When Ilya Semin, the 29-year-old CEO of Datanyze, wanted to first test his product in 2012, he turned to one of the oldest marketing tactics: cold emailing.
He found the email addresses of a few dozen sales executives and sent them an email asking for feedback on his new product. Nearly half of the people responded to his emails, sometimes with valuable insight. He would update his software with their suggestions and reach out again for more feedback.
One of the first people to respond to his emails was Ben Sardella, then the VP of sales at KISSMetrics, a web analytics software company. Cleverly, Semin mentioned that his software could show how many people were using Mixpanel, a KISSMetrics competitor: Sardella became the first customer to use Datanyze. In fact, he was so impressed that he ended up joining Datanyze as cofounder in 2013.
Semin’s cold email also caught Mark Cuban’s attention. In April 2014, Semin sent Cuban an email with his pitch deck, not really expecting a response back any time soon. But within an hour, Semin’s inbox rang its little bell. It was Cuban: “Definitely interested — Send me more details.” A few months later, Cuban joined IDG Ventures and Google Ventures in a $2 million seed round investment.
Looking back, Semin says people are generally always willing to help, especially when you’re not asking for money. He always asked for feedback first, and that’s what propelled his business to early success.
“The biggest lesson I learned was: If you want advice, ask for money. But if you want money, ask for advice,” Semin told Business Insider. Read more…