VerticalIQ Hits $175k MRR, Helping 140 Banks Prep for Company Meetings with President Bobby Martin


In Episode #541, Nathan interviews Bobby Martin, the author of The Hockey Stick Principles: The Four Key Stages to Entrepreneurial Success. He believes too many startup founders pivot way too early, quit too early, and expect rapid take off. Through his experience of starting and selling First Research, he’s learned firsthand the challenges and solutions at each stage of entrepreneurial growth. Bobby’s currently the chairman and co-founder of Vertical IQ—a leading provider of sales research insight for banks. He’s an angel investor and an active board member with several innovative startups including Local Eyesight, Boardroom Insiders, My Life Site, SageWorks and etailinsights. While he’s a national speaker, he’s still a hometown guy who focuses most of his investments in North Carolina where he’s lived and worked.



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Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Rework
  • What CEO do you follow? – Brian Hamilton
  • Favorite online tool? — Salesforce
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – Be patient for a long journey

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:42 – Nathan introduces Bobby to the show
  • 02:53 – First Research was launched in 1999
  • 03:19 – Bobby had the exit before the bubble
  • 03:31 – First Research provided profiles to sales and marketing professionals
  • 03:51 – First Research is a SaaS business
  • 04:11 – It took 7-8 years for Bobby to build First Research
  • 04:42 – Bobby made the book because he loved the process
    • 05:09 – Bobby loved the journey
    • 05:26 – Bobby had a publisher and agent for the book
    • 06:00 – Bobby’s agent negotiated the deal with the publisher
    • 06:28 – Bobby’s book was just recently published
    • 06:41 – The average number of copies sold
    • 07:30 – Bobby shares what he thinks made the book sell
  • 08:57 – Bobby is an angel investor
  • 09:40 – Vertical IQ provides profile revenue to bankers
  • 10:19 – The revenue model of Vertical IQ is similar to SaaS
  • 10:30 – Vertical IQ gets paid upfront annually
  • 10:43 – Average number of customers
  • 10:55 – “We don’t charge per seat, we charge according to the number of bankers”
  • 11:20 – Vertical IQ pre-sells to banks
  • 12:05 – ACV is between $15-20K annually
  • 12:28 – Average ARR
  • 12:40 – Gross customer churn
  • 13:25 – Average CAC
    • 13:34 – Vertical IQ is a sales driven company
    • 14:04 – Vertical IQ has a solid profit margin
  • 14:55 – LTV
  • 15:53 – Team size
  • 16:40 – First year revenue
  • 16:58 – 2015 total revenue
  • 17:15 – Vertical IQ is self-funded
  • 19:00 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Write a book—not because it’s convenient—write because you have something to share to the world.
  2. Requesting an upfront annual payment can have clear advantages over monthly payments.
  3. Be patient and do not get discouraged—the entrepreneurial journey takes time.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • Toptal– Nathan found his development team using Toptal for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives