Case Study: Bootstrapping a web builder from Moscow

Joining me is an entrepreneur coming at us straight from Moscow in Russia. Nikita Obukhov is a guy who realized it’s really hard to build websites. We need to make it easier.

And so he created a company called Tilda. It’s a website builder that doesn’t require you to use any code.

I want to find out how he bootstrapped it.

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Nikita Obukhov

Nikita Obukhov

Tilda

Nikita Obukhov is the founder of Tilda, a website builder that doesn’t use any code.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are listening in, learning, and then eventually putting into action and coming back here to do an interview about how they built their phenomenal companies. Joining me is an entrepreneur coming at us straight from Moscow in Russia. He is the founder of a company that . . . well, he’s a guy who realized, you know what, it’s really hard to build websites. We need to make it easier. And so he created a company called Tilda. It’s a website builder that doesn’t require you to use any code.

His name is Nikita Obukhov. And we’re going to find out how he built this up thanks to two phenomenal companies, the first kind of competitive. We talked about this before the interview started, Nikita. But he was okay with it. The company is called HostGator for hosting your website. And the second, if you’re looking to hire a developer from anywhere in the world, get the best of the best from Toptal. I’ll talk about those later.

Nikita, good to see you here.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s your revenue?

Nikita: Sorry, but we don’t . . . I don’t speak about it.

Andrew: I’ve got the number here in front of me. Can we say whether it’s over a million or under a million?

Nikita: It’s over.

Andrew: It’s over a million. That’s as far as you’re willing to go.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: Number of users our producer asked you, and you said, “No, I’m not willing to say.” Why won’t you say how many people are on the platform? I feel like it adds credibility if you show that there are a lot of people on the platform.

Nikita: I can say we have more than one million users.

Andrew: That’s it. Okay. More than one million people who are using the platform. Do you guys have a free version?

Nikita: Yeah, we have.

Andrew: You do. Okay. Let’s go back to how you discovered this problem. Where were you? What led you to come up with this?

Nikita: You mean the problem with creating websites?

Andrew: Yeah. In fact, let’s get to know you a little bit before the problem. You were running a design studio. Right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: What kind of designs? What were you working on?

Nikita: [inaudible 00:02:01] design, identity designs. So before Tilda, I started my career in 2000, and about 20 years I am in design. So before Tilda, I ran my own studio. So we were like a boutique design studio. So we had interesting clients and always interesting projects, which we can choose which to work on or which not.

Andrew: Can you give me a description of something you’re especially proud of having created? I went to look you up on Behance, by the way, and there’s another Nikita on there. Same name, full first and last name. I’m looking at his stuff. It’s not nearly as good as your stuff. Sorry, Nikita number two, whoever you are. He’s also in Russia. He goes by FunkyPunky. That’s not you, right?

Nikita: Yeah, it’s me.

Andrew: That’s you?

Nikita: Yeah, it’s me.

Andrew: This does not look nearly as good as Tilda. Some of this stuff is kind of like not pixelated, but it’s got random stuff, random images on it.

Nikita: I [inaudible 00:03:10] to put new works on Behance a long time. So it’s . . .

Andrew: Okay. This is your older stuff.

Nikita: Yeah. It’s old stuff. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. All right.

Nikita: So we have a lot of interesting clients, and from creative fields, like design schools or architectural media and [inaudible 00:03:36] Russian banks, and small businesses, musicians, [inaudible 00:03:46].

Andrew: Blogs and publications too it looks like. Right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: I see you created . . . Is it a logo for Mama Typmaha? Do you recognize it?

Nikita: No.

Andrew: No?

Nikita: No.

Andrew: I see that on your CV on your website. Okay. All right. I’ve got a sense of where you were before. What was it that led you to come up with the idea for this? Where did it come from?

Nikita: Tilda [inaudible 00:04:14] solution, which we used for our website to publish our cases, and we always loved to give a little bit more information to our visitors and tell stories about how we work, how the creative process works in our studio. So it shows prototypes, [inaudible 00:04:44], ideas which we have and [inaudible 00:04:48] . . .

Andrew: You’re saying for your studio you needed to find a way to show the work that you had done, the case studies?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: And you said, “Well, all right. I need an easy way.” Why didn’t you just use WordPress? WordPress exists. Why didn’t you use one of the other platforms?

Nikita: Because . . . so I didn’t finish the . . . so we needed the tool how to publish, how to show these cases in a not standard way. We wanted to . . . what should look like in the print magazines. So we’ve some interesting typography, not just in one line, where you can use just title, text and image, and this is all in one line. Yeah. And we made this to provide a solution. It’s [inaudible 00:05:45] how to describe a version of Tilda. So the main idea is what we created some [inaudible 00:05:55] blocks, which helps us to without a designer and without a programmer give our manager to show our, to publish our works in our portfolio. And it has to look like a designer made this page.

Andrew: You want the finished product that you had for yourself to look a little bit like a magazine and to feel more polished than a typical website.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: But you could create a theme in WordPress for that. I don’t mean to press you here, but I’m wondering if you said to yourself, “You know what? I think we could create our own publishing platform from the start.” Right? Why did you do this for yourself?

Nikita: We [inaudible 00:06:35] WordPress is not enough. So WordPress has just a simple text editor, which allows you just to make, to put a link or to put an image or a video inside the text. But you can’t be creative. Yeah, you can’t be creative.

Andrew: I looked at the launch post on TechCrunch. John Biggs went through the software, and he said, look, the nice thing that we like about it or that he liked about it was that you could easily drag-and-drop images. You can manage typography easily. You can draw shapes. You can create animations. There was this extra set of features that you wanted for yourself internally. That’s why you built it for yourself. And then eventually you launched it. What made you decide to launch it?

Nikita: To be honest, I’m very tired from the customers.

Andrew: But why? Give me an example of what made you tired of having to deal with customers.

Nikita: Because we have . . . I have a lot of experience. So I spent a lot of time in this field, and I know very well a lot of how to make a design right, how it should [inaudible 00:07:54]. I have to explain my vision to every new client, and I [inaudible 00:08:05] . . .

Andrew: Do you have an example of a stupid thing that a client asked you, that you know it’s stupid because you’ve been in the space forever, but they didn’t?

Nikita: Yeah. You know, it always connected to taste. Some guys have good taste, and we understand each other. But sometimes it doesn’t happen.

Andrew: What’s an example of someone . . . Do you remember one? There’s got to be one that kind of stuck with you, that was just such bad taste. You said, “What am I even doing with this guy? Why is this guy leading me instead of me leading him?”

Nikita: Yeah. So it’s, for example, I know one guy. He was a marketing director in a famous Russian bank, and I worked with a director of this bank. When this guy has to make a sign, he doesn’t like it. He said, “Oh, um, it’s very simple.”

Andrew: I see. What you created is too simplistic for him.

Nikita: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Got it. All right. So you’re saying to yourself, “Listen, I’m not going to continue to be led. I’m an artist here. I’m a designer. I understand user experience. I’ve been in this. These guys who are just drumming, can’t off of being drummer one second and then suddenly be art director the next. I can’t deal with it.” And so you decided you were going to customize it. I mean, you were going to turn it into something that was a product for other people to use. What changes did you have to make in order to make it something that others could use?

Nikita: What do you mean?

Andrew: Like when it was internal, you had something that worked. To make it into something that anyone else can go and self-serve, used to launch a website, it’s not easy.

Nikita: Yeah, it’s not easy. It’s a lot of work, because you need to create not just the product, because it’s [inaudible 00:10:04] updates. But you need customer support. You need to just simple, just to write terms of service for example. And a lot of [inaudible 00:10:17] which you need to find, for example, choose the right payment system and the [inaudible 00:10:24] register, people how to use support. We created a lot of templates, created a lot of think about . . . a lot of details. Yeah, and this is . . . But for us, it was simple because we understand how products work very deeply and because we have great experience. From the great experience, we have made a lot of services and . . .

Andrew: You also coded up websites, or just the design?

Nikita: Both.

Andrew: Both. So what about this? Anthony, I never know, Casalena, the founder of Squarespace, he founded the company back in 2003, as far as I know. This existed. Why didn’t you just say, “You know what? There’s competition out there already. Squarespace is really big. I’m not going to jump into this space.” Why didn’t you just accept that that was it?

Nikita: Because the approach is the difference. So when I started Tilda, the [inaudible 00:11:32], of course [inaudible 00:11:33] exist, so I didn’t [inaudible 00:11:35]. But Tilda brings a new approach how to create websites, being creative in a new way. So in the center of Tilda brings the idea of what you need, you can use bricks, like a Lego, and this is the pre-made design blocks, and you just choose it from the library and [inaudible 00:12:08] in the page and the page [inaudible 00:12:10].

Andrew: I saw that in TechCrunch post. What’s an example of one of the blocks that you created that TechCrunch talked about?

Nikita: It’s [inaudible 00:12:20] it was 2016. We first had in the library about 200 . . .

Andrew: 200 different blocks.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s an example of a block? Or what was the first set of blocks that you had?

Nikita: It’s commerce, reviews, [inaudible 00:12:41], links and forms.

Andrew: Forms is a block.

Nikita: Yeah, it’s also [inaudible 00:12:51].

Andrew: And reviews. So if I wanted to have somebody review each episode of my podcast, if I was on Tilda, I could just take a block, put it underneath each podcast episode, and people could review it?

Nikita: Yeah. Right now, we have about 27 parts, and for example, if you need to put in your website reviews, you just choose from about 10 different designs of how you want to [inaudible 00:13:25] to look like and [inaudible 00:13:27] content to yours. And that’s all.

Andrew: Okay. All right. So this is the first thing that you did. You said, “Look, I’m going to make sure that we have different blocks to make it easier for people to create sites.” For some reason, every time I go to your site, it defaults and sends me over to Germany. I wonder why. How do I force the U.S. version? Oh, here we go. I’m going to click in English on the bottom of the site. It only happens on my desktop. I don’t know what’s going on on my desktop, but on my phone it’s working beautifully. Okay.

Why don’t I go into my first sponsor and then we’ll figure out what happened when you first launched it, how you got your customers, and so on.

First sponsor is actually a company called HostGator. I talked to you before this interview started. I said HostGator is kind of a competitor. People can go to HostGator, with one click they install WordPress, and then they build their website. I know the advantages of that.

Why don’t we compare . . . What do you think is the difference between a HostGator and WordPress versus Tilda?

Nikita: It’s too complicated I think.

Andrew: You think setting up a WordPress website is too complicated?

Nikita: Yeah, because you need to think about all of the details. For example, you need to update it time to time. You have to think and know what does it mean hosting, for example. And actually it’s not intuitive for me. [inaudible 00:14:48]

Andrew: Okay.

Nikita: Yeah. And you need always if you want to [inaudible 00:14:55] idea from WordPress, for example, and what you can choose a template and adapt it to yourself, but you can’t adapt it in 100%. If you want to change, for example, one menu [inaudible 00:15:13] navigation [inaudible 00:15:16] to another design, you have to code or hire a guy who can do it for you. So you can’t do by yourself a lot of things. But Tilda brings to you the freedom of creativity, and you don’t need to think about where your site . . . does it . . .

Andrew: But can’t people just go and get . . . like there are builders for WordPress that are more drag-and-drop, right? So you can customize a theme.

Nikita: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: There are. But you have an extra layer of customization and simplicity.

Nikita: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. For anyone who wants to go check out Tilda, it’s on tilda.cc.

If you are interested in WordPress managed hosting or WordPress hosting from HostGator, the big advantage of HostGator is if you don’t like them, you just take your website and you go to somewhere else. You’re not stuck.

The other advantage is low price. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get the lowest price they ever offer to . . . Is it to anyone ever? I feel like they couldn’t possibly have ever beaten this price. If you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you’ll get the lowest price that they offer anywhere, at least right now. And if you pick that middle option, which I highly recommend, which is called the baby plan, you get unlimited domain hosting. hostgator.com/mixergy. Always happy to talk about other products with HostGator because I feel like they stand up well.

So you built this whole thing out. You made it work. You had to get customers. Where did you go to get the first set of users?

Nikita: For products, I think it starts from the [leader 00:16:50] in most cases. As I, for example, a little bit famous, but not really famous. But the industry knows me. And for me, it was very easy to get the first people because we released it, like the products, and people trust me and we pay attention to the product and starting to [inaudible 00:17:18] with each other. And, like I said, Tilda brings new idea how you can build websites, and it was very different from the other. So it becomes like a [hype 00:17:34] I think.

Andrew: Because you did it. The fact that you’re well-known as a designer.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: How did you get so well-known as a designer?

Nikita: Just work a lot, and that’s all. And create good stuff.

Andrew: By publishing it in other places too.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m looking at the site right now, at the different builders by the way. So I’ve got like a block that’s just title, description, and YouTube video. That’s called a block? A card with title, description, and background, that’s called a block?

Nikita: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: Let me see. Image in circle. Ah, got it. With a title, subtitle, and description underneath it, right? Those are nice designs where you just take the image and you can make it look round. Up title and big description. Got it. All right. I see. I could have a full screen image and a little bit of text on the left. So this is your vision. You said people shouldn’t even have to figure out like the [inaudible 00:18:32] on the site.

Nikita: Before . . .

Andrew: We just let them pick it, right?

Nikita: Yeah. Before, when we created Tilda, we made a lot of [inaudible 00:18:40] how people communicate and how people communicate in internet. And to us, [inaudible 00:18:49] topic was about visual [inaudible 00:18:53], and Tilda started from the [inaudible 00:18:57] design. We wanted to show the media how we can design [interesting 00:19:10] materials and publish it online.

Like I said, we analyzed a lot of websites, and my main purpose find how to bring the design as you understand like a [black box 00:19:29]. For example, how to work with a designer. You’re just give him the task, design [inaudible 00:19:38]. Do something like a black box and give you outcome. So, yeah. And I wanted to understand what’s inside this black box, how we can bring some more structure to creativity and design process. So we analyzed a lot of websites, a lot of landing pages, and [inaudible 00:20:09] common patterns, we call it UI patterns. And we understand what [inaudible 00:20:18] all websites [inaudible 00:20:23].

Andrew: So, for example, you’re saying, “Look, every website needs a call to action.” Right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: Why should somebody have to create it? We’ll just have a block that’s call to action, but there are lots of different types. All websites or most websites, let’s say, have that. Most websites have menus, but there are different types of menus. There’s a hamburger menu, which is the three lines, right, that when you click on them, it expands. Or there’s some people that just have the menu that just stretches out to the top of the website, different items, has its own word, and just you click on that and you get to the different menu item.

You said, “All right. It’s figured out. We don’t have to invent a brand-new menu type to wow people. We just have to make the ones that are out there more accessible.” And so if I go to the blocks, I select menu, and then from menu, I see all the different menu options, like the hamburger menu that I mentioned, or the one that’s just open and clear on a website. And users just have to grab the one they want, put it on their site, and boom, be done. Right?

Nikita: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely right.

Andrew: And the free version of the site gives people maybe two menus, but the paid version of the site gives them even more menus. That’s the difference. Right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: And then the free version also promotes Tilda for anyone who uses it. They’re also promoting the fact that they built on Tilda. And the paid allows them to get rid of the Tilda branding.

Nikita: Yeah. So the main difference between the free version and the paid version is there are less blocks in the free version, and second is more important it’s a custom domain. So in the free version, you can’t use your own domain, just the Tilda domain.

Andrew: Yeah. So it would be like andrewsite.tilda.com or something like . . . let me see. You use a bunch of random letters and numbers, so project 1462593.tilda.co.us would be me.

Nikita: Yeah. That’s right. Also we bring a lot of integrations, of course, in the paid version. For example, if you use Slack to collect messages from, leads from a form, you can use Slack with or Trello.

Andrew: I don’t have to use Zapier to get all my data into Slack or Trello. What I would do is just use one of your pre-made blocks. Somebody fills in the information. Boom, it goes into a Trello card, or it goes into Slack. Okay. So your reputation helped you. That’s the first set of customers. Right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: You went to Facebook. You went to your personal network. Is there like a Russian version of Facebook that was helpful for you?

Nikita: Actually, I don’t use it. It’s called [VKontakte 00:22:51]. But no, I just [inaudible 00:22:53] only in Facebook.

Andrew: Yandex, though, does send you traffic, right? That’s the Russian search engine?

Nikita: Yeah. Yeah. Russians use Google also of course.

Andrew: Right. But I’m looking at your traffic. It seems like you getting more traffic, according to SimilarWeb, from Yandex than you are from even Google, unless I’m misreading it.

Nikita: Actually, for us, really we’re and it’s still [inaudible 00:23:17] the way how to attract the new people, it’s word of mouth. Yeah. People love our product, and we do a lot of work to do it.

Andrew: Like what? What do you do to build word of mouth? You know what? Usually I would say, “Come on. That’s BS. There’s no way.” But I’m on SimilarWeb again, and 56% of your traffic is direct traffic. That’s unusual. So tell me. What you do to build word of mouth?

Nikita: It sounds very simple, but you have to make a very smooth, clean product. So a lot of [inaudible 00:23:59] a lot of ideas, but just 1% of teams can bring to products a good UX and a clear UI. So you don’t have . . . What I want to make in Tilda, I don’t want my users to have a struggle or suffer from [inaudible 00:24:31].

Andrew: You’re saying good design is what got you more word of mouth.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: What about this? What about the storytelling events that you hosted? That seems like that helped get some attention. Right?

Nikita: Yeah, that’s right, and this also was very interesting topics, which brings us new users and new ideas. What does it mean visual storytelling? Every brand and if you ask me what does it mean design? Some designers can answer to you it’s about solving a problem. But I think what all designers know what it’s about how you tell stories. So it’s about communication and brings a message from one [inaudible 00:25:25] to another [inaudible 00:25:26].

And it’s very interesting how brands right now communicate with their audience. Right now, content is very important. So content marketing is still the number one trend in internet marketing, digital marketing. And you need to . . . And nowadays you can’t create boring stuff. People like visual, good design. And if you pay attention to your content and put it in a good way, not just text [inaudible 00:26:09], it brings good feedback.

Andrew: Wait. But you did in-person events is what I’m getting at. Right? Where you said, “Look, I have all these strong opinions about what good design is. It’s not about better looking images. It’s about storytelling, and that’s what it is.” And so did you do these in-person events?

Nikita: Maybe I don’t quite understand. What do you mean?

Andrew: Didn’t you do events on digital storytelling? And was it online, or was it in-person?

Nikita: I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question.

Andrew: I thought you hosted a series of events. Did you host any events?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: You did? In-person?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: People came to your office, or you went to them?

Nikita: No. In Moscow, a lot of conference about design and digital design, and [inaudible 00:27:11].

Andrew: Did you host the events, or did you go to other people’s conferences?

Nikita: Both.

Andrew: Both.

Nikita: I would take participants, and also I run about three years the course about digital design, and I was the creator of this course.

Andrew: What was the course? Is this Tilda.education?

Nikita: No. It was before Tilda. Tilda.education is a different story, but a resource in one of our creative schools. It’s called British High School for Art and Design, and [inaudible 00:27:51].

Andrew: Got it. So you’re teaching people how to design online. And when you’re teaching it and you’re showing your approach, people who buy into your approach, say, “Well, what’s the best tool for me to use to create this approach?” Ah, it’s a tool that this guy, who just taught me, created. They go onto Tilda, and they sign up, and that’s another way that you got customers. Right?

Nikita: No.

Andrew: No?

Nikita: It doesn’t bring new customers. It allows us to bring the ideas what we have, but formulate these ideas. You know, teaching is good for practice people. It’s not just about making money. It’s a very good way to collect your knowledge and summarize it and think about what you need.

Andrew: You’re saying it also helped you think through what the ideas were. Am I right?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Let’s talk about my second sponsor, and then we’re going to come back in here and talk about how you grew from there. I’m interested about how you figured out who to focus on and what product to focus on.

Second sponsor is a company called Toptal. If you’re out there and you’re looking to hire developers, you know how tough it is to hire them. Every other business seems to say, “Well, we’re going to make it easier for you to post your ads.” Or, “We’ve got a network where you can post your ads to our network” Or, “We’re going to collect all the different responses that you get to our ads and make it easy for you.” All of these are different approaches to the same thing, basically the same thing that happened, even back in the newspaper days. We’ll help you post your ad, help people see it, and then help you organize what comes back.

Toptal said, “No, let’s just try brand-new approach. How about if we just get a network of the best developers? They’ll just be in our network first. And then when a business needs to hire a developer, they’ll come to us and we’ll match them, like a matchmaking service, to the people who are already in our network.” In some ways, it’s kind of like a dating service, but for developers.

They will talk to you before you hire. They will understand what you’re looking for. They’ll go to the network, and they’ll get you the best of the best. If you’re looking to hire, you owe it to yourself to just try this. Even if you don’t go with them, you will be glad that you checked out Totpal.com/mixergy. When you use that, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit for free when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period. Nothing will happen until you talk to a matcher and make sure that this is the right fit for you.

All right. So it’s Top, as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent. Toptal.com/mixergy.

Nikita, you’ll love them. Imagine if you said to them, “Look, I speak Russian first. Can you get me a developer who speaks Russian first?” Boom, great. “We are on Slack. I need them to be on Slack between this hour and that hour.” Boom, great. “And I need them to also have an artistic bent.” If they have it, they’ll tell you. If they don’t, they’ll apologize and say, “Sorry, it’s not a good fit.” But you’ll know it like that.

All right. Let’s move on. One of the things that I heard from your conversation with our producer was that you eventually, maybe about six months in, realized a good place for us to focus is on creating simple landing pages for online businesses. Right?

Nikita: Yeah, right.

Andrew: How did you know that that was the right area to focus on?

Nikita: Because all people around the world make a business. That simple.

Andrew: Yeah, but most other website builders, who are thinking about full-on websites . . . look at Squarespace. What they’re thinking is we’re going to help you make an easy portfolio. But to focus on the landing page as the start, that takes some awareness. That takes, especially for you, somebody who wants to create big websites, that takes some self-limitations, imposing limits on yourself. Was it easy to come up with that?

Nikita: I think there is a concept of landing pages that is very interesting. When you try to explain to your visitor in one page without any extra clicking, [inaudible 00:31:47], what you offer. And I like it.

Andrew: You’re just saying you like the fact that websites, that a website that explains everything and gets someone to take action without forcing any other pages, that’s just so powerful that you got excited about that.

Nikita: Very powerful in its simplicity, and landing pages, it’s a very simple way to present your business in one page.

Andrew: Were you starting to see also that people were using your site for landing pages?

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: You were. You were noticing that people were doing that?

Nikita: Yeah. yeah. So we started . . . Actually, we more focused in the beginning, like I said, we focused more on media design, on long forms and [inaudible 00:32:34]. But when we [inaudible looked on statistics which type of websites are created more, so we realized that landing pages is the number one.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Nikita: So for us, but this was in the beginning, because it was for us a little bit boring, because [inaudible 00:33:01] businesses wanting to [inaudible 00:33:05] we can bring something [inaudible 00:33:10]. It’s very obvious [inaudible 00:33:15]. But when you realize what your product [inaudible 00:33:22], and people want it and it helps . . . well, it’s more when you’re . . . [inaudible 00:33:31] types of what [inaudible 00:33:32]. Yeah, maybe I wanted to work with a typographer in my life and just work on design just for cultural projects, and it doesn’t connect with some businesses. But actually, for me, I changed my mind, to be honest. I realized what . . . my [inaudible 00:33:58] designer was false, because I love what nowadays young people want, not [inaudible 00:34:06] young entrepreneurs do. We bring to the world new ideas, new businesses, new approaches how to make . . . it’s obvious but how to make life of people simple.

Andrew: Okay.

Nikita: Yeah, and it’s [inaudible 00:34:27] . . .

Andrew: I can see that the first versions of your website were focused on storytelling, and then eventually it moved into we are making it easy for you to publish online. We are making it easy for you. You’ll also got better at your own landing pages. The first one, I had to read through the whole fricking page in order to get to the button that showed me where to take action, sign up for free. The new one really clearly, I go to your site, and it says here’s what we do. We create beautiful websites without any code. Here’s a button to press to create a website for free, and then another one that’s a little bit understated for an overview or samples.

Nikita: We understand what we need to be clear to our visitors and don’t use difficult words, like storytelling. Nobody understands what does it mean. But when you’re told [inaudible 00:35:20] you don’t need a programmer. You can do it by yourself. It’s easier, and it’s [inaudible 00:35:27].

Andrew: Our producer asked you, “What’s going on? What’s difficult?” And you said, “Listen, it’s kind of stressful to be the founder who is responsible for everything.” What’s an example of something that just feels overwhelming and you have to handle it because you’re the founder who has to handle everything?

Nikita: Okay. We talked about the life of a founder. So I think what every entrepreneur live in some [fire 00:35:54], and you’re responsible about all that happens in your platform. For example, you need to think about how to hire new people. You need to think about concept and strong [vision 00:36:12] of what you want to achieve of your products and [inaudible 00:36:18] long-term strategy and short-term strategy. [inaudible 00:36:22] should do on the next week on the sprint.

Andrew: You know what? I’m with you on that too. A lot of my friends, they had a baby. They felt like, “Oh, this is so hard.” They’ve never done anything so hard or so life-changing. You know what? I call BS on that, or not BS. It’s great for them. It’s not that true for me. For me, how hard is it to take care of a baby? Wiping a baby’s butt after a diaper is easy. It’s been done for thousands of years. You just like wipe, toss it in the garbage, boom. If you ever spilled a cup of coffee on a table, you’ve basically done the same thing as cleaning a diaper. It’s not like you have to constantly figure out the next thing. Right? Assuming you don’t have a special needs kid, it’s fairly easy.

Meanwhile, starting a business or even running a business, you never know what the next step is. What is the next step? You have to figure it out and make it up all along. Now don’t get me wrong. At some point, kids get harder. Babies are fricking easy.

Startups, entrepreneurship way, way harder. You have to figure out: Who are we? Are we a site that lets anyone create any kind of website, or are we somebody who focuses on landing pages? And people are constantly tossing stuff at you. Bots, I remember when I created a site with you, I had to click a couple of times the Google button to make sure that you knew that I wasn’t a bot. I heard you guys had to deal with a lot of spambots, right? They were creating website to do what?

Nikita: Yeah. I didn’t know why you created websites, but the problem with bots it’s a lot of spammers bots.

Andrew: What are they doing with it? They were creating websites for what? So that they could like run . . .

Nikita: They want to just push one link, which [inaudible 00:37:59] in our website. They get a new, unique name and can use it in some [inaudible 00:38:06].

Andrew: Like in email marketing.

Nikita: Yeah, for example. [inaudible 00:38:10]

Andrew: So they’re spamming people via email . . . yeah, tell me.

Nikita: Spam all of Facebook with different [inaudible 00:38:16].

Andrew: So they’re running spambots on Facebook. They need a website to send people to. So they send them to you. They know that you’re eventually going to get it and toss it out, but until then . . . got it. And so this happens, and you have to figure it out. What did you do to solve that problem?

Nikita: We didn’t solve the problem. We always said . . .

Andrew: It’s still going on.

Nikita: Yeah, yeah. We bring new tools how to protect, for example, [inaudible 00:38:40] spammer, we ask you to connect your phone to your . . . so, for example, you need to verify your email, verify your phone, [inaudible 00:38:55].

Andrew: Right.

Nikita: Yeah. We mainly watching about links which you posted and published. And if website has an external link, we collect it and [inaudible 00:39:10].

Andrew: Oh, you’re even keeping track of what’s sending traffic to your client sites, and then you’re keeping an eye on that. And then you’re analyzing, I’m guessing, to figure out who to block?

Nikita: Yeah, yeah. But, of course, we do it for free. Maybe for free users. If user paid, for example, of course we don’t track it, because spammers don’t want to [inaudible 00:39:36].

Andrew: Put their own credit cards in.

Nikita: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s crm.tilda.cc?

Nikita: CRM is our product which we released one year ago. So we tried to bring this to market, a new CRM, which should be very simple, as simple as possible. So maybe . . . we realized what . . . so, as you know, not all entrepreneurs use a CRM. We’re still using the spreadsheets, for example, [inaudible 00:40:13].

Andrew: Yes.

Nikita: But because when you start your business, you need to learn a lot of terms, and it’s okay. So when you start, it’s okay to not use CRM. But we see when you try to register, like [inaudible 00:40:34], you have . . . we have a . . . it’s very unprofessional, I think.

Andrew: Let me see if I understand that. You’re saying, look, people are using our sites already to collect information from potential customers. They should be sending it to some kind of CRM, like Pipedrive or something, for example . . .

Nikita: Like Pipedrive, yes.

Andrew: . . . or Salesforce. But you know what? Our people don’t have that. What they do instead is what everyone does, which is just use a spreadsheet whenever they need to store any kind of data. You said, “Well, why don’t we just add that in for free?” And so you created it. You guys even have the whole stages process created, like Pipedrive, where every step of the sales process has its own column. And you’re giving it to your paid users for free as part of the package.

And it looks very simple, like even I’m looking at it and I can see the standard contact form or the contact page looks basically like the one that comes with the Apple devices. But you’ve added things like stages. You’ve added a look, a view that looks a lot like a spreadsheet and made it easier. So once you started saying it, I started googling it to see if I could understand it. And I see it here, and I understand what it looks like.

All right. Why don’t I end it by saying to anyone who’s interested in checking out the website, it is tilda.cc. Right?

Nikita: Yes, that’s right.

Andrew: Tilda.cc, because Tilda.com is owned by like a rice company or something. Isn’t it?

Nikita: Yeah, that’s right. [inaudible 00:41:52]

Andrew: And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you’re looking to have a website hosted, go to Hostgator.com. If you need like a WordPress, right, Hostgator.com/mixergy. And if you need to hire developers, go to Total.com/mixergy.

Why don’t I close this out by saying the thing that I’ve been saying a lot lately, which is I’m super proud. Nikita, I’m really proud. You know what it’s like when you create something and you’re finally getting like really proud of where it is? I’m really, really proud of what we’re doing with our courses at Mixergy.

If you’re at all interested in learning from entrepreneurs who have built phenomenal companies, I’ve got one of the latest ones is the founder of Trainual, Chris came on here to talk about how he taught companies to organize their systems, and he would go in and he would get paid by companies to organize their systems, to make sure that they’re run right. And he would say eventually, “You know what? I think I just need to create like a manual for them so every employee has a manual. And then I want to make sure that people see how well it’s working.”

And so he created a piece of software called Trainual. It’s like a manual you give your people. You onboard them. You show them how your software works, not by showing them, but by giving them access to this training manual.

I loved him. I raved about him in the interview. We brought him back to teach a course. We said, “Look, your software has organized a bunch of companies, Trainual has. You have organized a bunch of companies. Can you just teach us, show us how can a systemized company actually run right?” And he said, “You know, I like you. I got really good response from being interviewed on Mixergy. Fine.”

He came on and he’s taught a course. If you want to see that course and over 100 other courses, guys, go check out mixergy.com/courses. Real courses taught by real entrepreneurs, and now I’ve got a great producer who works with me to make sure that we help them teach right. mixergy.com/courses.

Nikita, thanks so much for being on here.

Nikita: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Andrew: Good night. Bye, everyone.

Nikita: Good night.

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