Todd Baylis, CEO and co-founder of Qgiv, knows firsthand how business data can affect the successful launch of a product. His experiences taught him what it takes to effectively take a product to market and keep it thriving long past launch day.
“We have gone through variant phases in our business,” Baylis said to a group of Florida Polytechnic University students on Thursday, Nov. 21. “We kind of got what we were trying to do with product market fit versus scaling out of order.”
As part of the Innovation Speaker Series, Baylis shared with students the wisdom he gained through that experience and how he turned it around.
Baylis co-founded Qgiv in 2007 as a way to provide nonprofit organizations with user-friendly online services to process transactions such as charitable donations, event registrations, and pledges. Since then, the Lakeland-based company has grown with more than 3,500 clients, about 70 employees, and additional offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Denver, Colorado.
He explained that to be successful, every startup company must first identify their target customers and provide them with the right product.
“Once you achieve product market fit, then the next step is to scale and you do that by finding more customers within that target market,” he said.
Baylis added that it is imperative for industry to work closely with educational institutions to help students develop their skills as they prepare to enter the workforce.
“Industry needs products with the various engineering and innovation components that these students are coming up with,” Baylis said. “And students need to learn how to scale a product and bring it to market. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is important to build on both sides.”
This type of industry interaction with Florida Poly students is meant to inspire them and bring them closer to becoming entrepreneurs, said Justin Heacock, entrepreneurship coordinator at the University.
“We help train our students to be innovators,” Heacock said. “The goal with bringing people like Todd Baylis is to give students guidance on what their future could look like, prevent mistakes other entrepreneurs might have made, and help them over the needle of innovation.”
Mechanical engineering senior Christopher Scaduto attended the speaking session and said it was helpful to receive advice directly from an expert in the industry.
“I learned about the market value and how it actually works,” said Scaduto, from Jupiter, Florida. “It is not based exactly on what the customer wants, but it’s based on how to work around it to get to the same goal in an innovative way.”
Director of Communications