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My Book:
Zero to One Million

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iContact Email Markeitng Software
Virante Web Marketing Solutions

Humanity Campaign

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Blog Home > One Said Yes, So I Went With Him

February 04, 2008

One Said Yes, So I Went With Him

In October 2003, I self-published a book called Zero to One Million. At the time, the book was primarily a case study of a health company I worked at while a senior in high school that went from nothing to $1,000,000 in sales in fourteen months.

I was absolutely amazed at how a 17 year-old kid and a 60 year old guy could build a company so quickly by having a good product and marketing it well.

I was inspired by what a young person with ambition could achieve and motivated by the possibility of entrepreneurship and ownership.

I committed then to starting my own company when I moved to Chapel Hill in 2002 to go to UNC.

The second month in school, I attended the first meeting of the UNC Entrepreneurship Club. There, over chicken nuggets and Hawaiian BBQ sauce, I met my future business partner in iContact, Aaron Houghton.

Aaron was a senior Computer Science major and I was a lowly freshman studying economics. I began working with Aaron at his office at the corner of Franklin and Columbia Streets in Chapel Hill. I started a marketing company called Virante and he ran a web development company called Preation.

We partnered the next Spring to launch iContact and on July 2, 2003 our baby, iContact was born.

I lived in the office the summer on 2003, slept on a futon, ate a lot of Ramen Noodles, and cooked on a George Foreman Grill. I would work from 3pm to 9am every day, six days per week.

We hired our first team member in September 2003--and we were on our way. We lost $5,000 that first year--but we were in business.

On September 1, 2005, we reached $1 million in all-time sales--eighteen days after my 21st birthday.

That next Spring, a seed was planted in my head. I had written about how to build a company to one million dollars in sales before--but now I actually knew what I was talking about. I actually knew HOW much more difficult it was to build a company to one million dollars in sales as a CEO instead of as a marketing consultant.

I wanted to share this knowledge with others who wanted to build a company. I wanted to get my book published by a real publisher and get the book in book stores.

First, I learned that I needed an agent. So I went to the bookstore and bought the book, "Guide to Literary Agents 2006." There were 110 business genre literary agents listed in the book, so I typed up their names and addresses in a spreadsheet and sent 110 letters out. I heard back from ten of the agents. Nine said no and one said yes so I went with him. His name was Rick Broadhead from Toronto.

Within two months, Rick got me a publishing contract with McGraw-Hill.

On Tuesday, the fully updated version of Zero to One Million launches. We are working to make it #1 on Amazon on that day.

Within, I tell the story of building iContact from nothing to over $10 million in annual sales and provide a ten step process to building a company to $1 million in sales. The book is about how to build a company from scratch to one million dollars in sales. I share in it what I've learned the hard way about entrepreneurship, raising investment, venture capital, opportunity evaluation, product development, business planning, building a sales team, management, hiring and retaining superstars, organizational behavior, web marketing, web 2.0, building systems, and scaling a business. The book provides a ten step process for building a company from idea stage to over $1 million in annual sales based on the experience I've gained building iContact over the past five years to over $10 million in annual sales and 85 employees.

All the net proceeds from the sale of the book will go to The Humanity Campaign, my non-profit organization that works to reduce poverty and hunger by increasing access to education, healthcare, technology, and entrepreneurial opportunity at home and in developing countries.

Would you buy a copy on Tuesday and spread the word to your friends?

I'll be posting a longer message about the book launch later on tonight...

Thank you very very much for your support!

Love, hope, peace, prosperity...


Posted by ryanallis at February 4, 2008 02:34 AM

About this Blog: Follow the journey of entrepreneur Ryan Allis as he builds his company iContact into the worldwide leader in on-demand software for online communications, publishes his book Zero to One Million, travels the country as a speaker on entrepreneurship, explores the worlds of public policy, technology, marketing, management, leadership, venture capital, and organizational behavior, and lives a passionate life as a North Carolina entrepreneur and CEO.

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