Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

From Burnout to 10% Monthly Growth in SaaS: An Interview with CEO Mike Inishev

Founder & CEO Mike Inishev shares how we went from burnout, running a service business, to building a SaaS that is growing 10% month on month.

This week, as part of the UserActive Founder Interview series, Peter sits down to interview Mike Inishev, Founder of Boomerangme, a SaaS platform that’s revolutionising loyalty for small businesses.

Mike shares invaluable insights on:

  • Shifting from Service to SaaS: his journey from running a digital agency to building a SaaS solution.
  • The Power of White Labelling: Learn how Boomerangme collaborates with digital marketing agencies to create tailor-made loyalty solutions.
  • AppSumo’s Impact: Discover how Mike leveraged AppSumo to validate his product and rapidly scale.
  • The QR Code Loyalty Revolution: Explore Boomerangme’s QR code-based loyalty program that simplifies customer retention.
  • Bootstrapping Brilliance: Mike’s approach of bootstrapping to achieve remarkable milestones before embarking on his funding journey.

Meet CEO & Founder, Mike Inishev

[00:00:00.330] – Peter

Okay, so I’m here live with Mike Inishev from Boomerangme. Mike, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

[00:00:09.890] – Mike

Yeah, for sure. Peter, first of all, thanks for having me here and yeah, happy to see you today. But before a little bit about me and my background. My name is Mike, I’m 32 years old, father of three kids and I’m building my SaaS company and scale this company in North America market. So in my past for twelve years I ran in and managing my own digital agency with 54 employees and around $2 million in annual recurring revenue.

Transitioning to SaaS: From Service Agency to Innovating Loyalty

[00:00:38.720] – Mike

To be honest with you, totally burned out in the service business and decided to change something in my life around a product company during the COVID Pandemic lockdown. And in 2020 we start building the easiest to use loyalty platform for small local businesses like coffee shops, pizza shops, beauty salons and etc. Because all they are dependent on repeatable visits and to build repeatable business and usually they do not have the easiest to use tools how they can easily retain their existing clients and what we are building actually right now.

[00:01:16.710] – Peter

Okay great. Can you tell us a bit about Boomerangme? What is it, who is it for? What problem does the product solve?

[00:01:23.530] – Mike

So yeah, basically again we help our clients, SMB owners retain their existing clients with easiest to use loyalty platform. We build this tool based on digital loyalty cards for Apple Wallet and Google Pay. It means we do not require to install additional native loyalty apps to get eleven coffee for a free because it’s too complicated way right now to be rewarded. Right? Instead of this you can easily just a couple of times tap on your touch screen and add digital loyalty card in your Apple Wallet. It’s just usually required 2-3 seconds to be onboarded in the loyalty programme.

[00:02:00.920] – Mike

For first two years, we sold this product directly to SMB owners and we realised that it’s little bit complicated because they do not usually strong marketing expertise and do not know how they can properly run marketing campaign loyalty programme for their own business and they usually require us to just challenging their ideas, define a marketing strategy and other things. And this is why we switched from direct sales to SMBs to sell this stuff with white label solution for the digital marketing agencies who already serve local business owners. Right now, we do all our sales from marketing agencies, right?

QR Code Loyalty: Revolutionising Customer Retention

[00:02:44.320] – Peter

So there’s a chain of coffee shops here in Barcelona and they have an app, right? So on the app you can go and get your loyalty points. Every time the customers go that you open the app and you scan the app and you get the points. It sounds like your platform is doing something similar to this but you don’t need an app to do it, you’ll just use the Apple Pay and Google Pay and you have it directly there in your wallet. You have a loyalty card in your wallet, is that right?

[00:03:09.860] – Mike

Yeah, exactly. This is what we’re doing right now. And moreover, we can work standalone. We do not require integration with third party software like point of sale system, CRM system. It means business can run loyalty programme just today, after 15 minutes, after our conversation, it’s the easiest to use tool.

[00:03:30.390] – Peter

So how does the coffee shop actually connect to your technology? How did they set it up so that they have a loyalty card that their users can start using?

[00:03:42.230] – Mike

So look, we have beautiful and easiest to use loyalty card designer with 111 ready-made templates. Anyone can sign up for classical 14 days free trial period and for 15 minutes, set up new loyalty promotion for their business without any problems.

[00:04:00.270] – Peter

Okay, and then how does the customer buying the coffee get the card onto their wallet?

[00:04:08.780] – Mike

Like this. By QR code. They just can yes, of course, scan.

[00:04:11.570] – Peter

It and they get the loyalty card and then they can start getting… Okay, it sounds easy. I really love this concept. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for it. Right? How do you monetise that? Where does your revenue come from? Commission?

[00:04:27.190] – Mike

Sure. We have two main revenue streams. First of all, we charge our clients for access to the platform. It’s a classical subscription way. Usually we charge around $150 per month for access to the platform and also we have some volume based add-ons that you can pay in addition.

[00:04:45.070] – Peter

Okay, so you’ve got a classic subscription based SaaS model, right? Sure. Okay, that sounds cool.

AppSumo Acceleration: Validating and Scaling Success

[00:04:50.960] – Peter

Okay, Mike, can you tell us a bit about your journey so far? Because you were mentioning a bit about how you’ve been fundraising so far and your experience with AppSumo. So do you want to share a bit about that journey for us?

[00:05:05.730] – Mike

Yeah, to be honest with you, I am completely fan of AppSumo because AppSumo helps us to achieve the first paid customers globally and validate our product market fit really quickly. Because we started this product, as I said before, in 2021, two years we operating in our home market in Eastern Europe, but in 2021 we opened a C Corp in Delaware, raised our first pre-seed round for $400K to start Global Scaling. In 2022, we started our AppSumo campaign where we can achieve 1st 3000 paid customers, we sell 3000 licences and we can validate our product market fit on the global market. I think AppSumo, it’s a beautiful way to cut the rope, save the time and validate your business idea, validate your SaaS in the short term instead of trying to catch the first customers one by one manually with your personal efforts. And it’s time consuming.

[00:06:09.190] – Peter

Yeah, yeah. So how has AppSumo helped you grow and build the business?

Amplifying Impact Through Agency Partnerships

[00:06:16.490] – Mike

So look, as I said before, first two years we sell this product directly to SMB owners, to coffee shop owners, beauty salon owners etc.  When we started our campaign on AppSumo, we start receiving many requests from digital agency owners, mostly from North America Market who asked us hey guys, you have a beautiful product and we want to resell this product to our existing clients, to our restaurants, to our coffee shops and etc. So we need to get from you the white label solution and some kind of reseller terms, conditions and options, some kind of revenue share for example, right?

[00:06:59.000] – Mike

We realised that this is an interesting way for us because we can save our time for onboarding, for support, for customer success and just provide the tool like a vendor to digital agencies and they can serve their clients completely on their side. This is actually what we can achieve. It’s the most important thing that we can achieve. We can found the new product, market fit and new channel to grow our business through the digital marketing agencies we quickly add some necessary and required features to our resellers. I think it’s just in one month and we can sell 3000 paid licences and achieve $300K in net revenue after just two month AppSumo campaign.

[00:07:46.550] – Mike

In addition, what I can add, so I believe if you want to start to sell your product in any market, you need to build your market presence right? And achieve the first reviews, testimonials, some medals from G2, Capterra and etc. And we can also achieve this goal from AppSumo campaign because 3000 paid customers, 3000 paid clients we usually ask them to provide review, record the testimonial and we can build our marketing package for the next regular sales. Again, in the short term, just three months. And we completely understand our ideal customer profile. We understand our traction, we understand our marketing and after all, we just start our regular sales.

Team & Revenue Insights

[00:08:32.850] – Peter

Great. Okay Mike, do you have any co founders on this journey? And what kind of team do you have to help you so far?

[00:08:42.950] – Mike

It’s my bad but I am a solo founder. It’s a really struggling way to build a beautiful product. But I realised that I need to find the technical co founder and I invite one guy a couple of years ago I think after one year when we start building our MVP, I invite co founder on 5% of our company shares on stock option and we are working beautiful right now together.

[00:09:11.060] – Peter

Oh great. Okay so you have a technical co founder with a minority stake. What kind of MRR have you gotten to with the Boomerangme?

[00:09:25.350] – Mike

So right now we about 20K in MRR right now and we are growing around 9% to 10% month to month. We plan to achieve 50K by the end of this year to trigger our series A.

[00:09:39.180] – Peter

Great. Awesome. And how are you planning to approach series A? What kind of amount are you looking to raise and how will you approach that journey?

[00:09:50.830] – Mike

So, we trying to raise the money from our networking, basically. And we also have some kind of pipeline from potential investors who are just watching how we’re growing and we are stay in touch with them. We plan to rise from 2 to $3 million with $15 to $20 million dollars valuation. And let’s see how it will work. It’s dependent on how many recurring revenue we can get in the end of this year.

[00:10:21.880] – Peter

Yeah, definitely. Okay, cool. And then what would you say personally for you has been the hardest part of getting Boomerangme to where it is today as a solo founder?

[00:10:36.250] – Mike

It’s making decisions from one head. It’s the most struggling thing for me personally, because if you have a strong co founder close to you, you can challenge on all your ideas with him every time, daily and night. And it’s a beautiful thing to solve this problem. Actually, I found at least five advisors with beautiful products and multiple exits in their past. They helped me to validate my ideas and validate our journey. Actually, with this product, I think advisors can help you if you’re a solo founder, advisors can help you to thinking not in one hand, but in the team. Like in the team, right.

[00:11:25.960] – Peter

Great. Okay. So yeah, that gives you the ability to have a sounding board for your decisions. Also get mentoring from somebody who might have had experience in the area that you’re in or the industry, or the journey that you’re on. So it sounds like advice is a really good way for the solo founder to get what they’re lacking. Right?

[00:11:46.770] – Mike

Yeah, for sure. Because as a founder, everyone I think should thinking outside of the box. And if you are doing all the things on daily basis, you just cannot think from different point of view. And you definitely need the different point of view for your business.

[00:12:03.850] – Peter

Yeah, okay. Just before we go, I wanted to ask, have you bootstrapped this business so far completely to where it is now? Or did you take any initial funding or some kind of angel or seed funding?

[00:12:19.370] – Mike

So look, yes, of course we bootstrapped this product on the first initial stage. And as I said before, I ran in my agency for twelve years and I have some expertise in product development and creating SaaS for the clients. In 2021, I sold my agency and also I have some kind of money at this time and I was the first investor in this project. I invest my own money. I hire two developers to build the first MVP. We can achieve this goal for the first six months, I believe. And after six months, we start selling this product to our first clients.

[00:12:59.610] – Peter

Great. Yeah. Okay, well that’s awesome. It’s great to see how you have all that industry in your service business and we’re able to move and you invest some of that cash to get Boomerangme up and running.

Conclusion & Connect with Mike

[00:13:10.730] – Peter

Hey, Mike, how can people check out the product? And how can they also find out more about you and follow your journey? 

[00:13:17.940] – Mike

For sure. Welcome to subscribe on our YouTube channel, where I am sharing my personal experience and talking about the product benefits, values, new functions, and etc, etc.

[00:13:29.570] – Peter

Okay, awesome. What’s your YouTube? How do we find it?

[00:13:35.670] – Mike

Boomerangme.Cards. You can find in Google search or maybe if you can find it in YouTube, certainly you can do that.

[00:13:45.330] – Peter

Boomerangme.Cards.

[00:13:45.440] – Mike

Yeah, that’s right.

[00:13:46.650] – Peter

Okay, awesome. I’ll check you out on YouTube. That sounds really great.

[00:13:50.320] – Mike

Welcome to subscribe! 

[00:13:53.070] – Peter

Will do. I will do. We have our own channel UserActive, so I’m always keen to see other people that we know, other SaaS founders in the industry with seeing their channels too. Okay. Hey, thanks for joining me, Mike. Really appreciated the chat. Wish you all the best on the journey. I look forward to seeing how Boomerangme grows.

[00:14:06.770] – Mike

Yeah, thanks for having me and good luck. See you.

[00:14:09.560] – Peter

Thank you.

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