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From Ukraine With Love, Oleg Bilozor Shares How He Launched Fast

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Branding Tips you'll learn on this episode of The Sales Podcast

  • Wanted to make real money so he became a programmer and left Ukraine to come to North America
  • Started in Vancouver in 2009
  • With English as his second language, it was hard
  • He was stressed making phone calls on interviews as a programmer
  • Dreamt of coming to America since he was a teenager

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  • Was probably over-thinking things a bit
  • Was frustrated with the poor state of crime, healthcare, and government in Ukraine
  • It was "too easy" to find a programming job online so he wanted to come to North America and get hired in person
  • Nobody would hire him
  • He made a fake job post on Craigslist
  • He got 50 resumes from experienced people
  • This showed him how competitive it was
  • Got hired by going to networking events in person while he was going to school
Be transparent about your pricing."
  • Worked for someone else for about four years
  • He started building his own company on the side as he was saving money at his full-time job
  • He hired programmers in Ukraine to code for him on his own project
  • Took a year to build it then six months to get up to an $8k MRR so he could quit and go full time on his own business
  • He spent a lot of time learning marketing while he was learning to program
  • SEO, content, etc. as well as Google Ads
  • His first company was an idea of his business partner

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  • But it was a fad/niche that faded quickly
  • They couldn't grow their business after a certain point due to the decline in the market
  • Put it on autopilot to find a new idea, which took about a year
  • Lots of ups and downs being an entrepreneur
  • Created a list of 10 things he wanted to do if he was independently wealthy
  • B2B sales were on his list and he was interested in it
  • Which one has good financial potential?
  • For nine months he immersed himself into the B2B sales space
  • Did some outbound sales for a friend of his who was also a developer
  • He built what he wanted for himself and saw the need and saw little competition
  • Took four months to develop Reply.io
  • Go fast. Make the "minimum viable product" to make the first sale. (Took him just four months.)
  • Then nine months to polish it
  • Found the early-adopters to buy his beta software
  • Spent time on Q&A platforms like Quora
  • Sold at a big discount at first
  • Hired a developer right away to go full-time into production
  • He moved back to Ukraine to cut costs
  • He would call and do his demos at night since he was selling into the United States
  • Once he got to $10k MRR he hired a sales rep in Toronto
  • He was looking for a VP of Sales at the lowest compensation possible and offered an ownership stake in the business
  • He wants to build a global company
  • He was spending three months in the U.S. but he didn't need to be here but came to meet customers, attend conferences, and meet with investors
  • A multi-channel platform for marketing and messaging
  • Can be standalone but it is usually used to augment your CRM
  • Be transparent about your pricing

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Oleg Campbell GMT20210316-171317_Wes-Schaef.m4a: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Oleg Campbell GMT20210316-171317_Wes-Schaef.m4a: this m4a audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oleg Campbell all the way from The Ukraine; founder of Reply.io. Welcome to The Sales Podcast, man. How the heck are you?

Oleg Campbell:
Hey, Wes. Thanks for having me.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how does a Ukrainian go to San Francisco, then Canada, then back, and create a sales tool for LinkedIn? That's a circuitous route.

Oleg Campbell:
That's a good question, and I think I have a long answer for it. So I'll try to be brief, if you don't mind, so I'll tell a bit of my story.

Wes Schaeffer:
I started my career as a programmer. I liked a lot of programming from childhood, and basically I start -- again, I started working as a programmer at 19 in Ukraine, but I kind of know that I always want to go to North America and work as a programmer in North America. That's where all the technologies are, and somehow I heard that you can make a lot of money. So I had this dream go to America and work as a programmer and make real money.

Wes Schaeffer:
Nice.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. And I think when I had like two years of experience as a programmer, I thought, I'm good enough, so I'm ready to go to the United States, make a lot of money. And basically I started kind of finding the ways how to get to the United States, this dreamland.

And basically I ended up again going, I found it's much, much easier to go to Canada and there was some opportunities to get work visa, to get a visa. So I ended up going to Canada actually first, and I spent four years in Vancouver; even immigrated to Canada. And at the time, basically, once I arrived to Canada, I found a job as a programmer. It was not easy to do, especially I arrived to Canada at the year of 2009 where there was a crisis, but I managed to find a job. At the same time when I was looking for a job and working as a programmer in Canada, I want to do business; I want to have -- create my own startup. And basically at the time I started going to different entrepreneurial events and try to get myself familiar with entrepreneurship, with business and at one of these events and met my future co-founder of my first business; basically started this adventure in the business.

Wes Schaeffer:
Dang. So how good was your English when you came over to Canada?

Oleg Campbell:
That's a good question. I think everyone who comes to Canada or to America when they come, they think their English is good. They come to realize it's not quite good. I mean, it was good for some type of conversation, but definitely it was hard to communicate, hard to communicate over the phone, and hard to do simple basic stuff. I think my English was okay, but usually, again, I need to tell something a few times until someone understand me or basically -- and I remember for the first two years making the phone call, it was a stress. It was a stress; could be many times I picked up the phone and I can't understand what they want from me or the person can't understood me.

Wes Schaeffer:
So why why were you making phone calls if you were a computer programmer? Was this to to try to sell your own business or was you doing other work?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. Initially phone calls was for interviews when I wanted to find a job as a programmer. So that's first. But then after just dealing with things like banking and just regular calls like call from bank, call to bank, all these regular calls.

Wes Schaeffer:
Exactly. And so in computer programming, is it -- are the languages universal, right? I mean, I know, like with the Cyrillic alphabet, I mean, it's different than what we use right over in North America and the rest of Europe. But are you -- like, if you learn Python or whatever, do the Chinese and Ukrainians and Americans, do you code the same way?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, right. So we code the same way, so it's very universal. Moreover again, most of the programmers, we can read, they can read in English. And basically all the materials, a lot of educational materials are in English. So usually programmers can do that. That's why, again, you see all this tech people all over the world, it's more important because it's universal.

Wes Schaeffer:
Now, because it's programming, I mean, I've hired -- I had an editor, a guy did the digital version of my second book, and he was in the Ukraine -- or I'm sorry, he was in Romania, so nearby. Did you want the experience of working in North America or can you get paid more so you want to come over here? Like, what propelled you to come over?

Oleg Campbell:
I think at this time, I was kind of a dream. I don't know. I just had this dream from the age of like 15 or 16. But I think for the most of people, it could be higher paid, but I believe nowadays maybe it was different pay in five years ago, 10 years ago. Right now, with all these remote more job possibilities, you can actually get paid to see -- in India, for example, or Philippines, you can get paid the same amount of money that you paid in U.S., but the cost of living in India or the Philippines few times or significantly lower. You actually can make more money at the end of the day. So I think it's a few reasons. And first reason, again, if you work at some top tech companies, Google, Apple or Facebook, you'll get this ability to work in this huge company.

And certainly I think a lot of people would come for the security that these developed countries can provide that some other countries can't. And I think it's -- I think you brought up a really interesting question. So I believe initially I went to Canada for the security; but once I got the security, I look again and -- again, I got the security, I think I started looking more for opportunities, and this interested me more right now.

And I believe world become more horizontal. So people, especially with remote work, with Internet, have basically -- it's at your level of life less depend on where you are based, but more depend if you have this professional way to work online. But it's more depends basically on your skills. So some people in certain world countries could make more money than people in North America because just -- good programmers, for example.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. When you say security, what do you mean. Just like job security, or was it easier to get hired in Canada?

Oleg Campbell:
Security -- I think security at that point was -- and I don't know; I think I was overthinking a bit just everything. Another thing I wanted to see a country where everything is right. I mean, now I understand that even in the United States, not everything's right. But at this point, again, in my country, in Ukraine, you see a lot of things just done poorly; government run poorly, like everything is corrupted, bad police, bad medical system and all the -- basically everything is super-old. So basically security in terms of better protections, less crime, etc. But I think it's all very subjective right now as I look at to this right now.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. So you did you have a job when you went to Canada or did you just show up and start looking?

Oleg Campbell:
No, I show up and start looking. Actually, there was one of my challenges. I didn't want to find a job as a programmer remotely. That would be too easy. So I wanted to come to Canada and find my way. So that's what I did.

Wes Schaeffer:
Nice. So I guess there's channels you have to go through. You have to apply for a work visa and all that.

Oleg Campbell:
I think basically I got a work visa right away. So there was a program. And it's not the reason why I went to Canada because they would -- work and study. So basically you could apply to college. It's just language school, basically, and you'll receive a permit to work as well as student permit to use this program, as opposed to your study for three months and work for three months or at the beginning. So basically, I have that. And how I found the job actually is interesting story as well. Since I was sending rÈsumÈs, no one was responding. And then I decided to make a fake job post on Craigslist to see the demand to test the water. And in one day to this fake job post -- I pretended that I'm hiring someone in the health company -- I got around 50 rÈsumÈs from different -- from experienced people, like, has 10 and 15 years in programming from all over Canada and us.

So basically I realized that I will not be able to find a job with such a high competition to send just rÈsumÈs. So my way to find job was to go to all possible networking events to practice my English, make connections, and eventually I found a job through some -- through this networking events.

Wes Schaeffer:
Interesting. So you ran the ad just to see -- I mean, you know what? I'd say it's probably gotten worse, right? This was 2009?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. I always tell people it's I mean, just sitting around sitting, emailing your rÈsumÈ out, it's like, good luck with that.

Oleg Campbell:
Crazy, yeah. And there is no networking events right now, stuff.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. So just good old face to face. So how long did it take you to get a job?

Oleg Campbell:
Let's see. I think maybe one and a half months, something like that; I think up to two months. Yeah. But again, at the same time I need to go to school, so that was taking some time. I think in the first -- I think probably month second I was able to find a job.

Yeah, but again, how I found it, I think it can be good for someone who need a job. So I found it in a very small company. So basically it was a British company and there were basically -- it's a much, much easier interview process and basically they just needed someone and and it was a programmer who just took me because I didn't take much for pay and I just show up, just met them on a networking event. So again, if you apply for a job, you may start again from some smaller companies. That could be a possibility and just easy entry-level.

Wes Schaeffer:
How does somebody hire a computer programmer? What's the test? Do they give you a test? Do they say, "Here, go code something"?

Oleg Campbell:
Good question. So usually they would do an interview first, ask what you've worked on. Second, would ask you some technical questions based on technologies you work with, and they may give you a test task. And I remember one of the interviews, they give me a test task and actually I basically passed this interview because I did want to give me that task the same day I kind of did this test task and send them back. And basically they appreciated that I did it right away and did well, so they give me job offer.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very cool. So how long were you working for someone else before you started working on Reply.io? Because you've had this company now almost seven years, right, go back to 2014?

Oleg Campbell:
That's correct. I think I worked for someone around four years, but maybe it could be another two for someone who want to start a company. On my last job, so when I was working in Canada, I started building company while I was working full-time after the job. So how this happened -- I realized I was saving money and I really got to ask myself, why am I saving money? And the answer was to start a business. And then I thought, oh, why can't I do it right away with just -- with this money that I received monthly?

So what I did was while I was working full-time as a programmer in Canada for the high pay, I was basically taking part of the salary and paying someone in Ukraine to work full-time on my project. And at night I was kind of -- because a different time zone, at night, I was managing this like programmer in Ukraine to build a product. And basically that's what I called for at the beginning. It was just a limited investment. So as far as I work, I could support building my product.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very nice. Pretty savvy there. So you knew what you wanted; you just didn't have all the time in the world, so made sure that they got it done for you. That's cool. So how long did you use someone else -- you know, how long before you could go out on your own?

Oleg Campbell:
I think, again, it's stakes for both my company -- the second company. First one was called TAGO; it was system for creating and tracking QR codes; basically, it's -- for bus companies. Took around a year to get the businesses going. Usually it takes around a year, sometimes can be nine months to basically to build products that are ready for public.

And so basically it took me one year to build this product and as well another six months, I believe, until we got to around after the launch to around 48K in a month for revenue. So it was enough for me to -- so I was able to leave a job. Again, $8K, it's not big money, but it was enough for three people just to live.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how did you get your first customers?

Oleg Campbell:
Good question. So for the first business, I think a lot of people want to start business as basically -- some of them spend a lot of time on marketing. So basically, when I started doing business, I spent a lot of time learning. Marketing is the same I was learning programming before. So when the time came to launch my first business, I used marketing skills that I learned before. So I did SEO and created some content, link building, all that stuff; and second, I did, like, Google Ads. So as well, I had some -- I was invested. It was not a lot of money, maybe a few hundred dollars I was invested in Google Ads.

And magically, I think search thing is just luck or -- as well understanding that we made the right move. So we built QR code management system in a year, which QR codes become very popular in North America. And basically we made a presence on Google. If someone was searching for QR code management software, they either would see our website from organic search or our ad. They basically would go to the website, sign up for trial, and use product.

So some of thought since I was a programmer, we didn't have sales team; no one even calling us. So they would go and buy product. But as well, again, we had a phone number on our website and I remember I was working my day job and they had someone calling me, saying, hey, I just paid for TAGO. And there was two things that shocked me at the time. Someone basically wanted to pay for our software. And second, as someone called it by name. The name we just came up with, had not existed before.

So I was -- I was so happy. So we had some problems with payment, but we went -- get the statements. So basically we were just getting a lot of -- not a lot of -- but we were getting inbound traffic that would be buying our software. And funny enough, we had vendors, came to us through, like, just Google search and actually become our customers, just signing up right from the website.

Wes Schaeffer:
So that's cool. How did you decide what to build? So you've launched a couple of companies now. How do you look around and go, okay, that's a problem that needs to be solved?

Oleg Campbell:
Okay. I think it's the most learning I can find. Basically -- I can share. When I was looking for my second business idea, which is Reply, so basically we struggle; that was idea of my business partners. Basically somehow he saw that -- he's been to China. But he's so worried that in China, QR codes are very popular everywhere, and he noticed that QR codes appearing in Canada. So he said, hey, it may be a big thing, let's build something.

And so we build it around QR codes. But the problem is that it was become a big thing only for a year and then tracking went down. And we may create like inventory system; again, there's still some usage of QR codes, but it's very niche-specific. And at the time I decided I was not interested to build an inventory system. It's sounded a bit boring to me. So I was looking since I've seen this basically TAGO, what's happened, it's reached its levels, reached like 10,000 in monthly revenue, $10,000 a month revenue, and we're not able to grow it farther. So we would invest more in marketing, in Asia, but it was just not growing. We even wanted to hire salesman to help us sell; we don't know who to hire and what this person should do, who to sell.

So basically I spend after -- I spend on TAGO around three years trying to, first year, build; in second or third year, trying to grow it; and then I've seen again all the efforts didn't bring results to grow it. So I decided to put it on autopilot and basically just don't work on a project. We can run this; it's bringing in money. I'll just collect money until it die. And basically -- and started looking for a new idea; took around a year to find a new idea.

And I think that's one point here, that if you want to be entrepreneur, you have all this crazy all up and downs. It could be time where you will be very busy. It could be a year of just frustration, trying to find new idea. So it was a year of frustration for me, just trying to figure out what I want to build next, playing with couple ideas and trying to build a prototype. But eventually how I built this idea -- and I think this could be useful.

I created a list of 10 things that I wanted to do if I have unlimited MasterCard, if I don't need to work anymore. It was sport, there was some, like, nontraditional medicine that will support all of these different things. And there was on the list as well B2B sales. It was B2B sales because I had no idea how it worked, and so it was a mystery field for me. And I was just interested to understand, and there was some other basically things.

Then I look at this list and I thought, what one of these ideas could bring the best -- like, may have the best financial potential? Someone -- again, someone may look to this list and say, what one of this basically field, which one of this field of interest me bring the most contribution to the world? So basically I choose B2B sales, and for the next six -- I think for the next nine months, I actually immersed myself into B2B sales.

I learned everything I can on B2B sales. I even tried to sell -- to become a B2B sales for one of my friends startup. I was trying to do outbound sales for them. I realized how hard it is. And again, along the way I learn a lot. So again, being immersed in B2B sales, I was able to to kind of find the tool that -- I could understand what tools are existing and what tools are missing. So I believe a lot of people, when they build their startup, they make this mistake. They build something that is already there or they build something that no one needs.

And I basically, by doing this work, I understand, okay, I need this tool and this is a thing that I want to have in my process to make it more effective. And I see it is -- I need it, but I don't see anything on the market or really, like, done poorly. So basically, first I understood the market. Second, I basically found the idea and again decided to implement it and built product around it.

Wes Schaeffer:
Nice. So what's easier, being a programmer or a B2B salesman? Be careful how you answer this.

Oleg Campbell:
Not easier to -- I think it's easier to be a programmer and I can explain why. I mean, being programmer it was as well, hard and frustrating at the beginning. Someone give you -- at your job, someone gives you a task that you have no idea how to do it, and you spend nights and days and days trying to build it and it could be a lot of failures. You can overwrite the code, but eventually, again, you can find a way out.

In B2B sales I had the same problem; like how to solve the problem, like product especially -- I'm talking about outbound sales, not inbound one -- how to build outbound sales from scratch. Product no one know, you don't know who may need this, and you're just knocking on the door. And it's very frustrating, very hard to get this going.

Wes Schaeffer:
I love it. So many people -- because the grass is always greener, right? The developers -- "Look at those salespeople, all they do, they go golf, they take clients to dinner. They're just dummies. They have it so easy. They make all the money" -- and yeah, come try it for a little while. They just make it look easy.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, I think it's as well two types of people, First, like, salespeople, I think someone should be good at conversation and should love talking to people, and programmer, they're more introverted, right? So for me what I realized at the time, it's much easier to write code when I'm just focused and not distracted, then spend my energy talking -- requires as well so much energy to show up to this meeting, right, all this time, and have five meetings during the day. I didn't like the stress. When you do coding, you can just, again, just sit quietly and just think.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. So you've got your one business TAGO, right? It's just kind of running on autopilot. You are in the searching/research phase. You come across the idea now for Reply.io. How long did it take to develop that before you got your first customer?

Oleg Campbell:
Good question. It took four months and I had to go -- and another problem a lot of entrepreneurs do, they just take it too long to build and just make it too complicated and too sophisticated. So my goal was to build like most viable product or as much as possible and get the first money as fast as possible. So it took me four months from the first line of code to basically, to first sale. Then again, once we did first sale, it took us maybe another nine months to polish it and just ready to full production use, make it like real release. Before it was kind of really more of a prototype but it was working. It was bringing value so we could charge.

Wes Schaeffer:
How do you get those first customers? Do you give it away? Do you sell it at a deep discount? How do you get somebody to buy in and trust you?

Oleg Campbell:
I think at the time -- so first of all, these people, this will be early adopters who will be buying. So these people who are initial -- basically they're open to trying something new, something that they know it's scratchy or not fully really yet, but they're [interested in] new technologies. And I think -- so how I found them.

First I did a post on -- so at work at that time, this time it could be a different strategy. This time it could be like what would work the launch on the product hand, and familiar, so basically we're having the products launched. At that time there was no product hand. I was on Q&A website like Quora. So basically, if someone was looking for something that's I have, I would just answer, say, hey, we just built a tool for this and providing a link. So first people, they're refining our tool through this Quora Q&A website.

And yeah, I sell a huge discount. Instead of our -- we were charging $70 per user and they believe I charged my first user like $35 per user, like 50 percent discount. I don't -- probably now right now I wouldn't do that and would not suggest; but at the time, it did work for me.

Wes Schaeffer:
Sure. So were you doing the coding or were you still paying people back in the Ukraine to do it while you did other things?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, I think at the time I already came back to Ukraine and I hired a programmer, by the way. So actually during this year when I was researching was I'm going to do actually build a few prototypes by myself. But when I kind of discovered this idea of Reply.io, I thought, no, this is something here; I need to go like full steam ahead and I need to hire a developer right away to work full-time. So I hired a developer right away and basically I was using money that were coming from TAGO. So that's another reason why I moved to Ukraine, is TAGO's giving me -- because I had the partners there, had some employees there -- TAGO was giving me around $3,000 per month. And when I moved to Ukraine, I was able to live on $1,000 per month and possibly much cheaper there, and then paid first developer like $2,000 salary. So that's how it started.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very cool. So you're developing this, you're living in the Ukraine, but the market was North America, right? So how do you start reaching those prospects to begin making those sales?

Oleg Campbell:
So while I was living -- again, first product, TAGO, I was doing marketing for North American market, and then again, I lived in America for over five years, so I had some understanding. Another thing is basically, yeah, I was just making all these calls at night, making demos at night. It was hard. And when you do like, you need to call at 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m. your time and you're working usually from the morning 'til this night, so I was basically selling from here. But once we got to 10,000 in revenue, 10,000 monthly, $10,0000, monthly revenue, I was able to hire first sales rep and we hired someone in Toronto.

So basically at that time I may not do these night calls and have someone in Canada, who's at the time zone who is native to North American culture basically do all this calls. But it's a really good question. And I think, again, I'm really a fan of notion that, again, I don't know, it's kind of I think it's very futuristic, but I believe -- I don't know, who knows -- maybe 100 years from now, there will be no countries that will be like, let's say, English across the world, so we don't have these borders, we don't have this miscommunications, and can just, again, build businesses or like, again, do science without borders. Because I think that's the way it goes with our -- see how connected we are in our well-connected economy.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. How did you compensate that first salesperson? Was it more commission? Was it like a salary for a short timem then replaced by commission? Because that's always a balancing act, getting a good person on board, how do you compensate them.

Oleg Campbell:
So I think as it was salary and as well, I would say option. At the time I was I was looking for VP of sales and basically I was ready to give five percent of company then and V.P. of sales fall and just the lowest salaries you would accept. But I think I was trying to sell -- again, the idea here to find someone who just want to work with a startup and have some, like, percent stake in the company. So I found a person who has been on the corporate jets before; he kind of have saved some money so he could basically jump into this venture and for some time kind of hope to get this cut of salary but get a percent from the company.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very cool. So what compelled you to move back -- or did you move back to the States once that was up and running and then move back to the Ukraine again?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, I think I was going between US and Ukraine and Canada some time. Again, my vision and goal was to build -- and right now -- is to build a global company. Ideally, I want to hire people when I was there -- I just want to hire the best people wherever they are. But it's hard to do again, since it's not easy to do, but I really want to have a global business. And how it works that time, I was -- usually I was spending like three months in like US and then the rest of the time I was like nine months in Ukraine.

And another thing I want to mention and I think at the time I didn't really need to be in U.S. Because we had sales teams there and we can do all the sales. The reason I would go to U.S is just for conferences or just meet with some customers or talk to investors or was researching just opportunities. So it was enough to be just maybe once a year for a few months.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very cool. So Reply.io; it's specifically tied to LinkedIn, right?

Oleg Campbell:
Actually you're maybe a bit incorrect. So we started with emails and we do have LinkedIn right now. We do like email automation and send emails and follow-ups. It's not just autoresponder. It's much more features beyond. It's like we have some [inaudible] that's like a lot of things to automate your daily process. But right now we have -- it's multichannel. I would say it's multi-channel platform. So we have email, LinkedIn, and we have SMS; we have WhatsApp and we have phone calls. So basically right now, the best approach would be multichannels and some people already stop checking emails. Some people don't check LinkedIn. And if you want to reach out to someone, you need to use channels where they are.

So, for example, in reply, we use our own tool. Once we implement that multichannel approach to talk with our inbound leads, we see conversion raised 2x. So basically, again, try to email someone. We see -- like this system. We'll email someone and see that email is not getting a response. Then automatic SMS could be sent and basically SMS could say, hey, Jason, I just send you email and reply trial and then please call me back if you're interested? Would you like to talk on reply. And then what we would see, that people would reply to this SMS or calling back saying, hey, thanks for sending SMS, I don't check my emails. So someone may not check email; someone may not check LinkedIn. And I think it's where we heading, to use multiple channels to communicate with customers.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right. Well, that's pretty cool. I'm so funny; I just got a text this morning from a business. They ran an ad on Facebook and it's one of these stretching companies; like so to say it's not a chiropractor, it's not a massage. They literally stretch you. And I've been wanting to try those. I guess there's a new one here. And I don't know, because the COVID, maybe they weren't as active. So I filled something out, like, I forget. I mean, like at least two weeks ago, maybe three weeks ago. And I heard nothing. And then this morning I get a text. Like, where have you all been? You know, now I'm texting. I'm like, hey, I'll come in. You know, they're not following up. Just being a sales and marketing guy, it just kills me.

So with your software, is it standalone or do I need my own CRM? And then yours is like an engine, kind of like that helps sort of supercharge my CRM?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. Good question and maybe again it's good to tell more about our system.

So basically it could be used as standalone application and it could be most of our users together with CRM. So how we explain it is where all the data is stored, and usually CRM would have some kind of communication functionality, some kind of -- but usually it's not that creative. Sometimes emails sent to CRM would look like robotic or go into this folder in Gmail. So it's just -- and with Reply we decided we're not going to build CRM. We decided we build communications, one-to-many communication kind of platform and focus on making communication really well, so we could use -- yeah. So you would just Reply with your CRM platform. So basically one use case could be have your trial leads or your like inbound leads or outbound leads, which you feed them into Reply. Reply makes sure it's working with these leads to booking meetings.

Once you take a meeting and basically ready to close this person or just move to opportunity stage, you basicall will work with this prospect in CRM. At some point, for example, you closed this prospect as a customer and you want to, let's say, follow up with this customer in two weeks, you may ask them again to our communication platform to automatically send some follow-up emails.

So baslically idea here is just to have all communication in our platform and data still be in CRM; while again, I see right now it's a bit blurring. A lot of this software, like sales engagement software, like we are starting adding CRM functionality, basic one. So I think again, we have it as well. So for some simple reasons, you could even use it as a CRM. But for more comprehensive [inaudible] a unique CRM communication tool. And once I just want to mention CRMs like HubSpot, they're adding this communication part as well. But the problem, this communication part is not -- still not that good as we do it. That's why people still do like integration and use us.

Wes Schaeffer:
Gotcha. So I'm adding the extension right now to my Chrome. You've got sales engagement, you've got email search. So this will go out and, what, scour the Internet to find valid emails for people, for leads?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. For our farm extensions, so basically search for emails on LinkedIn. So you need to basically create a search criteria on LinkedIn was going to people you want to find and basically will synchronize with them and pull this list of people. Let's say you want to find VP of sales in San Francisco. So you make search on LinkedIn, you open our extension, will basically synchronize with LinkedIn, we'll just pull all these people names and find emails for them. We cannot give you 100 percent of emails will be found, but a lot of emails will be found. It also depends on the industry region.

And as well, we're working with -- right now on integrations with a provider which allow -- which will help us find phone numbers as well. So once you basically found all this leads that you need, you could add them into Reply sequence, and then Reply could automatically send an email, sent a text message, or basically in a semi-automated way, since LinkedIn doesn't like full automation -- you could basically send LinkedIn requests to these people. Basically, we'll create a task for you. So basically we'll just fill in message and Linked connect to a template. But you'll still need to click a button, connect. We'll just make it a bit faster.

Wes Schaeffer:
Got you. Very cool. Well, I'm going through it right now. I like it. Did I miss anything? Is there anything you want to point out or highlight that we didn't cover?

Oleg Campbell:
Nothing, I think. Thanks a lot for your questions. It's really in deep and maybe not easy to kind of come up with this questions. I don't know. I think maybe I'll share some tips that may be useful for the sales audience, something we find, I think we use our own too, and we do as sales as well. Again, a few tips.

So one tip is was already certified to use multichannel approach. Someone may not check e-mail and check only LinkedIn. And someone may, again, don't like phone calls, but will be fine to receive SMS. And I believe systems in future will tell you what is perfect channel for this person. And right now, I think we're quite not there, but in future, it will be the first use again, communication with the prospect, your touch points.

Second, I think it's basic. I can't be selling if someone is not replying to you from this organization, try someone else. But as well, what I found, there is a really cool tool called Albatros, those different tools that would analyze what companies comes to your website. So right now, our full outbound team, first what they do, they will work and research and find leads that came to our website.

So basically we have names of companies that came to our website and then we resource this company and try to find a buyer persona in this company and reach out to them. So basically, even if they don't give us email, if they just came to website and left, we still can identify what company that visited. And again, this shows that this company has interest and we can and our solutions could be a fit for them. So that's another point.

Again, instead of just going first, obviously should go after your inbound leads; and second, instead of going -- second, I think you should go after your website leads who didn't provide email; third, only after you should go with your outbound strategy.

An outbound strategy as well, it would be good to have some triggers, just not go just by list and on LinkedIn, but try to find some triggers. If you're selling, for example, software for sales, trying to find companies that's hiring sales teams right now. So basically, again, means they have some expansions and may be more open to try new technologies. And use some other triggers. You could do many of them, like different technologies. They use usually buy one technology, they need another one. So you may check what kind of technologies you use. So there would be another advice, recommendation.

And I think it may be like third one would be so in Reply, for example, we basically, I think it could be important for someone who's selling like online or software product -- in Reply, basically want to be transparent with our pricing. And I hate too high prices from the website. But understand, if we have high pricing, we make a lot of money at the end of the day. But for me, again, making -- I'm in business not only to make money and transparency is one of values I have. So but what happens if you have your -- but if you have your let's say so on Reply we have our pricing on our website.

We have our -- anyone could set up for trial and play with the system. But this works well for small companies to play. But what's happened, let's say, if Coca-Cola comes to you, right? It's not the best process if someone from Coca-Cola go and try to play with your trial, have no luck with this, and probably will not be able to get you again -- you probably will not be able to engage with this person again in future. Because, again, if they came to understand how it's worked, probably they will ignore your emails and your phone calls and they already know this system again. They've seen you already.

So for these people, you would need demo. And ideally, you don't want to show them trial; you want to get them on a demo. So what we do with Reply -- and we're kind of still experimenting with this -- so we used Clearbit to identify company size. And when someone enters the email for a trial, so if we see that a smaller customer, we'll let them play with product and go to trial. If we see it's a customer would say more than 100 people, we basically would suggest them currently to book a demo with us, to book a --

We'll call it like this -- we call it, just make it a bit fun -- not call it demo, but call it onboarding session. And basically we ask customers to onboarding session. If they don't like, they can always chat with us and tell us, hey, I don't need this, just let me in to trial. We'll do that. But most of the companies are used to this sales process and they would book a demo with you.

So again, by doing this, we're still transparent with our pricing, with our product. But small users can go through trial flow and bigger companies will go through the demo, which I think is fine because that's their buying process. And if you do -- if you do -- if someone from like let's say big company come to you, you don't want to have them play with your system by himself. You want to have them on demo and you want to have on this demo, few stakeholders, right? You want to do a demo for a team. And basically, that's why again I think it's fair to invite the whole team and ask to go through demo with your software.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. You got to get them using it. It's not enough to make that sale; you want them to keep it. And in order to keep it they've got to get a benefit from it. And so that's good. I mean, you got to think through -- you know, the old adage is, we must enter the conversation going on in the mind of the prospect. What are they thinking? What are they struggling with? Where are the obstacles? You know, get a rookie, you know; get your grandmother, you know; click through the software, see where she gets stuck. You know, I think we all assume, oh, we're smart and experienced, but we know where to click. It's not always obvious, you know? So make sure it's the usability's there.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. And not only usability as well -- perfect usability, you may not always understand what the tool for me not always is a vision behind, right? But if you got sold on this vision of how it can benefit your business, you'll just basically -- just -- you'll just get absolutely different perspective. It will help you grow sales. By the way, we have a tool for this. So that should be sales approach first, and tool is secondary.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very cool. Well, I am linking to your software, Reply.io; got a free 14-day trial; and I encourage everyone to give it a shot, see how it works; and make mo' sales mo' money, right?

Oleg Campbell:
That's correct.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how is it over in the Ukraine now? Is it locked down in totally crazy like the US has been or is it easing up?

Oleg Campbell:
I think it's easing up as well. Right now, actually, I'm in Egypt. Again, you didn't ask, so originally I'm from Ukraine, but I went for the three months i went to Egypt, and there's a couple of reasons, I think this could be useful for your audience as well. First of all, what we just I think -- I decided for myself, I want to have like three months really focused work, fitness and self-development, so I decided it will be much easier for me to do this in Egypt; and in five-star all-inclusive hotel for the price of $50 per day with meals. So it is very cheap for U.S.

Wes Schaeffer:
With meals?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. With meals. It's $50 per day with meals.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh! Sign me up.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. So basically I'm living here. I don't worry about food. I have gym on hotel territory. I have a good trainer here. I have -- I swim in the sea. I pay for that only $50 a day and -- as well, I want to say -- and I'm saving money. So even in Ukraine I spend more month than this money. So literally it's really good basically way to focus. And I think I got this idea from writers. So writer, when they want to write a book, they usually will go with, say, for three months and close themselves in the house somewhere, maybe with some other writers and they would write a book in this three months.

So it's said, hey, it's the winter. It's COVID, nothing was happening. So I just want to close myself somewhere and just focus on few things that I think important for a short period of time.

Wes Schaeffer:
So Egypt was just more open? I mean, a lot of countries -- I guess, as long as you quarantine --

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. Egypt because you just can't enter it easily. So basically, just to have, like, PCR test. And that said --.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh, okay. And where are you in Egypt?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. So actually it's a good question as well. So the city where I am is called El Gouna. And what is interesting about this city that is only 30 years old city as a city. It's a private city, I can call it. Anyone can enter it. But the private meaning is they have their own security. And it's a city that's been built by one company, by one architectural plan. So it's a really beautiful city which was well-planned with a lot of beautiful architecture.

And it's kind of -- it's considered as a resort but a lot of Egyptians come here just for the vacation. But it's really -- it's not like anything in Egypt. So basically, you have, like, a piece of Europe inside of Egypt, because the roads -- everything here is super polished.

Wes Schaeffer:
And where is it? Is it on the Mediterranean?

Oleg Campbell:
It is close to Hurghada. Yeah. So this gets close to this Red Sea.

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh, okay.

Oleg Campbell:
And it's an interesting concept as well. I started researching this. I think this interesting thing was, I found that in US there is already two private cities as well. There's two cities in the US that has been built by [inaudible] and I think this could grow in future. So cities get built not by governments, but by private companies. And it's interesting.

Wes Schaeffer:
Got you. So that's up close to what -- close to the Gulf of Suez, kind of the northern edge of the Red Sea?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, it's closer to the north, so it's closer to Hurghada.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, yeah, I am looking at it right now. Very cool. Oh yeah. That's so smart. Can you tell my wife and kids that I need to write a book -- I need to write ten books, so I'm going to be gone -- 12 books? I'll be gone three years and just live in a hotel with you. We hang out, we write code, we write books, we go swim.

Oleg Campbell:
Let's do it. But I would suggest if you come here with family, numerous family, you can afford it --

Wes Schaeffer:
I won't get anything done.

Oleg Campbell:
No. No. Makes sense.

Wes Schaeffer:
So how did you get there? Do you fly into Cairo and take like a regional jet down.

Oleg Campbell:
I think there was planes --

Wes Schaeffer:
Too far from Cairo, huh?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. So there's a plane to Hurghada so we can go through Cairo. But as well in Ukraine, we have just a lot of tourists come to Egypt. So we have this kind of planes that go from Kiev to Hurghada. So it's not a problem. Actually it's a cheap flight. So for me, it's like $200 flight as well from Ukraine. From U.S., obviously it will be more expensive. But really, I believe -- again, yeah, so I don't know. If you work remotely, you could basically experiment with this.

And I think as well as for me, I mean, I should be on this as well; myself here and feel like as a king in this hotel, people making food for me. But from the other side, I kind of realized that this people who are in Egypt right now, they don't have much choice about COVID and all those hotels are half-empty. So it's a bit depressing situation.

But again, I'm a big believer that like in future, as we getting more global and global, the level of life and opportunities will be more kind of aligned across different countries.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. I did two short tours in the UAE way back in '94, '95. Even back then it was very relaxed. I mean, they had pubs. I'd go with my British friends and we could have a pint. Is Egypt more relaxed like that or is a little more strict in its rules for Westerners?

Oleg Campbell:
I think it's relaxed, but if you go into cities like Cairo or like, again, not tourist place like El Gouna, you may have a lot of basically -- how do you say -- people who try to sell you anything because, again, it's hard to make money for people in Egypt. So you will see a lot of people who try to either trick you or try to sell you something. So it's a bit tricky. So getting attention if you're a tourist and especially if you're going to known tourist places like Cairo or some other cities.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, I mean, like, can you order a beer in your hotel?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. So we have all that. So it's not -- in a hotel or in El Gouna, everything is relaxed. So it's bars, pubs, so it's pretty [inaudible].

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. And you know, a lot of people listening, I mean, they may not realize, but a friend of mine, I had him on the podcast, but went to the Air Force Academy, was younger than me, but he married. He was a pilot. Then he became a reporter. He married a girl from the Ukraine. And he's been a war correspondent. He's traveled the world. But I mean, y'all on a full-on war with Russia right now, right?

Oleg Campbell:
That's right, on the East.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. And how do you compartmentalize? You know, it's -- because we're spoiled in the US, right? I mean, we had 9/11, which is obviously terrible, but it was a one-time attack; Pearl Harbor, you know, hardly anybody still alive remembers it. Certainly nobody that's young. I mean, they forget it even happened. And even then, still one-time attack. Your war with Russia is, what, five years going; more?

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah, that's right. So I think it's been not super-active. Again, it was active at the beginning where a lot of people died, a lot of soldiers and just civilians. But, I think it's mostly on the first year for the last four years it's just basically it's just tensions there. And I think every once someone died but it's -- but it's not like very -- how to say -- it's not like -- it's going to look like passively, I don't know how to call it. So we all -- everyone keeps their territory and has some tension to be. But again, we always live in at risk. I mean, Russia at one point wants to just come back to a more active kind of -- into more active war.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right.

Oleg Campbell:
So there's always rumors, when the Russians will do that Russia is preparing, yeah.

Wes Schaeffer:
So, yeah. So, you know, like Israel. Right. Just always ready; maybe some shooting, then it stops. So yeah. Tensions always there.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. I think with Russia, US is balancing as well. I think it all goes as well as the battle for world power as well. And US, Russia, China, we all balancing with that. So for example, if Russia right now took over Ukraine, this will be a treat for Europe. So if they took Europe tomorrow, you'll take some other countries. So I think that's where they are.

And that's why we have a support and we're thankful for that from countries like Canada, like US, against really redefining territories in this each; this territory of Ukraine, this Russia should stay the same. We shouldn't move it. And so it's I think if this conflict happened, it's just -- it's a global conflict. Could be.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. Crazy times, but you're still getting it done.

Oleg Campbell:
And that's why we need to keep moving and go to Mars.

Wes Schaeffer:
[laughs] So really keep moving. Well, when you go to Mars, just leave me the key to your hotel room, okay? And I'll just move in right behind you.

Oleg Campbell:
Okay, Wes. Just $50 a day and I'll give it to you.

Wes Schaeffer:
Sign me up. Very cool. All right. So tell me, because we were talking before we hit record, so tell me your last -- your real last name and how you spell it.

Oleg Campbell:
Yes, that's a good question. My real last name is Bilozor.

Wes Schaeffer:
Very nice. So you'll be like John Cougar Mellencamp. All right. Do you know his music?

Oleg Campbell:
Not really.

Wes Schaeffer:
[chuckles] You'll have to look him up because he -- you know, Mellencamp. I mean, that's like a long name here in the US. So I think his middle name is Cougar, but I'm not sure; he may have just kept that as well. But he went by John Cougar forever, and then he's like, I'm going to use my real name. So now you know him as John Cougar Mellencamp.

Oleg Campbell:
Yeah. So the same thing happened with me. Like Campbell, it's name I came up with when I was living in Canada. And now maybe I'll just come back to my real name.

Wes Schaeffer:
[chuckles] That's cool. Yeah. It's a global world, man. Make everybody learn how to pronounce your name and where you're from.

Oleg Campbell:
I agree.

Wes Schaeffer:
All right, Oleg. Reply.io founder, all the way from Egypt. Thanks for coming to the show, man. It's been great catching up.

Oleg Campbell:
Okay, thanks a lot, Wes. Thanks for having me. Goodbye.

Wes Schaeffer:
Have a good night.

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