“We do not know how to spend what we earn effectively, and we don’t want to spend money ineffectively”, – Konstantin Makarov, CEO and co-founder of SendPulse
Konstantin Makarov is the CEO and co-founder of SendPulse, a multichannel marketing automation platform. The project has more than 1.3 million users from different countries.
On the air of the Big Fish Youtube channel, he spoke about a democratic management style and attracting new users, as well as how to catch a trend and start a business.
ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS
When we started our business, we didn’t even have a brand. It appeared a year later, in February 2015. When we launched, we had 2 languages - Russian for the former CIS and English for the global market. The launch was smooth: we didn’t focus on that business. There were 13 of us, now there are 160.
ABOUT PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
We started to add various channels: we made chat bots, launched Whatsapp notifications, learned how to build a trigger notification system. Everything is built in such a way that you need a minimum participation of a programmer and maximum participation of a marketer. In fact, this is retention.
We realized that the history with software is short-lived and we need to develop. Even then, it was not easy, because there were many services. If we had started a little later, nothing would have worked. We tried to work with the American market, opened an office in New York, but cold sales did not come out there. Now any niche is occupied, it is difficult to find something unique, but the market is huge.
ABOUT USER ATTRACTION
A no-name brand is difficult to sell. We spent a lot of money on paid advertising and traffic acquisition. There was almost no organic traffic for the first 2 years. From the very beginning, we started with a free plan: we gave 2500 free subscriptions, and they started talking about us. We focused on onboarding users who become our customers. Every second visitor to the site sent a newsletter through us.
All countries have their own regional characteristics: for example, in Nigeria there are few PCs, but all have 2 phones. SMS and Whatsapp are popular with them. I would like to emphasize that we hardly use the services of other companies, we hire specialists, give bonuses for attracting clients.
About 12 thousand users pay us monthly. Several thousand people are added every month. We block someone: for example, spammers. Some users make mailings irregularly and on a specific occasion – a promotion, an event. Big businesses are constantly busy with mailings.
ABOUT WORKING WITH FACEBOOK
We signed an agreement with Facebook and got the opportunity to connect the user directly in 5 minutes. No one else has such a fast connection as ours. After 5 minutes, you can already test sending Whatsapp. This gave us a boost.
ABOUT THE IDEOLOGY OF THE PRODUCT AND THE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
We have a strategy: we want to be a Ukrainian HubSpot. Since there is such a serious American player, it means that it is in demand. The product ideologists are my business partner Evgeny Medvednikov and me. I always consult with him, because two heads are better than one. I also listen to the opinion of the team.
ABOUT THE MAIN PROBLEM OF BUSINESS SENDPULSE
We do not know how to spend what we earn effectively, and we do not want to spend money ineffectively. We became profitable a long time ago. We are growing by 40-50% a year, so we do not attract investments yet.
ABOUT COMPANY STRUCTURE
Our development department is 50 people, including technical leads and QA. Employees are divided into microteams, each responsible for its own direction. There are departments of marketing, SEO, contextual advertising. 25 people work in technical support and are involved in moderation. There are 15 people in the sales department. All managers have been working in the company for a long time, only a few top-managers came to us in the last year.
We have Friday get-togethers. This is a way to re-acquaint people, to help newcomers to join the team, so that people perceive the work as something more. There is a lot of competition on the market now, in order to fight for an employee, we raise salaries, and make cool offices, and pay for medical insurance. Gatherings are an addition to making a person comfortable in the company.
I am a very democratic leader, very calm, but I personally don’t like to report layoffs and I fire them only for systematic failure to fulfill their obligations, for the fact that the employee does 50% of what he did before. No one is afraid to ask a question or talk to me. As for the workplace, I prefer to sit in the same office with my colleagues.
ABOUT SENDPULSE COST
We are worth what they are willing to pay for us. There are proposals, the business is profitable. Psychologically, I would not like to value the business at less than $ 100 million. I see a great prospect in SendPulse and don’t think it’s time to sell it. In part, our development was helped by the pandemic – business goes online, our services are more in demand.
Money is success. What I own now and what I want to achieve in the future are two different things. I want to work harder, achieve more. Build a great story. SendPulse is a small success so far.
I see the drive and motivation in the results, in what I do. I like to launch something new, not just invest, but participate in the processes myself. As part of SendPulse, but as a separate team, we launched the 13charts project – a platform for creating smart widgets, online chats for websites and Facebook chat bots. I’m not bored with SendPulse, but if there was only the SendPulse, it wouldn’t be enough.