We all know that the customer is the most important part of your business. So, being able to engage with your customer and receive their feedback is an essential element of success. Through their website and mobile app, UK-based Yapback wants to help businesses better interact with their customers with their easy feedback platform.
We caught up with co-founders Richard Bennett and Martin Jones to talk British frustration cures and Virgin space flights—and, of course, a sprinkling of startup advice.
How’d you come up with the name Yapback?
Originally we called it FeedbackStream, but we received some “feedback” from someone we approached for investment (Ajaz Ahmed, one of the founders of Freeserve), who hated it, and told us to come up with something more catchy.
We decided we wanted a name that was two syllables, made of two real words put together to make a new word, had something to do with feedback, and that had an easy verb associated with it… and of course, it had to be as available as possible in terms of domains and social media usernames! It wasn’t an easy task, but we came up with Yapback.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Still just the two co-founders (Martin Jones and Richard Bennett) at the moment. But we’ve employed some of the local Leeds University students to help with our marketing days – and they always get to keep a free Yapback hoodie!
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
I’d say these still are the early days, but something that comes to mind is how it’s hard to navigate the minefield of companies and organisations that appear to be offering support for startups, but when you dig a little deeper, really just want to bill you for something!
We had particularly lengthy conversations and email exchanges with one such company, who invited us to go and see them, as they would be able to introduce us to potential mentors and investors. We took the day out to travel to meet with them, and it was looking really positive until the end of the meeting when it was explained to us that before any introductions could be made, our business plan needed reviewing, which they would do for £3000… ($4650). That was a frustrating waste of time.
Now, we dig very deep to see whether offers of support are genuine (unfortunately, they’re usually not!)
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
MJ – A few seconds of deep breathing with closed eyes, and some hard squeezes on a rugby ball shaped stress toy on my desk. Then a slurp of tea, and I’m back in the game.
We’re British, we Keep Calm and Carry On! (Usually applies to the weather!)
RB – I go for a cycle ride. Today, when I found out the printing company we’re using had sent the wrong template for a display stand – that’s taken quite a while to design.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We don’t have an office yet (we’re the leanest of the lean), but when we do, there’ll be music, an awesome coffee machine, and hopefully an office dog. Oh, and our giant Yap bubble (that doesn’t fit well in any vehicle) will come along for the ride.
How do you picture Yapback in 5 years?
Everyone’s favorite way of giving feedback will be Yapping. We’ll have rid the world of comment cards, saved a tree or two, and also helped businesses to engage with their customers rather than wondering how to move on from that bad review on other sites. Used properly, Yapback will give a second chance of a first impression when things go wrong, and also some affirmation when businesses are doing things right!
Who or what inspires you?
MJ – My Grandmother. 73 years old, yet cooks lunch and makes cakes for all the “old people” in the village. Quotes (in a Welsh accent):
“If you’re cold, put a jumper on… Are you hungry? Have a banana!”
RB – After the first 12 months we’ve had… anyone that’s managed to get through it and make a success of their business. Oh, and Bradley Wiggins.
How’d you fund this venture?
Completely self funded. We looked for investment at the very start of the journey, but were told to go away and prove the concept and then come back once we had some decent user growth. We’re just about finished on version 1.0, so now it’s that user growth we need and we’ll be back trying to raise funds for the rest of the features we want to add.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
MJ – If you’re going to buy anything, search hard for best value suppliers, then negotiate hard. We had quotes for the same things that were ten times as much as others.
Also, if you think a piece of development is going to take a week – allow 3.
RB – Factor in marketing. It’s very easy to concentrate on the amazing product you’re about to create. But you’ll need to get it out into the real world at some point.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
MJ – I’d buy and renovate a derelict house, which I’d then live in.
RB – Go to space! I’d buy a Virgin Galactic Space flight ($200k). I’d have a big party with all my friends before it, and anything I had left I’d use as a deposit on a house in North London.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?
We created something from nothing, so yes, I’d say we are successful entrepreneurs. Whether we’ve created something that goes on to be successful itself is what we’re itching to find out!
Dogs or cats?
MJ – Dogs, but only clever ones – sit, lie down, roll over, fetch and “shake a paw” are essential.
RB – Dogs. There’s currently a cat sat on my A3 scanner, and it cost a lot!
What’s the greatest thing about Yapback?
MJ – It’s for everyone, and it’s easy.
RB – It doesn’t create an issue where there isn’t one. It solves a real world problem of collecting feedback.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
You can Yap about Yapback!
Thanks guys! Love the banter; I had a couple laugh-out-loud moments. If you want join in on the yapping, make sure you check out Yapback and get your feedback on.