Ross Andrew Paquette has long been an advocate for growing your business without investors. We interview him today about his tech company called Maropost, a marketing automation platform that simplifies customer engagement and is known to work with B2C brands and retailers like Mercedes-Benz, the publisher of the Rolling Stone magazine, Shop.com, NewsCorp, Hard Rock Inc., and hundreds of others.
How did you enter into the world of entrepreneurship?
Ross Andrew Paquette: The idea of Maropost came about as a result of frustration during my early career in the SaaS and email marketing industry — I was still working as a sales executive when I bootstrapped Maropost, and continued to do so for the first few years of establishing Maropost as a company.
All the SaaS and email marketing tools available at that time had poor deliverability and even worse customer service. So, seeing that, I decided it was time to make a change by pushing out a product that would continuously improve over the years to keep pace with the growing market — rather than go complacent like those early email marketing tools and platforms did.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Well, soon after I founded Maropost, I sold a part of the company to investors. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea — Maropost would gain extra financial support and the backing of experienced individuals that could help us manage certain aspects of the business.
Unfortunately, it didn’t end up that way. By that time, Maropost had already been largely self-reliant, and the addition of investors that had opposing views served as more of a hindrance to our mission.
So, if I had the opportunity to tell my younger self some advice, I would tell him that investors are not your friends, partners, or mentors. More likely than not, they won’t care about your vision or authority as the founder of the company. They only care about getting a return on their investment.
How would you describe a good partnership?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Tying back to my previous statements about investors: a good partnership starts with trust and a shared vision. If you don’t trust your partner or if you don’t believe in the same values or have the same vision as they do, then you should expect lots of conflict and frustration while you work together — which is unlikely to lead you to any real success.
What do you think is the most crucial to success?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Vision. You need to have a vision, or a goal, in order to succeed. And, anything that gets in the way of you achieving your vision should be exited immediately. For Maropost, as an example, our ‘vision’ for the future was always to stick to our roots as a company that focused on customer-centric innovation. And, I believe that it is only by staying true to that mission, that we would truly succeed.
Case in point, when it came to Maropost’s early issues with investors, it was this lack of a shared vision that held us back from growing as we should have. And, as soon as we had exited those investors out of our business, we began growing once more.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs that are at the brink of giving up their goals?
Ross Andrew Paquette: Everyone has a breaking point, and I don’t know many that are able to give up their all in order to achieve their goals. My advice, whether you’re just starting out or whether you’re well into growing your business, is to just try again.
If you’ve made a mistake, don’t tell yourself that it’s over, tell yourself to try again. Learn from your mistakes and do-over. Things won’t magically get better, but it is by learning from your mistakes that you can learn to succeed.
And, if you’re having trouble staying positive, try to remember what got you into the business in the first place. Or else, focus on what you’ve accomplished so far and what you would like to accomplish in the future.