/ Entrepreneurship

From Startup Weekend Provo to Techstars Boulder: The Story Behind QuotaDeck

We’re excited. We definitely feel like the opportunity, the market is massive.

It would be difficult to find a more beloved Utah entrepreneur than the founder of QuotaDeck. Those who know Brandt “Just Call Me Bubba” Page best exude nothing but praise and admiration for his character and style of doing business. “We used to call him Golden Boy,” said a former colleague in an interview with Beehive Startups. “It seems like he always knows the right thing to say, the right thing to do, and the best way to handle difficult situations. Bubba is always going to be successful, no matter what he does, for those reasons.”

Too often, entrepreneurs feel the need to pretend to be someone they’re not. Some even mimic the personality of some famous, uber-successful founder because they (foolishly) believe that person’s style is what led to their incredible achievements. Spend some time with Bubba and you’ll quickly come to realize he doesn’t adhere to such nonsense. His magnanimous personality flies in the face of how stereotypical startup founders are supposed to act. Nice guys aren’t supposed to finish first in the startup world. They’re supposed to be ruthless and uncompromising like Steve Jobs, or eccentric and outspoken like Mark Cuban. Yet, Bubba has found success anyway — all while just being his friendly self.

Soon after founding Launch Leads, a B2B lead generation company that recently placed 12th at UVEF’s Top 25 Under 5 awards, Bubba began thinking about building an Elance-type platform for salespeople. “I didn’t have a name, I just had this thought of like, how could we do something like this? So, I had five or six rockstar entrepreneurs over at the office for pizza one night, about a year ago, and we met and talked about it,” Bubba said in a recent interview at Launch Leads’ headquarters in Salt Lake City.

One of the “rockstar entrepreneurs” who attended that late-night meeting was Cache Merrill, former CTO of Zinch.com. After putting the concept behind QuotaDeck on the back burner to focus on Launch Leads for a short time, Bubba reached out to Merrill a few months later to gauge his interest in joining forces.

“I said, ‘Dude, you need to apply to Y Combinator with me,’ and he was hesitant at first,” Bubba said.

Knowing he would first have to garner some traction in order to convince Merrill to come on board, Bubba attended Provo, Utah’s first-ever Startup Weekend where he pitched QuotaDeck to the general public for the first time.

“We want to build a marketplace where companies — startups, mid-market, and enterprise — can go online and find great sales people who have specific expertise in their industry,” Bubba said in an interview with Beehive Startups at SWProvo in February.

QuotaDeck went on to win Startup Weekend Provo, was accepted into Startup Next where Bubba was invited to pitch to investors in both San Francisco and New York, and, most importantly (although we may be a little bias), QuotaDeck won Beehive Startups’ inaugural TechTeamUp event.

At this point, Merrill began to take notice. “I think he started realizing like, ‘oh wow, this might be a real idea,’” Bubba said. After Merrill eventually agreed to join the company, QuotaDeck applied to Y Combinator and managed to become one of the few companies lucky enough to get an in-person interview.

“It was super cool, we walk in and there’s this guy and he’s like, ‘Hey, you’re the QuotaDeck guy, we’ve got a question for you,’” Merrill said. “And he’s like, so sit down, tell me how this is going to work. How are you going to close deals? I mean immediately they knew who we were, what was going on, everything about us, had just immediate questions about the business, the model, stuff like that.”

Although they made it to a second interview, QuotaDeck fell just short of getting accepted into Y Combinator. It was the first real setback in the company’s brief history.

“They were super-nice, they gave us a super-long description of why we did not make it in and said, ‘Hey, we’d love for you to reapply. So, go get some traction and reapply.’ Basically. So we were super bummed, but we knew that we’re not going to do the business because of this,” Bubba said.

Even though QuotaDeck didn’t make it into Y Combinator — and, frankly, it’s a testament to Bubba and Merrill’s entrepreneurial skills that they were able to get as far as they did, considering they didn’t have much of a product to show at the time — the experience wasn’t a complete wash. Far from it, in fact. The company made a slight, but crucial pivot after Paul Buchheit, creator and lead developer of Gmail, made an observation during the interview process.

He said, ‘It sounds like you’ve been running a hotel,’ you know, Launch Leads. ‘And now you’re trying to build an Airbnb,’ and I was like, yes, you get it,” said Bubba.

“QuotaDeck is still considered an Elance or oDesk for sales people. The differences that we’ve kind of looked at is it’s an online platform where businesses are still going to receive qualified leads, and schedule sales appointments through freelance sales people. The difference that we’ve made is that it’s going to be more like AdWords, so Google AdWords where you fill-in what you are looking for; so the company would come to QuotaDeck, type in their exact needs, the titles, the size of company, the industry, and then they submit what they’re looking for. On the back-end we’re going to be managing all the freelancers inside the platform. So like AdWords, you type in what you want, you drop money in and then you start getting leads. That’s more of the concept we want to build versus you as a company hiring an individual sales rep, sales freelancer, and hoping that they’re going to do the job right.

“Everybody still goes out and hires sales people and hires people to call outbound for them and we think that, you know, in a fairly short matter of time, instead of staying at a hotel all the time you might choose to stay at an Airbnb, and instead of choosing to have inside cold callers or prospectors cold calling for you, you’re going to reach out through the vast network of thousands of freelance salespeople and you’re going to leverage their network.”

Armed with a new approach to taking on the sales industry and having learned from their Y Combinator interview experience, QuotaDeck applied to TechStars and recently became the first Utah company to ever get accepted into the accelerator’s program in Boulder.

“We’re excited,” Bubba said. “We definitely feel like the opportunity, the market is massive. The types of companies that can use it is endless. Sales people from all over the world, we’re going to first focus on America, but all over the world, they all want more income somehow. They would love to leverage the people they already know and to tee up an appointment or an email intro and get compensated for that is pretty cool.”

Published 7/21/2014