Paul is the Co-founder and CEO of Ecquire, a product that helps you boost your sales productivity by allowing you to frictionlessly move your data into CRMs within your current workflow.
→ What is Ecquire do
→ His sign up process
→ How Ecquire help boost sales productivity
→ The whole process fictionless
→ His involved in business development
→ How was a browser extension
→ His thoughts on Salesforce and Google Apps
→ And a whole lot more
Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Brian Taylor. And today I have Paul to go with us. Paul, thanks for coming on the program.
Paul: No problem. Thanks for having me.
Bronson: Absolutely. And you probably notice we’re both smiling right now. And the reason for that is because we’ve actually already done this interview once and my computer blew up and Paul was generous enough to come back on and do it again. So he’s that kind of guy. So you should definitely go check out his product because he’s giving us some real time here. But Paul, you’re the co-founder and the CEO of Esquire. So tell us, what is Esquire.
Paul: Requires a interface for your cloud service. So we interface with CRMs and billing campaigns so that you don’t have to tap in and type data twice. We’ll do it for you.
Bronson: Okay. And where is it primarily live? Is it a standalone application? Is it inside the browser?
Paul: Right now it’s a browser extension for Chrome, and it’s just a browser extension at this point.
Bronson: Okay. And where do people actually use it at? Like inside of Gmail, inside of LinkedIn? I mean, where does this thing kind of pop up?
Paul: It can it pops up. A few different places. Our biggest, I would say the largest applications for them right now are actually in Gmail and in LinkedIn. We also integrate with Hootsuite and Facebook and Twitter and AngelList for us. So it will. Pop up in those places if you wanted to. But Gmail and Gmail and LinkedIn are the. Biggest place for you right now.
Bronson: Okay. So, you know, when you’re inside of Twitter or inside of Gmail or one of those places and you want to save contact information of somebody or the details to one of your CRMs. You hit a few buttons. It takes that data and it kind of puts it into your place of choice. Is that right?
Paul: Never more than two buttons, never one.
Bronson: All right. So I noticed that. So you guys are really big on, like, making that whole process frictionless. Is that a big part of what you guys are trying to do here?
Paul: Yeah. Earlier on, we when we really wanted to test if people would actually use this, we tried to make this, for lack of a better term, sign up process in a sign up process. So how could we actually get you this and using a user as quickly as we can? And so we dropped a signup process. We dropped the name password thing and said, let’s just do this through the browser and see if we can make it as frictionless and see how people interact with the product. And we found that there was actually a way to stay in that meeting. So we’ve created what I feel is an experience that is almost best in class. I think you’re not used to signing up or trying a new product and entering data or adding your email address and remembering the password and with the are you can use it that actually ever touching the keyboard, which we thought was really cool.
Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. So before you started to acquire, were you involved in business development? Did you have background that kind of let you know that there’s something here?
Paul: Yeah. I first to start, I was never the father, but I was on the founding team and I was always in charge of or before get getting customers in the door making more revenue. And we are we had sales force and we try a pay rise and a few Syrians and it got to the point where there was a lot of friction and between myself and the CEO over it, mostly because I actually you know, they were they would ask me for reports of where my process is going and I would say, well, you know, you should hire someone to probably do this and any Syrians, because when I’m doing that, I’m not actually making money and look at the revenue. It’s growing, it’s it’s working. And so it was like this friction point that was making it mutually exclusive to to more people. But yet the reporting that was really important so I, I could find a way to get the data to these forums without actually requiring data entry that there would be a really big opportunity because I knew a lot of people that same issues. Yeah. So yeah, that was the background and kind of a personal pain point. That was very frustrating.
Bronson: No, it makes a lot of sense. And I want to talk about the growth of require a little bit because I think this is the really interesting part of your story that I think our audience is going to get a lot from now. Before Ecuyer was acquire, it was something else. What was it originally called? What was it originally the idea?
Paul: So my co-founder Tal, who is just a really brilliant guy, he was in an incubator in Philadelphia called Dreamer and he had this product called Drop Card, which was under the idea that I should be able to send a business card through a text message. And before the prevalence of smartphones, this was in 2000, he had it started and he had about 11,000 sign ups that were were happening towards the demo where when demo day happened. And that’s right when I had met him and started talking to him about what he could do with the product. And we kept working together and eventually he asked me to be a co-founder and help out and see if we could take the product to a different place. And we started looking at the data and we saw that it is 11,000 sign ups were just in fact that they were to sign up. There was a lot of people getting excited, but only, only 30 or so people were actually paying. And that was my first well, my first, I guess, experience and understanding how big the funnel had to be and how much you need to retain from. So what we did was we called ourselves and those people actually had a change with the network thousand. Just call them up and ask what was what was going on, what they didn’t like. And then we looked at the people that were paying and we saw a lot of commonality with the people who were paying. We’re actually in in business development or business or other roles. And so we asked some people that weren’t using a why not using it or what they get excited about. They kept coming back to this work with things, saying the same things like Don’t give me another service or another product to log into that’s going to disrupt my workflow. And so we eventually evolved Drop Card to be this product that was just business cards to tackling a much bigger problem, which was how do we stay in a work flow and be at every exchange, every interaction, and get data important where it needs to be? And so it we stopped for a long time. We had to really, really iterate because you’re going to be that integrated into a workflow. You can’t be annoying. You have to be provide the value for the real that you’re going to take. So it took us a while to get the product right, I feel like, and we’re still a long way to go, but the drop card of all of you, what is Ecuyer which was a much bigger prop I think audience and our market size so that that’s kind of a linear but a completely different product, completely different market strategy. But yeah.
Bronson: It’s different direction. But it wasn’t just because you decided to, it was based on talking to the customers of the other product. So let’s kind of dove into that a little bit. 11,000 people. And you said you talked to them on the phone, right? Not just email.
Paul: Yeah, we we we sat on a tall a tall house on his path, you know, pulled up the Excel spreadsheet and just started making phone calls and.
Bronson: Like, how many are we talking here?
Paul: It was a near 4000, but part of the profit. How do you authenticate with with a cell phone number? So we actually have their numbers. And we. Spent months doing that and it got to. To a point where I think we were stupid enough or crazy enough to probably all everybody, but after after so many that we started hearing the same things from the same type of people that it felt like, okay, we don’t need to make any more phone calls. We need to actually do this. We called quite a few emailed about and surprisingly they were very receptive to a founder calling or ask what they thought and what they didn’t like, asking them what they wanted to see or what they would you would pay for what thing. One very valuable is to hold people accountable to what their feedback is and say, If we were to build this, would you pay $9 for it? Most of the time they say that and those are their intentions. Sometimes they don’t actually do it, but I think that’s a good way to really prioritize the feedback and where where you’re where your resources should go to.
Bronson: Yeah. And when you’re making those phone calls, I’m assuming that wasn’t too fun right now in many ways. Like when you hear all these customers, I mean, obviously most of them are not paying for it because only 30 were paying and you call it a thousand. So the vast majority of people you called didn’t like you enough to give you money for your product. And you have to ask them why in here? Probably negative feedback. So does that feel like crap or what?
Paul: It’s pretty brutal, I think. I think to pick up a phone and know that what’s on the other end is some somebody else telling you why you’re an idiot or what. A thousand times it’s ah it’s actually it’s not fun but at the same, at the same time I think one of our strengths I think as a company is to and how we make fun of ourselves a lot. We laugh about a lot of situations and it was almost like we’d be laughing hysterically before I’d take the phone call up and say, Hey, what do you think Sally’s going to call me or dumb ass or what? And like, we’d like this joke and and so I make it fun and but at the same time, what you have there is actually your blueprint. The product is going to tell you what they don’t like and you’ve got to iterate on that. The people that like what you’re doing, it’s good to get back from the messaging and they’ll tell you the things that they do like. And those are the kind of things that you use for messaging on the website or in your marketing material. People that don’t like to actually give you the blueprint to get better.
Bronson: So absolutely. I mean, they’re giving you a degree in your own product. I mean, they’re teaching you from the great women on it to the, you know, complicated stuff exactly what they want, why they want it, and the words they use to describe what they want to put in your own copy and your headlines. I mean, giving you this thing on a silver platter. But I think so many startups, they’re they’re afraid to do customer development to the extreme that you have. I mean, they’re afraid to talk to ten people, much less a thousand. And so I think that what you do right there is a great example of how to get going in a direction that you already know is probably going to work. I’m such a huge insight from this interview is talk to a thousand people and suck it up.
Paul: I think one of the a lot of credit went to talk to at one point we were just asking about our end product, like, what would you like to see? And this, you know, in this card app space and they would talk to us and then I think Paul one day just said, Hey, do you have any other really big problems that you have that you’re just annoying? And then they started like getting into this same thing. And so we were serving that. We’re talking to the same type of titles at different companies or job descriptions. And when we started asking that question, it was like this major breakthrough was like, all these guys are saying that there is a much bigger problem and they would all pay a lot more for it. And it’s it seems like it’s a huge market. So I think one thing you got to keep in mind is get feedback on your art. But but doing that also takes into this consideration that you think you have a product market fit. And you should also ask what are some other really problems that you hate for what you hate, or what’s a bigger problem that we could help with? Because you’re going to find that you’re serving kind of the person first. You want to find out about their specific problems, not assume that your current product that they’ve tried is just a few tweaks away. Try to find out more about their workflow, to find out more about what they hate or what they don’t like. And you’ll find more ways to create a bigger opportunity for yourself. You ask them about themselves and other things that they don’t like.
Bronson: Yeah, you know, you said a keyword there workflow. One thing I found is, you know, workflows are those things that you just have to do them. Whatever job you in, there’s a workflow and everyone’s workflow has something that they hate. And if you can find something in a workflow, that means you found something that a business is using. Some means they have money to spend on solutions. And so workflows, I think, are just like this great place for people to look at to develop products and have a rabid user base that’ll pay a good margin for things. So just. You know, one side. No, there.
Paul: No, I think that’s a great point. And we heard that from these really good account executives or business development professionals. These people were great at their jobs. And they they view they view their workflow as meeting more people, being creative and problem solvers. That’s their preferred workflow. They go to LinkedIn, they go to Facebook to prospect. They don’t see around the prospect. And so they started saying, I’ll try anything at least once in this from my workflow helps me be more productive. And so to find out what was actually their preferred workflow. I think that’s why we gravitated towards a browser extension. We saw that is the lowest common denominator in workflow. We did create something new for you to go to and it wasn’t very innovative on our standpoint. They told us that. Want to log into yet another thing? Mm hmm. They told us that we tried to figure out how can we create something where they don’t have to log into, and we saw how the how was a browser extension.
Bronson: Now, I think it’s really why is how you’ve done that, which is surprising to me because I’ve always heard the advice that you can’t make money on Chrome extensions. Don’t do them. Go do something else. Have your own, you know, complicated product that lives in its own world. I actually believe that until I met you, to be honest, I actually thought like that was good advice. But then the kind of problem you were solving, you needed to be ubiquitous. And your tab in the browser is not ubiquitous, but a browser plug in is ubiquitous as long as they’re in Chrome. Right. And a lot of people are especially lot of the people that you’re interacting with. And so I think that’s a great way to kind of solve the pain that you guys needed to solve. Now, let me ask you about the numbers now a little bit. So you were at 11,030 7000 sign up. 30 were. Yeah, the numbers have changed quite a bit. You have less that have actually signed up, but far more percentage wise that are paying. So what are the numbers look like now?
Paul: So if you go to our browser count, I think on our if you go to if you try to download fire from the Chrome Store, it was it says right there how many users are and I think we’re just north of 3400, 3500. But the conversion rates are actually decent. When we just looked up, we’ve got 208 paying customers. And what’s cool about that is a few of those numbers of that 208 represent ten and 20. The organization. Mm hmm. So you have one paying customer in that 208, but it represents 30 or 40 feet. So we’re getting enterprise is now actually purchasing for multiple people for the year. And this is the browser extension for Salesforce is, you know, 19 bucks. So I think that what the thing you brought up earlier is not something we hear as well in our circle of friends and investors when they hear things like, well, it’s just a browser extension. Mm hmm. Our customers don’t give a shit about. Well, if it gets to their data and it makes them better. So they don’t even know that. What’s the background of the technology? It just helps them solve a problem. And where our real people will talk about was just a browser extension. We built it to derisk and see if there was something worth building on top of or it is a good way to do. Risky and was really fast. It turned out to be that we could actually make money off it. So let’s see if we could keep this process and keep increasing the revenue and and and improving experience without having to create a plug in for different platforms and create a website that people want to use. Until we actually see a reason to build a more robust offering, that’s a lot more involved. We’re going to continue to increase hopefully increase revenue and improve the experience on just the browser.
Bronson: Yeah. And you know, your ratios in the funnel are already so much better. But I think what you said is important because, you know, we get caught up, you know, in the startup world thinking about things the way startups do. But to the consumer it’s just about pain. That’s it. That’s all they see, that’s all they know, that’s all they care about. That’s only thing that makes them pull out a credit card. Nothing else really matters at the end of the day. So I think it’s a great point that, you know, I may have an opinion on a browser plug in. Who cares? It’s irrelevant. Yeah. You know, you’re not solving my pain, so it doesn’t matter.
Bronson: Yeah. No, that’s great. I love that advice. So since, you know, refining your product and kind of finding that product market fit, knowing what they really want would have been your primary customer acquisition strategies. How do people find out about you? How do they know you exist? What do you do to actually get the customers now?
Paul: So I think they fall into three categories. And the first one would be that we think the real big pain point is getting data from your your where you’re experiencing it to your cloud services. Mm hmm. So by integrating what these cloud services are, working with their APIs, most of them have marketplaces, too. So in the high rise marketplace, in the Salesforce marketplace, in the MailChimp marketplace, and even in Chrome, you’ll see our extension, you’ll see acquire, and that is where we’re getting the highest qualified traffic from. So they’re in those places, they have that problem. They’re down with it from those places. So we feel like the more places that we can actually integrate with. It’s almost a marketing decision as much as it is a technology decision because those those Web services want more data and so they help promote us. They advertise for us as well. So that’s one strategy. And that that’s very high quality, quality, qualified traffic. It’s not very high volume. Our backend, our second method is actually given the nature of the problem that we’re we we’re trying to solve. If you’re using a score, you’re usually not a one man show. You’re with a team, you’re with an organization that has the pain point magnified if it’s across a few different people if you talk to the same person. Mm hmm. Across company. Across the company. So we have this add your team function where whereby we say, you know, you gets more valuable with with the more people on your team using it. So what we’ve done is right after what we call the Aha moment, which is the first time you experience seeing data go from where it just happened to your CRM automatically, we say, Isn’t that cool? Don’t you want to add your team? So we add that there and we still have a lot of really cool things we want to do around that. We think that’s going to be our biggest driver of new customers. But that’s the second thing. I think the last thing is we do have. A1i. Think one of our strong suits is our tools were really sharp in marketing. So is Twan and I think we’re good at putting content out. We have a blog that gets a lot of traffic and a lot of people that appreciate it. We do marketing stunts, we do. We try to keep our content different and unique and funny and also relevant and qualified to the audience. So those are the three main things, and they’re mostly decided that way because it’s a low input, high output thing for us. We don’t have a high we don’t have high customer acquisition costs. I think I get into I’m trying to sell to a larger enterprise and at this stage of the product and it’s it’s costly just because we we still have a lot of ways to go. Mm hmm. So meeting with a CEO, meeting with the end user, meeting with the manager who’s going to make a decision for ultimately a thousand or 2000 seats. Mm hmm. At this stage, I think the product needs to be a bit more a bit more polished and more geared towards an enterprise before we can actually fully delve into putting money towards that or putting my efforts towards that. And we will get to that. But right now, that’s on the smaller scale of of our customer acquisition strategy.
Bronson: Yeah, no. Makes sense. And I was reading your blog because you mentioned blogging as a part of your strategy. And you’re right, I’m reading and there’s some interesting stuff on there. One of them was something I think you called the chat hack. Yeah. It’s a way that you reach ideal customers in organizations. Tell us about your chat hack a little bit.
Paul: Sure. I think the really good thing to I hope the audience gathers, too, is really understand you’re your most qualified customer. And so what I mean by that is if I meet you at an event or something like that and you say, What do you do? I’m going to just the first thing I’m going to say is, well, do you use Salesforce and Google Apps? And if you say yes or no, I’m going to decide whether you’re you’re qualified or not. Because the biggest pain point we have or we solve is someone who has Salesforce and Google Apps because they’ve got to get data to that, that CRM or that what have you. And that’s where our highest margin customer is. So the thing the chat hat came from, I had I had bought a Google led list of customers using Google apps, large enterprises, and I didn’t know if they were using Salesforce or not. So. What I would do is I would go to their sites and I would if they had Olark or some sort of chat, I would they’d say, Hey, can I help you today? And I would say, Yeah, we’re thinking about do you guys have do you guys have an integration with Salesforce? Does your service integrate with Salesforce? And it could have nothing to do with what they do. I would just I would just in a few questions, basically ask them, Well, do you guys use Salesforce internally? If you do, I can better explain to you what I’m talking about. And they would say, they’d say, Yeah, oh yeah, we use Salesforce or know what Salesforce are. We don’t use that anyway. And then I would understand, okay, this is a Google Apps customer and then and they’re using Salesforce. So the next step would be actually pinpointing down who the decision makers and end users would be at that company and really going after them. And so the chat hack is basically using a company that I’m trying to sell into that they’re there their chat, their chat solution to find out if they’re using Salesforce. So it was a really, really high, low input, high output thing for us to try.
Bronson: I like that one so much because when you show up on a website, you know, or Olark or whatever pops up because they want to sell you and then use the chat dialog to sell them and to get a better qualified lead. So I like that one a lot. And you know that one specific thing, you know, other people may not be able to imitate it because our product is different and it should work, but it’s that kind of creativity that you have to be that scrappy, that creative, that ingenious. You have to figure out a way to find where your customer is and how you’re going to get access to them. Because no one is like making it easy for us. No one’s saying, Hey, yeah, here’s our ideal customer. Just shoot them an email. I’m sure they’ll be like, You get to do work, like figure out are the leads. So I like that because it shows us how to be creative, how to really get to a good qualified list there. So that’s awesome.
Paul: I think I think a cool thing to, you know, with that point is we deal with a lot of really amazing, really sharp business development professionals. And I think most people would say, well, you do you sell to salespeople and it has this such a negative connotation to it. And it’s frustrating because when you deal with someone who’s really excellent at because Devin, they’re so professional, they’re so they’re so creative and they’re just problem solvers. And when you talk to them, you know, a great quote we got from Sandy Gibson from Jet Elevate. He said, I love your product because we’re we’re creative, we’re not administrative. And and you talk about, you know, I would not enter the chat hack thing into my CRM. This is what I’m doing because I don’t think it’s something you can replicate. But we tried to create the product that allowed them to get the use, get the quality or get the the value of a CRM without having a ton of input. So we try to keep it very low touch, high level. So you have guys like Sandy who appreciate our product and I think that comes from really just trying to understand them and really being humble about us, not knowing anything, understand, understanding who these people really are and what are they going to use and what are they not going to use? So sorry I got off on a tangent, but I think it.
Bronson: Stands for good.
Paul: Yeah, I think I think we went into this not really knowing anything and just listening to people. And when you start started to try to look at what current and natural workflows are, you have people like Sandy or other really creative business development professionals. You can see how they don’t want to spend time in their CRM because they get they get ideas that are different and unique and creative and they want to act on them and we want to actually allow them to do that more so that there was more to that.
Bronson: So now that’s great. There’s something else that I came across in her blog that I was really interested in. Is your thoughts on perfect price discrimination? Let me first explain to our audience what it is. We don’t mean discrimination in a negative sense here, so explain what perfect price discrimination is and then tell us how you guys are kind of uniquely situated to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Paul: Sure. So I think in my first startup, we actually had a we’re dealing with a lot of unbanked customers and we didn’t want to it was in transportation and we didn’t want to charge an underbanked or unbanked customer as much as someone who had, you know, $100,000 discretionary income each year. So we started I started researching and this this theory and I’m such an economics nerd and looked at this this idea called perfect price discrimination, which basically allows you to charge a person based on, you know, what they’re going to tolerate and not necessarily create one price and make everybody across the board pay for it. So in a day, in an example, you’d have a situation where, let’s say a barber had perfect information on what your preferences for a haircut and what my preferences for a haircut. Now I think you’re. Looks nicer than mine, which means that you probably would pay like $30 for a haircut where I’m only going to pay max 15. So a barber that knows that information will charge 32 or 15 to me. But what you have now is a barber who’s charging 20. So what he’s going to do is charge 20 across the board. He’s going to lose the $15 from me and he’s going to lose the $10 and in margin he could have got from you. So with perfect price discrimination, you can actually have a barber that makes $25 more than he currently is in that situation. With us, what we found was that because our product solves a pain point that cloud services have, we actually can identify what type of company you are and what your price palette is, if you will, based on the services you’re using. So we are. Where our pricing actually comes from, depending on what services you use. So if you’re using a high rise Google Apps, I’m sorry, Google Docs, MailChimp Streit, you’re buying you’re probably a younger company and looking for deals on things where we can charge we charge nine bucks for those integrations, whereas if you’re at a salesforce, you’re probably not making the decision about buying Salesforce for an enterprise. And we charge $90 for that. And granted, we do do a lot more work for us. For us. But what you have is a customer who comes in and says, I use the services and then we kind of know the optimal price point that we can charge to get that. We’re not we’re not dissuading any of the companies that are using like a MailChimp or a free service. And we’re not losing money on charging to us for a price for a salesforce, which requires a lot more work and support from us. So it was a it was a way to actually get the highest margin without iterating on a product or creating new technologies, iterating around pricing.
Bronson: Yeah, now that’s great. And hopefully the people watching this can really think about their own pricing structure right now and maybe there’s a way to get better. You know, it may not be perfect, but it may be better price discrimination. Is there a way to qualify your users based on their price palette so that you can, you know, optimize which are charging them? Because I think it’s a really good insight. You’ve also written publicly that you don’t want to start using any paid acquisition for Ecuyer until you have 30% retention. So first kind of tell us, what do you mean by 30% retention? Because everybody can you know, they calculate these numbers differently. And then why is that? Why don’t you just want to do a paid acquisition on day one and see what happens?
Paul: Sure. So like you said, retention for any product is going to be completely different. I would I would first start by saying, know, what is your aha moment? What’s a product? What is that experience where someone experiences that aha moment? Do they do that again in a certain period of time or do they do that for a length of time? So first we had to start with identifying what’s what’s the aha moment that people are using us or paying us for. And we think that’s when you send data or see that data in your CRM that previously would have taken you three or 4 minutes to enter. So if someone uses EA prior to move data to CRM, we call that our aha moment. If they if they try it one time or they see it one time and they do it again next month, we’ve considered them as being retained. So if they use it for four weeks and then the fourth week they they use it again, then we would consider that having retained that customer at this stage of the company and I think 30% is, is, is pretty high. But when you talk about a qualified audience that actually sees that happening, we we wanted to create a culture that really, really put a lot of emphasis on just keep improving, keep improving, keep improving the product to where we could shoot for that 30%. And one talk about as it relates to the paid acquisition, I think until you get to that actual target retention number and you’re based on your industry and your product, it’s going to be way different. 2% might be great for your for your product once until you get to that actual target retention rate. I think you get in a situation where you’ll start labeling some paid campaigns as being failures when really what was happening was that the product wasn’t just just wasn’t good enough. The campaign or the channel actually might actually might work, but you’re labeling it as not working because you’re right, it wasn’t good enough. And what further compounds that problem is that if your customer acquisition cost is too high, it will just it will absolutely ship months off your off your company. You’ll you’ll get in this situation where you’re just paying way too much for customers that you weren’t able to capture yet.
Paul: Even if it’s the perfect channel. So we we do you do a lot of. Some paid and will still continue to do paid where you need to get into a point where you still need a high data set to test new products or new features and you need to have more people coming in the funnel. And sometimes you do actually have to pay for some placement to get a new set of users or cohorts in the top of the funnel to try the new experience and see if there’s improvements. But that’s just for as we talked about yesterday. Yeah, I thought you brought up a great point, which was that you can segment that by paying for data, not actually paying for a customer. I thought that was really insightful. So yeah, we do actually pay for some placements to get new data in the funnel, but here that customer acquisition I think should have happened way later. Right after you get retention, figure it out.
Bronson: Yeah, no, it makes more sense and it just helps people to understand when they realize what phase of the company they’re in. They don’t try to take someone else’s tactic and apply it to themselves. You know, if that’s right, the growth stage and the product is already perfectly fit to the market and then you can throw money at paid advertising. And as long as the you know, the lifetime value of the customer is higher than the customer acquisition cost, then you just keep doing that. But if you try to do that game too early, then like you said, you think there’s a failed channel when really it was a failed product so early on, pay for data, later pay for customers, but just know what you’re doing. So you have the right kind of the right, you know, knowledge from it when you’re done. So yeah, absolutely. Makes a lot of sense. That’s right. Now, let me ask you about this, too. You teach a class on startup plays about how to get your first 1000 customers. And I’m sure some of you probably you’ve already mentioned in here, but were the highlights of that class. You know, if you were getting with a new startup today and they’re like, hey, tell me, Paul, how do I get my first thousand customers? What are the were the highlights or the main points?
Paul: So I think I think a lot of times in figuring out a product, the first we go down this road of thinking technology first and we don’t think about what are your idea, your ideal customers and what’s what’s the organic phrase they’re using to complain about their problem? Mm hmm. So you can look at just basic Twitter searches for I hate data entry for your data entry to my CRM. And you can actually look at these people who they are, what they do, and create online relationships with them and actually involve them in the process early on. So you could get a group of the first concentric circle, I call it, of people that have this problem that you can have personal relationships with. And it could be 30, it could be 50, it could be 100. If you reach talk to them offline, say, I saw you’re complaining about this. I’m thinking about solving a problem in and around this. Would you be excited or would you be interested in trying this when it’s ready? You could create these relationships. And the amazing thing about it is when when you’re first starting, when you tie those people into that process, they feel a part of it. They start recruiting other people that are like them. They want to help and go out of their way and be a part of something great. So I think when we’re in the business that we’re in, we tend to get into the technology first before we actually find out the organic search criteria or what people actually are saying they complain about. I’ll say that as an interface to your cloud service. There’s not one person on Twitter complaining that they don’t have an interface for their cloud service. They’re complaining that I hate monthly quotas or I hate reporting, or I hate data, data entry or CRM. So we try to engage and create a a user group that has a meaningful relationship, and they’ll help you and they’ll follow you through to where you’re screwing up with the product and say, you know, I’m not going to go complain about this to my friends because you’ve set the expectation with me that there’s going to be bugs or I’m trying something new. I think that’s one one big thing. The other thing I try to talk about is Net Promoter Scores, I think is a very valuable scale to measure feedback on. It’s it’s very there’s some some people that don’t agree with it. But for a startup, I think that figuring out of someone’s referring your product or not is a great way to decide if the product is good enough or it’s not. If you’re creating more detractors than you are promoters, there’s no reason in the world you should be putting $1 in marketing. It should be asking them why they’re talent, why they’re telling their friends not to use you. So a really creative way to measure the pulse of your product and if it’s good enough, I think is Net Promoter Score. I talk a lot about retention, too. I really do think that there’s ways to figure out if you’ve got that metric of retention and it gets into marketing once you have those things in place and once you have those feedback loops in place because you want to get someone who’s not a prospect to become an eventual evangelist. And a lot of the startup play is about different ways to do that and different ways to gauge where they are in the pipeline once you get. To an evangelist. I feel like that is the most valuable thing you can create at your company. And so our entire sales process in CRM is getting people to that evangelist state because they’ll talk about your product more than you will, and they’ll get more customers and more qualified traffic than you ever will. And it’s the highest return on any sort of investment, I think. So that the idea is really actually creating as many evangelists as you can, because when you have them, they turn into five new customers. It’s a really amazing thing. And there’s there’s there’s not much pay that needs to happen when you’ve got a group of evangelists that always want to talk about you.
Bronson: Yeah. So I like the, you know, the phrase evangelists because like, I’m somebody who shares what I think is great in the world. It’s just.
Bronson: My personality. It’s part of who I am. I mean, since our interview yesterday, I’ve shared equally with somebody that I had a conference call with and I said, Hey, you need to go look into this. You probably need to use it. And I’m going to share it with everybody who needs it from now on, because I’m the kind of person you know. So I think you’re right. That’s what we’re trying to move people toward. You know, one thing that stand out in this interview, though, that I want to kind of reiterate for audience is there’s two things about you that I think people can learn a lot from. One is you’re very product centric. You know, you talk to the users before you build the product. You build it based on what they’re telling you. You make it something that solves a real pain. You are just very much almost obsessed with the product itself and what it’s doing in the world. And the second thing that I get from this interview is you have a very long view of what you’re doing. It’s not about the stats tomorrow necessarily. It’s about, you know, next year or five years. What are we doing to get to the right place? You’re not trying to get things up into the right for an upcoming meeting next week. You’re trying to get things up to the right for successful, great outcome. You know, is that fair enough? Do you think that’s kind of how you see things, product centric and long view?
Paul: I guess that’s pretty astute. I would say. I didn’t think of it that way, but I think it’s spot on. I think one one of our favorite advisors is David Barrett. He’s the CEO of Expensify. He’s just just one of the most generous people with his time and really, really great input. And when we first met David, within 5 minutes of talking to him, you know, he said, when you look at you talk to these investors and you talk to people that are looking at your numbers, this 120% spike in a month, that’s just a lot of excitement or flash in the pan, he said. If you can get sustainable 10% growth for two years, that’s real growth. That’s growth. It takes a long time to lose because you’re growing from organic people, people organically talking about you, and it shows a pattern of consistent continual improvement as opposed to some huge spikes from press releases or some new feature. That’s a lot of flash, not actual organic growth of 10% consistently for two, three years. And when he said that to us, it just felt like it was in line with our Yeah. What we thought was good, what we, where we wanted to focus. And it wasn’t that we were searching for what we wanted to hear, but we, we’re that kind of company that grows at that pace from referrals and we can take feedback that’s incremental and act on it and not take feedback from 10,000 people and lose most of it. If you use this in three months as opposed to today, it’s going to be, you know, 5% better. It’s not going to be that we hired 35 engineers and try to build 100 things. It’s that we’re focusing on one thing and making it really good. And we do have a three, five year kind of plan of what we want to do. And we think that that 10% growth is for four, three or five years is actually ends up becoming pretty significant.
Bronson: So and I love that quote from him, you know, just, you know, looking for that 10% growth month after month or whatever, because it almost gives us permission to focus on the right things. You know, it’s when we try to compare ourselves to someone else’s growth chart and we try to recreate it, we move too fast. You know, I think about it like, you know, you take a pizza dough, right? And, you know, you spin it up in the air to kind of, you know, get it to spread out and become an actual pizza. And if you do it too fast, you get holes in it. And that’s just the way it is. Like you can do it and make it big, but you have to do it slowly sometimes or you ruin the pizza. And I think we do that with start ups. We try to stretch the dough and yeah, like look how big it is, but there’s holes all over the place and things are broken and it doesn’t work and people don’t love it. And long term it’s not the right solution. But you do things organically, methodically, long term, and magical things can happen by year two, but not week two. It just it takes more than that and people don’t get that sometimes.
Paul: That’s that’s really spot on, I think. Gabe Weinberg DuckDuckGo is another really great advisor to us and he’s he sends out monthly updates on DuckDuckGo since its inception. I think it’s on month 37 or something like that and all if you look at the track. And that he’s got it was just consistent, consistent, consistent improvements. And then out of nowhere, some magical thing happened where the right improvement happened in the right sequence or with some neat little new feature focused along with some enhancements on poor performance. And then you saw this spike happen. And so I think, you know, 10% is great. And we’re you know, it’s a good thing to have happen. And I think those months where you get the 40% consistently, I think those are a product of sitting with the product incrementally improving it. And then all of a sudden there’s this magic storm where the right people see it and it’s that much better than it was three months ago. And then they tell their friends and then you see that growth. But I think to your point, it’s it’s it’s a great it’s a great way to articulate it. It’s almost like permission to focus on the right things, focus on the product and growth that that matters. That’s from current users telling their friends and figuring out why they’re not telling their friends. Then fixing, that’s what they do.
Bronson: And it comes back to, you know, it’s full circle. It’s finding real pain because they’re finding the real pain. You can play long ball because you know it’s a real pain. It’s not going away. If it’s a fake pain, you have to get something in real quick or you’re just like, What’s the point? I know I’m not solving a real pain and it’s not growing, so I move on to the next thing. So you have to start with the real pain and then you can, you know, kind of go that direction. So that makes a lot of sense. When I ask you one last question here. It’s been a great interview. I think so much of what you said, people are going to, you know, listen to it. They’re going to get actionable advice. They’re going to go and, you know, put it into play with their own startup. You’ve been really transparent with everything you’ve said that. So the last piece of it is kind of high level. What’s the best advice that you can give to any startup that’s trying to acquire or monetize or retain users? What would you say to that entrepreneur listening to this right now, wanting to understand growth the way you do, maybe?
Paul: Yeah, I think that. It would be something I learned the hard way when I when I first started with with tall and drop card, I think I was so excited to just run my own thing or have my own thing and have this kind of exit where I know I was going to make a lot of money and be really young and be on the cover of whatever Entrepreneur magazine. And when you’re younger, you can actually muscle through through that. And and actually, you have enough adrenaline to to keep you up to just focus on that idea. And but everything everything breaks when you realize you don’t you’re not in it for that. It you start to think about what actually matters and what you really want to do in a product you want to solve for yourself. And only when I think, did we actually start solving a problem that we both knew and both really wanted to see happen and we’re excited to see did we see returns starting to happen and do we see improvements in the products? So the advice I would get is do something you really, really want to see happen that you really know intimately about. If if you know something, well, let me that differently. Do something that you love doing and that you know a lot about, because it will it will catch up with you if you’re not doing it for those reasons, and it will burn you out and it will fry you. And it did. It did to me. And so do something you’re passionate about. Denmark Martell is another great advisor, and he’s a he’s a guy who runs clarity, a firm which is built around giving entrepreneurs advice. And he said to me on the phone, The only competitive advantage you have is, is the passion that you have for your business, because it’s the only thing that will get you through the really bad times. And there there are a lot if you wake up and don’t love what you what you’re doing, you’re going to lose. And so pick something you really love doing because you’re going to be in this for two, three years at minimum, and it should be something you like doing. So that’s my advice.
Bronson: That’s great advice and great advice to end on. Paul, thank you so much for coming on the show again in some senses. And again, thank you so much for doing that. I know it’s a pain to to redo an interview, but it shows you the kind of person you are. And I really do think that your product reflects those kind of values. You’re willing to go the extra mile. So thanks again, Paul.
Paul: Thank you. This is awesome. Talk to you soon.
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