How this 32-year-old in Mission Valley created a multimillion-dollar startup
There’s a carousel of successful startups in San Diego that seems to spin on repeat, bringing familiar names to the spotlight over and over again.
GoSite, a quiet startup in Mission Valley, is definitely not on board.
This tech company likes to stay under the radar, and so far they’ve succeeded. But that’s probably about to change. In a matter of weeks, the software startup has closed millions in venture capital, more than doubled its office space to a 20,000-square-foot office, and has surged past 100 employees at its headquarters.
The company’s founder and CEO Alex Goode said he plans on doubling the startup’s headcount, adding 100 additional jobs over the next 12 months.
That growth spurt is the result of big changes at the company. Founded in 2013 by then 26-year-old Goode, GoSite started as a website design company building web pages for small businesses. The word “company” is used loosely, as the LLC was really just Goode in his apartment coding websites on a freelance basis.
Pivoting to a better idea
But Goode, who holds two degrees in software engineering and economics, built up enough clients to expand his team, and eventually moved into an office. By 2016, he noticed his clients needed a lot more technology help than just website design. They needed to manage their social media reviews, respond to customer questions via email, process orders coming through Yelp and bookings coming through online forms.
This means small-business owners have to interact with several websites or software programs every day. They might receive orders through Yelp, process payments through Square, respond to reviews through Google and receive messages from customers on Facebook, Twitter and several other platforms. And that’s on top of managing and updating their own websites.
So three years ago, Goode took GoSite in a new direction. His team started building a software platform that would serve as a one-stop dashboard where small-business owners can manage all their tech in one place. The GoSite software sits on top of existing tech tools like Facebook Messenger and email, for example, allowing the users to get all their messages in the dashboard.
But the startup is also building its own software tools for businesses. As part of the dashboard, GoSite has a custom content management system for building and maintaining websites, and recently launched a payments feature competitive to Square.
Have you heard of this before? Yes.
GoSite’s suite of tools is not novel. They’re operating in a very crowded marketplace, with countless players offering similar tools or platforms. Managing your social messages all in one place is done by brand management and marketing companies like San Diego-based SOCI. There are dozens of software companies making payment features, such as Clover Go or Square. And content management systems are plentiful.
GoSite’s tech is not groundbreaking, but it is cheap. The startup charges small businesses a monthly subscription to use their tools, ranging from $50 to $250 per month depending on what the client needs. And GoSite’s payments software is taking a smaller cut than popular providers like Square, Goode said.
GoSite has accumulated 2,000 paying clients and is servicing more than 5,000 store locations, including San Diego’s Broken Yolk franchise.
Goode said he’s targeting “local main street” companies: retail shops, restaurants, dentists, doctors, and home services, among others.
“We intentionally didn’t center ourselves around a specific vertical, which is the opposite strategy of our competitors,” Goode said. “We wanted to remain a mass market solution.”
GoSite’s growth and hiring
Goode said the company was cash flow positive during its website design years but is now choosing to burn cash to grow fast. GoSite is attempting to grab market share quickly, given the competitive landscape. Although the company is bringing in multi-millions in annual revenue (the specific amount was not disclosed), the startup decided to raise investment capital to extend its timeline. The company just closed a $3.75 million seed round, led by Irvine’s Cove Fund and San Diego’s Serra Ventures, with participation from Longley Capital.
Steven Longley, an early investor in the startup, said the small-business market is significant and still underserved.
“While the market knows they need to adapt and evolve in order to meet customer preferences they have historically not had great solutions to easily execute their digital transformation,” Longley said. “GoSite’s turnkey and scalable solutions do that. They are solving a really big problem and doing a good job executing.”
GoSite plans to use the new cash to expand its sales and marketing departments, along with product development.
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