September 3, 2019

Growing in ALX: Featuring Referral Rock

From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business in Alexandria to talk to? Email us!


Wouldn’t it be nice if your word of mouth referral program ran with minimal effort? That’s the problem the team at Referral Rock set out to fix by creating a SaaS business dedicated to referrals. We sat down with founder Josh Ho this September to learn a little more about the programs, business, and why they choose Alexandria.


AEDP: So to kick it off, can you give us the lowdown on Referral Rock?

Josh: Referral Rock helps businesses get more word of mouth referrals. Our goal is to put word of mouth on autopilot by helping customers run their refer-a-friend and partnership programs by doing all the heavy lifting.

We are a software as a service business (SaaS) where we provide our customers with all online software and support so they can have success with a referral program. That includes a dedicated account manager, an online portal for their referrers, email automation, referral tracking, and even reward fulfillment.


AEDP: How did you get started?

Josh: Referral Rock started when I saw an opportunity in the market while sitting in a car dealership. A new customer walked in the door saying a friend referred them, so I wondered how that all worked. Recently referral programs for businesses were becoming more and more common. Services like Uber and Dropbox all had refer a friend programs that rewarded customers for inviting their friends to also become customers. These programs were a simple and easy way to help word of mouth spread for these high-tech companies. So my question was, how would a small business run a referral program who didn’t have the resources of the big guys?

That’s where the idea of Referral Rock was born to help all kinds of businesses generate more word of mouth referrals.


AEDP: What would you say is the biggest challenge of running your own business?

Josh: The biggest challenge is people. The more and more experience I have in business, the more I feel like it comes back to people. Even a technology business like Referral Rock, the people are so important. Internally we have had to build a team by hiring, nurturing talent, and advance knowledge in your subject matter. You have to develop processes to get everyone rowing in the same direction.

In the end, people have their personalities, emotions, points of view, and natural behaviors. Sometimes I wish it was as easy as software development where you code something, and it happens just as you drew it up. But seeing your team grow and become a sum larger than its parts makes it all worthwhile.


AEDP: This is always fun to hear- what’s the most rewarding aspect of running Referral Rock?

Josh: You are building something that works. When you start with an idea, iterate, then throw it at the wall and it sticks; it’s a fantastic feeling. That is how I feel about the product, marketing, sales process, and team building. Seeing it all just work and provide value, is extremely rewarding.


AEDP: What’s next?

Josh: The Referral Rock software was first prototyped almost 5 years ago. We are slowly going through the platform and updating major components into version 2.0 one by one. Virtually everything we learned from 1.0 from customer feedback and real user usage so we can right the wrongs and make the experience that much better. The tough part is considering all the customers that are using 1.0 and how to transition them to 2.0 without breaking what they are dependent on.

We still feel like we are in the early innings of our market category. By completing this project will help customers become more self-service with their setup, and we can grow our business faster.


To learn more about Referral Rock, visit their website or stop by their office at 950 N Washington St, Suite 404