Sales Talk for CEOs: From 1 million to 1.5 billion at Angie’s List, What Alex Levin did Next (Ep123)

Jun 11, 2024 | Sales Talk for CEOs Podcast

Episode Summary

Ever felt the frustration of navigating customer service bots that just don’t get your problem? Alex Levin of Regal.io understands this pain all too well and is transforming customer interaction with a human touch. He shares his journey from working to build Angie’s list to cofounding Regal.io, getting customer feedback in the early days and growing sales to $3M ARR in the first year.

Here’s what you’ll discover:

  • After taking Angie’s List from 1 million to 1.5 billion, why Alex craved the startup world.
  • The founding story of Regal.io and its mission.
  • How personalized customer interactions can drive sales.
  • The importance of a hands-on approach in the early stages of a startup.

From Angie’s List to Regal.io: The Founding Story After helping Angie’s List grow from 1 million to 1.5 billion in revenue, Alex Levin yearned for the dynamic environment of a startup. Recognizing a gap in how companies interact with customers online, he co-founded Regal.io. “People were nervous about making big decisions online. What worked was actually talking with the customer,” says Alex. He found that for complex services, customers preferred real conversations to feel reassured and confident.

Personalized Customer Engagement Regal.io was born from the insight that certain industries, like home services, healthcare, and education, benefit immensely from personalized customer interactions. At Angie’s List, Alex saw that conversion rates improved significantly when customers had real conversations. He explains, “We had a team of 5000 people engaging directly with customers, but the tools were not made for proactively engaging them.” This meant using a large team to personally interact with customers, build trust, and guide them, even though existing tools weren’t designed for this proactive approach.

Building the Business Alex and his co-founder took a calculated risk, leaving their jobs to build Regal.io without a finished product. They validated their concept by showing potential customers mockups and iterating based on feedback before raising money. Alex emphasizes, “Don’t raise any money until you’ve convinced yourself it’s a real business.

Scaling and Sales Strategy Initially, Alex led the sales efforts himself, leveraging his industry knowledge and personal network and was able to close $3M in ARR the first year. When you are doing all the selling and decide you are ready for some help, he advises, “Get somebody to shadow you, see what you’re doing, figure out how you’re doing it.” This hands-on approach helped them get others up to speed more quickly.

The Role of Human Interaction In a world increasingly driven by digital interactions, Regal.io stands out by emphasizing the value of human touch. “If you’re lucky, people go to that one feature they like, and you end up spending years building that,” Alex notes. This approach has helped Regal.io grow rapidly, reaching significant milestones in a short time.

Action Steps for CEOs

  • Emphasize Personal Interaction: Identify areas where direct engagement can significantly impact customer experience and conversion rates.
  • Validate Early: Before investing heavily, use mockups and direct customer feedback to refine your product concept.
  • Build a Dedicated Team: Hire individuals who can shadow and learn from your sales process to create a scalable sales strategy.

Making real connections with your customers can make a big difference. Alex Levin’s journey with Regal.io shows how personal touch can drive business success. For more insights and detailed strategies, watch the full episode below.

Watch below or on our YouTube channel

Chapters

[01:02] Guest Welcome – Introduction of Alex Levin, founder of Regal IO, and his journey from Angie’s List to starting his venture.

[01:32] Regal IO Explained – Alex provides insights on Regal IO’s conception from his experiences at Angie’s List and the gap in the home services industry.

[02:48] Customer Engagement Realities – The revelation of conversational engagement increasing conversion rates and how Regal IO addresses this in various industries.

[05:03] The Human Touch in Digital – Discussing why despite digital trends, human interaction remains crucial in customer engagement and business dealings.

[05:56] Startup Leap – Alex shares the motivations for leaving a large company and deciding to build a startup addressing sales engagement difficulties.

[07:37] Founding Moments – Strategy behind launching Regal IO, including initial market research and the philosophy of avoiding premature funding.

[09:13] Entrepreneurial Grit – The importance of perseverance and adaptability in an entrepreneur’s journey from concept to successful company growth.

[10:24] Sales Strategies – Alex reflects on the early sales approach of Regal IO and the lessons learned about pricing and building a sales team.

[13:23] Scaling Sales – From sales tactics at 3 million ARR to scaling up operations and transitioning to an enterprise sales model and channel partnerships.

[16:55] Customer-Centric Sales Structure – Alex stresses the significance of customer experience during onboarding and maintaining executive involvement in the sales process.

[18:39] Role of the CEO in Scaling – Alex advises CEOs on evolving their roles in sales strategy as their company grows, using both personal involvement and strategic delegation.

[20:14] Growth and Sales Team Evolution – An overview of how Regal IO went from a solitary sales front to a robust 30-member team tailored to market needs.

[24:10] Executive Participation – Navigating the balancing act in bringing senior executives into sales conversations to provide value and secure customer loyalty.

[27:30] Final Thoughts and Advice – Alex imparts final advice for CEOs on positioning their products in a cost-conscious market and ensuring they convey unique value.

About Guest

Alex Levin is Co-Founder and CEO of Regal.io. He leads the GTM teams. Prior to Regal.io, Alex was a product manager at Personal and Thomson Reuters, and then joined Handy (acquired by ANGI in 2018) as an early employee. At Handy and then ANGI Alex led growth and marketing. Alex grew up in New York and received his BA from Harvard.

Social Links

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn:https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexlevin1/

REGAL LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/regal-io/

Check out Alice’s website: https://aliceheiman.com/

Connect with Alice on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliceheiman/

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