cloud solutions, will allow us to find partnerships in other parts of the world and establish business centers there.
We already have clients in 40 countries, but if we can create more partnerships in different global markets, we can expand there.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
After being interviewed by him, I’ve followed more of Benjamin Shapiro’s MarTech podcast. He’s a great personality for his podcasts and brings a lot of insightful guests into the conversation. Highly recommended.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
The most important part of growing a business is having the right systems in place to support that growth. An integrated CRM, marketing automation, and customer service platform is key, so your team is working together and business leaders have the information they need to make the right decisions.
Listening to your customers is an essential element too. I learn a lot from having an open-door policy, and when I host our monthly partner webinars, I open it up to feedback from them. Our customer service team also hosts a monthly Q&A webinar, from which we gain a lot of helpful insight.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Our team is doing great, but what we’d like is to find someone who is good at business development and finding partners. Since we are a small company, it would start as a commission-only position, but given the value of the partnerships we are building, it has the potential to bring in substantial income.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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