Matt Crowell quit his job and sold his car and condo to pour everything he had into his first startup, GetintheLoop, a mobile marketing SaaS platform. While his parents thought he was crazy when he put all his chips in, today the risk looks like it just might pay off.
Get in the Loop started in 2013 in Matt’s native British Columbia and has since gone national in Canada, with plans to enter the U.S. market this year. The platform gives local consumers access to offers via a mobile app. The service started out as a way for golf courses to send out offers like half-priced afternoon tee times. It quickly expanded to multiple categories, from food and dining to health and fitness.
Get in the Loop has churned through a few channel strategies since its launch, including direct to SMB sales and using a media reseller network. Last year the company settled on a franchise model, where local entrepreneurs can buy in for C$35,000 to own a local market.
The franchise angle sets Get in the Loop apart from other digital marketing platforms. While not unheard of, franchising is an unusual channel strategy for digital marketing software. Will it work? Time will tell, but Matt insists he already has many franchisee success stories. He also claims there is pent up demand among potential U.S. franchisees.
“We had been thinking for a couple of years, ‘How do you franchise an app?'” Matt said, recall the transition to the franchise model. Matt said he consulted with a seasoned franchise pro. “We came up with this model to empower an entrepreneur to go into a market and sign up local businesses.”
The launch was originally planned for late 2018 but those plans changed after an experiment last summer to test messaging on the franchise concept quickly got out of hand.
“On a Friday night, I put out some tag lines like ‘mobile franchise’ in small cities in Canada where no one would notice,” Matt explained. “When I woke up Saturday, eight people had applied to buy a franchise. By Monday we had about 25. So I went into the office Monday and said ‘Drop a media release and tell people we are franchising.'”
Get in the Loop then went all in on the franchise model, even reassigning its direct sales force to teach franchise owners how to sell in local markets.
The podcast covers his launch story, the evolution of his channel strategy, and why he thinks the franchise model will work. There is an interesting aside on why firefighters make good franchise owners.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Here’s a short video clip from our conversation where Matt describes the risk he took to grow his business.