Jason Kramer 5:09
Yeah, exactly. So some companies we would talk to mostly on the b2b side we deal with, they don’t have any technology in play, that’s for CRM sales tracking purposes, they’re using spreadsheets, or they’re using some type of homegrown thing, or people just taking notes on a piece of paper. So with those, we come in and say, okay, can SharpSpring fit the need for that team. Other organizations, because we deal again, with b2b, they have proprietary tools, whether it’s for the manufacturing industry there in the distribution industry, or whatever it might be. And so we got to take the SharpSpring platform and integrate it to that technology to the ERP or whatever they’re using. Because we know they’re not going to walk away from that technology. But we want to make sure that there’s not duplicate data and duplicate data entry going into the process.
Jeremy Weisz 5:58
Yeah, we mentioned niche service and niche technology that you work with, and there’s a lot of CRMs out there. I’m sure, like, you can plug and play your playbook to any of these CRMs and be successful. Why did you choose SharpSpring? Again, that’s going to be rebranded. So I’m sure has a different name when you’re listening. But why SharpSpring? Why did you decide to SharpSpring?
Jason Kramer 6:28
It’s a great question. So and I get asked that quite often. So we’ve been a partner SharpSpring for about 15 years, almost since they’ve been in business. And the reason we selected them after careful research for two main reasons, adoption is huge. And so when you look at platforms like Salesforce, which is extremely complex, and very powerful, it’s not the easiest platform to people to adopt to start using. HubSpot touts themselves. So for example, I’m not bad-mouthing anything that they’re simple to use, we get feedback that SharpSpring is much simpler than HubSpot, it’s more intuitive. And so, the adoption of a new piece of technology is super important. And if we can find a technology and a platform that’s easier to use than something else, then that’s to me a no-brainer. The second piece is cost. SharpSpring, compared to let’s say HubSpot is about 15 $20,000 less per year. So, again, no brainer, if you have a marketing budget, and you’re trying to grow the business, and you can take that extra 20 $30,000 and put it into something else that’s gonna help the business grow. Again, to me, no, no, no, no-brainer. So for the two reasons of cost and ease of use, those that would lead us to the platform, and it’s all-inclusive. So a lot of these CRM technologies out there and platforms are add-on modules, Oh, you want to get that feature you want this feature is in like $50 a month, or you want to add on more people, okay, it’s another $25 a month per user, you want to send out more emails, you want to upload more contacts, there’s all these games and all these companies play. So your entry-level price is relatively low. But once you started realizing all the potential of what you want to do with the platform, you’d realize it gets pretty expensive. And so, SharpSpring doesn’t have that model. Everything that they offer, in terms of the platform is all included, as soon as you open the box.
Jeremy Weisz 8:18
I’m curious of the common migrations. Do you get people like, okay, Jason, we’re on HubSpot. We want to move everything over. Or is it mostly people just starting up from scratch?
Jason Kramer 8:32
I’d say it’s probably about 70% started from scratch. 30% moving over. We’re working on an integration right now with Salesforce. So a client uses Salesforce, and Salesloft. And that’s what they’ve been used to for the last decade or so or more. And so we’re moving them off of those pieces of technology on to SharpSpring. So yeah, that’s something very common. And what’s the most interesting thing I find, Jeremy, is that when they have technology, and usually they are committed to the technology for two reasons, one, because there’s a loyalty of oh, we’ve had it for 10 years, how can we get rid of it? Or, oh, we spent, you know, a half a million dollars, or whatever it is on this piece technology over the last decade, I can’t walk away from it, like there’s so much money invested in it. And so when I get those things come up in conversation, my immediate response is, hey, let’s jump on a zoom call, I’d love to see how your sales team is using that technology on a daily basis. And guess what most companies can’t show us that they’re actually using the technology in a meaningful way. And so I let them then self-realize, oh, really, we’re not really using the technology to as much as we thought it was sitting here and it’s just sort of collecting data and it’s an expensive line item on the books every month, every year. And so by them looking at it from how they use it. That reveals a whole lot of opportunity.
Jeremy Weisz 9:57
Yeah, I can see oh, it’s painful because there’s that sunk cost and you look back at of all the people, they probably consultants, they probably had people help set up at that time. And it’s a painful thing to probably rip off the band-aid. And they’re, I don’t know, what other things are they worried about with a migration? Are they worried about loss data? Or what other things do people bring up as issues of why they wouldn’t or migrate?
Jason Kramer 10:23
it’s not so much about lost data. Sometimes about getting data out, if they have something’s really antiquated as a system, they might be concerned that they can’t get the data out of that platform. So that’s something even with Salesforce, as complicated as it isn’t sophisticated, the certain pieces of data you can export out. And I will tell you, every platform is like that. I mean, even SharpSpring has certain pieces of information that can’t be exported. Every piece, every CRM has that kind of loophole or whatever you want to call it. But the secondary thing is the adoption, all our teams, so used to using this piece of technology for so many years, how long is it gonna take them? And what’s the transition process going to be to get on to a new platform? And again, I go back to okay, are they really using the technology that you have? And if we identify that they are, which a lot of companies are, and they’re really doing things well, with that piece of technology, we just do soft training, okay, let’s show you what SharpSpring can do. Let us show you the power. But what I find best in that situation, Jeremy summed it up, before a decision is made to move off of one piece of technology over to us, we need the sales team to have a buy-in, right. So if leadership says, okay, we’re doing this, and they never communicate with the sales team, the sales team sometimes is resentful. And now I’ve always said like, we’re the ones using the technology, how come you didn’t consult with us, and let us be part of that decision process. So I always try to make a point to get at least the top-tier salespeople involved in our early conversations and the demos and things like that, so they can see the power. And they can see how much the easier things will be with SharpSpring or whatever they need will be right. The point is video. But when we do that, then it makes a lot easier of a transition process if we get them involved early on.
Jeremy Weisz 12:13
Jason other common places people migrate from I could see spreadsheets, that seems like a no-brainer. Let’s like professionalize this and actually get something that’s more usable and friendly and consent things. And then you mentioned the Salesforce with SalesLoft, and HubSpot other common places that people are migrating from.
Jason Kramer 12:34
I mean, they’re do pulling data from where they have it. I mean, we’ve worked with a client or several clients who just say, hey, like, oh my god, I’m pulling all my contacts from LinkedIn, and I put him into the CRM that’s like, well, you’ve used LinkedIn for the last 10 plus years. Are those contacts, even at the same company? And like, is the data even good? Right. So, they’ll download information from Outlook from their address book from their Google Contacts? And, I mean, we’ve seen all crazy things, but that’s fine. But the question is, how is the quality of data. So a big part of our process is cleaning that data through email, hygiene, cleaning, and other tools, we have to make sure the quality of the content that we’re bringing in is valid and is usable, right, and it’s not going to cause any problems down the road, the last thing you want to do is import, you know, 10,000 contacts, and you have a 30% Bounce rate on your first email, son, because all your contacts and they are the most of them are just garbage.
Jeremy Weisz 13:28
It seems like an obvious acquisition from Constant Contact, acquiring SharpSpring because they’ve been in the email space for decades. Yeah. And now SharpSpring brings that kind of management of CRM. So seems like a really good fit. What were your thoughts? Were you worried at all, when Constant Contact purchase SharpSpring? And things would change? Or what were your thoughts at that point?
Jason Kramer 13:54
Yeah, I mean, there was some certainly people that had concerns about that, or you go from a, I mean, Trojan was publicly traded, so, I mean, they had about 150 or so employees when they got purchased. So they were in a relatively, you know, small, small company. But I thought of a positive in the sense that you have constant contact, they have a lot more procedures in place, they have more experience with building technology with testing technology. And so, they have a lot more resources, a lot more capital behind them. So to me, I saw it as a huge benefit, in the sense that they’re going to be able to make the platform of SharpSpring or whatever it’s gonna be called, right as you’re watching this video a lot more robust, right, and they’re going to give more power to it, they’re gonna enhance the what was already built, you know, it’s like having like a car that’s like a pretty decent car, but then you bring into like, the mechanic that works on Ferrari and then like, that mechanic is going to ship up the car and made the car even better than it was so, you know, that’s the way I looked at it. The only thing that I saw as a negative was like, any transition any acquisition of any company, there’s gonna be some pain points along the way. And so, that was the only concerns I had, and things were relatively smooth where there are a few pain points things here and there. Yeah, but that happens, it was expected, but everything’s ironed out. And it was nothing major it was just training new support team so that the constant contact sport team understands the platform SharpSpring. And that’s going to take a little while for them to learn a new tool and learn how to help people with it.
Jeremy Weisz 15:28
That kind of benefits you but I imagine if they’re Constant Contact or learning it, well, you already know it. So they could just if someone’s onboarding, I don’t know, do they refer people over to you, who need more deeper, deeper help?
Jason Kramer 15:48
Right? So SharpSpring is a company and even Constant Contact to my knowledge, I mean, they’re not really helping, let’s talk about SharpSpring for the purpose of this conversation, they don’t help with onboarding, the sense of strategy planning, and did they don’t even do demos anymore. So like, if you’re an agency, and you sell SharpSpring, they don’t even provide demos like you have to do the demo yourself, which is a problem. If you’re a smaller agency in the sense that you only have one or two clients on the platform, you haven’t really built things out, there’s really nothing to demo. Right? So how do you sell something if you can’t show the value and what it’s done for the clients? So we’ve been brought in both people finding us online, as well as referrals from SharpSpring that say, hey, we got this agency, like they need help doing demos, they need help with onboarding, they need help with implementation with coaching. And so we’ve been able to white-label our service. And we’ve worked with over 30 agencies at this point, throughout the US and internationally, to help their clients get more out of the SharpSpring Platform.
Jeremy Weisz 16:47
Yeah, so I want to talk about who you work with. And you mentioned one type of client, which is, you will white label your service for an agency that may be serving their client, their client wants to dig deep into the strategy and get their CRM in check. And then maybe that’s not what they specialize in, they’ll call you and white-label your company.
Jason Kramer 17:14
Yeah, so the perfect fit for us really is working with an agency that’s not a reseller of any CRM. In fact, they don’t have the bandwidth and maybe the desire to invest time and money into bring on more people to the organization to sell SharpSpring, sell HubSpot, Salesforce, whatever it is. And so the way I look at it is they’re leaving money on the table, right? Because any agency, regardless of how good they are, they’re only half the equation, right? They’re doing lead gen, they’re getting leads into the organization, but then it’s up to their client to actually talk to those leads, close the deal, close the loop, and then report back to the agency saying, yeah, you gave us 150 leads, last month, we closed X percentage, this percentage weren’t really qualified. And this is how much revenue we generated from those leads. Because if they’re spending 10, 20 grand a month, on inbound, lead gen, you want to hope that they’re gonna be making 50 $100,000 as a profit on that turn of investment. And so the agencies from that we speak to that don’t offer the struggle, right? They struggle, Jeremy, because they asked the client the question, well, what happened to those 150 leads we gave you, right? And a lot of companies like, I don’t know, right, or like, and they were good, they were okay, but they can’t give definitive information to say, this is what actually was the best lead that we got and where it came from. And so what we see the vicious cycle is that the client will say, hey, agency, we’ve been working together a year, it’s been great working with you, but we’re just not seeing the results, right, we’re moving on to another agency. And so you see this pattern a lot of times where every year or so, clients will switch agencies thinking that the next agency is gonna have the next best answer. And the reality is, it’s not the agencies problem that’s causing this, it’s the client that doesn’t have the system in place to track everything. So the upside, when we work with agencies, and we say, hey, agency, we can do all the work, we can help with the strategy planning for integrating a CRM, integrating the technology they already have in play, so that you can have transparency to see what’s actually working is the Facebook campaign performing better than the AdWord campaign, versus SEO is the trade shows you’re helping them put together actually bring in qualified leads that actually turning into revenue. So it’s not just digital, it can be printed, can be at home, it can be radio, etc. We can track all of that. And so then the agency can say to the client, a client, yeah, we generate leads, but now we can actually see that your sales team actually qualified 60% of those and we can see the revenue that you brought in. And then the third upside to all of this right Jeremy and the most kind of exciting thing I think, is that based on our model, we can give any additional passive revenue stream to the agency. So now the agency is bringing value to the client, it’s making the client more sticky, right? Because there’s a reason for the client to stay with the agency longer. And there’s additional revenue coming into the agency for something that their team internally doesn’t even have to touch. So, we have an agency in Manhattan, they’re making a 20 $30,000 a year profit from us, and they’re not doing anything other than just facilitating the relationship, we’re the ones that are doing all the work. So it’s a huge, potential opportunity. And for that, specifically, we’re looking for agencies that are probably have clients spending north of five to 10 grand a month on inbound marketing, if they were putting that level of investment they want to really have a system like we can provide to help protect that investment.
Jeremy Weisz 20:49
So Jason, would you say it’s an ideal agency that you’d white label this service for is a lead generation agency that’s in the b2b space?
Jason Kramer 21:00
Yeah, I would say that it’s a lead generation e-commerce, I mean, those transactions happen relatively quickly. So you usually don’t need a lead nurturing strategy. It’s more about upsell and cross-sell and retargeting after they’ve made the purchase. So yeah, agencies that are working in b2b that have clients have a sales cycle, let’s say of like three months to 12 months or longer, those are really good fits for us. And higher ticket sale purchase, sales that are happening offline, not on the website.
Jeremy Weisz 21:29
So walk me through how it would work. You mentioned, obviously the company agencies serving their client deeper, there’s passive revenue. How do you come in? So this agency says, Jason, we have a perfect client that we need you to help with? How does it work from the white-label approach?
Jason Kramer 21:49
Sure. So the first step is to start understanding who the client is, what are the pain points that they’re seeing, understanding who the stakeholders are in the decision process, they’re involved in this issue that they’re seeing. And they get introduced, ultimately, at some point to the client as a, Jason’s, our CRM kind of Guru, his team, as part of, not even his team. It’s our team we have now, right, because they don’t know Cultivize, they don’t even sometimes even know my last name, right. And so we start those conversations with the agency alongside of us, we’re never talking to the client without the agency in the conversation. And we’re starting to roadmap to say, okay, here’s the problems we’re identifying. And then once we identify those, when we could show the value, then we’ll come in and show what SharpSpring can do, we’ll give examples of how SharpSpring has helped other b2b companies, in a similar fashion, solve those problems. So it’s not just talking about it, it’s actually demonstrating that visually, and from there, once a sign off, our team handles the onboarding process, roadmapping out the build-out, we do all the training, we do the fulfillment of everything. And so, it’s a pretty turnkey process. And because we’ve been doing for so long, Jeremy, that process is really dialed in. And we could get most clump companies up and running within 30 to 45 days, which is extremely rare when you’re onboarding a new piece of CRM technology. Usually, it’s a three to six month process, and you’re spending all that money for six months, and you can’t even do anything with it until it’s built. We can go really fast in a very methodical way to get that done much quicker.
Jeremy Weisz 23:27
I’m curious from a white label perspective, the communication part and the payment part. So the communication part? Are they setting up the meetings? And you’re entering in? So it’s under there? Or do they still know that there’s this division called Cultivize? How does it work from the communication part with the client?
Jason Kramer 23:48
Yeah, it’s really up to the agency. And it can even be up to each individual client. So we’ve had some agencies where sometimes they’ll say, hey, Jason is with his own company Cultivize board of EMS, they are the experts in this space. And they’re very transparent. Other agencies, say, Jason is part of our team, and so is Heather and Reid, and all the people that work with Jason. And so when we talk to the client, we’re just part of the agency. We’ve gone as far as being given email addresses under the domain of those agencies. So that’s something we can do. And as far as payment goes, the agency is paying us. So the client is paying the agency agent pays us. And so, as far as the client goes, knows everything is going through the agency and just service the agency offers.
Jeremy Weisz 24:34
And so when you’re working with agency, do you spec out here’s what it would be on a monthly basis, and then they would decide to mark it up or do certain recommendations of what they should charge?
Jason Kramer 24:50
Well, so yeah, so the agencies that we white label are going to get a slight discount of what retail pricing would be, because we know that there is going to be a markup. But then there’s also room in there to give them a commission back. So the two ways that typically works is that we’ll give them, if they’re just referring us now, like, we don’t care about the white label, you can work directly with the client, we see the value, they’ll get a 15% commission on everything we make. And that’s in perpetuity. So as long as that clients with us for five years, they’re getting paid for five years even if they stopped working with the client for any reason, they’re still gonna get paid from us. And so the second option is that they want a white label. And that’s where we would charge the agency, agency charges the client, they get a discount on our pricing, and then they market up to whatever they want. I mean, I’ve seen two 300% markups. And I’ve seen like, more realistic, like, 20% markup. So I think the answer there is, it’s whatever the agency’s clients is kind of, like willing to pay. So if you got a client, that’s he’s got a retainer of a half million dollars a month, you could probably do a considerable markup, because they’re not going to blink an eye, they’re gonna be like, all right makes sense that the CRM is five grand a month, that might be a third of what we’re charging the agency, so I think it’s really subject to the agency to have a bill and types of clients they work with.
Jeremy Weisz 26:18
The other type of client you have is a b2b company, right. And maybe they don’t have a great follow-up process. Talk about that type of b2b company that you typically work with.
Jason Kramer 26:34
Sure. So again, the factors for us to be successful, and for the client to have success is that they have to be spending money on lead gen, that’s number one, if they’re getting in business, through referrals, and just networking, it’s not really going to be a fit for us, they have to have a minimal sales team of a couple of people that’s dedicated to selling, if it’s the business owner, and they’re juggling a bunch of things, like I juggle and you juggle, right, then that’s not a fit, right, you need to have someone dedicated to selling. And then the third factor is you have to have buy in, you have to have the company willing to say, yes, we see value in having a process having a system and we want to invest in that, if someone doesn’t is has a blind eye to that, then we just typically don’t work with them. But we work with clients in mostly b2b, which we talked about before. A lot of those range in size, I’d say our clients average from about on this very small side, maybe three to $5 million in revenue, and it can be north of $100 million in revenue in size. And employee count can change too. So we really don’t look at those factors we just look at, are you spending money on marketing to drive leads? Is we don’t do lead gen at all right? We don’t build websites, we don’t do anything like that. Do you have a sales team? And do you need a process? And if those three checkboxes are there, then we can generally help?
Jeremy Weisz 27:54
Let’s walk through an actual example. You worked with a company Maslow Technologies.
Jason Kramer 28:00
Jeremy Weisz 28:01
Yeah. What did you do there?
Jason Kramer 28:02
So Maslow had been using actually the SharpSpring platform for a little over a year, with very limited success. And so what we were able to do is come in and really connect their sales process. So for them, for example, there are a small team of two salespeople, right. And they had a quoting system on their website, but people would just send an email, and that’s all happened, it’s just a salesperson got an email. Now, it goes into SharpSpring. And opportunities created the value of what that product they selected, they have lots of different products goes into the opportunity, it tells the salesperson, are they ready to make a decision now, or are they just looking for pricing, we also integrated a live chat feature on the website that’s connected into SharpSpring. So if someone starts that chat, it automatically feeds information in. And so now, it’s just a more refined process. And the second phase to it is the quoting, right, so we talked a lot of companies that will send out dozens of quotes in any given day, and maybe more than 100 a month. And when you’re talking b2b, especially if manufacturing that can be over like a million dollars’ worth of quotes out there, right in potential revenue. And so many companies have no, quote, follow up process, because the sales team is just too busy, or they just get distracted. And they’re like, oh, yeah, I’m gonna follow up with Jason next week. And then something happens they forget to follow up with Jason. And so we can automate that process. We can have emails go out from the salesperson from their name, and it looks like the email is plain text email that Jason sent to John, but really, it’s the system sending it and say, hey, John, I sent you a quote, 30 days ago, it’s about to expire, you just want to make sure you’re still interested. If you’ll get back to me today, I can extend it for another week. Right? And so, whatever that is, and we modified for each client, we could try to bring in additional revenue, which we have, because now the system is just chasing that business that the sales team initiated.
Jeremy Weisz 30:01
Let’s talk about the, quote, follow-up process and some of the best practices and the biggest mistakes, because you probably go in and you see, they have some processes, maybe there’s not a great process. What are some of the big mistakes you see companies making when they’re following up?
Jason Kramer 30:20
Well, I think one is inconsistency in the follow-up process, right? So they do it when they remember to do it, or they’re a little bit slow in one day, and they’re like, oh, I’m gonna reach out to these people, and they do with no rhyme or reason. So that’s one right there, there’s no process there. The second is, sometimes they’re too aggressive, they reach out every couple of days, or they’re, making phone calls or sending emails, and then it turns people off, right? So you want to do it in a way that’s ethical, but also in a way that’s friendly, and just not overbearing, and too aggressive. And then the other piece of it is, is that you need to be able to have reporting and tracking. So if you know you sent out, you know, 50 quotes, how many of those are likely to close? How many of those you follow up with? Which ones do you need to still follow up with? And so if you don’t have a system, how are you going to keep track of all this activity you’re doing? And at the end of the day, we both of us know, a lot of salespeople, right, what do salespeople want to do, they want to sell, that’s really what they want to do, they don’t want to be stuck with the mundane follow-ups, the emails, right, and if they’re not good at writing, then in wordsmithing, then the emails that they send out are going to be kind of terrible, they’re not going to show the value of why they’re reaching out. So if we can create those templates and create a system and a process, it just gives more power to the sales team to be more effective, and allows them to spend their time actually selling versus just doing all these other tasks that we can take off their plate.
Jeremy Weisz 31:46
So, what are some of the best practices, so in the actual message that you’re sending out? To follow up? Again, I’m sure it all varies, but you don’t want people to be too aggressive. But, what’s that sweet spot of actually keeping in touch but not being too aggressive? And also, you mentioned showing value when reaching out? So talk a little bit more about what should you put in an email. So it’s not always like, hey, we sent you this quote, hey, we sent you this quote, right? What are some of the other things that you recommend people putting in as a follow-up?
Jason Kramer 32:23
Well, so I’ll tell you about both of us, for example. So for us, to get a client really going and moving full steam, it can be a few months, right for the sales team really get in the groove. So what we tell people is, okay, well, if you’re looking to make a decision about working with us, keep in mind that whenever you make that decision, things aren’t really going to start jiving for probably about three months, right. So if you say, hey, Jason, summer is a really busy season, we need to get this locked down before the summer starts, well, if it’s going to take three months to ramp up, we need to have everything wrapped up before summer hits, which means we need to backtrack three months from now from that date. So timing is really important, especially in what’s in the manufacturing space, it can take three months to build a piece of equipment. So it’s like, hey, if you need that a piece of equipment for farming for agriculture, then well, we need to know in advance, you need that. So we can build it for you, you can tell us a week before that you need it right is not going to be ready. So I think that understanding your client understanding their needs, and what’s going to make them pivot to make a decision, I believe in education is another big factor too. So rather than just saying, hey, when are you gonna make a decision? The content we typically would send and a lot of our clients send is educating the consumer about what it is that they’re looking at. So I’ll send people articles from Forbes, how to pick a CRM, what to avoid when looking at a CRM, what questions to ask, information about what makes your MailChimp account different than a CRM, why are those two different things why they’re not the same? So sending information and educating them, I think brings value, because you’re not trying to sell you’re just saying, okay, whether or not you work with us or not, we want to make sure that you have the most up-to-date information and are informed when you do make that final decision.
Jeremy Weisz 34:16
Yeah, so it sounds like the two biggest things is really understanding their goals, they may have a certain time that they want to get this out the door. And so you’re basically following up on their, on their goals based on the timeline. The second is just adding value in education. So allowing them to, they’re thinking of making a switch sometimes and allowing them make the best decision.
Jason Kramer 34:42
Yeah, because listen, you want to it’s a big decision, they’re gonna make, and a lot of these pieces dalje specifically talking about CRM, sometimes you’re signing up for an annual contract. If you made the wrong decision. It could be a really expensive mistake.
Jeremy Weisz 34:56
One of the things I want to talk about is you had an agency before that you sold? And I kind of wanted to go back to that, you’re from the New York area 911. Where were you when 911 hit and what were you doing?
Jason Kramer 35:15
So I was working at an agency in Union Square came out of the living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at the time. So come out of the subway and like everybody, you look down at downtown, which had a clear view from there and sort of smoke at the towers and think something’s happening, but you don’t really know what’s happening. And then when and short story is, when up to the office, and everybody’s in the conference room, and people are still trying to gather what’s happening. And at that point, the second plane hadn’t hit yet. And then you start flashing over and seeing things happening in DC and Pennsylvania. And I knew that something was not right, of course, it just seemed like, what, what’s going on here. And I think as soon as I pull all that together, and the second plane hit, I pretty much just like I’m out of Manhattan, like this is not a good sign right now. And so I remember, everything was shut down, like payphones weren’t working, subways were shut down. And I wound up walking all the way down to the Williamsburg Bridge over the Williamsburg Bridge back to Brooklyn, which I don’t even know how many hours that took. I don’t remember, but I do remember, everybody that was downtown, coming up before the even the buildings had fallen, that is still covered and such. So walking across the bridge and seeing everybody just cars, police, cars, ambulances, and people just gray all over their clothing, you know, right. And so and so it’s pretty startling thing to see for sure. And, yeah, I’ll never forget that experience and trying to process all that, and this is, again, when I’m in my early 20s. So it’s like, there’s not a whole lot of life experience, you have to even witness other things like that. So you’re trying to process everything and make heads and tails of it.
Jeremy Weisz 37:06
Did that cause you to change course in your career?
Jason Kramer 37:11
It did. It wasn’t for this specific event. So the agency I worked at, we had Virgin Atlantic Airways was an account I worked on and other travel clients, other global clients. And the agency went from about 60-something people down to about 14 people in a very short time frame. And I was one of the 14 left. And I was already doing a lot of freelance work on the side as a graphic designer, I felt Syracuse for communication design. And I said, well, you know, I could go work for another agency, or let me just see if I could turn this freelance business into a full time gig. And so that’s what I did, I decided to hang that shingle, and get some space in the city with other people that have left the agency that were starting their own business in video production. And that’s how it started. And then, started as graphic design, and then people like, Hey, can you build websites, and we started building websites, and we got really good at that. And then web development became a big piece of the business. But yeah, it was because of that. I mean, if the agency stayed stable, I probably would have stayed at the Agency for a bit longer, and who knows, maybe for forever and gone to another agency. So it was definitely a catalyst to the decision-making process.
Jeremy Weisz 38:19
So with JLK Creative, which is your previous agency founded in 2002, at what point did you decide I’m going to sell?
Jason Kramer 38:32
Well, I think it was a few things, one, I was really just getting burnt out of building websites and doing the design side of projects. For so many years, I was just looking for a change. And I always think that and I know that my left brain and right brain kind of work very closely together. So I’m a very process-oriented person, and had been using working with SharpSpring for at that point in trying to do the math, but it was probably about 2015 or so that we started working with SharpSpring. So, even years before I sold the business, we’re already working with the technology. And plus, you also had all these competitors had 99 designs yet Upwork did all these things coming up. So even though that wasn’t our clientele, you tell a client, oh, it’s gonna be 5, 10 grand to design a logo, and then I want the, I want the $200 I don’t understand why I’m paying you 10 grand, then you start to talk to people about well, that’s not really the same thing, you know, it’s an apples to apples. And so, because of just the changes and the more flexibility, people had to get a website built for free by GoDaddy, some businesses didn’t see the value in what we brought to the table, and it became harder and harder to battle yet another objective, objection, rather in the sales process. Fortunately, I had a really great business partner on the web development side. She took over all the web clients, and then you know, sold that off and then the design stuff sort of just fizzled out.
Jeremy Weisz 40:03
I have one last question, Jason, and thank you, thanks for sharing your journey and your advice on this. And I just want to encourage people to check out cultivize.com to learn more about what you’re doing there. And if they want to get in touch with you, they can go to cultivize.com and go to the contact page. Jason, throughout this journey you’ve been in the agency space for decades now. Who are some of the mentors, it could be personal mentors, or distant mentors, just someone you learn from courses or resources that you kind of look back on that helped you on this journey?
Jason Kramer 40:44
Yeah, I mean, well, I mean, I think the one thing that for sure, the sum that up, I started the business as a sculptor, newer, right, I was a graphic designer, and I said, okay, I want to build a business around graphic design services. And so I didn’t know anything about running a business. I had a car detailing business, you know, in high school, through college and probably even make money, but I just enjoyed doing it. Right. And didn’t charge enough to cover costs. So you learn as you go, but I had worked with people like Eddie Bob, Matt Perlman, Larry Sharp, who actually is now in politics and running for different positions there, who are all different types of mentors and sales trainers and business coaches along the way. And those three people, the most, me the impact to understand, okay, this is how you run a business. This is how you build profit. This is how you build processes. This is how you do all the things you need to do to be successful. And so, it took me to be honest, a few years I mean, one thing I could offer for anybody listening that’s young in business starting out, is like bring in other people that have done this before and helped other people as early as possible. Because then once I started doing that, and bringing these other people into my world, things just escalated much quicker because you learn what you would take you years to learn on your own. You learn within a few months of working with these people.
Jeremy Weisz 42:08
Love that, Jason, I want to be the first one to thank you. Everyone, check out cultivize.com and more episodes of the podcast. Thanks, Jason. Thanks, everybody.
Jason Kramer 42:16
Thank you. This has been great.