Aaron Beashel always loved the life of a consultant. Working with so many different types of clients felt like freedom. A born problem-solver, he often noticed patterns and recurring issues he could address quickly and effectively – but one solution took 15 years to mature.
This is the story of an accidental entrepreneur who was able to retool a long-forgotten application into an off-the-shelf business, Attributer, now on its way to six figures of growth this year.
From Tourism Manager to Accidental Coder
Fifteen years ago, Aaron consulted on a project that helped his client track data from website visitors. He didn’t think much of it at the time, but he saw the value in companies having this information readily available. Every time someone visited a website, they brought a lot of information that websites didn’t track – data that was essentially “left on the table.”
Aaron graduated with a degree in Tourism Management so his coding skills were non-existent in his early days of consulting. Undeterred, Aaron got stuck into some “Layman Idiot’s Code.” He wanted to provide his clients with better data for their sales teams, so he wrote code that could access this information without compromising user experience on the website.
Turning an Old Project into an Off-the-Shelf Application
Fast forward 15 years. When a new client wanted to understand customer behavior to generate more sales, Aaron looked for an off-the-shelf solution to help them. Not finding one, Aaron remembered he’d built something similar years back. Now, he had the opportunity to offer it to a much larger audience. Companies across multiple industries could benefit from capturing this data.
The problem? Aaron hadn’t saved the code from the previous project (and yes, he kicked himself for that!). Thankfully, he had enough “fundamental understanding of database structure” to recreate it. He enlisted a development team to help with the parts that required more elaborate coding, and he designed the (more basic) user interface himself.
Attributer’s main advantage is that it offers more granular data than Google Analytics. “It’s easy to get Google Analytics on a website to see where visitors are coming from, but we can’t see where customers are coming from (that is, once they’ve converted from visitor to customer), where revenues are coming from, and full-funnel reporting in general.”
Aaron built the front end in a no-code tool called Bubble. This allows him to make instant tweaks based on customer input and suggestions. Then, instead of sending changes to a developer, Aaron “pops into Bubble, makes a couple of changes, and deploys them in ten minutes.”
Aaron is a big proponent of no-code tools. He says, “Normally, it would be the kind of thing where I’ve got to design it, send it over to the developer, and have the developer build it. This process would take two weeks. Instead, I did it in ten minutes by popping into Bubble. If you’re resource-constrained, it’s a gift.”
Would the World Care?
Once Aaron rewrote the code and created the application, he needed to find clients. Aaron explains, “Once I created the website, I put it out there to see what the world thought of the Attributer concept.” The first iteration of the website was rudimentary – just a form for prospective customers to fill out.
“It was the smallest thing I could do to validate that this is something people want,” Aaron says. “I knew there was something here, but I wanted to be sure. It was a basic UI that took signups. That was it.” Aaron called anyone that filled out the form and was able to convert them to customers by taking credit card information over the phone.
Attributer later launched on Product Hunt, but the reception was lackluster. Aaron shifted to SEO to generate more inbound traffic, and it quickly became his main sales channel. Aaron wrote relevant, helpful content to elevate Attributer to the top of search engines.
“There are probably a thousand blog posts I can write about how important data is,” Aaron says. “I want to position the product as a solution to somebody’s problem. And this is a real problem that many people face. People want to know how you can send marketing attribution data into Salesforce, HubSpot, and more. If people search for how to send UTM parameters or marketing attribution data or data from Facebook ads, I want Attributer to be top of mind.”
Testing, 1, 2, 1, 2
Aaron ran lots of diagnostics. Attributer had to be compatible with different form builders and CMS systems. “There’s a lot of work that’s gone into that. Think about QuickBooks or any other software application. It’s a very controlled environment. You log into their server where we’re putting our product onto somebody’s website and trying to get it to work with somebody’s form. They could have all sorts of casing on their website which can prove challenging.”
Aaron continued working as a consultant while working on Attributer in his spare time. It took four months for the business to grow, and Aaron believes that’s because he launched in December. Companies were winding down production at the end of the year and momentum didn’t pick up until February.
“Attributer largely just works in the background. Once you set it up, it’s not something that you’re logging into every day and having to try to use. You just install it once and it’s there. Once you’ve got it working, it just ticks away collecting data. There really isn’t a need for ongoing customer support.”
When Attributer scales, Aaron knows that this will change. Customers all work with different interfaces and Aaron doesn’t have any control over their environments. “We have to work with somebody else’s forms and their websites might have all of these different plugins. This can prove to be very frustrating.”
Entrepreneurship Is an Emotional Rollercoaster
Running a business while maintaining a consulting practice takes serious moxie. Some days, Aaron is ready to throw in the towel: “It’s such a rollercoaster. There are days when I want to put it up on MicroAcquire and be done with it. But there are other times where I’m working until midnight and I’m really into it and the highs keep me going. I get a bunch of new customers and things are positive. I push through the lows by thinking about my long-term vision.”
Aaron is propelled forward by his family. He can control his hours and spend as much time as possible with his growing children. “The whole thing for me is financial freedom so that I can spend time with my family – take my kids to school or go on holiday.” He’s getting there, and the kids laughing in the backseat of his car (he was doing carpool at the time of this interview) are an indication that he is on the right track.
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