How did Simplero grow to $4 million ARR using word of mouth and referrals?

Simplero has gone from 0 to 2500 customers over the past 13 years. Read Calvin's biggest takeaways on how he grew Simplero to over $4 million ARR by focusing on customer experience.

How did Simplero grow to $4 million ARR using word of mouth and referrals?

In this post of "My First 1000 Users", we'll cover the story of Simplero and how it grew to $4 million ARR using word of mouth and referrals.

The content of this case study is taken from the podcast episode I recorded with Calvin Correli, the founder and CEO of Simplero.

Simplero is an all-in-one tool that helps knowledge creators build online education businesses.

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Let's dive in.

How did Calvin get the idea for Simplero?

Calvin grew up around computers. Since his mother started a software company in 1980, he developed a liking for entrepreneurship and software.

When Calvin started his entrepreneurship journey, he struggled a lot which led him to the path of therapy and spirituality. Soon he learned to organize his thoughts and emotions and figure out who he was and what he wanted in life.

This experience made him realize how every entrepreneur had the potential to change the world but needed to have an awakening.

He wanted to teach other entrepreneurs everything he learned during his journey, so he built a course around his learnings.

But the software available at that time to build courses was clunky and slow. This motivated Calvin to develop Simplero.

Learning #1 - Start with solving your own problems. Look around your surroundings and list the things that your idea or service can improve.

Calvin had a problem with the teaching platforms, so he created his own software to help coaches and teachers.

How did Calvin test his assumptions?

Calvin entered the world of online marketing and courses through Jeff Walker, who had an info product called "Product Launch Formula."

He gradually found more allies in Copenhagen who were good at teaching and formed a team.

Calvin started teaching his friends how to run online businesses, and eventually, they started using his software to build courses.

This helped Calvin generate his market and validate his assumptions.

Learning #2 - Calvin created his group of teachers and coaches to test his MVP. Similarly, you must take your product to the potential audience.

When starting, do not try to fight an uphill battle to attract customers. Instead, go to places where your potential customers are.

First 500 paying customers

When Calvin started with Simplero, his first customers were from his closest network of friends and family. But soon, the word spread around all of Denmark.

After seeing potential in his product, Calvin decided to move to the US and target a bigger market.

Calvin wanted to learn more about digital marketing, so he enrolled under Marie Forleo, who taught an online course called ''B-School''.

Calvin started being active in the Facebook group built for B-School's students. He provided value by answering questions about course creation and landing pages.

He also told the students of the group about his software and offered free membership for the first three months. This helped him get his first 25 customers in the US.

Calvin believes his product's functionality and excellent customer service have enabled him to get and retain 2500 customers.

Learning #3 - Lead with value. Always remember that people buy from people they know, trust, and like.

Calvin turned B-school's Facebook group members into customers because he led by providing free value to establish trust and authority.

How did Calvin implement personal beliefs into his company's culture?

As a leader, Calvin realized he should lead the way people wanted to be led and not the way he wanted to lead.

Building his beliefs into the company was a slow process for Calvin. He took time to figure out his core values and also took input from his leadership team before deciding on his company's core values.

He wanted to build a team with the courage to express their opinions and respect others' points of view.

How is Simplero giving back to the community?

Simplero has a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey where they ask their customers how likely they are to recommend Simplero to their friends. This helps them understand customer feedback.

Calvin believes that putting love and awareness into creating products and services impacts and enlightens people.

The language and user interface of Simplero reminds people that there's a human being on the other side who not just has a sense of humor but also cares for them.

Simplero's team follows the path of Steve Jobs and aims to create a beautifully designed product that attracts customers and positively impacts their minds.

Moreover, Simplero is helping people escape dead-end jobs and live their purpose of life with passion. They support coaches and teachers in their journey to discovering their true selves.

Learning #4 - Try adding a personal touch to your products. Calvin's love for his customers shows in his product's features and animations.
This creates a deeper bond between him and his audience, which leads to better retention.

What are Simplero's major growth channels?

Most of Simplero's customers come through word of mouth. Many platform users teach about business growth and recommend the software to their students.

Simplero has also introduced a commission-based affiliate program to incentivize referrals.

Calvin has recently added people to the marketing and sales division of Simplero to scale its growth.

Simplero's team has now started creating valuable content around personal development for entrepreneurs to capture the market.

What is the one book that has had the most impact on Calvin's life?

''Loving what is'' by Bryon Katie is one of the most impactful spiritual books Calvin has read to date. The book taught him ways in which he could question his beliefs, evolve as a person and make wiser decisions.

What would Calvin do differently if he had to start Simplero all over again?

If Calvin had to start over again, he would work hard on the content, marketing, and brand-building strategies from the beginning.

He believes it took him time to talk openly to his audience without hesitation, which led to a delay in content and branding practices.

Learning #5 - Content and marketing are the soul of every business, so ensure you do not avoid implementing these from the beginning.

What advice does Calvin have for all young entrepreneurs?

Calvin believes each young entrepreneur should spend his twenties experimenting and trying new things. They shouldn't worry about wealth generation at this phase of life.

They should be patient with themselves and learn to feel their emotions.

The Bottom Line

As a founder, one must stop running away from themselves and try to understand their emotions. Calvin learned to organize his thoughts and control his emotions, which played a significant role in his entrepreneurial journey.

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