The MarketMeSuite Story, Part II: From the UK, to Co-Working, to Incubator and Beyond

TammyWe’ve seen how Tammy Kahn Fennell and Alan Hamlyn combined their talents in marketing and programming to take a small, simple desktop app and develop it into the user-friendly MarketMeSuite social media management platform.  Tammy and Alan have a good feel for what small businesses need, they listen to their customers, and they’ve taken an incremental approach to developing and refining their product.

These strategies have worked great for MarketMeSuite and they are just as useful for anyAlan small business. However, that development didn’t happen in a vacuum. Every business grows—or fails to grow—in an environment and in a culture. And the path MarketMeSuite took offers some good insights on opportunities that are available to start-ups today.

Wrong side of the pond

If you’ve read the first part of this story, you know that Tammy and Alan were initially located in England. But that changed.

“It started with a question: What are you doing there?” recalls Tammy. The man asking the question was Alec Stern, vice president of strategic market development for Constant Contact. Tammy had been doing work for Constant Contact and Alec had become a good mentor and encourager.  Alec was really asking why were they still in England when their real customer base was in the United States. It was a simple question, and expatriate Tammy’s initial answer was just as simple, “I don’t know. I don’t know how to get home!”

Nonetheless, the pair made the move back across the Atlantic and landed in Cambridge. Going from a less intense setting of the UK’s Galston in Norfolk—where they shared a building with a hospice organization, among others—to the fast-paced environment of the North East business world, was something of a culture shock, plus they weren’t yet plugged in with anyone.

College days redux

“It sort of reminded me of the first day of college when I went from Wisconsin and moved to New York. I remember arriving at college. I picked up the phone and didn’t have anyone to call!” Tammy says with a laugh, adding, “I kind of had that same feeling when we came here.”

Tammy and Alan found a great way to start making contacts—they settled into a co-working space.

“Being in that co-working environment was pretty amazing. We started to see other companies that were at the same stage as us, some that were much further and other companies that were behind us,” she recalls. They soaked up a lot of ideas and energy from that co-working environment and eventually moved to a second co-working environment, where some pretty heavy hitters had set up shop, including the Boston Facebook team and the Constant Contact innovation team.

Constant Contact’s incubator

Again, the ability to network, see what others were up to and ask for advice, proved invaluable to the development of MarketMeSuite. Through their relationships with the Constant Contact innovation team, they learned about its new incubator program Small Business InnoLoft.

“We got to talking with the innovation team and said, ‘Why don’t we pilot it for you?’” Tammy says. They spent two weeks working with the program and it proved to be immeasurably valuable to the development of MarketMeSuite.

Today, CEO Tammy and CTO Alan have their own space, but there are still other start-ups around in their building. By moving to the right country, co-working and being involved with an incubator, they have successfully dealt with the challenge of being “the new kids in town”.
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