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Transcript:

identify where your customers are really at, really understand who that customer is.

So, you know, where your customer base is at, what their behavior is like, how their, what their buying patterns look like, seasonalities, price levels, everything like that. So you can do accurate projections. I’ve been at places where it was like, just throw everything into the wall, whatever sticks we’re going to grab what we can. And that’s it.

And so when you take that approach, it’s very difficult to come up with a cohesive message. It’s very difficult to kind of really focus and grow because you’re just trying to appeal to shiny objects all over the place. Welcome to Revenue Insights. Every week, we’ll be joined by revenue leaders from some of the most successful and highest growing companies.

Together, we explore how they built their revenue teams, the journeys that they’ve been on, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Revenue Insights is brought to you by EBSTER. We’re a revenue intelligence platform designed to help revenue teams to build more pipeline, close more deals, and retain more customers. Hello there, and welcome to Revenue Insights.

Today, my guest is Steve Hartup. He’s the Chief Marketing Officer at Jotform and has led best-in-class brands to growing market share across tech, B2B, and B2C for over the last 30 years.

Steve, lovely to chat to you today. Thank you very much. Nice to see you. Nice to be here.

Well, to anyone that’s not heard of you before, perhaps listened to you on some of the other podcasts out there, can you tell us a little bit more about your story, a little more about your journey with Jotform and how you got to where you are today?

Yeah, sure. I’ve been in the marketing business for, geez, almost 40 years now. I’ve seen an awful lot of changes, just from a technology point of view, as well as just a consumer point of view and a product point of view.

I have worked for very small startups, to the point I was employee number three at startups, to also working for large corporations where we have 25,000 employees, have run marketing departments where I was the marketing department, and I’ve also had 93 people working under me in a marketing department.

So, yeah, I’ve run the gamut as far as products go from a mix of B2B to a mix of B2C. I’ve worked on, I always like to say, both sides of the Pacific. I’m based here in California, in the United States right now, but I’ve also worked in Australia for a number of years.

So, you see just different aspects of how things work. It’s been a really fun journey. I look back sometimes, I’ve talked to a lot of my friends that I’ve known for going back to grade school, high school, college, and we just talk in general about what we have seen over our careers.

There’s some really interesting stories and some interesting things that you don’t realize what you’re going through at the moment, but when you look back at it, it’s like, wow, this was pretty incredible at the moment, and I’m glad we were there to see it and witness it.

It’s the classic, you never really appreciate it until you look back on it kind of moment, right?

And I’m really digging, really keen to dig into some of those stories and experiences across your career.

So, I know that you’ve been spending, is it the last seven, eight years at JotForm really building things out there. It’d be great to get a bit of context around that journey and kind of where it was when you started, so where you guys are today. Sure.

I mean, yeah, when I started at Jotform, I’ve been here just slightly under seven years now. And when I came here, they had never really had a formal marketing process. And part of the reason they wanted to bring me on board was to actually kind of put together a full marketing strategy to execute against and really to grow the company. The company has been bootstrapped since day one.

We’ve never taken a dollar of venture capital money or any kind of investment.

So, it’s just whatever we can make in sales is what we work with.

So, we’re kind of unique in that situation because you don’t have the pressure of a venture capitalist investor coming at you saying, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. We can grow at the pace we decide we want to grow at, which is kind of unique and actually quite refreshing from a marketing point of view. But anyway, back to the original question.

I mean, when I came on board here, the goal was to put together a full-blown marketing strategy. And that’s what I did. We put it in place and we started seeing results within two months. We started seeing the growth curve start to pick up. And as a result of that, you start bringing more people to the platform. You start bringing more, just more attention to the platform and things like that.

And our growth just really has not slowed down since now. By no means am I taking credit for all the growth because we have a tremendous amount of product engineers and computer engineers, programmers. The whole gamut of the team puts together a solid, really compelling product that has resonated quite well with the world. And they really get all the props.

They make the marketing job very easy when you have a product as solid as what we’ve got.

And so, since that time, we have grown. When I came on board, I think we were around, I want to say about three and a half million, maybe four million users.

And now, we’re rapidly approaching 20 million. And it just keeps growing and growing and growing. We just don’t see an end to our growth curve. When we try to do projections, we just blow through them. And it’s very unique, very fun to be in. And you talk about being in the moment.

This is one of those moments where I stop and do appreciate it because the journey of my career, I’ve seen all different sides of this equation. And to be on this side of it now is quite fun and quite rewarding at the same time.

In my head, when you describe it, it’s very much that hockey stick graph, right?

Oh, very much so. And in terms of improvement. And really keen to dig into that, I guess what I would refer to is that almost, well, I was going to say predictable nature, but evidently, it’s even going beyond your wildest expectations in terms of the growth. So you touched on a bit around the actual product itself and giving a lot of testament there.

So what have been some of the learnings that perhaps you’ve taken in the past when maybe you’ve had a good product that you took into job form that was really vital actually to be able to get to that stage and be able to build on that product that you had available to you?

Yeah, I think one of the big lessons that I brought in and I was truly focused on when I came here is identify where your customers are really at. Really understand who that customer is. So where your customer base is at, what their behavior is like, what their buying patterns look like, seasonalities, price levels, everything like that. So you can do accurate projections.

I’ve been at places where it was like, just throw everything into the wall, whatever sticks we’re going to grab what we can and that’s it. So when you take that approach, it’s very difficult to come up with a cohesive message. It’s very difficult to really focus and grow because you’re just trying to appeal to shiny objects all over the place and you just constantly get distracted.

By focusing on two, three, maybe four customer niches where you say, okay, these are the industries that we are going to target because this is who is using us now and using us, I would say, the consumption is very high. So if they have a high consumption volume of your product, that tells you everything you need to know at that point.

Study their behavior, study what they’re doing and then go after them. And that’s what we did is we ended up making a marketing campaign for niche one, for niche two, for niche three, and you start seeing the results start coming in.

And you’ll see other industry silos start to grow alongside of it, but there’s always going to be those three or four really key markets that you really want to pay attention to and those become your bread and butter. It becomes the old 80-20 rule, honestly. And if you focus on those and let everything else grow and continue with it, you’ll do fine.

And those are some of the lessons that we brought here to Jotform and I think we continue to use them to this day. And it’s paid off handsomely for us. I really like the data insight action almost approach.

And I’m interested to understand a little bit more is what were the signals that you were seeing in your customers that ultimately helped you to get the insight to be able to make decisions off the back of it?

Yeah, I mean, what we do is we, again, our data team is phenomenal.

I mean, to have a team of kind of like, I just go on geniuses at your disposal, you could say, can you give me numbers on this?

And they can produce numbers from a thousand different angles. It makes a marketer’s job that much simpler, honestly. And so you sit there and first thing you say, give me the top five industries that are using our product. They can give you that.

Okay, can you tell me how each one of these is using our product?

So how are they using Jotform?

What kind of forms are they using?

What kind of volume are they using?

How many forms do they have?

Those kinds of things.

When they came on board, how fast did they grow their account?

Did they start with five forms and now they’re up to 15?

Did they start at 10 and go to 25?

What kind of volume are they getting in for data and things like that?

So you understand then who is really, who is that high consumption level user?

And you start looking at those patterns of how are they using your product?

And that tells you the messaging that you want to take out to go attract other companies in those industries, whether it’s government, whether it’s a nonprofit, whether it’s education, whether it’s consumer products, whether it’s whatever, it could be universities. Let’s say in the education space, you can divide it between high schools and universities.

How are universities using you versus a high school, versus a school district?

If you’re going to look at governments, how are federal governments using it versus a state or a local government?

If you’re looking at consumer products, how are the ones that are using fast moving products versus durables, those kinds of things?

And so when you start breaking it down, now you can understand where their media consumption is at, right?

Whether if you’re going to target emails or if you’re going to target, you know, whatever that’s going to be, it tells you what kind of messaging you want to work with and you know what the cadence, what you need to work with. And then you can start looking at that when you push the push out your campaigns, you start developing the ROI pretty quick.

Because you say this is only at like, let’s say we’re targeting the education world.

Okay, you can look and see how many new education customers did we pick up this month?

Okay, how many other people came up in the halo effect underneath on the back end of that?

Great.

Now you can calculate your ROI pretty straightforward because now you also understand what that length of stay somebody’s going to have for you, right?

What’s that average volume age of a customer going to be if it’s one year, three years, five years, 10 years?

You can then calculate and say, well, it cost us a dollar to get that customer, but they’re going to generate $25 for us on the other side. Those are the things that you need to look at from a marketing perspective. So you know exactly where to spend those dollars effectively. I love that.

And what would be great to get a bit more kind of context around is once you’ve got that data and you mentioned about bringing that into the messaging that you’re using, how far do you go in terms of bringing that consistency across your go-to-market function?

So from marketing through to sales, once they become a lead and opportunity, and even right the way through into customer success then on the other side?

Yeah. What you do is, I mean, for us, the messaging kind of just percolates through everything. So obviously it becomes your, if you’re doing emails, it sits on your website, it sits on any kind of collateral that your sales team is going to be sending out. It becomes that key piece of everything. It doesn’t exist just over here in an email campaign.

It’s got to exist across all of your messaging platform, whether it’s a website, whether it’s going to be in sales collateral, whether it’s PDFs or it’s videos on YouTube or whatever it would be. Those messages have to be consistent. So otherwise you just confuse the hell out of your customer base because they don’t know what you stand for.

And so for example, then once you get to your customer success team, they also understand these are some of the most commonly asked questions you’re going to get from the education world.

Right?

It could be privacy, it could be security, it could be cost, ease of use, those kinds of things. And so you can kind of develop say an FAQ through that customer success team when those questions are coming in, they have answers that are accurate for one thing and two are easy for them to find.

And then also easy for the customer to understand, right?

Whether it’s, oh, we have this kind of, we have HIPAA compliance, we have SOC 2 compliance, we offer encryption.

What do they need to have and what words do they need to hear it in?

You know, that education customer base, what do they need to hear it in?

What is important to them?

And then you just, you give them that information in the language in which they speak. I want to take us down the route. You touched on it earlier about having, you know, having a great product and that really being the foundation for success.

Knowing what you know now after seven years at Jotform, what would you say are the three kind of key lessons that you’ve learned along that journey from actually managing a HydroGrove team?

What are the three kind of essential foundations that go into that?

I think part of it is never rest on your laurels. Don’t get too comfortable with success because the competition is always going to be nipping at your heels or competitor might be slightly ahead of you or far ahead of you. And so it’s, don’t get complacent. A lot of companies get to a point to go, we made it, we hit a goal, we can take it easy.

Now that’s the time you got to keep your foot on the gas and keep going forward. That’s the key thing. The other one is, you know, keep innovating. Your product can always evolve, can always get better. So you need to listen to your customers, find out what they want, how they use your product. So we have a team that just does that.

They talk to our customer base and ask, what do you like, what do you don’t like?

And walk them through how they’re using it. So we understand how customers are actually consuming the product, which is a big help for us because it helps us not only design new features and new functionality in the product, but it also helps us design better interfaces for those products. And that’s, again, one of the key things for it.

And the other part is just making sure that your product is there when people need it. You don’t want to have a lot of barriers in front of yourself when things happen.

You know, people want to buy your product. You don’t want to, well, you got to make a phone call. We got to get a bunch of emails. We got to get a bunch of information from you. If you start making it difficult, people are just going to go somewhere else. And so that’s another part of it. The other one is also keeping an eye on your competition.

What are they doing?

Are they mimicking you?

Are they doing something better than you?

Well, can we learn from them?

What, you know, whether it’s good or bad, like don’t make that mistake. You can see what they did and they tripped on something. And I gave you an example.

This is, it’s been about four or five years now since this happened. But one of the things I did when I came on board is I was analyzing just how we fit into the pricing structure against all of our different competitors. And our prices, you know, us and I bought five other competitors, the prices kind of varied.

What I think is interesting after about two years into that study, so this is about five years ago, now all their prices started to come closer and closer. Now they’re almost pretty much matching what Jotform does. You’re very, you know, you’re very flattered that they think we got it right. Or it’s like, wow, these guys are just copying us left and right.

You know, so I mean, there’s a little bit of both of that. But that tells you that your competitors are also watching you. And so there’s this, you know, I like to say mutual respect going on there, but you’re always trying to improve. And you’re always trying to, you know, one up somebody a little bit because, and that’s the key to it. So by doing that, you make a solid product.

And I think where this all borne out for Jotform in particular was when COVID hit.

COVID, you know, obviously, radically changed the world. And when people suddenly became, you know, the face-to-face interaction of fill out this form, do this, changed overnight. Businesses around the world were thrown into, you know, they were just thrown into a loop.

They were, what do we do?

How do we, you know, what do we, how do I save my business?

I mean, I need to collect data. We’re used to doing it.

We had, you know, they went online and said, I need an online registration form. I need an online permission slip form. I need a form that can do this.

Well, Jotform had the product because our product had been, you know, been built, continues to be built, had the features they wanted and was easy to use. And they went great. This will help solve the problem I’m having right now with my, you know, with my business. As a result, when COVID hit, our business more than doubled in one year. And that’s, you know, that’s phenomenal.

And it’s just, and again, that’s not slowed down because people are seeing it and going, I didn’t know, I didn’t know this existed.

And two, I didn’t know it could do this. And now that they know what it can do, they find more uses for it inside of their own businesses. And that’s really been the key to the whole thing. So businesses have now found this incredible tool that helps them become much more effective.

And so there’s this whole thing about, you know, I say being in the right place at the right time with the right product at the right price, you know, typical marketing, right?

The four P’s was illustrated perfectly at that moment.

And, you know, again, COVID was horrible for the world and I do not want to, you know, in any shape or form, bring that, you know, try to put any, any positive spin on that.

But it, it was, it changed how Jotform behaves and how Jotform acts as a company in a very positive way. Because again, we had this compelling product that people then suddenly went, wow, I can use this and they could save their own businesses as a result going down, going down that line.

Now, if you could go back in time, seven, eight years ago, you didn’t even know COVID was ever going to be a thing.

What would you do differently?

I, you know, honestly, I don’t think there’s anything we would do much different.

I mean, there’s things you go, yeah, I wish we had done this faster, but that’s, I think that’s part of the journey is you have to learn and understand, you have to, as long as you have to stumble, you have to fail to succeed.

And those, and I’m not saying we failed, but you look at things and go, if we had done this faster or earlier in the process, would it have improved it?

That’s an argument you can have and those become philosophical discussions. But sometimes the technology is not there. Sometimes the, what you need to have is not there. The customer base isn’t ready for it yet.

So there’s things in there that you, you go, I wish we had done this faster, but that’s, there’s things in there that you go, I wish we’d had this back then, but would it have been as good as you have it now?

Probably not. Because sometimes the technology is not there. Sometimes the, you know, the need for it on a, on a, on a customer basis is not there yet.

So, you know, I’ve been, I’ve been at companies where they keep saying, oh, we can improve this, let’s add this. They never shipped a product. They just keep polishing this thing. And it’s like, guys, sooner or later, you got to get version one out the door because then we can worry about version two. And we said, let’s get version one going. And while we have one out, we’re going to work on 1.1, 1.2, 1.3.

You know, we just keep improving the product. And that’s the goal.

If you just keep moving forward, you don’t get there and rest and go, now what do we do?

Because nothing’s ever perfect, right?

You can always improve on things and new features, new demand, new demand schedules, all sorts of things happen out there. And that’s where we’ve been able to do it. So honestly, I don’t know if I would recommend we do anything different. I think we’ve had, we’ve had the right team at the right place at the right time doing everything the right way.

And that I think, and it comes back to the comment I made earlier about being bootstrapped. We have that unique ability to kind of pause if we need to or put our foot on the accelerator if we need to, because we don’t have an investment team in the back going, I don’t care what you’re doing, you still got to get us 20%.

And that’s, that’s that’s when that happens, that totally changes your mind frame and how you’re going to put your products out there.

Yeah, I love the ethos. And I want to pick up on something that you said, that, you know, being in the right place at the right time.

Now, so often, you know, you can be in the right place at the right time, but then not have the framework, the operations, the process to actually carry that forward. So often you can see that big spike and then, you know, well goes back to normal and off it goes.

So in your experience, how do you really start to build sustainability off the back of that?

You obviously, that gave a big jump for you guys, but how did you actually continue that going forward?

I think you’ve touched on it so far in terms of continuing to look to improve.

Can you be a bit more specific around the specific areas?

Yeah, I think like what we did, right?

All the people that started coming on board, you know, say day one of COVID and going from there, we looked at where they came from, right?

What kind of industry are they?

Were they geographically located?

You know, are they in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, wherever they would be at?

How are they using it?

What are they using it for?

And so we could look at that and go, are they behaving different than our existing customer base?

Are they behaving in a new way that we’re not familiar with?

And you find again, the patterns.

I mean, there was a little bit of some different anomalies that people were using to solve different, but the core of how they were using us was no different than anybody else, right?

So they were using us in very much the same fashions.

And so we studied those new users to make sure that is this a big strategic shift from an organizational point of view and a product point of view, or is this just business as usual?

And it really was business as usual for us. And so for us, it was, okay, we know we’ve got the product that these people want to work with and let’s continue to give more. Let’s give them more of it.

And so we would start asking what kind of, what additional features would you like?

What additional integrations would you like to see those kinds of things?

And so the key to it is, it’s keeping that sustainability of the customer, right?

This longevity of them.

And you don’t want them just to come in and just like, that’s where the spikes hit, right?

They come in, they use it for four months, then they go away. We have found that again, our customers come on and that length of stay that they have has increased. So this tells you that this has become a vital piece of their workflow, of their corporate workflows. And that’s really been the key to it.

So we still look at these groups, right?

We still look at them and go, we look at things in the pre-COVID world and the post-COVID world and what has happened. And there’s just commonality, big band of commonality that continues to grow. So we look at this and say, what it really did for us is it pulled demand forward. We would have been there anyway in five years, but COVID pulled it all forward in about six months.

But again, by having a product that was scalable and having the right team that knew how to grow it, put the infrastructure underneath its servers and things like that, we could respond to the growth without having the product collapse under the weight of all that growth.

And again, that speaks to the engineering team that developed a product that was flexible enough that could grow back and forth as necessary when the growth hit, but then also continue to grow effectively at that same level when that hypergrowth hit. And that’s a tough balancing act. But I really think our team just flying colors on this thing across the board. They just really made it work.

I actually really like, certainly the simplicity in many ways where you know that you’ve got a good product, you’ve got people using it and by the sounds of it, and forgive me because I’m probably oversimplifying it, but it’s looking into the data and looking into the signals from what people are doing with your product to actually then inform the rest of your strategy at that point.

So how do you actually, from your perspective, start to align your marketing team together with sales on the other side?

We’ve touched on a lot of the data that you use, but in your experience, how are you bringing those teams together?

Yeah, I mean, there’s two different flavors of Jotform, for example.

We have what we call our Jotform Classic, which is like a single user product, right?

So you might be a mom and pop bakery, you might be, let’s say you’re a small business, something like that. You might be an accounting firm, you just want to use it to collect new registrations, people interested in maybe using you for tax season or something. But then we also have our enterprise product, which is for multi-users.

So you might have a large corporation and the marketing department needs forms, the operations department needs forms, accounting needs forms, things like that, right?

So you could have that under one umbrella rather than having 50 individual people using the product. You could have one person managing it all and then people kind of underneath it. So the people on our enterprise product are the ones that actually, we have a sales division covering, helping those up because it’s a much more complicated sales process.

Our Jotform standard, Jotform Classic is really self-serve, right?

They come in, they can sign up, it’s a freemium product, right?

So they can come in and as the, as the consumption grows, they move up through our paid tiers. On the enterprise side of things, it’s a much more involved process. We have people that ask, they ask us to fill out security questionnaires.

They want to really kind of vet the product from a, you know, from a safety product, from a safety issue, right?

They want to make sure the data’s not going to leak, that it meets all their security requirements, whether it’s stock, two-hippo, those kinds of things.

And then they also want to make sure it doesn’t work with, does it fill in with their workflow?

Because again, you don’t want to bring something in that’s just going to, you know, just destroy what you’ve kind of built up over there. So it’s a much more deliberate kind of a process.

So from a marketing point of view on, on the enterprise side, I use our sales team as life, I call it live fire marketing research, because they can come in and say, customers are asking for this, customers are mentioning that.

And that tells you what kinds of materials you want to provide, whether it’s, you know, again, a white paper, whether it’s a case study, whether it’s, you know, a one sheet, web pages, those kinds of things.

So you arm, you can have the ability to arm your sales team with the information that customers are asking for, right?

They say, well, tell us about your encryption levels, tell us about your security requirements, to what kind of server environment does this stuff hosted and those kinds of things. That becomes usually one of the first questions we’re asked.

Well, now we’ve got volume information we can provide people. And it’s detailed technical, it doesn’t just gloss over, it takes a deep dive from a technical point of view, because they’re asking very technical questions. So that allows that customer then to take a dive down as deep as they need to go to get their question answered. And that’s a big thing.

So there’s a lot more back and forth that has to happen in these things, as we have to do demo presentations, because again, you’re appealing to a much different mindset of a customer. And it’s much more deliberate. So the process, you want to say in one respect slows down, because they contact us, we in turn contact back to them. And then the sales process begins.

And sometimes you get, you know, a little bit into it and they say, you know, this isn’t really what we’re looking for. We’re happy with our standard plan we’re doing. And then we’re happy with the standard plan. We’re good with that.

Fine, we’re happy with that. As long as you’re still in the Jotform umbrella, Jotform family of products, great.

You know, when you need us, we’re here to move up to the enterprise level. And then sometimes they come back six months later, they say, yep, we’re ready to go and we’re off to the races with them. Others just come in and they look at it and go, this is exactly what we need.

How do we sign up?

What’s good going?

You know, we sign them in a contract, they sign on, we get them all set up, we get their server set up, and they’re off and going. And then we have dedicated support teams for them that they get, they have questions or need assistance or anything like that. They’re there to help. So there’s a pre-sale and a post-sale that happens.

And that post-sale sometimes is far more important than the pre-sale, because there’s that ongoing relationship you’re building and they want to have that, you know, confidence that your product’s going to work for them. And if they’re having issues with it, they want to have the confidence that you can help them out. And that’s become a big thing.

And again, those same bits of information are available to the post-sale support team, right?

Tell us, my encryption is not working.

Oh, you don’t have, this is what you need to work with. Or it has to work this way.

You can’t, you know, you’ve got to go to the right. It can’t go to the left kind of simplicity on those things. So there’s that kind of stuff that happens. But by talking to your sales team, you understand what the customer needs and wants are. You hear the words that they’re using, the phraseology that they’re using. And then you can take that back and put that into your marketing message.

And that becomes a key piece because now you’re speaking their language and that’s what they want to hear.

They want, you know, if they’re speaking to you from a peer security point of view, you don’t really start talking to them about, you know, oh, it can do this and it can do this. You want to start talking security because that’s what they want to know about. And if they feel comfortable with that, then they’ll ask you additional questions, but we have those answers also for them at the same time.

That process, you mentioned there of being able to weave that, what the customer is saying back into your messaging. Is that a kind of in-person process, i.e.

you’re literally hearing that feedback come via your teams, or is that an automated process in terms of the systems that you have where, for example, you’re able to see that information in your CRM or your marketing platform or whatever?

A little bit of both. We see it in our CRM because they’ll ask us questions like when they fill out, you know, like basically a customer contact form, everybody else in the world would call it a lead form. We’ll ask if they have any questions and I’m looking for something that can do this or I’m curious about your security levels. So we can see it that way.

And not everybody fills that out, but we do get probably half the people fill that out. So we can get some, you get a good foundation that when we start first talking to them, we know how to start the conversation. Those that don’t have it, then we can come back and then our sales team then will kind of report back and say, this is what they’re looking for.

They’re looking for these kinds of bits of information and things like that. So a little bit of a live conversation, a little bit of just hard research comes in on that front there.

But again, you have to kind of constantly do it because then what it tells us is that what is a customer that say in Europe versus a customer that’s in Australia, are there needs any different and on what level, right?

And so for like a lot of them, they say one of the first things they need is data residency. That’s a security issue. They want to make sure that their data is stored in Australia or the UK or someplace in the EU or Canada, North America, wherever it would be. They want to have that security.

And so they ask us that question sometimes first and when we say, yep, we can do that, then it opens up a whole bunch of other questions. And they’ll say, okay, tell us about your, what kind of protections you have, what are you using, those kinds of things. And then we can start answering more and more of those questions.

And so you take that very high level and then you take a dive down into it then. And the high level is basically where’s my data stored at. And then from there, we’re off to the races. I love that. An ultimate question. I’m more of a curious one.

What is the challenge that you’re really passionate about right now that you’re actually still trying to overcome?

Honestly, it’s managing the growth. We’re still in such a hyper growth area. It’s trying to stay ahead of the curve a little bit. That’s the challenge is having enough people on board to do everything you need to do to manage it all. Try to keep your sanity along the way, if you can. And don’t lose your sense of humor. That’s another big thing I think that a lot of people forget about.

But those have been the challenges is how do we continue to manage this growth?

Because if you don’t manage it correctly, you’ll just get swallowed up by it. It’s like the ocean. You don’t turn your back on it. And so for us, it’s continue to manage that growth and know where the turns are in the process if something could happen.

So if this happens, how are we going to react to it?

Those kinds of things. So you try to plan for all the different contingencies that can happen. But it’s not like, oh my god, we’re losing business.

How do we recover it?

We keep getting more and more and more business.

What are we going to do when it gets to a certain point?

How many more servers do we need?

How many more people do we need?

How many more engineers do we need to help program and maintain bug squashing?

How many more people do we need from a customer support side of the equation?

Those kinds of things. So if X amount of customers come in, it means we need a wide number of people to handle that kind of influx. And so for us, it’s been that dance as we keep climbing up that ladder.

Does operations play quite a key role in how you’re doing that?

Or does it expand beyond?

No, it’s absolutely the operations is a big piece of this thing. Everybody plays a big part in this. It’s not isolated to just one department because what happens in one place impacts another. So if we keep getting growth, it impacts engineering because they need to make sure we have all the types of pieces in place over there.

From an operational point of view, do we have enough people that work with the billing information?

Do we have enough people to handle staffing, for hiring people, customer support side of it?

So there’s two sides of it all.

And again, none of these exist on the run. They’re all gears. They all have to turn together to make this whole machine work. And they get hats off to the team. The team makes it work. It’s awesome.

Every year we get together, we call it job farmers week, we all kind of get together because we’re all basically dispersed around the globe, but we’ll get together for one week and we’ll get together for one week. And it’s kind of amazing to see…

First, people you just normally just see on a Zoom or something like that, you see them in person, which is always wonderful to see. You get to have conversations with people. But then you also can just meet other people that are in departments that you just would not come across. Like I can go talk to an engineer and say, hey, I’m Steve over on the marketing side and the enterprise side.

Great to meet you. I’ve seen your name. You guys are doing good things. Or just people you just have email exchanges with and you’ve never seen the face. So it’s great to have those conversations and build bridges to talk to people and establish those kind of professional relationships, which is great. And they end up becoming friendships, which is like the icing on the cake for it.

But the other side of it is, and I said this to one of my coworkers here, when we had one of these groups back in last October, just the magnitude of the size of the employee base. We’re north of 500 employees now. And when I started, I was employee like number 30 or something like that, 30 or 40. I was somewhere like that.

And we always hope he could put us all on a bus and drive off someplace. But then when you get there and you see just the humanity that is now our company, it’s just, wow, look at this. This is really cool.

I mean, it’s just one of these fun kinds of things. So those are the kind of things that you try to manage to grow on. And when you see that, you’re just impressed with it. We’ve been able to get to that point without discernible interruptions. And that’s, again, that’s a credit to the talent of the people that work here.

Yeah, completely agree. Final question, Steve.

What is one book that you would recommend to other revenue leaders?

You know, I come back to this book a lot. It’s one of these books that has stuck with me. It’s probably, I don’t know how many years old it is, but it’s Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.

So you look at one part of it, it’s just, you see how Jobs grew up and what his influences were in your six, that, but there’s parts of it where he’s talking about the growth of Apple, the growth of next Pixar.

When he returned to Apple, what they did, especially the return to Apple, there’s two pieces in there that are really important things for me is the Pixar management and the return to Apple, how they grew things. There’s a lot of great business lessons to be learned from product development. And it’s fascinating to read it because you see where focus becomes the main driver.

And those are the pieces that a lot of companies fall flat on. And this comes back to the shiny objects that people get distracted by. By keeping things focused on key parts of your business, that’s where you can succeed. The minute you start getting distracted by something that is trendy or just, hey, somebody’s got an idea, but they have a big mouth about the idea.

And then everybody thinks we got to, Bill is the guy that was, you know, we got to listen to Bill, whatever, whoever it would be. Those things happen. And there’s a story, you know, that he talks about, and I have a friend of mine that happened to be in the room when this happened. When Jobs came back, they went down to a little city, Southwest San Francisco, called Monterey.

They went down there and they had a retreat with a bunch of product managers and some executives and things like that, about a hundred people or so. And Jobs got on a whiteboard.

And he said, okay, what do we need to do this year?

What do you guys think we need to do?

And they had like hundreds of items on there, probably about 200 things.

He said, people said we should do this, do this, do this. And Jobs said, okay, pick four of them because that’s all we can do. And so you start, then you start looking at it and go, well, we don’t have to do these. These are nice to haves, but not got to haves. And then you probably get rid of three quarters of the list at that point.

Now you start making some tough decisions.

What, okay, do we really need this?

Which ones are going to bring us the most revenue?

Where are we going to focus the company on?

And they started just keep cutting them out, cutting them out. And you get, there’s discussion going back and forth. There’s debate going back and forth.

But pretty soon the focus comes into what is going to be the core of this business?

What are going to be our four main pieces that we’re going to drive this company back?

And you got to remember, this is back when Apple was on its deathbed. At one point, Apple was six weeks away from going out of business. And then they are where they are now. But this friend of mine, and he wasn’t breaking any confidences, told me, this is what was going on in that room.

He says, but it was fascinating because then people got on board with the message. People got on board with the process. They understood what the mission was then. And it was very, very clear of what that mission was going to be. And so it wasn’t like an edict that was passed down from on high.

It was, this was a team that worked together to focus on what those four things were going to be. And that’s one, that’s a very tough trick to pull off. That’s very difficult to get that kind of an organization because you’ve got a lot of competing opinions. You’ve got a lot of competing egos, but people were able to consensus and say, this is what we need to do.

But that gave the team marching orders really for the next five years. And we could all look at the results of that.

What happened?

They became focused, they became charged, and they went ahead and did things. And I took a little bit of that.

And again, I’m not taking integrated, we’re going to take one tenth of one hundredth of a percent, maybe. And when we came, when I came to job form, I was like, let’s find those four core markets that we have or our five core markets and let’s go charge at those. And that again, it’s focused. That’s really what it comes back down to is focused.

And so that this jobs bio talks a lot about focus, whether it was at Pixar, the thing would do like, I always chuckled because they would say, well, we want to do this in a movie, what should we do?

It goes, let’s make it great.

That’s a pretty tall order, right?

You know, people looking for better information, give me some guidance, let’s make it great.

But that also opens up your imagination of what you can do then, because as a creative type, you think about different environments of how to do things, right?

And so that’s kind of where those pieces, I think those are big lessons to learn that a lot of companies just don’t, that don’t have it because they’re looking, how do we get, I don’t have to make the customers happy. I got to make my investors happy. I got to make my shareholders happy. That’s who they think their customer is.

But trust me, if you can make your customers that are buying your product happy, the VCs and everybody else will be happy. They’ll be happier actually, because they’ll see more money coming in. That is a wonderful way to wrap up this conversation.

Steve, it’s been great to have you on.

I would like to know if you are active on socials, are you on LinkedIn?

If you are, where can our audience find you?

Best places to find me is on LinkedIn.

I mean, I’m on other socials, but I just don’t have the time to play around another social. But I’m on LinkedIn. By all means, then people can send me friend requests or LinkedIn requests. I don’t know what we call them on LinkedIn anymore. I’d be more than happy to answer questions people have or anything like that. I love the interaction with people. I love seeing what other people are doing.

I read a ton of content on LinkedIn at night. It’s kind of what helps me unwind at the end of the day during my commute and whatnot. There’s a lot of really good things that people are doing out there. And it’s an awesome learning opportunity from all that. Fantastic. We’ll put a link down to your LinkedIn down in the show notes so everyone can find you.

Steve, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today and to everyone that’s listened to this episode. Thanks so much. We’ll see you next week. Okay. Thank you very much. Thanks for listening to Revenue Insights. If you want to learn more, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll deliver every episode straight to your inbox. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with us on LinkedIn.

Our links will be in the episode notes. See you next week.