Luke Aulin is the Founder and CEO (also known as the Mayor) of RTOWN – a company recently named one of the Top 20 largest digital marketing companies in BC by Business in Vancouver. He’s also our keynote at PitchFest2 on September 28, 2017. For background on RTOWN, see below my interview.
Prior to RTOWN, Luke had an equal number of successes and failures in business and, aside from his entrepreneurial pursuits, he’s a world traveller who’s been to over 60 countries.
Luke’s addicted to uncovering better ways to serve the problems facing people and planet. His life’s purpose is to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams. He believes that business is a force for good in the world.
“Luke’s heart is sometimes bigger than his brain.”
HPM: Who are you and what is your background viz pitching?
LUKE: I’m the founder and CEO of RTOWN. Before that I founded two failed startups in my early 20’s before becoming an “intrapreneur” at a software company called Faronics. I grew two brand new business units from nothing to something and then traveled the world for a year before starting my latest company. We’ve been recognized by Business in Vancouver as one of BC’s 15 largest digital media companies in BC. I was recently named a Top 40 Under 40 recipient.
So needless to say; I’ve pitched a LOT! Investors, employees, customers, the media. Pitching is a major part of being successful as entrepreneur.
HPM: How has pitching helped you get to where you are right now?
LUKE: I’ve raised two rounds of financing for RTOWN. I’ve also attracted some amazing team members to work on our vision, which is to help local businesses succeed by making every town RTOWN.
Without the support of so many of these stakeholders, we would not be the company we are today. Which is a leading subscription-based digital marketing company focused on helping local businesses grow through our digital marketing tools.
We have a staff of 23 (and we’re hiring), and I have an amazing board of directors supporting us as we continue to scale.
HPM: What was your hardest pitch?
LUKE: My hardest pitch, by far, was during a time of poor business performance. I was taken through a full four months of due diligence by a VC in Vancouver who did not produce the check he promised after we got to the finish. We literally had paperwork signed and he showed up without the check to the lawyers office. I walked away from him, due to dishonesty, even though he promised a check would come. About 4 months later we came within about $10 of missing payroll. During that time of cash crisis, I pitched raising a round out of desperation. I was honest about what had happened, but the investors didn’t come through. It was a hard pitch, from a place of desperation that I failed to get. Thankfully, we didn’t need the bridge funding. We executed like the rock star team that we are and survived. We started running profitably, and we grew.
HPM: What was your latest pitch? Was it successful?
My latest pitch was to Business in Vancouver after I was nominated for Top 40 Under 40. A very prestigious award given annually after sifting through over 300 nominees. I’m humbled and honoured to say that, yes, that pitch was successful. All thanks to our team around RTOWN.
HPM: Why do entrepreneurs need to nail pitching skills?
LUKE: Because you’re always selling as an entrepreneur. Whether to investors, future employees, the media, or customers. You’ve got to nail all of your pitches to get people to buy into your vision or ideas.
Knowing your business, product, and value proposition is essential to helping others understand why they should care about you. Your pitch, to whomever you’re pitching, has to be fluid and compelling. Pitching is an essential skill to develop.
HPM: What is your latest / current project?
LUKE: I’m focused squarely on growing RTOWN. We’ve recently launched in Calgary, North Vancouver, Prince George, and the Fraser Valley. We’re still growing strong in Vancouver and Kamloops. Our mission is to make every town RTOWN. We love supporting local, typically smaller to medium-sized companies. We’re helping them do more with their marketing dollars than they otherwise could afford. We’re priding ourselves on bringing big business technology to small businesses. We believe in a world where “local businesses eat big businesses’ lunch!”
HPM: What kind of advice to you have for entrepreneurs/ startups on Vancouver Island?
LUKE: It’s not who you know or what you know. It’s what you DO with who and what you know.
Great entrepreneurs have a bias for action. It’s all about execution, hustle, determination, and the ability to get up after being knocked down. Resilience will serve you very well. Oh, and always speak the truth. No one expects your business to be without challenges. Be straight with everyone. Don’t worry about sharing the warts. It’ll build trust for you, and also help you get the help you’ll need to solve those problems. Ask for help!
HPM: How can LIFT members benefit from your work with RTown?
LUKE: We provide a fully integrated digital marketing solution (mobile ads, search engine marketing, social media marketing, responsive websites, and a digital loyalty solution). We’re like having an entire marketing team for the fraction of one headcount. LIFT members can benefit from 10% off their first year’s subscription with RTOWN should they need support through our marketing tools. [If you’re ready to experience LIFT VIP – member – benefits on Vancouver Island, be in touch.]
Luke Aulin is our keynote and one of our judges at our #WeAreYQQ PitchFest2 event on September 28, 2017. For more information and tickets (we’re almost sold out) see WeAreYQQ PitchFest2.
RTOWN’s core purpose is to help local businesses succeed. That’s a good fit for LIFT, as we’re about helping entrepreneurs in small towns grow their businesses by thinking BIGger. RTOWN currently serves the digital marketing needs of over 500 businesses all over Western Canada. LIFT isn’t at that scale. Yet. We’re trusting that Luke will inspire us when he comes to visit Vancouver Island.
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