This week we got a chance to interview Vladyslav Podolyako, founder of Belkins and Folderly.
Hi there! Please introduce yourself and your company!
Vladislav Podolyako here, founder of Belkins and Folderly.
When did you get started? What was your situation then?
We started back in 2018 with no resources and practical knowledge on building a company. I wanted to create something that I like and put all my effort into my own culture's exciting products and make a difference; this is how I ended up with Belkins and other our products down the road.
Why did you choose what you chose? How did you niche down?
By degree, I’m a hardware engineer, so now I’m in Sales & Marketing. That’s a good question. In one of my past experiences, I was the Chief Data Officer, the guy responsible for everything—starting from any lead-generation activities and ending with R&D of new products and speaking to investors about it. Variety of a scope, I would say. Sales and Marketing are interesting niches that help understand how customer acquisition works and test a lot of hypnosis in all other industries. With Belkins, we are working with 50 of them successfully adopting this knowledge.
Walk us through some of the struggles early on in the business. How did you overcome them?
Three main struggles related to:
- Customer Acquisition: I recognized that more than traditional sales funnels were needed, and we were required to do a lot of extra sales and marketing activities.
- Cash Flow: Bootstrapping a startup often means tight budgets. I needed to be strategic with resource allocation, leveraging our sales revenue as quickly as possible to fund other business operations initially, and we were super peaky about any expenses.
- Scaling: The first business, especially with a SaaS model, would need to scale rapidly to be viable, and it will take some time.
How did you get your first client? How did you get the next couple of ones?
Classic. Outbound. I spent a few days creating a database with leads, then launched a cold email marketing campaign and started working with objections. I remember the conversion rate:
- From 1,000 leads, I’ve got
- 56% open rate - 560 people open my emails
- 19% reply rate at the end of the entire campaign - around 100-110 answers
- 5% of interested - 5 good meeting
- And it ended up with one sale that fueled up our team at the beginning
If you had to start the same business again?
No, lol. That’s hard; it takes a lot of time. With current knowledge, I would start a tech product instead, but it depends on the first financials. Like you, I wanted to bootstrap again so that I would begin with service (easiest way). If not, I would raise funds.
What’s one growth tactic you’re reluctant to share?
I've shared this in one of the latest posts on my linkedin page. If you want to get your first clients ASAP, you need to consider doing a cold approach, which will save you a lot of time in the future if you want to understand if this is the right service or product I built and bring you first revenue which is also cool
What’s the #1 way you win new business today?
Heavily invest in inbound marketing by producing high quality content.
Advice to 21-year-old self.
Make as many mistakes as possible. It will be paid off.
Where can people find you if they wanted to learn more? Are you active on Twitter or Linkedin?
I’m active on both. My linkedin - https://www.linkedin.com/in/chiefdata/ and my twitter - https://twitter.com/StBelkins