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The SaaS Podcast

Typeform: A Case Study in Product-Led SaaS Growth – with David Okuniev [230]

Typeform: A Case Study in Product-Led SaaS Growth - David Okuniev

Typeform: A Case Study in Product-Led SaaS Growth

David Okuniev is the co-founder of TypeForm, a Barcelona-based SaaS company that specializes in online form building and online surveys.

David and Robert were running a small design agency in Barcelona. A client asked them to create a form that could be used to collect information about people attending an exhibition.

Instead of building a regular old form, they wanted to do something different. And inspired by the 1980s movie War Games, they created something a form that was more conversational.

After that project was over, they talked about turning that idea into a product. But they weren't in a particular rush. And they spent the next 2 years trying to build the right product.

When they were almost ready to launch the beta, they put up a landing page and promoted it on Betalist. In a few weeks, they had collected around 5000 email addresses.

When they launched the beta, people started creating and sharing forms. And when they shared a form, new people discovered the product, signed up and created their own forms.

The product that they'd spent years trying to get right was quickly going viral. In fact, when they introduced a paid plan, it took them about a year to get to a million dollars ARR.

The interesting thing about Typeform is that the founders didn't start with a niche market. They built a product for everyone — which is counter-intuitive to what the majority of startups do.

Today, their business does around $30M in ARR and employs around 200 people.

In this interview, we talk about why the founders focused so much on building a great product, why design and user experience were more important to them than customer development or marketing and how they have grown Typeform into an 8-figure business.

We also talk about a new product they've recently launched called VideoAsk and they're once again building a unique online form and survey experience with a different product.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

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Omer Khan [0:10]
Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan and this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to David Okuniev, the co-founder of Typeform, a Barcelona-based SaaS company that specializes in online form building and online surveys. David and Robert were running a small design agency in Barcelona, a client asked them to create a form that could be used to collect information about people attending an exhibition. Instead of building a regular old form. They wanted to do something different and inspired by the 1980s movie war games. They created a form that was more conversation After that project was over, they talked about turning that idea into a product. But they weren't in a particular rush. And they spent the next two years trying to build the right product. When they were almost ready to launch the beta, they put up a landing page and promoted it on Betalist. And in a few weeks that collected around 5000 email addresses. When they launched the beta, people started creating and sharing forms. And when they shared a form, new people discovered the product signed up and created their own forms. The product that they spent years trying to get right was quickly going viral. In fact, when they introduced a paid plan, which was about $25 a month, it took them about a year to get to the first million dollars in ARR. And the interesting thing about Typeform is that the founders didn't start with a niche market. They built a product that was for everyone, which is counterintuitive to what the majority of startups do. Today their businesses doing around $30 million in ARR and employees around 200 people. In this interview we talked about why the founders focus so much on building a great product, why design and user experience was more important to them, then customer development or marketing, and how they've grown Typeform into an eight-figure business. We also talk about a new product they've recently launched called video ask, and how, once again, they're building a unique online form and survey experience with a very different product. So I hope you enjoy the interview. Real quick before we get started. Firstly, don't forget to grab a free copy of the SaaS toolkit, which will tell you about the 21 essential tools that every SaaS business needs. You can download your copy by going to thesaaspodcast.com. Secondly, enrollment for SaaS Club Plus is now open. Plus is our online membership and community for early-stage SaaS founders. As a member you get access to our growing content library, video masterclasses a private community forum, live group coaching calls every two weeks, and you also get one to one coaching with me through private messaging. So if you need help launching and growing your SaaS business, and you want to connect with other founders around the world and build recurring revenue faster, then join me inside Plus, just go to saasclubplus.com to learn more. Okay, let's get on with the interview. David, welcome to the show. So do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires and motivates you or gets you out of bed every day?

David Okuniev [3:35]
Um, I wouldn't say gets me out of bed every day. But one of my favorite quotes is from John Lennon. Its “Life is what happens to you when you make other plans”. And to me that's just a really good lesson because whatever happens like your life, just going to be your life and you can either you know, resist it or let it happen and that's kind of just a philosophy of try not to like panic too much about what happens, just trust in your path a little bit like I can ride the wave on a surfboard and I can stand straight and surf one time balance and try to control myself or if I'm always fighting instead of accepting how it is, then I'm going to fall off. So So yeah, John Lennon good, man.

Omer Khan [4:20]
Yeah, I love that. Did you see that movie we get was it Yesterday.

David Okuniev [4:24]
Yeah I saw that. That was really….

Omer Khan [4:28]
Pretty cool. Okay, so your background is interesting. You were born in Belgium. You grew up in England, and you live in Spain.

David Okuniev [4:37]
And the tune in Bogota, Colombia in South America for three years,

Omer Khan [4:42]
Just mixing up make things more interesting. Okay. So for people who want I mean, I, I think most people know Typeform, but for people who may not be familiar, can you tell us what does the product do? Who's it for and what's the main problem that you're helping to solve?

David Okuniev [4:58]
So Typeform is a data collection tool. Essential in what we do is help companies or brands connect with their communities, mainly through our forms, which don't really feel like forms they feel like digital experiences. And essentially what we've came up with was a more conversational way to ask people questions, be it feedback, be it quiz, be it lead generation, be it some kind of process or another and just get all that data into system to be able to analyze it or pass it on to the third party. Essentially, we are the kind of the interface for many companies trying to ask people questions. I guess the most easy use case would be understand is like a typical survey or feedback survey.

Omer Khan [5:42]
I read somewhere that part of the inspiration for Typeform and kind of creating that more conversational type interface was…

David Okuniev [5:56]
Toilet?

Omer Khan [5:57]
Toilet?

David Okuniev [5:59]
Was it was it toilet?

Omer Khan [6:03]
No. Actually I was gonna talk about what was it war games? The 1980s movie.

David Okuniev [6:11]
Okay, so it's part of the war games as part of the toilet still okay. So we came up with typing on the toilet. But actually it's more like, figuratively speaking, it was actually very related to toilet. So a toilet company here in Barcelona. They originally approached us, myself and my co-founder, they came to us just to build a lead generation form which would sit in there. They have this gallery, this company called Roca where they showcase all their best toilets, essentially. And yeah, so they asked us to build this form to gather emails and some basic information. And at the time, myself and my co-founder, we were running two small digital web agencies and we worked out in the same, the same space and you know, we got friendly with some collaborating on projects, and then this project came along for this toilet company and they wanted us to build this for so we didn't want to build just any other form. And we got inspired by the film WarGames, another film with Matthew Broderick. And there's this. I don't know how famous is, but I think it's pretty infamous, where he is Matthew Broderick, like hacks into the NSA mainframe, and he starts having a conversation with a computer. And it's basically like one line at a time that the computers ask the question, and then just below like, he types in his answer, and there was this kind of delight about having this like, one thing at a time interaction with a computer, and full Typeform came out like most forms, were just, you know, laundry list of questions, and you still find that today. So, you know, we kind of challenge that and we got inspired by that film, and we thought, yeah, Forbes, I have to be like a laundry list of questions. They can be they can be interactive, they don't have to be boring. You can put good design into it, etc.

Omer Khan [8:02]
All right. So we can say that Typ form was inspired by the movie WarGames. But it would also be true to say that Typeform was built on a toilet.

David Okuniev [8:14]
Yeah, you can say that. Sitting on the toilet sort of building a fall, and then a couple of web design companies collaborated, thought of a better approach for their, for their approach to doing a form. There you go.

Omer Khan [8:33]
Yeah, it just rolls off the tongue. Okay, so you and your co-founder, Robert, you both of you guys are non-technical. You hadn't built a company like this before? You hadn't built a software company before you guys were, you know, working, running these agents.

David Okuniev [8:52]
We didn't have a clue. We didn't even know what MRR was.

Omer Khan [8:57]
And yet you've gone on to build I mean Typeform. Just to give people a sense of the size of the business, is that you guys are doing over $30 million ARR now you have over 200 employees, and you're still growing. And I think you've raised what over $50 million as well now? Yeah, that's right. I mean, that's massive, right compared to, did you ever imagine the business would be this big when you started out with this idea of of building this this company?

David Okuniev [9:35]
Actually, yes.

Omer Khan [9:36]
Really?

David Okuniev [9:38]
Yeah. And it's not because we had an experience or being arrogant about it. Like, just remember when we realized how powerful the idea was that we kind of knew this was going to be really big. I just remember. You know, the early prototypes, and when we started seeing things coming together, I remember having lunch with my co-founder one day and as looking at each other nervously and thinking, oh shit, this is actually this connection, we really, really big in like, you know, every company in the world would want to do stuff like this. And actually, the thing is we were breaking the mold of what a form was at the time. Now many companies are doing something similar to what we do. Like for example, you look at Survey Monkey, Formstack, whole bunch of other startups and kind of the same area that we do. They've adopted this kind of more conversational format. But you know, at the time, like, it was unheard of like folder, this is boring thing that you would pay no attention to, you would never use it to really, like really generate interest or generate engagement. And yeah, I think we just realized if you put you know, forms are everywhere, and people using them the whole time. That is obligatory thing that people are having to do. And the fact that we were coming with something really refreshing, we just very quickly realized that this would be quickly adopted.

Omer Khan [10:55]
So tell me about the point where you went from working on this client project to deciding that this was a product on its own right? How did you guys get started? Was this a side project that you, you guys ran for a while while you were running the agencies? Like how did you make that transition?

David Okuniev [11:17]
So it was quite a gradual process. I remember before we started that project, so regard the toilet company, me and Robert had been collaborating on some client work. But we were kind of dreaming that I wouldn't be great to like start like have kind of like focus on a product and kind of start a company. But we, we can really like figure out the idea. We came across one idea which was this collaborative karaoke. I think someone later down the line did it where you would crowdsource different bits of video to create like a karaoke video. We never did that. When we came across the project for America, we thought this could be this could be the idea. So we are We thought, well, let's let's try and maybe sell this to like some other of our clients. And we had to try and get them interested. But very quickly, we realized like, this is going to be the project. So we started working on it, we had our resources from our own company. So we started like, kind of running it as a side project and actually ran as a side project for almost a year and a half, we were kind of in no rush, we wanted to do it right, bearing in mind that what we built for Rocco was just a prototype of the front end of the of the interface. And it was actually I mean, this is such a long time ago that the original prototype for ago was was was even done in Flash. So, you know, we spent the better part of a year and a half building a backend, and, and just iterating on the form interaction to get to the kind of standard that you see more or less today. Obviously, we've we've iterated a bit more since then. But essentially, the core experience is what we worked on a year and a half for a year and a half back in those early days.

Omer Khan [12:57]
Okay, so you sort of building This product while you're running the agency, both of you are sort of, you know, very product-driven, getting the right product, and designing the right product is really important to you. And I know that's been kind of a big part of the reason why you've had the success with Typeform. But how did you get your first customer?

David Okuniev [13:21]
So it is about a few months before we were planning to release the beta, which is and 2013, February 2013. So is it 2012 I can't remember, let's say 2012. And we put out a landing page with a video of the Typeform experience. And we put that out, I think we don't start the cycle, Peter lyst maybe and through that we garnered like something like you know, 5000 pre invitations for the launch. So as soon as we launch we already had like, you know, a group of people that we could send emails to and basically they tried the product out really liked it, they built Typeforms, and they share those Typeforms with their community, people in those communities were exposed to the Typeform, they saw something new. And they, in turn, started building their own Typeforms. And that's basically the beginning of our marketing machine and our main acquisition Channel. In fact, even today, word of mouth and organic and and the viral loop that we get from our own forms, contributes around 80% of our of our new business. So yeah, and super powerful, like super, super powerful.

Omer Khan [14:33]
Was that deliberate? Or like did that sort of just happened by accident, the sort of the built-in virality of the product,

David Okuniev [14:40]
Yeah it wasn't deliberate, as far as saying, well, let's find a product that has built-in virality, so that we can grow. No, it was just it just happened to be like that. And, you know, Typeform is a product which allows us to build something that you share with people, therefore, it's just inherently viral. This is how Survey Monkey grew as well. They were well, the first company to put like, more or less like, forms as a service online, and they grew through their powered by Survey Monkey logo at the bottom of their forms.

Omer Khan [15:10]
Yeah. And I think the other thing with Typeform is that the user interface is so unique, or certainly in those days was very unique compared to any other form that you found online. Yeah. So it kind of, you know, instantly stood out in terms of, Hey, this is something different. Yeah. So were you charging for the product at that point?

David Okuniev [15:30]
So the first run as a beta, open beta, we didn't charge when we finished the beta we released for the pro plan I remember it was like $25.

Omer Khan [15:39]
And how did that do? Like where people lining up to pay for it?

David Okuniev [15:45]
Yeah, we got to our first thousand customers pretty pretty effortlessly. Once you get to 1000 customers, then, you know, you can get to 1000 you can get to 5000, if you get to 5000 you get to 10,000.

Omer Khan [15:56]
How long did it take you to get to that first thousand,

David Okuniev [15:59]
I don't remember the customer numbers? But I do remember that after a year of the pricing being live, we reached a million ARR, I remember that.

Omer Khan [16:09]
Wow.

David Okuniev [16:11]
Yeah, we were basically on uniform path, right? And you grow like to a million in the first year of launch.

Omer Khan [16:18]
So let's talk about the timeline here. So the beta was released when like 2012?

David Okuniev [16:25]
to 2012 or it's gonna be 2013. I've never forgotten this.

Omer Khan [16:30]
Okay. And how long before that because you said you and Robert went in a rush to get this product out. So for how long?

David Okuniev [16:37]
We think the original rocket demo was. So it's 2012 that we really saw it as 2012 we released the beta because the rocket project, the toilet company was about a year and a half, two years before that. So yeah, we were in no rush to release the beta. And when we released it, we stayed a year in beta until we officially launched on February 12, 2013 and it will be seven years by this time of year since we launched.

Omer Khan [17:05]
Okay, so so in terms of timeline, the idea came up around 2012. You guys worked on it? That's right. 2010 Yeah, you guys worked on there for about a year and a half, maybe two years before you launched the beta. Yeah. And then you hit 1 million what by the end of 2013? Something like that?

David Okuniev [17:29]
February 2014.

Omer Khan [17:32]
Got it.

David Okuniev [17:32]
So a year later.

Omer Khan [17:33]
Okay. So, tell me a little bit about like the business model here and you still offer freemium, you still have a freemium model, right? So you have a free plan. Tell me a little bit about the thinking behind that. Like, why did you guys decide that you are going to offer a free product?

David Okuniev [17:53]
Well, I think we realized this was a mass-market product which needed to be adopted by many people It was a niche. I mean, every company, every Freelancer needs to interact with their customers. So it was obvious to us that we didn't want to put any barriers on that for people to try the product out. So Freeman, just seeing the way to go plus, all our competitors roles are freemium. So it didn't make any sense for us to not do that.

Omer Khan [18:21]
Do you remember the time like how many competitors there were? Because like today, if I think about it, it feels like there are like, endless number of companies building some kind of for more data capture.

David Okuniev [18:37]
Yeah, there were many at the time and as many today I think what differentiated us more than then today was I still think we're ahead of the curve in terms of interaction. We were much more differentiated in the early days because everyone was just doing the plain vanilla forms. I didn't treat these companies doing feedback at let's say data collection will always just very focused only on the analysis of data, the actual collection through the form was just a means to an end. No, no company ever thought of actually making that into a great experience. And remember, this is before the time of chatbots, even.

Omer Khan [19:14]
Right, right. And so, Survey Monkey was probably around at that time, and I'm sure there were lots of others. Apart from the US, I mean, was that like, the main differentiator for you guys? Like you were saying, like, this is the one thing that we're going to make the big bet on that if we can kind of create a unique enough user interface, people are going to pick this product over our competitors.

David Okuniev [19:39]
That's exactly it. That's why people pick us because we have the best form interaction experience. We make them typically what we get out of when we do jobs to be done surveys, the typical phrases you'd make me look good, so they trust us to make their form interaction feel as human as as conversation as possible.

Omer Khan [20:00]
The problem with the user interface is that it's also one of the easiest things for competitors or copycat kind of products to copy. So what's that an issue for you?

David Okuniev [20:12]
Well, we always worried about that very early on, but it didn't seem to hinder us growing. competitors have adopted more conversational forms as well, like we've kind of led the market to that. But you know, for us, it's, you know, we're just, it's our core DNA design. So we're just trying to stay ahead of the curve for ways that other companies have different core competencies and better on on other things. So I don't know, take cortex that better. Dealing with massive enterprises and their features are all kind of orientated towards that we do well with a certain type of customer that cares about design, cares about experience is a certain size and identifies with our brand.

Omer Khan [20:52]
I would like to ask you like how did you build the product? I'm assuming it was neither of you to doing it.

David Okuniev [20:57]
Right. So like did you know basically We bought when the early early days, like we had catalyst, which was a front end engineer, we had a backend engineer, which worked. And actually, they were part of Robert's web dev shop. And basically the ones kind of building out the early built. Then later on, we just started hiring, we brought in dedicated resources to just focus on Typeform. It's actually called quickie form at the time, but this was even before that we left our day jobs. We were still running the companies but we highly think it was a couple of people just to work on the on the side project.

Omer Khan [21:33]
Okay, and then at what point did you guys decide that you were going to stop working on the agencies and this was gonna become a full-time business for you

David Okuniev [21:41]
Thinking the timeline? I think it was. During the beta, I think we're still doing some, we still kept our agencies going but close to time we raised our first round which was, you know, right in the middle of the beta period where you know, we I folded my my agency and Robert gave his agency to someone else to run.

Omer Khan [22:02]
And so I know you raised what it was like about just over like a million euros at that point, around.

David Okuniev [22:11]
Our first round, we did the seed rounds first with 500K. Next one was 1.2 million. Then we did the series A in Series B.

Omer Khan [22:19]
So had you guys raised money before?

David Okuniev [22:22]
No, never. I mean, literally, we had no experience as founders of background was just, you know, servicing clients with design and development. That was our back. So I remember we tried to raise money here in Spain, and we went to a couple of VCs with the idea, we had a kind of rough prototype and no one would look at it just because well, they looked at it, but they just didn't get it. We sat down with the two top VCs here in Spain one is the top business agent, top business, business VC, they didn't see it. I think what they were more focused on is that and I remember them saying this. You're a big too wet behind years to like run a business like him he said in Spanish [inaudible] coco verdes this like a bit like not mature like see this through essentially so we raise money to go outside Spain and it just it just all happened really by accident some some guy called Piotr Kulesza. Piotr Kulesza came across the company profile on on I think it was an Angel list saw the product was was got really excited set up a call he brought in Christopher Janz who was running, you know the Point Nine Capital Fund, which was the fund which eventually led the first round Piotr was an investor in that fund and basically just happened very quickly. They just saw it this they just, you know, thought this was a really, you know, this could be disruptive. And they were right. And the VCs in Spain were wrong. And I'm sure some of them regret it.

Omer Khan [23:57]
Yeah, I mean, they were wrong, but there was a right in terms of saying you guys they're you know inexperienced, and you'd be the first to admit that as well. But they were wrong in terms of not making a bet on this on you and the company.

David Okuniev [24:09]
That's not a criteria for investing in founders like experience you can get like you can learn how to run a company our metrics work and you know, especially if you're early stage, but know that trying to get product-market fit and being able to build a product as that it's not easy to learn that right? At least I don't think so.

Omer Khan [24:32]
So how are you guys figuring this stuff out? Because at the beginning you said hey, you know, when we started out, we didn't even know what MRR was and so like was it was just a lot of, you know, trial and error on the job and they sort

David Okuniev [24:48]
They talked to us a lot. They talked us about this kind of SaaS metrics the funnel you know, all these basic things we you know, we've read up on it and which trial and error tried things to think conversations. We did. We just picked that up. I mean, it's not rocket science to just like do the basics, like where it gets a bit more complex is when you know, the SaaS business gets more complicated. And it's it's a lot of leavers and a lot of micro things you need to change to affect the top line and, you know, does get complex in terms of you have having to manage a lot of things, but at the beginning then think, like, really held us back. I mean, again, the product just spoke for itself, and that drove everything.

Omer Khan [25:31]
Yeah, I think I think that was, I mean, in many ways, like that's one thing that really helped you guys and you know, in terms of building a great product, getting the beta out there. And having a lot of interest and hitting that 1 million ARR mark like really quickly. A lot of founders could launch a beta and two, three years later, they might still be trying to figure out how to get to their first 100K ARR all right?

David Okuniev [26:01]
Yeah, absolutely. We're lucky. Lucky to stumble across this idea. Lucky with the timing. Yeah. 50% luck, 50% I guess execution and, and sweat.

Omer Khan [26:13]
So when you look back at those, like, you know, we can sort of look at the story and say, Hey, you know, David and Robert came up with this great idea, you know, at the right time, they were great at you know, had a great vision for how this product should be different from their competitors. And, you know, it really resonated with the market. And, you know, before they knew it, they'd hit their first million dollars a year and then kind of raising money and all that sort of stuff. But was it really that easy? What were some of the tough parts of of going through that journey?

David Okuniev [26:45]
So about raising money was easy, or

Omer Khan [26:48]
I'm just trying to figure out like, how smooth sailing the first few years were.

David Okuniev [26:52]
It was very smooth sailing. It was just all growth, growth, growth. And the thing is, it happens to that many starts it was just on the tab, basically, I mean, we've created a really great atmosphere in the office, like it was very open culture, a lot of freedom, just a lot of motivations, it's CNET's the early days, it's just a small group of people like really like killing it. So yeah, the first three years was just yeah, very, very smooth sailing, but, you know, like, all things like to reach new plateaus of growth, you know, you have to get a bit more serious with the business. And I think this especially kind of like, hit home in the last year and a half to whereby, you know, we built, like I mentioned, built a very kind of, let's say, people-first culture, which meant that, you know, we didn't put a lot of boundaries around around people. So it was a lot of lot of freedom, a lot of goodwill, but, you know, you can do that when you're 30. So people in the company, but when you start crossing 150 people becomes a bit more complex. And actually, I think we reached a point in the company's size where there was a serious, you know, a significant lack of accountability. And we were seeing like, issues with, you know, speed of execution, so forth. And I think that was because we did, like operationalize things well enough. Because we, you know, everything was fine, which is growing, growing, growing. And you know, we didn't need to worry about those things. But obviously, like I say, when you start getting further down the line, you have to start really, you know, let's say maturing a little bit as a company and putting some processes in putting some structure and bit of hierarchy. Otherwise, what you have is just many people looking in different directions. And you know, it's a hard journey. It's a lot of ups and downs.

Omer Khan [28:35]
So give me an example of, like, when you said, like, you know, there was a lot of freedom and no accountability. And so give me an example of that.

David Okuniev [28:43]
At the beginning. It was just a lot of trust that everyone was just putting their part and that's a good thing, right? Yeah, it's a good thing. But you know, when you grow to a certain size, you know, it's more you know, what happens like and this happens with us, we had a problem with a culture of consensus, when there's such a good kind of atmosphere in the company that no one really wants to, like, challenge each other too much. So, what happens is that, you know, when it comes to decisions, everyone that's kind of involved or affected by the decision has to have their and their voice. And, you know, in theory, that's good, you know, people should be saying they shouldn't, but it slows down decision making very much. And it also means, you know, if one person is taking decision, you know, and sometimes against the will of other people, you know, that person, let's say, no guys, we're going to be doing this, then you have is like, people not buying into decisions and not, you know, if a group decides there's always going to be like some people on the side which I'm buying and so having a designated person on the team, like making a decision and as accountable is very important. You know, like, let's say the product manager for example. I'm just other lack of that kind of instrumentation. I think it just made us it just made us as well combine that with a lot of freedom, you know, unlimited holidays, you know, completely flexible work schedule, we still have those things. But we just didn't put enough boundaries on the expectations of like, what we expect you to do a Typeform. And now we're kind of putting those things a bit more in place and making people understand that we're not as organized or working as hard as our competitors, then, you know, how can we expect to really like stay competitive in the market, you know, the best companies managed to get where they are because they managed to get a flywheel of production going and that's, that's hard work. And that's determination and grit and all these things. And you don't get that if you just create a laid back culture where you don't lay have high expectations on standards. And just looking back to what we had before we didn't have enough high expectations or or put the bar high enough. We were just riding the kind of the wave of just like natural growth, you know, just kind of sit and laid back into that.

Omer Khan [31:06]
But that's worked for you, though.

David Okuniev [31:07]
Yeah, you know, I have to say, you know, like in the last, let's say a year and a half growth has not met our expectations as well. Now we've seen an inflection point. But you know, you could definitely see that really hyper-growth kind of tapering out when we started getting close to like, to, like 15-20 million around there. So, you know, we're ambitious, we want to take this to like as many companies as possible, and I think we're doing something really important. So we really want to see this grow. Everyone wants to be on a winning team. So we have to really put those instruments and boundaries there to make sure that we're really performing to our best level.

Omer Khan [31:46]
So you guys are seeing this as $100,000,000 plus business opportunity at the moment, right.

David Okuniev [31:55]
Yeah, I mean, it's a massive industry. I mean, if you just look at forms, sorry surveys alone. The market in the US for surveys, which is just one of our use case, the latest numbers are but it used to be like, like 3 billion. So it's huge. We're just a blip right now we have good brand awareness because we play well with the startup community and so forth. And you know, if you know, tech, not necessarily a tech company, you'll know Typeform. But you know, we haven't reached let's say that if you look at the product adoption curve, I think we're just, you know, we've definitely like got the early adopters, and we're into the next part, but we haven't really like addressed like the later market yet.

Omer Khan [32:34]
Yeah. I'm curious. If you were starting out today, is this market, something that you would still want to get into and enter or do you feel like there's already enough competitors or players in the market, it will be harder for you to to find that opportunity today than it was back in 2012.

David Okuniev [32:56]
It depends how differentiated the product would be. So Actually Typeform is launching a new product. We've had it in beta for a while it's called Videoask. And it's kind of a startup inside Typeform. So it's kind of that situation. Right? So I guess the question is, why are we launching a product like Videoask? It's because we once again trying to disrupt the way people are asking for information. So what what I would say is that, would I have done it again? Today in the current market? Yes, if I had the differentiated product, but if I would today launch a product like Typeform with more advanced forms, let's say, I think I'd have my work cut out because maybe it wouldn't be differentiated enough. But with a product like Videoask, which is a video-driven, that's a version of Typeform it's differentiated and it's now addressing again, and possibly opening new markets but allowing people to do this and you know, collect data in a more human and personal way. So yeah, I guess the point is, is like you know, if you have Something differentiated, then you've got a good chance, but otherwise, it's pretty competitive out there.

Omer Khan [34:05]
So tell me about how Videoask works. Like, if I was setting this up like, or maybe from a customer perspective of somebody filling it or responding to this, what does that experience look like?

David Okuniev [34:17]
So I could consume it as a widget and someone's website or someone can send me a Videoask link and essentially what it does, it loads a video of a person asking me one or a series of questions. And I can answer to those questions via video as well or text or audio if I want, a bit too shy to answer via video, you can can use those. And basically, and you can have several steps in the video. So it feels like someone's asking you a question and you answer then they ask you another question. And you can sue put logic into it so that you can have different decision trees and so forth. So it's really trying to like almost emulate a kind of a conversation. But asynchronously and another really cool thing is that when you put a Videoask out there and you start getting you new responses, you can actually respond to those responses via video as well actually create like a threaded Videoask conversation, which is really interesting. And I, for example, we, I use it for Videoask to do support so I get support tickets, sometimes via video and then I can answer via video and means I don't have to write an email or like where's the times it's super fast. And we're seeing some really nice adoption in certain communities, for example, like coaches, people that have personal brands that do like, like to do a face to face with people, it's a really big time-saver, because they can just get people to give them a they can put out a question there, they get a video response, and then they can continue an asynchronous video exchange.

Omer Khan [35:47]
So I'm curious, why did you launch this as a separate brand? Like, you know, people can go and check it out at videoask.com but, like, why not just build this functionality? into Typeform.

David Okuniev [36:01]
Because it's not just a feature, I think it's just a different mindset. And like the way you build this build a Videoask me to be different the way you build a Typeform. I mean, you can embed a video ask questions either Typeform, but also actually, there's another big reason we wanted to build this product without having any dependencies of the type of product. So can we can move as fast as we could bear in mind. It's a very small team working on on on Videoask, and have we been building inside the core product, and we would have to do it in a different way and we would have been slowed down. So speed was actually a big factor as well.

Omer Khan [36:42]
Okay. Makes sense. Yeah. I mean, it looks like a really interesting way to, to engage with people and I'm also wondering if you're seeing higher risk rates, then sort of a traditional text based survey, when when people using this type of interface?

David Okuniev [37:12]
Yeah, it's still still early days, because we probably don't have enough data to really compare it to Typeform. So I'm gonna just hold back on that one right now. But definitely people perceive that they, they put a video there, it's more engaging typically like videos and more engaging. That said, I think, you know, for different use cases, you might not always want to have a video therefore Typeform is is the right solution.

Omer Khan [37:37]
How are you promoting the product because like, when I go to go to the Typeform homepage, I don't really see any mention of it. And I know there's a link in the footer or something but…

David Okuniev [37:50]
We're working on launching that so we're going to be launching probably the next month and a half. So we'll start seeing it much more apparent. Basically, the thing was, it's been developed in just a small team separate, I'm leading this team now, I used to be the CEO of the company. And I stepped out a year ago and and, you know, started working some point after that on this product. And I took a developer with me and started building a team around that. So it's really been like, separate to Typeform. But now people are Typeform start to get involved and like the marketing department is also going to start supporting and so forth. So you know, we want to get out there because we really think we believe we can build this big business with Videoask because we have with with with Typeform, so it's early days.

Omer Khan [38:35]
So how many people worked on Videoask, so far, like how, how big is the team be?

David Okuniev [38:41]
The team until four weeks ago was just two people myself and front end guy. And we were working with an external agency that was building the iOS app and was doing the back end. Now we've hired back end developer to join the team full time and Another front end, and just had a another kind of engineer slash product person join the team. So it's a small team, but we're, we're moving fast.

Omer Khan [39:14]
Okay, a lot of people building a product, but say, I can't build a great enough product because either, you know, I, I don't have money to hire a developer, etc. Or maybe, you know, I've got one guy or one girl working on this product, you could have thrown a lot more people in at this. So why did you decide initially was just like going to keep it so small?

David Okuniev [39:38]
I don't think you get more out of having more people at the problem that you need a few people doing something really well to start off with shown accelerate that then you need people but everything has to be very clear. I think we were able to move fast just by having less people, less conversations. It's more clarity. So yeah, no I would like bigger companies do this, like throw loads of people at a problem. I mean, it depends the size of the problems. Well, of course, but in our case, no, definitely wouldn't recommend putting too many people from. In Videoask, you have the key ingredients. So we had so I'm, I'm a product that's a product maker. So I managed the product, also designing the product and almost doing some of the front end work little bit on to the lighter front-end stuff. And then we had a really good front-end engineer was really fast. And then as I mentioned, we had two other people doing stuff externally. So just really focused and we can move really fast. We wanted to add more people into that mix at that stage. But now yes, we're slowly putting more people on the product side and then yes, we need functions and just marketing and customer success to support the product as we start to like roll it out.

Omer Khan [40:53]
And then it is the plan to kind of keep it as a separate company are you going to kind of integrate it back into Typeform?

David Okuniev [40:58]
It's Videoask by Typeform, two separate brand, but we're it's like a sub-brand. It kind of looks like Typeform acquired a company actually. It says Videoask by Typeform on the website. Yeah, I mean for now it's it's a it's a separate entity. But actually, a business entity is not it's not run to the same company. But it seems like it's another thing.

Omer Khan [41:20]
Yeah, we'll have to chat about that in a while and see how that's growing. I'm really curious to see how how this sort of shapes out and you're going through this experience of building a, essentially a new product from scratch. It's it's kind of interesting, but it's also kind of a really fun time as well, especially if you're a product guy.

David Okuniev [41:38]
Yes. It's awesome. It's better than being CEO.

Omer Khan [41:46]
All right, let's wrap up and move on to the lightning round. So I'm gonna ask you seven quickfire questions, so just try to answer them as quick as you can. Are you ready?

David Okuniev [41:56]
Yeah.

Omer Khan [41:57]
Okay, what's the best piece of business advice you've ever received? This isn't gonna work.

Omer Khan [42:01]
This isn't gonna work. What book would you recommend to our audience? And why?

David Okuniev [42:06]
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins?

Omer Khan [42:08]
What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

David Okuniev [42:14]
Doesn't accept failure too early?

Omer Khan [42:17]
What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

David Okuniev [42:21]
Typeform.

Omer Khan [42:23]
Of course, what's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

David Okuniev [42:28]
Don't have any, just too focused on what I'm doing right now.

Omer Khan [42:31]
What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

David Okuniev [42:34]
I used to be a signed musician.

Omer Khan [42:36]
And what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

David Okuniev [42:40]
Don't have any.

Omer Khan [42:44]
Really?

David Okuniev [42:46]
Anything but working and I have a family and that's it. I play the drums. There you go.

Omer Khan [42:51]
There you go!

David Okuniev [42:53]
Yeah, I like eating food and traveling. That's good enough.

Omer Khan [42:57]
Alright, cool. So thank you for joining me. It's been a blast talking and kind of hearing about what you've been up to at Typeform and Videoask. And if people want to check out the products they can go to typeform.com or videoask.com and if they want to get in touch with you what's the best way for them to do that?

David Okuniev [43:19]
Yeah, my phone number is 691684 and I want to address

David Okuniev [43:27]
that's the best way because email is like a, actually, if you want to if you want to talk about the videos product, we actually have a Videoask Slack community and you can join it via if you go to our website and the footer, there's a link to it. more than happy to talk about videos things. Please don't chat to me through there if you're having an issue with Typ form. There just to talk about videos but definitely if you want to chat to me about that or you know, one maybe any advice on starting up a company happy to talk to you as well.

Omer Khan [43:59]
All right. Cool. David, thank you. It's been a pleasure. I wish you all the best.

David Okuniev [44:03]
Thanks, it's been. It's been a pleasure. Thanks a lot, Omer

Omer Khan [44:06]
Cheers.

David Okuniev [44:07]
Cheers.

Omer Khan [44:09]
All right. Thanks for listening. I really hope you enjoyed the interview, you can get to the show notes as usual by going to thesaaspodcast.com where you'll find a summary of this episode a link to all the resources we discussed. If you enjoyed this episode, then consider subscribing to the podcast. And if you're in a good mood, consider leaving a rating and review to show your support for the show. Thanks for listening. Until next time, take care.

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The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.