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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: March, 2017
Mar 6, 2017

Zach Supalla. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Particle, a venture backed startup that’s making it easier to build internet connected hardware and other things. Particle is the most, widely used IoT platform with a developed community of a hundred thousand users and is listed as one of Fast Company's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in 2015, of the Internet of Things. Zach has been featured on CNN, The Wall street Journal, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Forbes, Fortune, Mashable and more.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – The Hard Thing About Hard Things
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Jeff Lawson
  • Favorite online tool? — Slack and Asana
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “You don’t have to be an engineer to be an engineer”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:35 – Nathan introduces Zach to the show
  • 02:16 – Zach used to be a management consultant
  • 02:45 – While Zach was doing his MBA, he interned in Groupon’s sales operation
  • 03:07 – Zach did engineering
  • 03:21 – Particle is an IoT platform
  • 03:44 – Particle helps manufacturers connect their physical product to the internet
    • 04:11 – Particle does the whole communication stack between the physical device and web
  • 04:40 – Particle has raised $10M
  • 04:50 – Particle generates revenue in 4 ways
    • 04:55 – Particle works with large companies and sells them subscriptions, data plans, hardware, and professional services
    • 05:24 – Main revenue stream is from the hardware
    • 05:54 – Hardware pricing ranges from $5-50
  • 06:09 – For Keurig, they added hardware to plug into the back of the coffee maker
  • 06:45 – The hardware volume for Keurig is in the thousands
  • 07:00 – Particle has customers who will be deploying millions of hardware products by 2018
  • 07:28 – Security is part of Particle’s story
  • 07:37 – Zach shares about the webcam botnet incident
    • 08:09 – The Mirai botnet in Liberia explained
  • 08:32 – Zach shares how Particle works to secure everything from the device to the in between communication
  • 08:50 – Typical, cheap webcams that are in the market and manufactured in China are not secure
  • 09:23 – There are products that people aren’t unplugging and are considered unsecure
  • 09:45 – Particle started in 2012
  • 09:59 – Zach first launched a product in Kickstarter named Spark Socket
    • 10:07 – The product was unsuccessful
    • 10:21 – It was frustrating, but it turned to be a huge benefit
  • 10:51 – Zach relaunched a new product in Kickstarter, in 2013, called Spark Core
  • 11:20 – Zach was inspired by his dad who is deaf to create the first product
  • 12:20 – Zach shares what is important in launching a Kickstarter campaign
    • 12:28 – Zach looks at any Kickstarter campaign as an experiment
    • 12:33 – Zach made sure that they nailed the marketing on their first launch
    • 13:43 – “We’re definitely advocates of the lean startup mentality”
  • 14:13 – 2013 revenue
  • 14:41 – 2014 revenue
  • 15:43 – Zach shares where the scale is coming from
    • 15:58 – When Zach launched the product, they weren’t targeting enterprise stores
    • 16:28 – Zach was originally creating development tools then shifted to management tools
    • 16:43 – The growth started in selling deaf kits
    • 17:00 – They started making modules, then the software platform
    • 17:26 – One of the challenges a hardware startup faces is going from being a product to a company
  • 17:56 – 2017 revenue goal
  • 18:08 – Team size is 35
  • 18:21 – Half of the team is from San Francisco and the other half are all over
  • 18:50 – Particle is not facing a problem yet with their people who work in China
  • 19:03 – Zach created a program while he was in China, where he lived for 4 months
  • 19:22 – Zach has a deep trusting relationship with their people in China
  • 21:14 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Solve your own problems and make the people around you, your inspiration.
  • See the beauty in a failure – it can be a way for you to create something better.
  • One of the most difficult challenges a hardware startup faces is going from being a product to a company.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Mar 5, 2017

Craig McLuckie. He’s the founder and CEO of Heptio, a startup focused on making Kubernetes accessible enterprises. Prior to starting Heptio, Craig was a product manager at Google where he founded the Kubernetes project, launched Google compute engine and created The Cloud Native Computing Foundation that he also shared.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Influence
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Andrew Grove
  • Favorite online tool? — Lever
  • 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 wished my 20-year old self understood the importance of kindness”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:25 – Nathan introduces Craig to the show
  • 01:55 – Kubernetes is a technology that is used to run applications in a production setting
    • 02:16 – The idea is to take the collective learning that Google instilled over the last decade of building and running applications
  • 02:35 – Kubernetes is an open-source technology
  • 02:53 – Kubernetes is being widely adopted by enterprises but there are still some gaps
  • 03:16 – Heptio‘s job is to make Kubernetes more accessible to a broad array of developers
  • 03:47 – Heptio generates revenue through support, training and professional service and consultancy
  • 04:25 – Heptio is currently on pre-product revenue
  • 04:50 – By providing Heptio’s professional service, they connect with customers and understand where the key gaps are
  • 05:12 – Heptio has raised $8.5M
  • 05:20 – The people backing Heptio
  • 06:17 – Nathan simplifies Kubernetes’ description
  • 07:50 – Craig explains how Kubernetes actually works in applications
  • 09:07 – Heptio wants to present the perfect idea of how machines should be operating
  • 09:23 – Kubernetes provided the steps from thinking about virtual infrastructure to logical infrastructure
  • 09:49 – At Heptio, they bring the idea of logical infrastructure to companies everywhere so they can experience a better way to decode without worrying about the difficult task of configuring
  • 10:22 – Heptio also helps companies organize themselves around the technology
    • 10:53 – It is like helping people stack the bricks of technology
  • 11:58 – John and Craig started Kubernetes in Google and they had successes in the past
  • 12:20 – Craig demonstrated clearly the product market fit for Kubernetes so they were able to raise $8.5M
  • 12:40 – Craig has spent time with the community
  • 13:10 – Craig quantifies the adoption of Kubernetes
  • 13:50 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Kubernetes is an open source technology that is used to run applications in a production setting.
  • Demonstrating your product’s market CLEARLY can lead to investors believing and trusting your product.
  • Remember the importance of being kind.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Mar 4, 2017

Aner Ravon. He’s the co-founder and chief product officer of his new company called Zirra. Zirra’s mission is to solve the education and entry pain of the retail investors when it comes to equity investments. Before this company, Aner spent his time at Celltick as a VP of media and head of business unit.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – The Tipping Point
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Steve Jobs
  • Favorite online tool? — Ask  Wonder
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Not to worry so much”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 02:42 – Nathan introduces Aner to the show
  • 02:58 – Zirra steps into the void between data and excel analysis of the companies
  • 03:10 – There’s a big void in the data collection and actual decision making of a company for the people who want to invest
  • 03:48 – Zirra is a service
    • 03:52 – Zirra has an a la carte system which is pay-as-you-go
    • 03:55 – Zirra has 2 main products
      • 03:58 – Spotlight reports which costs $49
      • 04:11 – Value packages for corporate investors which is a monthly subscription
  • 04:29 – Average customer pay is $99 monthly
  • 05:05 – Zirra started in August 2014
  • 05:30 – Zirra first offered their services for free
  • 05:45 – Aner shares how they decided to stop the free service
    • 06:01 – Zirra had 150 free users
    • 06:13 – Some of the free users are large equity firms
  • 06:23 – Zirra started in Israel
  • 06:35 – Microsoft was using ZIrra heavily, for free
  • 07:00 – 80% of the free users converted to paid users
  • 07:20 – Zirra managed the free service with free coupons
  • 07:41 – Zirra didn’t take away the credits, but started renewing them
    • 07:48 – When users use up their credits, they’ll be greeted with a pay wall
  • 08:05 – Zirra’s paywall: pay $49 to get the report or buy 10 reports for $299
  • 08:40 – Zirra’s revenue comes from pay-as-you-go and monthly subscriptions
  • 09:10 – 15 customers are on monthly subscriptions
  • 09:20 – 40-50 of the customers are habitual users
  • 10:35 – Another product Zirra offers is deep report which sells from $1K-3K
  • 11:45 – Team size is 15
  • 12:39 – Zirra is based in Telavi, Israel
  • 12:49 – Zirra has raised capital and closed almost $3M
  • 13:19 – Zirra is founding new investors without going through another round because of their current Angel investors
  • 13:51 – 2016 revenue
  • 13:55 – 2017 goal revenue
  • 14:28 – There are currently a hundred thousand companies in Zirra
  • 14:55 – Zirra can deliver the report in just a few hours
  • 15:30 – Zirra has 85 different data sources
    • 16:09 – The resources are running through ZIrra’s search engine
  • 17:12 – Zirra’s vision
  • 18:19 – Aner thinks PitchBook and CB Insights are great services
  • 18:28 – Zirra’s ability to storify the data makes them different from their competitors
  • 20:15 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Having access to and understand the data of the company will help inform that decision to invest.
  • Shifting from a free service to paid is risky move, but needs to be done.
  • Don’t worry too much—it won’t do very much for you in the end.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Mar 3, 2017

Martijn de Kuijper, founder of Revue. He’s a product guy and his company’s focus is to get your thoughts to people’s inboxes via newsletters. He previously founded Fosbury and Yunoo. Martijn is also a Techstars alum.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Zero to One
  • What CEO do you follow? –  N/A
  • Favorite online tool? — Intercom
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t get distracted by what other people are saying”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:30 – Nathan introduces Martijn to the show
  • 02:10 – Revue focuses on personal newsletters like editorial newsletters
    • 02:45 – Revue helps people share their content through newsletters
  • 02:50 – Revue currently has a free and premium model
  • 03:20 – Average customer pay per month is $7
  • 03:45 – Martijn is a listener of The Top
  • 04:10 – Revue was launched in January 2015
  • 04:27 – Martijn started Revue on his own as a side project
    • 04:30 – Martijn was working on the acquisition of Fosbury
    • 04:59 – Martijn shares what Fosbury is about
    • 05:24 – Martijn was in Techstars Texas
  • 05:44 – Team size is 5
  • 06:18 – Fosbury wasn’t earning
  • 07:08 – The money that Martijn received from the assets
  • 07:42 – Martijn used the money from selling Fosbury to start Revue
  • 08:12 – Martijn also sold Yunoo when he was 26
    • 08:30 – The buyer is the software company AFAS from the Netherlands
  • 09:20 – Martijn has raised $350K for Revue in convertible note
  • 09:50 – Terms on the convertible note
  • 10:05 – Revue currently has a thousand paying customers
  • 10:23 – Martijn is currently focusing on growth rather than revenue
  • 10:48 – Revue has 20K registered users at the moment with 10% active users
    • 10:57 – Active users are the ones who send at least 1 email a month
  • 11:27 – Monthly churn
  • 11:35 – No paid CAC
  • 11:49 – Revue has a content marketer
  • 12:24 – Revue is currently sending 2M emails, monthly
  • 12:40 – First year revenue
  • 13:00 – Total 2016 revenue
  • 13:26 – Martijn’s current side project
  • 14:30 – Where Martijn got his marketing ploy idea
  • 16:30 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Don’t be afraid to sell your company if it comes down to it.
  • Study and strategize a marketing plan that works and at no cost.
  • Just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let what others say distract you.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Mar 2, 2017

Charles Thiede. He’s the co-founder and CEO of the knowledge network platform called Zapnito. Zapnito helps organizations create privately, branded, expert communications and networks. He calls this “experts as a service”.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Lean Startup
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Elon Musk
  • Favorite online tool? — Product Hunt
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— I try to
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Do everything with courage”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:11 – Nathan introduces Charles to the show
  • 01:41 – Zapnito is a SaaS platform
    • 02:16 – The idea of Zapnito is to helps brands bring their audience back to the trusted sources of knowledge
  • 02:40 – Zapnito’s Slack channel
    • 02:51 – The platform behind the scene that pulls the audience and brands together
  • 03:40 – Each brand has their own slack domain
  • 04:40 – Average customer pay per year is £60K
  • 05:38 – Zapnito started in trading in March 2013
    • 05:48 – Started as a marketplace for experts in 2014
  • 06:38 – First year revenue
  • 07:12 – Zapnito currently has 12 customers
  • 07:57 – Average MRR
  • 08:50 – Team size is 12
  • 09:36 – Charles doesn’t batch their sales calls
    • 10:00 – Charles usually takes the calls
  • 10:32 – Zapnito is based in London
  • 10:50 – No customer churn and negative net churn
  • 11:12 – The leverage Zapnito pulls to drive the RPU up
    • 11:30 – “We focus on niche networks’
    • 11:50 – Zapnito has scaled their number of networks
  • 12:10 – CAC
  • 13:21 – Zapnito was bootstrapped and raised angel money
    • 13:40 – Zapnito has raised £650K in priced equity round
    • 14:02 – Zapnito had 3 rounds
  • 14:50 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Continually pivoting is not a disadvantage to your company, as long as you just keep learning from the experience.
  • Do not hesitate to hire the people that you need.
  • Do everything with courage.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Mar 1, 2017

Raviv Turner. He’s the co-founder and CEO of CaliberMind – the first marketing, technology platform to apply machine learning in human language analysis to build detailed psychographic profiles. He has more than 10 years of experience leading products and development for high growth B2B SaaS companies. His previous roles include Director of UX at FullContact and VP of product at TapInfluence. Raviv is a mentor at Techstars Accelerator and holds a Masters in Interactive Media at NYU.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Hacking Marketing
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Bart Lorang
  • Favorite online tool? — Asana, 7Geese and Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— Doing my best
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Your network is your net worth”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:40 – Nathan introduces Raviv to the show
  • 02:25 – CaliberMind analyzes and boosts structured and unstructured data
  • 03:18 – CaliberMind is a SaaS model
    • 03:36 – Monthly billing starts at $2K
  • 03:46 – Average customer pay per month
  • 04:15 – CaliberMind was launched in 2015
  • 04:48 – Raviv adapted the idea from the military
  • 05:05 – Raviv was in product design for the past 15 years
    • 05:23 – The analytics structure data
  • 06:30 – CaliberMind currently has their first 12 customers
  • 06:54 – CaliberMind has bundled packages of services
  • 07:40 – CaliberMind was bootstrapped on their first year
  • 07:55 – CaliberMind had raised their $1.1M seed round after seeing traction from the customers
  • 08:20 – No customer churn yet
  • 08:42 – CAC and LTV
    • 08:56 – The account-based marketing
  • 09:20 – Team size of 8 and based in Colorado
    • 09:39 – Most of the team are developers and data scientists
    • 09:46 – They have Nic Zangre who was a Director of Marketing at AdRoll
    • 10:00 – Raviv shares how he convinced Nic to work with CaliberMind
    • 10:26 – Nic has equity in CaliberMind
  • 10:45 – Some companies that are in the space are Usermind and Pegasystems
  • 12:25 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Work with people who share the same passion and vision as you do.
  • Taking that leap out of your comfort zone is often risky and also, often, worth it.
  • Find ways to help the people in your network without expecting something in return.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • 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 the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox  – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
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