Did you hear the news? The #Oneof11 eCommerce SaaS startup Metrilo was acquired by the French company Sendinblue, one of the world’s fastest-growing digital marketing platforms. The deal marks the first exit of Eleven Capital.
In order to learn more about the progress of Metrilo so far, how it all started, and the lessons learned throughout the journey, we talked to Murry Ivanoff, CEO and founder of the company.
The inception of the product and Metrilo’s early days
Metrilo is an all-in-one analytics CRM, and email marketing platform, which gives online merchants all the insights they need to make data-driven marketing decisions, while the CRM and email functionalities help them act on that information.
The idea for Metrilo was born 7 years ago, shortly after Murry returned to Bulgaria from Silicon Valley. He and Peter Iliev founded the company with the sole mission of helping eCommerce merchants grow based on their own data, which they weren’t utilizing at that point.
Back in 2014 analytics software such as Mixpanel and Kissmetrics were on the rise – enabling companies to measure funnels, metrics, and every KPI that matters to their business. However, there were two major challenges present, Murry points out.
“First – analytics can only give you the answers if you know the questions you want to ask. Most companies do not really have assumptions about their business or the specific KPIs that they would like to improve. And second – even if you know what you need, the integration process was long and painful.”
Murry and Peter accepted these two challenges and focused on building a product that could be integrated with one click and could give you the answers AND the questions that you should be asking about your business.
Murry’s goal when founding the company was to build the ultimate plug-and-play analytics solution for eCommerce SMBs and to help them compete with the “Amazons” in their fields. However, soon after the start of Metrilo, the customers started requesting to be able to act on the data and segmentation it was providing them with. So, the company’s vision grew into being a general growth platform for eCommerce brands – providing not only analytics but also active engagement tools like email campaigns and marketing automation. Today, Murry is positive that Metrilo’s team has managed to achieve this vision in the past 7 years.
And although the meaning of the word “success” usually changes for startup founders with the growth of their companies, for Murry the meaning of success back in 2014 and now stays the same. “Success meant watching our customers spend hours every day in our product and seeing them succeed in turning their venture around. This hasn’t changed, we were just doing it at a larger scale every year”, he shares. Metrilo’s team decided to partner with Sendinblue precisely because they saw it as an opportunity to have a massive impact on the SMBs out there compared to continuing to run as an independent company that’s a smaller player on the market.
The challenging journey and the stressful New Year’s Eve of 2020
We know that the road to success doesn’t have shortcuts. So Metrilo’s team had to go through some obstacles and challenges before reaching the big milestone of partnering up with Sendinblue. Murry vividly remembers one of them.
“Holiday season 2020, the date was December 31st. Both Bulgarian company cards which we were using had weekly spending limits, which we quickly reached because of software tools and services renewals. We were using the same payment method for our email delivery bill to a large US corporation, so the payment just didn’t go through. We had an agreement for them to wait until the first week of 2021 to re-try the payment and it would go through without any issues. However, their system shut down our account automatically on December 31st and more than 1000 companies around the world couldn’t send their New Year’s Eve campaigns. I pretty much spent the whole New Year’s Eve trying to figure out a solution and enable our customers to get access to the service they are paying us for. Of course, nobody could resolve our issue as all decision-makers in these suppliers were on a holiday. Luckily, I managed to find the home phone number of the CEO of this really, really, really large US company and after talking to his wife I managed to get a hold of him. Yes, he did resolve the issue but as you can guess he was extremely angry at me for calling him home. Our customers, luckily, barely noticed as New Year’s Eve had only passed for approximately 10% of our customers at that point.”
It’s all about the customers, your team and the partners around you. Lessons learned
Yes, such stressful situations happen to founders but the tricky part is how to get out of them successfully and to remember the moral of the story. Murry’s unforgettable New Year’s Eve story leads us to the lessons learned by overcoming the challenges along the way. And here are the three most important ones he learned since founding the company:
- First – your team is the most important asset that you have. Making sure everybody is on the same page and chasing the same mission is vital.
- Second – it is all about the customer and making sure everybody understands who our customers are and what are the problems we’re trying to solve for them.
- And third – you can’t succeed without having partners around you – being investors, agencies, other companies or whatever fits your mission.
Thanks to these lessons learned, as of 2021, Metrilo’s customers look like this:
However, the biggest challenge for Murry and the team is realising and accepting that they won’t be able to make a serious dent in the universe by themselves and deciding to join forces with a bigger company to get where they want to be. Which leads us to Metrilo’s exit journey.
The acquisition itself wasn’t something coincidental or a matter of luck. The two companies have met before a couple of times, just like they do with many other players on the market. Sendinblue is not the first company that Metrilo’s team talked to in the past few years regarding a strategic partnership. However, it is the one that has made the most sense for them since they view the market in a similar way and have a common mission – giving the SME founders all the tools they need to succeed in competing with the big guys in their respective fields. At first, the two teams had conversations about a possible common feature but during these talks, they realized that they were on the same page and that their vision and goals align perfectly.
From this point, „the exit journey“ of Metrilo has been pretty straightforward. “Sendinblue wanted to focus on eCommerce for their existing and new customers and we have a really good eCommerce solution. The process was extremely straightforward and easy, which shows that we were all on the same page since starting the M&A process,” Murry shares. Metrilo has managed to close the deal within less than 3 months once they had reached the decision that this acquisition is the right way to go.
Now that the exit is already a fact, it will bring Metrilo access to more businesses with a factor of hundreds, which is extremely exciting for the team. “Other than a bigger market opportunity, Sendinblue is helping us with lots of expertise and resources, which are really helping us achieve what we always wanted to,” adds Murry. The team is currently implementing Metrilo within the Sendinblue product and is aiming to launch a 360-degree solution in 2022.