As the child of simple parents, he always wanted to become an entrepreneur, because he aspired to freedom. But Botond Peres had to learn that freedom has a price. Now, Peres, together with his partner, run a small company, and they are looking ahead to breaking into a niche market that monetizes their knowledge and shares their know-how with existing and future employees to implement a service they have dreamed about for the past few months.
Botond Peres and his partner, Cosmin Natea, decided to start a business without any prior market knowledge or experience in sales when the first client asked for an invoice. Although it was tempting to leave their 9-to-5 jobs after seeing the zero in their company bank account change to a number comprising several figures, these young developers from Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș decided to remain employed, at least for the time being. As it turns out, at the time this was a wise decision for a small company because this was the only way they were able to survive the financial crisis, which hit them hard despite having enough clients to earn a decent living.
“We have underestimated our work for years because the software development tasks were too easy for us,” Peres told TransylvaniaNOW. This seems to be the problem for smaller companies, which are afraid to invest in sales – whether that be knowledge, a salesperson’s experience, etc. – despite knowing that sales are the only way to generate revenue.
Everything changed when Peres was hired by a Canadian company’s Marosvásárhely-based software development and tech support office, where he was involved in the sales process as the tech guy. “I’m grateful for these four years because I learned how to make a sale and how to speak with potential and existing clients, and I got to master a key sales strategy that we are currently using at our company: properly set expectations.”
After he was diagnosed with asthma, Peres weighed his options and started thinking about the future and goals he had dreamed of accomplishing. He was far behind all of them, so his ambition and hunger for information pushed him towards a new course: Peres decided to invest in himself. For almost a year, his “main task” was to read countless books and attend courses to gain knowledge about how to run a company. “It was a worthwhile investment,” he says, smiling.
Until now, Lab36 Solutions has targeted the Romanian market with its ERP and VoIP Billing solutions, but Peres says they have found their niche market. It’s an area that has gained little attention so far and deals with what has become a hassle to WordPress website owners: website maintenance. An always-online site is an essential requirement for all businesses, but not all have the resources to assign a person to keep an eye on website performance.
“This is where Lab36 Solutions comes into the picture,” Peres says. “Web development companies have a similar service, but their revenue comes from development, not maintenance. This means that handling issues reported by customers after the project is finished will cut into the progress of new projects, so it will have lower priority compared to ongoing projects. Our website maintenance service will fill that gap, and since we are focusing on solving problems, not developing websites, you’ll get instant support for a yearly subscription fee,” Peres says.
Along with uptime monitoring, maintenance, and bug fixes, customers will be able to request modifications to their website, as the plans will include at least 12 hours of coding and technical support, as well. The monthly cost of the maintenance plan will reflect the services included, and it can go as high as 36 hours of coding and technical support. “By assuming the role of the mediator, we want to take the burden of maintaining a website off of our customers’ shoulders so that they can just come to us with the problem/idea, and we will take responsibility for solving it. We will handle the communication between the parties, keep the customer informed, and finally present the solution, which should match the customer’s requirements,” Peres says. The maintenance plan was launched, and they already have ten customers, but Peres has set the bar high: He aims to get 1,000 customers by the end of next year.
“My experience says that people in this region have a communication problem. Speaking about IT companies, although there are exceptions, when you reach out to them with an issue, they solve it first and reply only afterwards, which wouldn’t be a problem in itself, if time didn’t work against them. Sometimes weeks pass until the issue is solved. So, what are we are trying to do here is insert into this workflow a well-established communication protocol, which means customers are kept up to date. So, if they submit a ticket, for example, they receive updates on the status of their issue,” Peres says.
Partly coming from his personal ambition to widen his circle of friends, Peres has ventured into bringing BNI (Business Network International) to Marosvásárhely. This worldwide network of members from the small and medium-sized business segment can be viewed as a referral organization. At the heart of the network is the givers-gain philosophy, a core principle that members agree to uphold. What’s interesting, though, is that members give referrals, but during their weekly meetings, they also publicly talk about how the referred member performed with its service or product. So, if you are considering this aspect of the membership, this should act as a natural way of selecting the best partners that all members can turn to when it comes to his or her specific domain.
After seeing how well it works in other cities in Romania – the Bucharest chapter was established in 2009, the Kolozsvár chapter was founded in 2006, and Temesvár is nearing its launch – Peres has decided to bring this network to his home city. Together, with his partner, they have stared a Marosvásárhely group and hold regular meetings to try to attract members so they can officially establish a local chapter.