Yaro Starak

Growing an email management service to $15K/month without code.

InboxDone

A human-powered email management service that organizes and replies to your emails.

$15,000

Monthly Revenue

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Built with

What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?

I've been an online entrepreneur since I was 18, which is now over 20 years. So, it's a very long journey. The first company where I hired someone to manage my email was an essay editing company called better edit.com. I later sold that company, but it was the first place where I experienced outsourcing email. And it really changed my life because I have to manically check my email every day, worrying about missing potential customers and getting back in time.

And then every business, since then, I have always had an email person. So it was a big, important part of my process of making myself more productive and also makes those businesses run better and also makes them more sellable - that's what motivated to start InboxDone.

If I go back to day zero as an entrepreneur, what motivated me to start my own company was ultimately freedom. I think most entrepreneurs will answer with something like that.

I was trying to make enough money to not to, you know, live with my parents. No loans. I wanted to be able to travel and to not have a boss. So all of the things that money grants you, it is all a form of freedom.

With InboxDone, we're trying to create more freedom for people by helping them break free from email.

What no code tools did you use to build InboxDone and what purpose did each play in the final product?

The most common tools we use are Thrive Architect and Beaver building, which are both essentially Wordpress tools that allow you to much more easily design and layout content on your Wordpress site without needing to go into the code. We also use Yesware to enhance what we can do with Gmail.

At the end of the day it's basically a website and the team behind the website. So we don't need a lot of software.


What were the initial costs to get Inbox Done off the ground?

Not much - mostly time. The main cost was Carrie, our tech person who helps people set up Wordpress websites. So we probably ended up spending initially $400-$500 in just basic website, design changes and setting up a few things there. But outside of that, it was just grunt work - myself doing the copy and my cofounder, Claire delivering the service.

There's more costs now in terms of, you know, legal costs, insurance costs, certain software tools we use, but not a lot - it's still a relatively low cost business. The biggest cost is making sure our contractors are paid well for doing what they do - being inbox managers.

What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?

This idea was always in the back of my mind, but I I was too busy creating courses and writing blogs and writing emails and doing my own podcast.

I had this great person I was working with named Claire, who was a managing my customer support email in my coaching business. And I said to her, listen - I think there's a business here. Let's get some test clients. See if you can deliver the service to them. See if we can charge them an amount of money where we make a profit and they're happy with the service. And if we can do that, then we'll actually start the business and make it official by registering a company and setting up the website.

Email is quite a nuanced part of outsourcing. It's not something you really should outsource to sell in for $5 an hour, because you're going to get not the great level of communication. So we were definitely charging a premium price to start with and still do today.

While Claire was working on setting up the systems and hiring and managing contractors, I was getting the website up and running and then promoting. So going out there and getting on podcasts and talking about the company and getting our third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh client and so on.

How do you attract customers?

My own email database was the very first customer acquisition point, but it didn't really prove to be a long lasting source of new customers at the end of the day. Once you've sent a few emails, there is only a few that are going to have a large enough business who are ready to spend a few thousand dollars plus a month on email management. We had five clients come from my own audience over about 6 months. - email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. At this point we had hired a full team of email managers.

After that I started doing other forms of outreach. I started going on podcasts talking about the idea of breaking free from email and how much of a problem that is for so many small business owners. So that works and we attracted and have continued to attract half of the clients from podcasts.

Google search has also been an ongoing source of traffic. I started by writing some articles for my own blog related phrases such as "getting free of email" , "inbox zero", etc. We've continued to expand on that by, basically we've hired a content manager now and they're producing articles for our own Inbox Done blog.

We also get word of mouth - I think is the other most common source of customers. I've also just started doing paid advertising but the ship has only just left. It's very much a test: pay-per-click Google paid ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads, and Facebook and Instagram, as well. So we'll see where that goes.

What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building InboxDone?

I think if I was going to answer this from Claire's perspective the biggest challenge s what we do - the delivery of an email management service but also the hiring part of that - finding good people, testing them, checking references, training them, and putting them with a client. That's been an ongoing improvement process.

From my perspective running the marketing side of it, the greatest challenge has been finding the right type of person for the service who can justify the spending $1000-$2000 per month on email. It's not super large companies because they tend of have executive assistants or dedicated customer support, but they can't be too small either. So there's a sweet spot in terms of size. In terms of topics or niches or industries, that's the part where I've found it very different in the sense that there's no connections between our clients. One minute it's a lawyer the next minute it's a rabbi, and the next minute it's a restaurant owner.


How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?

I think no code entrepreneurship is so early. I think only the very early adopters are even talking about this, whether it's, you know, angel investors or, entrepreneurs who are really paying attention to what's available in tools and technology. I like to think because it is so early, things will get better and better and you will see people create apps and websites and tools that literally are a hundred percent no code and become billion dollar company. I mean, that would be amazing.

Play with the tools. That's probably the most important thing. Just get your head around what no code can do right now and see the power you have access to without needing to hire technical people.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Get out there and just start businesses. There's no such thing as failure. There's only experience and that's certainly the ethos I've had. Plenty of things have not gone well, and plenty of things have gone really well. It's changed my life. It's given me the freedom that I was aiming for - the ability to travel the world, the ability to run a company (or several companies) from a laptop, free time, money to invest and buy properties. It's been a blessing, so I hope everyone gets to experience that who wants to. Thanks again - good luck everyone with your businesses.

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