Gainesville tech company helps small businesses improve marketing strategies
Published March 22nd, 2016
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- One local tech company is helping small businesses grow by improving their marketing strategies and the founder is hoping to expand opportunities for startups and local job seekers.
Founder Rick Carlson says, "We started SharpSpring just about four years ago in a small coffee shop just above Maude's Café, downtown."
Carlson is a UF Alum and says after spending more than 10 years away from Gainesville, he decided to move back to start his business. "I was always working sales and marketing for some companies so I became good at sales and marketing and saw a need," he says.
That's when he decided to bring marketing tools used by successful companies to the smaller businesses. "We do that by showing them more information then they've ever been able to see before, we do that by allowing them to automate a lot of their processes at scale that they've never been able to do before."
SharpSpring works with marketing agencies to grow their client's businesses through both traditional and online marketing. The company is now in 28 different countries and operates in eight languages. But Carlson says Gainesville will always be its home. "So we announced last year that SharpsSprings headquarters was going to be Gainesville and we see no point in changing that. In fact most of our growth will be in the Gainesville community," Carlson says.
In just two short years the company has implemented their marketing automation platform for more than 3,000 businesses and 850 agencies. "And our sales have grown quarter after quarter, so we are going to accelerate the rate at which we grow," he says.
The company was acquired in 2014, shortly after the first product was launched. Soon SharpSpring became the largest part of the parent company that acquired them. He says the company lucked out when it came to funding. "We were able to get 300 thousand dollars worth of matching funds that was really in the form of a loan last month. So it was non dilutive and that combined with angel funding allowed us to very carefully build sharpspring until it was self sustaining."
He says it was difficult in the early stages but the company was able to raise more than a million dollars to begin building and growing here in Gainesville. "We were able to do that based on the strength of our product and the people that work for us."
He says the company, which is based downtown, will soon be expanding to a new location on NW 6th Street. And they're in the process of hiring 30 employees to fill various positions. "The market has really responded to our product offering. Obviously we need to fill all types of positions. Obviously we need developers. We also need account managers, developers, tech support personnel, marketing people and talented sales people," Carlson says.
And it won't stop there. Carlson says he hopes to continue expanding. "We expect to be a couple of hundred employee's in the next few years."
And he says SharpSpring hopes to open more locations in different parts of the world.
Click HERE to find out more about all those job openings at SharpSpring.
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