Every business owner has a signature story; the event or experience that launched your entrepreneurial journey.
Your signature story tells us how you got here and why you decided to do what you’re doing.
In this series of articles we’re going to share the signature stories of WiseStamp users who have experienced the ups and downs of starting and growing a business. Hopefully, these stories will inspire you to jump start your own journey as a business owner.
And to kick off this series we have an interview with WiseStamp’s CEO Orly Izhaki, who shares with us the story of how WiseStamp came to be.
Can you start off by telling us where the idea for WiseStamp came from?
It started with me and Josh, my WiseStamp Cofounder.
At the time, we were running a marketing consulting company that advised startups. One day we received an email that had a really nice signature, with social media icons and a nice design. We liked it so much that we decided to make similar signatures for ourselves.
I started by looking for a tool to create the signature with, but I couldn’t find one.
Since I know coding and how to program I said ‘I’ll make it myself with HTML.’
I created the code and then added social media icons and graphics using Photoshop. When the signature was done I added it to my email settings.
I then made a similar signature for Tzvika.
We started sending out emails with our new signatures and we got so many compliments on them that we decided to create a tool for generating signatures.
After you came up with the idea, what was the next step?
A year after we began working on WiseStamp Tzvika and I decided that it was time to grow and bring in more founders, so we invited Tom and Sasha to join us.
Tzvika and I still had our consulting company and Sasha and Tom had their own company so it was slow going at first. In order to make some progress in advancing the business we spontaneously decided to fly together to San Francisco.
We landed in San Francisco with no real plan and no place to stay so we camped out in a hostel until we found an apartment to rent. We got introduced by our advisor, Ariel Poler, to a startup accelerator called Dog Patch Labs. This was an amazing time during which we made real progress in developing WiseStamp and got to work alongside other entrepreneurs who were building fantastic projects like TaskRabbit and Recurly.
After coming back home we raised a seed round, rented office space and hired our first employee. We got a lot of traction and WiseStamp steadily grew
What was your biggest roadblock and how did you overcome it?
We went through two periods that were particularly difficult.
The first of these was when we decided to turn WiseStamp into a business by becoming a freemium service. At that time we were experiencing steady growth and we knew that we would be giving up on some of that growth in order to become a business, which was hard.
We went from focusing on traffic to revenue. We learned more about our users and their needs in order to create a product that our users wanted.
The second roadblock that we faced was about a year and a half ago when we migrated the product to the web. Before that WiseStamp was a downloadable software and it was very limited. We wanted to offer our users a platform that could support more complicated apps and tools. But we realized that many of our users wouldn’t be able to make the move with us. In the end, we did lose about 50% of our users, which was a huge blow. This was very hard for us but it was worth it because it allowed WiseStamp to grow and develop in a way that it wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
What would you say are the two biggest challenges of running a business?
The first one is always the staff. To find good staff is always the biggest challenge. You need employees that are a good fit with your company’s culture and who are good people.
The second big challenge is prioritizing. For a company like ours, which is bootstrapped, there is always a lot to do and not enough manpower so it’s important to know how to prioritize. After the staff, that’s the biggest challenge.
What tip would you share with other small-business owners to help them grow their business?
Build a product or provide a service that you really believe in because that makes it easier to sell.
The second thing is to not be afraid of failure.
There aren’t many people who have experienced success without failing a few times first.
But the secret to success is being able to pick yourself up after you have failed and try again.
Stay tuned for our next signature story with April Jackson, an attorney who was motivated to start her own law firm in order to have a better work-life balance.