Sometimes it pays to talk to your competitors. In Allan Margate’s case, talking to his competitor led to them founding LeadVine.com together.
In 2002, Allan Margate, the founder of WageExchange.com, was tired of cold calling customers without any success for the accounting temp agency he had started. One day his business partner Bobby got a lead through a contact about a company who needed accounting help. They landed the client, and paid their contact a 20 per-cent cut in finders fees. Another contact Bobby met at a barbeque got them even more business. They gave that contact a 10 per-cent fee. Altogether Bobby and Allan gave out more than $25,000 in finders fees to contacts who had the right information on sales leads at the right time. Allan realized they were on to something, but he couldn’t figure out the specifics to facilitate transactions and work out a suitable business model.
Four years later, the emergence of suitable web technologies enabled Allan to put a business model together. “I thought of the idea for LeadVine in 2002 but was not serious about starting the site until 2006,” Allan said. “I contacted several friends and acquaintances to help me build the web site but I could not find anyone who was interested.”
Desperate, he decided to take the unprecedented step of cold emailing a competitor of WageExchange.com for help. Ben Thomas was the founder of SalaryScout.com and someone whom he had never met. “(But) I always liked his site’s user interface.”
Allan and Ben soon learned that they had a lot in common. Both were Sarbanes Oxley auditors, both started a salary website, both loved starting companies, and both enjoyed photography. Ben liked the idea of helping companies easily find qualified sales leads and helping people with information make easy money, and the two competitors quickly became allies.
Of course, since they’ve never met each other it did take them a while to get to know each other and discuss the specifics of the company. After a year of work the site went live. “Our greatest success is being able to work together and execute our business plan. We were complete strangers who never met but due to the love of creating something new and belief in our business plan, we were able to succeed.”
LeadVine lets anyone post a sales lead you are looking for, list a referral fee, and then basically let the community act as an extended sales force. Allan shares how the site help make the sales process more efficient. “Every day there are people who come across sales leads but do nothing with that information. LeadVine changes that by making that information valuable to someone else,” he said.
Allan and Ben plan to grow the site by working on our marketing, increasing its membership, and slowly releasing improvements. “Right now we are thinking about future improvements. Our challenges have been to clearly and concisely explain the concept of our site because it is a relatively new idea, get the word out about LeadVine, and to increase our web traffic.”
For more information, contact Allan at allan at leadvine dot com.