Collabbed.com are Simplifying Collaboration!
We recently came across Collabbed.com, a soon to be launched service that is aiming to make collaboration between small businesses easier. At Growth Rocket, we believe that collaboration is one of the major keys to success for any entrepreneur or business owner. This view is shared by Ben May, founder of Collabbed.com. Ben founded a successful insurance brokerage at just 22. He's since grown that business to an annual turnover of over £1,000,000. But Ben admits he hasn't always been so successful. While at University, he started a guerrilla advertising agency, pressure washing ads onto pavements. Ben confessed that he had cease and desist letters from three different London councils and lots of complaints from irate shop keepers who ended up with dirty shopfronts!
Luckily, that first taste of entrepreneurism didn't put Ben off. Already running a successful insurance brokerage, he's now about to launch his latest project. And we're hugely excited about it!
Can you describe Collabbed in a single sentence?
Where small businesses work together to reach more customers and reduce costs.
Tell us about the idea for Collabbed, what made you want to create it?
As part of the process of building my insurance business I realised how god damn hard it is for small businesses to compete. It’s very difficult to get traditional digital marketing channels working for you.. as they are expensive and you get out competed. The only good marketing channels I’ve ever found has been through partnerships with other businesses. Off the back of this my next big goal is to try and get small businesses to promote each-other all the time, so they can leverage off each others clients to grow mutually! Collabbed.com is my first attempt at trying to solve this problem.
At Growth Rocket, we believe that collaboration is one of the most overlooked weapons in the arsenal of small business. Can you tell us some of the reasons why you think collaborations is important and what it can help to achieve?
I think it’s massively important for reaching new customers! If you take 10 businesses, each with 5000 customers… there’s a pool of 50,000 customers there. Yet all 10 businesses will spend (waste) their money using traditional advertising channels such as Adwords, Social and Display. If these 10 businesses instead constantly introduced their customers to each other (e.g. Thanks new customer, by the way we’ve negotiated discounts with all of these guys especially for you, why don’t you check them out) then they could all grow mutually with little to no cost. I also think collaboration extends into other areas such as sharing office space, teaming up on procurement etc to drive down costs.
What challenges have you had to overcome so far in getting Collabbed ready to launch?
My biggest problem is changing my mind… I have dumped some cash into getting Collabbed 1.0 built…and in the process of doing this, have already started realising it needs to be a little different to really work well for small businesses. So I will be releasing Collabbed 1.0 … but Collabbed 2.0 is already in the thoughts pipeline, and I am likely to begin work on building it soon
I used to think this changing my mind was a real weakness, but I have come to realise that starting something new is all about learning… and as you learn you realise the opportunity is slightly different, or the solution needs to be different, so I’m OK with knowing that Collabbed will be something that evolves as time goes on.
Another major challenge has… funnily enough… been reaching customers at a sensible cost (i.e. driving sign ups) just like any small business… and exactly what Collabbed is trying to solve.
The final major challenge so far has been the fact I am still full time running my insurance business, so stretching myself across the existing business whilst retaining enough mental energy to be creative and think outside the box with Collabbed has been tough. I wish I could take a sabbatical for 2 years from my current business to work purely on Collabbed… but that’s not going to happen
When we signed up, you already had nearly 3000 pre-signups. How have you been raising awareness of Collabbed so far?
I have tried a number of channels
Facebook Ads - didn’t work - ROI was not there
LinkedIn Ads - didn’t work - ROI was not there
Taboola - didn’t work, too high up the funnel
Reaching out to business directories to ask if I can market Collabbed to their listed members (and lots of things similar to this)
Advertising on small business blogs, I have yet to commit to this, but its £2000 to even roll the dice on something like this… so I won’t try that yet
Twitter (this has by far been the best channel for me… organic content generation, following small businesses, and twitter paid ads)
What are your plans for Collabbed? What would you like it to be in five years time?
My 5 year goal with Collabbed is to get to 30,000 small UK businesses as members. And for it to be a destination for small businesses who want to work together to succeed. If we got to 30,000 members, I would really believe we had something serious at hand, and would then probably seek funding so I could try and grow it to 100,000+. A boy can dream…..
Launching a new business can be very difficult. Is there someone who has inspired you to keep going throughout the founding process?
My dad has always been a major inspiration… he started and built businesses throughout his career and was successful at it.
My other big inspiration has been a friend of mine called Giles Padmore who built a great clothing business called IronHeart.co.uk.
My final inspiration has been Richard Branson… I read his autobiography when I was about 16 years old… and haven’t been able to rest since…He has created so many businesses, changes so many industries and has experienced so much as a result.
If you could help any two business collaborate, who would they be and why?
I would love to help two businesses, offering a great product/service who are in that difficult stage (let’s say 2 - 3 years in) where they can get enough customers to survive, but they are struggling to grow. I would like to think Collabbed can be a growth mechanism for businesses, not just a survival mechanism for those really early in the game (because I think when you’re really early into the game you still have to work out exactly what your offering is and in many case haven’t fully worked out your processes etc)I don’t have any preference for industry!
Finally, can you give us a run down of a day as founder of Collabbed?
I get up at 8AM (really I am not an early bird… because my brain isn’t good in the morning… I can’t string a sentence together before 10AM). I travel into “work” (AKA - the insurance business) and on my commute I will be very active on social media with Collabbed. Arrive at work (insurance business) at 9AM and work super hard to get everything done by 6PM. Then 6PM - 8PM I will work solely on Collabbed, including:
Working with the tech guys on the build - I use remote freelancers for this and they’ve been great.
Driving more sign ups - again mostly using Twitter
Constant research into what is out there to help small businesses collaborate As I say… though the first version is nearly built, I am very much of a belief that the “bigger play” is something a little different, so I’m working on that at the moment!
Then I head home, and again on my commute I will be hitting Twitter with Collabbed. I'm home by 9PM… spend some time with my wife and watch some cartoons like Bob’s Burgers (I love cartoons - they are proper escapism)