Interview with Itzik Levy (vCita)
vCita is an all-in-one solution for client facing small businesses.
I interviewed Itzik Levy, vCita founder to find out more. This is the hundred and eighty ninth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Itzik!
How would you describe vCita in under 50 words?
vCita strives to provide small businesses with everything they need to work with their clients online. It’s a must have service for any small business to capture more leads on their website, provide online scheduling, manage invoicing and payments, manage and track clients and do email marketing – all in one place.
What made you decide to launch vCita mid 2010?
It was important to us to get customers using the product as early as possible. Mostly because we believe that the best way to build a great product is by getting constant feedback and usage statistics from customers. This approach made us release the product as soon as we thought it is stable enough and provides value to our clients. Since then we are in an endless cycle of collecting feedback and releasing a new version every two weeks.
How have you funded vCita?
We are funded by a group of private investors that have been a great help and support to get vCita to where we are today. We are lucky to have very experienced investors that know to give the right advice at the right time.
How long did it take to put together the initial version? What was technically the most challenging part of developing vCita?
It took us 6 months to start a beta, and then another 6 months to launch it. We have a strong development team – they can do anything technically – but for us it’s always been about presenting the technology to our customers in a way that’s super easy for them to use. When you serve people around the globe, and from so many different verticals – it’s not trivial to create an experience everyone understands and can work with. I believe this is the true challenge when working with small businesses.
Who do you see as your target audience? How are you reaching them?
We are totally focused on small businesses, specifically service providers – businesses who sell their services rather than products. Our goal is to introduce small businesses with concepts and tools that so far have been too costly, or only available to technology savvy, bigger companies. We want to provide an integrated and inexpensive solution, and help them make the most of their online assets, and manage their time efficiently.
How does your service encourage website visitors to get in touch with the businesses they’re looking at?
If you build a business website you must think on how you turn visitors into clients. How you never lose a potential lead. One of our key investments is our lead generation widgets. We offer contact forms, contact sidebars, contact widgets, scheduling buttons, standalone contact pages and even a Facebook plugin – a variety of layouts, easily customized to any business need and design.
vCita also has a unique proactive contact box that shows on every page of the site. Altogether, when starting to use vCita a business should expect an increase of at least 100% for the number of contact requests they’ll get from their website. We repeatedly see this increase in our statistics and we get positive customers’ feedback about this all the time.
How different is the current version of vCita compared to your initial launch?
We’ve made it a long way since launch. We were initially focused on a narrow aspect of video meetings and scheduling. Since then we’ve added countless features and improved our product immensely. To be honest, I don’t think we have a single line of code that stayed from our initial launch version!
You provide your service to over 100,000 professionals. Have you received the feedback and growth you expected since launching August 2010?
We are very happy with our growth since our public launch Sep 2011. We keep a constant growth in user acquisition and activity.
What are some of your features that make people’s lives easier?
I believe features our users like the most would be our proactive contact form, our online scheduling, our invoicing & payments collection and our mini-CRM. But the most important aspect is that we provide everything within the same service and we integrate into your existing scheduler, email, website – providing you and your clients which a very simple and professional experience. I believe that’s why our users love our product.
What is your primary focus in terms of new developments at the moment?
We are trying to move fast and respond to our users need. We regularly survey our client base for their needs. Just over the last couple of months we’ve completely revised our contact form design, our daily calendar view, our invoicing solution and provided a new client portal client (See example).
Where do you see vCita in 5 years time?
I believe vCita will become a standard for any small business that goes online. We will make business-client communication and interaction smooth and easy – from initial contact, to scheduling, payments, follow-up and marketing. As time goes by, clients expect their service providers to be available for them 24/7 online. We will help millions of small businesses around the world to deliver this to their clients – at a minimal effort and at a low cost.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
Online the advice that all founders keep saying: don’t be too discrete – share your thoughts to get feedback from relevant people. Try to raise money only when you have a good story. Build a minimal viable product and release as soon as possible. Listen to your clients well. Constantly track usage statistics to know what works and what doesn’t. Train your team to be really good at doing those short learn -> implement -> measure cycles.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Seeing businesses from all over the world – from coaches, to accountants, lawyers, and consultants, telling us how vCita changed their practice at so many levels is so great. It makes me feel we’re doing the right things. It’s what driving our team to keep on thinking what we should introduce next to our customers.
Can you convince the reader to start using vCita in under 50 words?
Start with our Free Forever plan. If you build a website – we have awesome contact forms and widgets for you – It will get you more leads. If you do scheduled appointments – save time with our self-service appointment booking – It will help your clients and fill your calendar. Let your clients view and pay invoices online.
Finished reading? Check out vCita!