Aug 30, 2023
Hall of Fame Spotlight: SalesRiver's Koby Hastings
Every year, the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame honors the state’s most impactful business visionaries. We at SalesRiver are elated to announce that our Founder & CEO, Koby Hastings, has been recognized as an Emerging Entrepreneur for 2023. As we revel in this proud moment, we’d like to share a recent interview with Koby that provides a deeper dive into his journey and the evolution of SalesRiver.
The Hall of Fame Context
The Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, in partnership with the Kentucky Chamber, is dedicated to celebrating the stories of entrepreneurs who've made remarkable strides in their respective domains. This year's line-up features an array of luminaries, including our very own Koby Hastings.
A Conversation with Koby Hastings
Q: When you first started SalesRiver, what vision did you hold for the company, and how has it evolved with time?
Koby: The company actually started under a different brand, Leadrilla, and our focus was on building a platform that provided independent insurance agents access to high-quality leads and calls in a simple and easy to use platform.
Over the course of 4 years, the platform grew to over 20,000 agents and became the go-to platform for insurance agents that needed leads or calls. What we learned throughout this time was that the sales and marketing process in the insurance industry was extremely fragmented.
In 2021, we started getting a lot of interest in the software itself from large carriers and agencies. That’s when the vision for SalesRiver was born - provide a platform that brings clarity to the management of large insurance companies, brings visibility and transparency into the insurance industry as a whole, and gives our customers the ability to make strategic data-driven decisions in order to drive growth.
Q: Can you share a pivotal moment or decision that stands out in the journey so far?
Koby: There are countless moments that come to mind. But I’ll talk about two of them - one of them a decision, and one of them a serendipitous moment in our journey. Prior to launching Leadrilla in 2018, we had a software development company. We were serving several large banks and corporates in the US and Europe. We were profitable and life was good.
Then the idea of Leadrilla came up, we started generating leads for a handful of agents and things were working well. In January 2019, we decided to phase out all of our contracts with clients, and go all in on Leadrilla. We went from profitable to burning thousands of dollars each month in order to launch the first version of our product. Although that was a scary decision, I’m so glad we made it and that we had team members that were all in as well.The other moment that stands out happened about 15 months later. We had 4 employees at the time, we were barely making any profit, and we received a random support ticket from one of the largest insurance carriers in the country.
We got on a call with them a few days later and they said, “if we gave you a couple million dollars could you support the volume”? Holding back our excitement and fear, we quickly responded “Absolutely! This is what we do”. We got to work and onboarded that customer (who is still a customer today) a few weeks later. This moment in our journey not only propelled our revenue, but it propelled the performance of our team and our product.
It made us realize that if we can serve this customer, why can’t we serve all of the other big insurance carriers? Startups are a rollercoaster, and oftentimes entrepreneurs get discouraged when things don’t go as planned. My advice is just stay the course, because you never know when that next big customer will fall in your lap.
Q: Being recognized as an emerging entrepreneur in the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame is significant. What challenges have you faced as a leader, and how have they molded your leadership style at SalesRiver?
Koby: I strive to become a better leader every day. I’ve learned that my role as the leader of this company isn’t to lead from the front and do everything. My role is to put the right people in the right roles so that they can excel. I’ve been an engineer for half of my life, I’m a creative-builder.
In the early days, I always wanted to do everything. I knew I could get it done the quickest, and it would take way too much time to train someone else. I had to learn this the hard way. The speed and quality of which things can get done when you have a team of talented people is unmatched - that is why our company is where it is today.