Kalo Yankulov is a growth marketer and the co-founder of "Encharge" – a marketing automation software built for SaaS companies. "Encharge" helps early-stage and middle SaaS companies convert more free trial users to paying customers through targeted automated emails. Already back in 2016, Kalo founded his first SaaS, HeadReach, which he grew to 7,000 users and more than 300 customers. Today he's with us and we have the chance to ask him some questions about his career and experiences.
Kalo, thanks a lot for giving us the chance to interview you today! We always start our interviews with some short "Fill in the blank" questions that give our readers a first idea of who the interviewee actually is. Here come your questions:
When I was a kid I always wanted to become… ?
From an early age, I knew I wanted to work with computers. When I was 8 or 9, I made make-believe laptops from cardboard and cut paper sheets in a circular shape, pretending I have a massive collection of game CDs that I can run on my imaginary computer. Bear in mind, that was in the early 2000s, and there wasn't a lot of technology circulating in Eastern Europe at that time. When I was 11, I designed my first website, still remember it to that day.
I wouldn't get through the day without… ?
I wouldn't get through the day without my morning routine. I usually get up around 5 AM, have a quick breakfast, and continue with my morning routine, which consists of reading my affirmations, recording my daily audio journal, 10 minutes of meditation, and an hour of gym workout.
The best thing about my job is… ?
I get to put on many different hats and expand my skillset daily. I like that I get to face new challenges regularly. It keeps me grounded, focused, and excited to get on with my work.
If I wasn't working as a growth marketer at Encharge, I probably would have become… ?
My close friends know that I love playing Dungeons & Dragons. If I wasn't working on tech startups, I'd probably be a professional writer of tabletop roleplaying adventures.
I admit, I like to put off… ?
Now let's talk about your company Encharge: You're the co-founder and responsible for marketing and sales. But originally you studied Graphic Design. What path took you to where you are today?
Great question! My career started in web and graphic design. I always wanted to work for one of the top design/marketing agencies, so I went to study abroad as a graphic designer. During my second year in university, I had the chance to work for a leading London-based agency named Elvis. I did design tasks for big brands like Virgin, NBA, Sky. The people in the agency were nice, but the job was boring as hell. If you're starting out in one of these places, it takes years until you get to work on meaningful projects.
Disappointed from my experience in the advertising world, I embarked on my startup journey to build and work on my own products. Design is important when it comes to great products, but marketing brings the customers, so I had to learn how to promote and sell my products. The rest is history...
I still use my web design skills when creating new products, but I find the marketing skillset much more valuable.
This is a real self-made story. Tell us Kalo, what was it like to start a business in Bulgaria? Were there any particular problems that you and your co-founder Slav, had to face?
It has its own challenges and benefits. The biggest challenge is the lack of a local startup network and access to customers. This is especially difficult if you're starting out and need to do customer development and talk to potential customers.
That said, it's much cheaper to do business in Bulgaria than in other more developed countries. Plenty of tax incentives and cheap labor are available that can help you kickstart your business here.
How would you describe what your company does to someone who has absolutely no clue about growth marketing?
It's a tough question because our tool does many different (and should I say complex) things! Encharge helps startups send more relevant and targeted emails to their users automatically in order to turn free users into paying customers.
And what would say: How important is it, nowadays, as a SaaS, to offer a free trial?
It really depends on the business model, the complexity of the product, and the value of the customers. As a startup founder, I believe product-led growth is here to stay, and more sales-driven companies will turn to the model of offering free trials. As a customer, I wish that all products had a free trial. It just makes the whole evaluation process so much easier.
You are absolutely right! Kalo, now that you've been working in growth marketing for quite a while: Is there a misbelief about it that often leads companies to wrong decisions?
All the time. We also make these mistakes often. One of the biggest misbeliefs of growth marketing is that you can fix a leaky marketing funnel by doing more. I've experienced that first-hand. Bringing more website traffic to a product with poor positioning will simply result in that: more website traffic or even worse — more untargeted leads. Marketing is not a fix for foundational business problems.
This is very good advice that all companies should consider! Can you give another advice to our readers that are business owners and would like to scale up their business?
Have a hypothesis. Launch your experiments quickly. Measure results. Collect data and build the next hypothesis.
Thanks! One more question on your business: Is there any client story that will always be special to you? Maybe a collaboration that turned out to be super successful?
We're helping one of the leading chatbot builders, Landbot.io, convert users to paying customers. We're happy to have Landbot as one of our first customers and provide a better onboarding experience to more than 80,000 people that like to create intuitive conversational chatbots.
My final question is: If you had 3 wishes for 2021. What would they be?
I wish for a less crazy year, growth for all tech products, and health for everybody. I know it sounds cheesy, but what more there is to ask for?
Thank you so much for your time and the great tips, Kalo! All the best to you!
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