Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Ľubomír Lajoš and I'm the CEO of UXtweak - a user research platform. Simply said, our platform can tell you if your users like your website if they can use it, or find what they are looking for.
Let's take Amazon.com as an example. Their website has a complex menu structure where people might get lost easily. Thanks to UXtweak, you can find out whether that's happening, and also create the perfect menu that people would be able to navigate without any issues. Letting people find what they're looking for on your website is crucial for increasing customer satisfaction and in turn your conversion rate. But that's just a small example of what our platform can do.
At first, we focused on selling our platform primarily to universities, which was a big success and our product started to spread very fast among them, as well as their students. Unfortunately, this is not a customer base we'd be able to live from.
From the very beginning, we wanted a product that would be used by small or medium-sized companies, so we started to shift our focus on them. However, our platform soon became popular among big companies like Intel, Groupon, and Accenture too. They started to ask for support, or multi-user licensing. So at the moment, our main customers are big companies mainly from the USA and Europe. However, we still have pricing for small and medium companies, as there is no other UX research tool to serve this market.
We launched UXtweak.com about a year ago and so far we have MRR 60k without any external investments. To be sincere, we only have some investment from ourselves as I also own one of the biggest marketing agencies in Slovakia.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Me and my co-founder Eduard always say: 'Which xxxhole made this?' when we see a product or a service that's illogical or hard to use. We are very practical guys, who cannot understand how the heck something can be so poorly designed.
In the beginning you don't know what's gonna work and what will not. You gotta keep trying, but on the other hand, you must be able to identify easily what's working and what is not.
I finished my second university degree when I was 23 and my colleague Eduard was even a teacher at a university. So basically we are two guys, who can be cast for the Big Bang Theory.
When I was 23, I started my marketing agency Elite / Monday Lovers which is now one of the biggest ones in Slovakia and the Czech republic. I didn’t like marketing at the beginning, but now I love it. I can say I was successful in my job - we made a lot of very good marketing campaigns, which had international awards. But I always wanted to make more, not just to receive briefs for campaigns and then make one. I wanted to talk about products, about what customers like, and I wanted to say, 'let's do this, let's do that'. I wanted to have more challenges. And I wanted to do worldwide marketing, and to have a worldwide product.
So I joined UXtweak as co-founder. And why UX? UX is not about posting two different designs on Facebook and asking people which one they like better. UX is a very logical science and that's why I love it. It's full of data and analysis. And what's best is that it's a very growing market.
We were looking for some tools for our research a couple of years ago and found that there are maybe just 2 tools we can hardly use and cost 100k yearly.
So we said: 'Let's do something reasonable, that even a smaller company can use'. So we started and launched our product in September 2020. We had some beta products before and also some sales, but in September 2020 we started to sell our product online.
Take us through the process of designing your solution.
We are IT guys who are never satisfied with anything. We still want to improve things. We always want more.
So we decided to make a product from scratch which we can use for our clients. We didn't make any MVP but instead created a product, which we could use and sell. We knew it's not the best approach, but we haven't read any startup book. We made very simple designs, we used a material design framework from google and made a very simple web. It wasn’t great, but not terrible either.
When we launched we didn't even have a company yet. We had the product first. It's not very clever but in the beginning, we only focused on building the perfect product.
Our main costs were development. We spent around 30K Euros on the development of the first product. We didn't have any offices, any company, we just used free tools. We are IT guys, that's how we roll. Other costs - legal and so on - were less than 5K Euros.
Before launching UXtweak, we talked a lot about pricing. Our strategy was to approach small and medium companies so we didn’t want to charge too much. Firstly, we wanted to hear feedback on our product and find out if people are willing to pay for it. We started to sell UXtweak at 140 EUR per month for 2 users.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When we launched UXtweak, we tried to sell it to our current customers at my marketing agency. When we sold 3 licenses easily, we knew our product was not total crap, that somebody was willing to pay for it.
At first, we thought that we needed to be in touch with our customers personally, and so we attended almost 10 UX conferences in Europe. Customers liked it, we had a lot of feedback on how to make our product better and we sold, wait for it, 3 licenses there. The 'best' one was the TechCrunch conference in Berlin.
We didn’t sell a single license there, and we didn’t even get a chance to speak to our customers - they stopped for just 2 or 3 minutes at our booth. However, this experience helped us to understand that we must change our tactics. At the conference, we heard a lot of successful startup stories and everybody was repeating: 'Think big or go home'. So we went home and started to think big.
We understood very quickly that this is not the way to go for us. We made a remake of our web, started doing online marketing, collaborations with influencers, PPC, and what helped us the most was that we started to produce good content. Since then, we have had 30 to 80 percent growth month to month.
And what works best for us? We don't spend a lot of our budget on PPC. It doesn’t work well for us, except for remarketing campaigns. SEO is a must nowadays, so we concentrate our energy there. What also works well is content marketing - blogs, interviews with UX researchers, etc. This is the way to go for us.
From the beginning, we wanted to make a 9/5 company, so our people could enjoy their personal life too. We believe that personal life must be in the first place and if it is your priority, then also your work life will be much better.
The biggest lessons from our beginnings are: Go to market as fast as possible. Give it for free, you can change the pricing anytime. And also, you can go global from the very first day (depending on the product's nature of course).
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The main source of our customers is organic traffic, so we put a lot of our energy into SEO and link building. We tried PPC, but it is expensive and low-performing. Google search is also at its minimum.
On the other hand, referral programs work very well for us. From the paid sources, we only use remarketing campaigns on social media, and we also collaborate with a few UX influencers. Both these activities are a good way for us to attract new customers.
For retention, we try to sell yearly subscriptions with quite a big discount. But that's secondary. The most important for the retention of our customers is that we work hard to have a superior product. We've added 6 new tools since the launch, and we are working hard to make UX research great again.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At the moment we're on a break-even point, which we do not like very much as it limits our ability to put more money into making UXtweak even better.
The most expenses go to the development department, which is roughly around 60 percent. Then it's marketing, which creates around 25 percent of expenses. The rest are small costs such as tools, offices and so on.
We have 20 people working for UXtweak and we would like to hire 6 more by the end of the year.
We have just launched a very unique feature - testing of prototypes Figma and Invision and in a few days, we're gonna launch a tool for testing competition. For example, your customer would tell you that it was easier for them to purchase an item in another e-shop. But you don't know what exactly made their experience better at your competitor's website. That's where UXtweak comes into the picture. With our tool, you will be able to test not only yours but also your competitor's e-shop. You will be able to uncover what it is exactly that your competition has better and why.
From the long-term perspective, we try to develop the most comprehensive UX research platform on the market. A platform that will help you in the beginning - when you have just an idea till the end when you want to test something that is already launched. We think we are on the right track.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Tons of things. But the most important one is not to be afraid of making mistakes. The more mistakes you make now, the less you'll make in the future.
We also learned that you must keep trying and be persistent. In the beginning, you don't know what's gonna work and what will not. You gotta keep trying, but on the other hand, you must be able to identify easily what's working and what is not. You must measure and analyze. I'm a very data-oriented guy so I analyze everything, but sometimes, from experience, I know that you do things because you have a feeling that something's gonna work.
My vision from the beginning was not to make a startup company where people would work 12 hours a day 6 days a week. From the beginning, we wanted to make a 9/5 company, so our people could enjoy their personal life too. We believe that personal life must be in the first place and if it is your priority, then also your work life will be much better.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Sincerely we don't have anything like that. I learned a lot of what I know in my marketing agency which is now one of the biggest ones in Slovakia and the Czech republic.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don't be afraid and think big. I'm not the only one who said that, but you have to believe in yourself and that you can make it.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
This is the most important thing right now, to hire very good talents. Currently, we are looking for Node.js developers, growth hackers, SEO specialists, PPC specialists, talent acquisition specialists, and also marketers.
If there is anyone who would be interested in working for an ambitious startup let me know by email: [email protected].
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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