saas.unbound is a podcast for and about founders who are working on scaling inspiring products that people love, brought to you by . I’m your host Anna Nadeina, Head of Growth for

In episode #35, we talk with Luca Micheli, CEO and Co-founder of Customerly, an In-App Messaging platform for SaaS companies. With over 31 thousand businesses using the tool already, they are on a mission to help and inspire at least 1 billion people.

From Teenage App Developer to SaaS Entrepreneur

Luca Micheli’s entrepreneurial journey began at a young age when he started building mobile apps as a university student. One of his early apps, designed to help people obtain their driver’s licenses, skyrocketed to 12 million downloads, laying the foundation for his future success. After winning scholarships to universities in Italy and San Francisco, Luca dove headfirst into the world of software-as-a-service (SaaS), creating his first SaaS platform to connect driving schools with their customers.


Bootstrapping and the Challenges of Lifetime Deals

Luca’s approach to building his businesses has always been firmly rooted in bootstrapping. He has consistently grown his companies through organic, inbound strategies, avoiding the need for external funding. This mindset carried over to his latest venture, Customerly, an in-app messaging platform for SaaS companies.

One of the key challenges Luca faced early on was navigating the complexities of offering lifetime deals (LTDs) to customers. While the LTD strategy provided a quick cash injection, it also presented long-term support and retention challenges. Luca learned that the LTD community is not necessarily the best place to find high-value customers, as they are often more interested in the deal itself rather than committing to the product long-term.


Mastering Product Hunt Launches

Customerly’s early forays into Product Hunt were a mixed bag. Luca’s first launch was a “complete failure,” getting only 30 upvotes and failing to reach the first page. However, he and his team quickly learned from their mistakes, refining their communication and leveraging the platform’s algorithm to achieve more successful launches in the following years.

The key lessons Luca learned were the importance of crafting the right messaging, building a strong community to support the launch, and understanding how to optimize for the Product Hunt algorithm. While the direct revenue impact of these launches was not always substantial, Luca found that they generated valuable indirect benefits, such as improved SEO and a steady stream of high-quality leads.


Revolutionizing Customer Communication with AI

Luca’s focus on innovation and customer-centricity has led Customerly to embrace the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) in customer communication. As the SaaS landscape has become increasingly crowded, Luca recognized the need to evolve Customerly’s business model beyond a traditional customer service suite.

By integrating AI into their platform, Customerly has been able to redefine its value proposition. The AI-powered virtual assistant, named Aura, can now understand the full context of customer inquiries, provide tailored solutions, and escalate complex cases to the human team. This has not only improved the customer experience but also significantly reduced the workload for Customerly’s small but highly efficient team.


The Importance of a Dedicated and Empowered Team

Luca attributes much of Customerly’s success to the exceptional team he has built. Despite being a relatively small company with just 12 full-time employees, Customerly has been able to achieve remarkable growth and impact, serving over 31,000 businesses and reaching over 1 billion people through its live chat product.

Luca has fostered a culture of autonomy and empowerment, allowing his team to take ownership of the product’s evolution and make strategic decisions. This approach has enabled the team to move quickly, release new features and products at a rapid pace, and provide exceptional service to Customerly’s growing customer base.


Scaling Up and Expanding the Customer Base

As Customerly has matured, Luca has recognized the need to shift the company’s focus from serving small businesses to targeting larger enterprise customers. This strategic pivot has required Luca to build out a dedicated sales team and refine the company’s marketing and customer acquisition strategies.

By leveraging content marketing, SEO, and a more personalized outbound sales approach, Customerly is now able to attract and serve larger companies, including public and IPO-stage businesses. This shift has been facilitated by the power of Customerly’s AI-driven customer communication capabilities, which can effectively support high-volume customer service needs.


Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead

Luca’s entrepreneurial journey with Customerly has been marked by a relentless focus on innovation, customer satisfaction, and building a high-performing team. From the challenges of navigating lifetime deals to the transformative impact of AI, Luca’s experiences offer valuable insights for other SaaS founders and entrepreneurs.

As Customerly continues to grow and evolve, Luca remains committed to the company’s mission of helping and inspiring at least 1 billion people. By leveraging the power of AI, empowering his team, and continuously adapting to the changing SaaS landscape.

Head of Growth,