Just how do you reach those first 1,000 customers? It’s one of many burning questions for newly conceived startups in the early stages of development.

Because it’s all well and good having a great product but it’s simply not enough. You also have to generate sales leads and convert them into paying customers. And then hold on to those customers while also reeling in new ones.

Straightforward, right? In theory yes, however, it can be anything but in practice. So, how is it all done? We’re glad you asked. Because in this week’s Startup life Q&A series, we sit down and chew the fat with Kalia Kampouri, Customer Success Manager at Yodeck.

Kallia Kampouri

Yodeck is a cloud-based digital signage platform that helps you design and schedule easily from the web. And it’s one of the leading startups in our portfolio here at Starttech.

Q1: So Kalia, how would you briefly describe startup life? Or for want of a better expression, what’s it like working at a software startup like Yodeck?
Well, it’s like swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Carribean 😃. I guess I feel a bit more creative than expected right now! In other words, it’s refreshing, enjoyable, teaches you new things every day. Including how to avoid “sharks” and other related dangers.

Q2: Your role is Customer Success Manager. What’s your definition of success and how do you avoid the dreaded word – failure?
You are right, failure is a dreaded word, whereas it shouldn’t be. When you fail in something, you learn how to avoid the “bad steps” next time. There’s no success without trial and error. My definition of success is “Never giving up and staying focused to your goals”.

Q3: What do you enjoy most about your role?
I guess what I really enjoy most, besides getting in touch with people from all around the globe is being surrounded by developers and learning new stuff all the time! Sounds a bit weird but it’s not!

Q4: Great. Now, how about pain points and challenges. What makes your life difficult at work?
What I find challenging at work is to grasp the technical nature of everything that takes place. I might be responsible mostly for the business part of the service, however I believe that in order for me to become more efficient I need to understand the technicalities involved.

Q5: When you’re not keeping Yodeck’s customers super happy and reeling in new ones, what do you like to do?
Playing music. I have always loved music (listening and playing) since I was a little kid and I believe it will always be there for me under all circumstances in life. I like to play the piano and the kanun.

Q6: What do you think are the key factors behind Yodeck’s success in its relatively short life so far?
Flexibility, intuitiveness of the product, extremely hard work before launching to the market (with anything this could possibly involve), and a dynamic team.

Q7: Which tools do you use daily and do you have any secret tips and tricks, which boost your success rate?
I actually use several tools daily. Pipedrive, crm, uservoice and Yconsole are the main ones. I try to boost our success rate gets by prioritizing tasks and good time management.

Q8: Are there any other productivity and/or work-life balance tips and hacks you’d like to share with us?
Loving and caring for what you do is perhaps the most important factor affecting productivity and the balance between personal life and work.

Q9: What would you say to anyone considering getting involved in a startup?
I would definitely talk them into taking the opportunity to dive in and learn to “swim” with their team. For someone who aspires to a better corporate future, and wants to actively contribute to the creation of new establishments, it is a super chance!

Q10: Intriguing stuff. Now, time for a few quick fire questions. What’s the last message you sent on Slack (we want the truth – Ed)?
And the truth you will get! 😃 Well, the very last message I just sent to a colleague of mine was about a custom vacationing icon (Christmas tree) that he accidentally left unchanged. Since it’s still summer I was just making fun of him!

Q11: What’s your favourite meme or gif to use in communications with colleagues and the most common situations you use it?
Grumpy cat, and we use it in the very common situation where a customer doesn’t understand something no matter how many times we have repeatedly explained it to them!

Q12: Ice cream or chocolate cake?
Chocolate cake of course!

Q13: What are your top work-related book recommendations?
An excellent book suggested by our CEO, called “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and among others, “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Q14: If you could start your own business/startup, what would it be (it’s OK, you can tell me I won’t steal it or tell anyone about it – Ed)?
Since I am also involved in music, I believe it would be something revolving around that. An application that could perhaps automatically convert played music to tablatures (written form of reading the actual notes). As far as I am aware, such an app is not available as yet. There are some apps that can simply slow down the music in order to help listeners learn a piece of music more easily.

Q15: When was the last time you did something for the first time?
About a month ago, but I believe that it’s not necessary to give more details, right? (Fair enough. Damn, no scandal for us then! – Ed)

Q16: If you had 60 seconds in an elevator with an investor what would you say to persuade them to invest their money in Yodeck?
I think 60 seconds would be enough for me to persuade them to have a meeting where we would present stats, product, business plan and team. This would be more than enough to lock-in their investment.

Q17: And if you had just 30 seconds to convince a customer to get Yodeck, what would you say?
I think I would just tell him/her to create a free account and do a few tests. To be honest, more arguments are not really necessary at all! 🙂

Q18: What’s the secret to signing up those magic first 1,000 customers and scaling up?
Creating a really useful product which also differentiates from competitors, using the correct tools to launch it to the desired market and of course offering top notch support to users and partners.

Thanks for that Kallia. Now, after all that talking I’d like some chocolate cake if you don’t mind getting me some.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.