Indie SaaS: CrazyLister

Max and vic with an ebay award

Indie SaaS: CrazyLister

– Maxim Godin, Victor Levitin and Or Poran’s Interview-

Maxim Godin, Victor Levitin and Or Poran are the co-founders of CrazyLister. Indie Digital Brands Found them at Quora’s website where they’ve shared a lot of knowledge about how they built their startup and also gave tremendous advice to those who were looking to do the same as they did and start something from the ground up.

So what’s all about this CrazyLister thing? Well, starting from the beginning, CrazyLister is a SaaS startup that’s currently enabling every seller to create professional, mobile-optimized product pages with zero knowledge in code or design. Prior to founding CrazyLister Maxim and Victor started a successful eBay business which they grew from zero to $4.5M in sales and won several eBay awards for the highest conversion rates. Oh and “by the way”: they’re also the authors of the most popular eBay blog “eBay sellers journey to a $100K”

Sounds amazing right? Well, you’ve got to keep reading to know the rest of the story. Trust me when I say, this is golden…

When Indie Digital Brands reached out to them the co-founders of CrazyLister were amazing and agreed to reply to the questions we had for them. So without any more hype, here it goes:

 

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture and how did it came to life?

After receiving the eBay awards for highest conversion rates in 2013 we received tons on attention from other eBay sellers who asked us to do for them what we did for ourselves, at first we acted as a consultancy firm but very quickly realized that in order to serve thousands of sellers we will need a building full of consultants with our level of expertise which wasn’t scalable so we decided that the only way to scale quickly will be by providing a self-service SaaS solution, few months later the first code lines were written and CrazyLister came to life.

 

Is this your first venture? If not, How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

CrazyLister is actually our second venture. Back in 2008 we started an eBay business. We were both in university and looked to make some additional income to pay our tuition. One day Victor bought a car GPS device on eBay and came up with the idea of selling stuff on eBay. We had zero money to invest, zero expertise in online sales, and zero experience with selling on eBay (I never even bought anything on eBay). The starting point wasn’t promising to say the least but it was more appealing then cleaning tables and washing dishes. We started researching the various ways to sell online without investing any capital upfront and that’s how we learned about dropshipping.

For those of you who don’t know, with dropshipping you do not need to buy any inventory upfront since your supplier is the one who’s handling all logistics and you just act as the middleman between the supplier and the buyer.

The start was slow, we spent a lot of time on research to find profitable products to sell on eBay and then, even more time to find the right suppliers that will be willing to work with two young college guys from tiny Israel. Looking back, the tons of hours spent on research were very valuable to jump starting the business. Once we found several suppliers who were willing to do business with us, we uploaded our first listing on eBay and so the journey to a $100K a month began.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

We made A LOT of mistakes along the way, today’s entrepreneurs are lucky to have so much free and accessible information which we just didn’t have at the time. I will address probably the biggest mistake we’ve made:

Lack of focus – when we began seeing revenue in our business venture we had this urge to expand, we saw opportunities in other sales channels and were sure that if we expand now then we can easily double our profits. The reality was that starting a new sales channel is just like starting a new business, you start from scratch and have to put a lot of effort to develop it.

Once we lost focus in our primary source of income it naturally began declining while our new sales channels wasn’t even starting to pick up. We just didn’t have the resources to expand at that point in time and we didn’t realize that there is a limit to what we can do with our resources, this was a rookie mistake and we learned it the hard way. We make sure to share everything we’ve learned in our blog and the issue of focus comes up more than once in our blogs.

How do you generate new ideas and what would you do if you had to pivot your entire project/idea/business?

We listen to our customers! We use several tools (hotjar, intercom, mailchimp, our eBay doctor Youtube channel) to engage with our customers as much as possible, Victor is actually doing the customer support as we believe that the customer voice is our north star. We want to create the best solution for our customers’ needs and the best way to know what our customers need is to talk to them as much as possible and understand what are their pains, what’s missing, how can we improve, how can we make their lives better.

happy customer feedback(CrazyLister Customer Review)

Can you share some of your ideals that you think have helped you to get to where you are?

It’s not about a specific idea rather than a mindset, our mindset was to always grow, we never settled for what we achieved, and we keep on doing this today with CrazyLister, we constantly improve the software and build better user experience to delight our customers. Creating a startup is a grind, the easiest thing is to give up and the hardest thing is to keep going no matter what obstacles you face. Even today we are only at the start of our journey with CrazyLister, it’s still a small startup and there is a long path ahead.

Creating a startup is a grind, the easiest thing is to give up and the hardest thing is to keep going no matter what obstacles you face. Even today we are only at the start of our journey with CrazyLister, it’s still a small startup and there is a long path ahead.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern/formula/requirement to becoming a successful entrepreneur from the experience you’ve gathered in your journey and are you a part of your own definition of success?

I believe that two of the points I’ve mentioned above are critical to success:

1.       Focus

2.       Not giving up

Not giving up is as much about commitment as it is about belief in your abilities, combine those two and you can call yourself an entrepreneur.

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

It’s definitely the excitement of creating something that people actually need and benefit from. It’s so rewarding when customers send thank you messages, these are the things that keep us motivated.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most (or look up to)?

I love how Buffer has grown as a company, they are not a hyper growing company like Uber or Airbnb and they didn’t raise hundreds of millions but that’s exactly what I love about them, despite all of that they built a great solution that people need and benefit from and although there is a lot of competition around they are constantly at the top of their industry.

Their content marketing strategy is very impressive, very high-value content for marketers (Kevan Lee is building an awesome community for Buffer). I also believe in their philosophy and company values, their focus on customer support is one of the most important activities a company should engage in and it should be done from top to bottom.

 

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time and how do you manage to balance that time?

Each of us has his own hobbies but I think that the most impressive is Or’s cooking abilities, he is a real master in the kitchen and produces amazing foods which we get to taste from time to time.

Here are a few examples (if you’ve read this far, you deserve them):

or cooks or cooks 5

 

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become entrepreneurs?

The most honest advice I would give is just one: JUST DO IT.

And yes, I know it can come across as “oh it’s easy for him to say cause he’s done it” but that’s exactly the reason I’m saying this until you do it you never know.

I’m not saying to jump into something without doing your research, but if you really believe that you’re on to something and have done your research and believe that you can create something minimal and throw it to the market just to see the reactions then you should just do it.

Max is ebay doctor

If you’re curious about more of what CrazyLister Saas Startup is, what it can do for you or you want to follow along on their journey, make sure you check out their journey on their blog and youtube channel. Information like this is very valuable to pass on and you should definitely keep a close eye on it, we know we will! 

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Startup Success: Ryan Leavitt’s Interview

yeti-maids
Yeti Maids

Startup Success Story: Interview with Ryan Leavitt

After several entrepreneurial startups, Ryan Leavitt has found success in his newest startup, a cleaning business called Yeti Maids. He just launched the business a few weeks ago but has already gained ten new clients and fifteen bookings. In this interview about his various startups, he talks about the importance of finding your focus.

What ignited the spark in you to take on a new business startup, and how did it come to life?

Since I learned about online business in 2008 from a friend of mine in the Marine Corps, I got really excited about the whole idea of startups and just dug in and learned as much about it as I could. I would stay awake at night just reading and reading anything I could get my hands on. I am one to act on my thoughts pretty quickly, so I decided to have a test site built where I could map out all of the bike trails on “Marine Corps Base Quantico.” Knowing nothing about how to get a site up online, I paid a freelancer I found on freelancer.com from India who only charged me $75. As I was adding stuff to the site and showing some of my friends, they asked me what I would charge to build them one. I told them I didn’t build it and suggested to get it done on freelancer. After a few people approached me, I decided to sell the site for $300 and then pay my contact to build it.

I did this the entire time I was in the Marines, and I also built out some small niche sites where I learned how to do SEO.

When I left the Marines in 2008, I had about a year left of college to complete my marketing degree, so although I hated school, I decided to finish.

Since my first client, I’ve been building out sites and providing SEO marketing services to customers. It wasn’t until this year that I’d dealt with some fraud from some of my customers. They’d waited until after they’d received the marketing to report it to their banks as fraud. I was fed up working with clients and decided to build a business and do the marketing for myself rather than for others.

That’s how Yeti Maids came to life.

Is this your first startup? If not, how long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

No, my first business startup was in 2006-2008, when a friend of mine and I went into business together building small utility trailers commonly used to carry four wheelers in our area. Things were going well with that business until all of the companies buying our trailers went belly-up after the 2008 economic crash.

In 2013 I started a cleaning business in Utah, where I was doing all the cleaning myself. I cleaned residential and commercial properties and was able to grow the business pretty quickly. My biggest success was contracting the college housing, doing all the move in/out cleanings. When dealing with a big institution like this, a lot more work is required to get the job than would be invested in your average customer. After a year of this, I got burned out and decided to sell the business.

In 2014 I started a pest control business, because I liked the idea of easier work and better margins. I built this up to about sixty clients over the summer of 2014, but things died down in the winter months due to the lack of bug activity. During these months, I went through a divorce and moved from a small town in Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada in hopes of better opportunities.

So I guess you could say when my interest dies or the business model has proven unmanageable, I move on.

What are some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

When my first business closed in 2008, I was 20 years old, and it was one of the lowest points of my life. I went from a business owner to a shelf stocker at Walmart, and I didn’t understand that many things come into play when it comes to business and the economy, so I felt that I must have done something wrong. A few years later, I learned that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but the only way you have a chance is if you keep trying.

How do you generate new ideas, and what would you do if you had to pivot your entire project/idea/business?

My brain is constantly thinking of different ideas for business, which can be a bad thing. I find it hard to sleep at night, because I can’t turn it off. There is always a better way to do things. Take my cleaning business, for example; if I’d known about Rohan Style, I would have been able to shift the business, so I could focus on what I love doing, which is the marketing, rather than the cleaning

Can you share some personal ideals you think have helped you get where you are?

Honestly, I think my work ethic is my key to success. I’m addicted to work, and I can’t sit still for very long. At the time of my first startup, I worked three jobs, seven days a week for a year to save up enough money to get it going.

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern/formula/requirement to becoming a successful entrepreneur from the experience you’ve gathered in your journey? Are you a part of your own definition of success?

Yes and no. I think choosing the right focus is the primary requirement. When I had my first cleaning business, I hated doing the cleaning. It was such exhausting, unfulfilling work that sometimes when the phone would ring, I wouldn’t answer it, because I didn’t want to take on any more customers. While I had this business, a friend of mine started a tour company. Three years later, it’s still going. He’s doing amazing and has really grown his fleet, and it’s because he found something that he loves doing.

Now that I’ve changed the focus of my business to ensure that I’m not killing myself doing things I hate doing, work brings a ton of joy to my life.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

No job has ever brought me as much happiness or pride as taking a startup business from scratch and growing it with a cult following.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?

I used to say the fear of failure, but I’ve been there and done that already. Now I’d say that I fear I’ll work too much and not focus enough on my wife and kids – Ashley, Jude, and Ayden. I have to work on this every day and make it a point to shut everything else out when it’s family time.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Andrew Warner from Mixergy. He has a way of communicating with people that I just love.

What book has inspired you the most? What books do you think are “must-reads” for entrepreneurs?

I know this is like the entrepreneur rule to read books, but I’ve learned way more from blog posts online and listening to podcasts than any book I’ve ever read. A few blogs and podcasts:

Mixergy (Andrew Warner)

Starting from Nothing (Foundation Podcast)

Smart Passive Income (Pat Flynn)

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Drip Apps, they are an SEO teaching company. They offer software products for SEO, as well as material to help you keep up with the ever-changing SEO game. I know everyone lists companies like Amazon and Zappos, but honestly I have not worked with them much. But with Drip Apps they are definitely all about the customer. It’s never good to have a problem, but after I did, I respected them a lot more because of how they handled it.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time, and how do you manage to balance that time?

Camping is one of my favorite pastimes, but my family and I have not been out in a good while. We have a lot of fun trips planned for this summer, and I’m really excited about it.

What three pieces of advice would you give anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur?

Start, fail, adjust.

If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

One thing I wish more interviewers would ask is how much entrepreneurs invested in their startup to get it off the ground. In my case, it was only a few hundred dollars, and I am just rolling all profits back into advertising right now.

References:

Yeti Maids

Freelancer

Mixergy

Starting From Nothing

Smart Passive Income

Drip Apps

 

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