Why we avoided big customers and growth for three years

Real estate CRM provider Rex Software launched in 2010, but didn’t hit their marketing stride for three years, putting product above profitability to ensure long term growth.

It’s working. Rex Software has tripled its revenue in the last 12 months and is now working with over 2500 agents.

But the real estate business management software launched with only 15 firms signed up. The small team worked closely with these initial customers to iterate the technology offering.

It grew gradually, mostly through word of mouth but also with an eye on if the new customer was a good fit for the questions and assumptions it was testing in its development.

Founder Anton Babkov told StartupSmart it only recently felt ready to start chasing growth.

“Growth is hard and difficult to manage operationally. We needed to get the product market fit perfect, and also straighten up and reinforce our internal processes,” Babkov says.

Rex Software used a traditional, outbound marketing approach to lock in their clients for most of their growth journey so far.

“We didn’t do any email blasts or marketing campaigns because it wouldn’t give us what we needed,” he says. “It was important that every conversation we had was a quality one so we could learn and improve.”

According to Babkov, there are between 10,000 and 12,000 real estate firms in Australia and New Zealand, Rex Software’s immediate addressable market. He adds it hasn’t chased one of the major firms and their many franchises yet.

“We realised as a startup, we needed to choose where we want to grow, and focus just on the right customers for our business. Picking up a big client early when you’re as feedback focused as us didn’t seem like the best idea as that would have really shaped your direction but they’re an outlier, being so much bigger,” Babkov says.

But now it’s ready to grow. It has recently hired a marketing director and are shifting their customer acquisition approach from outbound calls and catch ups to more of a marketing campaign.

“We’re a tech company but weren’t great at marketing ourselves from tech point of view. We’re organising our SEO and social media campaigns, so we can develop more inbound opportunities.”

Rex Software isn’t profitable yet, but Babkov says they’re focusing on growing fast first before it starts setting goals and timelines to profitability.

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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