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Bootstrapping to $13 Million with Freemium and Free Trials: SurveyGizmo CEO Christian Vanek (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Sep 12th 2016

Sramana Mitra: What kind of conversion rates did you experience? Are you willing to discuss that?

Christian Vanek: Sure, we’re an open book. From our website, we have about 1% conversion rate of visitors to trial or free customers. From free customers to paid customers, we have about 0.7% conversion rate. For our trial customers that come in directly as a paid trial from the website and don’t go through the free tier, 23% of those will convert to a paid monthly account, which is a pretty good conversion rate.

Sramana Mitra: That’s an excellent conversion rate. I take it that’s your main business?


Christian Vanek: Yes. Until this year, that has made up about 70% of our business. This year, we started pushing on larger business sales and key accounts. While there are fewer customers at that level, each account is worth so much more. It shifted the business a little bit.

Sramana Mitra: What kind of average deal sizes are the enterprise accounts?

Christian Vanek: The average deal size last year was about $1,500. The average deal size in the last quarter has gone up to over $10,000. That’s basically growing as our expertise is growing in that regard.

Sramana Mitra: Where are you revenue-wise?

Christian Vanek: We will close out this year, at least, at $13 million. We’re shooting for a bit more than that.

Sramana Mitra: You self-financed all the growth?

Christian Vanek: It’s organic growth to a point. This year, we started adding in more direct sales.

Sramana Mitra: My question is organic versus outside financing.

Christian Vanek: We’ve never taken outside financing. One of our friends in the Boulder area wanted to come on as a partner. We did ask him to put some money into the organization to get his shares. That was once misconstrued as investment, but he’s an active business partner. We’ve never taken VC. We’ve never taken angel. We’re contacted by a lot of them. Honestly, we run a very lean ship.

Sramana Mitra: How many people do you have?

Christian Vanek: We have 74 people. We have offices in Seattle and Boulder. We have a proto office in London.

Sramana Mitra: Your headquarters is in Boulder?

Christian Vanek: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Anything else in your story that is worth sharing?

Christian Vanek: I think I touched on it. The core strategy that worked for us was not developing software for ourselves but to actually have an audience that had a need. It’s a lot easier to sell that than to pitch people on your idea and convince them that it’s worthwhile.

Sramana Mitra: It’s always better to develop software with customers who are telling you what their problems are than doing it in a vacuum. Thank you very much. It was nice talking with you.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping to $13 Million with Freemium and Free Trials: SurveyGizmo CEO Christian Vanek
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