Submit     Newsletter     Search     Register  
Escape Velocity - with Dan Martell on Smash Notes

Escape Velocity - with Dan Martell podcast.

December 28, 2019

When you Escape Velocity, the perfect exit is just around the corner. Learn how to scale, grow and exit with Dan Martell and some of the top SaaS Founders in the business.



Episodes with Smash Notes

Years ago the so-called “secret” to B2B company growth was getting leads. 

If you got enough email addresses or phone numbers that you could give to your sales team, you were going to make BANK.

Not any more.

Everyone is on LinkedIn, social media accounts are 1-click away, and business emails get scraped and sold daily. It sucks… but it’s true.

The question isn’t how to get leads, it’s “How do I make them stop and listen?”

My latest guest on the Escape Velocity Podcast has built a multi-million dollar business solving that problem.

Greg Segall is the CEO and founder of Alyce.com, a corporate gifting platform that uses artificial intelligence to help sales teams buy the perfect gift for prospective clients.

Instead of leading a business relationship with “ME, ME, ME”…

…corporate gifting allows businesses to invite the attention of a prospective client with a well-timed, valuable, and appreciated gift.

It works.

It works so damn well that it’s grown into a $120 billion industry in the United States alone.

Now Alyce.com has taken a bite from that pie, growing from 15 people to over 110 in less than a year-and-a-half, and closing nearly $17M in funding.

That kind of explosive growth is fascinating… so I just had to sit down with Greg and pick his brain for how it all went down.

By his own admission, Greg believes in being open, honest and vulnerable… meaning he’s happy to share everything about his business. In this ep, we chat about:

- How Alyce had to pivot radically from a referral service
- The ‘Oxygen, Aspirin, Vitamins’ framework
- Why defining your core vision creates growth
- Attracting talent in a remote workforce
- How to expand a company internationally
- Managing down (getting more from your staff)
- Why he insists on having a coach
- Leadership, management and execution

One thing I love about Greg is that he believes in making a difference.

This becomes important to founders when the days are long, the work is tough and profits lose their shine.

When Greg’s company sends a gift, the recipient has the option to accept it, exchange it or to donate the money to charity instead.

Considering the size of this industry, even with a small percentage of recipients choosing the charity option, Alyce.com could become the single most charitable business… in the entire world.

Just let that sink in.

Tune in to Greg’s podcast episode right here.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

If I could take all of the BS about “success” and cram it into the single most actionable statement ever, it would be this:

The key to success is consistency.

I don’t care how cheesy it is… It’s the truth.

Print it on a T-shirt. Crochet it on a wall hanging. Hashtag it on Instagram. Just don’t forget it.

If you want to be successful at anything BE CONSISTENT.

No-one encapsulates consistency more than my latest guest on Escape Velocity, Steli Efti.

Steli is the co-creator of The Startup Chat, a podcast now with over 450 episodes.

Did you know that the average podcast dies out after just 7 episodes?

Yeah, 7. He’s ahead by 443.

Steli’s co-host is Hiten Shah, the co-founder of Kissmetrics, CrazyEgg and FYI… and for the last 4 and a half years, Steli and Hiten have recorded two episodes every single week.

Steli has an amazing story of how he went from nothing to starting and skyrocketing his SaaS, Close.com

He sold everything he had, bought a one-way ticket from his home in Europe to Silicon Valley, wasn’t great at speaking English, didn’t have a Visa, but he planned to start a software company

…without knowing anything about software.

It sounds like a disaster, but through hard work and consistency, he’s now crazy successful.

Close.com is a sales and communication tool that pioneered many of the trends we now see in CRMs today.

You’ve just got to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Get your headphones ready and tune in.

Steli is the coolest guy (leather jacket and all) and just ridiculously easy to chat with. In this episode, we talked about:

- How he got started as a SaaS entrepreneur
- Moving to a new country for business
- His interview on day 2 in Silicon Valley (it’ll make you cringe)
- The website that he made… and that died
- ElasticSales, his Sales-as-a-service company that led to Close.com
- How Steli evaluates the value of a conference
- How Close.com managed to innovate ahead of the curve
- The business war over their domain name
- Steli’s failed funding experience
- How to sell more from your product demos

This is an epic interview, not only because you’ll learn about how he got started in business, but because you’ll hear from someone that made a lot of mistakes and pushed onwards until he figured it out.

It’s encouraging, to say the least.

And in these times, I think we all need a bit of encouragement.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

My latest guest is controversial.

If you google ‘Nathan Latka’, you’ll see headlines that call him inspirational… and others that call him a con-man (or use more colorful language).

Most CEOs or software founders would fear that kind of negative press.

But not Nathan. 

In fact… he encourages it.

He wants people to either love him or hate him as long as they aren’t somewhere in between. He wants polarizing opinions because it leads to attention.

It’s a bold play, but… it’s paid off.

Originally Nathan founded Heyo.com, a social media marketing SaaS that leverages viral giveaways. 

After successfully exiting, he then founded GetLatka.com, a SaaS info database. 

Now he’s the writer of a book called How To Be a Capitalist Without Any Capital that has sold over 25,000 copies and he is the host of a popular business podcast called The Top with 10 million episode downloads.

He’s a master of marketing and has no shortage of opinions on SaaS businesses. 

So I sat him down to pick his brain and understand how and why he thinks the way he does, exploring SaaS financing options in the meantime.

This is your behind-the-scenes exposé. Check it out.

I can’t say I agree with Nathan’s methods… but they are interesting. In our chat, we get talking about:

- His airport magazine funnel that converts at 49%
- How he convinced top CEOs to get on his podcast from day one
- Why it’s cheaper to get people to hate you
- How he knew he could sell a book… but could he write one?
- Latka’s Million Dollar Roadtrip (his CNBC TV show)
- How SaaS financing has been rapidly changing
- The 6 types of funding options for founders

There is a bit of everything in this episode. From book publishing deals to TV show productions, to SaaS financing options, to funnels…

Nathan and I are old friends and I’ve always wanted to ask him these controversial questions… he gave me permission so the gloves came off. 

If you’re wondering what his crazy life has to do with your business though, it’s worth listening just to hear his answer to the question:

“How would you find the perfect SaaS to invest in?”

Get your headphones ready, queue it up right here, and enjoy.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Pop quiz:

Does a Freemium business model really convert to a growing SaaS?

Sure, you get widespread access to potential customers… 

But are they just there because it’s free? Or do they end up paying?

In the latest episode of the Escape Velocity Podcast, I sat down with Matthew Bellows, the founder of Yesware and BodesWell to talk about this.

Yesware is a sales and CRM tool that works inside of your email account.

It began as a free Google Chrome extension.

They were there at the start of the Chrome app explosion which skyrocketed their growth up to 10,000 free users per month

…entirely from word-of-mouth.

It sounds like a dream come true until Matthew had to turn it into a viable, ROI positive business.

100% free wasn’t going to cut it.

That meant transitioning from free… to freemium.

Some users got angry. Others understood.

But with over 100,000 free users who weren’t converting to paid, Matthew quickly realized they were a distraction from the needs of the paying customers.

What would you do?

What did he do?

This a million-dollar decision, where a SaaS founder has to make a choice that could make or break a business. This is what I live for! 

Tune in to the latest episode to hear us explore this business dilemma.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

- Why you need your users to get “that glint in their eye”
- How letting people down might be the right choice
- Lessons from turning free into paid
- How Yesware received $50 million in funding
- The growth tipping point to pursue investors
- Meditation
- The importance of visualization

Chatting with Matthew was like hanging out with an old friend and sharing war stories.

As SaaS founders, I think it’s super important to spend time with other founders in a similar position to you, people outside of your team who have a fresh take on your challenges.

That’s why I enjoyed this interview so much.

If you’ve ever been considering a freemium model, definitely check out this episode first.

If you find these conversations valuable, remember that’s a huge component of SaaS Academy. You’ll meet and work with other like-minded SaaS founders.

Jump on a call with my scale specialists and we’ll figure out if SaaS Academy is a fit for you.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

I nearly screamed at my lawyer… 

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Years ago, I was finishing up a real estate deal when my lawyer told me that I had to notarize a document.

No signature, no deal. 

But that signature had to be from a notary, someone that’s earned the authority of the state to approve that I actually was who I said I was.

It’s an archaic process but it’s necessary to fight off fraud.

The problem was that I travel. A lot. I was on the move and it couldn’t wait until I was back home. 

So I had to hunt down an approved notary in a city I barely knew, figure out when he was free, and meet him at a convenience store.

Just to prove that my ID was actually mine.

I remember thinking, “Surely someone can streamline this process…”

Well, someone has.

Patrick Kinsel is the founder and CEO of Notarize, the first approved digital notary service. 

Instead of shady convenience store appointments, Notarize can connect you with an official notary straight from your laptop in an average of 30 seconds.

The story of Notarize is an amazing journey, and Patrick shared it all with me on the latest episode of Escape Velocity right here.

Want a lesson is perseverance?

Notarize’s biggest problem… was that their technology wasn’t legal to begin with.

So Patrick’s company raised $42 million in capital, and spent over $10 million of that just to lobby for laws to change so that digital notarization could exist.

Imagine starting a SaaS that literally needed new laws before it was legal…

It’s a great interview, and you’ll hear from Patrick about:

- How they managed to change 22 state laws
- Buying domain names for $42k
- Building a product roadmap in reverse
- How Notarize solved the new problems they were creating
- Rewriting history books

In Patrick’s own words, they wanted to be the first company that made it possible for you to buy a house on the internet.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Stop by the episode, hear the story for yourself, and drop me a comment to let me know what amazed you the most.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

I want you to meet someone who I have huge respect for:

Natalie Nagele.

Not only has Natalie been working in the SaaS and software space since her late teens, but she’s been courageous enough to experiment with optimizing her team.

…even if it means asking them to work less.

She is the CEO of WildBit, a tech company with 3 big products:

Beanstalk: Code revision and deployment software
Postmark: Transactional email service
Conveyor: Task management for software teams

I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie on the latest episode of the Escape Velocity Show, and you can tell that she truly loves her team.

In fact, she loves them so much that she’s willing to try anything to make their lives better.

She saw a boost in productivity by moving them to a 4-day work week, she onboards all her staff by giving them 2 books she swears by, and she’s experimented with many different productivity apps.

Her team is largely remote but she’s managed to make that their strength, not a weakness.

Listening to her experiences is like spying on a test lab training the perfect SaaS team.

If you’ve ever wanted to build a deeply loyal remote team, then you’ll get a lot out of this interview, so check it out.

I’m grateful for Natalie’s willingness to share her biggest lessons from 16 years in the tech industry. In this interview, she talks about:

- Why “If you build it they will come” is a bad strategy
- Learning how to pay yourself - How to avoid getting screwed in an acquisition
- The 2 books she gives to every WildBit employee
- How hiring a business coach was like marriage counseling
- The company value: “Don’t be an @sshole”.
- Whether Slack helps or hinders your team

Natalie’s journey to success doesn’t follow the conventional bravado that many businesses try to project.

Even on WildBit’s website, they list their company timeline, including shutting down products that just didn’t work. It’s not embarrassing… it’s history.

The company that is willing to innovate even if it’s risky is the company that will find diamonds. And WildBit is living proof that not all innovations work on the first try.

Plug in your headphones, and get your dose of SaaS wisdom right here.

Digging what you hear? I’d love it if you left a review in your favorite podcasting app.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

You know what gives me an instant explosive headache?

Telemarketers.

It takes me about 2 seconds before I can tell they’re reading from a script. 

“Are you happy with your… BLAH BLAH”. 

I’ve worked closely with many sales teams so I empathize with the job they have to do, but I simply cannot tolerate inauthentic selling. 

There’s no excuse. Just train your sales team properly!

What really grinds my gears is that telemarketers tarnish the reputation of all salespeople.

I call it scorched earth selling. 

But if you’ve ever met an AMAZING salesperson, then all is immediately forgiven. The whole sales interaction is seamless, comfortable and above all… authentic. 

Today I’d like you to meet a sales genius: David Priemer.

David is sometimes referred to as the “Sales Professor”. 

He was the VP of sales at Rypple, then the Principal of the Sales Training Academy at Salesforce… and then the VP of Commercial

Sales there too.

Now he is the founder & Chief Sales Scientist at Cerebral Selling.

All of that adds up to a guy that understands the SCIENCE of authentic selling and how to train sales teams to perform better.

In the latest episode of Escape Velocity, David and I chat all about selling. Tune in and you’ll learn it from the best in the business.

In this interview, David and I get chatting about:

Circumventing customer objections
David’s “The Reason I Ask…” sales hack ← You can start using this today
The right way to manage a sales team
The 3 areas that all top sales reps excel
The number 1 thing you can do to improve your sales team
Scripts vs Talk Tracks vs authentic selling
How Aziz Ansari laughed in the face of Salesforce

This isn’t just an interesting topic… It’s essential to growing your business.

If you took two rival SaaS companies with similar products, it’s the one with the well-trained and authentic sales team that will overtake the market.

I’d encourage you to invest time in learning about sales strategies and nurturing your team, no matter how big or small.

Your sales team is a weapon. Sharpen it.

If you like what you’ve heard in this interview and you want more, David has taken his years of experience and written a book called Sell The Way You Buy

And if your conversion rate isn’t where you want it to be, hop on a call with my scale specialists and we’ll help you out.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Learn how to install elegance and efficiency in your sales process with David’s new book, Sell The Way You Buy: https://cerebralselling.com/book/

If everything in your business fell apart, and you had to rebuild from scratch… what would you do differently?

This is usually a hypothetical question.

But not necessarily nowadays… and definitely not for Ben Jabbawy a few years back.

Ben is the founder and CEO of Privy, marketing automation software for e-commerce stores.

In 2013, they raised a seed round $2 MIL from investors.

2 years later, in 2015… all they had left was $1000 in the bank.

They had no choice but to pivot, or quit. (A decision a lot of founders are faced with these days.)

Fast forward to today, and they’re fast approaching $8 MIL in ARR (annual recurring revenue). Their software is being added to about 10,000 new stores every month.

That’s like returning a SaaS from the brink of extinction!

So HOW on earth do you do that?!

Ben was kind enough to talk through the entire business journey in this week’s episode of the Escape Velocity show.

I liken this episode to sharing war stories. In the interview, Ben chats about:

1. Paying attention to the impact you have on people (not metrics)
2. How their customer focus won the war
3. What it takes to grow from a startup founder into a CEO
4. Swallowing your pride
5. What that last $1000 taught him about successful thinking

What impresses me most about Ben is how he managed to keep a level head throughout everything.

The right mindset is integral to surviving the setbacks in business and life.

A lesser leader would have fallen apart. But not Ben.

We could use more leaders like Ben.

So when you fire up the episode, keep this question in mind: What would you do if your business was down to it’s last $1000?

Check out the interview and take a moment to leave me a comment letting me know what you would do.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

When I built my company Clarity.fm, I remember staying up until 3AM designing how this software would work.

But I’m not a designer.

So I used an awesome wireframing tool called Balsamiq.

It was a dream to use. In no time at all, I had a working prototype for my SaaS, the same one that was later successfully acquired by Fundable.

I love Balsamiq. And I recommend it to all “graphically challenged” software founders.

So it’s a huge pleasure to be interviewing Peldi Guilizzoni, the founder of Balsamiq, on this week’s episode of Escape Velocity.

Not only has his tool been a launchpad for so many businesses… but Balsamiq is a SaaS of its own, with a fascinating growth journey to tell.

The ultimate plot-twist in this interview is that Peldi never wanted to grow! 

I’m not kidding. He wanted to stay as a solopreneur with a simple software tool and resisted growth as much as he could.

But his software was just too good and he’s now he’s doing over $6M+ in yearly sales.

It was going to take off whether he liked it or not… so, he reluctantly learned to ride the wave.

In this episode, he talks about:

Doing everything alone for 6 months
The day he reluctantly hired someone
How he still suffers from imposter syndrome (don’t we all?)
The year that 5 competitors appeared
How Balsamiq remains untouched by Adobe XD

This is a humbling, insightful and fascinating story of how one of the most praised UX wireframing tools just took off.

It’s a powerful lesson in personal growth.

Or as Peldi describes it, “It was like being strapped to a rocket and trying to steer it”.

Tune in here for this refreshing interview. And let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the chat as much as I did!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Investors WANT to spend their money.

Yes, they actually want to write big, big cheques.

For years, I believed that the stories of successful SaaS businesses that attracted massive investments were just myths.

Unicorns.

Until 3 things happened:

1. I sold my first company (then did it two more times)
2. I became an investor in over 40 businesses.
3. I met experts who specialize in SaaS selling

One thing became crystal clear to me. 

Businesses get bought and sold all the time! The secret sauce is knowing what investors/buyers are looking for, and why.

So let me introduce you to an expert.

Thomas Smale is the founder of FE International… and he has a 94.1% success rate for selling businesses.

Want to debunk those myths? Tune in to this week’s episode of Escape Velocity where I interview Thomas and you’ll get the juicy truths about buying and selling a SaaS.

Thomas’ company is responsible for literally trillions of dollars worth of sales. In this ep, we discuss:

- How FE International approach sales
- The truth behind valuation ← You need to hear this!
- Two baseline stats for explosive sales
- How your pricing model is the Number 1 sign of growth
- What buyers look for when acquiring a business

This whole interview is a goldmine. But the best gold nugget is at minute 30 when I asked him:

“Thomas, imagine that we are starting a new SaaS company – the best SaaS company. What needs to be true? What are the characteristics of this business?”

Boom.

Those answers are everything you need to correct in your business now!

Check it out, and drop me a comment below.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Are you competing on business models?

You could be.

Check out this quote:

“Technology or not, every organization has a business model. Some are conscious of it. Some are not. Some try to change it. Some don’t.”

“Some just compete on products… whereas they could compete on superior business models.

That’s Alex Osterwalder, founder of Strategyzer and my latest guest on the Escape Velocity podcast.

Alex literally has a PHD in Business Models.

But he’s transitioned from academia to actually helping businesses.

Now he’s most famous for:

1. The Business Model Canvas – a strategy board used by over 5 million people worldwide.
2. Business Model Generation: Handbook – read by 1 million+ people.
3. Helping businesses innovate and compete on business model in their markets.

He’s the best in the field.

Which is why you just have to tune in to this weeks’ Escape Velocity episode. You’ll get your mind blown!

Alex is extremely articulate. Tune in and you’re going to learn:

- How simplification = power
- Why it’s not good enough to ignore innovation
- How to be an ambidextrous organization
- The 250 : 1 outlier ratio
- Betting smart on success
- Why it’s 100% important to fail
- The 4 major risk categories ← (you need to know these)

I’m telling you… it’s impossible to listen to this episode and think “I didn’t learn anything that applies to my business”.

Impossible!

Do yourself a favor, and check out the video here or tune in for the audio version below.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Reality Check: Success isn’t about driving Ferraris and sipping champagne from a private jet…

It’s about how you handle problems.

No matter how many customers you get, how much profit you make… you will always have problems.

Money might buy you a bigger team and more talented employees, but then you’ve got the problem of actually knowing your team! 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse in your own company

That is one of the biggest problems that SaaS founders encounter when they start to scale.

Growing pains. 

Losing touch.

Well, in this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, I sat down to interview someone who has solved this exact problem for lots of businesses: Claire Lew.

Claire is the CEO of Know Your Team.

They build software that saves a manager from becoming a bad boss.

One minor improvement in team communication can have an exponential effect on productivity, output and growth business-wide.

It’s such a significant problem that Claire now works with managers from DropBox, Mailchimp, AirBnb, and more… 

…working with over 15,000 people in 25 countries

…and yet her own business is just 4 people!

Claire is infinitely intelligent, full of great stories, and in this episode you’ll learn:

- Why her boss made her quit
- How she started with one-on-one consulting
- Her first customer (Jason from Basecamp!)
- Becoming a CEO at 24 years old
- Being profitable from month one
- The 3 biggest things most CEOs don’t know about their team
- Nailing the right pricing
- Rebuilding your own product

I love Claire’s story because it maps out the time-tested steps to growth.

She had a problem (she hated her boss), she wanted to solve this problem (developed a way to provide feedback), she began helping people 1-on-1 (idea validation), then she scaled into a SaaS.

Starting a great business is not rocket science. 

Sometimes simplicity is the key.

Get your headphones in, queue up the episode right here, and don’t forget to leave a comment. I love getting the conversation going!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

If you have a B2B business that negotiates deals directly with your customers, then I’ll bet you’ve got headaches to do with money.

Sales call followed by proposals… 

Rejected and then renegotiated…

All hoping that in the end, you can close a big deal that really moves the needle. 

Only to realize that getting the customer is just half of the battle! 

Each deal is different to the last, and you’ve got to figure out how to bill them correctly, track their accounts, and report it to investors and accountants.

It gives me a headache just thinking about it!

But not for Tim McCormick. 

Tim is the CEO of SaaSOptics, and they specialize in helping SaaS businesses manage their sales when nearly every deal is unique. 

What’s great about Tim is that his company is a SaaS… but so are his customers! That gives him a very unique view of the market.

So, I sat down with Tim and chatted about what’s going on with trends in the software companies, and how a B2B SaaS can get ahead today. Check it out:

In this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, Tim and I chat about:

- How he started as the 8th employee and now leads 80
- Raising capital for a growing SaaS
- Why they tie their price to their customer’s revenue
- Old school offices vs Remote teams
- Being honest about your weaknesses (<< Truth!)
- The value of a mentor for a leader

SaaSOptics track ALL the metrics a subscription-based business needs to know.

I really believe in metrics.

If you don’t know them, you’re flying blind.

Since Tim’s business model is about pairing with growing SaaS businesses, then he knows a thing or two about spotting the winners.

That’s why I had to ask him:

“What do you think great SaaS companies are doing right in the market today?”

Tune in and jump to minute 22:38 to hear his reply!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

“If only we had money, we could…”

It’s a story I’ve heard a thousand times. Startups heaving a sigh, wishing they had investors to fund the awkward early stages.

Scraping to get your software in shape…

Working 60+ hour weeks…

Can’t afford to hire people so you’re wearing every hat for every department…

But the dark side of receiving VC funding is that you lose a massive slice of your company.

It can be VERY expensive.

The equity you give away just for some upfront money could be worth millions in a few years time, but you’re too desperate to know that now.

BJ Lackland has a different approach.

He’s the CEO of Lighter Capital, a funding company that supports tech entrepreneurs without them giving up equity, board seats or personal guarantees.

In the 7 years BJ spent at the helm, they funded 365 companies… with 630 rounds of financing… deploying a total of $168 million.

So, if this guy is a master at spotting a startup worth investing in, don’t you want to hear what he has to say?

You can. 

For this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, I sat down with BJ and we talked all about funding, financing, and loans for startups.

In our interview, BJ opens up about:

- What revenue-based financing actually is
- How Lighter Capital does the math on a loan
- What’s changed in SaaS financing 
- Why equity funding could be your biggest mistake
- Light Capital’s software for processing deals
- What red flags BJ always looks out for (<< Mistakes to avoid)
- Extra perks Lighter Capital offers

This is a super insightful interview. Getting funding in your early stages can be the make-or-break for a SaaS.

But like with all things marketing… you’ve got to get inside an investor’s head.

This is an interview that will show you how a financing company thinks, what matters and what doesn’t. 

Check out the interview, and commit these lessons to memory.

You’ll be grateful for it when it comes time to raise some money.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Back when SaaS was still a new word (circa 2006), Jon Miller started Marketo, a software product that gave businesses an end-to-end view of their customer’s journey.

The technology was revolutionary.

No longer was a marketing team just collecting leads to give to the sales team… 

…but businesses were able to track and optimize every touchpoint.

From ads, to website visitor, to sale, to upsell, to retention and residual profits.

Marketo’s goal was to offer enterprise power at an affordable price to smaller marketing teams and unify a company’s view of their customers.

In 2013 they had their first IPO.

In 2016, they sold to Vista for $1.8 Billion.

In 2018, Vista sold Marketo to Adobe for $4.75 Billion.

And in this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, I got to sit down with Jon Miller and talk all about his revolutionary view on Marketing that grew his SaaS to a billion-dollar company in just 12 years…

… and he’s doing it again with Engagio.com

This interview is just loaded with “Aha!” moments. Jon is a fountain of marketing wisdom, and he shares:

- The story of Marketo’s first failure
- Lead scoring and the bigger picture of customer behavior
- Why growth is about adding new revenue engines
- The necessity of innovation for scale
- How marketers can lose sight of real revenue
- Where most SaaS profits really come from
- Why the best marketing happens after a sale (<< Wish I knew this 10 years ago!)
- Using Time as a measure of Lead Scoring
- The rapid growth of Jon’s second company, Engagio

I love marketing.

But what I love even more is speaking to someone so articulate about marketing that you can’t help but feel inspired and want to share it with everyone else.

That’s what this podcast episode is. So many eye-opening moments.

So… watch it, or listen to it. It’s just that good!

Remember, this is the guy that started a SaaS that eventually sold to Adobe for literally billions of dollars. 

Doesn’t that make you curious?

Tune in and check it out!

Want to learn what it’s like to compete against Amazon and win?

I first met Tobi the Co-founder & CEO of Shopify.com 10 years ago in San Francisco while they were fundraising for their series A…

… most investors said “No”.

(We dig into this during my interview… specifically, what those investors missed!)

Fast forward to today and they have more than 1M businesses paying them every month, from over 175 countries with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $50 BILLION.

Many consider them the ONLY company actually competing against Amazon and winning.

But how did they do it?

How did they build their team, manage their product development or grow as a team to be the company they are today and making Tobi a Billionaire? 

That was actually my first question to him “What’s changed now that you’re a Billionaire?” 🙂

As a technical founder growing up I actually used a framework called ActiveMerchant (that Tobi built) to accept credit cards within my Ruby on Rails application…

… so our connection goes way back even before we ever met in person.

Our technical background and systems thinking approach is what makes this interview completely different from anything you’ve heard before.

Watch to learn how Tobi used this unique approach to scale a HUGE company in a non-traditional tech city like Ottawa, Canada (and those benefits).

During this conversation, you’ll learn:

- The dramatically different way Tobi looks at exponential growth
- How to get your culture fit right for growth
- The advantages of starting off as a programmer
- The power of neurodiversity
- The single question loop that drives their strategic growth
- How to increase developer throughput
- Why you need to disagree with the general consensus to build innovation
- And sooo much more.

One of my favourite conversations was deconstructing Tobi’s view on talent acceleration.

It’s something I discovered in the early days when I was visiting their office and found out they had an internal executive coach who worked with several of their exec leadership team.

This was years before having a coach was “cool” (it still may not be :).

Today that coaching team is 50+ people.

The core belief Tobi has that drove that decision is that if your business is growing by % – call it 50% – then you need to develop your team’s abilities by 50% on an annual basis!?!

Are you growing your team at the same rate you’re growing? Probably not.

He also believes that everyone needs to requalify for their role every year – including him.

Watch or listen to this interview and leave a comment letting me know what your biggest insight from our conversation was.

Can’t wait to hear your feedback!

Enjoy.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

How do you maximize your revenue? 

It’s the question that everyone wishes there was an easy answer too.

No, I don’t mean that as a thought-provoking chin-stroking question to ponder from the armchair. 

I mean how do you actually do it? How do big businesses know the right steps – backed with data – that are going to blast them to their revenue goals and beyond?

Answer:

By focusing on RevOps.

RevOps, or ‘Revenue Optimization’, is a new field of expertise where consultants reference multiple data-points from big businesses to map out where your company should focus their time and attention.

It’s about scaling your earnings based on a strategy custom-made for your business.

And in this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, I interview Jason Reichl, the co-founder of Go Nimbly, a revops consultancy firm.

Hearing how a revops consultant thinks is going to blow your mind wide open. Check it out.

This interview is chunky. It’s an hour-long, and we get stuck into challenging topics including:

- Vital metrics that you need to measure
- Using industry benchmarks to rate your growth
- Predicting the mind of a customer reaching out (<< Nails it!)
- How unifying your team can create up to 36% boost in revenue
- SaaS tool stacks for $10M ARR companies
- Why your tool stack could be limiting your revenue
- Preparing for Exit or your IPO

Go Nimbly have worked with Zendesk, Twilio, Focus, and a range of other SaaS customers, supporting about $3B in revenue between all of them.

When you see the books of such companies and work with them to optimize revenue, you get some incredible insights into what every business should be doing.

That’s Jason’s forte.

If you knew the levers to pull, the changes to make in your business that can ratchet up your company’s income, then you’d have the golden ticket to SaaS-Land.

Some of the terms exchanged in this episode might not be common from a small business perspective, so here’s a quick glossary of 3:

- MQL: Marketing Qualified Lead. This is a potential customer who is curious about your product and will be receptive to your marketing efforts.
- SQL: Sales Qualified Lead. This is when a potential customer has shown signs of being purchase ready, and your sales team should be reaching out.
- BDR: Business Development Representative. The person in a business that looks for opportunities and builds relationships with potential customers (That could be you!)

Get yourself a coffee, and tune in to explore some high-level business theory that works for big brands and will no doubt give you some vital insights for your company too.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

I can’t believe this…

One of the guys on my marketing team told me he Googled my name and you know what came up as a suggested search term?

“Dan Martell Wife”.

Google only suggests popular searches, so… Does that mean people are Googling who my wife is?! Oh man that makes me laugh.

I’ve got a better idea — How about you meet her?

In this episode of Escape Velocity, I’m chatting with my beautiful wife and partner in crime, Renee Warren.

Not only is Renee an unlimited source of inspiration in my life, but she runs her own business, FamilyAcademy.co

She works with female entrepreneurs to help them gain more freedom in their lives by teaching them how to have a better relationship with their partner and their kids.

I’ve worked with so many stressed-out SaaS founders who struggle to balance a relationship with the demands of their business.

So in my eyes, Renee’s work is serving a huge mission that’s needed in todays overworked entrepreneurial culture.

Check out this latest episode where you’ll learn more about what I’m like to live with, and about balancing a relationship with your entrepreneurial drive.

It’s unfair to call this an interview since I gave Renee free reign to speak her mind. But in this episode, you’ll hear us chat about:

- Work Life Balance (here’s a micro-doc we did on the topic)
- Relentlessly pursuing ambition when you’re in a relationship
- Creating 5-year plans individually from your partner
- How to balance priorities by doing Quarterly Retreats
- Our weekly Martell Clan meetings
- How to help your partner when they don’t want your help
- Relationship resistance
- Making sure your kids aren’t entitled when they grow up
- Why we’re sending our kids to public school

Oh and just because I’m married to a woman that helps entrepreneurs have great relationships, that doesn’t mean we’re perfect by any means.

I’ll be the first to admit that living with an entrepreneur is demanding.

We fight. We have our struggles.

But what we have is a support group and structure that keeps us on track and investing in our relationship.

In fact, in this episode, she jokes that she should write a book about what it’s like to live with me.

Her title?

“Living with Chaos”.

This was a fun episode, but I think as a SaaS founder, you’ll really find it valuable too.

If you’re in a relationship, then giving it the love and care it deserves will impact the energy you can bring to your business too.

Tune in here to watch the latest episode or get it on iTunes here.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Where does your entrepreneurial spirit come from? 

Is it in your blood?

For whatever reason that I still haven’t figured out, I’m in a family of business owners. 

So for this week’s episode of Escape Velocity, I wanted to try something a little different. I sat down and interviewed Pierre Martell, the CEO of Martell Custom Homes.

Yes…

I interviewed my brother.

A lot of people ask me about my family and about my upbringing. I love talking about them! Couldn’t be prouder.

And a lot of people know about Pierre too. He’s built quite a name for himself.

Pierre’s company is one of the largest and fastest-growing custom home builders in Canada, now spread across multiple cities, and servicing high-end professionals that want to build their dream home.

And – get this – he only has 9 employees! (though… he subcontracts hundreds more)

I’m super proud of him, so it’s awesome that I get to share his greatness with you.

Tune in and learn more about what us Martell’s have in common – and a bit about what we don’t.

In this episode, Pierre is really generous with sharing insights. I mean, he has to be, right? He’s my brother. 🙂

Anyway, we chat about:

- His first business venture at only 8 years old
- How he bought a car when he was 12 and traded his way up to a Mustang
- The necessary pains of rebranding his business
- Pivoting from competing on price to attracting high-end customers
- Why it’s worth paying more to hire the best
- Owning your mistakes with integrity
- …And how I had to kick his ass a few times (truth!)

Pierre’s story is one of growth. He took an idea, earned the street smarts to make it work and then… hustled.

Never giving up, always adapting.

Just… Hustle, hustle, hustle. 24/7.

He grew from renovating small townhouses in one district to building million-dollar homes for wealthy clients all across the country.

Pierre has really achieved something remarkable with his business, and it’s been such a blessing to watch his company grow from an idea shared around the barbecue into the respected, well-oiled machine that it is today.

I love my family, and I love putting them in the spotlight

I’m super proud of him and everything he’s achieved! So give him a little love and check out the latest episode

And here’s a question for you: Do you think we look alike? Drop a comment on the video and let me know!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Here’s a hypothetical for you:

If your business suddenly took off – I mean like accidentally monopolizing your market and seeing exponential growth overnight – would you be able to handle it?

Or would you crumble into a stressful wreck?

I always found it odd when people spoke of a “fear of success” until I was face-to-face with it in my own life.

This one thing you dream of is suddenly happening… and then panic sets in.

Like, what the heck?! This was meant to make my problems go away, not add to ‘em!

So, for the latest episode of Escape Velocity, I wanted to sit down and interview a good buddy of mine who knows about this problem all too well: Marc Albert.

Marc is the CEO of tech company DPL Wireless and he spearheaded a surge of success they weren’t ready for.

In 2006, they created the first wireless system for ATMs that could replace phone lines.

You’ve probably seen these ATMs in bars and convenience stores (Yeah, the ones charging insane $5 transaction fees! Not Marc’s doing…)

With no market research and no sales team, they tried something new with wireless connectivity… and the market erupted. Everyone wanted DPL’s system.

Marc struck oil. 

But almost all of it came crumbling down when a competitor arrived in the market, flatlining DPL’s growth and proving that their success was balancing on a knife’s edge.

This all took a toll on Marc’s well-being and on his company’s culture. 

For a while, Marc didn’t even feel like he was CEO material.If you’ve ever wondered what goes through a CEO’s head when success becomes the problem rather than the solution, then you’ve gotta check out this episode.

Marc is a genuinely awesome guy. Super honest and down to earth, and in our interview he talks about:

- Why you should never take success for granted
- Dealing with competitors that end your monopoly
- Learning when to stop
- Ripping off the bandaid ( - Knowing when to say “I’m wrong” 
- Reenergizing a rotting business
- Building a workplace culture worth showing up for
- Choosing to restructure rather than sell

After DPL’s growth flatlined, Marc worked hard to build back to their former success.

He actually became one of my early coaching clients and I had the privilege of helping Mark work through some of those challenges.

Fast forward to today and DPL has over 40,000 ATMs installed, each one earning them $10 per month, recurring subscription revenue.

Do the math on that.

Tune in to hear about the many lessons Marc learned the hard way. It just might give you the shift in thinking that you need today.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Have you asked anyone working a normal job about their workflow? 

If you get in the details of their processes, you’ll immediately see the optimization opportunities. Just think of all the excel sheet management that goes on in the professional world…

This is one of the main reasons why there can never be enough SaaS businesses. 

There are just countless niches that can deliver great profits. 

Seriously, the amount of opportunities is crazy. I have been in the industry for a very long time, and still continue to be amazed…for example today. 

Listen to this…

I heard it from today’s Escape Velocity guest – the SaaS OG Einar Vollset. 

He is a YC-alum, former Cornell CS Professor, founder of Discretion Capital and most recently of TinySeed – an exciting new startup accelerator designed for bootstrappers.

So when he told me about this business, I didn’t quite get it at first…

He was flippant as well when he heard about it from a friend, but eventually found out he was wrong. And you know what the business was…

A kitchen countertop installer software.

Amazing how niche, how specific, and yet successful SaaS companies can be. This is a very good example of the ENDLESS SaaS POTENTIAL.

Seriously, watch the full video below and see for yourself.

Here are some key takeaways from our conversations:

- The number of SaaS businesses and why it should be 100 times more
- Why institutional money is starting to move downmarket
- The investment thesis behind TinySeed.com
- Innovative models for financing and investing
- How a founder should chooses to exit a business
- Why M&A brokers are moving into the SaaS space
- And much much more…

This was a fun interview from start to finish, but I want you to focus on an insight Einar gave around 22 minutes in when I asked him what successful SaaS founders “do right” to achieve high growth.

His response was “I have no idea”… and he gave it straight away with zero hesitation. 

Quite the opposite in fact, he was extremely confident, as a man with his diverse background and experience would be… as if telling me “This is the right answer!”.

What does that mean? 

There you have someone who has spent many years in the SaaS space, has plans to invest in growing multiple businesses and he tells you that he has “no idea” about what is the right thing to do?! What kind of valuable advice is this?

It is way more than advice… it is WISDOM!

Einar can sit there and pretend to know what are the best things to do in order to make your SaaS company grow and be successful… but instead he is taking a page from Socrates’ book by telling you that real knowledge begins by admitting your ignorance!

NOBODY can know what will work, until you try everything and find out for yourself…

It is through the painful process of trial and error that you will find what you need to invest your time and effort in.

Watch the full video to hear all the examples and SaaS success stories, and drop me a comment letting me know what you think about the key to SaaS success. 

And be sure that there is always someone who can help you cut short the trial and error period.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Building a tech startup and pricing it right can feel like being lost in a jungle.

You don’t know where to turn, what path is gonna get you out, and all you do is wake up in survival mode.

Don’t worry, I’m here to help. I’ve personally gone through every pricing and product pivot you can imagine.

Going freemium.

Selling to Enterprise.

Even trying hybrid approaches (e.g. marketplace with a monthly subscription).

But today, I’m joined by THE guy that can help you cut a clear path to pricing victory… let me introduce you to the guy I reach out to when making these big decisions.

My guest for episode #10 of Escape Velocity is Patrick Campbell, co-founder & CEO of ProfitWell.

In our sit down, we dive deep into the story of his company and explore his model for innovation and success. Fascinating stuff.

We talk about optimizing pricing, limiting churn, subscription growth and many more essential issues for all aspiring SaaS entrepreneurs… here are some of the headlines:

- ProfitWell & Price Intelligently
- Price elasticity & willingness to pay
- Finding your voice in a new medium
- Personalized video outreach
- Dealing with PR disasters
- Navigating the world of reviews
- Being ethical with your customer’s data
- Will every SaaS product have a free version eventually?
- How to raise your prices effectively
- Patience & the most charitable interpretation principle

Around the 17 minute mark, our conversation shifts towards media and content creation. Patrick really hits the nail on the head with the message: “We are all going to be media companies, on some level at some point.”

His idea rings true on many levels… the SaaS space nowadays demands having a vision, communicating with your customers and finding a way to stand out.

You can easily stumble into a cutthroat world where fighting for clicks, likes or retweets seems like the only way to get traction.

Don’t fall into this trap. Think long term! The only real asset you have is providing a valuable product/service to your customers.

Invest in something you are absolutely proud of doing. There is no better way to attract a following and remain true to the core values of your company!

I loved this whole conversation and walked away completely struck by Patrick’s wealth of knowledge… 

Check out the full video here and drop me a comment below if you want to discuss pricing, generating value for customers, content creation, or any of the topics we cover!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Another episode of Escape Velocity, and another opportunity to level up your game as an entrepreneur!

We are jumping right into a topic of major importance for your business – POSITIONING!

Getting your positioning super tight and specific can be the holy grail of growth… and many of the major players in the SaaS space are proof of that!

It all comes down to picking the low-hanging fruit… get to know your BEST CUSTOMERS – the ones who love your product, tell others about it and the sale will close fast… 

That being said, what if that’s only 20-30% of your customers?!… Is it better to keep a loose positioning and get to as many customers as possible?

The devil is in the details!

On this episode of Escape Velocity (#9), I sit down with the amazingly charismatic and knowledgeable April Dunfordto talk about her journey as an entrepreneur, positioning expert and much more!

Watch the full episode to learn how to identify your best customers and get your positioning just right.

April is dropping knowledge non-stop during our talk! Here are some of the key topics: 

- The story of Janna Systems ( - Keeping a loose positioning in the early days of a company
- The marketing playbook
- Generic vs. Specific approaches
- Chasing trends in marketing
- What separates great companies from the rest
- How to hire a good marketing leader?
- What makes great leaders in the SaaS space?
- What is professional maturity?

These days, the tech space is bombarded with hot new flavor of thе month strategies like Category Creation and it’s all too easy to follow the trends and commit your business to a marketing plan that is not necessarily the best option for your growth.

I am not trying to throw shade on Category Creation here… it can be amazingly effective in the right situation. But as April points out in our conversation, this is mostly the case for established companies, with serious brand recognition and access to capital.

Find what worked with your most successful past deals and established business relationships… look for the patterns that define your ideal partner.

At that point, building a marketing plan becomes a piece of cake!

Now you know what to look for… it’s time to commit.

Do not underestimate how important it is to stick to your message… remember that you will get tired of your own marketing before your customers do!

The big takeaway is… spend the necessary time and effort to get your basics right!

Listen in on the whole conversation and learn how to make waves in the SaaS space through good positioning.

Watch the full episode here for more insights and make sure to drop a comment if you have any questions about optimizing positioning and marketing strategy.

--


Imagine this scenario…

You’ve launched a great SaaS product and things are starting to look up… GREAT!

Now you are doing marketing, sales, dealing with clients, upgrading the product, doing everything you can to stack up your MRR.

The more you grow, the more you have to delegate and rely on your team members. There comes a point where you have to decide what kind of leader you are going to be.

And let me tell you, that is one of the toughest decisions you have to face…

…dread it, run from it… it still arrives 🙂 So you better think long and hard about that!

Having a team that shares your vision, is on top of things and REALLY CARES for your business is something that you need to build up and trust me “I’m the boss, do it my way or else” will not work.

So what can you do to make sure that your people are empowered in the best way possible and bring success to your company?

In this episode of Escape Velocity, I talk to Nathan Barry – founder, creator, speaker, good dude, and honorary Canadian (yes I have the power to bestow that title!). 

We go into the story of his company – ConvertKit.com, what has he done to build up his employees and much more!

Here’s an overview of what we covered on today’s podcast:

- The initial stages of ConvertKit’s growth
- Nailing your Ideal Customer Profile ( - Who do you serve? – finding the right niche
- Can you really rely on word of mouth for growth?
- Running an affiliate program
- Investing in your team members’ brand
- How to take advantage of webinars
- Focus on inbound marketing 
- The personal journey of a SaaS founder

I had a great time talking to Nathan (who btw, is an absolute stud on the cover of SaaS Magazine) and we got into many amazing topics, but I want to draw your attention to his ideas on building the brands of people on your team – around the 25th minute of the video.

His thought process really highlights what the difference is between a real entrepreneur – looking to make a great product, work with amazing people and pursue lasting success, and someone seeking to play entrepreneur long enough to cash in and bust out.

Investing in your employees brand, flying them out to meetings, empowering them to make decisions, giving them the space to innovate… 

This leads to all of your people not only wanting to work for you, but trying to get their friends to work for you (and I mean their smart and capable friends), because you are truly providing a valuable environment for them.

Now, I know that it can be tricky to trust people… man, have I faced my fair share of frustration with idleness, lack of motivation or commitment…

But, along the way you learn that even with all that, there is no better leadership than genuine inspiration! To go about that, you need to serve your employees… yes, YOU serve THEM! 

Your job is to wake up everyday asking how you can help them do their work better. Service leadership is the key.

So, check out our full conversation and leave a comment below if letting me know what you biggest takeaway was!

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

How do you deal with having a powerful new idea that inspires you to change the direction of your business? Many times on the journey  you will find yourself shifting priorities and jumping on new opportunities.

That one meeting, conversation or feedback from a client makes you realize that there is a niche to be filled and you can take things to a whole new next level.

Being flexible and creative is awesome, but it is not easy to get everyone else along for the ride… 

Having a cast of amazing people in your company is step one… but activating their maximum potential is a whole other ball game.

So how do we do that?

Trust and communication! Well, that has been an old drum to beat on, BUT technology and innovation provide us with fresh new ways to rise above the cliche and achieve exponential results.

Give your team the chance to fully see your thought process and to share ideas among themselves!

In this episode of Escape Velocity, I sit down with Darren Chait, co-founder and COO of Hugo – a meeting note platform that enables fast-moving teams to make meeting insights shareable and actionable in their existing tools.

We jump right into this exciting topic and Darren shares his valuable experience.

Some of the other topics covered in our conversation:

- Hugo – a real-time feed of insights
- What the tools you use to say about the attitude in your company
- An accessible way for sales and marketing teams to use Jira
- Taking part in conferences/events and making the best of it
- Moving to San Francisco and why it matters
- Growing into the role of a founder and becoming a good leader
- Dealing with the highs and lows
- How to learn and adapt as a non-technical founder
- What is the future of SaaS tools in the B2B environment

So, now I want to talk to you about an exciting takeaway I got from my time with Darren.

Around the 28 minute mark we touch on his evolution as leader and founder of a SaaS company. He shares that now is an awesome time for non-technical or “no code” founders.

Darren isn’t afraid to learn anything on the go and take advantage of the vast knowledge base online. When I asked him about learning new skills, his answer was simply “I just try”…

Trivial or easy as it may sound, this is what often makes or breaks a successful entrepreneur!

“Just trying” is what opens the door to your own potential and no amount of thinking or reading can prepare you better than problem-solving on the job.

Does that mean that every “try” will be a success? Absolutely NOT! 

But that is not the point… you are playing the long game. And the way to be truly unstoppable is to learn how to jump into the arena every single time with no hesitation, KNOWING that there are no guarantees.

In our conversation, Darren shared many of his strategies which allow him to keep this super   mindset, like the “high-low meeting”, his walk-and-talk sessions with his co-founder and how to run a marketing driven company.

Catch the full episode for all the details and let me know what you think in the comments.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

You’re a cash-starved startup owner. You go hard after one of your big enterprise clients and they pay for a whole year of your service in advance… Just like this, without any additional questions or arrangements.

This is what happened to Vivek Sharma back in the day, when his now $50+ mil ARR company MovableInk was struggling to score its first few corporate clients. 

But this idea to ask for a 12-MONTH ADVANCE PAYMENT didn’t come out of nowhere. 

Although it sounds intuitive, not a lot of startup founders will come up with it on the spot if they have no experience.

Even if they do have experience, it may still not be enough. Because what matters the most is the context and the knowledge of the client.

Vivek didn’t come up with the idea with himself  – it was a suggestion from his sales partner at CheetahDigital, which is one of the ideas he talks about in today’s Escape Velocity episode. Vivek had no idea the client would be totally OK with this…

He elaborates about the advantages of selling with other technology partners who already know the client you’re pitching to. This gives you leverage because you can get inside information as to which solutions the prospect is looking for.

Watch the video below to catch Vivek’s insights firsthand.

In this incredible interview, we discuss:

- Sales partners to increase velocity
- The Nifty Fifty
- Director-level objectives for sales alignment
- Relationship-based sellers vs product-based sellers
- Pitching solutions to increase win-rates
- Using “Crossing the Chasm” for account targeting
- Startup sales to increase sales velocity
- The Customer Conference
- Pushing yourself out of the comfort zone

Lots of SaaS juice in all of them, but I especially want to unpack for you the customer conference, as it’s one of the more neglected marketing channels. Skip to 32 minute in to hear it for yourself.

Vivek has done the Customer Conference for 3 years in a row already. At first it started organically when his client services team organized dinners with prospects…

Super casual, super conversational. And guess what? It had a great engagement. Because everyone likes being treated as a good friend, and your customers are no different.

Seeing the good engagement with smaller scale events, Movable Ink eventually decided to do an Email Transformation Tour – visiting cities around the country to get together with customers and prospects. That’s the business equivalent of a rock band tour…pretty awesome… 

The tour got very good attendance, and great ROI, which the company tracked with Splash.com (and events management platform). 

So the natural thing for Movable Ink to do next was to organize a customer conference. You definitely need the right team to pull this off, but if you do it right – from there on, things will only grow bigger…

How big? Last year, the Movable Ink Customer Conference got more than 600 marketers at a larger-than-life venue. You can imagine the value of mixing existing customers with prospects and being able to use real-life recommendations – one of the best ways to grow a brand.

Obviously, to be successful, event marketing needs time to grow – you cannot simply get the crowd necessary to pull this off as a 2-month startup. But if you do things right, engage your clients, and create value, you can get leverage and acquire new customers by inviting prospects to attend.

So what’s your event marketing strategy? Drop a comment below and share your insights and questions.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

What’s the first thing you need to do when starting a business? (A lot of entrepreneurs get this part wrong.) 

Now, I know… everything starts with “there’s a problem that needs solving and I can solve it.” 

Then, if things go right, you reach a point where you have 25+ people… and all of a sudden, they’re making decisions against the values your business stands behind – the core of the company. 

Meaning, the first thing you should set in stone for your business are your core values… and I don’t mean putting them as a poster on the wall at your office with a picture of an iceberg behind them.

How do you create an operating model that drives your teams decisions?

Check out the latest Escape Velocity episode with Grasshopper.com founder David Hauser where we talk about the best ways to integrate the core values in your business and more.  

During our video, we go through the following key topics every founder should think about:

1. How to market a bad product
2. Things that keep you up at night while growing FAST
3. What makes you hire a business coach
4. The meeting rhythm
5. How to integrate values in the company
6. The entrepreneurial roller coaster
7. Thoughts on capital funding (as a founder and investor)
8. How to know when you’re ready to sell
9. The post-exit emotion
10. SaaS marketing strategies for ecommerce

We go deep in each of these points that can save you LOTS of time while growing your business, but again… the whole journey starts with setting the core values.

What’s the right time to introduce your values?

It is obvious – you set them from the very start. You should make sure that from day one each individual stands by these values.

So the right moment to start the inception is the recruitment phase. Actually, if the values are not already there it would be pretty hard to integrate these in somebody’s mindset.

So, what do you do?

You simply ask them a question they can’t fake in a way that will surely represent a real life story directly related to the core values of your company.

Why to do that from the very beginning? 

Because I have worked with people that implemented that on a later stage and then found themselves with a team in which more than 30% of the people did not represent their values. 

Next thing you know, people are leaving.

Tough one – how do we make things right? I can tell you straight away – it ain’t gonna be easy! 

That’s why you should focus on this from the very beginning. 

Go to minute 14 where Dave gives specific real-life example of how he integrated the core values of Grasshopper into the recruiting process.  

Make sure your team stands behind your core values and never worry whether your business is moving in the right direction. If you set your core values right, you set the bar for office culture and work ethic in your absence. That’s when you can feel safe to start scaling.

Watch the full interview and let me know your thoughts below on how you make sure that your core values are integrated in your business.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Do you know what it takes to buy a private jet?

Have you thought about why you would want a private jet?

These are questions that pop in the minds of a lot of business owners and for good reason, because they symbolize a form and level of success.

Not only that… the private jet allows you to buy back time.

Well, it takes a lot of time and effort… Or the way Ross Paquette calls it: the 10 years of ALL GO & NO STOP!

Know this though, a private jet is not a time machine…

… it won’t help you go back and amend the mistakes you’ve made, but it will allow you to buy back some of the time you lost while making those mistakes.

You should really think how you’d spend that time so looking back 25 years from now you can say to yourself – It was worth it!

In this episode of the Escape Velocity, Ross and I talk at length on the things you need to cover before you can start buying back time.

Here are some of the things you should focus on if you want your time back:

1. The philosophy behind the product
2. The tricks of building relationships quickly
3. The principles of customer experience
4. The art of the DEAL & how to activate accounts
5. How to develop yourself as a leader
6. How do you plan the executive strategy
7. How to find the CORE of the company
8. What it takes to find the right Investor

The starting point when building your company is to get the philosophy behind it straight and clear. Are you building this business to have a great product and be profitable? Or are you building the product so that you can raise the capital and really grow?

Both options have their benefits. No argument there.

However, what most people tend to forget in the midst of raising capital is actually developing their product and business’ profitability.

One thing is certain. If you stop developing your product and you do not offer the product that people need NOW… or even one step further – that people don’t know they need YET… someone else will!

At that point you are playing chase. I don’t want you to be there. YOU don’t want you to be there!

Just listen to the full episode here and give it some thought.

It will save you a lot of time!

Just like a private jet… Or a time machine…

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

Imagine a 12-year-old high-schooler who just came to the US, all the way from Pakistan.

He barely speaks English and spends most of his time in the library. Basically, he’s a total geek… all he wants to do is play computer games, but the library computers have their proxies blocked (because school’s not meant to be fun!).

So what does he do? He creates his own proxy…obviously!

… no wonder he went on to become such a successful entrepreneur, who, might I add has over 2.5 mil YouTube subscribers.

Such problem-solving skills are priceless for entrepreneurs. Most of our job boils down to finding solutions and bypassing obstacles.

In this episode of Escape Velocity, watch this now grown “high school nerd”, Syed Balkhi CEO of WPBeginner / OptinMonster (and 2 dozen other companies) dive all the way down to the technical details of black-hat SEO, YouTube domination, and the rise of the WordPress giant.

It’s rare to hear someone go beyond just scratching the surface with interesting ideas. But Syed drills all the way to the bottom and gives VERY PRACTICAL tips that you can use to grow your SaaS business.

And in case you’re wondering, it all started with cricket…

It’s hard to list all the gems I got from this conversation, but here are some of the key topics:

1. The role of a mentor
2. Why SaaS is like real estate
3. How to evaluate business opportunities (make sure they NEED it, not just want it!)
4. Getting them to subscribe (retrain the consumer)
5. It’s all about customer mentality
6. Staying competitive with your SaaS product
7. What is the SaaS niche with a big void? (You’ll be surprised)

While the practical juice in this conversation is spilling all over our 30+ minute conversation, it’s the insight about staying competitive that can give vitamins for your SaaS business right away.

Around minute 22 is where Syed unwraps it all in a 2-pointer response…

1. Customer-driven surveys- Everyone does surveys for their SaaS. But the key is to use them to really talk and understand your customers. One way to do this is through conditional surveys.

If you bombard users with automated questions, you are not going to understand why they responded with a 3 and not an 8 to your previous question. So make sure you personalize the follow-up questions based on what they initially respond.

2. In-product marketing- 
Your product probably has some premium features which are not available for the lower-tier customers. Instead of hiding these features, make sure you add a link, a preview, or a video…You need to explain to your users the value they could get by upgrading their tier. A simple strategy that can easily increase your existing clients’ revenue.

It all boils down to the attention to detail.

Be sure to catch the full episode here and drop me a comment with any questions you have about maintaining your product competitiveness.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

One small step for a startup founder… one giant leap for his business…

As a SaaS entrepreneur you deal with tons of doubts, fears and worries. And sometimes you feel like YOU are just not capable of doing it all.

How do you overcome the struggle?

Well… you become the Alter Ego who can take on these challenges. And how does that work exactly? Basically, it all boils down to a little game we all played as kids.

So… as a startup entrepreneur, sometimes you have to act like a child :)

As children, we instinctively use our creative imagination and embody other personalities.

When we play basketball, we imagine we jump like Michael Jordan. When we play astronauts, we imagine we walk on the moon like Neil Armstrong.

This ability to be in character is one of the essential elements of maintaining our freedom of self. Adults who lose this natural ability become victims of the “Trapped Self”.

So, imagine this scene…

As a SaaS entrepreneur, you have an important investor meeting; a very big fish, lots of opportunity for your business, but you haven’t done this before and feel the butterflies in your stomach…

How are you supposed to approach all these influential people? You feel like a chess club captain trying to ask the head cheerleader out to the prom…

That’s when your Alter Ego comes in. All you have to do is become the confident and successful entrepreneur. YOU HAVE TO BECOME YOUR ALTER EGO. BECOME NEIL ARMSTRONG.

In this episode of Escape Velocity, my good friend Todd Herman gives you the 5 stages of creating your Alter Ego. Choose your goal and tap into your power core self.

Use the phenomenal power that we humans have – creative imagination – to generate the identity you need to face every challenge that comes your way head on.

Watch the full episode to uncover all the priceless tips. You’ll learn so many wonders about yourself… you’ll probably feel like Alice through the Looking Glass…

The 5 stages of building your Alter Ego

1. Choose the context you want to excel in
2. Unpack what is frustrating you
3. Choose the Identity you want to appear as
4. Use an Anchoring Totem
5. Activate and become the Identity you want to be

So… you might be wondering what an Anchoring Totem is? Around the 14 minute mark Todd opens up the whole Wonderland…

An Anchoring Totem is simply an object in your physical world which activates your desired Alter Ego. A simple example are glasses. Feeling a lack of confidence? Put on your glasses and activate your Confident Persona.

Todd does a great job of activating his Alter Ego using his glasses. Crazy when I think about it… I didn’t even know these were not prescription glasses for first two years of our friendship!

The Anchoring Totem is just one of the amazing tools to help you tap into your Alter Ego power. So don’t limit yourself to one trapped self… use as many versions of yourself that you need to become the successful startup founder you want to be.

Catch the full episode here and then drop a comment letting me know any questions you have about the Alter Ego and how to use it for your startup.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell

May I have your attention, please? Will the real startup founders please watch this video? We’re gonna have a podcast here!

Today is a special day! We’re announcing my NEW show, it’s called Escape Velocity.

It’s a video podcast show where I interview the world’s top SaaS CEO’s to deconstruct and learn what it took for them to succeed and grow.

So let’s kick things off with a question…

Have you been wondering how to improve customer support for your startup without spending more $$$?

Maybe you think the obvious solution is hiring more support staff

How about something more far-fetched that can actually boost the quality of your support, but also get your engineers to think more like your customers, fix software bugs faster, and add new features?

In the very first episode of Escape Velocity, Proof’s CEO Dave Rogenmoser shares his simple customer support strategy which achieves all of the above.

But that’s just one of the many things we covered. Check out the full Escape Velocity show below.

Seriously…so much food for thought, it’s like Easter dinner at your grandma’s.

During our conversation, we cover:

1. Customer Support Power Hours
2. Building your company for exit (or not)
3. Learning through failures
4. How to fight churn rate
5. The role of a company leader
6. Success – brilliance or good timing

We’ve prepared a HUGE 6-course menu here with very Saa(u)Sy appetizers, but if you want to skip to the main course, go to the 30 minute mark…

The idea behind Customer Support Power Hours is brilliant in its simplicity. You take your co-founders, engineers, EVERYONE on your team…you sit together and hammer away support tickets. Who knew this would be so effective?

It works because if an engineer messed up the coding, they can just jump on the spot and fix it for the client. It also gives them the ability to understand what exactly the customers need, build new features, and get a real sense of how the software works.

If you don’t involve your engineers in customer support, they cannot feel the repercussions of writing crappy code.

So there’s simply NO BETTER WAY to expose your team to your software’s bugs and opportunities than having them interact with customers in real time. It will help you create the customer-centric culture your startup needs.

In order to be a 3-star-Michelin chef, you should engage your entire team with the quality of your service.

Catch the full ep here and then drop a comment letting me know any questions you have about this awesome new podcast chapter. Ha ha, guess there’s a startup founder in all of us.

--

Dan Martell has advised more startups than his hometown has people and teaches startup founders like you how to scale. He previously created, raised venture funding for and successfully exited two tech startups: Flowtown and Clarity.fm. You should follow him on twitter @danmartell for tweets that are actually awesome.

+ Instagram (behind the scenes): http://instagram.com/danmartell
+ Facebook (live trainings + Q&A): http://FB.com/DanMartell
+ Twitter (what I'm reading): http://twitter.com/danmartell