I started my own mobile growth consulting practice 6 months ago

Originally posted on medium https://medium.com/@AustinHay/i-started-my-own-mobile-growth-consulting-practice-6-months-ago-ef9ff2e837b

Summary:

  • I started my own consulting practice, and in six months we are highly profitable working with Fortune 500 & Mobile-Leading companies including Walmart, Jet, Airbnb, Postmates, Turner, Foursquare, and more.
  • HBE Ventures consults on Mobile Growth Stack education and integration — or in other words, we can help you understand, evaluate and implement a synchronized set of mobile tools to execute against acquisition, engagement and reporting goals.
  • Growth Systems Integration (a twist on the larger SI market) in mobile is a scary-huge industry and we are only scratching the tip of the ice-berg 5 years in.
  • I’m going to be publishing learnings from working across the industry.

About six months ago, I left the world of mobile deeplinking at startup Branch Metrics to build my own business. It had been on my mind for some time in 2016 after I had striking conversations with engineers, marketers, product managers and VPs. In the process of talking to folks from different roles and mobile apps, I discovered that more important than the tool I was selling, was the process of understanding and integrating multiple mobile tools together into an ideal, coherent, synchronized Growth Stack.

Selling integration knowledge and execution isn’t a novel idea by any means.

In the late 90’s the internet was booming. With it came hundreds of software companies providing services to support online businesses. As these tools became more and more complex, so did their business models. SAAS evolved in lock-step with the rise of an internet based economy. Companies made money off of selling CDs, then licenses, then cloud-based applications (ref).

The SAAS tools that began to fetch the highest prices also were the most complex and difficult to setup well for large institutions and companies. I’m thinking of Salesforce as a prime example.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, that as SAAS solutions have soared in value and complexity, so too have the need for people, teams and organizations to integrate and use these tools.

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Accenture is a good proxy for massive technology integrations consulting. Their market cap, and share price, have risen almost in parallel with the rise of SAAS as the business model for technology companies.

Over the last 20 years since then, the market for integration consulting has grown to more than $300B (ref). It’s hard to find accurate data showing the market cap of the full industry back in 2000, but if we use Accenture as a proxy, it’s likely that the market for integration consulting has increased 4–5x in the last 2 decades.

What happened to web SAAS in recent years is now enveloping mobile marketing technology today #MARTECH as VCs in the Valley are proclaiming. What’s taking so long anyways?

Mobile has suffered from the following friction forces:

  • Platform controlled by a duopoly, whereas web was democratized by HTTP.
  • Ease of ability to develop “enterprise” solutions on the backs of boot-straped or VC-funded companies.
  • Clash of old-world SAAS companies trying to pivot or catch up to newer technologies — this is most noticeable in the data management, email, and advertising technology space where new, mobile focused companies are taking on the old guard. mParticle vs Adobe, Branch vs Google, Appboy vs Epsilon, Remerge vs Criteo. The list is endless…

The net net of all this is that the market is absurdly fragmented. Based on experience, however, there are winners and losers. There will only be more of them as the market matures and fragmented services start to form into pillars. Mobile companies that don’t stay focused on a core set of services will likely suffer the most.

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In terms of SDKs & services built into an Ideal Growth Stack, all of these tools will start to coalesce into four pillars: Acquisition, CDP, Engagement/Retention, and Analytics.

As marketing tech fragments, customer service and technical expertise has become a winning attribute. At Branch, I sold more than $1M in software by being technical and friendly. This really only goes so far.

Winning on customer service and a few dangerous technical people isn’t scaleable. Large mobile SAAS opportunities must be coupled by equally large professional systems integration contracts in order to grow to the $100M+ revenues that VC’s are likely expecting. I say this because if you take a look at the Series C and on beyond for most mobile stack companies, their multiples are typically 7–10X. There is no way they will be able to justify their existence without serious multi-million dollar contracts. Winning those contracts will more than likely depend on professional integration services.

If this isn’t evidence enough, during its Q3 earnings call, Accenture actually pointed to the rising demand for industry-focused software solutions involving mobility, analytics and the cloud. When contract sizes start to breach a level that warrants an Accenture size SI contract is when you know mobile has gotten there.

The wave is coming, and that’s why I’m here. Over the next few months I’ll begin to publish more about the Mobile Marketing Growth Stack — including learnings from customers, my idealized version of the mobile stack today, what I’ve seen work and not work across a slew of company sizes, as well, as other stuff, like how to run a scrappy consulting practice.

No first post after starting a business would be complete without a healthy dose of gratitude. I have many people to be thankful for over the last few months in helping me build HBE Ventures, but special thanks to Michael Katz, Mike Dudas, Lauren Picasso, Siqi Chen, for giving me the courage and opportunity, my sister, Alexis Hay & my wife, Leila Hay, for putting up with all my shit, and, last, Mike Molinet for giving me 2 years of lessons and mentorship, which I use everyday at HBE Ventures.