Verge connects founders, developers, and investors with resources and tools to grow their startups.

Tim Hickle

A Sit Down With Indy’s Favorite Person: Lesson.ly to Pitch at Innovation Showcase

Max Yoder Lessonly

So, immediately upon moving to Indianapolis, I started hearing about Max Yoder.

Max is the only person I’ve met in this city that literally everyone loves. I’ve actually spoken to a few Congressmen who are in the process of getting the city’s slogan changed to “Indianapolis: We All Wish We Were Best Friends With Max Yoder.” (Not joking, I actually had two different people say that to me yesterday completely unprompted.)

Lovability aside, though, Max has been aggressively climbing the ranks as one of Indy’s coolest entrepreneurs in the tech space. His Lesson.ly software is starting to find its niche and I’ve seen first-hand how powerful this tool can be.

We’ve talked a lot about the capabilities of Lesson.ly, and we’re not stopping now. As a matter of fact, Max and the Lesson.ly crew is one of the three companies selected to pitch at this year’s Pitch Night at the Track, an Innovation Showcase preview. I recently sat down with Max to chat more about the evolution they’ve seen over the past year.

We talked for way too long for this post, and I may find an excuse to release the whole discussion soon, but I figured I should pull out some key takeaway for my Verge brethren.

Awesome Growth Brings an Awesome Team

One of the reasons Lesson.ly has garnered so much attention this year is the fact that they are seeing fantastic growth. They have added three employees in the past year and they are expanding at the rate of a new client per week with revenue growing 35% per month. Most of this can be attributed to Max getting an awesome team put in place.

This part of the conversation stood out to me because of the gravity of this realization to Lesson.ly’s evolution. Max’s ability to “Do every job” and find out what he needs to be looking for in other people is what has allowed him to put an all-star team in place (we talked a lot more about his new Directors of Sales, Marketing, and Client Experience, which we will release later.)

There’s a level of humility and insightfulness there that has led to Lesson.ly executing at an extremely high level. I recently wrote a review of the software and tried as hard as I could to find issues. The closest I came was “I would really like to add H1 or H2 formatting.” I think this can be directly attributed to building a team where everyone is playing “in-position,” and that can only work when you have a coach that knows how to play every position.

A great question came up during our conversation about Lesson.ly’s biggest struggle, however…

What The Hell Do You Do When Your Target Market is the Wrong Market?

Speaking of humility, how humbling is it to send out dozens, if not hundreds of proposals just to have them completely ignored? That’s a lesson that Max learned in Lesson.ly’s early stages.

He was targeting the wrong market, and he was targeting it aggressively. It made perfect sense to him, just like it would’ve made perfect sense to any of us, but he was wrong.

This is where a bad entrepreneur gets hard headed. “No, I know this will work for this market! I just need to try harder!”

Max didn’t commit his ego to a particular industry or prospect size. He just kept his eyes open, and instead of working with GE, he was working with Marilyn Monroe Spas. This was a much smaller contract than he imagined, but it was a much better fit for his software, and THAT’S what’s important. 

Through this experience, Max was able to learn how to ask the right questions to find the right customers, leading to Lesson.ly’s fast growth. We’re extremely excited to have Max pitching tomorrow at the track along with DCODIA and Mimir, winner of the 2014 Boiler Startup Accelerator. Keep an eye on the blog, we’ll be sharing a lot more info about these pitches and more about the Innovation Showcase!

If you haven’t signed up your startup for the Innovation Showcase, DO IT NOW! It’s completely free and could result in over $100k in funding!

About Tim Hickle

What's going on, Verge? You've found my profile. Come on in, stay awhile. While you're here, a little about me. My name's Tim (or Timmy or Timothy, dealer's choice) and I graduated from IU Bloomington in May 2013. Currently, I'm a Marketing Coordinator at PERQ. I'm a craft beer nut and startup enthusiast living in Broad Ripple. If you want to connect, give me a follow @TimHickle. See you cats around!

Verge Twitter Stream