Mike McGrail: Diary of a Ginormous SaaS Startup Journey [Part 1]

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The first instalment of a diary that will no doubt be full of pain, wonder, blood, sweat, tears and a bunch of ‘learnings’. In episode 1, I start to scratch a long-lasting itch…

In 2004, I started my first marketing job. It was 80% non-digital, there was a little bit of email marketing and writing copy for clients’ websites, but other than that, it was about brochures, events and good ol’ fashioned relationship building. A solid foundation, yet it was always hard to really gauge the effect of my work.

Fast-forward to 2017 and I’ve been encased in the digital marketing world for 10 years. It’s been some ride, and the changes I’ve witnesses have been monumental.

We’re now in a place where the fruits of our labour are far easier to define, there’s oceans of data to swim in and no lack of tools that help us along the way. However, it’s still not ‘easy’ to know what we should be measuring based on desired outcomes, what data is key and the decisions that should be made based upon it. I know this frustrates a lot of fellow marketers.

The need for direction

Gathering, quantifying, visualising this data isn’t anything new, there are oodles of tools out there that aim to do this and save us poor souls a lot of time. They work to a certain extent. Do they guide us in making the right decisions? Well, no.

That relies on the skills and experience of the marketer. Of course, some are complete wizards however, from discussions with a huge amount of marketers over the years, it’s an area that people feel they need support in.

“Data is a bitch” (Me, at least once a week)

So, the quest begins

This has been bugging me too long. I know there’s a tech solution to this. The problem is, it’s no small task. In fact, it’s pretty gargantuan. I’m under no illusion here! I’m a marketer. I can’t build software. I have experience in the software field from the marketing perspective, but that’s only part of the battle.

I’m going to assemble a team of co-founders that believe in the vision and lets face it, are willing to take a punt. The right people can make this happen.

There are other huge factors in this — one being that I have a family to support, thus, I can’t just drop my bill-paying work. I know, I know, startup purists will tell you that it’s all-in or nothing. In my case, if I go all in, my family go all out. On the street.

This means I have to go down this path while still earning the reddies (the founding team will likely be in the same boat). I can do it. I’m ridiculously determined to make it so.

My determined face. Under license from Shutterstock.

What have I done so far?

  • Mashed my brain thinking about the ins and outs of what the product needs to do (thanks to all who have helped here!)
  • Not wasted time coming up with a name and brand. Project Insight is the working title.
  • Attracted a strong sample size to a survey that will help guide the key features of the MVP. If you’ve got 3 mins, it’s here (Typeform). Love you.
  • Got 35 people signed up as beta testers/shoulders to cry on (hey, it’s a start!). You can do so here.
  • Lined up chats with potential cofounders
  • Got people checking the tech validation

Forward ho!

This is early-days. Like Jurassicly early. I know. I get it. This may never see the light-of-day. I believe marketers and businesses need this. I’m going to provide it. Hopefully you’ll join me on the journey, I’ll be updating here on SBNN, but also doing videos like this:

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Some background – 

Mike McGrail – Who are you?
I’m a digital marketer with over 10 years experience, working freelance as a marketing consultant for brands up and down the UK. I’ve worked in technology, consumer goods, travel and pretty much every other industry you can imagine. I also create a lot of written and video content and do a fair amount of public speaking.
Wait…what are you planning on doing?
There’s a vast amount of data that modern marketers have access to. Pulling that all together in order to analyse it is easy, there’s a multitude of dashboard-type tools out there. However, is there a tool that helps you to make clear sense of that data and inform decisions that will ultimately positively impact marketing ROI and help businesses to grow? No, there isn’t. I’m going to build that very thing.
Why do you think the world needs another piece of marketing software?
There’s no hiding from the fact that there’s an abundance of marketing software out there. It’s a very tough market to enter. What I want to create is unique. I’ve spent a long time looking for this over the past few years and it’s not out there. The market will want this, but first, I;ve got to get through the gargantuan task of getting this made. Then of course, taking it to market. For the former, I need partners, as I can’t write software.


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