How Visme went from 0 to 3million in organic traffic, and how they productized the process.

Farzad Rashidi


Lead Innovator


Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Farzad Rashidi, Lead Innovator at Respona.

In this episode, Farzad shares how Visme went from 0 to 3million in organic traffic, and how they took that strategy and turned it into a new product.

We then discussed why organic and paid search traffic impact retention differently, and how customers that are actively searching to solve a problem have significantly higher retention.

Mentioned Resources



What is an all-in-one PR and link-building platform? 00:00:00
How Visme went from 0 to 3million in organic traffic, and how they productized the process. 00:00:00
Why does organic search traffic vs paid search traffic perform differently when it comes to retention. 00:00:00
Customers that are actively searching to solve a problem have significantly higher retention. 00:00:00


[00:01:20] Andrew Michael: Hi, welcome to the show. 

[00:01:23] Farzad Rashidi: Thanks for having me on the show, Andrew. 

[00:01:25] Andrew Michael: It's great to have you for the listeners. Farzad is the founder and lead innovated respondent, an all in one peer and link-building platform prior to founding was the director of marketing visit me.

We actually started as the first marketing hire, and then later founded the company together with the founder of , which is today resplendent. So, um, my first question for you today is maybe just give us a little. About what respawn actually does because what is an all-in-one PR and link building platform?

[00:01:55] Farzad Rashidi: Sure thing. So just to put a very simply respondent is a platform that helps [00:02:00] other SAS brands and other online businesses to connect with relevant publications in our space and collaborate with them on content. Uh, and with the goal of, uh, basically hardening these editorial backlinks and mentions to your websites.

So not under that, that would help obviously with brand awareness, but predominantly for improving your SEO. And kind of helping you get more organic traffic from Google. Um, now there's a backstory behind it, Andrew, I'm not sure how deep you want me to get into it, but I'd love to tell you a little backstory sort of how we ended up with the.


[00:02:30] Andrew Michael: No, we can get to that as well. But the reason I actually asked you the questions straight off the bat was just before recording this as well, basically gave a little pitch and said that on the show, we typically don't like to sort of promote a product. And I was really intrigued as well. When you said as well, this is not the goal, uh, for us, for our podcast strategy, it's parts.

Part seven for our advertising strategy. So I'd actually like to dive into that a little bit and understand like, um, the strategy that you're taking now as well. I think podcasts obviously is a great way. And [00:03:00] you mentioned four witness, but, uh, maybe you wanna elaborate a little bit on that. 

[00:03:04] Farzad Rashidi: Absolutely for sure.

I'd love to. So, um, Andrew, as you know, I, I joined as the first marketing hire at our parent company. Visit me. Have you ever checked out, visit me before Andrew just, are you guilty? I'm guilty. No problem. So visit me for folks who are listening. If you haven't heard of us, it's an all-in-one brand content creation platforms for businesses.

So if you're a business you're looking to create any sort of presentations, reports, proposals, Tetra, it's all in one hub, they use sort of plugging your. Guidelines, and it will help you create really good looking professional content in a matter of a few minutes. Now, when I joined the company was a tiny little startup, completely bootstrap.

My co-founder now Paymar who is the founder of ismy, uh, basically it handed me the progress, like, all right, well, we built this really kick ass bro. Now let's go sell this thing. And we're like, okay, great. So as you know, Andrew is a few main acquisition channels, paid ads, cold outreach, [00:04:00] and SEL. And for us at the very beginning, we knew sort of where we needed to put our focus on because Cole hours for sales at the price point wasn't there.

So we were, we're very affordable products. I think at the time we started like 50 million. Uh, so it's not a type of product. You would go hire sales. People would go sell door to door. Now we have a sales team, obviously for enterprise companies by the time that was not the target market, uh, paid advertising, as you know, also is, is a very expensive way to get eyeballs on your website.

Um, and it's getting more expensive by today and there's a diminishing return on investment because meaning you double your budget, your conversions don't double. So the cost per acquisition is also, um, under rice. At some point he keeps up with your LTV.

It's not a very scalable channel anymore. So we were like, okay, well, let's put ourselves in the shoes of a customer and understand how they would potentially come and find a product like ours. And, uh, it was very clear. So Andrew is, let's say you want to create a presentation or let's [00:05:00] say you want to create an infographic for this episode.

What's the first step you do when you go and try to find a product. What's the first time you research. Google such exactly. So we were like, all right, well know where our customers are hanging out. So instead of us having to go and build a household name, let's go and show them places where somebody is looking to make it past.

They will find us easily. So we're like, okay, great. We've heard of this SEO and content thing. And so let's start producing some bunch of blog posts and build some landing pages. And we did the keyword research optimize. Our website, did all the good old, uh, on-page SEO things as SEO nerds, like myself, call it and we put the website out and guess what happened?

Nothing. Nothing. Absolutely. Now, just to give you the overview now is that it's a very depressing story. But now this meat today, it gets about, I would say 3 million in monthly organic visitors, which is worth about a million [00:06:00] and a half in paid advertising that we're getting for free quote and quote. Uh, we have around 14 million active users.

We are doubling that year over year, a hundred, a team of close to about a hundred employees, fully profitable grow at a health rate, and we still are completely bootstrapped. So. That gap didn't happen overnight. So the real, um, I would say key to the success of as mean where we sort of went hour from zero traffic to 3 million, uh, was the process of understanding how Google works and that process, it had the algorithm Google really built that helped them, uh, sort of, uh, when the search engine game was an algorithm called page rank, which basically puts emphasis on.

How other relevant publications you space are linking to you and referring to you and talking about you and that's the vote have popularity. Now you have Googled. Now we were like, okay, great. We know that just producing content and just putting a website [00:07:00] out there. Isn't enough. Uh, we're like, let's, let's try to go get some of those things that people call backlinks.

And there's just so many shady stuff out in the industry. Just so much bad practice that we had to learn through the hard way, but basically what we found out was that the best way that we could gain an eyeballs on our website and get these backwards. Eventually it helps our website get rankings.

Google was by, uh, having a good average strategy for link building. And that process though was extremely time consuming and very manual in terms of, um, efficiency was, is horrible. So what we basically did was to put together the whole process that was already working for us in terms of average, put on one roof and it just worked ridiculously well, we'd cut around 80% of average.

Skyrocket about productivity and we're like, guys, this is awesome. So we decided to release it as a standalone product as sort of the backstory of how respondent was born as a separate product. 

[00:07:56] Andrew Michael: Very cool. Uh, I always liked the stories where they have this spin of [00:08:00] products that come out of pain points or problems internally.

It actually is sort of, we took a similar approach. One of the previous products we had was where we're trying to drive traffic to a product. We were sort of thing. Okay. Similar process, like what do we need to do to drive traffic? Where are people searching for? And we found a use case as well. The problem we had internally that wasn't working fairly well, uh, which was back then, was this really trying to understand for advertising purposes?

What were the different ad sizes that you needed to fulfill like the different ad platforms? Cause they were always changing all the time. Uh, there was different templates and literally we did something, uh, in this case where we just. A add size guide, uh, launched it product hunt, I think number one of the day.

And then we started getting 20 to 40,000 organic visitors a month, just purely focusing on delivering value, but a similar strategy happened to what you mentioned now in the sense that because we had built this valuable tool, everybody starts. The sending back links or [00:09:00] like linking back to our site, uh, in turn, like sort of grew organic search for the various search terms.

And we were actually out drinking at some point, like Facebook ad sizes were outranking, Facebook and Twitter for their own specific key terms. But I really liked the juice that came from everybody else. Thinking back to the guidance, Dean Kay, go check it out and so forth. So. The thing that I was interested to chat to you about today, looking at, uh, when it comes to general attention specifically, because obviously like we're talking about acquisition now, but acquisition is absolutely vital when it comes to understanding who you're acquiring and how long they're staying, because it really does differ from channel to channel and something I've noticed and something you mentioned as well in the email.

Organic versus paid traffic tends to perform very differently when it comes to attention. And I'm interested, like, from your experience, like why do you see this happening? Uh, why do you, uh, like what is some of your [00:10:00] assumptions, uh, for the reasons this is. 

[00:10:02] Farzad Rashidi: Sure. And you know, Andrew, over the years, have I experimented with different acquisition strategies and as a SAS company?

Yes, it's nice to get those signups, but you're making a sale every single month. So at the end of the day, if you don't make your customer successful, they're not going to stick around. And, uh, and the time and the resources you spend on acquiring an onboard customer would go down to waste. Uh, if they end up canceling after month, two or three, so.

One thing that we want to put our F uh, put emphasis on was not necessarily in terms of w w when it came to picking our customer acquisition strategy, wasn't necessarily in terms of, okay, what is the conversion rate, but exactly what, how much is the LTV and the retention of these customers? How long do they stick around?

How successful are they going to be at the end of the day? And one thing. Crystal clear. It was that customers that are actively searching to solve a problem have significantly [00:11:00] higher retention than the ones that you cater to with paid ads or a cold outreach. Now, for a number of reasons, one is that they're aware of the problem in the organization and they're looking for a solution.

So when you position yourself as a solution to a problem, not just as a product. That at the beginning, it's just the type of people that you bring in are people that are coming in to you for help instead of you having to go to them and sell your product. Uh, and that's something that we've noticed as that impacts the.

I immensely, uh, and, and ended something that we wanted to also incorporate into our funnel, not marketing. We're like, okay, if we know these are the type of customers that are going to be sticking around, so let's go get more of these guys instead of me having to spend on. Time and resources on hiring salespeople on burning through our ad budget, bringing people in that aren't necessarily going to be sticking around just because the type of product that we sell is not [00:12:00] plug and play.

It's not something that you just turn on and it just starts generating backlinks, your website. Right. Do you need a strategy, Al? I often say it's kind of like buying that. Right. You still need a chef to make food. And that food is obviously these backlinks. Should I? Chef is, is the, is a person who has a strategy, has a recipe, right?

And comes in and, and execute. Now, if you don't have a chef, when that organization doesn't know how to make food, it doesn't matter how sharp your knife is. So we want to go sell these knives to professional chefs that are. Cutting food with their hands and other tools and giving them a sharp knife so that they can do what they already do.

But 10 times. 

[00:12:43] Andrew Michael: Yeah. Uh, I understand that as well, like in the context of sales and a paid outreach channels, but when we talk about like paid ads specifically, I've noticed this trend in may. I don't know if it's same on your end, but even just paid search where. Th the two reasons you mentioned now, [00:13:00] shouldn't be the case where you see a different, uh, difference in opinions because people have literally searched for the problem that you're solving.

They've been shown an ad and then, um, they saw them perform, but I've noticed this from probably about six to 10 different companies, uh, that have helped in the past with their DataStax, including Hotjar. Uh, one of them were. Retention was always strongest from organic search, uh, comparing that third into paid ads, which essentially could most likely be the same search terms, but just, uh, being a paid ad where it would be completely different.

And I found this always very strange, not than I was hoping that. You've seen something like this where you have some, some good hypothesis of why it's happened. Yeah, 

[00:13:40] Farzad Rashidi: that's right. Dot Buster. So you're 100% correct. I believe by paid ads, you're referring to ad words. What I had in mind. Right? Well, social apps like Facebook and Twitter and whatnot.

And as far as paid ads, go on. You're 100% correct. The intent should be very similar. What, the only thing that I would say that would be different is [00:14:00] in terms of credibility, because if somebody's seeing your website ranking in organic search results, um, that automatically buys you a certain level of credibility and trust.

That a paid ad necessarily. Wouldn't just simply because you got to be a legit company to get, you know, beat hundreds and millions of search results to be in the top 10 search results for that keyword versus kind of, sort of buying your way through it. Uh, so I guess that does give a better impression at the beginning for a customer that's incoming.

Uh, but you are correct. Uh, that is something that is a discrepancy there in terms of paid ads. 

[00:14:37] Andrew Michael: I can bother those. I can see that being the case. It's one of those things, very difficult to measure and understand, uh, at the end of the day, I think the only way you can really learn from this is a qualitatively, but it just weird that I've seen this as a pattern, not just at one company, but there's a few different companies and it gets you to question a little bit about the, uh, paid platforms and what you're actually paying for [00:15:00] as well at the end of the day.

But I do see a sort of that credibility being. Uh, something where I even see from my own personal behavior where I'll just normally try to skip past the ads to see which one is the first one ranking so that I can actually then have a little bit more legitimacy to it. Cool. So you would visit me for a while.

Like you develop this internal process for yourself, you're spending out to become a product you've how long has the product been going for now? Like, just give us some like rough indication of when you launched and where you are. 

[00:15:32] Farzad Rashidi: Sure. So we launched the beta version of our platform in late 2019.

I think we started selling, responding 20, 20 as a paid beta. And, um, what, what happened was that very quickly we started add groaned up beta version, uh, because a lot of companies were like, Hey, this is cool. Let's use it. The app was sort of put together with duct tape because we didn't have a proof of a concept at a time.

So we hadn't put in the right infrastructure [00:16:00] in place that we could handle a lot of the use cases, especially some agencies that came in and tried to use the tool. So it kept breaking and having issues. And obviously. Led to horrible churn, just because obviously somebody is paying for the product. They expect it to work the way they want it.

So what we did basic list of take the year 20, 21, uh, we like, okay guys, we have a proof of concept. So we put together a team of engineering and a design and all that basically group, I would say five or six people and QA, and basically rebuilt the entire infrastructure. And back-end and front-end, so it was a brand new software that we launched in November of 2021.

And, uh, basically since then, uh, we are in the process of launching our 1.1 version. So the 1.0 version that we launched in November of 2021 was basically did what a beta version did, but just 10 times. [00:17:00] In a way that in terms of performance, the ability, um, and we haven't had any doubt tests. Launched at that 1.1 version brand new infrastructure.

So it's ready for scale. And then we basically started to build on top of that. And now we're actually launching our 1.1 version a, which is a, I would say a four or five major new features, uh, this weekend. So fingers crossed everything would go well, but, uh, but basically as you know, building software is kind of like building a puzzle, kind of like Legos.

And so you sort of built on top of. Uh, as you start developing new features. So we wanted to make sure we have a very strong foundation before we employ engineering forces to kind of start building on top of that, uh, uh, baseline. 

[00:17:43] Andrew Michael: Cool. And so you started this obviously first marketing hire director of marketing built this platform internally decided, okay, let's try and spin it off into its own little product.

Um, Realized that you hadn't sort of put things together [00:18:00] with duct tape needed to rebuild today, what you know today. And if you internally, now it gives me again, looking to get started. Like, would there be anything in particular that you would do differently or do you still think it was the right choice to deduct type things together and, uh, 

[00:18:16] Farzad Rashidi: As far as the, the product itself, I think it was good that we put together MVP Radek quickly and, and went to market and actually get people to pay for it and got approve of Casa.

Like, Hey, this is a concept that other people are also willing to pay for. We're not the only company that's looking to use this thing. So at the beginning, our mindset wasn't, Hey, let's go and build a new business. We already had. The goal was, Hey, we built this thing for our business. Let's go see if we can help other people as well.

And it answered to that after your upselling, it was, yes, it is. In fact, a product that people are willing to pay for. Now, we did make quite a lot of mistakes along the way. It wasn't a perfect shot. And, and one big mistake that I made personally, and I'm guessing. That is [00:19:00] what sort of trying to cater to different markets instead of niching down and kind of focusing on link building, which was sort of our bread and butter.

So link-building average is vastly different from what you normally do in terms of promotion. So, um, uh, brand promotion is sort of broken down it and an industry kind of into a few different things. One is PR. So if you're looking to contact journalists, looking for a media database as an entirely different average process, then influencer marketing, which you're trying to reach out to the Instagram models and people on YouTube to promote your product, which is completely different from what we do, which is link building, which is basically you reaching out to other publications in your space and collaborative with them on text-based content.

And also not necessarily just that, but. Uh, figure out ways on how you can generate back. Let's do a website, for example, podcasts, outreach. Well that I'm doing right now. Is one of those strategies. So I think it'd be cool to kind of go through, I don't know how deep you want me to go through this [00:20:00] process, but right now we are going to get back links from turned out FM and, and, and as part of a its average strategy that we did through a response to, we found your podcast, did some research and found that, Hey, this is a great.

Popular this within a target market, and this is a type of podcast and can provide a lot of value to the audience who are listeners. And so let us reach out to Andrew and see if he'd be interested in having those on the show notes. Uh, the, the type of outage campaigns you can run with response, so kind of niching down and now you're going to 

[00:20:28] Andrew Michael: make sure to cut this part out of the interview.

[00:20:34] Farzad Rashidi: Don't spill the beans here. That's right. No, it's not just so much also about getting back to this. Gender is also building relations. And partnerships with people in our space. Uh, we're chatting now, we're buddies. Um, and that's, that's the thing. It's just game of building relationships with people, into your space and meeting other smart people and collaborating with them.

That's mutually beneficial to both sides is sort of the goal. And that that is a vastly different [00:21:00] product than say a media database. They reach out to journalists to send press releases to. Uh, that's something that we sort of were trying to do all of that under one platform. And it was just not the way we wanted it.

So what we decided to do as part of that 1.1 or 1.0 launch that we decided to revamp our beta product was to get laser-focused on link building and build a product really for SEOs. And, and that's where we saw most retention with. 

[00:21:32] Andrew Michael: Yeah, I think as I probably need to update then LinkedIn. Cause I think when I read out the intro is like the all-in-one PR and link building platform.

I don't know if that's still the case. So it's just really like, it is called 

[00:21:42] Farzad Rashidi: digital PR still what we say. So digital PR and PR is sort of different in a sense that okay. We basically focus on, um, the average tactics end up actually building back links to webs that end up moving the needle, meaning that it's not a traditional PR platform where [00:22:00] you create a press release in plastic to a database of journalists, but rather getting more targeted in terms of reaching out to niche, blogs, and podcasts and your space to actually build those relationships from the ground up.

[00:22:12] Andrew Michael: Cool. Um, so the next question I was interested then is obviously. You launched a new product within a visit me or span it out. At some point, it seems as the products have almost nothing to do with each other, in the sense that completely different. What did the conversation go to like there internally at the company?

Like how was this decided that this would be a good idea for focus or for the company to do something like that? 

[00:22:41] Farzad Rashidi: That's right. So payment was quite hesitant at attached. So I came up with the idea of responding and I remember I pitched it to him and he was like, you know, I'm a visual learner. You need to go build something like visually.

So I could see. So I went on envision and just literally put together screenshots, a lot of different apps, or like, okay, if we connect this, this, this would look something [00:23:00] like this and then made some sketches and put it together and basically pitched it to them as, Hey, this is something that if nobody else uses.

It's going to be very beneficial for our team internally, so let's go build it for ourselves. See how other words. And then potentially if it did, then we can also utilize this as a separate business and our team ended the love in it and started using it. And we're like, okay, great. So we have that initial check mark.

Now let's also try and go and see how we can monetize this as a separate channel. But Pamela was quite hesitant because this is me at the time was doing very well and still is, uh, but, but it was still at the very beginning and he w he didn't want to divvy it to focus. So he was very firm at the very beginning that, Hey, This is a separate entity.

It's not going to be anything related to visit me in the first place, because business is already a successful business and is growing. So we don't want to distract that, that team. So I ended up basically hiring another [00:24:00] engineer and working with a completely separate teams up to this day. We're still separate entities, separate companies, completely separate and team, uh, that the handle, the product, it wasn't something, it was sort of incubated as an internal tool, but it's not something that we sort of, um, 

[00:24:14] Andrew Michael: So should I add?

Cause I can see definitely how. They are completely different businesses. They were quite close with do different focus and definitely the one can detract from the other way, in terms of focusing energy and time. So that makes a little bit more sense than, um, cool. So I want to ask you a question that I ask every guest that joins the show.

Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. Now, when you join a new company at this company general, attention's not doing great. And the year comes to and says, Hey, how's that like, you're in charge. You need to turn around a turn in the next, uh, there's a 90 days. And. The catcher though, is you're not going to tell me I'm going to go speak to customers, figure out what the biggest pain point is and start there.

Or I'm going to look at the data and see, I think [00:25:00] you're just going to pick a tactic that you're seeing work previously and run with that blindly hoping it works, uh, at this business that you've just joined. So anything maybe from your experience with visit me where you've seen, uh, be effective at reducing turnover.

That's very quickly and running with that before. What would you do? Right. 

[00:25:18] Farzad Rashidi: So, Andrew, I would not hire as a person who runs a SAS business person in charge of churn. Every single person in the company is in charge of churn because churn in and out of itself is a symptom. It's not necessarily a. Problem to resolve as a, as a singularity.

It's something that's ingrained within the marketing team. So at the very top of the funnel, who are the people that are you're bringing in, for example, let me give you some examples that would make sense. One of the use cases for respondent was a media database. We noticed that people who have a PR use-case are willing to pay for the tool immediately, they're willing to pay a heck of a lot more than the link-building people do, but [00:26:00] they have a one-time use case.

They want to send one newsletter and that's it. So the retention was one month that would come in. Use the tool for sending out a press release and they're done. They don't need to use it on a, on a daily basis. So we need that from day one that, Hey, the core product should be built for people who are looking to stick around and use it on a daily.

And those people are content. Marketers are looking to build back links to their blog posts, because guess what? They're producing content continuously. It's not a one and done thing. So from the very top, we knew that we need to cater our marketing. So it starting from our homepage and our target audience.

And then the way we sort of. Uh, build a messaging was tours. People were, had the highest retention all the way down to the product itself. Building features that people who were looking to actually use this on a daily. Would we be able to get the most value from, so we didn't go build a social media influencer database.

We didn't go build a media database. You built a tool for content marketers who were [00:27:00] looking to actually run average campaigns through now and all the way down to the engineering. Uh, so, and, and, and, and support. So. It's not something that one person can be in charge of churn. I don't see how that could work.

Maybe it's my inexperience. Uh, but it's, it's, uh, w what I've seen in my years, working on a SAS company, every single person and every single department's main focus should be, Hey, how can we return customers in a way? So from anywhere from acquisition, all the way down to support and upsell and customer success, all of these guys are in charge of shark.

[00:27:34] Andrew Michael: Yep. A hundred percent agree with that notion in the sense, like, I think we mentioned previous to the show we actually had, Hotjar made a mistake in this way. We tried to get a team sets up in the beginning to solve for Trinity attention, but I do think what you mentioned now can be the responsibility of one person to get things aligned.

And I think the. The way you can help an organization from what you just mentioned now is really coming up with that strategy and then showing how [00:28:00] every team in the company is responsible for improving that metric. So you may not be the one actually doing the work, but what you've just laid out now is like, I could see that I would plan a plan for the team and diagnosing what the actual problem is.

So like we lose maybe 90% of our customers in the first three months. So we actually have an activation problem. We don't have a resurrection problem. Make sure that the company's energies are focused on how do we activate users. So that's where there would be like the alignment that the responsibility in that sense was making sure the teams aligned and understand how important it is.

But yeah, absolutely. I do agree with you there, there is, it's a company problem, like where SaaS businesses subscription as a service businesses. If people are canceling subscriptions, You don't have a business. Uh, so, uh, well you just have like a, um, a really, really leaky funnel that hoping at one point will get you to where you need to be.

Um, what's one thing that, you know, today about general attention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career. 

[00:28:56] Farzad Rashidi: That is a great question. I, Andrew, and one thing I [00:29:00] learned the hard way is that a lot of. Retention has to do with the product itself, not so much about the processes around it.

And that's something that, um, obviously is, is sort of, it's not something to generalize for every type of SAS business, of course, but at least I can speak to my experience. Both of those man response has been that a lot of the times, um, A lot of people are get bogged down on, okay. Let's, let's move people to onboarding.

So right now we do manual onboarding for every single person who signs up or product tours. Let's go build product tours, show people how to use it. But if you take a look at some of the most successful SAS companies, like for example, slack always tell us our product team. I was like, did anyone teach you how to use slack?

Adrian? How about onboarding the slack customer success team ever? Did you ever have to take any tour? Did you have to watch any videos. Now you open a product it's crystal clear, where do you [00:30:00] need to click and how to use it and what to do with it. And that's something that's ingrained in the product design and whatever they do is to keep things so simple.

So I just wouldn't require a whole lot of setup. Now it becomes more complicated as you move up market and you're catered enterprise is the need custom built features and things get more, obviously more complicated system, not something to say. Hey, any company that does onboarding is doing retention wrong?

No, it it's often, um, a, a good, um, I would say bandaid on the problem, but, and that's something we're trying to shift away from, because right now it becomes very, very hard to scale as, as the company grows is to be able to manually. Uh, because people hate Washington video, stay ahead to take this product tours.

They hate to have to talk to another human being, especially past, uh, after COVID where, you know, every meeting is shifted online. So it's just so much inefficient. So building the product in a way that is just so dumb and simple to [00:31:00] use that wouldn't require a whole lot of these trainings and putting yourself in shoes of a customer saying, Hey, let's say there is no product tour or video.

The user has not watched a video and down no idea what they're doing. The land on here. It should be crystal clear what the next step would be and what they need to do. So there's one big blue button, that's it? That's all there is on the page. Just click that. And if your products anything different and that's something we are guilty of ourselves is we're not at that point by any means, especially respond to it is me.

Obviously. There's a lot more mature products. Or intuitive, but especially with, to is it requires a strategy, uh, uh, as difficult for us, for our team to kind of build our product in a way, but we're definitely moving towards that. 

[00:31:47] Andrew Michael: Yeah, I like that. I think though, the examples that you mentioned, I would like to take a bet that they didn't start in that manner.

I'm pretty sure that installed in that man. And that's like a lot of companies actually need to go through these [00:32:00] manual processes, onboarding customers first, to understand like, what's the optimal process. Like what steps can we remove? How can we improve this? But I definitely agree. I liked there was actually a, uh, tweaked by Jack Dorsey.

Um, and it said sort of make every detail. And limit the number of details to perfect. Uh, so in the sense of like, just really focusing on a Newt number of things that you do, but do those things extremely, extremely well, um, that it almost, like you say becomes irrelevant to have an activation, a flow, or to have an onboarding experience or need to handhold people with videos and things like that.

That's right. To achieve that. I think like there's. Few companies that actually get to that state where they're able to execute at that level, uh, and that sort of create that sort of user experience. Uh, but it's magic when it does happen. Like I think the example you mentioned slack for me always, I think that is probably one of the best onboarding experiences you can have in terms of a product it's changed slightly over time.

[00:33:00] But I just remember my initial experience with slack and how seamless it felt at the time compared to everything else. Just getting set up and. I think that's a goal for any SaaS business that they've set the bar. Uh, so nice. Um, all right. So I think we're running up on time now. Is there any final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with?

Like give me a thing they should be aware of from your. Chorus, 

[00:33:25] Farzad Rashidi: you know, Andrew, I was very lucky to have been, uh, in an environment where I've had access to very successful entrepreneurs in the SAS space. And I've seen them grow and become very successful, uh, Payman founder of his me, uh, founder view screen is a bunch of other SAS companies that, um, I was very lucky continuing to our founder closely.

And, uh, and it's often very discouraged. And for me as a founder, uh, when you listen to these podcasts interviews, And some of these founders make the whole process of figuring things out so easy. I remember I was listening to this interview with the founder [00:34:00] of Typeform and the guys just said something that I was just almost like, I just pause that podcast.

And it was like, I don't want to listen to this anymore. Uh, he said, uh, I think he asked him, he was like, so how did you acquire your first group of customers? And he said, yeah, the million dollars in ARR came to us pretty, pretty natural organically with not much effort. I was like not much effort for first millionaire IRR.

I was like, okay, it's almost implying that, um, uh, we were doing something. And we weren't most companies, 99.9% of SAS companies. I know it's an uphill battle to get there and churn and retention takes time for it to nail. And it is bound to be higher churn at the very beginning because your product isn't there yet.

And it's a matter of continuous improvement. That's going to sell that issue over time and it's going to be an uphill battle. So don't get discouraged. If the first group of customers you get turn out after a few months, Get [00:35:00] some feedback, learn from it and move on. And until we hit a point that you're like, okay, I'll have a pretty good idea of what are someone's problems.

I need to resolve to minimize that. And it's never going to be 0%. There's always going to be some group of customers who are looking to pause and. Very customers, very early customers respond to that. Use the platform two years ago that, uh, one of them got one of them. His name is Remi. You just emailed me.

Nah, I guess yesterday it was like, Hey man, just start a new business venture. And I remember we were focusing a lot on SEO. We, we need some help with build a Mac links. I'll, I'm looking to get started responding. Let's take a tour and see what's changed so far. And it's just very encouraging to hear that.

Like two years later, this guy remembered us, even though he used to very early. Beta version and he's come back and now he's a paying customer again. So what I'm trying to say is that that's one thing I want to share with founders. Don't get discouraged. It has got to be very difficult at the beginning, especially when you kind of put your blood, sweat, and tears in a product and you put it out there and [00:36:00] people hate it.

It is going to take time for it to get to a level that you are actually. 

[00:36:04] Andrew Michael: For sure. I can echo that. I would just maybe exaggerate, not exaggerated it, but just say it's fucking difficult. It's not easy, uh, to get there. But the thing that top form CEO mentioned, actually that's something I've heard is awesomely, like from David, uh, dominant in the past, like having conversations with him, uh, CEO of Hotjar and he sort of said like, if getting to your first million in ARR is really difficult, you should probably think about quitting because it only gets more difficult over time.

And. The businesses that are going to stand the test of time and that have a loss of the ones that actually get there relatively quickly and easily, because you've, you're able to show that there's like a big market. There there's a lot of interest in demand. And from then on out, the problems actually get bigger.

They don't get easier. Uh, we'd like to think that, ah, when we get to that milestone, it's going to be easier. But I also do echo your point in the sense that, uh, the first version of a product that you launch is normally going to [00:37:00] likely the luck of it is going to be very shitty. Yeah. It takes a few different iterations to get to a point where actually people are starting to love it.

And, uh, starting to come back and finding out, like, I literally also had something similar happened to me today in the sense that we have a deletion flow in the product where people say I'd like to request a deletion for my account. Um, we had quite a lot in the beginning when we first launch that slowly started to taper off.

And today we actually had the first person saying. I'd like to delete my account because we're signing up for the business accounts now. And, uh, I want to move from personal things. So like the deletion messages, I even changed it now. But if you had to like give up in the first time when we launched and everybody was like, uh, not even using it, not even telling you how to write.

It's like that was the worst part. Like nobody was telling us that we shit, like when, when you're getting the feedback, I think that's really a good signal to start, but I'm still not sure of. When do you feel you have something? If it's, if it should feel easy, I think at this stage, otherwise you've got to keep it around until it.

It is. 

[00:37:59] Farzad Rashidi: [00:38:00] Yeah, I, Andrew, I agree with you on both sides. I think there's gotta be a level of balance. If you're spending five years in a product with a dead end and you still hit a plateau in the revenue and you can grow, maybe start looking for other channels. So obviously there's gotta be some gaps. You can't talk in absolute terms, but the first few years is bound to be difficult.

And I've seen lots of lots of companies that I've personally seen being very successful. Uh, they take some time for that to get that hockey stick momentum. And until you get there, I'm hanging on, hang, hang in there. It does get easier in a sense that you can actually see your results as you make changes.

Uh, but problems, number two. 

[00:38:41] Andrew Michael: Well, cool. Uh, thanks very much for joining. It's been a pleasure having you on the show, uh, for the listeners. We'll definitely make sure to have the details you discussed today in the show notes, um, to check out, uh, what the guys are doing. Interest's been, um, but thanks a lot for, for joining us and wish you best of luck going forward.

[00:38:58] Farzad Rashidi: Thanks for having me on the show


Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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