Founder Stories: Michael Rapoport On Building Sprwt
In today’s Founder Story we feature Michael Rapoport, the Founder of Sprwt!
Read on for lessons he’s learned from launching and marketing his business.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
My name is Michael Rapoport, and I am the CEO of Sprwt. Sprwt is a software platform that was developed exclusively for the meal prep and catering industry. Working with small businesses and independent chefs, we learned that there are a lot of manual administrative tasks that take hours upon hours each week to manage a kitchen operation. We, therefore, developed technology that helps businesses automate their manual processes with features like automated reports, dynamic recipe builder, customer management tools, marketing automation, and simple online ordering capabilities.
2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?
When we first started, my business partner and I were developing technology for a business. We were brought in as the lead developers and CTO. This was over 9 years ago and at that time there were little to no meal prep businesses, or so we thought. We believed our technology was going to revolutionize the industry. Sadly, due to complications in the business model, the company we initially started working on failed. At that time, I realized we had an amazing piece of technology that we owned and nothing to do with it. Given my grassroots sales mindset, I decided to do a little due diligence and see if there were any similar business models that can purchase my software.
After a few days of research we found 4 companies located within a 15-minute drive of our office, and two in the neighboring states. I called all of them and within hours we received calls back stating they would love to see the software and would be interested in purchasing it if they did specific functionalities. At that moment, I realized there was an opportunity, so I met with all the businesses and asked them to provide a list of functionalities they deemed important. We continued to build out these functions and drafted our business model for a SaaS operation. Nine years later, we’ve developed a fantastic product with the same mentality we had at the initial stages, listen to the consumers and build what the market needs.
3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
After receiving our list of functions that our beta customers requested, I decided to search for more companies in other states to see if the customer base was large enough to support this opportunity. After a couple of weeks, we had demos scheduled with 5 businesses and were learning what we needed to make an impact in this industry.
Prior to even finalizing our product, we signed 3 additional beta customers in order to hire an additional developer and cover our current operating expenses. From that point, we continued to develop based on the needs and wants of our customers. We then focused on signing 30 customers by the end of that calendar year.
4. How did you come up with your logo and the visual identity for your brand?
When we first started Sprwt, we actually had a completely different name; it was Slickmeals. Our parent company, Slickview Studios, was how we got into this industry and so we decided to create a Frankenstein mesh of what we felt would work. We knew this was temporary and immediately went to the drawing boards before we fully invested in a brand in the market. I had a eureka moment and I thought of what word has to do with food but also has to do with software to help a business grow.
The answer was “sprouts”, but how can I take this word and make it unique? I decided to remove all of the vowels and replace them with a consonant. That is how we came up with the brand name Sprwt. My partner Rui, an amazing designer created several iterations of a leaf and eventually, we came up with the logo we have today.
5. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
We believe when trying to market to a niche audience the best method is to be direct. Although we run Facebook ads and Google ad campaigns to gain new customers and develop our brand identity, the most effective methodologies to acquire new customers is via direct sales approach i.e. cold calling, email marketing, etc…
7. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
It may be sad to say this, but we don’t look at other brands and try to replicate them. We are constantly trying to innovate and become the brand that others try to emulate. And if I can be completely candid, I believe we have done that within the meal prep industry.
8. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
Our favorite tool is Hubspot. It allows us to manage our prospect communications, send out emails, integrate with our calling system, and create notes, manage deal flow, and so forth. Given that our strategy is more focused on direct account-based marketing (ABM) tactics, we feel that this tool is what makes us successful more than an ad platform or anything else.
9. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
As a child, I was inspired and motivated by escaping the mindset and lifestyle of what I refer to as a “scarcity mindset”. My goal was to create businesses that would assist me with removing my mental limitations and being free from childhood traumas. I’ve always been passionate about helping other people launch and manage their own businesses, and in the process when I created this platform my goal has forever and still been to help people become successful. At Sprwt, we believe that if you make other people around you successful then in turn we will become successful.
10. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Find ways to succeed without the need for investors or outside capital. As much as this may be a struggle, most businesses can operate on low funding if any at all. If you develop a product that has a need and you genuinely can improve the lives of your consumers that cash flow will come. Investors, albeit important in the latter stages, at infancy tend to harm creativity and growth.
With that said, immediately find advisors, people that have industry experience in several departments so they can give you proper advice on how to grow your business with things like technology, sales, employee management, and hiring processes, developing internal processes for training, and every other aspect of a business. A lack of advisors will lead to failure, not to say you can’t grow and learn from them, but definitely ones you can avoid and make an opportunity for growth with proper experience and advice.
11. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
Creativity and the ability to ask unlimited questions. The moment a leader stunts creativity or a team stops asking questions, the company is in its dying stages. You cannot have growth without the ability to ask what can change.
12. Let us know where we can go to learn more!
Or book a demo with Sprwt!