We had a long productive chat with Quote Roller's co-founder Mikita Mikado as part of our entrepreneur interview series
‘My own brain develops here much faster’
That’s what Mikita tells me when I ask him why he decided to move to the US. And I couldn’t agree more. Being surrounded by more experienced and smarter people than you makes you grow faster.
‘The valley has a high concentration of those people’, adds Mikita, and indeed you can find great talent for your startup idea. These reasons among others, made him leave his homeland and pursue his ideals somewhere else. After a year, he and his team have developed a product that is solving a problem small businesses face every day: make their sales proposal and sales material an efficient and paperless tool, that actually helps them grow and be more productive.
The Conception of A Product
Quote Roller and PandaDoc were created the way all my favorite tech products are created: out of internal pain.
Back in Belarus, Mikita and his long term business partner and friend managed a web development studio that generated more than five sales proposal a day to be sent for approval to their clients. They soon realised that this process was broken.
Copying data across different documents when sales proposal were all pretty much the same didn’t make any sense. Most importantly, they had no clue whether their clients were actually opening the documents and they couldn’t measure whether they were successful or not. Something needed to be done.
Inspired by the philosophy of 37signals and the willpower of solving problems, they choose to build a product to at least solve their internal pain and that maybe other web development shops could use as well. But they never thought that it would actually help many other types of businesses. ‘We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were able to learn fast’. Today, Quote Roller is used by anything from plumbing companies to home manufactures and even lawyers.
Getting Funded, Product Evolution and Biggest Challenges
I always think we entrepreneurs tend to rush things a little too much. Getting investment as soon as possible seems to be our top priority. However, we forget that the product and getting it in the hands of clients should be our number one target.
‘It was easy for us’ says Mikita when we talked about how they got funding. ‘We had traction, very good numbers, we were break-even and profitable’.
Lesson learned: getting this early traction will definitely help you to get investment more easily and most importantly, the term sheet will look much nicer.
‘The biggest thing I’m still learning and that I will probably be learning ‘till the end of my days is how do you deal with people’.
As an entrepreneur with a technical background, Mikita points out at the fact that he had to learn a lot of business stuff the hard way, and to this day he’s still learning the ‘art of working and dealing with people’.
One thing I think Quote Roller manage to master is the art of listening to your customers. And it is thanks to this that their company developed other products like PandaDoc. By getting a feature request from a customer, they realised that the clients not only wanted to send sales proposals but also white papers, contracts, case studies, brochures and all sort of sales material.
Now their product allows customers to easily assemble any document and get it executed in half of the time it used to take before.
My Top Favorites From Mikita’s Words
He met his co-founder and friend while playing the bass guitar in school when he was 18 years old. Serge, co-founder of Quote Roller, played drums
Selling berries and lemonade stands were actually his first steps in entrepreneurship
In a nutshell, he believes that a sustainable business should be profitable and solve an actual problem. He’s not too excited about building stuff only for entertainment
‘I don’t think government can help. They should get out of the way and make the process of making a business easier’ (I couldn’t agree more...)
Team is essential to success. ‘You can’t build a company out of anything without a team of really good people’
Resources for Inspiration
(Seedstars Community Manager)
Gabriel is a Product-Marketer/Entrepreneur with experience in growth-hacking, product validation and promotion. He’s been working with start-ups for over seven years in different industries such as fashion, e-commerce, NGOs and high-tech. Playing drums and Ultimate Frisbee are his favourite hobbies.
Connect with Gabriel or follow him on Twitter @rockerwolfi