Velma Creates Local Jobs in Nampa
Local tech company Velma wants to keep good paying jobs local as it grows.
NSN Solutions is a Nampa company that founded Velma, a marketing automation service grounded in the mortgage industry. Founded by mortgage professionals Nathan Nordby, Dan Sullivan, and Jacob Nordby and HP employee Ben Price, Velma.com (Velma is short for Virtual Electronic Marketing Assistant), went live July 2007. Velma’s mission was to help loan officers close more loans by increasing their repeat and referral business. Velma focused on enabling individual loan officer to easily build stronger relationships through contact management and custom, on-demand mailings such as newsletters, post-cards, and note-cards. Initial business plans focused on driving a large and profitable print and mail service and a monthly membership fee.
Navigating a Disappearing Market
Velma’s outlook changed dramatically with the 2008 real estate crash and recession. Most of Velma’s target market disappeared (in some markets 85% of individual loan officers left the industry) and there was widespread industry consolidation. Additionally, the transition from direct mail to email marketing accelerated rendering Velma’s leadership in on-demand print and mail marketing less valuable.
Facing a disappearing market and difficult business model, Nathan and the Velma team needed to pivot. They added email marketing to the company’s print and mail capabilities. But most importantly a marketing admin interface was added and the target user switched from the individual loan officer with a month to month subscription, to annual contracts with mortgage companies looking for marketing automation, brand control, and efficiencies.
Help from the SBDC
Additionally, in 2010 Velma moved from private offices to the Small Business Development Center’s Business Accelerator in Nampa, largely to protect their dwindling capital. “We initially moved to the Accelerator for cheap rent.” Said managing director Ben Price, “We’ve stayed because of the convenience, available resources, and flexible facilities. It would have been tough to make it this far without the Accelerator.”
“John Glerum is always a great resource. The quarterly reviews and processes we have done with John helped establish our business discipline. And he has good business insight and experience; I’m always interested in his take.” Added Nathan Nordby, CEO.
Growth and Local Jobs
Since that 2010 move and pivot, Velma has grown from 3.5 employees to more than 20 with positive cash flow the past three years. The company also offers health insurance benefits to full time employees and an all hands free lunch meeting every Friday…called “Fat Fridays” internally. And the future looks promising. Earlier this year, Velma announced a partnership with a leading sales automation company, Velocify.com to provide marketing automation to a new Velocify service, LoanEngage. The Velocify partnership leverages Velma Fulfillment Service (VFS), a new API based marketing fulfillment service which can add marketing depth and automation to most any services, without the expertise and development headaches needed to develop internally.
“We are proud of the fact we’ve been able to add value to our community and Idaho” said Nordby, “We’ve added over 20 Idaho jobs and our revenues are almost entirely from out of state.”
While the Velma team recognizes they will not stay at the Accelerator forever. “Either Nampa, Meridian or perhaps Boise will be our future home.” added Price, “But we are expecting to stay in the area. This is home.”
About the Small Business Development Center
The Idaho SBDC offers local businesses no cost, confidential, professional one-on-one consulting. The organization exists to help businesses grow and thrive in Idaho. With six office locations throughout the state, each affiliated with one of Idaho’s colleges or universities, the Idaho SBDC is uniquely positioned to serve as a focal point for linking together our partners from higher education, the private business community, and federal, state and local government. More information can be fond at www.IdahoSBDC.org