Today’s startup spotlight is with the co-founder of QuadWrangle, Nick Zeckets. QuadWrangle establishes valuable connections for universities and alumni through a social platform.
Tell me about your professional background and how that led to starting QuadWrangle.
One of my first jobs after college was doing lead generation for a best practices firm in DC called the Corporative Executive Board. It’s a phenomenal place, where I worked my way up to an outside sales role, selling to C-level executives of Fortune 1000 companies. Afterwards, I moved to Chicago to take a job with the Nielsen Company, where I sold a big data platform. Then, I moved on to a company called TRU [a division of WPP]. At this point, I felt as though I had enough business experience under my belt that if I came up with an idea that I truly felt passionately about, I’d be equipped to start my own business. That was around the time when the idea for QuadWrangle came about.
How would you describe QuadWrangle’s value proposition?
We help schools provide value to alumni through a social platform in a way that makes alumni feel engaged and want to give back.
Can you tell me how the idea for QuadWrangle came to be?
I tell people that margaritas had a lot to do with it. A few years ago, I was at SXSW with my 8th grade science teacher, having margaritas. We were lamenting on some of our similar experiences with the school where he taught me. This discussion expanded to the issues of higher education institutions and the lack of follow up and continued engagement with their alumni. We felt like we were onto something, so after this conversation, we started talking once a week to figure out if there was a market for the problem we felt existed. After doing some research, we found that this problem was consistent across higher education institutions. Being out of touch with alumni is causing fundamental financial challenges for schools.
What stage of the startup are you in right now?
The bulk of our product exists, and we’ve finished the UX design and architecture. We started selling three months ago, and we plan to close our first handful of clients by the end of September. We’ve also recently received our first round of angel funding with plans to close the round at the end of October.
What is your process for customer acquisition?
Our sales strategy is very much a lead development into sales pipeline process. Our focus is working with several visionary schools in the near term to prove our model and solution. Once we have customer success data, we have strategically chosen around ~ 100 schools to target next because they’re more progressive with technology and flexible with trying new ways to engage alumni.
Have you faced any major challenges during this entire process?
The biggest challenge we faced early on was finding the right CTO. We spent a lot of time finding someone that would balance out the needs of our team. Having a team with complementary skills is one of the most important pieces a startup needs. There are invariably a dozen other people out with a similar idea to QuadWrangle’s, but because of the variety of experiences and capabilities on our team, we can turn our rock star product into a rock star business.
Do you have any major milestones coming up in the next couple of months?
Our biggest focus right now is clients and capital. In the next 6 months, we will launch our platform in the app stores for our first clients. Alongside that client success, we’re driving our seed round.
Do you have any advice for first time founder or people interested in startups?
I would tell them to get their prospective clients and users involved in their product development process starting at the very beginning. At a minimum, it’s a wonderful marketing process, but done right it assures the entrepreneurs that they are going to have a phenomenal product that has a solid place in the market.
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