The startup ecosystem in Moldova has certainly already heard of Planable. The initiative was created by three young people from Moldova: Xenia, Vlad and Sergiu, in 2016, and their product is already widely requested internationally.
Planable is a collaboration tool for social media managers and their clients that makes it easy to plan, view, discuss, and approve social media posts.
In the first article of the series #CunoasteComunitatea, we talked to Xenia Muntean, CEO and Co-Founder of Planable, to find out hidden details from the startup’s kitchen and to discover the secret of their success.
Startup Moldova: Tell us about Planable: How would you like this brand to be remembered as?
Xenia Muntean: Planable is the place where social media teams collaborate both internally and with customers to reach posts worthy of a love reaction. Planable brings under the same roof the entire marketing team, designers, clients, the legal team or other interested parties in the final result. Our platform simplifies the collaboration process, so that only the best posts will reach Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Google My Business, Youtube or TikTok.
Startup Moldova: Today there are several digital solutions for planning social media posts. What makes you special and what innovative solution does your startup bring?
Xenia Muntean: Within the platform, team members can create posts, preview them as if they were live, receive feedback and approval from managers or other departments, and schedule them to be published. Everything happens in one place, without the messages being lost in different environments such as Slack, e-mail, spreadsheets, WhatsApp or other project management products that do not allow the visualization of the final result. By streamlining and automating collaboration, those tedious and tedious parts of the process are eliminated. In short, marketing teams can save time with Planable, focusing more on the creative side of the process.
Startup Moldova: Where did the idea for this startup in Moldova come from, from what necessity?
Xenia Muntean: As the story of many products begins, Planable was born out of a need that both I and my co-founders felt. We had experience working in marketing agencies and we ran into the problem of difficult approval of content that was to be posted on social networks. Customers used various methods and media to convey feedback, it was often lost along the way and there was no universal solution to preview posts.
When dealing with visual content, it is essential to be able to give clear feedback in context. “What would it be like to be able to leave comments right next to the post, in a confidential environment, to which only team members and customers have access?”, We asked ourselves then. We were the ideal users, but over time we realized that not only Moldovan agencies need this product, but the entire social media marketing industry, from Sydney to Cape Town and Los Angeles.
Startup Moldova: There is a long way to go from idea to product. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced at the beginning?
Xenia Muntean: Although it seems counterintuitive, the most difficult thing at the beginning of the road is to create a simple product. I had a lot of ideas and I saw a lot of possibilities to meet the social media needs of marketers. It’s overwhelming when you know that will be the basis on which you will build any future functionality. In addition, the intuitiveness of the interface is the key to attracting non-technical people to use your platform. It is necessary that the base be simple enough not to be an obstacle later in the development of the product, but also to respond to the needs of the users in a way that is as easy to use as possible.
Startup Moldova: Currently, what is the target customer segment and who are the real customers you already have?
Xenia Muntean: Our product is aimed at in-house social media teams and marketing agencies around the world. At present, we are happy to be chosen by over 2000 customers. Half of them are from North America and we have in our portfolio big names like Hyundai, Viber, Christian Louboutin, and the United Nations. But we are also proud of a few local customers, such as the Viorica Cosmetics brand and the Purple digital marketing agency. Although, new marketing teams are becoming Planable customers every day, we enjoy every success and we are grateful that we have reached this point. We have integrated the celebration of small victories into our start-up culture and we plan to keep it for a long time to come.
Startup Moldova: Without funding, it is difficult to develop such an idea. Did you manage to attract startup investments? How? From whom?
Xenia Muntean: Yes, investments are important when you want an accelerated growth of the product. In the first part of this process, we were supported by Spherik Accelerator and Techstars. They offered us the initial investment. Later, we managed to raise a seed-type round from Angular Ventures and GapMinder.
Startup Moldova: Even more important than technology and finance are the Planable people. Tell us about the team!
Xenia Muntean: We started with the formula of 3 young people who have a dream in which they strongly believe and are determined to succeed at any cost. For example, Vlad Caluș dropped out of college to devote himself 100% to this project. An important milestone that has shown us that we are on the right track has been our inclusion in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2019 list. Management, at the Webby Awards, an award whose importance is comparable to the Oscars in the field of online.
In present, we are an involved and fine team of 28 talented people, with two very well balanced offices from several points of view. Thus, half of the team deals with sales, customer relations and marketing in Bucharest, and the other half manages product development (engineering & UI / UX design) in Chisinau.
Over time, we have attracted talent from Uber, Amazon, Salt Edge, Endava and Orange. We offer many benefits and development opportunities to team members (team buildings every 2 months, free lunch, private health insurance, unlimited leave, monthly budget for continuous development, the best technology, etc.). One of the things I even said on the career page is that at Planable you can grow professionally faster than you can say the word “start-up”, and we mean it. These are just some of the reasons why we had an ENPS (Employer Net Promoter Score) of 96 at the end of 2021, an impressive number that we check regularly to see how happy our team members are.
Also, because we want to give back to the community, we are involved in the development of the IT community in Moldova, participating in GirlGoIT and hosting the occasional JS Meetup.
Startup Moldova: Your success can clearly be seen today, but what growth plans do you have for the future?
Xenia Muntean: Our plans include both product development and team growth. These are closely linked, which is why we want to continue to attract people who are passionate about what they do. Together with them, our goal of becoming the reference solution for content collaboration is one step closer to reality.
We aim to expand beyond the content dedicated to social media networks, and this requires people with a fresh vision, a lot of energy and a desire to help us put Moldova on the international map of start-ups.
Startup Moldova: Thank you, Xenia, for participating and for revealing the secrets of Planable! From the whole community, we wish you continued success.