Many people would rather poke themselves in the eye than try to sell something — or many things for that matter — to a stranger. If you fall into that category and happen to be a small business owner, then Rich Fox has created UpTyck just for you. Fox has spent most of his career working in tech sales with companies such as ExtraHop Networks in Seattle.

He knows the drill: how to manage a long list of leads, when to re-connect with a prospect after that first call and how to convert prospects to clients. But for many small businesses and startup founders, the ins and outs of sales is foreign territory. UpTyck wants to make the sales process easy by  incorporating it into your gmail account. The app provides prompts for sales tasks and integrates all your customer contact information, with the aim of transforming the accidental sales manager into a sales superstar.

Startup: UpTyck
Founded: December 2014
Founder: Rich Fox
Employees: Fox for now, and contractors
Location: Bend

Why do small businesses need UpTyck? A lot of the small businesses I’ve encountered start with a single sales person, often the founder, who is trying to get the company off the ground. They don’t need an extensive CRM system to track their customers and sales process. In fact, they’d probably use less than 1% of it. So most of them attempt to organize their customer and prospect information on a spreadsheet. Beyond the sheer organization, they often don’t know how the sales process works.

How does UpTyck help? After working in sales for so long, you realize that the difference between successful sales people — and the unsuccessful ones — is that they are following a formula. It includes things like following up with potential customers in a timely manner and the way you’re communicating with prospects. So in addition to helping track all your customer info, UpTyck provides suggestions for the tasks you should do next such as re-connect with a past client. I call it a “sales manager in a box.”

And it’s a Google App? Yes. It’s actually a gmail wrapper that integrates with your email account. So when you open your gmail you see a list of leads, prospects, opportunities and customer follow-ups as well as contact info, a task list and mini calendar.

UpTyck integrates with your gmail account.
UpTyck integrates with your gmail account.

So can a business grow out of UpTyck? We are a stop-gap tool for now. Once companies get big enough they’ll likely invest in a CRM. But down the road, I want to offer a next level product.

This is a fairly crowded space. How is UpTyck different? There’s a lot of customer management products out there, but they’re all reactive — they don’t help users sell. We have tasks built into the system, along with a recommendation engine, to help our users progress through the sales cycle.

How are you funded? I’ve bootstrapped the product’s development. We just launched the first version with three or four beta users. We want to get a few more customers, and then we’ll start the fundraising conversation.

You’ve worked in Portland and Seattle. What challenges do expect with starting a company here? There’s a lot of support here, and people have been great about meeting with me and offering their advice and help. I think the main concern for any tech startup is finding tech talent. We need more technical resources.

Rich Fox, founder of UpTyck.
Rich Fox, founder of UpTyck.

Lastly, you’re a seasoned sales professional. What’s the top sales mistake you see startups making? The main mistake I see is small companies make is not understanding the sales process and not having the proper metrics in place to help ensure success. For example, do they require seeing a demo of the product? How many days does it take for your prospects to become customers? Having these metrics in place early as you build up your business will allow you to make smarter decisions when it comes to the product.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley