Startup Savants has released another episode in the business podcast series that tells the stories behind up-and-coming startups. The episode features Reuben Swartz, who is the founder of “anti-CRM” Mimiran. Reuben says Mimiran is the “CRM for salespeople who hate selling.” In an interview with Startup Savant hosts Ethan and Annaka, he explains why and reveals the reasons that got him started on the road to entrepreneurship.
How to Identify Your Micro-Niche
Reuben practices what he preaches. The software Mimiran offers is designed to solve the problems solo business consultants like Reuben encounter. While regular CRMs are meant for a sales scenario, Mimiran has been conceived for service professionals. The system aims to help solo consultants get more clients without being “sales-y.”
The challenges Reuben has had to surmount in developing his business are essentially the challenges most consultants will face. Perhaps the toughest, owing to its insidiousness, is the “cargo cult” mentality: the belief that mimicking the activities of a successful enterprise will lead to success.
During WWII, planes of the allied forces dropped food and other supplies on South Sea islands chosen as strategic bases. Unacquainted with such technology, the islanders assumed supernatural forces were at work. They constructed replicas of planes, built runways, and marched in parades hoping these activities would bring back the good times.
Reuben was quick to spot this mindset while working for large companies. He laments: “I was helping these super successful companies improve their sales in marketing. And at the same time, my own sales and marketing efforts were pretty abysmal. And eventually I realized that it wasn’t because I didn’t know anything about sales and marketing. It was because I was trying to do too much what my clients were doing. Like, well, they’re the most successful companies in the world. Obviously I should be imitating them, right?”
“Wrong. If you’re starting out, your needs are very, very different from a giant company’s needs. It doesn’t make one right or one wrong. It’s like there’s a right tool for the right situation. And it can be a great tool in that situation, terrible tool in a different situation.”
Leverage Your Micro-Niche
Copying the approach and methods of the giant consulting firms was an early hiccup, says Reuben. Another was the temptation to go after the billion-dollar market right away.
“Everyone’s in this crazy rat race, and people … it’s like, if you’re not the next Zuckerberg or Elon Musk or something, then we must not be living life right. Yearning to build a unicorn or a decacorn or a whatever corn is not the only route to success.”
Tackling the overall market means being all things to all men. A new business is unlikely to have the resources to pursue that course. A superior strategy is finding a niche, perhaps even a micro-niche, a niche of a niche, and “go dominate because you are the 800-pound gorilla in that market.”
Reuben says that on closer examination, many businesses may find they are “knee doctors” hanging out a shingle to shoulder patients. His anti-CRM is designed to avoid that by paying attention to the little things that matter. Think Post-It Notes. Like, for example, being made aware when someone is reading your proposal by hosting it in the cloud, rather than sending it by email. This simple “hack” as Reuben refers to it, circumvents two obstacles. First, you’re not left wondering if your proposal has even been read. Second, you get the opportunity to get in touch with the client when the proposal has his attention.
Startup Savants Podcast
The Startup Savants podcast, brought to you by The Really Useful Information Company (TRUiC), is a series of interviews with entrepreneurs designed to provide an insider’s view of the startup process — from launch to scale.
From developing a strong company culture to overcoming technical roadblocks, each episode of the podcast series aims to provide the most impactful insights for startup founders and enthusiasts alike.
Reuben says the transition from being a business consultant to offering his Mimiran software was a gradual process rather than a moment of epiphany. He’s comfortable now with his work-life balance. And would rather spend time with his family than build a unicorn or chase a billion dollars in sales. His enterprise has been termed a lifestyle business, i.e., one that sets a cap to size and income so as to allow the owners time for other pursuits. He’s happy with that. That’s not surprising from someone whose favorite life lesson quote is taken from Confucius: “We have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one.”
This brings to an end the synopsis of a chat that Startup Savant Podcast hosts Ethan and Annaka had with Reuben Swartz, founder of Mimiran, the “anti-CRM.”