Episodes

Greg Sands

Greg Sands

Prior to founding Costanoa Venture Capital, Greg Sands was the first product manager for Netscape, actually coined the name Netscape, and created the SuiteSpot Business Unit, which he grew from zero to $150m in revenue.

TOPIC GREG COVERS

  • He is the founder and managing director of Costa Ventures
  • Invested in early-stage companies for over 15 years
  • First hire in Netscape, where he helped grow a business unit from 0 to 150 million in revenue
  • The conversation centers around his insights on growth hacking in B2B startups
  • How growth hacking differs in B2B startups compared to the more common consumer viral loop of growth hacking associated with companies like Airbnb and Craigslist
  • Growth hacking in B2B startups: achieving product market fit by understanding and mapping audience needs into product
  • In B2B, it’s about finding the right audience, adapting product and marketing/sales strategies accordingly
  • Finding product market fit unlocks growth but focusing on the product first is essential
  • And a whole lot more

LINKS & RESOURCES

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

READ THE TRANSCRIPTION

Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Greg Sands with us. Greg, thanks for coming on the program.

Greg: I’m thrilled to be here.

Bronson: Yeah, this is going to be an exciting episode, but let me tell people about you a little bit in case they don’t know who you are. So you are the founder and managing director of Casino of Venture Capital. But beyond that, you’ve been investing in early stage companies for 15 years now, over 15 years. But here’s some really interesting stuff about your past that people have to dig to find out a little bit. You were the first hire in Netscape after its founding engineering team was on board, and you were the first product manager at Netscape. You actually coined the name Netscape. You wrote the initial business plan, and you created a business unit within Netscape that grew from 0 to 150 million in revenue. So basically, that means we should listen to what you have to say, right?

Greg: Well, I try to tell my kids that they don’t seem to listen as well. But no, look, I think I’ve been really fortunate to be in some very interesting places and part of the development of some really exciting businesses. It’s always a team effort. It takes a lot of people working together to create a great company. But but that’s part of the that’s part of the challenge of growth hacking and company building.

Bronson: Yeah, well, that’s a very humble response. But the truth is, you’re probably responsible for a lot of the success that you made happen. So let’s dig in to what you figured out, what you learned, and just kind of give us your insights on the world so that we can replicate some of that success if possible. So here’s my first question for you. You know, this is a show about growth hacking, growth hacker, not TV. It’s what we talk about. What does growth hacking mean in a B2B startup? We’re so used to hearing about Airbnb, you know, growth at Craigslist. We’re so used to the consumer kind of viral loop of growth hacking. What does it mean in a B2B startup, though?

Greg: Absolutely. So we spend basically all of our time in the context of business to business software environments. And most of the time, what you’d think of as growth hacking is really about the process of trying to achieve product market fit. And so it’s finding your audience and understanding and mapping that audience’s needs into the product and doing that so that you can solve their problem on a repeatable basis. And what I think in the consumer landscape, one can basically say, I’m trying to get broad reach and I’m trying to get in front of a lot of people and I’m going to use growth hacking to do that and and then create a viral loop. Well, in the business the business environment, it really is more that you want to get in front of the right audience. And you have to you usually have to interact with the market in order to figure out what that audience is. And so to me, it’s it’s in the end, it ends up a process of learning about the various segments that you might potentially address, meaning is it a small business customer or is it a mid-sized company customer? And then and then usually you build a 1.0 product. You’ve got it in front of some people and you might have to make some decisions. That is, if you decide you’re going to go after the small customer, you might need to build easier onboarding scripts and actually simplify the product so that they can be successful because they don’t have deep teams, they don’t have as much specialized capability. If you go after a mid-market customer, you might find that you’re missing three product features or that you’ve got to build standard connectors in order to be able to repeat efficiently solve their problem. And if and for example, if you end up saying, no, we really have to go after enterprise customers, you might need to do things like single sign on or a security audit or build an API for them to do their customization. So you don’t have to do that customization, but that process of taking the market and the product and then ultimately the marketing and sales, where do I find those customers and how do I close them and get the the alignment I’ve sometimes talked about that is the kinesthetic chain of the business, right? Like throwing a baseball or you know, it starts with your hips and you just got to pull the rest of the body in through it. So you’ve got to get product right. But you can’t get product right without answering the question for whom?

Bronson: Yeah. In your experience, whether it’s, you know, firsthand or watching the startups you invest in once they find product market fit, does that unlock growth? Because I’ll tell you, one of the fears I have as a founder and as an entrepreneur is focusing on product means. I’m not focusing on top of funnel today. I’m focused on something deeper, more fundamental. And it makes me a little bit uneasy, like, well, I’m not going out, I’m not acquire new customers. I’m not doing all I can to the top of the funnel. But have you seen that focus on product actually does unlock growth just not right this second?

Greg: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a great question. So. I think you still need to be interacting with the market and sometimes that’s as a founder yourself. Sometimes you have one or two sales are marketing or business development people who are also doing that. So it’s a little bit like working on the on the product in a vacuum. Is it any good? You know, it’s like a shark. You’ve got to be moving forward or you die. It’s absolutely the case that once you get product right, it it unlocks growth and that shows up in and and basically customer acquisition costs and and customer customer retention price points, lifetime value. Right. So that that core equation, customer acquisition cost, the lifetime value is what you’re working. And people who have better product market fit have better ratios. Right. And so that absolutely happens. Now, product market fit isn’t static. Right? So it often unlocks growth. And it’s and you get you get a period of growth. And then and this happens a lot in our portfolio is you might if you start out focused on mid-market customers, for example, you know, often 1000 to 10000 employees, you unlock growth for that category. Then to sustain that growth, you need to move upmarket and that requires you to build some of those enterprise features in order to unlock that next tier of growth. But it’s unequivocally the case that in in in the business to business environment, in the SAS environment, product market fit translates to better unit economics of sales and marketing. Absolutely.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s great. Now, let me ask you this. How do you know when you’ve found product market fit? Because in my experience, their success and then their success, there’s, you know, customers coming in and then there’s customers pouring in. But sometimes it’s hard to know which camp you’re in. Is this as good as it gets? And I need to go think about acquisition now, or is the product still broken enough that I’m not acquiring them with the unit economics that I could acquire them with? Is there any telltale signs that, like, you’ve nailed it, at least for this period of time?

Greg: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I do have a lot of founders who come to me and say, Hey, what was it like in the early days of Netscape? We’re grinding on this thing here, and I’m trying to figure out, are we doing something wrong?

Bronson: That’s the question. Are we doing it wrong or down the right track here?

Greg: That’s right. And I think the you know, so I think that in some ways, truly, customer acquisition, cost to lifetime value, obviously, that’s price point times, customer retention. Right. Basic effectively is is the backward looking indicator, right? But it is backward looking. So I think that question the product management discipline, which a founder in a B2B startup has to own, right? I mean, you just in the early days until you have a fully developed team, you have to own it. And so the challenge is, you know, I’d say that to have to declare yourself having product market fit, it means you address the problem of a core constituency, you know, that could be a functional group or could be a size company. You do that repeatedly. It can be explained to them in a way that they that they understand it. It can probably be solved by a mere mortal meaning if the founders, the only person who sold the product, I don’t think you can quite declare a product market fit and not lots of customization or custom engineering. In order to get a customer successful. There can be deployment and integration and the like, but not custom engineering. And to me, that’s the definition of product market fit.

Bronson: That’s a I mean, I’ve never heard a definition of it so clearly, so that’s awesome to hear. Have you ever had a founder in your portfolio that had a product market fit and didn’t know it? Or is it always the other way around that they think they have it in? They don’t.

Greg: It’s usually the other way around. I mean, usually I think they it’s so what happens is people say, hey, I’ve sold five customers. Right. And so we’ve got product market fit and now it’s time to sales to scale. Right. And in particular, I think people say, oh, I’ve sold the first five myself. Now all I need to do is to hire a sales guy, which is usually what they say, even at the founders woman and then, you know, and then and then we’re okay. And to me, that shows a lack of understanding of the process, right? Because that notion of repeatability, you know, mere mortals, someone who didn’t invent the product, can explain what it does and customers care about it. And you need to be able to and and people have a hard time. I think they’ll end up saying, hey, look, we want to do I’ll give an example within our portfolio, right. Stitch Labs is an inventory and order management company for multi-channel ecommerce vendors. And you start out in saying, hey, we have a whole bunch of customers, right? And people love the product. And that’s right. When we that was true in two and a half years ago when we initially got involved with the customer. With a company. But at the same time, this question of how their smaller customers are they mid-market customers? What price points are they willing to pay? How many of them do we know which e-commerce platforms they’re integrated in? Do we know which standard analysis they need as we have broadened and deepen that product, I think we can now comfortably say lots of different people can sell it. Customers are really willing to pay for it. So it it solves a real problem for them. There is an ongoing set of things that we need to do, but they can make themselves successful with it. And we’ve added a set of features and capabilities where mid-market customers can also be successful with it. And to me, that’s a great example of doing the work, which is fundamentally and this is the thing, right? Initial product creation is both art and science, but actually the analytic job of product management to achieve product market fit for a specific audience is actually a pretty disciplined, analytic, rigorous process. Mm hmm.

Bronson: Yeah. As I hear you talk, I just keep thinking about the tour product market, and there’s a handful of questions about your product, and there’s a handful of questions about the market. And the more of those answers you have, the closer you probably are to product market fit. I see in your in your answer as a knowing who your priorities for knowing what the market wants, knowing what they’re willing to bear, seeing them build to use the product without your help. And so when you have product to market, you have more questions than answers. You’re probably not there yet. When you have, you know, all the product and market questions, you start to get some answers. It seems like you’re on the right track.

Greg: Yeah, I think that’s right. I mean, even at the at the founding stage, when we’re looking at, you know, we look at companies that are both at founding stage and and then sometimes after they’ve off and after they’ve had a seed investment. So there are 12 or 18 months in and they have initial product and market. And so we’re willing to go in and do what I’ll call that product management work to say, okay, it’s too early to declare a product market fit, but can we see the signs of it? Right. It isn’t showing up yet in the backward looking financials that other investors are looking for, but we’re willing to go interview customers ourselves and try to build that constituency, build that, build that perspective, I should say. But the thing that was we’re talking to founders, you know, you’re either looking for in some categories a you know, a big product innovation, right? A technical innovation that lets a company do something that no one could do before. Right. And everyone gets that. I think the other perspective and the part that’s lost, it’s the market part of product market fit is a unique insight or perspective on the market. MM which often lets you go solve a problem that other people aren’t thinking about or solving it in a different way. Yeah. And it’s that insight about the market that I think is actually the missing ingredient for most young companies.

Bronson: Is that the Peter Thiel? What do you believe that no one else does, that kind of thing? Yeah. The insight in the world that people think you’re a heretic and actually you just see the future.

Greg: Yeah, exactly right. That’s exactly right. And in many of these categories, you know, you’re operating in a domain that where there are you know, it may be unsexy, it may be in the back office, it may be for a vertical that other people don’t care about. But, you know, the small business and entrepreneurship professor that I had when I was in business school is Jim Collins, who wrote Good to Great and a bunch of other.

Bronson: Famous.

Greg: And and the thing that he you know he he would go back to L.L.Bean as an example. Right and you know, he kept saying wet feet make boots. I it’s not that complicated. Right. And so, you know, again, L.L.Bean was a hunter, built the boots that he needed in order to, you know, for that use case. So in the business to business context, it’s that it usually is people who have been living in that problem, who come from that industry, who, you know, they’ve been, you know, who started the early leading Salesforce automation company, Tom Siebel. He was you know, he was a VP of sales at Oracle. It was somebody who was living with that experience and that you need that experience. You can get it by saying, I’m going to go into this industry, I’m going to study it and I’m going to figure it out. But it’s an awful lot easier when you’re sitting there dealing with the problem yourself.

Bronson: Is it hard to have that radical insight when you have domain expertize? Because with domain expertize comes indoctrination of the way it should be done. So you have to almost get the experience figured out. Domain expertize, but somehow still be radical enough in the way you view it to do something totally different when you get the chance. Is that true?

Greg: Absolutely. It’s absolutely right. And so for I think you you do need to have enough experience to do it. And therefore, we’ve got you know, we end up a. Lots of founders who are in their late twenties and early thirties, but probably fewer that are right out of school because you haven’t noticed.

Bronson: Any.

Greg: Particular problem yet. The problems that you face are consumer problems, but not business problems. Mm hmm. But then it’s also the case that it’s. It’s at least know. And it’s not that it fades away with time, but it’s a discipline to say, you know, in some ways you can think of it as the engineer’s discipline to say, but how could the how could this be done better? Right. How could how could this be automated? How could we take something that takes, you know, three months and do it on a daily basis and, you know, and just map it into a process where it happens automatically. Yeah. Where are we making bad decisions as an organization repeatedly. And we can build something to make good decisions. And you know, what’s interesting for us is that that has led us to some interesting examples of, you know, of things that actually start with a with a very unsexy back office. So an example like Acme ticketing is a is a portfolio company of ours. In the long run. They want to help providers of what we call recurring events, museums, various amusement parks, water parks, more winery tours and others deliver a great and seamless real time mobile taking experience that let them do revenue optimization, price optimization, bundling, unbundling and marketing in the way that good digital products do that. But in order to do that, the guys came from the industry. You actually have to start on the back end and look at things like resource management and inventory management and take these things that were paper based processes and map them into a cloud based system so that you have the ability to do the front end analytic work that’s required to deliver a great customer experience. And that to me is a great example. Oh, I can look at this and say, Oh, I want go to the museum to work, like going to the movies. I want to have that kind of experience. But I that kind of ticketing experience, that kind of mobile experience. But boy, I’ve got to I’ve got to reinvent the supply chain in the back office so that people don’t have to do it with phones and fax.

Bronson: Yeah, it’s the stuff. It’s not it’s the iceberg below the surface that you don’t see where a lot of innovation is happening. By the time you see the innovation above the surface, there’s been, you know, hundreds of hours of, you know, work put in to get the product market fit behind the scenes. So here’s a question I have is I think about what you’re telling me about product market fit and how you can even have some seed money. You can be 18 months in and there’s some signs of it, but you haven’t hit it yet. So it’s not this short term process. You’re not going to find it in a month. It takes time, a little bit of money, a little bit energy in that process. You’re iterating, you’re learning, you’re changing the product you’re listening to, feedback you’re making, putting in those features that the market needs, that the low market didn’t need, all that stuff. But then, isn’t everything just getting out of whack, out of a line? Because every time you change your product, it messes up your pipelines, it messes up the kinds of people you need on your team. It messes up. I mean, the business is built on the product. How do you keep everything in order as you’re iterating on this product and learning as you go?

Greg: Yeah, it’s a I mean, it’s a really it’s a really tricky process. And it’s the hard part about being, you know, being a founder and CEO that you’re the person who needs to put all those pieces together in your head and make sure that, you know, think of it as you need to make sure that your business model compiles right, you know, and and lots of times it doesn’t because you’re moving too many pieces at once. And so I do think it requires, you know, even at relatively small scale, there are there are both qualitative parts of it and quantitative parts of it. Right. So the qualitative parts of it are you’re interacting enough with customers that you hear the objections. One of the things I love doing as a venture capitalist is saying, okay, you know, you’ve got a new company. I’ve got a friend who’s a potential customer. Let’s let me do a ride along. You pitch it to him, you literally try to sell him the product. And I just going to sit in the room and because you can hear the objections and if you do ten of those, you can actually piece together, you know, is it the same objection every time? Is it different objectives? If it’s a different objection in every single case that tells you something. Right. Might be hard to build a standard product for it. And I think but the founders job is to do that and to interact with the market and to try to interpret that data. That part of it is still it’s analytic, but it’s qualitative analytic. Then I think you do in fact need to go forward from that process and say, okay, if we think it’s a mid-market customer, let’s go try it. Where can we get in front of a bunch of them? Where do they hang out? What are the media properties? What are the trade shows? What are the. Customers. In the case of Fitch Labs, you’ve got folks like Shopify who are great partners and have a conference and you can show up and you can talk to a lot of customers. Mm hmm. And can you explain it to them in a way that gets people excited and interested? And then even if it’s at relatively small scale, you’ve got you know, you’ve got to end up with a sales or a business development person to say, not just as a founder, can I close them, but can someone else be taught to do it? Right. And the and I think this notion, if I take the mid-market example, you know, it usually, I think takes a focused effort. Right. So I would like in that case, you know, the founder or a head of product management to say, okay, I’m going to go interview 20 mid-market customers. I’m going to try to explain it to them. I’m going to try to get their interest. And that group is isolated from the rest of the group. Right. What is that? They’re set of objections. What are the what is the price point they’re willing to pay? What do I you know, what other systems do I have to connect to or do I have to rip out in order to do it? And that that you can do and before you’re in a world where you’re saying, hey, I’ve got a pipeline of 100 inbound customers and I’m trying to retroactively go back and sort of into groups and do that analysis. You eventually need to do that, but you got to start out by, I think, interacting with the market on your own. Yeah. If you’re in that slightly later stage and it’s, you know, you’re trying to add a segment, you might appoint a sales rep to say, hey, we’re going to flow all the mid-market leads through you and there, and you can kind of keep it contained. Yeah, but it is absolutely the case that misalignment leads to inefficiency and model decision making and and inefficient sales and marketing. And the problem is in in the in the current landscape, where it takes relatively little cost to build initial product, in many cases, you’re the place where you’re going to blow. All your money is on sales and marketing. So you’re actually way better doing your work on small scale to achieve product market fit before trying to ramp up sales and marketing.

Bronson: You know, I heard a quote once and I don’t know who said it, but somebody knows. They said, you know, marketing prematurely is just being in a rush to tell everybody how much you suck. Yeah. You know, like, let’s get them all in to see that there’s no product market fit. And so they can just bounce and leave and not, you know, really use the product. And I love what you said. You know, I think this is the quote of the interview that a CEO’s job is to make sure the business model compiles. I mean, that’s it. And that’s a hard job. There’s a lot of bugs, you know, when you try to compile it every day. I mean, I’m going do right now, every day I try to compile half the days. It doesn’t I’m like, All right, what are we got to rethink, redo change. But that’s awesome. And the other thing I thought about as you were just talking, because there are so many ideas in here, I just finished a book today called Small Data. It just came out last week. Then, you know, big data is all the rage. Let’s get into the big data. Let’s look at the numbers. And so when I saw a book titled Small Data, I was like, all right, I need to see what the opposite into saying. And it’s basically a book, you know, not against big data, totally, but saying you got to get in front of the people that you’re trying to figure out because there’s going to be little clues, hints, things. You see, you do your detective work one on one, and all of a sudden you can make sense of the big data because of what you learned in the small data, the qualitative, the one on one, the getting in front of the customers, the go into the Shopify conference, like that kind of stuff. And when I got done reading the book and it hit me, it’s small data and big data. Data is what matters. You need some small, you need some big. And then these smart people in the middle figured out how to make it all compile when you get it together.

Greg: Absolutely right. And I couldn’t agree more. And that’s the that’s the intersection of qualitative and quantitative. It’s the intersection of an anecdotal and and large amount of the data. But I think that piece that says actually talking to customers and understanding their issues and understanding, it’s very it’s very easy for us to talk to as an industry to talk technology forward. Right. Here’s our features. This is what we do. And customers usually don’t actually care. Right. They have a job they’re trying to get done. They want that job to be done better. They want it to be done more efficiently. They have a bunch of other concerns and issues that they have to work through and sometimes constraints. And I think hearing hearing that for yourself as a founder is absolutely critical. And there it it is a stage that basically precedes trying to gather significant quantitative data. Yeah, it’s much less expensive.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s within the realm of mortals before they, you know, have all this funding and headcount and all that stuff. So. The founders you’ve seen up close and personal. What do they do to move along that growth curve faster? Is it just all the stuff we’re talking about getting that product market fit, focusing on that? Is there anything else you see that they do uniquely well? The ones who really progressed through the the curve faster than their peers.

Greg: Well, I think that the the one other thing that I’d say, and this is it’s a little tangential to your question, but I think that the the founders that are focused on their own rate of learning also seem to be the ones that get from, you know, the get to product market fit and then from product market fit, by the way, then you just have earned your way into the starting line on sales learning curve. So you’re always, you’re always learning. You’re always learning. And and the and so the ones that are curious, that are investing in their own development, they’re reading books, they’re got mentors. They talk to their peers. They’re trying to get they’re trying to get better. And therefore, they’re thinking about these, these ideas and they’re challenging themselves. Yeah. They’re surrounding themselves with people that are have more, you know, more knowledge and more experience than they do sometimes as mentors and sometimes as coaches, sometimes as board members, sometimes as investors, sometimes they have the wherewithal to hire them into the company. But I think that to me is the dominant characteristic of of the people that succeed. Yeah.

Bronson: No, I love that. Thinking about just always learning and that kind of attitude. Just this week at our team meeting, I told them we’ve now earned the right to solve harder problems because that’s the way I feel about it. Like you solved yesterday’s problems, which means you’ve earned the right to learn new things and figure out something we never tackled before. And if you’re not getting the right to do that, you’re failing. And so it’s an opportunity when things get harder. You know, we had 100 customers. Well, now with a thousand, it’s harder with 10,000 to learn even new things. So you’re always trying to figure out the next step. So I totally agree 100%. All right. Another question on partnerships. You know, I think about B2B and partnerships seem to be such a key component of B2B businesses, more so than B2C. What should a startup founder be looking at in a partner to help them grow? How should they kind of approach that, that whole beast?

Greg: Absolutely. Well, so most of the time, I will say these partnerships, they play a critical role. But they’re they’re they’re the second phase rocket booster. So no partner can sell your product if you haven’t figured out how to sell it yourself. Okay. Right. And so, you know, that notion that says, you know, product market fit and with that, the notion that somebody other than the founder has been successfully been taught or taught themselves to sell the product and to do that reasonably repeatedly. Mm hmm. And so the question is, can you you know, is there a partner where it’s really in their interests? So to me, I come back to this basic notion of alignment because, you know, in order for that partner to be successful and and we have some companies that have had very successful partnerships, but it’s it’s hard. I mean, partnerships are like Microsoft products. The third version likely works, but the first and second don’t. And so it’s got to be in their interest to have you be successful. Right. Solves a problem for their customer base that they don’t have another way of solving. They have to be able to oftentimes to make enough money that it actually is material to their business as well, unless it’s a you know, unless it’s a raging objection to their product. And so they just they’re happy to pass it along the.

Bronson: Retention, even if it doesn’t help their bottom line or something. You.

Greg: Exactly. Their sales reps, you know. So you’re going to have to. One of the reasons you’ve got to be able to sell it yourself by someone other than the founder is that you’re going to have to train their sales reps. Mm hmm. Right. To to actually move the product and explain the product. And they’re going to have less incentive to do it. They’re going to be less knowledgeable than you are than your sales reps are. They’re going to care less about it. I mean, they’ve got to get quota credit. You know, if they’re not getting, quote, a credit, it really doesn’t matter to them. But but the likelihood is that it’s going to be a relatively small amount of their of their quota. And so even when they get quota credit for it and it can be a material addition to their to their comp and you get in front of their sales conference. And so you get to train them up and you’ve been successful before. Even those, I think, have about one out of three. Wow. Chance of success. And if you don’t have all of those, don’t even bother. Well, just wait.

Bronson: So it’s if it’s just a secondary rocket booster, there’s a one in three chance when everything’s aligned and you’ve nailed a lot of stuff. So we’re just not worried about partnerships for a long, long time. I mean, is that. The takeaway.

Greg: I think it is. It is the so first order principle. Yes. Right. The that the it is the case that you’ve got to figure out how to build and sell your product and do that in a way that’s where that where the sales to marketing cost of customer acquisition is reasonable relative to price point and expected retention. Right. And that that is your core job. And, you know, for 90% of B2B companies, that’s the most important thing. And you got to start there. And if you look at it and say, there’s no way I can make that work honestly, like, I’m not sure I’d spend my time there. Right. On the other hand, I will say the partnerships when they work can be explosive and can be big amplifiers. So I’d say once you as you start getting to that point, it is it is worth investing small amounts of time and energy. And that can be the founder or it can be ultimately someone who’s got more of a business orientation. Sometimes a sometimes a really good product person can take ten or 20% of their time. Because I don’t think you don’t want to ignore the big companies in the space. You want to be willing to meet with them and to figure out if there’s something there. But it’s it’s low probability of success. So you actually have to be rigorous about qualifying it. Yeah. And if you have a good meeting and you say, great, let’s figure out whether we can get all five of these things lined up to work. And they say, Oh, we would never do that. You can say, Hey, we had the meeting right now we just got to execute on our business. And you. But. But you’re better off by having done that work. So I’d say, you know, for a standard SAS company in year one, I wouldn’t spend any time on it. In year two, I probably wouldn’t spend any time on it, you know, in 3% of time or something. In year three, as you’re starting to get your own flywheel going, then you know, you start having enough muscle mass that you can spend. You know, you can spend some energy on something that doesn’t contribute to surviving this quarter. Mm hmm. And start looking a little bit more at that partner ecosystem and saying, hey, is there a place where we can get where we can get a little bit of leverage and and some of cover? But but the first two years, it’s pretty hard to think that it’s going to contribute very much. And I think and I would look more for tactical places where they can help. Meaning, are there are there places we can sell together where, you know, not they’re going to do a resale, right? But where, you know, it’s a problem that’s scoped in a way where every once in a while they pull us in when there’s a particular, you know, use case or where we’re going to do joint webinars or we’re going to do, you know, joint other joint marketing activities, or they’re going to give me free space in their booth at a conference. As we test this out, the likelihood that it contributes to leads is much higher than the likelihood that you’ve got a fully integrated retail partnership.

Bronson: Yeah, that is a extremely helpful answer to how to think about partners. This has been an interview just filled with with gold all throughout it. So I have two final questions for you. These are the two questions I always end every interview with. The first one is, what are you working on right after this interview? And it can be mundane, like eating a baloney sandwich or it can be, you know, I’m getting ready to fire somebody. It could be I’m getting ready to find a new company, like whatever it is. What are you doing? As soon as this interview is over.

Greg: The as soon as it’s over, the interview is over. So we basically think of the investment process. We’ve tried to use the language of agile programing. So on Monday morning, we think of our our our partner meeting as our investment scrum. And therefore we, we, we and we run two sprints. And so and so we basically try to decide what are the top two new investment opportunities that we’re working on. And so right now I’m in the middle of a sprint. I’ve got a set of commitments in terms of reference calls and and understanding a new market. And, and I’m deep in a sprint, so I’m working reference calls on a on a new potential investment opportunity.

Bronson: Wow scrum at the very level I’ve seen it all now. That’s awesome. I’ve never heard of any other firm doing that. So that that’s really exciting. I had second question. I think I might know what you’re going to say, but I’ll let you answer it. What is the best advice you have for any company that’s trying to grow?

Greg: It always comes back to products.

Bronson: That’s what I thought. Well, Greg, this has been a phenomenal interview. Once again, thanks for coming on Growth Hacker TV.

Greg: My pleasure. Really enjoyed it. We’ll look forward to talking again.

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