With all the attention tech start-ups are getting in places like San Francisco, New York or most recently in Las Vegas, thanks to Tony Hsieh's $350 m downtown project, it can make most entrepreneurial start-ups feel like unless they move to an incubator they are missing out.
Enter Outbounders.com, officially launched in 2010 on less than $50,000 investment by founder James Stinson. With no physical office, James works with an all-virtual
team that stretches from China to India, Philippines to US and Costa Rica. The teams only "office" is a virtual Skype room. They do get together physically, about once a year to do a team retreat. Last year it was at a Philippines resort in the hills of Tagaytay.
Outbounders.com model is similar to online staffing models like Odesk and Elance, but niche in that they help employers hire phone reps to make outbound calls for lead generation. They offer time and call tracking so that employers know exactly how well their teams are performing. Outbounders.com now has an active database of over 1,000 employers and 550 Outbounders on the site that clients can browse, and hire on the spot. A real time saver is that employers can listen to audio samples before they even contact the person.
Many start-ups feel the need to attract a lot of capital in the beginning but Stinson suggests that entrepreneurs should instead try to make sales and cash flow development as early as possible. Not all start-ups have something to sell while developing their end product but James started by offering a more hands-on Managed Service option to clients for the first 2 years while developing the technology for the marketplace. By offering a higher-margin service in the beginning, Stinson and team were able to sustain the development without having to dip too much into the invested capital.
"Of the original $50,000 we started with, we only dipped into it up to $20,000. Now its all back and we have also built a healthy reserve." James says.
Stinson kept costs lean during the development by hiring developers on the basis of merit rather than geographical location, willing to sacrifice proximity to minimize cost. His teams require less compensation since they are are all able to work from home and use the homes that would normally sit idle while at work. Plus they save money that would normally be spent on commuting or eating out.
In addition, Stinson was willing to go 100% virtual to avoid traditional overhead like office space, office supplies and commuting. The upside to not having an office meant he could work from his small beach condo in Jaco, Costa Rica and take frequent surf breaks while still investing the countless hours necessary to launch a start-up.
Taking this lean start-up approach Stinson is confident many would-be start-ups can get off the ground faster, with less cost and contrary to the theory of grinding it out for a payoff in the distant future, Stinson says that Entrepreneurs can enjoy the process.
Outbounders.com is a tech start-up with no physical office. Serving over 1,000 employers and an active database of more than 550 staff. Outbounders.com makes it easy to build an virtual sales team to help entrepreneurs grow their business. Visit Outbounders.com to learn more.