10 Questions for Nick Groh, COO of Camden-Based RippleLocal
Sometimes things don’t work out in life exactly as planned, and business is no exception. Back in 2014, RippleLocal (Camden) started out as an automated local search-engine-optimization (SEO) Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, but due to market saturation, it was difficult for RippleLocal to stand out from its competition. The company needed to change direction.
At the beginning of RippleLocal’s development, there was a demand for an easier way for small businesses and mom-and-pop stores to market their wares online—one that would be hassle-free and require minimum user education. The RippleLocal team thought that their SaaS software did just that. But no matter how good the company felt its software was, it didn’t connect with their customers.
Today, Nick Groh’s team at RippleLocal believe that they are not only disrupting the SaaS industry, but completely flipping it on its head.
SaaS startups typically come and go as quickly as the weather changes. Where RippleLocal differs is that the company actually listens to its customers. The goal has always been to make the customer experience better.
The platform provides an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand back-end solution that allows small businesses and mom-and-pop stores to find more customers online. Very small businesses find it difficult to have an individual on the ground promoting them, but with RippleLocal, they can have that sales person (landing-page creation) and that voice (local Google advertisement creation), and they can track sales (back-end analytics reporting)—all this for a monthly payment that doesn’t break the budget, says Groh.
When did you launch the company? January 2014
Team: Nick Groh, COO.
New Jersey location: Camden
Any employees yet?If so how many and how many in New Jersey? Seven.
Markets you are serving: Small businesses, marketing agencies and mom-and-pop stores.
1. What is your New Jersey connection? What brought you to New Jersey, and do you plan to stay here?
Most of us have always lived in New Jersey and never really thought about moving anywhere else. Anything you need can be found in any location in the U.S., so it doesn’t matter where you are. It’s not like there are movie theaters and parks in California and not here. The Internet certainly allows for access to anything you might need, as well. We moved to Camden because we saw an opportunity to be one of the early adopters in this great city. We plan to stay here for a while and grow along with the city.
2. What problem are you solving?
We are making small businesses more successful on the Web through landing-page creation and management of advertising campaigns.
3. Why can you address this problem better than anyone else?
Many other software companies focus on one thing, websites or marketing, but not both. The software companies that say they do both do not show demonstrable, solid results that their clients can immediately see. RippleLocal responds to this need.
4. How did you come up with your startup name?
We originally wanted to be a company focused on SEO for local businesses, but as the journey changed, we started to think about how we could further help those same local businesses with their entire journey on the Web as they grow their businesses. Even after we changed our ideas, we still felt the name applied to our mission. When you have a pot filled with water, try putting a drop of water into the middle. Then watch what happens. We want that effect to happen to all small businesses and mom-and-pops throughout the country.
5. What was the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and what did you learn from it?
We started off in an industry that did not supply real-time results for our clients. Everyone knows they need to be online, but most companies aren’t patient enough to wait for link building and directory submissions to take effect. For this reason, we decided to change completely, but still keep that central idea of focusing on the small business first.
6. When was the last time you thought about quitting your startup and going back to corporate life, or doing something else? What got you to stay?
That is a thought that hits every entrepreneur at some point. There are times when there is nothing in the bank, and you just have to keep going and keep yourself thinking back to why you escaped regular jobs in the first place.
7. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
We would have started the company as an SaaS instead of trying to manually hire people to help complete the work.
8. What’s the best place to find founders to network with?
There are tons of events in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area that have helped us connect with other aspiring and growing entrepreneurs. A lot of our ideas have come from speaking with these local teams. A large majority of our networking is done on the computer. With social networking, there are tons of new opportunities we never had before.
9. What does your family think about you being an entrepreneur?
In the beginning they were never supportive. I figured that it would be better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. It has worked out so far.
10. What has helped you the most to achieve your current success?
Putting all of our heads down and sticking to our goal. When you are faced with tons of tasks, it’s easy to get distracted. Collectively, as a culture, we have found that putting on a pair of headphones (even if no music is playing) and going to outside computer stations has been the most successful tactic. That and employee happy hour. 🙂 Having those creative sessions allows people to expand their minds. We actively promote that here at RippleLocal, and will continue to do so as we grow.