Growing from a line of script to 350,000 users with Simon Grabowski, GetResponse

By Alexander Theuma

The SaaS Revolution Show is a weekly podcast that brings insights and tactics from leading SaaS entrepreneurs and operators across the world. Hosted by Alex Theuma, the show is brought to you by SaaStock. You can subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast.

The year was 1996, Simon Grabowski was just 16 and the entrepreneurial zeal within him was ready to bloom. From his family’s attic in the Polish city of Gdansk, Simon started a web development business, building a search engine and websites for hotels. To get clients, he reached by email individually. In fact, writing those emails took much more time than signing deals or building the websites themselves.

Was there a better way to do email, to somehow automate it and make it less tedious and time consuming, teenage Simon wondered.

Playing around with the idea, he wrote a little script. It didn’t take him long to realise he was onto something big.

By 1998, he decided to drop the web development business and see what he could make with that little script. With 1000 Polish zloty ($200) in his back pocket GetResponse was born, becoming the first email marketing automation tool in Europe. From the onset, Simon had to be very creative in how he grew the company as he had no outside funding.

His first major breakthrough happened when he established an affiliate program and everything took up from there. In the following years Simon would do everything — from selling to enterprise clients all the way to answering support calls at 4 am in the morning. One thing he has never done in the company’s 20 year history is take any form of outside funding — investment or loan.

Nowadays GetResponse is an all-in-one marketing automation suite with 350,000 users spread around 180 countries, and employs 400 people on three continents. The recipe for Simon to stay healthy and sane on this long journey? Running, a good night sleep and plenty of vitamin D.

Listen on to hear:

  • How to achieve growth when you don’t have the money
  • What was the opportunity that opened the enterprise market for GetResponse
  • How Simon differentiates GetResponse from competitors
  • How embedded virality early on is still paying off, 20 years later
  • Why focus on UX early on can have a huge effect on the company’s bottom line

Simon is one of many speakers we will host in Dublin at SaaStock18 taking place October 15–17. As we are coming to the 100th episode of the podcast soon, we are offering a €100 discount on tickets to listeners. Tune in to find out what the discount code is and learn from Simon Grabowski. See who else is speaking at SaaStock18.