Interview – Denys Zhadanov from Readdle

I had the opportunity to interview Denys Zhadanov,  co-founder of Readdle.  Readdle essentially sells iOS business and productivity applications, such as PDF Expert, Readdle Docs and Scanner Pro.  Denys has taken Readdle from a small start-up company, to having a customer base of 3.5 million users and being valued at tens of millions of dollars.  I (JB) was able to ask Denys (DZ) his views on marketing.

JB: Many companies try to encourage all their employees to be ‘marketers’, in the sense that they are all passionate about what they make and believe in their products. Is this true at Readdle? If yes, how has this benefited the company?

DZ: It is quite hard to encourage someone to like something. The attitude towards the company and the product must come from the heart of a person. Therefore, hiring the right people is very important. “Hire slow, fire fast”, they say. People at Readdle are indeed passionate about the products they are working on. This attitude comes from the co-founders and creates a great working atmosphere in the company. That is why we have top-notch products and great customer feedback.

JB: As a tech company, it is natural for Readdle to use lots of digital communication channels for marketing. But what would you say are the most effective and provide the greatest ROI?

DZ: Being a marketing director at Readdle, I can talk endlessly on this topic. Yes, indeed, we are doing e-business here, so 95% of the communications are digital. E-mail marketing is definitely one of the most effective channels for us in terms of ROI. However, favourable mentions by the major media such as BBC, Wall Street Journal, Wired etc. have brought tens of thousands of users.

JB: There are lots of start-ups in the recession that are really struggling to secure funding. If a company has literally no money to spend on marketing or agencies, what options are available to such a start-up? Do you believe that companies need large budgets to be great at marketing?

DZ: Just ship a good product in time. If it is really good – it will sell itself. Try to avoid funding at least at the early states. Angel investors are not so “angel” after all. PR agencies? Are we back in 2008? Just hire the right marketing guy so he can handle all the work. Don’t underestimate the power of social media and personal connections.

JB: I know that you are about to start a PHD and already have a masters from Aston University. Do you believe that education has helped you to become a better marketer? How beneficial is networking while you are at university?

Yes, education has definitely helped. No doubt here. It enhanced me with the ability to learn and to be agile. To be honest, university is the best place for networking. So guys, go and meet new people like it is the last day of your life.

JB: This blog is mainly read by university students studying in business, is there anything you would like to say to them?

DZ: We are currently looking for smart and tech savvy person to help me run marketing activities at Readdle. So if you like marketing, innovations, Apple, social media, content creation and think that you can ride a pink unicorn – drop me an e-mail denis@readdle.com.

During the internship you will definitely enhance your business and marketing skill. Moreover, your CV will look better, which is always helpful in your further life journey. Who knows, maybe you will have 1% shares when we IPO 😉

JB: Lastly, I am aware that you have recently been head-hunted and turned down a very lucrative job with an undisclosed firm. What has made you stay at Readdle? Do you believe a firm’s greatest assets are its people?

DZ I really love what we do, what I do. I sometimes dream about Readdle reviews on websites, that is how much I work. I was at Readdle from the very beginning, when it was a small company with 4 people in a rented flat. Now we have super cool office and 25 smart folks on board. The juicy valuation also makes me smile and do a jellyfish dance sometimes. I believe that there is a huge opportunity for us to achieve even better results.

I turned that job offer down because the industry is dying and..I love Readdle. Did I already say that 2 times?

Steve Jobs was right saying “never settle down”.
Make sure you do what you love.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

© Josh Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 2/03/2012

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