Filip Minev and Marie Martens worked together to create Tally, a free and simple form builder, which now has 50,000 customers and an annual recurring revenue of $380,000. Marie has expertise in B2B marketing and Filip is the technical co-founder and brains behind the product. Marie quit her job to concentrate on Hotspot, but when Covid shut down the travel sector, Hotspot had already lost a significant number of customers. After coming up with several different company ideas, the couple decided on a no-code form-building program and mastered entrepreneurship.
It might be hard to find the appropriate cofounder. especially in light of the fact that cofounder conflicts account for 65% of business failures. However, there are situations when the solution is right there.
Filip Minev and Marie Martens work together and live together. Together, they created Tally, a free and simple form builder. Tally now has 50,000 customers and an annual recurring revenue of $380,000 thanks to the cofounders. But it’s not always easy to run a bootstrapped firm with your significant other, and you might not succeed right away.
The Moment Covid Forces You to Terminate Your Startup
Marie and Filip started Tally towards the end of 2020. Belgian businesswoman Marie has expertise in B2B marketing. She worked for both small and major media and technology organizations in Belgium before founding her startup. Filip is the technical co-founder and brains behind the product, while Marie is an authority in marketing and sales.
Tally was not the couple’s first business endeavor, though. The bitcoin portfolio analyzer that Filip had built, Delta, was purchased by eToro. After he sold the app, Marie and Filip made the decision to start a business together. In February 2020, they introduced Hotspot, a marketplace that linked hotels with travel influencers, but they had no clue that the epidemic would ruin their company.
Hotspot’s recurring monthly income rose to $1,000 thanks to the pair. The company’s founders thought they could hasten development because it was gaining momentum with hotels and influencers. Marie quit her job as a result in order to concentrate entirely on Hotspot.
The company’s founders waited it out when Covid shut down the travel sector because they thought it would last for a few months. They came to the conclusion that this was not the case six months into the epidemic and moved on. Because no one was traveling and hotels had to close, Hotspot had already lost a significant number of customers.
“We worked on Hotspot full-time, but we made no money,” says Marie. After coming up with several different company ideas, we decided on a no-code form-building program. Both for our initial endeavor and in our past employment, we regularly needed this. We had tried a few other form builders, but to our surprise, none of them were both fun to use and reasonably priced for a new business. We realized that a special sort of form builder was required.
How to Stand Out in a Competitive Market by Using Freemium
The company’s founders understood that there was a large need for form-builders despite the crowded industry. Tally’s freemium business strategy now sets it apart from its rivals since it provides limitless free forms and answers.
This freemium approach attracted customers without a marketing budget when the creators originally launched Tally. The tool’s UI mimics a blank page and is clean and simple, in contrast to drag-and-drop applications. Both the user interface and the freemium business model set Tally apart from its rivals and helped the company gain its first clients.
The founders sought out early input from tech-savvy friends and family before going public. Then Marie searched Product Hunt for users who had uploaded comparable goods or startup founders whose companies may profit from Tally, compiling a list of hundreds of potential customers.
“I would go looking for anyone who might need a form builder, find their Twitter or email address, and send them an unsolicited message asking if they would like to test Tally and give us feedback,” she adds. We did this in quite substantial amounts for months. We now have the first 500 Tally users thanks to this.
The owners developed a small community and received input from customers over the first few months of business. Some of these original customers later became into their most powerful supporters.
Tally also started to develop publicly, revealing the highs and lows of being a business owner. We wanted to help other founders by sharing our startup experience, says Marie. Our target market also includes startups, artists, and small companies, so we wanted to be open about what we’ve discovered, the new features we’re creating, how we’re doing it, how much money we’re making, etc.
The founders of Tally made their public debut on Product Hunt in March 2021, which led to a threefold increase in users in one day. It was a crucial moment, and the startup has expanded every month since. “Since Tally allows you to develop forms that you can share with others, it is naturally a viral product. Additionally, each form gets a Made by Tally badge because the utility is free. We reveal our brand to everyone that submits a Tally form. According to Marie, “Our product is our most crucial marketing channel, helping us to reach and convert new consumers.
How does Tally generate revenue if the bulk of its users use the software for free? Tally offers teams and enterprises extra functionality for a monthly subscription price in place of volume-based pricing. Tally Pro offers commission-free payment forms, white labeling, team collaboration, and more. Although the regular form builder does not require pro features, a customer can subscribe to the entire package for $29 per month.
Three percent or so of customers convert to Tally Pro. Around 50,000 people use Tally globally, 1,200 of them pay for the program. Tally now has a viable business model thanks to this, and it brings in $30,000 per month in recurring income.
The Challenges of Coexistence and Collaboration
Marie and Filip had long wanted to start a business together before starting Hotspot and Tally. They wanted to experience what it was like to be a digital nomad, working on their company while traveling. Additionally, Marie is an expert in marketing, while Filip is an expert in software development, thus their skill sets were complimentary.
“We were aware that we would just go for it if the moment ever seemed right. We allowed ourselves a year to carry out the strategy. We could both easily find other jobs if things didn’t work out, claims Marie.
There are presently just Marie and Filip working for Tally. They oversee all aspect of the business together, from engineering to customer service. However, there are challenges when running a business with your significant other.
We frequently talk about Tally because we live and work together, according to Marie. The lines between personal and professional life are blurred; everything is one. The most crucial lesson we’ve learnt is how to divide up the work. We respect each other’s decisions. I have great confidence in the product’s owner, Filip. He defers to my judgment since I am in charge of marketing, sales, public relations, and everything else. Each of our domains belongs to us. Considering that we don’t always work together on the same projects, this assists to set limits.
Marie and Filip also gave birth to a child at Covid. Long hours were something the founders were used to, but this was no longer possible. While taking care of their newborn, they had to learn how to run a business. They can now spend the mornings and nights with their families because their professions are more 9 to 5 these days.
The founders of Tally had some time to think as the firm just celebrated its second birthday. We’ve managed to get by with just the two of us so far, but as our client base grows, we’ll need additional help, says Marie. Filip and I don’t have much time for strategic thinking because we are so busy with implementation. We want to hire our first staff members by year’s end, especially for customer support and product development.
Resist the urge to accept funding
Tally was always intended to be a self-funded business, according to the creators. Filip had sold his prior business, and Marie had savings from her ten-year employment. This made it possible for the pair to support themselves while trying something novel for a year. Tally has never needed to make any investments because it has been profitable since it began.
The founders were also able to make decisions with their clients in mind because to this financial runway. Without funds, we would not have been able to liberate Tally, claims Marie. We would have needed to use a different business strategy to start making money more rapidly. Now, I think that one of Tally’s key success elements is our freemium business strategy. I would urge any entrepreneur to save away a few months to a year’s worth of costs before starting a firm so they can exist without revenue.
After going public, Tally did get a lot of investor interest. Since then, people have asked about how to support our project, as Marie explains. We debated whether or not to fundraise for Tally. Did dwindling support signify a lack of ambition? It led us to rethink our choice to operate bootstrapped. However, we like our present way of life, which would change significantly if we got finance.
Marie and Filip are free to conduct business as they see fit since they don’t have to answer to investors. Tally’s founders feel confident in their capacity to grow the business without outside help because the company’s income has improved month after month. “Our goal is not to assemble the biggest team or amass millions of dollars,” Marie says in her conclusion. Instead, we aim to establish a firm that promotes a sustainable lifestyle.
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