How a 21-year-old CEO landed $3.5 million for software that he originally built to help his mom's struggling dog grooming business keep repeat customers

This post was originally published on this site

Profitboss CEO Adam, left, with restaurant partner Jordan Klempner , right, at The Original Pizza Cookery. Profitboss CEO Adam, left, with restaurant partner Jordan Klempner , right, at The Original Pizza Cookery.

  • Profitboss is a startup that offers a free online ordering system and customized advertisements to restaurants.
  • The company recently wrapped up a $3.5 million seed round led by Redpoint Ventures and joined by Kimbal Musk, Figma CEO Dylan Field, AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant, The Chainsmokers, Tinder cofounder Sean Rad, and others.
  • CEO Adam Guild, 21, first built the company’s core technology to help his mother’s struggling dog grooming business.
  • Since the beginning of the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19, the company has shifted to helping restaurant owners get more return business from take-out orders.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Profitboss CEO Adam Guild has boundless energy. The 21-year-old founder can speak several paragraphs worth of information in a minute. That animated style and depth of knowledge is one reason venture capitalists decided to invest in his startup, which he founded at 18.

The company recently wrapped up a $3.5 million seed round led by Redpoint Ventures and joined by Kimbal Musk, Figma CEO Dylan Field, AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant, The Chainsmokers, Tinder cofounder Sean Rad, and others.

The company provides restaurants with a free digital storefront that collects data from orders to build customer profiles. Restaurants can then use that information to send customers regular, targeted advertisements, known as  “drip campaigns,” which Guild previously told Business Insider creates a higher rate of return business.

“We basically feed them personalized drip campaigns that are relevant specifically to them talking about the restaurant’s most popular dishes, about dishes on their menu that they might like based on what they’ve ordered in the past,” Guild told Business Insider.

Read more: How a 21-year-old CEO turned helping his mother’s struggling business into a startup that landed a $3.5 million seed round

Guild first developed a version of the technology Profitboss uses for another reason: To help his mother’s struggling dog grooming shop.

“She happened to pick a street that didn’t have a lot of car traffic, and didn’t have a lot of foot traffic,” Guild said, “and so finding customers for her dog grooming store was super challenging.”

With only a few month’s worth of cash left, his mother turned to her “nerdy son” for help.

When traditional social media marketing failed, Guild turned to another method

Guild tried using conventional digital advertising strategies on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp.

Ultimately, “They were really bad for two reasons,” Guild said. “Number one, we couldn’t measure if they were actually contributing to the growth of the business, like where the customers were actually coming from. Number two, clearly they weren’t actually contributing new customers, regardless of how many impressions they told us that website link got, because there just weren’t that many customers in the first place.”

That led Guild to build his mother a webpage that used marketing tactics to turn websites visitors into paying customers. The method is called “conversion rate optimization,” a practice aimed at pushing online visitors to take specific actions, usually by testing out different offers and ad copy until it finds the ones that work best.

Within three months his mother hit her three-year revenue projections, and Guild had the spark of a new idea. He brought his idea to a local restaurant, and then another; in 2018, he founded Profitboss and quickly began pulling in customers. 

He realized he could apply this method to another industry in need

After the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19 made it difficult and dangerous for restaurants to pull in physical customers,  Guild shifted the focus of Profitboss to addressing the difficulty of building relationships with remote customers.

“I sent a bunch of cold emails, thousands of them to restaurant owners that I didn’t know to try and understand what their biggest problems were during this time, what specifically was keeping them up at night,” Guild said.

Guild didn’t share specific numbers, but said that “hundreds” of restaurants across the country were using his platform, with high concentrations in Southern California and Florida.

His ingenuity and good character won him the trust of investors

His quick pivot won him the respect of lead Redpoint investor Alex Bard, who himself ran a failed restaurant before his time in venture capital.

“A signal of a really great entrepreneur is they can see the game that’s being played on field, what’s happening in the environment, and have the agility to be able to flex through that, to be able to deliver value and take advantage of that opportunity,” Bard told Business Insider. “The fact that he sort of integrated into this as COVID was beginning, I think, is a strong signal of his ability.”

Bard told Business Insider that while he backs up all of his investing decisions with facts and figures, his gut feeling about the founder is often the deciding factor. In Guild’s case, the story of how he helped his mother gave Bard a positive impression of his intelligence and character.

“Everyone in this life faces different sorts of challenges,” Bard said, “and some people succumb to those challenges. And some people really thrive out of facing that adversity, and he really thrived.”

Bastion Balance Seoul, Korea.