Recently I had the opportunity to send some questions over to Sujan Patel. For those that don’t know Sujan, he has quite the rap sheet. Not only has he started several successful businesses including WebProfits and MailShake, but he’s also led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, and Intuit.
As a Managing partner of Norbert, I was curious why he decided to acquire the email finding tool, and what his intentions for growth were in 2018.
Why did he think that this was a smart decision? What could he bring to the table? How did he plan on dealing with threats in what appears to be a competitive space?
I’ve written about finding email addresses in the past and have personally used Norbert to find them in bulk. As a satisfied user, this was part of the reason I reached out in the first place.
Regardless, I was still curious, and luckily Sujan was nice enough to answer some questions.
Interview with Sujan Patel
When were you first introduced to Norbert? Was it immediate in your mind that this was a business you wanted to acquire?
I started using Norbert in 2015 when I was doing outreach for guest posting opportunities for When I Work. We were reaching out to editors at HR blogs and that’s where Norbert came into play. I used it to find the contact information of the blog editors and HR influencers.
Did you actively seek out the founders and approach them with an offer? If not, how did the process work?
I heard from a friend that the founders were interested in selling and that’s how we connected with Cyril & Antoine. I also run another company, called Mailshake that Norbert would work well with. Our customers at Mailshake have been asking for a while about the ability find contact information and now with the acquisition of Voila Norbert.
We also inquired with other email finding tools but decided to go with Norbert as I loved the simplicity of the tool and UX.
What do you believe is the biggest value-add you bring to Norbert? Past experience, vision for the product, etc.?
I’m going to continue to improve and evolve the product. We’ll also be expanding our offering later this year with new functionality and integrations. Mailshake will also use some of Norbert’s email verification & API to add much-needed functionality.
I’m intentionally being vague as we’ve got some cool development in the works and want to do more testing before I reveal too much ☺
What are your plans for growth in 2018? Additional features and integrations available?
We plan to improve the product (based on customer feedback), expand our offering, improve user onboarding and education. There’s a lot to do to improve our user education which will be our main focus for 2018. We’ll grow by making our customers smarter.
What is the most difficult aspect of launching a SaaS business, especially when bootstrapping?
There are many challenges when bootstrapping a SaaS business. Outside of the obvious challenge of limited budget & resources the most difficult thing is user activation. User onboarding and getting people to the “aha moment” is really really hard and is the single most important thing. In my 14 years in marketing, activation has been the biggest thing bottleneck to SaaS companies growth and success.
What has been your largest area of improvement in the past year, and has it affected your bottom line?
There are 2 big things we did this year, first off we improved the speed and accuracy of Norbert by over 6x (with more improvements on their way). The second thing we did was introduce onboarding emails. This helped teach our users how to properly use the product and best leverage its capabilities.
This reduced our churn and improve our conversion rate from free trial to paid customers.
What do you believe to be the biggest threat to Norbert? Churn, competitors, etc.?
Failing to evolve is my biggest concern. I’m not worried about competitors, in fact, I’m friends with some of them (Toofr, Any Email Finder, Find That Lead) and we all have the same problem: keeping up with (and staying ahead) of the ever-evolving marketing and sales landscape.
Do you use Voila Norbert to do outreach for Voila Norbert?
I sure do ☺
I’ve noticed you have recently started blogging. Will this continue to be a part of your marketing strategy?
The blog is a part of our user education initiatives for 2018. Blogging will not only help educate our users but it’ll help increase traffic.
Anything else that we should know about?
If you want any features/functionality added to Norbert or simply need help email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re at all interested in finding emails quickly and easily, I would highly recommend Norbert.
I found it very easy to use and the first 50 emails you collect are free. Next time I have to do some cold outreach, it will be the first place I go.
Thanks again for your time Sujan, I truly appreciate it!