From Blue Collar Worker to Tech Founder
With Bryan Clayton
A great idea can create a better world. Bryan Clayton had an idea he believed in so much that he put it all on the line – and he’s so glad he did.
Bryan Clayton is the CEO and Co-Founder of GreenPal, an online marketplace that connects homeowners with local lawn care professionals. GreenPal has been called the Uber of lawn care by Entrepreneur magazine and has over 200,000 active users completing thousands of transactions per day.
GreenPal makes finding a lawn care professional simpler than ever. Customers who want consistent and reliable service love GreenPal for access to high-quality professionals. And lawn care vendors love using GreenPal too – because they receive more work, get paid faster and cut down on marketing costs.
Before starting GreenPal, Bryan Clayton founded Peachtree Inc., one of the largest landscaping companies in the state of Tennessee, growing it to over $10 million a year in annual revenue before it was acquired by Lusa holdings in 2013. Bryan‘s interests and expertise are related to entrepreneurism, small business growth, marketing, and bootstrapping businesses from zero revenue to profitability and exit.
Always be helpful, no matter what
Before Bryan had the idea for GreenPal, he owned a thriving lawn care business. It was doing so well that they were only taking large commercial contracts – turning away anything smaller than airports, malls and developments. He referred prospective clients to smaller lawn care businesses locally completely for free.
Bryan believes that we should always be helpful, no matter what. He continued showing up to refer business between vendors and customers – until he realized that he could build a service they would use every day. Seeing an opportunity to make larger and more lasting connections, Bryan developed the concept for GreenPal to make lawn care service seamless.
Don’t cut corners, put the work in
Bryan had never written code in his life. Bryan and his Co-Founders pooled their money to hire an app developing service – which was an expensive lesson.
Despite their vision for the app, the development process was painful and ineffective. They realized that they needed to approach their idea differently and pivot. Not giving up, the three Founders got to work in separate spheres to make the business work – Zach Hendrix spent hours every day in an online software coding class, Bryan worked on front end development, and Gene Caballero worked PR and wrote content. They weren’t going to let their idea fail because of one expensive hurdle, and they knew it would pay off. Living on rice and beans, the Founders spent all of their time learning new skills.
Bryan discusses how painful but important this lesson was. He emphasizes the importance of skill-building, flexibility and customer feedback. In fact, after spending months wasting time on branding and mascot design, he realized that he could have hustled up a hundred customers instead.
He encourages entrepreneurs to remember the goal and abandon the fluff. What skills will truly drive your business forward? And are you spending enough time listening to the feedback your customers give?
Your brand is a promise
When it comes to his approach to brand values, Bryan keeps it simple. He reminds us that a brand is a promise – to keep our word, show up and be helpful always.
Instead of focusing on lofty concepts and buzzwords, Bryan focuses on what keeps his business moving: Daily habits. His blue collar attitude translates perfectly into his new role as a tech Founder.
“GreenPal is a 10-year overnight success.”
“If we were gonna be in the tech business, we needed to learn how to write code. We needed to literally build it ourselves. If you don’t know what it’s going to be, you can’t outsource it. You have to build it as you’re interacting with users.”
“We had to pass out flyers all over Nashville Tennessee begging people to use this thing. And then we would meet with every one of them that would use it. And they would all tell us everywhere that the thing sucked. It broke and it didn’t work. But they never told us we didn’t need this. They were actually disappointed. And we took that as validation to keep going!”
“In my Co-Founders…I was looking for two people who could live on rice and beans for a long time. We weren’t unicorns, we were cockroaches. You couldn’t kill us. We lived very cheaply.”
“The first hundred or even thousand of your sales when you start a business should be hand-to-hand, should be manual. Then you know what processes and technology you need to build. You don’t know until you hand-crank it.”
“It’s our job to load up the lawn care provider’s schedule with as much work as he or she wants to do. Make their life easier with getting paid quickly, not having to do marketing…basically, it’s a business in a box. They can make more money with less hassle, so that it makes sense for them to do business with GreenPal instead of the old way.”
“We spent all this time thinking about branding…with no customers. We even designed a mascot, Gary the GreenPal. We spent like three months or longer with zero customer feedback. We wasted way too much time. We should have not worried about any of that. We should have hustled up one hundred customers first.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Visit GreenPal online at https://www.yourgreenpal.com/
Connect directly with Bryan Clayton on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryan-clayton-a96b33214
Follow Bryan on Instagram at https://instagram.com/bryanmclayton
Connect with The Business of You
Visit the Business of You on the web
Like The brandiD on Facebook
Follow The brandiD on LinkedIn
Join us on Instagram
Learn more about Branding on The brandiD Blog
Ready to uncover your personal brand?
Subscribe to get a FREE copy of “Build Your Brand: The Distinctive Guide to Soul-Based Marketing”
"*" indicates required fields
Leave a Reply