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Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale: Lily Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, May 5th 2020

Lily Stoyanov: At that time, I already had an idea about Transformify. It started when I was still at Coca-Cola. When you lead a business transformation project, you know that processes need to be optimized and costs need to be cut. Inevitably, people lose their jobs.

Many companies were going through business transformation. The moment I saw this, I had an idea to combine my experience with a financial services company with the experience of a manager who has been hiring people for a very long period of time.

Initially, we decided to validate and see if the market has an appetite for highly-skilled consultants. There are many companies who are ready to hire them on a contract basis. People in Europe were losing their jobs but there were companies in Korea, Japan, and Asia in general that needed them.

It wasn’t possible for these people to work remotely most of the time, and they were required to travel occasionally, which was much needed. They were people with children. They were people with mortgages. They were in their 50’s. Relocation to Asia on a permanent basis wasn’t something they’re looking for. That’s how we started.

We started as a marketplace for highly-skilled independent consultants. As we grew up, it became obvious that there are other cases that could easily be addressed by what we were doing. I was approached by people who are less able to move like caregivers and mothers of children in wheelchairs.

They were asking me, “If highly-skilled consultants can work remotely, why is it not possible to create jobs for us?” We may not be as highly-skilled but we need the job because we need to support our families. We have very high costs for taking care of sick people. It was the social angle.

What we were doing was transforming people’s lives for good. It was giving hope to people who previously didn’t have it. At that point in time, we became part of one of Virgin’s startup programs.

Sramana Mitra: What year is this?

Lily Stoyanov: 2016. At that point in time, we realized the power of PR and publicity because the moment Virgin tweeted an article about Transformify and how it transforms people’s lives for good and how different social aspects are tackled by technology, then everyone was interested in what we were doing.

We were recognized as a disruptor. What was very specific about Transformify is that we are an online company. We don’t have an office. Everyone is working from co-working offices around the world. We have a very big pool of freelancers who we work with. We give them tasks the moment we have something for them, which utilizes 100% of their time and cuts our cost. You never have idle time.

This was a new concept back in 2015. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, it was a new concept for a company to have no offices. A common question was, “Where is your office?” When you tell them that we don’t have an office and we don’t want to have an office, it was not an easy journey to have people believe that business can be done in this way. We are not the only one. You may have heard of GitLab which is a $2.5 billion company.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale: Lily Stoyanov, CEO of Transformify
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