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Building marketing products for small businesses is becoming tougher. One way to stand out is to build it with less user interaction in mind. Let the software do the work so that your customers don’t have to.

Alen Malkoc lives and breathes small business marketing and he is a true email marketing expert. Prior to Optyn, Alen built and sold Dealster, Chitown Deals, and other smaller businesses such as Dana Cafe and the Chicago Street Cup.
Optyn is a marketing automation company for small businesses. Optyn makes marketing simple for small businesses by providing easy, automated tools to acquire and engage their customers. Optyn’s marketing platform helps business owners decide what message to communicate and then enables them to create, schedule and send an email marketing campaign in less than 2 minutes.


BusinessInterviews.com: What are some ways that you make email marketing easier for small business owners?

Alen: We have spoken to a lot of small business owners (mostly owner-operators) and we’ve noticed a trend – Email marketing is a chore for 99% of them. That’s why we embarked on this journey and we want to take this feeling out of the equation. We make it really simple for you to send out a marketing campaign. For example, we help you choose an engagement (product announcement, coupon, survey, etc) and we ask you to fill out a few fields, and boom you are done. Literally within 2 minutes or less, you can engage your customer base. Right now we are focusing on email marketing but are focusing on expanding this to other channels such as social media. We want to eliminate the need for time, money, and expertise for small business owners to take advantage of email marketing.

BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on being accepted into gener8tor accelerator. Can you talk about what this milestone has meant to you and the company in general?

Alen: Well this has been an awesome experience and we met a wonderful group of people who believe in us and are pushing us forward. The best part was that we were early on in our product development and this gave us instant validation. We were one of the 5 companies picked out of over ~275 companies that applied to gener8tor. This gave our startup the ability to say…Hey, I guess these investors (and partners) believe we’ve got something. It’s really a great morale boost and as a startup you need small victories like these.

BusinessInterviews.com: Where does your passion for entrepreneurship and small business come from?

Alen: Good question. I’m not sure exactly but I’m a refugee (now a proud U.S. Citizen) from former Bosnia and I had to “grow up” very early on. At age 9, I had to translate for my parents who spoke no German (we fled to Germany). At age 14, I had a job and I always had to help out my mom and dad in many ways. I started to build websites in high school and with my soccer coach saying hey, can you do my brother’s restaurants’ business, things started to push me into the direction of working for myself. Since then, I’ve started a lot of projects from non-profit soccer club (which merged into a still existing organization) to for profit businesses like Dealster, Chitown Deals, Chicago Street Cup, and Dana Café, all which I exited successfully. Some were very small exits but to start a company with nothing, I still consider them successes and mostly my personal progression as an entrepreneur.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share some tips with our readers on how to choose an email marketing campaign solution that best fits their needs?

Alen: We believe that there are 3 buckets of people who use email marketing software (and marketing software in general).
1. Marketing personnel. So you might be a marketing manager for a small business and you have time on your hands to execute the email marketing strategy. You probably want software that is very flexible and takes time to create a good campaign. You have time to deal with potential issues, list segmenting, template creation, etc. I would say we aren’t right for you (just yet) but there are a lot of companies that offer email marketing. They also might use someone like Marketo since they probably have a bigger budget.

2. The do-it yourselfer. The do it yourselfer is the business owner who wants to do it yourself and not pay somebody. This person might have more time or willingness to invest time. For them, choosing an email marketing software depends on price and “feel”. We might be right for them but they are more likely to try a few different providers before choosing one. They would probably use a Mailchimp type of service.

3. Busy business owner. (Well you might say, everyone is “busy”). We believe that this is our target market (at this time). We are looking to help busy business owners who are overwhelmed when it comes to marketing and just don’t know where to start. Our software takes a lot of things (mobile responsive emails, choosing subject lines, auto-segmentation) out of the equation for them and letting them create a marketing campaign in 2 minutes or less. Looking at this market, and the approximately 20 million Very Small Businesses, we have a big enough target market to go after and we believe that Optyn is the perfect solution for them.

So pending in which bucket you fall, you can see what type of software is right for you. With that said, I do urge you to give Optyn a try (for free) and let us know your thoughts on how we can make it better and more importantly…easier.

BusinessInterviews.com: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about?

Alen: There is a lot of friction and segmentation going on in small business marketing. In email marketing, you start seeing a change in technology (Gmail Tabs) and how consumers consume (marketing emails). We are aware of that and we will try to stay a step ahead of it.

In regards to small business marketing, I believe the biggest trend that will be coming soon is consolidation of marketing software. We see a lot of companies going after the same customer inundating business owners and making it hard for them to make a decision of which “type of marketing” to do. I believe, we are working towards something to be part of this possible trend and build a one-stop shop for marketing needs for small business owners.

BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on why you believe that your philosophy towards marketing products and especially email marketing software will make Optyn stand out in 2014?

Alen: I believe it will be another huge success or it might be our demise. In business, and in life, timing is everything. I believe that the timing is just right for us to embed our philosophy for building marketing software for small businesses. Of course, it will take time but the basic concept is that we have to build the software for people who lack marketing expertise, they lack the time, and many lack technical know how. With that in mind (our philosophy), we are building an intuitive marketing platform that requires minimal interaction for the best results. It’s easier said than done, but we are up to the challenge.

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