Table of contents
- Founders - Jean-Baptiste Jezequel and Robin Zouein
- Location - Paris, France
- Started in 2022
- $150K MRR
- 1,200 subscribers
- 80,000 organic visitors per month
What's your backstory JB?
I was born and raised in Paris and completed my studies there until I turned 20. It wasn't until I was 21 that I began to explore the entrepreneurial world. In my twenties, I relocated to Lyon, another city in France, to pursue a four-year program at a business school. During my time there, I founded my first company: a mobile app designed to facilitate sessions with licensed therapists.
What does Evaboot do?
Evaboot is a tool designed for efficient lead generation, primarily through data scraping. It automates the process of gathering relevant information from platforms like LinkedIn, making it easier for users to access the data they need for outreach and sales efforts.
How did you and Robin come up with the idea?
The idea for Evaboot was born out of a combination of observation and necessity. Robin, my co-founder, had scripted code on his computer which he was essentially running as a "scraping as a service". Clients would specify their requirements, and he'd manually scrape the data and create a file for them.
I had prior experience with lead generation, so when Robin reached out to me on Facebook and showcased what he was doing, it struck a chord. We had extensive discussions and soon realized the potential of the concept he was working with.
During the early days of COVID-19, we noticed a significant shift in how professionals were approaching lead generation. Recognizing this trend, we made a LinkedIn post, essentially employing the "fake it until you make it" approach, describing a solution to this emerging problem, even though the actual product wasn't developed yet. The overwhelming response to our post further validated our idea and set the foundation for Evaboot.
How did you get your first 10 subscribers?
The inception of Evaboot can be attributed to a simple LinkedIn post. Robin and I noticed a significant gap in the market during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional sales avenues were dwindling, and professionals were rapidly turning to platforms like LinkedIn for lead generation.
To test our hypothesis and the potential demand for a solution, we made a LinkedIn post describing a possible solution to this problem. The approach was a bit audacious: we were essentially "faking it" as the actual solution wasn't even built yet. The post was designed to gauge interest and see if others resonated with the problem we identified.
The response exceeded our expectations. Within two weeks of that post, we engaged in discussions with over 100 individuals, diving deep into their pain points and understanding the challenges they faced in the current landscape. These conversations were invaluable. They not only validated our hypothesis but also provided clarity on the features and functionalities that our solution needed.
Following these discussions, we secured our first set of users: 100 beta testers committed to trying out EvaBoot. These testers were essentially our early adopters, providing feedback, pointing out areas of improvement, and helping us refine the tool. From this cohort, our first 10 subscribers emerged. Their commitment and feedback marked the initial validation for Evaboot, setting the stage for its evolution.
Did your organic content and YouTube bring you to 1000 subscribers, or did you have to implement other strategies?
For us, tracking the origins of our signups was crucial. It was quite revealing; the majority were driven by SEO—about 60%, followed by YouTube which accounted for around 20%-30%, and then a bit from word of mouth and LinkedIn.
YouTube indeed had a significant impact; we integrated numerous YouTube videos into our articles and even ranked on Google with them. It’s fascinating to see the growing prevalence of YouTube videos in Google search results. However, we quickly discerned that LinkedIn didn't hold much water for us; eventually, we decided to cease our postings there.
Cold outreach was another strategy we decided to drop, shifting our focus towards warm outreach instead. For instance, if a new user signs up but doesn’t launch an extraction within the first 24 hours, we initiate a warm prospecting sequence. We have similar approaches even after a user launches an extraction, acting more like one-to-one onboarding sequences. It's not about spamming; it’s about starting constructive conversations, checking in to see if everything is going smoothly, and addressing any potential issues or queries they might have. It’s about engaging our users on autopilot in a thoughtful, productive manner.
For users who sign up but don't immediately engage with your platform, how do you communicate with them?
Our communication strategy is multichannel. We initiate with email, sending out messages to users who have signed up but haven't engaged. Email allows us a substantial prospecting capacity, enabling us to send up to 150 to 200 emails per day. If there's no response to the email, we transition to LinkedIn, sending messages there. LinkedIn, though effective, allows only about 100 to 200 invitations per week.
Through our strategy, we've noticed varying response rates between the platforms. Emails typically receive around a 10% reply rate, but when we switch to LinkedIn, the response rate skyrockets to between 40% and 50%. This multichannel approach is not just about expanding reach; it's about invoking a sense of reciprocity. When users receive a message on LinkedIn following an email, stating our previous attempt to contact them, it often prompts a reaction. It gives an impression of our dedication and motivation to connect, leading many to either appreciate our outreach or provide feedback on their experience, whether good or bad.
Switching channels indeed impacts the reply rate significantly. Given that we are primarily targeting Sales Navigator users who predominantly spend their time on LinkedIn, this strategy aligns well with our user base’s habits and preferences, ensuring our outreach is not only noticed but also valued.
Your website generates a whopping 80K visitors a month. What's your SEO playbook?
Absolutely, our journey with SEO began pretty instinctively. I had some previous experience with SEO from my first company, where I learned from Brian Dean, who operates backlinko.com. Brian shared a strategy known as the "Skyscraper Technique," which essentially involves improving on the first result that Google shows because that's what Google deems as the best. It is quite simple; you analyze the first result, make it better and longer. If Google sees your content as better, logically, it should end up ranking first.
Initially, I applied this technique to our first article, focusing on producing in-depth content that we knew was superior to the existing top three results. Interestingly, we secured a first-place position with this method without initially utilizing backlinks, just by writing quality content.
For keyword research, we use a tool called Ahrefs. It provides a list of all search queries containing your keyword, e.g., "sales navigator," showing how often these terms are searched per week. It essentially gives you a list of articles to write based on these queries, focusing on what we call "transactional keywords" – keywords that people who are likely to become customers would use.
We started by targeting the most bottom-funnel keywords we could, like “how to export leads” and “how to use sales navigator,” since people searching for these are likely to become customers. These initial articles generated a substantial number of signups from the get-go.
For optimization, we use ClearScope, which provides a checklist for on-page optimization tasks, such as keywords to insert, links to include, and questions to answer in your article based on the “people also ask” section on Google. ClearScope is an investment at $170 per month, but the ROI is substantial. An article on "how to export leads from Sales Navigator," for instance, generates thousands of clicks per week, bringing in three clients per month through SEO.
Comparing the initial investment in writing the article to the recurring clients it brings in for years, it’s a no-brainer to invest in such tools and strategies. It's not a one-time influx of clients like a social media post, but a constant inflow for years, which is why we value SEO and YouTube so much.
You've mentioned Ahrefs and ClearScope for SEO. Any other tools or software you'd recommend for daily use in optimizing SEO, managing LinkedIn, or for prospecting?
For SEO, I’ve been diving a bit into AI to save time, especially when writing content that doesn’t necessarily require a personal touch, like definitions or checklists. For these, you can use AI to create the first draft and then add your expertise to that. This way, I can focus on providing real value from my own expertise while also making the SEO process more efficient. Byword and SEO Tool are useful for this, allowing me to save time on the SEO process.
For LinkedIn, we use Taplio to schedule posts. And for prospecting, LaGrosseMachine, a French multi-channel outreach tool, has been very handy.
Something unique to our company is the use of Bubble.io, a no-code tool, to develop a significant part of the software. While the core product developments like scraping API are done through coding, the necessary but not core product developments like sign up, billing, user management, etc., are done with no code on Bubble. It’s a great way to parallelize development, and speed up the go-to-market phase for us.
Given that the field is continually evolving, are there any experts you recommend following for learning about growing a SaaS business?
I recently created a list of some of the people who I think are very insightful in this area. To grow a company from zero to one million, I recommend Y Combinator’s content; people like Michael Seibel and Dalton Caldwell offer invaluable advice. They share insights that are incredibly relevant and helpful when starting.
For scaling from one to ten million, Alex Hormozi has been a revelation, providing advanced advice on significant aspects of the business like churn and value equation, essential for more advanced entrepreneurs.
For growth, Brian Balfour from Reforge and Elena Verna offer profound insights. Brian, an ex-VP of Growth at HubSpot, has extensive knowledge in growth systems.
And for SEO, Brian Dean and the guys from Ahrefs, like Tim Soulo and Sam Oh, are my go-to experts. Their insights have been crucial in understanding and implementing effective SEO strategies for our business.
Could you share how you transitioned from side hustles to full-time entrepreneurship? Was this a side hustle for you at the start?
It absolutely was a side hustle in the beginning. Robin and I were engaged in freelance work while developing Evaboot, primarily because we needed the income. In France, if you quit your job, you might miss out on unemployment income, which could be 60-70% of your salary for a duration, and we both did quit our jobs, so we had to secure funds somehow.
I was doing SEO, content writing, and managing Google Ads for my previous employer after negotiating a freelance role post quitting. It wasn’t because I had planned on working on Evaboot or was interested in freelancing per se; it was purely out of necessity to have decent income to survive.
The transition, fortunately, was quite smooth. We were able to secure enough freelance work, and within approximately six months or a bit less, we were in a position to pay ourselves from the earnings of Evaboot. Robin had a small unemployment fee from the government, so initially, I was the one drawing a salary, and he was able to abstain from it. Eventually, as the income from our venture reached 10k, we were able to draw salaries satisfactorily.
It sounds like a journey full of learning and evolution. What keeps you motivated every day to work on Evaboot?
The journey is indeed profound and stimulating. What excites me the most is that each day is varied, and there’s constant growth and learning involved. When I look back, I realise how much I've learned in just a year and how little I knew back then. It feels like an infinite quest of learning, realizing each day how much you don’t know and how much there still is to learn.
I love that I am constantly stimulated intellectually in this environment. In my first job, once I learned the ropes, it was all about execution, and there wasn’t much new to learn every day. But in entrepreneurship, the learning never stops. It's an exhilarating experience that is substantially rewarding, both intellectually and financially.
In addition to the stimulation and learning, the freedom that comes with it is immensely rewarding. We don’t have to adhere to stringent schedules; we have the liberty to work from anywhere since we don’t do any sales calls and have a self-service product. The freedom coupled with a good amount of money to lead a good life is gratifying, and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.