First of all, let me say I’m super sorry about the last two weeks.
If you didn’t know already, I’m in the US now. I’ve been in Orlando, and I’m now in Los Angeles trying to go to as many events as I can, meeting with amazing people, and essentially learning a lot so I can always give you the hottest tips and tricks ever.
Last episode, we talked about what was going on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. If you haven’t checked it, please do it.
This episode, I’m bringing you an amazing guest to make up for my disappearance.
And a photo of Disney World.
I hope you forgive me.
Do you forgive me now?
Thanks! You’re the best.
Today’s guest is one of the co-founders of a company who acquired over 200 customers in their first six months, all from social media.
Penji is a graphic design platform that helps startups, agencies, and people all over the world with their design needs at a monthly cost.
Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
What’s Today’s Episode All About
- Who is Jonathan and How Penji was Born
- How Penji Got 200 Customers In Less Than 6 Months
- What’s Next For Penji
- Jonathan’s Final Recommendations
Who is Jonathan and How Penji was Born
Jonathan says he can sum up his background in 30 seconds or less so here it goes.
He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, started his entrepreneurial road at a young age, worked for Apple, started an agency, and failed a lot.
He likes food, wine, and the WWE.
But, more importantly, he’s the type of person that’s always pushing forward and doesn’t let failure push him back.
Isn’t that great?
Take a look at this video and listen to the man itself.
Now, let’s talk about Penji!
Penji is an on-demand graphic design service that was born out of Jonathan and his team’s internal needs.
In his words,
“We started an agency five or six years ago. We were a full-service agency that began at SEO, app design and development, web design and development, and social media marketing. Although we were servicing businesses, I can say that we weren’t the greatest of the agencies. We worked really well; we provided good results for our clients, but it was just never fulfilling. We kind of felt that we were just chasing money.”
Despite that it wasn’t fulfilling, one of the things customers kept saying is that they were really good at design.
And we can say that was the nudge they needed to steer the ship in the right direction. They created Penji as an internal tool to scale in their process, and after a trip to Vietnam, after they started asking themselves about their company’s core values, they decided to launch Penji in October 2017.
Well, everybody, the moment of the value has come. It’s the time to reveal Jonathan’s secrets…
Are you ready?
How Penji Got 200 Customers In Less Than 6 Months
In my experience, when people think of the things they need to build a business, they rarely think about the needs of the customer.
That’s the reason I’ve been trying to focus on conversations rather than simply thinking of a logo or a website.
In Jonathan’s case, he did something similar. He started selling his service and talking to people months before the platform was even ready.
Their philosophy was rather simple; they started asking people a simple question:
“If we build this, would you buy it.”
Let’s see what Jonathan has to say about his approach:
“When we first started our business, we actually thought startups and small businesses would kill for a business like this one and we were so wrong. The startups don’t hang around as often as agencies would, and we wouldn’t have found that out unless further on when we started getting more customers. But, in the very beginning, we were just collecting data.”
And that’s the foundation of Penji’s success. But, of course, that’s not nearly all of it. I managed to extract Jonathan’s secrets, and I’ve laid here for you.
These are the keys that helped Jonathan on getting get 200 customers in just 6 months.
Network As Much As You Can
Through the course of six years, he personally networked with everybody under the sun, networking non-stop to build a strong following.
He leveraged his age and his connections as much as could to build awareness about himself and what he did. He then sent messages and surveys to people that knew him and collected amazing amounts of data.
Build A Community-Driven Company
Penji is based on Camden, New Jersey; an area that can be considered relatively poor and violent, but that’s also resurging due to companies going there thanks to tax benefits.
Also, they are one of the few –if not the only one– startups in Camden that’s actively giving back to the community by offering jobs and internships to people in the city through the program Camden Unlimited.
The initiative sought to change the digital landscape of the city by offering non-profits design work for free, which attracted the press and actually increased their customer base.
The key here is never trying to be something that you’re not. Don’t do things just for exposure if you don’t really care.
Align Your Business With Your Personal Values
Always align the person you are with your business and what you do. No matter what you do, there should always be a person behind; someone for people to connect with. Being faceless might give you revenue but won’t really help you reach people and offer real value.
If you don’t know your values, try and ask someone else. People might look at like “WTF,” but that will probably give you a good idea of how others perceive you.
PRO TIP: Reach out to a few close people and ask them to see what they tell you. Or even better, ask your customers “Why are you choosing this service?”
What’s Next For Penji
As of today, Penji has 260 paying customers and, to Jonathan, it’s time to scale.
“It’s time to organize things; it’s time to be a numbers-driven company. It’s time to be more prepared, and now we’re on a process of changing our procedures and rethinking how we want to explain our business to prepare for what’s next.”
It’s all a matter of being consistent and staying grounded, Jonathan says.
Believe me; there are many distractions on the internet and consistency is the thing you need the most when you’re looking to scale your business.
Rather than coming up with new ideas every time you see something new, focus on what you have to in front of you and you should be fine.
Jonathan’s Final Recommendations
Jonathan is super straight to the point on this and says that “everything you read and see, make sure it’s curated and produced well.”
On a personal level, Jonathan created a website called The Bad Vegans, which is a blog where he talks about his experiences with veganism and how bad he was at it and how he’s trying to improve.
And now that you think of it, many people, I included, would be vegan if they really knew what to do and how to eat well.
That’s it for today, everybody. I love you; you’re awesome and this wouldn’t be possible without your help.
- Growth is always about relationships, but never try to be something you’re not
- Even if you don’t have a physical HQ, try to build a community and help others
- Personal values are what makes your business different from the rest; think of who you are before thinking of what you want to sell