saas podcasts

A curated episode list by Alicia
Creation Date November 21st, 2019
Updated Date Updated December 11th, 2019
 Be the first to like this!
E61: Martin Henk, Co-founder of Pipedrive. Focus, Validate, Say No!
Martin Henk grew up in a small place in Estonia and ultimately became Co-founder and former CPO (Chief Product Officer) of a certain well known rocket-ship known as PipeDrive. He talks about the importance of product validation as early as possible, and about how entrepreneurs and product builder need to stay focused and clear and avoid distractions. In conversation with Stephen Cummins.
E60: Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBook.me – 2 of 2, Nailing a Remote Culture
Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBookMe interviewed by Stephen Cummins. Bridget talks hiring remote first people and when it comes to founders … she says they need to be alive, intentional, patient and prepared to land planes in the dark – over and over again.
E59: Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBook.me – 1 of 2 – My VC is Viral Cycling
CEO & Co-founder of YouCanBook.me Bridget Harris chatting with Stephen Cummins. She chats about her history and colourful CV – from Covent Garden busker to film and television to a very successful career in politics to serial product creator with her husband and co-founder Keith, to bootstrapping YouCanBook.me - appointment scheduling SaaS
E71 – Phil Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder of Peakon. 2 of 2. Take off! Becoming Niklas Östberg’s Delivery Hero
In the 2nd and concluding episode we go much deeper into the value that Peakon actually introduces into the world – and how things like contextual learning targets can improve management teams more effectively and how comparatively high Peakon numbers can be used to attract employees to your company. He reflects on their attitude to remote v co-located, discusses some interesting angel investments, why not getting disheartened easily is crucial to success in the startup world and how Peakon becoming a delivery hero for Niklas Östberg was a crucial milestone for the company. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher ——– Benefits of Peakon: Attraction, retention, work effectiveness, employee sense of achievement and agency … which are more important … Is there a stack rank? It depends on the stage the company is at and the type of industry and what one is trying to achieve. For examples retail and hotels have naturally higher attrition – trying to reduce that is crucial – in big retailers and hotel chains, reducing attrition by 1 or 2% is 10s of millions. Also the link between the disengagement and associated attrition is huge … e.g. if you have unhappy employees you’ll see that immediately on the front desk of a luxury hotel (for example). You’ll see that immediately in the customer NPSs (Net Promoter Scores). One that hasn’t been mentioned so far is trying to improve management. For example training should be management employee sensitive and context sensitive in the context of the team they are in.      Not only can they tailor the training to the individual contextually e.g. here are 3 impact areas that will make the biggest difference to your team – and areas in which you’re not doing so well – and here’s things we know have worked before from our vast data etc. This area can be huge. It takes out the whole perception issue in annual reviews … it’s much easier to work with people in context and continuously and backed by data – so its more likely to be accurate and with better recommendations made off that. Also if the process is done continuously, you can see the trends rather than the absolute numbers – and one will not be held hostage to someone having a bad day on the annual review. Lately more companies are using Peakon numbers as a factor in reviews when looking at pay grades/promotions etc. Job Today looking at the jobs locally in high turnover in for example retail industries and hotels etc. Could they partner with Peakon? They’ve toyed with it and Phil Chambers has chatted with Polina Montano. Very interesting for an applicant to know what’s really happening in a company. The Peakon number is an actual indicator of how employees feel – and it’s used for bonuses especially execs. Glassdoor reviews are not verified and there’s an awful lot of people with axes to grind and competitors putting in fake reviews etc. One company recently published their own data publicly and said ‘hey our Peakon numbers shows we are in the top 5% of companies to work for in industry X, you should come and work here’. Peakon are not in a position to publish those publically – unlike Glassdoor – but it was the CEOs prerogative to do that and, of course, Peakon loved it and shared it everywhere. Internally they provide shareable dashboards because they encourage transparency – so any manager can share a dashboard to the rest of the company – so people can see the progress. They can share the actions they’ve taken with individuals etc. Remote employees …. They are mostly collocated in several cities … as mentioned before … they are looking at remote workers even though that’s not a part of their culture yet – they have a few remote employees especially in engineering e.g. Albert working out of Barcelona (with once a month visit to Copenhagen). Mostly engineering, but looking at sales. Matt Orozco works remotely in Long Beach, California – near LA. He’s in sales and he’ll be part of an office if they build one there. They’re looking at distributed, but its definitely not a big part of their culture. Also they do twice a year whole company summits. He talks about one in Bologna. It’s been traditionally a left wing city – La Citta Rossa (the red city) is famous for communism, but actually it’s very rich and is certainly not as left wing as in the past. Phil mentions the Director of Employee Experience, Michael Dean who is a … : ) … strident Marxist, loves Formula 1 and loves pasta … the confluence of these 3 forces have brought Peakon to Bologna. Nothing to do with Peakon itself of course! : ) What’s the daily routine like? Tries to spend a week or 2 a month at home in London – but travelling is key. Has to do some travelling in Australia and NZ to support the Auckland office and their customers and prospects. He’s also going to head off to do some voluntary work with his girlfriend and filming just outside Rio in a rainforest – where he’s helping her film a wildlife program on reforestation in the Mata Atlântica in Brazil. He’s working with Ecosia too which is a search engine that will plant a tree for every X number of searches. What drives Phil personally? Loves building companies – can meet people that are very interesting that one couldn’t meet usually in other works of life – feels his job is hard but a lot of fun – and feels this tells him he’s doing something right. Angel investment. He invests quite a bit but doesn’t spend a huge amount of time on it. Tries to support companies in the local area. In Copenhagen he invested in a company called Planday – workforce scheduling – one stop shop for when one should be in work and how much is one getting paid – again in the retail and services area. He invested very early in a company called Tonsa – attempting to build the world’s largest platform for scouting … get the kids to put in the data and the big clubs get access to it to scout. Doing incredibly well – penetration in the countries they are working in (European countries e.g. Denmark, France, Italy, UK, Norway, Germany etc) …. Is north of 78 to 80%. Huge adoption is the youth leagues they’ve gone into. This is really valuable for Europe because in the US they are stats obsessed. And in Europe we don’t have enough data in sports. We agree the US is obsessed with stats and hil just wishes they’d talk about Liverpool football club instead : ) Amassing unique data sets like these is a very powerful strategy and can be the basis of a very large business. Tips for success. * Just do it! * Set clear goals early * Remember not to get disheartened too easily. That first break can take a long time to come along. You can get no response for ages and then suddenly one customer can change everything for you. Delivery Hero completely changed the game for Peakon. Emmanuel Thomassin  , , Chief Financial Office, was the 1st one to reply and took a look at Peakon and loved it when it wasn’t all that good yet. Niklas Östberg, CEO and Co-founder, loved it too. Once you get those customers work incredibly closely with the. They’ve watched Delivery Hero grow from 300 employees when they started with them to nearly 7K employees and have acquired over 30 companies along the way, they’ve IPO’d. They helped Peakon make their product better and provided an ever expanding source of cash. * Once you get those early key customers (like Delivery Hero for Peakon), double down and focus on them to help make them successful and your product continuously better At the end of the interview Phil (literally) runs off to the airport. I think he slowed down around the corner and was just trying to escape me : ) Outro One of Peakon;’s marquee customers is Trustpilot, whose CEO & founder Peter Mühlmann – who I’ve just met and interviewed – he will appear in a later episode of 14 Minutes of SaaS. But in the next episode we have Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of a rocket ship called Aircall, the only cloud phone system that has built over 100 different integrations into SaaS applications in 2019. It’s mission is to unlock the power of voice, specifically the power of telephone calls Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/Stephen_Cummins
E70 – Phil Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder of Peakon. 1 of 2. The Long Goodbye – Identify, Engage & Reverse
Phil Chambers, CEO & Co-founder of employee engagement software leader Peakon chats with Stephen Cummins. Founded in 2014, it’s raised $68M in investment. Employee numbers have gone from 80 to 230 in 24 months. Phil tells us his story leading up to this startup and how Peakon can detect whether your best staff are thinking of leaving up to 250 days in advance
E69: Harry Glaser, CMO & GM of SiSense, ex Periscope Data CEO & Co-founder – Start with the Right Co-Pilot
Harry really underlines the value of finding an amazing co-founder - his talented room-mate in college for 4 years, Tom O'Neil. He started his career in Google in product management and that was a very formative experience for him. Since this interview Harry’s company Periscope was acquired by SiSense and now he’s the General Manager and CMO there.
E68: Mike Molinet, COO & Co-founder of Branch – Deep Linking Consumer App Pain to B2B SaaS Bliss
E68: Mike Molinet, COO and Co-founder of Branch.io Mike is a former volunteer firefighter, a fan of building and failing fast, and now the co-founder of a hyper-growth B2B SaaS scaleup. He tells the story about how deep linking and mobile growth platform Branch evolved from a consumer app.
E67: Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO & Co-founder at Algolia – Developers are the Heroes!
In the WebSummit in Lisbon we interview, for the 2nd time, Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO & Co-founder of enterprise search platform Algolia. For Nicolas developers are the new heroes and they have a big influence on the buying decision for Algolia. The company is in the news having raised $110M after the interview we did. He was the 2nd person we’d ever interviewed. Check out episode 2 of 14 Minutes of SaaS if you’re interested in company culture.
E66: Peter Reinhardt, Segment CEO & Co-founder – the World doesn’t Give a Shit
E63: Peter Reinhardt, CEO and Co-founder of Segment. Since this interview Peter Reinhardt, CEO and Co-founder of Segment, and his team have raised another 175M USD to bring total funding to to $284 million and a valuation of over 1.5B. He validated an idea he was trying to kill by publishing a link to a sign up page on Hacker News – pretending they’d built it. The response was massive and Segment built it’s 1st hugely successful product in just 5 days Peter talks about why building a business where the target customer is developers can to some degree sidestep the question of what company size range you chase after initially. He describes Segment as a customer data infrastructure company – he wants to help customers manage all of their data from different sources. He lets us know whether or not he’s interested in building a marketing automation app on top of that and gives his view on the rise of 100% remote teams. This episode is about how Peter helped lay the foundation for building of a unicorn, by trying to kill the idea before it was brought into existence. If you love classic early validation stories, tune into the next instalment of 14 Minutes of SaaS. He also talks about how selling to developers can bypass the old chestnut of whether you want to go after SMBs or the Enterprise first. TRANSCRIPT Peter Reinhardt The most important thing about a business in the early stages is finding product market fit. After product market fit it becomes go-to-market and distribution, but prior to product market fit nothing else matters. And I think it really requires actually a scepticism. And I think the failure mode for most companies prior to product market fit is that they drink their own kool-ade. They have a vision for the world - of how the world should be. And they build a product to try to make the world like that. But actually the world doesn’t give a shit.= Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world's most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Since this interview Peter Reinhardt, CEO and Co-founder of Segment, and his team have raised another 175M USD to bring total funding to to $284 million and a valuation of over 1.5B. Peter talks about why building a business where the target customer is developers can to some degree sidestep the question of what company size range you chase after initially. He describes Segment as a customer data infrastructure company – he wants to help customers manage all of their data from different sources. He lets us know whether or not he’s interested in building a marketing automation app on top of that and gives his view on the rise of 100% remote teams. Ok – we’ve got Peter Reinhardt, CEO of Segment here at the WebSummit. Nice to meet you. Peter Reinhardt Thanks for having me. Nice to meet you as well. Stephen Cummins Tell me a little bit about your life up to Segment Peter Reinhardt Sure. I grew up in Seattle and was really into math. Then went to MIT and decided math was a little too abstract. Then studied physics. Decided physics was a little too abstract. Then studied aerospace engineering. I wasn’t going to get my aerospace engineering degree. But anyway I decided aerospace engineering was a little too abstract anyway. And ended up dropping out with my roommates and starting a company. So made the whole transition from math to business. For the last seven eight years have been working on a company that’s now doing reasonably well. Stephen Cummins What made you decide to found Segment? Peter Reinhardt So originally we … myself and my roommates in MIT … we were just interested in starting a company together. So we were roommates and best friends and just really wanted to spend more and more time together working on cool things. So we actually started as a classroom lecture tool. And the idea was to give students this button to push to say ‘I'm confused’ and the...
E65: Adi Azaria, Workiz CEO & Sisense Co-founder – Growth Hacking in Red Oceans
Adi Azaria, Workiz CEO & Sisense Co-founder; Growth Hacking in Red Oceans. Stephen Cummins met Adi for a second time in the Web Summit and it was all change. He had navigated the difficult path of separation from a business intelligence rocketship SiSense, which he’d co-founded, to falling in love with the startup world again, and finding his latest passion in field service scheduling software Workiz. If you’re interested in hearing more about Adi’s formative years, tune into episode 8 of 14 Minutes of SaaS … although recorded early in the life of the podcast, it is one of the episodes that has had the highest listenership.
E62: Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 1 of 3 – Post Perestroika St Petersburg to Amsterdam
This is the first episode of a 3 part series with Polina Montano, Co-founder of Job Today interviewed by Stephen Cummins. Previously interviewed way back in episode 3, this conversation is a deeper and more personal dive into who Polina is, the challenges she faced in Russia, her adventures abroad and ultimately how she became a major tech founder
E63: Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 2 of 3 – Luxembourg – Doyenne of Retail leaves her Shell
Episode 2 of 3 in the mini – series (episode 63 of 14 Minutes of SaaS) In Luxembourg by now - A multiple prize winning doyenne of Retail leaves her prized fashion store and works in an all conuming hard core retail position for Shell managing 6 petrol stations with accompanying mini-supermarket stores. Then leaves to do a masters in entrepreneurship and tech - and uses that as a springboard to apply her new knowledge and great idea to make the traditional world of hiring much more immediate, more local and much faster for companies and people looking for service and casual positions. Transcript Polina Montano I won Golden retailer - like being the best in the country twice. And after that I decided … ‘okay, what else I can do?’ So while I was still running my petrol station business, I just said well … let's just go and find something about learning about technology, because I was very much in the traditional sector of operations … of retail .. and going back to university was so good for me. It really like made a difference in making the world of technology accessible and exciting … really like opening my eyes on opportunities, on how much technology actually allows you to do nowadays. And already practically instantly I was excited about the possibility. How we can leverage such beautiful technology and innovation to improve the day to day lives of people and businesses maybe in traditional industries. And then the idea actually came along pretty fast. Stephen Cummins   Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world's most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. In this, the second part of a 3-part mini-series recorded with Polina Montano in the WebSummit in Lisbom, she tells us how she left a very successful career in traditional retail industries to become an almost overnight success in the tech world. The first notable one was V&J or the Stefanel boutique in Luxembourg? 1. What brought you to Luxembourg?  And 2. What was your interest in Luxemburg? Fashion? .. Polina Montano Oh, you make it sound so serious. I mean just for record …  Let's just remember I was like 24. I wasn’t thinking so deeply. I went to Luxembourg for the best reason ever …  I followed my husband who got relocated, for some work .. because he worked in finance .. and I just followed him to the country. I already knew I wanted to do something for myself. Franchising structures seemed like a great compromise  - you can still get the support of existing brands – the brand also gives you like a few procedures - kind of helps you set the business up - in the same time you experience a great degree of freedom in how exactly you run this location - and fashion obviously – young Russian girl 25 years old. I mean a fashion boutique was like a dream coming through … right? Like all of a sudden you have this beautiful shop – beautiful clothes. I mean what more could you possibly want? But guess what… it didn't last too long? Small Talk ends Stephen Cummins Yeah. It lasted less than four years? Polina Montano It lasted about two years - after two years of me running this shop, I got an offer from Shell - you know, the core company for gas stations etc back then - show or revisiting their retail management structures. And they decided to offer franchising as a formula and they decided that it would work very well for the group. And they actually at that moment offered me the opportunity - which once again took me way out of my comfort zone. Like I mentioned me being super happy with my little fashion store - like my little baby. It's like a lifestyle business. Starting all over again. Southern you actually go over the contract or finding a chain of selling points which essentially is much more than just selling gas. It's like having this little 24 hours supermarkets next to it. So it was quite an impressive structure - over more than 50 people staff - six locati...
E64: Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 3 of 3 – a Tech Star is Born
Polina Montano, Job Today Co-Founder – 3 of 3 – a Tech Star is Born A Tech Star is Born - Polina goes deeper into Job Today and discusses the changes that have occurred in the company and the reason why it can be a motor for economic growth by empowering companies to hire faster and better and to subsequently succeed better - as well as provide better opportunities for candidates. TRANSCRIPT We are the ones that are imposing these limits on ourselves. We have to believe in ourselves a bit more … like … just cut yourself some slack and give yourself some credit and say ‘why not?’ ‘why would I not be able to do that if I really… really want to? If I'm really really motivated. It's our own fears of not being good enough … of not being qualified … of not being able to do that. This is something which prevent us from doing things. Stephen Cummins   Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world's most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. This the final episode of our three part mini-series with Polina Montano - recorded in the Websummit in Lisbon. She goes into more depth on Job Today and the service they provide. She talks about it from the point of view of both the employer and the employee - and she's also touches upon the future of work issues around inclusivity and gender equality. Polina Montano Work is a vital need for most of us. And so, the impact on the economy is tremendous if we make hiring easier – something that might take the hassle out of hiring. We would like the beauty of the platform to be also how it enables new job creation - because as a small business owner if you know, it's going to be very difficult for you to bring someone onboard -  chances are you're just gonna put more pressure on your existing team. And by giving you a solution which is easy and intuitive and fast and inefficient to use … chances are they actually help you maybe hire more people and give opportunities to more candidates out there. Stephen Cummins Okay, now a couple of things I love about the philosophy behind the company is that, it allows for example, graduates, who don't have any references really in the workspace you know, to present themselves in a video format - so the employer gets an immediate impression about the individual. From the employer's point of view if they're not just putting bums on seats .. they actually can see the individual and think that my work actually ,…. that person could work in team … but I love the local! The fact that you focused on the local because that's the great irony .. people are down the road from you… you can't… you can't connect with them. Is there any vision to go a little step further where by you make the connection, you're the employee or the employer and whereby you somehow facilitate even the meeting place … is there any plan to build that out … where everything just gets seamless? Where Job Today even facilitates the meeting and everything. Is that too much? Polina Montano No it's definitely not too much! The whole idea is to make hiring simple. That's the core mission - just take the friction out of hiring. And absolutely - the scheduling of interviews and making sure it is a better fit and the best match between employer and candidate. It's definitely the direction in which I'm working – it makes perfect sense. As you know, the biggest hiring pain in service industry is no shows - we track which people apply for jobs with which vendor. They don't bother come for the interview. So clearly better communication and better processes can improve that. Stephen Cummins And if you were a candidate and you sign up for job today and you do two or three no shows, will that affect your ranking … because I know you're ranking the employers. Are you ranking the job seekers? Polina Montano Yes, absolutely. In the future yes – we are working on our ranking system right now – its all about bringi...
E57: Patrick Campbell, Founder and CEO of Profitwell. 2 of 3, Last One off the Ship
Patrick Campbell, SaaS pricing guru and CEO & Founder of Profitwell talks – in conversation with Stephen Cummins for 14 Minutes of SaaS. Patrick opens up a lot about his own strengths and weaknesses as a founder CEO, but he puts his mitts up to the world too - saying that most big companies in the business analytics world paint pretty pictures with data, but have failed to evolve into companies that pro-actively surface solutions for customers.
E58: Patrick Campbell, Founder and CEO of Profitwell. 3 of 3, Ambition
Episode 3 of a 3 part interview with Patrick Campbell, SaaS pricing guru and CEO & Founder of Profitwell, chatting with Stephen Cummins. reveals his ambition in 2 ways. Firstly he opines that the sort of work-life balance delivered to employees by the Basecamp guys is really tough if you want to build a very large company. Secondly he sees VC funding as a tool that he’ll use at some point in the future. #14MoS
E53: Mark Organ, Founder of Influitive and Eloqua. 1 of 3. 4X Humans
Canadian Mark Organ, founder of Influitive and Eloqua in conversation with Stephen Cummins for 14 Minutes of SaaS. Influitive helps companies strategically mobilise advocates within their community. The company has raised $60M USD in its 9 year existence. Before that he  was the founding CEO of Eloqua which was subsequently sold for $870M USD to Oracle. Part 1 of 3
E54: Mark Organ, Founder of Influitive and Eloqua. 2 of 3. Cashflow Obsessed
Influitive and Eloqua founder Mark Organ confesses to Stephen Cummins that he has an obsession with cashflow in the early stages of his startups – and explains why this obsession led to the founding of Influitive. We’ll also find out how many months it took him to learn to speak and understand Mandarin. And what app he used to help make that happen.
E55: Mark Organ, Founder of Influitive and Eloqua. 3 of 3. Lego Rules!
Final episode of this 3 part mini-series with Mark Organ, Exec Chairman & Founder of Influitive (and original founder and former CEO of Eloqua). He tells Stephen Cummins that 'Best Place to Work' awards are a sham. He talks about Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote ‘The medium is the message.’ Today he feels the messenger is the message. Mark reflects on how Lego is the King of advocate marketing and is a prime example of how B2C is always years ahead of B2B
E56: Patrick Campbell, Founder and CEO of Profitwell. 1 of 3, Chasing Hard Targets
Patrick Campbell, SaaS pricing guru and CEO & Founder of Profitwell, in conversation with Stephen Cummins for 14 Minutes of SaaS. When he got tired of working for the intelligence services in the US and learning stuff about the world he’d maybe rather not have found out – he left and eventually set up Profitwell - a SaaS business for other SaaS businesses who value understanding how to improve the financial metrics underpinning their subscription business. #14MoS
E51: David Darmanin – Founder & CEO of Hotjar – 1 of 2 – 4 O’Clock in the Morning
Part 1 of 2. CEO & Founder Dr. David Darmanin chats to Stephen Cummins about his startup awakening at 4 o clock in the morning in Malta that led to the founding of Hotjar – software used by marketers, product managers and UX designers that helps you rapidly understand your customers
E52: David Darmanin – Founder & CEO of Hotjar – 2 of 2 – Pragmatism before Passion
Concluding half of a 2 part series. Hotjar CEO David Darmanin tells Stephen Cummins about his passion for building 100% distributed companies, the importance he places on self awareness and building on one’s strengths, and he mentions books that he mandates all new employees to read
E41: Cameron Adams – Co-founder & CPO of Canva – 1 of 2 – One Percent Done
Cameron Adams, Co-founder & CPO of Canva, talks about his personal history and his decision to become a co-founder of this current rocket ship. Canva is a graphic design platform that has raised $157M dollars on a $2.5B valuation, but he says they're only 1% done!
E42: Cameron Adams – Co-founder & CPO of Canva – 2 of 2 – Designing a Unicorn
Cameron Adams – Co-founder & CPO of Canva, talks about product innovation and building teams that feel safe enough to express their creativity and take risks. He explains why it's almost impossible to AB test your way to a unicorn.
E43: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 1 of 7 – the Importance of Timing
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, describes a no-frills upbringing, how he got into software, and gives a great example of the importance of timing in startups.
E44: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 2 of 7 – Therapeutic Personal Challenges
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, talks about people who influenced him and 10 years of amazing personal challenges which he initially used as therapy for his obsessive compulsive tendencies with in business
E45: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 3 of 7 – Online will Never Kill Bricks and Mortar Retail
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, describes journey with the startup he founded - the first holistic cloud based retail platform. He feels the online experience will never kill bricks and mortar retail.
E46: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 4 of 7 – Tell you Story
Episode 4 of a 7 part series with Vaughan Fergusson. Episode 46 of 14 Minutes of SaaS. If Pam Fergusson had not borrowed money to buy her children a computer, would Vend and OMG tech exist today? Vaughan doesn't think so.
E47: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 5 of 7 – New Zealand evolves away from Tall Poppy Syndrome
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, explains how a post Xero New Zealand is evolving away from tall poppy syndrome into a growing sense of confidence and a stronger personality in the world. He discusses the challenges of governments being slow to innovate.
E48: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 6 of 7 – Don’t Fail too Fast
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, talks about mentorship and why team and timing are more important than ideas. Also the power of diversity when it comes to hiring effectively and also regarding the creation of effective innovative ideas.
E49: Vaughan Fergusson – Founder & ex CEO of Vend – 7 of 7 – the Illusion of Overnight Success
Vaughan Fergusson, Founder and ex CEO of Vend, reveals whether he has lost the fear as an entrepreneur. He advises entrepreneurs to look after their health and take their time – overnight successes are uncommon in the startup world. It normally takes 10 years to build something really valuable.
E80 – Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, Ex 500 Startups. 5 of 5. Build your Rocket’s Red Button first!
Episode 80 of 14 Minutes is the final one of a 5-part mini-series. Stephen Cummins chats with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. He expresses a love for writing. He admits to being an introvert and that, even after being on 500 stages, his hands can shake on stage. Why 500 stages? Because Sean loves to embrace things that are difficult for him. He loves a challenge. There’s a lot of jazzy, crazy, ‘look-at-me’ CMOs with groovy shoes out there. Sean is entirely atypical in this regard. He’s very approachable … and doesn’t want to be that person that only surrounds himself with celebrity business people. Stephen Cummins —- Tip: Sean removed all the apps from his phone and resolved never to look at emails outside of normal work hours in order to regain more personal freedom and improve the quality if his life. __ Transcript Sean Percival Do not build around a trend. Just because everyone’s doing blockchain for what … like you don’t need to do that. So I think it’s much better to start with your passion. It doesn’t have to be 100 milion dollars. If your passion is fish tanks go be the best at selling fish tanks or  innovating in the fish tank space. So it’s like there’s nothing wrong with that too. I talked a little bit about this … why Myspace lost. We were not narrow. We were in every vertical you ever could be in. So, in the early stage, you have to be ruthless about doing one thing great and not many things kind of okay. And you just have to be super hyper-focused before you can start to build out everything. I think this is where a lot of founders struggle, because they’re smart people … they have so many ideas … they see like way down the field of what this is going to be …  or what they want it to be. Yeah. We do. Stephen Cummins I’m Stephen Cummins and this is episode 80 of 14 minutes assess. And the final one of a five-part mini-series with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby. He admits to being an introvert. After being on 500 stages his hands shake just before going up on stage. Why 500 stages? Because Sean loves to embrace things that are difficult for him. He loves a challenge. I find this refreshing because there’s a lot of jazzy, crazy ‘look at me’ CMOs approve out there. Sean is entirely atypical in this regard. He’s very approachable, and doesn’t want to be that person that only surrounds himself with celebrity business people. Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. — Sean Percival   I guess I like I’ve never been happier, and lower stress … because of moving to a different country. And another funny thing is I’ve talked a little bit about reducing distractions. There’s nothing better than if you don’t speak the language. All of a sudden you realize you have so much more brain capacity and overhead. I don’t watch the local news. I don’t read the local newspaper. I’m not overhearing conversations, because I don’t really know what they’re saying, yeah. So it’s like this year is just been about … after being in la and so many ups and downs of startup life … It’s been about like generating focus for me. So, yeah, no work at night. And if I’m working on the weekend, it’s passion projects, you know. It’s like passions stuff. Stephen Cummins It’s very interesting to hear because I’m a language vulture. I can’t stand not to be able to speak the language. So when I went places I focused massively on the language …  but it’s a very interesting perspective that it actually frees you up from so many things. And it’d actually be very hard to learn Norwegian …  because they speak such good English. So they want to hear your English. They want to speak English. Sean Percival They like to speak English. Like if you speak English, they’ll just switch to English because it’s uncomfortable for them. Stephen Cummins If you were to walk away tomorrow from the sorts of things you’ve been doing in appear.in [Whereby] …  all that tech stuff … and you just walked away. Is there anything you could imagine that you would do away from that world? Sean Percival Yeah. Trust me, I’ve thought about it. Especially like some stressful times as too. But I think what I would do is … and this keeps coming back to me … which tells me that there might be something there. And now I have written a few books. I would love to just do nothing but that. If I had a vision of where I would be … I would be sitting in a beautiful cabin for a month for some reason. Yeah, yeah, just enjoying the seasons change. And I don’t know what I’d be writing about, but different stories and all these stories I’ve had bubbling in my head too. I would just love to write books. And I don’t even care everyone reads them. So it’s like, yeah, I would love to just like write and create. And very startup like … where it’s like, yeah, maybe I’ll write 10 books and maybe one of them someone cares about. And I’m fine with that too. So, yeah, I don’t know … for some reason I always come back to that. And for some reason I always see Vermont in my head. I don’t know why. Stephen Cummins You’re a marketer. You’re very comfortable in your own skin. You’re used to interacting with people and being on stage … and all of that … but actually you strike me as an introvert at heart. Sean Percival It’s absolutely accurate. I’m a very intuitive person. But people are surprised because I do get on stage a lot. Yeah. But this is how I challenge myself where it’s like, ‘Yeah, I still get nervous. I probably been on 500 stages … who knows?’ But it’s like I still get nervous. And actually sometimes when I’m going out if I have my phone or a piece of paper in my hands actually … my hands are actually shaking. Stephen Cummins So I wouldn’t have guessed that, but one of the things that struck me when I spoke to you almost immediately … actually … was that you’re at heart an introvert. And that’s just instinct. Sean Percival Absolutely. It’s 100%. And people are always surprised … so you’ve very good instincts. If I go talk … if I do a big speech … or if I’m in a very social environment, I sometimes need to escape really quick. So if I’m on stage and do a lot, I typically cannot go to the after-mixer thing – because I’ve exhausted my social capital .. I dunno … my social currency. Stephen Cummins There’s only so much of that battery you’ve got for a day right. Sean Percival I like to leave and… and be in a quiet space as well. But this is how I’ve been like pushing myself my whole life. I’m scared to death of heights … so I went skydiving. So I just like … I just like always trying to find these ways to like .. ‘How can I like break this?’ And if it can’t break that ,it’s not meant to be broken. But like I said, I like to push it a lot too. And it does give me energy, and it really drives me to be on stage and be social. Stephen Cummins But it probably helps you work more effectively too … in those quiet moments – because some people in the marketing space would be very much on the brash … I suppose, extroverted side of life. And for them it probably takes them a little while to switch into it when they step away from that. Whereas for you, it’s probably like you embrace it and straightaway you’re into whatever you’re doing. So there’s probably power in that as well. Sean Percival I’m a marketer, but I don’t really go and like bash you with ‘Oh I do all this … and look at all my numbers’. The guy before me .. it was nothing but a commercial for his company. And I was like ‘Oh, you’re killing the mood of the room. You have this audience like … inspire them! Make them laugh. Like have a good time.’ It’s like if I’m marketing and myself, it’s like or what I’m doing … it’s usually a footnote. I want to inspire them. Get you excited to the point where  yeah … maybe you go look up Appear.in [Whereby] .. and think ‘Oh, Appear.in …  great.’ So it’s more of this halo effect in marketing. Yeah, not me trying to force it down your throat. And that’s more so happened as I’ve been in the Nordics, because it’s a bad thing to be a marketer, it’s a bad thing to be too much ego- driven. [***end of transcript to be done] — In the next episode we move from the Dublin Tech Summit to RISE in Hong Kong where I interviewed Dr. Wan Ling, better known outside of Asia as Winnie Lee, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Appier. Appier, founded in Tapei in Taiwan, is a provider of an AI powered platform to brands and retailers to make better marketing decisions and increase customer engagement. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/RemoteSaaS
E79 – Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, Ex 500 Startups. 4 of 5. Freedom to live & work where you thrive.
Episode 79 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the fourth instalment of a 5-part mini-series. Stephen Cummins chats with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. Sean talks about big players in the video meeting space – from Webex to Zoom to Goto Meeting to Skype. He gets into the values of Whereby and how they’ve built a remote-friendly hybrid culture. He describes why their go-to-market style is similar to Slack. We talk a little about entrepreneurs making time for the arts, mentioning artists like Simon Stålenhag. And the tragedy of entrepreneurs not making time to read other than social media snacking. Stephen Cummins —- Tip: Sean removed all the apps from his phone and resolved never to look at emails outside of normal work hours in order to regain more personal freedom and improve the quality if his life. __ Transcript Sean Percival Cause this is what we’re also trying to figure out …. we just hired a woman in Argentina … and how does she get to know a company? It’s 30 people. They’re all over the world, time zones as well. But we thought about … like ‘how do we make her feel included?’ Like that’s a big thing ..inclusiveness. We have a few values. Inclusiveness is one of them. And that’s not just in terms of like gender or racial diversity. That’s actually like if you’re not in the office. How do you feel like you’re part of this? So that means in Norway, we do a lot of stuff late in the afternoon because that’s the morning of America. You know, so we’re ensure that we have this overlap. We do a hackathon and we make sure that our remote people are dialling in remote – and part of the hackathon – and watching and feeling like they’re part of it too. So we’ve actually built a schedule, a framework. A format for meetings. A format for introducing the culture and the values to a new employee, but we’re still learning. We’re still figuring it out. Stephen Cummins I’m Stephen Cummins and this is episode 79 of 14 minutes SaaS, the fourth instalment of a five part mini-series with Sean personal CMO of Whereby, formerly of 500 startups and Myspace. Sean talks about big players in the video meeting space – from WebEx to Zoom to GoToMeeting to Skype. He gets into the values of Whereby and how they build a remote friendly hybrid culture. He describes how their go-to-market style is similar to Slack. And we reflect a little bit on the tragedy of entrepreneurs not making enough time for the arts and reading in general. You do have a competitor in the space … that some people say they love as well … which is Zoom. In fairness. Sean Percival Great product!                                                          Stephen Cummins It’s a big market out there. Plenty of space for everyone. What really differentiates appear.in [Whereby] for you from Zoom. Sean Percival I get this question a lot. And sometimes it’s hard to answer. And I mean depending on who I’m talking to I say …  ‘Well, you know … Zoom has raised hundreds of millions of dollars : ) And we have not. You know, kinda depends. But really what we’re trying to do is not allowing ours to become a large feature, bloated product, which is what happened to Skype, what happened to WebEx, and happening to so many these products. Zoom feels get might be going down that path – where we want to focus on…  also Zoom is a lot like for large meetings … your town Hall format. That’s not what we’re about… we’re about like typically one-on-one. And we’re all about collaboration .. so whether you’re bringing in Google docs, Trello, Slack, other things…  coding together … we have lots of these integrations where we really have thought about ‘what’s the best way to make you collaborate and actually work together? And a lot of our roots are based on remote work. We’re a remote work company. So we’re trying to focus in on that. We’re kind of owning that. It’s not to say that Zoom is not a good product … it’s an amazing product I mean … the execution and the quality so good, but at the same time I don’t think video meeting is a winner take all market. I think there will always be four or five players, because it’s not just Zoom. Remember there’s Skype there’s GoToMeeting, there’s BlueJeans. There’s all these others out there. And their not small companies, you know. They all have a lot of users as well. And nobody really talks about WebEx, but they’re the Monster. They’re much bigger than Zoom. People might say they hate that as well too, but like … So to me it’s not a winner-take-all I think. We’ll all have our sort of different types of brand affinity and different use cases and that’s great. I don’t think there should be … I don’t like monopolies. Zoom challenges us. I mean yeah a, much bigger company. But like we aspire to do as they did. When I read their S1, I was like ‘this is the most beautiful document I’ve ever seen’. That’s why I’m doing what it is. It’s a beautiful well run company that’s going profitable you know. And right now they probably look at us … like ‘yep, cute Norwegian startup that nobody has ever really heard of’, but that’s not true. We have millions of users. So if anything it’s like … yeah I’m, going, to be a little bit of a thorn in their side … and if they’re not thinking about us like …  they will be soon you know. That’s like a great challenge. Let’s challenge each other. That’s how you make great products. Let’s fight and let the market decide.                                                   Stephen Cummins What do you feel is in store for you in the next two to three years? What’s the focus of appear.in [Whereby]? Sean Percival Yep, I need more resources. I need more people. So we’re fundraising … you know. We’re trying to start … we think it’s a series A, although there’s never been a seed round. Never was a seed round. So we’re not sure how to really kind of approach this. But yeah we want to get the people and I want to really lean into more US – that’s where most of our revenues are from anyway. I want us to become a truly global company and I want us to sort of still innovate in collaboration. So like one example … always people are like ‘Can you do phone dial-in?’ and it’s like we don’t get a lot of requests and that’s maybe more of a legacy product. I would never add phone log-in … you know, audio dial-in … unless we innovated in that I mean. Not unless we made it super easy you know. Maybe it calls you and, then everyone’s connected and there’s no fuss – no muss. So that what we’re really gonna push on – like making it easier to collaborate, making the experience joyful.                                                          Stephen Cummins So do you… do most of you guys all work out of the same office in Oslo … or are you all working from different places? Sean Percival Oslo is the main headquarters. That’s where most people are I would say. 12 to 14 or so are in that office. We have an office also on the West coast of Norway. Sweden, Spain, Argentina and then 2 in America as well. So we’re remote.                                                          Stephen Cummins And they’re like one or two people in the other offices … they’re working remotely, right? So you have a hybrid setup at this stage? Sean Percival Yeah. We do. Stephen Cummins If you look 2 or 3 years out … do you see yourselves as having one or two big co-located offices in the US? … or would you have different individuals? You know, do you see yourself going that distributed model more… or multiple co-located? Sean Percival Yeah. It’s a really… really good question. And… I’m not sure we figured it out to be honest. But that’s what challenges us. How do we have an inclusive company that’s spread out and distributed? That’s what’s driving us right now                                                             Stephen Cummins Because you would be one of the empowers of, you know, this inevitable evolution towards – in the case of most companies – a more hybrid approach. At the moment, your big focus really is small and medium sized companies, because you’re still in revenue terms a small company. Although you’re… you’re growing fast even revenue terms. You’re still kind of a young company in that sense. Sean Percival Yep. Stephen Cummins So I’m sure that’s connected to that. Would you see a big advantage in the fact that you’re rolling out lots of projects to lots of different companies and learning perhaps a lot faster that way. Sean Percival Yeah, it’s very much like Skype. And I’m sorry, not skype, it’s very much like Slack … where it starts bottom up … and it starts in one team. And really what happened is we look up some companies – Home Depot, McKenzie, different companies … we’re like ‘Why do they have 12 different accounts?’ Paid accounts? Let’s just bring them all into one account. [*** transcription to be finished] Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. In the concluding episode of our 5-part mini-series, Sean will talk about why innovating around something you have a passion for, not innovating and building something in a domain just because its trendy. He embraces the fact that he doesn’t speak Norwegian to reduce information. He also expresses a burning desire to become a writer and advises entrepreneurs to focus on doing one small thing with excellence. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/14MinutesOfSaaS
E78 – Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, Ex 500 Startups. 3 of 5. Loving Life & Janteloven in Oslo.
Episode 78 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the third part of a 5-episode mini-series. Stephen Cummins chats with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. “There’s no loyalty in Silicon Valley. In Nordic society, there’s something called Janteloven – which is partly responsible for the much higher levels of loyalty. He feels that where one has the choice between the two, hire for dev & design in the Nordics, sales & marketing in the US. He’s big on using his learnings from failures to advise Startups and was responsible for over 100 early investments in companies for 500 Startups. He describes what drew him to initially to Whereby in Oslo. He contrasts “Norwegian modesty, trust and transparency” with “US arrogance and ambition”. He sees the good in both and wants people he works with to draw from the best of both. Stephen Cummins —- Tip: Sean has actually written a book on his cultural experiences in Oslo called ‘Working with Norwegians __ Transcript Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps.Embracing challenge —- Sean Percival There’s no loyalty in silicon valley now. Someone offers you something more exciting or more money, you jump. But like, yeah, in Norway like … and all of the Nordics, such high loyalty. So that’s what I usually say. Like do you want the best of both worlds? Exactly what you described …  development, design in the Nordics ….sales, marketing in the US. Yeah, we have to understand in Nordic society, there’s something called the Law of Jante or Janteloven –  which basically means its a set of rules that are kind of ingrained in the culture. And you should look them up because they’re really, really interesting. But one example is you’re not to think you’re better than anyone else. You know. There is a law that you are not to laugh at us. There’s another law – which is very difficult for the Startup land – where it says you are not to think you can teach us anything. So these are like literal laws and – difference between –  it’s a Danish author, but they’re used in Norway. Less in Sweden. But notice Stockholm is doing much better. Stephen Cummins Episode 78 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the third part of a 5-episode mini-series with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. I’m Stephen Cummins. Sean says there’s no loyalty in Silicon Valley. He feels that where one has the choice between the two, hire for dev & design in the Nordics, sales & marketing in the US. And he’s actually written a book called Working with Norwegians. So eventually, you joined 500 Startups and you moved to out to Oslo … aw bur still doing stuff in Silicon Valley. Dave McClure gave you …  we mentioned Jason Calacanis [reference] … Dave gave we gave you a wonderful reference on Linkedin. He mentions that in the past three years with 500 startups you invested in over 100 companies and managed several accelerator programs in silicon valley in the Nordics. So my question after reading that was ‘does this guy sleep?’ …  but my second thought was you could only do that if you love the world to startups. So do you really love what you do? Sean Percival I really love that job actually. And Dave is a slight controversial in some cases. But still a really… really good guy. I knew Dave not very closely … but he invested in Wittlebee … that company we talked about. He invested when actually things we’re not going well and we were struggling. And he said to me, ‘I’m going to invest 50K dollars.’ I think and he said, ‘I don’t think this is gonna work out though. And if it doesn’t work out when you need a job, I want you to contact me first, that’s all I ask.’ So it was almost like a recruiting deposit – and I took the money because I needed it. And I gotta make payroll. And do all my stuff. And sure … some months later .. like, yeah, we are out of business and I called him up. I said, ‘You’re right. It didn’t work out. And what can I do?’ So I joined 500 because I didn’t feel like I handled my investor as well as I would have liked. Have were great, half were not. So I wanted to better understand this part of the equation. I still love startups. Absolutely. I wanted to help. I wanted to .. I’m very much the kind of guy that like, yeah, I’ve had some success but I’ve had a lot more failure. I always push the failure forward and try and help others to avoid it. Or approach it differently. So my view is like ‘Dave, you’re gonna let me work with hundreds of companies. I’m going to get to take all my experience and pay it forward.’ Very silicon valley. I needed a job when my startup just crashed. And yeah, ‘Dave, I’ll… I’ll do this for a year, maybe less. And then I’m gonna go do my next startup.’ And I think I work there over three years for him. So I love startups still to this day. Even though I’m a CMO, I always carve a little bit of time for mentorship of early stage startups. Stephen Cummins And we’re going to come on to Appear.in [Whereby] pretty quickly, because it’s connected to Oslo of course . We also of course. But if we look at those five years, you’ve been there [in Oslo] … most of it in the startup scene … It’s quite a small city. You would have the ability, especially working with 500 startups – in organisations like that, to actually have an influence there. You must be like a minor Rock-star in the startup scene in Oslo. How does that feel coming from Silicon Valley? Where you’ve done some amazing things but … you wouldn’t have been known by everybody – in the way that you would be in Oslo. How does that feel? Is it very gratifying? Sean Percival It feels really good. You might argue it’s like big fish in a small pond. But at the same time, like you’ve exactly nailed it on the head. Silicon Valley was so much noise. I worked for 500 startups – like one of the most well known top programs. There’s better programs and less than better and so forth. But nobody cared. It was like I couldn’t break through the noise. And I started going more to Europe and 500 was always very international. They’ve always invested globally when most silicon valley VCs don’t do that. So he’s well known for that. And I think ahead of the curve in some ways. So I started coming to these parts of the world. And I realised, like, yeah, that these company’s countries lack early stage funding, they lack a ‘pay it forward’ culture. They lack mentorship, they lack experience, I happen to have all these things either personally or because of 500 Startups. So it felt really good. I remember one of the first time second time. I went there like, yeah … they were like literally at the airport with a huge sign and like shaking flags – and it was like a very weird experience because I don’t see myself as a Rock star. But I got the Rock star treatment several times. Stephen Cummins That’s great. Sean Percival But it felt good. And Norwegians especially … a lot of them will come up to me and just say ‘We’re glad you’re here. We need you here. We need this competency. Stephen Cummins What are the pros and the cons of starting a company in Oslo. And what are the characteristics? What do you think is the cultural characteristics of the type of entrepreneurs that you’ve met? Sean Percival That’s a good question. And there’s a lot of nuance between the cultures as, with any culture difference, you know, there’s always so much… so much nuance. But if you think about the Norwegian modesty … and you think about the American arrogance …. It’s a complete different sides of the spectrum. And so – it’s good and bad. So I’m actually trying to merge these and meet them in the middle where I try and making the Norwegian entrepreneur less modest … So an example is like an American founder might walk up to you and say like, ‘Hi, I’m so and so and I know so and so and my business is making a million dollars’, you know, whereas a Norwegian founder would walk up and say like, ‘Yeah, you know, I’m working on something … not really that big of a deal. You don’t even really worry about it to be honest.’ So it’s like so different worlds. Yeah. Is one better than the other? I don’t know perhaps but really what I’m thinking about is like trust and modesty and just like transparency of Nordic culture .. with like this sort of bravado or the push or bravado of American culture … trying to find that immediate middle point. Yeah, but they’re totally different societies. You know, Americans sell everything including themselves. And the Norwegians just do not do this. That’s true of all almost all of Scandinavia. Stephen Cummins Yeah, yeah. I guess if you have a company that has kind of .. that’s founded in a Nordic country and it gets to a certain scale and you want to have a presence in the States, you’ll probably run your sales and marketing in the United States. But keep your development in the Nordics because you’ve got some amazing developers as well. But they don’t cost as much, right? And they stay twice as long Sean Percival Right. Half the cost and very good. Exactly. So the tenure is very… very long. There’s no loyalty in silicon valley. Now someone offers you something more exciting or more money, you jump … but like .. yeah, in Norway like …and all that the Nordics .. such high loyalty. So that’s what I usually say, ‘Hey, like do you want the best of both worlds? Exactly what you described. There’s no loyalty in Silicon Valley now. Someone offers you something more exciting or more money, you jump. But like, yeah, in Norway like … and all of the Nordics, such high loyalty. So that’s what I usually say. Like do you want the best of both worlds? Exactly what you described …  development, design in the Nordics ….sales, marketing in the US. But you have to understand in Nordic society, there’s something called the Law of Jante or Janteloven –  which basically means its a set of rules that are kind of ingrained in the culture. And you should look them up because they’re really, really interesting. But one example is you’re not to think you’re better than anyone else. You know. There is a law that you are not to laugh at us. There’s another law – which is very difficult for the Startup land – where it says you are not to think you can teach us anything. So these are like literal laws and – difference between –  it’s a Danish author, but they’re used in Norway. Less in Sweden. But notice Stockholm is doing much better. Stephen Cummins Even if we’re talking about that, you know that… that society that you… you see across … now across Finland as well … and Iceland as well. You know, Olaf Plama in the seventies would have been the father of all of that, you know, looking after the everyone .. which I’m a big fan of … looking after the age, making sure everybody has a great education and health. So Stockholm really is the innovative centre of that – and of course on the business side – Stockholm really has produced five or six unicorns in the last decade or so. Sean Percival Yeah, they have the highest like unicorn per capita. Stephen Cummins And they’re right up there in Tel Aviv and San Francisco. If you really think about that, they’re close to that … because it’s quite small. I know its bigger than Oslo but it’s still quite small – population similar to Dublin. So, so that’s probably why they’re a little bit less like that. And that’s possibly something in only the last 20 years. Sean Percival Yeah, yeah. I think so and it is generational. And I see that [increasingly] less Norwegians are held back by the Law of Jante – especially when I do a talked college kids like ‘No, we don’t really think about that anymore.’ But trust me their parents are, but this is part of that flat hierarchy, that equal society. So, in America, especially silicon valley, it’s more of the meritocracy. The best person he or she will be pushed up, you know, we had like if you are good at maths, you will be put in a HP [High Performance] or an advanced math class. Then you have this concept, right? It’s like if you’re good at math like ‘can you slow down a little bit? So everyone can catch up.’ So that is the Nordic way. it’s not to take the over-achiever and push him or her further. It’s to bring along everyone else that is perhaps falling behind. That’s Nordic equality. So this is very different to me because I grew up in Los Angeles. And in Los Angeles all people do is tell you why they are better than you – nonstop. And the Norwegion or the Nordic way, you would never do that. People would not trust you if you kept saying ‘I’m good and look at my car.’ Like you just wouldn’t do that there. Yeah. So wealthy, but not flashy is their way. Stephen Cummins So one of the things I did in my 10 career changes over the years was I went and did a thing called the Jet Program in Japan. And I was teaching in public schools there. They have the same thing because they actually what they do is … if you have a class 36, they take the best maths and the worst and the 2nd best and the end worst and they sit beside each other. All about levelling. It’s the same. The cultural thing is not to say ‘I’m great’ or ‘I can do this’. It’s to knock that down Sean Percival In Japan. It’s basically like the ‘tall nail gets hammered down.’ Stephen Cummins In New Zealand the tall poppy gets cut. [*** transcript to be completed] — In the next episode, episode 4 of a 5-part mini-series, Sean talks about the competitive landscape in video conferencing software, and discusses how he’s re-architecting his life in the Nordics and escaping the shackles of email and the negative effects of social media. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/SaaSPodcasts
E77 – Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, Ex 500 Startups. 2 of 5. Small & VC Free is Beautiful.
Episode 77 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the second instalment of a 5-part mini-series. Stephen Cummins chats with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. Sean also touches on his 1st job when he joined Myspace. It was to get rid of its iconic co-founder Tom Anderson – better known as ‘Tom from Myspace’ who would automatically be assigned as your 1st friend when you signed up for Myspace. This move wasn’t popular with everyone. Myspace was big data dumb according to Sean and that’s why they lost to Facebook. Post Myspace, He describes his 1st experience as a CEO & Co-founder of Wittlebee. He loves working for small startups, and would be very slow to enter a VC driven rocket-ship again. He feels lifestyle v potential unicorn is just a matter of choice. One isn’t fundamentally better than the other. Stephen Cummins Tip: The visuals are even more impressive than the soundscape these episodes were recorded to. Want to meet someone for business or pleasure in the coolest bar in Dublin? Check out 37 Dawson Street. One of the most interestingly designed bars in Dublin’s fair city, a town that’s very famous for the standard of its watering holes. __ Transcript —                                                                                     Stephen Cummins Would you ever go back to being a CEO? Would you ever want to do that again?                                                                                   Sean Percival I think I would, but maybe more on my own terms? Less on my VC’s terms. Yeah. And that that’s what I realise. And even at my current job Whereby like … I like that we don’t have any investors. I like that I have one CEO and we just interface and we solve problems. We have a board and so forth too, but yeah like… That Wittlebee was a great business. We made 1M dollars in like six or seven months in sales … grew fast … and then a year into it, we were making almost 3M dollars in annual revenue. Already. Recurring revenue. And so it was going really… really good, but the VCs were just like … ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and I’m like, ‘Oh wait a minute. My inventory is breaking. My supply chain is not like ironed out. Like we’re growing too fast.’ And they’re like ‘Perfect. Keep doing that. And here’s a little bit more money!’ And like just kept pushing and pushing. So that would have been an amazing .. maybe more of a lifestyle business. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with having a lifestyle business. You don’t have to go build the next unicorn. Like I’ve had lifestyle businesses – if you have these businesses and it’s making some money for you… you enjoy doing it, great!                                                                                     Stephen Cummins Episode 77 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the second instalment of a 5-part mini-series. I’m Stephen Cummins chatting with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. Myspace was big data dumb according to Sean and that’s why they lost to Facebook. Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps.                                                                                   Sean Percival As a funny side story … the first thing I had to do actually when I came in there was I had to get rid of Tom. You remember Tom? He was your first friend. And Tom was on his way out. And, you know, he’d had a good run. And he was going out but, I had to get rid of Tom. And that’s a very weird thing to do, because he’s like a person but also a mythical God in some way. And, you know, the photo of Tom is loaded over a billion times every single day on the site.                                                                          Stephen Cummins Wow!                                                                         Sean Percival You know, it’s like that’s how much that face looking over his shoulder, kind of seeing you … a billion times every single day.                                                                    Stephen Cummins But they needed to move on. Sean Percival We had to move on. We didn’t want a face to be that … I mean, no other site really had the face of a person, an employee [he was actually a founder too]. Yeah, it’s dangerous when you build your brand around an employee, you know. They leave. Things change as well.             Stephen Cummins You’re very, very vulnerable.                                      Sean Percival That was the first thing. And it was a lot of like just trying to like stitch things up and really understand.        Stephen Cummins Did doing that cause some tensions internally? Like you actually being the one that was saying ‘Look! We need to change!’ and you actually going in and making that happen … Were there a few people that never forgave you for that?                                                    Sean Percival Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. There were a lot of people that weren’t very happy. And the thing is I came in with Mike Jones who became the CEO of Myspace. And I had worked with him. I had executive buy-in. So I could make tough decisions and do things, but yeah .. a lot of people were annoyed because I’m the new guy. I wasn’t a founder. I wasn’t there from day one. Yeah. So their view is like ‘you don’t understand the history’. And my view is more like ‘I’m not worried about the past. I’m worried about surviving the future … and sure … being sustainable and starting to grow again.’ So, yeah, I had to make a lot of decisions. But it was tough. I mean, I remember the first meeting I had with the marketing group. I’ve never been in a more depressed meeting. Just everyone was so defeated. Still a bigger site than Facebook, still had more traffic. Still had everything, but it’s just … I don’t know – they knew things are happening. They saw people getting laid off. And so a lot of it was just motivation and empowering my employees to do good stuff. I still do that today. Stephen Cummins They… they were still in a place where they could turn that ship around and could have done something amazing. You know, it’s not a zero-sum game at the end of the day. And they weren’t fundamentally a bit different to Facebook. Yeah, I mean there was music streaming, and there they were kinda cool. Sean Percival Customisable! Stephen Cummins There where people doing different stuff than Facebook – and it’s almost … you’re almost describing something where you’ve got this… this Castle … full of jewels … but the people living in the castle are blind or half blind. They just don’t know what they’ve got!                    Sean Percival Or they were kicking the rocks out. They were kicking out the doors. You know, the one analogy is kind of like … if you sell a home or if your home gets foreclosed and you’re mad about it, you just kind of pour concrete down the bathtub .. just to be a jerk. You know. There was some of that going on. So you’re right. If it was a startup, we would have rolled up our sleeves and said ‘Let’s do this! Yes, let’s figure it out!’ But it was a large corporation and the people were incentivised as if they were corporate executives. Coz they were executives. Stephen Cummins So they were too comfortable. A lot of them were already made for life or close to it. Sean Percival And then there was what’s in it for me, you know. And then the passion for like, you know, what they had .. and like you said … uncovering those gems or dusting those gems off and making something great. It wasn’t there. The energy was sucked out. Stephen Cummins I suppose it’s easy now to look back and look at the value of the data they had. And go ‘Uh … how could they not see that?’…  but I suppose if we look back to … if you go back to those days people, people would have thought Linkedin would become a bigger play than Facebook for example. Sean Percival Yep! Stephen Cummins I don’t think … I don’t think humans fully understood … some did of course … but most humans didn’t really understand the power of personal data like and what that could turn into in the future. Sean Percival I think it’s very true. I think so. Remember Facebook was for colleges … like wealthy white college kids. Maybe it’s a large niche … but still, it’s a niche. And that was always our view. It’s like ‘No, why would you want to be there? It’s too utilitarian! It’s so boring. You can’t customize. So, our view … and that was just very poor. ‘No we’re always going to be very creative and making their own sites.’ But in the end users wanted more structured data. And Facebook was happy to structure the data because that’s more useful and more powerful for them. More ways to segment – and interests and targets, and all this other stuff that eventually became the financial machine in the business. So for them … yeah, I mean, they were smart. It also looks a lot like the tortoise and the hare. And yeah, we were moving crazy… crazy fast. They moved a lot slower. They went public. I don’t think they were profitable. You know. They didn’t have the exponential growth. But they knew. I don’t know. Stephen Cummins I think they quickly understood that the users were the product. Sean Percival Yeah                                                             Stephen Cummins Very quickly. But I mean in fairness your direct competition was a very unusual entity. It executed incredibly well. Wasn’t exactly a normal opponent in this space. From my own world when I was, you know, an early employee in Salesforce, I can remember seeing Siebel and wondering ‘Why don’t they build the cloud version?’ But of course, they had these huge contracts. They decided to stick their head in the sand and rather than canabalise some of their own business – which is sometimes something you have to go through at some point for a lot of companies and a lot of industries. And then turn themselves into this incredible dominant cloud company. Instead of doing that, instead of embracing SaaS, they put their head in the sand and thought they could keep doing what they were doing. And of course very quickly the demise came. But also it’s hard to be the first one and then completely change yourself as the thing matures. Sean Percival And remember …  technology was shifting. During the beginning of social media there was no iPhone. Yeah, they didn’t exist. And so it’s like you had like all these shifts happening at the same time.                                                             Stephen Cummins The best phone services in the world … in 2000 we’ll say … were in Japan. Yeah. I mean you had, you know, 3 G deployed right throughout … to a lesser extent Korea, and the things they were doing on phones, the services they had … were miles beyond anything in the west. So it was another world at that point. The US for example, wasn’t really doing anything in that mobile space. They we’re doing everything in the internet space … in the desktops and stuff. But yeah, the iPhone changed everything. Sean Percival Yeah. But now this is what’s fascinating. Where like before it took 100 years for an industry to shift, now it’s about 10 years. Yeah, and like Japan’s a great example … where … look at Blade Runner for example –they’re all speaking Japanese in there because the view in the eighties was that we will literally all be speaking Japanese in 20 or 30 years, because of their technological progress. And they lost that all you know … so it’s like fortunes change really, really quickly. It’s not this large cycle of 100 years. Now. It’s 10 years. And maybe this will become 5 years, and then it will be 2 years, you know. It’s coming up to it … just how fast technology is moving. It’s quite fun. Stephen Cummins And, you know, it’s amazing you reference Blade Runner because for me, it’s… it’s the most atmospheric movie. The original one. And the second was pretty atmospheric too. But the most atmospheric movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve experienced that landing in Shinjuku. Because I worked there. And my first night in Japan, I just walked around for hours during the night. Sean Percival Just eyes glazed! Yeah … Stephen Cummins Oh, I couldn’t believe it. What they did was they took that and augmented it. I can’t believe I’m mentioning this for a second time, but I interviewed somebody yesterday … I mentioned Solaris … I saw Solaris just a couple of nights ago – a 1972 Russian science fiction movie. Incredibly they predict the self-driving cars. So, this guy is in a self-driving car. And he’s like … he’s been interviewed and he’s using an appear.in [Whereby] type video connection in the car. And where did they film the driving? In early 70s Japan. Because it was the closest thing to a futuristic environment that we had – with highways and tall buildings. It was the closest thing we had to feeling like the future. So it’s amazing that that paradigm was used back then. I’ve a feeling you have an interest in Japan, but I’m gonna ask you about that a bit later. You went on after that incredible experience – kind of ups and downs – to work for a company called Science –  which probably get you exposed to kinda looking at several startups and stuff like that – but I think from memory you were an entrepreneur in residence. And then you founded your own company. For the first time you’re a CEO of Wittlebee.  That was really a very different type of company. How did that go? And, you know, what was the good and bad you took out of that? Sean Percival Yeah. I shifted completely because Myspace experience, while that was interesting, and I learned a lot. I told myself I’ll never work in a large organization again. I’m a startup guy and I gotta get back to that. And I’m sick of trying to move millions of people around within some kind of like framework. I wanted to actually ship real product. So an eCommerce company. And I know you have two kids. And I do as well too. And essentially what happened is, yeah, I had my daughter, and that changes your view on a lot of things in life as the entrepreneur. I also said, ‘Wow, it’s very expensive to have a kid. I’m going to be buying a lot of clothes for this kid. That’s a great business. And I just sort of went on a pain point. And I think the best entrepreneurs are solving a pain point in their personal life. Something they do in business. A process they don’t like. I hated going to the mall. It was a nightmare going with your kids to them. They don’t want to try on things.                                                             Stephen Cummins Or they want to mess with everything. Sean Percival Or they want to pull stuff down. And I’ll also tell the story about the one time I did .. a kid actually threw up in front of me. And I was like, okay, I think I’m done with this experience. So what I thought about as the entrepreneur and this kind of automation geek was like ‘Well, why don’t we just automate your kids wardrobe … and every month you get a little bit of clothes .. and then as the seasons change, the clothes change. And it’s tailored and personalized and all this good stuff. But you never have to go shopping again, just supplementing your wardrobe the entire year. And that’s what I started with. I started with the idea and I did kind of bootstrap ways of getting started and getting my first 10 to 100 customers. And yeah, we raised venture capital for the first time. I had done other startups. I’d been been part of startups. But I went on to raise about 3M USD – which at the time was a huge seed round. Seed rounds are about half a million dollars. If that. And now it’s like, yeah, it’s a normal thing. But back then that was a very… very large round. Great investors like Google Ventures and a few others as well. And tried to build a large eCommerce manufacturing company. But still digital …like literally still digital in the sense that that’s how I acquired users, but I wanted to be more real. I wanted to have the more tactile feeling of a real product that I can hand to someone – and ship to them. It was a good experience that I’ve lots of stories about – it shot up like a rocket ship, and it blew up as well too. So I’m happy to talk about any of that as well. Stephen Cummins Would you ever go back to being a CEO? Would you ever want to do that again?                                                   Sean Percival I think I would, but maybe more on my own terms? Less on my VC’s terms. Yeah. And that that’s what I realise. And even at my current job Whereby like … I like that we don’t have any investors. I like that I have one CEO and we just interface and we solve problems. We have a board and so forth too, but yeah like…  That Wittlebee was a great business. We made 1M dollars in like six or seven months in sales … grew fast … and then a year into it, we were making almost 3M dollars in annual revenue. Already. Recurring revenue. And so it was going really… really good, but the VCs were just like … ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and I’m like, ‘Oh wait a minute. My inventory is breaking. My supply chain is not like ironed out. Like we’re growing too fast.’ And they’re like ‘Perfect. Keep doing that. And here’s a little bit more money!’ And like just kept pushing and pushing. So that would have been an amazing .. maybe more of a lifestyle business. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with having a lifestyle business. You don’t have to go build the next unicorn. Like I’ve had lifestyle businesses – if you have these businesses and it’s making some money for you… you enjoy doing it, great! Nothing wrong with that in the world as well. Stephen Cummins Absolutely. And the world has to have a lot of businesses like that. There’s only so much space for … Sean Percival That’s most businesses, at least in the Nordics …. most businesses are like … less than five people. They are tiny little organizations as well. So, I don’t know. It grew too fast. It’s like Icarus, it flew too close to the Sun. Right? It’s a great idea … that idea has been copied 100 times, but I haven’t seen anyone scale it massively. But, yeah, I wrote a lot about it and it failed. And there were challenges and I went through founder depression and all this awful stuff. And I wrote a lot about it .. which at the time was not really happening, because remember founders have this façade of everything’s great. Yeah, I’m crushing it! Stephen Cummins Being invulnerable. But I still wouldn’t call that a failure in the sense that you achieve more learning. And also you actually got it up to a certain level. It just seems like perhaps if you’d had a better VC … maybe that’s controversial thing. Maybe they’re friends. I don’t know. Sean Percival Some are not friends anymore. My VCs like …  half of them were amazing and a half were awful. Okay. And we don’t talk anymore we unfollowed each other on Twitter and all this. But it’s like half of them are great. But that’s how it is you know, I had 12 investors. It’s like yeah … not all of them are going to be great.                                                                                         Sean Percival                                                                                     Stephen Cummins In the next instalment, episode 3 of this 5 part series Sean describes how his “American Marketing Bravado” was a good fit for Oslo and Whereby, given that the Nordics does not really have a strong marketing mindset and he contrasts the pros and cons of the Nordics versus the united states from a business and work perspective. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/appselekt
E76 – Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, Ex 500 Startups. 1 of 5. Inventing the Social Graph at Myspace.
Episode 76 of 14 Minutes is the first of a 5-part mini-series. Stephen Cummins chats with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. Myspace was 120 million active users at a time when the internet was nowhere near as big as it is today. It was a top 5 internet site at its peak and it invented the social graph. Sean worked across a host of roles in IT and software, but it’s wasn’t until he found marketing and content that he found something he was great at. And you don’t have to take his word on that, the likes of Dave McClure sing his praises in this regard. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher —- Tip: Sean gives a great description of how to approach people you’d like to work for. He describes how he got Jason Calacanis to hire him. —- Stephen Cummins Transcript                                Sean Percival My space was 120M users … monthly active users … at a time not that many people were online. This is 2006 to 2009. Basically it’s kind of the heyday. So for today, I mean depending on what a month or was, it would be a top three or top four on the entire internet. The only ones that were bigger were like the Googles and the yahoos and so forth. It was a cultural phenomenon. It was on the news every night. It was everyone’s top. We were the first to kind of build the social graph – which everything is built on now. You know, Facebook, Linked, everything has a social graph. And we really started around that too. So, I mean it was everywhere. It was unavoidable. And even when it was … before it was even declining …. people were getting a little bit sick of it because it was just everywhere. Everything was about Myspace. So you need to think about … yeah … Facebook’s in a lot of discussions today … it wasn’t even close. Yeah, I was doing a lot around trying to better understand the data and the users. This is a big reason that Facebook really won. They were big data smart. And we were data dumb. We just didn’t know really what was going on there  Stephen Cummins I’m Stephen Cummins and this is episode 76 of 14 minutes of SaaS, the first of the 5 part mini-series chatting with Sean Percival, CMO at Whereby, formerly of 500 Startups and Myspace. Myspace was 120M active users at a time when the internet was nowhere near as big as it is today. It was a top 5 internet site at its peak and it invented the social graph. Sean worked across a host of roles in IT and software, but it’s wasn’t until he found marketing and content that he found something he was really great at. When I interviewed Sean a few months ago, the name Whereby was appear.in. We don’t actually reference the old name too much anyway, but Whereby has more than 10M users and hosts more than 50M meetings annually. Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Today, we’re in 37 Dawson street. Probably the coolest club in Dublin. So if you hear a little bit of music in the background that explains it. We’re upstairs in the back room there. It’s the day after the Dublin Tech Summit (DTS) and I have Sean Percival CMO at Whereby with us. And I’m delighted to have you here Sean.                                                 Sean Percival Thanks for having me.           Stephen Cummins So start off by telling us a little bit about your background who you are and… and what’s happened in your life up to the point where you entered into the working world.                                                 Sean Percival Okay. So even going way back .. yeah. Yeah, I’ll try not to do the whole life story. My Dad will tell you I was always a nerd. I was the one that was programming the VCR when I was 5. Remember when we had to program VCRS. You know …  doing that kind of thing. And I was always very curious, always into computers and technical. And when I was about 11 or 12, my Dad bought me my first computer. And that really started this journey. So I was really into a bulletin board systems, kind of all the pre-internet stuff as well. And that’s where I got kinda curious. And then I went through the typical teenager stuff, getting in trouble and doing bad stuff .. and all these other things. And during that time of course the dotcom boom just takes off … goes crazy. I was a little distracted. And then I came back to it and thankfully computers didn’t go away altogether. And that’s how I kinda got started as I realised ‘Oh, that’s right … I’m technical and I know computers in a world where very few people do’. Started my first job in the technical space, doing tech support. So basically, you have an issue with your computer, you call me and I was on the phone. I was the one helping out. Stephen Cummins And it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed actually started in tech support – one of the keys is how quickly you can work your way out of that of course … that’s an interesting process in itself. It does give you that interface with the customer … that appreciation of their needs I suppose from the start. So there’s something to be learned from every role, right?                                                     Sean Percival It was really good for me. It gave me a lot of patience as soon as you take a 65 year old grandma through editing her windows registry ..  which is a rather complex thing to do …. you have infinite patience. And so you’re right. It was a really good experience into how does one take … quote unquote … normal person start using a computer in the year 1999 when nobody knew how these things worked … and can you, over the phone, walk them through the whole process? It was a great challenge. Stephen Cummins And, you know …  you went through a few companies with different technical roles that went beyond support … before you went into the content strategy side of things with Mahalo. Can you talk to me a little bit about those companies that preceded that changing in your career? And, you know, how formative that was for you?     Sean Percival Yeah. For me, I was kinda just finding my way. And I thought I was going to be a programmer. Turns out I wasn’t a really good programmer. I thought I was gonna be a designer. Turns out I wasn’t a great designer. I did a lot of the IT jobs, you know …  literally running wires and being the IT manager. And sort of setting up Outlook and all the other things you had to do. So I had to really kinda try everything. And that gave me a nice diverse skill set. And it wasn’t until I really found marketing and content that I realised this is what I should do. This is where I’m great at something. Not just good. And so I leaned into that. Stephen Cummins You actually have a tremendous reference on your Linkedin profile from the guy who, at least when he gave it in 2016, was the CEO of Mahalo. And I think he might have been junior to you when you were there actually …  but he said you were kind have a rising star at the time before you got there. What was it that Mahalo saw in you, given your previous roles, that made them think … ‘Yeah, let’s bring this guy in to do content.’ What had you done or how did that happen? Sean Percival I guess we’re talking about Jason Calacanis? Stephen Cummins I am Indeed. Sean Percival Okay. So I was still in my … like IT webmaster kinds of jobs. I’d never really worked for a startup … and somehow I caught wind of what he was doing. And I was making okay money … not amazing … but okay. And I wrote to him and I said …. I love what you’re doing. Here’s three ways you could do it better. And I think that challenged him. This was kind of using a little bit of the programming and the design. I actually did mock ups of how his startup could … sort of … better present the information, and how his content could be more SEO friendly. And so I sent him like, which is kind of a bold thing to do, because he had good stature. He was well known. And I was like ‘this is what you should do’. And I literally photo-shopped a sort of revision of the site. And he called me in… and actually sat there and said ‘you know, if you wanna work here, we’re gonna pay half of what you make right now’. You’re gonna have to work hard and earn it. But to me, I was just like ‘Absolutely! I want to be there. I want to learn. I mean he was a bit of an authority. He had created the modern blog ecosystem, you know … with weblogs and gadget and all these sites. So I kinda wanted just be in his orbit – and that’s how it started. And a lot of people ask me that … ‘I want to work for company X, Y, Z’ …  and it’s like … well step 1 is to outreach. And step two is to show them how you can help. And I’ve seen it work many times. It’s personally work for me as well. Stephen Cummins I guess it’s a mark have a good entrepreneur. Isn’t it the ability be channel to embrace being challenged…? … Sean Percival Yep! Challenge yourself and others. I mean, I think that’s part of it. And I was able to do that working at Mahalo. You know, yeah, it crashed and burned. But still like .. it was an amazing experience. I learned so much from working for Jason Calacanis. So I have been lucky to work for people like Jason and many, many great bosses. Really propelled and allow me in one years’ time to get a five or ten-year skill set built by having the best bosses. I had to seek them out. I had to find them and show them why I was worthy of some time. And worthy of having a chance. Stephen Cummins Absolutely and, you know, tell us a little bit more about what you did in mahalo … and what you were doing for them. And… and how that felt. The first six months, 12 months … where you were doing somebody you loved, but was probably different than anything you’ve done before. Sean Percival Yeah, much larger scale, you know. We were in the press, you know, people knew who we were. Anything I’d done before … it was so small scale … and so really I early in my career. People ask me too … ‘What books did you read? What school did you go to?’ And I say ‘I read zero books and I dropped out of college twice.’ I learned from trial and error and experimentation. And I did a lot of experimentation around SEO, search engine optimisation. That was a pretty big deal back in the day. A lot of businesses we’re built on it. Less so nowadays. But that’s what I was doing was, I was really trying to like … we had a lot of people power, we had a lot of smart stuff, we had good technology. And I was just really trying to further the message. How do we get better search traffic? How do we improve the results? How do we sort of get more traffic … and Jason was addicted to traffic? I was addicted to traffic. So it was a very good collaboration of like the power and the resources he had …. and just trying to propel that further and… and get more audience. That’s really what I was focused on. Stephen Cummins You pushed on from Mahalo. And really went into content strategy and management over the next kind of two or three companies. Were there only formative experiences in those two or three companies that bridged your way to Myspace. Sean Percival Yeah, I learned a lot about the Google. How an algorithm embraces newness, how topical content just has this massive rocket of traffic. And that may die the next day. But I really leaned a lot into that in the next few jobs. I worked at Docstock as well, which is essentially like online documents … and they went on to do well and ended up selling. Didn’t raise a lot of venture capital, but ended up building a site that you know, we took it from maybe half a million visitors a month to millions of visitors in a very short period of time. So I started to understand more of like trends. Buzzfeed was emerging at the time. It was a tiny blog back then. And just starting to see this like interesting sort of what you could do with topical content … and the insatiable need that people have when something happens …when an event happens. And they immediately go online and they search. And they look on social and they try and find this. So I learned a lot about that… that initial rushed. And we did that in Mahalo. We did that in Docstock. And even eventually went into Myspace as well. And even though it was getting a little bit harder at that point in Myspace, we knew that like people that had a desire for something … events and music and entertainment … could generate a lot of value … both for us and the user. Stephen Cummins Now. Myspace infamously accidentally deleted every member’s content that’s been produced any time before the last three years. It’s a bit of a tragedy. Sean Percival It really is Stephen Cummins An ongoing tragedy. Remind us of how big the forgotten Myspace once was in our world and, you know … how was the experience for you? Sean Percival My space was 120M users … monthly active users … at a time not that many people were online. This is 2006 to 2009. Basically it’s kind of the heyday. So it didn’t have the kind of economies of scale you have today with billions and billions of people online, emerging markets online today. I mean depending on what a month or was, it would be a top three or top four on the entire internet. The only ones that were bigger were like the Googles and the yahoos and so forth. But I think what’s more interesting if you weren’t around then, it was a cultural phenomenon. It was on the news every night. It was everyone’s top. We were the first to kind of build the social graph – which everything is built on now. You know, Facebook, Linked, everything has a social graph. And we really started around that too. So, I mean it was everywhere. It was unavoidable. And even when it was … before it was even declining …. people were getting a little bit sick of it because it was just everywhere. Everything was about Myspace. So you need to think about … yeah … Facebook’s in a lot of discussions today … it wasn’t even close.  Every news story just wanted to talk about. Your your friends became a new metric. Online friends. This was never a metric before. You know … a measure of your authority or someone’s signal or whatever you want to call it. It was a big deal. And really what happened was that it slowly eroded. But it took a long time. Facebook didn’t surpass us until I think it was about May 2009. This is even years after the heyday, years after the acquisition as well. So it managed to stay around. We had 100 to 200 thousand signups per day. When you think about that, we had a small city signing up every day. Stephen Cummins That’s insane. Sean Percival So it’s a big reason I joined. I was more of a startup guy. I was more [happy] working with the Mahalos and the Docstocks. These kind of tiny 10 to 20 person companies. Myspace was 1400 employees .. I think at the peak. But to me it was an amazing challenge coz I had done all these like grassroots efforts of like ‘how do we go from zero to one? … and here I’m like ‘Ok how do I go from like 9 to 11?’… or I don’t know the Spinal Tap reference. You know, how do I go bigger? So it was… it was really fascinating, but it was so much harder. It’s a big ship. Yeah. Stephen Cummins Now, when you joined, it was obviously something cool to you at that point. And I know that you were later in that tenure …  to want to try and convince them to change their name as things started to get a bit more uncool. Or maybe as your realisation of what was going on once you when you were inside … kind of matured. But in that early first year when you would have been very excited by the brand … What were you doing? Sean Percival Yeah .. I was doing a lot around trying to better understand the data and the users. This is a big reason that Facebook really won. They were big data smart. And we were data dumb. We just didn’t know really what was going on there. And the data team was 20 people, our infrastructure or the architecture … it didn’t allow us to extract the information of ‘Why are things happening? Where are the users spending their time? Where are they getting stuck? [In order to] do these optimizations. So I was a lot of like … head pounding! Stephen Cummins In the next episode, the 2nd of this 5-part mini-series, Sean describes what it was like having to fire an icon after joining one of the most famous companies in the world. And he explains why Facebook won, and Myspace didn’t. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/Stephen_Cummins
E72 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 1 of 4. 100 SaaS Integrations in 2019!
Episode 72 – Part 1 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall in conversation with Stephen Cummins at the Dublin Tech Summit. Founded in Paris in 2013, it’s the only cloud phone system that has built integrations into 100 different SaaS applications in 2019. Its mission is to unlock the power of voice, specifically the power of telephone calls through integration the Intercoms, Salesforces, Zendesks, gong.io’s and freshdesks of today. Its doing dozens of millions in revenue after raising $41m in investment and Jonathan reveals to 14 Minutes of SaaS that its valuation is already north of 250M US Dollars. It’s a leader in G2’s contact centre operations grid and at time of writing has a perfect score for both company and CEO in Glassdoor. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher Transcript: Stephen Cummins If you choose one word to differentiate yourselves … it’s quite a hot space from others in that space, like new voice media et cetera … you know, is integration that word. Jonathan Anguelov Yes, definitely! …. Ah you really understood our business pretty well! I do interviews with candidates and they’re not able to say it, you know, I swear… I swear and very often I’m super disappointed. I’m like … ‘Am I the only one that understood what we are doing?’ …  and no, yeah, integrations really … we… we believe in the fact that with the regular phone system …  the phone conversation is being lost very easily. So, you know, we want to integrate into all the business tools. Today what happens in companies is that all business tools are going into the SaaS. Okay? So it’s SaaS. Everything is in the cloud. So now we have the opportunity to… to integrate with all those single tools. So now for every single person using the phone system, we get some value off it … and not just ‘hey I made a call …’  and that’s it …its a commodity. Yeah, now, we bring value. So that’s really our big differentiation compared to the others. We are building over 100 integrations in 2019 alone. Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Stephen Cummins Episode 72 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the first part of a 4 apart mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, Co-founder & CEO of Aircall. Founded in Paris in 2013 – Its mission is to unlock the power of voice, specifically the power of telephone calls through integration the Intercoms, Salesforces, Zendesks, gong.io’s and freshdesks of today. Its doing dozens of millions in revenue after raising $41m in investment and Jonathan reveals to 14 Minutes of SaaS that its valuation is already north of 250M US Dollars. It’s a leader in G2’s contact centre operations grid and at time of writing has a perfect score for both company and CEO in Glassdoor We have Jonathan Anguelov Co-founder at Aircall – a cloud phone system and call center system that integrates with most CRMS. Delighted to have you on 14 minutes of SaaS here in the Dublin Tech Summit. Jonathan Anguelov My pleasure Stephen. Really nice to be here. Stephen Cummins Great to meet you. Tell me a little bit about …. I know you have an interesting cultural background and you grew up in France. Can. You tell us a little bit about your background and … then maybe your childhood and all the way up to when you got into working Jonathan Anguelov Sure… sure. So I’m French actually … because I’m born and raised in France … but I’m actually not really French from a blood perspective. My mother was born and raised in Bulgaria …  she emigrated to France in the seventies … illegally of course … because, at that time Bulgaria was still in communism. She came to France and started her career as a modal actually …  so that was a funny place [time], but I never knew my father. So until like recently actually … I didn’t know what was my other side. And I actually did this DNA test called 23 and me. It was last summer and I discovered that I’m Lebanese … so my father is probably somewhere from the Lebanon … which was a really funny thing. And, yeah … about my childhood, I really grew up in Paris, went to business school then. Started a career as a stockbroker in the early days. Then I Aircall when it was 27 [years old] and now one I’m 32. Stephen Cummins Five years almost … so it’s been a bit of a rocket ship in those five years compared to most people’s yes startup experiences – which is why you’re here here telling your story. So, you worked with equities and stockbroking and…  stuff like that. What attracted you into that area? I suppose the answers maybe money, but what drew you into it. Jonathan Anguelov Actually it was not money at all. I’m really passionate about the economy in general. I really, really like business .. how companies work and how they make money. Very early I was super interested in how the economy works … how the market … so the public market … can react to a simple thing. So, you know, the butterfly effect. So a simple announcement, a profit warning … can mess up the whole company. And I was always really interested in that. So. Very… very … like normal business school … They push their students. ‘Hey, you have to be a good guy in finance or in consulting.’ And, you know, I got trapped into that somehow even though deeply myself, I knew I wouldn’t do that for a long. I was really already an entrepreneur when I was 20, I bought my first apartment with a student loan – kind of illegal. So a French bank … I hope they don’t listen to that. But then, I did a few loans to be able to buy very tiny flats in Paris, then rent them out to different people and make it a little bit of money. Pay my studies that way, because I had to pay my studies. I always had this entrepreneur spirit. And I remember in business school when people were asking what they want to do later … I was more like an entrepreneur. And people were like ‘So what are you doing at school? … and I was like ‘That’s two different things, I want to learn things. I want to start maybe a career and we’ll see where it takes me’. And, after a few years. I was just like ‘I have so many ideas … things I want to build … and this opportunity of creating Aircall with my co-founders came up in my mind … and there we are, 4 co-founders back in end of 2013 … with the idea of revolutionizing the phone system industry. People were laughing about it at the time. I remember seeing an entrepreneur in the telco business in the beginning in San Francisco. And he was like ‘Dude, you’re just going the wrong way there.’ And then and I recently saw him again and I was like, so … Stephen Cummins So what are you saying to me now? Jonathan Anguelov Exactly! And he was like … ‘Yeah, but you’re still small.’ I was like ‘Come on! We are 200 people, you know, making a few dozen millions of revenue!’ Stephen Cummins And this guy that made the comment. Don’t worry, I won’t ask for a name but it’s not someone who started the company from zero to 200 people before. Jonathan Anguelov No … he’s just a CEO like a working his way up to the system. Exactly. Stephen Cummins He doesn’t understand how hard it is. Jonathan Anguelov No, he doesn’t understand at all. But, you know … There is still a lot to accomplish. I stay very humble on what we’ve done. It’s good. We are disrupting our markets. We even have copycats now copying our business… on our business. So it’s interesting to see that we attract people and even the big guys are copying our strategy now. Stephen Cummins Amazing. That’s a great sign. Jonathan Anguelov It’s a great time, but I stay humble in a way … that I haven’t accomplished so much! … You know …  200 employees, few dozen those kinds of millions of revenues nothing in the… in the telco business. Stephen Cummins How many dozen? Jonathan Anguelov I can’t say exactly. But it’s small in the telco business when you compare it to a Cisco or RingCentral that just announced that they’re making a 1B USD in revenue. So, you know, we are small … but we are coming! You know, we are coming …  and we have a very unique way of thinking of the telco business … of how Aircall will interact with all the software businesses used to make every phone conversation unique and count! Stephen Cummins If you choose one word to differentiate yourselves … it’s quite a hot space from others in that space, like new voice media et cetera … you know, is integration that word. Jonathan Anguelov Yes, definitely! …. Ah you really understood our business pretty well! I do interviews with candidates and they’re not able to say it, you know, I swear… I swear and very often I’m super disappointed. I’m like … ‘Am I the only one that understood what we are doing?’ …  and no, yeah, integrations really … we… we believe in the fact that with the regular phone system …  the phone conversation is being lost very easily. So, you know, we want to integrate into all the business tools. Today what happens in companies is that all business tools are going into the SaaS. Okay? So it’s SaaS. Everything is in the cloud. So now we have the opportunity to… to integrate with all those single tools. So now for every single person using the phone system, we get some value off it … and not just ‘hey I made a call …’  and that’s it …its a commodity. Yeah, now, we bring value. So that’s really our big differentiation compared to the others. We are building over 100 integrations in 2019 alone. Stephen Cummins So you’re not going into a company and then asking them to recommend a partner to go in and integrate with this and that and all of that rubbish that can happen. You’re going in and your value is you guys work on whatever you’re using, because you’re going to be able to switch it on and get us going very quickly. Jonathan Anguelov Exactly. ‘What are you using?’ So the real strategy is that we want to go to a company and say, ‘Hey, what are the business tools you’re using? Alright. We integrate with all of them. So your phone system will integrate with all of them. Isn’t that amazing? And tomorrow, you want to add a new software, you will be able to integrate because we are building Aircall like an API. Yeah, we’ll be able to integrate to anything. So we are really the phone brick into the business. Stephen Cummins I interviewed the CEO of Algolia, Nicolas Dessaigne. Who is also from Paris .. or certainly he founded Algolia in Paris. And is expanding and headquartered out of San Francisco  … you’re in New York. But he sees Algolia as a lego brick basically – that slots in as easily and beautifully as possible into the stack … that people are using. So it seems like you’re following the SaaS API route. And it really is the rise of the SaaS API. Jonathan Anguelov And we are the phone brick. Stephen Cummins Absolutely. Soo let me ask you something. You guys empower people pretty much to create a call centre – whether they’re all together in a room, or whether they’re all distributed all over the world. And there’s a lot of talk these days about the difference between being co-located in the office and being distributed. So there are companies like Invision that’s valued at 1.9 Billion, they’ve got 800 people, no offices. Given that you’ve got the power to do all of that, that you would be particularly adept at it, have you ever been tempted to think about a distributed system … or would you be in the future? Or what are the advantages of having the guys together in New York or in Paris? Jonathan Anguelov Distributed is for … I think … it’s for very smart people. I think we are not smart enough. No, I’m serious … already managing two offices is extremely hard and the few managers that we have that are managing people in Paris and New York .. it’s extremely hard for them … and we had a few fails. So having distributed offices – people like all over the world, everywhere. I think its extremely hard. And the fact that we are not smart enough to do it is okay, because we have a good product … good enough to not need to be distributed. Today, for a simple example, we have about six or seven percent of our revenues coming from Australia. I have never stepped foot in Australia. So six or seven percent coming from there. We don’t need to be there to sell. So lucky enough our product is extremely scale-able, extremely simple to put in place, you know, you can create your phone system, your call center software anywhere in the world in a few minutes. So we don’t need to have an office. And actually talking about failure ..  I love talking about failure …  because I think we failed more than any company … We tried actually at some point to open an office in Berlin. Because one of our first employees wanted to move there. And we said, okay, well, we want to keep you, let’s try to open the office there and after six or seven months I thought ‘What did we win by opening the office? Are we better at something? Did we grow faster than before? And I realised ‘no!’ So I just thought well it doesn’t make sense. Stephen Cummins Yeah. And when I say distributed, I don’t mean co-located offices. I don’t mean multiple offices. I mean people working from anywhere. Jonathan Anguelov Yeah, but for the culture … it’s super tough! Stephen Cummins It’s fantastic when you get it, right? But as you said you need to think through it a lot. It has some advantages. I mean, you can hire amazing people in… in zones that are not as expensive as New York or Paris. But for you co-located works very well. Jonathan AnguelovYes. Yes. And culture-wise, I think it’s very hard to have people located all over – especially when you build a startup. I don’t like to use the word startup. I’ll use the word company because I don’t like the word ‘startup’. It’s so intense. You want to go so fast. So you need to have other shoulders you can rely on. Stephen Cummins In the next episode, part 2 of a 4 part mini-series, Jonathan reveals what drives him as an entrepreneur and explains why he doesn’t believe in losing the fear. He also talks a little bit more about the influence his late mother has had on his life. Stephen Cummins You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/AppSelekt
E75 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 4 of 4. Building a Billion Dollar Company.
E75 – Part 4 and concluding episode of a mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this final episode we find out about Jonathan’s beliefs regarding a lot of faster developing tech areas – and, more importantly, why they should be adopted and introduced into the business with caution. And – he has some amazing advice for anyone seeking to start a business. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher Transcript: E75 – Part 4 TranscriptJonathan Anguelov So for Aircall, you know .. it’s keep growing. Yeah keep hitting the market extremely hard. Yeah, revolutionizing the way the phone system industry works how our software is linked to revolutionize the companies .. the way they work … the way they integrate their phones to their tools. Going to of course, a 1 Billion dollar company. We are not so far anymore, but still a long way. Stephen Cummins Halfway there? That’s pretty good : ) Jonathan Anguelov Not halfway. One quarter way. I don’t know .. I wanna make my Mum proud somehow. And that would be building a billion dollar company. Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Episode 75, Part 4 and concluding episode of a mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this final episode we find out about Jonathan’s beliefs regarding a lot of faster developing tech areas – and, more importantly, why they should be adopted and introduced into the business with caution. And – he has some amazing advice for anyone seeking to start a business. Stephen Cummins How do you stay healthy? I mean you’re working an awful lot. Is it all that physical work in the Hotel … that keeps you so in shape? And like do you like find time to look after your diet and stuff? What’s it like? Jonathan Anguelov Luckily, I am as you see .. I’m quite thin, but I eat like a pig. Stephen Cummins Lucky guy! Jonathan Anguelov I only eat three times a day. I never eat in between meals. So that’s makes it quite, you know, healthy. Unfortunately, I would like to say, ‘yeah, you know, like the Americans would say, you know, ‘I do sports wake up at 6am and do a lot of sports’ et cetera… et cetera. No, I’m a fucking lazy ass. Yes, I wake up at 8.30. I’m tired every morning. And I, yeah, I don’t do sports enougf unfortunately. And I have this bad, excuse of saying “I don’t have time” which is wrong. When you want, you can have time. Luckily, I’m still young. I’m 32. I don’t have like the big impact of being older, but one day probably I’ll start having problems if I keep doing like that. Stephen Cummins Do you see any other tech trends around you… or business trends outside of your own businesses … that catch your attention, that kind of excite you at the moment? Jonathan Anguelov I’m very curious about what will happen with machine learning. I’ll say what I think of machine learning and all this. There is a big belief that it will come fast and that, you know, autonomous cars and all these things, you know, will come [soon] et cetera… et cetera. I really don’t buy that. Unfortunately there are things that are really hard for a non-human being to analyse and to take decisions. And I think it will … I’m very curious of what will happen … and I’m really curious to see in 10 years from now, you and I in the same room, what would the world be [like] on the machine learning side? Will it be what lots of us believe – like autonomous cars driving everywhere – will it not? If you take the example of an autonomous car. Okay. This car is driving on the highway. On the left you have this line where you cannot cross and you see a deer, crossing the highway. So the regular autonomous car sees this line and knows it cannot Cross the line. But it sees this deer, or it could avoid the deer by crossing the line. But it won’t do it because it’s a machine, while the human being would say ‘Hey, oh, of course, I will cross the line and avoid the deer. Stephen Cummins Yes, I was watching a Russian science fiction movie, as you do, a few nights ago made in 1972. I recommended it. It’s called Solaris. And I was amazed! It’s one of these really ground breaking movies. It was my first time seeing it. I love of movies. I was amazed that they had driverless cars in the movie – there was a lot of confidence in Russia at the time – they in the time of the space race. And the guy was communicating with a Zoom type of mode from the car. So, you know, if you think back to that time … I mean the US had just put somebody on the moon. Before that Russia put somebody up doing a space walk – or put the first satellite up … and performed the space walk before them. But if you think about those things we would have expected to be much further down the road in this space than we actually are. So I think 10 to 15 years is very hard to predict. Jonathan Anguelov It’s very hard to predict. It’s very hard. It’s very hard. And that’s why when I look at some companies – and how they invest in machine learning and so on .. I’m like [thinking] ‘Either I’m totally wrong and it will come very quickly. Or everyone is wrong and we adjust from investing in things that will take way more time than we think. Because the human has something … the mind. And the machine will never have the mind. It can learn, but the mind is something unique. Stephen Cummins Oh, never say never. It’s a long way away of course. Jonathan Anguelov It will happen one day, but I don’t believe it’ll happen fast … it’s a long way. It’s a long way. It’s really a long way. And it’s funny because there are things that haven’t changed in almost 50 years. If you look at the plane industry, you had the Concord that was going from Paris to New York very quickly. What happens today? Stephen Cummins They didn’t know it would lose money. Jonathan Anguelov It didn’t work. Yeah, it didn’t work and today we are still taking as much time as 40 years ago to go from Paris to New York. Stephen Cummins And that was hubris on the part of the British in French governments … they knew was losing money but they just couldn’t step away. Jonathan Anguelov You know! So things are not that easy as they seem. So I think that it will take more time. So, yeah, I’m following very… very closely what happens. Especially as I have a friend of mine that has a company into blockchain and machine learning. I keep my on it. Stephen Cummins If you were to give one or two tips to somebody looking to be an entrepreneur – whether they’re stepping away from a safer role like that CEO that said, “Oh, just 200 people. That’s not so many” … you know, who obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like when you jump off that building. If you were to give him some advice to somebody who was thinking of actually taking that brave step. What advice would you give that future entrepreneur? Jonathan Anguelov Really… don’t be afraid of failing! Depends where you are. In for instance, in France it can be shit because it’s negativley perceived to fail, but elsewhere I feel it’s not so negatively perceived to fail. So you got to try. Do it! Take the year … take a year to do it.… It won’t ruin your career or whatever. And if you do it, be focused … be super focused on what do you do, what’s your vision, and how to execute. Don’t believe in the fact that your idea is worth millions. Don’t believe in the fact that if you tell it to your friend, he’ll take your idea. He’s gonna take it. It doesn’t work like that. I said it previously, but ideas are worth nothing. So yeah, it’s important to try. The other advice I have is don’t do it because you think it’s in fashion to do a startup, because startups now .. it’s everywhere. You hear ‘startup’ everywhere. Everyone is a startup now. Back in the day – like five or six years ago when I graduated, everyone wanted to be a banker. And now everyone would be a startup. Don’t do it because it feels like it’s where you’re gonna make money. It’s actually wrong, because it will take you ages and it’s going to be a lot of suffering. A lot of doubt. So it’s, you know, it’s also something … entrapreneurship … about who you are. And do you have the guts to do it? Stephen Cummins Now you are someone who has embraced the fear. And turned it around to use it … the fear of the plank giving way … to drive you … to propel you forward. And you said earlier in the interview that you embrace all these failures that you guys have had. However, if you could go back in time, over those last five years, what’s the one big thing that you would done differently? Jonathan Anguelov Didn’t go into telco business. No … it’s hard. When you build company, think of … are you an expert in the industry that it helps a lot? Because, you know, telco he is very specific. So we were good in software. But telco is another thing – its not the software. Stephen Cummins So do you feel you should have brought in a specialist into the founding team earlier? Jonathan Anguelov Yeah, it’s important to have specialists in… at least in the things you do. First, when you do a generalist software, that’s okay. But specifically telco you know … it’s very hard to have always calls with a consistent quality of voice, avoiding distortion, to avoid to have like a difference of a few seconds of speech. Stephen Cummins So it’s actually the technological expertise that you would have welcomed. So what do you see for the next five years for Aircall and Thunderstone Jonathan Anguelov? What do you think the next few years has in store? Jonathan Anguelov So for Aircall, you know .. it’s keep growing. Yeah keep hitting the market extremely hard. Yeah, revolutionizing the way the phone system industry works how our software is linked to revolutionize the companies .. the way they work … the way they integrate their phones to their tools. Going to of course, a 1 Billion dollar company. We are not so far anymore, but still a long way. Stephen Cummins Halfway there? That’s pretty good : ) Jonathan Anguelov Not halfway. One quarter way. I don’t know .. I wanna make my Mum proud somehow. And that would be building a billion dollar company. And for Thunderstone … again …  you need to speak to Arthur. But yeah, I think he can really revolutionise a bit the way companies are working, sorry [I mean] shops are selling. And yeah, probably a few hundreds employees in the next couple of years for him. I hope. And hopefully I have a few more hotels in the next couple of years as well. Because my idea is to buy one Hotel per year, you see. So I bought one in 2018. So now I’m trying to buy one in 2019 already. Lots of irons in the fire. Stephen Cummins And I think it’s really beautiful that you’ve referenced your Mum in this way, so positively. Jonathan Anguelov It’s important. Stephen Cummins It’s really important. So its been a pleasure Jonathan. Jonathan Anguelov Big pleasure! Stephen Cummins Great to meet you and great to interview you.Jonathan Anguelov Amazing! Great! —- Stephen Cummins Next episode will be the first of a 5-part mini-series with Sean Percival, CMO in Oslo startup Whereby – a provider of video meetings software. A born content marketer and investment advisor to major accelerators (including 500 startups in the past), in episode 1 he’ll remind us of the huge cultural phenomenon that was Myspace when he was their VP of marketing – and why Facebook ultimately won the day. You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/RemoteSaaS
E74 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 3 of 4. Sales Fordism.
E74 – Part 3 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. Jonathan doesn’t see VC rounds as reasons to celebrate, but he does see VC as a no-brainer if the ambition is both huge and urgent – and his vision is to build the future of telephony in less than 10 years. He reveals a love for open office working – and explains why he believes in ever-increasing employee specialisation and Sales Fordism as they take on the challenge of onboarding 10 new employees a week. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher Transcript: Part 3 Aircall Jonathan Anguelov What I believe is that something that we are creating a little bit at Aircall … is the Sales Fordism. How you separate the function into the sales functions. So moving from having a full cycle sales – one guy that does the whole cycle – he hunts, he closes, he then takes care of it … to …. one guy finds the lead, one guy hunts the lead, one guy closes the lead, one guy onboards. One guy takes care of the nurturing of the lead. So, you know … there is really something going on. And I think you can split companies like that – every function. When you start your company, you have generalists, when you grow, you specialise people… so people become the best in what they do. Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Episode 74 – Part 3 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. Jonathan doesn’t see VC rounds as reasons to celebrate, but he does see VC as a no-brainer if the ambition is both huge and urgent – and his vision is to build the future of telephony in less than 10 years. He reveals a love for open office working – and explains why he believes in ever-increasing employee specialisation and Sales Fordism as they take on the challenge of onboarding 10 new employees a week. You’ve got a 29M USD round in funding round from Draper Esprit which is a fantastic win for yourselves – and I know Brian caulfield. He’s a really good guy. How much of a difference does that make to you as a company and… can you share some of the things you intend to do? Some of the big changes that will occur, or are occurring as a result of that. Jonathan Anguelov Sure! I mean all in all, you know, we… we raised more than 40 million. The first raise is like very exciting .. and I was like ‘Wow! People just giving me money’ … and then as it goes, you know, you just realise it’s okay more responsibilities and… and actually, it doesn’t change anything! You get the money, but you just get the money to do what you promise to do. So actually, it’s more about execution. An idea isn’t worth shit, you know. It’s nothing – what matters is the execution of that idea … which is where most people fail. I’ve seen hundreds of ideas fail just because the execution was bad. So what changes? It’s that you have people trusting you… you have a good board… board members that help you with the vision, help you with the execution and, you know, we are in these big markets where, you know, Cisco is making a few billion in revenue per year. And where, you know, we need to catch up. So we need cash! And… and the only reason we… we raise is to go faster – to hire and not just build the future of telephony in 20 or 30 years, what you would need if you don’t raise catch. But do it in less than 10 years and make a multi billion dollar company. So what changes is that okay, you have people are trusting you… you have a go-to-market strategy that is clear and … you know where you’re heading with that money. Stephen Cummins Absolutely! I sometimes ask people what they’re not good at … but I’m not gonna ask you that because, you know, you’re very self-aware and you’re gonna give me 20 things because I can sense that straight away. So I’m gonna twisted it around and ask you something you’re less comfortable with. It’s never a fluke when somebody has the level of success you’ve got. Yes, excellent co-founders and early employees. It’s a team. It’s a team team achievement. But what are the one or two qualities that you have personally that you feel made a difference for you – that has you succeeding in the way you’re succeeding. I mean you talked already about the fear and stuff, but what kind of skill natural skills sets? Jonathan Anguelov I love people. I love people. I love talking with people. I love listening to people. And I think I’m there today not because of one person I listened [to]. But because of the hundreds of people I listened to. And I got inspired by. And today with each of my employees. You know, I’m open. I don’t have an office and I’ll never have an office. I’m in the middle of the sales team actually – with all the partnership team, marketing, everyone. I’m in the middle of them. And I know that I will never have my own office –  I think that’s boring. And so yeah, if you said qualities – its that I love people, love talking with and listening to people. And, you know, sometimes I take people that have three managers in between me and them and ‘hey, let’s spend 10 minutes and tell me what do you do’ and so on and I… I think it’s something usually people will say is good about me – is that I’m talkative and easy going. Stephen Cummins Yeah, no, you definitely are and it came across before when we chatted. I actually had to stop us, because I went ‘no let’s get this on the thing’ because you’re definitely very chatty. Any recommended reading? Jonathan Anguelov It is very sales. I mean, I have a real sales mind. As I told you I love business – sales is business. One of the first books I read when I started Aircall – because I thought I knew sales, but I didn’t know sales in the end, especially sales in B2B SaaS and so on –  and I really liked Predictable Revenue from Aaron Ross, which is really the Bible for sales. It’s a bible. It’s how you should do sales in a company at scale when you’re doing B2B, and… and very often people ask me ‘Can you tell me how you do sales in Aircall blah blah blah. And I’m like kind of saying 80 percent of what I read in Predictable Revenue. So they create the Bible – and then I use it and mix it with my own ideas to create the perfect sales team. I don’t know if it’s perfect today, but it works somehow. But yeah, it’s… it’s a good book to read if you’re in that business no matter who you are – if you’re a founder, if you’re a VP of sales, head of customer success, whatever – it’s a good thing to see how, you know, you… you split functions to make them more efficient. And I’m actually… I’m actually writing a medium blog post – whatever –about …like what I believe is something that we are creating in Aircall … it’s the Sales Fordism. What I believe is that something that we are creating a little bit at Aircall … is the Sales Fordism. How you separate the function into the sales functions. So moving from having a full cycle sales – one guy that does the whole cycle – he hunts, he closes, he then takes care of it … to …. one guy finds the lead, one guy hunts the lead, one guy closes the lead, one guy onboards. One guy takes care of the nurturing of the lead. So, you know … there is really something going on. And I think you can split companies like that – every function. When you start your company, you have generalists, when you grow, you specialise people… so people become the best in what they do. Stephen Cummins Yeah. Well, certainly I would have seen that in Salesforce as an early employee. They actually discovered that having a CSMs there going to be the customer advocate … and then having the sales guys going out and looking for the best deal … that can get that little bit of tension. Even though it actually caused real tension sometimes. Jonathan Anguelov It does! Stephen Cummins It functiones better. Because the problem with the CSMs was that most of them didn’t have that ability to really look for the best deal. These were things they were scared to do – that they weren’t really wired that way … and then with the account managers and the sales guys, they weren’t really wired to really just be worrying about everything working. So by having the two there – so because you’ve gotta have customer success. You’ve gotta have renewals. You don’t have a business without that in SaaS. So they evolved in that way. So … if we just take that … I suppose as an example, and of course, in Salesforce leads, they separated Biz Dev … it was very separate to account management, there were different levels of account management etc. But, I suppose what you’re doing is taking that to another level and maybe dissecting it up even further and perhaps the dissection changes depending on what you’re selling and depending on what your market is. And is what you’re looking at … Is it something that .. is it like a set of decision-making that you would make and tests you would do at a certain point in time to find out what’s the Fordism formula for your particular sales pipeline? Jonathan Anguelov It is. Yes. It is … What I feel is that it’s important no matter what’s your business, it is really important that you have specialists. When you start your company, you have generalists, when you grow, you specialise people… so people become the best in what they do.  The good thing with separating people is first, you get the best out of each person … and the second thing is that you create a kind of career path? So maybe the best guy currently in that role. Maybe he wants to move to another role or he wants to move inside that roll up … which is good. The problem is when you have like generalists, the function is that the career path is complicated … it’s a complicated thing. So it’s anyway extremely good to separate functions – to make them more efficient. The risk of course … and there is a risk… is the there it’s too separated, and you lose the customer, you lose information. Stephen Cummins You lose interest perhaps, because it’s not challenging enough. Jonathan Anguelov Yeah, of course. And… and that’s a big challenge Stephen Cummins And would you be interested in looking at things like RPA, robotic process automation, and kind of integrating the humans in with that. So you separate it into six or seven sections and maybe, you know, that this can be learned by a machine. And you know you can insert the humans into the 1stt and 2nd part, 4th and 5th part, and 7th part … for example. Are you looking at that one day? Jonathan Anguelov Probably? I mean it’s something I would love – but today … the problem is that, you know, at scale when you’re scaling fast, you know, we have 10 new employees every week currently. And doing these kinds of things you need some people to organise it and so on – and it’s not like a huge priority, but it should be – not smart enough. Again I go back to the thing. Stephen Cummins That’s why I didn’t ask you what your thoughts were because you’re too modest. Jonathan Anguelov You need so much people to take care of those kinds of things … and I think the focus currently is more around the execution. And of course, if we can do things automatically by robots as you say … like thanks to different algorithms or whatever, we’ll do them. It just there’s always a time … as an entrepreneur, or as a VP of whatever, one important thing is the focus. Focus is what makes companies and people are successful. And I think currently the focus is hiring, building a great product, executing our vision, and talent absolutely. So I try to not do everything at the same time because otherwise, we might hit the… hit the wall at some point. Stephen Cummins So I guess North America and Europe are your main markets. And you mentioned Australian – the English speaking world. Do you do business with Asia as well at the moment? Jonathan Anguelov Not so much … a little bit. More than 30 percent of our revenues are coming from the US. The rest is split between the UK, France, Germany, Europe in general basically … Spain too. And Australia. Large tier one countries. In Europe we’re more focused on the largest countries – it’s UK and France – they’re almost same at about 10 percent of our revenue each. And the US is by far the biggest part of our business – even though we’re not Americans … but that’s why I’m… I’m quite… quite happy if I can brag about something, it’s that. But yeah there is still a lot to do because American investors say ‘30 percent? .. that’s all? … that’s shit!’ Like, yeah okay. All right. While European VCs they say ‘Wow! That’s amazing! I love the VC world. But. Yeah, Asia is not our focus …you see what I mean… I mean regulation is a bit more complicated for phone numbers, telcos et cetera. So currently it’s not a focus – probably would be one day. Stephen Cummins Yeah, yeah, and you need partnerships and joint ventures and all those sorts of things going in there … Now, let’s imagine a world in a few years time … you go .. ‘You know what! I built this beautiful Hotel over there … I think I just want to go there and lie back and read some books for about three months. I’m going to sell the business.’ Let’s just imagine you did that. And then you got bored, which you would do and you came back again. But let’s say you were worth … I don’t know the 50 or 60 million … Would you choose if you go back in the next time to invest your own money or would you go the VC route again? Jonathan Anguelov Depends how much I exit for – of course. No, the truth is that VC is quite convenient when you don’t have so much money. When I started, you know, I didn’t have so much money. So it was kind of helpful. Stephen Cummins But, you know, what are the negatives? Jonathan Anguelov The negative is that you’re stressed. I mean, you know, the Hotel for instance, you took the example of the Hotel …  I invested all my money and that’s all the money I earned. Plus what I leveraged from the bank. And so, yeah, it’s stressful … but the good news is that you buy real estate. So somehow … its not so much risk. I mean, you know, real estate stays valuable. So its different, but I would say I’ll start … I’ll bootstrap as much as possible, and raise if needed. You know, raising money … and I think it’s really important that people understand that … is that raising money is not a win … you raise because you’re actually not smart enough. Again. Because you need cash et cetera… et cetera. Stephen Cummins And it’s very important who you raise the money with, right? Jonathan Anguelov Extremely important, who’s on the board, et cetera… et cetera. And yeah, I don’t see raising … that’s why a lot of people say ‘Yeah, well done! You raised a lot!’ Yeah. When someone raises I’m like ‘Dude, good luck. Now good luck. Because now it’s the real thing that happens. And if I could have not raised, I wouldn’t have. But as we are in this very competitive business, very complicated … Stephen Cummins Need to move fast … Jonathan Anguelov … But as we are in this very competitive business, very complicated. We need to invest … and organic growth wouldn’t be enough to build a multi-billion dollar company these days. Nowadays it’s hard – especially what we do at Aircall. So I would invest until I can .. I was always depends on how much I do an exit for. I understand today, being an entrepreneur today is not just being reach. It’s having an idea and being good at executing on it. So if you need to raise, you raise. But if you don’t need to, don’t do it because you see everyone’s doing it. Stephen Cummins In our Next and final episode from this mini- series our guest Jonathan Anguelov, an arch pragmatist, gives amazing advice to anyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur. You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/14MinutesOfSaaS
E73 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 2 of 4. VC is about Accelerated Execution.
E73 – Part 2 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this episode Jonathan talks about growing up in Paris with an inspiring Mum who immigrated from Bulgaria and became a business person, giving Jonathan a front row seat into the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. It didn’t put him off because he started his career as an entrepreneur while still in university, aged 20. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher TRANSCRIPT EPISODE 72 of 14 Minutes of SaaS – part 2 of 4 Aircall Jonathan Anguelov I don’t feel I work. I just feel I do things. I try to move forward in my life. And you know I recently … My mother always told me ‘take time for yourself’ and I never listened to her .. because I always thought ‘lets continue, let’s continue’. And recently I lost my Mum. And it always resonates in my head ‘I’ll try to make her proud from where she is. I won’t listen to what she said, but I’ll try to make her proud. She was a very strong woman and she left her country when she was 18. She escaped during the communist so it was very tough. Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. Episode 73 of 14 Minutes of SaaS. This is Part 2 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this episode Jonathan talks about growing up in Paris with an inspiring Mum who immigrated from Bulgaria and became a business person, giving Jonathan a front row seat into the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. It didn’t put him off because he started his career as an entrepreneur while still in university, aged 20. Stephen Cummins You advise and partner with Thunderstone – it’s a phygital distribution channel for brands. And just for the listeners ‘phygital’ is P-H-Y-G-I-T-A-L. I’ve got to ask you Jonathan … did you invent the word ‘phygital’. Jonathan Anguelov No. So actually that company was built by a friend of mine and he used to be the founder of of a company called Viscount, which was a French Ralph Lauren. Basically very famous during 10 years, was making over 20M in revenue, et cetera. It was sold a few years back. And, he started this business into the phygital – so I’ll explain what it is after. And, as I have expertise in business and, and, he knows I’m good. Like I know how to handle SaaS businesses he wanted me to be an adviser. So he gave me some equity and so on. They raised already a few million. So why this business? Phygital is always a mix of physical and digital. Arthur, that is the CEO and founder, he’s coming from selling brands, selling clothes. And he realized that there’s a huge problem because with a shop, the brand needs to tell the shop how much it needs to buy as a minimum order. And so, the shop when it buys .. I don’t know .. let’s say a collection from Ralph Lauren or whatever for 50K, the brand imposes limits – it tells the shop it needs to buy at least least 5 Medium and 10 XL – or whatever et cetera. And so, the shop gets that – a regular shop that takes care of multiple brands. So when a guy comes into shop and says ‘Hey, I want this shirt. But I wanted in blue, do you have it in blue?’ And the shop says ‘Huh. I didn’t order it in Blue.’ So you gotta go on the website to buy or the shop calls another branch to see if they have it. And so what Arthur imagined here is this big screen that you put in the shop that is directly connected to the stock of the brands. And so the brand will get an order live and directly from the person from this these big screens. So the shop doesn’t lose the deal and the brand doesn’t lose the customer. So the big challenge is to be able to be connected live to all the brands in stock. And be able to deliver it always very quickly – always in the shop because when the guy will come back, he’s maybe gonna buy something else. So it’s really changing the way people are buying in shops because, you know, it’s tough for shops today. You can easily buy on the internet. So you bring the internet into the shop basically with this solution. The idea is more to say we don’t wanna kill the shops because when you buy clothe, you want to try it on. We will make sure it’s the right thing et cetera… et cetera. And then I really believe that an Amazon is succeeding in selling online etcetera. But I also believe there is a lot of waste in selling online. What does it mean? You buy and you don’t care? You buy. You get it. So there is transport, et cetera… et cetera involved. And then you see you don’t like it. And you send it back anyway. It’s free to send it back. And so, you know, it’s a huge waste for the environment. We’re killing the shops. And I believe in the fact that shops should exist. And that it should continue that people come in, they tried it, they discuss it with someone. And that’s also the biggest strategy behind this – to say online won’t kill the shops. We are bringing online into the shop. Stephen Cummins You are bringing digital into those physical bricks and mortar businesses. Which is great. The other problem I think is… is an Amazon dominated world, it leads to a monopoly or an oligopoly. You don’t get these cool shops making high streets interesting anymore. Jonathan Anguelov And the waste for an environment is huge! Just all that transport all the time, you know, it’s not what I believe in. I’m super proud to say I have never bought clothes online. Stephen Cummins I haven’t either actually. Just the thought of it – because the odds that it fits you even is improbable. I mean you’re in great shape and all that, but like, you know, yourself. Jonathan Anguelov No. You say great shape but, you know, I’m skinny and tall – nothing fits me. But, you know, buying something online actually is impossible for me. And I have one foot bigger than the other. So I never know which size options I need. So, you know, anyway long live shops! Stephen Cummins What’s a typical day in your life? You’re back and forth to New York quite a bit. Do you manage to keep a routine? Jonathan Anguelov Oh, I’m a person that has a huge routine actually. But I don’t know if its the same word in English, but in French a day in my life is like during the week five days a week, I work 100 percent for a Aircall, like I kill myself for Aircall. I’m dedicated like hell to Aircall. And during the weekend I follow my passion … and that is real estate. And, I recently acquired a Hotel in Paris. Well we are refurbishing it. Stephen Cummins So you still doing this? Jonathan Anguelov And during the weekend. Yeah, I used to do rent and a lot of Airbnb in Paris and so on – and then Airbnb went down in Paris – it became illegal – I thought ok let’s invest in a Hotel and I like real estate in general. I like facilities and so on. Stephen Cummins Could you connect that with your interest in Thunderstone I guess – the fact that you actually like physical places. Jonathan Anguelov I like… I like people, I like people in general. And a Hotel is about welcoming people. And so that’s why I like shops and… and so yeah, the weekend is dedicated to hotels to help a little bit Arthur with ThunderStone if needed. So, the weekend is for my other work. So yeah, now that I say it, I realize that I work seven days a week. Stephen Cummins But its your hobby as well. Jonathan Anguelov I don’t feel I work. I just feel I do things. I try to just move forward in my life. And you know I recently … My mother always told me ‘take time for yourself’ and I never listened to her .. because I always thought ‘let’s continue, let’s continue’. And recently I lost my Mum. Stephen Cummins I’m sorry to hear that. Jonathan Anguelov And it always resonates in my head ‘I’ll try to make her proud from where she is.’ I won’t listen to what she said, but I’ll try to make her proud. Stephen Cummins Well I hope we can make a podcast that would make your future grandchildren proud – as well as potential customers. That’s a beautiful thought though. Would your mother have been a big influence on your life? Jonathan Anguelov Yes! She was a very strong woman and she left her country when she was 18. She escaped Bulgaria during the communist era, so it was very tough. It was really inspiring to know she did that when she was 18. So it was very tough. And it was really inspiring to see that. Like to do that when you’re 18, coming over to start a business. You know, she was a model then she started up an agency. And, you know, it was sold. Okay. On the other side, she went bankrupt when I was very young. And, you know, she lost everything overnight. That was a deep learning for me also. I thought me to be humble because everything can just change… it thought me to be humble. Everything can just change. I saw it until she passed away. You know, things can stop working in one day. They can stop. And when it stops working, you have to have a backup … and make sure you’re ready for it. So that’s why somehow I have this fear all my life of losing everything. It’s a few drivers it’s… it’s losing everything. So that’s why I tried to do different things to make sure if I lose something, I don’t lose everything. Stephen Cummins So I was gonna actually ask you just now what drives you live. And so that’s a big part of it … that fear of something collapsing underneath your fees, because you’ve seen it happening to your Mum at one point in life. Jonathan Anguelov Yeah. And what also drives me really is being happy. It makes me so happy to do things. You know, when I… I go out, I love going out Friday and I party – and most of the people after a party, they chill out in front of the TV. That depresses me so much. What I love in the weekend is that I take my car and I go see the Hotel … see the mess. I mean this huge dust, it’s dirty, speaking with the workers and the architects and… and, you know, it drives me. And I love it. And then I come back home at six or seven PM on a Saturday night. Take a shower and we start again. And what drives me is just doing things and trying to move forward all the time. Stephen Cummins And do you find that entrepreneurial wiring that you’ve got is difficult to switch off? So, for example, when you were working with equities, I mean all of this, you know, butterfly effect and a brief rumour and the market reacts sometimes. The market can be emotional and sometime you can really see when it’s emotional. So its essentially broken. Or when you’re, you know, working through these problems of refurbishing the Hotel and whatever issues. You may have to deal with the suppliers. And so does your mind start thinking about how you can solve these things digitally? Do you have a hard time switching off from that sometimes? Jonathan Anguelov No, I separate. I really separate things. You don’t have always to thing digital … because I think at some point you get inefficient. I never switch off from business I would say. Anything I see I think about business. Because I grew up like that with this idea with this desire to do things, to improve things, to change things – that have been one way in the world and it just drives me. And it makes me happy. I think… I think the most important thing in life is be happy … and there is this famous sentence of I think it was John Lennon – that someone asked him one day, when he was young, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ And he answered ‘I want to be happy.’ And the person told him ‘I think you didn’t understand the question.’ And Lennon said ‘I think he didn’t understand life.’ And that’s really something that resonates in my head because I don’t know if there is a perfect job or whatever. But always think of, hey, make what makes you happy. And that’s how I do it. And everything that I do… I do it with the happy behaviour of ‘I just have fun’ … and really I feel I have fun. Stephen Cummins Yeah, you don’t have kids : ) Jonathan Anguelov Yes, lucky, no. Stephen Cummins But when you do I think you’d be a good Dad, because I think you’re gonna communicate that to them. Jonathan Anguelov Yeah. I’ll have to. I’ll have to find time to do to take care of them. Stephen Cummins In the next episode, Part 3 of a 4-part mini-series – Jonathan reveals the true level of his ambition, and delves deeply into his thoughts around how to scale a business optimally. You’ve been listening to 14 Minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills and to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating. Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify / Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn / Stitcher https://twitter.com/SaaSPodcasts
E40: Chris Wysopal – Co-founder & CTO of Veracode – 2 of 2 – Startups take a long time
Chris Wysopal, Co-founder & CTO of Veracode, talks about how startups take time and how some founders may look like an overnight success, but usually they've been at it for years. And how to be a successful founder, you need to love what you do.
E39: Chris Wysopal – Co-founder & CTO of Veracode – 1 of 2 – a Push from Symantec
Chris Wysopal is Co-founder & CTO of Veracode, a data security SaaS company which sold for $950 million USD. He talks about his hacker mindset and the push Symantec gave him to leave and cofound his company
E38: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 8 of 8 – control yourself, not your team
Whurley discusses his night-time routine and advises founders not to control their teams and to respond rather than react to important events. In essence he advises founders that the need to control oneself is should be much more pressing than any misplaced desire to control one's team
E37: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 7 of 8 – data, not drama
"For me the talent I work on the most is objectivity .. Data, not Drama .. which is my philosophy for how you should run a startup and run your life. So in my startups anyone can challenge any decision I’ve made, they can challenge anything, and they can challenge any authority – they only have to have data they’ve collected that they can show is objective that backs up why they think something is the wrong route for the company, why they think this is the wrong direction. And I think that would help people in their normal life too." Transcript (under construction) Whurley: Data, not Drama .. which is my philosophy for how you should run a startup and run your life. So in my startups anyone can challenge any decision I’ve made, they can challenge anything, and they can challenge any authority – they only have to have data they’ve collected that they can show is objective that backs up why they think something is the wrong route for the company, why they think this is the wrong direction. And I think that would help people in their normal life too." Stephen Cummins Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world's most remarkable SaaS ScaleUps. In this episode - episode 7 of 8, Whurley describes 2 qualities that have underscored his success so far.  One of them is an uncanny knack for timing... the other is an ability to see the positive and the creative in those around him. He seeks to influence not control what they do. Whurley Now when i go to Japan, professor Mori who kinda invented annealing is there. It'll be harder to get the meetings but more relevant to what I'm doing. .... I'm enjoying the journey immensely. Under construction ... Timing is part luck, part opportunity. But if I had something I aspired to ... it would be a Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson etc ... Did you bring your copy of Quantum Computing for babies with you? ... The talent is timeing and ...  
E36: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 6 of 8 – Entrepreneurship is Unromantic
Inc. Magazine is a Romance Novel for Business Nerds. “Romancing entrepreneurship is like romanticising people who fly 150,000 miles a year. When you’re successful, it’s all worth it. And when you’re in the middle and fighting those battles and you have those small wins, it’s super exhilarating. But it’s a form of gambling and you’re gambling with your career, and you’re gambling with your family, and you’re gambling with your life. And I don’t know that gambling should be romanticised ... I’ve never done a Series A. I’ve done 2 seed rounds. That’s the most funding I’ve done in my entire career. ….I“It becomes too much about raising money is seen as successful because with the money comes the power – I can hire people, I can acquire, I can do stuff. But the money is a poison because the money can also bring complacency." Transcript: WHURLEY Romancing entrepreneurship is like romanticising people who fly 150,000 miles a year. When you’re successful, it’s all worth it. And when you’re in the middle and fighting those battles and you have those small wins, it’s super exhilarating. But it’s a form of gambling and you’re gambling with your career, and you’re gambling with your family, and you’re gambling with your life. And I don’t know that gambling should be romanticised Stephen In episode six have a Whurley describes,how risky the life of an entrepreneur is - although he embraces risk, he believes we should go in with our eyes open. He makes the case for Austin as the greatest city in the world to start a business and talks about the advantages to being an Eisenhower fellow as he travels around Germany and Japan. WHURLEY You know, I was just that at this event, right before TOA… these guys like, you know, saying 'I raised 200,000,000 dollars in  blah blah blah blah'.  I asked what happened to the company? Oh, you know, eventually it folded this and that… to me that's even more horrible. I mean, I would never want to say ... I mean I've only raised for one company raised 3,000,000 dollars for Honest Dollar and that obviously worked out great. I've now raised 4,000,000 in a seed for Strangeworks. To be determined. But, you know, you raise the 3,000,000 for Honest Dollar. And I was the whole time ... was like ... we 3,000,000 dollars in debt. But if we do a series A ...  I've never done a series A. I don't want to go into debt ....  I've only raised 2 seed wounds - that's the most funding in my entire career. I believe, you know the  entrepreneurs credo ... to use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. That should be, you know, the… the… the Bible, I think for entrepreneurs. Because it becomes too much about raising money and can create complacency in the company. I know how long 4,000,000 dollars will last - to the day ... and I will remind everybody in the company how many days we have left until we run out of this oxygen. That is this money in the startup. I want them to be painfully aware of that. ...... Inc magazine's a romance novel for business nerds ...  
E35: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 5 of 8 – fear, uncertainty and doubt kill innovation
Expensive meme. will Quantum kill the Blockchain star? Killer blindspot. Do the best companies canabalise their own markets? Big VC: "Wanna buy a bottle of fear, uncertainty & doubt?" Little startup: "Yes please". Innovation exits stage early
E34: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 4 of 8 -extracting purpose out of infinite choice
Whurley talks about the great challenge to finding one's purpose being almost infinite choice. Finding this is key to getting up in the morning filled with joy about the day ahead, charged with energy & desire to make whatever it is happen
E33: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 3 of 8 – baby steps towards a quantum leap
Our protagonist acquires wisdom & sheds his super-hero costume – he’ll create an interface between a swelling crowd of dev talent and tech that’ll utterly transform our future – in incomprehensible ways. A vision of an AWS for Quantum
E32: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 2 of 8 – darkness before enlightenment
A whirlwind career as a serial-entrepreneur takes off as whurley loses the fear, gains financial independence, then goes through a psychological slump before re-emerging to invent retirement as a service.
E31: Whurley – Founder & CEO of Strangeworks – 1 of 8 – crashing into his future self
A car crash inspires the first step along a serpentine path to becoming an arch inventor, technologist & market strategist. Whurley accelerates the evolution of quantum computing with Strangeworks. He followed no rules in school. His pied piper is an imagination roaming far beyond the box.
E30: Mike Reiner, CoFounder City.ai, democratising artificial intelligence – 2 of 2
Mike Reiner talks about democratising AI, how he expanded City.ai from Berlin and Amsterdam into to dozens of cities globally, and how he assesses whether he wants to invest in a founding team
E29: Mike Reiner, CoFounder City.ai, Berlin v Amsterdam, 1 of 2
Mike Reiner talks about democratising AI, how he expanded City.ai from Berlin and Amsterdam into to dozens of cities globally, and how he assesses whether he wants to invest in a founding team
E28 – Ysiad Ferreiras, ex-COO @ Hustle – Understand & Cultivate your Uniqueness – 3 of 3
Final part of a 3-part mini-series with Ysiad Ferreiras, ex-COO of Hustle. Maslow's hierarchy of needs as framework for understanding others, profitable diversity, differentiating oneself