Irina Georgieva of Enterprise League tells us about helping more entrepreneurs get access to a pool of business opportunities and companies to collaborate.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Irina Georgieva: We are all doing well, thankfully. It has been a difficult year for all of us; however, we must be strong and focus on the things that we can control.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Enterprise League.
Irina Georgieva: I was born in Macedonia during the transition from Communist Yugoslavia. After the Communist regime collapsed, criminal privatization of many state-owned companies took place, leading to thousands of job losses. During these tough times, my father took the risk to start his own company, adopted the latest tech innovations, and started the first TV broadband operator in the country.
Throughout the past 25 years, I have been a prime witness to the struggles he was facing by running a private business. I grew up barely seeing him, as he was always away on business trips and working late hours. This truly showed me the struggle and dedication it takes to start and run your own business. Moreover, it exposed the cruel reality that the opportunities are privileged to a handful of people with key connections.
Upon graduating from business school, I once again experienced these challenges whilst working in a few small companies. Essentially if you lack a business savvy and connected personal network, your access to valuable business partners, suppliers, and other business resources and collaborations is extremely limited.
That is when I set out to create Enterprise League to help more entrepreneurs get access to a pool of business opportunities and companies to collaborate with quickly and easily, without being ripped off by intermediaries.
How does Enterprise League innovate?
Irina Georgieva: Enterprise League is a tech startup that bridges the collaboration gap SMEs and startups face. Companies publish smart business deals (buy and sell) and directly target their preferred B2B client category.
Powered by a smart search algorithm, companies get recommended business opportunities tailored to their preferences. SMEs and Startups regularly access a pool of thousands of business deals, collaborations, and clients without investing a ton in advertising or networking. Companies use the platform to take back control over their finances and operations.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Irina Georgieva: The pandemic opened a lot of opportunities for online businesses. This actually worked in Enterprise League’s favour, especially in terms of customer acquisition.
During the course of 2020, around 100k companies registered on Enterprise League. Moreover, these companies have been actively publishing deals and sending business proposals. By January 2021, 74% of all registered companies have reduced or completely eliminated a business dependency like relying on middlemen, limited clients, weak supply chain, etc.
Another impressive statistic we have gathered is that 59% of companies on Enterprise League have managed to increase their sales in the course of 3 months. As business conditions continue to be threatened by lockdowns and lack of economic activity, we are forecasting the 2020 user growth to continue with the same rate.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Irina Georgieva: We have had to optimize our human resources to prioritize projects that would accommodate the exponential user growth.
This change in prioritization affected our hiring strategy. Now we needed to focus on onboarding people with different skills. To be able to accommodate these new hires, we had to make some shifts and ended up not renewing the contracts of two employees who were on temporary contracts.
It has been difficult to make such sudden changes in our strategy path but very necessary as a startup. We are continuously learning that every resource is extremely valuable and must be maximized to the fullest in order to get as much value out of it.
Letting go of employees is a tough decision but an imminent one. Once you realize you have made a hiring mistake, it is important to amend it as soon as possible. Having an unproductive and ill-performing employee risks to influence the remainder of your team as well as undermine their hard work and dedication.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Irina Georgieva: We are actively working on our customer relationships and extremely value our user’s experiences and opinions.
That’s why it is important to optimize the way we gather and analyze user feedback. When creating our feedback forms, we focus on addressing common concerns and misunderstandings that we have heard about from our support channels. We often opt for the personal approach with our users and are in regular contact with them through social media and email.
Additionally, to gathering feedback, it is important for us to undertake usability testing on new features we are releasing. It’s key for us to understand how companies are interacting with the platform’s interface and how they perceive the features, whether everything is clear and easy to use.
The tool for usability monitoring we are using is Mouseflow, which gives us heat maps that reveal potential bottlenecks on the platform. Combining the usability report with the feedback enables us to identify and work on improvements.
Finally, we are continuing to expand our CRM system, and the next step for us is introducing live chat on the platform and our website. This will enable us to have instant customer services, which will make support more accessible to our users.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Irina Georgieva: We haven’t benefited from any government grants during the pandemic.
Your final thoughts?
Irina Georgieva: We are working hard to be able to continuously bring business solutions to SMEs and startups around the world. Companies need to have fair access to business opportunities, and it is a mission we are extremely passionate about.
Each time we hear about a successful collaboration that happened through Enterprise League, we are reminded that all the hustle is totally worth it. Companies have the power to take control of their own business and eliminate their business dependencies.