(Photo Courtesy of Twitter) “Kyle York giving some entrepreneurial advice.”
A big vision and smart business strategies can build your business from $10 million to $100 million ARR (profits). “Startup Scaling: Lessons Learned on the Path to $100 million” was an event that took place in UMass Lowell Innovation Lab in Haverhill, MA last Thursday night, January 26. The event was a panel discussion about how one entrepreneur and his team grew their internet startup, called Dyn, to become a successful enterprise that was sold to Oracle for $600 million in 2016. Kyle York, presently co-founder and CEO of York IE, started at Dyn as VP of Sales. Later, becoming Chief Strategy Office, Chief Revenue Officer, and ended as General Manager up to the acquisition by Oracle. The panel was moderated by Rajia Abdelaziz, co-founder and CEO of invisaWear.
Dyn is a simply a cloud computing company that connects companies to the internet with their websites. A more sophisticated explanation about Dyn exists on Oracle’s webpage. According to Oracle Dyn’s LinkedIn profile, “Dyn is a pioneer in managed DNS and a leader in cloud-based infrastructure to connect users with digital content and experiences across a global internet… [it] helps companies build and operate a secure, intelligent cloud edge, protecting them from a complex and evolving cyberthreat landscape.” Its business model was to sell B2B (businesses selling to each other and not to consumers) cloud computing solutions.
First, product creation and development is important for a company to create their product and constantly innovate upon it. Dyn focused on innovating their product based off customer feedback. “In the beginning, it started as a thesis by a really smart team of engineers of what the market needed. As we evolved, it was very driven by customer feedback. The beauty of having 100 or 1000 customers is that you get their feedback – good, bad and ugly, if you are willing to accept it. That helps drive your product growth,” York said. To improve upon their product further, York’s team asked good questions to understand what specifically their customers needed. York recalled, “So, we would always do conference and product call with our clients. How do you use the product today? What would you like it to do? Are you willing to pay for that or not? Very much based on customer needs.” Getting customer feedback and asking quality questions is important for entrepreneurs as they refine their product.
Second, York shared how he built the brand image for his company. That brand image helped attract customers and keep his current customers happy. “A marketing tactic was events… We went to every tech event. We threw parties. We hosted concerts and festivals. We built a brand and invited all the VIP customers and all the prospective (customers) and had them intermix,” he says. This brand image sounds like a cool, fun image with all of these parties and concerts. It is also smart to provide networking opportunities for their customers to meet each other. Current customers can share to prospective customers how they are using Dyn’s products for their business. Coupled with a fun brand image and with current customers with big names, like Apple and Twitter, why wouldn’t a company use their products. York says, “It was like a FOMO market. Hey, why aren’t you using what Twitter or Apple are using?”
Third, York shared how he used data analytics for his sales to find the perfect combination of advertising to identify the correct type of prospective customer that would lead to a sale. “On the sales side, we were methodological about metrics and data. The marketing activity at the top would give leads. Methodological about volume at the top and conversion all the way through to a closed [sale].” York means the marketing team would get as much leads (potential customers) as possible and then track using data to identify what factors and other information that leads to a sale of the product. This streamlines the sales department as they can focus on who is most likely going to make a sale instead of wasting time at false leads.
This article only touched on a few key strategies York and his team at Dyn used to become a successful $100 million company. York concluded, “I’d love to tell you that there was a master plan to $100 million, but it was more like every year setting goals based on the foundation of [a good customer base] and doubling down on finding growth in new sectors on top of great technology.” Having a great product that the company needed and finding growth with savvy marketing and efficient sales processes is a good start for any future entrepreneur looking to make it to $100 million.