03: SaaStr Annual Recap & Rebuilds
Aaron recaps some of the highlights and best presentations from SaaStr Annual in San Jose, the largest SaaS conference on earth. Darren and Aaron then look at the rebuild vs. buy decision on their billing systems and is having your billing system as essentially your 2nd product a good idea.
Helpful links from the episode:
- SaaStr Annual conference
- 5 Questions CEO's Struggle With and How To Answer Them - Dave Kellogg presentation at SaaStr
- A Step-By-Step Guide To Revenue Growth (PDF) - Mark Roberge at SaaStr
- Billing systems mentioned: Recurly, Chargify, Chargebee
FULL SHOW NOTES
00:09 Aaron Weiche: We're bringing you episode 3 - SaaStr Annual Recap and Rebuilds.
00:16 INTRO: Welcome to the SaaS venture podcast. Sharing the adventure of leading and growing a bootstrap SaaS company. Hear the experiences, challenges, wins and losses shared in each episode. From Aaron Weiche of GatherUp and Darren Shaw of Whitespark. Let's go.
00:42 AW: Welcome to the SaaS venture podcast. Darren, both of us have... We've been on the road and doing some travel, are you back and settled into the daily desk, in the daily grind?
00:54 Darren Shaw: I am still trying to catch up on email. Oh man, it's tough to take a week off of email, just piles up. And then every time I look at it, it's this weird thing where when I've got like 300 emails that are real messages, it almost becomes a lottery, where it's like, I go through my inbox and just something stands out to me, and I just jump on it and reply right there. But then there's other stuff that's also important and it's just like, "No, you never get replied to, sorry." It's just this weird thing when you're away for a week. But yes, I'm back, it was a good trip. Local U was amazing. Probably the best Local U ever. It was awesome, you missed it.
01:32 AW: Yeah, well fitting that it was the best ever when a first advance that I've never not been a part of, so that's too bad. I was trolling you guys from just up the road in San Jose, but I definitely missed out. Mostly, I just miss out seeing all the great people that are part of kind of that Local U family and community.
01:53 DS: I definitely missed hanging out with you.
01:55 AW: Yep, there's nothing like beers in real life over talking on podcasts and emails and all of the other ways we end up communicating.
02:03 DS: Sure, yeah, this podcast is a good second best, though.
02:06 AW: It totally is, it's given us a lot more regiment in our interactions, which is a great thing.
02:12 DS: And now we have a schedule of chatting so that's good.
02:16 AW: So, I've been refreshing my Twitter feed every like 10 seconds waiting for you or Whitespark to announce that your review tool, or your new tool that we've been talking about has launched. But did I miss the tweet, or where are we at?
02:32 DS: Yeah, no, you're probably a little over-zealous with your refreshing there. We're not quite ready to launch. It's amazing, honestly, it's been day after day, where I'm like, "Oh yeah, I'm waking up in the morning and we're gonna launch this thing, there's just that one last little thing to do." And so we start looking at that one last little thing, and then we find five other things. It's like, "Oh well, it doesn't work if you try a business in this particular way, or if you search in this way," or it's like, "Oh, it's this weird bug on the PDF export." Just all these little tiny things that keep cropping up, and it feels so close, day after day after day. We could have launched it, but then you get a bunch of people emailing saying, "Oh hey, it didn't work. Or my business... It didn't return the right results." So we keep finding things, and I figure it's a free tool, so there's not like anything pressing to launch it, so we might as well just hold it until it's really polished, to make sure that we found all the bugs.
03:29 AW: Yeah. Do you start to lose your mind at all with that stuff? Where it's... You feel like it's Groundhog Day, and it's always just a couple more things, just a couple more things a couple more things, 'cause I don't deal with that very well if that ever happens to our team.
03:44 DS: Yeah, it doesn't really feel... It doesn't make me lose my mind, but it does feel like Groundhog Day, it's just like, "Oh, man, every day there's something else." Which is quite irritating. I don't really... I just kinda like, "Oh, it's not today." I look at it in the morning for about an hour, or I run a few tests, we try for a few things. I write up the next, the list of tweaks to make, and then I move on with my day. It's no big deal. But it is annoying, a little annoying.
04:13 AW: You have better patience than I do 'cause I really start... I just start focusing... Like I don't wanna wake up another day and be testing this again, or see the same bugs, or new bugs, or anything else. I get to a point where we have this, "Enough is enough," talk and we map out an hour by hour plan on how this is going to change. And most of it's the result of my frustration because I end up feeling like, "Well, we can't get to the next thing, that we need to get to, without getting this out there or whatever." And I get what you're saying that putting out a free tool is probably a lot more excitement over it than a necessity. Like a big feature is...
04:54 DS: Yeah, so I think that's exactly it. There's two things. One it's this free tool, it's almost... It was a side product that gave our new part-time developer employee. He's a computer science student at the U of A. And so, one, he's a busy student, so he's not available to work eight hours a day on this. So I just put in the to-dos and he gets them done when he can. And two, a free tool, it's not that stressful, it's not a big deal. And we don't have any clients relying on this, waiting for it, it's just gonna be another marketing vehicle for us when we launch it.
05:29 AW: Yeah, I would still have trouble with my own excitement, keeping that at bay, 'cause I'd wanna share it with the world.
05:35 DS: No, I do wanna share, like I showed it to people at Local U, and they're like, "It's so awesome." And I'm like, "I know, I really wanna launch it." I'm excited about how it's gonna be received. I think everyone is gonna quite like it. And so I think it's gonna be great from that perspective.
05:48 AW: Well, good, I'm continuing to keep my anticipation level high.
05:53 DS: Great, thank you. I know. It won't let you down, you just gotta pretend I didn't say anything. Pretend I just announced it to you today that we're building this new tool. [chuckle] So you had no prior thing, so you can keep that anticipation high.
06:07 AW: I can fake being surprised really well, so I'm in on that.
06:11 DS: Okay, perfect. I wanna hear about SaaStr. You went to this awesome conference, all about building SaaS apps and all the things that go into that... So I'm just curious to hear, what are some of the takeaways, how was the conference?
06:26 AW: Yeah, the conference was awesome, it was my best SaaStr Annual experience I've had. This was the third one that I've gone to. All three have been at different venues. This one actually moved, the first two were in San Francisco, this one was in San Jose. And for me, this was the best venue... Each time the venue had its own little quirks on how much room there was to get around, or room sizes, and how many rooms. And it really felt like... Cause I think this is the 5th or 6th year of SaaStr Annual total, but it really felt like they had nailed a number of those past problems, and alleviated those in the space they were in and everything else. One, that was a really nice relief that we had that taken care of that time. And then it just started off, the very first talk I went to was a topic of five questions that CEOs struggle with. That one was just a fabulous talk that really gave a lot of insight to what things that I definitely deal with on a daily basis. So it was great to see someone else's view of that.
07:38 DS: Yeah, what are these five questions CEOs struggle with?
07:42 AW: Yeah, and the interesting thing with it is so many of the speakers of this... This conference is definitely built around a lot of VC-funded companies, so we're a little bit of an outlier there as a bootstrap company. But you come in with it through the frame of mind that there's a lot I can learn by just kind of switching from, "Hey, we have a whole bunch of money and can hire who we need to, and it's just about putting the process in place and scaling and everything else." And so you adapt to reading between the lines on some of the talks that were there, which makes it a lot... A lot easier. Yeah, but the, that very first talk there was really one piece of it that I really liked as the speaker got into, and that more or less had to do with the frame of mind and what you focus on, or what you speak about, and how you look at it.
08:39 AW: And the cool thing was the way that he put it was looking at how you align things where you speak about your business like you're vision-driven, you create a culture that's customer-driven, and then you build strategy and goals like you're competitor-driven. But yeah, make sure you don't obsess too much about who your competitors are. And that to me was a really great framework for a CEO to approach your business where you have to keep that vision at the center of what you're working towards, and decisions you make, and how you progress. But then also having a culture, and this is something, you know I liked it probably because it is how I view us at GatherUp is one of our main core values is that it's customer first. And we think of it a couple of ways down is one, we've built our tool to help businesses interact so they can put the customer first. And it's the same with our team, where we bend over backwards to provide as much service as we can for that customer.
09:48 DS: And I can speak to that as a customer, really, because you guys are always really helpful when we need something. And you're responsive, and that's the way we try to be at Whitespark as well. And I've heard about some competitors that are not as easy to work with, and so I think it's super key. We see people leaving competitors and coming to us because of that. When the customer service isn't good over there, then they start looking around.
10:18 AW: Yeah, we're starting to see that in our sales cycle, where we're seeing people who have chosen another review or reputation management platform, and they've gone through their one or their two-year contract with them, and they're going back into the market, and they're talking to some of the other ones that's there. And when you read between the lines on when you're asking them what they liked, and what they didn't like, and things like that, you really see a lot of being shared there has to do with how they interacted with that company. And it's really important piece, as I point out all the time, in being a bootstrapped company, we are just never ever going to out-feature someone. We're not gonna win the feature war because we don't have 50 or 100 developers that are there. But where we can win is by being able to out-service them by caring more, more consistent, and things like that. So it's really, I think it's extra important in a bootstrapped environment.
11:22 DS: That makes a lot of sense. At SaaStr, you mentioned that it's kind of driven and geared towards VC-funded companies. In our... I'm just curious, how much of a minority are we bootstrapped SaaS companies versus VC-funded companies?
11:40 AW: I don't even know if I would have a sense in the overall space. But definitely at this conference, there's over 10,000 attendees. I felt like one out of every 10 that I talked to, was bootstrapped. And again, it's attracting people, there's VCs there you can go pitch VCs there, there's a lot of things like that. But it definitely seems like, in the overall scheme, lower and much less given the climate of what's there right now. And I'm just amazed at the amount of money constantly being thrown around in that space. It's mind-blowing to me, and a little bit different from the way I'm wired, that's for sure.
12:18 DS: Yeah, it's very different from the way I'm wired. I'm curious, would you... Let's say someone said, "Hey, here's $5 million, you can use it to hire some more developers, and accelerate your development, and improve all your marketing, your sales whatever." Would you take it, would you want it?
12:35 AW: Yeah, right now I wouldn't want it. I would just... Obviously, it comes with some type of attachment, right? If it's a free $5 million, yes, please. [chuckle] But between equity and being driven by a board, things like that, that's where it starts to get a lot trickier.
12:56 DS: Same, yeah. I would never take it. I would not take one, five or $10 million to do it because the main thing for me is being able to set the vision for the company and develop what I wanna develop without anyone else having any input on that. I feel like I have a good vision, and I don't wanna have to justify it to a board or anything like that.
13:20 AW: Yep, no, totally, totally agree with you. And one of the other things I liked about the initial talk on the five things for CEOS, a lot of it had to do with hiring and finding the right people too. And one of his comments was about make sure that you're bringing people on that give energy instead of take energy. And that was one that just really hit in a very simplified way, and really made me think about... Cause we've just hired someone new again this week, and these are all like adding positions to our team. We continue to grow and add positions, and it's not replacing something that was already there.
14:00 AW: As we're adding these new folks to the table, those are very important things. And we recently did have a... We had a failed sales hire that lasted all of about 90 days, and some of the things that he touched upon in the hiring process that they look at, and what's important, and one other talk that I'll give you a little download on really kind of solidified when you're ranking and looking at what's important in your position. I really thought that I needed someone who was a good closer, and just had a lot of just sales moxie to them. And I think what I found out is just the way we're built, and already in the culture of our company, we really need someone who's knowledgeable in our space and in our product, because all of us are, and me, especially, I'm an education-based sales person is the way I refer to it. I wanna teach you everything, and if I teach you well enough, you will see how we solve the problem.
15:00 DS: But you're also adding value and integrity through that approach, I find. When someone talks to a vendor that is mostly just all about, they discuss the features and whatever, and then they talk to someone like you who's educating them on what's best for them, it's like they can tell that you have their interest in mind. You're trying to help them find the best solution. And that, I think, is an excellent sales approach.
15:24 AW: Yeah, and it definitely it made me think about... Alright, so when we go back to the table, 'cause we're gonna need to hire some more salespeople. I need to keep that in mind. I saw what happened when I placed more value somewhere else. And so this next time through, I definitely need to place more value on someone who's passionate about our industry, knowledgeable, experienced. That doesn't mean knowing everything, but they're much further down the line of our last hire we really had to teach a lot, and just the uptake didn't happen, so they weren't really empowered by it, and it didn't lead them to then have confidence to be having those conversations at the level you need to have them to bring on the right type of customers.
16:07 DS: One thing you said that I thought was interesting was hiring people that give energy, rather than take energy, and I was wondering how can you assess that in the interview stage when you are just trying to find employees, how can you determine that, at that point?
16:23 AW: Yeah, and I don't have a good answer for you on that. I would think you probably need to devise some scenarios where you're trying to understand how they approach things like problem solving, and pick through that to figure out what they are. Or to some extent, too, is realizing that if you have somebody that's taking energy on your team, that's something you need to do something about, or remove from the team. And I think that was probably more along the lines of what they're saying of, "Be aware when you have that going on. It's already hard enough. Don't continue with someone making it that much harder."
17:03 DS: Yeah, it's like that classic saying in HR, "Hire slow and fire fast." Once you get a feel for it, if it's not working out, then you cut your losses.
17:12 AW: Yep, absolutely. And I would say after our recent failure on one of our hires, I totally feel that way. The good news when I look... Last year, I think we hired seven people total, and there was one that didn't work out. So if I can hit on six out of seven again this year, I will be extremely happy with it. I'll take that winning percentage all day long.
17:34 DS: Yeah, yeah, for sure. The hiring has been pretty good for us too. We've generally not had too many duds in the history of the company. So, yeah, it's been pretty good. It's hard to fire, too. I hate that. It's the worst thing. That's why hiring slow is so important to really take your time and make sure you have the right person. There's nothing worse than having to let someone go.
17:53 AW: Absolutely. So the next talk that I really loved was kicking off the second day and it was a presentation called The Step-by-Step Guide to Revenue Growth. And this was from Mark Roberge who was the Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot, and now he's a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. And it was hands down probably one of the best presentations I've ever taken in. And, yeah, it was all focused on sales, marketing, churn, and a little bit of hiring as well. And he just laid out in such a concise way how to look at, how to accelerate growth, and where to focus on, and really understanding just a lot of self-awareness on what your product fit is, and what your go-to-market fit is, and then how do you grow and build a mote around what you're doing once you're ready to scale.
18:53 AW: So it was one of those where I was like, "Man, I didn't know at first if his slides we're gonna be available." So I was literally... And as well as the rest of the crowd taking photos of every slide. It was just really well laid out and told you exactly what you needed to be looking at with it.
19:10 DS: Are these the actual slides he presented with?
19:12 AW: That we're taking photo or that I gave you in the link for our show? Yes.
19:16 DS: They are so packed with text content. Were you not struggling to follow him and read the slides?
19:23 AW: No. Great presenter and just went through 'em. And, yeah, as you can see from the slides, they're not like this visual like, "Oh they're so beautiful," right?
19:33 DS: Right.
19:33 AW: Just really content-driven and it really embodied everything that he was talking about. And one of the first points that he really hit upon was really understanding what product market fit is and finding out what is that metric that helps you understand that a customer is successful with you. How do you define that leading indicator that they're successful? And then what you wanna do in your company is make sure how can you optimize, how fast you're delivering on that leading indicator. So how do you take it from happening at month six or nine or 10? And making sure a majority are hitting it in month one because if you don't, more of those are gonna drop out. They're not gonna meet their level of value in the product. And it was just a really clear way and a little bit different. There's so much all the time in the SaaS world on product market fit and how do you know you have it and the gut feeling of it and what the numbers tell you and churn numbers. But churn is this trailing thing where... How he laid it out puts it into something where you can start looking at it like month one. Do I have 70% of my customers achieving this leading metric that we know leads to success right away in month one? Yeah.
20:55 DS: And these slides... I don't know if you can share these with podcast listeners but these slides are packed with info. This is, it's the whole presentation, completely consumable in the slides.
21:06 AW: Yeah, yeah, that's a great part about it is that... And that's why it was such a bonus when he's like, "I'll tweet out the link for these slides." I was like, "Thank you 'cause I am saving these straight to my desktop and reviewing them constantly." So it was just a really great walkthrough on how to analyze those things and what to look at. Another area of it that I really liked was understanding how to market and sell to the right fit for you. In his slides, it's like slide 25, he's able to show, "All right, you have different channels to reach customers inbound, outbound and partners. And then you might have different categories of SMB, mid-market and enterprise." And he lays out a grid so you're able to analyze and say, "Okay. Who are we reaching and what's our best channel that we are reaching them?" And instead of always trying to make one work, find the one that really is your go-to and that's where you really really want to invest. And just maybe you experiment or even ignore the other segments but I could definitely look at this with our team and there's a few things...
22:17 AW: We do inbound very, very well. 99% of our business comes from inbound marketing of writing blog posts, social, speaking at conferences, all those kind of things. But we really badly... There's parts of us that, "Oh, we'd love to have a great partner channel. We'd like to figure it out in this way," or "We'd like to do more outbound." And so some of it was just realizing. Like find out what does work for you, and then just completely max that out because you know it works.
22:46 DS: Yeah, it makes sense. I always think about outbound sales and I'm like, "Oh, should I be doing that like everyone else seems to be doing that?" And I get these emails and I'm like, "Oh, that's a pretty decent email." And I can see all these companies doing it and I think, "Man, maybe we should get into that." But honestly, we have a hard enough time managing the leads that are coming in right now anyways, that's why I should probably hire a sales person because we don't respond fast enough where I'm just like, "Yeah, I could set up a call with you, like, in two weeks." It's like, "Those leads are going cold by the time I ever talk to them," and so I just need to hire a sales person, I think, 'cause we have enough inbound coming in that I don't need to worry about outbound.
23:25 AW: Yep. Now and we're kind of the same way. I definitely have some areas where there's a lot of interest with, like, our agency partners and resellers, but for our mid-market, for businesses that are 50 locations on up, like, we do need to do more outbound to start those conversations and to at least be on their radar as much as anything because that's... Our competitors are doing that. And so to expect when there's, you know, 10 different products all reaching out and cold emails and ad conferences on expo floors, and calling them and connecting with them and we're not doing that, like, we are gonna miss the boat on a bunch unless they decide, "Well, the only way I'm picking a vendor is by who I'm gonna search for and what of their content I like to read." So, yep, to some extent, we have to because everyone else is in that arena.
24:23 DS: Sure, and are you experimenting with that?
24:25 AW: Yeah, we definitely are. I mean, I do some of it myself. I see businesses and I know really fit our mold well and I'm able to do, kind of, a quick glance at what they have available online, and are they displaying reviews on location pages and things like that, and make a good determination that it's somebody that I wanna go after. So I definitely do that. The sales person that we hired and then didn't work out, that was their role, and they really didn't even get to doing the outbound part because they just couldn't get enough knowledge and confidence in the product, so...
25:00 DS: Yeah. I often think, like, your customer support people, if someone on that customer support team that really knows the product, that has been supporting the product for a while also has the sales acumen, then they would be a good person to put into a dedicated sales role.
25:18 AW: Yeah, no, I totally agree with that. What I've found with our current customer success team is those guys love to help and they don't love to talk money. So I don't have anyone that's a fit for that right now, because the minute it comes to bringing up even the smallest dollar amount, they're uncomfortable, it's just not in who they are. So I don't have any of those candidates right now, but yeah, it'd be great to be able to bring some people from that role into more of a biz-dev role, more of a sales role with having that great underlying base of nothing but product and customer knowledge.
25:56 DS: Yeah, totally. Yep.
25:57 AW: Outside of the talks, the other stuff is just networking. I mean, there's just so many great network opportunities because every time you sit down in something and introduce yourself or you're standing in line to go into a session, it's someone else who is a VP of sales or a founder or CEO, or runs marketing for a SaaS company you've either heard of or it's somebody you never even knew existed. So you have all these great mini conversations in between sessions, and at the happy hours, and at the events at night, where it's just one big group of your people. And so, I mean, imagine Local U of the 100 that are there, and then you multiply that into 10,000 and the conversations and the exposure and the insight you get into other people's companies and what they do is just unbelievably fantastic.
26:51 DS: Sounds so great. Next year, next year I wanna go with you.
26:53 AW: Totally.
26:54 DS: Hopefully it doesn't conflict with the Local U Event.
26:57 AW: Yeah, no, totally. You would love it. It was fun for I brought another member of our team and it was his first SaaS type... He used to work for me at agencies that I was part of before and so this was his first immersion deep into the SaaS world, and he was just like, he was blown away by it. And it was also great because some of the things he heard in some of the talks, he realized we're already using that framework or thinking about it that way, or doing those things. So there was a lot of... And I had some of these things too where you're in your own bubble so much an in your own head. It was so great to get outside affirmation like, "Okay, I am thinking about this right." Brand is really important and that's why we re-branded and it put so much into that. And here's somebody really talking about how big of a differentiator that is.
27:46 DS: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Your new brand makes a lot more sense, I really like it. It's more all-encompassing. So, yeah. We talked about that last time.
27:54 AW: Yeah. But yeah, so good from all those different pieces and then one other thing where I wanted to transition and touch on this a little bit is, I was also there seeking out a new vendor for our billing system because our billing system we built it ourselves, an in-house built, we have a lot of little wrinkles and just unique things about the way we bill on a per location and how many get added in a month and our re-sellers can sell and add or remove and at the time we built it there just wasn't a billing solution that fit all of the different combinations and possibilities that we have and so it's gotten us by and it's gotten us through but now we have a lot of other needs, we have four different plans, we have all these pricing levels, we wanna do promo codes and discounts, there's a lot of other things we wanna look into and so we're basically at the point of we either need to completely rebuild it and do its version 2.0, new life and have it be so much more robust or find a provider.
29:00 AW: And the common thing that I keep looking at, it's like it's already all of our work to build and run one product and to me that billing system just ends up looking like a second product. And do we even want to try to maintain that and pay as a much attention to that as we have to pay to our main product of helping with customer feedback and online reviews?
29:23 DS: Yeah, we're in a very similar situation because we have an account system that we built in 2010, and it's been meeting our needs but it is like it's this terrible system to work with and whenever we have anything to add it's a real pain and so, yeah we've been working on updating it. We actually, we have another problem is that we use three different payment providers, we've got a pay flow accounts, we have a bean stream account, we have legacy clients on these old payment processing accounts and so we have multiple payment providers all hooked up into this account system and we have promo codes, we have all this stuff but it's just all hacked together in such a terrible way so we've re-conceptualize our account and about six months ago we started working on a rebuild and I'm gonna have two of my team members dedicated to building this thing right now, so we're building our brand new accounts. But the thing about the account system is that it's also the underpinning of our whole new platform.
30:24 DS: Right now, we have all of our applications as separate things you can sign up for but we're building a single platform that everything will be tied into that you'll just sign up for white spark rather than these people that come to our website and they're like, "Well, what should we sign up for? You've got this, you got that, what do I want? I kind of want a demo of your platform." And we're like, "Euu, we don't really have a platform to show you." So we're trying to build a platform and the accounts becomes the basis of that. But then I think about what you said earlier as you were looking at some of those Chargify and Recurly and maybe it would be smarter for us to just use one of those but they get really expensive. So it's either pay once now and then we have our own system that we can manage and have complete flexibility over or pay forever, you're gonna lock into one of these systems and just always pay for it.
31:13 AW: Yeah, but I see some of that as like a cost of success. It's no different back in the day when hosting could be something a little bit more expensive and you'd have to lay out to someone you're building a website for in the early 2000s, like if you do this much traffic, you might need a shared server and if you did this much traffic you might need dedicated and where they look at it like, "Oh wow, If I needed a dedicated server for $1000 a month, that would be terrible and be like, "No, there will be a reason you needed that dedicated server because you had so many visitors and so much traffic to your website", you actually want that happen, right. So.
31:51 DS: Yeah, it's really interesting. I still think we'd have to build all the payment pages and all that. It almost feels like it's just the billing system and so our account system that we're building we still need it anyways and I don't know if we're gonna get that much benefit out of using something like Chargify or Recurly.
32:08 AW: Yeah, yeah, well I'd be happy to give you a little in a test account with one and I have calls coming up with a couple of the others, 'cause I'm definitely gonna put them through their paces and vet them but I've already been impressed when what ours is in... That's not to say our system won't still have to do some billing-related things but there's so much more that that can handle where we just need to inform them, here's the account, here's the locations and plans and whatever else. Now, it assembles the bill, does the billing, contacts the processor and then there's a lot of reporting mechanisms that can come out of that too that can be a lot more helpful.
32:48 DS: That is one thing we tried to build reporting dashboards out of our current account system, it's just we never quite get what I want I have this... I still cannot calculate churn which is crazy. I don't even know how to calculate my MRR and ARR and all that stuff. I just don't have those numbers which is quite pathetic really.
33:11 AW: We have those incorporated into our home-built tool and everything else and we've also done some good things like predictive billing. I can see where we're likely to land already for February here in the middle of the month, based on what's there. That yeah, some things could change a little bit but also able to see a pretty clear path to where we will likely end up with it.
33:36 DS: Right.
33:37 AW: Every time I would need a new report or I need that addition, it's pulling one of my team off of something that's a feature in our product that will allow us to get a new customer, a new whatever else to bring them over to build that on this other side, right? And that's where I've just kind of arrived at for our growth and where we're at, and we're passed a couple million dollars of... We're in the multiple millions of ARR. So, it's definitely at the point for me where it's like I see it as an investment and a cost of doing good business as opposed to taking money from us where it's just not worth the value, and I think that can vary for everybody at what point that time is.
34:14 DS: Yeah, I think I'll look into it a little bit and reassess. We're not too deep into it. I still think a lot of what we're building will still be needed, so there might be an opportunity for us to offset and accelerate the development. 'Cause the ideal thing is I'll get these guys off of accounts and working on the software, right, so that's my goal, I wanna get there, get them there, as soon as possible. So if I could do something like Chargify then I think it's worth looking into.
34:40 AW: Yeah, and I'm happy to pass along my notes. Like I said, after I've talked to all of them. Happy to share. It was nice. That was really nice about the conference to have that. And to have five different ones all on the same sales floor and to be able to go spend 20 minutes with each one and explain a little bit about our system, get some early answers and just anything that was gonna be a no-go or needs to be dug into... And then set up a next step in a call was definitely helpful, where that would have been harder to do one by one over the web to some extent.
35:15 DS: Yeah, definitely, yeah.
35:16 AW: Well, cool, man. What's your next couple of weeks? What's on your radar that's big in your world, or that you're looking after until we talk again, in a few weeks...
35:26 DS: Well, we're gonna maybe launch a new free tool if we're gonna...
35:30 AW: [laughter] Well, what if we just for the entire life of this podcast, you're always launching this free tool.
35:37 DS: That would be awesome. [chuckle] one day we finally launch it. It becomes like the most ultimate free tool. Does everything you can ever imagine.
35:45 AW: That's the cliff hanger, people are gonna download every episode just to find out when is the episode that the free tool launches? So this might be a little hard on the business, but it might be really great for our podcast.
36:00 DS: [chuckle] Exactly So there's that. I'm also a little stressed because I'm speaking at Brighton SEO in April, and so I have my presentation there, so I'm doing a case study for that presentation. But I also have to do a good seven hours of training, and in that training, I gotta make all the slide decks for all the different aspects of local search so... I'm gonna be very busy with mostly that over the next six weeks or so.
36:29 AW: Woo, Yeah.
36:29 DS: But I'm going to Local Search Association in California at the end of February, and then I got a little ski trip to Jasper with the family, so. I got some nice stuff coming up too.
36:38 AW: Nice, yeah, no, that sounds daunting to put... Any time you have to put together... I think the biggest thing I've ever done is like a three-hour session. And that was very daunting where it slides and I put together a workbook and a lot of interaction and things like that and that that was a lot of work... I was like, "I don't know if I ever wanna do that again."
37:00 DS: Yeah, it is gonna be a lot and I'm just kinda, I haven't fully started on it yet, so it's not as scary yet until I actually write that outline and realize, "Oh damn, this is way bigger than I imagined." I'm always overly optimistic about things until I start on them and Then I realize, "Wow." But yeah, if I think about my slides, I usually do about, for 20 minute talk, I'll have about 90 slides, so for seven hours, I'm gona have a lot of slides to make.
37:27 AW: [chuckle] Your slide totals are going to be, you're gonna approach like four digits. That's impressive.
37:33 DS: I think so. Yeah I'll have like 1700 slides.
37:36 AW: Nice Well, I'm gonna be interested to see... We just added another team member this week, a product manager. So I'm gonna be excited, just... Any time in a young company, when you're onboarding and especially in a remote company, there's so much we learn and we get better at our onboarding and our training process, and this is the first time where we've hired another product manager so to see what that first hire goes like there and the training there, it's definitely gonna be interesting to me. We just signed off this morning actually on some co-working space, so we have five, six people around the Minneapolis area now, and they were kind of seeking somewhere where they could get some face time and interaction and so we pulled the trigger on that. So it'll be fun to see how that adds and hopefully gives people around here more options. And then for me it's just tough too then kinda balancing out for those where we only have one in a place or two in a city. How do we afford them some of the same opportunities or try to bring them in from time to time so that they can see more of the team face-to-face is gonna be some interesting challenges.
38:47 DS: Yeah, I was thinking about that with co-working spaces as well because I would do it maybe in Edmonton but then I have employees in four other cities. Right? And so do I sign up for co-working spaces in all those cities. It gets a little tough and it's hard to be fair to every... All employees, right?
39:03 AW: Yap, yeah, well, maybe that would be a great topic for us to talk about next time is just some of the things that are challenges in remote work and those types of pieces and for everything from finding the right people who thrive in remote work to training them in to getting collaboration and communication. There's definitely a lot of different finer points to it.
39:25 DS: Yeah, definitely. All right, well I'll definitely put that on the agenda for our future podcast.
39:30 AW: Sounds good. Well, thanks my man. Another good episode in the books and I hope you have a great couple of weeks until we sit down and talk together again.
39:41 DS: Yeah, thanks Aaron. Always a pleasure. Talk to you next time.
39:44 AW: All right. Thanks everybody for listening to episode three of the SaaS venture podcast. We'll see you again in a couple of weeks.
39:53 DS: See ya.