My team arrived in Boise excited to work with Rezzly (formerly Gogo Labs), a company that helps teachers to turn their lesson plans into quest-based games for their students. Rezzly’s co-founder, Lisa, is a former teacher, university administrator, and gaming enthusiast. After a few initial conversations with her as we planned our week in Boise, I knew this was someone I was excited to work with. Not only did she have a clear vision for how her business would improve outcomes for teachers and students on the Rezzly platform, but she also had the experience and research credentials to understand precisely where the market opportunity was.
Working with an entrepreneur with such a clear vision and extensive prior industry experience, I was unsure of whether our team would be able to add much value to her business in one week’s time. In our initial discussions before arriving in Boise, Lisa talked with our team at length about the company’s growth as well as the budget constraints they were running up against as they continued to build out their platform. We decided that we would spend the week reviewing the business plan to best prepare the business for a round of venture capital financing.
What I did not fully appreciate before arriving at the Rezzly office was just how challenging it can be to position a company for long term growth when you have only three full time employees who are first and foremost focused on keeping the business alive in its formative stages. We quickly realized that, in order to move forward and get to a point where they could go out and raise funds, the company would first have to formulate a sales strategy that would tackle the easiest wins to sustain them in the short term, but continue to position themselves for sustained long term growth. Although the prospect of having to close the doors of the business was a daunting one, I felt confident that we would be able to help them get organized around a clearer strategy that would achieve both goals.
When we arrived at Rezzly, we saw three dedicated individuals being pulled in so many directions that it was difficult for them to define a clear sales strategy that would best put them on the path to the growth they needed to exhibit to secure their next round of financing. On the one hand, Lisa and the head engineer were pushing relentlessly to improve the core platform to a point that it could be released beyond their beta testing for broader sales. Meanwhile, the operations manager was dealing with inbound interest from potential customers, organizing events, and managing some existing customer relationships while handing others over to Lisa. Constantly operating in a mode of putting out fires as they flared up left the team with little time left to devote to actively pursuing strategic leads.
Our team spent the first half of the week brainstorming about how the business would shift from putting out fires to following a more well-defined path to growth. Together with the team, we identified what constituted an acceptable version of the platform to bring to the broader market, and then worked on finding ways that Lisa could redirect her efforts on the product side to an increased push towards the customer segments most attractive for Rezzly. By the end of the week, we had helped the team to revamp their marketing plan, lay out a clear sales strategy, and create a pitch book that would resonate with the key customers they were trying to bring onto the platform.