Kyle Tkachuk founded Clickback Inc. in 2000 and quickly grew its software offerings into sought-after B2B lead generation solutions that materially benefit his clients and, in turn, help them aggressively grow their business. He’s actively focused on helping B2B businesses achieve their sales and marketing goals by accelerating their lead and revenue growth. It is through Kyle’s leadership that he has grown Clickback from a 5 person team to over 30. He leads mainly by example, always doing his best and encouraging others to do the same. Kyle is an entrepreneur with breadth (and depth) of technical experience and know-how combined with a love of building solutions for B2B companies. He brings extensive experience in designing and supporting systems of all sizes and in a wide variety of industries. Staying true to his passion, and entrepreneurial roots, Kyle aims his focus on keeping lead generation simple, as the marketing landscape becomes more complex.
How did you get into the industry?
First, let me tell you what Clickback does. We’re a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company located in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. We’ve helped thousands of marketing and sales teams solve their lead growth problem by using our cloud-based B2B lead generation software products which are uniquely designed to accelerate a business’ lead growth.
As someone who’s been an entrepreneur since their 20’s, I got into the industry in University when a classmate came up with a business idea which he referred to as an “Internet Solutions Centre.” It would offer services like Internet access, Internet-friendly computers, Website design, and Internet training to the public. The inception of the idea was for a school project. But, I really thought this could be something bigger. I wanted to turn it into an actual business. My classmate had no interest in starting a business, so I received his permission to pursue this idea on my own. After graduating with a BBA in entrepreneurship in 1996, I started my first company as a way to turn this idea into reality.
Along the way, however, we started to focus on software development and building SaaS products. One of the SaaS products we offered was email marketing (Clickback MAIL). Seeing where the market was heading in the mid-2000s, we put our effort into building out our Clickback MAIL product. In 2010, we came to realize that many companies were using our software for targeted B2B lead generation as this was their biggest challenge.
But the main problem our clients faced was finding a solution that allowed them to email lists that were not 100% opted-in as they had purchased their B2B contacts or they were cold and were not opted-in. After collecting more customer insight and data, and doing thorough analysis of the market, we came to the decision in late 2010 that our focus should be on B2B lead generation for marketers. We wanted to help them accelerate their lead growth as this was a huge obstacle for them.
Seeing this as an opportunity, we soon discovered that – at the time – there was really no solution out there for small to mid-sized B2B companies to send emails to their purchased or cold contact lists for the purposes of lead generation.
As a result, we began partnering with all of the major data providers across North America and beyond. Since then, we’ve become the go-to solution for B2B companies who purchase or have a large volume of contact data and need an email lead generation software solution that is safe, reliable and 100% CAN-SPAM compliant.
Any emerging industry trends?
The business landscape is always changing. For example, one thing we realized a few years ago was that companies were missing out on leads and potential revenue opportunities from their website. In fact, we found that up to 98% of traffic that comes to a site doesn't actually convert. So, as a way to help companies recover those leads, we launched our second B2B lead generation software product (Clickback WEB). This new product gives customers the ability to identify anonymous companies that have visited their website but didn't inquire, which in turn allows them to generate new leads and grow their business. In fact, we feel this product has even bigger growth potential than our first product (Clickback MAIL).
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
This may not be a direct industry challenge or opportunity, but for any business to succeed you have to attract 'top talent.' So a hurdle we sometimes encounter - being a growing B2B business, is hiring great employees. Located in Niagara, Ontario, it's sometimes difficult to recruit great talent because most are used to working in the Toronto area. And although the Niagara Region is becoming better known as an area with innovative companies, the cost of living is lower in Niagara than other areas in the Golden Horseshoe, so sometimes candidates think our wage offering will be lower. But that's not the case. In fact, we make it a part of our hiring process to inform potential employees that our wages are based on the national average so it’s comparable to anywhere else. Luckily, retaining employees has not been a major challenge due to our strong culture, training, support and benefits.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
The parent company was founded in 1996, and in 2000 evolved into Clickback, which has experienced tremendous growth in recent years as its B2B lead generation software products have become a must-have solution for a variety of businesses all over the world. Since 2011, the team has grown from 5 employees to over 30.
In late 2010, we transformed our permission-based or opt-in email marketing software into one of the world’s first SaaS companies to offer email lead generation software to its customers. The reason for this shift was because of high client demand for it. The change was to offer an email-sending platform where you can send to lists that are not 100% opted in, provides a safe and proven method of securing profitable B2B leads to mid-market and enterprise companies, while being fully CAN-SPAM compliant.
Staying true to our mission, and entrepreneurial roots as a B2B lead generation software company, as the marketing landscape becomes more complex our goal is to keep things simple.
Our vision is to focus on building cloud-based software that helps B2B companies fill their marketing and sales pipeline from day one.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
As mentioned, late last year we launched our second B2B lead generation software product (Clickback WEB). This new product gives customers the ability to identify anonymous companies and contacts that have visited their website but didn’t inquire, allowing them to generate new leads and grow their business.
In the near future we plan on scaling Clickback WEB as we feel it has even more growth potential than our first software solution, Clickback MAIL.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Recognizing that the market was changing in 2010, we chose to shift our focus to building out our primary product to be an email lead generation software solution. This led to us becoming recent winners of the 2017 PROFIT 500 ranking #106 on their list as one of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies due to the success of our B2B email lead generation solution, Clickback MAIL, which saw a five-year revenue growth of 689%. This achievement reflects our dedication to our customers, the strength of our B2B lead generation software products and the persistence and effectiveness of our team.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
One of the most difficult moments for me was when I decided to shift from business services industry to building out and developing SaaS products. When you make any change to your business model, it’s a risk. One where it could pay in dividends, or where I could lose a lot.
Luckily the former was true and I learned that as a CEO, it’s important for us to take calculated risks in order to aggressively grow a business.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
At Clickback, we’ve always maintained a Customer First Focus, which is what our customers receive, one of the reasons we have over 90% customer satisfaction rating on Zendesk. But mostly, the ideal outcome for a client is to aggressively grow their B2B lead funnel, and our products help them to do just that.
How do you motivate others?
Fair wages, good benefits, an employee trust to share in ownership of the company and most importantly a cool and fun place to work.
Examples of cool things we do for our staff include; the implementation of a Health and Wellness plan in-house which offers our employees monthly massages, by a trained masseuse. Also we have monthly birthday gatherings to celebrate our employees and promote social interactions amongst all of her teams.
Recently we built a new office for our company with open concept areas for departments so that they can easily communicate with one another. This, I believe, has led to more productivity and efficiency. It’s also strengthened our bond as a team, ensuring our top goals are growth and personal development.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Education is important, whether it’s college or university. But at the end of the day, all that education provides you with is the tools and structure needed to learn and expand your professional career. So, whether you’re an entrepreneur, or are working in the industry, you need to get out there and get experience, learn from people who have it and read about others with experience in your industry. Then someday, you will be that person who can share what you’ve learned with others.