Peerscale CEO member, Diana Goodwin founded AquaMobile after realizing there was a huge gap in the swimming lessons market. She was a swim instructor when she was younger and saw the demand for busy parents wanting at-home private swimming lessons, instead of driving to large, crowded classes at a community pool.
But once she got started, she realized the opportunity was bigger than that. Nearly eight years later, Goodwin is leveraging the technology she built for AquaMobile and turning it into a whole other business, MarketBox.
Speaking with Peerscale, the entrepreneur recounted with us how she saw the opportunity to build her B2B SaaS startup, MarketBox. She explained how to look at your company as if it were a Russian doll, uncovering a new business from within your first one. You’ll also find out why she’s not done with AquaMobile just yet.
How the “Uber for swimming lessons” found a new opportunity
When Goodwin started AquaMobile, she tried to find software to help her. After all, she initially wanted to build a marketplace, not a tech company. However, she couldn’t find the right technology to manage her traveling service providers and sales across many geographies, and so she decided to build her own.
Despite not taking on any investors, the bootstrapped company began to grow. By 2017, Goodwin built a team of six with over 15,000 users on the platform each year.
She was happy running the business and continued building their proprietary technology. But then other service marketplace entrepreneurs wanted her technology.
“People started approaching us from different businesses, asking where we got our software from,” said Goodwin. “The answer was we built it internally. That just shows there’s this real need out there for this software. Years have passed and there are still no good options out there.”
That’s when Diana realized there was an opportunity. What started as building technology to solve their own problems became the potential to go much bigger. Goodwin knew that this opportunity was the future for her, but the question remained whether she would evolve AquaMobile into a tech firm to build this platform or keep it running and launch a new company.
The choice to spin off a new business
The decision to maintain AquaMobile as an independent business was two-fold: AquaMobile had a vision to realize and Goodwin wanted a guinea pig to test MarketBox on.
“I’ve bootstrapped AquaMobile for seven years now,” said Goodwin. “It’s got employees and several thousand swimming instructors across multiple countries. It’s a sustainable business.”
For MarketBox, having AquaMobile as a customer is great validation for investors and potential future customers. Since AquaMobile is a separate company, it can act just like any other customer, offering unbiased feedback to MarketBox as it grows. It also allows Goodwin to stay close to the customer… because she is one.
The decision to phase out of AquaMobile has been a long time in the making, as Goodwin built the company over time to be strong and sustainable.
“I’ve been growing AquaMobile for a number of years,” said Goodwin. “It’s now at a stable point that doesn’t need 100% of my time dedicated to it. I have a great team in place that knew for about 12-15 months that I would eventually step away and that they would be running things on their own. It’s allowed me to spend around 5% of my time on AquaMobile, but the rest of my time on MarketBox.”
Growing a second, successful SaaS startup
With AquaMobile increasingly self-sustaining, Goodwin gained the freedom to focus on accelerating the growth of MarketBox. Peerscale and her peer group, also offered the necessary support and resources that helped her get MarketBox ahead of the curve.
“My [Peerscale] round table has been a huge help,” said Goodwin. “There are many B2B SaaS CEOs on my round table, and that’s been extremely helpful for me to ramp up my knowledge of starting and growing a B2B SaaS company because that’s very different than what I was doing with AquaMobile, which was B2C. So it’s not just helping me understand [the business], but also make intros to potential investors. It was actually through the Peerscale network that I met my CTO.”
Early users are starting to call MarketBox the “Shopify for service businesses,” a company that famously started as an individual store then evolved into a platform. Goodwin, however, doesn’t want to follow that exact path. Where Shopify founder Tobi Lutke evolved his online snowboard shop into the behemoth Shopify is today, Goodwin wants to build a new company, leaving AquaMobile to continue serving its thousands of customers.
So what’s next for this successful tech leader and her two booming companies? Only time will tell, you’ll just have to check back again soon to find out!
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