As an entrepreneur, prepare yourself mentally for a long, hard and bumpy ride. There are no magic tricks for success. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Maxim Godin is the Co-Founder and CMO of CrazyLister, a VC-backed SaaS solution powering the future of eCommerce management.
Maxim’s first entrepreneurship experience came at the age of 14 while participating in a middle school entrepreneurship program where he helped build a travel fare aggregator website (it was 1998).
While studying for his master’s degree, Maxim started a dropshipping business and grew it to $5M in sales within 3 years. Maxim and his co-founder Victor, developed a technology to help them optimize their online sales, for which they won prestigious eBay awards for and established themselves as thought leaders in the eCommerce world.
Shortly after, Maxim and Victor decided to turn all their expertise and knowhow into software and that’s how their Startup CrazyLister was born. They went on to raise VC funding and grew CrazyLister to over 100,000 users.
Maxim is passionate about entrepreneurship and the future of eCommerce.
Outside work, Maxim enjoys bouldering, snowboarding and follows the NBA closely.
Where did the idea for CrazyLister come from?
The idea for CrazyLister came from our first business venture, a dropshipping business.
In the dropshipping space your profit margins are extremely low since the product goes through several resellers prior to being sold by yourself.
Since we were located in Israel we had no competitive advantage over any other online seller, we didn’t have a large local market to sell to, we didn’t have the best delivery times, and we certainly didn’t have the lowest prices. We were looking for our competitive edge, something that will draw potential buyers to choose us over the competition.
At the time we were only selling on eBay and we noticed that most of the eBay product listings looked extremely unprofessional. This was the case since eBay’s platform required sellers to have coding and design skills in order to create professional looking listings. Since 99% of the sellers don’t have those skills, the vast majority of listings looked like a wall of text which hurt their conversion rates.
We then decided that we are going to win over the competition by optimizing our listings to look 100x better than the competition. We started spending days and nights rigorously studying about the art the science which is conversion rate optimization. Within 6 months we were outselling the competition in one of the most competitive categories on the 5 major eBay sites, even though our prices were 10-20% higher.
After winning the eBay awards for the highest conversion rates, we were approached by numerous retail chains who wanted us as consultants to grow their online sales. Very quickly we realized that as consultants we can only serve a limited amount of customers, and being brought up in the startup nation (Israel) we were eager to create a meaningful solution that will change the eCommerce industry all together, that’s how CrazyLister came about.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I feel most productive in the morning hours, that’s why I’m usually the first to arrive to the office.
Even though we’re building a team where each person specializes in his own field, as a co-founder I still have to deal with many things not related to my role as CMO, so I allocate time blocks for each task and try to work only on the task allocated to that time block. Organizing your work schedule is a crucial part of being a productive company founder.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The fun part of running your own company is the ability to implement the craziest ideas you can think of, but no matter which idea I have, I always involve relevant team members in the brainstorming process to eliminate my personal bias.
We try to be very data driven, so after weighing in all the pros and cons I put the idea in a framework with OKR’s (Objectives and Key Results) and prioritize with the PIE model (potential, importance, ease). The highest weighted score idea goes into the company sprint and implemented.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
To me, the future of eCommerce is a very exciting one, specifically voice activated commerce. Google (Google home) and Amazon (Alexa) are leading the charge in voice activated commerce and this trend is already changing the way we shop online and offline.
The adoption of voice-commerce is accelerating and it’s predicted that by the end of 2017 more than 33 million voice-first devices will be in circulation, compared to 2 million in 2015.
To me, that’s the next big thing along with autonomous cars.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I found that meetings can be a huge waste of time if not moderated. I try to do as few meetings as possible, I prepare for every meeting in advance so I can come up with insights instead of brainstorming ideas and I (politely) cut-off people when they start to go off topic.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would take things less personally. As a business owner you care about your business almost as if it’s your child. This may lead to taking things too personally, and making rushed decisions based on emotion rather taking a moment to consider all options and make a calculated decision.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you’re passionate about something, it can be anything from a business opportunity to traveling, prioritize it to make it happen. Time won’t wait, you can make up all the excuses you want to postpone for later but at the end of the day you will look back and wish you’ve done that thing. So do it now, no excuses.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I never stop educating myself about the newest trends/evolutions in my industry. In order to stay one step ahead you must look into the future and estimate where it will in 3-5 years. I watch tons of interviews with industry thought leaders and specifically the most influential CMO’s from whom I learn strategy as well as tactics.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I never settled for what I’ve achieved, I always strive to grow more because I believe that any business that’s not growing is essentially slowly dying. It may sound a bit paranoid, and I guess it is. I think there’s a healthy amount of paranoia needed to run your own company.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When my first business venture was growing rapidly I was eager to continue the growth and rushed to making hires I couldn’t really afford. When the growth slowed down I quickly found myself less than a month from not being able to pay salaries and had to let go more than half of my staff, all people I cared about. I didn’t have a finance guy by my side and acted on gut feeling rather than healthy financial planning, I never made this mistake again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app that scans your food and outputs all the nutritional data.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
New Snowboarding gloves. The difference between good and great gear in snowboarding in huge, I enjoyed snowboarding so much more after purchasing them.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Definitely Trello, it’s my reference for my day to day tasks and I literally work according to the tasks listed on my Trello boards.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz.
While it’s widely known that building your own company is hard, many people don’t realize HOW hard it really is. Ben explains this notion extremely well and I think this book is a must for every aspiring entrepreneur.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two:
“As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours and cried.” – Ben Horowitz
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
1. Never stop studying your industry to not only stay relevant in 3-5 years but be in leadership position.
2. Leave the guess work out of the equation with new ideas, be data driven in your business decisions.
3. Don’t postpone things you’re passionate about.
4. As an entrepreneur, prepare yourself mentally for a long, hard and bumpy ride. There are no magic tricks for success. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
5. Focus on building the best possible product/service that people would love to use.