Deal Harvest · Bohumil Pokstefl

From a small bar owner to an exited bootstrapped founder, now leading a SaaS venture studio and a social selling agency, generating $14K MRR in just 5 months.

June 12, 2024
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Table of contents

  • Bohumil Pokstefl
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Started in 2024
  • $14K MRR
  • 8 Clients
  • Bootstrapped

What's your backstory?

Hello everyone, my name is Bohmil Pokštefl, but everyone calls me Bo, and this is my journey. I've always been entrepreneurial, starting around the age of 17 or 18. I owned a small summer bar on the lakefront here in my city; it taught me a lot of lessons about managing cash flow, among other things, but it wasn’t the kind of business I could scale.

I was fortunate enough to attend university in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I studied innovation and operation management. This experience taught me various methodologies and frameworks about innovation and business. Afterwards, I studied and worked at West Virginia University, particularly at the Innovation Center, where we helped to build and commercialize innovations and business ideas. Concurrently, I attempted to build an e-shop for high school merchandise. We made some sales and had clients, but I made many mistakes along the way. We built a custom-made website, which was completely unnecessary and ended up costing a lot of cash. In the end, it didn’t work out well, but it was a good learning experience about what I could have done better.

Circumstances led me to leave the USA and move to Prague, where I tried to become a consultant for firms like Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey. Unfortunately, I realized that my brain just didn't work in a way that suited consulting, which was a great eye-opener. It made me realize that consulting wasn’t the path for me.

In 2016, I returned to Bratislava and met some great guys from an advertising agency who had developed a minimal viable product for a social media management tool called Kontentino. They invited me to get involved and asked if I wanted to build it and be the business owner, or whatever you might call it. At that time, it had three paying customers. For the next seven years, I served as the CEO and co-founder of Kontentino. We were fully bootstrapped and profitable, achieving 2 million euros in ARR with a great team behind.

One and a half years ago, I decided to step down from Kontentino due to disagreements with the co-owners about the strategies and future direction of the company. After that, I took a wonderful sabbatical in Patagonia—highly recommend riding a motorcycle through the wilderness.

Now, I'm back home, running a boutique coworking space for early-stage founders in Bratislava. I also have a SaaS Garden studio that builds low-tech marketing and sales SaaS businesses with the help of young talent from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and surrounding areas. To finance this, because I'm a bootstrap enthusiast, we decided to start a productized service called Deal Harvest. This is something I'm very excited to talk about. Despite initially resisting the idea of running any agency business, my co-founder convinced me after months of persuasion that we should offer a productized service. We brainstormed what we could offer and what the market demands. So February 2024 we launched 4 months later we got to 8 clients, a monthly recurring revenue of 14,000 euros, and we're signing more clients for our social selling agency for LinkedIn. It's working quite magically. So, yeah, I'd like to talk about that.

What does your company do and how did you come up with the idea?

Deal Harvest is a social selling agency for LinkedIn, catering primarily to B2B tech companies with high lifetime values for clients, who outsource their entire LinkedIn social selling to us. Our methodology, which we tested previously, is quite simple but effective.

The concept for Deal Harvest emerged when I was using a ghostwriter on LinkedIn during my tenure as CEO at Kontentino. It worked fairly well, although back then, we lacked a solid strategy or framework—it was more about branding and less connected to business impact. So, we thought we could improve upon this and tested our approach with one of our SaaS companies in our SaaS Garden studio for three months, which yielded positive results. Encouraged by this, we decided to offer it to potential clients.

What we do is create thought leadership content for individuals within a company who have the potential to become thought leaders on LinkedIn, such as CEOs, CMOs, heads of sales, or even sales reps. We aim to provide real value to their target and buyer personas, avoiding trivial content—we don’t want to "Facebookize" LinkedIn. Our content strategy typically includes four videos and four static posts per month. Clients record simple videos on their phones We assist by providing scripts or conducting monthly interviews, then edit the videos and create copy, which is approved by them before we schedule it on LinkedIn. This process demands a maximum of two hours per month from our clients, ensuring it’s not time-consuming.

Creating content is just the first step. Since it's possible to have many followers on LinkedIn with only a small fraction fitting the buyer persona, targeting is crucial. We handle this by promoting the thought leadership content directly to target personas through paid ads on LinkedIn.

The final step involves reaching out to these targeted individuals. Once they've engaged with the content, we send personalized messages, which are automated but crafted not to come off as too salesy. We aim to initiate conversations on behalf of our clients. When recipients respond, our clients then take over the conversation, potentially leading to demo calls or other sales processes. We've seen quite impressive results, with average response rates around 15-20%, and for some clients, as high as 35-40%.

Some clients prefer not to outsource the outreach and use our services primarily for sales support or brand awareness. In these cases, they opt just for content creation and pay-per-click campaigns. LinkedIn is a crucial channel for B2B tech because of its precise targeting capabilities, which is why companies choose to outsource this function to us. We have all the necessary expertise—content creators, video editors, pay-per-click specialists, and sales personnel—under one roof, providing a comprehensive solution that many companies lack internally.

How did you get your first 10 customers/subscribers?

We haven't reached 10 customers yet, but we do have 8 clients with a value of 14K MRR. Instead of launching a large-scale marketing campaign, our first customers came from my network of B2B tech founders. I approached them with questions about their operations, sales cycles, and LinkedIn strategies. When I introduced our solution, they found it to be a good fit with their needs and current trends.

We took a slow and cautious approach to sales to avoid mistakes and ensure we could deliver good results. We wanted to make sure that once we had a client, we could provide excellent service. Now that we're confident in our processes and have seen positive results for our clients, we're ramping up our efforts. We create thought leadership content and ads, and although we haven't actively reached out to potential clients, we're already seeing demand.

We're also considering partnerships withLinkedIn thought leaders who are already active in this space. These partnerships might involve mentions and recommendations, but we're still exploring this strategy. We'll see in six months which sales strategy works best. For now, leveraging our personal network and creating LinkedIn thought leadership content is working well.

How did you align your product or service with your target customers' needs?

I wouldn't say we've achieved full product-market fit yet, even though we have 14,000 euros in MRR. Our goal is to see how "sticky" our services are to our clients. We have a minimum commitment of 4 months, and if we can retain our customers for at least nine months, ideally one year, it will indicate we're doing something right.Retention is crucial for us to keep customers happy and consistently deliver results.

Our business isn't software-based; it's process-heavy. We use various existing software tools, but we needed to streamline our processes to save our clients' time and ensure timely delivery of content, pay-per-click campaigns, and outreach. I had to hire someone experienced in operations to clean up our processes because I’m not strong in that area. When she started, she found it chaotic but managed to organize everything effectively.

Interestingly, we initially thought our unique selling proposition was delivering warm leads. However, many B2B businesses already have their sales processes in place. They need sales support, brand awareness, visibility on LinkedIn, and thought leadership development for their key employees. This realization led us to consider pivoting our communication to highlight that clients can completely outsourceLinkedIn content creation to us. We'll build their personal brands connected to their company brands, turning them into thought leaders with minimal effort on their part. They only need to record a 30-minute interview with us once a month.

This new proposition has resonated with a few leads, which we didn't anticipate before. We've been in the market for 4 months, and while we expect obstacles, we're learning and adapting our approach based on these insights.

What tools, software, or resources have been crucial in scaling your business?

When starting a new business, it's important to leverage your existing expertise and network. For example, if you've been in the construction industry for 10 years, don't suddenly start a business in mobile app development for pet owners. Stick to what you know. This is what I did; I have a wide network of marketers, B2B CEOs, and founders, making it easier to get started. I approached my network, attended events and conferences, and talked about what I was doing. Leveraging your network is the first crucial step.

As for resources and tools, LinkedIn has been incredibly powerful for us as a B2B company with a high lifetime value per customer. It's a channel where we’re very active and have seen positive results, generating demand not only from my network but from the broader market.

We use several important tools. One is Growthreply,a great outreach tool that's super user-friendly and effective for automating LinkedIn outreach. Another essential tool is Kontentino for content approval and scheduling. Interestingly The Kontentino team has done a fantastic job with the product, and we use it daily for content approvals and LinkedIn scheduling.It's one of the most powerful tools available in the market.

These tools and leveraging our network have been crucial in scaling our business.

How did you shift from a side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship?

This answer is going to be short. I've always been an entrepreneur and never had a side hustle. Only as a student I worked part-time jobs. I was not an ideal employee. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur without the typical risks that come with side hustling. Even now, I'm lucky to have accumulated some cash over the past few years, which allows me to finance my studio, Deal Harvest, and my business from my own money.

For many founders I mentor, transitioning from a side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship is challenging. The key moment often comes when the side hustle generates enough monthly recurring revenue to support your living standards. Once you reach a level of income that covers your basic needs and allows you to reinvest earnings back into the business, that's when you should consider going full-time.

Some people make this transition when they secure their first investment from an angel investor or pre-seed funding. However, I'm an advocate for bootstrapping. It's much harder initially, but in the long run, it provides more freedom and comfort. I believe the success rate for bootstrapped founders is higher compared to VC-backed startups.

To wrap it up, I'm a big fan of side hustlers who can transition to full-time entrepreneurship without taking VC capital. Many low-tech, great startups don't need VC funding. VC funding is suited for high-tech, R&D-heavy products or for businesses that excel in marketing and sales and can rapidly scale with investment. In most other cases, founders should consider bootstrapping, especially if they don't have a high-tech product or the ability to conquer the market through aggressive marketing. Bootstrapping offers a viable path with numerous benefits.

What advice do you have for founders in the earlier stages?

It's not about the idea; it's all about execution. You can have competitors and still win in the market by taking a slice of the pie. In fact, having competitors is a good sign because it means there's a market. You don't have to be completely unique or one of a kind. Instead, find your niche and develop a slightly different product that you can excel in.

Don't start by building a robust product that tries to solve everything. Focus on identifying the biggest pain points in the market or the biggest problems your target customers face and solve those as effectively as possible. This approach will help you achieve product-market fit in the later stages.

Sell your product before it's fully ready. Don’t be afraid to share it with potential customers and gather their feedback. It's a universal truth repeated in many books: talk to your customers. Get feedback on your earliest prototype, even if it’s rough. Conduct interviews and understand their needs. I recommend reading "The Mom Test," a great book for anyone starting a business.

 Some people will be willing to pay for your product early on, and many will provide valuable feedback to help you refine it. Don’t hide away, becoming overly attached and biased towards your product. Be ready to pivot and tweak based on market feedback. This is how you'll find the perfect product-market fit.

In summary, focus on execution, listen to your customers, and be prepared to adapt. These steps are crucial for early-stage founders.

What drives you to do what you do?

What drives me is the limitless potential and opportunities that come with entrepreneurship. There are no fixed boundaries on what you can achieve, the goals you can set, or the revenue you can generate. While I don’t aspire to be the next Elon Musk, I appreciate the thrill of the unknown and the ups and downs that entrepreneurship brings.

As an entrepreneur, I thrive on creating a positive work environment where people enjoy their jobs. We spend a significant part of our lives working, so I’ve always aimed to build a team that is motivated and happy. It’s incredibly satisfying to see team members grow and to nurture young talent and juniors who can be shaped and developed.

Additionally, I’m passionate about giving back to the community and supporting non-profit organizations. Being able to generate enough profit to make a real impact in the world is deeply fulfilling. Knowing that my business efforts can contribute to positive change motivates me every day.

In summary, the limitless opportunities, the thrill of the journey, building and nurturing a team, and making a positive impact on the community and the world are what drive me as an entrepreneur.

What an unpopular opinion you have about entrepreneurship?

Not every entrepreneur should pursue venture capital (VC) funding. VC is valuable if you have R&D-heavy products requiring substantial investment or if you’re an exceptional marketer confident that you can dominate the market within five years with that funding. However, I advocate for bootstrapping.

Bootstrapping is significantly harder at the beginning compared to taking VC money, but in the long run, it’s more satisfying and provides greater freedom. The success rate for bootstrapped companies is often higher than for those that are VC-backed. Success can be defined in various ways—whether it's achieving $10 million with a 30% profit margin or $100 million with a 10% profit margin.In a VC-funded scenario, the VC defines what success looks like and determines the exit strategy, which can limit your freedom.

Additionally, after exiting, founders often find themselves working in a corporate environment for several years to complete their earn-out period, which many do not enjoy. While becoming a unicorn or going public (IPO) is a different game entirely, the VC path isn’t suitable for everyone. Once you decide to go for venture capital, there’s no turning back, so you must be sure that’s the lifestyle you want.

What do you do to keep sane being a busy entrepreneur?

To stay sane as a busy entrepreneur, I pay close attention to my mind and body. If I feel like I’m pushing too hard and it doesn’t feel good, I stop working, go for a walk, or take a nap. I make sure to take a 20-minute nap every afternoon. Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s crucial to stay healthy, eat well, exercise, and have hobbies.

I don’t work 24/7 or 14-15 hours a day. While I might think about my business a lot, I believe in working smart, not hard, and ensuring I get enough rest. My hobbies help me unwind and stay balanced. I’m passionate about motorcycles and sports cars, enjoy spending time in nature, walking, and gardening. Gardening in my grandparents' garden, being in touch with the earth and soil, is especially relaxing for me.

Having hobbies and passions is essential for staying mentally fresh. Everyone has different interests, but finding what relaxes and recharges you is key to maintaining sanity in the entrepreneurial journey.

Who do you recommend to follow for business growth insights?

Gejza Nagy - Luigis Box
Marek Zamecnik - VestBerry
Dylan Hey - Hey Digital
Peter Augustin - BinarBase
Justin E. Lane - Culture Pulse

Any quotes you live by?

"Life is about being happy and useful"

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Any promotions you would like to add for Founderoo readers?

500€ discount on our plans / services

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