An interview with lempire founder, Guillaume Moubeche

Published on
December 4th, 2023
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lempire is a company that crafts SaaS products that are built and marketed to help B2B professionals build powerful relationships for their businesses. One of these products is lemlist. It uses ultra-personalization to help businesses start conversations with their customers. 

I spoke to the founder, Guillaume Moubeche, to get an idea of how this works, their experience with bootstrapping, and some advice for makers wanting to launch.

Introduce yourself and tell us more about lempire 

My name is Guillaume Moubeche, I'm from Paris, and I am the founder and CEO of lempire.

In 5 years, I managed to grow my company to $20M in ARR, achieved a $150M valuation, and sold and acquired SaaS businesses for multi-million dollar deals.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of money. My parents grew up on a farm; they didn’t get any degrees and made a lot of sacrifices to provide my brother and me with a good education.

During my studies, I remember doing every odd job that a student can do—from babysitting to bartending, you name it.

I realized that at every job I did, I always struggled with figures of authority and their outdated ways of doing things.

At that time, I made a promise to myself to do everything I could to become my own boss.

So in 2018, I took a leap of faith and invested all of my savings ($1,000) into one single idea: A SaaS product, lemlist.

Where did you get the idea for lempire? 

Initially, I started a lead generation agency with a friend, which generated millions of dollars across the globe for our customers.

I was doing outbound for my clients, and that’s when I started understanding the biggest pain point of any business owner — How the hell do you find customers and clients?

Most people doing cold outreach send very generic emails that don’t build trust, and end up with low reply rates to their emails.

Very quickly, I realized the reason for this was that they didn’t have the right resources and tools.

They lacked personalization, which for me is the essence of any great sales prospecting because personalization equals building trust with your prospects, and building trust ultimately leads to stronger relationships.

So I decided to create a tool that would help people increase their reply and meeting booked rates — lemlist: the first outreach email platform that creates personalized images automatically.

Our mission at lempire is to help people and businesses grow. And to do so, we have 5 SaaS products: lemlist, lemwarm, lemcal, Taplio, and Tweet Hunter.

What made you decide to bootstrap the project fully? 

When I first started the company, I thought that raising funds was the only way to build a successful business.

And when I was thinking about bootstrapped businesses, I would think that the founders didn’t raise funds simply because they couldn’t.

In the early days of lemlist, I spent hours pitching my product to 10s of VCs… only to get rejected every single time.

I realized I was wasting time on things that weren’t bringing direct value to the business. So, I decided to shift my focus to building a profitable business.

After crossing $1M in ARR, I started receiving weekly messages from investors (including the ones who told me “no” in the first place).

Despite receiving many offers for funding rounds, including a $30M investment offer, I decided to turn them down.

In my opinion, being bootstrapped is the best way to grow a SaaS business. When you bootstrap, you have no other choice than to focus on what matters — generating profit as fast as possible (or else, your business will die.)

Running a profitable business means that you deliver enough value to people so they pay for your service and generate profit on top of it.

In 2021, after growing the company to around $10M in ARR, I decided to sell 20% of the company for a cash-out deal of $30M, got valued at $150M, and became a multi-millionaire.

Contrary to what some people would think, with the money in my bank account I became much more ambitious. I’m now able to take even more risks, follow my gut, and only focus on what I’m passionate about.

You launched lemlist 4.0 on Product Hunt this year. Can you delve into the journey behind lemlist? How has it changed since its first launch?

To be honest, when we first launched lemlist on Product Hunt in 2018, we didn’t have any time to prepare.

Initially, our plan was to fine-tune our product with 20 to 50 beta users and launch THE perfect product (if such a thing exists).

But since I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t use ads to look for beta testers, and decided to post on a Facebook group with cold email experts.

The post got really popular, but this led to one of our competitors announcing that he was going to copy our exact same differentiation feature and allow people to create personalized images in their cold emails.
And to be honest, I never expected a competitor to copy lemlist during the beta.
Knowing that they were already using Ship (a tool to build a waiting list on Product Hunt), we decided that we needed to launch ASAP!
As Reid Hoffman once said, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” That’s exactly how I felt when I launched the first version of lemlist.
Even though lemlist wasn’t the best product out there yet, people loved the idea… allowing my tool to be #1 product of the day.
Since then, with each new version, we’ve invested heavily to improve our product, added new features, and created tons of resources that help our users get the best out of cold outreach.
lemlist now has a community of more than 37,000 users and over 13,000 companies. 🚀

You've got a great rating on Product Hunt. What do you credit that to? Have you been actively promoting leaving reviews on Product Hunt?

When developing a product, it’s really important to have “champions” or “advocates”. These people are usually super happy to help out with the growth of your startup simply because they like your product, your team, or your mindset.

During our first launch on Product Hunt, I sent an email to all our beta testers since they were the ones who had been using the product and who could give the most honest feedback.

And we were really amazed to see the support everyone gave us during the launch! Everyone went out of their way to promote our tool - they posted on Facebook groups, slack communities, and so on!

It was amazing, and we were really grateful 🙌

Build in public or not?

100% — I think it’s the best way to create a community.

I’ve documented our journey from day 1 and shared it all, including our failures, successes, and everything in between.

When you start as a founder, I think it’s important to be transparent, share your learnings, and connect with as many people as possible.

The more you share honest stuff, the more people will relate to what you say and follow your journey.

For example:

Building in public helped me get more people to trust me, get noticed in my industry, get more users to buy my product, etc.

Hence generating more revenue… all for free.

In your opinion, what is the most valuable aspect of the Product Hunt community?

The most valuable aspect is that it’s a tech-savvy community!

This allows for direct feedback from users, an international community, global coverage, and a broad audience!

What’s one thing you’ve learned from launching on Product Hunt?

I think that Product Hunt is THE best way to validate your idea quickly!

Because every founder should determine whether or not their idea is solving a pain, and if it’s worth continuing.

So launching on Product Hunt is a real test to see whether or not your product is bringing something different to the table.

If your launches lead to hundreds of signups and help you gain a lot of support from people (just like we received during lemlist’s first launch 😇)… I believe it’s a success.

Your first launch was in 2018. Tell me about how your relationship with the Product Hunt community has changed.

We’ve launched every new version of lemlist on Product Hunt since our initial launch in 2018.

And we’ve also launched two other products on Product Hunt.

In 2022, we launched Taplio, a tool that helps build a personal brand on LinkedIn, which ranked as the #1 Product of the Day and #4 Marketing & sales product of 2022.

And recently, in Sept 2023, we launched lemcal, an appointment scheduling tool with a fully customizable booking page, which ended up as the #3 Product of the Day.

Launching on Product Hunt is one of the easiest ways to get ahead of your competitors.

It allowed us to connect with new users, gain hundreds of feedback, and ultimately, improve our products.

Is there any piece of advice you would give new entrepreneurs, especially those who want to bootstrap?

“If you’re not at $1M ARR within 6 months with your SaaS, you’re a failure.”

That’s how most entrepreneurs feel when they start.

To me, it’s crazy to see how much pressure young entrepreneurs are putting on themselves.

I was talking to a 21-year-old entrepreneur the other day. He started his business at 18, but he felt like a failure because he hadn’t reached one million dollars in revenue yet.

Personally, when I see someone who started a business at 18, I’m simply impressed.

But with social media, we tend to normalize the so-called “overnight success”.

The odds of success are statistically against you when you start. 9 out of 10 startups fail.

According to Chart Mogul, it takes the median SaaS startup around 2 years and 9 months to reach $1M in ARR, once they get their first paying customer.

The toughest part is to reach $1M in ARR, after that, it seems that everything compounds, because at $1M in ARR chances are that you have found Product Market Fit.

So, if you’re just getting started, remember to take your time and enjoy the ride!

Finally, we’ve seen so many trends over the years. What’s been the most exciting one for you?

I think what’s happening now with AI is completely transforming the world we live in.

It can skyrocket your business growth, or if you do nothing, you may get crushed because your competitors will leverage it.

We’ve leveraged AI to enhance our products to make them better for our users. For example, for lemlist, we’ve introduced AI features to automate cold outreach. And Taplio and TweetHunter are AI-powered tools that help to build a personal brand on LinkedIn and Twitter.

For us, integrating AI into our products has been a game-changer, and I’m really excited to see what comes next!

Comments (19)
Roshni Verma
👨‍💻 This showcases the future of technology brilliantly.
Naoma Laopa
@roshni_verma3 We were able to interact with new users, gather hundreds of comments, and eventually enhance our products as a result. Taylor Pole
Roshni Verma
🚀 Not just a tool; it's a digital symphony.
Aman Soni
👨‍💻 The tech companion every professional dreams of.