Udesh Jadnanansing of Mopinion

Founder Coffee episode 048

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 forty-eighth episode, I talked to Udesh Jadnanansing, Co-Founder of Mopinion, an all-in-one user feedback platform for high traffic websites.

Mopinion started when Udesh and his co-founders had a digital agency that developed websites and apps. One thing they noticed was that getting qualitative information about the user’s perspective beyond quantitative analytics was hard. And their customers were wrestling with it. That’s when they knew they had to develop a solution for this problem.

Before Mopinion, Udesh started a t-shirt printing business. He had the idea for a t-shirt for young kids that was extremely customizable by using velcro stickers. The business ultimately failed because of issues with a supplier, resulting in a large amount of unusable stock. That’s when Udesh learned his first lessons as an entrepreneur, temporarily set his dreams aside to join the digital agency world, only to be back years later with his own digital agency and finally with Mopinion.

We talk about why Mopinion focuses on the European market, how as a CRO he spends his time crunching data, the ethics of habit building in software, and why you should start selling your product as soon as possible.

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Jeroen:

Hey, Udesh. It’s great to have you on Founder Coffee.

Udesh:

Thanks, Jeroen. Thanks for the invite. Great being here.

Jeroen:

Yeah. You’re a co-founder of Mopinion. For those who don’t know yet, what do you guys do exactly?

Udesh:

Yes, of course. So Mopinion stands for “my opinion”. And basically, we are a SaaS user feedback platform and we give digital enterprises insights on how their customers experience their website, their mobile apps or their email campaigns. We collect digital feedback on all of those channels and then the software runs analysis on it so you can use that data to improve those channels.

Jeroen:

Who are typically your customers for this?

Udesh:

So in terms of businesses, of course we focus on large traffic websites. We focus a lot on online retail. We had a lot of travel customers, but of course, due to corona, that’s a bit different now. We have a lot of technology companies that use us.

Udesh:

And if you talk about personas, so the roles, anyone from a UX professional to digital marketers or web analysts, people that are more responsible for the data. So it’s a mixture of personas that we work with, and they all have their own goal and they have their own reasons on why they want to use our software.

Jeroen:

What are some of the typical reasons for companies to use your software? And what qualifies them as a high traffic website?

Udesh:

So let’s start with the last question. What qualifies them is that, in order to retrieve and to get useful feedback you need to have at least over a million unique visitors per month. Well, we work with page views, so I would say one million page views per month. Because if you don’t have enough volume, you won’t receive a lot of feedback.

Udesh:

And the funny thing with our software is that, I don’t know why but people always think, “Okay, I pay this and I will receive this number of feedback items, so one feedback item will cost me a couple of euros.” Of course, it doesn’t work like that. In the end, it’s about the quality of the feedback.

Udesh:

So if you would pay a license and you have a small number of visitors, you will only receive a couple of feedback items. People can feel like, “Hey, the software is not working.” It’s not the software. It’s basically that you just don’t have enough traffic.

Udesh:

So that’s why we said, if people are to be really useful and to have a lot of useful insights, you need to have a lot of traffic. Because the more traffic you have, the more feedback you can collect. And that’s why we mainly focus on the larger or I would say medium to large size businesses. In, yeah, the industries that I just mentioned, online retail, financials, tech.

Udesh:

So that’s the page views. The reason why someone uses Mopinion, depends. So if you are like a conversion rate expert, you want to increase conversion. So you want to know like, “Okay, so I have this ordering funnel. I see visitors coming in and I see visitors leaving the page without placing an order. Why is that?” Of course you have the numbers. You have Google Analytics or any other tool that you use. You do your A/B testing. But that’s only focusing on the digits, only focusing on the numbers. In order to really find out what’s happening, you need to ask your visitors or your customers that question.

Udesh:

If you are an UX expert, you want to make sure that the user experiences it smoothly. So after a specific process or after a specific task, you want to ask, “How did you experience this and how do you rate this specific process? What are things that we can do to make it easier or to improve this process?” So it always comes from the will and the need to make something better. You collect the experience of a user, you use those insights, and with that information you can then optimize your digital channel or a specific process.

Jeroen:

Understood. Tell me a bit more about why you guys started Mopinion? Were you working at this type of company or did you have an agency? Where did the spark happen for Mopinion?

Udesh:

So basically when we started working together, I started the business with two of my co-founders, Floris and Kees. We first started developing websites and apps, and actually it was through one of our customers who started asking questions. This was in 2009, and I think it was in 2010 when we came across this topic. Specific customers asked questions about feedback on the website. And it was still pretty new, because back then, Twitter was still upcoming. Social media was still growing. And we’ve noticed that a lot of people out there, they were sharing their feedback indirectly with companies on social media. But there were no easy ways to share your feedback directly with companies.

Udesh:

That’s basically the idea that we started playing with. We did some research. We noticed that you already had a tool in the US back then that was experimenting with user feedback. You had a couple actually. Some were doing it through communities and others were doing it through feedback forms. And that basically triggered us like, “Hey, this could be something. Because if you think about it, a lot of the digital teams, they only work with quantitative data, with numbers, and we could build something that can give them useful insights. Actual insights and actual feedback from those users.”

Udesh:

But funny enough, it wasn’t until 2013, that’s when we launched the first solution. But the company wasn’t what it is today because we were still figuring out, “Are we going digital? Are we going to focus on feedback from offline channels?” And then we ended up doing a partnership with a large research agency and they pushed us more towards the offline feedback. So we were still figuring out what the best way was to do this.

Udesh:

And it wasn’t until mid 2015-2016, when we said, “Okay, we need to stop doing a little bit of everything and we just need to focus on digital feedback. That’s what we know most about. We all have roots in digital. We understand the business. So let’s focus on building this SaaS user feedback platform and become the biggest in Europe.” So that’s how it basically, yeah, started up.

Jeroen:

So basically, you saw that digital companies have all this fancy analytics running. You had experience with that. You said, “Okay, next to the analytics, we want to have some actual user feedback.” And what is exactly the issue that you guys are specifically tackling better than others there? Is it that you make sure that people get more of that feedback and better feedback?

Udesh:

You mean compared to competitors?

Jeroen:

Compared to competitors, yeah.

Udesh:

Yeah. So when we started, we already had a couple of competitors out there. What we noticed is that a lot of them were only focusing on data collection. Collecting feedback and making it easy to collect feedback. What we saw happening in 2016 was that, wait, the market started testing things out but now the market’s becoming more mature, so their need will also change. So instead of only focusing on data collection, they also need to have solid and comprehensive analytics to understand the data.

Udesh:

So that’s what we started focusing on. Instead of only making it easy to collect feedback, in Mopinion you can also run proper analysis. You can do data facilitation. You can use questions and combine them. We do open text analytics. And that’s something that really differentiates us. So it’s more than only a simple feedback form.

Jeroen:

Okay. So that’s why you’re also focused on higher traffic websites, because they have much more feedback than others, right?

Udesh:

Exactly. Yeah. True. Mostly high traffic websites, they have more processes. More things are happening. And if more things are happening, they need more feedback. And if they need more feedback, then of course our solution is one of the solutions out there that’s suitable for them.

Jeroen:

Understood. So this all grew for you out of the digital marketing space, I would say?

Udesh:

Yeah.

Jeroen:

I see that you had a company before and then you worked in some other agencies as well?

Udesh:

Yeah, correct. So after I graduated in 2005. Funny enough, after graduating, I started my first business that was more focusing on product development. But I had a background through my studies in marketing and with a focus on digital. So after that company unfortunately failed, I decided to work in the advertising industry, mainly focusing on digital.

Udesh:

And during one of those companies, I met my other co-founder, and we noticed that we’ve started talking a lot about software, digital marketing. And that’s where we decided, “Hey, maybe we should just quit our job and start building our own agency.” And that’s also how I met the other co-founder through Kees, Floris, and he is a technical guy. And basically, we combined our powers and then this is what happened.

Jeroen:

Cool. So the company you started right after university, was that your first start-up project, or did you have more before?

Udesh:

Yeah. So it was basically a spin-off of what I was already doing at university. So back then, I used to design a lot. Illustrator, Photoshop, all of that stuff. So what I used to do in uni to make some extra money, if you had an idea, like a specific image that you wanted on a t-shirt, then I would design it for you. I would print it. I would then put it on a t-shirt and I would sell you that t-shirt. So it was like a small little business. But it was really popular because customization was a big thing then and customizing your own t-shirt was still something relatively new.

Udesh:

And through that idea, we came up with the idea of, “Hey, wait. Why design images on your shirt if we could also develop special stickers that you could then put on your t-shirt?” Then we figured out, “But wait, stickers are maybe more interesting towards the younger audience, let’s say children between three till six. Hey, wait, if we make those stickers, we can also license it to companies and we can use their brand, for instance.”

Udesh:

So we were doing things with Nintendo. We were trying to do a partnership with Studio100, the Belgium company with Bumba and all those brands.

Jeroen:

Yeah, with the kid stuff.

Udesh:

All the kid stuff. So that was basically my first business. We decided on this special t-shirt. It had like a Velcro patch on it. Nicely done. And then we had these special stickers made in China of the special material, because it couldn’t be plastic. It worked out really well and we were doing quite well, but then we had difficulties with one of our manufacturers and just before Christmas, they delivered the stickers. And the stickers, the material that they used was just normal plastic and that wasn’t allowed in the EU. So we had to get rid of it. I think it was worth 40 or 50k of stock, and that screwed us over.

Udesh:

And I think I was 25-26 then. So yeah. We were forced to stop that business, but I learned a lot. Because we were doing sales hardcore. We had to walk into stores with our product and we used to sell it on the spot. So of course, nowadays everything is going through ads and inbound marketing, et cetera, but back then, this particular product I had to sell was basically live in the physical shops. There are some interesting qualities that you learn there.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Was that your first sales experience?

Udesh:

Well, as a part-time job, I also did telesales on the phone in a call center. Then I had to sell, I don’t know, subscription to a newspaper and all of that stuff. When we started this particular business, that was my first real experience of hardcore sales.

Jeroen:

You just mentioned that you guys have all the ads and all the inbound things, but you do still do enterprise sales, right?

Udesh:

Well, basically what we’ve set up is a whole inbound model. So I was reading the book called Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross, the Salesforce guy.

Jeroen:

He was on the podcast previously, by the way. It was episode 10 or something.

Udesh:

Cool. I saw it indeed. But he basically was the inspiration of the model that we set up. So we have all the leads we collect through content. We focus a lot on content production, whether it’s blogs or, nowadays, podcasts, just like you guys, or guest blogs or webinars. Through that, we get really good rankings on Google. People, they find us, they sign up for a trial or they request a demo and then we qualify them, and that’s how we then book the demos and then hopefully sign them as a customer. So that’s how we generate our leads.

Udesh:

The whole enterprise thing is, because our software, it’s different. You need to demonstrate what it can do but also you really need to understand the need of a user in order to sell it to them and to make sure that they can make the most out of it. And that’s why we also have to do the one-on-one demos. And after we sign them, you have the whole onboarding team, and after that we have the support team.

Udesh:

Because, yeah, implementing the script yourself in the website is one thing, but then figuring out where to use the feedback forms? What kind of questions do we ask? What kind of ratings do you think I should use? What are the best practices? Those are all things that we need to support them with.

Jeroen:

Definitely. I was just looking at Crunchbase. It looks like you guys had one venture round with Capital Mills. Is that correct?

Udesh:

Yeah, correct. This was mid-2016. We are not a typical VC funded company. Back then, we were talking to quite a few interesting VCs in Holland and in England. But what we’ve noticed is that their vision and the way they invest is really different. They really expect high scalability. And we are a B2B, niche SaaS product. So if you invest in a B2C product, of course you can scale much faster. But with B2B, and particularly in our industry, it’s just a different market.

Udesh:

So we noticed that it wasn’t always a match with some of the VCs that we spoke with. So we were looking for a partner that understood our industry and also understood that, hey, triple digits growth is not going to happen within the way we want to build the company. And they liked our vision, so they did a first early stage round of funding, and actually now we are in the process of preparing our next round of funding for 2021. Because we can now take the company further into the European market, which is an exciting time. But Capital Mills, yeah, they’ve been a good partner so far.

Jeroen:

So it’s basically your VC funder but not with the usual huge scaling expectations?

Udesh:

Yeah. Because we believe more in healthy growth. I’m not saying that when you are growing 200-300%, that it’s not healthy. That’s impressive and amazing. But we really want to build a business. We really want to build a team. And what we’ve learned so far is that building a product and selling a product is totally different than building a business.

Udesh:

And yeah. We needed someone that understood our pace, basically, and how we wanted to do things and our vision. So yeah. That’s where we are today.

Jeroen:

If you can paint your vision for the listeners, where do you see Mopinion going in the next few years?

Udesh:

So now if you look at our customer base, let’s say 70% is coming from outside of the Netherlands and 30% is in the Netherlands, and we still have quite a lot of customers in the Netherlands. So we see a lot of traction from markets outside the Netherlands. If you look at the market of competition, mainly in the US we are up against companies such as SurveyMonkey, companies such as MIDiA, their digital solution, Qualtrics. These are all listed and larger businesses.

Udesh:

For us, what we see happening now is a lot of momentum in European markets such as France, such as Germany and the UK. Three or four years ago, we still had to explain the concept of user feedback. But now, we get so many leads from those markets that we decided that, okay, we’re really going to focus on those markets and we want to become the biggest in those markets.

Udesh:

So we are currently serving over 200 logos, and our goal is that within the next three years, we want to serve at least 1,000 unique logos in our key markets. So the DACH region, the Nordics, North Western European markets and UK, that’s where we mainly focus on. Funny enough, we also have a lot of clients in the US but it’s such a saturated market. It’s such a crowded market and it’s easier for us to become the number one solution within the space in Europe than going up against those listed companies in the US, because then we would also need a whole different funding model and that would also impact our strategy and our vision.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Can you rely on a paid model, or are you more working on organic traffic sources? What works best for you, then? And is there a difference between the US and Europe perhaps?

Udesh:

Yeah, I think if I look at our lead generation, most of it is done organically. We really have a minimal marketing budget that we spend on paid ads. So we were fortunate enough to start creating content in time and really focusing on the SEO and how we had to structure these articles that we’d written, and that helped us a lot with the organic ranking, and so we’re still benefiting from that today. And yeah, it’s only increasing.

Udesh:

And now we are slowly testing more with paid models. So I don’t have enough data on that yet, but that’s still, funny enough, still something that we haven’t tested in the past because it was simply not needed at the time. But now, of course, as you scale, we are focusing a lot on producing native content. So we are hiring native speakers. So native French, native German, and all the content that we have, we’re going to translate it in the local language so that hopefully it will help us with ranking better for those specific markets. But I would still say that 90% of all the leads are organic.

Udesh:

And you asked me about the differences between the US and Europe. You mean in terms of the market maturity?

Jeroen:

In terms of the channels with which you can attract people. Like maybe it’s much more expensive in the US to run ads, or more competitive SEO-wise. I don’t know what the differences are for you.

Udesh:

Yeah. What we’ve noticed is that, for us, using the standard ad strategy, having paid ads on Facebook, Google, et cetera, yes we get leads, but the quality of the leads doesn’t really justify the investment. And what we’ve noticed is that LinkedIn is a much more suitable channel for us, especially for the US. We’ve noticed that they love downloading free content. They love white papers. They love webinars. And so we are testing that part right now to see whether that’s something that could work for the European market as well.

Udesh:

But yeah, as I said, I don’t have enough data yet on that. But I see that the difference is that in the US, there’s so much more competition and there’s so much more content already out there that you really need to write a unique piece in order to maybe still find your way and still make some noise. In Europe, there’s still so much opportunity because it’s still a relatively new concept, digital user feedback.

Udesh:

So I would say the difference is that the majority in the market, where Europe is still upcoming and learning, the US is much further, and that requires a different strategy and a different approach.

Jeroen:

Yeah. So as chief revenue officer and co-founder of Mopinion, what is it that keeps you up at night? Like what is it specifically that you’re working on these days as sort of your priorities?

Udesh:

So what kept me up last night was my four year old who couldn’t sleep and woke me up.

Jeroen:

Congratulations.

Udesh:

Yeah, thanks. Yeah, but normally I really focus on having a good sleep and I do a meditation before I go to bed so I don’t worry too much, but I understand the question. So I think what we are really figuring out now and what really, really fills my head with a lot of thoughts and sometimes even a bit of stress is how are we going to scale to the next phase? So how are you going to scale the company from X million to XX million? What are the buttons that we need to tweak? What are the things that we need to change?

Udesh:

There’s so much information that we have now, so much data, so we know a lot more. But you have to test. You have to test, see what it does. And sometimes that just takes a while and you want to go faster than you’re sometimes capable of. And yeah, that frustrates me sometimes. And I think that a lot of my thoughts are going into that, how we can scale the business further into Europe.

Jeroen:

So how does your day look like, then? Are you actively spending a part of your day on that or is it in the back of your head?

Udesh:

Yeah. So we are going through some really good changes now. We are hiring a new marketing team lead. So I think six to nine months ago we started restructuring the teams, so now we have a team lead in sales, new business. We have a team lead, customer success. We are hiring a team lead marketing who is starting next month. So we are professionalizing the internal organization.

Udesh:

And with that, with those new colleagues and with this new setup, we’re also rolling out our strategy of how we think that we can grow within the next few years. And we’re also changing the mindset of the team. Where before we were really testing things, seeing what works, and if it didn’t work, we left it. But now we want to become more performance driven and really make ourselves accountable for the results.

Udesh:

And the culture in our team is really open and really informal and I love that. It’s great. But that also has a downside where maybe sometimes it’s not always clear what we expect from the team, or okay, if we don’t hit our targets, okay, yeah, well better luck next time. And of course, that’s one way of doing it. But in this phase of the company, we need to have more accountability and we need to all have the mindset of, “Okay, these are the targets and we’re going to make sure that we’re going to top them.”

Udesh:

So yeah. That’s something that we are working on a lot. So my day, most of the time, is looking in at Salesforce, seeing what new leads have come in, demos. Who are we talking to? What are they saying? Just learning. Because even though I’m not actively doing sales anymore, I still want to know what’s going on, what kind of industries are signing up, what kind of personas are talking to us.

Udesh:

Then I also manage the finance side of the business. Of course, we have a team now that does all that.

Jeroen:

The accounting?

Udesh:

Accounting. But yeah, I want to be updated. I want to know what’s going on with the numbers, where are we in terms of MRR? Where do we expect to be in terms of cash flow? I then have a chat with customer success to see what’s happening with them. Are things churning? If you are churning, how will that impact the MRR? So that’s most of the mornings is just talking and seeing what happened in the previous days and things that the teams are working with.

Udesh:

Then depending, for now, we are recruiting for four or five roles. So I just now had a job interview with the candidate. I always want to do the second interview with candidates, because I find it important that they at least talk to one of the co-founders so they know what we stand for and stuff.

Udesh:

Then yeah. It depends. Could be working on investor reports or going through a list of new partner companies and trying to reach out to the CEO, or the strategic alliance partner, trying to set up meetings. Talking to a lot of investors nowadays. Of course, we’re already preparing our next move. And then, towards the end of the day is when I try to finalize or try to send out all the emails that I still had to do, try to read some blogs just to stay updated. And then, yeah, I normally finish my day. But of course, through the night, through the evening, my phone is still on so I’m still checking what’s happening. That’s one of the things, of course, you can never really let it go. So it just goes on.

Udesh:

But yeah. This whole chief revenue thing is what we decided to do last year, where we said, “It needs to be more clear to the team who’s responsible for what.” And that’s also the phase that we are in. And my skill set is more in the numbers and the sales. Floris and Kees, they have the other skill sets so they focus on technology and marketing, and that’s how we complement each other.

Jeroen:

Yeah.

Udesh:

But I can’t tell you that being a chief revenue officer that typically you do this. It’s always a mixture because in the end you’re still also one of the co-founders.

Jeroen:

Mm-hmm.

Udesh:

You will always have more responsibilities than your job title basically allows you to have.

Jeroen:

Yeah, yeah. For sure. What is it, actually, in all of this that gives you energy personally? That gets you in state of flow?

Udesh:

You mean besides the business?

Jeroen:

No, I mean within all these things that you do as a chief revenue officer, what is it that when you get up in the morning, you’re like, “Okay, let’s go for it,” and you sort of feel the energy going? Or when you’re working throughout the day, those hours seem to fly by, what is it exactly that you’re doing at that moment?

Udesh:

So of course with me being mainly responsible for sales, I love it when I see that the pipeline is filled, that we have new demos coming up. And I love to hear how other demos went with prospects. And when we need to write a proposal, I talk to my colleagues from sales and see, “Okay, how can we quote this? How can we do this?” I really feel that the whole sales business, the whole sales side, growing the business, seeing that something works, that prospects get excited when they see our software, that still gives me a lot of energy. Because in the end, whether it’s a 5k deal that we sign or a 50k deal, it’s just cool when you grow and when you still sign up new customers, and that’s really something. That will always keep me going.

Jeroen:

Yeah, cool. You mentioned that you have a young kid. What is that that you are busy with next to work? Is that mostly with him or her?

Udesh:

I actually have two kids. Two kids indeed. One seven year old, my daughter, and then my son who’s four years old. So actually they’re both going to school now, and I’ve noticed that now that they’re both at school, my wife and I, we can actually work properly in the day time, so that’s nice.

Udesh:

But they definitely keep me busy. When they’re back from school, I try to spend as much time as I can with them and not just whack them behind the iPad. We really invest a lot of time in reading with them, arts and crafts, going for nice walks, helping practicing school stuff. So that’s a lot of my time next to the business.

Udesh:

And then, on a personal level, yeah, I love playing the guitar, even though I’m not really great at it but I just love music. I love doing long hikes. Just this weekend, I went for a hike of around 25 miles with one of my mates. It’s just nice to be out. I love my exercise, so we do a lot of sports. I started playing tennis recently.

Udesh:

And yeah. Of course reading. Learning new things. So I think the funny thing now is the time that we live in, with the whole COVID situation of course, it’s all, yeah, pretty shit of course. But on the other hand, now that we all have to work remotely, it gives me a bit more flexibility in combining my private life and work. And yeah, that goes pretty well because I can invest more time in the kids. And if I’m working and I’m like, “Hey, man, I need to have a break now,” I just go out, go into town, pick up a coffee, go for a walk and come back and I’m more fresh again.

Jeroen:

Yeah.

Udesh:

So yeah. It’s busy, of course, with having a young family, but it also gives me a lot of energy.

Jeroen:

You live in Rotterdam, right? Is that city center or outskirts?

Udesh:

Yeah, so actually when the three of us started working together, we were all living in Rotterdam. Funny enough, Floris, my other colleague, the other co-founder, he was living in the exact same building as I was but we never saw or met each other. So that was funny.

Udesh:

But now that we’re all married and all have kids, the other colleagues also have kids, we’ve all moved. Where I live now, I’m close to The Hague, and Kees and Floris, they live more closer to West Rotterdam, but not living in the city anymore. But luckily we still have our office in the middle of the city center. So whenever we are there, we still get that buzz and city vibe.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Are you working from home now or the office? Home, right?

Udesh:

Yeah, from home indeed. So we started going back to the office at least for two days, and it was pretty cool seeing the colleagues again and working together and then after work having a drink. Unfortunately, then we all had to go back remote and I think it will stay like this for a while. Luckily, we were always already on the infrastructure, so everything is in the cloud.

Udesh:

So yeah, it was a relatively easy switch for us to go from office work to remote, although I’ve noticed that for some of the colleagues who are still sharing their house with roommates or don’t have enough space, yeah, then it can be difficult of course. But unfortunately, yeah, these are the rules now in the Netherlands. I guess it’s the same in Belgium?

Jeroen:

Yeah, I suppose very similar. Currently we’re back to teleworking fully. I know some companies don’t really follow the rule so much, although I think there’s supposed to be inspections. But yeah, actually with Salesflare we’ve been remote since March. We’ve never really gone back to the office. We’ve made the office available if people want to do work there, but then alone in a room, just if you wanted to get out of your space.

Jeroen:

There’s indeed people who live with other people, but there’s also people who live completely alone, which is also not fun obviously.

Udesh:

Yeah. I can imagine, yeah.

Jeroen:

It’s going to be a long winter for some, I think. For all of us, but a bit more so.

Udesh:

Yeah, indeed. Indeed. So yeah. It’s going to be, I guess, a bit more depressing when it’s winter and you can’t really leave your room. But I really think that the way we interact with the offices will change. I think it will become more like a social hub. It will become more fluid, where you will come in and you go out and you work from home the next day. So yeah, let’s see.

Jeroen:

I think so too. Especially for us software companies, it’s a little bit easier because we’re already so digital by nature.

Udesh:

Yes.

Jeroen:

Like you and us, we sell remotely to most of our clients. Like you still have 30% in the Netherlands, so there’s maybe some that you drive to but all the others are with phone calls and all.

Udesh:

Yeah. I remember when we started, I was driving, driving and doing all this. You were probably the same.

Jeroen:

Me too.

Udesh:

All this face-to-face meeting. And I’m quite happy that that’s not the case anymore because it’s so much more efficient. But yeah, let’s see. I also see it with corporates. My wife, she works for a large US corporate and even there, they’re already experimenting with keeping the whole remote thing going. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Are there any other cool start-ups we should know about in Rotterdam?

Udesh:

Yeah. Well, it isn’t really a start-up anymore. This company called Mendix, also a software company, and yeah, those guys did an amazing job. They had this low-code platform and they started in Rotterdam I think a while ago. I think 2005-2006. And scaled the business and then eventually it got sold to Siemens, I think, for a large amount of money. I think it was up to 800 million.

Udesh:

So that’s, I guess, the biggest success story in Rotterdam so far. And the funny thing is that of course when you talk about the whole tech community in the Netherlands, they automatically start talking about Amsterdam. And I think for a while, that was the case. But ever since, Rotterdam has become more appealing because Rotterdam is really a city of design. Because everything was, of course, bombed during the war and so architects, they had like a playground. They could build everything from scratch again.

Udesh:

So it’s an interesting city and it attracts a lot of youngsters focusing on design, art and stuff. And through that now, Rotterdam also got a lot of international appeal. And because of that now, we attract a lot of international students and a lot of start-ups who are building their business there.

Udesh:

Yeah, I know a few but we have one other start-up. Our investors, they invested in them as well. And they are focusing on AI with advertising, some complicated stuff. So I know that they are around. And there are definitely more things happening. I mean, I think more youngsters now are experimenting with their own business directly after uni or even when they’re still in school. We get a lot of invitations from universities in Rotterdam or the other schools in Rotterdam to do things like a workshop and to share your experiences with students. So there’s definitely more happening.

Jeroen:

That’s cool. Maybe then, slowly wrapping up, going into learnings. What is the latest good book you have read and why did you choose to read it?

Udesh:

Well, I’m reading two books at the moment. So the one I’m reading now is called Hooked. You know it?

Jeroen:

Nir Eyal, yeah.

Udesh:

Nir Eyal, yeah, indeed. So I started reading it. I’m still reading it. But I’m not sure how you experienced it. And of course, the whole theme of the book is about changing habits to make sure that you’re satisfying your customers, that they keep coming back, keep using your solution.

Udesh:

But then I also watched The Social Dilemma and it makes you wonder like, “Hey, but wait. Is that really a good thing that we want to do?” Of course, from a commercial perspective, the more you use it, the more they interact with your software, the better. But why would I want to create this addictive kind of habit amongst my customers? So I still have some ethical conflict.

Udesh:

But it’s a good book and it’s really interesting to read about the stories, how these guys, how they’ve done that. And yeah, of course I’m not sure if for you it goes the same. But yeah, if I look at LinkedIn, I keep coming back to see if I have more notifications, to see if I have likes, et cetera, all of that stuff.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Well I think there is certainly a balance there. Like for instance, when I think about our product, Salesflare, it’s very important that salespeople use the CRM consistently, that they keep coming back, that they fill out the information when they need to. That, to a certain extent, the CRM becomes addictive.

Jeroen:

But of course, when you start crossing that healthy line, you start coming into the territory of that documentary. What was it called again?

Udesh:

Social Dilemma.

Jeroen:

Yeah. And I actually heard from a friend here, a fellow start-up here in Antwerp, he interviewed Nir Eyal for the launch of his product.

Udesh:

Oh, awesome.

Jeroen:

Yeah. And Nir Eyal was actually interviewed for that documentary, but they didn’t use any of his interview material because he represented the good side of it and they wanted to focus on the bad side.

Udesh:

Yeah, indeed. I mean, you can see it happening now with the whole COVID thing. You have people that are against it, watching all these videos on YouTube and YouTube makes sure that they keep coming back, keeps presenting them with more videos and stuff. And then you wonder like, “Yeah, is this really a good thing that’s happening?” But I definitely agree for CRM software, yeah, of course. We use Salesforce every day.

Udesh:

And the same thing goes for us. You need to come and keep logging in and check your feedback, see what’s happening. But it needs to be in a healthy way. So that’s an interesting book. Another book, but that has nothing to do with the business but more with personal interest is called The Journey of Our Genes. This is a book by this German scientist who’s describing the story about how we migrated from Africa to Western Europe. It’s a pretty fascinating book, especially with everything that’s happening now in society. So if you have an interest in that, definitely go and read that.

Jeroen:

Yeah. I’m typing it here in Goodreads but I can’t immediately find it. Journey of Our Genes, you said?

Udesh:

Yeah, it was just released. I’m unsure if it’s on the Kindle. I have a hard copy.

Jeroen:

Okay.

Udesh:

Actually prefer reading it, the hard copy, because it’s been a while since I had an actual book in my hands.

Jeroen:

Yeah. I’ll keep looking. I’m actually a biomedical engineer in my background.

Udesh:

Ah, cool.

Jeroen:

So I used to work in healthcare for a while. I’m really sort of passionate about it but there’s also a lot of things that I noticed in healthcare that I didn’t really like. That’s why I’m not in healthcare right now.

Udesh:

That’s why you’re in sales.

Jeroen:

Yeah. It’s much more exciting. Healthcare is so slow. You have no idea.

Udesh:

Oh yeah. I can imagine.

Jeroen:

There’s a lot of good intentions combined with also, I don’t know how to say it, fake intentions as well.

Udesh:

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jeroen:

Final two questions. Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before you started out with Mopinion? Like anything, if you would start over, that you would do differently?

Udesh:

Oh definitely. So I think that’s also one of the best advice that was given to me, “Start selling as soon as possible.” I think when we started, we were really focusing on the product, really thinking, “It needs to be this, it needs to be perfect, it needs to …” And at that same moment, while we were thinking, our competitors, they were already entering the market, already selling it.

Udesh:

Yes, it’s good. Your product needs to be a certain level, but don’t focus on it too long. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Start talking to your customers. Learn from their feedback. The product doesn’t have to be 100% in order to sell it, and that’s definitely something that I would do differently because we waited too long with the execution of our sales strategy.

Jeroen:

Yeah. How long did you wait with that?

Udesh:

Yeah, well, I think we were delayed by definitely a year. Because from origin, we didn’t all have a strong sales background and we were perfectionists. We really wanted to have a good, solid product. And that’s, of course, a good thing, but you also need to think of the commercials. You also need to sell. Because with the feedback from your customers, you can even build a better product. So that’s something that I would definitely do differently.

Jeroen:

Yeah. Did you do any customer interviews before you started building, or you just started building?

Udesh:

Yeah, so maybe we’re a bit too stubborn sometimes because we just started building. And you guys did the same or was it different?

Jeroen:

No. We started off with actual sales conversations. So we created a deck and a sort of a prototype. It was like a front-end that did nothing but something we could show. And then we would go to people and we would try to sell it and they had all these questions. But we weren’t all very systematic about it at the start and it’s only after about I think five months or so that we started doing systematic customer interviews. And that taught us so much about what all the background was, what issues people had in software for sales, all this kind of stuff. It was a bit overwhelming as well and it made us see too many issues that we wanted to solve.

Udesh:

That’s the downside, yeah.

Jeroen:

So we had to come back to the core at some point after running in circles for a bit. But then definitely after that, I’m super happy that we did that. And next time I start a company, I will go about this even more systematically. Especially these customer interviews, they start as interviews and getting to know people but that’s essentially the start of a sales conversation.

Udesh:

Indeed.

Jeroen:

And at the moment that you have built what they were looking for, you can go back and say, “Okay, so we talked some months ago. What do you think about this? Does this now solve your issues or it doesn’t?” And at some point you end up selling to these peoples.

Udesh:

Yeah, yeah. That’s a great way to start, indeed.

Jeroen:

That’s for next time.

Udesh:

Yes, yes.

Jeroen:

Well, thank you again, Udesh, for being on Founder Coffee.

Udesh:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Jeroen:

It was really great to have you.

Udesh:

Likewise. Thanks. And yeah, good luck with the next podcast.

Jeroen:

Yeah, you too.

Udesh:

And the business. All right. Take care.

Jeroen:

Bye-bye.

Udesh:

Bye.


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