Top of Page

Founder Profile: Bob Moore

With several years under his belt with a venture capital firm in New York City, Bob Moore settled into a role where he was basically an in-house consultant for portfolio companies. His job was to crunch data and develop expertise about how fast those companies were growing and from that an idea for a hosted data analysis platform was born. 
Jake Stein started at the VC firm the same day as Moore and the two became good friends. They decided to start their own business analysis company and bootstrap the venture, knowing the inherent challenges of investment first-hand. They also realized that the Big Apple was not necessarily the best place to bootstrap.
So in less than five years, RJ Metrics has become a Philadelphia success story, a business intelligence company that develops software to help all kinds of startups get a bigger picture of where they stand and where they need to be going. The company, which employs a monthly subscription model, counts Fab, shutterstock, Hootsuite, Bonobos and Pittsburgh-bred ModCloth among its customers and has been written up by every major mainstream and niche publication that matters.
So while you successfully bootstrapped it in Philly, you also took your first and only investment in January of 2012. What did that allow RJMetrics to do?
A few things happened right off the bat. We had enough financial flexibility that we could hire out in front of revenue a little bit. We never really accumulated too much of a burn rate from a cash perspective.. We still have most of that money in the bank from that round. We hired a handful of people earlier than we would have. When you look at the impact that has on the pace of innovation, most of them were developers and really meaningful. That helped our conversion rates and we naturally evolved into a place where we’re comfortable that we’re selling a fantastic piece of software. 
In the last year we’ve been able to expand our focus from being a product-focused organization to being more well-rounded organization. We’re starting to build out sales and marketing and being more proactive about customer acquisition.
What resources have you taken advantage of to grow the company?
Tax credits from our building being in the University City KIZ (Keystone Innovation Zone). We’re located close to Jefferson Hospital. We’ve created a number of jobs and invested in R&D and we’re in the process of applying for a number of tax credits, some of which are resellable or some we’ll hold onto until we have a larger tax liability base. Both cases are very helpful to our business from a financial perspective. 
The other thing we’ve applied for is a grant from the StartupPHL program (RJMetrics was not among the six of 115 submissions to be selected earlier this week). It’s a proposal to start an entrepreneurship podcast centered around Philadelphia businesses and their stories.
What are your feelings about the StartupPHL concept?
On the whole I’m a big fan of StartupPHL. There’s a debate that often happens around the chicken and egg problem. We’re losing talent because there’s no funding or investors in the city but the flip side of that is there’s not funding or investment in the city because we don’t have the talent here. When I say talent it’s less about smart, hungry people and more about interesting businesses. When they reach a certain stage they high-tail it to New York or Silicon Valley. A lot of people have thought the solution to that problem is to infuse more capital into Philadelphia. I look at that as creating a bizarre market inefficiency. You can’t just throw money at the problem. 
One of the things I hope StartupPHL can do in addition to raising capital is to raise attention from the press perspective, which lends credibility to Philadelphia as a successful place where companies can be built. We have no problem raising money. The fact that we were in Philadelphia was irrelevant to investors we spoke with. We were able to raise money because we were a fast-growing company in a space that’s hot. Investors were looking for skin in the big data game. 
Was there a moment when you knew you made the right decision in starting the company?
There was a time  — last year we changed our sign-up process so you didn’t have to get in otuch with us to sign up. You can just sign up on the website. It made it easier for our salespeople. There was a day last year when we had our first customer sign up that absolutely no one had heard of. Nobody knew where they came from or how they found out about us. We were able to use our own product to track where they came from but at the end of the day our business had grown beyond the strength of our personal networks and our ability to lure people in personally and became a brand of its own that attracted someone in. Since then we probably signed up 50 customers like that. Now the majority of our customers are people that we haven’t gone after proactively. When that first domino fell, it was eye-opening that we could big things and really scale the business.
How has the company grown?
In startup years we’re old men. We were able to take our time in the early years and figure out a product-market-fit and get our product in a place that we can serve an actual need. As a function of that, we spent almost three years as a four-person company. In the last year and a half, we’re up to 22 people. The market has changed a lot in our favor.
How so?
We’ve always been a cloud-based service and in 2008 nobody knew what that was. We struggled to explain to people how we could transfer data over the internet and serve it back and actually make it faster than someone doing it themselves in the database. Now, not only are people comfortable with that idea, there’s now an expectation that there will be a product for them to do this for them. So many services have emerged and become category leaders, whether it’s email service providers, customer relationship management, any number of development tools, all are hosted services that live in the cloud and charge a monthly fee that is less than what previous generation software sold for. We’re happy to fold into that market dynamic. We’re in an interesting place because the predecessors we’re striving to disrupt would charge their customers $100,000 or $1 million. Most small businesses couldn’t afford business intelligence.

— by Joe Petrucci
1315 Walnut St. Suite 1532 Philadelphia, PA 19107

Related Posts