What is it like running a startup from a war zone?

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Today I’m talking to Alyona Mysko.

She’s the founder of Fuel which helps startup founders making their finance function efficient. But she built her company out of Kyiv and was there when the sirens went off.

 

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Alyona Mysko

Alyona Mysko

Fuel

Alyona Mysko is the founder of Fuel which helps startup founders making their finance function efficient.

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Full Interview Transcript

 

Andrew: Hey there. Freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder. Hey, freedom fighters for me and our audience is different for what it means to you, Atlanta. I should say today’s guest is a loin, uh, uh, Ilana moist go. She runs fuel. It’s a company that well, is it called fuel?

It is right. It’s fuel finance.com is a domain, but fuel is the company name, right?

Alyona: Yeah.

Andrew: Here’s what they do. They kind of do what my friend, a wheel Schroeder has his team do for him will told me that because he’s had a lot of ups and downs in business. He doesn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to numbers. He wants every morning when he wakes up to know what are his most important numbers and they could be numbers like what’s overall revenue, what’s the profit.

What is the amount of money that. Data like that he wanted in his inbox every single morning, and he didn’t want to have to go and fish it out of whatever software they were using. So what fuel does is they basically do that automated and in addition to it, they would also help an entrepreneur understand not just what happened yesterday and last month, but also what’s likely to happen in the coming month.

And the next few months, based on how things are going now, she started this company with basically. Spreadsheets and manual labor, and then she built it up into something that’s very automated right now. I invited her to talk about how she did this, because I think it’s really interesting to see somebody take work that is done in a repetitive way for a lot of people that we just are blind to.

Right. Automated and then add intelligence and software and people behind it. And that’s what fuel does. And we can do that. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first is lemon.io. If you’re hiring developers, I’ll tell you later why you should go to their site. And the second, if you’re investing, you should consider investing in art.

And I’ll tell you later why you should go and check out masterworks. But a lot of the things that I was saying is for me, freedom fighter is I find that entrepreneurs are creating freedom for people around the world. And then I looked at you and I realized, oh no, this means something completely different because you’re in Ukraine.

Alyona: Yeah, for sure. And the forest, like it’s another station was them meaning.

Andrew: Do you remember in the early days and we’ll get into the business, but you were in bomb shelters. You told me several times. Do you remember one of the first times that you had to go in a bomb shelter? Tell me about that.

Alyona: Uh, yeah, it’s most like, um, 24, so February. So it was like the first day of the war and the first experience, uh, I’m going to bomb shelter. And it was like, uh, in our like, uh, house, uh, we had this bomb shelter, um, but it wasn’t the first experience we were there. Uh, so was simpler. Like, um, we heard like first times a siren in the city.

And, uh, so it’s like the first feeling was okay, what is it? What should we do? So it’s, it was something strange in you. So already after in use and already after reading a transmedia to understand what is going on. Uh, we already understood. It’s like sign, uh, with siren and we should go to bomb shelter because it’s like high risk of some bombs or some like other texts by Russian.

So we should like go to the safe.

Andrew: And then you were in there. You told me in the beginning, you didn’t even know when to leave. There was no app that told you when to leave. Today’s there an app that tells you.

Alyona: Yeah, today, we’ll already have the app. Uh, in that you can have like different sounds you can choose, uh, because like this siren sounds of the siren. It’s like Elizabeth caring and, uh, not, uh, not the best sound you want to hear like everyday, but, uh, in WhatsApp we already know, like we. App who, where, where we can check, uh, when, when the siren started and when the siren has ended.

So we can like go out from this, um, bomb shelter, but like during first day it was a unpredictable situation. So we simply heard this, like for first siren, when, when we should go to the bombshell. But it was not understanding when we can go out. So we were there like several hours after that, more, more, more, and more.

And we like didn’t understand where, where it’s, where it ended when attendance. And so when, when we can really, uh, go from.

Andrew: Why didn’t you get out? Why didn’t you leave the country completely come back when this whole thing’s over and keep running your business.

Alyona: Like, first of all, um, like I was in Kiev, uh, and, um, like the first feeling. So, uh, I laugh a lot. I love my country and. I really ever seen, like what’s, uh, what I do everyday and, uh, like my work. And so. First of all, I would like to maybe work to help my country. And I’m really very proud to be a cranium. And, uh, for me it was like one of the reasons, okay.

Uh, I can, if I can still work here in Ukraine and be productive and, uh, in case I can help my country being crane, uh, I will stay here. So in the case it will be like, I, I cannot work. And, uh, I don’t know, in some case it will be the situation where when, like, I couldn’t like make my job was laptop every day.

Um, maybe it will be like the reason I should leave. Uh, so like, but even in that situation, uh, being in Ukraine, like investor in Western Ukraine, so. Nah, it’s, uh, it’s still, still okay for us to work with laptops. So yeah, it’s not usual station, so you’re not like maybe in safe situation and you don’t know what will be like during the next hours or next days.

Um, but it’s still possible to work with laptop and be productive. So that’s why I decided like, to stay.

Andrew: You know what? It’s funny that in my mind, I always think, how do you get out? How do you protect yourself? And you’re thinking, well, look, I love this country. This matters to me. And I could work from a laptop. Um, let’s go back and understand, uh, how you started with this before fuel. You were working, doing what for construction companies.

What kind of finance were you doing for a construction company?

Alyona: I started to like from financial analyst and I was like the first financial analyst there. And, uh, it was like crazy decision to switch, like, uh, PWC. So this construction company?

And being the first financial analysts there. And after that I was already like financial directors there. So I was like managing financial department, also like studying from doing all financial reports by my own.

And after that it’s already hiring a hiring team members.

Andrew: And you were doing this all manually, making sure that they understood where they were financially. The kind of thing that I was saying, my buddy will has done for him. You are doing for the company that you worked for.

Alyona: Yeah, exactly, exactly like that. So I had the same situation, so I provided, uh, like weekly and monthly reports. So C O N to, also to investors, to founders, uh, to make clear as a situation what is going on inside the company. So as like usual financial manager, I made all of. You know, cashflow balance should report it’s a monthly basis.

And also like on a weekly basis, I prepared this one consolidated report was understanding of revenue plan, fact cashflow plan facts, uh, expenses, spout, plan facts, And like costs, uh, costs, uh, construction.

Andrew: And so as you were doing this, you said, look, this is very manual. I have to keep doing this myself. I’m too smart to keep doing this manual work. Let me see if I could automate it. And you’re telling me the first version of automation was basically forms that you created in Google sheets that then funnel that data into Google sheets.

And you were trying to see, can I organize this in some meaningful ways that right.

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, I remember, I remember the day and then, Uh, I was, I like, uh, discussed, uh, with my AHS or colleagues in finance. So. Uh, because like there are only several solutions, so you can simply adopt this, your European ERP system or another way you can like, try to do like some system in Google spreadsheets by your own.

And, uh, I remember the day when, uh, I was really. Uh, it was, it was really sucks when you try to collect all data and you need to prepare all the reports like for the week, for example, to try to collect this all data, for example, on Friday, to prepare all the reports for four months, and you simple, like sitting on this weekend and trying to collect console data together, And all Friday, you write all the slate.

100 letters to different people ask them was there. So I started like, okay, if I can like make some forms and my letters, and what I ask usually is repeatable every week, getting create like some forms and ask them simply to provide these forms for me. And after that connects to this form, still my, like, uh, to my financial reports.

So how. Okay, how I can make it. And then it was like the first, I think it was the first my try to understand how to automate all this, like a hundreds of ladders.

Andrew: And once you figure that out and you’re automating it, and this seems pretty straightforward stuff. I was asking you to use Zapier to piece things to get you said no, kept it simple. Google sheets were done. At what point did you say, you know what? This could be a real business that I turn into a standalone company and offer this service for others.

How do you make that leap?

Alyona: Uh, I like, uh, it started when like stylus from you show consolidate can services. Because, um, I started to receive, uh, like from different friends, uh, asks to help, like would their finance and, um, uh, when I started to make like, uh, this financial system. In Google spreadsheets for other types of businesses for us or business models.

I started to understand that, um, is this systems, uh, we try to like create in Google spreadsheet. Uh, they are really, uh, scalable. So for example, if I have like, I dunno two restaurants yet, or if I have like two construction. I can simply like take this system, which already I might for this construction company and simply implement, like, and stop this system for another construction company.

For example, with similar business model, different size.

Andrew: right. Did you check with them? Did you say if I do this, will you pay it? Did you start reaching out to others or did you just realize, you know, what, if I’m doing this here, other construction companies are going to need this. Let’s see if we can expand.

Alyona: Uh, it was, it was like very funny situation because like the first, first client, uh, I received some when they started with like, from doing finance, first of all, by my own one, it was like one team member in our team. Uh, as the first client I found, uh, in the. So I simply was so excited about all this like financial system and how finance can be managed in easy way was the systems.

So I, I think that’s, uh, really was talking with everyone about finance. So it wasn’t a sedation when I really had this doc in the bar was. Friends of friends. And, uh, and I remember how I offered him. Okay. Let’s try this system like, uh, for your business and we’ll see what will be. So, uh, I can do it like for free, but I’m simply interested what will be in result if the system, for example, if it was a care for construction company, Yes, it can be like also suitable for your company.

And, uh, He was also like crazy entrepreneur and, uh, he was also already like, uh, very upset with, uh, his finance. And he was like, because the situation when he didn’t have this understanding what is going on with like cashflow, BNL profits and everything like that. So he said, okay,

Andrew: He didn’t understand that.

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah.

Like it’s really, what’s crazy sedation, but they seem quite, uh, okay. Let’s be honest. I think like many founders, they really don’t understand what is going on in their finance. So, and, uh, I seen like, um, everyone seeing that, like finance is something quite a complicated and, um, like I need, uh, I need some person like to do it and to explain the everything, uh, and like, it’s exactly.

What’s I don’t like how, like, different people think about finance. And once we want to change in our company, because. Uh, finance can be easy for founders. And, uh, I think that.

it’s like very basic and, uh, cool insights that you can get from your data and financial data now. So that’s fine. Yeah.

it was like our first client.

Um, but after that he recommended. So ours is there, like, is this product to other friends, this friends to other friends. So like everything started from this like first client, but, uh, officer’s ads

Andrew: First client who you talk to at a bar, you talk to them at the bar about finance, because that’s what you were doing. They complained, you said, I can solve this for you. I’ll do it for you for free. And buy for free. What did you create that then helps get you other clients? What was it that you did for him?

The same spreadsheet thing with forms that then got organized and then manually organized further by you?

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah.

it was, uh, it was like the system was a spreadsheets, uh, and, uh, it was mainly manual system. Uh, so it was, uh, really first I think, uh, first MVP of this, not, not very user-friendly product, but, uh, nevertheless, you really got results after. I think three months, he already got this understanding, like what is going on?

Like what was, what was whiskeys PNL was a of this business, what profits and already like planning was also was he also had planning, uh, after three months. So, uh, it was, it was like a great value. So it was like old system, but it was a good value.

Andrew: It’s a really good P value because you were doing planning manually. And I know how tough that is, right. You’re basically taking his past data, putting it in a spreadsheet and trying to figure out what, what you think. It’s going to look like a few months in the future. And then I’m guessing for each month you created your own its own column.

Right?

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah. But, uh, like financial planning, it’s a very complicated system because, uh, like good financial planning is not about like, for example, satiation, when you simple understand your revenue and expenses forecast is the sedation and you understand all operational figures and all odds are figures that can make impact for example, on your avenue.

And when you understand indigenous. Uh, ever think about your number of fleets about conversion rates. And for example, when you understand how changes in One percentage now in like your conversion rates, uh what’s uh, impact will be on your avenue. I think it’s like, what is a good, like financial planning, like financial planning in this different number of duties?

Andrew: One of the issues that I’ve noticed in talking to other guests here about giving clients financial data, is that it could be overwhelming. I remember talking about it with Patrick, from ProfitWell. If he just gave people financial data. They would feel guilty. They wouldn’t know what to do, and they’d almost be angry at the data that he sent over because there was nothing they could do about it.

Did you have that issue at all?

Alyona: Um, yeah, I think, uh, uh, like, um, was this data, so, um, what’s like, what is very good? So like in our products, that’s, uh, I think like, uh, was our product founders. They don’t have this, like, you know, Type of freedom was, uh, was this data. So we simply have like this rules, how, what data we collect, how we collect this data and what you should see and how often.

So, uh, I believe that. Like when you have a new provider, it’s like a freedom to founders, like check their data, change this data and make so many patients with this data. It started to be something very complicated for founders and, uh, I believe they really can be. And CRI, uh, was this experience.

Andrew: Yeah. And so what do you, what did you do about that?

Alyona: Like, I believe like the first, uh, you know, like I remember this phrase, uh, of, um, uh, I saw this phrase like from Y Combinator. Um, and it was a very good phrase when you see,

like your data and you see your revenue and your revenue is. You should check this revenue and since its revenue on daily and mindfully and monthly basis basis, and you should be disappointed because this is the first factor.

When you like start to understand what is not the

Andrew: Ah,

Alyona: your business, never think it started from since disappoint.

Andrew: I see.

Alyona: And, uh, I should say if it’s we have, it has the same situation. So when we started to use the system for, in our own case, uh, so it was like, okay, uh, this week we have like this revenue and it’s like much less than what was planned.

And I really remember. Like feeling when you start this, like your weak, uh, from this information. And you’re already angry, like on Monday, uh, because you understand that like previous week was not like that, that you expected, but after that, like first wheeling, uh, when you started to be. Um, like your next thoughts.

Okay. What I can change for this week. And you started like to sink like all day about that. So you start to research your start to analyze and deep dive into your data. And only after hours is disappointment, you can really find, uh, all next steps and insights. What should be changed for this week?

Andrew: Did you do that though? You know what let’s let’s hold off and then come back into that. I should tell you, my first sponsor is lemon.io. You know, the founder they’re clients of yours, right?

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah,

Andrew: And he’s, he’s somebody who has been putting his finances publicly on Twitter, in his email, and constantly letting people follow along and see how much revenue is growing. How much profit is that your data that he’s showing?

Alyona: yeah, yeah. It’s.

Andrew: Wow. So that’s how he’s able to get it out there. Here’s what lemon is for people who don’t know. And I imagine at this point, everybody knows because I’ve been talking about them for so long. When you’re looking to hire developers, lemons insight was, you know what, they’re smart developers in Ukraine, which Alanna you’re noticing.

And you’ve noticed for years and that they’re getting paid less than developers in other parts of the world. And so the first thing he did was he did a matchmaking service. Essentially companies would call him. And it was him literally. And they’d say, I need a developer, he’d ask a few questions and then he’d go and find a Ukrainian developer that was a perfect fit.

And he could do this now. I think within 24 hours, you could make one what he calls a miraculous match. As he kept growing. And then frankly, as the war in Ukraine went on, he realized, you know, what, why am I only limiting myself to Ukraine? There are people all over Europe, I think, um, is where he’s still focused, who are phenomenal, who are not.

Charging, nearly as much as people in other parts of the world, why don’t I just expand my matchmaking service? And it wasn’t as easy as just saying, Hey, everyone, come on in. There are different languages. There’s different vetting process. There’s different networks, the ed to establish. But, um, I think because of what’s been going on in Ukraine, he’s felt the urgency to do it.

And as a result, he’s been able to grow his base of developers because many of us have been watching him over the years, build up his revenue and profit. And we’re all entrepreneurs who are curious about how other entrepreneurs are growing. We’ve all been seeing this and many people then think of him and.

When we’re looking to hire developers. And so I’m going to say this to you. If you’re listening to me now, lemon has got developers from multiple countries. They still will give you that phenomenal 24 hour miraculous match guarantee. They still will make sure that you’re taken care of. And if you’re not happy, they will make it right.

And if you use my URL, they’ll even give you a lower price than other people, uh, have. Here’s what it is. 15% discount on your first four weeks with one of their developers. Go to lemon.io/mixergy lemon.io/mixergy. And as Ilana will tell you, they have some of the best designed sites, especially for something that’s so business oriented, they really know how to communicate here.

I would go there for copywriting, if not for developers, because their stuff is good. Don’t you agree?

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah. We’re like I alike their brands and how they built like their brand identity. And especially I really like their websites and it’s very fresh and they seemed like not, not boring at all.

Andrew: lemon.io/mixergy, not boring at all. Right. To the very bottom of their site. Okay. Did you from the beginning to that, I’ll tell you why I ask Alana. I hired somebody to go through and do the same thing that you’re doing and just give me projections for the company. Naturally, as he showed them to me, he would start to make suggestions and get on me and say, you know, Andrew, it is natural for people to increase their, their.

Prices from year to year by this percentage, it is natural for you to have to spend this kind of money. I’m seeing other businesses like yours, spend this kind, this kind of money, and this percentage of their overall revenue on marketing, you should write. And that was helpful. That took something that was just data and interesting.

And maybe would give me anxiety, which as you say, Y Combinator, another say you should have anxiety. Now go do something about it. But it took me from that to saying, all right, here’s some actions I can take as follow up. Did you do that? And if you did, when.

Alyona: Yeah. Like, uh, we also, we also do this, uh, job, so we have like financial success managers, uh, in our team. So, uh, in sound packages, we provide also with our system, uh, for some clients they choose, uh, software like support by financial means. Uh, like, and it’s, uh, working in the, in usual way. For example, when.

you have like one-to-one meeting every week with your financial manager to discuss like what financial managers can see in your data and. your all recommendations. Um, but also like, uh, what’s we already understand and what insights we get. We also understand many benchmarks and, uh, from working with different companies already, from our experience, we are our financial managers. Uh, so it’s not implemented yet in our system, but our financial managers also like.

What the benchmarks should be. So for example, what expenses should be, uh, on different stages of your company development and exactly your business model. So it’s really easier for founder and for like CEO to understand, uh, what is going on with their finance. Yeah.

Andrew: At what point did you realize that you needed to add that?

Alyona: Um, I don’t realize they think it’s like a. From, I think after like the first maybe 50 companies, uh, we saw that insides that, um, uh, like founders, they want to understand. Okay. So I have like this like expense, for example, to have like, I don’t know, marketing expense, it’s this percentage like from revenues users.

Okay. Or how to give for us, uh, like what is the benchmark? Uh, but

Andrew: mean, they would start asking you those questions. Okay. What’s the benchmark.

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah. I ha I had the same

Andrew: Okay. Got it.

Alyona: with many founders, so they simply ask this questions, but like, to be honest, was benchmarks. I don’t believe that benchmarks are good in all cetaceans because, uh, like I, so many companies and finance, uh, like 200 companies and, uh, I should be honest.

So for example, when you like seize this benchmark, like, for example, for, I dunno like professional services, businesses that like, um, profitability or gross margins should be like zapped, like on average, but when you see the companies that can do it, like March. Uh, and, uh, you understand that the benchmark is not reasonable because these guys can do it like twice more, like, cause then he shall benchmark.

So that’s why like, after Zed I asked myself the question, okay. What like, okay, is this benchmark is a cane, but if these guys can do exempt, why other companies, uh, like, I don’t know, like conduit that also. So that’s why a benchmark it’s like good, but not, not, not, not in All cases.

Andrew: All right, you did this for you. For free. They started telling other people, they hired you. How did you know what the.

Alyona: It was, it was very, very strange station about this pricing. I remembers it’s like first pricing. I don’t know, like. $300, something like that for three months, which was very, very basic. And, uh, it was like, uh, the first, first price and the first payment, uh, after that. So it was simple, like decided. So, um, we decided to.

Have the same as the.

same pricing model. Um, but with tasks, like many different ideas, uh, on that like first client. Um, and it was like, I dunno, it was very strange pricing model. So, uh, I didn’t make like calculation of cost or some, like, I didn’t have even benchmarks or some like other companies to understand what, what they.

Uh, in that period of time. So I simply decided to gain, maybe it’s like some parts, like I know my salary off my usual salary. Some small bars can be like, I don’t know, as, um, as like some pricing model for this client.

Andrew: Meaning he are saying if they wanted to hire someone like me to do. They paid it and have that done. Let’s charge closer to that. Am I understanding it right?

Alyona: Yeah. Yeah. Something, something quite exempt. So I started to sink like what the alternatives are this client has. And it was like hiring someone, uh, some person. Uh, and, Uh, in other words, I started to saying, okay.

if like this person will be like full time or not full time. So, and I’m like alternative. It’s like, ah, now I understand like clients get The same results was like inside financial managers and uh, so they simply can get using using the product.

So with the same results. So now I also think in that ways it’s alternative and pricing model. Uh, something here, like with, uh, financial team, uh, insights that usually needs a founders to hire.

Andrew: The referrals got you so far when it was time for you to go and get other customers, how did you do it? Where’d you get the next batch of customers?

Alyona: Uh,

I was, uh, so I was fashioned and I’m still passionate about finance. So I started to make different lectures and workshops about finance. And, uh, I was, uh, I was very excited about that. So, uh, I started to make like, the first workshop is that, uh, I made, it was like, Five people there. But, uh, after that, uh, we started to make different collaborations and partnership.

Uh, hearing Ukraine was different schools, uh, to make this financial workshops for founders. And, uh, it was like a very intuitive way because, uh, I was like, uh, I was passionate about, I’m still bashing about finance and they decided the gate. I should share all my knowledge with other people and I can do it.

So, uh, it was. And those are way how we started to generate, uh, all clients. Uh, but it was like very scallop scalable way because we, after that already, after this workshops and lectures, we started to receive customers like, uh, on permanent way on monthly basis. So it was like already scalable sales products.

Andrew: So you are doing your own, you organizing your own meetups, your own workshops, right? I think I saw them on your site. When I went back to the internet archive, how did you get people to show up to these, to these a second?

Alyona: Uh, like first one, it was like friends and friends of friends. So I simply like made this post in my social media is that I want to organize this workshop or what do you see? What, what, like, information will be reasonable for you. And, uh, like it will be for free. If you want to join, please join. And, uh, it was like the first one was awful.

Uh, I met up and, uh, after that already for different online workshops and, uh, the first one, the first one was not good at all because it was, uh, like it’s, it’s very complicated to, um, explain information, especially financial information in easy way. So that’s why first several workshops were not so good.

But already after I think after, is it certain, the course workshop, I find the understood how to, and how I can, uh, provide all this financial information very easy way for founders. So it was already more efficient.

Andrew: What’s the topic. Was it just finance for founders or was it something more specific? It feels like it needs a sexier title to get people to actually care enough to show up.

Alyona: Yeah. It was like finance for founders. Um, like, uh, I might also like last one workshop was, uh, we made online workshop, uh, in February this year, like before the war and. It’s still worse, like, uh, easy to finance for founders. So what’s how to understand finance, what data you should, uh, analyze in what way you should analyze this data.

Uh, what is finance about? So, so what steps usually should have to adopt like your financial function inside European. And whose financial managers, so how to check the work of financial manager, if you have like financial manager inside of the team, how you can automate your financial function, so ever seen.

Um, but like in very easy way, like from my own experience, because I have both both experience first one’s like financial and another one is like founder and CEO.

Andrew: Alright, I’m looking now. I just got an email from someone at masterworks. They’re saying. Do you know, master works. This is not something that you probably have space in your head for right now, right? Yes. Do you know them?

Alyona: Um,

Andrew: there. My sponsor.

Why is it that so many wealthy people invest in art and as they looked into it, it made financial sense to invest in art. It wasn’t just for the beauty of the art piece. It was because art holds up its value. It’s because art actually is a good hedge against inflation. And it’s because art actually is beautiful and it is worth investing in and it’s, it will outlast a lot of.

The problem with art is it’s too expensive. Like who has the money to spend millions of dollars on one work of art, you know? And, and also who could figure out what the right one is. And so masterwork said, what we’ll do is we’ll hire somebody who can be like a portfolio manager, almost of a piece of art.

They will pick the art, they will then securitize the art at masterworks. They will then sell pieces of. This entity that controls the work of art, and anyone can buy a piece of it just like you don’t have to buy all of apple computer. If you believe in its future, you can just buy a share of it. Same thing here with masterworks.

That’s what they do. And. I always found that there are minimums are pretty reasonable, but, uh, I just got an email from Ray over at, um, masterworks this morning. He goes, Andrew, you should understand that we’ve lowered the minimums even further. You might want to talk to the person over at, uh, Masterworks that your contact.

And I said, all right, I’ll do it, but I’ve got an interview right now. So I’ll follow up afterwards, but I’ll tell you, that’s one of the things that I like about them. Number one, the minimum was low and it’s even lower. Number two, there’s a human being there who’s contacting you and telling you here’s what’s going on.

Let’s see if it makes sense for you. If anyone out there is at all interested in. Getting involved in masterworks. I think the first thing you should do is set up a call with them, just talk to them and see if it makes sense for you. If it does great, you can proceed. If not, you’ve been educated and you understand and have all of your questions answered about it.

And the first place to start, if you want to not have a line like other people, if you want to just get right through is to go to masterworks. Dot art slash Mixergy master works.art/mixergy. And of course you should see important regulation, a disclosures@masterworks.io slash CD. All right. I got a follow up with Ray.

I like that. He’s just responding. He’s responding to too fast. You know, I told him I was talking to you. I hit reply on something and then he emailed me while we were talking. And of course it bumps up to the top. Alright. At some point you realize this is working for me. I need to hire somebody to automate this.

It can’t just meet, be me doing this all manual. What’s the first thing that you automated.

Alyona: Um, the first thing was like a automation of a P And L cashflow balance sheet reports. so it’s. It’s like the database, uh, from, from that ever since he started in finance. So, uh, from all this transactions, so it’s like the first one, which was automated. So connect like different banking accounts connect, like Stripe and voices connect like books and, uh, other programs to provide like very fast BNL cashflow balance sheet reports to see like financial situation and what is going on.

So it was, it was the first.

Andrew: And so aren’t you reproducing what QuickBooks does by taking all that doesn’t QuickBooks already do.

Alyona: Uh, yeah, quick book. So they already do it and do.

bookkeeping and it’s like a great product for all accountants. But What we do like BNR cashflow bunch with reports. It’s not like the core product, the core product of a few it’s simply one of the data source. So, uh, with simple, like do completely another job.

So we provide information and insights about efficiency of all functions in your business and plan facts analysis. So it’s completely another product from QuickBooks,

Andrew: What’s, what’s the efficiency of the work in the business. And how do you get that from the data that you just talked.

Alyona: Uh, I believe that’s, uh, ever function inside the business. Uh, they, uh, are, are cost centers or revenue centers. So say they can make an impact, um, based on this type of, uh, this function. So for example, marketing can be responsible here for lead generation. And it also always a question for many founders.

If my marketing, if you shouldn’t or not. So what budgeting is. Okay. And when you have, as a system was planned fact analysis, for example, uh, I need to generate by, I dunno, like 20 leads per week. And, uh, from this like 20 leads, like from marketing qualified leads side and all like 50% should be like sales qualified leads and.

You have this plan and connections like between like sales, for example, and what impact will be in revenue in case like marketing functions, we’ll get this results week by week. And, uh, like the system which we provide, it’s like very obvious understanding what’s plan in all functions of different like figures, like number of fleets you should have and how to control, like, um, how to control this, uh, work by this fund.

Day by day and week by week to understand that like you will get this final revenue in the end of the month.

Andrew: Uh, And that was a computer that was doing it, or was it people doing that?

Alyona: No, it’s a, it’s a computer. So like, uh, the system which has created, so we connect all those data sources And in our database, we already have all this rules, houses, they data should be collected houses. Data should be connected with financial impact of different functions and, uh, already prepared everything for you in very beautiful dashboards and understanding this plan fact charts a week by weeks.

It’s ever since made inside the city.

Andrew: And you find developers to build all this.

Alyona: it was like, eh, I have friends, uh, he’s CTO, uh, in startup, in, uh, Germany. And, uh, he simply recommended me like all. Engineer inside our team for our team. And, uh, we started to work with him, but, uh, when he started to work already and built architecture for our product and, uh, ever seen inside the product, we already made a difference.

Um, like we already tasked his, his product with. So we had earlier in our team, like financial, financial guys, we started to learn SQL and Python and other languages to make this connections inside, like our system by our own. So it was already like, the team was like financials and, uh, in some, in some like, uh, parts of the day they were into.

And when we heard the lady, our like first full-time engineer it, and, uh, also made like a, this, we asked for, uh, for all the recommendations from my friends, like CDO, uh, who helped us on the search. So, uh, now this team looks like that. So we still have. One one engineer inside like our team and to have like, uh, our like pipeline, how how’s this product is developed.

Like step by step was esteem.

Andrew: Alright, revenue now is where I’ve got the number. But, um, I won’t say it. I’d rather you say it. What’s your revenue now.

Alyona: Yeah. We already have a 450 K annual recurring revenue and, uh, we are a profit. So we are not usual up.

Andrew: And you’ve been around for how long?

Alyona: Um,

Andrew: I think. Right.

Alyona: yeah, yeah, yeah. Alrighty. Like working on this product, like for two years.

Andrew: Two years specifically on this product, before that it was more of the manual stuff. That was like a consulting gig that we talked about. All right. The big takeaway from this for me is if there’s something that we’re doing on a regular basis over and over. That’s a good opportunity for automation.

Number two, doing it for free for someone helps validate it. Number three, start asking for referrals and then do a lot of it manually until you can hire somebody to start automating. Do I have that right?

Alyona: yeah, that’s right.

Andrew: Alanna? Is there something that you’ve seen that you’re. Noticing people do repeatedly that you feel like this could be an opportunity for somebody else to do for that business. What fuel did for finance?

Alyona: Uh, I see that I see this every day in our business,

Andrew: You do like what? Give me some ideas.

Alyona: Like, uh, I have the same situation, for example, was the recruiting and hiring people. So, uh, we have used many different CRM system, but they are not perfect. And, uh, all these types of manual. How is do, like when you try to find some person inside your team, how right.

How you write all the sliders, how often this letter should be sent, how you collected this data and how you’re in the lights, your pipeline is like hiring new people. It’s every single. So like, cause it’s, uh, for me, it’s, uh, one, one possible way to optimize. All this huge part. And I think it’s like a big problem for, uh, all companies to make it easier as this hiring process.

And especially when you need to hire like some person too, but she’ll help you with this process. And, uh, it’s like the first one, the second one, like, uh, we saw like we built our operational system, for example, uh, in notion. And, uh, they also saw that the same partners For example, was. No onboarding with some repeatable processes inside our team.

So we seize a disbarred, also can be automated about operational systems and uh, how it, how it

Andrew: and operating. Tell me more about that. You’re saying for onboarding new employees and operating system. Yeah.

Alyona: Yeah. So like, Uh,

yeah, onboarding cause like, um, I think onboarding is a very important part for all team members and, uh, we like after several iterations and manual onboarding for our team. We made like simple videos was simple steps. So you have this onboarding, you spent like four hours for this onboarding process and like 15 minutes for that 10 means for that.

And you check this one, this one and this one. So it’s like, uh, we created this instruction and all we do is one time. And after that, like all team members, they have the same onboarding and very, in very easy way and fast way. But, um, I believe that this like way how. Should be done in all companies. Uh, it’s also not obvious and, uh, not easier.

Andrew: At somebody could actually do this as a service, the hiring, I mean, the onboarding automation, the onboarding process for new employees could be a service that somebody offers.

Alyona: Yeah. It could be for sure.

Andrew: Okay. You know what, as we’re talking, I’m feeling like this interview because we’ve got a little bit of a lag. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m asking a question, then there’s a pause and then you answer it. It creates a bit of an awkwardness. I sent a message to our editor, asking her to edit that out. But as we were talking, I said, you know what?

Editing seems ripe for this. Like a lot of edits are pretty easy to do. Like if there’s just an endless. Do you want to be able to wipe it out? You can see that somebody could turn that into a service and then eventually have that be automated. You can see that the booking process is now for some people, the, the guest booking process could be automated and then, um, maybe manually done and then eventually automated.

I like this, uh, approach because once you start thinking that way, everything starts to be a possible. Version of that. Like, what else are we doing over and over? And we’re not noticing it. And obviously ordering groceries is one, but there’s not much profit in it. I think we should think about what businesses need and where there’s profit or, or saving of money.

And then as you’re looking, if you start to see things through that filter, it becomes pretty exciting. All right.

Alyona: For sure.

Andrew: For anyone who wants to go check out your site? It’s fuel finance.me, fuel finance.me. Congratulations. Thanks for being on here.

You bet. Thanks. Bye everyone.

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