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The Cardtapp Team
The CardTapp team.

It’s imperative for salespeople to be available for their clients as often as possible, but that level of accessibility makes maintaining a work-life balance challenging.

CardTapp CEO Ben Brashen
CardTapp CEO Ben Brashen

That’s one pain point CardTapp aims to address. The Bellevue-based startup builds customized apps that help real estate agents, mortgage professionals, and insurance agents connect with their clients.

CardTapp took off after co-founder and CEO Ben Brashen saw overwhelming interest in an app he designed for his personal mortgage business. With 15 years of experience in the industry, it seemed like a natural place for Brashen to launch his startup.

CardTapp, which was founded by Brashen and Ryan Leopold, has more than 3,000 customers. We caught up with Brashen for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “CardTapp creates personalized branded apps for solopreneurs and salespeople to connect and engage with their clients, prospects, and referral partners.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I created my own personalized mortgage app as a way to stand out from the crowd. It was the first app in any app store with my face as the icon. Within days I fielded calls from other loan officers who wanted their own mortgage calculator app. Over the course of a few months I sold over 300 basic mortgage calculator apps and I realized I had a business.

Most salespeople want free time but need to always be accessible to clients. By creating an app full of relevant tools, we empower them to generate better relationships with clients and gain some of the free time they want. We wanted to develop this phenomena further and extend the app to all soloprenuers and salespeople so they can grow their businesses using their very own mobile apps.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “So far, we’ve gone the route of angel investors because as the idea grew, we were already having conversations with them. It’s much easier to ‘sell’ an investor on an idea over time (especially as it’s succeeding) then it is in one meeting, as it would have been with VC.”

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Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “It is surely our ability to use technology and focus it on driving business for our users. Having an app with your picture on the home screen creates high recall value and makes it easier to get those ‘hard to get’ quality leads while eliminating the need to share business cards. The app provides unparalleled client tracking that empowers users to reach out to their prospect at the right time. Growing your referral network just got super easy!”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Deep vertical integration. That is definitely our biggest strength. Every app is loaded with features and tools that are specific to the user’s target audience — ensuring engagement with referrals leading to conversions.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “The biggest mistake we made at the beginning was outsourcing key elements of design and development. I think a lot of people view outsourcing as an easy, less expensive route (at least I did!). Now that we have a complete in-house development team, we’ve ended up rewriting most of the code which could have been done differently the first time.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “It would be awesome to get advice from all of them. But if it is one person, it would be Mark Zuckerberg. We are in the business of growing referral network for our users supported by the power of technology — there’s probably not a better person in this world to have in our corner than him.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “When entrepreneurs and salespeople from all walks of life use CardTapp products as their business cards and do not feel the need to get traditional business cards printed.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We are not daunted by challenges. The mobile marketing space can be daunting but with our stellar team, we provide game-changing solutions that help our users create new benchmarks of excellence in lead generation.”

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We are truly unique because: “We build apps based on specific user needs. Our apps are not one-size-fits-all. Every product we build is based on the deep research. We build industry-specific apps created solely for the purpose of generating business for our customers … that is truly our unique proposition.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “I don’t know if it’s the biggest hurdle, but the amount of work to become successful is so much more than you’d ever think. I remember the day we sent out about 300,000 emails to loan officers all over the country thinking we were going to retire about an hour later because people were going to line up at the door. Let’s just say it’s two years later and we’re still at it!”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Don’t be afraid to take action. You can study and analyze yourself to death but until you put a product in front of someone you’ll never really know what you have. I’m a huge fan of taking action and learning from mistakes. You’ve got to go over the bumps to see how high the jumps will take you!”

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