Table of contents
- Founders - Reuben Scheckter & James Strathdee
- Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
- Started in 2018
- 2 founders, 16 employees
- Doubled turnover every FY since being established in 2018
Hey Reuben. What’s your backstory?
I was born in the UK to South African parents and moved to Perth, Australia, when I was 3 years old. My family wanted me to be a lawyer, but I struggled at school due to ADHD and only just got into a Bachelor of Laws by a bee's dick. Managed to get halfway through the law degree without really studying before I hit a brick wall with constitutional law and dropped out to move to the Gold Coast for a fresh start (I didn't tell my dad I dropped out until a year or two later!)
Got into sales on the Gold Coast which I excelled at until I was bored and started playing around with dropshipping Star Wars posters on the side while working in a solar call centre. This led me to barge into the owner's office and ask for a budget to test creating solar leads using Facebook ads instead of cold calling. We quadrupled the size of that company within 12 months, and from there, Cobra Digital (now Leadify) was born with that guy who was my former boss, James Strathdee.
James has now exited operations to work on his other business interests but we remain very close. I will forever be indebted to him for the opportunity and belief he had in this crazy dude who hustled him from his cold call team - he is a fantastic human being.
What does your company do?
We exist to accelerate the growth of brands in the service-based space (predominantly financial products like lending). We achieve this by predictably generating customers (leads) using digital advertising and then routing these leads to our clients at a fixed cost per lead.
We save them the stress of mastering their own marketing, reduce reliance on referrals, which are notoriously unpredictable and act as a partner for their growth that extends to helping them refine their sales process for scale. The overarching theme of the partnership is that we allow businesses to scale predictably and efficiently symbiotically with our growth.
How did you come up with the idea?
In honesty, it was born out of a sheer excess of leads for the solar company. We just thought it would be great if other companies could also grow from our efforts and provide us with another avenue for revenue. We rebranded from Cobra Digital in October 2021 to align us further with our refined purpose in fixed-price leads rather than being an ad management agency.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
I like to get started and refine as you break things. We very much launched in this way and continue to operate this way. The technology behind what we do has been the most difficult to get where we want it, and we continue to spend a lot of time refining this aspect of our business with our in-house engineers.
How have you grown the business?
We have a low-friction productised growth offering. You can buy leads as you need them without being locked in or concerned with a lack of leads/sales coming through. This makes what we do somewhat of an easy sell on the front end.
The two other significant aspects of our growth which we spend a lot of time on, are retention and internal marketing.
We are hell-bent on our customer success efforts, and our partnerships team spend many hours on the phone working through how the clients can get the most out of the leads. We know this to be a huge part of retention as we see some clients get 10-15% more converted leads to sales from the exact same lead source as guys getting less.
This means they need help from us, and if we can help them convert more, they'll need more leads - everyone wins. I still think we have a long way to go here, and we are very excited about some planned initiatives for 2023 in this space.
Also, we put our money where our mouth is with leads and generate a huge portion of our clients through our own Leadify branded digital campaigns. This has been a powerful way to show prospects we know how to make leads by turning them into one.
What's your biggest selling product?
Our lending leads across business loans, refinancing, and auto are some of our biggest sellers these days. Solar also remains very popular. Auto Loans, in particular, we have lots of room to grow our volume.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
Not pricing the leads correctly and ending up losing money, then having to increase prices much to the client's disdain. I made this mistake badly in the early days.
I learnt to be transparent about what we need to make on our end to be sustainable and have open chats about this. I found most clients want both parties to make money, so this isn't controversial at all. We have even reduced prices at times for verticals when we hit a purple patch of low costs to show our buyers we aren't full of shit, and we mean it when we talk about it being a partnership.
What's next for you and your business?
A number of things are happening internally, such as further expanding to new geographical locations and some proprietary software in beta testing. We are also hoping to expand more AU verticals. I can't say too much more right now!
What digital tools do you use regularly?
We use a lot of tools within our business, here are some of my favourites:
- Discord - We fully customised Discord with our engineers for comms - we love it much more than Slack, as Slack drove us insane with all our channels and automations.
- Copilot - Our programmers use predictive coding plugins with github now, it is so impressive how well it predicts what you want to write.
- Figma - Design and test multiple innovating funnel concepts and share them across the team
- ClickUp - the best for project management
- Geckoboard - live tracking of lead volume, sales, ad performance and whatever metrics you like run on a kiosk mode PC to the office TV for whole team transparency
- Pipedrive - very popular, awesome easy to use CRM for client management.
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
Zero To One - Peter Thiel
Your Next Five Moves - Patrick Bet David
Catch Of The Decade - Gabby & Hezi Leibovich
Good To Great - Jim Collins
Getting Acquired - Andrew Gazdecki
Buy Then Build - Walker Deibel
Any podcast/websites that help you run your business?
Most of the podcasts I listen to are AFL based to help me get my mind off work. Books are my learning place.
Any quotes you live by?
“Today’s “best practices” lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.”
- Peter Thiel
What do you love and hate about being a founder?
I love the freedom to innovate, try new things and provide opportunities to amazing people to join me on that journey.
I hate how all-consuming it is for me at times and that I am unable to ever fully switch off.
What do you do to look after your mental health while being a founder?
Time doing nothing is my thing. It doesn't really stop me from thinking about work, but I feel relaxed, and I often get my best ideas when I am on a walk or just not doing any tasks at all. I think every founder should find time to do nothing - too many founders are obsessed with being busy all the time and wear it as a cheesy badge of honour. You have time to relax, don't bullshit me.
I am also an avid sports fisherman. In 2021 I spent almost an entire month on the Great Barrier Reef with my fishing guide from Coral Seas Sportsfishing as I swooped on all the good tides and moon phases booked years out due to COVID cancellations from the southern states. When I am out on the boat, I am so focussed on casting I forget about work entirely for a while - highly therapeutic.
Outside of that I love my Gold Coast Suns, gaming and smoking meat/cooking/BBQing!
In a few words, sum up what it means to be the founder of a business.
A lonely, beautiful, soul-destroying yet amazing journey to build something that has an influence on the world.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
Persistence wins. You don't need to be the smartest, but if you persist long enough, lady luck will tap you on the shoulder.
Be a good person. There are too many evil pricks in business, and if you do the right thing by keeping your promise to customers, clients and employees, it will repay you in spades over the long term. Always think long term even if you have to leave a tonne of money on the table short term.