Liviu Tanase is a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of ZeroBounce. From an early age he became interested in all things technology and exhibited an entrepreneurial spirit. He started his first business, selling computers offline, when he was still a teenager.
In addition to founding five companies, Tanase has participated in three exits creating quadruple-digit returns. He moved to the United States in 2014 to pursue his tech and business ambitions.
In 2015, Tanase started ZeroBounce with the mission of making email safer, more reliable and efficient. The company now has more than 150,000 customers around the globe. Iconic brands like LinkedIn, Airbnb, Intel and Samsung trust ZeroBounce to validate their email lists.
Liviu Tanase is also a contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and was recently included on the Forbest Next 1000 list celebrating “entrepreneurial heroes.”
How did you get started in this business?
I’d been involved in the email industry for a few years and could see how much this channel was growing. Virtually every business out there uses email to communicate with customers and market products and services.
At the same time, I knew how fragile data can be. To be able to reach their customers, companies need fresh, valid data. It’s a challenging issue, one that my team and I were eager to solve and prevent. We wanted to build technology that would advance the email validation space and greatly benefit other companies.
That’s how ZeroBounce was born. We’re glad to have created something that made an immediate impact for many people around the world.
How do you make money?
We make money through our SaaS platform.
Whether you have a small company or an enterprise, the costs are reasonable. In fact, it will probably cost you more to not use our service because most email marketing services charge based on the number of emails you are sending to. If you’re sending to invalid or risky email contacts, you’re wasting your budget.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Longer than I hoped, but probably more quickly than it should have.
Within a reasonably short time we did see improving unit economics. While we were still losing money, and increasingly so as we grew, we knew it was only a matter of time before we achieved overall profitability. We had a roadmap and clear goals that we accomplished.
All in, it’s fair to say it took a few years to get there. But we had high conviction in achieving it based on all of the leading indicators to profitability.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There’s never been a time I doubted ZeroBounce. I’m not a hesitant person in the first place. Instead of “can we do this?” I tend to ask the question “how can we do this?” It’s how I’m wired.
If you believe in something, keep going. You’ll find ways to accomplish it.
How did you get your first customer?
We heard through the grapevine about people who needed a good email cleaning service. It was a good sign that we had our first customer before we even launched.
Email is popular and critical for the success of almost every business. When we did launch, we had people already waiting. It was encouraging and that trend kept growing. ZeroBounce now serves more than 150,000 customers.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We give away 100 free validations every month. Also, users and customers can test their deliverability for free, once a month. If you just started a list, you can’t beat free. Some people come in to get those free credits and tests, and they’re welcome to it.
Many of them sign up for our email newsletters and promotions. People check their email multiple times a day, so our marketing and educational materials continue to reach our subscribers. As their list grows, we’re there for them.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Making a decision and having to think about the consequences or outcomes can be really tough for a lot of people. I feel lucky that I tend to see the path ahead pretty clearly. The decisions have not been tough for me, but instead, are pretty exciting.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is showing up. I show up again and again. I don’t get discouraged. Any setback only makes me try that much harder.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Hitting number 40 on the Inc. 5000 list was a real triumph for us. Of course, the greatest litmus whether a business is successful is what customers feel about a company and whether they come back again and again.
The reason getting the award was such a satisfying moment, is that it was a reflection of how much utility our customers were getting from the service. It was a real crowning achievement and a kind of validation.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I’m excited that ZeroBounce has already grown into something more than an email validation platform. We’ve added so many other tools to help people optimize their email sending, and you can expect that in the future, too.
Our goal is to set the standard for email validation – it’s what gets us going. We’re always planning and developing something new and useful because we never stay still.
What business books have inspired you?
I love reading and can’t get enough of books. Some that have inspired me include Never Split the Difference, Never Eat Alone, and Judgment in Managerial Decision Making.
Two of my all-time favorites include Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Steven R. Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to never worry about something beyond my control. Those bumps in the road are all a part of life and everyone experiences them. Expect those snags, but don’t even tap the brakes unless you have to.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I’d love to help. If someone wants to contact me, just go on zerobounce.net and you can get a hold of me.