1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?
Yo! My name is Igor and I’m the founder of Utimize WP, an unlimited WordPress service that motivates small business owners to continue pushing hard on their dreams. We do it by providing a solid 24/7 live developer they can count on whenever they need help with their sites.
I’m originally from the northeast of Brazil, and I was raised in São Luís, a seaside city colonized by the Portuguese (also known as “The Brazilian Lisbon”).
Although I’m still young, I’ve already worked for a number of companies where I learned the most valuable things in my life. From big American agencies to a Brazilian hosting company, I was always paying close attention to how real scalable companies are created: how they hire, how they create the processes, how they build a culture, etc.
One day, I decided I’d give myself a chance and would start a new business. I’m a tech guy with an extensive knowledge of WordPress, so I knew I should look for opportunities in this market first. I had thought about payment processing or AI + Cryptos, but due to the low budget I had, and the government regulations, I decided to postpone on these ideas.
Drawing from the things I learned in my past positions, I created two simple criteria my business would need to meet: it must 1) be scalable, and 2) have a predictable income.
I did my research and found that Dan Norris had a very interesting business model in WP Curve. They were providing unlimited WordPress support at a flat rate. At that time, WP Curve was already sold to GoDaddy, but their site was still online, with all the amazing monthly reports Dan wrote. In a few hours, I read all the reports, and in a few days, I read all of Dan’s books. I was fascinated!
It was from there I decided to build something unlimited, with 24/7 availability. I prepared some packages and reached out to some web agency owners I knew. I didn’t have the business name and didn’t even know what tool I was going to use to manage the websites. At first, I thought I should create my own website management tool, but the costs of maintaining a proprietary software like that are extremely high, and it was actually unnecessary.
Two agencies decided to go with my idea which gave me a $1,236 monthly budget to open the business, create a structure, and acquire new clients. In fact, I invested zero dollars, and in only a couple of days I had just over a $1,000 budget to scale and build a successful company. That’s the power of networking!
Now, 7 months later, although we still have agency plans, we’ve changed our focus to individual business owners and bloggers. We try to keep it simple—only one plan at $69/month will give you unlimited WordPress tasks, a proactive approach to your site maintenance, speed-up optimizations, security checks and much more.
We’re currently managing 180+ sites (current MMR is $12,663) and our goal is to manage 400 websites by the end of 2020.
2. How do you attract and retain your customers?
We are still in the early days and we haven’t had the chance to test a ton of different strategies, so we’re sticking to the two most effective ones:
- Referrals – People often underestimate the power of these. If you’re able to make your clients so grateful for the things you’ve done for them, it’s very likely they’ll do the best they can to bring you more business. I’d say 30% of our clients always bring one or two colleagues to the service (we have mind-blowing affiliate commissions).
- Google Ads – We’re getting great results from this. I believe it’s because 1) Google Ads is a ‘hot’ way of doing marketing, since people are actively looking for the service you offer, and 2) we have a no brainer deal in our landing page.
We tried content marketing in the past, but I decided to postpone due to the poor strategy I had created for this. This was one of the biggest mistakes I made, as I believe this can be the most powerful and cost-effective marketing strategies out there. We’re creating a new strategy that should be ready by January 2020.
Before Utimize, when this was just an MVP, I had it clear in my mind that the success of this company would depend on the amount of value I’d be able to give to people (for prospects, clients, partners and employees) and on my ability to clearly communicate my goals with every single partnership I want to build. This strategy has proven itself in the last couple months.
Our customer retention is very close to 100%. In the last 7 months running this company, I saw three clients leaving us and I took their feedback very seriously. The information they provided was crucial to optimize our processes.
3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of creating a one-man business when you’re a technical founder. Especially when you have a small budget to get things done, it’s very attractive to get all this money and reinvest 100% on marketing for faster growth.
I did that for a few months while I had some freelancers handling the overnight shift. It was a great experience, not only from a cost perspective, but it was the perfect timing to create a scalable onboarding process for the new support analysts coming in.
Finally, it was time to get someone else doing the support work. That’s when I hired my first full-time support analyst, who was one of the first freelancers I hired to help me with the support requests at the beginning of the company.
Hiring talented people should be one of the top 3 priorities in your company, in order to keep from falling into the trap. I promise you’ll be able to achieve whatever goal you have if you are able to clearly communicate those goals with the talented people surrounding you.
4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?
Having great employees handling each department of the company is crucial. Although I’m still in every single part of the day-to-day operations, I’m already dedicating 70% of my time to sales and biz dev.
Besides that, I’d say creating scalable processes to streamline the way we communicate with each other and with clients. This helped us not only with customer happiness, but with our team satisfaction as well. These are the tools we currently use:
- WHMCS for billing & tickets;
- Slite for the internal knowledge base;
- Asana for internal tasks;
- Slack for internal communication;
- Zoho for emails;
- Zoom for meetings;
- QuickBooks as our accounting software;
We’re very happy with our current stack and I believe these tools will be with us for a long time!
5. What is your advice for those that are starting productized services?
The only companies that will succeed in the future are those using the client-centric approach. If customer happiness is not your #1 priority, it’s very unlikely you’ll be able to retain clients and keep your business growing.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best marketing strategy in the world and you’re able to attract 1,000 clients every day. If you provide a poor experience, the only thing you’ll have at the end of the day is bad reviews (and maybe some lawsuits as well).
The magic behind a productized service is that you don’t need a ton of money to start. In the beginning, I invested my time, had profitability from day one and was able to provide high quality service to all my clients.
Create raving fan customers, enjoy the ride and growth will come in a matter of time.
6. What are your plans for the future?
Our main goal is to continue to provide the best experience our clients could ever have—in practical terms, we want to keep our NPS around 90–100%.
Improving culture and finding talents is also in the top of my roadmap. It’s all about people and how well you can communicate your dreams to them!
In terms of revenue/growth, our goal is to manage 400+ sites with an expected MRR of $30,000 by the end of 2020.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
You can learn more about us at utimize.net. Check out our blog—there’s a lot of content coming out about entrepreneurship and productized services. And, if you want to connect directly with me, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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