ClickFunnels is an online sales and marketing software that’s a simple-to-use, all-in-one marketing solution for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to market their services and products online.
Since its inception in September 2014, ClickFunnels has become one of the world’s fastest-growing, non-VC-backed companies. The SaaS company has generated more than $250 million in sales and helped over 100,000 everyday people become successful entrepreneurs and marketing masters through its software, resources, and trainings.
We interviewed ClickFunnels co-founder and co-CEO, Todd Dickerson, about the company’s success, plans for future growth, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Q: What inspired you to join Russell Brunson and to go “all in” on developing ClickFunnels? (Share some backstory here- we are assuming this was a bit of a risk on your part to join a bootstrapping start-up that had yet to take-off)
A: Russell and I had both been selling online through Funnels for a decade or more before ClickFunnels, but the process was slow and daunting. It took months to accomplish the technical and design goals, and even once we went to market with new Funnels, it was difficult to iterate and improve as fast as we needed to be successful. Russell was also teaching students how to sell online and the technical hurdles often prevented the success he was trying to help them achieve in their businesses. We finally realized we needed to build a platform that could be the backbone of our Sales Funnels and create an environment for rapid funnel creation. As soon as we created the first initial alpha version of ClickFunnels, Russell and I both knew we had done it and selling online would never be the same again.
Q: Tell us about one of the most difficult challenges you faced in launching ClickFunnels the past 5 years and how you overcame it.
A: Launching and building ClickFunnels has been a wild ride. We quickly grew in a matter of months to 10,000 users with a lean team. Scaling and growing up as a company has been one of the greatest challenges. Going from 3 to 30 to 300+ employees requires reinventing the entire organization every step of the way. I believe strongly in surrounding yourself with the best people possible and giving them the freedom to do what they do best. We overcame the growth through sheer force of will, figuring out how to manage, scale, and grow teams properly as we went. It wasn’t always a smooth ride, but every step of the way we’ve come out stronger than before.
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Q: If a new business could only have either a funnel or a website, which would you recommend and why?
A: Many of our successful users do not have any type of traditional website, instead they do all of their online sales through a Funnel. An online Sales Funnel allows them to guide the traffic that comes to them on the proper journey that results in the most value creation possible for both the buyer and the seller.
Q: As the fastest growing SaaS company that recently surpassed more than 100,000 customers, what is one thing that you did in this start-up to help it grow faster than any of your previous businesses?
A: I built a team of great partners instead of trying to do everything myself. In previous businesses, I’ve ran development, marketing, business development, support teams, etc… In ClickFunnels, I started with a great partner in Russell but we didn’t stop there. We brought on the best partners to oversee development, design, advertising, business development, coaching, etc. Without the right team we never would have been able to get where we are today.
Q: Many people may not know that ClickFunnels is entirely self-funded; why did you choose that route instead of raising venture capital to potentially grow faster?
A: We believe strongly in building something that has significant value as fast as possible and letting your customers prove your concept by pulling out their wallets and paying for it. Because of the team we were able to invest our sweat equity into building the initial platform and as soon as we launched we were able to be cash flow positive. We focused on building Funnels that resulted in a negative customer acquisition cost for ClickFunnels… for example we would buy a new customer for $20 in ads, make $40 selling them a book or training in a Funnel, then introduce them to ClickFunnels and get paid to bring new users to ClickFunnels.
Q: What advice do you have for other bootstrapping businesses?
A: Iterate fast, not every idea you have will work. Find out as fast as possible if it’s a good idea or just a good idea in your head. Oh yeah, and build a Funnel… or 12…
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Q: The e-commerce and tech industries are constantly evolving; How does ClickFunnels plan to remain ahead of the changes?
A: We spend a significant amount of our resources on Research and Development from the product side of things. But Russell and our marketing team are also out there creating the next big thing every day… trying different things and seeing what works. When we prove the models we make sure to give our users the best way to execute on the same strategies.
Q: What are ClickFunnels’ plans for the future?
A: ClickFunnels is constantly evolving and we’re gearing up for big changes to make selling online easier, faster, more fun, and more profitable. We not only have major updates to the existing platform underway but major new product initiatives to help our users stay ahead of the competition.