Founder Stories: Cody Benedetto and Ryan Serkes On Building Modern Launch
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Cody Benedetto and Ryan Serkes, co-founders of Modern Launch!
Read on for lessons they have learned from launching and marketing their business.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
We are Cody Benedetto and Ryan Serkes, founders of Modern Launch. Our journey began in February of 2022 when we took the leap and established our very own custom software development agency from scratch.
After developing and launching several of our own business ventures throughout our careers, we decided to create our own software development company to work with other entrepreneurs and business owners. We know what it’s like to be founders trying to juggle multiple roles to launch a business and how challenging it is.
Ryan and I share a long history of working with technology and custom software. We both have worked directly with and for a wide range of technology companies supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. In the past decade, we have also launched and sold several companies ranging from cryptocurrency fund management software to real estate analytics platforms. This experience in launching and project managing tech products ultimately led us to look past our own business ventures to assist other like-minded professionals to achieve their goals.
Today, we work with startups and high-growth companies to build custom UI/UX product designs, websites, and mobile applications.
Our core services are:
- Mobile Application Development
- Website Development & Design
- Custom Software Development
- Interactive Prototyping
- Ongoing Website Maintenance
2. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
Ryan and I organized our pre and post-launch tasks using our project management tools, streamlining our plans before diving into legalities and paperwork. As a service-oriented company, we dedicated time to shaping our business vision, client interactions, internal team, and target market strategy.
Recognizing the significance of early sales, even while juggling full-time jobs, was a game-changer. Mentor guidance pushed us to start our sales efforts right away, and looking back, we wish we’d started even earlier, given the impactful results.
Leveraging our industry connections, we reached out to key contacts, opening doors to projects and partnerships. By launch day, we already had our first paying customer and a promising pipeline, which gave us confidence and momentum, making us feel like we weren’t just starting from scratch.
Our business model centers on delivering custom software development services at a profit. We’ve optimized operations by keeping overhead low and adopting an on-demand contracting approach.
With a modest initial investment, we swiftly got our business running. Utilizing platforms like Legal Zoom, consulting a CPA, handling in-house website development, and leveraging our existing bank for business banking, we established a solid foundation. The moment our second client came on board, we turned profitable, showcasing the benefits of our lean startup approach.
From the very beginning, we set out to inform our network about our new venture, leveraging LinkedIn to gain a substantial following and posting strategically. This approach even secured one of our initial clients—a connection from our network who required our services and reconnected with us through a LinkedIn post.
3. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
Since our launch, we’ve prioritized sales and business growth, utilizing a few key sales avenues. Here are some of the main sales channels we’ve leveraged from day one. The Stars next to each of the strategies below represent how impactful they’ve been for us for generating leads and closing deals. (1 being the least and 5 being the most)
- Joining the Local Chambers of Commerce and other local networks ⭐
- Reddit, Slack & Discord Communities ⭐⭐
- Social Media (Linkedin & Facebook) ⭐⭐
- General SEO Strategies & Blogging ⭐⭐
- Local SEO & Google Business Manager ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Virtual & In-person Networking Events ⭐
- Referral Partnerships ⭐
- Network Connections & Personal Referrals ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Outbound Email Marketing Campaigns ⭐⭐⭐
- Articles/Podcast Interviews ⭐
4. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
As a services business, we aren’t building a brand around one specific, sexy, SaaS product or application. Instead, we’re helping our clients to build their own products. That being said, branding is still critical and we do our best to showcase our expertise by highlighting and celebrating our clients as the heroes of the story. A brand that we’ve always admired is Indeed the job site.
I worked at Indeed for the better part of a decade so maybe I’m biased but it’s a company that puts the job seeker 1st and strives to add value to its end users at all times. Security is a critical focus and the platform is loved by job seekers and employers all over the world.
I love how Indeed’s brand is simple and clear, without being over the top because there’s no need to be too flashy. The technology backing the search engine, indexing capabilities, and PPC click advertising is complex. However, the web interface is extremely simple and user-friendly.
There are no sponsored ads for other companies on the site and anyone with a computer or mobile phone can easily navigate it. We’re big fans of keeping UI/UX simple and putting the users 1st to deliver a smooth and effective experience.
5. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
Google & Local SEO: As a service-based business, we get quite a bit of inbound leads from our Google presence in our local areas. It’s important to regularly update the business profile and stay active with posts and engage with all client reviews.
Canva: Although not a direct “marketing platform,” we leverage Canva frequently for all kinds of design tasks to help with marketing collateral. Canva is so easy to use and allows anyone to whip up a design in seconds. This has been incredibly helpful for specific tasks that don’t require in-depth design work.
Company Website: Our business WordPress website is one of the best marketing tools we have at our disposal. We update it regularly and leverage it as the digital face of our company. It’s become a dynamic tool that helps to capture leads, establish brand identity, and showcase our expertise. We actively lean on the site to highlight our core services, testimonials, case studies, portfolio, and blog.
6. Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
We’re extremely excited about the recent advancements in technology, specifically in the business automation and AI space. We’re currently working on a Fintech application that leverages OpenAI’s Chat GPT to help automate a very time-consuming process. I can’t share too much but this is one of several AI projects that we’re excited about as we’re getting closer to launching it.
In the coming months, we hope to incorporate more automation and leverage various AI tools for new projects that will change the way people do business. We’re huge proponents of automation and we’ve been actively building out internal tools to help streamline our own processes.
7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
Technology propels businesses to operate and scale in so many different ways. We’re super passionate about the product development process and using technology to help entrepreneurs and businesses accomplish amazing things.
The future of technology-enabled businesses motivates us because we strive to help people without the technical resources to achieve their goals. As entrepreneurs ourselves, helping others in this space is incredibly rewarding.
We love being part of the process of launching a new product or building out a custom solution to help an existing business operate more effectively and efficiently.
8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Tell everyone: A crucial tip is to engage extensively with individuals and expand your network well in advance of your launch. Initiate sales efforts early to establish your identity and offerings.
A broad network can help to build strategic partnerships and boost the pipeline; word of mouth is potent and cost-effective marketing. Utilize free platforms like Reddit, Discord, Slack, and LinkedIn, actively participating in relevant communities to create relationships and engage with targeted audiences.
Time is money: In the initial stages, we were bombarded with solicitations through cold emails, calls, and LinkedIn messages, ranging from potential partnerships to service offers. It became evident that distinguishing genuine opportunities from spam was crucial.
We initially entertained some unproductive calls and meetings, unaware this would become a regular occurrence. Now, we’ve developed a system to effectively filter and prioritize inbound cold outreach for follow-up, avoiding time wasted. Founders’ time is precious and the first few months should be spent only on the essential elements of the business.
Marketing is critical but don’t spread yourself too thin: Concentrate on two targeted sales and marketing approaches from the get-go. Dedicate effort to mastering them, ensuring the proper execution before moving to any other strategies.
A lot of entrepreneurs, ourselves included, tried to do too much too fast and we suffered because of it. We never put in enough work required to truly reap the benefits of any single strategy because we spread ourselves too thin.
Remember, investing money wisely in your business expansion is essential – view it as a necessary step to generate profits.
SEO Matters: Looking back, I feel it would have been beneficial to invest more time in researching and understanding SEO best practices as well as executing core SEO strategies prior to our launch.
Although we initially lacked in this area, it’s now a core focus as we continue to scale. Establishing a robust local and global web presence is now a key priority for us.
Effective communication (sales) is everything:
In the world of entrepreneurship, sales truly is the lifeblood of a business. The ability to effectively communicate the value of your product or service to potential clients is critical.
Entrepreneurs need to master the art of selling, whether it’s through building relationships, crafting compelling pitches, or understanding the customer’s needs. Sales skills not only drive revenue but also facilitate the development of strong partnerships and a loyal customer base.
Far too often I see folks embody the mentality of “sales just isn’t for me.” Whether they like it or not, an entrepreneur is a salesperson in one way or another. Luckily, this is a skill that CAN be learned and should be at the forefront of early goals in starting and launching a business.
Conversations shape future prospects. Maintaining positive interactions and avoiding bridges being burnt is essential. Leaving behind a helpful and pleasant impression regardless of the outcome can plant seeds for future opportunities.
For example, shortly after we launched, a solo entrepreneur sought insight into software development and advancing a prototype to an MVP. Though the timing wasn’t right then, I gave him valuable feedback and we stayed in contact.
Several months later, he referred a client to us, and a year after that, he engaged us again to build his MVP. Being friendly and helpful can pay off with huge dividends. We always try to add value even if we don’t ultimately end up working with a prospective client.
9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
A core quality of a successful entrepreneur is humility. Recognizing your strengths while acknowledging your limitations fosters a healthy learning environment. Embracing feedback and valuing the expertise of others leads to better decision-making and innovative solutions. Humble entrepreneurs are open to growth, which in turn drives the growth of their businesses.
Entrepreneurs should surround themselves with individuals whose skills and expertise complement their own. Seeking out team members who excel in areas where you might lack proficiency creates a healthy dynamic that drives innovation and efficiency.
A team of experts fosters an environment where each member can shine and contribute their best, ultimately moving the business forward. It’s hard to let go of certain responsibilities especially when it’s “your” company but it’s almost always the right move. A business can’t scale if you can’t replace or at least replicate your own responsibilities and output.
Adaptability is a key trait that sets successful entrepreneurs apart. The business landscape is constantly evolving, especially today with advancements in technology. The ability to pivot quickly in response to changing market trends, customer preferences, and unexpected challenges is crucial.
Agile entrepreneurs should strive to build a culture of experimentation and be willing to iterate on their strategies to find what works best. This flexibility creates sustainability and growth for individuals, teams, and companies of all sizes.
10. Let us know where we can go to learn more! (share links to your website and social media profiles)