Interview with Idris Mokhtarzada, Co-Founder at Truebill

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The subscription economy is certainly booming and a lot of sectors have adopted subscription based pricing as it is an easy and more convenient way to pay for purchases. We have subscriptions for movies, music, periodicals, and what not. As this list keeps on increasing, keeping a track of all of our subscriptions in this busy life becomes a really difficult thing to do. The result is an unknown bill on your credit card for a subscription of a service that you don’t even use anymore or maybe don’t even remember subscribing to. This exact situation led to the creation of Truebill.

Truebill is an app that lets you find, track and cancel all your subscriptions with just a click. The app was developed by Idris Mokhtarzada who is the CTO of the company, working along with his brother Yahya Mokhtarzada as the co-founder and CEO. The app also gives a user monthly insights and helps in tracking any rate hikes of extra charges, giving complete control over who bills you. It not only helps in saving money but also acts as a place to subscribe to a lot of other useful services.

Here is a small interview with the co-founder and CTO of the company, Idris Mokhtarzada.

What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

Truebill started with a simple pain-point that most people can relate to – keeping track of all the subscriptions and services we’re paying for every month. From talking to family and friends, the experience of finding a sneaky subscription on a credit card statement seemed near universal, and I thought “there really should be an easy way to find and track all the services you’re being billed for every month.

From there we realized that there’s a pretty dramatic shift taking place in the way consumers are making purchases. Specifically, more and more of the goods we use are being bought on a subscription basis, rather than as an upfront purchase. It became clear that as this trend continues there will be a growing need for one centralized platform for subscriptions, where users can discover, enroll, manage, personalize, and cancel subscriptions. Scenery-iMac---416---1-27-16,-10-39-AM_1

Can you tell us a bit about your partners who are part of your core team?

I’ve spent over a decade working with my 3 brothers. For Truebill I’m the CTO, my brother Yahya is CEO, Haroon is Chairman, and Zeki is helping as an advisor. We’ve previously worked together on and SGN.

What is the current Team Size?

The team is currently of 3 people working full time plus 1 intern.

How did you hire your initial team?

Getting the right initial team is critical to the success of any startup. For Truebill I was lucky to be able to get my brothers involved, and from there we began looking to our immediate networks for finding the people who would lay the right foundation for future employees. For our first engineering hire we recruited a full-stack engineer who we’d previously worked with at Webs.

Which recruiting channels work best for you?Referrals/Job Boards/ Staffing Agencies?

We lean heavily on our own networks, either of people we’ve worked with before or referrals, asking “who is the best person you’ve worked with in the past”. We also posted openings on AngelList and Hacker News which have yielded some promising candidates.

What are the key factors that you look for in a potential candidate?

Firstly, we look for someone who is entrepreneurial and a natural problem solver. As an early stage startup, the challenges we face can change from day to day – we look for people who thrive in a fast-changing environment and find excitement in the uncertainty of a startup.

Next we look for a natural proactive creativity, asking ourselves “is this person going to be proactive in terms of figuring out what needs to get done and then doing it, or we are going to have to micromanage.

Lastly, we look at previous experience. Ideally the person must have experience of working at a startup, or even better, a startup with the type of culture we’d like to emulate.

According to you how much is the competition in your vertical? How big is the industry? Who all are your competitors and what are your views on them?

I think we’re unique in the problem that we’re aiming to solve. There are plenty of companies out there that want to try to help lower your bills, or cut out payments – for us, that’s a nice perk to using our product but it’s not the core of what we’re building. At our core, we believe subscriptions can be great for users, they provide convenience, delight and possible savings – but only if managed properly. We want to be that management platform that enables consumers to enrich their lives through subscriptions, but with control.C-_Users_user_Downloads_Scenery-iPad-Air---405---1-22-16,-12-56-PM_1

What are your marketing strategies? Do you take help of Social platforms to promote ? Which channels have been very effective? Which marketing channels have been super flops?

So far our growth has almost entirely been through organic and free channels. We launched on Product Hunt and got a phenomenal response from the community, gaining over 1000 upvotes and several thousand signups. Press has also paid off for us as we’ve been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes, and several other publications. Going forward we’re also investing in content marketing, as our data allows us to tell an interesting story.

Also, our users have been incredibly supportive of us in terms of sharing to Facebook and Twitter.

What has been your experience with paid marketing channels?

So far paid acquisition as a whole hasn’t paid off. We’ve experimented with several channels, and while Reddit proved to be the most effective, the cost per signup still wasn’t in alignment with our goal. Other channels we’ve tried include podcast sponsorships, search, display and Facebook.

We also run a small retargeting budget through AdRoll, which is effective at small budgets but loses efficiency with volume.

Can you elaborate on the Challenges in promoting your website/ App?

Because we provide a free service, the amount we’re able to pay for users is greatly constrained. As a result, this makes high-cost/high-quality acquisition channels unfeasible for us (such as Facebook, which is a great channel for high LTV products). We have to depend heavily on organic growth and word of mouth, which takes time to build. Scenery-MacBook-Silver---418---1-22-16,-12-57-PM_1

What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on Usage and Revenue?

We launched a little over a month ago and now have over 10k users.

Based on your experience would you have any advice to new Entrepreneurs / Startups?

Get as much customer feedback as you can! We implemented Intercom on our site to allow customers to live-chat with us at anytime and the insights we’ve gotten from it have been invaluable. We’ve discovered bugs, annoying UI/UX that we’ve needed to address, and just general feedback that we’ve been able to use to make the product more delightful.

I think it’s impossible to build a great product without constantly talking to – and getting feedback from – your users.

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