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SaaS Interviews with CEOs, Startups, Founders

What if you knew data behind the fastest growing SaaS companies today? Each morning join Nathan Latka as he spends 15 minutes interviewing SaaS founders. You'll learn how SaaS CEO's launched their startup and grew it into a business. SaaS Founders range from bootstrapped to funded, MVP to 10,000 customers, pre revenue to pre IPO.
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Now displaying: October, 2016
Oct 7, 2016

Sean Howell, the founder of Hornet - the second largest gay social network with 15 million members worldwide, known for its ongoing “Know your Status” HIV campaign. He's a speaker on mobile technology and his opinions have been featured all over the place, even the New York Times. Outside of work, Sean likes to serve on various non-profit boards and committees like the World Affairs Council, PFLAG, and UNAIDS,

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Alibaba
  • What CEO do you follow? – N/A
  • Favorite online tool? — Insightly
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “I wish I started earlier”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:38 – Nathan introduces Sean to the show
  • 02:13 – How Hornet generates revenue
    • 02:23 – Premium subscription model
    • 02:53 – Direct deals
  • 03:08 – Premium subscription service
    • 03:29 – No restrictions
    • 03:43 – 5% of their user base
    • 03:37 – 15 million user base
  • 03:53 – Hornet was founded in October 2011
  • 04:13 – MAU
    • 04:22 – Metric
  • 04:42 – Total revenue in 2015
    • 04:50 – Fundraising
    • 05:17 – Multi-million revenue last year
  • 05:32 – Traditional advertising and mobile setting
    • 05:55 – Gaming companies are buying display ads
    • 06:20 – Direct deal with Uber
    • 06:34 - CPM
  • 07:10 – Demographic data for users
  • 07:40 – Churn number that is being tracked
    • 07:51 – Focus on user growth
    • 08:20 - Monetization
  • 08:32 – Total churn number
    • 08:37 – Different subscription packages
    • 09:00 – Monthly renewal
    • 09:33 – Users buy in at a lower amount
    • 09:49 – Average monthly churn is 20%
  • 10:00 – Raised $ 1.5 million in the first year
  • 10:26 – Costs in acquiring new paying customers
  • 10:32 – 40 employees
  • 10:44 – Getting customers through organic discovery and viral co-efficients
    • 11:00 – Viral co-efficient technique
  • 11:27 – Attribution links for social sharing
  • 11:53 – Sean is based in San Francisco and his team members are in other parts of the world
  • 12:27 – No revenue for the first year
    • 12:33 – Started making revenue in 2013
  • 12:48 – 2 biggest competitors
  • 13:00 – Looking to raise several millions
    • 13:08 – Valuation
  • 13:47 – Connect with Sean thru AngelList, LinkedIn and his email.
  • 16:05 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Be motivated – use your competitors as inspiration.
  • There are tons of ways to make your brand known without spending much.
  • Start early – if you want to do something now, do it now.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • AngelList – Sean’s AngelList account
  • LinkedIn – Sean’s LinkedIn account
  • sean@hornetapp.com – Sean’s email address
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

 

Oct 6, 2016

Laura Behrens Wu, the co-founder and CEO of Shippo. Listen as Laura talks about how a laundry list of shipping obstacles with her previous e-commerce store birthed the idea for Shippo.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – The Hard Things About Hard Things
  • What CEO do you follow? – Patrick Collison
  • Favorite online tool? — Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— “I wish”
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “Trust that things will turn out right”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:45 – Nathan introduces Laura to the show
  • 02:13 – E-commerce business Laura had
    • 02:27 – Started at Shopify
    • 02:40 – Sourcing unique items from NGO
    • 03:07 – Shipping problem
  • 03:32 – Revenue with the e-commerce business
  • 03:50 – Laura was 21 when she started her business
  • 04:13 – Financing with Shippo
    • 04:17 – Drop shipping
  • 05:08 – Typical shipping pricing
  • 05:30 – Shippo shipping rates
    • 05:58 – Volume metric
    • 06:07 – Doing millions of packages a month
  • 06:30 – Negotiation with shipping providers 
    • 06:44 – Based on projected volumes
  • 07:00 – Shippo is a pay-as-you-go; not SaaS
  • 07:20 – Sample price per package shipped
    • 07:30 – What if I’m shipping a 10 lbs. dumbbell?
    • 07:44 – “We only provide the software”
  • 08:06 – How Shippo works in an e-commerce website
    • 08:10 – Will compare different shipping providers
    • 08:30 – Not a standard shipping rate
    • 08:47 – How the shipping providers get the package from the seller
  • 09:07 – Why clients use Shippo’s service
  • 09:37 – Shipping providers are not tech company
  • 09:55 – Number of unique customers
  • 10:12 – Average shipping volume per month
  • 10:29 – Memebox
    • 11:10 – Nathan’s proposed deal for Shippo and Memebox
  • 11:54 – They raised $9M in 2014
  • 12:20 – Team size
  • 12:50 – Use of the extra money
  • 13:23 – Minimum monthly revenue
  • 13:33 – Upselling
    • 13:50 – Shipping insurance
    • 14:11 – Tracking as a product
  • 15:28 – Bigger revenue stream
  • 15:37 – $ 7 million in series A round, March 2016
  • 16:00 – How to keep the balance when you have a big account
  • 16:38 – Travel expenses last month
  • 17:25 – Will you sell the business for $ 47 million?
    • 17:45 – Ideal exit assuming there’s a good fit
  • 18:03 – Built an app on top of Shopify
  • 18:11 – Connect with Laura through her Twitter, LinkedIn and email
  • 20:00 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Keep your customers updated and excited.
  • Spend money on the right things and appreciate what you have.
  • Don’t get upset on your first try – everything falls into place given patience and time.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • @LauraBehrensWu – Laura’s Twitter handle
  • LinkedIn – Laura’s LinkedIn account
  • laura@goshippo.com – Laura’s email address
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

 

Oct 5, 2016

Zach Benson, an award-winning dancer who travels around the world running instructional clinics. He's been featured as a Round 4 finalists on FOX TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” and he’s also the founder and CEO of Assistagram.co.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – The Slide Edge
  • What CEO do you follow? – Jeff Olson
  • Favorite online tool? — Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— “Usually 7 and a half”
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “I wish I knew everything then that I know now”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:40 – Nathan introduces Zach to the show
  • 02:13 – How the dance clinic works
    • 02:20 – Place, schedule, and class pricing
  • 03:06 – Total revenue of the dance clinic in 2015
  • 03:35 – Zach talks about how he partners with dance studios
    • 04:25 – CTA
  • 05:14 – Number of students per class
  • 05:53 – Assistagram.co
    • 06:07 – Team in the Philippines
    • 06:27 – Hashtag optimization
    • 06:58 – How to find hashtags to use
      • 07:14 – There’s no database
      • 07:40 – Follow/unfollow process
  • 08:38 – ROI
    • 09:04 – Sample of Zach connecting and making a deal
  • 10:17 – Cold marketing and prospecting
    • 10:40 – Finding people on your niche
  • 11:03 – Working with Four Seasons
    • 11:14 – Regular hotel room rate
    • 11:40 – How Zach got a free stay at the hotel
      • 12:35 – Writing a free blog post
  • 13:00 – Benefits of a good Instagram profile
  • 13:26 – Current number of Assistagram clients
    • 13:40 – Average pay a month
    • 13:53 – Assistagram’s services
  • 14:28 – How to get people go to your Instagram account
  • 15:38 – Reach Zack thru his email, website and Instagram.
  • 17:58 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • It’s all about timing.
  • Find the mentor who can help you grow.
  • Be consistent and persistent.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • Assistagram.co -  Zach’s business website
  • @thetravellerslist – Zach’s Instagram handle
  • Benson.zach@gmail.com  - Zach’s email address
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

 

Oct 4, 2016

Anand Sanwal, CEO and co-founder of CB Insights, a company that provides predictive intelligence for emerging technology trends, startups, and corporate. Their customers include Cisco, Marketo, and Red Hat, just to name a few. Prior to CB Insights, Anand managed the $50 million Chairman’s Innovation Fund at American Express.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
  • What CEO do you follow? – Jeff Bezos
  • Favorite online tool? — Gmail
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— “I wish”
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “Be patient”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:42 – Nathan introduces Anand to the show
  • 02:45 – “If you buy something for 2 and sell it for 1, you will not make it up in volume”
  • 03:12 – He was in-charge of spending money
    • 03:25 – Sent to London for Cosmo Europe
    • 03:40 – Overspent
  • 04:00 – Rationalizing the expenses
  • 04:45 – Worked in American Express after Cosmo
  • 06:25 – Salary in American Express
    • 06:55 – “Decided to take the plunge”
  • 07:30 – CB Insights
    • 07:46 – Every industry is under attack by technology
    • 08:09 – Monthly customer pay
    • 08:34 – “Use our data to create a sense of urgency”
    • 09:20 – Tracking the competitors
    • 10:00 – Using algorithm on the data
  • 10:30 – Number of paying customers
    • 10:45 – Average of pricing
  • 11:25 – Total MRR last August
  • 11:40 – Hoping for 8-figure revenue this year
  • 12:12 – Team size
    • 12:25 – Some are based in New York
  • 13:05 – Exact MRR last month
  • 13:30 – “Everybody pays upfront”
  • 14:14 – Individual customer acquisition
    • 14:40 – Gross revenue churn
  • 15:20 – Lifetime value
    • 15:29 – 20% churn just to be conservative
    • 15:49 - $200,000 lifetime value
  • 16:16 – Funds raised
  • 16:46 – Most customers are VCs
  • 18:18 – Jon Sherry is the other founder
  • 19:18 – No current acquisition talks
  • 19:32 – Connect with Anand through his website and Twitter
  • 21:05 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Do not be afraid to take the plunge—there are risks but just do it.
  • Things happen for a reason and believe in your life plan.
  • There’s no absolute certainties in life—only right places and right times.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • CBInsights.com – Anand’s website
  • @cbinsights – Anand’s business’ Twitter handle
  • @asanwal – Anand’s Twitter handle
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

 

Oct 2, 2016

Victor Levitin, co-founder and CEO of CrazyLister. Prior to CrazyLister, Victor ran a retail business that he drove from $0 to $4.5M in revenue in just three years. In fact, it did so well it won an eBay award for highest conversion rate. Victor channels his eBay retail experiences through a blog called “eBay Sellers Journey to $100K a month” where he helps eBay sellers avoid mistakes and grow their business the right way.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Elon Musk Biography
  • What CEO do you follow? – Alex Turnbull
  • Favorite online tool? — Intercom
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— “About 7”
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “Teach myself how to code and learn the balance”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:37 – Nathan introduces Victor to the show
  • 02:08 – What is CrazyLister and how does it make money?
    • 02:16 – Created for sellers
    • 02:50 – Similar with creating websites
    • 03:28 – Built-in to eBay’s API
    • 03:40 – You have to know how to code to use CrazyLister
  • 03:49 – Pricing scheme
    • 03:54 – Plans based on the number of listings
    • 04:05 – Monthly RPU
  • 04:20 – CrazyLister is founded in late 2013
    • 04:33 – Victor was 29 then
  • 04:40 – Victor has always been an entrepreneur
    • 05:05 – He was a seller before
  • 05:14 – Shifted to software because of the entrepreneurial bug
  • 06:20 – Shared equity
  • 06:40 – Number of paying customers
  • 07:02 – Total revenue in 2015
  • 07:15 – January 2016 – from premium to paid
    • 07:40 – 14-day free trial
  • 07:55 – MRR
  • 08:50 – Pricing on the website
  • 09:15 – Actively doing customer development
  • 09:41 – Metrics customers have to hit
  • 09:58 – Growth churn per month
    • 10:08 – Typical monthly churn of SaaS companies
    • 10:35 – First month with monthly churn
  • 11:40 – Lifetime value
  • 12:00 – What are you going to pay for a new customer?
  • 12:28 – Team size and located in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 12:45 – Self-funded or crowd raising
    • 13:01 – Equity round
      • 13:22 - Valuation
  • 13:33 – Victor feels they’ve exceeded the valuation
    • 14:20 – Will never sell
  • 14:45 – Content marketing drives traffic to Victor’s company
  • 15:47 – August expenses
  • 16:20 – Connect with Victor thru his LinkedIn or Facebook
  • 18:40 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Know your priorities and maintain a balanced life.
  • Keep moving—don’t stay in your comfort zone, stagnation is death.
  • Take care of your customers—know their needs and find out how you can help them.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • LinkedIn – Victor’s LinkedIn account
  • Facebook – Victor’s personal Facebook account
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Oct 1, 2016

Brad Costanzo, an entrepreneur, investor, and business consultant who built (and sold) two digital businesses. Today, Brad helps companies use proven marketing methods, innovative branding campaigns, and form strategic alliances to grow their revenue. He also hosts the “Bacon Wrapped Business” podcast on iTunes.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – One Simple Idea
  • What CEO do you follow? – N/A
  • Favorite online tool? — MindMeister and XMind
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— “Typically 7”
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “Don’t seek comfort, seek challenge.”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:44 – Nathan introduces Brad to the show
  • 02:06 – Brad sold two digital businesses
    • 02:30 – Dating and relationship product, real estate product etc.
      • 03:10 – Fun bar tricks
      • 03:38 – Sold it for six figures
    • 04:05 – Pigtones.com
      • 04:23 – Sold it for less than $100,000
  • 04:36 – Brad now focuses on consulting, crowdfunding, and coffee
    • 04:50 – Equity crowdfunding
    • 05:08 – What he did after selling his businesses
  • 05:34 – Launched consulting firm in 2013
    • 05:40 – How the firm grew over time
    • 03:30 – Pricing
    • 06:05 – Average retainer
    • 06:22 – Total revenue in 2013
    • 07:15 – Total revenue in 2015
  • 07:34 – Revenue goal in 2016
  • 08:11 – Total price per deal
    • 08:38 – Equity product campaign
    • 09:00 – Where Brad base his consulting fee
  • 09:29 – Team size
    • 09:35 – Full-time
  • 09:51 – Number of unique customers in 2016
  • 10:10 – First equity crowdfunding campaign
  • 10:39 – Brad talks about his client who is from the real estate field
    • 11:23 – Reww.com
    • 11:45 – Different funnels
  • 12:54 – Brad likes 2-3 steps funnel
  • 13:08 – Magnified message
    • 13:30 – MVF funnel
  • 14:10 – Selling DVDs for real-estate market
  • 15:14 – Cost of driving a sale and the return
  • 15:26 – Brad’s coffee business with wife
    • 15:41 – StilettoCoffee.com
    • 16:14 – Coffee is a commodity
    • 16:32 – His wife’s idea of selling coffee to women
    • 17:35 – Build a brand using story-telling
    • 18:18 – Total sales as of the moment
    • 19:14 – Hillary Clinton coffee
  • 20:26 – Potential for an exit
  • 20:46 – Check StilettoCoffee.com and use the code BRADVIP on checkout to get a discount. Follow Brad on his website and podcast
  • 22:35 – Launch of Brad’s podcast
    • 22:55 – Total downloads
  • 23:50 - The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Listen and learn from the people that belong to your market.
  • You only get one shot in life—make sure your aim is true.
  • Keep things simple.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • StilettoCoffee.com – Brad and his wife’s coffee business
  • Costanzomarketing.com – Brad’s website
  • BaconWrappedBusiness.com – Brad’s podcast channel
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Oct 1, 2016

Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner–a fast-growing, Seattle based, maker of dynamic project management technology—and an active member of the Seattle startup and technology community. Listen as Liz talks about her passion in mentoring and advocating for technology and leadership.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Search Inside Yourself
  • What CEO do you follow? – “My Top 5 Customers”
  • Favorite online tool? — Mint
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be? – “Don’t let go of  your interest and you will always get something back when you give”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:38 – Nathan introduces Liz to the show
  • 02:02 – What LiquidPlanner is and how it generates revenue
    • 02:08 – Project management software
  • 02:28 – How does the customer use Liquid planner
  • 03:13 – LiquidPlanner is a SaaS business model charge per user
    • 03:30 - Pricing
  • 03:52 – First year revenue in 2007
  • 04:01 – Worked as a marketing contractor of the business
    • 04:32 – What happened to founders
  • 05:13 – Raised total of $13 million
    • 05:39 – Liz raised the $10 million
  • 06:05 – Former CEO still active in the company
  • 06:30 – 2015 revenue
  • 07:16 – Negative revenue churn
    • 07:35 – Inbound driven model
    • 08:05 – Transactional business
  • 08:37 – Document storage
    • 08:50 – Team function
  • 09:16 – Average revenue
  • 09:29 – Gross monthly churn
    • 10:01 – Negative revenue churn
    • 10:09 – SMB market
  • 10:30 – CLTV
  • 10:48 -  Lifetime value
  • 11:30 – Some are remote
    • 11:37 – Total team size
  • 11:43 – Number of customers
    • 12:01 – How many are enterprise?
  • 12:18 – Talking about acquisition or raising the next round?
  • 12:45 – Interested in raising more capital in the future
  • 14:07 – Microsoft project
    • 14:45 – Invest in scheduling engine
  • 15:03 – Revenue goal in 2016
  • 15:20 – Acquisition money expenditure
    • 16:05 – Total monthly expenditure
  • 17:15 – @lizprc
  • 19:30 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Believe in your product and what it can do to change the industry.
  • Remember that karma bus drives in circles.
  • Keep priority focus tight.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Toptal – Nathan found his development team using Toptal  for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to quality of Toptal  developers.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • @lizprc – Liz’ twitter handle
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives

 

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