Turning your agency into a SaaS

by | Jul 15, 2020

ContentCal is a SaaS platform. Alex explains that ‘we license a product that allows customers to manage content creation and house content in one place. It allows multiple partners the ability to collaborate on content for social, email logs, websites.’

At 24 in 2015, Alex launched an agency called ASTP upon leaving his position at Sky managing social media teams. Sky and Odeon then became one of the founding clients of his agency which he notes ‘went a long way for not only financials, but for the name.’

By 2018, it had morphed into a SaaS business. Alex knew from the beginning that he always wanted to run a tech business and made decisions with this in mind from the beginning.

When asked why he wanted to move over to a tech business, Alex explained that the ‘agency was able to make margins on clients but he couldn’t see a financial growth path within the agency model. I decided to set up another limited business, I took some of the profits from the initial agency so that I could pay for the initial employee costs. I then started to sell some of the very basic licenses into our clients over at the agency.’

‘Within the first 6-9 months we were revenue generating’.

‘In 2016, I joined an accelerator for 3 months to create a business place and find funding. My mentor of the programme wanted to invest alongside his angel investor friends, but they wanted the agency as part of the deal too. So ContentCal essentially acquired ASTP.’

‘We knew we needed to take on an SaaS Sales manager. Software is much more transactional that I had realised at the start. There is no real personality needed within a client relationship past the persona of the business.’

Alex notes that looking back he would have delegated ‘two leaders to manage either business because they had very different aims and very different ways of working, he found it difficult to manage or focus on both.’

He mentions that he was spending 60% of his time doing pitches and solving problems for the agency, in doing so he was getting the structure and hiring slightly wrong with CalContent. He hired those who ‘were great individual creators but he needed people who were good at building a team.’

Between 2018 and 2019 ‘we focussed on growth and appealing to both those small one-man band companies and also the big players in the market. As the software company began to grow in revenue, I knew that a change was coming.’

‘The team knew the agency wasn’t part of a long-term plan, obviously motivation wasn’t high. Members of the team started to leave in the next 6 months and I gradually moved toward fundraising for the SaaS business.’

At present, ContentCal is forecasted to continue to double and triple in revenue. ‘With around 1500 global customers and around 30 employees, it has raised over £5million in funding to date.’

Alex notes that the type of people who work in software are very different to those who work in agencies. He adds that once you get to a stage where your company is sitting in the middle of being neither small, nor large, you have to really create a performance driven culture if the company is to be successful.’