Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey! My name is Valentin Wallyn and I’m the founder of Findymail.
Findymail is a high-quality email finder tool with an automation layer designed to help B2B salespeople build lead lists faster for cold outreach.
I started it in May 2022 and it already reached $2500 MRR at the time of this writing.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always been a builder. I made my first $ online at 16 selling the digital currency of a video game against cash to some Chinese reselling websites. I was generating those in-game currencies by automating tasks in-game using bot software. Eventually, the bot shut down but I started learning programming so I developed my bot software and made it available to the botting community.
This was my first product experience, with people requesting features, reporting bugs, etc. The software was free and I was only making money through donations (and using the software). Then I released a paid version of the software with a paid subscription. At this stage, I was selling desktop software as SaaS wasn't as popular as it is now.
Eventually, I got bored & shut it down, moving to other ventures while enjoying college. I tried many things in the MMO (Making Money Online) space, some of which did make some money and many others that failed to make any.
Some of those projects included having a website and as I wanted to get traffic to them I got introduced to SEO and learned how it worked. But I was still very much a builder and I wanted to build software, not just websites.
So I started my first SaaS in 2020 in the SEO space, SEOwl, an SEO monitoring tool. That was my way of mixing a niche I liked (SEO) with my programming skills & interest but I struggled with getting solid traction and MRR growth was slow.
Although still running, this adventure led me to start other business ideas on the side at the beginning of 2022. Around February/March ‘22 I started Scrapybird (a Twitter email scraper) and Prospecdit (a Reddit outreach automation tool).
Of the two, Scrapybird quickly gained traction but I rapidly realized that it was somewhat a “niche” product. With the recently earned knowledge around the lead generation space, I saw an opportunity for an email finder that doesn’t suck and started doing just that. That’s how Findymail was born and became my current focus.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The first version of the product was the most basic an email finder could get two text fields to enter someone’s name and a button to get the email address of that person.
The MVP was quick to produce as I have been able to re-use a lot of what I had done for Scrapybird & Prospecdit. Things like login/signup/payment etc. have been done very quickly allowing me to focus the little dev time I had on the core feature aka. finding email addresses.
Then I slowly added features like automation, file enrichment, etc. but the core of the value is that first email finding / verifying algorithm which gives high-quality data.
Describe the process of launching the business.
There wasn’t any “launch” as I was running 4 other different SaaS at the time, I slowly built it in stealth. I copied the landing page of my other product Scrapybird, changed the logo, color & copy and I had a landing page running in a few hours. At some point, I added it to my Twitter bio then I started to talk about it when relevant and to do some outreach.
Most of the costs were shared with my previous tools: things like hosting, CRM & other tools to run the day-to-day were already paid for by the other tools.
Once you close some customers you can either continue outreach or look at more scalable channels like ads etc.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The thing that drove the most significant growth is cold email. I used my other product Scrapybird to get emails from people in the cold email niche on Twitter (eg. followers of niche influencers or competitor tools).
I also used Scrapybird to get emails from high intent showing tweets such as this one:
All I had to do was scrape the emails of the repliers here and I had a 99% chance they were interested in cold emails as they took action with this tweet about cold emails. I’ve used this strategy on different lead magnets in the niche and it worked well.
I would then just have people on calls and close them one by one.
I also made lead magnets myself such as this one:
Where I’d just send people a link to a Google doc showing how to do XYZ with Findymail.
I also got more serious about Twitter and started posting more regularly (2x a day, 1 thread a week) and also doing cold outreach there (5 cold DMs a day).
These are what brought the most growth but I’ve played with other things as well:
- Affiliates: I’ve got an affiliate that brought 2-3 customers
- Ads: I tried playing with Twitter ads but I don’t think I got customers from it (got clicks though)
- Linkedin: I did a bit of Linkedin outreach too but I haven’t cracked the code yet like with cold emails
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As of this day, Findymail is growing very well so I’m transitioning away from some of my other products to be able to dedicate more time to Findymail as it seems a better growth opportunity.
I have several features that I’d like to add and many “growth” things to try on top of doubling down on what’s working already so I’m excited to see how far this one can go!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The biggest startup lesson for me is nothing matters until you have growth. My first SaaS SEOwl took a LOT more time to get up & running compared to Findymail because I was spending a lot of my time on things that do not make the business grow.
Adding a feature there, tweaking the logo here, translating blog pages that had 0 traffic … were what I should have done much earlier getting out there outreaching, talking to people, selling & doing marketing.
That’s why my recent startups have traction much faster: the logo is an emoji, I only have a landing page & a core product and everything else is just me outreaching and getting THAT in front of the people that need it. I’m sure there will be a time for everything else but usually, people (me included) care about all this stuff much too early just because established businesses do it too.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Landing page: all my landing pages are hosted on Netlify with some basic HTML+TailwindCSS
- Analytics: Google Analytics on our website
- Payments: All payments are managed through Stripe
- Email prospecting: Scrapybird/Findymail obviously, along with Linkedin Sales Navigator
- Cold outreach: I’m sending cold emails with Instantly
- Calendar: I’m using SavvyCal which is a nice indie alternative to Calendly
- CRM: Using CloseCRM which is nicely designed for outbound effort
- Email marketing: I’m using EmailOctopus - it’s cheap and does the job for the basic email marketing I’m doing (+ the founder helped me a while back!)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
In terms of books, I’ve read some startup books but the one that resonated the most is probably 100M offers from Alex Hormozi, which I wish was out earlier in my journey.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
All your problems come down to either your offer or your traffic.
You need a good offer, ideally:
- Something that people want (are people looking for this on Google?)
- B2B and not too cheap (you’ll have a hard time growing if your price point is $9/mo)
Then you need to drive traffic to it :
- You need to know HOW you’re gonna drive traffic to it BEFORE you build
- SEO, outreach, social media, ads … all can work. What will work will depend on your product and your audience but you need at least one that works and that you can execute
The easiest way to start is by cold outreach: you’ll be on calls with your prospects so that you can learn more about their problem and adapt accordingly. If you can’t get people to jump on calls with you, it means you have an offer problem.
At this point, you’re lucky to realize that early so that you can adjust before spending months in worthless marketing! Once you close some customers you can either continue outreach or look at more scalable channels like ads etc. (or both !)
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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