Can you imagine walking away from a lucrative job that pays six figures right out of University, and launching a startup? Well, that’s what Arnaud Belinga did. After studying for 7 years to become a Tax Lawyer, he decided to devote himself full time to do what he loves – being an entrepreneur. And his startup, Breakcold which uses AI to improve and streamline cold email marketing, is on fire!
In this conversation, we discuss:
Hey ICL fans today, we're talking about walking away from a liquid of job that pays six figures right out of university and launching a startup. Well, that's what our not Bolinga did. After studying for seven years to become a tax lawyer, he decided to devote himself full time to do what he loves. Being an entrepreneur.
I first found are not on Twitter, where he's tweeting about his journey. And there's a couple of remarkable things about his story. He and his partner created an MVP and just two weeks and three weeks later, after a successful launch on product hunt and a few other places, they made $20,000. Freaking awesome.
Right? In this conversation, we'll dive into his startup break code and how it uses AI to improve in streamline code, email marketing. And the other thing that is remarkable is that within just a few months, he grew his Twitter following from one to over 5,000 followers. Incredible. If you're wanting to get ideas on how to successfully launch and MVP, do you code email in a smart way and get ideas for great customer experience?
This episode is for you. And if you want to listen to this on YouTube, you can find my channel. Innovators can laugh and check out episode 44 or not. I like to start with your journey and becoming a tax lawyer. You studied for seven years, graduated from the law school at the university of Glasgow, worked as a tax intern at a few places.
And then you decided to jump into entrepreneurship. What exactly. Was going on in your mind during this time to make you forego everything you had been working towards? Yeah. It's been a really long journey. Yeah. I grade I taught my little studies in both France and in UK. So in Paris and then in the university of Glasgow and then I finished my studies at university of.
And initially I wanted to be a tax lawyer, to be honest, like since day one, I always had the drive for entrepreneurship and I was always making some side projects like freelancing in NCO. I had a passion for design as well, so I was doing motion design and stuff, and I had some e-commerce shops as well.
And when I was about to become a lawyer I did. I decided to, to they'll take a job and a focus on SAS with microphone dance. Yeah. Imagine it was the intrepreneurship drive basically. Okay. Was it your co-founder who kind of like nudged you, like, Hey, let's do this. I mean, or was it a hundred percent entirely on your own to make that data?
Yeah, I think he played, he played a part like 10, 10 to 20%, but even without him, like I would have decided to go full sand on a startup of my own and also looking for other co-founders. I don't know, but yeah, we did. Do we get haircuts a year and a half ago actually. And we didn't know each other and we teamed up and we won the architect and then we did cheap projects together.
And this is how we realized that there was a good feat and we had the same mentality about those ag business. And then look to the clear building and stuff. And Sarah. Yeah, for sure. You played a role in it. What was the project that you guys worked on at the hackathon? Where did you go on notes and really original.
It was a student app, so it was during COVID and the theme of the architect was to build something or remote. People and which one about students at the time, because we were students at the time and it was basically a mobile app where you ask question like Uber demand, but for tutorials. So, yeah, basically.
Okay. I'm just curious here, your classmates, because I'm sure you got to know a lot of people along the way when you were at university and when you broke the news to them, or maybe you didn't, I'm assuming you did, but when you told them that, Hey, I'm just going to put on. Going the attorney route and I'm going to focus on my startup.
What was their reaction? The basically say I was pretty crazy because the thing is with the studies I've done and that Deb don't, we were pretty much sure to secure a really high paying job and big law firms in Paris specifically. So we have a salary is a hundred K. guaranteed as a first job as a 25 years old is a lot.
And so to say no to that, to the among of savings in a S in an apartment with your co-founder in small city, what you don't know what to build a stoner Th they thought I was crazy. But it said that the clients you have eaten in a, in a law firm they, they took the startup routes and they, they were not lawyers for example.
So big clients in a law firm. You'd see, like when I was talking with them, like, They would always ask, like the fame, when you are in the law firm, people there, you always ask people what's your goal in your career. And they always say I would to be, to become a partner in the law firm. And when I was asked this question, I was always replying.
I want to be a client because. Client had had way more leverage that being apart of the loaves room and the onions that she pretty much had a successful startup actually in the trends I was working at. So right. Yeah. Yeah, no, I get it. I get it. Let's move into break code, which is a code email outreach software.
With personalized icebreakers powered by AI. How did you come up with this idea? You and your co? Yeah, initially it was a side project and originally we had the assess was a live chat software, basically like a Intercom, but for SMBs. And they were trying to grow that. But we were, was in its early stage and we decided at some point you add more features and one of the feature was to add DB.
Within this software. And then we discovered AI thing. We've opened the AI, et cetera. And we try, we, we play with it for the whole night. And just, just to, in a couple of hours, we had the idea of break whole because at the time it was perspective a lot and sending cold emails to people. But I was spending a lot of time personalizing the purse lines and we got did pretty quick.
We'll say Dave. So it was 26th of December. Precisely. We bought the domain choose the neck, chose the Navy in like one minutes. And two weeks later there was the MPP and that's pretty much how we was bold. So from a criminal problem and as a side project, well, first of all, Yeah. You know, you mentioned you opened the AI and you started playing with it.
What do you mean by that? Exactly. Yeah. Because the thing we've opened, the, I like, you know, they, you, you have a pretty much a platform where you can play with the, the, the AI. And, but the thing is we realized that all the platforms, they were just taking open AI and plug and play into their software to use with the AI.
And so we realized we can go way beyond that to have better outputs, quality. And so when I say play with it, so we started to think how we can improve it. So, yeah. Okay. And where did you find this platform at? What do you mean by that? Like this, this software, this tool? Did you go to like a specific place and pull something off the shelf?
Yeah. Yeah. It was pretty much on Twitter. Like people were talking about it and see how we, it, does it have like a name or anything even? Oh yeah. Open AI. Okay, so that's the name of it? So it's basically like the thing that a lot less creativity, because he created a level of stuff. And one of the, he created basically an association the public association and what to do is basically they, they built an AI model and they put it for free for the people and you can use it the different ways.
And you can build also on top of it's with your own models. And lots of possibilities and it was in private better for a year and less in last year. Like at the end of the year, they, they released it as a public better. So now everyone can pretty much play with it. And then you can build specific use cases if, if you know how to code, et cetera.
Awesome. Awesome. Okay. And how would you say that break code helps a business? Very cool helps a business in the military way. So the feelings, it allows you to save time a lot on your cold outreach, because you can automate follow-ups. You can automate personalization with some system of Kristen.
Viables a we've Hey, first name. And then it becomes the name of the prospect you want to reach out, et cetera. You can also also project your DM to BG when you do cold outreach, because we. If you're able to just is valid because the problem is that when you go buy a list or go on some softwares and they provide you with email addresses, they say, it's, they are valid, but the truth is 10%, 20%.
So most of the time it's not bad. So we will check that for you and you it, then we don't have your email emails bouncing and that the third phase is personalization. With the AI and we create. First lines. And with that for many reasons in the end get a banner of open rates. But more importantly, you get a better reply rates because obviously like person a thinks that you, you personalize their, their emails for them.
And you can also, so how we see the AI is more like it's not, the goal is not to alter. Everything because if you automate anything, like at some point it will most work, but we kind of see more as an AI, a sales assistance, so you can win way more time. And if you don't satisfy with the results, you can still modify the sentences, tweak it a bit, the info, you know, about the prospect.
But basically what we sell is a time-saving and a more meetings. Yeah, the deliverability factor is huge. I think I just saw this week limbless was having a problem with a lot of their emails going into into the spam box. And I'm more curious though, the personalized subject lines or the personalized copy.
How has that kind of working behind the scenes? Where is it pulling that personalization or at least the suggestions for that personalization from, yeah. Basically we operate with many data points, so there's right now there's two ways to do it. So do you poor to see us be into Bret called what you can do is that you, most of the time when you die leads in other platforms.
You also have not only the email address of your prospect. We also have the website URL and the leg then Euro. So when you input the seeds we integrate called what you can do is to do a mass AI generation. And so what each lead, depending on. The website URL or the LinkedIn URL, we're going to generate a few search signs for each prospect.
So imagine you chose to generate the icebreakers. So the first lines with the link date URL we generate four different sentences depending on the buyer of the prospects. On the military experience, Evo would experience. And if the prospect has any recommendation, we'll generate something.
And so if, for example, you have a recommendation from idol. No. You, Eric, you have a recommendation from Anna Hattaway and we're going to say that the AI would say something like oh so the recommendation that Adam Hattaway let you, I realize how you passionate with your podcast. Oh, well, oh, interesting.
Interesting. And what is the misconception that people have about code emails? For people that are reluctant to send out cold emails, what's that what's a misconception that they have. Yeah, the comes, I think the main misconception they have, it's steady. It's Pam. The thing is like, except in a really few countries maybe in Finland, it's it's not considered per se ASPAN because.
What you do is that you're alone too. Sandy called Dino's, especially a, to B, to B people, obviously for B to C it's not allow in a ma in almost all countries, if you do cold outreach. But the main misconception is that span which is not because obviously because of people who said millions of cold emails a day without doing any personalization and they are spans, but it should do it even if you follow the best practice, Like people never complained when they receive a good email that is tailored for them, but that can benefit them for the business.
So yeah, I think it's the main misconception about it pretty much. Okay. And for anybody who's doing cold email now with something that they should stop B they should stop doing. I think they should start doing some less and spit send better. Basically, we're putting more efforts toward distalization because the thing is you, you can, if you don't personalize it, not like the person who the receptionist will understand that a, it just a copy pasted event.
So that's the first point second point. I think that a lot of people do wrong is they don't iterate on the ideal customer profile enough. And so sometimes. You think you'd the lab results. You think you, the, your cup, your rating of your email is bad. The truth is maybe he's not you're not targeting the right people.
And you should iterate more on your, on your, on many verticals. So this is the big problem because even to be honest, even if you don't personalize your outreach, if you targeted. Perfect people for your product. It will be no problem because it was the perfect manner. So you're really needing the ICP part.
So I do customer by far. Yeah. So true. So true. I I send out onboarding welcome videos at least 20 a day, and I get much better results if I segment by the type of industry versus SAS versus edgy education versus online creators. And I have a different message that I share with those people and the results are much, much better than if I just send what I think is a good generic, a welcome video.
You sent out a tweet where you mentioned a while back where you mentioned that in just a few weeks after releasing your MVP, you did like $20,000 in MRR, and that was your annual goal to start off with what accelerated that growth. And just a short amount of time. Yeah. Just to precise on this tweet. It wasn't we never say it was NRR.
We say we made 20 K in a week. It felt like we reached our MLR goal, but it's not because it wasn't MRR just to precisely. And so yeah, how we did it is that we did a, an early launch in Facebook groups. And we build an offer to get early adopters in exchange, a overnight deal, and for an exchange out-competed to give a lots of feedback and.
So we designed an offer and it was limited for seven, but the fee is the price was increasing every two days. And so most of the money actually for any 12 K out of the 20 came in 24 hours because of this promote effects. And so yeah, it's how we, we did it. So we had two weeks or we had three weeks after launching the MTP.
So we don't, we did build the MVP in two weeks later. A big customers in MRR. So three people, I think like one week after, and then we, two weeks later we, we launched this early adopter deal in groups only because this is where they were used to this kind of deal. Okay. I knew he had a successful launch on product hunt and I see you on Twitter, obviously.
And now you mentioned face Facebook groups with sort of the mix of where you're getting your, your, your early adopters from, is that like 30% from Twitter and like 40% from Facebook. I just wonder if you can share more information about before we are next. We, we still haven't figured out what is the perfect acquisition channel for us initially?
We felt that Twitter might be used. But we actually have loads of traffic from Twitter each day. But doesn't come at that. Well, so maybe the traffic is not qualifying enough for what we do. But obviously we are sales, automation, sales, engagement, software, and I'm pretty sure that's what we should go after is LinkedIn.
And so right now, trying to get to build a presence but right now, like most of our traffic comes from a Twitter product. And once you launch on product and every single day, you still have traffic from product X. So we get a good traffic from that. And then it's Google just with the brand name people, right?
Bread calls themselves on Google. And we are, we started at CEO of it. So we have a huge traffic from debt. But I will say it, I have filled the traffic is Twitter, then it's pretty like 10% of pretty much everything. But the goal is to, to switch stance toward link towards then, because I think this is where the qualified leads are because every time I do a small Prairie stop, even like really small things on LinkedIn I got, I got more results, so I think I should double down there.
Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. I signed up for. And the onboarding emails I received afterwards were amazing and included these short little videos, explaining how to do some function in the platform. And you also provide the users, the ability to add or upvote any ideas for new features or add ons. It seems like a lot of thought went through the customer experience.
Was this something that you spent a lot of time on thinking about before you actually launched in. If so, did you have any inspiration from, from another product or from someone else? Yeah, to be fully transparent, we got inspiration from another product. Dennis coolers spoke. Well, I don't remember precisely what to do, but I it's us that they had this feedback page where you can avert features.
And, and basically this is where we got the ID that it was pretty good, especially in the early days when you building. That had people and early adopters engaged because most, some people, they die gaging in the live chat requesting for features fixing bugs or whatever, but most people, they will not send you a message and they rather just vote quickly something or write anonymously a proposal as a feature.
And so, yeah, we took inspiration from. And how did it, how they got inspiration to, I think it's because on the, on Twitter, there's a, there's many products who do that. And so in, yes, this has basically happened. Okay. Okay. And what is the trajectory? I mean, what is your goal for the year in terms of ARR this year?
So in terms of, yeah, so yeah, basically I'm a goal is to go from. So beginning of this year from zero to 20 K NRR. So then you, you, you, you multiply that by 12 and you have the ARR, but basically this is the goal 20 K. By the end of the year, not precisely by the end of the year. But for the one year or break calls a one year anniversary.
So maybe for the med release, so 8th of January or 26 December, depending of the day you want to choose. Yeah. Well, the first quarter is almost over. So how you doing, do you think you're like 25% of the way or 10% of the way? Just kind of a rough estimate. Yeah, the only modes always the most difficult as.
And so right now, we about to, to break our, the first day in MRR. But you know, it's compounding, we know it's compounding, we've seen that we've other founders and who share the MRR growth. And so I think the, the most important steps is to break the, the one K might still land in HQ, managed to break the one K two K pregame David's compounding like crazy.
Like we have some, some friends who. Yeah, it took them like seven bucks to break the one K MRR and now they just made to add it to Kate MRI just one week. So they jumped from four K to six K pretty quick. So it's sort of hard to figure that this out, but once you add it we believe like, It's compounding like Twitter followers, like whatever, and like, yeah.
Yeah. What's something that you would recommend for all satis SAS startup founders should either start doing or stop doing based on your limited experience here, but you're having a lot of success so far. So what would you suggest? Yeah, I think just do things because sometime you, your, myself too still today you overfeed too much and sometimes you just need to do.
And you will see if it works or if it doesn't, then you can just iterate fast. I think the most important thing is speed. So you need to be quick. So you need to be fast because if you are maybe the others are not. And if you are not fast enough, they will say anyone on day, like this, it's kind of a, some competition.
And so if you want to catch up the gap also with big players and established. It's the only way how you can do it, especially that we try to penetrate quite the competitive or have saturated markets. And so speed is highly important. So yeah, that was be my only advice of be being a doer doer and yeah, just, just do offense.
Okay, cool. Before we go, have a couple of fun questions for you, because I like the audience to get to know who you are a little bit. If you weren't a startup founder, what occupation would you be? And you cannot say tax attorney. Yeah, it's a tough one. I feel like I was thinking about it yesterday and I actually, actually, I would have been probably I really like imagining and writing stories and I have a passion for video since I am a child.
Initially I wanted to be a 3d character designer for video games, you know? And so I, I really like worlds and imagining wills so stories in the end. So I think I would have loved to write stories, especially stories in the cinema industries. So, yeah. Maybe something related to that. Yeah, no, I, I can attest your, your writing is very good.
And in fact, I think you've taken your Twitter following from virtually zero. When did you get on Twitter for the first time? So yeah, I was at LinkedIn guy initially, so I discovered Twitter in November and the, my accounts, like my account was one year old, but I, I only worked follower and so, and really started Twitter seriously with one follower.
I think the age of. And yeah. Now when we approach a baby 5k today, so yeah. In like what modes in the house it took off. Yeah. That's amazing. That's amazing. Second question for you or not, what's the most death defying act that you've ever done. That's fine. App. You say? Yes. What's an example for you.
Oh, well, you know, I think maybe sky skydive. Okay. And your honor yeah, I think the okay. In Ghana yeah, once I beat to Northern liner just by myself, when I was living in Glasgow, I took the plane just by myself and I bicycle day for three days without listening to music. Pretty much talking to anybody just with my camera, taking pictures, thinking and and yeah, at night also I was bouncing at night, so, and I was going to crazy places almost died actually under Castile, a loss castle and yeah, crazy story.
Yeah, we bad saturated industry cave. . Which was one of the most wonderful thing that accent too. So. And you were exploring this underground castle by yourself or? Yeah. Yeah, actually there was there was something that was saying, yeah, you should, you are not allowed to go beyond this, this this line, because otherwise it can be highly dangerous and see, but it was so beautiful because it wasn't a negative.
And the castle that was built on top of a rock next bite, your shore. And the view was so magnificent. So I went, I went for it and I almost got took over by the waves because there was giant waves under the cake. And when I, and when I looked up on the Cape, there was like two hundreds bats or something.
And looking at, I T I hold my breath and not screaming because yeah, I got tricked out of it. And yeah. And because the works can also will fall and then you can pretty much stay free quickly. So, yeah. Yeah. Did you give me a good photos at least?
Waves coming in. You're like in this cave with bats,
what? Oh man. Oh man. I bet you slept good that night, right? But there's so many stories in this. No, that I guts. Almost eat by a Fox. Like, no, there's too many stories. They finished, it it's worth all or everything that I did. This short-term, you just felt like a backpack with everything in there. You're had all of my friends wanted to go out there.
So I say, okay, I'm going to buy the flight because it was just Senate pounds back and forth and to go there. And so I went there by myself and. That's pretty. There's no, there's nothing in those line. And there's no lights at night when you go to the fuel Institute and all the villages, it's you pretty much lost in, in the, in the, in the land.
I had a bag with no light. I read to the bag, but the light, the light was not functioning. And yeah, then I was an ill. And then when I was sweating, because I was scared, I didn't know where I wanted to go. My GPS wasn't functioning. I I've lost track of the right routes to find the place where I was supposed to sleep.
I didn't know, in front of be up in the air with. There was two giant focuses I was used to folks in Glasgow. It was giant. This ones, they were really big Senator. Yeah. And they were wild ride. Really wild this looking at me in the 82, I cannot go fast so I can, you know, and so, yeah, but if. I'm really stopped.
So, and restaffing, and so the only way I managed to buy their ice cream, like I was going to die and so script so hard that they moved a bit. And then I, they were following me when I was bicycling. And so yeah, and then. I found the village and they stop following me, but yeah, I'll still, and I was terrified.
Did it eat, went to bed and and you, I say, oh, it's dangerous to bicycle school at nine.
We're not at night with on anything. So yeah, yeah, no, that is so cool, man. That is so cool. Are now thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people learn more about you or not? They can know more about the on Twitter sharing my story here at APL on LinkedIn. It's y'all responded the most, so, yeah.
All right. Fantastic. Thank you so much or not. Yeah. Thank you very much. What an inspiring conversation with. Many people couldn't do what he did walk away from a shirt thing that would have given you a comfortable life to taking a gamble in a life of uncertainty. But I think after chatting with our nod and hearing his story, you realize that he's experiencing something that being an attorney probably wouldn't have offered him a life of a filmmaker.
You can just tell by his. My favorite takeaway from my chat with him is to not spend time doing something. That's not going to bring you happiness. He made a bold decision, but when contemplating what his life could look like five, 10, or even 20 years down the road, he knew that he would have lived life regretting not having taken a leap into entrepreneurship.
I've included links for this show on the ICO website in newsletter. It's number 40. If you forgot, and if you enjoy this topic, feel free to give us a review and tell others about it as always. Thanks for listening. Keep hustling out there. This is Eric signing off. Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it.
If you could give us a review and star rating, also, don't forget to sign up for the ICO firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can get the bio and details of each guest. Thanks.
Co-founder & CEO
After studying for 7 years to become a Tax Lawyer, Arnaud decided to devote himself full time to what he loves: entrepreneurship - following initial successes on small projects. He documents his journey on Twitter 🚀
He talks about startups, cold emails and marketing. He's passionate about skateboarding 🛹🇲🇫🥖