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Victor Kovalev, Co-founder and CTO of ScaleGrowth.ai

In this insightful WYTPOD episode, Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS, engages in a dynamic conversation with Victor Kovalev, Co-founder and CTO of ScaleGrowth.ai. Victor, a seasoned techie with a rich background in leading engineering teams, shares the core idea behind ScaleGrowth.ai—democratizing access to technology and enabling swift decision-making for the creation of AI-powered apps. The platform, catering to diverse needs, emphasizes customization, offering users the ability to tailor member apps and workflows. Victor elaborates on the platform’s benefits, such as its role in reducing noise in professional networks and marketplaces, and highlights its interactive member directory and search feature. The discussion delves into monetization strategies, data privacy, and security, showcasing success stories of platforms that have thrived using ScaleGrowth.ai. The conversation wraps up with insights into customer loyalty and retention, hinting at the platform’s plans to introduce auxiliary services.

ScaleGrowth.ai, which is a no-code platform to build AI-powered apps for networks like LinkedIn with a marketplace like Airbnb.

Victor
Co-founder and CTO of ScaleGrowth.ai

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Victor with me today. He’s the co-founder and CTO of ScaleGrowth.ai, which is a no-code platform to build AI-powered apps for networks like LinkedIn with a marketplace like Airbnb. Welcome, Victor. I’m so happy to host you today.

Thank you so much, Harshit, and thanks for having me, everybody.

Great. Victor, I would love for you to start by telling us about your professional journey, a bit about your life please, because you’ve been involved in tons of things.

You’ve been CTO of multiple unicorn companies and pretty interesting.

So, we’d love to know. Yeah. I started as a, I’m a techie by trade, and I started as a lot of people do. I graduated from college. and have had a degree in AI and robotics. And then I went to Silicon Valley to join the fabled world of tech here.

And started as an engineer working for companies like VMware before that, a small authentication startup. And then fell into engineering leadership management and eventually led teams and became CTO at companies like Indiegogo, Redbubble, and MedAdvisor. And also, my big claim to fame is.

At some point, I used to lead all of Yelp’s mobile teams, Android and iOS, which at the time was top 10 in the world by users. That was a massive scale, and a very exciting challenge to solve. And then after a few years of doing that, I’ve been an investor and advisor in a bunch of startups, but never made the plunge myself.

And then myself is co-founder, Anna, who is also my life partner. We’ve decided let’s do this. Let’s go and do our own thing. And I haven’t looked back since.

That’s brilliant and what exactly was the idea behind ScaleGrowth What is the source of the idea altogether?

Why do you feel having such a product out there in the market and what problem are you trying to solve with it?

Yeah, at its core, it’s the democratization of access to technology. So, you look at these situations where people want to create, for example, a product community for their business or a job board or a market network or any kind of referral social type of interaction.

And it’s hard, it’s expensive, and it takes a lot of time and money. And a lot of times you have this brilliant idea and then you go to your product team and they tell you, sure thing. It’s on our roadmap. It’s coming in 2026. And you’re like that’s, that doesn’t help me. I wanted to move yesterday. And what we want to do is we want to empower people to make a decision and quickly bring it to life and try things out. 25 years ago, if you wanted to have a website, you needed to be a Fortune 500. Rent the server space by servers, hire sysadmins, and huge outlay. Then there was my space and the likes of WordPress, and WIX Squarespace.

Right. 15 years ago, you wanted to have e-commerce, you wanted to sell things online, you needed to be Fortune 500. Then there was a rise of platforms like Shopify or Stripe before that there was Magento, all of those, right? And again, it made it easier for people to do e-commerce, right?

And now if you look at the Marketplaces with AI recommendations, with decision-making intelligence. That’s a hard problem that today is again, a privilege of really well-funded companies and initiatives. And we want to open it up. We want to make it easy for anybody who has an idea. Hey, I want to spin up a product community.

I’m a chief experience officer for my company. I can do it overnight. So that’s the idea.

That’s brilliant. Would love to know, because when your side yarn and does it broadly, that it’s the concept of AI-powered apps and you combine network elements like LinkedIn and the marketplace like Airbnb would love to understand from a business point of view, the benefits of it.

The benefit is to create value-creating transactions, right? So, when you look at platforms like Facebook, for example, their goal is to have you spend as much time there as possible because you and they are browsing pictures of cats, right? It’s entertainment. When we are talking about busy professionals we are talking about professional networks.

You don’t want to do that. You just want to be notified when there is an opportunity that’s just right for you. You want to hop on there quickly, have an introduction, exchange a message, kick off a conversation, solve your problem, and move on with your life, right? And that’s one side of it.

And the second side of it is we all have Professional networks, which have incredible value in them, right? I have a network. You have a network, right? WYTLABS has an incredible network and. the true value of these comes when you invite me to a party at your house, and I go there, and then I meet Anna, who becomes my future business partner, right?

And then I remember Harshit forever, and I’m forever grateful to you for that party, right? Because I made this very valuable introduction, right? And so, what we are trying to do is we are trying to Manufacture that serendipity, if you will, and to make those connections magical and solve the problem of, you have platforms like LinkedIn, but the noise to signal ratio of LinkedIn is I log in and I get a gazillion, outsourcing, and vendors, or solicitations and you just log out.

And so, we focus on optimizing, putting the right content or the right people in front of other people, and streamlining the decision-making recommendations for them.

Gotcha. All right the idea of basically interactive member directory and search is a bit intriguing to me.

And that’s something that you do. We do offer for the members basically how exactly does that feature work? And what kind of impact it brings to the table when it comes to networking and engagement.

This is a great question, Harshit. You can think of it as your own private LinkedIn that’s around the topic that’s around the area of interest, the difference being again, when you’re on LinkedIn, first of all, the value of that network, you’re helping Microsoft get more reach rather than, creating value for yourself as a network owner, such as WYTLABS, right?

On the other hand. It’s about the noise-to-signal ratio that I mentioned earlier, right? LinkedIn has way too much noise. I’m not even talking about platforms like Facebook and socials, right? And really what we see time and time again is creating purpose-driven. Networks and marketplaces, which have a specific value transaction for a specific member tend to drive engagement.

I’ll give you an example. We have a customer called the force effect as the largest professional network and marketplace, putting women on boards of companies. So, their mission is, if you have ever been in boardrooms, they are predominantly old white guys, unfortunately, and that’s a great shame. And their mission is to introduce diversity in the boardroom.

Specifically, gender diversity, and they have this incredible community and network of really senior, amazing women, right? When the same women go on LinkedIn, they have the same noise-to-signal issue I have, right? They get bombarded with random Stuff and it’s not useful. It’s not a good use of their time when they go to the force effect community, they have a board seat exchange.

They have a job board. They have a mentorship program. They have perks and benefits. They have investment opportunities for angels to invest in startups and syndicates, which are women-led, but they know that it’s all around, women-led companies and women board members. So right away.

Everything that’s recommended and everything that happens within that network is by definition of warm introduction. It’s by definition a warm lead. And what that does in terms of engagement and conversion is incredible. And so that’s a pattern we see playing out time and time again, is that people to have that clarity of, okay, I’m looking to find a service provider who helps me with a specific problem, I know that, if I’m a woman a senior leader and I happen to be a part of the force effect, I know that they have an incredible community when I can go and I can trust that to source the right service provider, for example.

Makes sense. I would love to know how customizable. Is the member app and when it comes to workflows specifically, because that’s one of the co-features that you offer, right? How businesses can tailor it to their specific needs and even their branding aspect.

Of course. So, a hundred percent the answer is a hundred percent customizable. Every single. A piece of text on any ScaleGrowth white-label platform is fully customizable. The core of it is custom profile data models and custom listings, data models for the marketplace, because we used to joke, with data scientists back at places like Redbubble and Yelp that to create an amazing recommendation engine, to create an amazing decision AI, you need two things.

You need world-class science, which we have on scale growth. But the second thing you need is domain expertise and understanding of your domain, which we don’t have, and no platform has, right? There is nobody who will replace you, for example, you at WYTLABS have an incredible understanding of your community, of your target audience, of what they want, what they need, what they like, and what they don’t like.

You have this expert depth, right? No SaaS tool can replace that. So instead, what we do is we give you no code tools where you log in and you build just like a Google form. But you’re building a data science profile and, and a whole like marketplace app profile, or you’re defining what a typical listing on, say, your job board looks like, or your product community and whatnot.

And by giving you that power. We are essentially extracting your existing expertise as a domain expert, understanding your network, and you are, in technical terms essentially doing supervised learning with our AI engine and teaching it how to better serve your target demographic.

That’s fascinating.

Would love to know a bit more and specifically like for them from a business point of view, from the admin point of view. What are features your platform offers basically around community management and even, improving the decision-making for businesses?

Yeah. That’s right. That’s a great, that’s a great question. The other thing we used to say is that marketplaces are like pizza. It’s easy to make a bad marketplace. It’s easy to make crappy pizza. Anybody can do one. But if you have a really good one, it’s a work of art, right? And why is that?

It’s about certain best practices. It’s about certain it’s sending the right kind of touch point automation at the right moment in a user’s journey that tends to lead to a conversion, right? I’ll give you an example. Back when I was at Yelp, we had a special algorithm that at a certain time of the day boosted the rankings of all the restaurants because it’s dinner time and people are hungry, right?

But exactly what time of day and by how much those restaurants are boosted is like a trade secret, right? That is of incredible value. And so, what we do with ScaleGrowth is we have all these tools on the back end. You have your own CRM, like a community around your marketplace. You have your email automation tool.

Think lean Mailchimp means campaign monitor, right? We have a really powerful workflow automation engine, which you can do to create all sorts of custom, like when Harshit logs in and sends a message to this user or browses this kind of listing this many times. Send a follow-up or, change his recommendation and such ways.

So, you have all these tools, but the real value is we have a library of best practice templates. For these automation engagement touchpoints, which are built around all of our experience building this world-class marketplace as well as all of our other customers, right? Because we do anonymized learning on all the marketplaces and social professional networks we have.

So, we can put it in front of you and say, Hey, for your marketplace or for your network, you may want to include these three automations because they tend to lead to, again, better conversion, better engagement, and better retention. You can always say no, you can always say yes, or maybe it inspires you to do something slightly different, which often happens, and you put your twist on it.

But that’s the true value of it because tools are relatively easy. You can build tools, but knowing how to apply them, that’s where the real magic happens.

That’s true. And since you mentioned that there are so many inbuilt tools within the platform, like for email and all of those things, do you also offer some integration options to your customer base?

Is it something or because of any reason That’s something which is not the area that you want to open up.

It’s a great question. So, we have two, two parts to a business model. So, we operate as a SaaS platform. You can go tomorrow, and sign up on scale grows.ai, spin up your platform, literally overnight.

Tomorrow you can have, let’s say you wanted to make a, I don’t know, a marketplace for WYTLABS members to offer discounts to the products to each other, to help each other find customers. You could go tonight and by tomorrow morning, if you have a can of Red Bull, you can probably have that going right to have a prototype.

That world is all self-service, right? We have a knowledge base. We have community resources. We have a group of people who are passionate about building it. You can go learn all the things. And if you’re one of these, no code hackers you can go on the journey on the other end, we have a professional services team, which is you can come in and you can say, you know what, this is great, but my time is valuable.

And actually, like maybe I’m an executive, and I’m launching this initiative, but I have 50 other things, to take care of hey, ScaleGrowth. This is what I want to create. Our pro services team can take essentially your spec and custom-build it for you out of our existing tools. If need to, they can do additional customizations, and it’s time versus money.

And the other benefit is when you go through professional services, it’s baked in with all the best practices, and they’ll take you through it. questionnaire and they’ll be like, oh, you’re trying to create a job board here. Did you know that for job boards, these three kinds of engagement automation tend to be key?

Do you want them? Yay or nay, right? So that kind of thing. So, it’s a spectrum. You can go self-service or you can go pro services. Depends on your situation. And again, it’s fundamentally time versus money.

Gotcha. And since your platform does not mention predictive analytics and trend insight, would love to know on that front as well, like how businesses can leverage and back over more opportunities for them.

This is brilliant. Thank you for that question. Let’s use an example. So, we have one of our biggest verticals is product communities. So that’s somebody who has, for example, a SaaS platform, and they create a community around the users who are using their platform, right?

And they can exchange best practices, and ideas, answer support queries submit feature requests, report bugs, etc., right? What we can do is we can give each user, a personal portal into this product community membership, where they can do all these things, but as far as predictive analytics and trend insights go as the owner of this community, let’s say you’re the success team manager, or you are the CPO, of this company, you can log into this product community.

At a glance, you can see what is trending. Feature areas, keywords. Ah, this feature area of our product is receiving a lot of questions. So maybe we should write some knowledge-based articles. This other area is getting a lot of engagement and a lot of interactions. You see the trends of what your users are doing versus what your users are not.

I’ll tell you another story from Yelp. This was before my time. So, this is second-hand. But when Yelp was created, Yelp was meant to be Yellow Pages, right? That’s the name, Yelp. And they focused on listings and creating listings. And then as an afterthought, the technical co-founder of Yelp added this review model.

And nobody expected much to come of it. And then they logged in to the platform a week later and then they see that like, all these users are spending all this time writing reviews. We haven’t even asked them to do this, but they’re just coming in and writing review after review of businesses.

And immediately it was like, an epiphany, right? How much value is there in that business decision? Now it has become a super successful business based on that one insight. So that’s what we mean by predictive analytics and trends because we already have to do all the number crunching to run our recommendation engine, the decision making for your end users. And by doing that, you as a platform owner, as the network or marketplace owner, get easy access to all of these trends, analytics, and recommendations based on that. And again, you can use it, you can discard it.

But as I always say, it’s better to have the data and then decide if you want to use it. Yeah,

definitely to have data data-driven than, shooting in the dark. So yeah, it makes sense. Let’s talk a bit more on the front of how exactly the platform supports business. Setting up a paid membership funnel altogether.

And what are the benefits or the features around it that something that you offer so that they can monetize better on the networks and marketplace?

This is a great question. So, there are three ways that people fundamentally monetize. So, when you talk about things like product communities, which I talked about, typically, there is not a direct monetization because that’s in augment offering you create for your customers and you monetize by monetizing upsell and cross-sell of your other offerings, right?

Indirectly. So, it tends to be a lead gen channel for the upsell and cross-sell. Now we have a second category, which is, as you said, memberships, right? A lot of these professional networks. They create paid memberships. So, we have a very robust user group access system with, you can have very multi-tiered permissions, who can see what, who can do what.

And, interactive paywalls and so on, when you try to do things that require an upgrade. We have easy integration with Stripe and a couple of their competitors. You can connect your Stripe account, so all your financials, all your taxes the world of your CFO are still under their control, while you can easily create paid membership subscriptions.

Add-ons and services and just offer that to your members. It’s a very easy, e-commerce flow. The third way that you can monetize, which is interesting, is we are talking about marketplaces. Scale growth offers you as a marketplace owner the ability to create your platform transaction fees.

So, let’s say you offer a marketplace of service providers who offer, I don’t know, paid consulting to each other. You can then say any paid transaction that goes through this marketplace, WYTLABS, to use as an example, takes 12%, 20%, or 3%. You can define whatever that is.

Interesting. And because monetization is doable on the platform. The other important question that comes into play is about data privacy and security of the platform. So, would you please put some light on that front?

Yes. Just to answer security to get it out of the way, because security is important is paramount, we run on AWS, we follow all the best practices of the likes of, again, Yelp, Redbubble, Indiegogo you are in good hands from that perspective.

As far as data ownership, this is one of our key features. When you’re a customer of ScaleGrowth and you’re an owner of a platform or network, you own all your data. And this is a really important point because when you interact on Facebook, you’re making Zuckerberg. Reacher when you interact on LinkedIn, you’re helping Microsoft grow their business, but rather than capturing the value of your own, network or your community or audience and so you own all your data.

We have import export tools. You’re in complete control. You can always download all your data. You can always import all your data. Our platform will never do anything with your data, except when we receive an order from you to do so in GDPR terms, you are the controller. We follow your lead and in philosophical terms, we give you all the tools.

We give you all the suggestions, but you can treat it as your internal tech stack.

gotcha. Here we go let’s, see one success story where the platform did wonders for any business concerning networking and enhanced their networking and marketplace altogether.

I have so many. The force effect already mentioned is one that we have an Australian startup network that launched on us and within a couple of months of launch, they, I think sold more memberships than the prior year. We have one of our customer’s diversity boards is the largest.

It’s like a private LinkedIn for folks of African descent and Caribbean descent to help introduce career opportunities for them, through university and academic studies, all the way to their professional career. And again, I think that the audience of that platform more than doubled within a few months of coming onto a ScaleGrowth and is now on a very unicorn-like trajectory, right?

So, I have countless examples of this. It’s very exciting to see all the different platforms, and it’s very exciting to see what people do with this.

Yeah, I think and specifically like for you, because the platform usability is across industries. So, I’m sure like, every time one industry does well that must be a kudos moment for you.

That’s right. The trick is the secret, and I’ll share with you our secret sauce is that when we see a customer do particularly well in an industry. We also see what exactly are they doing that’s causing that. Ah, they run this kind of marketing campaign. Ah, they did this kind of engagement chain.

They introduced this touchpoint here. Or they did this kind of interesting promotion program. What we can then do is we can turn around, and of course, it’s anonymized. But that becomes best practices for our next customer, maybe in a different industry, in a different vertical, but hey, what you’re building is similar.

And we’ve seen that this approach works and this approach doesn’t tend to work. So again, we just give you that info and then you do what you will with it.

I would love to know, Victor, what all you do for your own B2B lead gen and anything around customer loyalty and retention part as well.

Yeah. So, we have no lock-ins. That’s all, you can subscribe anytime you can unsubscribe because we believe. And we are confident that, we will beat all alternatives. Typically, an alternative to ScaleGrowth is hiring your tech team, right? This is just, you’re talking eight figures easy and usually years of custom build-out.

That puts us in a very good spot in terms of retention. But the other part that we are focused on is launching an initiative of auxiliary services. We can offer to our customers. So, think WordPress, how like WordPress has a WordPress developer ecosystem around it or like HubSpot, they have all these like initiatives and like HubSpot certifying professionals, etc.

And so, we are creating something similar because a lot of times our customers come to us and they’re like ScaleGrowth, we’re on our app on you. But also, we are doing this new marketing campaign. Hey, can you recommend a good front-end designer for the graphics for the marketing campaign? Or can you recommend a community manager who we can hire?

Or can you recommend another SaaS tool for our back office, for our sales team, right? And so, because we get bombarded by these inquiries already, we’ve recently decided that we are going to be spinning up the end of this year. An essential marketplace exchange for folks to be able to share tips and tricks of marketplace builders and community builders.

Yeah, it makes sense. No, we’re coming to an end and I would love to have a quick rapid-fire with you. Are you ready for that? What one word do you want people to associate you with?

One word. Yeah. Wow. One word is hard. I can do three words.

Use three words. That’s fine.

Hard, Tech, Easy.

Oh, nice. Okay. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever got?

Spend an hour thinking and five minutes typing, not the other way around.

That’s brilliant. Okay. Any funny nicknames your parents or your friends used to call you?

I used to be called a crazy bike guy at Yelp because we went on and off-site and I didn’t have a helmet and somehow ended up in the middle of traffic on a bike. And they, like somebody on my team produced a comic strip making fun of this and forever that stuck. So crazy bike guy is one.

All right. If Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump were both drowning and you could save only one, who would it be?

Oh,

do you have better choices of people to save?

You’ll let both of them drown, right?

No, I’ll try to save both. Everybody’s life matters, but yes.

All right. What was the last Google search?

Oh, it would have been a stack overflow for a very nary large-scale events system for data science modeling questions.

All right. All right. And now coming to my very last question, what’s something you could eat for a week straight?

Recently, I discovered the Uber magic. I can eat Uber for a week straight Or pizza.

Okay. Thank you so much, Victor, for all the knowledge and the wisdom that you’ve shared in today’s session. I really enjoyed it, learned a lot, and I appreciate your time here.

Thank you so much.

No, thank you so much. And this was, I want to say I’ve done a few of this, and this was incredibly well run. And kudos. This is amazing.

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