INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
We Stayed Connected Despite the Difficult Times
How Radek Kaczynski of Bouncer is producing the most intelligent email verification solution in the form of Backend-as-a-Service.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Radek Kaczynski: Thank you very much for asking! We are all well. Fortunately, the majority of our elders in our family have already been vaccinated, and youngsters went through CoVid-19 relatively mild.
It wasn’t the most pleasant infection, I must say, but considering possible scenarios, we were very lucky.
Some of our friends and family members got affected economically, but again considering the global situation, I feel we were very fortunate.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bouncer.
Radek Kaczynski: I was born and raised in a valley in southwest Poland, but after graduating from high school, I decided to move to Wroclaw (a gorgeous and vivid city) to study electronics and computer science. During that time, I tried different jobs until I got an internship at Volvo Group as a software developer.
While still studying, I soon started working full time and stayed there for over a decade… working in various technical and leadership roles both in Europe and in the U.S. I, especially during my service in the U.S., started to feel some kind of an itch… First started to involve myself in some intrapreneurship and innovation-related activities, but it wasn’t enough.
So while being on vacation in Poland, during breakfast with my friend, we were talking about the communication of human beings being interrupted by incorrect email addresses, and at that very moment, I made a decision I’m moving back to Poland to start Bouncer.
How does Bouncer innovate?
Radek Kaczynski: I believe that innovation, change, and continuous improvement are baked into our DNA and culture. We were fortunate enough to found Bouncer with the help of European Union funds dedicated to the Innovation and Research and Development project.
On the one hand, we had to combine the R&D project’s requirements, and on the other hand, stay lean and be able to learn and adapt. Thus my first goal was to create a learning holacratic organization that will be capable of learning fast. We incorporated a couple of tools from Management 3.0, Value Proposition Design, and Business Model Generation, but most importantly, we’ve been trying to have as much dialog with our customers as possible.
And today… we actually don’t feel we innovate cause instead of doing hackathons or innovation labs… we are just doing what we do the best… learn and adapt.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Radek Kaczynski: A year ago, when the first major wave of pandemic hit the globe, like everyone else, we did not know how it will affect us… but we felt that we might be affected less than other companies, as people may start shifting their relationships toward online. And as email is a great communication channel we believed that also a need for our services may be bigger than ever before.
Considering that, and also the fact that we wanted to support other companies, we made a bold decision to cut our margins and offer 50% off to everyone affected by the pandemic. In a way, rollback to prices we started with in the very beginnings of Bouncer.
We wanted to enable businesses to keep their dialog via email in a secure way and give equal opportunities to those that were new to email marketing.
A bit later on, when we felt that our sustainability will not be affected as much as others, we decided to skip the “50% off part” and just adjust our pricing, so our services are more affordable.
We hope that this small contribution of ours during a difficult situation helps some businesses a bit.
Finance-wise, despite lower margins, we were able to grow our business 3 times during a year, with a steady double-digit month-to-month growth.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Radek Kaczynski: We were really fortunate not to have to make such difficult choices this time.
The main decision we made was to put on hold any new hires and put a little more on the shoulders of the current team.
We don’t know, and probably won’t know ever, if we would grow faster without cutting the margins and be able to grow the team, but I feel it was the right decision, mostly caused by social responsibility and will to help others.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Radek Kaczynski: n order to keep the quality of our product and services, while having the same team but a much larger amount of customers we help, we needed to find some efficiencies. And a tool that helped us a lot was User.com. With the help of this tool, we were able to implement many practices around the customer journey, onboarding, and customer happiness that eventually let us help much more businesses with the same time, energy and talent.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Radek Kaczynski: As we maintained the growth despite the difficult situation, we did not have to ask for any governmental help, hoping that such support will be sent to those that are truly in need.
Your final thoughts?
Radek Kaczynski: What really inspired me is that, even though we all stayed at home past year and had to deal with many challenges, we are more connected. We got more connected with our customers, our partners, and within our team. The amount of good energy from all human beings we interacted with was enormous. Tough times do connect, but I really hope it will stay this way long after the pandemic is over.
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