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Helping people connect on LinkedIn is big business for startups – Indianapolis Business Journal

Co-founders Cody Harvey (left) and Devin Johnson each carved out an early sales niche. Harvey got his Uber driver. Johnson found a client at a conference. (IBJ Photography/Eric Larned)

Devin Johnson, 25, is someone who is willing to do what he calls “massive action” to pursue his goals.

An example of that happened when he was still in high school. After his mother lost his job, he started a sneaker reselling business to support his family.

His next big feat, currently ranked as one of the fastest growing companies on the Inc. 5000 list, is known for allowing users to automate their outreach to prospects via LinkedIn. It was the creation of Kennected to be found.

After this article was published, IBJ learned that LinkedIn had sent a cease and desist letter to Kennected on Friday, asking it to stop scraping member data from LinkedIn. Johnson said he believes his company is in compliance with LinkedIn’s user agreement and looks forward to reaching a successful resolution.

The Indianapolis software company was born in 2018 when Johnson and co-founder Cody Harvey sketched out the napkin idea at McAlister’s Deli. Idea: What if there was a software tool that helped people use LinkedIn effectively to connect with potential customers?

Back then, Johnson wasn’t just wearing sneakers, he was doing digital marketing. He had great success using LinkedIn to build business relationships, but the problem was that it took him several hours a day to find people and make connections.

“We founded Kennected out of pure frustration,” says Johnson, now the company’s CEO.

The idea behind that napkin worked: Kennected expects to make $10 million in revenue this year and currently has about 140 employees in the US and India. As of mid-November, the company’s monthly income is just over his $600,000 and is growing by 10% month over month.

For the past two years, Kennected has been on the Inc. 5000 list. Last year he was 583rd, and three-year revenue growth was 832% for him. This year, it was ranked 438th, with three-year revenue growth of 1,420%.

Headquartered in the downtown Pan Am Plaza building, the company made its first $4.5 million investment earlier this year. It is currently working on a $20 million Series A round, which Johnson expects to close early next year.

Kay Whitaker

“There are a lot of visionaries out there. Devin and the team have an amazing ability to go from vision to execution in a very short time frame,” said Fishers-based managing director of LiftBridge CXO LLC. said Kay Whitaker, Whitaker has been in a part-time position since July 2021, serving as Kennected’s OnDemand Chief Financial Officer.

building a team

After meeting at McAlister’s, Harvey and Johnson brought together three co-founders, each with their own specialties. .

Johnson brings expertise in sales, conception and execution. Previously working as Jim’s manager, Harvey was involved in developing funds for international Christian missionary groups and has experience in strategy, strategic partnerships and building high-value relationships.

“One of our blessings is that we didn’t have egos in what we were really good at,” Johnson said. was needed to get the .

Kennected’ core product allows users to identify key targets (e.g. CEOs of companies based in Indianapolis, or accountants in California) and then create and send personalized messages to LinkedIn users who fit their parameters. A software tool that enables

This tool allows users to get in touch with thousands of people over time. Some of them will want to know more about what you have to offer.

Harvey, the company’s Chief Strategy Officer, said: “We operate on the law of averages.”

Kennected also offers customers a way to send video messages via email or LinkedIn, as well as an online scheduling tool.

Over 90% of Kenected’s focus is business-to-business marketing and sales, and its core customers include real estate agents, financial advisors, insurance agents and sales organizations. The company has both individual and corporate clients, including Sandler Training, an international sales training organization, and Keller Williams, a real estate company.

The software has an average customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 on business-to-business software rating site, with a total of 122 ratings.

Kennected also produces a constant stream of how-tos and educational materials. We have written videos and guides on topics such as how to improve your LinkedIn profile and how to effectively target prospects via LinkedIn.

Johnson estimates that Kennected creates thousands of such pieces of content and posts them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other places to attract potential customers.

According to Johnson, Kennected’s website receives an average of 80,000 unique visitors each month from its content, of which 2% to 3% end up as Kennected customers.

Acquisition potential

Once Kennected completes its Series A funding, it plans to complete multiple acquisitions to help diversify.

“We have a suite of software that is completely LinkedIn-agnostic that we will roll out in 2023,” Harvey said.

Johnson and Harvey declined to identify the targets of these acquisitions because the deals have not closed.

But getting to this point wasn’t easy.

“We did crazy things the first two years,” says Johnson.

For example, Harvey slept for about six months on an air mattress in the Greenfield office that the company was using at the time. When he got home, he booked a ride with his Uber and used his commute as another sales opportunity.

“We found that 90% of all Uber drivers have side jobs. They either sell real estate or are financial advisors of some kind,” Harvey said.

So Harvey used this time to pitch drivers on Kennected’s value, including a product demo on his laptop. According to him, there is a 60% to 70% chance that these drivers sign on as customers.

These Uber rides cost $40 each way, but Harvey found the cost to be a good investment. “each [Kennected] You can earn $1000 up front and $90 per month from selling. [in subscription revenue]So all I had to do was sell two or three to get a super profit.

Johnson’s strategy was to travel the country to attend conferences on sales and entrepreneurship. He did not participate in the program, but for the opportunity to meet strong participants. “I buy the most basic ticket. Let’s say the ticket was $100. But I hang out in the area. [of attendees] It paid 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand to be there.

The ability to achieve goals by making personal connections is a hallmark of Kennected’s leadership, said Whitaker, the company’s CFO.

“They really take networking to another level,” said Whitaker, whose firm specializes in serving tech startups. “They do it better than any other entrepreneur I know.”

Whitaker cited Kenneced’s seed funding round earlier this year as an example. Johnson began meeting with potential investors in February and the round was closed by April, she said. “He could pull it off in his two months. For most people, it would take him the better part of a year to do it.”

youthful energy

Kennected’s workforce is very young and skewed. At least half of the company’s employees are fresh out of school. As an example of its youthful influence, the company’s closets are full of Nerf weapons, which are occasionally used for fighting within the office.

Tim Roberts

That youthful energy is an asset, said sales trainer Tim Roberts, founder of Indianapolis-based Trustpointe Inc. and a franchisee of sales training organization Sandler Training.

Trustpointe became a Kennected customer last year. After one of his Roberts employees got a job at Kennected, Roberts began coaching Kennected’s staff. He now spends about six hours a week coaching individuals and teams called “Yodas,” who are 67 years old.

Roberts said Kenected has created a fun environment where people feel empowered to try new things. At the same time, Kennected has taken an honorable approach to sales and built a culture of psychological safety in which employees work to help their colleagues improve, he said.

“It’s a fun culture that you want to be in. You want to play,” Roberts said. “They coach each other and role-play every day.”

But the company isn’t just made up of people in their 20s and 30s. There are also a few people who have years of experience.

Chad Burmeister

One of them is Chad Burmeister, who joined the company about three months ago as Director of Enterprise and Agency Sales. Prior to that, Burmeister was a consultant on corporate strategy for the company. He sold Kennected to a company, who resold the product to other companies.

Burmeister, who lives and works remotely in Colorado, has been in business for 25 years. He said he joined Kenected because he saw great growth potential.

Kennected isn’t the only technology company helping people connect via LinkedIn. CoPilot AI, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Expandi, based in the Netherlands, also offer such products. But Burmeister said Kenekted is the clear leader. “I think the Kennected is a rocket ship in this universe.”

Kenekted uses its own software to generate most of its own leads, which proves its effectiveness, Burmeister said.

And because the tool is highly automated, salespeople can do work in 15 minutes that would otherwise take up to three hours, he said.

growth of artificial intelligence

Kennected software is a sales promotion tool powered by artificial intelligence. According to one expert, this is a tech category that has been all the rage in the last 5-7 years.

Robert Blaisdell

Robert Blaisdell, Senior Director Analyst for Sales Practices at Gartner Inc., a Connecticut-based technology research and consulting firm, says that today, sales reps can maximize their time and be more productive. It states that the focus is on helpful tools. “I don’t think AI will replace sales people. I think AI will replace the activities and controls that sales people have to do.”

AI is not a magic bullet, he said. That’s only as good as the quality of the information it handles, so if the internal database or his LinkedIn profile is inaccurate or out of date, so will the results you get with the AI-powered tool.

That said, AI-powered sales tools are gaining momentum. According to his Blaisdell report Gartner released in July, his 15% of all sales technology spending will go to AI-powered promotional technology within three years from his current 5.6%. It means that it will be spent.

Blaisdell expects other AI-powered selling tools to be widely adopted over time. These tools provide sales forecasting, competitive pricing insights, and sales call analysis with real-time coaching.

“There’s a lot of room for execution here,” he said.

Technology aside, Johnson believes there are more fundamental reasons for optimism about Kennected’s growth prospects.

“We give people hope. When you give people hope, they give you a chance. prize.”•

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