As the head of LeadPages, Clay Collins oversees a growing business that focuses on one thing, and one thing only: improving the performance of signup pages. And business is booming. With $8.4 million in 2014 sales, a nearly 2,000 percent increase over 2011, the company handily picked up the 220th spot on this year's Inc. 5000. He spoke to Inc. about how inspiration struck in a strange way, turning one dream into another, and the value of paying attention to the smallest details.
--As told to Noah Davis
In the beginning, we were trying to follow Gary Vaynerchuk's model: posting videos about how to make sign-up pages. "Here's a landing page... Here's what works... Here's why this button is yellow... Here's why this is above the fold..." They could download the landing page template below the blog post but people in comments wanted to know how to do things like integrate with MailChimp, publish to Wordpress or Facebook. All kinds of stuff. They were upset, even though the advice they were getting was free.
We realized we could do everything they wanted and more and give it to them in a simpler way than they had ever gotten it before. We decided to ask the audience if they would pay for a product before it existed, to see if we had a minimum viable audience. Two hundred people paid $200. That $40,000 allowed us to hire a developer. Six weeks later, we shipped. We've been launching new features every week.
We are not trying to solve the problem of not knowing HTML. We're focused on sign-up pages and sign-up pages only. Those are the pages where the money is made. LeadPages focuses on the 5 percent of pages on a website that generate the 95 percent of the results. If you're a massage therapist company, your site has bios for your therapists, directions to your facility, a home page. But if you can double the number of people that signup, you can potentially double your revenue. We're all about conversion, optimization, and connection, trying to more holistically power the point of signup. And not just pages, but the whole technology stack that exists there.
We've grown to about 150 employees and we've raised $38 million. Last month was the first month that we touched that cash, and we only did so for strategic reasons. We are quickly approaching the point where engineering and product--the R&D side--is 50 percent of our business. That's pretty cool.