We Launched A Product Agency & Generated $100K In 3 Months

Cody Benedetto and Ryan Serkes
Founder, Modern Launch
$50K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
Modern Launch
from Milford, CT, USA
started February 2022
$50,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
2
Employees
4.84M
alexa rank
Discover what tools Cody reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Cody reccommends to grow your business!
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We Launched A Product Agency & Generated $100K In 3 Months

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

My name is Cody Benedetto and my co-founder is Ryan Serkes. We are the founders of Modern Launch. Our custom software development company works with startups and small businesses to build websites and mobile applications.

After developing and launching several of our business ventures throughout our careers, we decided to create our own software development company to work with other entrepreneurs and business owners.

In less than 3 months, we’ve bootstrapped and generated more than $100k in revenue and have been profitable since our 3rd week in business.

Our services:

  • Mobile Application Development
  • Website Development & Design
  • Custom Software Development

modern-launch

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

Ryan and I share a long history of working with technology and custom software. We both have worked directly with and for a wide range of technology companies supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. In the past decade, we have also launched and sold several companies ranging from cryptocurrency fund management software to real estate analytics. This experience in launching and project managing tech products ultimately led us to look past our business ventures to assist other like-minded professionals to achieve their goals.

Ryan has a professional background in software engineering and entrepreneurship, having built and sold several of his own companies. My professional career has been in Management at high-growth tech companies with a focus on small business and startup clients. Believe it or not, real estate investing was the common denominator that brought us together and encouraged us to join forces in business.

Ryan and I were both very interested in real estate investing and spent a lot of time sharing strategies, researching properties, and reviewing financials together. The majority of our time was spent researching markets and underwriting properties, often without seeing tangible progress. We decided to build our analytics platform to help us easily find and close on cash-flowing properties in the right markets. It worked! We realized the benefits of our “in-house” product and decided to fully develop and launch an MVP, a real estate analytics company called Propel.

This is one of the hardest decisions to make early on. Sales, marketing, and public relations can make or break your business.

Post-launch, we had built up a strong network of entrepreneurs and business professionals in technology. We had lots of folks asking us for insight and we were heavily engaged in the startup community. It suddenly hit us, “We’re good at building tech products and we love doing it.”

We got to work immediately and created a business plan for starting our own software development company doing exactly what we love with the folks we love to work with. Over the next 90 days, we left our previous companies and officially launched on February 14th. My wife was not thrilled about starting a new company on Valentine’s day.

Take us through the process of building the initial business.

Ryan and I chose the name “Modern Launch” because we’re passionate about technology and the new wave of entrepreneurship that comes with it. The name is important to us and we feel that it captures who we are, what we do, and the brilliant folks and businesses that we work with. We opted for a simple and professional logo that can be used anywhere and everywhere with Black and White brand colors.

We were making a shift to the services industry so we had the advantage of having a track record and portfolio of products to showcase off the bat. The first thing we did was work with our skilled engineers to build out our custom website for ourselves which in turn would be our biggest selling point as we continue to scale. The importance of a polished clean website for a software development company is critical. We need to practice what we preach so we built everything in-house, a clean, simple, but professional WordPress site to highlight our expertise as our online face of the business.

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Describe the process of launching.

Ryan and I put together a master to-do list in a simple project management app, Trello, for everything we needed pre and post-launch. Before getting any of the legal and business documents together, we built out our strategy. As a services business, we needed to carefully approach what we wanted our business to look like, how we want to interact with our clients, who we need on our internal team, our target market, etc.

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We also decided that while working 2 full-time jobs, we needed to focus on sales pre-launch to build out a pipeline and get our name out there. This was some of the best feedback we received from mentors. “Start the sales journey today!” Frankly, I wish we had started even earlier knowing now the kind of dividends planting a sales seed can grow into. We’re relatively well connected in the space so we made sure to tell all the right people what we were doing and open as many doors for new projects and partnerships as possible.

This was no easy task but by launch day, we already had our first paying customer and a small pipeline of leads with calls on the books. Not only was this critical for our business to start bringing in revenue, but the mental impact it had on us was a positive jolt of confidence to propel us forward from the start. We didn’t feel like we were starting from zero because we weren’t. We built a small sales foundation and were ready to rock.

If you’re curious, our first paying customer was a friend and fellow entrepreneur who owns a successful hard sparkling water company called, Pompette. His site needed some minor updates and design work as they were adding new flavors to their portfolio of drinks. We were beyond excited and got to work right away.

Our business model is simple. We provide a service (custom software development) to clients for a price that’s more than what it costs for us to produce. Our overhead is extremely low and all of our work is contracted as needed allowing us to control our costs. For less than $5,000, we were up and running. We used Legal Zoom to get our documentation and business filing done, CPA for some financial guidance, built the website in-house, and set up business banking with our existing bank. The second we brought on our second client, we were profitable. Starting lean set us on the right path.

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

Since launch, we’ve been heavily focused on sales and business development. Here are some of the main sales channels we’ve leveraged from day one.

  • Local Chambers of Commerce
  • Reddit Communities
  • Slack & Discord Groups
  • Social Media (Linkedin & Facebook)
  • SEO
  • Google Business Manager
  • Virtual & In-person Networking Events
  • Referral Partnerships

Reddit

The Reddit community is incredibly valuable and engaging. The moderators make it tough to promote your site and products but that's what makes the business/entrepreneurial subreddits more professional and less spammy.

We took advantage of the monthly "showcase your business" forums and tried to add value to any conversation/thread where it made sense. We asked folks for feedback on our site and folks were open and candid. This helped us to make new connections and make changes quickly based on real feedback from people in our industry.

SEO

We needed to make sure that we appeared in local google search results with all of the proper contact information and keywords about what we do and who we are.

We created profiles for every site that could place our business physically in our HQ location to ensure we had a local web presence. If someone is looking for software development in Connecticut, they need to see us on google maps.

Chamber Of Commerce

We also joined the local Chamber of Commerce to get involved with the local businesses. We quickly joined the Tech Council and even hosted our own "Power of Websites" seminar for local SMBs to learn best practices to make their websites effective. Later down the road, we also launched our blog and shared posts through Facebook and Linkedin every week.

About 50% of our leads have come from referrals and word of mouth and the other 50% from SEO and local engagement leading to inbound leads. We made a goal at the start to make sure everyone we know was aware of our new company and what we have to offer. We quickly built our LinkedIn business profile and acquired several hundred followers and strategically posted to engage with our network. This led to one of our first clients, someone from our network who needed our services, and simply saw my LinkedIn post!

Our online presence is critical to our success so we are constantly iterating on everything. Our website is always getting updated and optimized to attract the right folks while conveying the right message.

Not all of our sales strategies panned out for us the way we had hoped. For example, the cold calling campaign that we launched resulted in what can only be remembered as a painful montage of repeatedly being hung up on halfway through a pitch. It was not a pleasant experience.

Our cold email outreach campaign didn’t fare any better. We reached out to businesses with low-quality websites/software, yielding nothing but frustration and a sense of defeat. We tried several software development marketplaces and struggled to build a presence with no reputation on said platforms. It was the classic chicken before the egg battle but we’re still engaged in some places. We did everything in our power to stay lean and mean but in retrospect, could have spent a little more money to make more money. There’s a fine balance when it comes to starting a business and knowing where to put dollars to make dollars. This is one of the hardest decisions to make early on. Sales, marketing, and public relations can make or break your business. We’re now positioned with a sales and marketing budget to keep us on track to hit our goals and onboard new clients.

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

Today, we’re profitable and just deployed our new sales and marketing budget. We are focusing more on automation, building systems, and leveraging the right talent to help us scale. With our recent push to drive new business, our goal is to increase our inbound leads by 3x while keeping our cost of customer acquisition under 10% of gross revenue.

Going forward, we’re excited at the prospect of working more with emerging technologies such as:

  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Blockchain
  • Web 3
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Machine Learning (ML)

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

Early on, we started our sales process before launch to ensure we had projects lined up from the get-go. This was a crucial piece of feedback we received from our mentors and in retrospect, we could have started earlier. We focused heavily on both outbound sales and building out referral partnerships which have helped lead to mutually beneficial and valuable relationships. We jumped on every networking event, local chamber meeting, and virtual meetups that we could, knowing that we were playing a numbers game.

The most important thing early on is getting our name out there so folks know who we are and what we do. Before launch, we told everyone we were close with about our launch and exactly when it would be. This did 2 critical things for us. It made sure our friends, family, and network were aware of our new venture before it even started. Secondly, it created external pressure on us to drive results and stay on track with our timeline and launch plan. This was huge. Ryan and I are extremely competitive so knowing that our timeline was “public” helped to drive our momentum forward.

My biggest piece of advice would be to talk to as many people as possible and build up your network well before you start the launch process. Start selling early and make sure people know who you are and what you do.

In retrospect, I wish we had spent more time on SEO before day 1 to ensure our site and web presence were strong from the get-go. This is an area we fell short on at the start but has quickly become a major priority for us as we begin to scale. Local web presence is a top priority.

Early on, we were getting calls and emails (solicitations) from everyone under the sun trying to sell us their services and “partner” with us on white label opportunities via cold email outreach, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages. There’s a very clear line when something is spam or worth a conversation. We took more spam calls and meetings that wasted our time without knowing that this would quickly become the norm. We now have a system for ruling out who is worth following up with when it comes to inbound cold outreach.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Email & Docs:

Google Workspace: We love google’s suite of tools and have well over a decade of experience using them professionally. Google docs, Meet, spreadsheets, file sharing, and management, etc.

Communication/Productivity:

Trello: We project manage everything in Trello boards. This is the central hub where our Project Managers and engineering teams track and measure the progress of all projects. We love how easy it is to use and we track everything we do for all of our projects through Trello boards.

Slack: Slack is our main source of communication internally. We have channels set up for every project we’re managing with the relevant parties included. Slack makes tracking conversations and isolating channels a breeze.

Design:

Canva: We love Canva. Although we do our heavier design work in Adobe and other graphic design software, Canva is extremely useful for quick mockups, social media posting/design, creating business cards, designing proposals and branded documents, etc.

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

Books:


Rich Dad Poor Dad: This is a book that both Ryan and I both truly cherish. It helps to put the fundamentals of business into perspective, especially from an entrepreneurial mindset. There’s a lot to unpack but this is one of my favorite books that I'd highly recommend to almost anyone who hasn’t read it before and cares about their finances and principles of business.

Never Split the Difference: This is an interesting book all about the art of negotiation and communication. The author was a former FBI hostage negotiator who shares his strategies and insights from past experiences to help you understand how to effectively communicate with people.

Podcasts:

Y Combinator: Y Combinator’s podcast has 100+ episodes all about business and technology. I’d specifically recommend checking out the “Startup School Week” episodes where they cut down their entire Startup School lectures into digestible episode recaps, 1 per week. These 11 episodes are incredibly valuable for new startups.

Why I Quit: This podcast is a collection of interviews with founders and folks who quit their 9-5s in search of something different. They do an amazing job of interviewing all different types of people in all kinds of industries. The stories are captivating and each interviewee shares insightful lessons learned along the way.

Bigger Pockets Business Podcast: The Bigger Pockets Business Podcast is an excellent resource for absorbing the stories of wins and losses of real entrepreneurs. There are more than 100 interviews with folks from all kinds of backgrounds and industries sharing their insight into running their businesses.

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

My biggest piece of advice would be to talk to as many people as possible and build up your network well before you start the launch process. Start selling early and make sure people know who you are and what you do.

The bigger your network, the bigger your pipeline. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing and costs the least amount of money. Take advantage of the free resources and communities out there (Reddit/Discord/Slack/Linkedin etc…) Get involved in anything and everything relevant because relationships pay dividends and engagement fosters relationships.

My second piece of advice is to create the web presence and image that you want before you even start. Technology is everything and people judge books by their covers. That’s just how it is. Regardless of what your business does and who your clients are, you need to have a polished and professional website that is a true representation of who you are and what you do. It’s fully in your control and the longer you wait, the harder it is to build web credibility.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re excited and ready to scale. We’re actively looking forward to onboarding several highly skilled Project Managers and increasing our partnership network with other complimentary services in the space.

Project Manager :

  • Manage all client communications, expectation setting, milestone management, deliverables, timeline execution
  • Manage and coordinate all updates and product development with the engineering team through Trello, Slack, email, and Google Meet
  • Establish and build upon project management processes and guidelines for Modern Launch
  • Ability to work remotely, independently, and as part of a team

  • Experience Requirements:

  • Previous tech Project/Product Management experience

  • Experience managing and collaborating with engineering teams overseas

  • Experience working with mobile applications/web development, UI/UX design, wireframing, QA testing

If interested in joining our team, please email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

Where can we go to learn more?

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

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Cody Benedetto and Ryan Serkes, Founder of Modern Launch
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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