Ali Tajsekandar sold his first piece of software at age 11 to a school classmate.
“He didn’t have much money to give me,” Tajsekandar recounted. “He said, ‘I have a CD rom. How about that?’” They shook on the deal. No one is exactly sure what the eleven-year-old classmate needed with custom inventory software.
From that unique entry into the world of business and software, Tajsekandar proceeded to study computer science at SFU and complete an MBA. Wishpond, the marketing automation SAAS company he founded and of which he is currently CEO, emerged from the intersection of these interests.
Today, Wishpond has over 100,000 users signed up worldwide, over 40 employees in its Vancouver office, and some big name clients, among them KFC, Air France, and Sport Chek.
Wishpond provides “simple marketing software” for generating and nurturing leads. Designed for marketers of all skill levels, valuable to small business owners and professional marketing agencies alike, Wishpond enables all major elements of digital marketing to be done in one place.
For instance, the service offers the ability to design and test landing pages, create social contests and promotions, design email automation, and manage ads.
The origin of Wishpond was quite different from what the company is today. “Over time we had to pivot from the original vision of the company which was a local product search engine,” Tajsekandar said.
The successful iteration of the business came from scratching their own itch.
Tajsekandar said, “That version of Wishpond didn’t work, but what was really insightful and interesting to us was, through the course of trying that approach and that incarnation of Wishpond, we really learned that we have certain pain points ourselves that are not really addressed in the market, that have to do with how we do successful marketing ourselves, how we generate our leads, around nurturing them and transacting with them, so why don’t we change the focus to that. We always wanted to help the broader market with their marketing needs online. Let’s build this suite of applications that helps customers.”
They quickly found an opportunity in the marketing automation space, below the high price point common for such SAAS, and with an emphasis on reducing complexity and the shortening the learning curve.
Tajsekandar said, “We wanted something that could be up and running today, to give value immediately, within the same week. We saw that that need was not met in the market. Something that’s for the broader market that brings the different aspects of lead generation into one place, that is at a price point that makes sense for small businesses and grows with them.”
Since entering the space, the company has been aggressively augmenting its capabilities. They have just released their API, and have integrations into a number of CRM systems and email marketing automation services. The company has a studio in the office where Customer Success Manager Bree Nakatani energetically records numerous marketing webinars (powered by Vancouver-based Thinkific), and will be launching an online marketing academy populated with content intended to expedite skill development among its users.
Wishpond is also planning to make a change in pricing to be better aligned with their clients’ goals. The service is changing from a pricing model based on features to one based on the leads a client generates.
This new model will have a ‘free forever’ plan that includes 200 leads and the use of landing pages, forms, and pop ups, along with Wishpond’s automation tools. Wishpond’s paid Basic tier will provide enhanced capabilities and increase the maximum lead count to 1000 for $69 monthly, with their highest tier, Pro, providing up to 10,000 leads for $199.
Of the new pricing philosophy, Tajsekandar said, “The upside is huge, because if our customers are finding a lot of success, we want to be part of that, but it also just emphasizes our focus on the value, and the value is leads.”
Tajsekandar has been very deliberate about understanding the clients’ needs, and where Wishpond puts its focus.
“Our approach is more of a vertical approach. We’ve taken the part that has to do with lead generation, not all the different ways you can grow your marketing. We’re not focused on SEO per se, or blogging per se, or those things. It’s all about the lifecycle of the lead, and I think that’s where the core of growth hacking and online marketing is anyway,” says Tajsekandar. “And that’s where we want to be.”