On this episode Abadesi talks to Elias Torres
, co-founder and CTO of Drift
. He co-founded the company with David Cancel, a longtime collaborator. They have achieved smashing success so far, and Elias’s personal story of moving to the United States from Nicaragua and working at McDonald’s while simultaneously finishing high school and learning English is one you don’t want to miss.
In this episode they talk about...
Elias’s longtime partnership with David Cancel
“He [David Cancel, co-founder of Drift] knew a lot more than I did and that was another good thing. If you look at Paul Allen and Bill Gates, Paul was older than Bill. That experience drew Bill to Paul and that’s something I like about David. He’s built many more companies than me. He’s always been in startups.”
David Cancel is Elias’s co-founder at Drift and this is definitely not their first venture together. Elias talks about how they have been able to work so well across several different companies and how their partnership mirrors that of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. He also talks about the scary moments when he left his job to start a company in 2008 while the stock market was tanking during the financial crisis.
What it was like growing up in Nicaragua and moving to the United States
“It’s people. People have helped me. I look back and in high school I had a teacher who asked me to join math club. That exposed me to kids who were applying to places I heard called Dartmouth and Princeton, but I didn’t know what that is.”
Elias grew up in Nicaragua and moved to the US as a teenager. He suddenly found himself in high school in the United States with a very different set of possibilities open to him. He also talks about how he ended up with his first computer and how that led to him getting into programming. It’s safe to say that when he was young, he didn’t see himself in the position that he is in now. He talks about some of the people who helped get him there and how Drift is giving back to help underprivileged people.
A CTO’s tips on hiring and why he spends an hour a month fielding support queries
“The recruiting process has to be personal. It has to be about conversations. Engineers are the most sough-out profession in the world. So you’re never going to hire someone that applies. You should not be spending your time there. You have to go and find the people you want.“
Elias has a unique perspective on hiring engineers from his perch as CTO at Drift, so he explains how they think about hiring, why diversity is an integral part of their company, and why he looks for engineers who are also extroverted like he is. They are also not afraid to get into the weeds at Drift, with their engineers putting in time talking to customers to get a feel for what the end-user truly needs.
Growing revenue from zero to eight figures in under twenty-four months
“I went into Boston and asked founder friends of mine: ‘do you want to use my product?’ When I was a kid I went out there and sold mangoes from a tree carrying a basket with my mangoes. I went the same way door-to-door asking for twenty dollars. I got my first five to ten customers like that.”
Drift grew from nothing in revenue to eight figures (!) in under twenty-four months. Aba asks how they managed to create such explosive growth and Elias talks about why SaaS businesses are so special and why they are a great way to grow revenue. He shares his best tips for makers looking to earn from their product, including not being afraid to charge, making sure you increase prices, and why to bring in salespeople early.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts
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