SocialBee Faked a Software Company

Today, SocialBee is a fully functional social media management tool. But at first, it was a guy secretly servicing his customers by using publicly available tools like Google Sheets and Zapier.

That buy was Ovi Negrean. In this interview, he talks about how he did that, while his cofounder wrote their company’s software. And how the services part of his business turned out to be a revenue machine that turned into a business of its own, called ConciergeBee.

Ovi Negrean

Ovi Negrean


Ovi Negrean is a co-founder of SocialBee, the social media management platform.


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. Joining me is a bootstrapper who created a social publishing tool at a time when there were so many competitors that I was a little scared for him, but it did well.

Last time I had him on, he was at, um, six figures in revenue today. The revenue has grown. And so we’re doing a followup interview. His name is Ovi. Negron, he is the founder of Socialbee. Socialbee allows you to post, uh, social content on platforms like Twitter, now X, and Facebook. And, uh, in addition to having software, he also has a concierge done for you service.

And, um, let’s get into it, Ovi. Ovi, last time you didn’t give me the revenue, exactly where are you today?

Ovi: We’re still not giving exact revenues, but, we’ve, passed, onto the seven figures threshold. So we, I think we almost 10 X since the last time we talked, we’re in the millions with the ARR at the moment.

Andrew: Wait, more than a million annual recurring revenue.

Ovi: Yes, exactly.

Andrew: I describe the tool, how would you describe it?

Ovi: Yeah, so, uh, indeed, there are many tools in this, uh, social media scheduling and management and analytics space. And to be honest, like everybody’s trying to have their own angle, but, uh, at this moment, we all got to a place where everybody has almost everybody else’s features. And for us, it took us seven years to get here, but we also have all the features that the big player like Hootsuite or Buffer would have.

And on some level, even more. So basically how we’re different, uh, besides, um, uh, the social media posting part where you can just post once and we can post on all of the major networks, uh, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, uh, all of them, we handle over nine of the big platforms nowadays, all of the important ones, um, we allow you to post in a category based system and for you to also recycle your best evergreen content.

And what this will do actually is that it will Make your content, uh, make your content mix better and also save you lots of time while posting across your social networks. Um, and this is on the tool side and then also what we had before and we still have, uh, but it’s less, uh, a core to us is the, um, uh, service marketplace where we can offer.

Uh, marketing services on top of our platform delivered either by our agency, which is now a concierge B, it used to be social B, uh, concierge, uh, or even a partner agency of ours.

Andrew: So with so many people doing this, I wonder how you can even compete. I was so nervous for you getting into this business. I see TweetHunter and then of course, and a bunch of other smaller players. And then there are the older players like Hootsuite and Buffer. Why do you think that you were able to do well when there were so many competitors?

Ovi: I think the beauty of this space is that it’s not like in the social networking space per se, where it’s a winner take all or a winner takes most type of situation. But in this B2B space, uh, it’s actually quite fragmented and there can be many, many, many winners. The space is quite big, and even if you would have a relatively small percentage of that market, it can still be a quite good business.

And then, I think what’s… What’s different is that also people have different preferences of how they want to use tools like ours. And it’s more about a flavor rather than a specific tool doing a specific thing. And then our goal all this time has been to offer a good product. It’s actually a great product at a good price and with excellent customer service.

And from the beginning we over invested probably in customer service. And the product has been getting better and better throughout the years. So with this combination of really good customer service and a great product, we’ve been able to find our niche and get

Andrew: I’m sorry to interrupt, but what makes it great? What is it that makes somebody say, you know what? They’re clearly smart people, they’re on social media, they see all the different tools that are being used. What’s the feature that makes people say, I have to have social B because I can’t get this anywhere else?

Ovi: It’s a feature that if you understand, you will love us. And we actually got like a top position on G2 for UX for small businesses. But if you don’t get, you will hate us and you will think like, what’s up with this tool? And that feature is actually the category based posting system. Thank you. So how we’re different from a Hootsuite, where in Hootsuite, you would just add your posts one by one in a queue.

And then you need to make sure that you mix the different type of content between those yourself. Uh, we have a category based posting system, so this means that instead of scheduling a specific post, let’s say Monday at 2, you spec you schedule a promotional post at Monday at 2, and then you just make sure that that category for, uh, promotional posts always has content in it, and then we just take the items one by one, um, until the end, and then we can even recycle the best content if you if you want to.

Andrew: Okay, I see the difference there. Uh, last time we talked, one of the features that you told me was exciting was the auto DM, where someone follows me, I could automatically send them a direct message on Twitter saying thanks for following, here’s who I am, or take this action, sign up to my newsletter. What happened to that?

Ovi: Yeah, we always knew tho those, uh, Twitter growth features were in the Let’s say gray part of social media and great part of Twitter. That’s why I remember even when we spoke back then I told you we haven’t invested like in development of those features for maybe a couple of years. Those features are gone because all of the networks, especially after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, they stopped all sorts of they didn’t allow for any, not even gray.

Uh, activities. So we wanted to make sure that we’re always good stewards of the, uh, networks APIs. So we stopped those, but, uh, we replaced those with many other features like, uh, recently, uh, we really invested heavily into AI and we have, uh, um, quite a good, uh, AI, um, content creation feature and something even better coming.

Um, and then also just. Making sure that around the edges, everything gets just better each time, better UX and small tweaks here and there, which just add up to quite a lot in the end.

Andrew: Okay. And then, um, Twitter has gone through a lot of changes specifically. It’s now no longer called Twitter. It’s called X. And I noticed that a lot of platforms aren’t even referring to it as X. Um, but what does that mean for you? What are some of the changes that influenced and impacted your business?

Ovi: But when, uh, when Elon, uh, announced the 42k, uh, dollar, um, um, subscription to their API per month, that was, uh, such a crazy time where we first of all thought like there must be something in between. There’s no way it’s like 3k, 100k, Or 42 K, which that was actually the case, that was the only, uh, possibility back then.

Um, and then we went into a mode to really look for options and alternatives to ask our user base what they thought about Twitter, because yeah, we were profitable, but we, it was, would’ve been very hard for us to, to pay 42 k per month. Uh, it would have hindered our, our further growth. Um, so we actually had to come up with, uh, I think we had like four or five contingency plans of what should happen when that, uh, kicks in.

And we actually built like three different alternatives, uh, which helped us to some extent, but then eventually they also introduced the 5, 000 per month plan, which is something which We are currently paying and it’s, I believe, a sweet spot between them making revenue out of this and also, uh, killing their, uh, spam, which I can understand also why they did that, but, uh, but also not killing like small businesses, uh, or like startups that are Really trying to, to build on top of their a p i.

Andrew: What were some of the contingencies in case they switched to 42, 000 a month?

Ovi: Well, uh, I, I dunno if I should, uh, uh, give away our plan, but, uh, let, let’s say that, uh, we we’re now in a non-contingent, uh, scenario. So I, I can give, uh, one away. So we realized that you had the 100 per month subscription, which did everything you needed, but just for a few users. Um, and then you had the 42k per month, which was like just crazy for us to pay.

And we built what we started calling our Twitter universe, where we build a whole infrastructure to be able to Uh, rack up multiple, such $100 per month subscriptions to be able to support all, all of our, uh, paying customers through this. Um, and it’s, it’s, it was even funny. It’s really hard when we, we were trying to buy it on like 20 sub subscriptions, and it’s hard to give Twitter money for 20 sub such subscriptions because after buying a few of these, the payment processor says like WhatsApp, why do you keep buying like $100?

We had to find all sorts of accounts, Twitter accounts that still worked and so on. So it was really a hassle, but we had it all prepared and working in case we needed to use this. Luckily, we didn’t have to use this alternative, but we had this as one of them. And then a few others, which would have not been ideal, but would have still made at least posting on Twitter possible through our social media.

Andrew: Is Twitter number one for the platform for social B?

Ovi: No, um, Twitter has been number one when we started, but now I think all of the, um, action is, uh, on, uh, on Instagram and on more and more on Twitter. So I think it’s just like the general trends that we’ve been, uh, uh, we’ve been seeing, but Twitter is still used by a, a subset of our customers.

Andrew: All right. One of the things that I remember about you is that you’re not a developer. You couldn’t have sat down and said, this will be my weekend project. And then I’ll see how far I can take it. Who coded up the first version? How’d you find them?

Ovi: Um, so actually the first version, um, was a very hacked together, uh, solution of Zapier, uh, integrations on top of Google Sheets and posting through buffer and doing lots of manual work and so on. But my co founder here, Vlad, he’s the CTO and we’ve been working together and he’s the one that has been responsible for building the platform.

And then over the years we kept growing the development team as we kept growing the revenue, so now it’s a whole team of developers. But originally, yes, it was my co founder, the CTO.

Andrew: And the Google sheets and buffer, I didn’t realize a buffer was in the mix, but the idea was a customer would come to your site, fill out a form with what they want posted. You would take their content from the form, put it in a spreadsheet, and then from the, uh, using Zapier from the spreadsheet, send it to buffer again, using Zapier, and how would you even log into your customer’s accounts then if you’re using your buffer account, how would you log into their Twitter account?

Ovi: Yeah, for the first customers, they actually shared their password with us. Uh, so it was definitely not a scalable system, but it was what I’m now calling the concierge MVP, where we had to do a lot of things by hand, and we really had to find those innovators that were willing to jump through all of those hoops together with us.

Um, but it was something that helped us get those first customers and even more importantly, to show that there’s a big enough need that people would be able to pay even for such a rudimentary solution.

Andrew: How’d you find customers who are willing to try you out and give you a credit card? Excuse me, not a credit card, but give you a password.

Ovi: Um, it was a lot about, um, jumping into various startup, um, ecosystems. Like, we used to find people that were just launching on Product Hunt or on BetaList, and they were still also, like, in the early stages, they wanted to get more customers, and we, our tool, especially back then with the Twitter, uh, automations, was really helping them find those first initial customers.

Uh, but then we also did a lot of content marketing, which was… DAO was still at first centered around startups and so on. Since then, most of our customers are, um, are coaches, solopreneurs, small businesses and agencies. But in the first years, it was more about those founder to founder sales that really helped us get those first customers.

Andrew: How’d you meet Vlad, your co founder and first developer?

Ovi: We worked together in a previous company. I actually hired him. I was running a small software company and then I hired him. Um, I was quite lucky because I see now how hard it is to find like a very good CTO that’s both Committed and knows what they’re doing and knows how to prioritize business results over the latest, shiniest technology because a lot of developers always just want to jump on the next technology trend.

So I was quite lucky to that extent.

Andrew: Once, um, once you started, you did Concierge because it was necessary. At some point, it seems like you were mostly an agency creating software for your needs, but with the idea that eventually others would use it, right?

Ovi: Yeah, it was, uh, it was something that we had to do because being bootstrapped, we needed those revenues. So we managed to build the agency on top of A platform which kept getting better and better. So, at one point, the platform was good enough so people would be able to self serve and just go through our onboarding process and buy for themselves.

And then over the years, the process, the percent has shifted heavily, where now we still have, uh, revenue wise, uh, around maybe 30% of our revenue comes from the agency, even though that’s also recurrent. But then customer wise, uh, only 5% of our customers are, are also using the agency. It’s just the difference is, um, in such a way because the, the…

Platform. The tool is much cheaper than the services for the agency and without the agency. I don’t know if we would have been able to survive, so it was something that helped us, but we were always. Using the agency as a means to the end where we wanted to keep growing the tool and we wanted to make sure that all the revenue we get from the agency and all the learnings we were putting back into the tool and making the tool better and better each time.

Andrew: What was the percentage of revenue last time? Do you think when we, when you were roughly at a hundred thousand, what’s the percentage of revenue that was coming from concierge?

Ovi: Um, I think back then probably would have been even like 90% of the revenue coming from the concierge and maybe even more than that. Um, and 3000 customers and just a couple of hundred of them also use concierge services. So it’s definitely the tool that is front and center nowadays.

Andrew: And the agency part, it’s more like a productized service because you have a fixed price and a fixed product that you’re giving people, right? Like LinkedIn lead generation, it’s 129 a month, and it’s a specific way that you’re doing it. It, that, that seems like a real eye opening approach.

Ovi: Yeah, so even with the agency, I mean, we’re now calling it agency because we also rebranded it. So now it has its own domain. So it looks and feels more like an agency, but it’s definitely a productized service offering. And from the beginning, we were also very heavy on processes, and we had very tight areas of what we would be doing with those services.

Because we wanted to make sure that even though it’s an agency, it is scalable. And we did manage to scale it quite a bit. We have over 50 freelancers that are now working with us. We shifted last time we talked. We were hiring these people who were working directly on our customers. But since then, it’s basically almost like a marketplace where we vet and manage the people that join our network.

And then we do some very light management. And we also train them a bit in our specific way of doing things. And this is how we are able to have… Still low prices. So the social media specialist where we create social media posts for our customers is our number one seller. And it starts from 129 per month where we would actually create posts just for you.

But they’re very specific. The number of posts that we create, the number of networks that we share on, how often we do edits and so on. Um, and, and we believe that it’s only by productizing an agency is that, that you can scale it. Um, and it worked for us so far.

Andrew: Can you tell me about some of the challenges you had in building this up as an agency?

Ovi: I think the number one challenge was, um, basically running two businesses in parallel. And, um, it’s also usually the, the greasy wheel that gets the oil. Uh, so, uh, the agency part that’s quick. Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I heard it. That something was wrong. Yes. Um, so, um, the agency, because it had so many people involved and so many moving parts, it always had more issues and more things that we could, uh, um, improve.

So a lot of the, a lot of my time and of the management’s time at first, it was to set that up, but once it was set up. We had more bandwidth to focus on working even more specifically on the tool. So on the management side, we have somebody that’s fully running the agency, and me personally, I’m very briefly just involved with that side, and it’s been running quite nicely for the last years.

Um, and I could focus, uh, fully on, uh, on the tool or almost fully on the, on the tool. So I think it’s just this having the two different businesses, which yes, they are, they help each other, but still they’re two different businesses with two different business, uh, models and two ways of, of growing and running them.

That was the number one, uh, challenge.

Andrew: How do you manage it? What’s the back end look like? What don’t I see as a consumer?

Ovi: You see a lot of functionality in SocialBeat that was built specifically for agencies, for our agency actually. And we are now in the process of taking that out and building it for other agencies. Um, and actually this, the concierge part has been something that has been definitely… Um, crucial in us getting to here, but has been, my feeling is that it’s also hurting us in getting more agency customers just because the customers would go into social B and they would see that, okay, why should I work this with this other agency where, where social B concierge has as lower, uh, uh, tiers.

And we’ve actually, uh, changed that, uh, changed that quite recently where. We are now also having a service marketplace where we’re allowing for other agencies to present their services to our tool customers. And we’re working also on the possibility to offer agencies. A place where they can actually, uh, list only their services, uh, so that their customers can buy from, uh, through Socialbee, but directly from that specific agency.

So we’re really opening it up, uh, more and more to other agencies, and then Conciergebee is just going to be one of the agencies that, uh, is using this.

Andrew: That seems like you want to get out of the concierge, out of the service business, right? I mean if you’re starting to list competitive businesses who can use, uh, social B.

Ovi: I think it’s that adage of, uh, what got you here won’t get you there. Um, and indeed, it’s not that we want to, like, fully get out of the service. Uh, agency part, but we do feel that there’s a bigger opportunity, uh, to enable other agencies to, to do more of what we’ve been doing as well. And indeed, we did build a lot of functionality in the back end, uh, for an agency to be able to just take, uh, a service or a current service, uh, that was bought from their customers to assign it to one of their team members.

To check what they’ve been doing to check if they put whatever number of posts they promised to put in that account and so on. So there’s a lot of functionality which is already built. We just need to polish it a bit to offer it to others, which I think will make us even more competitive towards other agencies using us.

Because more and more agencies have been using us throughout all of these years. So now we have quite a lot of agencies using the pro accounts and we have bigger and bigger agencies using us. Thank you. Uh, but with this, I think it will be, um, even more interesting for them.

Andrew: So, you know, I realized that we have some bandwidth here at Mixergy. We’ve been, it’s been getting easier and more streamlined to edit interviews, to book guests, to publish, to do all of that. And the tools are getting phenomenal, like really exciting. And some of them I can’t use on my product, but I want to still use them.

So I thought, what if I were to open up the Mixergy team in the process to another podcaster and say, if you’re out there and you want to podcast and you want to have interesting conversations like I do, we’ll book the guests for you. We’ll set you up with the editing equipment that you need in the software.

You’ll record the interviews and then we will, as a team, edit and publish them for you. And then frankly, I’ll also give a lot of feedback on the style of the interview and the approach and, uh, and all that. I thought I would just open it up, work with one person or one company and then see how that would go.

And I should say, by the way, um, if anyone out there is interested, my email address is andrewatmixergy. com andrewatmixergy. com. But Ovi, as someone who’s done this, what do you think some of the issues I’d face would be?

Ovi: First of all, I really love that model. I think you would, uh, move away from just having one show to basically having like a small studio. Um, but what I would definitely do here is… I would still, I wouldn’t allow it to be almost like a marketplace where anybody can come in, but I would really vet it. I almost see if you would do this, you would become like an investor in these.

Uh, podcasts, but not an investor that only gives money, but also gives time and sits on their board and, and things like that. So if you would think about yourself this way, you would definitely only invest in the best and you wouldn’t take too many on board, at least until you know that they’re set up in a nice, uh, rhythm and so on, uh, because you wouldn’t have enough bandwidth to be on those boards.

Uh, but I feel that if you do this, you would go to almost like the Gimlet route where you have more and more shows that are. I would say also catering to the same audience, maybe like, um, that Venn diagram of your audience and the, um, audiences of these new shows would maybe over time, like keep growing and you would just move away into different areas.

But I would definitely also focus on using the Mixergy audience to grow these other podcasts, because I’m sure you know this better,

Andrew: similar enough, yeah, if they’re similar enough, then we can help them grow. I wasn’t thinking about doing it as taking ownership in the other podcasts. I find that one of the best things about doing an interview show is not the monetary rewards, though they’re nice. It’s that… My wife was doing an in person event and she needed to get to Seth Godin and because I’d interviewed him I was able to send him an email and he came over and he just volunteered and spoke at the event which helped out.

I was looking to go to South America and I wanted to talk to people there And I just was able to reach out to this venture capitalist there who introduced me to amazing companies in South America and They’re just these opportunities that open up because of the guests, you know, and the listeners who are paying attention to those guests and to you.

And so to me, I wasn’t thinking of doing it for equity because I just don’t think that kind of thing should be sold. I think it’s more like we set it up for you and, and it helps you with your brand and it’s the upside in your business that is, that is meaningful. What do you

Ovi: I would say you would have not gotten to have these high level connections if Mixergy would have just been a hobby for you and not a business. Because first of all, you would have given up maybe, I mean, I know you personally, maybe you would have not given up because you love Having these discussions with, with entrepreneurs, but most people would have probably given up if it would have not been like something for them to really be focused on, uh, as a business.

So if you would do that, I think also for you time wise, especially when you’re talking about you and you offering your time to give feedback, uh, it, it takes a quite a big time commitment. And then if, if somebody just does this as a hobby and sure they can pay you whatever fees you want to charge them to run this.

Um, at one point it’s still going to be like, it will feel maybe too much of a hassle and it will just take away time for something that doesn’t, that won’t have big enough impact in the long run. And I know that you also want to have impact. So because of that, I would really think about this. Okay. We’re an investor in this.

You don’t have to take, like, a big percentage, but taking that percentage really aligns you with that, uh, with that podcast, new podcast. And by having a podcast network it will definitely also be more valuable for everybody involved, because finding the audience is one of the main challenges in starting a new podcast.

Andrew: I agree, but I’ve got to say I don’t think the equity approach is the right way because I really don’t believe that these things can be sold. I think they’re a handful like Gimlet where they are fully owned and there’s an opportunity there. But beyond that, I think the numbers are too small. I just don’t think most people are going to get to that level and I don’t think they should aspire to get to that level.

Um, I’m looking at you, you mentioned the hassle of giving feedback. I just can’t help myself, which is partially where this came from. One of my past guests, Nat Eliason, created a. And I immediately, as soon as he said he did, I started texting him and saying, let me help you out. Let me do it. And we just had a conversation.

And then he tweeted out that one of the tools that I showed him was just eye opening and change things out, uh, change things for him dramatically. And then this weekend, while I was getting ready to go meet a friend on a Friday night, I was listening to his podcast and sending him. Messages about what he should be doing differently on the podcast.

I did the same thing with Eric Thornburg when he created his first podcast. He’s the founder of On Deck. He was in Product Hunt when he first created a podcast. I just went to the Product Hunt office and I sat with him and I said, Here’s what I think you should be doing. I think a lot of my opinions weren’t really right for him.

Um, which is fine. And I think I might have been a little too aggressive for him, uh, which I think is also fine. But I think it was helpful, and I can’t help doing that kind of thing. So, as far as feedback, um, I got really good feedback from a producer that I hired years ago, and he gave me an approach to how to do that properly, and I found every time I do that, it just helps me.

It helps me think better, it helps me become a better conversationalist. Um… And I, I just don’t think that someone like Nat should be building his podcast because he wants to sell it. I think he, look at his latest episode. His latest episode is about salt. It’s a whole episode based on a book he read on salt.

I think the numbers are going to be fantastic, uh, for it. I just don’t think he should be building it with the idea that he would sell it. What he could get from it is. More people who are going to hire his agency. What he could get from it is more people are going to buy his new book, which is going to be published by Penguin, it looks like.

What he could get from it is more people are going to watch his TikTok channel, which is growing. What he could get from it is not the kind of, is, is advertising revenue. In fact, he’s done that with his, with his blog. He had a blog, he told me in his Mixergy interview. Where all he did was write notes in public about books that moved him and he started getting some ad revenue from that and it started to build up and it built up his reputation too.

And I think the same thing is going to happen with the podcast. When I think about podcasts, I think Joe Rogan is a really nice model to aspire to. I think most people should be thinking about, and I think even Joe Rogan did. So I’d say almost everyone should just be thinking how do I create a great podcast that lets me have wonderful conversations that I would pay to have and Then bring in an audience to happen to listen to them and Joe Rogan One of the weird things about Spotify is when I listen to him on my Apple watch because I leave my phone behind sometimes It will accidentally defaulters first episode and it was just him in an echoey room with people with some dude that I don’t even know Who he is still even after hearing that opening 50 times Um And I think that’s where the beauty of podcasting is.

How do you have a great conversation that influences your life and business properly and let the audience listen in on that? What do you think?

Ovi: I agree. Uh, and I also really like Nat. Uh, I didn’t know that he has a podcast. I’m gonna subscribe to it as well. Um, and I think indeed it’s hard to, because podcast most of the time is just one of the ways people get both an audience and monetize a bigger business. Um, but But for the ones that want to really start podcasting, and it doesn’t have to be that if you own equity in it, the goal should be to exit and to sell that podcast.

Um, podcasts, um, uh, could also, uh, become, like, uh, profitable on their own, but indeed, I think it’s, uh, you’re making a good point that it’s hard to separate the other ways how, uh, many, uh, podcasters are really trying to, to monetize this. Uh, but, but the fact that you offer this, uh, feedback. I think you offer them to people that you know, and then you trust that it won’t be like wasted time and you also like those people.

While if you want to open it up to like a wider audience, there should be a clear vetting process in there.

Andrew: I think that’s absolutely right because I think that for most people it’ll be a waste and frankly working with me would be a waste because I just have a certain approach to doing things. But the ideal is, imagine you sit down with someone who you’re dying to talk to who’s got the answer to a thing that you’ve been wrestling with.

It could be a business issue, it could be a marriage issue, it could be a relationship issue, it could just be a how the world works issue. You want to sit down with the ideal person to talk to about that problem. And then, have an audience of people who also have similar issues, similar questions, listening in.

And if they are, they’re going to connect with you because you’ve had that issue. And so, that is the goal. What I see, though, is there’s a lot of pain in the butt things that go along with that. A lot of pain in the butt things. Like, I just recorded an interview with someone. And it was hard to understand the person because the room was not good that they recorded in.

We couldn’t get a mic to them to make it, to make it better. There are issues with the, with communication, uh, to get the thing going. Anyway, we ended up spending some time and edited the interview properly so it sounds better. Um. And I think that that is the stuff that should be sent to someone else and I don’t even know if it’s us We could probably just set someone up and then eventually give them the system where they could go to another Company and have them or even just hire of a VA to take over but that initial pain in the butt stuff is what keeps People from doing it.

It’s what gets them to say I’m doing this I’m going for it and then the drag of the little things that go along with it becomes such a pain that That they can’t keep doing it All right, so that’s one issue talk to me more about the consulting part of your business I want to learn from that and see if maybe there’s something that I can learn from it One thing you’re saying is, um, it seems like productizing and having a clear set of tasks that you’re willing to do helped one.

One of the things I noticed is you have advertising tasks, which people would expect clear results from. So if someone’s hiring you to do basically marketing for them, like here, here we go, this LinkedIn lead generation that I mentioned earlier, 129 a month. There’s an expectation that you’re going to do something for them, that you’re going to get them a result, right?

How do you offer something like that without being tied into making sales for someone because that’s their responsibility?

Ovi: Yeah, I think the challenging part indeed is to really not only draw the lines because we are really trying to draw the lines and… To say for each service what we are able to do, but then to get the customer to really understand what are the limits of those specific services. So, for example, the social media specialist is the most popular one where we’re creating social media posts for customers.

And even though we say like, okay, having a social media presence is especially nowadays mandatory, but not sufficient. And this post will make sure that your profiles are up to date and people are, um, uh, keep, keep track, who are following you can see you in their feed and so on. Um, those posts will only be as good as the audience that you already have and the audience that will grow.

And if you’re not doing any paid advertising nowadays, it’s really hard to grow an audience on social unless you’re doing some viral things. In which case, probably it shouldn’t be us who is doing those things, but you should be the one who is maybe the face of it and managing that yourself. Um, so in, in, in some areas we cannot offer any, any promises, um, on, on the LinkedIn lead generation, for example, yes, we know exactly how many people we are connecting with on a, on, um, a daily or weekly basis.

And then we also have services where once we connect with them, we start the messaging part with them. But it, it ends up being still the responsibility of the customer in the end. to convert those leads into sales. The same goes for ads because most of our customers are not so much in the selling of things space, but rather in the services space.

Uh, so, uh, both with ads or with LinkedIn lead generation, uh, it’s still up to them, uh, at the end to make sure that they have also a good website. And if, if they, we see that they have a bad, uh, website, we try to give them tips to help them convert. Uh, but it’s up to them to make sure that the whole. Uh, that they take care of their part in, in this whole flow and system.

Um, and you also asked about, about challenges. Whenever we work with like 50 plus freelancers, yes, we have processes and procedures in place, but it’s still, uh, not, um, something that we can just, um, make sure that everything runs smoothly. We still need to, uh, over, uh, overlook what, uh, they, to, to oversee what they, they’ve been doing to make sure that they don’t. Some parts or sometimes like their sleep and so on. So there is a bit of, um, oversight on our end as well.

Andrew: So what you’re trying to do is offer a set of tasks, not results. And that’s the, that’s the way that you’re not married to what happens to their business. And you’re not now, um, in charge of growing their sales and, and so on. All right, you did mention all the different types of products that you were doing.

You’ve got this content machine, uh, as you call it, which is basically article writing. That’s not a social beat connected, uh, service from what I can tell, right? It feels like what you’re doing is saying. What are the, what are the tasks that our people have? How about we just keep bundling them in? Right.

Ovi: Yeah. So we, we realized that, uh, just social media is. It’s one of the many tools in the toolkit of a marketer and of a business. And um, as we kept, uh, being better and better at some tasks, just doing them for ourselves, like the content marketing part, basically, uh, we started offering them as a service.

So the content machine indeed is, um, is a content marketing bundle where we write articles that are SEO optimized, but also optimized to get, uh, people to act. Uh, on whatever call to action we have for that one article, and indeed, it’s not fully linked to SocialBee, and some of the services that we’re currently offering is not, are not fully linked to SocialBee, and this is also one of the reasons why we wanted to really take ConciergeBee out as a standalone brand, so we can really grow on its own more than just SocialBee.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And now how do you manage somebody who has to write an article for a client who’s expecting copy for their website, someone else who’s sending out offers on LinkedIn, actually, that sounds like it’s more like a software that’s doing it, right? This connection on LinkedIn, and then the first message that gets automated after a connection happens, that is software that’s doing it.

That’s not a person, right?

Ovi: Uh, with most of our, our, uh, services, or maybe even all of them, it’s like a cyborg hybrid model. Where we do have software that we set up for our customers, uh, that we manage, but then also there is some human oversight or in the case of article writing, for example, yes, we’re using all sorts of AI tools now to generate.

Uh, some ideas or maybe some summaries of what we’ve been writing and so on. But what we find, especially in the AI writing part, is that the best results still come by using tools and humans together. And this is also why we invested quite heavily into an AI component within Socialbee. So the customers that are just using the tool, they’re not using our concierge services, they can really generate a lot of posts quite easily, uh, good posts, uh, and we help them a lot with, uh, the prompt suggestion as well.

Andrew: All right, I’m still wondering about how you can get somebody who’s doing copywriting and manage that. That seems like a really big project on its own, and then somebody else who’s doing ads management, and that seems like a big project on its own, and manage them both and manage both customers expectations.

How do you, how do you not have it just drive you nuts and drive your team nuts?

Ovi: Uh, they didn’t all come at once. So we were able to, to properly set them up, uh, as we were building them. And usually first time we just, like, beta test them with a few customers before we make them public. But if you, if you really step back to, um, um, to look at a bigger picture, you will see that many of them share a lot of Tasks, at least in principle.

Now, the specifics of those tasks might be different, but the general structure is the same, where we know that, okay, there’s a weekly task that needs to be created. So we built a lot of, um, uh, tooling internally to just generate a new task each week with checklists that are specific to that one task. Um, and then the task will be totally different between the linked elite generation and between the content writing part, for example.

But the principle and the mechanism will, will stay the same. And then the people that we’re using for LinkedIn generation versus the content writing are also, uh, most of the time, uh, totally different people who have slightly different skills. And we’re training them in slightly different skill set. But then we’re using all of the infrastructure that we build for.

Basically, project management or recursive project management, uh, to be able to be very, uh, efficient and effective with what we’re doing.

Andrew: Where do you find these people who do the work?

Ovi: Um, we’re using, uh, ads to, um, to, to find these people. And then we’re using all sorts of internal, uh, quizzes and, um, and tests, uh, to vet them as much as possible without us CVs. Thank you. But, uh, but actually we’re now having the opposite problem where a few people on TikTok, um, uh, saw that we have this, uh, freelance marketplace and, uh, they’re recommending us, uh, or they’re recommending to their audience to, uh, sign up to become a freelancer in our marketplace. And we’ve been flooded with these, uh, Um, submissions and we’re actually, we’re having a quite a stable team of freelancers and we don’t want to grow it.

Uh, um, or we have actually a bit of, um, of a waiting list even that we pre vetted. So we don’t want to grow it even further, but we’ve been just using the same, um, Um, marketing techniques that we’ll be using for our customers. We’ll be using them to grow our freelance marketplace.

Andrew: Wait, so where did you get your people from originally? I mean, you said that you bought ads. Bought ads where?

Ovi: Um, our, our company, uh, is, um, originally, or let’s say, uh, mostly located in Romania. So, uh, so far we’ve also been, uh, looking for people in Romania, uh, which is Eastern Europe. And then the prices, the salaries are also smaller. So that’s why we can offer like top talent at a very competitive price. Um, and then we’re using ads to target specifically in Romania, but then, uh, people who are in the marketing space for, uh, for this.

Andrew: Last time we talked, you told me how you got your customers. I remember, um, AppSumo was a big source, but there was also a lot of work on your side because they were sending so many people who came in on a low priced deal. What are some of the things that have worked since then to get new customers for SocialBee, the software?

Ovi: Um, I would say high level, we have, uh, three main areas that brought us customers. Uh, one is content marketing. So we’ve been doing, um, we’ve been investing quite heavily in our blog. Um, maybe some two years ago, we started properly investing into our blog. So we have, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, content uh, full time too.

To really create top, top resources and top articles. So that has been, uh, uh, doing quite well for us. Um, and then we have partnerships where, uh, we might integrate with a third party provider. We might run together a webinar with, uh, some other folks, uh, that share the same audience. Uh, we might be doing like, um, all sorts of co marketing activities.

And then the third one, which is quite an important one for us, is affiliates and word of mouth. So, uh, quite a big percentage of our revenue is also coming, uh, from affiliates who are, uh, promoting Socialbee. And then a lot of it is also just coming from word of mouth of happy customers promoting our tools because…

It helped them and then they share it with us. This is how we got a lot of coaches and a lot of solopreneurs because especially solopreneurs like to ask each other, Okay, what tool have you been using? And then they promote us this way and we got quite a lot of customers through Word of Mouth and Affiliate.

So referrals, either paid or like just free.

I did not hear the last question.

Andrew: You’re running your affiliate program through social, uh, through partner stack where you’re giving 20% of your revenue to anyone who brings customers in. What kind of affiliates are coming in for that?

Ovi: Um, first of all, we really love PartnerStack. They’ve been a good, they’ve been a great partner. Uh, and we’re, we’re, we’re working quite closely with them on our program. Um, I would say the types of affiliates that we get are either like bloggers that have, uh, maybe a blog where they, it’s affiliate marketing is what they do, and then they manage to rank in these type of like, Top social media tools or maybe somebody that already has their audience, maybe because they are a coach that is coaching other businesses, and then they are adding our affiliate or their affiliate links to their coaching program.

But then we also have a very big amount of like, just small, uh, individual people who, they don’t do affiliates as a full time job, or they’re, they just don’t, they just do it to make like, a bit of money on the side, and then whenever they’re recommending us, they’re recommending us through their affiliate link.

Andrew: Um, all right. I’m looking around and just trying to get a sense of what else is working for the business. Anything else that I missed?

Ovi: Yeah, I think, uh, I think what we also managed to do in this last year since we talked is that when we first talked, we were like really focused on the posting side, and that’s still the number one module that’s being used. But since then, we also built like the analytics module, and we have customers that are just coming in also just for the analytics part.

And now the engage functionality, which is like a unified inbox functionality. And now with AI, we really. Uh, went into that, uh, rabbit hole quite, quite quickly. Uh, and we’re now also actually working on a new module, which. Uh, in which you answer just, I think, eight questions and then we really create the whole social media schedule for you.

Both the types of, uh, content categories that you should have on which networks you should focus on specifically for your business. And then the exact social media posts that you, you can use. And of course you can edit them maybe so they feel more, uh, like you, but then we will really take you 80% there just with answering a few questions.

Andrew: Alright, let me close out with this last time you and I talked, I think in private you gave me some tips for growing on Twitter. I love Twitter still. It’s my favorite platform. What’s working now for growing Twitter following for getting engagement there?

Ovi: I think. The best tip I have here is like the anti hack, um, because hacks usually like really work, um, work for a while and then they disappear. But what we’ve also found in these many years is that if you just like keep being constant and keep working on whatever you’re focused on, as you keep improving, and we have internally that rule of one percent better each day, Um, things will keep adding up, so just work on the craft of, of, uh, nailing down your voice and having a better content.

Do it on a consistent basis, and this is also where a tool like SocialBeat can help you schedule content on a consistent basis. And then specifically on the networks where you can, like Twitter or actually X, uh, is one of these places. Engage with that target audience, so really try to spend some time each day or each week to, um, to engage with relevant, uh, accounts, uh, for you and you will just see your engagement keep, keeps growing and, uh, your content will be seen by more and more people.

Andrew: You have, um, about a million in revenue now annual, right?

Ovi: Uh, over that, but yeah,

Andrew: Over a million. What’s the bottom line profit from that considering how much of your, your work is being done by people?

Ovi: uh, the people side is also, uh, profitable, uh, in its own. Uh, and then on the tool side, what actually happened, uh, for us this year, we shifted like up until let’s say January of, of this year, uh, which is like 2023. Everything, all the money that we had, uh, as we kept growing, we kept putting back into the business.

We just kept hiring more developers, more marketing resources, and so on. While starting with this year, uh, we stopped that and we’re still growing, but not one on one. Uh, and then we’re starting focusing on the profitability as well. Um, and on the tool side, the profitability just keeps growing now as we keep growing our revenue.

Uh, and it’s quite a good, uh, quite a profitable, uh, product. Uh, and on the services side, I would say it’s about… I didn’t think, uh, about 20% that’s pure profit, uh, after everything on the tool side. It’s, it’s, it’s more than that and keeps betting better, keeps getting better and better.

Andrew: Wait, no, let’s be a little more specific. Okay on the on the services side Do you net more than 20%

Ovi: It’s about 20% that we net, yes.

Andrew: about 20% and then on the software side? Are you at more than 25% more than 50?

Ovi: We’re, we’re at about between 20 and 30%, depending on the month, but that just keeps growing because as we keep growing our revenue, we don’t keep. Um, putting that money back into the business as we did up until now, because the team is now quite, quite stable and we have good resources on the development side.

We have enough resources on the marketing side, so we don’t need to keep investing back into the company, everything.

Andrew: so overall based on What I’m hearing it seems like Excluding yours and your co founders, uh, salary, you guys have at least 300, 000 in profit. And then from that you take

Ovi: yeah, yeah, so whenever we’re also considering our salaries into what, uh, um, into our expenses. So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s definitely over that

Andrew: You’re saying even including that, even after you take your salaries out, you still have a net of 300, 000 in the business.

Ovi: more than that. Yes.

Andrew: That’s phenomenal. You’re doing great now, right? I’m

Ovi: Um, I always like to say that it’s a long journey and we’re still like, we still plan to keep growing and to keep, uh, growing everything across the board. But yes, uh, it’s much better, uh, knowing that first of all, all of the, uh, salaries are taken care of. And then we as founders have both, uh, a decent salary, uh, cause we definitely not paying us a full market rates.

But then we’re also starting to, to draw profits. Yes.

Andrew: your face. You don’t look super happy as we’re talking about this. Is that just because I’m making you a little bit uptight? Or something else going on. What’s going on?

Ovi: yeah, I was not expecting to go into, uh, that, uh, the details of numbers.

Andrew: I see.

Ovi: And I think it’s, I think the moment that we were, like, that for me was an important one was, was I knew that our team was big enough for what we needed. And then also us as founders, we have, uh, decent salaries and also that the team has decent salaries because when we were first starting out, like the team was not making a lot, we, we didn’t have a lot, so we didn’t pay a lot.

And, but most of those people are still with us and now they’re, they’re, uh, on a good, uh, on a good path. And that was the moment when I was a bit, when I was happy that, yeah, we were at a good place. And then from now on, everything else is, is graven.

Andrew: All right. That is a great place to be. All right. The website for anyone who wants to go check it out. It’s socialb. com. Last time it was socialb. io. You bought the. com. Congratulations. And thank you all for listening. If you are interested in having us, my team edit and produce and find your, your guests and do the whole thing for you, even help you come up with the topic and the approach, just contact me.

Um, it’s Andrew at Mixergy. com. Andrew at Mixergy. com. All right, Ovi. Thanks. Bye everyone.

Ovi: Thanks everyone.

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