[Startup story] SalesOMMO | Rubik Garage Accelerator 2023 Cohort 5
June 27, 2023
First of all, we would like to know who’s behind the keyboard.
Mihai Guran is my name, and SalesOMMO is the startup we founded together with Alexandru Lamba and Radu Mesa.
A few words about me now: after more than 20 years in sales, marketing, sales, and business management, I set up my own consultancy business five years ago. I worked with more than 35 technology companies and helped them get more strategic clarity and adapt their go-to-market models to scale faster in their target global markets. In the meantime, I have also become an angel investor, with a portfolio of more than 20 tech startups, most of them B2B SaaS companies offering solutions in different verticals.
Since the beginning of the year, after working with my consultancy business partner, Radu, on a sales transformation project for the company where Alexandru is in charge of the sales team, we all realized that we can use the latest technology developments to create a product that will incorporate our knowledge and can be useful to more people that we can help as consultants. This is how we decided to start a new project in our professional life.
Tell us more about your startup. What problem do you solve? Who’s your audience?
SalesOMMO will automate in a professional way many activities that sales or business people just hate to do, do not have the time to do, or do not have the resources to implement in a more traditional way.
The typical audience for a start will be the sales and business people that need to contact and meet with more than 10-20 people every day in order to grow their business.
We will help them do some of the activities required to be more successful in prospecting and qualification, and do that more than 10 times faster than they can do manually. How? By automating the research activities, providing them with just-in-time briefs, and matching scores for the profiles and organizations they target. Thus, we enable them to be more effective in establishing relationships and more efficient in closing more business.
What motivated you to create this startup? What’s your „why”?
Our team has seen where most sales organizations and sales professionals struggle, and we envisioned more possible solutions to it, including the consultancy work I did together with Radu for more than 30 startups in the last 5 years.
However, since technology progressed, we now have AI-powered solutions and deep-tech data providers that allow us to automate research and data augmentation. Moreover, we have low-code tools that will allow us to build in a quick and flexible way the workflows and integrations needed with other systems that our customers have.
SalesOMMO will allow people to personalize better their communication and sales process and will help sales professionals become more effective and efficient in their day-to-day jobs. As we all worked with salespeople, building a product that can do that is extremely rewarding and motivating for us because we foresee a great impact on so many people.
How is your startup different from competitors?
For the moment, our team represents the main competitive advantage. We have extensive knowledge in multiple domains – sales and sales management, learning and development, programming, psychology, and artificial intelligence. The other differentiator is the approach we want to have, putting the people first and building a great product for them, in a world in which most of the sales tech products are complex, hard to use, and require a lot of admin work.
The timing is also important, and we expect other startups to come up with similar ideas, because lately the AI-augmented salesforce is a new market, but we are confident that our experience will help us stay competitive.
Tell us more about your team.
We are now five people working on this project, since Ioana Manea, Ph.D. in Psychology, and Cezara Bengui, PhD in AI, have joined the team. Together, we have more than 100 years of experience in all core areas of expertise that we need at this stage:
- Mihai Guran | Co-founder & CEO – Former VP-Ent. Sales Bitdefender, MBA, 30+ years in sales and marketing, management, and international business.
- Alex Lamba | Co-founder & CTO – 15+ years of product development, has built products for companies scaling to +2.5M users and 100M revenue.
- Radu Mesa | Co-founder & L&D Expert – 20+ years of working experience in Corporate, SME, Startups; 10+ years in Learning & Development (focused on Sales and Leadership development).
- Ioana Manea | Co-founder & Profiling consultant – Ph.D. Psychology, Professor and Vice-Rector, University Titu Maiorescu, GCDF Master Trainer.
- Cezara Benegui | Co-founder & AI consultant – Ph.D., Professor, University of Bucharest, Founder – Cezara Benegui Academy.
What are your plans for your startup in the next 6-12 months?
After building the vision, we decided what to include in the MVP, and what to develop at later stages. We conducted the initial customer interviews to validate our assumptions and help us uncover more insights from future customers.
We will launch our pre-beta version in the following months, and our MVP before the end of the year. Please feel free to visit our website and enroll on the waiting list if you work in sales or business, and meet frequently with new people, some days even with more than 10, or if you do a lot of prospecting. You can test a great product, that will give you back at least one hour of your time every day.
We are confident that our product will offer value in several ways, therefore our plan is to acquire 200 to 300 paying users before the end of the year. We want to validate our idea, incorporate more feedback, and discover insights that we will need to incorporate into the final product.
What are the biggest rewards of being a startup founder?
Rewards are similar to those of other jobs that allowed me to build teams, systems or processes, but building a product adds a feeling of being part of something more special – developing something totally new is extremely exciting, and is a journey with a great start already. We are looking forward to even more rewarding experiences on the way.
On top of it, it will be also extremely rewarding when we will see how SalesOMMO will change the way sales and business people perform their work, reducing the communication waste we see around (so much spam, so many unprepared meetings, so many useless interactions). Our promise is to allow them to add value to their customers by having better prepared, personalized, and therefore much more meaningful interactions.
What about the biggest challenges?
In the beginning, our biggest challenge was to decide what to include in the MVP, respectively, what are the key features we will include in the next versions of the product. We know that building a product that is going to be easy to use, that users will love and recommend to their peers is not something easy, especially considering the relatively limited resources that we have.
Further on, considering the global financial situation, I foresee that a serious challenge will be raising the pre-seed round of money to help us deliver on our ambitious product development roadmap. What we plan for is to also attract a few angel investors to help us in this process.
Mihai, you are a mentor in our community and have great experience in the startup world. What made you apply to our accelerator as a startup founder?
There are more reasons – first, one is to get new perspectives on SalesOMMO, our new business. No matter how much experience you have, it is still relatively limited. Furthermore, it is a different experience to be in the shoes of a founder. I know and appreciate how experienced mentors, from all business areas, are able to open new perspectives that you simply cannot see as a founder.
The second reason was to accelerate our development plan and get as fast as possible to a product, ready for fundraising. An accelerator is good because it helps you put some structure, and commit to deadlines, people chase you to establish objectives and deliver outcomes as per your own commitments – we all need that sometimes, and the people from Rubik Hub are more than great at doing it in such a professional way. And this is the third reason – the people from Rubik Hub that I met as a mentor, witnessing their dedication and professionalism in working with startups.
Top 3 learnings of the accelerator until now?
The first things we gathered from the Rubik Hub experts are interesting insights about preparing financial plans and how VCs are looking at startups, which is different compared to how angel investors do.
There were also very good tips and advice on how to get more PR coverage when you are a startup, as well as very good insights and new perspectives about how to design your product in such a way that will satisfy more basic human needs, and develop the brand addiction.
How was the bootcamp for you?
The bootcamp provided an excellent opportunity to meet a diverse range of people and validate some ideas, as well as get new insights on how to develop SalesOMMO. Here I must say that we were extremely privileged, most of the people in a startup are business developers, therefore we had the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with many of them.
What do you like in the Rubikorns Startup Community?
The spirit behind, that you find in many startup communities – it is about giving back, helping each other, and the empathy developed in the community of founders.
What message do you have for other startup founders?
Good luck, be persistent, use the knowledge and advice you got during the acceleration journey, empathize and get feedback early from your customers, and take action on the insights you will uncover – this is the way forward in order to make your dream about building a product for a better world happen.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Of course, if you are in a business development role, or a founder having many meetings and too little time to spare on preparing for meetings with people you don’t know, then please consider enrolling on our waiting list (on www.salesommo.com) in order to be one of the firsts to open an account and try our new product. We are confident that you will enjoy the benefits of having just-in-time information, allowing you to have more time to think and prepare for meaningful communication, establish better relationships, and ultimately win more business.
Thank you also to Rubik Hub for admitting us into the program, we appreciate your contribution and dedication a lot, getting into a good acceleration program is a must for all founders.
Stay tuned to discover the story behind the other startups from our accelerator! #WeAreInThisTogether
Rubik Garage is an equity-free acceleration program aiming to support startups from CEE get to their first paying customer, raise investment or go international.