Adam Stone, CEO of StartAdam, sheds light on how his unique communication consolidation tool skyrocketed in user acquisition using the power of SEO. By connecting platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, and Telegram, StartAdam simplifies B2B communication in an ingenious way.
Here’s what you’ll discover:
- 🤖 Behind the Brand: Dive deep into how StartAdam evolved from its early beginnings as Speedlancer.
- 🎯 Pinpointing Pain Points: Understanding the challenge of scattered B2B communication tools and offering a seamless solution.
- 🔍 The SEO Play: How Adam leveraged his SEO knowledge and the powerful keyword formula “Connect X to Y” to dominate user acquisition.
- 📌 Unique Positioning: Discover why Adam doesn’t see other platforms as competitors and how StartAdam offers an experience unlike any other.
- 💼 Enterprise Insights: The dual strategy for both inbound and outbound leads, and how they seal the deal with big companies in record time.
- 🔒 Security and Integration: Why simple solutions like Zapier can’t rival what StartAdam offers and how they ensure seamless cross-platform communication.
- 💡 The Future Vision: Adam’s upcoming strategies and the next steps in the StartAdam journey, from hiring to integrations.
Join us as Adam takes us on a journey from a unique product conception to rapid growth, emphasizing the importance of understanding customer needs and capitalizing on SEO’s might in the SaaS world.
You can watch this episode on youtube here,
I think if you SEO can happen pretty quickly, people think it takes six months, but if you have a page and people are searching for it, and there's low competition, you're going to be found.Upendra Varma:
Hello everyone. Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast. I'm your host Upendra Varma. And today we have Adam Stone with us. Adam is the founder and CEO of a company called StartAdam. Hey Adam, welcome to the show.Adam Stone:
Thank you so much. Appreciate it.Upendra Varma:
So Adam, that's an interesting company name here, right? So what does your product do and why customers pay you money?Adam Stone:
Well, it sounds for automated data, automated management for the record, which happened to be the perfect name. So I'll happily change my name. It's no problem. Uh, what we do is we communicate, sorry, we consolidate communication tools together fundamentally, right? So we connect Slack, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Telegram, Discord, text message, and then we can do interesting things, um, with, with the chat in that context. We can start to be. Bring products into the conversation, like SAS tools that you use, CRM tools. Um, so each party can contextually use the tools that they need. In the context of the conversation that you're having with the other person. So after this call, you know, you could, uh, we could chat together from your WhatsApp to my Slack account, for example, using what we call, uh, an a link. So I have a dot link slash Adam stone. If anyone wants to connect with me afterwards. Um, but yeah, we're mainly focused on sales, customer success type type experiences.Upendra Varma:
Got it. That makes a lot of sense. And can you talk a bit about this, right? So, I mean, it looks like a horizontal platform that potentially anybody in the world can use it, right? So what's, what's the thought process here, right? Why just stick to like, who are you focusing on today? Is it justAdam Stone:
Yeah, so we actually get a lot of, uh, we get a lot of inbound traffic, actually, because we have search terms like connect, uh, WhatsApp to Telegram, for example, and so we get a lot of inbound, uh, and a lot of those are B2C, right, and we ignore them, but there are some B2B ones in there, so we're a freemium model. In our outbound, we choose to focus on the sales and customer success experience because we found that adds the most, that we are able to add the most value to those teams. Um, because it helps you maintain a better relationship with your customers or your prospects or your leads, and then stay in touch with them for the life cycle of your journey. And then it helps the entire team because the transcript of the conversation, let's say with a salesperson. And to a lead between WhatsApp and their Slack account, um, that synchronizes to the company's CRM. So all of a sudden, even though a salesperson's using WhatsApp to communicate, the communications still end up in the company's own CRM.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. And I want to understand your customer base today. Right. So like how many paying customers do you have on your platform as of today?Adam Stone:
Yeah. So I'm probably not going to talk about how many and how much and stuff, but,Upendra Varma:
give, give me, give me a sense of, you know, how people are using your product, right? Who are these people? Right. So how many you have maybe on an overall user account, whatever that is, right, that you'reAdam Stone:
yeah, of course. So we, we launched our product about three or four months ago now. Um, and in that time we've had more than 3, 000 customers, sorry, 3, 000 users, uh, sign up, uh, on a freemium model. So that could give you an idea. So we get up to 20 a day now.Upendra Varma:
All right. So like my next question, like where are you getting all of these people from? Like, how did you sort of, you know, get 3000 people sign up to your product? Right. So what's been working for you? Where are they discovering you?Adam Stone:
have a background in SEO, so I think that's been very helpful for us. We also have a product in a space that other people just don't really have compelling products. So it's, you know, we found a niche, I would say. Um. The other thing is we have some innate virality in the product. Like if I'm talking to you, then I brought you onto the product. And then maybe one out of five, one out of 10 of people like you will end up using the product. Yourselves or themselves, uh, and so on. So we do have innate, I would call it like a two to one viral coefficient. At least you can also create cross platform groups, right? So if someone wanted to create a group with 500 people and make it a broadcast, like if you want to stay in touch with your podcast network, you could have, um, a link for your podcast, um, that people can join that creates a cross platform group so people can join from WhatsApp, Telegram, Slack, text message, whatever they like. And you can broadcast messages out. Right. But the good thing for us is if you do that, and that's a paid feature. So we get paid for that. Um, you actually bring on 100 or maybe 1000 people onto the experience. Um, so,Upendra Varma:
So can you just try to quantify this? Right. So, I mean, uh, because it's interesting in the sense that, okay, you've got this SEO background, right? But how have you been able to sort of, you know, get all such customers in just such a short, short amount of time? Have you been working on lead generation for a while now, because it takes time, right, to get ranked for all of these terms. So what'sAdam Stone:
I think if you SEO can happen pretty quickly, people think it takes six months, but if you have a page and people are searching for it, and there's low competition, you're going to be found. For that search term,Upendra Varma:
and can you quantify this, right? So when have you been putting in, you know, efforts to sort of like this SEO content and what sort of content are we talking about here?Adam Stone:
not necessarily content, as you might think about it, it's more just having a page available on the site. So you need to have the foundations for SEO, otherwise it doesn't work. Like Google can't just know what you do, right? Just like a user can't come to your site and know what you do. So I think about Google and, uh, users in the same vein, actually. What's good for the users is good for us.Upendra Varma:
Right. So like quantify this, just so you've got like around 3000 users, right? Can you just approximately let me like how many of them discovered through one of this organic, you know, SEO search, right? Can you just put a number there?Adam Stone:
90 percent of them.Upendra Varma:
Okay. So now my question goes right. So all I'm understanding is right to a couple months back, you, you came up with this bunch of landing pages that users are searching for. And now like you've, you've like, you've seen 3000 users in what, like three months, like that, that just looks too, too amazing. Right. So like, what, like what, what's, what's the secret sauce here? Right. So what's been working here? Was this just, you know, what's your keyword strategy or can you just talk about that?Adam Stone:
Yeah. I mean, so we're fortunate because we've got a lot of different combinations of keywords, right? Connect Slack to my HubSpot account. You know, that would be one of them. Connect WhatsApp to Telegram would be another one, right? And then there's the more business oriented ones, like you could imagine. Connect Slack to Microsoft Teams would be a valuable one. That one actually I don't think is our highest volume and that probably is a little more competition, but really the competition is nonsense because nobody's doing what we're doing. So, um, it's a difficult problem that we've had to solve. It took us about a year of development where it should have taken three months. Um, yeah, so I think it's a combination of good SEO strategy and having a product in a niche that is sort of not really looked at. I think that's the idea of SaaS, right? You want to have a software in a space where you have a niche. And I think SEO is a really good way of validating that.Upendra Varma:
So essentially connect X to Y that's, that's the keyword that you've been focusing with X and Y being your variables. And then you've got whole bunch of, you know, iterations and then you've just built landing pages for all of those. Right. And that's driving almost all of your traffic today.Adam Stone:
Yeah, you could say that.Upendra Varma:
That's, that's wonderful. Right. So, and like, what's the plan going forward? And just tell me, right. Have you managed to convert any of these, you know, free users to page users? Is there a good conversion rate there?Adam Stone:
Yeah, while we've been on the call, someone signed up.Upendra Varma:
So can you quantify, are you comfortable with that?Adam Stone:
Uh, can I, sorry, say that again?Upendra Varma:
for every hundred users signing up, right? So how many of them are actually ending up on your paid plan today?Adam Stone:
Yeah, I'm probably not going to talk too much about that. I'd say it's on the earlier stages, right? So it's not, um, happening on a basis that I could even quantify that question, right? Um, because most of the users, we're only rolled out billing about a week or two weeks ago. Um, we were doing outbound, right? And we allowed people to sign up and we were testing things like we actually effed up, um, quite a bit, which I'm happy to talk about. Um, killed our growth for a month by trying to charge all of our free users. Um, but yeah, it's only been like a week or two since we've actually had billing baked into the product.Upendra Varma:
what else have you been trying apart from, you know, SEO? So, and obviously apart from the virality part that that's embedded in your product, like, is there anything that you've been, you talked about outbound, right? SoAdam Stone:
Yeah, I think. It's, it's funny cause like you look at the scalable channels and then you look at the unscalable channels and sometimes they perform the same as each other. Right. So in our example, I would say, uh, SEO channel, uh, which performs really well from a freemium base, but then, uh, LinkedIn, for example, press articles, these things that I would call somewhat unscalable. Those have led to like an equal or if not higher amount of revenue that's been brought in. than the actual, you know, SEO that's bringing in thousands of users. So I think it's important to be doing both things at the same time. Like you can work on scalable things, but then you need to do things that don't scale as well. Um, engaging with your audience, building an audience, all that stuff.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So Adam, just, you know, go back like six, 12 months before. Right. So how did it all start? Right. So where did you get the idea for this product and you know, how have you started, you know, building the brand and the whole thing here, right? So just walk us through that journey.Adam Stone:
Yeah, it was kind of a fun journey. Um, so we started building about eight. Uh, eight years ago, uh, under, under Speedlancer, which was my old freelancing marketplace platform. That was the first verticalized freelancing marketplace. Nobody else was doing freelancing marketplaces at the time other than Upwork and Fiverr, right? And then there was us. So we got a bit of a name, a name for ourselves. We had a couple of thousand customers, um, paying, um, uh, but you know, during COVID, like everything sort of shifted. And 700 marketplaces popped up. Everything became really competitive. Um, so we were kind of at a high, and I knew it was going to be a high for Speedlancer. So I let it actually taper down to basically zero. Um, but during that time, we were focusing on the SaaS. And so what we did was we took the software that we had spent years building for Speedlancer, which would connect freelancers with companies. via their communication tools. Um, it was actually specially built for Slack to Slack before Slack had their own Slack Connect product. Uh, and in fact, we were the first Slack bot that actually did anything in 2015. Um, which is, I guess, our claim to fame. But that, it became StartAtom, which actually started as a project management tool, and then we focused on, on sales piece.Upendra Varma:
Got it. And that's how it started. Right. And like, so what was, what was the goal on day one? Right. Was it always about, you know, just using SEO and, you know, virality or what else are you planning going forward here?Adam Stone:
No, it was terrifying. I, um, spoke to a couple of investors. I told them we weren't really raising. We didn't even have a product yet. Um, I sort of wanted their thoughts. We ended up closing around accidentally pre product and everything. Uh, I think we had, you know, we have a really good team. My CTO is a, uh, an ex AI professor of 35 years. So, um, got an amazing team, butUpendra Varma:
how big of a team are we talking about today?Adam Stone:
uh, right now it's about six of us.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. So we're pretty lean, but. Lean and mean, but, um, we, we came, we, we, at that time before we had a product, I mean, we didn't have a product, right? So we definitely didn't have a go to market strategy. Um, I remember telling someone at like a party, like what I'm, what I'm working on, what I'm doing. And they're like, they're asking me what's your go to market strategy. And I'm like, it'll unfold. You never know. You don't know what channels are going to work. Right. So you just have to try things. And all of a sudden SEO was taking off with Speedlancer SEO did not take off. And I thought it would take off. Right. Like for Fiverr, it took off for us. It didn't, uh, for my e commerce business, uh, SEO was the main, um, was the main way of us getting traffic. So there's no rhyme or reason about it. I didn't think that we get any traction on LinkedIn just by posting, but look, I think people resonate with the concept. People resonate instantly with the frustration of too many communication tools, and so it's about finding the B2B use case for that and then going for that.Upendra Varma:
So Adam, I can't see a pricing page on your, you know, on your homepage there. Right. So like, was itAdam Stone:
is one.Upendra Varma:
Okay. I couldn't, I tried from my place and be, I'll just try it again. Right. So I, I thought like there's this talk to sales being that, you know, main CTA. Right. I thought it would be, you know, enterprising deals that you were trying to push from day one. Is that what you're looking at?Adam Stone:
Uh, we're kind of doing a two fold strategy, right? We're accepting whatever inbound leads we get, inbound customers we get, and then we have the outbound strategy as well, which is more enterprise focused.Upendra Varma:
Okay. So yeah, what's, what's, what's going to happen in the future, right? So now what, what are you investing your time and efforts going forward? Right. So are you going to scale your outbound team or what, what's, what's going to happen? Just. WhatAdam Stone:
Yeah, we're hopefully about to hire our first, like, head of sales to go after enterprise. Um, meanwhile, we have a bunch of enterprise leads that we're going after. So I'm hoping those will close and we'll be in a really good position by the time that's done, um, just closed out next funding round, which is great.Upendra Varma:
And then have you managed to sort of close any enterprise deals so far? I mean, is itAdam Stone:
Yeah, we have.Upendra Varma:
Okay. And just talk about the sales cycle, right? So how big of a deals are we talking about? Is it a 100, 10, 000 deal? Like what's that sweet spot look like today?Adam Stone:
Yeah. Right now. They're like five figure. Um, and I think we've got a few more of those that will probably be five figure deals. Um, six figure deals. We've had a few leads that haven't, um, haven't closed them orUpendra Varma:
And then, and like, so just pick, like, I just want to understand the motion here, right? So for majority of these enterprise deals that you're trying to close. Are they inbound? Are they, you know, these outbound leads that you've sort of managed to reachAdam Stone:
bit of both, you could call them like channel partnerships or inbound, a mix of both of those things. Uh, and then we've had some come, you know, fully inbound through SEO and such. Um,Upendra Varma:
and like, what does the sales cycle look like? Because I'm asking you specifically, right? Because this, this does look like a novel product, you know, that's, that's not, you know, it's not a replacement of anything, right? It's more like something, a newer way of doing things, right? So, I mean, it's not easy to sell something like that, right? That they're going to be a lot of, you know, questions, all of it, right? So like, how does the sales cycle look like? Are, are your customers comfortable, you know, accepting, you know, your product? What's happening when you go into those sales conversations? You just give us a sense of that.Adam Stone:
no, I mean, they're pretty positive and fast moving. I mean, we had someone sign up within a day and someone pay us annually upfront, you know, for Multiple users and then upgrade two months later and pass annually for those upgrades and pay four times as much as they had been, um, today we've got a I. T. approval process starting for a lead that we spoke to a week ago. So they're pretty quick. I think I don't know if I agree with your assumption that because it's a new product, it takes a while. Like, I think,Upendra Varma:
So, okay. My question was a bit different, right? So in terms of competitive landscape, right? So are you positioning yourself against any, you know, existing competitors? Do you have any of those?Adam Stone:
um, I'm definitely not positioning ourselves, ourselves against, um, competitors. Right. If they come up in a conversation, it's like people focus so much on competition, but as far as I'm concerned, nothing's competition until my customer says it to me. Right. If they go, Oh, why would I use you instead of so and so? And I can't answer the question, then that's, then that's the true competitor, right? If someone exists in a, in a very fringe market or requires a lot of integration, or they haven't spoken to the customer that we spoken to, then there's no competition. And I'm certainly not about to tell the customer about any competition. Um, although I'm not aware of any competition that would, uh, that I would need to disclose. But, um, yeah, does that answer the question?Upendra Varma:
Yeah, in a way it does. Right. And can Zapier do all of these that you mentioned or, you know, are you doing something way more than that?Adam Stone:
Yeah, no, we, we integrate with Zapier. Um, it really has very little to do with us. Zapier doesn't do cross platform communication. Um, we do. Right. So you could maybe send a single message from one platform, maybe to another platform, but still you need to onboard the other user, right? So if I want to talk to you and I'm going to make you give me your API key. Uh, I think you're just going to prefer email. So there's a lot of work that goes into, uh, making the experience really as magical as it can be.Upendra Varma:
Got it. All right, Adam, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Hope you scale your company to much, much greater heights.Adam Stone:
No, I appreciate it. Thank you.