Dave Nevogt is the co-founder of Hubstaff.com, which helps virtual teams communicate better through automatic time and activity tracking. He’s been running online businesses since he was 23, and now manages a team of 40 remote employees. Dave has also been honored as one of Indianapolis’s top 40 under 40 entrepreneurs.
How did the concept for Hubstaff come about?
I ran an online golf company and a software company in the past that were both remote, and I had tried several products that claimed to make a remote business easier to run but it always seemed that the products were kind of buggy and missed the mark. So I decided to try to create something myself. I wanted to create a product that our customers would use daily as a core part of their business and that they would get a lot of value from and this idea checked those boxes.
How was the first year in business?
The first year was a ton of product testing (Mac, Linux, Windows) and getting feedback from the people who were using our product for free. We had released in free beta first.
What was your marketing strategy?
The marketing strategy is similar now to what it was then: simply to employ as many methods as possible to drive people to our free trial. This includes advertising, search marketing, content, interviews, etc. Basically, inbound marketing to get the product in front of people, however we can.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We publish all of our numbers here so you can see online what these were exactly. Things stayed pretty level for a while and then we started growing. We think that our growth rate in general has been fairly slow, especially early on.
How do you define success?
We define success by new sales, customers, and revenue growth. We are always going to have clients leaving because they no longer have a need for the product, their systems change, etc. However, the key is to get more customers than we lose, and we do that by improving on the product and trying to bring in new customers who are looking for these new features we add.
What is the key to success?
Having a great product is the main key, and secondary to that is getting eyes on that product.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Good question. I think the single greatest thing that I have learned is to carefully plan and consider the pros and cons of things before committing to a product/business. Each of these businesses takes like ten years of your life or so, and time is limited. There’s so much work that goes into them even if they fail. So, it’s very important to consider where you are going to get customers, evaluate the marketing, and that kind of thing before you get into a huge commitment.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“You may be only one person to the world, but to one person you may be the world.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
The worst days usually have to do with technical issues – like if we are doing a big implementation of a third-party software and there is an unforeseen issue. Doesn’t happen very frequently at all.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I just don’t have a lot of quit in me. I usually try to plan things out so that even if the worst case scenario hits, the company or the plan can still be implemented. So this type of planning allows me to not get in too heavy with something that forces me to need to quit the project, and sometimes it is best just to quit for the day and come back the next day,
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
I would say that it’s very important to understand your business model and where you are going to get customers from before committing to a product. The rest is just execution.