Rick Perreault de Unbounce

Café du fondateur épisode 022

Je suis Jeroen de Salesflare et voici Founder Coffee.

Toutes les deux semaines, je prends un caf√© avec un fondateur diff√©rent. Nous discutons de notre vie, de nos passions, de ce que nous avons appris, ... dans le cadre d'un entretien intime, pour apprendre √† conna√ģtre la personne qui se cache derri√®re l'entreprise.

Pour ce vingt-deuxième épisode, je me suis entretenu avec Rick Perreault d'Unbounce, l'un des principaux constructeurs de pages d'atterrissage par glisser-déposer.

Rick used to be a creative director at an agency. He then started off with a vision of a platform to build landing pages that would be as easy to use as, say, PowerPoint. Now he’s leading a company of 175 people that is largely bootstrapped.

We talk about Rick’s childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, where he gets his inspiration for how to run his business, and why building the right company culture is everything.

Bienvenue à Founder Coffee.


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Jeroen : Bonjour Rick, c'est un plaisir de vous recevoir sur Founder Coffee.

Rick : Jeroen, merci de m'avoir invité.

Jeroen : Oui, bienvenue. Vous êtes Rick Perreault. Est-ce que je le dis correctement ?

Rick : Vous avez raison.

Jeroen: Right, the Founder of Unbounce. For those who don’t know Unbounce, what do you guys exactly do?

Rick : Unbounce est une solution de page d'atterrissage pour les marketeurs qui conduisent, vous savez, la croissance de leurs entreprises en ligne. Fondamentalement, il permet aux spécialistes du marketing de créer des pages d'atterrissage, des pop-ups et des barres autocollantes pour leurs campagnes publicitaires. Sans avoir besoin d'un développeur ou quoi que ce soit d'autre.

Jeroen : Le cas d'utilisation le plus courant est donc celui des campagnes publicitaires ?

Rick: That is the most common use case. That’s really the use case why we started it. Now, there’s a lot of other use cases that have kind of grown out of that. Especially around startups and testing ideas, but the predominant use case is actually around online marketing.

Jeroen: That’s basically any case of online marketing where you want to have a landing page up quickly, right?

Rick : Oui.

Jeroen : Chez Salesflare, nous utilisons nous-mêmes Unbounce pour créer certaines pages.

Rick : Ah oui ?

Jeroen: Yeah. I really like the fact that you don’t need to code anything. You can just drag and drop, basically. Like, you designed it in powerpoint and it immediately works or something.

Rick: Yeah. Actually, it’s funny you say that because ten years ago when we started the company I said that it’s going to be easy like powerpoint, you know? There can’t be anything technical. I’m a non-technical founder so I think that really helped us shape a product that was going to be very user-friendly to a non-technical person on a marketing team.

Jeroen : Comment en êtes-vous arrivé à cette idée ? J'imagine que vous avez dit que le cas d'utilisation pour lequel vous avez commencé était une page d'atterrissage pour les publicités. Travailliez-vous dans une entreprise qui diffusait des publicités ?

Rick: Yes. Going all the way back, we actually had a launch campaign. We had all our emails ready to go, we had our google adverts ready, even banner ads – everything ready to go except the landing page. A lot of times we were spending on ads, generating all this traffic, that we would send back to our company home page because it was difficult to get landing pages made.

Lorsque nous avons eu l'occasion de cr√©er de superbes pages d'atterrissage qui faisaient partie int√©grante d'une campagne et qui ressemblaient aux publicit√©s, nos conversions √©taient bien plus √©lev√©es. Mais le probl√®me, c'est que le contr√īle du web, vous savez, la cr√©ation de pages d'atterrissage, c'√©tait comme le domaine du d√©partement informatique ou de l'ing√©nierie. Nous n'arrivions jamais √† les r√©aliser.

So I went looking for a solution. I guess I’d been marketing at a time when I saw a lot of marketers being empowered by solutions like MailChimp. When I actually started my career, if you wanted to send an email to your list or to your customers or to your prospects, you’d type it up, you’d print it off, and you’d bring it to somebody in the IT department and then they’d take care of it. Nowadays, there are just these solutions that marketing uses today – so many tools to get the job done that wasn’t there 15 years ago.

Yeah, it was this last piece where we would want to launch a campaign and everything was ready, but we couldn’t get the landing pages done. There were no trying to work with developers and there was no easy way to get them done. So I went looking for something. I thought there had to have been some sort of content management solution for marketers that was drag and drop, easy to use as the power point. There really wasn’t. There were some enterprise content management solutions that said they had landing page components to it, but way outside of the price range that I was looking for. I was looking for something that was self-service; that I could literally sign up, use my credit card, get access to, and there really wasn’t anything out there.

I went asking other marketers. I said, well, what do you use. They described the same problems that I had. I thought, hey, maybe I’m onto something here. If I can’t find it, maybe we can build it. I think the time was right at that point in my career. So I really needed it, you know? That’s why I went out looking for it. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to build it.

Jeroen : Oui. Et si je comprends bien, c'est votre première entreprise technologique ? Avant cela, vous travailliez dans le monde des agences, n'est-ce pas ?

Rick : Oui. Avant cela, j'étais dans le monde des agences.

Jeroen : Comment s'est déroulé le passage du monde des agences à celui de la création d'entreprise ?

Rick : Oui. En fait, j'ai aussi travaillé avec des équipes de marketing internes. Comment s'est passé le changement ?

Jeroen : Pas d'interrupteur ?

Rick: No, huge switch. I don’t even know where to begin because everything is different. You know, there’s something about working for yourself. Your work ethic, everything. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like if you don’t do it, no one else will. Right?

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick: You just have to do everything. You have to worry about everything. It’s a level of work commitment and work ethic that you don’t get to experience before. You just don’t. No matter how good you think you work in your career, it’s not until you start working for yourself that you realize that you’re really a beginner. You really have to if you want to succeed.

Tout change. Comme tout.

Actually, it’s funny. I joke sometimes. I say, if I had known how hard it would’ve been I probably wouldn’t have done it. But I’m so glad I did because it was hard, it is hard, but it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my career as well.

Jeroen: Yeah. You mentioned that you’re a non-technical founder. So I imagine you must have immediately teamed up with someone technical or did you go learn first?

Rick: Yeah. I teamed up with people I had worked for before. In fact, our CTO and I used to work together at a company where I had to argue with him to get landing pages made. So I pulled together a group of people that I had worked with before. We actually, we’re kind of unique, too. There’s six of us as a team. All but myself or two of us, are non-technical. The four others are technical.

Jeroen: Because I’m on your LinkedIn profile here and it says that you studied things more related to arts. Like multimedia and design.

Rick : Mm-hmm, oui.

Jeroen : Comment cela s'explique-t-il ? Vous avez toujours aimé construire des choses ? Est-ce que c'est là que tout se joue ?

Rick: You know what I’ve come to realize, I really enjoy growing things. I like seeing something evolve and grow. I really enjoy that. I think it came from my background as a designer. I think that really influenced the product. Being a designer, I appreciate the ease of use and really trying to step into the shoes of our customer base, or the people who we were marketing to. Yeah, really trying to make the product as easy as possible.

I think my background helped us do that – especially in the early days. Yeah, designer by trade. Non-technical, well I mean, back in the day I dabbled a little bit in HTML and built some websites, but certainly, don’t have the skills to develop an application like Unbounce. So I had to bring in friends that I had worked with and known for a long time.

Jeroen: So I imagine when you were young, you didn’t imagine yourself having a tech company?

Rick : Non. Quand j'étais très jeune, je voulais devenir astronaute.

Jeroen : Oui ? Et puis vous avez étudié les arts.

Rick : Oui, puis j'ai commencé à m'intéresser aux arts. Ce que j'ai compris, c'est que pour devenir astronaute, il faut être très, très bon en maths.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick: I just didn’t really have that aptitude. When the internet came along, I got really excited about that and really focused on it. So I built design and marketing teams for the last half of my career prior to doing this.

Jeroen : Mm-hmm. En tant qu'entreprise, vous avez mentionné que vous vous êtes inspiré de MailChimp à un moment donné. Est-ce que c'est en quelque sorte sur ce modèle que vous avez conçu Unbounce ?

Rick: Certainly that was one of the companies we looked at. What I like about MailChimp is their focus on ease of use and showing a design first company can be ridiculously successful. So, they’re definitely a company we looked at in the early days. We still do. I have a lot of respect for what that team is doing over there.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick : Moz est une autre entreprise que nous avons examinée. Ce que j'ai vraiment apprécié chez eux, c'est la façon dont ils géraient leur entreprise. Ils étaient vraiment axés sur les personnes, mais ils ont réussi à créer une entreprise de logiciels de référencement très performante sur le marché. Tout en conservant une excellente culture d'entreprise. Oui, j'ai beaucoup emprunté à de nombreuses entreprises qui étaient en plein essor. C'était il y a dix ans, lorsque nous avons commencé.

I think a lot of the SaaS companies that were starting around that time really helped influence each other. I think when I go to see somebody else’s SaaS business, there’s so many similarities now like great culture.

We never saw a lot of that in my work career prior to Unbounce, or SaaS businesses, tech businesses that really boomed over the last ten years – with a big focus on being people first, customer centric next. That was not as popular twelve – fifteen years ago as it is today. Not at all. I think a lot of these SaaS business that have come along over the last ten years have certainly helped influenced me.

I’m forever reading about what something awesome a company is doing. I’ll say hey, we need to be doing that.

Jeroen: Yeah, there’s still a lot of the things when you tell friends about how companies can be people first and make them successful like that. They’re like, yeah, sure. If you focus on your employees, will that really make you successful? I think there’s still a lot of doubt around that kind of culture.

Rick: Yeah. I think so. Less so I think in SaaS and tech. But yeah, you’re right. But I’ll tell you, I forget who said this first, but I remember reading it somewhere – Richard Branson I think. He said, you look after your people, they’ll look after your business.

Actually, I believe that fundamentally. Unbounce is where it’s at today because of our people. Because we look after our people, they look after our customers, and that looks out for our business.

I always say, I’m pretty customer centric. But I’ll tell you, our employees are obsessed with helping our customers. I think that’s in large partly because they’re well looked after.

If they weren’t, we might not be able to attract the kind of people who would go the extra mile for our customers if we weren’t trying to create an environment where you’re coming to work and actually have an opportunity to do your best work, and actually, come to work and be happy. That’s important.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick : Nous nous efforçons de le faire. Le résultat est que nos employés travaillent dur pour s'occuper de nos clients.

Jeroen : Combien êtes-vous en ce moment ?

Rick : Environ 175 employés.

Jeroen : 175 ?

Rick: Yeah, I think within the year. I think we’re going to end the year at about 180. Yeah, 170- 175 employees right now.

Jeroen : Tout le monde est-il basé à Vancouver ou dans d'autres endroits ?

Rick : Nous avons également un bureau à Berlin.

So there’s a dozen employees in Berlin. Most live in Vancouver. We have a handful of remote employees, myself included. I work remote for the most part. Which actually, that’s kind of a new thing.

I moved across the country now that I have children. They want to see their grandparents more than just once a year so I moved to be closer to them. So yeah, we have remote employees. That’s something I think you’re going to see us doing more and more – supporting the remote teams and remote work. We do more of it today, but we’re just not very good at it yet. We haven’t quite figured it out. That’s certainly something we’re going to try to really crack this year. To be an effective organization with employees both in the office and out. It shouldn’t matter where people are working from.

Jeroen : Oui. J'imagine que vous venez de déménager en tant que PDG. Cela a duré environ une semaine ?

Rick: Yeah. Well, I’ve been out here now for the whole of December. But what’s interesting, though, is since I’ve had children, basically, we’ve basically split my role in half. We have a role now called President.

Basically, they’re making sure stuff gets done all day. I focus more on what are we going to do. I do a lot more external focus where the President does a lot more than just internal focus. We created that role about three years ago because I had two children back to back. It’s important to me that I spend time with them and that I’m home with them most nights to put them to bed. And, be there to support my wife.

En fait, je veux parler de ce grand changement, qui est un √©norme changement dans la vie. Je suis pass√© d'une situation o√Ļ je travaillais toutes les heures disponibles √† une situation o√Ļ je partageais mon temps entre Unbounce et ma famille.

But to finish off, to close that, because of that role that we’ve had the last few years, it’s allowed me to take this opportunity to move closer to family.

Jeroen : Oui. C'est bien.

Rick: So I mean, I do a lot of these conversations like you and I are having. I mean, I can do this from my home office or from my office in Vancouver. It doesn’t really matter where I am.

Jeroen: Mm-hmm. Cool. I also saw online that you’re bootstrapped. You just raised 800K or something?

Rick: 815 in total. That was back in, all the way back to 2012. We haven’t raised any money since. So yeah, at most we are bootstrapped.

Jeroen : Oui. Pourquoi cela ? Parce que j'imagine que vous pouvez collecter de l'argent pour Unbounce.

Rick: Why is that? You know, at the time, it wasn’t necessarily. We didn’t have strong opinions – pro or against raising money. We never really could find terms. I guess we were very protective of our equity.

Actually, very protective of the way we wanted to grow our business and the kind of culture that we have. I think I went out to look at them. I started taking calls. Actually, I looked at potentially raising money all year after we did our seed round and we just didn’t like what we were hearing, to be honest with you. It just didn’t really feel we had a fit.

A lot of ventures looked at us and our turn is high. We’re in this SMB space. I think a lot of people don’t understand that space as much, so they look at our metrics. They wouldn’t give us the evaluation that we thought we earned.

We just never felt we necessarily needed it. We didn’t have a big burn rate or anything. We were building, growing the business on revenue that we were generating. We didn’t have any pressure there. We liked the pace at which we were growing. So it wasn’t for a lack of trying at times, but it was also, we didn’t feel the need.

Actually, looking back now, we’re ten years in. The company is still founder led and founder controlled. We’re one of the anchor tech companies in Vancouver. It’s certainly one of the places where people want to work. We’re pretty proud of that. That might have been harder, a growth without cost approach that is championed by a lot of people who are giving you money. They want you to turn that into multiples that get their investors excited.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick: The way we have gone about growing Unbounce doesn’t align so much with a lot of traditional venture capitals. Lots of little reasons, I guess, why we didn’t take on any more.

Jeroen: Yeah, but despite that, you said high turn. You must have had some pretty good in-floor if you’re able to grow to 175 employees in ten years.

Rick: Mm-hmm. Yeah well today we’re at 15 thousand customers. We’ll do what we did last month, but 1.6 million in MRR last month.

Jeroen : Mm-hmm. C'est très bien.

Rick: Yeah. And we’re still growing. Our customers are happy. I think we’re definitely one of the tech companies people want to work for in the city, something we’re pretty proud of. I think we hear from our customers, from the market, is that people look to us as one of the market leaders. That’s something we’re pretty proud of. We hope to continue to grow those areas, strengthen those areas, and continue to grow the business.

Jeroen: Yeah. How is it mostly that you guys grow? Because I actually never see advertisements for you. I think the moment I chose to use Unbounce is I when I was searching for something. I looked at you and a few competitors and I had used Unbounce once before. I liked it. The features seemed the best, but I don’t remember how I chose you.

Rick : Eh bien oui, traditionnellement ou historiquement, nous avons d√©velopp√© l'entreprise gr√Ęce au marketing de contenu pour la plupart. Nous √©crivions des blogs, nous cr√©ions des livres √©lectroniques et nous nous associions √† d'autres pour les distribuer par le biais des canaux sociaux et de l'e-mail, ce qui g√©n√©rait beaucoup de prospects.

We do our best to really put emphasis on an effort in creating really good, quality content that people will actually share and talk about. So we don’t necessarily produce tons and tons of content. But the stuff that we do we’re really focused on trying to create quality. That stuff gets shared and talked about.

We do sponsor a lot of start ups, too. So there’s a lot of word of mouth there. We sponsor, especially in the early days, sponsored a lot of startup weekends and stuff like that. So, people would go back to their marketing team on Monday and say, hey, I used this tool on the weekend to build this. We tested our start up idea on our startup weekend. The biggest segment for us is still word of mouth in terms of customer acquisition.

And then we’re spending a hundred thousand dollars a month on paid advertisement right now.

Jeroen : Oui. Vous avez donc 1,6 million d'ARR et vous en réinvestissez 1/16e dans la publicité ?

Rick : Oui.

Jeroen : Cool.

Rick: I don’t even think it’s that high actually. It may even be a little less than that, actually. I think 75 right now?

I’m rambling now. Yeah, it’s in that range. We’re not spending more than that.

Jeroen: Right. So What’s the part of the business that you actually focus on mostly?

Rick: Actually I’ve been helping with the marketers conference and again, focusing on high quality. The people who attend the conference, the majority are not customers, but a lot of them become customers or, well, talk about Unbounce out in the market. Partnerships and integrations have also been another way that we’ve been able to grow the business. Especially partnering marketing with complimentary tools that might work with Unbounce.

Like, an email marketing solution. For example, if you’re an ad platform, or HotJar or HubSpot; actually we do a lot of co-marketing with HubSpot. The ultimate guide to AB testing, for example, brought to you by Unbounce and HubSpot. We’ll share that to our list and that drives business for us and for them as well.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick: Predominently around content. It has been how we’ve grown the business till today.

Jeroen : Oui. Quelle est la partie de l'entreprise à laquelle vous consacrez le plus de temps en ce moment ?

Rick: That changes a lot. Right now, we’ve gone through a lot of restructuring over the last year. I’ve been focusing a lot on that and making sure that’s successful. We have 3 executives and we have just brought on a CFO. We structure the way the organization is actually. We did a lot of hiring in the early part of the year, a new executive team, and team of leadership. We’re just at the tail end of that. Where I see more of what I want to focus on is really supporting revenue teams with partnerships and being able to look out to the market, and look for new opportunities. We’ve got somebody now focused on that full time. So, how can I best support them.

Actually, I think in 2019, I’m going to look back at the market and see where there is opportunity, start doing a little bit more corporate development. It depends; my role changes all the time depending on what we need as our organization.

But yeah. I spent the first half of 2018 doing a lot of looking inwards. I think that 2019, I’m going to spend a lot of time looking outward.

Jeroen : Oui. Comment dois-je imaginer votre journée type ces derniers temps ?

Rick : Beaucoup de courriels, beaucoup d'entretiens individuels. Je fais des entretiens individuels avec mon équipe. Je reçois beaucoup de demandes de mon temps. Je fais un peu de prospection auprès des gens à qui je veux parler, puis j'essaie de trouver du temps pour cela, en fait. Vous savez, être capable de raconter notre histoire.

I’ve got two scheduled, yourself and someone else later today. I try to spend some time taking these opportunities to tell our story, which I love to do. Hopefully my story can help influence or give your audience something to learn from. I like to make some time for that.

Then, actually locally, too. I try to get out in the community. One of the things that we’ve really focused on the last few years is making sure that we have a work environment that is diverse and inclusive. I’ve been spending time on that and talking about the things that we are doing in the community. Right now, Unbounce, it’s like 42% of our employees are women. 33% of all our people leaders at Unbounce are women. That’s pretty impressive in tech. So that’s what I’m spending time on.

So yeah, my day to day, a lot of it is on Zoom, actually. I spend a lot of time on Zoom or on email. Or, I’m on a call or a one on one. A walk around Vancouver. Or now with my new place it’ll be a Zoom conversation mostly. Yeah, then I’m also chairman of our board. So we do quarterly board meetings, especially prep work for that.

The role changes. It changes where you’re at. In the early days I was driving revenue. I was head of product. I was wearing a lot of hats, but as you grow in scale you hire people who take hats away from you. You’re forever looking for areas that are not being given attention. You might take them on. I might take them on personally or find somebody to fill that role. But yeah, the role changes as the business scales.

The fact that you can never get the inbox zero, that’s been a constant for ten years.

Jeroen: How do you actually learn with the new sort of remote setting where you’re spending your time behind your computer – mailing or on Zoom? There’s also a slight difference in the time zone, I imagine. How do you put the limits between work and life well? You mentioned you want to be able to spend time with your kids. But how do you draw the line there?

Rick: Well this morning I was up with them. We had breakfast and I got to spend time with them before. Actually, you and I was my first appointment of the day. Then, the afternoon, they’ll nap for a couple of hours. I’ll get a lot of work done then. It’s not so much about work life balance; it is also like work life integration, where I’ll work for a couple of hours, I’ll spend time with the kids, I’ll work for a couple of hours, spend time with kids.

So this morning, I was up, I spent some time with them and then I’ll have the afternoon to myself. Half of that they’ll be napping anyway. The kids will be napping, I’ll be working. Then in the evening, once they go to bed I’ll take a break our time here. 5:00 PM I’ll make dinner and I’ll spend 90 minutes with them and then my wife will get them ready for bed. They’ll be off to bed at about 7:00 PM. I’ll spend another one or two hours on work, depending on how my day went.

I’m still trying to figure it out to be honest with you. This is new. But I will say this, actually. One of the things I’m feeling already, are the benefits. I used to commute to work an hour each way. That’s two hours every day that I’m either in the car or on the train on transit.

Not having to do that right now, I’m feeling the extra time that I now have. It’s a working program, but it is important to me when they get up and I’m here when they go to bed.

Je peux passer un peu de temps avec eux.

Jeroen: Are there any other things you do when you’re not working apart from spending time with the kids and your wife, that keeps you mentally and physically fit?

Rick: Mentally it’s the family; being able to spend time with family. Well actually I do a lot of gardening in the summer. I don’t do yoga, but I think the benefits of gardening are probably the same. Good mental health. And physically, too. I like to go out in the garden, usually about an hour a day in the morning before work. I plant, I grow some vegetables. I do a lot of walking. I try to do at least one hour long walking meeting a day. I do a lot of walking.

It’s really work and family. That’s really my focus. Like I say, in the summers, I do gardening. Both my kids are really young. My oldest is three and my youngest is about an year and a half. Once they’re a little older, I’m starting to see, we can do stuff together. Actually, I will take them with me. Like if I have to go run an errand, I’ll take them with me. My youngest is not quite there yet for everything, but once they get a bit more independent, it’ll allow us to do more things.

Le camping est aussi très amusant. Certains des fondateurs et moi-même aimons aller camper assez souvent. En hiver, en été ou à n'importe quel moment. Pour être honnête, le camping d'hiver est en fait plus amusant. Nous nous réjouissons de pouvoir le faire quelques fois par an.

Jeroen : Vous faites du camping uniquement avec l'équipe fondatrice ?

Rick : Oui.

Jeroen : Cool. O√Ļ avez-vous d√©m√©nag√© ? Parce que tu as d√©m√©nag√© de Vancouver √† l'autre bout de la c√īte ?

Rick: I’m on the East Coast now, yeah.

Jeroen : Quel est l'endroit o√Ļ l'on se trouve actuellement ?

Rick: I’m in New Brunswick.

Jeroen : Pour quoi l'endroit est-il connu ?

Rick: I’m not quite sure. Actually, a lot of seafood.

Jeroen : Beaucoup de fruits de mer ?

Rick : Oui, le homard. Du homard bon marché et de bonnes personnes.

Jeroen : Y a-t-il des entreprises technologiques basées dans la région ou n'y a-t-il que vous ?

Rick: I’m in Moncton, that’s the largest city in New Brunswick. I think the greater Moncton area has about 150 thousand people. There is some tech here. There’s definitely in the Provence, for sure. And in Moncton as well. I got to spend some time on that. There’s some entrepreneurs here that I’m acquainted with that once I get settled in here, I’ll look at, from a more of the local tech scene. For the most part, to be honest with you, when I did travel here previously, it was mostly to be with family.

Jeroen : Il reste encore beaucoup de choses à découvrir ?

Rick : Il y a beaucoup de choses à explorer.

Jeroen: Yeah. Slowly wrapping up and sharing some learnings. What’s the latest good book you’ve read and why did you choose to read it?

Rick : J'ai lu Lost and Founder.

Jeroen : Perdu et fondateur ?

Rick: Yeah, Rand Fishkin. He was the founder and CEO of Moz. He’s gone off to do a new start up. I chose to read that and in parts, I got to know Rand over the years. Actually, they’re based in Seattle. They’re pretty close. I’ve always been a fan of what their tech is doing and their core values.

Yeah, just everything I’ve ever heard Rand talk about in the early days, I really respected that. I got a chance to get to know him. Kind of learned a little bit and was always fascinated of his views of growing a business. I think yeah, when he decided to write a book, I think I pre-ordered it. I see a lot of similarities in the two businesses culturally so it was great to actually sit down and read his journey from the beginning to where he’s at now. It’s funny because Rand and I have dinner once a year. Yet, there were still so many little nuggets of valuable learnings that I took away from the book.

Jeroen : En avez-vous un à partager avec nous, par exemple ?

Rick: Yeah, you know, just one of the things that you’ve been talking about around calling your customer base and the impact that had on lifetime value and adoption. We always put it off because we always thought it would be so expensive, but he shares the stats on the impact that calling has – including everybody that started a trial, which we hadn’t done. We’re doing that now. I shared Rand’s book with a lot of people in the company. A lot of us talked about that particular piece. We’re implementing that right now. We’ve been doing that now for over a month.

Jeroen : Vous avez donc engagé une équipe pour appeler les gens ?

Rick: Well we had a team, our sales team. We just started adding that requirement to the team. So they’re doing that. Yeah, we have a small inbound sales team.

That was actually a great. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing results. But I have a feeling it’s going be one of those things that we’re going to look at and go oh, we should’ve done that five years ago. We should’ve made this a priority, but we didn’t.

Jeroen : Oui. Y a-t-il d'autres choses que vous auriez aimé savoir lorsque vous avez commencé ?

Rick: Boy, we’re going to need another hour now. Wish I would’ve known about communication when I started out. How hard it actually is and how you have to plan it out. You have to be really proactive at communicating because no matter how hard you try, you’ll think everybody knows where we’re going. No matter how many times you say it, you’ll always have a group that feels lost. That causes challenges within the organization. Or, people misunderstand where you’re going. It’s really hard to keep 100-200 people all going in the exact same direction at the exact pace, the same timing, with clear understanding. That’s tough and it’s still a challenge.

There’s a number. A couple years ago, I was in Boston for an event. Some of the marketing team and myself had dinner with Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot. He was very generous to spend a couple hours with us over dinner and share these stories about the challenges they had gone through. I’m thinking to myself, we’re not going through any of that stuff yet. Maybe we won’t.

It literally was like, a couple of days later, I’m at the airport leaving Boston. I get a text. Rick, you need to check your email. You need to respond. Crack, it was at that moment that these cracks started happening in our culture. They were probably there all along, but we didn’t realize it. That had to do over somebody moving a desk. At another tech company it was a bit of a ritual that if you moved your desk you had to down a Smirnoff ice or something, an alcoholic beverage. Somebody got really offended that it was suggested that they do that. We had to put an end to that really quick. Cultural things that happen at scale. We were trying to be an inclusive kind of place where really it wasn’t. So we had to change that.

Jeroen : Oui.

Rick: And those things are really hard. Sometimes even as founders, we think everything is working perfectly, but under the hood there can be a lot of problems there. It’s something I would advise people to be super aware of.

Don’t just have one on ones with your direct reports. Have one on ones with their direct reports and really build some trust. Build a rapport with as many employees as you can so that they feel they can come talk to you about anything. Because if they don’t sometimes you’ll never hear about some of the challenges.

I guarantee everybody’s having these, it’s just how visible they are within an organization. The level of visibility is probably the one thing that differs between organizations, but the fact that we all have those problems in our culture and communication, they all exist.

Jeroen: Yep. Cool. Final question. What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?

Rick: Be prudent with the company money. Just really make sure that whatever you spend on you’re getting tons of value and return. Treat company money like it’s coming out of your pocket.

It’s funny because you don’t learn that when you’re out there working, for the most part. That’s actually one of the things you learn, or hopefully you learn, as an entrepreneur, as you’re working for yourself. That was what somebody told me he really focused on. That just changes the way you think.

It sounds obvious, but really a lot of people don’t have that. Prudent isn’t actually something you might not learn when you’re working, but I think it has helped us as an organization to bootstrap and be really good with the money we’re making and spending. I think that was good advice.

Jeroen: That’s certainly some very good advice. Thank you again for being on Founder Coffee. I’ll also send you a little package of Founder Coffee in the next few weeks.

Rick : Génial.

Jeroen : Oui. C'était un plaisir de vous recevoir !

Rick : Oui, de même. J'ai été ravi de passer une heure avec vous.


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Jeroen Corthout