Startup Stories: Clark’s Alex Meredith on Building an Early-stage Startup in the US Market

With seventy-one billion dollars in annual advertising spend, the US is not an easy market to break into if you are interested in building an early-stage startup. When you combine that challenge with the marketing of an early-stage startup, you often enter territory that can be full of challenges and frustrations. From figuring out who your target audience is, to understanding where they choose to spend their time online and offline, there are many options to consider and not nearly enough time or funding to test them all.

DCMN believes in growing the market leaders of tomorrow and we work with brands that are not only disrupting industries but are making meaningful connections with their audiences in the process.

We recently caught up with Alex Meredith, Head of Operations at Clark to learn more about their approach to marketing in the US, the company’s early-stage growth and future product plans.

Tell us about the product or service that Clark offers.

We offer operations software that allows tutoring companies to more effectively run their businesses by removing a lot of the administrative burdens they deal with every day. And very soon, we’ll be offering a new service that will allow students to receive tutoring directly from Clark tutoring partners, which is a really exciting opportunity for us to further expand into the market. 

What market does Clark target and how big is it?

Our core SaaS product is geared towards established tutoring companies in the US, that represent a total addressable market worth over $11 billion. Our upcoming rollout will allow us to dip deeper into that market by targeting students and parents of students looking for tutoring help. 

How did you know when it was time for Clark to start marketing its product(s)?

Pretty early on. Marketing for an early-stage startup is so different than marketing for big brands, in that marketing channels often become mediums for testing more than anything else. When we have new offerings on the table, we need to be able to present that offering to the world and we need to present it fast so we can iterate on our initial idea. 

What qualities were you looking for in the right marketing partner for your team?

We actually look for the same traits that we look for in our employees: honesty, integrity, and an ability to adapt. We move so fast that we really have to trust one another, and DCMN has been tremendous in all of those areas.

As a pre-series A company, were there any unique factors you needed to consider when choosing a partner or deciding how you would market the brand?

Most certainly. It goes back to finding a partner that is capable of changing course rapidly. Every agency will tell you they can move is fast as you need, but in practice, very few are capable of it. DCMN is one of those agencies that can.

What has surprised you most about your market or audience?

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but every time I have an opportunity to talk to one of our customers, I’m always amazed with how passionate our educators are. We’ve all had that favorite teacher that had an impact on your life, and to work with so many of those types of teachers who have started their own businesses or tutor on the side is a really special opportunity. It’s the kind of thing that pushes you to get to the office a little earlier and stay a little later, and that’s a great feeling to have.

What’s one piece of startup or marketing advice you wish you’d had when you started?

Some advice I received from a mentor some years ago was that VCs only want to hear three things when asking questions: “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know.” That’s kind of a dumb thing to apply only to VCs, so I’ve always tried to apply that level of candidness to everyone I work with. If you can consistently give people clear, concise answers to their basic questions, they’ll come to you with their tough ones, and learning how to establish yourself as the person with the answers is so important early on in your career.

Also: spend more time coding.

What’s next for Clark?

We’re on the verge of rolling out a new service for students to be matched directly with Clark tutoring partners. It’s another opportunity for us to serve educators and we’re thrilled to be getting deeper into the space!

If you’re looking for a partner to help grow your business – in the US or elsewhere – reach out to us at hello@dcmn.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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