Sujan Patel, da Mailshake

Episódio 004 do Founder Coffee

Sou Jeroen, da Salesflare, e este é o Founder Coffee.

A cada duas semanas, tomo caf√© com um fundador diferente. Conversamos sobre a vida, as paix√Ķes, os aprendizados... em uma conversa √≠ntima, conhecendo a pessoa por tr√°s da empresa.

For this fourth episode, I talked to Sujan Patel of Mailshake, Pick, ContentMarketer, Narrow, Linktexting, Quuu, Ramp Ventures, Web Profits, … does this list even end?

Sujan é um empreendedor em série, mas ainda mais um empreendedor paralelo, que gosta de continuar ultrapassando seus próprios limites ao extremo. Ele sabe tudo sobre a criação de startups e é uma ótima pessoa para tomar um café.

Bem-vindo ao Founder Coffee.


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Jeroen: Olá, Sujan, é um prazer tê-lo no Founder Coffee.

Sujan: Olá, obrigado por me receber. Estou muito, muito animado para falar com você.

Jeroen: Me too. You’re founder of a whole bunch of companies, can you give us the list?

Sujan: Yeah, there’s a bunch. So to keep it simple, I’m a managing partner at Ramp Ventures.

We own six SaaS companies and operate five. So I’m the founder of Mailshake or rather, the cofounder of Mailshake, Narrow.io, Pick.co, Voila Norbert. There’s probably a few I’m forgetting here! Yes, Linktexting.com.

Dirijo algumas empresas de SaaS e também uma agência de marketing digital, chamada web profits.

Ramp Ventures and the agency are two very different businesses. But yeah, I love helping people and working on their growth. I guess I’ve doubled down over and over to the point where I have six different things going on at the same time!

Jeroen: Como você gerencia todas essas coisas ao mesmo tempo?

Sujan: Yeah, so it’s quite difficult to be honest. But it’s also not as bad.

The one thing I do to help myself manage multiple things is, focus on every single company in the same way. You’ll notice that all our SaaS companies have a common trend between them — not the products, but sometimes, the industry. But most importantly, you’ll see us using similar tactics, strategies and channels to grow.

Basicamente, tentamos uma vez, dominamos, descobrimos um processo e identificamos uma maneira de fazer isso repetidamente para as outras empresas.

Sujan: I’ll give you an example. We’re working on onboarding improvements for our products and are also testing a referral program.

We’re testing the referral program in the company that’s the least risky one, Narrow.io, to see how it works. Getting people to be active is a big challenge. I know the pitfalls because I’ve set up a lot of different referral programs. They usually don’t work as well as you want. So we’re going to test it out and if it works, we’ll know how to apply the same strategy to the other companies.

Sujan: Mailshake has 12,000 customers right now. I definitely don’t want to do any tests on that one because there could be a lot of blowback.

So when we do things like this, it improves our efficiency and it also our effectiveness because we’re not scaling things that are half-baked ideas. We’re scaling things that are proven and have metrics behind it. It helps us do our jobs better.

The other thing is, I think working on multiple projects, businesses and switching gears all the time is something that I enjoy doing. I’ve worked on the agency side before this and I’ve worked with various companies as well where I was in charge of marketing multiple products. So I kind of got used to it.

Sujan: I go into one business for a day, implement a bunch of things that may take a week or two to get data or even get developed, and then come back to it a week later to check on what’s happening, how it went.

Jeroen: O Mailshake é o maior do portfólio?

Sujan: Yeah, Mailshake’s one of the bigger ones. At least the most successful one.

Jeroen: Existe alguma ideia maior por trás do portfólio?

Sujan: Bem, acho que a ideia principal é comprar e desenvolver empresas de SaaS.

You’ll notice one thing about the portfolio. They’re kind of an evolution, especially over the last three years.

Criamos o Mailshake e o Narrow em 2015. Nosso objetivo era ver se conseguiríamos fazer isso. Será que conseguiríamos desenvolver um negócio todo ano?

No ano seguinte, provamos que éramos capazes. Tudo funcionou e ambas as empresas cresceram.

But we also realised that it takes a while to build stuff, so we decided to buy what’s already out there. Our next goal was to see if we can grow a company that we didn’t build.

Sujan: In 2017, we bought Norbert and we’re growing that. It’s grown over 2x in the seven months we’ve owned it. So the answer to our question was definitely a yes.

We are not focused on working with a specific industry. Although I know sales and marketing the best, so obviously we get a lot more stuff in that space. But the thing is, we’re looking at even HR for that matter. We’re really looking at anything in the market that we can grow.

Jeroen: Então, como você começou a criar, desenvolver e comprar empresas de SaaS? Como isso começou?

Sujan: You know I’ve always been infatuated with SaaS and software. When I was running my first agency called Single Grain, I worked with lots of different SaaS and software companies. We were helping them grow and it was then that I realised that I really wanted to do this.

Assim, enquanto trabalhava em minha primeira agência, também tentava criar algumas coisas paralelamente. Sempre fracassava.

Fui a um fim de semana de startups, encontrei um desenvolvedor, tentei criar uma ideia, mas ela era meio ruim. A realidade é que eu não era muito bom em ser um cara de software.

I was really good as a marketer, I was good as a top of the funnel guy. I knew how to grow businesses and so, I would always get hired to work on that aspect. For example, I’ve worked with Salesforce, helped Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics too. Seeing these companies grow the way they are, I’m like wow!

Sujan: Enquanto isso, percebi que as margens da agência não são as melhores.

Jeroen: I agree, they’re not.

Sujan: Administrar uma agência é uma tarefa árdua, certo?

Quero dizer, eu adoro isso. Mas vender horas e tempo muitas vezes é difícil de acompanhar. O que quero dizer é que sempre tive inveja da parte de software.

But since I tried and failed a couple of times, I decided to first educate myself in software. That’s when I sold my first agency, end of 2013 and got some pretty good runway. I told myself that I’m going to get my master’s and I’m going to do nothing else.

Sujan: That’s when I got to see the mobile space, built some mobile apps and tried to grow those. Was even successful at it!

Didn’t really make much money off it, got into a lawsuit due to a copyright as well. I had actually bought an app from somebody and they had a copyright issue on their main image, that they failed to mention during acquisition. I ended up paying a fat fee because of that.

Matei todos os meus lucros.

De qualquer forma, acabei trabalhando e fui trabalhar em uma empresa chamada WhenIwork.com como chefe de marketing ou, digamos, vice-presidente de marketing. Ela era anteriormente um cliente meu. Mas meu objetivo depois da SingleGrain era aprender sobre o espaço do software.

Sujan: And by learn, I didn’t just want to read it. I wanted to live it, breathe it. I gave myself 5 years there. I told myself that I’m going to go through an exit as an employee and I’m going to take a break from entrepreneurship.

Isso durou apenas seis ou sete meses.

Foi ent√£o que encontrei meu cofundador da Narrow, Jared, e procurei meu cofundador da Mailshake, Colin. Encontrei dois dovers que adoravam trabalhar comigo. E, sinceramente, trabalhamos bem juntos.

Por isso, decidi tentar novamente. Uma delas com certeza funcionaria, certo? Era como se eu tivesse duas chances de sucesso.

I started moonlighting the software space. After a while, I felt like I got really comfortable on the marketing side, but what I didn’t know was customer support.

Sujan: Like, I knew all the theories behind it from all the reading. But when you get in there yourself, it’s very different. The sales side, customer success, the operations, the development and everything else are very difficult to do. And they all hold equal parts in running a company, when compared to marketing.

Jeroen: Em primeiro lugar, como você entrou no marketing? Por exemplo, você trabalhou para grandes empresas e ajudou a fazê-las crescer. Como isso aconteceu?

Like, I knew all the theories behind it from all the reading. But when you get in there yourself, it’s very different. The sales side, customer success, the operations, the development and everything else are very difficult to do. And they all hold equal parts in running a company, when compared to marketing.

Jeroen: Em primeiro lugar, como você entrou no marketing? Por exemplo, você trabalhou para grandes empresas e ajudou a fazê-las crescer. Como isso aconteceu?

Sujan: So I got into marketing because of my cousin, Neil Patel. He was in high school and I think that was like my first year of college. He was like, “Sujan, you got to check out this this SEO thing.”

And I was like, “What’s SEO?”

So first of all he was like, “You got to check out the Internet, you can make a lot of money online.”

I’m like, “That sounds like a scam.” Then he’s like, “No, no, seriously, check it out once.” That’s exactly what I did.

I got into search engine optimization at that moment. He was like I’ll show you how to do it and then we could make something out of it. Back then, I didn’t know. We were young kids. It turns out that he told me about a lot of stuff around SEO, pointed me in the right direction, but didn’t really teach me much. Unfortunately, Neil’s style of training is putting you in the deep end.

Sujan: O que é ótimo, porque aprendi da maneira mais difícil. Então, na faculdade, eu estava apenas fazendo consultoria de SEO em meio período, em vez de conseguir um emprego de meio período ou algo assim. À medida que o SEO evoluiu, eu me tornei mais um profissional de marketing em forma de T, aprendi outros canais de marketing, como PPC e mídia social.

Entrei no SEO antes mesmo de a mídia social existir. Essa foi a época em que plataformas como o Digg haviam começado. Foi bem no início e minha função se expandiu para ser mais um profissional completo de marketing em forma de T.

Jeroen: Então você saiu da faculdade direto para ter sua própria agência?

Sujan: Bem, sim. Eu estava na faculdade quando comecei o Single Grain. Funcionou bem como um trabalho de meio período na faculdade, mas não tão bem como um trabalho de tempo integral ou para ganhar a vida. Por isso, acabei conseguindo um emprego em uma agência, deixando o meu em espera e, em dois anos, passei de um profissional de SEO de nível básico a chefe de SEO.

Percebi que essa coisa de força de trabalho não é para mim. Preciso fazer minhas próprias coisas e, assim, reiniciei o negócio Single Grain e continuei.

Jeroen: Por que a força de trabalho não era para você?

Sujan: Passei de um funcionário de nível básico para o nível de diretor em apenas dois anos. Eu meio que fui subindo degrau por degrau. Em cada passo que dei, dei um salto e tive sorte na época porque muitas pessoas estavam investindo nisso.

Mas, no final das contas, senti que havia um limite de quanto dinheiro eu poderia ganhar. Eu tinha 23 anos e j√° estava ganhando seis d√≠gitos. Com b√īnus e participa√ß√£o nos lucros, eu estava ganhando quase 200 mil por m√™s. Na verdade, um pouco mais.

Sujan: I took a look at what the wages for the next two-three level would be and honestly, they weren’t much better than what I already had.

Eu pensava: "Tudo bem, n√£o tenho diploma universit√°rio porque abandonei os estudos. Ent√£o, eu poderia trabalhar e subir na carreira.

I was 23 and knew that I could always go back to doing what I was doing if I failed. I wanted to make millions and at the time, I just knew it was marketing. I couldn’t be sitting in meetings, looking endlessly at PowerPoint presentations — which I believed was the life of an executive marketing person at any large company.

Sujan: That’s what brought me into doing my own business. The company I was working with was downsizing and I was like, this seems like a good time to leave but also had an opportunity for me.

So I convinced them to be my first client at the agency and I locked in an year’s contract with them. I also got them to pay me more than what my salary was.

I was like, “Look, you guys are laying off people. You’ve just laid off like four or five people in the SEO team that I was running. There’s three people left on the team and I could do all the work myself. Not necessarily the people on the team, but the people you just let go of. So de-risk the position and move me to being a contractor. I want to start an agency anyways.”

Ent√£o, sim, isso funcionou muito bem e eu nos dei um ano para fracassar ou ter sucesso. Acabou dando certo.

Jeroen: Então foi assim que você começou a trabalhar por conta própria. Foi com a intenção de apenas expandir sua agência ou você já estava pensando em outros produtos?

Sujan: Naquela época, eu não estava realmente pensando em produtos. Eu estava pensando mais em quais negócios eu poderia entrar.

Quais são os negócios que posso iniciar? Para que tenho as habilidades necessárias?

Fizemos at√© algumas afilia√ß√Ķes. Ent√£o, eu estava fazendo marketing de afiliados e trabalhando em sites de gera√ß√£o de leads. Tamb√©m estava fazendo muito SEO e marketing para o setor de viagens.

That’s when I thought that we could work on lead generation for insurance in travel. So I built out some sites and it worked pretty well for some time. That was the extent of my product experience then. It was like working on and promoting someone else’s product.

Jeroen: That’s really cool. Are any of your startups VC funded or are they all bootstrapped?

Sujan: I’m a partner in Quuu.co and that is a funded startup. That’s the only one. For the others, we haven’t raised a Series A or anything like a seed funding yet. There’s also one that we don’t run through Ramp Ventures just because we’re a partner and there’s an awesome team behind it based in the UK.

Jeroen: √Č uma escolha consciente n√£o arrecadar dinheiro?

Sujan: Sim, com certeza.

I’ve worked with lots of different VCs. They actually refer us quite a bit of business and I’ve seen the insides of a SaaS company, working with VCs. And realistically, I didn’t want to have a job that I was forced to do for 10 years.

That’s how I look at getting an investment.

The reason I say 10 years or failure really, is that if you’re taking $500, $1,000, $1 million, $20 million, $100 million, whatever it is, the bigger it is the longer the commitment.The VCs don’t want to see things do well, they want to see things explode or implode.

Isso significa que é preciso contratar rapidamente, crescer como equipe e fazer muitas outras coisas que, de outra forma, seriam consideradas irresponsáveis.

Sujan: Eu queria criar algo sustentável. Poderíamos facilmente ter levantado dinheiro para o Mailshake ou qualquer outro empreendimento. Eu também poderia ter entrado em algumas empresas como ER ou como cofundador de um negócio. Mas eu queria ter meu bolo e comê-lo também.

I wanted to make money ‘now’, but I also wanted to make a lot of money later on when something grew or at a potential exit. So, I figured I’ve got enough capital to kind of get things off the ground. For the last few years, I am running an agency because that’s how I make a living and I don’t need to take any money off the SaaS products I am working on.

Isso nos permite crescer sem mais nada.

One of the things I realized is that I don’t want to take a shot at making $1 billion or creating this crazy, big company. I don’t want to be restricted to taking one shot in 10 years and then look at my life like I did none of what I wanted to.

I didn’t just want to give up and go do something like getting a job. I wanted to take more than just that and I wanted it quick. Doing things quicker meant not letting anyone tell me what to do.

Obviously we’ve got some advisors. My partner in Ramp Ventures is an ex-VC and he’s very experienced in capital raising.

Let’s just say, we’re meeting only 30% of our company goals. Now if someone offers us a ridiculous amount of money for it or even a reasonable amount, I want to be able to make my own decision. I never wanted to have a board tell me what I can or cannot do.

Jeroen: Yeah, that’s definitely what happens when you have VCs onboard. When you buy a business, what is exactly the goal you have in mind? Like where do you see the business going?

Sujan: My goal is to try to grow the business. Obviously, I won’t buy a business that I don’t think I can grow. I want to be able to understand who the customers are and see if we can make a better product for them, and identify where its strengths are.

If I think I can grow the business by 10X, then I usually dig deeper. Like, taking a look at the competition, what’s out their, what their weaknesses are and talking to customers. Really, it’s awesome to get into the details to understand a business more. It’s even making me better at running my own business!

Jeroen: Para aqueles com uma pequena empresa de SaaS que possam estar interessados em vender, que tipo de empresa vocês estão procurando?

Sujan: We’re looking for really businesses that are somewhere between 100K ARR to a million. They could be in any industry really, but are wanting to be or are already into SaaS. I just want to make sure that we’re able to grow them. So if anyone out there knows someone who is interested, let me know!

Jeroen: Em que negócio você dedica a maior parte do seu tempo atualmente?

Sujan: Right now, in the last few months, I’ve been kind of serving as a customer success person for Mailshake. I’m kind of known for like going into different businesses to try something new.

Por exemplo, queremos testar se o sucesso do cliente é a contratação certa para nós ou se devemos contratar apenas um vendedor.

I want to see if we get hundreds of new customers signing up, will engaging them get us anything? I mean I know it will. Talking to customers is definitely very valuable, but do customers want to talk to us? What are the KPIs of this role? What are the goals that we’re meeting here?

Quero desempenhar esse papel para poder entender os detalhes.

Sujan: You know, last year I was doing a lot of the marketing for Mailshake. But now for content marketing, we’ve hired a resource. So we’re pretty much serving as the roles that are potentially coming and then working on looking for somebody who could kind of manage it well.

But I’m also doing onboarding and things with other businesses.

For like example, Norbert. We’re expanding the product to add a few more things to what it already does. It has fallen way behind over the years and the competition has gotten way ahead.

So we’re kind of expanding to try and catch-up with the market. I don’t really need to be in the day to day of those things, but that was something me and my partner, Bob, worked on three months ago.

He’s kind of carrying that and once it is live, it will be my turn to do more of the marketing for it.

Posso entrar e sair de empresas com bastante facilidade. Faço isso quase que diariamente. Por exemplo, ontem trabalhei na Pick. Trabalhamos em toda a integração e em algumas coisas técnicas para configurar a automação de marketing por e-mail.

That’s going to take two days for my developer team to execute. So now I’m going back to Mailshake to continue doing what I was doing.

Jeroen: Ent√£o, se entendi bem, voc√™ se concentra muito em experimentar, melhorar e depois delegar. √Č isso mesmo?

Sujan: Sim. Delegar e, em alguns casos, optar por n√£o fazer as coisas.

For example, we’re working on using the ICE framework — Impact, Confidence, Ease of Implementation, in rating all of our ideas.

A lot of times we decide not to do things. Like I already have the product roadmap for the next year and a half for Mailshake. I know exactly what we’re going to do and build for Norbert.

Algumas dessas coisas decidimos n√£o fazer imediatamente. Tentamos priorizar e isso √© resultado de extrema disciplina. Mas isso tamb√©m se deve ao fato de termos recursos limitados e restri√ß√Ķes or√ßament√°rias.

Essas duas coisas me elevaram como ser humano e tamb√©m como profissional de marketing. Porque ter essas restri√ß√Ķes realmente o obriga a pensar no que voc√™ quer fazer e no que deveria estar fazendo.

Sujan: I think, most marketers and also most Founders, get really carried away with the fact that they can do a lot of things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should do those things or those are the right things to do.

I always go through the exercise of answering, is this the absolute right thing to do? We usually move at a slower pace than most and don’t do a lot of the things we’ve listed down. But that also means, we end up doing things better.

Sujan: You know, one of the things I really believe in and am not an expert in but a part of, is great UX. I think like the end consumer when we’re working on Mailshake, Pick and some of our other companies. I like to think if the product is really easy to use and how we can get it right in the first go.

Porque um concorrente pode ter mais recursos e um preço melhor, mas se o nosso for o mais fácil de usar, as pessoas vão se apaixonar por ele.

Jeroen: Certo. Então, quando analisamos as diferentes ferramentas que você tem em seu portfólio, o ponto em comum provavelmente é a facilidade de uso?

Sujan: Yeah, exactly! They’re really simple and easy to use.

I think that’s kind of our motto — especially for Mailshake. At Ramp Ventures too, we want to make things as easy to use as possible for our target demographic.

E isso geralmente significa dizer não à criação de recursos, dizer não a fazer coisas que complicam as coisas.

We get feature requests all the time. I don’t want to say no immediately, so I take a note of it and make a list of things that our customers want. For example, a lot of our customers really want us to build a CRM. They want to be able to do everything inside of Mailshake. But if we did that, the dashboard’s going to become very confusing.

So I know our customers want a certain functionality, but building it out right away isn’t really the best move. I’d rather go and integrate with you guys because that’s what your core functionality is and you’re already great at it. Honestly, I don’t know any tool that can do it all without compromising on the UX.

If you look at HubSpot or Salesforce, you don’t hear people saying that they love the fact that they can do everything on one tool. They just say they use the tools because they are using them for something else as well. But they don’t love them because they do everything!

Jeroen: I agree. It tends to make the solution very complicated, difficult to navigate. It obviously has some advantages but it doesn’t make it fun or like a joy to use it.

Sujan: Sim, exatamente.

Descobri que a diversão e o prazer de usar são, na verdade, o motor do marketing. Assim, nos primeiros dias do Mailshake, conversei com alguns clientes que estavam dispostos a conversar comigo. Temos três casos de uso ou personas diferentes para o Mailshake e esse cliente não se encaixava em nenhum deles.

Temos profissionais de marketing que usam a ferramenta para criar conte√ļdo de link building, por exemplo, e ela tamb√©m tem alguns casos de uso na √°rea de recrutamento, RH e RP. Basicamente, para envio de e-mails frios.

Agora, a pessoa com quem estou falando é um vendedor. Ele dirige uma equipe de vendas de oito pessoas e eles acabaram de se inscrever. Então, eu queria saber quem era realmente esse cara e qual era o potencial que ele via no Mailshake?

I spoke to him and he said that he uses Mailshake for a few things and that even though it didn’t serve a lot of the functionality that he needs, it is a tool that his team can get started on immediately. He said that’s why he loved the tool. He told me that he didn’t care if the tool costed him 20 bucks or $5000 a month, because it made his team more productive and the net gain on efficiency is in the tens of thousands.

Jeroen: Sim, a maioria das pessoas não é muito experiente em tecnologia. Você precisa facilitar muito para que elas se tornem produtivas. Então, o que exatamente faz você continuar?

Sujan: You know, I get really excited about doing something, winning or seeing the results of hard work. I’ll give you an example and this is not even a monetary change or win.

Past Monday, we implemented this form. We knew people were signing up on Mailshake and there were some active users too — for us, these are people who have sent out at least one campaign using the tool. So they went through the at least 5 or 6 steps of setting up their email, writing the email, figuring out who to contact and more.

Queríamos fazer uma pesquisa com os 12.000 clientes que temos para saber para que as pessoas realmente usam o Mailshake.

I’ve talked to hundreds of users, actually probably 1000 by now. But there are still 11,000 of them that I haven’t gotten a chance to interact with.

There are literally dozens of use cases, but I wanted to hear it from our users. So we implemented this forced feedback form that pops up right after you send a campaign. It asks a simple question, “What are you using Mailshake for?” and says, “Tell us more so we can make the software better for you.”

We literally forced every single customer to answer this for us — even those who haven’t sent out a campaign before. There’s no way to close or avoid the feedback form.

In the first one hour of implementation, we got 500 people who answered it. Within the first day, we ended up getting 1,300 responses and now, we’re pacing at like 2,500. This was done just three days ago. It’s exciting to see all the quantitative as well as qualitative information from people who are using Mailshake. Some of them are sending us feature requests, while others are telling us how they integrate it with another tool to serve a workflow.

Sujan: One of the metrics that we don’t really track, is the DAU (daily active users), because I really don’t care about that. I just like to look at the campaigns that have been sent. We also look at the number of emails that we’re sending out per day.

But what got me the most excited, was the feedback we received. We found out that there are almost 2,000 people or at least over 1,000 that login to our product every single day. If I were to have a look at the data and tracked this, it doesn’t nearly show as that high.

Sujan: Another thing that excites me, is what we’re doing for Norbert. We increased the conversion by 3x already. So it was exciting to see the movement, that needle go up from one percent to two percent to three percent; accounts moving from free trials to paid users. Those are not actual numbers, I’m just giving you an idea of what we’re seeing now.

Sujan: But it was exciting to see all those things. Seeing those kind of numbers is exactly why I love working on multiple companies. Because while one is kind of struggling, the other one’s success keeps you going. I can keep poking around and getting my hands dirty with new tactics like. Like the referral program. It’s been seven months since I last executed one..

For one company I’m working on creating in-app personalized workflows and for another, I’m working on customer success. And there’s one, where I’m gathering customer feedback. I get gratification in three different ways. I’m kind of addicted to this and it’s fun!

Jeroen: Sim, acho que você é um Fundador muito sortudo.

Sujan: Sim.

Jeroen: Em termos de equilíbrio entre isso e sua vida pessoal, como isso funciona?

Sujan: That’s a good question. I think for the longest time, I was trying to find my work-life balance. So for the two and a half years that we had been working on Ramp Ventures, there was no work-life balance.

Sujan: There was just work. It was my life and I was trying to survive. And I think a lot of this was also to do with me having fun doing this. I found it to be my true passion. But I think now that we’ve been able to stabilise in the last six months, hire and build out a team, outsource a few tasks including customer support, we’ve now finally been able to get some room on our plates.

Sujan: So now I have a work-life balance and what I try to do with it, is exercise in the morning. I wake up early and by the time my true workday starts, I’m usually caught up on emails. In the evenings, I usually clock off around four o’clock. It’s something really different for me. Signing off or leaving work at 3 or 4 in the evening, feels a bit weird too.

Maybe also because I see that in the last few hours or a typical workday, I’m being completely useless. I’m browsing Facebook or Amazon, texting my wife to ask what’s for dinner or where she’d like to go. I’m really not focused on anything. That’s why I just sign off early to come home or do something fun. Sometimes, I watch a movie and come home to spend time with my wife, and family.

Later towards the evening, I still get one or two hours to get in my zone and I usually use it to do something that would have taken me longer during the workday. Simply because there’s absolutely no distraction at this time. Realistically, my best and my most productive days are Sunday mornings.

Sujan: I wake up early on Sunday mornings. I usually knock out one of the biggest and the hardest thing I have on my plate. This helps me get organized better. During the weekends, my goal is to help my team remove hurdles and bottlenecks, and make sure that they have everything they need to be successful. So I’m not actually doing a whole lot as an individual contributor during the work hours.

Jeroen: Sim. Eu vi no Facebook que você realmente começou a se exercitar. Isso está funcionando para você? Você sente uma diferença em seus níveis de energia?

Sujan: Absolutely. I wake up earlier, I work harder and it’s all because I actually exercise.

E esta n√£o √© a primeira vez que fa√ßo isso, na verdade, √© a segunda. Nos √ļltimos dois anos, eu simplesmente me distra√≠ e deixei de lado a alimenta√ß√£o saud√°vel e a pr√°tica regular de exerc√≠cios. Eu estava fazendo isso h√° cinco anos, mas mudando de cidade em diferentes fusos hor√°rios, palestrando em eventos e trabalhando em v√°rias empresas, ficou dif√≠cil manter o ritmo. Por isso, decidi deixar de lado.

But exercise has helped me a lot. Even just 20 minutes of running or like going to the gym, getting your heart rate up, has helped me be kind of happier. It might sounds like a little infomercial here, but it’s such a simple thing to do. You just have to get off the couch or your office hair and do it.

Jeroen: Sim, concordo plenamente. Também comecei a correr novamente há duas semanas, o que me faz sentir muito melhor.

Sujan: Sim.

Jeroen: Você acabou de mencionar que mudou de cidade, onde está morando agora?

Sujan: Austin, Texas. I’m from LA, lived in San Francisco for five years and then kind of made my way to Austin.

Jeroen: Por que você se mudou para Austin?

Sujan: It’s like mini San Francisco — a mini tech area. Lots of good food, nightlife and I like it because it’s not always all tech focused.

There’s probably a lot of non-tech things like music. I like the work-life balance of my surroundings and again, that kind of forces me to maintain the same.

I think in San Francisco, it’s hard to achieve that. I love that place and have always said that I grew up there, learned my chots. But everyone’s a Founder there, they’re working on something cool and that nudges you to do more than what you’re doing too. Getting out of that environment to see what the rest of the world looks like, was very important for me.

Sujan: E o engraçado é que me relacionei com mais pessoas nos seis a nove meses após sair de São Francisco do que durante todo o tempo em que estive lá.

Jeroen: Com pessoas em S√£o Francisco ou?

Sujan: Sim, com pessoas em S√£o Francisco. Eu me encontrei, at√© mesmo fui e sa√≠ mais com as pessoas. Tive mais reuni√Ķes com pessoas em S√£o Francisco do que nos cinco anos em que estive l√°. E isso aconteceu porque fiz um esfor√ßo concentrado. Quando estou l√° por cinco ou seis dias para uma confer√™ncia ou algo do g√™nero, fa√ßo quest√£o de me conectar com todos que quero.

Whereas, when I was there I’d always be too busy to network and would stall it by another week or month, that turned into ‘never’. But now, I try to connect with someone new at least three to four times a week and have a meaningful conversation with them.

Sujan: I remember a few weeks, a month ago now, we had a great conversation with absolutely no agenda. It was just to meet each other and get to know what we were each doing. I have those kind of conversations more often now because it opens my eyes to what’s happening around me. I can share what I have learnt so far, learn new things and it’s a whole lot of fun.

Jeroen: Yep. I’m also learning a lot now doing these calls, it’s really amazing. You think Austin is a good place to have your startup? What other cool startups are based in Austin?

Sujan: Yeah, I think Austin’s a pretty good place. There’s Book in a Box that is a good startup. Sumo.com and Noah Kagan and that group is here. There’s HomeAway, you know one of the older startups.

Dell, which is not necessarily a startup anymore and some larger companies too. But yeah, there’s a decent amount of startups here. Not as much as you would think though and not always like a software business. There’s companies like Able or LawnStarter subscription lawn care business. Lots of different kinds of businesses.

I think because it’s a smaller community, everyone likes to know each other. I have a monthly CMO breakfast where there are five to seven people that attend with the VPs or executive marketers in the area. So I think my network is much tighter here. While I don’t have too many relationships going, I certainly have more meaningful and stronger associations happening.

Sujan: You know, it’s about really going after who you want to connect with and figuring out how to connect with them. You’ll find that it’s actually not the location that is the hindering factor, it’s either you or your lack of initiative to connect with that person.

Jeroen: Totally agree. Wrapping up, what’s the latest good book you’ve read and why did you choose to read it?

Sujan: I am reading the book, Sapiens. I don’t know why I’m reading it. I would say it’s an interesting book. I chose to read it because every one of my friends kept telling to check it out.

√Äs vezes, aceito cegamente recomenda√ß√Ķes de livros de pessoas que respeito. Mas o livro √© como um aprendizado interessante sobre a humanidade e o ser humano em geral.

I would say the book I most recently read and absolutely loved, is, Principles by Ray Dalio. He’s the guy who kind of you can learn from. The book is about investing and talks about money management, and work-life. It’s one on my favourites now and I would totally recommend it.

Jeroen: Yeah, I’ll definitely going to put it on my list. Is there anything you wish you had known when you started out?

Sujan: No. You know why? It is because even if I knew it, I would still make another mistake and not know where exactly I went wrong. I would fast forward to this interview and wished I knew that mistake. So I learned all these lessons the hard way and it has gotten me where I am today. I’m fine with going on that route over and over again.

Jeroen: Cool. Thanks for being on Founder Coffee, it was really interesting. I’ll send you a package of some actual Founder Coffee in the next few weeks. Thanks again!

Sujan: Muito prazer, obrigado por me receber.



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Jeroen Corthout