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Working with Yonathan and SmartUp methodology, we realized that inbound channels must be created in the earliest stages. It’s not just to close a deal! It’s the fundamentals.
Opster is offering full coverage for all aspects of the search operation. Its solution reduces the time and costs of running Elasticsearch & OpenSearch. Among the company’s customers: Bloomberg, Coupa, BMC, LivePerson, Palo Alto, Check Point, Cybereason
Many founders of new companies face the pressing issue of realizing their idea for a product and finding paying customers. Usually, technology companies start with an idea and then turn to writing code and designing a product. When it works, they go out for exploration sessions with customers who will agree to try the new product for free. It has all sorts of names, like beta-site or design partners. They are supposed to be the company’s potential customers. But those partners don’t like to pay for the ready-made product after using it for free. The new companies are forced to partner with those beta sites for free because no customer will pay for a non-existing product.
SmartUp’s methodology offers a different but proven approach to developing and launching a new product. In Opster, we adopted SmartUp’s process and found it’s practical and rewarding.
How to do it?
I joined Opster a few months after its inception to promote sales and business customers’ success and to start generating revenue. At this time, there was no existing product or customers—only the entrepreneurs who founded the company, Yonatan Stern and I.
New companies that want to launch new products have two options:
Working with Yonatan and SmartUp methodology, we realized that inbound channels must be created in the earliest stages. It’s not just to close a deal! It’s the fundamentals. The early activity allows us to gather relevant information about potential customers and, therefore, to change and adapt the product according to their needs. It enabled us to understand where the market is and where the company should go.
While building the company, we looked for customers: in what level are our customers? Who is interested in what we offer? What attracts them to the solution? Who is willing to pay for it, and how much? In the early stages of a young company, such a process saves time and capital. We acted according to accurate information and didn’t stop. We are constantly checking and punctuating.
Yonatan saw it from the first moment, and in retrospect, we all agree that it was the key to Opster’s success. The process of interacting with the market and customers, and improving the offering, allowed us, at an early stage, to monetize.
It is important to remember that this is a process of learning and concluding; it is not a single event. The process helped us get contracts signed worth half a million dollars in the first year. It happened because we talked to our customers long before the product existed and understood what they wanted. This dialogue helped us build an inbound system of sales and customer success.
It wasn’t the first time I had worked with Yonatan. In the past, Ziv Segal, the founder of Opster, and I worked together at Logs.io. We were the first employees. The experience was completely different because Loges.io focused on creating rapid growth and sales channels but generating revenue and profit was not our focus. VCs invested in the company, so we had capital, a lot of support, and R&D resources.
Opster, on the other hand, was established based on revenue generation and did not focus on the growth rate. The reward in Opster was quick, and it’s a profitable and fast-growing company – just two years after inception.
Issues to be resolved:
At Opster, we debated the issue of pricing. Since we did not have 50 salespeople and customer success, we had to adopt a different strategy.
Yonatan was determined that we should price our service at $ 25,000 a year. Thus, our solution is positioned as an excellent end solution, and on the other hand, we have promised that with a small number of customers, we can support them best and build a successful brand.
We started seeing leads two months before we had a product to demonstrate and sell. Since the product was not ready, we offered the customers support for any problem. We built a sales process to solve a big problem, and it was worth their paying. Today, two and a half years later, the product is ripe and sells for several million dollars yearly.
Unusually, the companies Yonathan sets up or joins start thinking about their sales funnel long before they have a working product. Does that sound weird? I have worked for many companies that have done it differently; undoubtedly, it’s more efficient and productive.
If you start marketing and sales efforts very early, when the product is ready, it will not take six months to begin selling it. When Opster’s was ready, we knew who the potential customers were and how to reach them. This is a faster way to generate revenue quickly.
The SmartUp approach makes perfect sense; we built businesses before it was possible to raise capital from venture capital funds, and Yonathan supported us to get to this point. We were not alone; he is a co-founder and thinks like one. I do not see Yonathan as just an investor; he brings experience, knowledge, and significant value.
Yonatan brought us to the ground: You can dream big, but you must stand firm on the floor first. He always assured us that when we were ready, we would fly fast, and he was right.
Because not only did we build a company that became profitable within about two years, the holdings of the founders and employees were not diluted. We have control of the company we founded.