After founding the successful stock photo website Depositphotos and heading Ning as CEO, Max Yarchevsky set out on another venture, founding the free website builder Boxmode. While going up against stiff competition in Wix and WordPress, the company has grown to become an award-winning organization, having won over more than 25,000 active users and begun operations across 190 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Israel.
According to Max Yarchevsky, Boxmode “was born as a concept of a community-driven product aimed at grasping the pain points of our customers and providing them with targeted solutions.” His previous leadership experience “as the CEO at NING helped [me and my team] realize the inaptitude of the ‘one size fits all’ approach in the modern market of website builders.” Realizing this, he said that Boxmode and his team “strive to be as ‘real’ as possible for [our] clients, focusing on what’s important for them.”
At Boxmode, Max Yarchevsky and his team set out to “develop an ultimate, scalable website building platform that would meet the expectations of businesses, creatives, and web developers alike.” They work to achieve this goal under their belief that “creating websites must be accessible to all, regardless of technical skills or budget.”
In 2020, after just ten months, Boxmode and Max Yarchevsky have already won a Quality Choice and Trusted Vendor Awards from Crozdesk, a business software discovery platform based in the United Kingdom with global operations.
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Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Max Yarchevsky: We are simply cooler. Kidding. We are creating a website builder from scratch using cutting-edge technology. This technology is out of reach for our competitors. Why? It emerged after their products launched. They have too much technological debt and are too “bulky” to keep up with these advancements. The only way for them to compete is to start new products compatible with today’s users’ tech expectations.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Max Yarchevsky: Learn new things as often as you can. “Burning out” usually means being tired of doing routine things and having no substantial results. The easiest way to get substantial results is to do something new. This can be learning about and implementing new approaches, frameworks, and technologies.
I learn from news resources and specialized blogs. For me, it’s about reading the news and trying to figure out the ins and outs of what catches my attention. Unlike other people, I don’t have any particular interest in courses. They usually offer something that someone has already figured out before me. They lack the novelty that news resources and blogs have to offer.
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Max Yarchevsky: I have a long list of people who made me who I am today. These are my team members, business partners, and basically everyone who I have the luck to share my personal and professional life with. I don’t want to share their names, though.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Max Yarchevsky: A vision of how to achieve its clearly defined goals powers a good company. i In a great company, all team members know the company’s goals and vision. But most importantly, they know what every one of them can do to achieve these goals faster.
MSQRD, a video filter app Facebook acquired in 2016, is an excellent example of a great company. They are a perfect team of people who decided to create an amazing product. If you have watched Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, you probably remember Sam Waterston’s line: ”You know what, kiddo? In the old days of about 10minutes ago, we did the news well. You know how? We just decided to.” That works for MSQRD, too. They defined goals, hit them, and aimed higher, all this thanks to their ability to work in sync as a team and the decision to create something great.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Max Yarchevsky: First of all, if your company breaks even, boasts clear unit economics, and only then stops growing, you should consider yourself a lucky person. You’ve done a great job! It also means you have more time to focus on a new thing.
This new thing can be pivoting or launching an entirely new business. It is a great way to rise like a phoenix. Any business person usually has more than one business idea to work with. As a rule, the idea behind your current company isn’t the first and only business idea you ever had. Quite possibly, you have other things in various other industries to try out, and that’s what you should do.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Max Yarchevsky: We are not living in a 100% apocalyptic scenario. It’s a tough time for some industries and a time of unprecedented growth for other ones. If your business belongs to the first category, my advice is to switch to something new. Don’t be afraid to pivot. You have a close-knit team of professionals who helped you build your previous business. And you’ve got your business experience, too. So, I say you should benefit from this window of great opportunities the sooner, the better.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Max Yarchevsky: There are millions of opinions on what is essential when running a business. If you listen to them all, you’ll realize that everything is important.
But what we usually underestimate is how hard it is to find the right people for your team. It’s much more difficult than finding a skilled professional. The right people are interested in living and growing with your company rather than simply completing their tasks.
You should always keep that in mind.
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Max Yarchevsky: Let me start with the following: Every company approaches core business elements differently. Customer experience is one of these key elements. This means that every business has its unique approach to creating a Wow! customer experience.
That said, I’d like to emphasize that it’s impossible to ensure the best customer experience for everyone. There’s always going to be someone not quite happy with what you are offering. Your goal here is to satisfy the majority of your target customers.
Choose your target audience and offer the best solution for their biggest pain. Here’s your recipe.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Max Yarchevsky: Social media are a great tool for almost any business today. For example, Boxmode has a growing number of followers on LinkedIn and Facebook. We invest a lot of resources to build even stronger communities there.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that reputational risk exists. And it’s not something you can brush off. It’s attached to everything you and your team do whether you’re posting something on social media or answering your user’s questions.
Having an anti-crisis PR strategy is a good way of managing this matter. But even if you don’t have one, never do anything in panic. Weigh your options and then act.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Max Yarchevsky: There are two most common mistakes CEOs and founders can make. The first one is saying no to pivoting. The second one is building a product based exclusively on the founder’s vision. Most companies lack the resources to conduct comprehensive surveys of their target customers. They have even fewer resources to analyze gathered data and define their ideal customer profile. In most cases, business leaders base their decisions on their gut feelings.
The only way to avoid these mistakes is to find at least several people among your acquaintances who would be interested in your product. Talk about your product as much as you can, get feedback, and don’t be afraid to adjust your product accordingly.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Max Yarchevsky: I like this question 🙂 If I could start a movement, I would push for the freedom of online speech. The thing is that the Internet is being actively censored today. Look at major social media platforms and media outlets. Any platform suitable for the interaction of many people is heavily moderated. Content is being removed because of the risk of potential lawsuits. Should it be like this?
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Max Yarchevsky: I would be glad to connect with your readers on LinkedIn.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
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