Bootstrapped Print.io Grows Partnerships Using PipelineDeals
Founded by Austen Bernstein and Micah Smith in 2012, Print.io is rapidly becoming a force to reckon with in the on-demand printing space. We talked with Print.io’s Marketing Director and Usability Specialist Tricia Russel about the company’s vision and why they signed up for a free PipelineDeals bootstrap account.
What is Print.io?
We’re a small team focused on making the printing space a one-stop-shop for companies. Printing is a niche industry that has been very much untapped. There are lots of manufacturers and there are lots of companies that can profit from on-demand printing, but they’re not getting the best experience or the best quality.
We’ve built fantastic relationships with manufacturers all over the world, and now our goal is to connect to over 100,000 partners and give them any kind of product they want for their business—apparel, stationery, canvases, phone cases, etc. We have over 100 different product lines, and we have the technology to automate on-demand fulfillment.
Our developers have created a lightweight SDK for Android and iOS, so we can either plug in to existing apps or customize white-label apps. We also have a web widget plug in. Partners can customize their integration to fit their brand, and we provide full access to an Admin Panel with tons of analytics and management tools
Tell us a little about your growth path.
We started out with two employees and quickly grew to three and then five. We decided to bootstrap the company because we were able to find really talented people all over the world that believed in what we were building and were willing to work for an affordable price. We have 12 employees now, and we started our first round of fundraising at the beginning of January.
We decided to go for outside funding because we were featured on TechCrunch, and it built publicity a lot faster than we were expecting. We now have 200 partners lined up and waiting to come aboard. We’re planning to hire 15 new people when this funding round closes—mainly designers and developers to enhance our integrations, customizations, and admin tools. We’ll probably hire another 15-20 by the end of the year.
Why did you decide to try a PipelineDeals bootstrap account?
I’ve worked for a lot of startups, and I’m familiar with lots of different CRMs. We wanted something simple and flexible. With Salesforce or NetSuite, there are so many steps to do anything. We tried Insightly, and it was not user-friendly at all. With PipelineDeals, it’s so easy to just log something and move on to the next thing. I’ve used at least six different CRMs, and I think PipelineDeals is the most you can get for the money. We’ll definitely stick with it as a paid customer after we get our funding. I haven’t found any flaws with it yet!
How is PipelineDeals helping your business?
Right now, we’re using PipelineDeals exclusively for bringing in partners. The average sales cycle is between 30 and 60 days, but it really depends on what we’re doing and how much customization is needed to integrate with them.
PipelineDeals makes it easy to see a list of all the companies we’re working on and create new deals. I can be as specific as I need to be. I can attach documents. I can tag other people. I can assign goals to people. I can increase what I think the partner is worth.
I’m especially excited about reports. In another six months or a year, when we’ve brought in all the partners that are waiting now, we’ll be able to evaluate our process and look at how to shorten our sales cycle and improve everything.
But PipelineDeals is already so much faster than other CRMs I’ve used in the past. I’ve been a salesperson for 11 years. I’m all about logging every single step and every little detail, so I don’t forget anything. Keeping track of those details, like when a call was made or a baby was born or a birthday, it’s all so important to building those relationships. PipelineDeals gives me the ability to do it all very quickly.
Do you have any tips for other bootstrapped entrepreneurs?
Our CEO came in the other day with a Robert Frost quote that really stuck with me: “Two roads diverge in the woods, and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” To me, it’s about how we found something really different and special here. The print industry had been abandoned, and we were able to come in and identify an opportunity that wasn’t getting much attention.
We just keep coming back to that. So my advice is don’t lose sight of why you started. Write it down and remember why you started the business, why you believe in it, and what separates you from everybody else. If you really have something special, you have to go with it. If you don’t, somebody else will. If you really emotionally believe in it, that will set you apart.
PipelineDeals offers an unlimited free account to any bootstrap (self-funded) company in the world. Having made it through our own tenuous early years as a bootstrap, we created this program to support other companies that have the gumption to build themselves the old-fashioned way—one dollar a time. Learn more about free bootstrap accounts.