This startup increased its revenue by saying no to clients

John Arrow, a digital agency co-founder with his two cofounders, never imagined saying no to clients. This Austin-based company designs and engineers digital experiences for clients and employees using cutting-edge technology. Clients include Fortune 500 companies and startups. Arrow and his team have mastered a disciplined approach for client strategy.

Mutual Mobile was founded by the trio in 2009, just as the United States experienced one of its worst financial crises. Although it may seem bad timing, building a business during an economic downturn can teach valuable lessons. Arrow says, “It was not a good time for us to go out and obtain capital. So we decided that we should be able do this ourselves from day one.” “Never taking funding was one of the best decisions we made as a company.”

They knew that in order to win clients in a downmarket, they had to keep to a single mission: to help companies generate revenue or reduce costs. This meant refusing to be tempted to use new technology just for the sake or to make clients look relevant. Arrow says, “Let’s learn from our mistakes and say no early,” even if it means sacrificing money. Arrow says, “If it doesn’t improve customer experience or benefit business,” Arrow states, it’s useless.”

Arrow and his team learned their lesson the hard way when they created a Virtual Reality project for Walmart that simulated the future of shopping. This imagined scenario is no longer relevant. Arrow states that the experience was a good reminder to not only make sure something makes sense right now but also to remember there is no time like the present. We are often approached by companies wanting to use blockchain or NFT’s. Many of them say no because it doesn’t fit with their current work.

In Mutual Mobile’s early days, Arrow was open to saying no to clients. This even meant that Arrow had 100 clients to resign. Enterprise mobility was just beginning at the time. Large companies had more resources for experimentation than startups, and smaller budgets. Mutual Mobile had to remain focused on mobile tech in order to grow. This meant that it had to resign large numbers of clients as part a strategic shift. When we started, we had 150 clients. We also had 150 employees. We quit 100 clients to focus on enterprise mobility. Our revenue grew immediately.

Mutual Mobile has been involved in many health tech projects. This also informed its ethos. Arrow states that they learned about the hippocratic Oath, which is to first do no harm. They then apply it to all the work they do. Arrow believes that clients can trust him when he says no. Mutual Mobile believes that it is part of a sustainable strategy that includes clients who align with their ethos and don’t chase the next shiny object. The user is the most overlooked party. If an interface isn’t working correctly, it can make your life miserable. Our goal is to not only drive revenue for our customers and save them money, but also solve problems that technology hasn’t solved before.

This kind of focus pays off. Mutual Mobile sold a minority share of its business to WPP in 2013. It now has over 200 employees in Austin, Hyderabad and plans to open an office in London later this year.

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