A CRM system is much needed when it comes to automating your marketing and nurturing leads to converting sales. It streamlines the whole process and helps users redirect their efforts in the right direction, increasing productivity. One such app that lets you automate your sales and marketing is NetHunt, and today I am excited to have Andrei Petrik in our #ChampLifeSeries.
He is the founder of NetHunt, and today he is sharing his journey with us. Let’s find out how his company is helping thousands of customers streamline their sales and marketing efforts and the struggles he faced at the start of his journey.
So without wasting any more time, let’s get on with it!
Fahad: Hi Andrei, it’s lovely to have you with us! It would be great to start by telling our readers about your background.
Andrei: First of all, hey! Thanks for having me.
Well, importantly, I was born in Ukraine, and I’m a proud Ukrainian citizen. Apart from that, I’m a technical guy, and I’ve been coding for as long as I can remember. School, college, university – I was just obsessed with it. I’d write down lines of code that came into my head on restaurant napkins. Yep, absolutely obsessed!
After working as a mobile game developer for some time, I took the leap into the SaaS industry. My job was to implement enterprise-sized CRM software for European and US companies. I helped different departments across entire companies use and adopt new software.
I loved it. It was a nice job to have – I was traveling and teaching. What’s not to love?
Fahad: What led you to start NetHunt? What was the idea behind it?
Andrei: Well, I was implementing massive systems and training big teams. However, there was one thing constantly nagging at the back of my mind. The CRM platform would churn out dozens of types of reports, of which the sales team would use one or two. Out of 50-odd features they were paying thousands for, these companies were only using just a few.
Why was a business bending to fit the CRM rather than the CRM bending to fit the business?
The lightbulb pinged when I realized that CRM should be more like Skype. Download it, log in, and be up and running quickly for a few bucks a month. We wanted to simplify the system to give the users what they needed; strip it back and master the basics. What’s the point in having flashy, high-velocity outreach functions if your basic contact management functionality is not strong enough? Or what’s the point in paying for advanced solutions if you don’t need them? CRM should be just that – customer relationship management. Worry about the other things later.
So yeah, NetHunt CRM was born out of a problem that needed solving – the only reason a business and product should ever start, really!
Fahad: You started your journey as a programmer, then transitioned into the CRM industry. What made you move towards this? And How does a CRM tool cater to the needs of any industry?
Andrei: It’s difficult to say an exact turning point in my life. I simply saw an opportunity to work for a relatively large company, and I took it. I still see myself as a very technical guy, and the move towards CRM from being a programmer was logical, really. I am still a programmer; I just run a business too.
Pointing to the turning point of creating my own product would be easier. It’s a giant leap to start your own business, and there are a lot of doubts as to whether you have what you need. I felt at a sound stage in my life; comfortable. I had a family with my wife and kids. I had a house and a car – there was nothing I really needed to worry about there. Personally, I was in a good moment to start my business – the doubts were more of a professional nature and whether I had the steel to go through with it.
I remember going to implement CRM for this massive eCommerce company. They are a huge household name, and you’ll definitely have heard of them. I went to their fancy office in San Francisco or wherever and thought – wow, look at this place.
Anyway, I got in there, and I met people. I met some of their most senior execs – people. I trained them, as people and imagined they were just like my kids learning the alphabet for the first time. No matter how shiny or large, every colossal business is just made up of people and their decisions. I stepped out of that office and thought – yeah, I can do this.
Anyway, these days CRM is the fastest-growing SaaS industry, so it must have been the correct decision!
Fahad: What were the challenges you faced at the start of your journey, how did you overcome them?
Andrei: The main challenges stem from not knowing where to start.
SaaS wasn’t as developed as an industry as it is now. There’s no magic guide to creating the perfect company, especially when all the products have such different niches and purposes. We had to hit the ground running and adapt our business model as we came up against new obstacles and found out new things about ourselves and the business world.
Hiring a team is always more difficult than you think, especially when you don’t know what you need. I learned that I should always wait for the holes to appear in my business before I filled them. Pre-empting holes that might never appear is never a good idea – a waste of time and resources. We did what we could as programmers before the hole was too big to ignore. As a bootstrapped business, we made our decisions wisely and looked for people we trusted.
As a secondary lesson, this taught me not to burn myself out on too many fronts. It’s better to have a product that’s perfect in one area, say contact management, than to have a mediocre product in different areas. Sure, you can build this super fancy product with lots of shiny, automatic features, singing, and dancing. But it’s not going to be sustainable. It’s like writing a book – finish one chapter and move on to the next one. You can only base the next chapter on what the previous one said.
Fahad: How far has NetHunt come since the start of its journey? Any particular achievement that you are most proud of?
Look at me, I’m sitting here being interviewed by SocialChamp! Our product changed massively – I look at screenshots of the first NetHunt CRM prototype and it’s virtually unrecognizable now. We’ve got team members in different countries around the world, we’ve got a beautiful office in a beautiful city, we look after our teams well. In fact, there’s one achievement right there – the cohesiveness between our team members. We’re there for each other, day and night – we’re friends; we’re family.
My proudest achievement comes as a direct result of that. We’ve got a fantastic customer base, and they do as much for us as we do for them. We had the conversation and decided ‘Yeah, we’re going to be super personable with our customer base. It’s a lot of work but it helps in the long run. We don’t communicate with them as a company, but instead as Anastasia, Anna, Vlad, and Julia of the Customer Success team.
It works, they like it because we’re nice and they’ll help us with spreading our word through reviews.
Fahad: Let’s take a break from work, how do you enjoy your free time? Any particular activity that might fascinate our readers.
Andrei: Free time? Ha! I’m a dad! You’ll catch me hanging out with my family.
The guys at work recently chipped in and bought me a guitar for my birthday, so maybe I can play you a riff one day. I like to ski, drink beer with my friends, or go to the cinema. I’m really just a regular guy in that aspect. I try to enjoy my personal life as much as possible because running a business can take it out of you. It’s essential to look after yourself, take a break from time to time, and reassess and re-evaluate how things are going for you from a distance.
Wanna hear a tip from a guy with personal life and his own business? SLEEP!
Fahad: Who’s the one person that inspires you the most?
Andrei: Elon Musk is the boring answer, but I do like how innovative he is. Steve Jobs is probably the boring answer too, but he is more closely aligned with my values. He was a product guy, just like me. He was a visionary, crazy about making the perfect thing; something completely beautiful and functional. But like I say, everybody in IT would say this, so I’m gonna go out of the box.
A book inspires me the most. It’s called Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It’s a set of stories mainly based on the author’s life, and I learned a lot about the importance of financial education, independence, and building wealth logically and fluently. It gave me a set of values to work off as I move forward in business, and now I can instill those values in my children.
Fahad: Please share your pro-tips with our readers?
Andrei: Less of a pro-tip, more of a motivational speech.
I want to tell anybody out there that’s thinking of starting a business just to do it. There’s never been a better time to start your own business, and the tech stack available to help you do this is out of this world. Maybe you’re a technical person like me; there are a bunch of tools out there that can take a lot of responsibility when it comes to the different aspects of your business that you’re less strong in dealing with.
You don’t need a big fancy office, a suit, and tie, or a massive injection of cash anymore to start your business. You need a laptop and a pair of comfy slippers.
Do it, do it, do it!
Fahad: Now it’s time for our Rapid Fire Round.
Rapid Fire Round
|Tea or Coffee?||Coffee all the way.|
|Twitter or LinkedIn?||LinkedIn… have you checked out NetHunt CRM’s LinkedIn integration?|
|Traveling or Watching a Movie?||Traveling at the weekend, watching a movie on a weekday.|
|Your favorite travel destination?||I close my eyes and all I can imagine is a beautiful mountain with a forest on it, calm and tranquil. Somewhere to gather my thoughts!|
I am thankful to Andrei for allowing us to interview him and learn from his experiences. We are sure that our followers loved hearing from you!