Founder Spotlight: PieceKeeper
Want to know what it is really like to start a company? In our Founder Spotlight series we have candid conversations with real founders about the good, bad and ugly of getting your hands dirty and building a business.
Meet PieceKeeper. PieceKeeper is a software platform that gives your sales reps and partners the empowerment of personalization in their sales collateral while you maintain complete control over messaging and design. We had the opportunity to speak with their Founder, Chad Waite to learn more about his journey, passion and how Chad balances his work while massive construction is going on in his community. Check out the details of what he is up to at PieceKeeper.
Why did you found this company? What’s your story?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve spent about 14 years of my professional career in B2B SaaS marketing, usually on an enterprise product level within a startup environment. You have extreme ownership being deep in the trenches. I love that. It resonates with me. I think there’s a natural overlap with starting your own company.
I got the idea for PieceKeeper in my last company. There was a need for a solution to a problem that we were experiencing. We were trying to grow our partner channel. The problem we faced was easily creating and managing co-branded collateral for our partners. We needed an easy way to personalize documents for each partner and their team members while controlling versions. We also didn’t want our partners to accidentally make edits to our documents when personalizing. This led to the creation of PieceKeeper.
What does PieceKeeper do?
PieceKeeper helps companies keep their sales assets compliant, current and co- branded – the three C’s. The software combines corporate control of brand messaging with the empowerment of personalization at scale – which is really important to salespeople – all without the need of a designer. It also ensures that no company asset or promotional piece that’s ever been sent out by your sales team or partners will be out of date or out of compliance, which is a really big deal for all industries.
How many pitches did you give to get funding?
We’ve had a relatively interesting journey in terms of funding. The amount we originally asked for was in a weird range in between institutional money and angel funding. So we currently are bootstrapped.
As for pitches, I pitched 38 times to venture capital institutions. Over the last few months, we pivoted to focus on crowdfunding of $250K. With that amount we can do a special purpose vehicle and it’ll be a lot easier than going the institutional route.
How does your typical day start?
Usually it’s the mad scramble to get my kids ready and my wife out the door to her job because she’s working full time while I’m doing this. My wife and I are trying to make a conscious effort to wake up a little bit earlier so we can have a bit more of a calm introduction to the day vs scrambling to get everything done along with balancing the logistics of small kids.
Are you a natural risk taker?
I think everybody takes risks in accordance with what they’re comfortable with. For example, I am a very avid mountain biker and where I ride may be scary to some people. However, I won’t watch a scary movie because I hate scary movies. Some people would look at some things I do and say, “oh, that’s risky.”
I’ve shared my professional history. I’ve learned that if you are going to operate in either the startup space or have your own company, that you need to be able to Google very, very well. People may think I’m taking the risk by founding a startup, however I think it is a lot more manageable these days because of the resources that are available. It is important to identify what you know and your level of comfort.
If you had to pick – a night out or a night in?
Night out, if we can get a babysitter.
Have you had to pivot since your initial idea/product/solution?
Yes. I have to give some credit to COVID because we were starting out in February 2020 and a month later we were all stuck in our houses. I’ve worked with a few other startups where they missed the market because the market fit was just a theory and that impacted execution. We knew if we were going to put our eggs in one basket and there was going to be a significant effort we didn’t want to just put it out in the wind and see if it flew.
This actually correlates with why we were able to reduce the size of the round we are raising. Originally we were looking at the SMB space. There’s nothing out there for them that’s like this. There are pieces of software in kind of disparate areas and functionality pieces of what we’re doing, but nothing that brings together the three C’s keeping things compliant, current, and co-branded. One thing about SMBs however is unless they have a really dedicated agency or marketing person, they may not be the right fit.
We really wanted to target a point person, someone who was responsible for sales enablement. A person with their foot in the sales camp and the marketing camp. That person is hard to find in smaller businesses. It was then we decided to not make the product self-serve. Let’s do annual subscriptions and target larger organizations. That way we don’t have to dump a bunch of development resources into building out a self-serve process. This will allow us to actually sell it using the power that we have with our team that already exists. That pivot was pretty significant and less about the product and the market and more about the business model and the go-to-market strategy.
What is something that fits into the “If I knew then what I know now” category?
That I don’t know everything. I don’t know what I don’t know.
I thought I knew the basics – set up a company, pitch the company, focus on a market and craft a message. These are all things that I thought I had a pretty good grasp on, especially when it came to the marketing or the storytelling part. That’s professionally where I cut my teeth.
In reality, you don’t know everything. Be coachable and teachable, whether it’s listening to somebody else with a different opinion or if they have life experience.
The other thing is patience. I think that is a trap a lot of people in the startup world fall into. When things are moving fast, and there’s a lot of time being spent on making things go along as quickly as you possibly can. Patience is a virtue and I have learned that when starting my own company. I need to be patient in ways that I could not possibly have imagined before. And it’s difficult. So I think that would be probably the biggest lesson that I would take out of this is you know, redefine patience to understand that to use the cliche term, it is a marathon, not a sprint.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, two cats.
What is one thing people don’t know/misconception of being a founder?
I believe people think things move quicker than they do. It goes back to what I mentioned about patience.
In college I studied public relations. The goal of public relations is creating optics around certain situations for public consumption. In the startup space, there’s a lot of hype around even the smallest of wins. On the outside it may look like other people and companies are getting a lot of traction, but that could be false. As a result I believe a common misconception is that other companies’ traction is stronger than it may be.. Don’t buy into the success and traction that other companies may promote in their early stages as it may be manufactured or custom tailored for specific situations.
In your opinion, what is one of the most important parts of a startup?
The team. You need a strong team to build something together. They are one of the crucial elements. I couldn’t do this alone. I don’t know how to build graphical user interfaces with drag and drop things that merge on top of each other. I like to come up with ideas and to talk. My wife jokes I’d probably never refuse the opportunity to hear myself talk. I’m the champion of our ideas, product and our company but that is just one slice of the pie. My team provides the strategic minds and incredible talent that are do or die for a startup.
I know that sentiment has been shared before in a variety of ways but through experience I’ve seen it is valid. People are our biggest asset and I’m proud to be a part of such an incredible group working together to make changes and create solutions.
At Buzzy Rocket we're passionate about supporting startups. Whether you are a client or not, we want to support your vision and your growth. We know first hand how exciting, difficult, fun, and lonely it can be to bring your vision to life. Contact us for more information about how we can support your startup and/or if you want to be considered for the Founder Spotlight Series.
Debbie is co-founder, chief of customer success at Buzzy Rocket and yellow lab lover. From LA to London, she is well known as an expert in creating that certain elusive magic that drives explosive growth at the intersection of companies, customers and mobile. She has proven strategic vision, and isn’t afraid to get in the trenches. In fact, she’s been doing this at companies big and small for 25+ years. Her background includes executive level positions at both public companies and startups where she has proven over and over again that her passion, drive and results oriented perspective get it done. She is tenacious, loves the game changer and loves to win.
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