Evan Kesner is the CEO of Straight Up Growth, where he applies his wealth of previous experience in assisting Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 companies “grow their sales pipeline ten times faster than previously imaginable within their target prospective customer accounts.” As a business growth specialist, Evan is also the co-founder of two businesses with seven-figure values.
At Straight Up Growth, Evan Kesner and his team are “focused on growing brands in the most competitive categories on Amazon, sometimes even net new products.” In just a matter of months, the company transforms the Amazon brand into “market leaders.” Their vast knowledge of advertising, in general, as well as “how other things impact their advertising efforts,” including “reviews, brand awareness, organic rankings, [percent] of ads driven sales, and more,” helps them deliver the best results for their clients. The company also offers “tailored solutions based on client goals and existing Amazon data,” which allow them to “move miles ahead of [our] competition.”
Evan Kesner, and Straight Up Growth, believe in “helping good people scale good businesses.” The company employs a unique process, beginning with a free Amazon aduit and full business analysis, before proceeding to “uncover immediate opportunities to scale using proven strategies.” This process works, too, since it has led to growth of up to “half a billion dollars in sales with $10 million in ad spend.” Several companies in several industries have reported success with Straight Up Growth, with some of them growing their business by $5-10 million in less than a year.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Evan Kesner: Our company has let one client go. Their sales on Amazon went up from $150,000 to $220,000 in 4 months. However, they struggled to keep up with their inventory and pay us on time. Other than that, we have a 100% client retention rate because all our client’s sales are growing constantly.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Evan Kesner: Sleep, meditate twice per day for 20 minutes, try to stop drinking coffee and beverages that make you dehydrated. I also do Cryotherapy, surround myself with plants, and do my best to get to nature and the beach on a weekly basis. Protect your recharge time. Your performance will improve, good things will come to you.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Evan Kesner: Having a coach and mentor helps quite a bit. Right now, Richard Carlson of Focus Dynamics is my leadership coach and Steve Little of Zero Limits Ventures is helping with our business planning. Both Richard and Steve are providing incredible guidance that I am eternally grateful for.
Before I started Straight Up Growth I did a total reset, it wasn’t easy. I went from no options to too many options. Through luck, self-realization exercises, and Richard’s guidance I was able to put myself in the right position to co-found Straight Up Growth. I call Richard Carlson, my Mr. Miyagi without him there would be no Karate Kid ☺
I mentor at SDSU’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center because I believe strongly in helping student entrepreneurs succeed.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start by defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Evan Kesner: I believe good and great companies can be any size, from one person to hundreds of thousands so let’s put that to the side for a moment.
A good company is one that does what it says it’s going to do. In the age of Netflix and Amazon with instant gratification, anything less is a recipe for disaster. Overall, the average customer and worker at a good company are satisfied.
A great company constantly exceeds your expectations whether you’re a customer, top-level executive, or the lowest employee on the totem pole.
A great company delights you, by doing a good job and also more importantly makes you feel good. Signs of a great company are high levels of customer loyalty, brand advocates, smiling employees, and growth.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill? From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Evan Kesner: Boosting growth is easy in the Amazon space if you know what you are doing. Most of our clients were wasting more than 50% of their Amazon ad spend before working with Straight Up Growth because Amazon’s reporting is difficult to navigate. We regularly work with business leaders that need to drive growth and come up with solutions. As an example a $15M wellness company we work with just launched a net new product from 0 to $342,000 in the last 45 months.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Evan Kesner: Consistency in the effort is the key. It’s important to stop and think, sometimes a pivot is needed. We had to completely pivot our go-to-market strategy to online. Leverage the relationships that you’ve invested your time, effort, and energy to pull you up if you need a growth boost.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Evan Kesner: The team you create and team morale is by far the most underrated lever you can use to grow your business. If you want to grow your business beyond yourself, your team and driving online sales are two of the key ingredients.
Team and driving online sales are two of the most important things to our business and a major part of Nextiva’s success, a 9-figure company where I had the pleasure of working prior to Straight Up Growth.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Evan Kesner: Customer Experience starts top down. It’s an attitude and commitment to success from the get-go, it starts with the CEO/founding team/leadership team.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was a reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Evan Kesner: Social media can be a major way for eCommerce companies to stand out. Generating an Instagram following for a visually pleasing product can accelerate your growth. I’m not particularly worried about the misuse of social media at Straight Up Growth. Our company loves LinkedIn, post regularly and our content gets a lot of love from our customers, supporters, friends, and colleagues. Consistently paying attention to LinkedIn has enabled me to have 15,000+ connections and growing.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Evan Kesner: The most common mistake I see is not going to market fast enough. In my first business, I had $1,000,000 in revenue by the time other “founders” around me when I started with better ideas were still trying to perfect their idea. Many of whom never sold anything, gave up, and went back to work for someone else.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Evan Kesner: Mental health is key. Meditation has helped me tremendously to focus, reduce stress, and be kinder to others. I’d love to see more people taking care of themselves and others, then the rest will fall into place.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!