Interview: Valon Sopi, founder of Goodwerp.com
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Goodwerp, is a project management tool developed by a strong team based in Kosovo and US, that gives customers the ability to run business operations through assigning tasks, sending invoices or managing real-time conversations. We got the chance to talk to the founder, Valon Sopi and he shared some interesting experiences with us

Digjitale

Goodwerp-Staff-Digjitale-2

By Çelik Nimani

Goodwerp, is a project management tool developed by a strong team based in Kosovo and US, that gives customers the ability to run business operations through assigning tasks, sending invoices or managing real-time conversations. We got the chance to talk to the founder, Valon Sopi and he shared some interesting experiences with us.

What’s the story? How did it all start?

Goodwerp was conceived way back in 2009 while we were running as a creative agency. As everyone that builds products online, we too were excited to solve a problem we had. Out of all online applications, there was not one that would serve us well because they were trying to mold to everyone’s tastes and wishes, while we needed something very specific for our industry.

However, we didn’t start building the product up until 2012 when we built a simple working version which we never launched. The story didn’t start unfolding until mid-2013 when with a stroke of luck we managed to build a great team around Goodwerp (two engineers, a designer, a product architect, and a SEO manager) that would have the skill and knowledge to build a world class offering. I strongly believe in luck and always include it in our business plan, something a Hardvard business professor would cringe at.

You had your company? Why did you decide to go only with one product?

I love products. I love building things that people use. I built my first product way back in 1992 when I was 12 years old while attending a programming workshop in my hometown. It was a retail store manager built using Clipper programming language on a 286PC. I still have a working version of it : ). With the internet booming in early 2000′s I became mesmerized on how easily you can reach out to the world with online products.

Since then I build various products and websites (for clients and self) that always tried to feed that curiosity.Building Goodwerp was a natural evolution for us, especially since we wanted to build a product for professionals just like us who struggle on daily basis to better manage their creative businesses. Also, I strongly believe that in order to succeed you have to focus. Being that we’re a small team, there was no way around it. We had to focus into building one product that would actually solve a problem for many companies. However, I have to mention that within Goodwerp there are few functionalities that could be singled out as products on their own, and that’s where lies our competitive advantage of being able to offer our clients an out-of-the-box creative business manager. Something, other products in the market cannot claim.

How many customers so far (paying)?

I cannot share exact numbers as we’re a private company, however we have close to 1000 companies on board (as of June 2014) worldwide and our free trial is a limited version of the product. Our growth is compounding organically via word-of-mouth among our user base — creative agencies (design, advertising, web, marketing, media) worldwide. Our offering is the best out there for companies I just mentioned. We’re not only saying this, our customers are reminding us via Surveys and direct responses. Prior to Goodwerp, they used numerous products to manage various aspects of their business while increasing their spending and not being able to gather intelligent information from scattered data across the board.

Goodwerp_Screen

Photo Credit: PR

What are the struggles with customers…. Do they have issues when it’s a Kosovar based startup?

The beauty of an internet run company is that we can work from anywhere and with anyone around the world. Most of our staff is located in Prishtina with an additional support from our strategic partners in US (mainly New York City). Our main hurdle at the moment is reaching to each and every creative agency (without any direct advertising) around the globe and helping them better manage their business, team, and projects with Goodwerp. Our initial success has been a result of constantly improving our offering and reaching out to our users through inbound marketing strategies and word of mouth.

Did you raise any money?

Goodwerp is self-funded by our holding company boldUnderline. llc and cash we were able to raise from friends and family. Our seed fund is 50,000 Euros.

How has been the investment venture so far? 

Goodwerp was bootstrapped from the beginning. We invested our initial cash in hiring the best engineers, designers, and consultants. On top of our initial seed fund, we started generating revenue only 6 weeks after we launched our public beta. We’re currently anticipating our month-to-month compounding growth in revenue and speaking with few VC firms and Angel Investors (mainly in Berlin and US) about possible expansion opportunities. Business aspects aside, we’re constantly shipping improvements and additions that have as a goal to solve complex business issues via a simple online software such as Goodwerp.

What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting Goodwerp?

The thing with running a startup is that you learn something new every day. There are many lessons to point out, however if I had to pick one it would be to run as lean as you can (as far as finances go) thus giving yourself a longer runway. In the startup world there’s no set rule on when you will receive funding or gain traction through revenue, hence you must save and re-invest wisely every penny that comes through the door. Without going through this lesson, you can never truly appreciate the revenue that is generated through your product.

This post was originally published on digitale

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Digjitale is a leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation, and it’s dedicated to report on startups and entrepreneurs, emerging from Kosovo and the region.

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