I’m Garrett Smith.
I’m passionate, creative, and driven, with a knack for acquiring customers, closing deals, building relationships and talking. A lot.
This has lead to a love affair with building profitable, prominent businesses and brands through modern customer acquisition and revenue generation models.
With a strange affinity for rap, I firmly believe, as does Kanye West, that your attitude determines your latitude. When not at the office or with a client, I’m likely working on generating revenue from some new idea, consulting or helping local entrepreneurs as my love of building never stops.
Enjoy learning, please share and always be creating!
How I Got Started
It was 1999. I was a freshman attending Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. I played football and was a thrower. Quite the unlikely start for an internet entrepreneur.
I didn’t have time for a job, with school and sports, but needed money (for beer, man). Hey, work hard, play hard, right 😉 After learning about a program that allowed you to make money browsing the internet, a convinced a friend to write a script that would mimic the browsing of website pages from a computer without having to actually do it. The script worked, but the scheme didn’t make us rich.
It did ignite a love of the internet and an exploration of its possibilities. Perhaps my love of making money as well. Soon after this first adventure, I got hooked on buying and selling goods online, mainly through eBay stores that I built with products sourced from China. Yes, I was buying products from Alibaba, before people even knew you could buy direct from Chinese manufacturers without being a huge enterprise.
I was fortunate to sell both of these businesses for a small sum. It was just enough of a dopamine hit to hook me for life.
My First Big Break
In 2003, armed with the experience of flipping products online, and launching T-Mobile’s national retail accounts in Buffalo and Rochester, I got my first ever consulting project. A local entrepreneur was launching his second technology services company and needed help increasing his sales. I was paid 45% commission. And I got paid.
From building the first racks in the company’s warehouse to becoming the company’s Chief Marketing Officer a few years later, I was a driving force behind the success of VoIP Supply, an industry leading ecommerce company and one of Western New York’s Top 50 Private companies.
During my tenure, I lead online marketing, business development and sales efforts that grew the company from $2.5 million in sales in 2004 to $24 million in revenue and over 100,000 monthly visitors in 2013. I was named one of the industry top 50 influential people, built two of the industry’s most influential blogs, and authored over 3,000 posts on the industry.
I’m lucky to say that I remember when blogs were called Weblogs, SEO was easy, Google Adwords was cheap, and Facebook was something I couldn’t use – because I had already graduated college. Getting in early it seems, has always been a knack, and has served me well.
From Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur
While at VoIP Supply, I started dabbled in a number of my own entrepreneurial ventures as the company grew, while advising and consulting other entrepreneurs and executives on how they can acquire customers, increase revenues and provide better purchase experiences. It was all through referral, and certainly not something I was thinking about as my future.
But soon enough, I was making more money (and feeling more fulfilled) helping others on the side than I was at the “day job.” I had stumbled into some healthcare practices and small businesses that we having great success under my guidance. With no signs of slowing down, but not much of a real plan, I resigned and opened up my own shop.
I didn’t know what I really wanted to do, but I knew three things. One, I wanted to spend more time writing. Two, I wanted to explore building a consultancy or agency, and three, I wanted to teach. There was also a growing entrepreneurial scene in Buffalo at the time, and after being a mentor at Startup Weekends, I decided to launch Pitch + Pivot, a consulting agency that targeted startups in need of fundraising and go to market strategy, alongside existing enterprises looking to break into new markets.
I was fortunate to land some initial customers and grow. Over the first three years in business, I worked with most of the top local startups in the Buffalo area, and the top companies the cloud phone industry. As a result, Pitch + Pivot grew and so did the staff to support a growing roster of clients. I even built an automated service to provide local SEO audits and a snow and ice management company, WNY Snow Removal, with my brothers.
Something else happened too. Those healthcare practices? They kept coming, and coming, and coming. Then hospitals, and a publicly traded biopharmaceuticals company. As much as I loved working with startups, and as easy as it was to execute in the cloud communications space given my background, it became clear that the real opportunity was in healthcare marketing.
Enter the Healthcare Marketer
Around the end of 2015 it became clear that A) I need to focus more of my time on the healthcare space, and B) I was going to need to build some software in order to scale up services. After looking around, and not finding much, I began building a software platform to power the marketing of healthcare practices. When combined with creative services, it formed an all-in-one solution, InboundMD.
In less than 24 months, we had a platform built, over a dozen paying customers, and things were looking good. Except, in order to make the next jump, we had to raise outside funding. Between software development and customer acquisition costs, it was too much for us to continue to self fund. Unable to find a third-party I felt comfortable working with, I decided to pivot back to our consulting and agency roots.
It’s not all doom and gloom of course. We didn’t lose any customers. What we had built still works. We had learned collectively learned so much about how to successfully market healthcare organizations. Plus, I didn’t have to get rid of any of the team that I had built (I guess those consulting revenues aren’t that bad after all). Thus setting us up for what’s to come next in 2018 and beyond!
Most people don’t like to talk about the failures. I don’t mind, because, well, it happens all the time. And it often leads to something great. That’s exactly what’s happening today, thanks to many of my failures
As a result of the early consulting experiences, providing agency services, and the building of the InboundMD platform, I was able to author, Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices, a comprehensive, yet accessible, field guide for providers, practice managers, and other healthcare marketers. This book has already received high praise from the other marketers and is the foundation of HealthcareMarketer.com, something new for 2018, that I am really excited to launch.
Then there’s RepCheckup, an online review management software that was spun out of the InboundMD platform. With RepCheckup, healthcare practices and other businesses can easily solicit new online reviews, while easily monitoring all their online ratings profiles across the internet. It continues to grow as a standalone software as a service, allowing us to learn more about growing and running a SaaS business.
Of course, Pitch + Pivot is still going strong. We’re actively working with clients across the world, who are trying as we are with our own internal ventures, to break fertile ground and open new markets. It’s a lot, but with a great team of business developers, designers, marketers, and software engineers, we get shit done.
Speaking of that team. Today I spend much of my time training, coaching and leading this great team of future leaders in what I consider the fine arts: Sales, Marketing, SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, Social Media and Ecommerce. As an ambitious entrepreneurial spirit, I also strive to remain a student of the game, constantly learning, growing and adapting while encouraging others to do the same.
You’ll see this in my efforts with The Daily Practice, an initiative I began to give myself daily practice with design, video, scripts, and writing.