A company launch is an exciting event. It's a celebration of hard work (in our case, one whole year's worth), and it marks a product or service being made publicly available for the first time. For the launch of Trustpage, instead of a press release or a party with family and friends, we decided to celebrate at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the EchoPark 250, a race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. I caught up with Chase Lee, Trustpage's Founder and CEO, to discuss why we took this unconventional approach, why it's essential to break out of your bubble, and where we go from here.
Q: This is now the second company you've launched. What are your fondest launch memories, and is there anything you would change if you could go back in time?
A: This launch was so different, particularly because of COVID. We couldn't all just cram into an office. We couldn't all just go down to the race. And so it ended up being this motley little crew in Atlanta with the rest of us celebrating at home watching on TV with family and friends. That said, the one thing I've learned from other launches is that there will always be more significant events in a company's lifecycle. There will always be events that will generate more attention. A launch shouldn't absorb too much energy, and I feel like we put the right amount into this one. For us, we wanted to make a good first impression, and we did that. Our brand was on display, we had folks there to support in person, and people have had good things to say. That's all it should be about. Don't let a launch keep you up at night—it's never a make or break. Let your launch become a fond memory and a testament to hard work. I'll never forget when we launched Fetchnotes back at the University of Michigan. We were all in the room together. Everything was so perfectly coordinated, and I still have a picture of the moment it happened. So make the right impression, be prepared, enjoy it, but don't overthink it.
Q: Tech startups and NASCAR don't necessarily go together. What made you decide to go ahead with the Sam Hunt Racing/Santino Ferrucci sponsorship for your launch?
A: Many things don't seem like they might mix after first—it's bringing them together that makes for a fun challenge. Not to mention that breaking out of our bubbles and cross-pollinating ideas and groups is incredibly rewarding. We learn from each other, we share new experiences, and, in some ways, we find personal meaning. All of this is made sense for us with NASCAR. There isn't too much tech startup representation in the sport, and we took that as an opportunity. If we could get the NASCAR community to understand and support what Trustpage is doing, certainly we can get the tech community to do the same. But beyond all that, we're really all about making information more accessible, and NASCAR's a great way to do that.
We also saw many parallels in ourselves as a company and in Santino Ferrucci, our driver, and Sam Hunt Racing. We're both early on in our respective fields, very talented, and building the proper foundation for our respective futures. It was incredibly special to find that parallel connection in a driver and a team, and we're very proud of the way our brand was represented.
On a personal note, growing up, I used to watch NASCAR with my grandpa almost every weekend. I was raised by a single mom—no dad—and my grandpa was someone who I built a lot of fond memories with. Seeing my company logo on a NASCAR connected with me and my family and on a deeply personal level. I know it's something my grandpa would've been very proud of, and something no one in my family ever would've imagined in their wildest dreams.
Q: What does a successful launch look like to you? What do you look for as it relates to traffic, timing, organization, etc.?
A: The most successful launches are the ones that have the best follow-on plans, which, of course, makes it all about timing. I think our NASCAR launch was perfectly timed as it came right after so many significant improvements to our product. At the same time, we know we have a long way to go, but that's ok. If a launch is delayed too long, you'll miss out on critical feedback from your earliest customers and supporters. And if you launch too soon, you'll deliver a product that misses the mark. When the timing is right, you'll have the right feedback, you'll know where your product sits in the market and who your competitors are, and you'll know where to go from there. Timing is everything. Finally, this launch wasn't about getting a certain amount of traffic or signups. It was about celebrating achievement and setting the foundation for what's next. Our mission is to create a race to the top for InfoSec and truly make the world a safer place. We can't get there from one race. The journey's only just begun.
Q: What would you recommend to a new company looking to do something similarly unconventional for their launch announcement?
A: Even if it's unconventional, it should still be rational. We didn't just wake up one morning and decide to sponsor a NASCAR. I had to think pretty hard to determine if there was actually a story there and if it would really make sense for the business. It's great to do wacky and zany things, but it builds a lot more credibility as a founder if people understand that there's some strategy and rationality behind your actions. As fun and unconventional as it may seem, there was a lot of thought behind it, and I think that's really important.
Q: Do you think you'll do another NASCAR sponsorship—or other sports sponsorship—in the near future?
A: We had a great time working with Santino and Sam Hunt Racing on this, and we'd love to continue the journey with them. As for other sports, I see value there as well. People dedicate a lot of time and attention to sports, making athletes and celebrities incredibly effective and delivering your message to fans. The message we want to send is that—as big of a problem cybercrime and data privacy have become—there is still time to fix it. Ultimately, we're a business tool that exists to help software get adopted faster by making it easier to trust. The way we want to make that happen is by focusing on the end-user. Take my mom, for example. She's not involved in the tech community, but she'll constantly tell me not to invest in certain tech companies or use certain apps because the companies can't be trusted. That's a big problem, and it shows that this problem is working its way into the mainstream. So if by way of sports sponsorships, we can tap into a wider audience and into the zeitgeist around the distrust of software, then I think we have an incredible opportunity to bring about positive change.