How We Abandoned The Agency Model To Build A $200K/Month Marketing Software

Published: August 10th, 2022
Dimitri Ive
Founder, Dashly
from Wilmington, DE, USA
started April 2018
Discover what tools Dimitri recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Dimitri recommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Dimitri Ive and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Dashly, a platform that brings all conversations from a live chat, emails, socials, and messengers into one place. It simplifies the way businesses communicate with their loyal customers.

Since 2018 we grew from a team of five to 95 experts: developers, designers, marketers, and sales professionals at work and travelers, athletes, and yoga specialists in life.

Now Dashly is a conversational marketing software with a $200K MRR that is used by 1,000+ businesses globally.


How did you come up with the product idea?

Before the launch of Dashly, we developed websites and products for clients as an agency. For example, one of our clients was a large bank. But in the end, we realized that we didn’t like creating websites to order without knowing what happens next.

Instead, we wanted to create our product, a startup.

You may be heard about gamification - making ordinary processes work in a game manner with all those points, badges, and leaderboards. So we combined it with e-Commerce website development - our prior experience.

Namely, our solution should provide buyers with some kind of bonus for registration or a purchase on a website. These bonuses can be redeemed and used for further purchases.

Nice idea, but it was not relevant to the market. We can’t compete in this field. The competitors’ solutions were more powerful.

But in the process, we made a system for tracking the user actions on a website, with detailed event analytics. So we began to think, how can it be applied?

We implemented this solution on our client’s websites. This allowed us to analyze their visitors’ behavior and recommend how to increase website engagement or retention rate. For example, use a live chat to start a dialogue.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

It was 2015 when the market saw our website visits tracking tool for the first time. Within the first year, we have grown eight times into a customer-centered platform for:

  • support to improve customer experience with high-quality communication
  • marketers to build effective communication with the user on potential customers
  • sales team to understand customers’ needs, and collect data about their behavior on a website.

But then, we noticed one more room for customer communication improvement - the loss of the conversation context. Let’s say a customer reaches out to a company via Instagram, but then switches to email. The context of the dialogue gets lost. It means support agents see that email and Instagram requests as two different people, not the same. As the result, they can’t personalize the experience, can’t recommend something based on users’ interests. That’s how businesses lose a potential customer.

So in addition to merging user data, we also merged the communication channels for users and teams. So each team member operates with full info about the potential customer. That's what Dashly is today.

We decided to offer our product directly to current customers at that time as well as look for new ones.

We created an admin panel for our product on bootstrap with manual implementation of some features on demand. Even though it was still very raw customers started to purchase it.



Describe the process of launching the business

At the time, there were only four members on our team. Everyone was involved in the process of support, onboarding, and sales.

We had no funding and existed thanks to the sales only. We had our previous venture to keep us afloat for some time until we started generating sales with Dashly.

Listen to customers and understand their problems - one of the basic values and principles. We implement a lot of frameworks to better analyze and improve this process.

At first, we used to sell the product through our network. It was effective since we were offering our product to our previous customers as they had a need for such a solution. Then we started looking for new customers using content marketing methods: creating landing pages for specific solutions (for support, SaaS, or marketers), writing content such as blogs and case studies on our website, distributing content on Reddit, Quora, and social media, and telling about our expertise to potential customers.

Mostly this was done by our content and marketing team which grew significantly over the years. Finally, these initiatives brought us significant traffic and sales growth within the first year.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We started our growth by hiring a content marketer. So on the one hand our key strength was excellent product knowledge, on the other hand - content marketing. We focused on producing high-quality content in order to provide value to our potential customers.

Our target audience was the heads of sales, marketing, and support at e-Commerce, SaaS, and martech. Therefore, our content included blogs, case studies, guides, self-help materials, and e-books.

We mostly distributed it on our blogs, social media, and Slack groups such as DemandCurve, Growmance, MarketersChat, HeyGrowth, and others. Also, we actively distributed our content on LinkedIn communities such as Marketing Communication, Digital Marketing, and Startup Network. The goal was to bring customers through SEO, organic traffic, and word-of-mouth. We developed a solid content strategy which helped us to dominate the market at that time as we were sort of pioneers.

The result of our strategy was outstanding as we grew by over 6 times in traffic and registrations within the first year. We also had rapid growth in the following years and grew by over 8 times.

The whole team used Dashly to communicate with our customers. This helped us to understand the product better as well as learn what can be improved.

To make customers feel valued and provide a personalized experience, I was giving demos to all new clients myself. It helped us to win their loyalty. Most of them were almost ideal customers as they were companies that needed a solution for conversational marketing, support, and sales.

Dialogue is an incredible tool to build loyalty between a company and a customer! So we turned this knowledge into our product: to make people feel like they are communicating with real people.


How are you doing today?

We grew by eight times within the first year and by over six times in our second year. Until now our team is 95+ professionals working from different countries.

During the launch, our main markets were the United States and Europe. But now we have entered Latin America and Australia.

Content marketing is still among our key methods of growth. We believe that it provides value to our target audience and the market in general.

Our main goal is to make communication between a person and a company as between a person and a person. So when clients reach out to your company via different channels, they still would feel comfortable and authentic communicating with your support, marketing or sales.

On the other hand, we improve the communication process. So each of your team members can see ultimate data on customers' behavior, interests, and problems in one profile. It helps to understand the customer better, provide faster responses and optimize the process of communication.


Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

  1. Listen to customers and understand their problems - one of the basic values and principles. We implement a lot of frameworks to better analyze and improve this process.
  2. Be as transparent as possible within the team in terms of processes and goals.
  3. Focus on the right input, meaning values, and goals.
  4. Have a clear vision and strategy to draw conclusions from the results that we achieve.

What tools do you use for your business?

  • Our main communication tools between team members are Slack and Zoom.
  • For task management within teams we use Favro.
  • For keeping all documentation and managing information we use Notion.
  • For sales and lead generation we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
  • For SEO management we use Semrush as it is a very useful tool for improving online visibility and discovering marketing insights.
  • Our product and design teams use Figma for various graphic designs, landing pages, and other design projects.
  • For support, sales, and marketing activities we use our own product Dashly. It really helps us to use our product and understand what can be improved as we use it for the same purposes as our customers.
  • Like any other company, we use Google suite from Slides, Docs, Sheets, Gmail to Google Analytics.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

One of my favorite authors is Tom Peters and his book Re-imagine. Also, another influential novel by Eliyahu M. Goldratt named The Goal helps to focus.

Another book that I recommend reading is The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge, the CRO of HubSpot.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out

Recently, I watched an interview with Elon Musk. He said that one of the main things is to focus on bringing maximum value to your customers and be as critical as possible about this. This is great advice, because if you bring value to someone and that value is high enough, then in the end it will work out.

In addition, never stop listening to your customers. These are very common issues that companies face. And we were one of them. Many companies forget about customers’ needs and continue pursuing goals. In return, you will face an enormous loss in profits.


Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!