Broadly’s co-founder and CEO Josh Melick chats with us about the role social media has played for him in his work at both Intuit and AT&T, as well as more recently at Broadly. We also dive into what you can do to ensure your business gets off on the right foot when using social media effectively to build a community and find loyal customers.

So tell the audience, who are you?

I’m Josh Melick; I’m the co-founder and CEO of Broadly, a venture-backed technology company that’s raised more than 20 million dollars to build tools for small businesses.

Who were you before Broadly?

Before Broadly, I was with Intuit for nine years. Last year, I started as a product manager and led the Turbo Tax business line, the #1 most downloaded iOS app. In addition, I have worked on QuickBooks Online and Mint, which is an Intuit property. And then, after that, I went over to AT&T as the Director of Product for emerging technology.

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

My first job was at a small startup called Digital Insight, where I met my co-founder. And it’s where I learned about internet software, and that was the primary reason I wanted out of Intuit because I was looking for a larger opportunity to run a business.

So what gave you the idea to found Broadly?

We were working on a consumer product at AT&T. During that process, we ended up meeting with hundreds of small businesses, trying to understand their problems because part of our strategy there was figuring out how do we get into the small business market and the small business tools space.

And we talked to a lot of businesses and what we realized was there were significant pain points in every single one of them. So we started Broadly with the idea that we wanted to build products for small businesses to help improve their efficiency, help them grow, and ultimately begin putting more money back into their pockets.

We launched the first version of our product in January, and it’s been growing at triple digits month over month. We’re very excited about how things are going right now. It’s a really exciting time to be in the space; there’s tons of opportunity for entrepreneurs; consumers are demanding better tools which means that there’s just an exciting time to be in the space.

How do you think social media has helped you build your business?

My co-founder and I were college roommates, so we’ve known each other for about ten years now. And so, when we started Broadly, it was just the two of us for a very, very long time. And so, the only way we knew how to build products was by talking directly to our users. The first thing that we did when we started Broadly was do nothing other than start calling potential customers, prospective customers, and really getting them on the phone and just learning about what their problems were.

And then I think for us, it turned out, at least for the first five years, social media was the only way we could do it. We didn’t have an office, so that we couldn’t meet with people in person, but I think what social media allowed us to do is connect with customers on a more personal level than probably any other tool that exists today.

So how did you use social media to build your business?

A lot of it depended on the stage that we were at. When we first started, I think a lot of our time was spent figuring out who these small businesses are and how we just get in front of them?

So one thing that we did is, instead of going through a salesperson, we cold emailed small businesses in our area. We would find people in the Yellow Pages and try to get their email addresses to send them an email about how Broadly might help them.

We got 20 customers before anybody had ever seen the product by cold calling small business owners who were literally across the street from us. And once we got our first few customers, that’s when we started thinking about how do we connect with more of them?

So I think what social media allowed us to do is it allowed us to define who our product was for and then be able to broadcast it out there. So whether you’re talking about the companies you’re trying to reach, whether it’s potential customers or investors or anybody else, social media lets you tell your story on your own time and connect directly with people.