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A conversation with Leif Ullman

Scaling up your startup usually means finding investors and hiring additional employees to facilitate growth for the company. This means that a startup must adapt to a larger workload without compromising performance or losing revenue. This is a serious and ambitious journey a startup commits to when they decide to scale up. 74% of businesses fail because they do not scale up properly or too soon.1 Leif Ullman scaled his startup by hyperfocusing on his target market and testing different strategies to convert his leads into paying customers. In this case study, we will be diving into how Leif Ullman, the founder of KidReports, was able to successfully scale up and exit his startup.


Once Leif and his cofounder nailed down an idea for their startup, they spent three months performing market research and understanding customer validation. They interviewed, sent surveys, and attended conferences to better understand their target customer and validate the product need before building the product. Once developed, they beta tested their product with a client before founding the company KidReports. The goal now was to get more customers. Leif found early success in attending conferences and showing demos of the product. After struggling to sustain this upward momentum in finding clients because of the time consumption and costliness of this method, they went back to the drawing board. The team decided it was time to raise, which they did to an approximate $200,000. With this fund, the team focused on marketing and sales for a year, testing different marketing strategies to increase customer reach. 


Founder Tip: “Wait to hire until you are doing the job of three people and generating enough revenue to cover their cost”


The team tried strategies such as using online ads, sending postcards, and demoing their product. Leif discovered that the most effective channel to generate clients was pitching directly to the decision maker of an organization and doing in-person product demos. To scale up, the startup attended conferences, configured a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to automate follow ups and centralize communication, and hired contractors and employees. KidReports revisited their target market, realizing it was too broad and narrowed it down to a specific submarket. They also performed A/B testing on how they pitched their product to clients and discovered a system on how to follow up and best communicate their product. An interesting finding for the company was that a client was more likely to sign up with a campaign that spoke about the negatives associated with not having the product versus a campaign that highlighted all of the positive features of the product.


Founder Tip: “Start with a CRM day 1 because as you as scale, it becomes harder to move over to one”


In 2017, Leif and his co-founders successfully grew the startup and were spending their time converting enterprises into clients. Procare Software, a global leader in child care management solutions, acquired KidReports in 2017.