On Building A Lead Generation Tool [From Turkey]

Published: August 26th, 2022
Yavuz Tunc Emran
Founder, Tamly
from İzmir, Türkiye
started January 2021
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, there I’m Tunç, the founder of Tamly. I am a software engineer and shortly after graduating from Exeter University, I founded Tamly with our current CTO Alper. Both of us have a passion for software development and have done various projects, in addition to Alper being a popular online tutor for aspiring developers.

At Tamly, we support marketing teams with our end-to-end outbound marketing platform that brings lead prospecting, funnel tracking, and soon cold emailing together. By combining these features, we aim to maximize the efficiency of outbound marketing operations and minimize the operational workload on marketing teams.

Although we’ve only been in the market for the last 4 months, we’re growing steadily with 80 users so far and secured our initial pre-seed funding.

Tamly team at the Founder Institute Turkey Demo Day

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

There is a long backstory to Tamly, and where we are today. As I said, the product has been out on the market for only 4 months, but our team has been working together for nearly 2 years now.

Shape your idea into a tangible product as fast as you can, without being stuck with the details and letting perfectionism hold you back.

First, we had this idea for a marketplace for the beauty industry, where the clients could look up hair salons, nail salons, and all kinds of beauty specialists and schedule appointments. It was called Makas (‘scissors’ in Turkish).

After getting Makas ready and launching it, we ended up being quite disappointed with the product-market fit. You sometimes learn a lot simply by trial and error, and our team works fast!

Then, we took some features intending to create a business networking platform called Rezy back then. We offered a digital business card and a link listing platform supported with engagement analytics features, which we thought would support digital creators as well as traditional business people.

Rezy was quite a good platform for business networking, but it didn’t have a ‘money maker’ vibe to it with a super alluring value offering. It was simply a networking platform and was nothing groundbreaking, with only a few specializations for digital creators.

One day, while thinking about how to market Rezy, I came up with a lead prospecting bot to meet our lead generation needs. It was our ‘aha moment’ I can say because we started solving a tangible need our team was experiencing and it could have surely benefitted other teams as well.

embed:instagram Tamly Lead Generator accurately picks refined prospect lists from your target audience

Then we steered towards a lead prospecting platform and found our calling. So, the Tamly platform took its final form and since then we are focused on improving Tamly as a lead prospecting platform to provide the best possible service.

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

Being a technically proficient founder, and a software engineer, provided us immense benefits. When starting out you want to burn a minimal amount of funds, and if possible bring in those funds from others. So, I had this SaaS idea and was capable of designing the actual product, and I did so myself at first.

You have to move with the ‘MVP mindset’: push an essentially functioning product as you imagine into the market as soon as possible. That approach allowed us to pivot quite flexibly when we needed to; launching 3 SaaS products within almost a year and testing their market fit would not have been possible otherwise.

Thanks to my early partners Alper and Münevver, our CTO/backend developer and frontend developer, who believed in the vision and stuck with the project so far, we managed to design and launch our features effectively and with minimal costs.

We then onboarded Deniz, our teammate responsible for business operations, and started intensively pitching Tamly to prospective users and investors, ‘hustling’ hard to get our early adopters and raise awareness among the investor networks.

Converting early adopters is a challenge when the product is barely functioning, and we managed to do so. Shout out to our early adopters, we managed to improve our product and shape our roadmap for future developments.

To have a better idea about an optimal product with a decent market fit, we always talked to our users and leads. Listening to them and keeping detailed notes on their feedback is one of the best things you can do to optimize your product-market fit.

Describe the process of launching the business.

When Tamly was ready to operate, we didn’t lose time marketing it to our potential target audiences. Needless to say, we were still using our platform to generate prospects and launch our first campaigns towards them via cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.

Although the web app didn’t have all our features yet back then, we started operating the Lead Generator manually and began selling prospects as soon as we could. When we did so, the user feedback started flowing in and began backing our initial qualitative inferences regarding product-market fit.

Currently, we are still a few months away before we could move on to the growth stage. Honestly, the income generated via Tamly is not yet sufficient for us to break even. Since we are a strong team of software developers we take on occasional gigs which add some months to our runway as we improve the product and gain traction.

Product overview as seen on tamly.co

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

A notable selling point for Tamly has been our ability to verify the ‘work’ email addresses we provide in prospect lists; we only share the email addresses of individuals with company extensions, which we can verify the activity for. Our closest competitors don’t provide such high-quality email lists, and more so present them in an organized, easy-to-process spreadsheet and a synchronized contact directory.

After realizing such a value that users seek and we offer, we began emphasizing this and knew how to communicate our value proposition to individuals especially interested in email marketing.

However, there could be many unexpected technical obstacles in marketing an early-stage product. We lost a few early adopters along the way because of these unexpected, unknown technical limitations.

As we improve the functionality and the UX, we make sure to let our early adopters know as they might consider giving us another shot. We also started planning webinars to keep our community in the loop.

Caption: Invitation to a Tamly webinar

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

We’re still in an early stage in terms of gaining traction. So far, we identified bulk prospects from our target audiences and hopped on calls with each one of them who expressed interest to convert them into customers. We could say it’s been a pure outbound marketing grind.

As for the leads we end up converting, they bring in revenue through two streams: monthly premium subscription for 12 USD per month, and one-off prospect sales for 0.25 USD per lead. Breaking it down based on the number of leads sold, we profit 0.31 USD per lead sold on average.

Once we get through with our planned product developments and UX improvements, we will put more effort towards inbound methods and namely paid marketing as the product will be more suitable for exponential growth.

Recently we also started working towards improving our much-needed organic growth via SEO and social media engagement. Especially, in the long run, it is certainly essential for us to generate high-quality leads with potentially high intent to buy while expanding into the gulf markets like UAE and Qatar.

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

We learned quite a lot from past mistakes, mainly regarding our team. We had a big team in our early stages. To execute different tasks and shape a core team, we tried working with many young professionals who were mostly recent graduates. Many of them approached us too, but you never know who’s going to stick by.

At some point, we had some disagreements with one of our co-founders and lost many team members. I could say this was a positive change, as the most dedicated few stood by to give their all to a project they believe in.

Additionally, a common challenge for all startups is gaining traction. To do so effectively, we steered towards B2B service partnerships with startup networks, giving their network a special discount. Securing mass enterprise deals could be a good way of ensuring a continuous flow of users.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I sincerely don’t mean to merely advertise Tamly, but quite frankly Tamly has been a huge help in obtaining our early adopters, as well as in wrapping up our initial pre-seed funding round in less than 3 months.

Targeting the right audiences and reaching out to them efficiently via Tamly made this possible for the most part.

Sample output from Tamly Lead Generator

Other than Tamly, we use Figma as a free tool to design all sorts of graphics and UI. Plus, Trello allows us to stay on top of our roadmap and communicate tasks effectively as a free project management tool. However, for bigger teams and more complex projects, there could be some better project management tool alternatives although not free.

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

The books Lean Startup & Lean B2B and the podcast “This is Product Management” were really important to me.

You have to know that I am an engineer first and a businessman second. After a lot of experience, I figured out that it wasn’t the software’s fault that we weren’t making money. Certainly not the team. Thus, I figured that as the CEO I had to become a product manager for me to understand the steps of product market fit.

After speaking to a lot of product managers, reading many books, and listening to podcasts these 3 were life-changing for me. I learned that I had to change my entire approach to “Build the Next Thing”.

Lastly, Udemy was huge for me. For any skill I needed to learn throughout this journey, I just had to look up courses there and start hustling. In a few days, I would be able to function and question the topic that I am in. From then on, I become aware and able to pick up books that will help me solve relevant problems.

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

Off the top of my head: move with the ‘MVP mindset’! Shape your idea into a tangible product as fast as you can, without being stuck with the details and letting perfectionism hold you back.

Keep a select few team members as your core team. Entrepreneurs need to take on multiple roles and wear different hats as the team may need, so try meeting your operational needs with a few dedicated team members. You can move past many obstacles with such a supportive and agile team.

These allowed us to pivot at least 3 times within almost a year, and finally shape Tamly as it is now, ready to grow.

Where can we go to learn more?

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