We got to know more about Adam Hoeksema, co-founder of ProjectionHub in this edition of Client Spotlight! Learn more about how Adam convinced his brother to embark on their journey in developing what ProjectionHub is today, and how age does not hinder great business ideas.
What’s your story? How did you come up with your product?
In 2012, I was working a day job as the Executive Director of a microlender that made loans to small businesses. We asked our borrowers to provide a set of financial projections with their loan application, but clients typically struggled to provide reasonable projections. The light bulb went off when I was working on my personal taxes, using TurboTax, and I thought there should be a TurboTax-like solution for creating financial projections. So I called my brother, who is a software engineer, to see if he could help me build a web application to help entrepreneurs create projections. He agreed, so we launched the business together!
How did you get funding when you started out?
Initially, I self-funded the business from my savings. I eventually took a loan from my father-in-law to be able to build the second version of the platform. We also won a couple of business pitch competitions to raise a bit of money. We never needed to raise any investment, and I own 100% of the company today.
Your brother, who is also co-founder, played a major role in developing ProjectionHub from the very beginning. How did you convince him to join you on this journey?
When we first started the business, my brother, Brandon, was 17 years old and was just planning to go to college to study computer science. I kind of convinced him that working on the software would be a great way for him to learn and prepare for college haha! Brandon built the first version of ProjectionHub on his own, and we would have never even had a business without him. As the business changed and grew, and as Brandon had opportunities securing Software Engineering positions, we decided that it made sense for me to buy out his shares of the business.
What is the best advice you ever received when you started your business?
It took me years to realize this, but the best advice was to build what our customers want, not what we want to build. For years I was focused on building a software company, but it turns out that our customers actually prefer good old Excel spreadsheets. Customers don’t want to pay monthly for a financial projection software that they only need from time to time when raising investment. A one time cost product fits the customer’s needs more closely.
When did you first realize that you had a great business idea in your hands?
A few years ago I hired Grace Cisna, our CPA, and she started building custom financial models in Excel for our customers when our software product didn’t work for them. As Grace built a custom financial model for different types of businesses we turned those spreadsheets into industry specific financial model templates and started to sell them on our website. It turns out we had a much higher conversion rate selling templates compared to our software. At that point, I realized that building really great financial projection templates customized for different types of businesses was a much better business. Today, we have a library of 50+ financial projection spreadsheet templates for just about every industry you can think of.
How long did it take for you to develop your business plan? How long did it take to get your 1st sales?
In one sense it took a day or two to develop our initial business plan, but in another sense it took us 7 years to uncover a business plan that actually made sense and was profitable. Ironically, when I had the idea for ProjectionHub, I started by setting up the website and selling a detailed financial projection template. That sold within days of getting the website up and running. We sold that template for several months while Brandon built the initial version of the software. Then, for about 7 years we stopped selling templates and focused on the software only. It wasn’t until 2019 that we realized the potential of our financial projection template business and doubled and tripled down on that business segment.
Any advice you can give to young entrepreneurs?
My advice is always, just start something! I was 23 when I started ProjectionHub and Brandon was 17. If I had waited until we were experienced enough to actually have a chance at success, I would have never started the business. I also learned so much about business through our failures. I keep learning every day through our failures, but if you don’t fail, you won’t learn.
What are your business plans going forward?
Going forward, we plan to “build what our customers want” which right now is more detailed and powerful financial projection templates for specific industries. We have a great set of products, so our primary focus right now is marketing and advertising to make sure that we get in front of our potential customers at the right time. We spend a significant amount of time producing educational videos, blog posts, and tools that our customers find value in.
What should readers & potential customers know about your service?
If you are looking to raise capital from a potential investor or lender and you are asked to provide financial projections, we have a template or tool that will save you hours of time and help you produce realistic projections that meet investor and lender expectations.