Lawyers, realtors and insurance agents share a common problem. Their success often hinges on their ability to market themselves. But, because they work independently, very few can find enough time to do it well.
That’s where OutboundEngine has found its niche. The company, founded in 2012, gives those independent workers a one-stop shop for fully-automated email, social media and content marketing campaigns starting at about $200 a month.
“Small businesses need to market themselves,” said CEO Branndon Stewart. “To compete, they need to do all of those things and… it’s basically impossible. They wear so many hats. So it’s a really a time and capacity problem for small businesses.”
In a couple years, OutboundEngine has built a roster of more than 6,000 clients. It has attracted $17.5 million in funding, including an $11 million Series B round last year. And it was ranked as the third fastest-growing privately-held business in Austin by Inc.
Stewart said his company has about 180 employees now — roughly 150 in Austin and 30 in Scottsdale, Arizona. He plans to double that within a year and add another sales office in a place yet to be decided. That will mean doubling their engineering team and more than doubling their marketing team. The company’s growth and long roster of clients shows how much more complex and competitive marketing has become.
“It’s a massive, massive market that is really greenfield,” he said. “There’s not a lot of competition out there because it’s a hard problem to solve.”
OutboundEngine stemmed out of Stewart’s old job doing personalized and branded marketing for about 100 people at Boundless Network. He realized that his solutions could be applied to a much larger group of people, and he set off to create Outbound Engine.
“Being relevant and being heard and having any kind of impact at all is getting more and more difficult,” he said. “Having any kind of impact on social media is getting more and more difficult.”
So companies that can provide that expertise at a low cost attract those independent professionals.
Stewart sees OutboundEngine as part of a rapidly-growing group of businesses, including Austin-based Main Street Hub, that specialize in turnkey services for small- to medium-size companies.
“It’s very similar to what you see in the consumer world where you’ve got all kinds of things you can just pay for and people do a service for you on-demand,” he said. “It’s that expectation that ‘hey, there are really, really good services where I can get an outstanding product at an affordable price and I can just enable that when I need it.’ You’re going to see more and more of those and probably fewer of those DIY products coming to market.”