Wealthbox is a purpose-built CRM technology for financial advisors at wealth management firms and broker-dealers to track client relationships, collaborate as a team, and streamline operations.
Known for its modern product design, powerful features, and intuitive user experience, Wealthbox is now integrated with leading custodial platforms and wealth-tech products.
Q&A with the CEO & Co-Founder of Wealthbox
CEO & Co-Founder of Wealthbox
Can you share the origin story of Wealthbox?Wealthbox, a CRM platform for financial advisors, was launched in 2014 despite the prevailing view that the market was already saturated. My co-founder, Dan Ferranti, and I had a different view. We saw clunky CRM products that had legacy design and legacy tech from vendors that weren’t operating as modern-day SaaS companies.
As it was our third CRM software venture (we sold our previous CRM company to then publicly-traded Constant Contact in 2011) I knew from past experience that our offering had to initially gain traction through “product-led growth.” A strategy of word-of-mouth referrals, self-service onboarding, user invite sharing, and sleek feature releases that dazzled customers was the playbook. So, for Wealthbox’s first $2.5M in annual recurring revenue, we literally had no sales and marketing teams. Aside from guerilla marketing, we let the product sell itself until we reached the proverbial product-market fit and had feature parity with competitors like Salesforce, the Wall Street darling of CRM.
Was there any sort of inflection point that made you seriously look at investment?Wealthbox assembled a small but effective sales team in 2018. By this time, we had also built one of the best APIs in the industry for complementary wealth-tech partners and custodians to easily integrate with our product. Our monthly recurring revenue continued to increase and actually surged during the challenges of the pandemic. By the end of 2021, Wealthbox reached profitability with our CRM workspace technology and its socially-designed features that resonated with financial advisors collaborating in a remote-work era.
After previously securing seed capital and a Series A round, we were ready to explore a Series B financing in 2021. We needed to hire senior managers, expand our sales and marketing teams, and develop a more sophisticated go-to-market strategy. With weekly inquiries from growth equity investors and strategic players expressing interest in investing or acquiring Wealthbox, we gained even more confidence in our business's potential. We had established a solid footing in the market, and it was time to scale up by combining a product-led growth strategy with an expanded sales-led motion.
What made Frontier stand out when you went through the process?While I avoid corporate jargon and platitudinal slogans, I have come to appreciate the authenticity of Frontier Growth's self-described "people first" approach. It rings true for them. Entrepreneurs are unique individuals and the team at Frontier gets that. Beyond the financial numbers, Frontier appreciates the innovative creativity, the risk-taking, and the tenacious grind that the entrepreneur exerted for years before engaging with them. They tap into a founder’s vision. It's this personal touch that makes Frontier a great partner for an entrepreneur.
How did the relationship develop?On a hot day I received a cold email in August of 2021 from an associate at Frontier Growth. The email introduced their firm and gave compliments to Weathbox’s “wide set of workflow solutions” and referenced the “no bloat” product copy from our website. I had a chuckle, as these flattering, formulaic inquiries from prominent investment firms are common. Despite this, I appreciated their automated email marketing campaign as it demonstrated the growth equity firm's commitment to repeatable processes, a key operating principle for any successful SaaS business.
So, as in the butterfly effect, the spark from that little email ignited a series of events - essentially the multi-week due diligence process - that led to a big deal. Due diligence is an intense period for an entrepreneur and his or her team. You’re operating your daily business while simultaneously working with a prospective investor and delving into the business plan, market analysis, technology assessments, financial audits, legal reviews, and deal negotiations. It’s a lot of work, but with Frontier, this process was made easy and efficient by their playbook. It reduced stress and was quite painless, actually. The process also allowed us to gain deeper insight into the metrics of our own business and how to optimize it for the future. And along the way, my team and I got to collaborate with and get to personally know the Frontier Growth team which resulted in developing great working relationships that have served us well after we closed the deal.
What would you advise other businesses in a similar situation to focus on in finding the right growth equity partner?Growth equity teams are birds of a feather and can seem indistinguishable, right down to the blue dress shirts and fleece vests. So get to know them on a personal level to assess if there’s a cultural fit. As I do when hiring new employees, I apply what I call the “Thanksgiving invite test” for new investors. I ask myself: Can I imagine inviting these people to my home for Thanksgiving? Are they interesting characters beyond their jobs? Can I have a laugh with them? Can I disagree with them? Can we have a good time together? My advice is to socialize over dinner with the growth equity team you’ll prospectively be working with, because a successful investor relationship is going to be personal too. Chemistry matters.
What were the main business challenges that the partnership with Frontier helped to address?Prior to the Frontier investment, Wealthbox was well positioned. We had a strong brand, a solid product roadmap, amazing culture, and we managed our cash very well. Where Frontier Growth has been immensely helpful in the last year is helping us to scale up our operations. Our refined go-to-market strategy and systems, with expanded sales and marketing teams led by newly sourced key leaders, have all been assisted by Frontier. Our entrepreneurial hunches in decision-making, which served us well in getting liftoff for the venture, are now giving way to more data-driven strategies in a maturing company.
How did Frontier help you on the operational side? – What were some of the most impactful things Frontier helped your business accomplish?Once we closed the Series B investment with Frontier in March of 2022, they hosted an all-day workshop in their Charlotte office. The extensive analysis from their due diligence once again bore fruit in juicing up Wealthbox’s “ideal customer profile” analytics project and go-to-market strategy. Frontier's in-house resources and industry connections also helped us to find top-tier talent and vet senior marketing and sales leaders.
In fact, the resources at Frontier Growth are so abundant that in July of 2022, I asked them if we could have one of their operating partners (who was on the Wealthbox deal team) join us in weekly sales pipeline meetings and be available for sales strategy sessions. His experience and insights are super helpful, and I also wanted Frontier to have a front-row seat to see our progress and help guide it. It’s worked out great. I’ll quip with Frontier, “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your investors closest.”
What would you say is the biggest result to date of the partnership with Frontier?Since the Frontier investment, Wealthbox has increased revenue velocity. We’ve improved our go-to-market strategy and systems. We’ve brought on senior managers and doubled our employee count. We’ll approach 100 employees by year-end. This venture is moving much faster and in a fun way. Wealthbox is going from an underdog perception to an alpha dog position in the market. We now have the resources to develop new add-on products, explore adjacent markets, and potentially acquire strategically attractive companies.
What do other entrepreneurs ask about your experience with Frontier?The same questions any founder who has raised growth capital would get: Is there a loss of control? Are they always looking over your shoulder? Does it create more pressure to perform in your career? Is there a cultural fit? Is it costly? What’s the exit strategy?
Honestly, my answers to founder peers about the partnership are that it’s been groovy vibes. As CEO, I still call the shots and have full control. The difference now is, with Frontier as a partner, it feels like I have a bigger team to draw on and am better equipped to take advantage of opportunities that benefit our customers, employees, and shareholders. As to the question of an exit strategy, well, there will be various exit opportunities for shareholder enrichment along the road, but Wealthbox, with its continued focus on customer delight, is going to cruise on to be the hub software for financial professionals well into the future.
This endorsement was not provided by a current actual client of Frontier Growth and was solicited by Frontier Growth. Persons providing endorsements were not paid any compensation of any kind directly or indirectly. These endorsements may not be representative of all clients and are not indicative of Frontier Growth’s future performance. They are not based on the evaluations of clients or investors of Frontier Growth.
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