First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Thank you, It’s a tough time for all since the only way to fight the pandemic is escaping it. Words of gratitude pour out for all the doctors and other essential workers who are risking their lives for us. As a team leader and a family man, I ensure my family and team are safe by taking all necessary precautions.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Clearout.
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: I am a software engineer with more than 20 years of experience building and innovating world-class softwares and applications. A major part of my experience goes with early-stage startups where we start from scratch then build and innovate, keeping in mind the user-needs and new techniques.
In solving sales & marketing problems through technologies, I found that the existing tools are not solving the core problem with cost-effectiveness or elegant for non-techie users like sales and marketers to use. Clearout + ClearoutPhone are one such innovative products to reach the target audience using email and phone channels more elegantly and effectively.
How did you come up with the idea of Clearout?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Sales and purchase are the main components of any monetary cycle. To increase the sale and be ahead in the competition is what every company, every individual, whether big or small, requires. For this, they need the right marketing techniques.
So my focus was to improve the marketing technique, which is known to all and used by all – Emails. Some people might not know it, but emails have been in use for marketing since the early ’90s and till today have the potential to fetch an ROI up to 4400%, which is more than any other marketing platform!
Though email marketing has a wide scope, it comes with rules without which the desired results might not be there. One of them verifies the email addresses before sending out any emails as sending emails to non-existent email addresses can turn your campaign into a failure and can even get you blacklisted. That is how Clearout came into the picture.
There were already quite a few email verifiers existing in the market before Clearout, then why another one?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Yes, there were. With my research and analysis, I found that the existing tools were not solving the core issues with cost-efficiency, nor were they easy to use for a non-techie.
If I put it in my words, Clearout fulfills the needs of all kinds of users. Let me give you a few examples
– The emails can be verified in bulk, real-time, or by using quick validation, as the user needs.
– Together with 98%+ accuracy, we provide a section of guaranteed deliverables too. All users may not understand the in-depth reasons and meaning of disposables, catch-alls, honey-pots, and bounce rates and want to avoid all kinds of risk to their campaigns, which can be done using guaranteed deliverables.
– A user can link the ESP & CRM in use with Clearout to easily import and export data and avoid the trouble of upload & download
– Users who prefer the use of Google Sheets for storing data instead of expensive CRM’s can verify the data directly on Google Sheets. By the way, this is one of our exclusive features.
– We support white label solution with on-premise deployment
– Creation of team accounts for sub-letting of credits to others
Of course, I cannot cover all the points here, so I welcome the audience to check our features and prices on our website and compare them with other tools.
How does Clearout innovate?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: We keep ourselves in sync with the new marketing trends and consistently communicate with existing users and prospects to understand what they expect further to make their job easier. One example we are proud of is Clearout for Google Sheets Add-on. A user casually informed my team that even copying, pasting, verifying, and downloading can be difficult when running low on time. That is when the idea for Clearout Add-on for Google Sheets clicked.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: I was very much concerned about our team’s safety during this full period of the pandemic, but we could not let the business slow down, so we all opted for a work from home option from the very initial phase of the Corona outbreak in March 2020. Since then, every member of the team has been working remotely. Though it took some time to grow accustomed to the changing scenario, my whole team is now actively involved in keeping Clearout and their health on top. We have increased our revenue up to 3X in the last few months.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Being the founder, in the initial phase, I had to make some tough decisions keeping the growth of the product as a priority. A startup demands full-commitment from each member, and I made the team, including those who were ready to do so.
Now, we are a 12 member team and come with a mix of skills. Everyone knows his/her responsibilities, which makes it easy to self-measure the value of what each team member brings to the table.
As far as lessons are concerned, few are common like hire slow, fire fast, but I have realized that let the team members be the judge of their productivity, come up with their strong & weak points, and try to fulfill the gaps as fast as possible. This keeps them self-motivated, and the results are visible in the productivity they bring.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: There is no de-stress mantra that I follow, but do daily morning exercise, let out through walking, jogging, swimming, listening to music.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Clearout’s major competitors are platforms like Neverbounce, Zerobounce, Kickbox, and a few more. It was certainly difficult to survive/invade into a market that already had a few big players involved. But everything comes back to the quality of product, service level, and an affordable pricing structure after good market research on a regular basis, which can always make you not only enter into the game but also to be at a competitive level with your peers and we are in the game already.
Your final thoughts?
Gnanaprakash Rathinam: Our driving factor – Focus on solving customer problems and not the competitors.
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