How Doopoll got their first 1000 customers and how going enterprise first saved the business when everything was near a point of tumbling all down!

Hello, Welcome, Hola 👋👋👋

If you are like me and trying to build side projects during quarantine, have a startup or just a curious mind. I stumbled upon startup resources last week and just want to give them a shoutout today just cuz its actually really really really really well curated.

THIS IS AN AWESOME low effort way to discover cool tools and resources every week.

Check em out actually

Okai back to Doopoll & who they are and what do they do? 📊

Doopoll is a real-time survey tool that helps you gain insights from customers, employees, or live event attendees(although because of Coronavirus that last market has… not done well 😌). When we used to hold pitch events back in time when you can get hundreds of people in a room, we relied 100% on Doopoll. Because it was built for live polls and not surveys, we used to get a 60%+ response rate instead of 10-15% when we used SurveyMonkey. That's why I invited Marc Thomas, the CEO, to share the Doopoll story on First1000.

Not enough people do this but please GO to your customers.🏎

When the team had the idea, they built the MVP in just four days. Elemental is a very generous way to describe Doopoll V0. Once you logged in, you couldn't log out. They didn't even have time to test the core functionality of registering votes in one of the poll types. 

With a skeleton of an MVP ready, they went to a coworking space and invited anyone to join them in their lunch break in a conference room; they booked for their "launch" event. No Media, No PR...just a tens of potential users with Marc and the team sitting there observing social cues and trying to understand what resonated and what didn't from the entrepreneurs in the room.

Enterprise is the way to go for their first 1000 customers…surprisingly 🤷‍♂️

When Doopoll launched its Beta, they were serving two customers

  • SME -> £40-£120 

  • Enterprise -> £10K

Counterintuitively, Marc discusses that before "nailing their value proposition," it was much easier to sell to Enterprise than it was to consumers or small businesses. Now that mark is shifting with the consumer business making up about 25% of the revenue and growing fast! Because the founders were experienced selling services before starting Doopoll, it was more natural for him to do the typical sales cycle.

With going after big contracts, they managed to keep the company going while still trying to understand their place in the market. From the early days, they had a few problems.

  • Did not understand their proposition -> they focused their marketing on "support for multiple languages" when people cared about having the "easiest survey tool to set up."

  • Burned a lot of money trying to compete with SurveyMonkey on Paid Ads

  • Had the wrong business model in place (Free Trial) vs. now they have a freemium model.

For a lot of companies, those would have been detrimental to the business. But because Mark managed to secure 5k-10k enterprise contracts by cold emailing and getting meetings, he was able to grow Doopoll as they implemented a growth system and tackled each of these issues one after the other.

It took them about a year to get their first 1000 customers; we can't wait to witness the 10,000 customer mark!

What didn't work 🙈

We usually focus on winning strategies. But it is also noticeable to point out all the things that people tried but didn't get them there. Here are a few of my favorites with Doopoll (that I wish they had worked 😭)

  • Using personalized videos in cold outreach via Lemlist. While it is a useful tool for many people (and a bit corny), recruitment agencies (which were a subset of the target audience) didn't respond well.

  • Being Funny: one variation of the campaigns they tried ended an email sequence with a last-ditch attempt where the subject line was: 'I want to work with you so bad I got a {firstName} tattoo on my arm.' 

  • Running Ads on an un-optimized funnel

The Awkward ending bit

That’s it for today, see you next week 😉,

Ali Abouelatta

Ohh btw I actually borrowed this last section title from one of my newly favorite newsletters Startup Resources.