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INSIGHT: Sendloop growth interview with Cem Hurturk

sendloop interview

Name: Cem Hurturk
Age: 38
What is your SaaS called: Sendloop
“The easy-to-use and affordable email marketing for small businesses”
Founded: 2008
How many people are on the team right now? 7
Where are you based? We have two offices: San Francisco and Istanbul
Did you raise money?
No, 100% bootstrapped and self-funded from day 1. All startups we have founded have been
bootstrapped and we never thought raising funding. Our funders are our customers.

Can you tell us what Sendloop is and how you make money?
Sendloop is an email marketing solution for small businesses where all enterprise level
marketing features and tools are provided at a fraction of price. We make money by providing
email marketing platform to our customers. Our customers pay us a monthly fee or one-time
delivery credits fee to use Sendloop, send email newsletters and track results.

sendloop homepage
sendloop homepage

How did you get this idea?
Our other startup Octeth is in on-premise email marketing and one of the leading (and popular)
on-premise email marketing software since 1999. We have a good experience in email
marketing industry and we have founded many startups in this market since 1999 including
Octeth, Sendloop, PreviewMyEmail (acquired by SMTP, Inc.), Sendersuite, DeliveryIPMonitor
and so on. Back in 2007, we have decided to build and run an on-demand email marketing
solution for customers who don’t prefer to purchase an on-premise solution, install and run it on
their own servers.

How long did you work on it before you launched? When did you see your first dollar?
Sendloop has been developed from scratch instead of porting our on-premise email marketing
solution as an on-demand solution. It took around 6 months to make it ready for users. It started to make money from day 2. We worked on announcement marketing materials on day 1 and
sent out the first announcement email on day 2. The SaaS market was not so saturated and
dominated back in 2008, therefore it was relative easy to release a software and find your first
10 customers.

I cannot share detailed financial data about Sendloop (yet) but it’s something between $100k –
$200k MRR. You name it 🙂

What was Sendloop MRR after the first 6 months?
The MRR was around $12,000 at the end of 6th month, but at that time we were selling pay-as-you-go email delivery credits and our revenue was higher, around $22,000.

Number of customers and free trials:
We are approaching 40,000 users very soon. Over 350 million emails are sent through
Sendloop email delivery platform every month. This metric passes 600 million on peak times
such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our customers are spread into 163 countries.

Who are your clients? What is your target market?
We target small businesses and ecommerce businesses but we have customers from almost all
segments including freelancers, one-man companies, corner shops, enterprises, universities,

Average life time of a customer: 23.3 months.

How did you get your first 100 customers?
It was easy back in 2008, and we were lucky. We had around 10,000 customers and around
25,000 mail list subscribers on our other company, Octeth at that time. We simply sent an
announcement email and introduced Sendloop to them. Thousands of leads visited
Sendloop’s homepage on day 2 and we started to convert them into customers. We still have
many customers using Sendloop regularly from that day 2.

What are the 2-3 main distribution channels that work best for you? What channel didn’t
work out for you?
Word-of-mouth (referral marketing) works really good for us. Therefore, we invest a lot on this
channel. Cold reach is another channel which works really well for us. We tried several times
but couldn’t utilize affiliate marketing as we dreamed always.

Tell us 2-3 growth challenges you encountered recently and how you solved them.
It’s quite easy to grow a SaaS from nothing to something in early days. But to make it a “must
have” solution on customer side is quite challenging. If you are a small team (like us), you
should focus on one major problem and solve it really good. You shouldn’t forget that every new
feature means a new product which means a new challenge. This was the biggest challenge we
had and of course, next feature fallacy.

Some of the tasks are not worth to do in-house. What do you outsource?
Copywriting and lead generation are two important tasks we outsource to a group of remote
team members.

What are the 3 tools you and your team can’t live without?
1. Intercom and Helpscout for support
2. Woopra for user, funnel and retention analysis
3. Adwords

What was the #1 thing that helped you reduce churn?
We noticed that when we build a personal relationship with our customers, the churn rate started to decrease. This was because our customers became business partners when we built personal communication with them. This made them stick with us longer and they started to invest in our relationship as we do.

Tell us the biggest mistake you had through building and promoting your SaaS and what
you’ve learned from it.
The biggest mistake we did in the past was “next feature fallacy”, which means, we were
assuming (and hoping) that adding a new feature was going to increase sales. This new feature
was an idea from one of our team member or a request by one of our customers. Now, we
always remind each other that adding a new feature never increases the sales (on long term)
and instead it causes more trouble than benefits. Since then, we focus on making what we are
doing even better, and it works really well.

If you had to start Sendloop today, what would you do differently?
Good question. We wouldn’t add so many “professional” features and focus on the core
functionality which solves the biggest pain of our customers for email marketing. This would
save our time in the future and we wouldn’t be removing lots of features to make Sendloop
simple again just like in the beginning.

were you ever offered to be acquired or invested?
Yes, we have received several acquisition offers since 2009. We have been also contacted by many investors about investment opportunities but Sendloop is quite profitable and financially healthy, therefore, we don’t need any funding right now to sustain our growth strategy.

Where do you see Sendloop in 5 years from now?
I don’t make that kind of long term plans. 5 years is a very long time frame and anything can happen within 5 years. I do my best to keep my projections limited to the next 12 months.
We will focus on our product, Sendloop and release some cool features and also we will focus on developing new customers. This is our #1 goal for the next 12 months.

Highly dedicated entrepreneur, co-founder of Poptin and Ecpm Digital Marketing. Nine years of experience in the digital marketing field and internet project management. Graduated with an Economics degree from Tel Aviv University. A big fan of A/B testing, SEO and PPC campaigns' optimization, CRO, growth hacking and numbers. Always loves testing new advertising strategies and tools, and analyzing the latest start-up companies.