On Creating An Email Validation Service And Growing Revenue 7,000%

Published: July 30th, 2021
Liviu Tanase
Founder, ZeroBounce
from Boca Raton, FL, USA
started June 2015
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My name is Liviu Tanase and I’m the founder of ZeroBounce.

I started ZeroBounce in 2015 to create a product that would solve a problem I was facing myself.

Anyone using email for business knows how frustrating it is to get bounces. Email contacts can degrade fast, and making sure they’re valid before you send a message is essential. Together with my team, we wanted to improve the email validation process and bring our contribution to the email world.

That’s how ZeroBounce was born.

The main product we offer is an email validation and verification service. It removes obsolete data from your email list, so you can better reach the customers who want to hear from you.

In time, as we’ve continued to add tools and features to our service, ZeroBounce has evolved into a go-to deliverability platform. One of our most exciting and innovative products is our deliverability toolkit. It includes several tools that allow for the best pre-send email optimization, so you can have peace of mind knowing your email campaigns are in the best shape.

Our customers are all over the world, in a variety of industries. They range from brand-new companies to immediately recognizable brands like Samsung, Airbnb, Linked In, and Intel. If you’re sending transactional emails, newsletters or promotions, we’re for you.

In 2020, we took no. 40 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., with revenue growth of more than 7,000%. This gives you a palpable metric of how relevant email validation is in the market and how much people enjoy using our service.

What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

I’ve always been fascinated with technology and business. When I was 18, I began selling computers in my home country, Romania. That was my first venture and I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since. I knew early on I wanted to be in the tech space and went on to start other tech companies.

It can help to have like-minded friends around to keep propping you up, encouraging you, and reminding you of what the truth is. Nobody walks alone.

For many years, I ran these different businesses and managed to build reliable teams. Then, about six years ago, I moved to the United States. I’d started to be very interested in email and saw this as the new frontier.

Email marketing was growing, with more and more companies realizing the fantastic potential of this channel. We asked ourselves: how can we make email even better? We started working on ZeroBounce soon after I settled into my new home. It’s been intense and challenging, but I couldn’t have imagined a more exciting path.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

For a long time, I wanted to have my own business and for it to succeed. By 16, I was already envisioning what it might look like. When I’m asked for advice on entrepreneurship, especially by young people, I always want to make sure that they can’t imagine doing anything else.

It’s a tremendous amount of hard work. If you don’t have a dream, you can’t pretend. So it’s got to be there. When they say they want to start a business, I always ask, “Is it your dream?” For me, that desire to go and accomplish it was what kept me going.

I have a fascination and real love for technology. My wife calls it an obsession, and it’s been said if you don’t love it, you can’t sell it. I realized that this is how I would spend my time and went into it with all my passion.

You know something is the right path when you want to know everything there is to know about it. As I started to spend more and more time on all things tech, I began a daily education about email. I wanted to know how it works, its history, and how it’s evolved. Email is something that has changed the world of communication probably more than anything out there. My own curiosity and interest really put things in the right place.

Also, I ended up being friends with a bunch of geeks, which is a term I hold in the highest regard. Nobody walks alone, and that includes entrepreneurs. You need to meet the right people. It’s been one of the most challenging things in my flight as an entrepreneur. You need to find the people who have both the passion and knowledge. I was fortunate to meet some really smart people who wanted to create the best email validation service out there.

The number one question that has driven ZeroBounce is not only what got us started, but is what we still ask. How can we make email validation better? How can we make it more secure? From there, how do we better serve our customers? Then, how do we make all of this very easy?

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’m proud of how far we have come and honored to work with such a superior team. With the people I work with daily, I believe we’ll go farther than I ever dreamed.

In 2019, we made the Inc. 5000 lists for the first time, coming in at 851. We continued to innovate and work harder and smarter. Last year we broke the Inc 5000 top 50, taking no. 40 on the list. This year, ZeroBounce was no. 9 on the Inc. 5000 Florida list.

More than 100,000 customers use our email verifier and deliverability tools today. Our social media channels, email lists, blog, and website audience have expanded. All these accomplishments are the result of hard work, smart digital PR, and our constant desire to be better.

As for the future, we’re always working on something new. Just recently, we’ve released Activity Data, a feature that allows you to see how active your email subscribers are and target them with the right campaigns. We’re amazed by how well our customers have adopted it and look forward to creating more tools for them!

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

I’ve always been impatient. ZeroBounce has taught me the best things don’t happen overnight. So I’ve been able to build patience and resilience.

It’s important to be persistent and once in a while acknowledge your progress, but you’re also going to feel frustrated. There are times you should talk to your trusted advisors for suggestions or at the very least to vent a little bit.

My number one mistake, though? That’s easy. I wanted everything fast. I wanted a platform that was safe, reliable, efficient, and easy to use. And, I wanted all of this yesterday.

As it’s been said, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, that definitely applies to any good company. The companies that are thrown together tend to be only about the bottom line and less about offering something of quality. It’s important to not rest on laurels and this restlessness can really help things get done.

On the other side, I think a little impatience can be a good thing. It was my lack of patience that pushed me to accomplish what I wanted.

The best decisions I’ve made are always going with gut instincts. Those instincts are there for a reason. There have been a few times where I went against a strong feeling that I got. Usually, it becomes evident why you had the feeling that you did. I’ve learned to trust myself when I get a strong reaction to an idea.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Sometimes simplicity wins out. My team and I use Skype all the time. You can leave it on in the background and has so much built into it. Need to type out a quick question? Send it on Skype. What if there’s a need for clarification? It can turn into an audio or video call at the press of a button. You can send files, record audio or video of any calls, and don’t have to fool with sending invitations.

When we’re having a formal company-wide meeting or more than person to person, we like Google Hangouts. For SEO we use Ahrefs and have found it very effective in helping us grow. For keyword research, SEMRush is a valuable tool.

Also, we are an email company, so maybe it’s not a surprise that we use email for more than sending emails. Your inbox can make a great task manager. When I see something is unread, in some cases that’s intentional because it reminds me that it’s next on the list. I open that email and complete everything I need to do related to it.

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

Two things I love are books and films. Films are more of a way to unwind, but there’s one book that has always made the biggest impact on the way I see business and life: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I recommend it in particular for business people, not only for the information it contains, but also because it has an uncanny tendency to inspire your own independent thought.

As for other resources, I like to stay aware of what’s happening in the world, especially in the business space. I read Entrepreneur magazine, where I also contribute, Forbes and Inc. magazine.

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

Sometimes, you start a project or idea and it just seems like it won’t go anywhere. It’s frustrating, but sometimes if it just won’t budge, it means you have to put it on a brief or extended “pause.” It’s an amazing trick because situations change as do our approaches and outlook. You can come back to it, either independently or as a group, and you find that the answer has revealed itself. Sometimes it’s been there all along.

The most common thing I observe is people abandoning ships too early. It’s easy to say when you’re not in it, but there are so many times where I felt like an entrepreneur put on life jackets and jumped because they felt like the business was sinking. It can be tempting to give up sometimes, but I think everyone should keep in mind that you’re stronger, more resilient and an even bigger force of nature than you realize.

It can help to have like-minded friends around to keep propping you up, encouraging you, and reminding you of what the truth is. Nobody walks alone.

Where can we go to learn more?

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Need to get in touch with us? We’re always online, our Customer Support team is available 24/7. Just drop us a line in the chatbox or email us at [email protected].