Alex Theuma of SaaStock

Founder Coffee episode 038

I’m Jeroen from Salesflare and this is Founder Coffee.

Every few weeks I have coffee with a different founder. We discuss life, passions, learnings, … in an intimate talk, getting to know the person behind the company.

For this thirty-eighth episode, I talked to Alex Theuma, co-founder of SaaStock, the first and leading conference dedicated to SaaS companies in Europe.

After a sales career of about 11 years, mostly selling software, Alex got an itch to start his own business. He started a blog about SaaS companies and invited experts to contribute. Very quickly a podcast followed, he started organizing meetups, and a community was formed.

After this community expressed the need for a SaaS conference in Europe and the first sponsor signed up, Alex made the jump and founded SaaStock.

We talk about how SaaStock is now going online during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, how to start a business starting with the audience, and why you should never forget that cash is king.

Welcome to Founder Coffee.

get Salesflare

Prefer listening? You can find this episode on:


Jeroen:

Hi Alex, it’s great to have you on Founder Coffee.

Alex:

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jeroen:

You’re the co-founder of SaaStock. For those who don’t know yet, what do you guys do at SaaStock?

Alex:

Yeah, so SaaStock. For five years now, we’ve been putting on conferences around the world and local events, and sort of like meetups for the B2B SaaS community. For founders, execs and investors to come together, rub shoulders, learn from one another, learn from some of the best in the business through the content and do a lot of networking and exhibitions at our events. So it’s basically like B2B SaaS shows or trade shows. We’ve been doing that for five years now.

Alex:

The first conference started in Dublin 2016, and we had 700 attendees from 34 different countries, who came together for one day really, to learn how to build and grow a SaaS business. And yeah, it’s kind of taken it from there. So this year, we’re expecting for our Dublin event to hit about 4000 attendees from around the world, and again, it’s kind of morphed into a three/four day conference now. Yeah, so effectively we’re doing that now.

Alex:

Given the kind of global situation at the moment and the challenges around the event industry, we are looking to do more of it online, and so working on stuff around that as of now. But we can kind of get into that later, if we want.

Jeroen:

This online part, is that for the main conference, or is that for the other ones as well? Or both?

Alex:

No, well actually, what it is, is that in our business, we’ve got five conferences, or had five conferences scheduled for this year. We also had plans for probably around 60 SaaStock local cities to be launched, or active, and we’ve got about 30 SaaStock locals. So these are our local events. The best way to kind of describe it, it’s like a SaaStock powered meet up, bringing the local communities together.

Alex:

But given that currently we’re going through this global health crisis with Coronavirus that we, like all businesses are suffering and feeling the impact. Our business, being in the events’ industry, is suffering and feeling the impact and we’ve had to postpone our SaaStock LatAm conference, which was scheduled for May in Sao Paolo. That’s moved to September now, and we had to postpone our SaaStock North America conference which was end of June, which was going to take place in San Francisco, and we pushed that to 2021. So that’s not happening this year, which then leaves our business with a bit of a void, both in terms of events and things to do for the first half of the year.

Alex:

But also, revenue gaps and we have to kind of fill these. Our teams have to kind of work on something. It’s not the time to be selling and marketing conferences which are happening in the second half of the year. I think partly it’s a bit of a sensitive period, so to try and sell tickets and sponsorship for an event that’s taking place in a period where we think we will have beaten Corona virus and sent it packing, would not work. There’s so much uncertainty that we can’t really do much with those products.

Alex:

So what that means is that all of our revenue, which is tied to our physical events is now on hold. We saw this, we saw like a graph, a revenue graph from the first week of March. It just jumped off a cliff and we went to zero. Now, as a business, given that we’re not very diversified, everything kind of just focused on the physical events, we have to act and therefore, creating new revenue streams is something we’ve been working on, and a lot of ideas have been accelerated.

Alex:

The first thing is that we’re going to launch a virtual conference. That’ll take place in June and right now that has the whole company’s attention, and we have pretty much 90 days to pull together an online conference. We’ve got to start from scratch, recruit all the speakers. We’re working on the right technology for the platform, which we’re pretty sure that we’ve found. But you know, starting from the beginning, and really working on something that really should take more than six months, but we’re going to do it in 90 days. So that’s what we’re focused on right now.

Alex:

Other things that we’ll look at will be things like online workshops, maybe some form of membership, and we’re even looking at other ways that we can facilitate startup and investor deal making online, and not just in the physical events. So trying to bring a lot of the value that we’ve been doing at the actual SaaStock conference online. Bringing that online and finding out what are the ways to do that.

Jeroen:

Yeah, that sounds like a whole list of good ideas. So you’re basically trying to recreate what you had, but then online for as long as it takes, and then do you plan on also taking that forward afterwards?

Alex:

Yeah, yeah absolutely. You know once we launch these products, they will remain, assuming that they’re successful, right? But we see a need. We’ve seen a need for these before Coronavirus. And again, if you look at the traditional partnership model. Like we’re talking to a customer who wants to exhibit at our conference, and they want brand awareness, they want lead generation, and they get that. They pay not an insignificant amount of money and they get that at two days of the conference. So two days of the year they pay their money and they get their return of investment from that agreement, right?

Alex:

But actually, how can we help them be successful all year round? How can we introduce, give them leads all year round? This sort of thing. So we’ve been thinking about these sorts of things and again, like with the startups, they come to SaaStock and they want to meet investors. Many of them do. But then they have two days to book a load of meetings and really kind of do well at the conference by navigating which VCs that they can connect with.

Alex:

And the same with the VCs. They’re looking like, “How do we meet these startups? Who are the ones to meet? Who are the hot startups?”, and try and find out of the 3000 startups, which are the ones to connect with, and they have two days to figure that out. Now we know there are other conferences where they go and they connect with startups all year round, but for us, how do we provide that value, not just on those two or three days at SaaStock in Dublin?

Alex:

So we’re figuring that stuff out. The virtual conference will be the first thing. And again, assuming that the virtual conference is a success, I think this is something that we’ll certainly look at to kind of keep and maybe expand as well. Maybe do more than one virtual conference per year. I think one of the limitations before has really been, I think, maybe it’s two things, but mainly the technology.

Alex:

So what I’ve seen on virtual conferences previously has been almost like Zoom-like technology, right? We’re doing this on Zoom right now, having this chat. It’s great for that kind of one-to one conversation. What I’ve seen on virtual conferences is that you have two people speaking and then you have a chat stream on the right hand side, or the left hand side of people asking questions.

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

And it’s not the best experience. It’s not very interactive. But actually now, there’s technology out there that really is replicating almost everything that you can do at SaaStock in Dublin. You can now do it online, right? So we can have multiple stages of content, we can have break-out sessions, we can have workshops, we can run round tables, we can run private tables and discussion forums. We can have segmented networking. We can have a virtual exhibition, so it’s pretty cool in terms of what the technology is there, and I guess these are some of the positives, I believe.

Alex:

I love meeting people in person. I don’t think there’s anything better than meeting people in person. But if you think about some of the other positives in terms of sustainability, this is also better for the environment. People don’t need to get on a plane. Less time out of the office. Less cost. More accessible – perhaps for conferences, maybe they’re not always accessible for everybody, and so by bringing this online, and bringing the SaaStock value online in a virtual conference, we’re making it more accessible for everyone. So a broader audience around the world, more affordable, it’s better for the environment, better for people’s time, and yet we will deliver the same high quality content and networking. So, pretty excited about it to be honest.

Jeroen:

You mentioned there were two big issues. One was technology. What was the other one?

Alex:

Yeah, good memory. The other one is related to the technology, I think, and that’s the mindset. I think there’ll have to be a mindset shift that we hope to be a big part of, because people haven’t had great experiences with virtual conferences before, I don’t think, and also how you participate in virtual conferences.

Alex:

Again, partly I think, because of the technology not quite being there until now. But when you’re at home, or when you’re in the office and you’ve signed up to a virtual conference and there’s eight hours of content, right? You’re going to be distracted by, you know you’re on your laptop, you’ve got emails coming in, you’ve got your colleagues slacking you, you’re not 100% there. I don’t think, right? Whereas obviously, if you’ve flown to Dublin and you’ve committed whatever, you’ve come with your team and you’ve spent three grand on tickets, and you’ve bought your flights and your hotel, you come with your game plan. Like I saw that you had your game plan for coming to Dublin and all the meetings that you’re booking in advance, right? You’re there. You’re fully there and you know that’s where you’re focused on in getting your ROI from those two days.

Alex:

So I think people will come into the virtual conferences, sort of this year, and come into SaaStock Remote, which is what we’ll call, or what we are calling the virtual event, and they may have a bit of negativity related to previous experiences around that. And what we hope to kind of educate them is actually to kind of see that you need to come into this with almost that same sort of mindset as you do when you’re coming into a physical conference.

Alex:

Now it’s not going to be quite the same. We understand that there are going to be some differences to that, and that people are not going to be stuck to their screen for eight hours without breaks and so on. But we hope that we can be a pioneer here and really kind of help change that mindset, and then people, when they come out after the two days of SaaStock Remote, they say, “Wow, this has really changed my perception of the value of virtual conferences and virtual events.”

Alex:

And we may even, but I hope we don’t, but we may even lose some people that wanted to go to the physical conferences, but actually realized maybe they can get as much value online, and that they don’t need to fly to Dublin, or wherever.

Jeroen:

I’m currently doing quite some webinars with other companies and there’s a lot of these out there, and nobody ever has to pay for any of those.

Jeroen:

So I’m wondering what you think the willingness to pay will be for a virtual conference like this. I understand that the cost structure will probably be completely different for you as well.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

There’s decent stuff that you can do, but do you think that people will fully adapt in their mindset also to, not only to having to commit their time in a certain way, but also to paying? It’s a big shift I think.

Alex:

Yeah, it is a big shift. I mean there are already, and have been, virtual conferences where you pay for tickets, right? I think it’s just around the value and I think articulating the value. And again, I mean we will of course, pull together a very kind of strong product, from speakers through to the content that we’ll be delivering, right? But again, thinking about, certainly in this moment, whereby it is quite uncertain right now in terms of what is happening. Everybody is at home and people will likely be at home, or perhaps in the office, but not really kind of traveling by the time of June 10th and 11th, when SaaStock Remote is taking place.

Alex:

And people still have that need, desire to learn, to connect with each other. It’s to raise capital and all of that value that we provide in our physical events, we will provide this and perhaps more within the virtual conference.

Alex:

And people you know, they don’t have an option to go to a physical event, so when, I think, this is put to them and they see that, “Well, okay, I can go here. I’ve got the time, because I’m not doing anything. I’m at home. I can learn from some great new content. I can meet people. I can perhaps raise capital. I can do business, lead generation, business development for my business”. Right?

Alex:

I think when you articulate that value, again, like let’s say, you’re on a webinar which is typically just kind of learning, right? You know there’s many more layers here, and I think people can kind of see the value in that. But still, some people will be used to not paying and may find it challenging, but I think the timing is very good, because there is a need for people to come together at this moment.

Jeroen:

No, for sure. For sure. The reason why we go to events like SaaStock, if you go with Salesflare, it’s mostly to meet up. That could be with investors. That could be for partnerships. I’m wondering whether this is something you can recreate in a similar way? I mean, we’re meeting people online already on things like Facebook groups. I was talking to a conference organizer yesterday, and they were considering making virtual booths, but they didn’t know yet how that would look.

Jeroen:

Is that something you’ve been thinking about?

Alex:

Yeah, there’ll be a virtual exhibition. Again, so it’s almost like if you took the template of SaaStock Dublin and put it online, this will be the experience that you’ll have at SaaStock Remote, with a few nuances, and a few new things and exciting things. So again, for instance, for networking functions, there’ll be like a chat roulette style sort of networking. So you go and meet with random people at the event, which is pretty cool.

Alex:

But around the exhibition, yes, we will be having partners exhibit. So you’ll see when you go into SaaStock Remote that there will be an Expo floor. You’ll see the partners who will be exhibiting. You can click into a partner and perhaps if they’re like a bronze type level, there might just, if you got into that booth, there might just be a video of what is that product, what are they selling and then you can request more info and leave your information so they can generate some opportunities there.

Alex:

But then if you’re maybe a gold level partner or something like that, you actually have like sales reps at the booth. So you go into the partner, click on, let’s say, Salesflare, click on Salesflare’s branding and their booth. You go in and there’s Jeroen there manning the booth, and you say, “Hey, how can I help you?”, have a conversation about the product, you can run some content there, and again, have a few more sort of like customized features and similar advertising. Stuff like that.

Alex:

So there will be these kinds of, these virtual booths and it’s pretty cool. And again, like right now, all of these, like our customers, who typically exhibit at hundreds of trade shows and conferences throughout the year, they’re unable to do that right now, right? But they as a business still have a need to grow, to sell, to generate revenue. And I think a lot of them are, they’ve pivoted their sort of budget towards digital marketing, because they can’t do any field marketing right now. And this is a way, I think, we solve that kind of problem for them.

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

So it’s pretty exciting and it’s been very well-received. I did a video on Linkedin On Monday where we announced the postponement of the conferences, and I only mentioned like, “We’re going to do a virtual conference.” I said it once and there was no other information, and then we just had a lot of inbound interest, and people saying, “Hey, let us know when you’re doing that. We’re really interested.”

Alex:

So again, I just think for the moment, a solution like this is great and it seems to be what people need. And so timing, whilst we’re in an unfortunate moment in the world, and 2020 sucks largely for a lot of people, seems just about right. If you look at the success of SaaStock initially, timing had a big factor in it, because we were first to market in Europe with the SaaS conference, and that’s one thing, being first to market. But also riding the wave of SaaS. So SaaS was kind of at that point where you’re seeing it kind of like a hockey stick up, and then the success of SaaS had an effect on the success of SaaStock, right?

Alex:

So as SaaS continues to grow, so does SaaStock. And I think now, again, and hopefully it doesn’t sound too crass, but given I guess, the changes in the world and the issues with Corona virus and what not, perhaps now the timing and launching these kind of virtual conferences and online propositions, again, will be good for SaaStock. If we get it right, it will be good for our customers, and good for our community.

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm. Have you been thinking about also rethinking the conference concept? Like right now, it seems like you’re recreating the SaaStock experience online, but maybe you could do a workshop every few weeks and have specific people come, instead of having it all on one day?

Alex:

Yeah, yeah for sure. Certainly online workshops are again, one of the ideas that we are, not only exploring, but that we’re pursuing. I do think your question is about sort of rethinking the conference proposition and experience, and I think certainly this and what’s happening, is a wake up call. Maybe for everybody in the conference world and the trade show world to actually say, “Well look, our proposition, our product is”, I don’t know about dated, because certainly we try and innovate as SaaStock, and we try and keep it fresh, and there are some great events out there, right? So again, like Slush being one of them. We had some fun at Slush, right?

Alex:

But I think there is a point where you sort of realize the conferences can be quite similar. Maybe some of them haven’t really kind of changed in terms of format for years. But they certainly work and they generate many of the successful conferences, they’re multi-million dollar events. Yet I think now is really the time to think about innovation and that’s what we’re doing, and we have that time. We can’t run a physical conference at the moment, so I think it is time to rethink stuff and come up with some ideas.

Alex:

And when I say that you can take the template of Dublin, the Dublin event, and put it online, we can do that but also we don’t want it to be the same. The SaaStock Remote will not be the same as SaaStock in Dublin, and we want to have new experiences in a different way in SaaStock Remote, and I’m pretty sure we’ll do that.

Jeroen:

Cool. Well, good luck. Maybe a bit more into the usual Founder Coffee interview.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

It would be interesting to know why you actually started SaaStock.

Jeroen:

Like what was the moment you thought you would need something like this?

Alex:

Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean it was never a grand design, right? I had an 11 year sales career and then towards the end of that career I was getting a little bit sort of itchy entrepreneurial feet, and was thinking, “Well, I’ve entered into my 30s. I don’t think I want to be selling other people’s software for the rest of my life. I’ve had a good time doing it for 11 years and had some varying degrees of success, yet I really have that urge to be an entrepreneur and to build something.”

Alex:

But I didn’t know what that would be, right? I didn’t have a great idea at the time. So what I did, I just kind of started pushing myself a little bit more to do some extra-curricular stuff, pushing myself outside my comfort zone and effectively what that was, or how that looked, I started a blog called SaaScribe back in February 2015.

Jeroen:

How was it called?

Alex:

SaaScribe. S-A-A-S-C-R-I-B-E.

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

And started that, and I thought, I tell you what the world, I thought what the world needed, was a blog for the SaaS community that was non-vendor, unbiased. So it was, and what I mean, it was like, a VC’s not writing the blog and they’re not writing the blog to promote their portfolio or get deal flow. The vendors like Salesflare have a blog, or Box has a blog, but what they’re looking to do is educate their customers and attract new customers. So here, I wasn’t a vendor. I wasn’t a VC. I thought I’d write a blog about SaaS anyway, and how do you build and grow a SaaS business.

Alex:

Now I thought the idea was good. The challenge there was actually, “What the fuck did I know about building and growing a SaaS business?” I’d never done it and also I wasn’t a great writer. So kind of almost set myself up to fail from a blog perspective, but actually, I quickly realized that, “I think still, that the idea is good, yet my limitations are, I’m not an expert in building a SaaS company, and I’m not a great writer, so why don’t I get some experts and great writers to create the content?”

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

And surprisingly, I think this is one of the great things in SaaS was that I reached out to people, like Lincoln Murphy, Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, and some others at the time. And I said, “Look, here’s my idea. I’m running this SaaS blog. It’s a community driven SaaS blog. We’ll publish content to kind of help others that are growing SaaS businesses. Would you like to create some original content for the blog? I’m not going to pay you anything, but you would just do this out of the kindness of your heart, and for the love of community, and for the love of SaaS.”

Alex:

And do you know what? I was sort of surprised by how many people were just like, “Yeah. Sure. We’ll spend some, a few hours creating some content around customer success and give it to you, and put it on your blog”, and that’s kind of how that started. And so actually that did work, and that took off. And so after a few months, we were having like, from like a standstill, from zero to 30000 online visitors a month, right?

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

So again, like timing. Timing was quite good. The idea was quite good, but it was still like, very rough around the edges. And a couple of months sort of into it, I was like, “Why don’t I do a podcast as well?” This was when Serial had started trending and making podcasts cool again, and I was like, “I’ll do a podcast to supplement the blog.” Again I was getting on podcast calls with Mark Roberge, who’s the former CEO of HubSpot, Eoghan McCabe, CEO of Intercom, Byron Deeter from Bessemer Venture Partners, and the like.

Alex:

And really, I felt like, “Oh my God, I’m not going to be able to speak to these guys because I really don’t know enough about SaaS and growing a business”, but I just kind of persisted anyway. And I think again, the timing was good, because this was five years’ ago, so I’m pretty confident that the SaaS Revolution Show, which is still going today, five years’ later, is the first podcast in the B2B SaaS space, around, and again focusing on how do you build and grow a SaaS business.

Alex:

So I kind of got through the first year of doing that podcast, being an imposter really, but then learning from everybody I was speaking to. But once we had the blog and the podcast, I started doing some local meet setups, and then all of a sudden, you’ve got a community there. You’ve got a blog. You’ve got a podcast. You’ve got some local meet ups and people that meet in person. You’ve got an email list, right? And at the meet ups, people were saying, “Look, hey, you need a SaaS conference, and Alex, we think you’re the guy to do it.”

Alex:

And so I was like, “Really? Okay. Maybe. But I don’t know how to run a conference. I’ve never done it before, so surely I’ll fail if I do it.” But then the idea just resonated. It struck a chord and the more and more I thought about it, the more I believed in it. And that’s when I packed in the day job and went forth, and started SaaStock, and the first one, as I said was in 2016, and it was a relative success.

Jeroen:

Yeah. So you were saying that the whole time that you were manning the blog, doing the podcast, all that, it was only from the moment that you said, “I’m going to do a conference”, that you like, ended your full time job?

Alex:

Correct. Yeah. I was doing the blog and the podcast initially whilst I was working full time, so I was doing that in the evening. Sometimes during the day time, hopefully the former employers are not listening, but mostly in the evening. And yeah, it was at the point, I’d actually thought about, “How do I monetize the blog?”, before then, and looked into advertising, and looked into sponsorship, and neither of those were really going to be a business. But it was the events part which actually I saw you could create a big business there, and being on there, being a big business, there’s a real need. The market, the people were asking for it, so yeah.

Jeroen:

I think this is like, you could generalize this as good advice for anyone who wants to start a business, I think, is to, not start working on it full-time at first.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

First start exploring it next to your job, even if you have to go part-time for it. What is it that you want to do? Ideally, like you did, build up an audience of people that you want to bring something to, and then things just flow from there.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

That’s what happened to you basically. You built a blog. You built a podcast and then people say, “Well, we’d like a conference”, and you never know where this leads, right?

Alex:

Absolutely. And so there is a pretty kind of common party scene with a lot of people that start businesses and they do it that way. But you also see, some other examples that I see, like for instance, like a friend of mine, he wanted to do the same thing but in a different space. He wanted to launch a conference business and I sort of advised him. I said, “Well look, I started with the blog. I almost did a year of groundwork, in doing the blog and the podcast and the meet ups, and then we went with the conference. And then for you just to start a conference without doing any of that, without building that audience and that trust and stuff, it’s going to be difficult”, and he did manage to get that off the ground.

Alex:

And another example I see, again, so at the point where I knew the conference business would work and I had those initial early evangelists, and in fact we had people like ChartMogul, who were our first sponsor for the conference. You know, paid 12 months in advance of the conference and before we had a website, so our first customers, again, were giving us that commitment. That was when I knew to go all in. That was the time when I quit the job and went all in on this. And only by being all in, did I make it work.

Alex:

But I’ve got friends who are still running their side hustles on top of their day jobs. They’re too scared to go all in, because they don’t want to give up that salary, and they’re just doing that for years and years, and I think that’s tough, right?

Jeroen:

Yeah, that’s indeed the other thing to be afraid of, that you just get stuck in whatever.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

It’s indeed like validating and then making the jump.

Alex:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

At some point you just need to.

Alex:

Got to do it.

Jeroen:

Actually that’s another thing as well, but not building up an audience though, that would have been nice; but also starting to work part-time, and started projects until something was validated and then, we got into a startup accelerator and all that, and we said, “Okay, now we go all in because otherwise this will never get off the ground.”

Alex:

Yep. Smart move.

Jeroen:

We don’t have a lot of time any more I think, so I’m going to start wrapping up, like towards things you learned recently. If you were to start all over with SaaStock, what would you do differently? You just said that the trajectory you took was, maybe a good one, but were there things you would change?

Alex:

Yeah, what would I do differently? I mean probably a lot of things. But I think one of the mistakes, or key sort of mistakes we made in the first year was, didn’t really have a mentor around that had the conference experience, right?

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

So somebody to kind of go with and say, “Hey, look at my PNL. Does this make sense?”, or, “How do I price things?”, et cetera, et cetera. So I definitely overspent in the first year. We lost money and that could have killed us, but then I managed to kind of recover the situation, right? So I think I would have done that differently, certainly in the first year.

Alex:

I think if I look at last year, again, I mean I make mistakes every year, but hopefully fewer, but like last year we went global in one big bang, in terms of we had our Dublin conference and then we went from having one conference to having one in Latin America, one in Australia, one in Asia, two in the US, and our Dublin event. And we weren’t really set up. We weren’t ready as a company for that. You’ve got to have all of these processes in place really, to kind of make that work, and we didn’t.

Alex:

And so each event we managed to pull off, but it was like fire fighting, like one after the other to kind of get it to where we needed it to be. And that’s very stressful for the team and for the company. So I think, I wouldn’t have, in retrospect, rather than going from one conference to six, as we did last year in five different continents, maybe it would have been smarter to go from one to two, right?

Jeroen:

Yeah.

Alex:

And so again, that’s something certainly that I’ve learnt and I would do differently, for sure.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Cool. Are there any, for everyone who’s at home right now and has a lot of time to read books.

Jeroen:

Any good books you’ve read recently, and why did you choose to read, maybe one book, and why did you choose that one?

Alex:

Yeah. Good question. I read quite a lot, although it’s going to be interesting now because I read on my commute, and I can’t commute, so I don’t know if I have to dedicate some reading time in the mornings, or in the afternoons, and when I’m in the office, but maybe I’ll have to do that. But I’ll tell you a really good book I read recently and that I’ve recommended to a few members of my team, is a book called “Business for Punks” and it is by James Watt, who is the co-founder of BrewDog. So I don’t know if you know BrewDog beer? I know the Belgians like their beer, but this is like, they’re a craft brewery up in Scotland and I think they’re around sort of 50 million in revenue now, and they have quite a few diversified sorts of products. So starting with beer, but now they’re in the restaurant business and some other bits and bobs.

Alex:

But it was a fascinating read and I read it in about two days. I just loved the way that he, kind of speaks. I loved their branding, their marketing, the messaging was like, it just resonated with me. A lot of good advice. A really good section around marketing, but I think these guys are crushing it in marketing, right? So, if you want to learn about business, running a business, there’s excellent advice in there. But also, if you want to look at and learn about how to do some really cool marketing, there’s some great advice in there as well. So “Business for Punks” and I found that, one of the newsletters that I subscribe to, somebody recommended it and that’s how I came across it.

Jeroen:

Cool. Last question. A bit more of a difficult one. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever got?

Alex:

Best piece of advice I’ve ever got? I mean, I don’t know how much good advice I’ve actually ever had, to be honest.

Jeroen:

What’s the last piece of good advice you ever got?

Alex:

Last piece of good advice. I mean like one thing which I think is definitely sort of good advice, but you know the saying, I think, what is it? “Revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity, but cash is king”, yeah?

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Alex:

And this is sound advice and it’s advice that I’m seeing a lot, especially in these times. You know, cash is king right now for every business. But what SaaStock and my kind of mistake was, again being a first time entrepreneur, I was looking at the revenue, and the revenue’s vanity part, and the vanity of revenue over the profitability in cash, certainly for the last few years. And now the mindset has definitely changed. I’m looking to build a much more kind of profitable, sustainable business and build out our cash resources. Because before I’d been very much walking a tightrope, certainly in the cash flow department, and just focused on, at the beginning of the year, setting a revenue goal and then just kind of working on that, but not really working on other areas of the business or the finance side. So maturing around that and learning through mistakes, again around that.

Jeroen:

Cool. Thank you for sharing that advice. Thank you again for being on Founder Coffee. It was really great to have you.

Alex:

No worries. Great to have you. Enjoyed the coffee. Enjoyed the chat as always.


Enjoyed it? Read Founder Coffee interviews with other founders.

get Salesflare

We hope you liked this episode. If you did, review us on iTunes!

👉 You can follow @salesflare on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Jeroen Corthout

Co-Founder at Salesflare
I'm Co-Founder of Salesflare, the simply powerful CRM for small businesses. I love growth, automating sales, and building beautiful products.

Latest posts by Jeroen Corthout (see all)