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Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Waydev: Growing 40%/Month and Disrupting the Dev Analytics Space

Alex Circei
Alex Circei
November 25, 2019
Category of startup
Analytics
Country of startup
Romania
Revenue of startups
No Data
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Waydev: Growing 40%/Month and Disrupting the Dev Analytics Space

Alex Circei
Alex Circei
November 25, 2019
Category of startup
Analytics
Country of startup
Romania
Cause of failure of the startup

Looking to solve the problems he had as a non-technical manager, Alex decided to build Waydev, a Git Analytics tool. With the objective of validating the product, they launched on Product Hunt on 5 different occasions and were able to get first paying customers. They’re now growing 40%/month in revenue.

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Hi Alex! What's your background, and what are you currently working on?

Hi, I’m Alex (33) and I’m the CEO & Co-founder of Waydev, a Git analytics tool that helps engineering managers gain better visibility into their development team. Waydev focuses on increasing team productivity and helps managers be data-driven. 

In the last 12 years, I founded and led several other businesses, most of them related to the eCommerce space. I was the CEO and founder of Copimaj, a digital eCommerce full-service agency, through which we launched several other projects and services for brands.

I started my entrepreneurship back in 2007 by building an IT&C online store called LiveMag. Later, I started developing products dedicated to eCommerces as Live2c, an eCommerce platform that helped small, local businesses create online shops integrated with their suppliers. It was the first SaaS eCommerce platform in Romania, my home country.

Livemag
Live2c

A few years later, I founded StoreBeez, a marketplace platform that led to a 3-months experience at the Birmingham Oxygen Accelerator – an intensive bootcamp for tech startups. Before leaving Romania to the U.K. tech scene I sold two of my previous businesses, LiveMag and Live2C.

StoreBeez

Upon returning from the UK, I went on and launched an email marketing platform called Lupsale at the TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 San Francisco conference. In 2014, after realizing a gap in the market, I built an accessible ERP (enterprise resource planning) and, one year later, I launched an invoicing app called BillMe.

Lupsale


Billme


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I’m a non-technical manager and for the last ten years, I have been struggling to stay in sync with the progress that my engineering team is making. Because of this, I've created Waydev, for helping managers like me have better visibility in the development progress.

What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)?

Code management is now in the cloud on Github, Gitlab, Azure DevOps or Bitbucket. Now it is possible to track the engineering team output. At this moment, most of the technology companies look at reports created with manual input from the engineers, but if an engineer didn’t log the work in the report, it's inefficient and often not accurate.

With Waydev we’ve done the mistake of targeting the wrong target, the non-technical managers until the end of 2018 when we switch our target to technical managers and managed to have our first paying customers. We’ve launched the new product in January, and are rapidly iterating based on users feedback. With this change, most of the users started giving us feedback and managed to build features based on their feedback.

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Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

In order to validate our idea, we focus on Product Hunt. We’ve done five launches in about two years, with which we managed to build and better our product and reach our first paying customers.

Here’s an overview of the PH launches:

ProductHunt's launched

1st launch - November 2017

PH Launch 1
312 upvotes

This was our first launch on Product Hunt. It was our first MVP, an app that took the stats directly from the GitHub API. We managed to have some users on the app but we didn't have a database to store the users :) I know... it was a big mess. I remember in the first half an hour after the launch our landing page was down and our engineer didn't respond to the phone... in the end, it was a good test that helped me with the decision of changing the technical team.

2nd launch - August 2018

PH Launch 2
588 upvotes and 5th Product of the Day

This was the first launch done with my co-founder, Valentin Buzea and a decisive launch for our path. We managed to become the 5th product of the day and receive over 80 negative comments from the engineers because the product was meant to help non-technical managers to better understand the engineers. We didn't realize we were targeting the wrong audience. However, a few months later, without any paying customer, we did realize pivoted from non-technical managers to technical leaders (CTO's, VP's, CIO's and engineering managers).

3rd launch - January 2019

PH Launch 3
235 upvotes

This was the decisive launch for our company; I remember we managed to finish a big feature on Wednesday and we launched on Friday in order to test if the Product Hunt community would still hate us. 

We tagged all the people who had left us negative comments to see what would happen. Fortunately, we managed to have 0 negative comments and also to have a lot of new users who started to use our platform. The old users began to give us valuable feedback, as well, and told us they would upgrade.

It took us about on month since this launch until we scored our first paying customer.

4th launch - May 2019

PH Launch 4
64 upvotes

Now our company started to grow, and we prepared for our big launch on Product Hunt, a launch with a product with more features and valuable customers. We managed to convince the #1 community member of 2018, Hiten Shah, to hunt us but we failed. We weren’t featured because we didn't have six months since the last launch. It was a black day for us, but we decided to wait another three months.

5th launch - August 2019

PH Launch 5
1044 upvotes

After 23 months since the first launch on Product Hunt and 29 months since the incorporation, the stars have aligned perfectly to bring us # 1 position of the Product Hunt homepage. It was a celebration of the past 29 months of hard work and sacrifices. This was just the start of Waydev.

As a startup, you don’t have too many resources to use and you have only a few silver bullets. Product Hunt was, fortunately, one of those bullets.

Nowadays, we’re writing valuable content on our blog (one blog / week) and cold-reaching engineering managers in order to motivate them to try our product. We’re growing +40% month over month in terms of revenue, and we also have a retention of over 40% on an 8 week period.

What are your goals for the future?

Our focus is on the customers. We’re listening to them in terms of the new features and that’s awesome.

We’re profitable but our goal is to disrupt the dev analytics space and in order to do this, we will partner with one of the most known VC from the tech industry. We started hiring new engineers and we would like to grow up to 30 engineers until the end of next year.

My life is Waydev and Waydev is my life, I live my dream of building Waydev, this is my dream from over 10 years ago.

Waydev History


What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

Wow, there are so many… The hardest part was to find money each month in order to survive

We had an angel investor but last year he decided to stop founding us and my job was to find money in order to keep Waydev alive. I did a lot of sacrifices. I moved with my parents and didn’t spend any cent on me for a long period of time. Hopefully, now we’re profitable and we have a very good growth rate.

In terms of obstacles, the hardest part was to find valuable engineers with the same values as me, but this is part of any successful startup.


Which are your greatest disadvantages? What were your worst mistakes?

I don’t like to use the word “mistake” because in a startup everything is about keeping the startup alive until you succeed, and any “mistake” is part of the road: the road of keep going until you find a way of making money, because money is the best metric related to a startup success. You need to have a lot of things coming together in order to generate revenue.


What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

I love the Y Combinator community, they give a lot to the startup scene (for free), I recommend Startup School which is an online free program similar to Y Combinator program.

My favorite book is “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell and my favorite podcast is The Twenty Minute VC.


Where can we go to learn more?

Check out my blog posts on Hackernoon and Waydev blog. You can also check my Twitter and LinkedIn.

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