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From Startup Struggles to Sustainable Growth: Dennis Kelly's Journey with Postalytics

If you're feeling overwhelmed and constantly behind on your tasks, struggling to keep up with the demands of the business or startup world, then you are not alone! Many entrepreneurs and startup founders find themselves in a perpetual state of stress, juggling multiple responsibilities without a clear sense of prioritization. They may be taking on too much at once, trying to tackle every opportunity that comes their way, but ultimately finding themselves burnt out and unable to make meaningful progress towards their goals. This lack of prioritization and pacing can lead to a cycle of frustration and disappointment, hindering their ability to succeed in the startup world.

"It's not a sprint, but a marathon. Pace yourself and prioritize what moves the needle to avoid burnout and achieve long-term success." - Dennis Kelly

Access all show and episode resources HERE

About Our Guest:

Today, we have the pleasure of introducing Dennis Kelly, a seasoned entrepreneur with more than three decades of experience under his belt. His current venture, Postalytics, combines the old-school business of direct mail with innovative technology, offering an fresh angle to the field of marketing. Having led six startups, Dennis presents a candid look into the challenges and triumphs that come with both a bootstrapped and venture capitalised setup. His emphasis on balance and pacing in the start-up world is a breath of fresh air for any burgeoning entrepreneur.

Reasons to Listen:

  • Discover the profound impact balancing work and life can have on your productivity and overall success.
  • Learn how adopting the right mindset and resilience can be a game-changer in the competitive startup world.
  • Gain insight into selecting the most suitable funding model for your startup and how it can drive your venture toward success.
  • Understand the significance of proper prioritization and pacing in managing a startup, and how it can lead you to exceptional results.
  • Explore the integration of traditional direct mail into modern digital marketing strategies and the unique advantages it brings.

Episode Resources & Action Steps:

  • Visit Postalytics website: Go to www.postalytics.com to learn more about the direct mail automation software and how it can streamline your marketing campaigns.
  • Sign up for a free trial: Click on the Get Free Account button on the Postalytics website to sign up for a free trial of their software. This will allow you to test out the features and see how it can benefit your business.
  • Connect with Dennis Kelly on Linkedin.

Resources for Leaders from Tim Winders & SGC:

🔹 Unlock Your Potential Today!

  • 🎙 Coaching with Tim: Elevate your leadership and align your work with your faith. Learn More
  • 📚 "Coach: A Story of Success Redefined": A transformative read that will challenge your views on success. Grab Your Copy
  • 📝 Faith Driven Leader Quiz: Discover how well you're aligning faith and work with our quick quiz. Take the Quiz

Key Lessons:

1. The importance of listening to customer feedback and adapting: Postalytics shifted its ideal customer profile based on feedback from potential customers, which ultimately led to growth and success.

2. The value of finding a balance between work and family: The speaker's personal experience with their daughter's illness highlighted the importance of prioritizing family and making time for loved ones.

3. The need for a sustainable growth model for startups: The speaker's previous experiences with failed startups taught them the importance of a balanced approach, focusing on sustainable growth rather than pushing to the limit.

4. The significance of being able to make decisions autonomously: The speaker emphasized the advantage of having the autonomy to make decisions without a lengthy process, allowing for quicker decision-making and flexibility.

5. The power of integrating direct mail with digital marketing: Postalytics identified the opportunity to integrate direct mail with digital marketing tools, creating a comprehensive marketing strategy and leveraging the underinvested technology in the direct mail industry.

6. The value of data and tracking in direct mail campaigns: Postalytics developed a tool that allows marketers to track the creation, delivery, and response of direct mail campaigns, providing actionable data for testing and personalized follow-ups.

Overall, the key lessons from this episode revolve around adaptability, work-life balance, sustainable growth, autonomy in decision-making, integration of marketing channels, and leveraging data for better campaign management.

Episode Highlights:

00:00:00 - A Life-Changing Experience

Dennis shares his personal experience of spending nine nights at Children's Hospital in Boston, which made him reflect on his work-life balance and priorities. He also mentions his failed startup at that time.

00:01:08 - Introduction to Dennis Kelly and Postalytics

Tim introduces Dennis Kelly as the CEO of Postalytics, a dynamic software company specializing in direct mail automation. Postalytics empowers marketers with streamlined production, seamless integration, and real-time analytics for direct mail campaigns.

00:02:19 - Balancing Life and Startups

Dennis talks about wearing different hats in life and focuses on being the best husband, father, and friend, while also nurturing startup companies. He emphasizes the importance of prioritizing and pacing oneself in the marathon of startup life.

00:06:05 - Gaining Wisdom from Six Startups

Dennis shares his evolving perspective on startup life, transitioning from a sprint mentality to a marathon mindset. He highlights the importance of learning from past mistakes, prioritizing, and maintaining a growth mindset in the roller coaster journey of startups.

00:10:08 - Funding Strategies for Startups

Dennis discusses different funding models he has experienced, including bootstrapping, angel investment, and venture capital. He emphasizes the need for thoughtful consideration of the financing strategy that aligns with the specific needs and goals of the business.

00:16:34 - Dennis's Journey into Startups,

Dennis shares his journey into the startup world, starting with his first job at Prudential Insurance. He gained experience in sales and marketing, and then joined a computer company in 1989, just before the explosion of PCs. This company took advantage of the shift in computing platforms and experienced explosive growth.

00:22:18 - Lessons Learned from Palm,

Dennis discusses his experience at Palm, where he witnessed the company's inability to innovate and make necessary changes. He emphasizes the importance of not getting caught up in symbols of success and not letting financing strategies dictate business strategies.

00:26:40 - Painful Lesson from a Failed Startup,

Dennis shares the most painful lesson of his career, which came from a startup he was CEO of. He made the mistake of accepting too much financing based on easy money and it ended up being a poor fit for the business. He stresses the importance of finding the right financing for your business at the right time.

00:30:31 - Importance of Right Financing,

Dennis emphasizes the importance of finding the right financing for your business at a particular point in time, rather than allowing your thinking about the business to be structured by easily available capital. He warns against the expectations and responsibilities that come with taking money.

00:31:18 - Realizing the Mistake,

Dennis realized his mistake within six months of taking the excessive financing. When it became clear that the pipeline wasn't developing as expected, he knew they had overextended.

00:33:51 - Building a Retail Store in the Mobile Space,

Dennis Kelly shares his experience of building retail stores in the mobile space and the success he had with selling the company. He also discusses reconnecting with a software architect who introduced him to the idea of a direct mail campaign and the lack of tools available for capturing interest from respondents.

00:35:45 - The Opportunity in Direct Mail,

Despite direct mail being considered an outdated marketing channel, Dennis recognizes the $40 billion industry it still is in the US and sees the opportunity for technology innovation in a largely underinvested space.

00:37:02 - Reflection and Life Lessons,

Dennis reflects on the impact of a failed startup and the health scare his daughter experienced, which made him reevaluate his priorities. He takes a break from the tech world and focuses on family, gaining valuable experience in the retail industry before returning to tech with a newfound balance and perspective.

00:40:49 - Pivoting to Postalytics,

Dennis discusses the initial challenges faced with their first venture, Boingnet, and the decision to pivot to Postalytics. By focusing on solving the problem of making direct mail easier to deploy and integrating it with existing marketing channels, Postalytics experiences significant growth and success.

00:46:21 - Merging Direct Mail and Digital Marketing,

Postalytics combines direct mail and digital marketing by providing tools that track the delivery process and personalized URLs or QR codes for recipients. The data gathered allows for better analysis and integration with CRM systems.

00:50:10 - The Pain of Direct Mail,

Dennis discusses the challenges of direct mail and how many businesses are hesitant to invest in it due to the time and effort required. However, he explains that by shifting their ideal customer profile to small to mid-sized businesses investing in marketing tech, they found a group of people who are already willing to spend money on technology and are experiencing lower email open rates and higher costs in digital advertising.

00:51:28 - Shifting Direction,

Dennis explains that it took about four to six months to shift their focus to their new target audience and repackage their existing product. This involved laying off staff and rebuilding.

00:52:26 - Expanding Opportunities with Direct Mail,

Tim and Dennis discuss the potential of direct mail across various industries. Real estate, nonprofit, and marketing agencies are highlighted as sectors that have seen success with Postalytics. Dennis emphasizes that direct mail can benefit any business and encourages business owners to consider incorporating it into their marketing strategy.

00:55:18 - Horizontal Software Tool,

Dennis describes Postalytics as a horizontal software tool that can be used by businesses in any industry. While there are specific verticals that have unique use cases for direct mail, he believes that any business sending email or doing email marketing can benefit from adding direct mail to their strategy.

00:56:12 - Where to Learn More,

Dennis provides two places where people can learn more about Postalytics. The website, postalytics.com, and Linkedin.

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Transcript
Dennis Kelly:

We ended up spending nine nights at Children's Hospital in

Dennis Kelly:

Boston, with teams of different people coming in, trying to figure out, how

Dennis Kelly:

to deal with this thing and how to solve it and, that made me step back

Dennis Kelly:

and say, all right, Dennis, the heck you doing here, working these 20 hour

Dennis Kelly:

days, you got a young family, life is precious and can be short and so

Dennis Kelly:

that has impacted my life ever since.

Dennis Kelly:

but also at that particular point in time, I got this failed startup.

Tim Winders:

Hello everyone.

Tim Winders:

Welcome back to another episode of seek go create.

Tim Winders:

This is where we challenge traditional notions of success and explore

Tim Winders:

inspiring stories of transformation.

Tim Winders:

And we dig down in places like leadership, business, and ministry, definitely

Tim Winders:

going to be doing a good dive into.

Tim Winders:

business today, but probably tying all that together.

Tim Winders:

I'm your host, Tim Winders.

Tim Winders:

I'm an executive coach and I love getting to do what I do, which is ask questions

Tim Winders:

and just talk to really cool people.

Tim Winders:

We've got a great guest today.

Tim Winders:

Our guest is Dennis Kelly.

Tim Winders:

He is the CEO of Postalytics, which is a dynamic software company

Tim Winders:

in a very interesting industry, specializing in direct mail automation.

Tim Winders:

I'm excited to talk about that.

Tim Winders:

He's got over 30 years of experience in starting and growing Technology

Tim Winders:

ventures, it's got a wealth of knowledge to share, real quick.

Tim Winders:

Postalytics empowers marketers to do more with less time offering streamlined

Tim Winders:

production, seamless integration in the marketing tech stack and real time

Tim Winders:

analytics for direct mail campaigns, which I like to say, I consider

Tim Winders:

direct mail an old school business.

Tim Winders:

So it looks like they're marrying some old school stuff with

Tim Winders:

some new tech, which I love it.

Tim Winders:

Dennis, welcome to Seek Go Create.

Dennis Kelly:

Thank you, Tim.

Dennis Kelly:

It's a pleasure to be here today.

Dennis Kelly:

Excited to speak with the Seek Go Create audience.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, I'm glad we're, chatting now and going to have fun, but

Tim Winders:

let's do this before we get started.

Tim Winders:

We've just bumped into each other and I say, Dennis, what do you do?

Tim Winders:

What do you tell people when they ask you what you do?

Dennis Kelly:

that's an interesting question.

Dennis Kelly:

And I think that, when you've lived a long life, like I have,

Dennis Kelly:

you wear a lot of different hats.

Dennis Kelly:

And, so I would currently say what I do is, I'm I try to be, the best

Dennis Kelly:

husband and father and friend I can be.

Dennis Kelly:

and at the same time try to get, startup companies off the ground in flourishing.

Dennis Kelly:

And sometimes those, goals are, at odds with each other and there's, some, time

Dennis Kelly:

constraint challenges in our lives.

Dennis Kelly:

I think, by eliminating everything else, I'm not a good golfer.

Dennis Kelly:

I used to fish.

Dennis Kelly:

I can't fish anymore.

Dennis Kelly:

I got to focus on these things.

Dennis Kelly:

So that's what I really try to focus on.

Tim Winders:

I've always said, I think you and I may be in a

Tim Winders:

similar age bracket, I believe.

Tim Winders:

And, I've been telling people recently that part of life is just coming to

Tim Winders:

the realization of the things you're either not good at or don't want

Tim Winders:

to do or don't want to do again.

Tim Winders:

And I'm the same way with golf that we may lose a good portion

Tim Winders:

of the audience right here.

Tim Winders:

I lived in golf course community for a while, thought, you know, and I'm

Tim Winders:

semi retired, I'm going to play golf.

Tim Winders:

I don't, I don't do any golf anymore.

Tim Winders:

So it sounds like you came to that also.

Dennis Kelly:

no, I, unfortunately, I still struggle, and try to squeeze

Dennis Kelly:

it around here and there when I can.

Dennis Kelly:

and do that very poorly.

Dennis Kelly:

the thrill of the chase is still there for me.

Dennis Kelly:

The execution and results, not there.

Tim Winders:

So you're not going to join the senior tour.

Tim Winders:

Is that what I'm hearing?

Tim Winders:

You say,

Dennis Kelly:

not anytime in the near future, for sure.

Tim Winders:

it's a tough thing, really, though, the, you mentioned something

Tim Winders:

I, I've done this pendulum swing to over the past, maybe 10, 15 years as

Tim Winders:

we've gone through a lot of changes with our businesses and companies.

Tim Winders:

I, for a while dropped.

Tim Winders:

All business items from the, what do you do kind of conversation?

Tim Winders:

I would say I'm a husband, I'm a father, child of God, I would use just things that

Tim Winders:

would be more, I don't know, sound better.

Tim Winders:

and I'm starting to creep back in and use things like I have this.

Tim Winders:

Big umbrella of executive coach.

Tim Winders:

And so I do think it speaks to the balance that's challenging.

Tim Winders:

your startup environments, that's a hard charging environment.

Tim Winders:

That's not a established company.

Tim Winders:

You work, eight hours a day.

Tim Winders:

You go home startups, high energy, and it sounds like you're

Tim Winders:

still in that role, correct?

Dennis Kelly:

I am.

Dennis Kelly:

and, Postalytics is my sixth startup.

Dennis Kelly:

so I've been doing this now for quite a while.

Dennis Kelly:

and you're right.

Dennis Kelly:

It's not a, just a nine to five kind of job.

Dennis Kelly:

that being said, you learn over time that it's also not just the sprint and

Dennis Kelly:

a startup is really a marathon, and you need to think about how you pace yourself.

Dennis Kelly:

In a marathon and, in a marathon, there are little sprints where, the

Dennis Kelly:

best runners are really pushing it and they're trying to, make, a move

Dennis Kelly:

against the field for a particular amount of time for various reasons.

Dennis Kelly:

But at the end of the day, they got to finish.

Dennis Kelly:

and you learn when you do these startup that, you can, if you go through an

Dennis Kelly:

all out sprint for a period of time, you end up pretty burnt out and makes

Dennis Kelly:

it hard to execute over the long haul.

Dennis Kelly:

the metaphor that I try to think of now is.

Dennis Kelly:

Is you're a top marathon runner and you're running against other top

Dennis Kelly:

marathon runners and there's a lot of strategy involved in how much energy

Dennis Kelly:

you exert at any given point in time.

Tim Winders:

So if someone's been involved with six startups.

Tim Winders:

Have you always had that mindset you just shared of the marathon or has

Tim Winders:

this evolved over time, go back a little bit and what have you learned?

Tim Winders:

What have you gained your wisdom from all these six startups?

Tim Winders:

And I know that's a big question, but give us a few items that

Tim Winders:

you've gleaned from that.

Dennis Kelly:

Yeah, sure.

Dennis Kelly:

certainly I, have not always had this perspective on, on startup life.

Dennis Kelly:

I started really in my twenties.

Dennis Kelly:

And, did a bunch of startups in my twenties and thirties, and, in those

Dennis Kelly:

years, I was much more of a sprinter and, I was pushing, midnight, 2 a.

Dennis Kelly:

m.

Dennis Kelly:

in the morning, work days on a regular basis, trying to raise a

Dennis Kelly:

young family and try to do everything, and, It's just not sustainable.

Dennis Kelly:

It's not a sustainable approach.

Dennis Kelly:

And I guess when you're really young, you can do that for a little bit.

Dennis Kelly:

But, I think time has taught that, that, there will always

Dennis Kelly:

be work tomorrow in a startup.

Dennis Kelly:

You will never, ever get to the bottom of your list of things to do.

Dennis Kelly:

Not once.

Dennis Kelly:

And so by accepting that and realizing that it's a daily process of prioritizing

Dennis Kelly:

and reprioritizing and focusing on a few things that we can get done that are going

Dennis Kelly:

to move the needle, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to manage through this

Dennis Kelly:

roller coaster of emotions that happen.

Dennis Kelly:

when you and a group of highly committed people are, 100% focused on, on

Dennis Kelly:

goals, it, it's, it, there are things that happen and the, they come outta

Dennis Kelly:

left field and you think, why did, couldn't I foreseen that happening?

Dennis Kelly:

and it takes you down a rattle hole.

Dennis Kelly:

and then there are days when amazing things happen and, and modulating

Dennis Kelly:

the emotions of those ups and downs and thinking of this over a longer

Dennis Kelly:

horizon, really helps to create a mindset of continual growth, that,

Dennis Kelly:

that doesn't allow you to necessarily get caught up in, in such a.

Dennis Kelly:

A deep sprint that you end up getting burnt out or such a deep

Dennis Kelly:

hole, emotionally that you're having a hard time breaking out of it.

Tim Winders:

I'm curious, and this is a, anyway, it's just an interesting question.

Tim Winders:

I've dealt with a lot of business.

Tim Winders:

I've been around for a lot of them worked with some myself, but were most

Tim Winders:

of yours, I'll use the term bootstrap.

Tim Winders:

I think you know what I mean.

Tim Winders:

What was it just like, you know, you used your funding or some

Tim Winders:

close funding around it, or were there outside investors, there's a.

Tim Winders:

Follow up question I've got to this.

Tim Winders:

You think you might know where I'm headed with this, but, just give in

Tim Winders:

general, what were some or all of your startups as they came along?

Dennis Kelly:

Yeah.

Dennis Kelly:

Yeah.

Dennis Kelly:

So they've really been a variety of different, types of startups.

Dennis Kelly:

and so post lytic is much more of a bootstrap startup, that, we really

Dennis Kelly:

haven't done, really anything from an outside funding standpoint.

Dennis Kelly:

But I've had others that were, for example, right in the

Dennis Kelly:

midst of the dot com, boom.

Dennis Kelly:

and it was about raising a ton of venture capital money and sprinting as

Dennis Kelly:

fast as you could for a period of time.

Dennis Kelly:

and so I've done, angel invested startup, venture invested

Dennis Kelly:

startup, self invested startup.

Dennis Kelly:

and I've got a wide variety of perspectives and.

Dennis Kelly:

I think generally, you have to think a lot about your financing strategy, and

Dennis Kelly:

that, I think you can make mistakes, particularly early, earlier in your

Dennis Kelly:

career by getting seduced by, the ability to go get a great big check.

Dennis Kelly:

and different businesses require different types of capital.

Dennis Kelly:

and so I think you need to be really thoughtful about the funding mechanisms

Dennis Kelly:

that will work for a specific business.

Tim Winders:

Yeah.

Tim Winders:

So this is a real loaded question because I've had to investigate this with myself.

Tim Winders:

I'm going to ask Dennis of all the models you've worked with and

Tim Winders:

all that you have been a part of.

Tim Winders:

What works best for Dennis, for his personality, for the way he functions,

Tim Winders:

for the way he lives his life, which model I'm assuming is hopefully probably

Tim Winders:

the one you're with now, but I guess as a layer to the question, give

Tim Winders:

some pros and cons and why you pick one over some of the others, because

Tim Winders:

people listening in need to hear this.

Tim Winders:

This is very important.

Tim Winders:

I think.

Dennis Kelly:

yes.

Dennis Kelly:

for me, at my stage of life and where I'm at, this bootstrap model works very well.

Dennis Kelly:

at least in terms of scaling up a business to a certain point and, and, but, that

Dennis Kelly:

being said, I'm at a point in my life where, you know, the, the short term

Dennis Kelly:

need for cashflow is less important.

Dennis Kelly:

and I've had resources personally to invest in this thing in order

Dennis Kelly:

to help get it off the ground.

Dennis Kelly:

and my situation is a little bit different.

Dennis Kelly:

Then other people, potentially, right?

Dennis Kelly:

And so I feel very fortunate to be at this position in my life where I've, raised

Dennis Kelly:

money in different environments, seeing a lot of different types of businesses,

Dennis Kelly:

worked with, very, highly, decorated board of directors, members, in startups.

Dennis Kelly:

and I think.

Dennis Kelly:

A lot of the scars in learning that I've accumulated over the years eliminate

Dennis Kelly:

the need for, some of the oversight and, and structure that, that a different

Dennis Kelly:

financing mechanism, would enforce, on a startup, at least to a certain point.

Dennis Kelly:

You can scale these things on a bootstrap way and get them to a

Dennis Kelly:

certain point, but at some point they probably have to evolve, right?

Dennis Kelly:

So they're either going to be a nice business that you run, and enjoy

Dennis Kelly:

running, but if you really want to scale something, the bootstrap model can

Dennis Kelly:

take you so far, but at some point it's going to convert into something else.

Tim Winders:

How important is it for you?

Tim Winders:

To be in a, I guess the question is a control situation because that's a bigger

Tim Winders:

money question also, because obviously if you bring in other people, and the

Tim Winders:

reason I bring it up is that I'm, I, we had a lot of investors with some

Tim Winders:

real estate companies heading into 08.

Tim Winders:

And a lot of that did not turn out well.

Tim Winders:

And so it, it did shift a little bit of my thinking.

Tim Winders:

I was also involved.

Tim Winders:

I was doing some consulting and coaching for businesses during that.

Tim Winders:

com boom.

Tim Winders:

And there was some things I was just scratching my head going, wow.

Tim Winders:

And I think some people, this kind of goes back to knowing yourself and have

Tim Winders:

some self awareness, what is someone's comfort level need to be with, I'm

Tim Winders:

in charge, I'm running things versus.

Tim Winders:

I'm running things, but there's a lot of other people or other people

Tim Winders:

that are having some input, which goes into that funding mechanism.

Tim Winders:

And I'll tell you where we're headed with this.

Tim Winders:

We're going into the ability to be able to pivot and make a big change if you

Tim Winders:

need to, but yet you've got handcuffs that may or may not keep you from doing that.

Tim Winders:

So this is the direction we're going, just so you know.

Tim Winders:

So how important is that control or the ability to make those decisions?

Dennis Kelly:

again, at this point of my life, I enjoy

Dennis Kelly:

having a lot of autonomy, right?

Dennis Kelly:

And myself and my partner and a few key people here can sit down and think

Dennis Kelly:

through things and have a lot of different perspectives and choose the direction.

Dennis Kelly:

without.

Dennis Kelly:

Having to go through a lot of process.

Dennis Kelly:

I'm not spending a week every quarter preparing for the board meeting,

Dennis Kelly:

and we're moving quickly, right?

Dennis Kelly:

and making decisions on a daily basis, but again, with that being said, I

Dennis Kelly:

think there are other stages of the business, that really, Would be just

Dennis Kelly:

due to the scope of the business and the scale of the opportunity.

Dennis Kelly:

It probably does, it will require more structure, right?

Dennis Kelly:

and quarterly board meetings and, and then board calls.

Dennis Kelly:

And then dealing with the analysts of the investors.

Dennis Kelly:

the junior folks that are looking for regular updates on stuff.

Dennis Kelly:

there's a whole nother layer of management that goes into having professional

Dennis Kelly:

investors involved in your business.

Dennis Kelly:

and, at other points in my life and other businesses, that really is what

Dennis Kelly:

was necessary right from the beginning.

Dennis Kelly:

and so you've got to calibrate your expectations around, your ability to just

Dennis Kelly:

Make decisions and move, without, selling this to a broader audience and, moving

Dennis Kelly:

all the stakeholders along with you, and, I'm not, it's not like my approach to

Dennis Kelly:

business is that of a dictator where, I decide everything and I tell everybody

Dennis Kelly:

what they're going to be doing every day.

Dennis Kelly:

I prefer a much more collaborative.

Dennis Kelly:

Environment, but I'd rather, do that, at least in the early stages of business

Dennis Kelly:

with folks are very close to it and, rely on some third parties for some

Dennis Kelly:

thought leadership and assistance and looking at it from another angle, but

Dennis Kelly:

really be able to, to manage those interactions as I see fit, as opposed

Dennis Kelly:

to More of a external structure.

Tim Winders:

yeah, that makes a lot of sense because the thing that I really

Tim Winders:

love about having a conversation with someone who is, I'll use the term mature,

Tim Winders:

we don't use the word older here, but we'll use the word mature is that I think

Tim Winders:

maturity is when you start realizing the environments, the areas, the businesses,

Tim Winders:

the situations that you thrive in that they, I'll use the term nourish your soul

Tim Winders:

versus, things like, I love where you Talked about early on in your career where

Tim Winders:

you were probably working 20 hour days.

Tim Winders:

I did similar.

Tim Winders:

I always joke with people during the nineties.

Tim Winders:

I think I slept about four hours a night Maybe and I was proud of it was

Tim Winders:

the problem, I like boasted about it and now i'm going You know, I wish I

Tim Winders:

had a few of those sleep hours back I think part of is just the journey that

Tim Winders:

we go on which I don't want to, I don't want to spend a ton of time on this,

Tim Winders:

but I'd love to go over a little bit of your journey to get up to where we are

Tim Winders:

with Postalytics here, because anytime someone says they've been through, six,

Tim Winders:

six startups and I've read through, they Are varying, they have a wide scope.

Tim Winders:

So, uh, as, as succinct, but I may slow you down along the way, walk through,

Tim Winders:

Dennis's journey, coming out of school, sounds like you jumped right into

Tim Winders:

startup world and just went from there.

Tim Winders:

Correct.

Dennis Kelly:

pretty quickly.

Dennis Kelly:

I get out of college, moved to New York, for my first job, which was

Dennis Kelly:

actually with Prudential insurance.

Dennis Kelly:

And I was in a wonderful training program, at Prudential insurance.

Dennis Kelly:

there's six months in a classroom and moving around to different.

Dennis Kelly:

segment of their, what they call their group insurance business, which

Dennis Kelly:

is, health insurance that, that they were selling in there at the time.

Dennis Kelly:

Prince was the largest insurance company in the world.

Dennis Kelly:

and it was a major player in the healthcare phase and, really rolling

Dennis Kelly:

out HMOs for the very first time in the 1980s, at least on the East Coast.

Dennis Kelly:

and so I was a part of that and was trained on underwriting

Dennis Kelly:

and marketing and sales.

Dennis Kelly:

Ended up in a sales office, reported to a wonderful leader there, former,

Dennis Kelly:

Air Force Colonel, who had built a great sales office in New York

Dennis Kelly:

and and then I learned how to sell, I was selling health insurance,

Dennis Kelly:

knocking on doors, trying to build relationships, and, So great lessons.

Dennis Kelly:

I would tell anybody if you want to learn how to sell, go to New York and

Dennis Kelly:

start knocking on doors and you'll learn how to sell and you'll learn

Dennis Kelly:

that rejection is not personal, right?

Dennis Kelly:

it's just a part of the game and it may come with a little extra flair

Dennis Kelly:

when you're in New York every day.

Dennis Kelly:

so great experience there, but big company.

Dennis Kelly:

lots of layers of everything.

Dennis Kelly:

and after a couple of years, I really felt like, Hey, I want to gain a

Dennis Kelly:

little more control over my destiny.

Dennis Kelly:

And a buddy from college and his brother were starting up a computer

Dennis Kelly:

company, up here in the Boston area.

Dennis Kelly:

and so they needed a sales guy.

Dennis Kelly:

So I quit my job, took a huge pay cut, and jumped into this, really

Dennis Kelly:

early stage company, that ended up.

Dennis Kelly:

Shifting a hundred times before we figured out what to do with it.

Tim Winders:

And this was a computer company in what year?

Dennis Kelly:

this is, 1989.

Dennis Kelly:

Yes.

Dennis Kelly:

And right before the explosion of PCs, and which ended up being something very

Dennis Kelly:

important for us, there was a general shift in computing, in the computing

Dennis Kelly:

platform that occurred, from these, what were called mini computers, to

Dennis Kelly:

these, I call them ironically named minicomputers because they're the size

Dennis Kelly:

of my desk, and, to, to the PC world.

Dennis Kelly:

and when that happened, the cost footprint of selling the solution

Dennis Kelly:

that we had at this company plummeted, and our potential market exploded.

Dennis Kelly:

And so, by taking advantage of that shift in computing platform,

Dennis Kelly:

this business was able to take off.

Dennis Kelly:

and it became a fundamental reason why it had explosive growth and we had a great

Dennis Kelly:

outcome for that first startup that I was involved in, just right place, right time.

Dennis Kelly:

and we were able to take advantage of that major shift that occurred.

Tim Winders:

I was just curious about the years there because some people listening

Tim Winders:

in, I'll go, okay, computer business, not realizing what really the eighties

Tim Winders:

were for computers and the shifts and the change, I mean, that's, when pretty much

Tim Winders:

Apple and other places even came to be.

Tim Winders:

in the early eighties, we did not have computers on our desk

Tim Winders:

by the end of the eighties.

Tim Winders:

We all did.

Tim Winders:

And Back in the stone age, we'll go ahead and say, back there.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, we didn't even have cell phones back then.

Dennis Kelly:

exactly.

Dennis Kelly:

that,

Tim Winders:

did that go from there then Dennis?

Tim Winders:

where, what was the transition after that?

Dennis Kelly:

we sold that business, made a little bit of dough and then

Dennis Kelly:

right at the very beginning of the dot com era, I was, I had left the company

Dennis Kelly:

that acquired, the, Genesis, which is the first startup after running sales

Dennis Kelly:

for a while, took some time out of the home, passing around, looking for

Dennis Kelly:

the next thing and connected up with a guy that had some similar thoughts.

Dennis Kelly:

And we launched a company called anyday.

Dennis Kelly:

com, which is one of the very first web based calendar and scheduling system.

Dennis Kelly:

And, and so if you use Google Calendar today, it's essentially a knockoff

Dennis Kelly:

of what we built, back in 1997, 1998.

Dennis Kelly:

Really early internet.

Dennis Kelly:

And, raised a bunch of dough, got some great venture capitalists on

Dennis Kelly:

board and key executives and we built this thing, and we're able to

Dennis Kelly:

sell it before the window collapsed.

Dennis Kelly:

at the end of the dot com era, and, had a great experience there being

Dennis Kelly:

a completely different model, right?

Dennis Kelly:

where it's raise a bunch of money, spend it hard, fast, grow this

Dennis Kelly:

thing as fast as possible, ended up selling it to a company called Palm.

Dennis Kelly:

and if you remember the Palm pilot, they bought any day,

Dennis Kelly:

worked at Palm for a while.

Dennis Kelly:

spent a ton of time in Silicon Valley where they were based and, watch that

Dennis Kelly:

whole thing disintegrate, ended up becoming a disaster, and, there's,

Dennis Kelly:

I think books have been, or will be written about what happened at Palm,

Dennis Kelly:

but, tremendous learnings, right?

Dennis Kelly:

Amazing learnings watching what was happening inside of this newly

Dennis Kelly:

public, fast growing, company in Silicon Valley at that time.

Tim Winders:

I loved my Palm Pilot.

Tim Winders:

Gosh, I was, coming along in the, late 80s, early 90s.

Tim Winders:

I was, doing leadership training and had our own business.

Tim Winders:

And man, when that Palm came along, man, that was like the greatest thing ever.

Tim Winders:

And boy, had they had their act together, they could have moved into

Tim Winders:

what, jobs ended up doing, which is, the, but then, we can also talk

Tim Winders:

BlackBerry and other companies like that too, that had, there was a lot

Tim Winders:

of them that had the opportunity, but I also think it's good to learn.

Tim Winders:

From what some would call failure.

Tim Winders:

we talk about redefining success here, give me, give a learning point or two,

Tim Winders:

you mentioned books can be written, but give a learning point or two, not

Tim Winders:

let's don't go back to the success.

Tim Winders:

The two exits, let's go to the city.

Tim Winders:

Cause you obviously were part of the buyout at the other acquisition.

Tim Winders:

They wanted you around and you had to be around when this was going on.

Tim Winders:

What's something you took from that, that you kept using time and time again.

Dennis Kelly:

I think that, there were so many things that happened at Palm, that

Dennis Kelly:

were, were great lessons to be taken.

Dennis Kelly:

so number one, Palm IPO ed in 2000, acquired Anyday.

Dennis Kelly:

com, right at the same time.

Dennis Kelly:

and at the time, raised a billion dollars and a billion dollars in

Dennis Kelly:

the bank, which was a massive IPO in the tech world in the year 2000

Dennis Kelly:

and a billion dollars in the bank.

Dennis Kelly:

The first thing that the CEO did was go and drop.

Dennis Kelly:

400 million of it on a new campus.

Dennis Kelly:

So, so, you know, we're in this beautiful building in Santa Clara.

Dennis Kelly:

It was fine.

Dennis Kelly:

It was great.

Dennis Kelly:

but we had to have the signature campus, right?

Dennis Kelly:

That, that everybody in Silicon Valley, all the big players

Dennis Kelly:

have a signature campus.

Dennis Kelly:

We had to have one.

Dennis Kelly:

So there goes more than half of the money goes right out the door immediately.

Dennis Kelly:

not anticipating, maybe it'll be a downturn, at any point in time, when

Dennis Kelly:

that little cushion, but, so that was one, right, like, my goodness, don't

Dennis Kelly:

get caught up in all of the symbols of success, in, but, I think more, even

Dennis Kelly:

more fundamentally, the management at Palm was not able to get out of its own

Dennis Kelly:

way, there was too much kind of fighting about the soul of Palm and, whether or

Dennis Kelly:

not the existing world that was Palm, the developer community, the ecosystem

Dennis Kelly:

around it could ever transition into something other than what it was, other

Dennis Kelly:

than making incremental changes, they were afraid to kill the golden goose

Dennis Kelly:

that they had with real innovation and the original founders of Palm ended up

Dennis Kelly:

getting out and started, handspring.

Dennis Kelly:

which used the Palm operating system, but turned it into a phone, right?

Dennis Kelly:

But it was underfunded and, it was a bad time to be starting this thing.

Dennis Kelly:

And it was really that inability to make a call on your core product.

Dennis Kelly:

and try to build something that would eventually, make that thing die.

Dennis Kelly:

that, that was Palm's real, family as an organization.

Dennis Kelly:

and really taking that and absorbing that, that knowledge was so important for me.

Dennis Kelly:

and, so then I left Palm, ended up jumping into a, Palm ecosystem startup

Dennis Kelly:

that had built some software in the Palm environment and was selling to big

Dennis Kelly:

corporations, to the enterprise, selling mobile software for managing, work.

Dennis Kelly:

Courses that were out in the field doing work.

Dennis Kelly:

and so the most painful lesson of my career, came, at, as

Dennis Kelly:

a result of this company.

Dennis Kelly:

this was the one company that completely failed that I had started, or I didn't

Dennis Kelly:

start, but I was c e o of this company.

Dennis Kelly:

Failed, went out of business.

Dennis Kelly:

Everybody lost their money.

Dennis Kelly:

and, so I was hired to come in.

Dennis Kelly:

I'm coming from Palm and so I know the environment.

Dennis Kelly:

I know mobile computing at least as it was at that time.

Dennis Kelly:

And I worked with the CFO, we put together a business model, they called

Dennis Kelly:

for, we'll say, 2 million of investment.

Dennis Kelly:

It would take us about five years.

Dennis Kelly:

And, so I showed up at a great big venture firm.

Dennis Kelly:

I had deep relationships with, grant success committee day in the back pocket.

Dennis Kelly:

and I sat down in the conference room with an associate who said to me, Hey, Dennis.

Dennis Kelly:

I looked at your deck, I looked at your presentation, you can walk

Dennis Kelly:

out of here today with financing.

Dennis Kelly:

Except for one thing, we need you to not take two million dollars, we need

Dennis Kelly:

you to take eight million dollars.

Dennis Kelly:

And because we don't want to write a small check, we don't write a big check.

Dennis Kelly:

And if you can massage your numbers and make that work, you'll get a

Dennis Kelly:

commitment today and you're done.

Dennis Kelly:

You can get off the road, you can get back to work, you can get back to

Dennis Kelly:

your heads down building this company.

Dennis Kelly:

young CEO, sales guy by training.

Dennis Kelly:

I'm sitting in the conference room.

Dennis Kelly:

I have a few minutes to make a decision.

Dennis Kelly:

I said, yes, close the deal, figure it out later, get the deal done.

Dennis Kelly:

So I took our spreadsheets and projections, changed everything to

Dennis Kelly:

take eight million dollars to spend all of that and then have sales numbers

Dennis Kelly:

that are spiking quickly as important to support this entire model, sold

Dennis Kelly:

it, got the eight million dollars.

Dennis Kelly:

And then the business was not ready to spend money that quickly by any

Dennis Kelly:

means, sales were not nearly enough to support the model that we had created.

Dennis Kelly:

And, so that decision to let easy money or let a financing strategy

Dennis Kelly:

dictate my business strategy.

Dennis Kelly:

Was the single most painful lesson that I've learned along the way

Tim Winders:

Yeah, the, and money, what a temptation to, what a, because

Tim Winders:

isn't that, this is where we pick apart what success isn't more money.

Tim Winders:

Always the answer.

Tim Winders:

See, I'm disagreeing with myself right now.

Tim Winders:

So you're really saying more money is not always the answer, right?

Dennis Kelly:

it is not it was not the right money for that business at that

Dennis Kelly:

time and this is think about this.

Dennis Kelly:

This is at the very beginning of the mobile computing market

Dennis Kelly:

and we had software that made it super easy to create mobile apps.

Dennis Kelly:

how many mobile apps do we think of can we think of now?

Dennis Kelly:

there's untold millions of mobile apps.

Dennis Kelly:

We had software that you could drag and drop and create a

Dennis Kelly:

mobile app quickly and easily.

Dennis Kelly:

And it could work whether you had a cell phone connection or not have a

Dennis Kelly:

cell phone connection, like crazy.

Dennis Kelly:

And, but it was early, right?

Dennis Kelly:

And so the use cases were, they're not as broad early.

Dennis Kelly:

and yet I was tempted by that big number.

Dennis Kelly:

And by working with people that, this already preexisting

Dennis Kelly:

relationship with, and it was easy.

Dennis Kelly:

and, we always figured out we'd make it work.

Dennis Kelly:

not really when you take money, you are laying a foundation for your business.

Dennis Kelly:

There are expectations around that money.

Dennis Kelly:

There are, legal, responsibilities of people that are sitting on the board.

Dennis Kelly:

and those people have their own dynamics, their own drivers.

Dennis Kelly:

of behavior and outcomes that they're looking for.

Dennis Kelly:

And it is so important to find the right financing for your business at the

Dennis Kelly:

particular point in time that you are in, as opposed to allowing your thinking

Dennis Kelly:

about the business to be structured by capital that's easily available.

Tim Winders:

Hey, Dennis, at what point, and I don't think it was

Tim Winders:

just now here on the podcast.

Tim Winders:

At what point did you realize you may have made a mistake and what

Tim Winders:

did that do for you internally?

Tim Winders:

What were you like going?

Tim Winders:

What do we do now?

Tim Winders:

Or, did you realize that?

Tim Winders:

some, sometimes we have this optimism and really startup

Tim Winders:

and business people really do.

Tim Winders:

We sometimes are overly optimistic and think, okay, we could sell our

Tim Winders:

way out of it, or we can grind our way out of something like that.

Tim Winders:

But at what point there was a time that you went, Oh, when was that?

Tim Winders:

And tell me more about that time.

Dennis Kelly:

yeah.

Dennis Kelly:

So within six months, we had hired some really good people, really good

Dennis Kelly:

salespeople, sales management, marketing people, and when it became clear that the

Dennis Kelly:

pipeline was not developing as quickly as it would need to in order to support the

Dennis Kelly:

revenue that we were expecting to come in the next year, it, it became clear

Dennis Kelly:

that we had, Overextended ourselves.

Dennis Kelly:

and, but at that point, I had sold this thing, I bought into it, I brought all

Dennis Kelly:

these people on board, to support this vision and having that conversation at

Dennis Kelly:

the board level about, Hey, this is not.

Dennis Kelly:

The short term thing, that no change the people, right?

Dennis Kelly:

if the results aren't there, change the people, right?

Dennis Kelly:

It didn't work.

Dennis Kelly:

It was a fundamental issue, not a people issue.

Dennis Kelly:

so it crept in fairly early.

Dennis Kelly:

and.

Dennis Kelly:

We did our best to make something of it, but ultimately it was a failure.

Dennis Kelly:

And, so scars and lessons, but, but you learn more from difficult times

Dennis Kelly:

than from easy times, in my belief.

Tim Winders:

so a quick recap.

Tim Winders:

I love what you brought up with, handspring.

Tim Winders:

I, what I heard there was that they got to a point where they had something good,

Tim Winders:

but they were protecting what they had instead of looking at new opportunities.

Tim Winders:

And then I love the example that you just brought up.

Tim Winders:

It's like more money's not always the answer.

Tim Winders:

And it goes back to the conversation we had earlier, where it's okay, there's.

Tim Winders:

I don't want to say there's strings attached, but there's stipulations

Tim Winders:

when you do things like that.

Tim Winders:

And, and that was a great lesson.

Tim Winders:

all right, so now let's, we're getting closer to this business that you've

Tim Winders:

got now, which is fascinating me.

Tim Winders:

I look forward to it, but is there a step or two we're missing in between?

Tim Winders:

Are we getting close to getting this one started?

Dennis Kelly:

We're getting close.

Dennis Kelly:

I'll just quickly touch it.

Dennis Kelly:

So from there, took some time off.

Dennis Kelly:

and then jumped into a retail startup, believe it or not, and, so I was involved

Dennis Kelly:

in building out, retail stores in the mobile space, it been living in mobile

Dennis Kelly:

there for quite some time, had a lot of thoughts, a lot of ideas, had a partner,

Dennis Kelly:

we built that company, and we had about 50 stores in three states, ended up

Dennis Kelly:

selling that and had a nice outcome there.

Dennis Kelly:

and then, back in 2013, I reconnected with this brilliant software architect who I

Dennis Kelly:

had known through any day and some of the other, subsequent startups and, he, it

Dennis Kelly:

turns out he moved a couple of towns away.

Dennis Kelly:

and he said, Hey, pick up this bag gig I got going.

Dennis Kelly:

I had, he had a business, and he wanted to do a direct mail

Dennis Kelly:

campaign to promote an event.

Dennis Kelly:

so he was working on that direct mail campaign and saw, huh, there's

Dennis Kelly:

not a lot of tools to help me.

Dennis Kelly:

capture, interest when somebody responds, there's not an easy way to, to do that

Dennis Kelly:

and and then talk to the printer and they're, they seem really old school, so

Dennis Kelly:

he built the software that, that he could, be a part of the direct mail process.

Dennis Kelly:

And surround it with landing pages and, and then, email

Dennis Kelly:

marketing and some other things.

Dennis Kelly:

And, he had some really customers and say, Hey, you got to take a look at it.

Dennis Kelly:

So I thought at this point, 2013, like direct mail, isn't that,

Dennis Kelly:

on the way out, isn't it dead?

Dennis Kelly:

and, but then you dig a little more and yeah, it's certainly not the primary

Dennis Kelly:

step marketing channel for a lot of companies anymore, but it's still a

Dennis Kelly:

40 billion a year industry in the U.

Dennis Kelly:

S.

Dennis Kelly:

So great big old legacy marketing channel and nobody in Silicon

Dennis Kelly:

Valley is paying any attention.

Dennis Kelly:

So very, underinvested in from a technology standpoint.

Dennis Kelly:

And sounds like an opportunity and that's really what led to the launch of BoingNet.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, let me pause you one second.

Tim Winders:

I want to, you and I are of the generation where, when we start hearing,

Tim Winders:

a lot of things that are popular in the world today about being vulnerable

Tim Winders:

and things like that, we'd like, yeah, we don't like to share that.

Tim Winders:

But I would like to know, is there anything you could share

Tim Winders:

about your mental state going from the, what we'll call a failure?

Tim Winders:

We'll call it a failure.

Tim Winders:

I've really come to.

Tim Winders:

Really say that they're learning experiences, but were you gun shy at all?

Tim Winders:

Did you lose a little bit of your, as Austin Powers was saying of your mojo?

Tim Winders:

Were you wondering if you still had it?

Tim Winders:

talk to me a little bit about that.

Tim Winders:

You don't have to, we don't have to have a therapy session here.

Tim Winders:

I'm not saying we're going to go into, I don't have any tissues or

Tim Winders:

anything, Dennis, but I do, because I realized I had to really do some

Tim Winders:

reflection on, I lost a little swagger, but I needed to lose a little bit.

Tim Winders:

But I didn't need to lose it entirely.

Tim Winders:

So what was going on with you mentally as you were going through that time off

Tim Winders:

and then this next thing came along.

Dennis Kelly:

I think there's a, there's an important thing that

Dennis Kelly:

happened in that failed startup as well.

Dennis Kelly:

my wife and I had our second, child.

Dennis Kelly:

Our daughter was, nine years old, at that time.

Dennis Kelly:

And, and I'm hard charging, trying to, make this startup a success, despite

Dennis Kelly:

all the things that became apparent that it was not going to be successful.

Dennis Kelly:

I was trying to prop it up, working my tail off, and my daughter ended up

Dennis Kelly:

with a massive infection in her brain.

Dennis Kelly:

and, an abscess, actually, the size of a, like a golf ball, on her brain.

Dennis Kelly:

and We ended up spending nine nights at Children's Hospital in Boston, with

Dennis Kelly:

teams of different people coming in, trying to figure out, how to deal with

Dennis Kelly:

this thing and how to solve it and, that made me step back and say, all

Dennis Kelly:

right, Dennis, the heck you doing here, working these 20 hour days, you got a

Dennis Kelly:

young family, life is precious and could be can be short and so that certainly

Dennis Kelly:

impact has impacted my life ever since.

Dennis Kelly:

but also at that particular point in time, I got this failed startup.

Dennis Kelly:

I got this thing going on in my life.

Dennis Kelly:

I fortunately had some success and had some, money in my pocket.

Dennis Kelly:

And my next thing I thought, you know what, I'm done with tech for a while.

Dennis Kelly:

I don't want to deal with tech.

Dennis Kelly:

I want to do something out in the real world and, just leave

Dennis Kelly:

this environment for a while.

Dennis Kelly:

and the demand, because in my mind, I only knew one way to work, and that was.

Dennis Kelly:

All in all day, every day.

Dennis Kelly:

And so I did this other, this retail startup, which, it didn't

Dennis Kelly:

require nearly the energy and work.

Dennis Kelly:

And I was able to spend time with my family and my kids through

Dennis Kelly:

middle school and high school.

Dennis Kelly:

and, it was a wonderful experience.

Dennis Kelly:

I learned a ton in the retail world.

Dennis Kelly:

and that really set the stage for me to come back to tech and

Dennis Kelly:

to say, you know what I missed, I miss working with brilliant.

Dennis Kelly:

Software engineers and there's so many amazing people in the tech world that if

Dennis Kelly:

I structure this the way the right way, I can have a little bit more balance

Dennis Kelly:

between the old Dennis and then, a more sustainable way to think about a long term

Dennis Kelly:

growth model for a tech based startup.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, that's a, that's that redefining success

Tim Winders:

that we like to drill down on here.

Tim Winders:

you're still, you know, used to have the skills and all that, but

Tim Winders:

the mindset shift is different.

Tim Winders:

and I do want to say this, we always look for little clips and

Tim Winders:

sound bites to pull from this.

Tim Winders:

We've got Dennis Kelly saying that the tech world is not the real world that

Tim Winders:

you're going to go work out in the real world on that little blip there.

Tim Winders:

Hopefully we won't have to flip that out.

Tim Winders:

so you were in this fake world, you went to the real world and then

Tim Winders:

you went back to the tech world.

Tim Winders:

so we're where I really want to be because this is like a cool story and I love the.

Tim Winders:

The merging of this legacy business, what I would, I sometimes word it old school.

Tim Winders:

I hope that's not a bad thing.

Tim Winders:

Legacy sounds better, direct mail.

Tim Winders:

I've spent some time doing quite a bit of direct mail myself, but I

Tim Winders:

love kind of the progression here.

Tim Winders:

So bring us up to speed.

Tim Winders:

Tell us what was going on there early on and then how that, pivoted or

Tim Winders:

transitioned or whatever went on there.

Dennis Kelly:

yeah.

Dennis Kelly:

so my business partner started this, little app, called BoingNet, that you

Dennis Kelly:

could sell to people that, that are in the direct mail production world.

Dennis Kelly:

So we're selling to printers, selling to agencies, and the

Dennis Kelly:

software which surround a direct mail campaign with digital elements.

Dennis Kelly:

Landing pages, microsites, email marketing, text messaging, and hey,

Dennis Kelly:

I'm helping people do the direct mail, but I can sell all these

Dennis Kelly:

other things along with it, right?

Dennis Kelly:

We thought this is a no brainer, great way to bridge the direct mail

Dennis Kelly:

world, bring it into the 21st century.

Dennis Kelly:

And so we built some great software, sales were low, longer sales cycles than

Dennis Kelly:

I guess what I had, we had anticipated, required a lot of professional services,

Dennis Kelly:

and it was going okay, but it wasn't really matching our expectations or

Dennis Kelly:

certainly the pace of growth going on in the marketing tech world, right?

Dennis Kelly:

And so after a couple of years, and having gone through the experience before, we

Dennis Kelly:

said, you know what, the fundamental problem we're selling to the wrong people.

Dennis Kelly:

We're trying to sell a technology solution to people that

Dennis Kelly:

don't want to buy technology.

Dennis Kelly:

and what we were able to learn, though, is that by taking some of

Dennis Kelly:

that software we built that analyzed who was going on a website in

Dennis Kelly:

response to a direct mail campaign.

Dennis Kelly:

And learning from the email marketing workflow, we thought, you know what,

Dennis Kelly:

if we go solve the bigger problem is that direct mail is too hard to do,

Dennis Kelly:

that direct mail is not connected to the marketing tech stack, and.

Dennis Kelly:

we already have some analytics, so if we go solve these other problems and

Dennis Kelly:

start selling directly to marketing teams, a solution that will help them

Dennis Kelly:

deploy direct mail in minutes instead of weeks and make direct mail sit right

Dennis Kelly:

alongside their email marketing and their digital marketing right inside of

Dennis Kelly:

their CRM, their marketing automation tools, and then have those detailed

Dennis Kelly:

analytics about what's happening in a direct mail campaign that are new and

Dennis Kelly:

unique, then that's a much bigger market.

Dennis Kelly:

And so that really formed the basis of our pivot from Boynet to Postalytics in 2017.

Dennis Kelly:

And then, Postalytics has been a great growth story ever since,

Dennis Kelly:

where we've been growing between 60 and 80 percent annually.

Dennis Kelly:

from year one.

Tim Winders:

And one of the things that I think we have to do this for

Tim Winders:

some folks that are listening in.

Tim Winders:

There's a whole generation that they don't even know what we're talking

Tim Winders:

about when we talk about direct mail.

Tim Winders:

I just went, we had to go clean out, we had to go to Atlanta and clean out my,

Tim Winders:

mother in law's apartment, she was going into a facility, and she had like two

Tim Winders:

months of mail that was sitting there.

Tim Winders:

And so I was, we're nomads, so I don't get a lot of mail anymore, which is fine, but

Tim Winders:

it was so interesting for me to go through all the direct mail that she has received.

Tim Winders:

And she's made a couple purchases.

Tim Winders:

So once that happens, there's triggers that come even more.

Tim Winders:

And I do want to say this, that I, Love direct mail, because that was what

Tim Winders:

helped us launch when we were doing our real estate companies in the early two

Tim Winders:

thousands, one of the first things that we did for growth was a cheesy, horrible,

Tim Winders:

I'm almost embarrassed to say what they called a yellow letter that looked

Tim Winders:

handwritten that I wish we could have automated at the time, but we had a team

Tim Winders:

that wrote all that, you know, we copied and wrote out names and stuff, and we

Tim Winders:

bought a boatload of single family homes.

Tim Winders:

From that.

Tim Winders:

And I was involved with, I was involved with some masterminds

Tim Winders:

that were transitioning from direct mail to electronic.

Tim Winders:

I think the thing people do, Dennis, though, is they're always

Tim Winders:

looking for the easy button.

Tim Winders:

And when email came along, everyone thought, Oh, I could wash my

Tim Winders:

hands of this and move along.

Tim Winders:

But I always say that some things don't go away.

Tim Winders:

We just build layers upon it.

Tim Winders:

And it sounds like that's what y'all have done with Postalytics.

Tim Winders:

Correct.

Dennis Kelly:

That is correct.

Dennis Kelly:

Yes.

Dennis Kelly:

Yes.

Dennis Kelly:

So the reality is that it's a very effective marketing channel.

Dennis Kelly:

and, and what Postolitics has done is built a lot of software around it to make

Dennis Kelly:

it faster, easier and really to work in conjunction with those other channels.

Dennis Kelly:

And so that's really the message.

Dennis Kelly:

It's not don't do email, don't do digital, just do direct mail.

Dennis Kelly:

It's, do all And, and direct mail should work together in concert with

Dennis Kelly:

your other marketing channels so that you've got continuity, you have a

Dennis Kelly:

physical touch, a physical presence that is backing up what people are seeing

Dennis Kelly:

online and through their email and having a physical thing that you hold in

Dennis Kelly:

your hand, that you read, that you set aside, that you show to somebody, that.

Dennis Kelly:

Adds a significant amount to the way your brain processes a marketing

Dennis Kelly:

message, the way that your brain can recall a brand, recall an offer when

Dennis Kelly:

you hold something, it is different than when you're just looking at a screen.

Dennis Kelly:

And so brain science is backing this up.

Dennis Kelly:

And so really the story is direct mail should be in software.

Dennis Kelly:

It should be living inside of software and it happens to print.

Dennis Kelly:

And that software needs to be coordinating with all of your other marketing channels.

Dennis Kelly:

And so that's really the primary story that we're telling today.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, and I guess one of the things too, and maybe you can

Tim Winders:

address this, one of the things that I used to struggle with the right

Tim Winders:

mail was You know, doing split test.

Tim Winders:

I love doing split tests and also loved, getting information back

Tim Winders:

so that I can make decisions.

Tim Winders:

When email came along, I think people realize that it, it

Tim Winders:

made that process quicker.

Tim Winders:

It became a quicker process, but it sounds to me like what you've

Tim Winders:

done is you've set some tools up that are merging those together.

Tim Winders:

Would that be correct?

Dennis Kelly:

that's right.

Dennis Kelly:

So we've created, tools that enable a marketer to understand exactly where

Dennis Kelly:

their mail is in the creation and the delivery process by tapping into

Dennis Kelly:

some little known tools that the U.

Dennis Kelly:

S.

Dennis Kelly:

Postal Service offers on the back end.

Dennis Kelly:

We're actually Able to track each piece of mail through the entire

Dennis Kelly:

delivery process, and so we're able to see exactly where your mail is.

Dennis Kelly:

And then we've embedded tools that came from the original Boeing that product.

Dennis Kelly:

That allow you to create unique URLs for each recipient.

Dennis Kelly:

And those URLs may be printed as full URLs, or they may

Dennis Kelly:

be represented as QR codes.

Dennis Kelly:

And as we know what's happened with the use of QR codes, since the

Dennis Kelly:

pandemic, everything's exploded.

Dennis Kelly:

And so that's become a very acceptable way for marketers to, to help people leap from

Dennis Kelly:

the physical world to the digital world.

Dennis Kelly:

and so now 70 percent of our campaigns have these personalized QR codes on them,

Dennis Kelly:

and people hit that QR code, and all of a sudden, hey, I know this is Tim Winders

Dennis Kelly:

from this particular piece of mail from this campaign, and here's when his mail

Dennis Kelly:

was delivered, here's when he hit this QR code, here's where he went online.

Dennis Kelly:

And then we're able to package all that up and communicate back to the CRM to

Dennis Kelly:

say, Hey, CRM, Tim is online right now.

Dennis Kelly:

Here's what he's looking at.

Dennis Kelly:

Here's where it came from.

Dennis Kelly:

And you may want to trigger an email to go out, right away.

Dennis Kelly:

You may want to trigger a sales rep to pick up the phone.

Dennis Kelly:

so making that data surrounding the direct mail delivery and response actionable

Dennis Kelly:

and able to easily analyze to see what's working from a testing standpoint.

Dennis Kelly:

has been a huge innovation.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, that's good.

Tim Winders:

I want to ask in just a moment about the type of people that are utilizing

Tim Winders:

Postalytics and the type people that should be, but there's one

Tim Winders:

more decision type question I want to ask you that we went over fairly

Tim Winders:

quickly and that was the transition from the BoingNet to Postalytics.

Tim Winders:

Thank you.

Tim Winders:

To Postalytics, I think a lot of people need to have the awareness to make

Tim Winders:

business pivots, decisions, and things like that, because what you did, if

Tim Winders:

I'm getting this correctly, you had a business, a tool that you had made some

Tim Winders:

adjustments to the tool, but you were, you thought there was one customer group.

Tim Winders:

people that did the printing and all that, I think is what I heard

Tim Winders:

you say instead of the people that consumed the printing and used it.

Tim Winders:

And I don't know that people really recognize what a big pivot that was.

Tim Winders:

How hard was it to do that?

Tim Winders:

Did you just wake up one morning and you talked to the partners and said,

Tim Winders:

Hey, listen, we need to do this.

Tim Winders:

what was just a little bit of that process, because at some point

Tim Winders:

you started getting some clues.

Tim Winders:

It's not working.

Tim Winders:

What do we do?

Dennis Kelly:

you're 100 percent right.

Dennis Kelly:

and, so while we're struggling through why isn't this taking off the way we

Dennis Kelly:

thought, we started actually hearing from, potential customers of Postalytics

Dennis Kelly:

knocking on our door and say, hey guys, you appear to be living in this

Dennis Kelly:

space between digital and direct mail.

Dennis Kelly:

we just implemented Salesforce, we want to try direct mail.

Dennis Kelly:

It's just painful, right?

Dennis Kelly:

It's these people that they didn't have the background in direct mail.

Dennis Kelly:

They didn't know like what the whole process look like.

Dennis Kelly:

And they're looking at it from the outside.

Dennis Kelly:

are you kidding me?

Dennis Kelly:

It's going to take all that just to get a campaign out.

Dennis Kelly:

And so we heard this a few times.

Dennis Kelly:

They're like, we want to talk to HubSpot.

Dennis Kelly:

We want to talk to Salesforce.

Dennis Kelly:

We don't want it to be so hard to do.

Dennis Kelly:

and that's really what, gave us the confidence.

Dennis Kelly:

That, hey, if we shifted our ideal customer profile from this print service

Dennis Kelly:

provider to the small to midsize business who is investing heavily in their

Dennis Kelly:

marketing tech stack, then that is a group of people that A, are, have already shown

Dennis Kelly:

they want to spend money in technology.

Dennis Kelly:

B, they want to leverage the investment they've already made in their CRM, and

Dennis Kelly:

then C, are running into the lower email open rates that everybody's seeing,

Dennis Kelly:

the higher cost in all the auctions in the pay per click world, so the cost of

Dennis Kelly:

acquisition in digital is getting higher and higher, if this alternative can

Dennis Kelly:

plug in and be easy to use, then we'll get a lot of those people and that's,

Dennis Kelly:

so we heard rumblings from the market.

Dennis Kelly:

We did some testing and it became clear that this was really the problem to solve

Tim Winders:

What was the time frame from the Oh, we've got a problem to we've

Tim Winders:

turned this ship and we're now moving in this direction all, full steam ahead.

Tim Winders:

What was the giving me a much years, days, minutes?

Tim Winders:

How long, what was the timeframe?

Dennis Kelly:

it.

Dennis Kelly:

It was really a four to six month process.

Dennis Kelly:

We looked at a few different ways to take what we had already built

Dennis Kelly:

and repackage it in, in, in a smart way and, expand the audience.

Dennis Kelly:

And have a faster sales cycle.

Dennis Kelly:

So we looked at a few alternatives.

Dennis Kelly:

Within six months, we settled on this.

Dennis Kelly:

And then it was about a nine month build process from there.

Dennis Kelly:

So it required sticking the fork in a previous effort.

Dennis Kelly:

We had to lay some great people off, unfortunately.

Dennis Kelly:

to conserve cash.

Dennis Kelly:

and then, rebuild and come back out as portfolio.

Tim Winders:

the growth sounds awesome.

Tim Winders:

And I love burgeoning.

Tim Winders:

I love when someone can take a, what we'll call legacy, not

Tim Winders:

an old school, but a legacy.

Tim Winders:

And bring it up to modern day because I think that, it's not nostalgia, but I just

Tim Winders:

think there's still some things out there.

Tim Winders:

I think I heard you talking to a guy that they do billboards.

Tim Winders:

see, I worked in a billboard company when I was in high school and people

Tim Winders:

go on billboards or radio or, Oh no, I only want to be on podcasts.

Tim Winders:

No, I think sometimes the answer is and not or.

Tim Winders:

You know this and this.

Tim Winders:

All right, Dennis, a couple quick questions here as we wrap.

Tim Winders:

Give me, I'm not looking for specific businesses, but tell me the type

Tim Winders:

industries that are really hitting some home runs with Postalytics that

Tim Winders:

You know, you could say these are some and then i'm also going to ask you who

Tim Winders:

should be looking at you That might be listening in and then we'll do

Tim Winders:

some wrap up here before we finish up.

Dennis Kelly:

sure.

Dennis Kelly:

So at a high level, we look at Postalytics as really a horizontal

Dennis Kelly:

software tool, that could be used by every business in the world.

Dennis Kelly:

And you can make an argument, anybody who's sending email, anybody who's doing

Dennis Kelly:

email marketing should be doing direct mail to complement their email marketing.

Dennis Kelly:

And I'll tell people, hey, think of us as sort of MailChimp.

Dennis Kelly:

For direct mail, right?

Dennis Kelly:

Like just about anybody ought to be using this.

Dennis Kelly:

That being said, there are certain verticals that have, use cases

Dennis Kelly:

that, that really need direct mail.

Dennis Kelly:

And so obviously real estate, and it's very broad, footprint of residential

Dennis Kelly:

and commercial, the investment side.

Dennis Kelly:

and then more recently.

Dennis Kelly:

Property tech.

Dennis Kelly:

Real estate tech is a booming business.

Dennis Kelly:

And so direct mail is becoming a part of those solutions that are out

Dennis Kelly:

there in the property tech world.

Dennis Kelly:

and so that's been a big area for us.

Dennis Kelly:

another one is nonprofit, right?

Dennis Kelly:

We're investing very heavily in the nonprofit space.

Dennis Kelly:

60% of all donations to US nonprofits still happen by check.

Dennis Kelly:

and that represents a tremendous opportunity for us.

Dennis Kelly:

And then, the other one that has really taken off in the

Dennis Kelly:

last year is our agency channel.

Dennis Kelly:

And so we built a version of post politics designed, to be used by marketing agencies

Dennis Kelly:

and, marketing agencies control a lot of direct mail you get at home, the.

Dennis Kelly:

postcards from the landscaper, and the restaurateur, and those type of things

Dennis Kelly:

are often being built by a local marketing agency that has a direct mail practice.

Dennis Kelly:

And so we've built a tool that empowers those agencies to be very efficient

Dennis Kelly:

and to, have an ability to scale their business without adding a lot of staff.

Dennis Kelly:

and so some of those verticals are really areas of concentration.

Dennis Kelly:

but we view the opportunity is very horizontal.

Tim Winders:

Yeah, I mean i'm sitting here thinking about Somebody

Tim Winders:

who owns a pizza restaurant, someone who owns a local business.

Tim Winders:

I'm assuming that, the way the pricing structures are still makes

Tim Winders:

sense for them to do some work with you guys all the way up.

Tim Winders:

I think y'all said small to medium.

Tim Winders:

that's, I think there's so much opportunity.

Tim Winders:

And I do think that if there's a business owner listening

Tim Winders:

in, they've listened this far.

Tim Winders:

I think they at least need to check it out.

Tim Winders:

If they've never done some things or they've done some

Tim Winders:

things and they just didn't like.

Tim Winders:

The way it worked in direct mail.

Tim Winders:

So where can people go if they're just intrigued, they want to get more

Tim Winders:

information, they want to connect with you, they want to ask you more, whatever.

Tim Winders:

Where do you want to send people?

Tim Winders:

And then I've got one more question here that we'll wrap up with Dennis.

Tim Winders:

So where can people go if they just say, you know what?

Tim Winders:

I need some more info.

Dennis Kelly:

Sure.

Dennis Kelly:

Sure.

Dennis Kelly:

So probably two places.

Dennis Kelly:

First would be our website.

Dennis Kelly:

Postalytics.

Dennis Kelly:

com.

Dennis Kelly:

and we invest very heavily in the website.

Dennis Kelly:

Tons of great content, thought leadership, how to do direct mail,

Dennis Kelly:

how to do it with automation.

Dennis Kelly:

Tremendous amount of content there that we've developed.

Dennis Kelly:

And so that's P O S T A L Y T I C S.

Dennis Kelly:

dot com, postpolitics.

Dennis Kelly:

com.

Dennis Kelly:

And then secondly is LinkedIn.

Dennis Kelly:

both, the company Postalytics and myself on LinkedIn.

Dennis Kelly:

and from other, another channel standpoint, if you're a LinkedIn

Dennis Kelly:

person, Hook up with us there, follow the company, connect with me.

Dennis Kelly:

And I'm super happy to interact and work together with folks through LinkedIn.

Tim Winders:

Excellent.

Tim Winders:

for those that are checking out the notes, we'll attempt to put

Tim Winders:

those links down in the notes.

Tim Winders:

So Dennis may not love this conversation.

Tim Winders:

We are seek, go create.

Tim Winders:

That's our title.

Tim Winders:

I'm gonna let you pick one of those words over the other two is my

Tim Winders:

last question and why seek, go or create, which one do you choose?

Dennis Kelly:

I'm probably a create guy.

Dennis Kelly:

I like to build businesses from scratch.

Dennis Kelly:

I like to be involved in the very beginning of them.

Dennis Kelly:

and so I think that create is the word that resonates most with me.

Tim Winders:

Yeah.

Tim Winders:

Excellent.

Tim Winders:

Dennis Kelly.

Tim Winders:

Thank you.

Tim Winders:

Postalytics.

Tim Winders:

Y'all go check them out.

Tim Winders:

I think that's valuable for a lot of leaders and business owners just

Tim Winders:

to know more about direct mail.

Tim Winders:

this conversation has been awesome.

Tim Winders:

I've loved going from the transition and, and all the, Evolution

Tim Winders:

that I think Dennis has had.

Tim Winders:

I think it's been valuable for us to listen and learn with that.

Tim Winders:

We have new episodes here every Monday at seek, go create until next time.

Tim Winders:

Continue being all that you were created to be.

About the Podcast

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Seek Go Create
Redefining Success in Leadership, Business & Ministry

About your host

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Tim Winders

Tim Winders is a faith driven executive coach and author with over 40 years of experience in leadership, business, and ministry. Through his personal journey of redefining success, he has gained valuable insights on how to align beliefs with work and lead with purpose. He is committed to helping others do the same, running a coaching business that helps leaders, leadership teams, business owners, and entrepreneurs to align their beliefs with their work and redefine success.

In addition to his coaching business, Tim is also the host of the SeekGoCreate podcast and author of the book Coach: A Story of Success Redefined, which provides guidance for those looking to redefine success and align their beliefs with their work. With his extensive background, unique perspective and strengths in strategic thinking, relationship building, and problem-solving, Tim is well-suited to help clients navigate through difficult times and achieve their goals.