We are starting the AMA series for this telegram group.
Where almost twice or thrice a week, we'll invite a special guest for 'Ask Me Anything' session to share insights about their journey or about a specific theme.
We are kickstarting our first AMA with Yash Shah, Co-Founder, ClientJoy.
Clientjoy offers Client Life-Cycle Management Software for Freelancers & Agencies to manage Leads, Proposals, Projects, Support, Invoicing & Revenues.
It will be held today from 3 pm to 4 pm.
You can ask any questions to Yash about building a global SaaS business, Funding, Growth etc.
You can start asking it right away or join from 3 to 4, when he'll be live with us to answer Questions :-)
Jatin: Welcome everyone for today's AMA session with Yash, Co-Founder, ClientJoy
Yash: Sir, yes sir! Delighted to be here. Thank you for having me :)
Jatin: @All - You'll get many notifications for the next 1 Hour for this AMA conversation.
You can ask any questions to Yash and also I'll ask many questions to him.
Jatin: How's life after almost a million-dollar fund raise? :-)
Yash: Its more resources that have come in with even more responsibilities.
More resources to experiment with.. higher tolerance to mistakes.. but things that we get right have to absolutely be winners..
Company has become more structured.. team has become more aligned.. targets are set!
Jatin: You recently rebranded from Gridle to ClientJoy after many years of starting Gridle.
Why that? And what are the things you have to take care of in that process? Challenges?
Yash: Couple of reasons for that:
1. Gridle was often misspelled not just by our potential customers but even by closely held stakeholders. @sahilshah080193 made us realize that. Was his first order of business when we decided to join hands.
2. Clientjoy has a better ring to the name and expresses what we do a lot better.
More on this here --> https://www.clientjoy.io/company-updates/gridle-is-now-clientjoy/
The biggest challenge has been changing the name in my own head.. Even now, in meetings, I refer to Clientjoy as Gridle and the team corrects me :-)
Some others have been changing the name in all assets.. review pages, telling our customers, etc.. also, somehow, people assumed we shut down Gridle and started Clientjoy as 2nd startup.. so, explaining this everywhere also was a little difficult.
Jatin: There is a lot of discussion about building pure-play SaaS product and/or doing some managed services also. You've been thru multiple cycles.
What's your take on that? And what is the way forward for ClientJoy?
Yash: Managed Services (Solutions as we called it) is a great way to generate immediate cash and a lot of it. There is no dearth of market, less competition and every customer that you add, with their requirements and customisations; makes your product stronger thereby increasing the entry barrier for the next competitor. However, it is not scalable. More customers, larger team and the complexity that comes along with it.
Pure-play SaaS wont give immediate cash but has much higher value in eyes of the market. Smaller team, focused work and the simplicity of it all. The ability to make money while you sleep.
For example, when we raised funds from GVFL, we got 2.5X multiple on our last fiscal revenue of Solutions (managed services) and 12X multuple on our last fiscal revenue of Subsciptions (pure-play SaaS). However, the solution revenue was higher at the time than Subscription revenue but got in less value. So, it's all about what are the focus areas for the business.
For Clientjoy, the future is Subscriptions (Pure-play SaaS). We stopped Solutions a month or two ago.
Jatin: One of the key themes is about Building a Global SaaS business from India.
How did you get initial global customers? How do you get them to trust you? What are your growth strategies for scaling up globally?
Yash: What worked for us was to approach Global customers through a platform that they already trust. We went to the Pitchground & AppSumo route. Global customers already trust these 2 platforms and once they are in the ecosystem, our support, releases and feedback mechanism sustains the trust. Then, it is about getting them to write reviews, make referrals etc.
Facebook Groups is another big avenue where a lot of our customers hang around. We reach out to admins and work on programs/partnerships with them.
About Growth strategies for scaling up Globally, honestly, we don't have it completely figured out yet. Just building funnels and making efforts. When I do have a very specific answer to that question, we'll do an AMA again :-)
Jatin: Also, Yash we missed out on one thing.
What will the reward you'll give to the person who will ask the best question today :-)
Yash: hmm.. Couple of options:
1. If they are running an agency, Clientjoy Life Time Subscription to whichever plan they want for Free.
2. If they are into Digital Marketing, Linkjoy Life Time Subscription to whichever plan they want for free. Or,
3. INR 500 Amazon voucher. Can't go wrong with that.
Krishna: How do you stay in touch with your customers/market? Do you need an international marketing team?
Yash: We run a community that has about 550 Agency owners who are also our customers. It's here --> https://www.facebook.com/groups/clientjoy
This is where you'll see all of our team, folks who are our users as well like Keyur and a couple others.. these people willify us, praise us, report bugs, ask for features and generally reach out.. It's my happy place!
We have more than 1900 customers.. only 550 have chosen to join and give feedback but that is a healthy representation, I believe. Still, @sahilshah080193 and I get on calls and ask interesting questions there..
Boni: How was your overall experience with pitchground/ appsumo?
Will you recommend it to every SAAS company?
Yash: If your focus in the early stages is to get feedback on your work, as I think it should be, one should definitely go with Pitchground and AppSumo. However, their users are mainly agency owners and small businesses. If that is your target, do not even think about it. Just do it. The people you get from there are going to be ridiculously demanding, very vocal and super entitled. It will be the most hectic experiences on customer support. You should pass through it for sure.
However, if you are a high ticket vertical saas that is not targetting Agency Owners, I'd not recommend.
Boni: Great to see the way you guys have grown - truly an inspiration.
Prakshal: Your biggest breakthrough and breakdown in building team?
Yash: BreakThrough - 3 out of 5 people in our Leadership team were interns with us. They've stuck with us; rather, made Clientjoy their own.
BreakDown - Nothing as such! It's still difficult to find the right talent; but that's not because there is dearth of talent. I'd attribute it to our inability to find and attract them.
Prakshal: Amazing ... Thanks Yash ! And your best learnings from team building that you would like to share.
Yash: Couple of things -
1. Make bets on people. Which means, recruit them for who they could become rather than who they are right now.
2. Give them ownership. Do not willify failure. Encourage it.
3. Reward results and not efforts.
4. Coach them instead of managing.
5. Accept when you are wrong and make a big deal about it.
6. Ask your team to challenge you on your assumptions.
7. Teach them something that is out of their area of expertise. Teach Google Analytics to Engineers and Product Management to Graphic Designers.
One thing that I regret that I have not been able to do and Shashwat and @sahilshah080193 from our team are somehow able to manage is to be friends with your team members still stay strict. That is out of my wheelhouse. Trying to learn though.
Prakshal: These are great takeaways for me. Thanks for sharing Yash !.
Regarding befriending team, i think it creates attachment. And attachments are like two sided swords for an organisation:)
Malav Warke: Hey, Yash initially you have lifetime offer for a client, how does that math add up in terms of the long term expenses for those accounts, did you guys had some prior data to backup your pricing for lifetime offer or sort off getting customers and offer them lifetime value instead of spending in marketing? How does that all add up can you brief me about that and what do you suggest?
Yash: It does not add up. We start making a loss on that account from month 8 for Clientjoy. The goal however was not to acquire those life-time users for profit. It was to get a large number of users using the product and giving us feedback; being vocal about it and sharing about it in different places.
Nirav Shah: How much did the rebranding help in communicating your vision to your audience? Also when do you think is a rebrand needed ?
Yash: It din't help as such. It just covered the pot holes we had in our previous name and branding.
We are not that big that our branding would communicate vision to our customers like AirBnB or Uber. So, even if you see our logo, it's a simple C in a circle. We just wanted a better name. That's it; because we were losing potential customers since they would type our name incorrectly and would be taken some place else by Google.
I firmly believe that Vision is over rated. It is arguable and a longer debate. But I think in early stages, like we are in, our goal is to offer 5X more value than our pricing. That's it.
Malav Warke: For early-stage funding did you guys had launch already and had some traction and revenue and then approached the investor or before that, and if it's prior the one then how did you guys managed financially up till the point of funding?
Yash: We just had a small prototype when we raised our first round of 10L from CIIE. We were a part of their iAccelerator batch, now innocity. We managed funds by participating in Bplan competitions in different places and ranking in top 3. We participated in 14 competitions and came in top 3 in 9 of them which took the total cash prize to 4.5L. These competitions included, at that time, MSFT Bizspark, IIM-A Master plan, IIM-B (I am forgetting) and Eureka - IIT-B.
Nadeem Jafri: Hi Everyone I am Nadeem - I own a retail chain Hearty Mart. I am a startup mentor in franchising and marketing communications domain. My question to Yash Shah is - when you rebranded from Gridle to Clientjoy. - was it just a name change or you brought in new dimensions to your work ethos and added few more features to your product?
Yash: Just the name (and logo) change. We add features all the time. Religiously every 3 weeks we release. It was just a course correction exercise.
More information on releases here --> https://updates.clientjoy.io/ (We started logging them from Nov 2019.
Malav Warke: which are your top 5 channels that fuel the growth?
Yash: 1. Fb Ads
2. Review Platform (TP, Capterra, Google)
3. Blogs written on Webinars that we do for agencies
SEO & Website upgradation is an ongoing activity.
Here's our funnel -
4. Action (Sign up)
Different activities play different roles are different parts of the funnel.
Malav: can you elaborate on referrals? means, are you having other agencies refer you for commission or tapafiliate or that kind of platform you are using or have affiliate marketers associate or means what tactics are you using for referrals?
Yash: We are using first promoter to manage our affiliates. More on this here --> https://www.clientjoy.io/affiliates/
It calculates everything that needs to be calculated. Manages links. Helps us run an affiliate onboarding program. The whole 9 yards.
Nirav Shah: what kind of processes you had to introduce for scale and speed to market?
Yash: I am currently building processes. Change management is proving to be difficult. Here are some things we did:
1. Unifying the tool stack across the company. Ours is MSFT Teams and Infinity.
2. Defining KPIs & KRAs (Still on-going)
3. Creating processes and making sure everyone adheres to it. Turns out people and sheep are very different. You just cannot ask really good talent to follow pre-defined steps. So, I am trying to find a way out.
To answer your question, I don't have it at the moment. We are on a journey of getting it done.
Also, to be honest, we haven't yet scaled. We are looking to get to 100K Agencies. We are at 1900. Which is less than 2% of our internal goal.
Malav Warke: to manage LTV > CAC what are the steps you are taking, or not currently focusing on that, if yes then what are your steps that you are taking, can you please elaborate on that
Yash: Our CAC is ~ $250 and ARPA is ~$74 and COPS is ~$19. This means, we are already recovering our CAC in less than 5 months. Post that, its $55 profit PA. We need to make sure that a subscriber stays with us for at least 5 months and we are good.
With our churn being a little less than 2%/mo, we are already there. We never really took care of it. If one has to take care of LTV > CAC, I'd recommend them to rediscover their pricing or value.
Jatin: You've raised funds from multiple types of investors. What's the difference in terms of your pitch to them and the value they bring to the table for you.
And what would you advise other founders who are planning to raise funds?
Yash: The difference in pitching is not a function of stage but a function of the investor. If the investor (Angel, group or VC), is conservative and aligns with your goals, you may want to focus more on profitability. If the investor is aggressive, you may want to focus more on Growth.
But the plans should not change basis the investor. The goal is to be able to position the company as both growth/profit oriented basis the same plan.
Yash: Please let me know if I have missed out on any questions! Not the best at typing.. :-)
Malav Warke: ...to acquire foreign clients, initially, you started with app sumo and Facebook group to get started but later/now to acquire them do you guys have an inside sales team or an offline presence or traffic comes from SEO and other channels?
Yash: We do not have an inside sales team. We have a customer success team that comes in after "Action" part of our funnel. Their job is, while supporting the customer, make them realise value of our Product; do demos if required and close them.
Having an inside sales team for Low Ticket Vertical SaaS is a crime!
Malav: ok got it, so your growth channel and marketing funnels are driving the clients for you and customer success are leveraging them
Yash: I couldn't have said it better than this!
Jatin: According to you, which question you liked the most which will win the reward from you? :-)
Yash: I think Prakshal's question about breakthroughs and breakdowns in Team was a good one.
Jatin: Prakshal - You can choose your reward from the above options :-)
Prakshal: Yash I am not that much aware of your products. Pl guide. we are a social enterprise working on the environment.
Yash: In that case, Amazon Gift Voucher it is. Please DM your email ID.
Prakshal: I am keen to explore ur products, not amazon.
Jatin: Prakshal - You can pick up a LinkJoy subscription.
Check this video: https://youtu.be/1qtAFU6FEkc
Prakshal: Thanks @JatinChaudhary10 for the suggestion. Linkjoy is certainly worth trying. Will pick that :smiley:
Malav Warke: ...and are your fb ads are like lead generation forms from there you collect details and then reach out to them through emails and calls and then demos and webinar and then convert them or FB ads are to drive website traffic or any other.
Yash: No calls.. only emails.. they receive 'lead-nurture' emails from us getting them to relevant landing pages.. once they sign up on the product, marketing is out of the picture..
Malav: thanks yash bhai it was great, thanks for your answers.
Yash: Absolutely.. would love to do a separate session on lead generation for SaaS.. both @sahilshah080193 (Our Chief of Growth) and I can join in and we can go step by step :smile:
Yash: Alrighty then.. It was amazing answering all the questions!! Thank you for making it a good AMA.. DM me in case you are looking for any clarifications..
Nachiket Patel: Yash above AMA is gold. Such insights you cannot get easily. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate today.
Nikita Maheswari: This is brilliant :sparkles: Not from the industry, but some of the insights are very retable! :) @Jatin thanks for organizing.
Sanjaykumar Patel: Nice open discussion and learning for many.