How a freemium form builder is hitting $5M in revenue

Today’s guest is Florin Cornianu. He is the founder of 123FormBuilder which allows users to create any type of online forms and manage workflows.

I’ve interviewed 100 founders who have created similar software tools. I want to find out how the heck this company is doing so well.

 

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Florin Cornianu

Florin Cornianu

123FormBuilder

Florin Cornianu is the founder of 123FormBuilder which allows users to create any type of online forms and manage workflows.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. and I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are hungry, aggressive, determined to build their businesses. And I know it sounds a little corny but, yeah, and change the world. I really do believe that entrepreneurs change the world. I’ll give you an example. I used to take BART to work on days when I didn’t run in. I hate taking the train to work. I love getting to run to work. That’s why like I get an office that’s just six miles away from my house so I have a six-mile run into work.

I hate taking BART. You know what I did this morning, Florin?

Florin: I don’t know.

Andrew: I road an electric bike. I should have given you a second to answer. I rode an electric bike. I said, “You know what, I don’t want to be underground. But what else can I do? I’m now taking a car, that doesn’t feel exciting either. I’m taking an electric bike.” Now there are a bunch of us now who are just taking these bikes by the minute we pay. I paid $2, less than taking the train, to bike in.

It changes my attitude, and it’s not just me. I see people now on scooters. I see people on bikes that aren’t electric bikes, and I’m looking around, it’s a little chilly here in San Francisco but we’re all a little happier because we’re outdoors. And as I look around the city I see that we’re expanding the parts of city that are accessible because for some freakin’ reason the city will not have trains that go beyond this like little strip. Now it doesn’t matter because entrepreneurs are bringing car sharing. They’re bringing ride sharing. They’re bringing electric scooters, electric bikes, regular scooters, regular . . . this is the future, this is what entrepreneurs do.

So yes, call me corny when I say entrepreneurs change the world. But you know what? Those little touches, literally change my world every day. Florin, do you think I’m corny for saying or talking like this?

Florin: Yeah, just a bit.

Andrew: Just a bit, all right.

Florin: Yeah. Just a bit. I’m sure you got no kids, you know, because if you’ve got kids, I don’t think you can afford to get to work using a bike.

Andrew: Believe it or not, I do have kids. I got a two-year-old and a four-year-old, yes.

Florin: Congratulations.

Andrew: I saw your eyes light up. I will spend a day with them taking care of them and you know what, electric bike takes, it took me 21 minutes to get to the office. It cost me $2. I sent a screenshot to my wife. BART would cost me $2.15 and would take me about the same amount of time, but I wouldn’t get door to door. I have to still walk like a sucker from the train.

Florin: Oh yeah. Okay. Nice.

Andrew: Yeah. I’m doing it all, baby. I’m running this business. I am running up a storm. I’m going to run through every continent next year, and that’s my goal. And at the same time I’m taking care of the kids. All right, I’m one of the most hands-on dads you’ll ever meet. I’m shot out of the cannon.

I didn’t even a chance to introduce you. So Florin is the guy whose voice you’re hearing. His name is Florin Cornianu. He is the founder of a tool called 123FormBuilder. It allows anyone to create any type of online form and manage workflows.

Listen, Florin, one of the things I’m going to ask you is how are you competing to . . . I’ve interviewed now a zillion different guys who create online form software and they’re all doing well financially. How are you guys all doing well? I’ll ask you about that in a moment.

First, let me tell you and everyone else this interview — I should just take a pause and not talk so fast — is sponsored by a site that will let you host your website right, it’s called HostGator, and a company that will help you hire phenomenal developers. So if you’re getting excited about what Florin is building and you want to build something of your own or you want to expand what you’re already building, you’re going to want to contact my second sponsor. It’s called Toptal.

Florin, first question, revenue. What is your annual revenue right now at 123FormBuilder?

Florin: Well, it’s under 10 million a year, but . . .

Andrew: And over how much? I have the number here in front of me. I’m not going to say it, but you told our producer, over how much?

Florin: Over five.

Andrew: Over 5 and under 10.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Gives us a hint. You guys are profitable?

Florin: Yeah, slightly profitable. Our goal has been always growth.

Andrew: The majority of your spending does it go on team, or does it go to marketing?

Florin: I think its split quite equally between team and marketing. There are some advantages into having a business in Europe, in Romania, you know? But it’s okay, yeah, we . . .

Andrew: And the advantage is that you’re not spending a ton on developers the way that we might here in San Francisco.

Florin: Yeah, although trust me, getting good developers is the same problem all over the world I think.

Andrew: So when you say marketing, I’m always trying to figure out where your marketing was. I couldn’t spot it. Where are you spending your marketing dollars?

Florin: We’re spending quite a lot of money on AdWords, to be honest.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Florin: And acquiring users has been always one of the biggest pains and objectives at the same time. But, yeah, that’s the destination of most of our marketing revenue.

Andrew: What I’ve noticed is that at least one of your competitors is embedding his software into the platform that he wants to work with. So you can imagine maybe getting a new WordPress site and then embedded in it is a free version of a form builder. And then if you want to upgrade, you pay a little bit extra and that’s one way that he’s grown. But that’s not the way that you do it, huh?

Florin: Actually, we took the same path. We are a freemium business model tool, meaning you can do it for free and limit it through different features or let’s say options. But the moment you want to get more out of the product, you have to pay.

Andrew: Right, but it’s not embedding within someone else’s software. It’s not part of the way that you market. The other thing that I see your competitors do is on the free version they put a link back to their site. And it seems like you do that too, right?

Florin: Yeah. It seems like quite a common growth tactics. And we do have multiple ways of using the forms you create with our product. You can access them through direct link or embed them through an iFrame into different web pages or WordPress sites or free pages. So it depends on your need.

Andrew: You know something that stood out for me and my team’s notes on you was, we asked you about your background and you said, “Success wasn’t a surprise for me.” You knew you were going to be successful. Partially it’s because you live with your grandparents as a kid and on vacations, you’d spend time with them.

Florin: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Andrew: And when you were there, tell me what you did that makes you feel today like you’re inevitably going to succeed?

Florin: Well, I had a lot of experience selling vegetables in the market, you know, so I always knew I’m going to . . .

Andrew: Literally you would stand in the market and sell?

Florin: Yeah, of course, you know, you got to do what you got to do. So my grandparents were a big producer of tomatoes I think or peppers, and so we had to go to the market and sell them every summer. And this is how I met people, you know, learn to negotiate a bit and seeing the value of actually selling something that’s useful for someone else.

Andrew: How would you sell it? What would you do that [you’d sell it 00:07:10]?

Florin: Well, I would look every person that looked towards me in the eye, you know, and I was inviting them to come on have a look, get closer, what do you need, what are you trying to get, what would you need them for, you know, and those tiny little things were useful when you started selling software, although it seems a bit strange I have to admit.

Andrew: What do you mean? You’re not looking people in the eye when you’re selling software anymore. It’s your website that does the selling, isn’t it?

Florin: Yeah, absolutely, but it’ still about the customer need, you know. It still about trying to look them in the eye metaphorically speaking and providing something of value that they can use in their life.

Andrew: Yeah. You know what, when I was a kid my dad at one point owned clothing stores. He went from manufacturing women’s clothing to then having stores that sold it, and I would, when the store was closed, be handed a stack of flyers and I’d have to go out and hand these sheets of papers with what was on sale and nobody wants to take it from you unless if you look them in the eye and you say, and you handed over, just looking them in the eye makes people feel like they have to take it from you. It’s too awkward not to. That one little thing, huge difference.

Florin: Yeah. Who would refuse a small child, you know, when they look at you and they want to give you something? So, yeah, that’s maybe the first marketing and growth hacking tactic that I learned back then, you know? Although it’s a bit weird using the kids to do the stuff but, you know?

Andrew: No, I wish I had a store to send those two kids of mine to go and work. I’m waiting for the weather to get warm. I can’t wait to have a lemonade stand.

Florin: Yeah. I got to admit, you know, I’m constantly thinking about how could I drive this passion for doing stuff for my two girls, because I have two kids on my own. Now the situation is a bit different nowadays, you know? With all these access to technology and the different society, they might be inclined into just staying home and watching TV or playing on their Xboxes instead of going out and selling something.

Andrew: Yeah, they’re not standing in the market telling people to come and take a look at their peppers or anything.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Are they doing that?

Florin: No, no, no, they aren’t. Sorry for them but I got to think of something else.

Andrew: You said also to our producer, “I loved making money.” What did you love about it? The thing that I didn’t like about working at my dad’s store is I couldn’t really get to see if we were doing any better. I didn’t get the profit from it. It wasn’t until I had my own stuff that I got excited about the extra money I was making because it let me dream of what I could buy with it.

Florin: Yeah. My grandmom played this very smart. I got to admit, you know, she showed me the benefits immediately. So at the end of the summer I got my own allowance because of participating in the process, and each summer I bought something nice, like, I don’t know, a cassette recorder or some sort of beep toy, you know, which really made the difference. So it wasn’t just hard work, you know, it was also fun with this.

Andrew: You know what, I am going to get my kids out for a lemonade stand as soon as it gets hot, which is hard in San Francisco because it’s hardly gets hot. And my goal is to not make it for any kind of charity, not that I have anything against nonprofits. We should be raising money for charities and so on. I feel like there are a lot of kids who are doing lemonade stands to give money to a nonprofit, and they’re missing out on this connection between the hard work you do and the payoff you get at the end, that you got a tape recorder or whatever lets you connect the hard work with the result and that’s important. Okay. Don’t you think?

Florin: Yeah. I totally agree with this. You know, I’m okay with donating, but you need to learn what’s the benefit of doing something, you know. Otherwise, kids will get bored. You know, they won’t see this passion. They won’t learn the passion.

Andrew: You know what I should do? I should do what Jeffrey Archer used to do in his books. He used to write these novels about successful kids who are going to start businesses and then these poor kids who are also going to start businesses. And in the novel, their lives would kind of connect but not exactly intertwine, and you’d see that they both were willing to donate money like from an early age, they’d make money and then they’d set some aside to give to somebody, and I feel like both feelings are really important. I got to do that.

Florin: Good luck.

Andrew: You guys do anything like a lemonade stand in Romania?

Florin: Well, it’s not that common. I have to admit. Volunteering is indeed unusual here. People aren’t that used to volunteering as the [inaudible 00:11:55]

Andrew: What about lemonade stands as a way for kids to learn to sell? Do you guys do that? No?

Florin: No, not really. Not even cutting the grass, you know?

Andrew: Yeah, really?

Florin: We don’t do that. It’s more about helping your parents. Each kid is inclining towards helping his own parents with something.

Andrew: Do your kids come to the office to help you?

Florin: They are kind of small now, you know, just five and seven. So they got plenty of time to do that.

Andrew: Now, I would start mine off now, but there’s nothing to do in here. I keep thinking of busy work, but I thought staple paper and then I’ll throw it away and go, “Why don’t I have paper in here? I got no paper.”

Florin: Yeah. Well, I’m sure we’ll figure out something, right?

Andrew: We will. We will. For some reason I sweat it more than you seem to. I like that you’ve got like a more natural attitude about this. Hey, let’s go to this site that I’ve got up on my screen, Adolix Software. Am I pronouncing it right?

Florin: Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Andrew: What is Adolix Software? It’s still up.

Florin: Well, that’s one of our initial projects. So I’ve actually started 123FormBuilder with Tudor, my cofounder, and we go way back. It’s like, I don’t know, 18th anniversary of our collaboration. And when we were in the university, we started doing different things like Adolix and building some software to sell online and building websites for others. So we did our best to produce something out of our let’s say work and . . .

Andrew: It was just trying as you met each other, trying to come up with the new business idea. What’s your equivalent of selling peppers and you were looking and looking and looking. What’s the dumbest thing that you guys created before we get to the smart stuff that you did.

Florin: The dumbest one, there are actually a lot of dumb things.

Andrew: For example?

Florin: Yeah, at some point we created different things related to PDFs, creating PDFs and so on, and we actually came up with the idea of having a one-stop location for PDF resources. We came up with the best name all for PDFs, and we just had one task to each of us to write a few articles every month, you know, to have the content there. So we were very sure it’s going to be a big hit, but we got bored after two articles. So in half a month, it died completely because we didn’t continue with it.

Andrew: But it was going to be a content site about PDFs, or was it to sell some kind of PDF software?

Florin: And software and content and everything. It wasn’t that clear.

Andrew: Got it. It doesn’t seem like you guys . . .

Florin: But we knew for sure that . . .

Andrew: You knew for sure what, sorry?

Florin: Yeah. We knew for sure it’s going to be a hit until we had to write the third article, and then we gave up.

Andrew: It does seem like you guys were into PDFs. Like one of the tools that I see on adolix.com is . . . actually there are a few PDF converters, a few PDF converters. Then there’s one that converts PDFs into images, which I find frankly useful because I think a lot of apps don’t handle . . . Whoa, that’s my second computer. It’s been going bonkers today.

Florin: No worries.

Andrew: At what point did you realize . . . which of these products became a hit? What’s the first one?

Florin: Actually none of them became a big hit, unfortunately.

Andrew: Really?

Florin: No. No. So we got probably 10 projects that were mediocre or just, you know, getting us a few bucks every now and then.

Andrew: Can I read some of them?

Florin: Yeah. Please do. It’s no secret, of course.

Andrew: There’s a wallpaper changer, free wallpaper changer and sequencer that will allow you to customize your desktop. You can make a play list of your favorite pictures and play it all day long. Various file formats are supported. Many, many options are available. Computer securities, another piece of software that you guys created. Computer security is designed to protect your computer. You can encrypt and hide your sensitive files, transfer them to another computer using self-extracting package, delete them beyond recovery and even lock your personal applications. There is, as I keep going through this, the PDF stuff that I mentioned earlier. You’ve got a lot of email backup software, how to backup [Outlook in 00:16:14] WordPress and so on. But these were not moneymakers?

Florin: No. They weren’t, and actually I take it back, the stupidest things we did was believing that a product can succeed if we call it computer security, you know? Yeah, that was pretty dumb, I have to say. But nevertheless, you know, we learned a few things out of those [inaudible 00:16:41].

Andrew: What did you learn?

Florin: How to market online, how to try to bring customers, how to play with Google SERP, and different things, how to sell online, what’s the best way to get the money. How do you actually get the money from your business into your pockets? As with the . . .

Andrew: Well, what’s the best way to sell? What did you learn about selling through all these experiments?

Florin: We used the payment processors. Digital River was very big back then. So it was a very straightforward way to collect credit card payments.

Andrew: All right. What about this keyword tool? Was that any good? Did that work?

Florin: To be honest, that could have been better, but we made the mistake of not reacting fast enough to a Google API change.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: That’s the lesson from back then. It took us like one month to make a few updates to our code, and we lost all the users we got up to that moment.

Andrew: Oh wow. Okay. Were you making a living off of this?

Florin: Yeah. I think 10 years ago we actually gave up on our day jobs. We worked, both of us for big multinational companies in Timisoara. And we decided to stick just to our online projects. And when we did that, we had families so we had to sustain ourselves with a bit of money, and that was a very good call back then.

Andrew: To quit so that you can focus full-time on this. That was a good call.

Florin: Yeah. But we played it a bit smart.

Andrew: How?

Florin: If I may, we waited until we got enough money from our projects to match the salaries we were getting.

Andrew: Okay. So things were starting to take off. It seems like around 2009 is when you decided to get into the form software business, right?

Florin: Yeah. You know, overnight success takes time. It took us 10 years to get to a point.

Andrew: Where did you get the idea for it?

Florin: Yeah, good question. I didn’t mention all those projects that we were working out. We did a bit of outsourcing but not that much. We build different websites and we needed forms for those. So we got tired of copy-pasting the same code. So we thought about building something that would automate the process.

Andrew: For your clients?

Florin: For us and for our clients, yes.

Andrew: So I’m looking on your site. I don’t see forms on your site. Did I miss it? Did you have forms on your site that I didn’t catch, except for the order forms?

Florin: Actually, if you’re looking at 123formbuilder.com, you can build those forms.

Andrew: But not back then. What I mean is I’m trying to see evidence of you guys making forms by hand before you found your software.

Florin: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Were you putting it on your site? Like was your contact form something that you guys created yourselves?

Florin: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: It was.

Florin: Exactly.

Andrew: So it’s like the contact form that’s on there, you guys built that. Got it, okay.

Florin: And then we replaced it with the one with 123FormBuilder.

Andrew: The current one.

Florin: But then it was named 123ContactForm.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so you’re starting to see, hey, look, this contact stuff is really hard. But there existed form software back then. If you had a . . . no?

Florin: Yeah, they did. Of course, they did. But who knew about research that much, you know, back then?

Andrew: Oh, got it. That’s what that look was that you gave me when I asked the question. It was just like who knew it existed. You just said, “Let’s create another piece of software.” You guys were just pumping out software. How did you create software so fast? I couldn’t go through the whole list without boring my audience, because the list would go on forever of all the different tools that you guys created. What was your process for creating software? Where most people can’t create one, you created all those.
Florin: Yeah. Both of us were engineers and developers, so this is what made it easy. But we just sat down and started coding. You know, as a developer the happiest, the more code you create, the happier you are. It’s like a drug. So this is where it’s easy to code things.

Andrew: So the easy part was to sit and say, “I need this form builder. I think I could do it.”

Florin: [inaudible 00:21:01].

Andre: The harder part was to say, “Let’s talk to customers and understand what they need.”

Florin: Let’s turn that into a business. You know, this is actually a good and the big lesson for us, and I keep telling that to people that I stumble upon and they want to build their own stuff and have their own startups. So building the product is the easy part.

Andrew: All right. We’re going to come back and talk about the hard part. Let me first do a quick message for Toptal. If you’re out there and you’ve got a side business, or I don’t mean a side business, but a project that is not directly related to what your businesses is about but you need it built well. Maybe you don’t have enough time for your developers to focus on it. Maybe it’s a kind of thing that you keep saying, “We need to get to it at some point.” But you can’t get to it.

Here’s the thing. Go to Toptal, bring them your big challenge. Say, “Look I need a developer who does . . . ” and then fill in the blank. You’ll get to actually talk to someone and let them bring you the best of the best developers to create it for you. And if it’s a small project, maybe it’s just a project-based hiring process that you go through with them. You just find someone, does the project for you, and then it becomes maybe bigger than you expected, it becomes a tool that you end up selling. If it’s a full-time project, they could give you full-time people. You could get a team of people who are used to working together.

Every other hiring site that I know works the same way. List your job on some site or maybe a collection of sites and then they give you better tools for screening. Toptal is the only one that I know of that says we’re going to reverse the whole process. We’re going to get a network of developers under our umbrella. When you need somebody, we will just match you with our existing developers and just go get started, often within days.

If you want to get started with them, go to toptal.com/mixergy. That’s where you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to an incredible guarantee. Basically, you’re not going to have to pay unless you’re satisfied. But go read the details and see this unusual offer that they’re only making to us, because they’re Mixergy fans, at Top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy.

And Florin you’ll be happy to know, a lot of developers the reason they’re less expensive is they’re Google caliber people, but they might be living in Eastern Europe. They might be living in other parts of the world where it’s cheaper, and so they don’t have to charge as much.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. So someone says to you, “Look, I know how to code this up.” You say that’s not the hard part. You say instead the hard part is what?

Florin: The hard part, from my point of view, is turning a product into a scalable and sustainable business.

Andrew: Okay. And so does that mean getting customers, hiring a team, having . . . it does. So how did you get the first batch of customers?

Florin: Well, it took us quite a while to get let’s say an endless stream of customers. So we just created our website and got lucky with the Google SERP, did a bit of SEO, because this is the value of the previous products we created. And we got lucky to rank quite good on different keywords. And organically we started getting customers.

Andrew: What were you good at with SEO? And I could see how that previous SEO tool would have helped you understand search engine optimization. What did you do that worked for you but wasn’t obvious back then?

Florin: Yeah. It was quite a different landscape from now. But back then it worked to publish a few articles on different websites, to list your website into different directories with links, basically try to get good references for your products. So we worked hard to get those, and this is what worked back then.

Andrew: Linkbacks?

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: How did you get those linkbacks? Were you buying them?

Florin: Not all of them.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: But no, on a more serious note, the majority of them were taken from link directories, you know?

Andrew: Got it, okay.

Florin: DMOZ, Yahoo directories, stuff like that.

Andrew: I’m taking a look at their early website. You didn’t so a lot of content on the site.

Florin: Please don’t look in the Wayback Machine, you know?

Andrew: I love the Wayback Machine.

Florin: We didn’t have a designer on board. You know, we hired one, I don’t know, just a few years ago. So the early versions of our product we’re looking back with, I got to say . . .

Andrew: Can I say you also didn’t have somebody to go in and proofread your site? It’s like commas would be . . .

Florin: Oh, that’s for sure.

Andrew: . . . in random spots.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: But I think that that is a piece of history that you’ve got to preserve, because it just shows how simple you guys created things and got started. You know what I couldn’t figure out? Why is it that the early website used to link to coredownload.com? What was your connection to CoreDownload? Was it a link exchange type of thing?

Florin: No, that’s actually one of our other projects that we did back then, so.

Andrew: What was that?

Florin: It was similar to download.com, if you remember the type of business where you had different software and you got a commission as an affiliate out of them. It was a library of software built by third party basically.

Andrew: And what was your revenue model for that?

Florin: Google advertising.

Andrew: Okay. So if I look for say education or game software, at the top there’d be some ads.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Florin: Google Ads, that’s basically that was it.

Andrew: And it seems like maybe some affiliate stuff, because occasionally you’d let me buy the full version of some software too, right?

Florin: Yeah. And we will give you a discount out of our commission and so on. It was a good business model, but it failed at some point.

Andrew: You guys just had a ton of software that you created. I mean, as I go through this, I don’t even know how to fully give it like the server tools, the whole thing, it just keeps going on and on. It was just a bunch of stuff. How did you know this was going to be the right one, that 123ContactForm, which eventually became 123FormBuilder, how did you know this was the one to go and put all your chips behind?

Florin: At some point, it made enough revenue to cover the rest. You know, we had identified it as the big chip. And please keep in mind it took us three years to reach that stage with it. We were very lucky to use the subscription approach instead of selling it one time, which was quite unusual back then in 2008. And, you know, for every customer was very helpful and really try to help everyone build the relationship with each of them and then one customer today, one tomorrow, and at the end of the month you have, I don’t know, 30, but the next month you don’t start from zero, you start from 30, so.

Andrew: That’s a nice thing about a continuity product where people are paying month after month after month, and in software now it is acceptable. But you’re right. Back then I remember doing interviews in roughly 2009, and the big frustration was always why isn’t this free? The idea was if you create software, you should make it free because the internet wants to be free. And I would actually ask entrepreneurs the question why did you decide to charge just like drill it into my audience’s head. There are reasons to charge. It’s not a weirdo thing to do, which keeps making me wonder what is considered a weirdo thing to do right now that we should at least consider that it might actually make sense. I don’t know what it is, but we can’t dismiss the weirdo ideas, especially not the weirdo business ideas.

Florin: Yeah. It could be the future.

Andrew: You went to an angel investor who was interested in coming on board. He looked at your beautiful design and said what?

Florin: This looks very bad, guys.

Andrew: Just like very clearly said that.

Florin: Yeah. I think we can do better.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: But you need to work hard, you know, all that part, which we did to some extent. But at that moment we decided to reinvest everything that we did out of this business and to focus solely on 123ContactForm back then.

Andrew: Okay. I believe what he said was this actually looks like a spammer site. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my, or a scammer or spammer or something. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my email address let alone my personal information in there.
Florin: Yeah. That’s indeed what the designer and Adrian said when they saw the initial website.

Andrew: Your site looks beautiful now.

Florin: Thank you.

Andrew: Where did you . . .

Florin: We’re trying.

Andrew: I think it looks great. Where did you get the first design, the one that you were especially proud of after you guys did it or after the investor, did you guys decide to just spruce it up yourselves?

Florin: No. We didn’t try that anymore. We paid $100 for the first design back then, and afterwards with the investor, we actually paid an outsourcing company to build a design.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And so then it did start to look good. Our producer said, okay, nice for you about the design. Talk to me about new users and let me ask you now, within the interview. How did the design impact users?

Florin: Yeah. It was a very good move. The whole approach actually allowed us to double ourselves, from a revenue perspective, within six months.

Andrew: Because people saw the better design, took you more seriously. That means you ended up with more subscribers, like a faster growth of subscribers in addition to all the other ones that you kept though. So basically, if I understand you right, within six months you got about as many users as you got the first three years or so.

Florin: Yeah. You’re right. You’re right. It’s all about building trust, you know? And with the new design and probably, you know, the few features we added in those six months, it really helped.

Andrew: I looked you up on Crunchbase, and I saw that you had an angel round and a venture round, but that’s all I could get. Who’s the angel round?

Florin: Adrian. That’s the angel round we talked about

Andrew: Who is Adrian?

Florin: Adrian is a serial entrepreneur from Romania, and he had quite a few successful businesses online, all of them. So he decided to join us and give us a hand.

Andrew: As an angel investor or also as a team member?

Florin: Both actually. He got really deep into this for the first year. And we really needed that help, that’s for sure.

Andrew: I see, Adrian . . .

Florin: Gheara.

Andrew: . . . Gheara, Adrian Gheara. What was his background?

Florin: Developer also, but he started a company in his early days in the university and he focused on that. So he had an outsourcing agency, build a lot of software he sold online, bit of a similar profile but more successful, so more knowledge to share.
Andrew: Okay. All right. How much did you put into the business?

Florin: I’d rather not say that. Let’s say it’s a deal that was good for us and included also money and the time spent with us.

Andrew: Okay. Is it a small amount, or it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, right?

Florin: Yeah, that range.

Andrew: But not million.

Florin: No, that’s for sure. In Romania, a million is a [free 00:32:40] round not an angel round.

Andrew: Yeah, I guess here it’s not an angel round either. It just seems like he’s so deeply invested in the business. And then what’s the venture round that CrunchBase is referring to?

Florin: Sure. I think in 2015 we decided to go for the next step. So we took an angel round of I think it was $1.3 million. And it’s really . . .

Andrew: From?

Florin: From 3TS Capital. It’s a venture fund from Romania, which in the end it has the Draper Network and Cisco.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. Do you feel the Draper Network at all? Is he, Tim Draper, right, that’s who were talking about?

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: The whole Draper family, forget, just Tim, it’s the whole family.

Florin: Well, I attended two CEO Summits, great audience, nice people.

Andrew: Got it.

Florin: Nice discounts on their portal but, yeah, good [fit 00:33:40].

Andrew: On their portal? What does that mean?

Florin: Yeah. You have a portal as being part of the network, and you get discounts.

Andrew: Oh, from all the other companies that they invested in?

Florin: Or similar services or different services where they have partnerships with.

Andrew: Got it, like Amazon Web Services and stuff like that.

Florin: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: It looks like a lot of investors now have some kind of portal going where on the portal you get to talk to the other people they invested in, which is a really good curated group of entrepreneurs and skills, and then you also get breaks on software and services because everyone knows if they invested, then they should also be backing you guys. Wow. Is that really useful, or is it just a nice thing to have?

Florin: I got to be honest. I really use the discounts for renting cars when I travel to U.S.

Andrew: You do?

Florin: Well, yeah, but that’s also on my site, sorry.

Andrew: Okay. Big thing that’s still continued to work for you, as I look at your story, is Google traffic. You guys started out with the name 123ContactForm. Because you had contact form in the name, because it was like 123, it somehow bubbled up on these other not search engines but search directories, right?

Florin: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: You weren’t doing a lot of content though, were you?

Florin: We weren’t. We weren’t. I mean we’re not native speakers, and back then we didn’t have people that knew English that well. I’m sure you’ve seen the copies on the older versions of our websites.

Andrew: Right, yeah.

Florin: But we did our best fighting for the customers and helping them through customer support.

Andrew: So that’s something that I want to talk about. Customers support is one thing. But another thing is actually understanding what they’re saying in customer support and then building it into the product. Give me an example of what you learned from customer support that helped you improve what you’re selling, what you’re creating?

Florin: Many things to be honest, but if I were to pinpoint something, people began at some point asking for payment related features. So they created forms and they wanted to sell stuff, but they also wanted to collect the money. So this is how we added our first PayPal integration I think. But on the other hand, there is also a lot of noise, you know, customer comment, all of them ask for different stuff, and we had our fair share of features we created and it’s being used by one or two customers I guess, right?

Andrew: For example?

Florin: For instance, yeah, I remember something. There is this service called Enormail, something like that. So that’s something like MailChimp I think. And one customer came and said, “Yeah, guys, I really need this. It’s important for my business. This will make me extremely happy. Please do it.” I say, “Okay.” The customer’s voice, let’s hear it. So we created that integration, and I think it has one user, that customer.

Andrew: All right. Meanwhile, PayPal had a lot of requests. A lot of people said, “Hey, I’m using these forms. I’d like to actually also not just ask people for their name and email address but ask them to pay. You built that in. It seems to me like the difference between what works and what doesn’t is the number of requests that you get. But can it really be that simple looking for more requests means more likely that you should build it?

Florin: It’s part of the process. You know, part of the process. Now, we look into competitors. We try to understand the market better. So we’re looking into more things before taking a decision.

Andrew: Like what? What else helps you understand that you should do it?

Florin: For instance, there is also after doing it, if I may, we have an A/B testing system and we try to see if users convert better while using this feature or not. So there are many things we’re trying.

Andrew: Well, you build it in to see if they convert, or do you start off by adding it as a bullet point?

Florin: We built an MVP.

Andrew: Got it.

Florin: And try to see what’s in there.

Andrew: What’s an example of an MVP that you built just to see if all these requests lead to more customers or leads to anything meaningful?

Florin: Well, one of our let’s say more complicated projects was the new editor or is the new editor we created last year. And we launched it in December, and the people reacted well, but we still needed a lot of work. So only I think this year towards the end we actually managed to push it to being stable and actually very useful to all the users.

Andrew: And until then it wasn’t beta though, it was still part of the product.

Florin: Yeah. We A/B tested it as much as possible with our users.

Andrew: A/B testing meaning some users got the new form, some users got the previous one, and you wanted to see do the people who have the new form convert. And if they don’t, let’s go back and fix it until we get more conversions because of it.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: And what was the magic? What was it about the editor that allowed you to get more customers?

Florin: The look and feel, the flexibility. We tried to solve one of the problems we noticed. People needed to put more questions, more fields on the same row, and this we made it easier for them, but it was a long process.

Andrew: Because, for example, if I have a form, I would want to ask not name on one line, first name on one line, last name on the other line, that just makes the form look old, long, and ugly.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: I might want name on the left side of the first line, sorry, first name on the left side of the first line, last name on the second part of the first line and then email underneath it, and that type of thing is tough.

Florin: Yeah. One other thing, for instance, we call it repeatable fields where you got I don’t know, we’re asking you how many kids you got and we ask you to enter their names and we don’t know initially how many kids you’ve got. So you just have an option to add more, add more, add more, you know?

Andrew: Right.

Florin: And this was again an MVP where people reacted very good with or to, but it really needed more polishing afterward.

Andrew: That’s a tough one. Both of those are really tough. Some of your competitors make it really difficult to put two different fields on the same line. I know with one of them you have to go to the CSS, and now you’re starting to style it up so that it goes on, and anytime you tell a regular person go to the CSS, you’re really asking for difficulty and frustration.

Florin: There are different approaches, yeah.

Andrew: And others do for the, what are the names if you say, “I have two kids,” you have to create if-then statements so that if someone says two, then create these two. If they say, right, and then it becomes tough. All right. I can see that these are challenges, and I could see how you’d want to just keep going through. So the big takeaway is look to see what the big requests are. Obviously, if there’s one request, you might not want to prioritize it. Look to see if there are others. And then even A/B test the minimum viable product. Before building out the full thing, just test the small version, see if anyone uses it, see if it leads to sales.

Florin: Yeah. Better conversion, better usage of the product with the new feature.

Andrew: All right. I want to get into the headaches of hiring, because I know that that was a difficulty and you’re actually even planning for the big one. Oh, I saw you just take a deep breath as I said it.

First, I’ve got to tell everyone about a company called HostGator. If you have any idea for a website, just bring it to HostGator. I’m going to tell you something that I’m going to do, Florin. I’m going to use this opportunity to tell you that my goal for next year is to run a marathon on every continent within a year. Seven continents, fly all over the world, seven marathons in one year.

And I could just kind of do a Facebook post about it. I could put a link on it or a page for it on my current website. One of the things I realized by interviewing entrepreneurs is you want something to have a feel that it’s a thing, just give it its own site. What does domain cost? Pennies. How much is the cost to host another domain? If you have HostGator, zero dollars. So for pennies, I’d say dollars, right? What is it, $5, $10 to buy a new domain, and then nothing to host it. Now, this thing has a life of its own. Now it actually feels like an adventure, a thing. There are a lot of projects that many of us entrepreneurs take on, even small things like you’ll write an eBook. If you give it its own site, it feels like more of a thing. It feels like more of a milestone.

So what I’m going to do is I’m going to get a domain, host it on HostGator. And now if I want to tell people about my run, I can send them to the page. It’s a thing now.

All right. If you’re out there and you’ve got an idea, this is something that I took largely from Seth Godin, he’s really good at that. Every new project, just create a new website for it. Anyway, if you’re out there and you’re looking for a good hosting company, either because you’re just getting started or because you hate your current hosting company, go to hostgator.com/mixergy, select that option in the middle, which gives you unlimited domains, and you could do exactly what I’m talking about. You have a new thing. Just fire up a new domain for it and give it its own personality. Let people see that this is something bigger than just a webpage, something bigger than a Facebook post or an Instagram post. This is an adventure. This is a project that should be taken seriously. And at this point in life, if you have a website attached to something, people take it more seriously.

Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. You’ll get unbelievably good hosting at a really low price from a company that’s been going this for a very long time, hostgator.com/mixergy. You will also give me a credit frankly for sending you over, which means you’ll be supporting my podcast, our researchers, and everything else that we put into this, and I appreciate you guys for doing it, hostgator.com/mixergy.

Let’s talk about people. The first hire was whom? I know you’ve got that milestone on your website.

Florin: Yeah. The first hire we’ve got was Alexandra back I think seven years ago. We actually gave her a prize this Christmas party for being with us for seven years. And she went from writing a few blog posts on our websites to leading a business unit right now, the enterprise business unit. So it’s been a journey for her too.

Andrew: But this was, yeah, 2011. I see the milestone on your website. She just joined to write content?

Florin: Yeah, that’s for sure.

Andrew: Okay. Meanwhile two years later you ended up with 20 employees?

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: What did you learn about the difficulty of going from just like 2 buddies who are recreating a website who are hustling to hiring an employee, then hiring another and then getting to 20? Oh, I see that smile. There’s something behind this. Tell me.

Florin: Yeah it is. You know, there are so many nice memories here because of this. Getting them up to 10 it’s reasonably easy, to be honest, because they come and ask you what to do, how to approach this day, what’s the plan and so on. But afterwards it’s not scalable, you know, after 10. You cannot manage all of them alone. So you need teams. You need to put one of the old employees to manage another one. And they felt themselves as equal initially because they were hired kind of at the same time. Yeah, so getting from 10 to 20 was a challenge because of the need to create teams.

Andrew: And so what do you do to make it more palatable for somebody who thought they were a peer of someone else to suddenly be supervised by the person they thought was their peer?

Florin: In particular, if both of those people are girls, it’s even more complicated.

Andrew: Really? Why do you say that?

Florin: Because girls are a bit more territorial, you know, proud and it’s kind of difficult for them to accept another person’s authority if they were equal initially.

Andrew: I don’t think anyone would have a harder time than me. I feel like I would be the one who’d have a real hard time with it. So what do you do to make it easier for people to work for each other, not with each other?

Florin: Yeah. We just talked to all of them and try to explain the situation and try to explain that this is your strength. We need you to help with this process, with that part. So, yeah, we got them on board, and afterwards it was okay.

Andrew: So you’re saying you emphasize the strength that you’re trying to cultivate by letting them do the work instead of distracting them by throwing management responsibility at them.

Florin: That’s a good approach. Some people would call that manipulation, but, you know, if it gets the job done.

Andrew: You know what? I’ve learned that with one of my kids is just a real bullheaded guy even though we’re looking at two and four-year-olds. I can’t get them to move from one thing to the next without telling them what’s in it for him with the next thing. Why you have to give up this toy that you’re fighting for. You have to tell them what the benefit to him is and, boy, if you get good at it, it does kind of feel a little manipulative and at the same time it feels like why am I not . . . it’s not that hard. Why do I not communicate everything to everybody from the point of view of what’s in it for them or why it should be exciting for them to do it?

That’s one of the things that I remember learning from Dale Carnegie when I work for Dale Carnegie and Associates. The idea of telling people why they need to do things, what’s in it for them, and I think for some reason I got hung up on how it’s too hard to say it. But when you do it and get in the habit of it, it becomes so simple. It almost feels like a cheat how much easier life is when you start to communicate to people why they should do something.

Florin: Yeah. But, you know, it uses a lot of energy to do that really. Yeah, but if it ends up being okay, then it’s okay.

Andrew: Yeah. You know, I’ll tell you the biggest one for me is if there’s a guest that I have to say no to coming on Mixergy, I can’t say no to these guys because they’re such good like persuaders. You say no, they come up with like 20 reasons why you should say yes. You go, “Why did I say no to him? Why did I turn that guest down?” What I’ve learned to do is say it from their point of view. I could have you on Mixergy, but if I do, your numbers are so low that the audience is going to start to insult you and me for thinking that you’ve got something when it’s a little too early.

So now I’m letting them know, it’s not me, it’s the audience, number one, and number two, what’s in it for you is maintaining your reputation. You want to do this to build your reputation? Well, you care about your reputation. Now I’m going to explain to you, from a reputation point of view, why it’s not a good idea to do an interview yet on Mixergy.

Florin: Yeah. I think yet, that term also makes a difference, you know?

Andrew: Right.

Florin: Yeah. All right, the fact that we should exchange some notes and tactics about this at some point.

Andrew: Tell me more. Let’s do it right now. What else did you learn about management that allowed you to actually grow from 10 to 20 and now from 20, you’re looking to get to, what do you, you’re close to 100 people now on the team?

Florin: Yeah. We’re actually at 80. We’ve been keeping them more constant in the past year because we were trying to improve the revenue per employee numbers.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: Well, I learned a lot of things and made a lot of mistakes, to be honest. But one thing that I know for sure I’m not good at and I feel it’s quite important nowadays, it’s keeping the feedback loop very, very short. For me, it has always been complicated to tell someone how to do their job better, you know, to give slightly negative feedback.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: I was afraid that that person would just take his or her toys and leave, fear of failure. And now I see that it’s quite important to tell somebody very early, “Hey, you should fix that,” because they just keep ongoing with those mistakes.

Andrew: And you didn’t want to go in and be so negative and hurt their enthusiasm and so you would hold back.

Florin: Yeah. I’m a very optimistic person, you know, and try to keep the joy level high and so on.

Andrew: Right.

Florin: And I feel that negative feedback is not helping the overall approach.

Andrew: Okay. And so now you’ve learned to just go in and give negative feedback. But negative feedback, one of the things that I learn is I’m so blunt. Like in New York people appreciate this bluntness and the rest of the world people don’t. I’ve had to say to people, I’ve had to consciously notice what’s good about the work that they’re doing, number one, and number two, I’ve had to say to them several times, “I really like when you fight back with me.” I want debate. I’m not trying to shut you down with my enthusiasm, and I recognize one of my challenges is that all I do is say what could be improved without pausing and acknowledging that you’re doing great so far, and that’s helped me. What’s helped you?

Florin: Getting people that did that exact same thing and coaching the person that’s not doing it that well. That really helped, because I noticed I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the knowledge to help someone, to give the right feedback. So it’s a matter of having the right experience to be useful for someone to be able to help. The coaching part if I were to sum it up.

Andrew: Let one person who’s good coach the other person.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Not you.

Florin: Not me. I actually suck at micromanagement. I really suck. So I’m more with the vision, with the let’s do that, let’s do the other one, but I really need people around me that can take the ball and run, you know, do the legwork.

Andrew: All right, and now let’s say that they kick the ball and they run. They write a blog post and you don’t like the blog post. It’s not good. Are you the . . . oh, I saw that wince. Are you the . . . what would you do?

Florin: Up to this year, I think I was using the sandwich approach. I don’t know if you know.

Andrew: Okay, yes.

Florin: That’s the one that worked. But this year I’m starting to you know, “Hey, what do you think about doing that and that and that?”

Andrew: So today you might go over, let’s say I’m looking at a blog post right now called “Growing your email list by using signup forms.” By the way, I became Zapier’s first customer because of its tool. I had forms on my site. I said some people are just saying, “I love your stuff.” How do I just create a way for them to also join my mailing list? And it was no way to do it. And so I talked to Wade at Zapier and he said, “I could build it for you.” And I said, “Great. I’m not even going to wait for you to charge. I’m sending you 100 bucks.” I became his first customer.

Florin: Nice.

Andrew: It’s a tough thing. It’s so important and forms don’t do that. So I see a blog post right now on your site about how to do that. Let’s suppose you looked at this top image and you said, “This looks too generic.” What would you do? Would you consciously say, “Bryan Davis, you did really good work. I like how the opening sentence captures my attention and you link throughout back to our product. I think the image looks a little generic. If you make it feel as warm as that third paragraph, which feels like it’s something that’s personal to you, I think people would be more likely to read and share it.” Is that the way you would do it? It’s a lot of effort, dude.

Florin: Yeah, with the mention that I probably wouldn’t pay so much attention to read each sentence and come up with this conclusion? But if I would see maybe I don’t know a very poor image, I would just write to the author and suggest changing the image.
Andrew: You just go in, that’s it. At that point, you don’t even need a sandwich. Sometimes you just go in and you just say what you want.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Elon Musk is catching a lot of flak for being blunt like that about everything, that apparently he’s super blunt and doesn’t take that moment to check in. I feel like that’s a very Silicon Valley culture, and people will just do that everywhere.

Florin: Well, if Elon Musk would be a 10 blunt, I would probably be around 6, so.

Andrew: Six?

Florin: Yeah, not that blunt to be honest about it.

Andrew: But would you be the type of person who then goes to someone else on the team and say, “Listen, this image doesn’t look right. I don’t know how to tell this guy stop using clip art.” Would that be it?

Florin: I would tell his manager.

Andrew: You would.

Florin: I would tell his manager.

Andrew: Just pass it to his manager, let them deal with it?

Florin: Yeah. That’s the best approach probably if I were to think it right, you know, a chain of command and stuff.

Andrew: Florin, why are you doing an interview with me right now? What’s in it for you to be here? Are you looking to get more subscribers? Are you looking to get more customers? Is there an SEO play? Let’s be open. What’s going on here? I mean, I love it but . . .

Florin: Yeah, sure. Well, from my point of view, it’s just building the name and spreading the word about us and our business. That’s my goal here.

Andrew: Okay, because, are you looking to sell as a biz dev play or what?

Florin: Obviously, in the end, it’s all about the money, so it’s a matter of getting more customers, getting more money, growing the business.

Andrew: Okay. Does it feel like you have a lot of people on the team, like 80 people for $5 to $10 million in revenue? Does it feel like a lot?

Florin: Yeah. From my point of view at this point, yeah, we should do more money, or let’s say the same amount with less people. In our defense, we keep and always kept customer support in-house. It would be easy to play the game or play the numbers, you know, just to outsource something and hide it in the P&L and there you go, everything would be perfect. But no, it’s a matter of expanding the business with this team, which is awesome by the way. So in those 10 years we created, we grew a great team and seeking more opportunities, like for instance now we’re going towards enterprise and workflows and sales force and it’s very, very good for us.

Andrew: What’s your play to get after enterprise?

Florin: In the enterprise space, to be honest, I’m going after sales force and workflows and after enterprise, what do you mean here, like what’s the . . . ?

Andrew: Like how do you go after the enterprise clients?

Florin: I see now. Direct sales, so we started last year with direct sales in the UK and in Europe. And we’re going actually to sales force tradeshows and conferences with booth, so we invest a lot of money there. And we get real customers.

Andrew: Real customers come to those booths, end up checking out your software and signing up. And then when you say direct sales, are you using tools like BuiltWith or something to see whose using software that’s related to your software and then sending them emails to get them on a call? Is that the process?

Florin: Not really. We did try something similar, like I think it was HubSpot and collecting all the people that downloaded materials and we nurtured them through campaigns. You know all that process didn’t work out very well, to be honest. But now we rely on the network that’s being built and nurtured by the salesperson.

Andrew: By the salesperson and how is the salesperson getting the leads?

Florin: Well, his network, the partners, sales force guys, you know, well, people coming on our website and asking for something from their geographical area and so on.

Andrew: All right. You said your passion is not micromanaging but thinking vision. What is the vision for a form company? What is the future that’s so big that you can rally everyone behind it?

Florin: Well, there are multiple opportunities. To touch upon your initial question, the market is so big. This is why you’re seeing so many form guys and surveys guys. I think the play is digitizing everything through forms. So all those business processes, all those workflows within companies that still need paper and rely on paper, you could really turn them online and collect those information in the flow.

Andrew: Like what? So in the intro, I said 123FormBuilder allows users to create any type of online forms. That part I got, but I continued reading your description because I felt it was important. It says, “Any type of online forms and manage workflows.” How was a form, how was 123FormBuilder helping me manage a workflow? Can you give me an example of a workflow that you manage?

Florin: Sure. Let’s take the very basic one, for instance, vacation days request. You’re within a company, you have a manager, and you want to take a few days off. So you just fill a form and that request goes to your manager. He sees it. He gets an email, he clicks accept or reject and, again, in exchange you get an email with the answer. So that’s basically a workflow. It starts with a form, uses a few steps, if you email, it sends on.

Andrew: You know, we do that a lot, but it’s a pain in the ass to create another form every time you want a workflow, so you just say, “Ah, email it to me,” “Ah, put it in a ping.” What do you guys do to make it easier to create those forms?

Florin: Well, we got I think 2,000 templates or so with different use cases.

Andrew: So if I need a vacation request form, I don’t have to sit and build it from scratch. You just know this is the way it works. I just go and use one of the templates. I might customize it a little bit, and then I got it going.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. You see this is one of the things that I’m learning from entrepreneurs that I interview. It’s never about the thing that they’re selling, it’s about the bigger vision that this thing happens to be a small part of.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: And I’ve definitely learned that and I’ve got to do more of that even for Mixergy. What is this big vision that we have here and then Mixergy, and the podcast, the small step towards that bigger thing fires us up? I kind of found that now through this running goal, like a big goal, running just a regular day is okay, running in preparation for a marathon and then another and another on every continent, that’s exciting.

Florin: Yeah, Andrew. This is what I learned. You know, it’s all about the challenge.

Andrew: Right.

Florin: We need to challenge ourselves. Otherwise it gets boring.

Andrew: So how do you tell people, “Guess what, we’re going to be the workflow management tool”? How do you make that sound exciting?

Florin: Well, I got to tell you it’s not easy. I mean you can just lead by example probably and that’s the answer.

Andrew: Just like show them, “I’ve got this big vision. We’re going somewhere big.” And when someone has a big vision in mind, even if they don’t say anything specific about it, you’re saying, “People gravitate toward them.” They create a magnetism.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s it?

Florin: They want to be inspired. They want to follow something that they believe in, and they want it to be interesting for them too. So if you take all those boxes, then it works.

Andrew: All right. I’m going to travel the world. I want to interview two entrepreneurs on every continent. Is there someone in Romania? Should I do my European run in Romania? Is entrepreneurship interesting there? What do you think?

Florin: Yeah, it is absolutely. We got some . . .

Andrew: Who should I interview there?

Florin: Well, let’s talk in the software industry and the IT industry.

Andrew: Yeah.

Florin: I would choose the CEO and founder of BitDefender. It is a very big antivirus company.

Andrew: Okay.

Florin: And I would say, again, the CEO and founder of UiPath which is a very, very interesting business process automation company.

Andrew: I like that.

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: Do you think I should also interview Adrian?

Florin: Yeah, why not? Of course.

Andrew: Do you guys have good conferences in Europe?

Florin: In Europe, yes. Romania . . .

Andrew: I’m sorry, in Romania? Good startup tech conferences?

Florin: Yeah, we do. We have How to Web, a very nice one.

Andrew: How to Web?

Florin: Yeah.

Andrew: How to Web, that’s another thing I was thinking. Maybe I just kind of connect in with a conference, do it around the conference and then . . .

Florin: Then if you want, I can put you in contact with the organizer, with Bogdan.

Andrew: I love it. Let me plan through. I actually, my ideal run would be through Paris. I know exactly where I would run, but go to Paris, I’m going to see the same entrepreneurs that I see in Silicon Valley except with French accents. What I would love is something that’s a little bit culturally different, you know?

Florin: Well, yeah.

Andrew: And so sometimes . . .

Florin: You can absolutely do that in Romania.

Andrew: All right, I’m just getting started with this. I’d love to hit you up. I’m now going to howtoweb.co. You gave me a bunch of people to research. BitDefender, I didn’t realize that was a Romanian company. They’re huge.

Florin: Yeah. They are.

Andrew: You know what else is huge, your company, 123FormBuilder. Amazing what you guys have done, amazing how long it took you to get there and, man, so many people would have just given up, tried a couple of different pieces of software, didn’t work out, moved on, thought themselves as failures, and instead I can see actually in the evolution from a piece of software to a piece of software, you guys learned and you got better and better at it and some of the skills that maybe you thought we wasted, we lost out on the whole SEO software, how do we screw it up, we fucked up, one month late, think about that as an entrepreneur. You’re one month late and the whole thing goes to pot. That’s what just keeps me up at night.

Instead of saying, “Ah, we screwed it up,” you said, “No, we’ve got something from this,” and you took away from it SEO, which you brought to 123FormBuilder. I’m excited to see how big you’ve gotten. I’d love everyone to go check it out, 123formbuilder.com. And if you ever see Florin at a conference like a Salesforce conference or you happen to be, frankly, anywhere, just look him up and say, “Hi, I saw you on Mixergy.” I think he’d really like it, and I think it’s a great way to connect with someone, right?

Florin: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: You’re not too big to talk to other entrepreneurs yet, are you?

Florin: I never will. I love to talk to everyone.

Andrew: I would love it. Imagine I get to be so big, I have to say, “Listen, I don’t have time for anybody.” That would suck.

Florin: Talk to my assistant, yeah, schedule an interview with you.

Andrew: Right. No, I love talking to people. That’s my problem. I got to be held back. All right, and I want to thank my two sponsors who made this interview happen. Number one, the hosting company that will let you take any one of your ideas, give it a website, makes it feel more powerful, more of a presence, more important, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Throw that /mixergy at the end, it’s a way of saying thank you to Andrew.

And number two, you cannot find a better deal for a great developer than going to toptal.com/mixergy, and I’m really proud of them for doing . . . I’m proud of us actually for landing them as a sponsor. I’m excited to see what you guys are going to build with them.

Florin, thanks so much for doing this interview. Everybody, thank you. Bye everyone.

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