Neil Patel

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In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, stories of resilience, adaptation, and growth often captivate our attention. Maxim Melamedov, co-founder and CEO of Zesty, shares his remarkable journey from being born in the Soviet Union to navigating the entrepreneurial landscape in Silicon Valley.

Maxim’s venture, Zesty, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Sapphire Ventures, Next47, S Capital, Samsung Next, B Capital, and Centana Growth Partners.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Maxim’s early experiences moving from the Soviet Union to Israel taught him resilience and adaptability, shaping his outgoing and curious personality.
  • Driven by a family legacy of entrepreneurship, Maxim pursued engineering and later business management to understand scalable business operations.
  • The failure of Maxim’s first entrepreneurial venture highlighted the importance of complementary skill sets in a partnership, a lesson that would guide his future endeavors.
  • Working in a homeland security company provided Maxim with a global outlook, exposing him to diverse cultures and approaches to laying the foundation for Zesty.
  • Zesty’s success stems from a deep understanding of the cloud computing market and a commitment to solving customer pain points through automation and improved infrastructure utilization.
  • Scaling a company requires careful management of human resources, with Maxim emphasizing the significance of a talented, diverse team to overcome hurdles.
  • Zesty’s success in managing offices in Silicon Valley and Israel is attributed to a culture built on trust, mutual respect, a common goal, and open feedback, transcending geographical boundaries.


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About Maxim Melamedov:

Maxim Melamedov is the CEO and co-founder of, a software company that provides solutions for the travel industry.

Prior to Zesty, Maxim was the VP of Customer Success at Gimmonix, a travel technology company. Maxim has also held positions as a Support & Education Manager at Feedvisor and a Technical Services Manager at Logic Industries.

Maxim has extensive experience in customer success and support, having built and led teams of customer success and support professionals.

Maxim has also implemented cross-department and company procedures to enable fast scale and ensure the smooth handover of information. In addition, Maxim has established a customer-CS relationship based on data-driven value.

Maxim’s experience in the travel industry and their dedication to customer success make him an excellent CEO and leader of Under their guidance, the company is sure to continue to provide innovative solutions for the travel industry.

Maxim Melamedov earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from the University of Derby. Maxim also earned a degree in Practical Engineering in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from ORT Colleges.

Alexey Baikov – CTO & Co-Founder, Lori Brigg – Chief Growth Officer, and Ofir Shaish – VP, Finance report to Maxim Melamedov.

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Connect with Maxim Melamedov:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today that we have another inspiring founder joining us. You know we’re gonna be talking about. Basically what he’s doing with this rocket ship that he started you know talking about. Early stage fundraising how things maybe didn’t unfold the way that he had hoped for. But obviously you know like now you know they’ve raised quite a bit of money also going about getting the first customer on board things like bringing talent and gauging them retaining them as well as. Choosing the right investors how to go about that so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guests today Maxim melamet off welcome to the show.

Maxim Melamedov: Hilessandro. Thank you for having me happy to be here.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in the Soviet Union and then eventually you moved to Israel at age 9 so give us a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.

Maxim Melamedov: Um, honestly, not easy, not a walk in the park when you land in a brand new country. Don’t know the language you don’t know anything about it and when the entire. Family move. So you’re actually the person that people reach out and you’re they’re actually dependent on you to be their voice and their ears because you will have the highest probability of learning a new language. Ah, but you know what doesn’t what things that. Are difficult actually would end up making you stronger. So this is I’ve moved twice in my life at the age of 9 I moved from Soviet Union to Israel and in the age of 40 one I moved from Israel to the bay area in the Us.

Alejandro Cremades: How do you think that they that also shape you I mean ah Soviet Union Israel also starting in Israel from nothing you know, new friends new things you know taking the charge to us as as a member in the family. How do you think that made you who you are too late.

Maxim Melamedov: So It puts a lot of a lot of it puts you in a lot of unpleasant uncomfortable situations where you just have to navigate and figure things out so it made me more an outgoing person more curious person. To understand and learn different cultures and different behaviors of different people and made me actually more adjustable. Um, because once somebody constantly moves pieces and shape shape major pieces. It makes you to figure out how you adjust faster to changes.

Alejandro Cremades: So in your case you know, actually part of being in Israel you know to a same going to the army but before you went to the army. You actually got your degree in engineering. Ah, and then after the army then you decided to do business management. So what? But obviously you already have the engineering degree. So why throwing another degree in the mix.

Maxim Melamedov: So I come from a family when we move to Israel ah, most of my family members became entrepreneurs right? It’s it’s a way of saying hey I can I coming from a different culture I understand different elements that we can. Bring from a country that we left and we see a gap that we can fill so we can start a business so the vast majority of my family are in business and I kind of wanted to learn how you can build bigger businesses and how to do. Something more scalable because my entire families are in brick and morttimear like small small shops or small and to medium importers like so I wanted to understand how you’ve build things bigger at scale. Oh and I decided to take the path of of the academia to kind of figure it out.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case you know following that course too. You decided right? after you know you am graduated from there to launch your own business your first company but it ended up not going the way that you had hope for why.

Maxim Melamedov: Um, first it was really I was really young. So a lot of quet a lot of assumptions that were made were completely off I didn’t really understood the market that was going Into. Um. The partner that we started this journey wasn’t still is my best friend but we kind of more or less identical on skillset and this is where I understood that we need someone with a different skill set but with complementary Mindset. So if I have to look back. This is how this is one of the mistakes I made ah early on but the journey of starting a company and trying to figure out and being the one who’s pushing and kind of and setting the schedule and and making yourself active and operative. This was really fun for me. Not having someone that you know you have to report or there’s a structure you have to follow you can create things.

Alejandro Cremades: Well hey you know like right after that you decided to travel around the world for quite some time. So what would you say you know how do you say that that worldview and that analysis towards problems maybe shaped your thinking too from seeing that there was also a world outside of Israel.

Maxim Melamedov: So I was lucky enough to join a really interesting homeland security company that revolutionized a lot of things and did some awesome awesome things that today. Made a huge impact on the global on the global scale unfortunately cannot mention a lot of a lot of things ah from that experience, but it was something that helped me to see different cultures different people ah different approaches to business. Different ways to operate in different capabilities and it actually helped me to see the amazing talent pool of people that are operating in different spaces. So it was cool experience by the way.

Alejandro Cremades: So then and it was also quite the um, the secway for you to get into the world of customer Support. You know it sounds like you decided to take that one On. And then you graduated through the ranks. So what? what caught your attention about customer support because I mean you were ah part of a few companies doing this, you know one more at the entry level the other one more at the Vp level but what out of all things customer support. Why.

Maxim Melamedov: So the reason one of the first reasons my first business failed was I wasn’t tuned to the market and the reason I decided to take the customer support is actually once you listen to customers and you. Becoming their trusted advisor they will chat with you and consult with you and complain to you about things that if you improve that you will be able to retain your business and actually grow your business so being very attuned to the customer voice and making sure they are. Getting all the help they needed and they’re able to succeed and overcome their business challenges in the space that you’re experting in is is the path I decided to be the right path as a learning curve to a journey that we are currently on. Listening to the customers understanding what they need how to how to make sure that you’re to hit that those pains and understand what bug. Ah, what bothers them and what keeps them up at night. What of the challenges they are facing with.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case, you know what would you say that was the sequence of events that really led you to ah get going with cy you know and really with your cofounder and Cto to say okay, you know, let’s let’s go.

Maxim Melamedov: So first of all and this is kind of one of the biggest things that I believe made a big difference is the market. One of the things that I learned during my business school is that. If you have to choose a market to bet on you have to make sure that the market is big and it’s growing so that was a check that we needed to make sure that we’re checking so the cloud market. The cloud computing market is a huge market that’s supposed to reach around a trillion dollars by 2027 and it’s part of the digital revolution. We’re currently experiencing. It’s viable for any business survival and there is so much. Happening today in the digital world that requires cloud computing to be there to be up and to be running and that was pre the era of Ai right? I’m talking about 5 to six years ago before ai became mainstream. It’s It’s becoming. It’s starting to become now. But even before that we saw that the digital era is becoming and growing so that was the hit that was the checkbox we needed to check the second checkbox we we needed to check was ah people right.

Maxim Melamedov: Customers Users What makes them want to buy a product so we all we always focused on how we can save you time and money those are the most too precious Ah and. Valuable assets you have if I’m able to save you time and if I’m able to save you money most there is a higher probability that you’ll be a happy to chat with me So great.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess for the people that that are listening to get it. What ended up being the business model of says T How do you guys make money.

Maxim Melamedov: So we’re making money by actually optimizing ah Cloud infrastructure using Automations and the and that actually yes.

Alejandro Cremades: Okay, and then how how has it evolved How has it evolved to like the business model to to be like boom. We got product Market fit.

Maxim Melamedov: So we we started by going and listening to customers. We started with an understanding of what what the current what these are the current offerings to of the market. What are the challenges of the market. What is the gap. The gap is between 30 to 40% of low utilization of cloud infrastructure and we double click on the market and we understood that. Ah and it was a long journey to the fact that hey customers don’t need another tool that will tell them. That show them information they need someone who would do that who would implement things that they are being told what what should be there. They should be doing and the implementation piece is a heavy piece. It’s a risky piece. It’s it’s a cumbersome piece. So we said if we will solve that piece. We’ll have traction. So the journey of understanding the current landscape understanding what’s missing in the current landscape figuring out how you build the automation piece that would be. Valuable and sufficient enough for the customers to trust you was the tricky part.

Alejandro Cremades: So if we are thinking about the company to you know, thinking about the problem here as your colleagues would say thinking about sesty on the big you know picture type of approach. You know how? how do you see that.

Maxim Melamedov: So the big picture type of approach is making sure that companies today tomorrow and in a few years are able to. Benefit from a more efficient cloud infrastructure now if you zoom in to the engineers right? to the people who are writing code and developing they want to develop they want to drive. They want to create not a lot of them are happy to monitor. Do maintenance and optimize. It’s it’s ah it’s not something that by the world developers are doing developers are there to develop but because of the cannot because of the economy and because of lack of efficiency and because of all these changes. There is a need to optimize now you optimize both for stability you optimize for performance and then you have to optimize for costs and in this extremely dynamic environment. You have to master it all 3 now if you’re doing that. You’re not actually helping develop new products. So you’re constantly in the battle of what you’re going to choose and what you’re going to do.

Alejandro Cremades: Now when it comes to ah to capitalizing the business. How much capital have you guys raised late and I know that the the journey was not easy and with raising the one hundred and sixty million dollars I know that the first day rodeo was a.

Maxim Melamedov: So we raised a $16000000 since

Alejandro Cremades: Ah, nightmare you know what? what do you think happened there. What what do you? think you know happened for for it not to pan out the way that you had they hope for.

Maxim Melamedov: So first of all, we were naive like to be honest, it’s ah it’s easy. It’s easier said than done. Ah the probability of securing an initial funding round is so low and so insignificant that you really have to. Figure something out that is really unique and special. Ah and to find that little piece and create ah and zoom out from that little piece and expanded to ah a larger offering. It’s not that easy. So when you’re coming to investors and saying hey I’m able to do something but it’s simplistic. Nobody paid. No nobody want to give you money if you’re a first time founder you’re falling into that because your lack of experience. Ah. You really have to master the market. You really have to understand what what kicks you need to prove that you’re able to sell you have to prove that you’re able to attract talent before somebody will bet on you.

Alejandro Cremades: But.

Maxim Melamedov: And that was my experience so it took us ah quite a long process of actually getting conviction from investors.

Alejandro Cremades: And as you’re thinking to now looking back and and all the money that you guys have raised how how do you see now from what lens do you see now the importance of choosing the right investor and how to go about that.

Maxim Melamedov: So I always believed that and this is kind of the lesson learned from my first company bring try to bring people surround yourself with people that are smarter than you tal with. The same mindset with the complementary skillset that can help you achieve things that you will not be able to achieve on your own. Ah, we were really strategic about choosing our investors and the people where we have are in our board as we see. Different values from each and every one of them and this is fundamental for me. It’s fundamental to have people that on 1 way are figuring out and helping you drive and navigate. Leveraging their experience their network their knowledge their past background their capabilities. This is helpful to any founder if you’re your first time or or a fifth timer having those. Smart people with networks with skillset with mindset with with empathy. it’s it’s it’s invaluable

Alejandro Cremades: Now in this case too. As as as we’re talking about bringing on investors customers employees. Let’s say vision is a big one here. No but let’s say you were to go to sleep tonight Maxim Melamedov: and you wake up in a world. Where the vision of saysd is fully realized what does that world look like.

Maxim Melamedov: Or for an engineer you think about how you build an amazing app and everything else. The set up the infrastructure the flow you’re caring about building an app and and figuring out the go to Market. You don’t really care about ah infrastructure infrastructure for you is is simple. You don’t have to Demystify. You don’t have to change you don’t have to adjust you don’t have to Adopt. It’s just works.

Alejandro Cremades: So so then in that case you know just to um to to continue of on that as well and we’re talking about people. You guys have now over 200 employees how has it been to the journey of um.

Maxim Melamedov: Um, yes.

Alejandro Cremades: Really ramping things up scaling things up. Not only at a product and technical level. But then also at a human level.

Maxim Melamedov: Know that that’s the hardest part. That’s the hardest part because ah you at some point you build things that assume that will last.

Maxim Melamedov: You don’t always sure if you’re doing the right thing. Ah you see that people that you brought will do will will be great and at some point you understand that it’s It’s kind of stopped working and they’re burneding out and they’re burned out.

Maxim Melamedov: And you actually have to make hard decisions on 1 hand on the other hand you have to make sure to figure out how you attract talents from companies that are larger more seasoned and you bring more seasoned people to zesty. How you make sure to maintain the same culture and the same dna around the management. How that trickles down to the last employee how you are able to create the same fun work environment where it was only the. Say that me and my co-founder. We had fun like we enjoyed how we’re able to achieve that or not 100% of the time but most of the time with a broader group of people that were able to bring and get them. Sharing their ideas kind of cultivate a culture where there’s no ego which is it’s not that easy to achieve where you’re able to create a platform for people to you know, be innovative drive execute and enjoy and that that part is not really easy, especially. That company goes through a different stages and there are different evolutions and some people are better for certain stage and some but but people are better for the following stage so you have to kind of understand and how to navigate through these transitions in a very ah compelling way.

Alejandro Cremades: What about also navigating having 2 different offices like you guys have you know which is the bay area and also Israel and going about the fact that look culture is going to be 1 for the company but they’re going to defer from 1 office to the other is’s just the nature of it.

Maxim Melamedov: Um, yes, so the for I’ll address the bigger part which is the most difficult I would say it’s a 10 hour difference right? You have to wake up really early to catch. Some of them have an overlap of of schedule that’s been really hard. Other than that we are trying to kind of adjust cultures because we we believe in the 4 elements of of building. A solid culture is trust. We we’re operating on blinded trust if you’re part of the company. We trust you with there is a lot of mutual professional and personal respect that hey you are professionally in your field. Let’s figure out how we’re building things together by sharing experience and figuring this out. The third one is common goal right? We’re all in this together so it doesn’t really matter if you’re based in Israel and if you’re based in the states and if you’re based in the East Coast West Coast europe doesn’t really matter if we are part of 1 group that has one goal. Let’s try there and the fourth one is kind of sharing and receiving feedback where. Here’s the culture plays a part. But if you if the feedback is shared with good intentions that my the goal of sharing and receiving feedback is to elevate and to help my peer. My colleague to kind of do a better job and be more successful.

Maxim Melamedov: Then it kind of creates a culture that is you know, kind of flap which is across the across the sites. It’s it doesn’t see sites.

Alejandro Cremades: So then so then in this case too. You know I say we’re thinking now about Sesty and and and and where things are heading as well. I want to I want to ask you you know as well in this regard if you if if I was to put you into. Into a time machine just to just to think about the past two because we we’ve been talking about the future but I want to talk about the past with the lens of reflection. Let’s say I was to put you into a time machine and I was to bring you back in time you know maybe to that moment that. You were thinking about getting started with a business you know, maybe like 2018 right when when youre and your cofounder you know we’re you know, bouncing back ideas ideas and you know and and so forth and let’s say you’re able to go back there and have a chat with that younger self with that younger Maxim and you’re able to give that younger Maxim. 1 piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be ny given what you know now.

Maxim Melamedov: Um, um, it’s a good one. Ah.

Maxim Melamedov: It’s sometimes worth to take pauses and and and and go on breaks like take more vacations like do something that can explain to you why you’re doing this It’s it’s ah it’s something that. As time passes you kind of ah realized hey I I needed to take more breaks as time passed um not longer ones but like have a power break longer weekend something that. That will help because the journey is is really is a roller coaster and if you’re not if you’re not building your schedule to balance or have a slightly better balance. Ah, it’s gonna be very difficult. Um. That is the piece of advice I’ll give myself and my cofounder of course.

Alejandro Cremades: I Love it So Maxim for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do So thanks.

Maxim Melamedov: So through Linkedin or through my email. My email is Maxim at Zestty Dot Ceo or Linkedin.

Alejandro Cremades: More hey, easy enough. Well Maxim thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.

Maxim Melamedov: Ah, Foundra Thank you so much for for having me and I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast and answering the questions.


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