Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Graham Hawkins, founder of the small business sales platform SalesTribe.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
SalesTribe is a two-sided model that solves two problems simultaneously. Businesses need sales capability and revenue, and sales people need new career opportunities. SalesTribe makes those connections. SalesTribe will re-invent and re-purpose sales professionals, and then we will re-connect them into a range of exciting new career opportunities inside ‘start-ups’ whom urgently require low risk and well managed sales best practices.
ST’s innovative business model plays directly into the “workforce of the future”. Given the continued rise of the freelance (on-demand) economies along with the growing proliferation of cloud and consumption-based business models, ST will be the world’s first ‘on-demand’ sales business that specifically provides ‘start-ups’ and small businesses with exactly what they need to scale up – cash flow and new revenue streams.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We are now initiating discussions with a range of investors for a Series-A funding round. This cap raise will enable us to scale the business (primarily platform build out) and begin to execute on our foreign expansion plan. We are now part of the UK DIT’s Global Entrepreneur Program.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Currently there is no single competitor anywhere in the world that is doing exactly what SalesTribe is doing: connecting professional sales capability (people, process and tools) with small businesses. With the continue rise of these freelance business models, I’m certain that it won’t be long until there are other ‘me too’ offerings springing up.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Ensuring alignment with client expectations. SalesTribe will become the outsourced partner for lots of small businesses in helping them execute their go-to-market strategies. Quite often small business owners are not experience at designing and developing a modern and rigorous go-to-market plan, and with the massive changes that we are now witnessing in B2B buyer behaviour, the old rules of B2B sales no longer apply. Ensuring that small business owners/managers clearly understand the SalesTribe approach will be critical to creating value and delivering customer outcomes.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
LinkedIn is the key platform for everything that I do personally, and has already become the cornerstone of SalesTribe’s business. As far as individual applications go, I cannot live without “Charlie” – which combs through 100s of sources and automatically sends me a one‐pager on everyone that I’m about to meet with. It’s a massive time saver, and it makes me appear much better prepared than I actually am. For busy people, Charlie is gold.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
A mentor of mine said very early on - "Be humble and never stop learning" - it always resonated with me because it is so simple and true to everything in life.
For me, it is a privilege that Upwire finds itself in this position, it has been a huge amount of work for all involved. But one should never forget where it all started and it is important to remember the tough times. Being humble is essential because it helps keep the drive and fire burning.
And never stop learning...once you think you know everything then you are in trouble. Technology is changing at dramatic speed, you have to keep researching, talking to customers and market experts, and learning. Learn everyday, from success and even more importantly, from the failures...everyone fails, if you do not then you are not pushing the boundaries enough and you are not creating.
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