Interview: Bidsketch Founder Ruben Gamez On Business, Freelancing And Teamwork

A while back, I reviewed the wonderful service Bidsketch, a tool for creating successful, highly professional bids. Today, I’m thrilled to post an interview with Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez. While working full-time as a software developer, Ruben harnessed psychology principles to build tools to help create bids to close seven- and eight-figure deals. Ruben eventually built Bidsketch as a premium tool to help take the pain away from the proposal process, and turned it into a full-time business. Ruben answered my questions about how he got started, why Bidsketch is so cool, and what he’s learned in the process of building his successful company.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez

Sarah Brown: Why and when did you start Bidsketch? Was it a sudden decision or had you been thinking about it for a while?

Ruben Gamez: I was working full time when I started Bidsketch. A friend of mine asked me about web design proposals. He had never written one and was about to go to his first client meeting. I searched for templates online and found a product that allowed web designers to create proposals. Unfortunately, it was an old-school downloadable software plugin for MS Word. I couldn’t find anything that was web based so I decided to build it myself after doing some keyword research to measure demand.

Sarah: My blog focuses on b2b digital marketing news and insights. Why should marketers use Bidsketch to help get clients?

Ruben: Customers tend to use Bidsketch to cut down on the time it takes to create proposals and help them land more clients. We build Bidsketch with those things in mind. Of course, it’s not a great fit for all businesses, but if you’re creating client proposals (instead of product proposals), I think it’s worth checking out.

Sarah: Is your team made up of contractors? If so, have any of them applied through Bidsketch?

Ruben: Most of the people that I work with are technically contractors (and one full time employee), though I treat everyone like they’re part of the team — because they are. I’ve actually worked with several people that first started out as Bidsketch customers. Often, I’ll get into conversations with customers and sometimes that results in us working together on important projects.

Sarah: How do different types of freelancers/agencies/etc. use Bidsketch differently?

Ruben: Freelancers generally tend to send out less proposals than Agencies. So often they’ll use it in batches — heavily for a month and lightly for a couple of months after that. Some agencies send out proposals on a daily basis so there’s a major need to collaborate and cut down on the time it takes to write them. In all cases, they benefit from the online features like electronic signatures and instant notifications when a proposal is viewed.

Sarah: What’s the best success story you’ve ever had from a Bidsketch customer?

Ruben: There have been some great success stories, but my favorite is a customer that used it to close his first million dollar deal. He emailed me and was very excited and mentioned how Bidsketch helped him close the deal. It’s great to know that people are paying a few dollars a month and are closing deals in the tens (or hundreds) of thousands. I love that.

There have been some great success stories, but my favorite is a customer that used it to close his first million dollar deal. – Ruben Gamez, Founder of Bidsketch

Sarah: How has being a part of Bidsketch changed you as a person?

Ruben: That’s a good question. I think I’ve always had the attributes that I have now; the biggest change is in how I get to spend my time. Nowadays I spend my time working on things I love, and get to spend a lot more time with my family. My schedule is much more flexible than when I worked for someone else.

Bidsketch founder Ruben Gamez currently resides in Spokane, WA.

Ruben Gamez: “Stay focused, take massive action, and you’ll get there.”

Sarah: Do you have any life philosophies or strategies that motivate you?

Ruben: I think the biggest thing for me has been to stay focused. New opportunities come up all the time. That’s why many of my competitors have gone out of business. They get distracted and start doing something else then wonder why their business suffers. This works for pretty much anything that you want to get really good at: Stay focused and take massive action, and you’ll get there.

Sarah: Where do you currently live, and are you active in your local tech community?

Ruben: Right now I live in Spokane, WA. There’s not much going on as far as tech is concerned here. That said, I do go to tech conferences and have a couple of mastermind groups that helps me stay connected. We’re also going to be moving to the Seattle or Portland area soon.

Sarah: Anything else you’d love to share?

Ruben: Since we’re on a blog that focuses on b2b marketing, readers might be interested in checking our free eBook that goes over several simple marketing tactics that will help them get more clients.

Thanks again to Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch for taking the time to share his insights! If you haven’t already, definitely check out Bidsketch and see if it’s right for helping your business. Follow Ruben Gamez on Twitter: @earthlingworks.

Smartsheet: Marketing Collaboration Made Easy

When working with new clients, one of the first things I do is determine how they currently organize and translate ideas into action steps among their team.

This is where Smartsheet comes in. Smartsheet is a project collaboration system that has been really helpful to me in increasing productivity among creative, sales and marketing teams.

I first began using Smartsheet while working with an LA-based tech company. They used it to help manage projects alongside JIRA (note: Smartsheet is compatible with JIRA, and the Smartsheet team told me the JIRA team even uses Smartsheet in-house).

When we began using Smartsheet for our marketing team, we could easily determine which tasks were important, when they were due, and who was responsible for execution. As we crossed off items on our Smartsheet, we got an accurate picture of how much we could accomplish in a given time period, which led to increasing our goals and meeting them. Smartsheet made our collaboration feel like a breeze.

In my consulting business, I’ve begun offering the premium version of Smartsheet to my clients and have been met with enthusiasm and gratitude. What’s perhaps so great about Smartsheet is how flexible it is in terms of scale. It works as well with my small business clients as it does with larger organizations. When I create a Smartsheet for a client, I share it with them and can choose whether to give them admin, editing or viewer privileges. It’s easy for a CEO, individual client, or member of another department within a larger team to easily receive notifications updating them on my or my team’s progress without time-consuming e-mails.

Examples of some common project update questions:

How is the Pinterest build-out going?

Where are we on collaborating with endorsement companies?

When will the mobile downloads ROI report be finished, and which team members are reporting on it?

When will the Facebook mobile ad campaign A/B testing round be completed?

What are the next three content marketing blog topics?

When do we need to rotate copy on Google Adwords campaigns?

What Youtube videos will be uploaded this week and when will SEO keywords and descriptions be added? 

These questions can all be answered with a quick click to Smartsheet.  It saves both parties much time not to have to check in about each individual task, because Smartsheet does the reporting work for you.

Smartsheet-template-event-plan-and-budgetAn example of a marketing template on Smartsheet.

According to Smartsheet’s product description, it’s designed to help with the following: collaboration, file sharing, google apps, alerts and reminders, calendars, budgets, easy reporting, and so much more. It’s easy to update projects, re-assign tasks, adjust due dates, and keep everything laid out in a beautiful way. The possibilities feel nearly endless. Smartsheet offers numerous templates to get started, and the option to integrate with other tools like Google products, Dropbox, Box and JIRA is at your fingertips. I highly recommend adopting Smartsheet to help organize your next project. Give it a try (they offer a great free trial program) and see if it doesn’t change everything.

Shouting vs. Whispering

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. has a significant advertising budget, and can afford to spend lots of money pitching to the masses. While Anheuser-Busch may reach a lot of people through its generic, one-size-fits-all billboard ads, they certainly won’t reach the discerning beer drinker through this method. Studies show that discerning beer drinkers want to feel a special, personal connection with their beer. There are thousands of varieties of beer, and details including ingredients, source, and history matter a great deal to discerning beer drinkers. Contrast Anheuser-Busch billboard tactics with another method of finding out about a product–say, being handed an artisan, small-batch craft beer after chatting about the details of its origin from a connoisseur at a local bottle shop.

See the difference?

While a great deal of incredible technology exists to help us target our messages in online marketing, why are some of us still acting like we need billboards, shouting at our prospective followers through bland, one-size-fits all messaging?

If we really niche down our audience, figuring out who they are and how we can solve their unique needs, there’s no need to shout in our online marketing. We can talk in practically a whisper, and we can bet that those on the listening end will want to hear, respond, and engage.

While a craft beer company may not have nearly unlimited advertising resources at its disposal like Anheuser-Busch, being clear and loyal to their target audience (the discerning, ingredient and process-focused customer) ensures that it will have a strong, loyal audience that can support it and make it profitable. For instance, a successful craft beer company’s Instagram campaign might show short clips of the beer being brewed at just the right conditions, or the selection of just-the-right hops. On Facebook, they could post updates on each brew along with visually-rich images to build anticipation for the launch of each new batch, perhaps tagging the farmers who sourced the hops and pictures of devoted fans drinking the beers, so other fans can see themselves in the images and recognize that this is something they would be interested in trying.

From my experience, shouting is fine if you are a big company that can afford to toss away thousands (or millions) of dollars on advertising to people who don’t give a damn about you (and would never give a damn about you) in order to grab the attention of enough people to keep your business profitable.

But if you’re a startup, a small business, or an entrepreneur, you’d be wise to engage in digital marketing that highlights what’s uniquely special about you, and connects with what’s special about those who love you.

Shout and you’ll scare away those who care about a particular need only you can fill. Whisper what’s uniquely great about you that your target audience will care about, and you’ll find the right people coming closer, thinking it was their idea all along.