Roberto Robles: Optimizing Everything

Issue 18

Good morning builders! 🔨

This is “Procrastineur”, a newsletter sharing the stories of people building cool things.

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It’s Thursday, September 2, 2021, and this week’s founder is Roberto Robles:

Roberto’s Story

A Foray into Entrepreneurship

Roberto always had that entrepreneurial itch. He got it from his father, who worked as an electrical technician at a manufacturing plant during the day. After hours, though, he put his skills to the test by fixing all kinds of problems for people around town.

At 17, Roberto had his own computer repair shop. His dad helped him get a storefront in Tijuana, where they lived. For three years, Roberto fixed computers from knowledge he got in ComputorEdge magazine. 

Roberto learned so much about business over those short years, but it wasn’t successful enough to keep going, so he exited and took a job doing computer networks, cabling phone installations, and managing servers.

Six months later, a private hospital needed an assistant in the IT department. Roberto earned his way to manager after about a year and was in charge of the hospital’s IT department for the next few years.

Stumbling into Owning an Agency

Roberto’s itch was back, though, and he couldn’t deny the allure of the web. It was still early days, and Roberto dove in. He developed websites for a few companies, and quickly realized that without marketing, these sites weren’t worth much to the company.

So, at 25, he learned about SEO (search engine optimization). Roberto’s freelancing took off as he proved his proficiency in getting clients to the front page on Google search. By 29, he had so much work that he had to hire another freelancer of his own just to keep up. One hire quickly turned to two, and before long, KatRank was born. Roberto had an agency!

Since then, KatRank has grown dramatically. Roberto is regularly invited to universities to speak on SEO. He has to work about a half-day to keep everything running. He knew he needed another challenge. To scratch that itch.

A First Attempt

Roberto wanted to create a software he could sell while still running his agency. Since he had experience working with dentists in Tijuana’s medical tourism industry, he knew that there were a lot of gaps left to be filled for them. Their filing systems and customer relationship management needed work. 

Unfortunately, Roberto learned the lesson that most entrepreneurs do - talking to customers is paramount. He built a product that looks great to him, but has failed to break out for dentists in Mexico. They prefer pen and paper over his technology.

Roberto’s Odontalify is still up and running, with a few customers. He plans to come back to it to revamp how it’s built to better serve the market.

KatLinks

Roberto knew that SaaS was a great field. He decided to focus his next product on his expertise - SEO.

He started looking around at the big software companies’ offerings and found that none of them offer a tool specifically for managing backlinks, which is a critical part of ranking highly in the search algorithm. 

He started with an MVP to do just that. Customers can enter their data, find any backlinks, and optimize them where possible. 

It took off. People wanted to know more about the product, more about how to improve SEO. Roberto hadn’t even integrated payments yet, so he just extended trials until that could be done.

They’ve added a ton of features since and have earned 27 paying users after only a few months of operation. KatLinks is quickly moving to the top of the list for SEO software.

Roberto’s Advice

  • Be open about your story. Telling others not only the highs but also the lows helps them feel a more genuine connection.

  • Networking and getting to know more people in the industry is more valuable that you’ll ever realize.

You can connect with Roberto on Twitter as @robertodigital_. Learn more about Roberto and his projects on Roberto.digital .

Word from Will

Roberto came from a humble background, but he’s worked his way into lecture halls at universities through grit, determination, and a willingness to spend time figuring out the things that others don’t want to spend their time on.

His daughters laugh because he, without a degree, is being asked to teach students working toward one. He thinks it’s a bit ironic too. What I hope they learn when they see him up there, though, isn’t that SEO is a useful skill (it is), but rather that hard work and sticking with things through the difficult times is worth far more than the degree itself. 

Roberto’s as nice a guy as you could ask for. He runs a great business. He’s constantly learning. Be like Roberto.

Build on.

Will