Q: Swoop seems like a great service for startups to go out for a night on the town (read: drinking will be involved). Does your sales team go after that market, and has it been successful?
We build partnerships with the destinations to which people are traveling. However, this wasn’t the original plan. Early on, when we first started Swoop, it was an on-demand party bus company. Initially, that meant that people would book 10-15-passenger party buses equipped with bright lights, wrap-around seating, and big sound systems. Over the first six months, we got a ton of bookings, but quickly learned a few things that changed our customer acquisition model: 1) groups wanted choice and variety outside of just party buses 2) they wanted the ability to book in advance and not only on-demand and 3) groups were always going to a destination: wineries, concert venues, corporate offsite locations, etc.
That's when we shifted our sales approach, so that today, Swoop partners directly with businesses, destinations, and event organizers to become their exclusive transportation provider. The partner makes the referral to the customer who purchases directly from Swoop for their event. These partners generate demand and feed our retention.
While drinking on the Swoop is a bonus, we like to say that our automated booking platform, hundreds of unique vehicles, 24/7 concierge service, and logistical expertise have been some of the primary reasons that channel partners work directly with Swoop.
Q: A lot of startups are started by long-time friends, what has this experience been like at Swoop?
If long-time friends start startups, then our story at Swoop fits the mold. [Co-founder] Amir came from a transportation background – both of his parents ran transportation companies in Los Angeles. I met Ruben, our third co-founder only two years after meeting Amir, and we remained close until he joined Swoop from Facebook and Google last year.
When people tell us that it's not a good thing to start businesses with friends, I have to respectfully disagree. I'd be lying if I said it was easy, but what makes us unique is that all three co-founders are equally strong, and we have different strengths that complement one another.
Q: Have you purposely set culture standards at Swoop, or has it risen organically?
We've always had a mentality of moving fast, and that done is better than perfect, especially in a startup environment. We're lucky to have Ruben, who comes from a culture-first background with his experience at Facebook and Google. Ruben makes it a priority to set our culture standards at Swoop, so as we grow, our culture remains consistent. We've seen with other companies that sometimes it's too late to try and incorporate a culture that employees will get behind. It's pretty simple here at Swoop – our culture is based on authenticity, transparency, kindness, working fast, and getting things done. As Swoop evolves, the dynamics may change, but I'm confident that our philosophies and culture remain consistent.
Q: Do you adhere to any particular sales philosophies or methodologies?
I like to keep things simple. I stick to five core sales methodologies: 1) The discovery process is most important to understanding if there's a customer who will find value in our product 2) Consistency and preparation are crucial 3) Listen and have empathy 4) Use knowledge as your secret sauce (meaning to know the industry and product better than anyone) 5) Eat, sleep, and breathe the sales process.
There is no one-size-fits-all in sales, so I tend to take bits and pieces from sources/books to build my own method.