You may recognize the name, but do you remember what it is they do? St. Paul’s Reeher has carved-up a niche in university fundraising SaaS and is serving it well.
Reeher may not be “Minnesota’s Groupon”, but they’ve been playing small ball since ’08 — consistently signing customers, refining the product and building sustainable value the old fashioned way. The startup has been doing a lot of things right over the years, including sending us a press release every time they secure said new customers, eventually causing me to take a step back and ask: what’s going on here?
The following is a Q & A with founder and CEO Andrew Reeher discussing their evolution:
You’ve been signing-up new clients regularly; how fast has Reeher been growing since launch & how is it measured?
Andrew Reeher (AR): Since we spoke last year, we’ve more than tripled our number of customers, and will continue the growth in 2011.
Did you ever take outside funding or has Reeher been boostrapped to this time?
AR: Reeher has several angel investors and completed a round of VC funding in 2009.
What do you see in 2011 for the company?
AR: Substantial growth, both with the larger, well-known or prestigious universities, as well as smaller schools that see the benefits of the Reeher Platform. Our current customers are experiencing results with the Platform, which is helping us show universities of virtually all stripes that a revolution is coming in higher education advancement.
Has any competition entered the market?
AR: Currently no one else has a SaaS platform that combines institution-specific predictive models with the data visualization and peer group that comes with a Reeher Platform subscription. But we certainly recognize the fact that staying close to – and learning with – our expanding customer base is going to be critical to keeping that leadership position. We are watching this closely. We are also making an even greater investment in the customer care function within the company. Our customers have made an investment in the Platform, and we’re investing in even more ways to help them succeed.
What’s your customer acquisition strategy?
AR: We have a growing sales and marketing function and a sales process we have honed over time – and we’ll continue to improve it as we grow and learn from our customers. One area we focus on is email marketing with value-added content, such as research reports, white papers, and other content designed to help higher education fundraisers improve their results. Leads that are generated by marketing are routed to inside sales, and we also spark leads through cold calling and referrals. We also plan to have a much greater presence at events hosted by our customers’ professional associations.
We’ve also made a concerted effort to get closer to our current customers. We want to increase the value they receive from the Reeher Platform, but also build their success stories and continue to grow the network of peer universities. Higher education is a closely knit group, so we want to ensure our customers to have great stories to tell about their success when our name comes up.
What’s been the biggest lesson learned thus far?
AR: We’ve learned the importance of watching and listening to your customers. What we think is valuable with the Reeher Platform needs to translate into the real life business needs of our customers. Our market has a unique culture; we balance understanding it and working in it with bringing about positive change.
What’s the ultimate objective for Reeher? Given the option, would you sell?
AR: We’re in the early days of the business and we see a great deal of impact and interest. Growth of the business presents options and we’re committed to doing what is in the best interest of our customers and shareholders.
What advice would you have for emerging tech entrepreneurs in Minnesota?
AR: Know your customers. Know your niche and be ready to adapt and grow with it. You also need to focus on finding and developing talent. That is one of our key business issues.
What is one thing Minnesota could do right now to be more conducive to startups like yours?
AR: We are bullish on Minnesota because of the education system and the diverse, hard-working workforce. Colleges and universities can continue to help by making it easy to find and hire graduates and alumni. Despite the economy, hiring the right people can be challenging.