SaaS Founder Interview with Joe Sinkwitz – How to use past experience to build out your SaaS
Using past experience to build out your SaaS startup:
Five Takeaways from Intellifluence Co-Founder Joe Sinkwitz SaaS Founder Show Interview
Influencer and Affiliate Marketing in the SaaS Space
Influencer (affiliate) marketing has become a crucial marketing strategy for businesses around the world. It allows companies to leverage influencers’ reach and consumer trust to spread key messages and define their brand voice.
Intellifluence is an influencer marketing company that is a warm network, meaning influencers sign up on their platform, and brands can simply choose the one that aligns with their needs best and form a partnership. Intellifluence is an end-to-end platform that gives brands all they need in one place, helping connect brands to more than 100,000 influencers across niches.
Andy Halko, Insivia’s CEO, sat down with Joe Sinkwitz, the co-founder and CEO of Intellifluence, for a chat covering everything from Intellifluence’s origins to how the team developed its customer base. Below are the five key takeaways from Sinkwitz’s 33-minute conversation with Halko.
#1. Find Your Market Fit and Build Out From There
Sinkwitz observed the massive ever-growing power and popularity of influencers online after working on a separate project. After ideating and utilizing his software background, he built an influencer marketing platform called Intellifluence. His first and most important step became identifying a market fit.
“I wanted to figure out, [how to] focus on small brands and small influencers. And you know the first couple of iterations completely flopped until we found that market fit,” states Sinkwitz.
By narrowing its scope, Intellifluence found its opportunity to evolve within its target market. “That’s sort of forced our way into building what became a closed network. And that just sort of took off from there,” expressed Sinkwitz. “So I think we sort of figured that part out in the first six months or so. And then it’s just been a matter of increased functionality, increased number of users on the platform, just kind of constantly iterating on that.”
#2. Building a Marketplace Requires Significant Outreach
For Intellifluence to work, it needs both brands and influencers to sign up. Halko was interested in the process of developing both sides of the platform and the approach to define consistency in utilizing affiliate marketing.
To Sinkwitz, the key way to manage this was significant outreach.
“We’re fairly prolific in our ability to do outreach stuff. We were very aggressive in the early days on Facebook and Amazon groups and whatnot, just to pull in people,” says Sinkwitz.
All of this is dependent on the system functioning effectively.
“You build the system, understanding how those user roles are going to interact,” states Sinkwitz. “We have multiple roles. We have influencers, brands, talent agencies, and administrators, so we had to make sure everything does what it needs to do. And then, you know, open the fire hose.”
#3. Test Out Different Marketing Strategies to Find the Best Option
Sinkwitz and Intellifluence needed a way to drum up business for their new platform, so they turned to several marketing methods. Sinkwitz used his experience running a marketing agency to help find their ideal strategy.
“What will really matter is whether you’ve been in the industry previously, and so you have a built-up network where you’re at least tangential; SEO is somewhat tangential to influencer marketing,” noted Sinkwitz. “So we were able to rely on the network built there.”
“I’d recommend testing, test everything you possibly can. Like right now, we don’t do a whole lot of paid ads, just because it doesn’t back out the same,” observed Sinkwitz. “And the ROI is so much cleaner for us doing LinkedIn, heavy, aggressive usage. So that’s where we’re currently at.”
#4. A Free Subscription Plan in a Helpful Way to Combat Churn
Churn is a natural problem that all new and old ventures battle. Inevitably, you won’t be able to retain all customers, but having a significant customer retention strategy will help small businesses ensure that churn isn’t an unrecoverable setback. Sinkwitz says that a free subscription model is one of Intellifluence’s biggest strategies to combat churn.
The most impactful decision Sinkwitz made was implementing a free subscription model.
“…When people are done with their paid plan, they sort of drop down to the free plan, their information is retained, and they can’t really do any campaigns yet. But when they’re ready, again, they can easily go back and upgrade,” he said.
A free tiered model helps keep the door open with customers. “It allows you to have a way to stay in touch with everyone far easier,” notes Sinkwitz.
“Because there’s still a current subscriber, you’re just not on the plan you prefer to be on. And to sort of tease them, give them incentives and reasons that hey, you know, this new stuff is occurring.”
#5. Don’t be Over-Reliant on a Single Source
Entrepreneurship is a long journey, and just about every entrepreneur will take their lumps. As a serial entrepreneur himself, Halko asked Sinkwitz what his biggest takeaways from this journey of inevitable setbacks have been.
Sinkwitz states that his biggest mistake was over-reliance on a single source after a Google update threw his previous company into turmoil. “I have all these employees, and we were so reliant on a single source of traffic that it just blew up,” observed Sinkwitz. “And so that was really the big mistake was understanding, like, you never want to be reliant upon a single source, whether it’s an agency working with one client, whether it’s SaaS with one large enterprise client, you have to have diversified flow.”
These lessons stuck with Sinkwitz. “That was definitely a mistake that I had to learn the very hard way in order to do what we’re currently doing,” he said.
“Now, if I hadn’t gone through that, there’s no way that I would have built this the way that we built it to be platform agnostic and to try to focus on so many different channels.”
What Sinkwitz and many other SaaS founders demonstrate is finding a solution in a sea of uncertainty. With Intellifluence, Sinkwitz recognized the lack of attention in a rapidly growing space with consistent demand and opportunity.
This is only scratching the surface of the conversation between Halko and Sinkwitz. They covered everything from pricing to implementing a vision through hiring. If you want to hear more, check out the full interview here between Insivia’s Andy Halko and Intellifluence’s Joe Sinkwitz.