Vlad Gozman - involve.me

involve.me: Bootstrapping a No-Code SaaS to 7-Figures – with Vlad Gozman [386]

involve.me: Bootstrapping a No-Code SaaS to 7-Figures

Vlad Gozman is the co-founder and CEO of involve.me, a no-code builder for interactive forms, quizzes, surveys, and more.

In 2018, after spending 2 years building a content management system for virtual reality experiences, Vlad realized there wasn't enough market demand.

During that time, Vlad and his co-founders were also doing some agency work to finance their startup. And they realized that there seemed to be a consistent need from clients to create customized web forms.

Building the forms manually was often time-intensive. So, they started automating parts, which eventually sparked the idea for a self-serve SaaS product.

After validating the concept with a few initial customers, they launched an MVP as a freemium product. And they were able to get to their first 10 customers by switching their agency customers to the new product.

But it had taken Vlad and his co-founders almost 2.5 years of trial and error to get to this point. They hadn't paid themselves anything for years and kept investing money from the agency work back into their startup and paying salaries for a small team.

And having made the decision to bootstrap the business was adding to the pressure for the founders to grow faster and start generating meaningful revenue.

Today, involve.me is a profitable 7-figure ARR SaaS company with thousands of customers. They've grown to a team of 14 people and are still fully bootstrapped.

In this episode you'll learn:

  • How Vlad validated the idea for involve.me by showing prospective customers competitor products and asking why those products didn't work for them.
  • Why after having previously built a VC-backed startup, Vlad decided that this wasn't the right path for involve.me and decided to bootstrap instead.
  • How the founders came up with a creative approach to raising some money, acquiring engaged customers, without giving away any equity.
  • How Vlad and his founders figured out how to position and differentiate their product in a very crowded market and why that seems to be working.
  • How the team is “eating their own dog food” by using involve.me tools on their own website to continuously improve the product's weaknesses.

I hope you enjoy it.


Click to view transcript

This is a machine-generated transcript.

[00:00:00] Omer: Vlad, welcome to the show.

[00:00:01] Vlad: Thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here.

[00:00:04] Omer: My pleasure. Do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or, or motivates you that you can share with us?

[00:00:09] Vlad: Yeah kind of, I the one that pops to mind is something along the lines, only the paranoid survive. I, I think it's, from the former CEO of Intel Andy Grove.

[00:00:21] And basically, it's probably just an exaggerated form of saying that within, within your business, you should never take anything for granted and always plan for the worst. Be always acting like a challenger even when you when you become an incumbent. So you can keep your spot at the end of the day.

[00:00:38] Omer: Yeah, I think I still have that book somewhere here on a bookshelf. I mean, but it's tough being a founder, right? Because on the one hand, everyone's saying, Hey, you gotta be op, you gotta be optimistic. You gotta be the one leading the way and having the vision. But at the same time, you're right, you also have to be kind of paranoid and think about all the things that could go wrong and then how you're gonna deal with them and stuff like that.

[00:00:59] It's a, it's a tough balancing act.

[00:01:00] Vlad: It is definitely, it's a weird contradiction, but I think you every other founder Will, will, will know what I'm talking about, and it's it's something that we, you live, you live with every day.

[00:01:10] Omer: So tell us about involve.me. What does the product do, who is it for, and what's the main problem you're helping to solve?

[00:01:17] Vlad: involve.me is an online form builder that leverages AI to automate the creation, personalization, and analysis of forms, quizzes, and surveys for businesses. We target mainly marketing and sales teams from SMBs, increasingly mid-market. And we solve an everlasting problem, I would say, which is data collection and knowing your customers and having better digital conversations with your customers.

[00:01:44] Omer: Awesome. And give us a sense of the size of the business. Where are you in terms of. Revenue, customers size of team.

[00:01:50] Vlad: So we launched early 2019 and we're a bootstrapped team of 14 people, partly remote, partly in Vienna, Austria at our hq. And yeah. Since then we've grown into a seven-figure ARR.

[00:02:06] We have thousands of customers as set, mostly SMBs.

[00:02:10] Omer: That's great. And before we get into talking about involve.me, can you just tell us a little bit about your background, because this is not your first business, so maybe just like, you know, one or two minutes in terms of like what other kind of businesses have you run in the past and so people understand like, you know, where you're coming from when you started involve.me.

[00:02:31] Vlad: Sure. So, Yeah, you're right. Ober, it's not my first rodeo. I founded my first company out of university. I'm originally from Romania. I'm living in Austria. And back then it was around 2007, Romania had just joined the eu, meaning there were a lot of funding opportunities for companies and new regulation changing and stuff like that. So I actually did my thesis on how to get European funding to align with the European standards. And out of that thesis I started my first company, which was a consulting business. I helped companies in industry get you funding. So I did the business planning the whole bureau.

[00:03:14] Bureaucracy around submitting that and, and getting getting the funding so they could align with the standards of eu. So that was my first, yeah, business venture. I, I would not call it a startup. I'm, I'm not even sure how to put it. So it's, it's at least not a digital venture in parallel to running it.

[00:03:31] I already dabbled in a few I would say. Online experiments on my own, putting together a classified side, trying to, to launch that in Romania failed miserably. And I, I managed to to have a small exit and I decided to look around Europe and try m luck elsewhere and experience life in a, in a different setup in a different country.

[00:03:54] And yeah came to Vienna and. I remember I joined I joined in 2000, back in 2010. A small gathering where people started pitching their, their startup ideas. It was completely new to me. And talking with the people there I basically ended up asking them. So like, so the startup because is like it's Vienna, right?

[00:04:15] It's like where, where, where can I find different venues, different gatherings. They basically told me that's it. This is the startup ecosystem. I love it. That was two, that was 2010. And I had a lot to to be around people like Marcus Wagner from I five Invest Oliver Hol, who was just starting Speed Invest the first vc in, in Austria.

[00:04:38] And I've seen the startup community sort of. Spring to life. And there were a few opportunities there and I, I, I got a chance to work with some amazing co-founders. And most notably I co-founded at Verity out of the I five ecosystem. I. And a Verity is is a, a data analytics company for, for marketing data.

[00:05:03] Basically an ETL tool. Much more than that. Nowadays it it also grew over the years. It's a venture-backed business. It, it grew into hundreds of employees. And in the early years, I I was basically one of the product guys. I was co-CEO as well. So that gave me a lot of insight into also the sort of different world than where, where it involve.me at which is the VC-backed sauce.

[00:05:30] Sales driven enterprise SaaS whereas involve.me is a self-serve, freemium, SaaS more or less no-touch sales.

[00:05:39] Omer: So let's talk about it. involve.me, like where did the idea come from? I mean, you, you founded the business in, in 2019 so kind of around that time, 2018, 2019, what were you doing? And. How did you come up with this idea?

[00:05:54] Yeah, sure. So,

[00:05:56] Vlad: The interesting story behind that is that the business was actually founded a few years prior. We launched, involve.me in in 2019. And that is because before involve.me, we did something completely different. So around two years prior, we set out to build. Also SaaS, but in a completely different space.

[00:06:15] We looked at virtual reality and we started building prototyping CMS for VR applications. We basically went full force on, on this idea and prototyped it. You know, we didn't do the, the basics. We didn't validate it well enough in the beginning. So luckily I. We realized that there is not an immediate big enough market for, for, for it and decided to pivot.

[00:06:42] Omer: So you worked on that for, for about two years, and then you made the pivot. Exactly. And, and so it's kind of, it's, I mean, help me connect the dots here, because it was like, they don't seem like, it doesn't seem like a natural pivot from like saying A CMS for VR to, to, you know, building a product like involve.me.

[00:07:02] So how did that happen?

[00:07:03] Vlad: Yeah, we stumbled upon it. So, or, or into it. So while, while building the CMS for VR, me and my, my co-founders we started doing some agency work. I, to finance, our activities. And one of my co-founders is also the founder of a digital agency, screen majors in Vienna.

[00:07:25] It's a boutique agency with some interesting clients such as Universal pictures. And I singled Universal Pictures out because it was basically our first, our first involve.me customer, I would say before involve.me existed. And we, we, we realized that they, they needed they needed these types of forms and quizzes to gather customer data for each of their releases.

[00:07:49] Around movies and at that time they had several releases per month. Each one was different in the way they styled it. But in the end in the back, it was the same need. So frontend wise it would look differently. In, in the back it was the same. So, so we started creating these content types for them.

[00:08:08] And also. While doing it, automating parts of it for us to make it easier. So the next, the next piece that we rolled out would require less resources from us more margin. And out of it came the idea of of creating a self-serve. Product. And then we got a few other customers from the agency or through the agency, validated it with them, and then created an MVP for a self-service tool.

[00:08:36] Omer: Got it. Okay. So at least this time you validated the idea, right. So that's good. And what, what I wanna try and understand is. At that time, I mean, form building software, very crowded market. And so, you know, we're gonna talk about how, you know, you, you differentiate, involve.me and, and, and position the product and, and you know, why customers would choose you versus, you know, some of the other products on the market.

[00:09:05] 'cause I think that's always an interesting conversation to have, but. Even back in 2019, there were a lot of these products around. So on the one hand you've got the, the validation from some initial customers who are telling you, yeah, this is the type of solution we are willing to pay for. Actually, you're not even willing to pay for that.

[00:09:27] They're actually paying for it. On the other hand, if you look, you know, in the competitive landscape, you must have seen a bunch of these products out there. So. What was your thinking at the time in terms of like, why did you decide that there was an opportunity here and, and the reason I ask you is because I heard, I think it was on LinkedIn or something, somebody said, you know, I had this great idea, Googled it, and then I was like, oh, somebody's already come up with it.

[00:09:59] And I was like, actually that's probably not a bad thing. It's, it's, it's actually validation that there are people out there willing to pay for the problem and, you know, maybe there's, there's room for you here to, to, to do something else. So I think people maybe are too dismissive. But then there's also the other extreme of this, where you go into a market and there's like lots of players.

[00:10:19] So how, how did you decide, like how did you decide we're gonna go into this and this makes sense for us to, to build a business here?

[00:10:26] Vlad: Yeah, yeah, no, that's that's the million-dollar question. So first of all, I agree. I mean whenever, whenever you validate an idea, you look at the market, you look at the, the, the competitive landscape and especially in the form building area, you know, it.

[00:10:40] It, it became pretty clear to us that that, that it's a crowded space. So what we did is before even putting the first sort of line of code for, for, for, for the self-service tool, we scouted the tools that were out there at that time that we thought would solve the needs of of these customers who we were doing agency work for best, and then.

[00:11:05] We had sort of customer development discussions with them and, and calls and presented them with these solutions and asked them like, look, there are off the shelf tools. Why aren't they solving your need? Maybe you dunno about them. Maybe you do, let's look at them together. And we identified a few a few areas where around customization, first of all and some around functionality where we said, okay.

[00:11:27] This makes sense. It seems that it would give us a competitive advantage if we would from the GetGo include that besides customization which basically means making each content piece look like in the, have the brand identity of that company and not look like a third party tool.

[00:11:49] Sort of that was the that was the solution that were, they were looking for, and there was nothing off the shelf coming close to it in, in a, in a no-code fashion. And the second is that a, there were a lot of form solutions out there, even back then. The angle that we found was to focus on the quiz functionality behind it.

[00:12:13] Basically allowing our first customers to allowing them to score their leads to, to, to basically have a better sense and qualify the users that they get through these forms. And. I think with these two angles, we found something that at that time gave us enough of an edge to to get the first 10 customers basically.

[00:12:39] Omer: I love that because when, when you're in the early stages when you're trying to get those first 10 customers and you get into this situation where maybe you've got some prospects and they seem interested in your product and you know that there's a bunch of products out there that might also help them do the job.

[00:12:58] I don't know. Sometimes secretly you're like, well, maybe my market is the people who don't know about those products, right? I could go after those people, but you, you tackle this head on and, and you, you know, putting these products in front of those prospective customers and saying, why don't these products solve, you know, do the job for you.

[00:13:18] I think that's a great way. To validate this and to understand that because, you know, we, I think maybe the natural thing to do would be to like do the competitive analysis ourselves, but there's bias in there, right? And we're like, well, you know, we could build a better feature than that. And they don't do that this well.

[00:13:35] But when customers are looking at that and telling you, then it's like some real, there's, there's some real data there in terms of, okay, this is objective feedback in terms of what's good about these products and what isn't. And I also like how that eventually led you to. Build, build the form builder, but focus in on this use case of, the quiz as being kind of a core thing that you were gonna, you would differentiate on.

[00:13:57] Okay, great. So that, that gets you to the first 10 customers. Big milestone. Right. Great. What, what did you do next? I mean, it's great that you had the agency and you had some customers through, through there, but then how did you, what, what was your kind of go-to-market plan and how did you start finding more customers?

[00:14:16] Vlad: I think, we were already two-plus years in at this time with the new company. As, as I told you before, I was coming. From the back of, of, of a different experience where there was VC funding. We've built a product for, I think, two years before actually getting customers in. I mean we had also there a few development customers, if you will.

[00:14:40] But a different ball game, I would say. And I'll, I'll be frank, it was. Tough two years, even though there was a liquidity event for me a small one before the, the first two and a half years. I, I didn't pay myself anything while investing in, in the business. So when we were putting sort of the, the finishing touches on the MVP of involve.me which by the way also had a different name it was called Brand Quiz.

[00:15:09] So, you know, the quiz angle, my aim was to monetize as soon as possible and to switch from doing agency work to having the, the MVP or the MVL or minimum lovable product MVLP, whatever you want to call it. But paid. Right. So the 10 customers we were basically agency customers that we switched to the to the tool.

[00:15:32] And I think that was easier because they were already paying more actually to get these, custom-coded content pieces out, and then it was an easy sell. And, but the, the next phase was was the harder one because we hit the point where we already had a few people in the team, so we were not paying ourselves, we were paying people in the team to, to, to build out a product. And we started started monetizing it. With the first few. We also wanted to go the bootstrapping route. We did a small, befriended angel round. But we kept the lion's share most of the, most of the company.

[00:16:15] So we didn't dilute but we knew we, we needed a, a bigger capital infusion. And I think this was, this was a, a, an interesting moment for us, another pivotal moment as we. Looked around and we decided to do something we had no experience with something that could have backfired. And that is we did a a lifetime deal, a limited deal with with a group of potential customers or of.

[00:16:42] Who that became customers marketers and, and sales salespeople. And we got a big enough capital infusion on the one side. And secondly, we got a bunch of very invested new customers that even though they just paid once for a, for a lifetime, they, a lot of them provided. Invaluable feedback for that for that next phase.

[00:17:07] So we on the one side, financed the next 12 months with like one swoop. And then secondly, we got the best type of customer because. They gave us constant feedback on which features to prioritize, what is valuable, what they would pay for as an add-on and so forth.

[00:17:28] Omer: Was this, an app Sumo launch?

[00:17:30] Vlad: It was not an app Sumo launch. I. We found a private group of a few thousand people and, and did it within that private group. We therefore I, I was a bit wary to be frank, like I, I am. It doing lifetime deals can be a double-edged sword. Because you give. You know, you have people who invest in your, in your vision for the future.

[00:17:50] But you also give the product a wave potentially for free forever. And there might be not another way to monetize or upsell or you know, in our case, I, I, I looked at Ab Sumo. I, I wanted it to be a more private deal and also to be more in control of, how, how much it extends. You know, and I think that we did it we did a great job with, with this group and it worked for us.

[00:18:17] Omer: Yeah, I mean, I mean, I think that's an interesting way to do this and what, what I like about that is it doesn't have to be an App Sumo launch to get, you know, due to a, a, you know, a lifetime deal. I think when you are, you're going and do, you know, selling to some somewhere like App Sumo. You were getting people, it's, it's funny because I've seen there are some people there who will buy a lifetime deal, and you're right, they're very invested. They provide tons of feedback, and it's almost like they, they're almost making like a, a tiny investment in your business and they want to kind of go on the journey with you, right? That's like amazing when you get those types of people.

[00:19:03] On the other hand, you also get the people who will, you know, pay for the lifetime deal and then. We'll act like, you know, they're giving you like $10,000 a month and they're like, complain about every single thing that doesn't work perfectly. Right. And so it's, it is a double-edged sword and a very tough thing to do.

[00:19:23] I've never heard of anybody kind of going into a kind of a private community and doing that, but it, it kind of totally makes sense. How, how did you find that community and what is it? Was it just somebody you knew or, or was it, you know, you went out on a search to, to find the right place?

[00:19:37] Vlad: Actually went out on a search.

[00:19:39] But in this case, we the community found us, I would say, because while we were doing the search somebody from that community found out about it and then reached to us. And and and yeah. We hooked up, I would say, but yeah, I, I completely agree. I think there you, you open the doors to all types of users and all types of perspectives on, on what they are to you and what you are to them.

[00:20:04] I think in our case it was a net positive. But I can see it going going also wrongly and. Some products being stuck in that lifetime deal sort of aura. And we, we were very mindful of that back then as well. So we made an informed decision.

[00:20:22] Omer: Yeah, I've seen, I've seen, like on an app, Suma, I've seen some products that will do a launch.

[00:20:28] Then they never, you never see them on app Sumo again. So that's like a very deliberate thing that they came in, they wanted to just get some momentum, get a cash infusion, help them on their journey. And then you have the products where you see over and over and over again coming back to do launches.

[00:20:45] And that's like, okay, something isn't kind of. Working out here that if you have to keep relying on, on this as a way to, maybe it's just to get more money. I don't know. Right. It's like, but it's an interesting, interesting space. Okay, great. So that's pretty cool because taking that approach, not only do you get more customers, it's not recurring revenue, but it's still.

[00:21:09] Money, which is important, especially for a bootstrap business. And it give, gives you people who are, who are giving you more feedback and, and helping you make the product better. One thing I wanna understand is from you is why did you go down the route of bootstrapping? I mean, you started your career, you know, becoming this expert who's helping other businesses figure out how to raise money.

[00:21:33] You've built VC-backed businesses, so it's not like something that you haven't done before. Why did you decide that you wanted to bootstrap this time?

[00:21:43] Vlad: I. It was also a, a deliberate decision. So having seen, the VC side of things, and by the way I, I haven't completely exited the, the other companies.

[00:21:53] So I've seen also the next stages of the VC, the of the VC route up to series D. So a Verde has raised over 120 million euros. I've also seen the downsides of it, I would say. But I'm not a preacher for bootstrapping. And I I think there are businesses that are better off as a bootstrap business and and, and others that would.

[00:22:23] Simply not work without VC funding. And also, I'm, I'm also a believer in. There's also a middle ground, so you don't have to like, be either bootstrapped or VC-backed. You know, you can't be capital efficient and get the capital that you need at a specific stage and then get to profitability or wherever you need to go.

[00:22:46] Growth and hit, hit those goals and then and then go to the next stage, you know? So I think. Making, making these decisions in a logical, deliberate way is, is the way to go. In, in the case of brand quiz back then involve.me now, I did have I, I had the privilege of, of having, you know, the best of contact in Vienna and Austria having been seeing the, the birth of the startup scene here until the, in the beginning, right? So, so I reached out to a few venture capitalists talked with 'em, told them like where, where I see the products evolving into and ask them like, do you think this is a VC, backable thing?

[00:23:30] So, so I. I made an informed decision after discussing it with people who I, I would argue, had a better view on or a more holistic view on market wise. And with all the information that I gathered, I decided that. It, it's just a better route being bootstrapped, giving control was part of it, definitely.

[00:23:52] But not the only factor, right? So how feasible is it? Can I get this business to to, to a hundred million? Or is this a business that can grow into tens of millions? Which is perfectly fine. You know so wouldn't mind that.

[00:24:06] Omer: Alright, great. So. I know one of the ways that you grew beyond that was through paid search, which kind of is interesting to me because number one, most of the times when I talk to founders, they're same story.

[00:24:21] We tried ads that didn't work. But what's more interesting is bootstrap business. Spending money on, on, you know, paid searches and acquisition channel. It's not a cheap thing to do. I don't know, like did you, did you kind of find out a secret way to like, bid low and, and acquire customers kind of profitably back then?

[00:24:41] Vlad: I would say so, yes. I think we we, we found a few keywords that worked for us really well within the quiz category. As I, as I told you in the beginning that was. The angle and combined with, with lead gen and, and lead qualification we found something that at that time it was not as, sought after, or fought over as it is today. Things change though, and it's a dynamic it's a dynamic space. But to, to go back to, to sort of the storyline, right? We got that sort of capital infusion and right, we, we directly focused on MRR, right? So as you perfectly noted it. The capital infusion was not recurring.

[00:25:25] So we needed to maximize its impact on the business. So we wanted something that could give us the most, IM immediate signal that this, this works. And on scale that was search. I mean, it basically was me. I didn't have any marketer in the team. It was me setting up the Google campaigns.

[00:25:48] Maybe getting input from, from a few freelancers, but at the end of the day, doing different tests and, and, and finding a few keyword categories that, that worked for us. And it, it, it's still a, it's still a, a, a channel for us, right? So it, as I told you. Over the years you know, we expanded, we expanded the campaigns, we expanded keywords.

[00:26:12] The product is a different product today. And it's way more I would say a more competitive space than it was when we started. Therefore also its position in our mix is a different one, right? So but at the beginning, in the first months, it was paid and that gave us this feedback.

[00:26:31] Okay. I. We can acquire, we can have like a self-serve motion. What I didn't say is it involved me as a freemium tool. So, you know low friction get users in, get them to the aha moment where they can, they can publish a form, see it in action, put it on their, their website and then have this sort of product-led growth motion in place.

[00:26:55] With, with the trigger being. Paid search.

[00:26:58] Omer: How, how well are you converting those free users into paying customers? Like what's a, a typical good conversion rate that you, you've been able to achieve or, you know, what percentage of your users are paid versus free?

[00:27:13] Vlad: So it's well in the double digits, so in terms of conversion rate from, from our, our free, but that doesn't.

[00:27:19] Include only users who come through paid search, right? So we do content as well at scale. Luckily now, and I can go into that later. And there are also a few growth loops that we have in place that, that bring in new users.

[00:27:32] Omer: Yeah. Yeah. So let's, let's talk about content. So, you know, content marketing, SEO, it wasn't something that you did early on, but it is something that, that you've, you've continued to invest in and kind of build-out.

[00:27:44] Firstly, what, what kind of, roughly what percentage of your revenue or customers come through content marketing these days and. What does that journey look like, for, for a user or a customer?

[00:27:59] Vlad: Content marketing became more important over the years. Obviously, it's a bigger share in the pie.

[00:28:04] I would say right now between 60 and 70% so. Quite quite important I would say how, how the journey looks like. So we have a lot of content. We have over you know, over a thousand different pages ranging from educational content, right? Trying to educate about the different use cases, educate on, on how to.

[00:28:28] Achieve a certain business goal and then. Obviously plug into plug, plug involve.me in there to more, more broad traffic-oriented pieces. So up to up to our templates where we have we have over 350 professionally designed, optimized templates. That you can use as a starting point in involve.me.

[00:28:52] And each of them has has its own landing page its own content. It describes the business goal that you can achieve with it. So some of these are very long tail. So you asked me about the user journey. You know, a user might ask how can I create a price quote for my. Service business and have that as a sort of top-of-the-funnel lead generation content piece.

[00:29:21] They would get to maybe a how to article, or they would get to the template page with a with, with custom price quotes. And from there they would. Try out the template register to see it to see it in, in action, modify it, edited and yeah, they're in the product. And the interesting thing is the aha moment for them is is, is when they're able to to adapt a template or.

[00:29:54] Start a project from scratch and see it in, in their, not only their, their use case, but also in their own brand identity and the likes. So that, that's how content funnels new, new registrations.

[00:30:07] Omer: Yeah, I mean, I think the, the content marketing is like. The attribution is often a big challenge, and I think especially with top-of-funnel content, right?

[00:30:17] Somebody who reads some top-of-funnel content for the first time and discovers involve.me is not gonna sign up and then become a paying customer next week. Right? There's this multiple touchpoints before they, they get there. So is, is that something that you. You, you try to measure in terms of, you know, the, the effectiveness of content marketing or are you more on the sort of the, the, the, the opinion that we just make, the investment and the overall investment across content marketing.

[00:30:48] We'll will help get us there. And, and, and kind of as a follow up to that, did you do any kind of like retargeting? So once somebody discovers the top-of-funnel content, how do you make sure they come back to the site?

[00:30:58] Vlad: I'm, I'm more in the former camp, so try to be as data-driven as possible which is always a struggle and will always remain a struggle.

[00:31:08] But but yeah, I'm, I'm no fan of just. Putting out content and and, and, and you know, there's good traffic and there's. Traffic that is not valuable. So and we aim for, for the good traffic. So we have we're, we're trying to map as much as possible the the, the, the, the touch points and, and to, to have the user journey for, for each new registration.

[00:31:31] It's also important to say that the the content, it was an oversimplified depiction of how how a user gets in because they that was basically the last step before the registration. I. Usually looking at at the data they would have interacted with around on average five pieces of content.

[00:31:52] So it's important for us to interlink that content, to provide value to, to not, to not have it stop right. To, to interlink it with, with different content that. Adds value further on. So that, that is important to mention. And in terms of in terms of retargeting, yes, we also do a bit of of retargeting to get them back to the platform.

[00:32:17] But I would say in our case, the onboarding the surfacing of potential value is. So has so little friction that that, that it. It's not as hard as I've seen it in other places to bring them into the tool. Obviously, it's hard to activate and keep them in the tool that's but the, those are different discussions, but getting them into it and seeing it and, and finding out if this is what they were looking for, I think.

[00:32:48] It sort of that up, up to that point. We've, we've done it well and there is no secret sauce. Others do it as well. I think, again, summarize it, it's providing value in, in those content pieces, and then also that directing them to something that is actionable. In our case, it's it's a template. It's, it's a use case that they can then with a with a click of a few buttons.

[00:33:14] Own and, and make their own.

[00:33:16] Omer: Yeah, and I think you're right. I think the, the freemium model makes it a lot easier to get them to at least sign up for an account. You, you, you know, they, they're, they're seeing this is not a free trial. There's a free product. Right? So there's a little bit more incentive to say, okay, even if this isn't the right product for me, there's still something that I can use and try and, you know, maybe it'll work out.

[00:33:42] The other thing is you're not asking for a credit card or anything like that when, when they're signing up. So I think that lowers the bar. And, and I guess the challenge you have is probably filtering the, the high quality, you know, users that are gonna convert versus, you know, probably thousands of people who are signing up who are never gonna become paying customers.

[00:34:04] Vlad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So, so what we do it's also interesting is we're you know eating our own dog food. So we use involve.me with, on, on the, the marketing website within the tool at every step we can. And that allows us to obviously be our own customer, which is the best.

[00:34:23] So we know the weakest points of the tool. So we can improve it constantly. On the other side, it. We are able to surface the value of involve.me to our customers while they, or to our users, while they become a user of involve.me. For instance, one example is right, we.

[00:34:45] Within the content on the marketing website, we might use something like a template recommender which is basically a product recommend or a template finder built on involve.me, simple quiz that will give you sort of a template. We use it we use it in the onboarding. So we have an onboarding survey built, would involve.me that that, that asks a few, a few questions and then.

[00:35:08] Also provides a more personalized experience when, when getting into the tool, giving you templates around your use case and industry. I. So so when you, when you get what, when you get going, you're directly led to something that is relevant for you. And you know, doing all these kind of tweaks we've seen over the years that you know, each one makes makes, makes an improvement and the dent.

[00:35:35] Omer: So I think we're gonna have to wrap up and, and get onto the lightning round. Before we do that, just one super quick question is like, today involve.me, is not positioned as a quiz builder. It's a, it's a form builder, an AI power form builder. How, how have you figured out like how, how to position yourself in this, this crowded market?

[00:35:55] Vlad: While we started building out the functionality we didn't want to get sort of trapped into, in, in this quiz builder world where involve.me was getting to a place where it was much more, more than that. What we did is we took the quiz functionality and out of it created a lead scoring, lead qualification functionality and, and focus more on this part of the value.

[00:36:23] So we, we were helping businesses, and know their customers by, by, by creating better lead funnels, lead magnets. And, and with that, we sort of, it struck a chord with, with customers. Then another thing to mention is that we took a bold step last year. When, when aI became mainstream, I would say with the advent of of chat GPT.

[00:36:48] But even before that, with the GPT ai APIs, sorry that that came out. And we decided to infuse ai in, in the tool and make it AI-powered. So. What we did is we identified three points of value where where we said, okay. AI can help improve, either improve the way people users use the tool or Im improve and, and offer more business value to them.

[00:37:18] And the three areas are the creation part. So you can you can go to involve.me, you can input your website, URL and use case. And we can create forms with different variations on brand with your assets. The questions, the assets,the whole design of it the packaging is being whipped out by the ai.

[00:37:43] That's the creation parts of making it even. Less friction with, with less friction there. The second is the personalization. So we added a way for, for users to, to use AI within within our forms to give personalized feedback, and responses to their users while inputting.

[00:38:05] And answering forms. And thirdly once you've published a form, once you gather data, you might have tons of qualitative data within the form. We've created an AI insights module that allows you to. Basically generate business reports with key findings, summarizations, and also recommendations from the data that you get within involve.me.

[00:38:31] So with this positioning, we're sort of a adapted our tool. To this new world where we're pretty sure that

[00:38:39] Omer: AI is here to stay. I don't think there's any doubt about that. All right. Let's let's get onto the lightning round. I've got seven quick-fire questions for you. Just try to answer 'em as quickly as you can.

[00:38:48] What's one of the best pieces of business advice you've received?

[00:38:51] Vlad: I think it's around people. So basically your company is as good as its people. We, how we live it that involve.me is we're trying to keep it, humane and have a good work life balance. This resulted in us having a four-day workweek one and a half years ago.

[00:39:06] It's going great.

[00:39:07] Omer: That's another thing we, you and I should talk about. I, I, I'm fascinated when, when somebody actually makes that work. What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[00:39:14] Vlad: Yeah. Right now I'm reading Cable Cowboy by Mark Robichaux which follows the Professional life of John Malone.

[00:39:21] For people who don't know John Malone, he's an iconic figure, basically one of the people who built up the cable industry in the us. And it chronicles the creation, evolution of the modern cable industry. I think it's, it's awesome. I haven't finished it yet, but a a lot of learnings around monopolies and how industries are formed and all the dynamics.

[00:39:41] Omer: Fascinating. What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

[00:39:46] Vlad: No doubt it's resilience. Just being able to have the grit and go through through it.

[00:39:51] Omer: What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

[00:39:54] Vlad: It's Slack. I mean, I use Slack on the go on desktop, everywhere, every day.

[00:40:00] Omer: What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

[00:40:04] Vlad: Oh man, so many. I have a list as I'm sure you have as well. I think when I think about B2B it would be something around selling picks and shovels for the generative AI race. Something around making it easier for us companies to integrate generative AI into their offering. Similarly to how we did at involve.me.

[00:40:22] Omer: What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

[00:40:25] Vlad: In my late teens and early twenties, I, I used to rap. And that, that was actually my first entrepreneurial endeavor. I self-published an underground rap album with some friends.

[00:40:36] Omer: Wow. Oh, this wasn't just some casual thing.

[00:40:39] You were like seriously into it. And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

[00:40:44] Vlad: I try to stay informed interdisciplinary so I think constantly scouting new ideas, learning curiosity and I get to do that by by hosting and curating TEDx conferences together with my wife.

[00:40:58] We have a nonprofit and we, we do this in Vienna for almost 14 years now.

[00:41:04] Omer: That's awesome. So you, you've been in the startup scene and. Doing this stuff in Vienna, like you're one of the OGs in, in Vienna. Right?

[00:41:13] Vlad: Omer. Don't make me feel old.

[00:41:15] Omer: Love it. Cool. Vla, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me.

[00:41:17] It's been, it's been a pleasure. I love chatting about involved me and just the general story of, of how you've built the business so far, and then the lessons you've learned along the way. I think there's some super helpful insights and, and lessons there. I think for. For a lot of founders who are, who are maybe a little early, earlier on the journey, so thank you for sharing those.

[00:41:36] If people want to check out, involve.me or start a free, you know, get a free account, go to involve.me, and if folks wanna get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:41:49] Vlad: Yeah, just over LinkedIn I would say. Just hit me up.

[00:41:53] Omer: We will include a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes.

[00:41:58] Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. And congratulations on, on the success so far with the business. And you know, maybe like you and I were chatting, maybe we'll do a follow-up when it's an eight-figure business and have you back into, you know, tell us the story.

[00:42:14] Vlad: Thank you for having me, Omer.

[00:42:15] I'm as I told you, I'm a big fan, so keep doing what you're doing. I, I love listening to your podcast.

[00:42:21] Omer: Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

[00:42:23] Vlad: It's been an honor. Thank you. Bye.

[00:42:25] Omer: Cheers.

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