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Bootstrapping by Piggybacking from Romania: 123FormBuilder CEO Florin Cornianu (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Jun 4th 2020

Sramana Mitra: What percentage of your business is coming from these app marketplaces?

Florin Cornianu: A big part right now depends on partners.

Sramana Mitra: What percentage?

Florin Cornianu: Half.

Sramana Mitra: Of these, which is the most successful app marketplace that you’re getting business out of?

Florin Cornianu: Wix by far.

Sramana Mitra: In working on these marketplace partnerships, is there anything else that you learned that is relevant or that can be passed on to people? We have a whole category of technique called Bootstrapping by Piggybacking, which is what you’re talking about.

You piggyback on top of Wix and Salesforce. That has worked well for you. We recommend that strategy. Tell me more about what else we can learn. 

Florin Cornianu: We have a different degree of success with each partner. My key takeaway would be that it’s important to be lifted to the top of your category. You have to fight for that.

Sramana Mitra: How do you do that?

Florin Cornianu: Some partners handpick applications. You need to build a good relationship. Some don’t but you need to have a good image there to have a lot of positive reviews. Lastly, you have to pay if possible. 

Sramana Mitra: So they charge you to be listed on top?

Florin Cornianu: Some do. Salesforce does. Wix and Weebly don’t. One other lesson was that for the WordPress ecosystem, you need some influencers. Otherwise, you don’t generate that much revenue, no matter how much you try.

Sramana Mitra: Did you manage to get one?

Florin Cornianu: We didn’t.

Sramana Mitra: How far did this strategy get you? What revenue level were you able to get to with this strategy?

Florin Cornianu: We got closer to $6 million in revenue. The piggybacking strategy, as you name it, helped us a lot along the way. It became limited by the partner’s growth. For instance, some of the partners stopped growing. The marketplace became too crowded. We didn’t manage to grow that much.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do then?

Florin Cornianu: We diversified. We moved towards enterprise. In the past two to three years, we started going towards larger clients. Some of them came organically. We looked for some of them. One key partner for us is Salesforce. That opened the door to larger clients.

Sramana Mitra: It’s still bootstrapping by piggybacking.

Florin Cornianu: Yes, but it’s not the only strategy. We developed a HIPAA-compliant plan. Collecting data is quite big in the US. This went hand-in-hand with the form-building and data collection approach. 

Sramana Mitra: So you have a large customer base in healthcare?

Florin Cornianu: We have. But the enterprise is still not conquered. We still have work to do there.

Sramana Mitra: You’ve chosen to do HIPAA. Something triggered that. What was that trigger?

Florin Cornianu: The client came and asked us if we had something like that. 

Sramana Mitra: How are you pricing?

Florin Cornianu: We have a higher price tag. We start with $200 a license. 

Sramana Mitra: You are currently at about $6 million?

Florin Cornianu: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: You’ve just raised a million in financing. No more, right?

Florin Cornianu: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What’s the next phase? Is enterprise your primary focus?

Florin Cornianu: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Awesome story. Is there anything else you want to share?

Florin Cornianu: Because of COVID, everybody should be going towards digitization and automating workflows within their companies. The products in this space will become very popular.

Sramana Mitra: Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed speaking with you. You are still based in Romania?

Florin Cornianu: At some point, we might open an office in the US.

Sramana Mitra: The 80 people are mostly in Romania

Florin Cornianu: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: How about the customer base?

Florin Cornianu: Most are from the US.

Sramana Mitra: Fabulous! Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping by Piggybacking from Romania: 123FormBuilder CEO Florin Cornianu
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