14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E17 – Boyan Tanchev, Co-Founder & CPO of Timify – Web Designer to SaaS Founder

Boyan Tabchev - Co-founder and CPO Timify - from web designer to SaaS founder

E17 – Boyan Tanchev, Co-Founder & CPO of Timify – Web Designer to SaaS Founder

Boyan Tanchev, CPO and Co-founder of Timify – a SaaS company that makes appointment scheduling software for businesses, talks about his origins as a product designer, life in Munich, 4 ways in which Timify goes to market, it’s app marketplace, it’s partnership with the Yellow Pages, and so much more. “If you’re just starting your business I would say ‘Never give up! You’ll have to face lots of problems.’ You have to solve those problems. And not start crying ‘Oh my God, I have a problem. I’m not gonna solve it.’ Just keep pushing – and never giving up is the key to success.”

TRANSCRIPT

Episode 17 – Boyan Tanchev, CPO and Co-founder of Timify

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps.

Stephen Cummins

0:21 In this episode we’re still in Collision in New Orleans where I interviewed Boyan Tanchev, CPO and Co-founder of Timify – a SaaS company that makes appointment scheduling software for businesses to make their services bookable. He talks about his origins as a product designer, life in Munich, how Timify goes to market, it’s app marketplace and so much more.

0:52 Can you tell us a little bit about… about yourself and how you got to where you are now? A little bit about your life.

Boyan Tanchev

Well, it all started when I was 14 and I built my first website. I was pretty happy about that. And then I decided that I have to do this and throughout my highschool (days) I continued finding customers – which was really strange for my parents. But they embraced it in a way – didn’t stop me. And then I moved to Munich where I studied architecture, and continued doing what I was doing as a freelancer. So then I started my first company – it was a web agency, pretty successful. Found my first partner – and then at some point we both decided it’s time for the next step. And then one day, he came to me and said, ‘take a look at our physical therapy centre’ because he is quite sporty and he invested all his money into a physical therapy centre because he has lots of injuries. And that’s how basically Timify came to exist – because he came to me and he said, we need a scheduling system to make our therapies online bookable. ‘And can you find me something?’ I was searching at this moment – it was late 2013. Didn’t find anything that was a fitting to their needs. And then we said okay, we’re going to build it. We built the first version and it was used solely by his company for about a year. And then for some lucky reason he found an article that self-scheduling would explode by 2019. And then he said ‘now we have build an online tool not just for us, but for everyone’. So it wasn’t planned really, what we did wasn’t really a plan from the beginning to be where we are now. But it somehow happened.  And now we’re really happy.

Stephen Cummins

That’s amazing and it’s great to get started with solving a real problem. Do you miss the more flashy design stuff that you were doing before.

Boyan Tanchev

No, I don’t miss that because it’s what we’re doing with Timify is much more interesting to me – because I’m in direct communication with many of our customers – it’s really important for me to always be in touch with them to see how they experience the product … what they think about new features … they’re always coming with more problems … they say, ‘yeah that’s good, but can you somehow do this and that’ … and then you have to figure out a way how to make a solution with a really beautiful design, because it’s really important for me to not just have a functionality just for the sake of solving the problem, but making it usable, so people can easily understand how to work with it.

Stephen Cummins

What is the thing that makes Timify a little bit different and special .. what separates it from the pack?

Boyan Tanchev

First of all design obviously. I can definitely say that most of our competitors are lacking design and usability. Some of them have more features, but it’s just overwhelming for the consumer at some point. What we do is that we have  a core product that is solely concentrating on online booking and managing the schedule, and managing shift planning ..and also online payments for getting payments in advance. And obviously a CRM as well because you need to manage your customers.

And then everything else that you need, you can install based on your needs from our app marketplace. So what we did is develop a marketplace where we publish small apps, add-ons and integrations to other existing software. And, this basically gives us the possibility to have a clean core product – but easily extend this product based on your business needs. For example in Intersport – it’s a famous sports retailer in Europe and they now want to make their ski consultants – the people who actually help you to find the best skis …. they wanted to make them work online, because that’s a luxury service from them – and it makes them different from the competitors. Now we’re also doing certain features for other enterprises and that includes also complete access to our API. So they can integrate their existing infrastructure. And this is really important for them.

We’re also working with HypoVereinsbank, a part of UniCredit – it’s one of the biggest in Germany. So they won’t use our calendar because they say ‘how can we gather all our bankers in one place to teach them how to use your calendar?’ … You’ll find they are using their Microsoft outlook and they just need to get their appointments there. We said ‘no problem … then you use our exchange application.’ So this app marketplace that we’ve developed really open up lots of opportunities for us, and I think this is what makes us different.

Stephen Cummins

What’s your typical customer actually? – at the moment is you’re still very young.

Boyan Tanchev

At the moment the majority of our customers are small businesses and medium businesses as well. Since February, since we released the enterprise version, we also have some bigger busineses. And having a bank supporting you and figuring out that’s your core software is also a big thing for us. But I would say (the main ones) at the moment …. beauty salons (some of them also have multiple locations. It’s not like just one single hairstylist, but like salons and chains), health industry (physios and doctors), and then consultants and sports trainers too.

Stephen Cummins

So you’re actually focusing quite a bit.

Boyan Tanchev

We are, but we’re free for everyone to get them to use us. And we also have tourist companies in Paris – one of them is doing private tours with these old citreons – and they figured out that with our online payments systems they can actually book people and can book everything – even a bottle of champagne. It’s interesting – like everyone can use it at some point. And I think it’s good to be open. Like obviously internally we’re focusing on some, but I don’t think it’s in our marketing message we need to specialise – like be super specific and say ‘okay we are tool for hair stylists’, because then a healthcare practitioner wouldn’t take you seriously.

Stephen Cummins

8:32  What’s it like living and working out of Munich?

Boyan Tanchev

It’s one of my favorite cities. I’ve been traveling a lot – been to New Zealand and Australia, and I’ve been for longer periods as well – not just visiting. But from all the cities I’ve been, Munich is the best because everything is so structured and it has some very classical aspects, but also a modern vibe. There are a lot of tech events happening in Munich. There are a lot of people who are really good at developing stuff, a lot of cool startups as well. We’re definitely not the only one there and I mean having the technical university which, I was studying at, is great opportunity to catch some cool new employees for your company.

Stephen Cummins

I think it’s great that you founded there and you’re building the company there. So you’re in partnership with technical university in Bulgaria. In Sofia?

Boyan Tanchev

No. Our office is in Plovdiv – this is the second biggest city. I’m from Sofia, but I can definitely say Sofia is not as lovely as Plovdiv. It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. And I mean the, it’s just beautiful – the architecture, the… ruins that you see from the Thracians – it’s really beautiful to be there and having the tech university there is really good coz there are really smart people coming out of there. It’s not just us who realize that because there are more and more European companies moving there. Like HP recently opened an office there and they realize that there are really smart people coming from the university.

Stephen Cummins

And how did you go to market? How have you managed to get customers … and how have you improved that maybe over the last couple of years?

Boyan Tanchev

Yeah. Well, we have 4 go-to-market strategies.
* First is an in-house marketing team that has developed a crawler that searches for potential customer of ours. And then we were able to analyse the markets and figure out ‘okay, does it make sense to post this advertisement in Paris? Are there enough hair stylists there? Obviously that’s a big city, but like for a smaller city.’ This this the business analysis we can do thanks to having so many developers in our team – we can do these kinds of tricks.

* The second one is where we have lots of resellers – and in particular we’re working with the yellow pages worldwide in different areas. We have signed 31 contracts so far with yellow pages. Why them? Because they already have all our customers. They have lots of money. They have a sales team. And they have one problem. They need to be digital. And we offer them a solution that basically integrates their online booking process into their existing directories and helps them be something more than Google – because obviously most of people are using Google to search for a hair stylist, but if you go to a yellow pages directory, you’re gonna be able not just to search for a hairstylist, but pick up the free slots for a haircut. So that’s what we’re doing with them.

* The third one is thanks to our app marketplace and developer platform – from where our tech partners and other SaaS applications are doing applications and other integrations for us. And when they publish these applications, they obviously want to promote them on their websites. Or through a newsletter. Thanks to this promotion we have some stealth marketing. And that’s how we get our customers.

* And the last one, I would say would be the key accounts. So we have also a really successful key account team. And now that we have this success in Germany, we want to roll out Europe-wide with key accounts in France, Spain and Italy.

Stephen Cummins

If you were to give us a little bit of advice to other entrepreneurs coming up, what would you tell them Boyan?

Boyan Tanchev

Well if you’re just starting your business I would say ‘Never give up! You’ll have to face lots of problems.’ You have to solve those problems. And not start crying ‘Oh my God, I have a problem. I’m not gonna solve it.’ Just keep pushing – and never giving up is the key to success.

Stephen Cummins

Boyan Tanchev – that was a great interview.

Boyan Tanchev

Thank you very much for having me.

Stephen Cummins

14:09 Shortly after this interview Timify secured another 3M euros in investment – bringing the total venture capital raised to 7M euros. In the next episode we’ll be back in Collision where I’ll interview Russ Heddleston, CEO and co-founder of DocSend, a content management and tracking solution that helps teams find and share business critical documents. That will be part 1 of a 3-part mini-series with Russ.
14:50 You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thank you to Ketsu for music provided under a creative commons license. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

14 Minutes of SaaS