Tell us about yourself?
Moved to the United States at age 10 from Kiev Ukraine, did my undergrad and later MBA program at NAU in Arizona. Worked for a global software company until my friend had a great idea of combining video chat with purchase in a single call and we began working on our new company, Expert Minute the same day.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That it’s a fun ride to the top. Instead I found it’s a roller-coaster of small successes and failures and each week is a rise or dip on that ride, but I have to admit I really like that!
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
NETWORK MORE! Sitting and reworking the forecasts or finding bugs in the code is important but meeting people in the industry and forming long lasting relationships is vital to a startup.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I found my passion. Working for myself and deciding which direction of the company is going is just exhilarating. I cannot wait to see what Expert Minute and the industry will look like in 6 months to a year from now with our tech contribution and that’s the exciting part.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Following up! Whether its setting weekly calls with the development team or having a follow up with each person or partnership we discuss its important to follow up and engage with each new possibility.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Zoom and FaceTime are major influences for us. COVID changed the landscape and increased video usage online and we feel it will also bring that change to the retail industry. That’s why Im so excited that we get to play a serious part in this evolution.
So many companies are struggling abandoned eCarts, higher returns online and issues with chat bots but our approach is focused on human to human interaction and by having a quick video chat and adding items for your customers you form relationships, increase sales, and decrease returns and we get to provide this service to small and large retails alike.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Year 1: Deploy our app into Shopify’s App Store, we are targeting small to medium sized retailers who need to speak directly with customers who are on their site and our tech helps increase sales while reducing eCart abandonment rate.
Year 2: Complete deployment into Wix/Woo Commerce and Magento and expand the reach of our software to additional stores. Start licensing ‘know-how’ patent agreements to provide the remote eCart functionality to other retailers who have their own eCommerce platforms.
Year 3-5: See our software being used in stores like Home Depot, IKEA, ULTA beauty, Mattress Firm, and other expert-related industries. Walking into their physical stores and seeing employees answer video calls on their tablets using Expert Minute software.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Controlled growth; we are set to scale but want to make sure we have the marketing budget set correctly so we can grow at the right pace and hit all the milestones before the next raise.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
We got out patent! US Patent office has granted the patent and its framed on the wall. Our second recent success has been the launch of the pilot program where we gave our software to two retailers in Arizona.
We saw an increase of 7% in sales month over month and heard stories from customers who called in but didn’t expect the video feature.
They got the advice, were thrilled to talk to a human being and get real recommendations with our patented checkout feature and said they would be back to buy more and recommend the stores to their friends.
Our beta trials were a huge success but now we want to bring that tech into the Shopify sphere where we can really scale.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
I think having passion goes a long way to being a good salesperson. Just talking about the product and idea can get other people excited and want to try it – so doing nothing more than explaining the idea can get them to try or buy it.
We find our customers right on Shopify and offer a SAAS subscription model and advertise on LinkedIn. This is a new concept and people like to learn about it, its not so much a “sell” but information that leads to conversations naturally for us.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
If you are not 100% committed to the startup idea, don’t do it! This takes so much more time and energy than I ever expected, but I can keep going because I love the concept and I’m more excited to work on it every day.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I’d like to walk into a random store and see employees using our software. That one idea can be added to the retail industry and spread to stores of all sizes within a short time. That’s the thrill of the startup world for me.