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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: April, 2017
Apr 5, 2017

Peep Laja. He’s the founder of CXL. He was voted as the most influential, conversion rate optimization expert in the world. He helps fast-growing companies grow faster through his services, coaching and CXL Institute’s certification programs along with his world-favorite optimization blog.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Used to be Ready, Fire, Aim
  • What CEO do you follow? –  No
  • Favorite online tool? — Google Analytics and 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? – Peep wished that he had thought bigger when he was younger

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:33 – Nathan introduces Peep to the show
  • 02:18 – CXL is an optimization company
    • 02:30 – CXL does conversion optimization
    • 02:40 – CXL also teaches about conversion optimization and everything a company needs to grow fast
  • 03:13 – CXL has been an agency model for the longest time
  • 03:31 – Conversion XL Institute was launched in 2016
    • 03:41 – It also has a monthly subscription
  • 03:52 – MRR as an agency
  • 04:11 – In running an agency, it doesn’t make sense to work with small businesses
  • 04:59 – CXL has a minimum engagement of 3 months
    • 05:06 – The size of the client determines their length of stay with CXL
  • 05:17 – CXL agency currently has an average of 15 clients
  • 05:26 – Team size is 10
    • 05:32 – Agency people are mostly based in Estonia
  • 05:38 – Peep is based in Austin and is mostly working on the institute side
  • 05:54 – Peep only steps into the agency, if needed
  • 06:08 – CXL has a blog where most lead generation happens
    • 06:19 – CXL has 2 full-time writers for the blog
  • 06:35 – Average MRR
  • 07:10 – Peep is working on the scaling aspect of the institute
  • 07:32 – “Self-paced is not a good model for learning”
  • 07:40 – Coursera, Udacity and other e-learning platforms struggle with churn
  • 08:16 – CXL Institute added live courses which are happening in real time
    • 08:30 – The participation rate is way higher than the self-pace courses
    • 08:38 – The reasons why the participation rate is higher
  • 09:01 – Self-pace is priced at $99 a month
    • 09:04 – Live courses have a one-time fee per course and there are 2 courses per month which are priced from $299 to $499
  • 10:08 – Average number of students per course
  • 10:41 – CXL Institute has their predominant list
    • 10:47 – CXL Institute also uses retargeting
    • 10:56 – CXL Institute is now starting to explore affiliate marketing
    • 11:09 – List size
  • 11:24 – The blog was launched at the end of 2011
    • 11:43 – The pop-up is the most effective CTA that drives more opt-ins
    • 12:18 – Peep shares how to make a pop-up for a blog
    • 12:33 – CXL Institute is using Bounce Exchange
    • 12:50 – “We try not to annoy the users”
    • 13:04 – Bounce Exchange CEO was in Episode 253 of the Top
  • 13:27 – CXL Institute does a revenue-share model with the instructors
    • 13:34 – The instructors are marketing their classes on their own, as well
  • 14:18 – The live course inclusions
    • 15:02 – It is like a one day workshop
  • 15:30 – The big companies are the ones who buy the self-paced courses
  • 15:52 – CXL Institute currently has 1 certification program
    • 16:04 – CXL Institute is adding 2-3 certifications quarterly
  • 16:30 – Peep initially thought the self-paced would be for small businesses
  • 17:30 – Annual signup is 20-25%
  • 18:10 – CXL Institute is having a conference called CXL Live
    • 18:16 – A whole resort is booked for the conference
    • 18:30 – The conference will be at Hyatt Regency Hill Country ,in San Antonio
    • 18:38 – A ticket includes a 2-night stay and meals
    • 18:50 – The conference will be on April 5-7
    • 18:55 – Visit live.conversionxl.com for more details
  • 21:15 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • As an agency, the amount of time spent working with small and big companies is the same, so it’s better to stick with the big ones.
  • Self-paced learning faces more churn than live courses.
  • Think big and don’t just settle on what you think you can do—aim higher.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • 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
  • Organifi – The juice was Nathan’s life saver during his trip in Southeast Asia
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • 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
  • 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
Apr 4, 2017

Paul Trappitt. He’s currently the CEO and co-founder of Smartbeat. Before Smartbeat, he was the senior business analyst at National Australia Bank and a senior project lead at SignIQ.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Start with Why and The Startup Owner’s Manual
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Favorite online tool? — HubSpot
  • 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 knew smartphones were coming”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:22 – Nathan introduces Paul to the show
  • 01:45 – Smartbeat helps small businesses to navigate the complex omni channel
  • 02:30 – Paul shares how one of their paying customers uses Smartbeat
  • 03:02 – Smartbeat is about the people that are already using your business
    • 03:10 – Smartbeat turns customers into raging fans
  • 03:20 – Smartbeat is currently focusing on brick-and-mortar businesses
  • 03:51 – Paul explains how they can help Jim, the café owner
  • 05:14 – Smartbeat provides Wi-Fi to business owners and other technologies
    • 05:50 – Smartbeat targets your audience in social media
  • 06:32 – Smartbeat is a SaaS business
    • 06:39 – Pricing starts at $250 a month
  • 07:06 – Smartbeat currently has 5 customers
  • 07:12 – Paul had a Wi-Fi company for 3 years
  • 07:38 – Paul’s Wi-Fi business did $20K in 2016
  • 07:44 – Paul pivoted because there was too much competition in the Wi-Fi space
  • 08:23 – Smartbeat raised $150K in Australia
    • 08:39 – It was an equity round
  • 08:55 – Paul shares how he came up with the valuation
  • 10:10 – Smartbeat started in 2015
  • 10:18 – Team size is 6 and they are all based in Australia
  • 10:30 – Paul shares how they find their customers
  • 10:55 – Smartbeat built their list organically through networking
  • 12:35 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Don’t be afraid to pivot—you’ll know when it’s time.
  • One way to build your network is by spreading news about your product in social gatherings.
  • Technology is unpredictable so you have no choice but to adapt.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • 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
  • Organifi – The juice was Nathan’s life saver during his trip in Southeast Asia
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • 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
  • 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
Apr 3, 2017

Ry Walker. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Astronomer.io, a big data infrastructure company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Astronomer is an AngelPad batch #9 company and has raised $2M from the likes of 500 Startups, CincyTech, Router Ventures and SocialStarts. Astronomer measures, connects and centralizes data—making it super simple for anyone from business users to data scientists to quickly create and monitor their data and pipelines.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Dennis Mortensen
  • Favorite online tool? — Fabricator
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – Ry would tell himself to be bold and to be confident

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 02:35 – Nathan introduces Ry to the show
  • 03:17 – Astronomer helps companies figure out how to use their data to benefit their business
    • 03:22 – Astronomer works with early stage startups and big companies
  • 03:41 – Some companies in the web analytics space are Mixpanel, Amplitude, Google Analytics
  • 03:57 – Astronomer helps companies get the right data from their inside companies
  • 04:32 – Astronomer is called data engineering, as a service
    • 04:39 – Astronomer does the work for their customer while building the platform
    • 04:51 – Astronomer has a flat price of 6K and 10K monthly
  • 05:14 – Astronomer has their private cloud edition for their customers
  • 05:33 – Astronomer was launched in May 2015
    • 05:36 – Astronomer was at Collision Conference when they pivoted after the first day
    • 06:13 – They realized that their biggest problem was to get companies to send them the data to run the analysis
  • 06:35 – The number one issue in the space is the onboarding
  • 07:03 – Ry explains the type of company they are
  • 08:02 – The Angelpad is one of the most important pivots Astronomer did
  • 08:13 – Angelpad’s model
  • 08:46 – What Ry was thinking when they got into Angelpad
  • 09:30 – First year revenue
  • 09:38 – 2016 revenue
  • 09:57 – Team size and location
  • 10:08 – Astronomer has raised $2M in 2 years
    • 10:31 – Last round was at $1.1M and a convertible note
  • 10:40 – Average MRR
  • 12:04 – Astronomer currently has 20 customers
  • 12:14 – Customer churn
  • 12:17 – Astronomer currently has a net negative churn of 48%
    • 12:46 – Ry explains the net negative churn of 48%
  • 13:33 – CAC
    • 13:38 – Astronomer just started with paid CAC this year
    • 14:00 – Astronomer started with $600
  • 14:21 – LTV
  • 15:40 – Last round of funding was in August
  • 16:21 – Ry explains the amount they are burning
  • 16:42 – Ry is thinking now of the post-seed round
    • 16:52 – It’s a $3-5 M upround
    • 17:14 – The valuation Ry is aiming for
    • 17:40 – “We don’t really want to bump our valuation too much”
  • 20:30 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • The number one issue in data analytics is the onboarding.
  • Know your valuation and understand the data that had led you to that valuation.
  • Believe in yourself—be bold and confident.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • 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
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • 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.
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
Apr 2, 2017

Monish Anand. He’s a banker, a technologist, and a Fintech evangelist. Above everything else, he’s a father. He spent 20+ plus years in corporate working for large banks and technology companies only to realize that they were not solving big problems and quite frankly, were often part of the problem. His company, Datasigns Technologies, aims to provide underserved and unserved access to optimal credit.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Calvin and Hobbes
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Jeff Bezos
  • Favorite online tool? — Google Calendar and Google Task
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— Yes
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “I wish I knew what Internet was”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:35 – Nathan introduces Monish to the show
  • 02:20 – Datasigns Technologies started last year
  • 02:32 – Datasigns Technologies gives credit ratings
  • 02:38 – 400M people in India apply for loans yearly
  • 02:42 – Less than 107 get loans from banks and other financial institutions
  • 03:00 – Datasigns Technologies tries to bridge the gap between the credit givers and credit takers
  • 03:15 – Datasigns Technologies has grade scoring algorithms
  • 03:35 – Monish believes that the calculus used to determine credit worthiness is not good enough
  • 04:03 – Datasigns Technologies calculates data from sources and turns them into algorithms
  • 04:10 – Monish shares his driver’s experience applying for a loan
  • 05:18 – Datasigns Technologies relies on mobile data
    • 05:48 – Datasigns Technologies has a mobile app
  • 06:06 – Datasigns Technologies’ marketing explained
  • 06:35 – Datasigns Technologies has a tie-up with micro-small to medium enterprises
  • 07:00 – Datasigns Technologies does financial literacy for the enterprises
  • 07:21 – There are 75K people who now understands Datasigns Technologies
  • 07:54 – Datasigns Technologies has around 10K app downloads
  • 08:07 – Datasigns Technologies has closed 600 loans
    • 08:20 – Loan terms
  • 09:24 – Datasigns Technologies was Angel funded, last year
    • 09:31 – They have raised around $400K on an equity round
    • 09:39 Datasigns Technologies is raising another round of $5M
  • 09:50 – Nathan breaks down the math
  • 10:27 – Datasigns Technologies interest rate varies from 22-26%
    • 10:46 – Interest rates, in India, are much higher than in the USA
  • 11:27 – Datasigns Technologies is the only company in India that is mandated by financial institutions to acquire customers
  • 12:00 – Loan sharks charge 3% a month
  • 12:40 – Datasigns Technologies has a processing fee and a basic interest rate
  • 13:03 – How Datasigns Technologies makes money
  • 13:43 – Datasigns Technologies helps banks build their books
  • 14:00 – Why Datasigns Technologies is raising $5M
  • 14:22 – Team size is 17
    • 14:36 – All based in Bangalore, India
  • 14:45 – Monish shares why he started Datasigns Technologies
    • 15:05 – “There are people who deserve loans, but are not getting loans from the banks”
  • 16:30 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Be the solution—not just part of the problem.
  • There are people who deserve a loan, but are not given a chance—Monish wants to change that.
  • The fintech space is one of the hottest spaces, at the moment.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • 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
  • Organifi – The juice was Nathan’s life saver during his trip in Southeast Asia
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • 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.
  • 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
Apr 1, 2017

McCabe Callahan who has been an entrepreneur his entire life. He began with a coffee shop named Mugs Coffee Lounge, which has been operating successfully in Fort Collins, Colorado, since 2002. He began a company called Community Funded, in 2011, out of his passion for providing technology that connects, supports and empowers people.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – E-Myth and Good to Great
  • What CEO do you follow? –  Elon Musk
  • Favorite online tool? — Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— No
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Pay attention to numbers”

 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:32 – Nathan introduces McCabe to the show
  • 02:33 – Mugs Coffee Lounge is McCabe’s first real business
  • 02:43 – McCabe went to Colorado State University
  • 02:50 – McCabe was coming back from Europe when he had the idea of the Mugs Coffee Lounge
    • 02:56 – Mugs Coffee Lounge was the first wireless internet café in Fort Collins
  • 03:11 – Building relationships is the key to a successful coffee lounge
  • 03:36 – First year revenue
  • 04:04 – McCabe is 36; but when he was 24, he was already opening 5 coffee shops
  • 04:22 – Total topline of all the coffee shops and restaurants
  • 04:58 – McCabe didn’t raise any capital
  • 05:31 – McCabe’s credit card debt when he started Mugs Coffee Lounge
  • 05:48 – McCabe also had debt from other sources
  • 06:43 – “Coffee is a good business to be in—there’s no recession”
  • 06:58 – McCabe shares where he sells his business to
  • 07:07 – McCabe’s income is now generating well
  • 07:16 – McCabe did $1.6M in sales in 2016
  • 07:30 – McCabe shares how he started with Community Funded
    • 08:17 – McCabe had to find a way to secure a loan to open up a location
    • 08:31 – The amount McCabe wanted to loan
    • 08:45 – 2009-2010 was the hardest time for McCabe
    • 09:41 – McCabe was about to give up when one of his regulars offered help
    • 10:05 – 5 months after the McCabe’s next shop opened, he heard about NPR’s Kickstarter
    • 10:20 – McCabe thought, “What if he could something like Kickstarter, but for communities?”
  • 10:44 – Community Funded started out bootstrapped and just recently raised a round
  • 11:03 – Community Funded first round raised $40K-75K
    • 11:29 – Total funding was $2.3M
    • 11:38 – Rounds are equity round
  • 11:50 – McCabe shares Community Funded’s valuation
    • 12:18 – People believed in Community Funded’s vision
  • 12:38 – Community Funded’s is a SaaS model
  • 13:46 – Sample of fundraising raised in Community Funded
  • 14:26 – Community Funded’s focus
  • 14:53 – Current Community Funded’s revenue and revenue goal for 2017
  • 15:54 – Total transaction volume in 2016
  • 16:03 – 2016 total revenue
  • 17:21 – The Famous Five

 

3 Key Points:

  • Lack of funds is not a hindrance in building a company.
  • There’s nothing wrong sharing your problems with your regulars – you don’t know who can offer you help.
  • Stick and pay close attention to your numbers.

 

Resources Mentioned:

  • 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
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • 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.
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives
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