PDFFiller $10M+ Revenue, 200k Customers To make Document Signing/Management Easier with CEO Boris Shakhnovich

boris-shakhnovich

In Episode #494, Nathan interviews Boris Shakhnovich, president of PDF Filler. He manages the daily operation and marketing campaigns but he is also responsible for the mission and vision of the company. Prior to his work at PDF Filler, Boris earned a PhD in Bioinformatics and he’s a Bioinformatics Professor at Boston University. He later moved to Harvard University to work with Systems Biology.

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Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Guerilla Marketing
  • What CEO do you follow? – Marc Benioff
  • Favorite online tool? — Google Analytics
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “That doing is more important than knowing”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:40 – Nathan introduces Boris to the show
  • 02:30 – Boris is the president and co-founder
  • 02:47 – PDF Filler is a document management platform
    • 02:51 – It allows people to do end-to-end document generation
  • 03:40 – PDF Filler is a SaaS business model and they charge per month
    • 03:46 – 3 tiers: professional, non-professional, and business
    • 03:50 – Business is the most expensive at $15 a month
  • 03:58 – Average customer pays per month
  • 04:10 – In 2008, the founder started the business and ran it by himself until the end of 2011
  • 04:25 – Boris joined the company 5 years ago and applied marketing technology to it
  • 04:39 – PDF Filler has now close to 200,000 customers
  • 04:58 – Monthly RPU
  • 05:16 – PDF Filler was needed when it launched so it grew organically
  • 05:30 – Gross customer churn per month is low
  • 06:28 – PDF Filler works with the government institutions
  • 06:58 – PDF Filler’s digital marketing platform
    • 07:08 – PDF Filler runs 60 million keywords on top of SEO and other SEM platforms
      • 07:19 – Brings 4 million website views monthly
    • 07:30 – Internal CRM with A/B Testing
  • 08:22 – “We have a marketing technology that allows us to find sites that would be interested in collaborating with us and we have that as a partnership program”
    • 09:00 – It is part-human and part-code
    • 09:36 – Semantic search technology
    • 10:06 – They write every code in house
  • 10:50 – They have one of the largest SEM platforms and account in Google
  • 11:44 – PDF Filler makes money on the first payment of their customers
  • 12:20 – There are 160 team members divided across Boston
  • 12:52 – PDF Filler is completely bootstrapped
  • 13:14 – First year revenue was about $20,000
  • 13:36 – 2015 total revenue is double digit millions
  • 13:55 – Future plans with the business:
    • 14:17 – Doing a lot of partnerships with private and government companies
    • 14:43 – PDF Filler is a zero salespeople company
  • 15:45 – Do you have an appetite for acquisition? Have you done it before?
    • 15:50 – Absolutely, but we haven’t done it before and are in the process of doing that now
    • 16:05 – “Looking for companies that are complimentary to us and we can add value”
    • 16:40 – “We would buy a competitor of a part of the business, not the whole business”
    • 17:28 – They are currently looking into mail merge space, CRM space, and signature space
  • 17:56 – Connect with Boris through his LinkedIn and website
  • 20:28 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. If you can, strive to have a partnership with BOTH private and government agencies.
  2. A GREAT marketing technology will create TONS of organic website visits.
  3. DOING is extremely more important than knowing.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal– Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks– The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • Assistant.to – The site Nathan uses to book meetings with one email.
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel.
  • PDFfiller.com – Boris’ business website
  • LinkedIn – Boris’ LinkedIn account
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

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