How We Started a Successful
Business Management Software
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, I’m Maxim, the CEO and one of two Flowlu co-founders. Flowlu is a cloud-based business management platform for effective team collaboration. We provide a flexible solution for small and medium-sized teams to track projects and tasks, manage finances and invoicing, share knowledge and collaborate with coworkers in one single place.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Before starting Flowlu, I led large projects and advised upper management on marketing and sales in the automotive-related industry. I was also awarded an MBA degree in Project Management.
My co-founder Alexey was a CEO in a medium-sized web development agency and has a degree in Information Technology. We both have one thing in common — we found it extremely difficult to discover a project management software that would meet all our business requirements in one single spot and doesn’t cost a fortune.
Unluckily, all we came across was too basic or too cluttered for our needs. So we decided to build our own project management tool from scratch, and that is how Flowlu was born.
However, as Flowlu grew it became apparent that a project tracking tool is ineffective without proper finance and customer management, invoicing, team communication. Soon, from a PM platform, Flowlu turned into an all-in-one collaborative tool which is able to address the demands of most small and medium-sized teams.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
When building Flowlu, we faced a challenge of finding the right people on board. According to a study, approximately 23% of startups fail due to ineffective teams. So we knew from the beginning that it is vital to gather the best individuals in our industry to create a highly productive working environment and achieve our goals.
We looked for talented and ambitious people with a combination of different skills and a huge passion for work in IT. As a result, most of the folks we recruited five years ago, work for us till the present day.
Who is your target market?
Our target market is the small and medium-sized teams of IT, Marketing, Business Consulting, Legal, Creative, Architecture industries.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
At Flowlu, we apply a mixture of different techniques. We’ve been using paid advertising, content marketing for our blog, SEO and influencer marketing campaigns to promote our product. Recently, we also launched on Product Hunt and got plenty of feedback and support. Although it didn’t significantly affect our traffic or bring new paying users, each business should give it a shot and see if it works better for their needs.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
We provide online support, send automated onboarding emails and offer on-demand demos for our existing customers to help them implement the software and guide them in case of any questions. We’ve been measuring customer satisfaction using NPS tools and by analyzing reviews on most popular software review platforms such as Capterra, GoodFirm, and GetApp.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We have a very friendly and warm working environment. We’ve been constantly conducting various team-building events such as shared cooking classes, hackathons, road trips. We also apply the Agile framework to our work which includes performing daily standup meetings and bi-weekly sprint retrospectives which have a positive effect on our team culture.
Each team member is provided with the ability to express his/her worries, share experience and receive feedback from colleagues. We try to create an atmosphere where employees feel welcome, valued and respected.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
It is no secret that as we provide a cloud-based solution for business management we use our own product as well. We utilize Flowlu, to manage marketing, IT and sales projects, communicate with our vendors, track revenue, share internal knowledge and best practices, assign tasks and brainstorm new ideas with mind maps.
We’ve been also using other solutions, for example, Intercom for the online support and marketing email campaigns. We also use Beamer for announcing our product updates. Paddle serves as our Merchant of Record and takes the burden of handling VAT and sales tax away from us. Our marketing team has been measuring user engagement with our content using Google Analytics.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
The most important lesson I learned on my business journey is that people are the most valuable assets. As I go through my day, I constantly check on my employees, ask their ideas and feedback, discuss their achieved objectives.
I always try to keep all my team members in the loop about how our goals and priorities are changing. I also explain to each teammate how their day-to-day tasks help Flowlu achieve its objectives so that they feel more appreciated. For me, continuous communication is a key to success.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite part of being an entrepreneur is meeting a variety of new interesting people everyday and learning their stories. This experience brings you tons of opportunities to connect with ambitious people you would never have met otherwise. Such connections shape us throughout our life and help us to look at some situations from different perspectives.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I would not say it is the least favourite aspect but what really keeps me perplexed is dealing with multitasking. Although I am the CEO, I also participate in marketing, accounting, HR, product growth and development activities. But I believe that, when you are an entrepreneur, you need to be on top of every single thing that happens in your business. Yet sometimes, it gets tricky to prioritize tasks and determine what’s really important at the moment.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
The most influential book for me is Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland. It is a must for each manager of any industry. This book taught me how to deliver projects in less time and in a more effective manner.
Every day, this approach helps me easily address constant changes in customer requirements and bring maximum benefit to our clients which is crucial when you work in IT.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
IThe IT industry is highly unpredictable and it is not easy to say what we expect from Flowlu in 2-3 years from now. Obviously, it will include more useful features and integration with 100+ tools to give teams a more seamless experience.
We want to help companies replace most of the apps and subscriptions with just one. This will significantly save them money and time. Instead of jumping between pages, they can manage all their data in one unified place — Flowlu.