Product demo startup LeadrPro wants to help companies pay for your attention

If you like trying software before you buy it, LeadrPro wants to connect you with software-as-a-service sellers that will even pay you to test it out.

There are startups out there developing ways to create better product demonstrations, but Chris Sheng wants to help those companies then find people to do the demos. He told TechCrunch that people should get paid, even when they are being marketed to.

You might remember Sheng from the commercial business space rental startup Renly, which pitched as part of the 2017 TechCrunch Disrupt event. Well, he’s now paired up with web developer Walter Guevara to create LeadrPro, a “dating app” of sorts for people who love discovering new products.

Sheng, who has a growth marketing background, said the idea came about while working with venture capital firms in Los Angeles that backed software-as-a-service companies. Working with over 200 SaaS companies, he realized that to generate more qualified sales leads, companies had to find creative ways to decipher lead lists that are, at this point, widely distributed.

“We’ve all been on the receiving end, and our inboxes and LinkedIn are stuffed,” Sheng said. “It’s very hard to delineate what’s actually good versus not good from the value for me. Instead, it’s going to be how to build up enough brand equity, brand awareness and brand trust so somebody is going to be willing to give me their attention, and even now it’s really hard.”

To do that, LeadrPro’s technology replaces the cold email outreach and LinkedIn DMs, essentially the paid channels, and instead connects software sellers directly to prospective buyers using a matching algorithm. LeadrPro also facilitates the timing and fit of the buyer with the demo and manages that part for the company.

It also replaces some of the sales development roles within a company, with Sheng noting that people in this position need three to six months for onboarding, but often only stick around about 1.5 years before moving on.

He believes ZoomInfo is LeadrPro’s closest competitor, but rather than provide a top-of-the-funnel leads list, “which has no direct relation to mid-funnel output, we generate meetings with prospects instantly through our marketplace. No lists required and no messaging.” The company gets paid per completed demo and has yielded between 30% and 40% conversion to a subscription, on average, in about a month.

LeadrPro launched in mid-April, moving many of its initial customers over from the agency side as early adopters. It has already amassed over 10,000 users on the demand side from companies like Meta, DocuSign, Paychex and Tesla, and has hosted over 1,000 demos for over 50 software and services companies. Sheng said there are another 50 companies on the waitlist.

Meanwhile, the company has been cash-flow positive for the past few months and also recently surpassed $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue, Sheng added.

With market fit, the company wanted to make some key hires to accelerate growth on the product side, so Sheng went after some venture capital and recently closed a $1.1 million in seed capital from a group of investors, including Okapi, Mucker Capital, Plug and Play, Gaingels and Matt Mickiewicz, who founded 99designs, Hired and Flippa.

“We needed to hit the gas on some of these things and thought that realistically if we do this right, I can see us getting to $1 million in MRR in six to nine months,” Sheng added. “By listening to what people are saying about the quality of the demos and meetings, my goal is to be able to create features that would help improve that in the next three to six months.”