This entrepreneur's advice to himself: Think big. Now bigger.

Entrepreneur of 2016 finalist Eric Wu knows the value of sales and marketing

Eric Wu

Bracket Labs Co-founder, Sales & Customer Success

If Eric Wu weren’t the co-founder of Bracket Labs, tasked with sales and customer success, he’d like to be running a surfing school in Hawaii, possibly with a bowl of potato chips and French onion dip at the ready.

Put that in his futures file.

Meanwhile, he’s busy building high-quality collaboration and productivity apps for the Salesforce AppExchange. Bracket Labs’ first product, Campaign Calendar, helps Salesforce users visualize, manage and share campaign details. Bracket’s TaskRay, the most popular project management app in the Salesforce AppExchange, helps individuals and teams easily track and manage their work, no matter how small or large the to-do or project. Both apps were honored as AppQuest semifinalists.

My advice for my younger self: First, the most elegantly designed product in the world is useless if customers don’t want to buy it, so start paying attention to sales and marketing. Learn the fundamentals of both, get comfortable presenting in front of customers, and find mentors who can advise you. This sounds obvious and cliché, but it will be one of the biggest factors in your future business success.

Second, think bigger. Now even bigger. Now bigger still. Your pre-conceived notions about what’s possible are, generally speaking, incorrect. Or rather, they are self-fulfilling and holding you back. Look for the ways that everything you do can be orders of magnitude bigger, better or more valuable.

My biggest challenge: The biggest challenge I’ve faced has definitely been founding and growing my current company, Bracket Labs. Starting an enterprise software company is daunting; you’re facing big, powerful incumbents in the market, nobody has ever heard of you, and your product must be bulletproof in order to satisfy the rigorous requirements of your customers. Combine those dynamics with the fact that we were committed to bootstrapping the business and we faced an immense challenge.

In our case, bootstrapping the business not only heightened the challenge but also showed us the path to overcome it. Without outside investment, we didn’t have any room for major “pivots” in our business model, so we were very careful to test and validate our market and product vision.

And of course, we also needed to generate income as quickly as possible. This didn’t just mean closing deals, it meant that every single element of business operation had to be as lean (read cheap) as possible. We had to make hard choices on where to invest our meager cash, and more often than not we solved a problem through resourcefulness rather than throwing money at it.

Ultimately, working through this hardship laid the groundwork for our success today. It forced us to focus on the fundamentals and it resulted in a solid business model that is scaling nicely. And, most importantly, we grew together as a team in a way that can only happen in the face of shared adversity.

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