First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mark Pecota: My family, friends, company, and myself are all doing well during these times. I’m very grateful for that.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded LaunchBoom.
Mark Pecota: It was the beginning of 2013. I had just finished my studies at sunny San Diego State University. I walked back to my car after my last class, wide-eyed. Like a chain had been cut from my ankle, I felt free. I felt a sense of the unknown of adventure. I knew the next step I wanted to take, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
You see, in my last semester, I went through an intensive digital marketing internship – finishing it left me feeling a bit relieved to be done, but more importantly, incredibly excited to start my own venture.
The digital marketing skills I learned were valuable, but more valuable still were the people I met. Two of my current partners were also in that internship: Thomas Dadourian and Mike Revie. In the final weeks, we decided that we should give it a shot to start our own digital marketing agency. The only rule was that we had to close a deal before the internship, and the comfort of our college careers was over.
Somehow, we closed a deal for $5,000 with a law firm. I still remember the feeling of driving away from that meeting like it was yesterday. A flood of emotions: excitement, joy, confidence, all sprinkled with a bit of disbelief that we were actually doing this. I still have that first signed contract by my desk to this day. It serves as a small reminder of where we came from.
The name of our company was Label Creative. Part of me would love to tell you how cutting edge our company was, but to be frank, there wasn’t anything innovative or particularly unique about what we started. We were a marketing agency just like the thousands of other marketing agencies providing digital marketing, video production, web design, and branding services.
With that said, the major difference between us and everyone else was our team. I had never worked around a group of individuals more curious and hungry to grow — both personally and professionally. Those values guided us to say “yes” to all types of projects outside of our core expertise.
Although this exposed us to many different types of projects and companies, it’s not the best way to scale a business. We’d find ourselves developing custom solutions for every client, which kept it interesting, but with no clear vision of where we were taking Label Creative, it was draining.
At the beginning of 2015, I read a book called Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You by John Warrillow. In it, the author tells the fictional story of the owner of a creative agency who had been grinding away for years. Now middle-aged and exhausted, he decided he wanted to sell his company. After asking a friend and seasoned entrepreneur how to value his company, he realized his company was nearly worthless.
The author, John, explains that building a company to sell requires that it be teachable (easy to systematize), valuable (doing one thing better than everyone else), and repeatable (something that customers have to repurchase often). If you are able to do that, you’ll have a valuable company that could be sold, but more importantly, you’ll just have a great business.
I felt like the book was telling the story of my future if I kept down the path of Label Creative. It was time to make a change.
Determined to build a business that would leave a lasting impact on the world, we started to reflect on which projects we had worked on fit within this Built To Sell framework. Like I said before, we had worked on a hodgepodge of different types of projects by this point. Lucky for us, a few of those were crowdfunding campaigns.
Our first crowdfunding experience was with Kevin Liang, who I mentioned earlier. He came to us and asked for support launching his product EcoQube on Kickstarter. We had heard of Kickstarter before but never had any experience using the platform. It sounded like a great opportunity, so we took the job. Flash forward a couple of months, and we raised $79,026 for EcoQube.
After seeing the success of the first campaign, we quickly launched a new product for another client, 1Hour Break, on Indiegogo and raised $105,343. Shortly after that, Kevin came back with a new product called EcoQube C, and we raised $375,058 on Kickstarter.
Reflecting back on these three campaigns was like being hit with a brick in the face (maybe a little less painful, but just as hard to ignore).
Launching consumer products through crowdfunding was teachable — we followed the same system for each of the three launches we had done. It was valuable — we created incredible value for our clients by raising funds and bringing their ideas to life. And it was repeatable — we were able to build off of the success of each campaign and launch not only products but brands.
Around the same time, we had this crowdfunding revelation. We were contacted by Will Ford, an advisor at ADI — the company behind EcoQube and EcoQube C. He saw the success of the two Kickstarter campaigns we launched but more importantly, he saw the opportunity. After a few early morning meetings at a local San Diego coffee shop, Will joined our team as a partner with the goal to create the most effective system for launching new consumer products worldwide.
Now, all we needed was a name.
I remember I was stuck in traffic driving up to north county San Diego when I got a call from Will.
“Hey Will, what’s up?” I said.
“LaunchBoom” Will answered.
“What?” I said.
“LaunchBoom. That’s what we’re calling this thing. I just bought the domain!” he exclaimed.
It was perfect. With the perfect name, team, and vision for what we were going to create, we shut down Label Creative and rebranded to LaunchBoom at the end of 2015. It was now time for us to spread the good news of crowdfunding to entrepreneurs worldwide.
Since we started LaunchBoom, we’ve raised over $50M on Indiegogo & Kickstarter, built a team of over 50 experts around the globe, and helped thousands of entrepreneurs bring their products to life.
How does LaunchBoom innovate?
Mark Pecota: Our process allows entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into actual brands. We created a proprietary testing system called TestBoom – with TestBoom; we can validate demand for a product pre-launch using digital advertising and something we call the Reservation Funnel. This allows our clients to mitigate a massive amount of risk and have more certainty that their product idea will succeed when they actually launch it.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mark Pecota: Thankfully, it has helped our business. Since it began, we’ve nearly doubled our company size in revenue and team. Coronavirus has led to massive growth in the e-commerce sector. Since our company’s success is directly correlated to the success of e-commerce/crowdfunding as a whole, we were able to capitalize on this.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mark Pecota: We learned many lessons on the challenges of scaling quickly. The biggest lesson was how much of a mental toll it can take on the team. Many members became burnt out as their workload increased quickly, and we couldn’t hire & train fast enough. I learned that it’s never worth it to sacrifice my team’s mental health for the growth of the company. We now have better communication in place across the team and systems to manage workload and hiring.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and LaunchBoom in the future?
Mark Pecota: I create boundaries between work and life. I also talk about my stress often with peers, mentors, friends, and family members. A support system is the key to a great life.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mark Pecota: Other crowdfunding agencies. We are aware of our competitors, but we don’t obsess over them. Instead, we obsess over delivering an amazing client experience and making our system better.