A great networking opportunity may just be a Nextdoor post away.
At least that’s how Graham Quigley and Summer 2022 custom programs’ lead instructor Brett Yokom met. Scrolling through the app, Brett found Graham’s original post about his burgeoning startup, AcuBliss, and was intrigued with the concept. A networking opportunity was hatched.
“Brett responded and loved the story of myself and my company and really wanted to involve the UC Berkeley community,” Graham recalls on a recent Zoom call.
AcuBliss is a SaaS specifically focused on supporting the acupuncture community by providing a slick and intuitive practice-management app at an affordable price. Graham and co-founder, Loc Huynh, continue to practice acupuncture on the side to stay connected to the industry, the needs of practitioners and the nuances that AcuBliss can support and solve.
A fast-growing company, AcuBliss is on its way to being a key player in the electronic health care record field. There’s obviously a massive market to tap into. In fact, it’s what drew Brett to Graham’s Nextdoor post: AcuBliss has more than 100 users without drawing on the power of marketing. “We're trying to uplift acupuncture and complementary care—like chiropractors—and we have a product that's selling itself.”
But what Graham needs to take the company to the next level is a go-to-market strategy. And he gained a lot of insights and next steps by participating in our Summer 2022 custom program cohort of students coming from ESADE University (Barcelona).
Tell me about the group of students who were working on a go-to-market strategy for you?
We got a lot out of working with student Zuzana Krbilova, who was the lead from that program. She and four other individuals looked at the needs of my company for marketing and business development as part of the discovery phase. We met with the team, they asked questions and took notes about our needs. Then they got together over a matter of days and put together a business plan for a go-to-market strategy. They then presented that plan to us.
This is like a partnership where Brett and the whole team are trying to be matchmakers. Zuzana reached out to me to have coffee the day she was flying home. We met in San Francisco hours before her departing flight, and talked more about how she might be able to participate in my company. And soon after, we're talking about her investing, putting in some time and resources in my bootstrapping company. We've been meeting every week since, coming up with an equity-only deal where she could join my company. I love the energy that she's bringing in.
It can be refreshing to be introduced to new energy like that.
There was this woman who interjected in a really positive way. I talked about our user base, and how we were hovering around 100 and needed more. And she said, “Yes, but not yet. You're not in the black yet, but you will get there.” And it was this energy that they brought that was honestly refreshing.
What they learned and what they got out of it was incredible. Even the business owners listened to other students presenting and giving talks about other companies.
And their learning really dives into the experiential.
Experiential learning is crucial in this modern time. The fact that these students were thrown in front of a company and then have to produce something is basically what the real world is.
And the fact that Brett kind of led the way—and he's a really good leader—he took these students, and said, “You had some of that book learning stuff, cool. You want to put it to use? Here's a company, right in front of you, go learn about them, go figure out what their needs are, and come up with a strategy and a plan and work together.” That's a very powerful experience.
So it was inspiring to see and get experience working with an outside group who were coming in with different personalities and learning about how to work with them. It was a really good experience.
I also got the sense that my time there was a bit of service back to the community. It felt good to provide this opportunity for the students.
Did you find it had a positive impact on your bottom line?
Hands down. Because at the end of the day, I met Zuzana; it introduced me to new talent. This program can introduce you to some talent that might join your company, and I'm sure my deal with Zuzana wasn't the only one that happened.
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