Posted on
September 4, 2023

From a simple idea to market disruption

Bethany Stachenfeld
Co-Founder @ Sendspark
From a simple idea to market disruption

We talked with Bethany, the founder of Sendspark, who took a simple idea and turned it into a game-changer for sales and marketing teams. Discover how she is committed not only to building an outstanding product but also to perfecting Sendsparks internal processes. Bethany shares the company's unique approach to conducting growth experiments, generously providing her template, and also explains how they balance bigger projects with quick wins. Insights that will definitely reshape your approach to some of your business flows.

What is your company doing and how did you get started?

At Sendspark, we've developed a video platform tailor-made for sales and marketing teams. Our platform empowers these teams to effortlessly create personalised videos at scale. The idea for Sendspark began when my co-founder and I were working at another startup, which had about 15 employees. We were on a mission to connect with potential customers, and that's when we stumbled upon the power of video.

Video offered an effective way to break through the noise, build personal connections, and convey our message effectively. However, the existing screen recording tools and video platforms like Loom were not ideal for sales and marketing. These tools were primarily designed for one-on-one interactions, which didn't fit our needs.

Especially when we considered popular tools like HubSpot, Outreach, and SalesLoft, which heavily relied on email, using video felt like a challenge. Every interaction required extensive customization, making it inefficient for our team. As a result, video content creation was limited to special occasions and couldn't be integrated as a consistent communication channel.

To address this challenge, we founded Sendspark as a video platform tailored specifically for sales and marketing teams. Our platform allows you to create videos in a similar manner to other platforms, but with an added layer of personalization. You can customise various elements of the video, such as adding the viewer's name or logo, using their website background, or incorporating other website pages. This way, you can automatically personalise videos at scale and incorporate them into your outreach efforts, HubSpot automated emails, or even send them directly from platforms like Gmail or LinkedIn.

To validate our concept, We engaged with people in our target market, asking them about their experiences and challenges with video. The consistent feedback we received was that while video worked, the process of creating personalised videos was time-consuming and cumbersome.

We further refined our understanding of the issue by talking extensively to individuals in our target market. This involved countless conversations conducted both online and in-person. I even visited people's offices, engaged with startup communities, and explored co-working spaces where professionals within our target market were active. These conversations were instrumental in shaping our understanding of the problem. And eventually led to building Sendspark. 

How do you identify and prioritise new growth channels?

When it comes to identifying and prioritising new growth channels at Sendspark, we have a two-fold approach to find and prioritise new ways to grow. We combine trying out new, smaller-scale ideas with looking at options that could become big in the future. It's a way to balance immediate results with long-term potential

Every week, we run experiments with a specific focus. At first, we talk to just a few people in a new industry to gather their thoughts and problems. This helps us get feedback and understand what we can offer.

Imagine it like a quick test of ideas. We start with an idea and talk to industry experts to see if it makes sense. We take careful notes on what we learn about the problems and solutions. Once we have enough insights, and feel confident that our solution could work for this industry, we move to more automated methods - using videos to show both the problem and our solution.

While many focus on showing solutions in videos, we've seen that highlighting the problem can be just as effective. We want to connect with our audience by addressing the issues and challenges they face personally.

One great thing about our approach is that it's cost-effective. Email is our main way of reaching out because it's affordable and can be used on a large scale. Sometimes we try ads, but email outreach is our main strategy.

In summary, our approach to finding and prioritising new growth strategies mixes experimentation with scalability. We start by talking one-on-one with people to deeply understand our audience, and then we shift to bigger methods like email outreach. This helps us keep improving our strategies and provide value to our customers.

You can also read more about our growth experiment here or take a look at our tracking spreadsheet here.

What are your top skills as a founder? How do you work on it?

As a founder, one of the key strengths I bring to Sendspark is my passion for process automation. I thrive on finding highly efficient ways to do things and scale operations. When you take a close look at our product, it's all about helping our customers stop creating videos manually. While there's a time and place for manual video creation, the goal is to eliminate unnecessary repetition. If you find yourself repeating the same tasks, you're essentially doing something inefficiently. We aim to make the process more scalable and streamlined.

Interestingly, these efficiency-focused perspectives are often found in either technical roles or among salespeople. It might seem like salespeople should naturally understand the sales market better than marketers, but marketers play a significant role in empowering sales teams. They provide marketing collateral, set up marketing automation, and enable sales professionals to perform at their best. So, in a sense, we're equipping salespeople with the marketing tools, automation, and capabilities they need. This is a unique approach that sets Sendspark apart, as we view our platform through a different lens than if it were solely designed by salespeople for salespeople. 

On the other side of the coin, my co-founder brings a different set of skills to the table. He's a talented designer, and his expertise lies in creating a user-friendly platform. Sometimes, when people first see Sendspark, they might think, "Where are all the features?" It appears deceptively simple at first glance. However, as users start engaging with it, they quickly realise that everything they need is right there, presented in an easy-to-use manner.

Our design philosophy revolves around simplicity. We believe that if an app is cluttered with too many features, it can be overwhelming and users may not fully grasp how to utilize it effectively. Therefore, the combination of our skills and perspectives has allowed us to build a seamlessly intuitive platform that empowers sales representatives to scale themselves.

What is that one opportunity that had a significant impact on your company's growth or direction?

There have been numerous pivotal moments in our journey, but one recent opportunity that significantly impacted our company's growth and direction was a fundamental shift in how we approach internal projects to accelerate innovation.

In the startup world and in business overall, it's really important to keep improving based on what you've learned. But there's a tricky part – if you're constantly making small changes, it's like climbing a hill. You might reach the top and feel good, but there could be a bigger mountain right next to it. Our idea stresses the need to balance small improvements with going after bigger opportunities.

We realised the significance of this balance, especially in development and growth experiments in marketing. Our approach was to create two streams. One stream focused on substantial projects, while the other tackled what we call "quick wins" and iterative improvements.

This change has had a huge impact. When you focus only on big projects, you might miss quick, easy improvements. But if you're constantly making small changes, you might not see the big opportunities. So, we treat these as two separate tracks. Even if one team spends three months on a big project, which can feel like a long time in a fast-paced startup, the other team keeps finding and fixing small issues and spotting new chances for improvement. 

This change in mindset and approach, which we implemented around January or February of this year, has expedited our progress at lightning speed. It's about achieving a balance—making incremental improvements while also seizing opportunities.

For instance, we're working on a project that's not officially out yet but already in use. It lets you make dynamic video backgrounds, where you can put one video on any website background. Creating this feature took three months of hard work because it was a completely new way of doing things compared to how we used to make videos. While this project was going on, a small team of three people was entirely focused on it. At the same time, the rest of our team was busy with fast growth, getting quick feedback, and making lots of other improvements, like adding new features.

Every day, we aimed to release something, even if it was a minor bug fix or a tiny improvement. This approach allowed us to ensure the substantial project remained on track and wasn't hindered by other urgent matters. Most importantly, we didn't neglect the quick wins. Balancing these priorities was crucial because it ensured we could provide responsive customer support and simultaneously deliver on our substantial project.

In essence, this change in our approach has not only accelerated our development but has also allowed us to respond swiftly to customer feedback while working on larger, game-changing features. It's about finding the right balance between making small daily improvements and pursuing significant innovations.

What part of your business are you most proud of? Why?

What makes me most proud about our business is our customer successes. We're in the business of creating something that people can use to achieve great results, and that's what drives us. 

Just yesterday, I was watching a video interview our marketer conducted with a company called Warmly, which is doing some really cool things. They've only started using Sendspark recently, and the results have been remarkable. They managed to book 30+ meetings in just a short period of time by leveraging our platform. What's even more impressive is how they've built video content in a highly scalable way.

Warmly has broken down the barriers when it comes to meetings. They've used Sendspark to create videos that showcase their unique value propositions for their customers. These videos seamlessly integrate into their automation workflows, so their customers receive them through automated emails. It's a solution that's infinitely scalable.

Additionally, we've received feedback from numerous other customers who have achieved remarkable results, whether it's through personalised videos on LinkedIn or other platforms, or by responding to specific questions. Witnessing how our customers have used the power of our platform to achieve such scalability and outstanding outcomes is incredibly gratifying.

It's the culmination of everything coming together—the appreciation for our platform, the tangible results our customers are achieving, their enthusiastic use of our unique features, and the time-saving benefits they're experiencing. It's truly fulfilling to see our customers succeed because, at the end of the day, that's what our mission is all about. We want to empower people to excel, and when we see that happening, it validates the core purpose of everything we do.

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