This is an interview with Eduarda Bardavid, co-founder and CEO at Drag.
Hello, Eduarda. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m the co-founder & CEO of Drag. I have a diverse background across engineering, military, consulting across 3 continents and decided to take a big leap and build Drag.
I have always considered myself a problem solver, and a big motivation behind starting Drag was to solve a real problem, for real people, with a real solution, properly implemented, and with measurable impact. I had never felt these things in my previous jobs.
I’m also passionate about classical piano and travelling around the world.
What was your journey like to get where you are today?
My co-founder and I started Drag when we both still had full-time jobs (Nick had built other SaaS businesses before Drag and was working on them), back in mid-2017.
We worked remotely while I was in Kuwait and he was in the UK. The remote culture stayed with us until today with 7 team members. It’s part of our DNA.
The milestone that made me quit my full-time job was when we reached 10,000 downloads, around 2 months after launch.
Since then, like any early stage startup, we have gone through a number of pivots as we learned from our users and iterated on the product.
We have always been a customer-centric company and made big efforts to work close with our users. I believe this is key to success.
Our customers brought us where we are today and I am really glad about the increasingly positive response we have been receiving, from the 100K+ downloads we’ve got so far.
How did you come up with the idea about Drag?
Researches show that 80% of workers need to consult information across a variety of apps to get their job done. These apps include email, task management tools, Help Desk tools, CRM tools and others.
Workers end up with endless tabs in their browsers, needing to navigate back and forth across a number of tools that don’t connect to each other, which is highly unproductive. People can lose up to 40% of their productivity just on context switching!
But there is one thing that connects all of these tools together: email. Most of these workflows – customer support, sales, tasks – start and end as emails.
But email doesn’t scale for teams. That’s why all of the other types of tools were born.
Drag solves the root cause of this scenario: it makes email scalable for teams, allowing teams to manage multiple workflows right from their inboxes.
Who is Drag for and what can it do?
Drag was built for the 5 million companies working in G Suite that struggle with managing and moving back and forth across their inboxes and multiple third-party applications: Help Desk + CRM + Task management apps, etc.
All of these workflows start and finish as emails, so we found a simple solution.
In 3 clicks, Drag is a Chrome Extensions that turns Gmail into a collaborative workspace, allowing teams to collaborate on emails and manage multiple workflows like sales or customer support directly from their inbox.
What did it take to get the startup off the groud?
As I mentioned, I believe the customers should be the heart of any startup. At the end of the day, we only exist because of them.
Since the early days of Drag, we have always leveraged user feedback to make sure we were going down the right path.
Especially in the early days, it’s important to do things that don’t scale.
Nick and I were personally speaking to hundreds to users to understand what they liked about the tool and what we needed to improve. This is definitely the most important factor that brought us where we are today.
Not only it expedites the process to reach Product-Market fit, but also creates a sense of community with your customers and increases word-of-mouth, which is critical for any early stage startup.
What challenges did you have to overcome to find your first clients for the product?
I think when you start charging for your product, the biggest uncertainty (after ‘are people willing to pay for this?’) is pricing.
We have changed our price multiple times as a way to understand the customers’ willing-to-pay for our tool.
Especially in the early days, products change very fast in terms of core features, and the pricing needs to reflect those as well. We definitely had some challenges to understand what the most optimal pricing would be for Drag.
The second challenge was retention.
As an early stage tool, stability was a challenge, and this was reflecting on retention challenges. Our relationship with customers has always been very good, which helped them understand and support us throughout the journey towards a more stable product.
How did you handle the technical side of the business as a non-technical founder?
I believe that even non-technical founders should understand at least the basics of coding and building a product to be able to recruit and communicate better with your development team.
I am also a (mechanical) engineer so took some basic coding classes during college and have also done some basic online courses about the framework we use at Drag (Udemy has some great courses).
Another great thing non-technical founders can do to be closer to their development team is to passively attend software development team discussions, to understand their language and way of working.
When it comes to recruiting engineers, I test both hard and soft skills of candidates.
I believe technical expertise is not everything when hiring software engineers.
Behavioral fit with the company is as important as the level of technical expertise. Our CTO leads the technical piece and someone from outside the engineering team interviews candidates on the behavioral side.
Read also: How This Serial Entrepreneur Sells, Buys and Grows Businesses
What’s the pricing model like and how important is the free trial to your growth?
We have a freemium version that users can try individually to organize their own inboxes and todo’s.
To be able to collaborate on their inboxes and access premium features, users upgrade to the plus plan at $12 user / month (billed monthly) or $10 user / month (billed annually).
When a user wants to try Drag as a team for the first time, they must request a demo with someone from our team and go through a 30-min training.
We believe this first training with our team is very important to make sure users truly understand the value of the tool and are able to take full advantage of it when trying it with their team.
What does it take to get your first 10,000 downloads?
We were fortunate to have a cascade of good PR right after the launch of Drag so it took us less than 2 months to get to 10,000 downloads.
First, Google featured us on the first page of the Chrome Store, on those big banners on the top.
A few weeks later, we launched the product on Product Hunt and got to #3 of the day, which also gave us a lot of exposure.
We were also featured on big publications such as Mashable and Life Hacker.
We have also promoted referrals and rewarded users that shared about Drag on their social media.
In the early days of a startup, the value of PR / word-of-mouth is unmeasurable, and I believe entrepreneurs should focus their effort on getting social validation for their companies.
What were your marketing efforts like when growing Drag to 100K users?
Most of our acquisition had been done by content. We have a blog and write about productivity, challenges along a startup journey, collaboration, etc.
We have also launched a Youtube video series sharing about our own challenges building Drag.
Our second biggest acquisition is referral / word-of-mouth.
As a collaboration tool, there is a lot of incentive for users to invite their team members to collaborate with them, which yields us a good traction on referrals.
How did you found the right people to join the company?
Most of the team members have known each other for a long time.
Me and Nick, co-founder & CRO, met 10 years ago and came together 3 years ago to build Drag.
Me and Breno, our CTO, studied together in a military engineering school in Brazil, so have known each other for almost 10 years too.
Some of our engineers and sales team members had already worked with Nick on some of his previous companies.
The other we recruited from the same university where Breno and I studied together. We just made our first ‘cold’ hire a couple of months ago and it turned out to be a super good fit. We used the tool “Revelo” for that.
How many hours per week do you currently work?
I would say between 60 – 80 hours. Running to the office every day to be on top of exercising 🙂
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in business?
First, your company in the early days will be nothing more than your team. Pick these people very carefully as this is a decisive factor for failure or success.
Second, don’t let yourself down with ‘NOs’.
Especially in the early days, you will hear a lot of ‘NOs’. From customers, from investors, from friends, others. Be strong and keep believing in yourself, in your vision and in your team that the YES’es will start coming.
What’s next for you and Drag?
We are a few weeks away from graduating from Techstars Boston Program, which has been an absolute game-changer for us.
After the program, we will keep focusing on making our current customers happier and happier, which is our main metric of success and leading indicator of growth.