This month, we interviewed Guillaume Moubeche, CEO of Lemlist, which is a Partech Shaker resident startup. We wanted to find out more about his business and its journey. Read on!
1. First thing’s first Guillaume, could you tell us more about Lemlist and what you do?
lemlist is a sales automation tool that allows you to personalize and automate outbound campaigns. In other words, it helps agencies, sales teams, and B2B businesses communicate on a 1-on-1 level with their prospects.
There are three unique features lemlist provides. First, personalization at scale. You can customize emails for every prospect individually. You also have the ability to insert custom screenshots, images, and logos in your emails. Then there’s lemwarm. It maximizes your email deliverability and assists you in avoiding spam. Finally, you’re able to go multichannel. Meaning, sending cold emails, cold calling, connecting your CRM, syncing your team, social selling, and more… take full outbound control with a single tool.
2. You managed to reach €4 million in recurring annual revenue within three years, without raising funds – how?
There’s a combination of factors. For starters, the product has a clear differentiation which allows us to bring unique solutions to our target market. This makes growth easier and gives you the first-mover advantage.
When it comes to strategies, we always try to answer a few questions before starting something. Is this going to help our users win? Will it grow our MRR? Is it aligned with the lemlist brand? Are we able to measure it properly?
Here’s an example - lemlister of the week campaign. Instead of releasing typical success stories, we decided to feature users and their campaigns every week. So it’s not about lemlist, but about them winning with lemlist, along with an actionable teardown of why their campaign worked. On the flip side, their template is featured across our entire community (42k+ people) and we add a backlink in the mix. In essence, it’s a win-win deal. Plus, this content has been shared thousands of times and serves as top-of-the-funnel content that drives awareness, new users and gives existing ones more inspiration for future campaigns.
Last but not least, you need to have a great team. Everyone needs to be aligned strategically and culturally. In my opinion, this was the key formula behind our success.
3. When you were founding Lemlist, who did you turn to for advice and guidance? What steps did you take before founding and in the run-up to Lemlist’s launch?
I always believed in networking and building relationships. Not just for extracting value, but by providing it too. Many people have gone through your current challenges. For example, we’re planning to hit $10M ARR by the end of 2021.
With that in mind, I’ll reach out to founders and entrepreneurs who have accomplished this milestone already and ask them questions. And if somebody asks me the same questions one day, I’ll be as helpful. Now, I won’t list individual names because there are so many. But I can tell that I enjoy talking to people like Nathan Latka, for example.
As for the steps before founding, I was running an agency before launching lemlist. In other words, I was sending cold emails on behalf of my clients which helped me understand the market inside out. This was super important. Then, we wanted to confirm the product-market fit and we achieved that with a Product Hunt launch. In the meantime, I was heavily involved in every possible community that was relevant to what we do.
4. One striking thing is how you document your journey & you are such a visible part of your brand – how do you think this has helped you and your following?
My feeling is that the world needs more transparency and fewer filters. For instance, once you start scrolling through LinkedIn, everybody appears to be crushing it, handling challenges with ease. In reality, that’s not the case. We need to be talking more about pitfalls and tough situations. Tell relevant and meaningful stories. I know how hard some challenges are on this road and I don’t see a problem in speaking about them publicly.
It’s the same policy in our content marketing. Instead of talking about how amazing our product is or publishing the same articles about cold emails, our intention is to show you real examples. Explain why or why they didn’t work. Everybody who sends outbound campaigns has dealt with low reply rates and spam in the past. We want to talk about facing those issues, how we’ve figured them out, and hopefully inspire you to do an even better job. People will appreciate that and share your article, generate word of mouth, and more importantly, connect with your brand.
5. Where did your inspiration come from? Was it borne out of frustration for cold emails you were receiving or a lack of response from those you were sending?
As mentioned earlier, I was in the cold email world a long time before the lemlist story started. This gave me the opportunity to identify existing barriers in the market and realize that a lot of people were experiencing low reply rates and problems with deliverability.
On one side, people needed a tool that helps automate boring and repetitive tasks so they could get their time back and focus on closing deals. On the other, the market was craving for content that explains that mass emailing and taking shortcuts is not the right way to leverage this channel. That was my inspiration and my fuel.
6. One thing that makes Lemlist different is its creative side. Is this something you’re a big part of or you outsource help from others?
Yes, creativity is something really important to me. I think that, on average, I get a thousand ideas every day. But by truly loving what I do, the drive is also sky-high when it comes to acting on these ideas and making them happen.
I’m also trying hard to surround myself with creative people at the same time. Because this helps us grow both individually and as a team. Having people that compliment one another and having constructive conversations moves things forward. It’s a culture of being proactive and doing things differently. We don’t outsource, we nurture it internally.
7. Does sending cold emails that look ‘real’ ever strike you as morally wrong? Do people ever question if it is deceptive?
Never. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to someone if you have a legitimate interest. Being deceptive is something spammers do and that’s why the spam folder exists. For example, if I’m in Mexico and I post a comment on an amazing local dish on Instagram, I’d be thrilled to receive a message from a restaurant inviting me to try it.
It’s the same in the cold email world. Reach out to people who you think might be interested in what you’re offering and try to be different. Tailor the email for the person you’re contacting, start building a relationship early, and aim to create a win-win scenario. Don’t use shady tactics, be annoying and mass email people without researching them first.
8. Your ‘community’ is clearly important to Lemlist. How has it helped you and your brand?
It helped tremendously because it gave us a wonderful way to stay connected to people. On top of that, it’s a major source of inspiration for our product team, content marketing, support, sales, etc. It’s also an important distribution channel.
Let me tell you one amazing story that happened in our community. Our second most important feature, lemwarm, was inspired by one of the members. He published a post about warming up domains manually and the community got excited. Having seen it, we decided to stop what we were doing at that moment and try to provide them with a powerful solution. Ten days later, lemwarm was born.
In months to come, it became one of our most important features that brings users on its own. That’s the power of a community that’s 100% focused on its members.
Thank you Guillaume!
Learn more about Lemlist here.
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