Newline.tech continues interaction with the founders of successful startups. And today we have an interview with Denis Zernyshkin, the founder of startup Gravitec.net. This team has developed a Web push notifications service, which can upgrade email and sms messages to innovative real-time communication with customers. Receiving these notifications, users can learn about promotions, discounts, and order status. Subscribe or unsubscribe in just a couple of clicks. They respect the users’ privacy and do not abuse/misuse customer information.
Gravitec.net services are primarily useful for online stores and media portals with non-aggressive marketing. Learn more about how to successfully bring a technologically challenging startup to foreign markets.
Denis, tell us a little about yourself and how did Gravitec.net get started.
Before Gravitec.net, I worked as a CEO and the head of a business.
I first encountered browser push notifications as a marketing tool in Jeapie, Ukraine’s first web push notification service. In 2015, the Jeapie service was purchased by Mobify, a Canadian digital experience platform.
Mobify had its own plans for the use of push technologies in its region, and the company had little interest in Ukrainian customers. Having continued to work with a few of the major customers, Mobify didn’t mind transferring the rest of the customers to the new service.
It was a good time to launch our own startup.
Of course, Jeapie’s clients had to be convinced that they would get high-quality push technology from another service. But it was not the only challenge: the entire technology had to be completely developed from scratch. This process took almost a year. In October 2016, all stages of the launch were completed. Our goal was to turn push notifications into the most effective marketing channel.
Most of Jeapie’s customers who have switched to Gravitec.net are still with us.
Where did you get the startup capital for Gravitec.net at the initial stage? Did you have investors? Or, was it your own capital?
Launching a service is always a multi-step process. In the beginning I had to find someone who could share the management of the company with me. I found the right people in only one week. Four co-founders joined together to begin our startup, using only our own money (about $250,000). At the end of 2017, a fifth person joined us as a co-founder.
Now Gravitec.net work is self-sufficient. In the summer, we reached that level for the fourth time in the 2+ years of our existence. From time to time, we have had to attract additional investments. For example, when we needed to increase capacity, expand, or enter new markets.
How does Gravitec.net cope with the users’ dislike of frequent push notifications?
On the one hand, advertising provides benefits for the client. On the other hand, it is often a distraction and/or an annoyance. How to strike a balance? I think browser push notifications are the ideal scenario. It is important for every person to understand that he controls his information privacy. Subscribing and unsubscribing to push notifications gives a person such a feeling, because this is a matter of one or two clicks.
Gravitec.net is not a “simple” platform for sending push notifications. We offer both a platform and marketing expertise. This means we give full-fledged business consulting at each stage, provide the most advanced statistics for each mailing list in a clear graphical form, plus our recommendations.
While working on Gravitec.net, you had a moment when you wanted to give up. How did you stay motivated to continue developing the company?
That was the moment when we needed to migrate data from ex-Jeapie clients, and not lose their subscribers. The technology does not provide for such a migration, and we had very little time to create something to do it ourselves. We simply would not start the service without it. There was a time when it seemed that migration was impossible. But we did not give up. How could we stop everything if we realized that browser push notifications are just entering the market? After all, it was clear that this service would soon become very popular.
How do you promote Gravitec.net?
Initially, we did not spend money on advertising, which was little known. At least minimal information about the service should have filled the market. For this reason, we did not advertise ourselves as a browser push-notification service. Instead, we immediately invested in educational content to prepare the market for information. We follow the rule that it is better to enter a market where there is already a big player. There was such a player on the Ukrainian market, but its services were different from ours (theirs is a platform for distribution), whereas our services directly concern marketing – consulting and expertise on push notifications. Today, the concept of “marketing” and “web push notifications” are interconnected in the mind of the client. And this is largely due to Gravitec.net.
What are the key differences between your service and competitors?
The main difference is expert support with a guaranteed result. There are also other differences. For example, we are a SaaS service. We not only provide expertise and a platform for the service, but we also carry out direct sales, which is not characteristic of this type of business. We also develop an enterprise segment for businesses with special requests (“Dedicated solution”).
Why do you think a prospect should choose your service?
Because we can tell them how to get real profits; not just give them a new tool or experiment.
Gravitec.net – is synonymous with … Which you will choose your service?
I want our service to become the first association with the word “web push”. Our project is constantly growing, and the startup team should not lag behind. Each of us must grow and improve professionally. And since this is always means stepping outside of our own comfort zone, it requires inner courage. So, I would say that a good synonym for our service is “courage”.
What is the most valuable business advice you have ever received?
“One task per one unit of time”. This advice was given by my colleague and friend. What does it mean? If you want to achieve something, you should deal that thing exclusively. In other words, you can not simultaneously maintain two goals.
During the several years of work at Gravitec.net, I received at least five very lucrative offers to make money (without leaving my own business). I refused, because I felt I could lose my business if I worked on something else at that time.
What personalities and communities will you recommend for startups to subscribe to? What books are worth reading?
I’ve read a lot of the right books for startups. The one I would emphasise, is the excellent “training manual” – “Rework” by David Hansson and Jason Fried.
For those who need inspiration for starting a business, I would also advise Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness”. However, books alone won’t help starting and developing a business. Subscribe to the startup communities where people are willing to share real experience and knowledge, where you can get advice on any issue. These are the things, and the knowledge, that can’t be purchased at seminars. It’s really beneficial to get into the community. Just imagine, would you rather communicate with millionaires, or with the guy who wrote the book “How to make a million”?
What will be in the further development of Gravitec.net?
We’ve entered the European and American markets. There are plans to expand in two directions: technically and geographically. Gravitec.net is moving towards finding unique solutions that can be patented. We continue to accumulate expertise and data (already for more than 3,500 client sites), which cannot be obtained in any way except through us. This distinguishes us from our competitors today, and from those that might appear in the future.