ConversionAid: The SaaS Podcast, Startups, Growth Hacking & Traction

Bastiaan Janmaat is the co-founder and CEO of DataFox, an artificial intelligence and prospecting platform. DataFox helps sales and marketing teams prospect smarter and have thoughtful, personalized conversations at exactly the right time. DataFox's algorithms structure information on millions of businesses and deliver reliable data and machine-learned suggestions where and when they're needed.

Prior to launching DataFox, my guest was an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs. He and his co-founders launched DataFox in 2013 and to date have raised $9 million in funding.

The company's investors include Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures. And their customers include companies such as Twilio, Box, Google, Amazon & SalesForce.

----

This episode is a story about 4 co-founders who decided that they could use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help sales & marketing people to make better decisions.

They saw first hand how the explosion of information available to sales & marketing people was overwhelming and making it harder for them to do their jobs.

They decided to use data science and machine learning to capture millions of data points about companies and people. And turn that data into actionable insights.

But they also knew that they needed to move fast. So they started building the AI technology, but also did a ton of work manually to process the data they collected.

In other words, they focused on solving customer's problems however they could.

The first version of their product was sold for $49 per month. Today, their customers pay them anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000 a year.

In this episode we talk about how they came up with the idea, how they got started, what they did to get customers and how they've continued to grow the business.

We also talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how they're using AI technologies to help real-world problems for businesses trying to prospect and generate leads.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.

Direct download: 151-Bastiaan-Janmaat-DataFox.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm PDT

Tim Broom is the co-founder and CEO of ITProTV, a subscription based learning site for IT Professionals. The company provides an easy and entertaining approach to IT training which is broadcast live every day and is also available on-demand.

The founders launched the business in 2012. They originally started out with a few authorized brick and mortar' training centers, which they sold and went all in with their new startup built around a SaaS business model.

The company is based in Gainesville, Florida and has been self-funded from day one.

----

This is a story about two guys who were running a brick and mortar computer training center in Gainesville, Florida. They spent many years building and growing that business.

But they realized that a brick and mortar business wasn't going to let them grow as fast enough. And they also wanted to build a recurring revenue business. So they launched a second business called ITProTV to deliver IT training online.

It began as a humble startup business on the side. Eventually the founders decided to make a big bet on ITProTV and sold the brick and mortar business.

In 4 years, they've built a successful SaaS business that's on track to do $9 million annual run rate this year. And they've grown with very little marketing -- or I should say, very little marketing that's worked for them.

This is a great story and my guest is a great guy, who's humble and level headed. In this interview he shares his story and the lessons that's he's learned along the way to building an almost 8-figure SaaS business.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: 150-Tim-Broom-_ITProTV.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Rob Percival is a former high school math teacher from England who started teaching people to code. He posted his first online web development course for $199 in June 2014 and only made 1 sale in the first 24 hours.

Since then he's gone on to launch several coding courses with well over 500,000 students and has generated over $5 million in revenue.

You can find his online courses at Udemy.com. The topics range from web and mobile development courses to Ruby on Rails & Python programming and database development.

He's also the founder and managing director of Eco Web Hosting, a company that focused on environmentally friendly web hosting and packages that are 100% carbon neutral.


Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: Rob-Percival-Eco-Web-Hosting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Raj Bhaskar is the co-founder and CEO of Hurdlr, a mobile app for independent workers, freelancers and solopreneurs to manage their business finances. It seamlessly tracks all of your income streams, expenses and tax deductions in real-time, on the go.

Previously, Raj was the founder and CEO of VisualHOMES, a software company focused on property management and real estate solutions which he built and sold after 10 years.

Hurdlr was founded in 2012 and is based in Washington DC.

-----

This episode is about a guy who came up with an idea for a startup after noticing that many freelancers were struggling with a specific problem.

And then he realized that Airbnb hosts and Uber drivers were also dealing with the same problem.

So he set out to build a product that would solve that problem.

The product wasn't an overnight success, but the feedback from the market was positive enough to keep going. Today, his product has over 100,000 users and is continuing to grow.

Most of the growth has been driven by content marketing. But he didn't just create content, he put just as much effort into distributing that content.

So in this interview, we explore how he made content marketing work for his business. And we look at how he's built a business within the Uber and Airbnb ecosystems and beyond.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: Raj-Bhaskar-Hurdlr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

JD Graffam is the founder of SimpleFocus, a design agency that helps create user interfaces and digital products. The company's clients include Starbucks, Oracle and the U.S. Air Force.

But this agency is a little different because it also has its own portfolio of software products. This includes Pulse (a cash flow management software for small businesses), Sifter (a bug and issue tracking app for nimble teams) and BallPark (an invoicing and time tracking app) that JD acquired from Metalab's founder Andrew Wilkinson (who was my guest on episode 76). And JD just acquired another app called Curated (a product that helps you grow your audience by collecting and sharing engaging content).

----

This episode is about a design agency owner who wanted to get into the SaaS business. He didn't have any success building his own SaaS product, so he acquired one instead.

The SaaS product that he acquired, already had customers and some recurring revenue. He and his team improved the product and over time, more than doubled the monthly recurring revenue.

So he acquired another SaaS product and did the same again. And in the last few years, my guest has built a portfolio of 6 SaaS products, all through acquisitions, and he's still looking for more.

The remarkable thing is that he's grown recurring revenue for his products without any marketing. He just focused on serving the existing customers better and the improving the products.

In this episode we talk about how he acquired his first SaaS product, what he did to grow recurring revenue, what he looks for when acquiring a SaaS product and how he manages multiple products and businesses.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: JD_Graffam-SimpleFocus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Clate Mask is the co-founder and CEO of Infusionsoft, which makes sales and marketing automation software exclusively for small businesses.

Infusionsoft combines CRM, email automation and e-commerce capabilities into one product. It helps small businesses capture more leads, improve conversion rates and generate more sales.

The company was founded in 2001 and has raised over $125 million to date. Infusionsoft has over 125,000 users and so far has processed $3.4 billion of payments for its customers.

Clate is also the author of Conquer the Chaos: How to Grow a Successful Small Business Without Going Crazy', a New York Times best seller which focuses on balancing personal and work life, will becoming successful as a budding entrepreneur.


Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: 146-Clate_Mask-Infusionsoft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Nadim Hossain is the co-founder and CEO of BrightFunnel, a SaaS product that generates predictive and actionable insights for B2B marketers, and shows what impact marketing is having on revenue.

Founded in 2012, BrightFunnel has raised just under $9 million in funding to date. And its customers include companies such as Verizon and Cloudera.

My guest has over 17 years of experience in building, marketing, and selling cloud applications. Prior to founding BrightFunnel, he was VP of marketing and sales at PowerReviews which had a $170 million exit. And he was also a product marketing executive at Salesforce.com during their hyper-growth years.

This is a story about a marketing guy who was working at a tech company. He was frustrated about hard it was to understand the impact that marketing was having on revenue. He started creating his own solution by gathering data from different sources and putting it all into Excel spreadsheets. And he thought to himself, someone should really find a good solution for this.

Eventually, he realized that he was the one who needed to solve this problem. But he wasn't a developer so needed to find the right technical co-founder. He was also a first time founder and was trying to build this business while he and his wife were expecting a baby. So there was a lot of pressure on him and huge sense of urgency.

Fast forward to today, he's grown his startup into a company that's generating several million dollars in revenue. He's raised just under $9 million in funding to date. And his company now employs 35 people and that number is likely to double in the next year.

He shares some great insights both from the early days of turning his idea into a business. And we also explore lessons he's learned as his role as a CEO continues to grow.

Direct download: 145-Nadim-Hossain-BrightFunnel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm PDT

James Gill is the co-founder and CEO of GoSquared, an all-in-one platform for SaaS businesses. GoSquared combines analytics, CRM, live chat, and marketing automation in one seamless platform.

The three co-founders started the company when they were 14 years old. They set to build an online advertising business inspired by watching the TV show 'Mad Men'. But nothing worked. As James told me, they couldn't even pay for lunch; and that was school lunch!

However, as part of their advertising business, they also built a tool with a beautiful design which gave people insights about their web traffic. And people seemed more interested in this tool, than in their advertising business.

So they turned the tool into a product and started selling that. And over time, they added live chat and CRM capabilities. Now, 10 years later, they've built a business with over 1000 paying customers and 10 employees.

This isn't a story about rapid growth and raising millions of dollars. But it is a great story about persisting through failures, following your passions, listening to your customers and solving problems you discover along the way and most importantly building a great product.


Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.

Direct download: 144-James-Gill-GoSquared.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15pm PDT

Natalie Nagele guest is the co-founder and CEO of Wildbit, a bootstrapped software company that builds web apps to help software developers collaborate better.

The company was founded in 1999 as a web development consultancy and it launched its first web app in 2005. Since then the company has launched and grown a number of products such as Beanstalk, Deploybot and Postmark which are used by over 100,000 companies.

Half of the Wildbit team works out Philadelphia, with the rest spread out around the world. And the company's culture, communication and process are specifically tailored around a remote team.

This week's interview is a story about a bootstrapped software company that generates multi-million dollars in revenue, is profitable and most of the time, its employees work no more than 40 hours a week.

The company was founded by a husband and wife team, who started out with a consulting business and eventually turned it into a product business that now has 3 successful software products and a team of 26 people across the world.

The founders do a lot of things that go against the conventional wisdom that we so often hear these days. From private offices for every employee, to a standard 40 hour work week, they've shown that you can build a profitable and successful business.

A big part of their company culture was inspired by 37Signals (the makers of Basecamp) and the book Getting Real.

My guest is a wonderful woman, who has an inspiring story to share and I love how both she and her husband, have built a people first' company culture. It's easy to talk about something like that, it's much harder to actually do it.

I'm sure you'll walk away with at least one great idea from this interview and maybe you'll be inspired to a think a little differently about your business.

Direct download: 143-Natalie-Nagele-Wildbit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:58pm PDT

Laura Roeder is the founder of Meet Edgar, a social media scheduling & automation SaaS product. She started her entrepreneurial journey at the age of 22 by launching a web design business and then a social media consulting and training business. And in 2014, she decided to launch Meet Edgar, her first SaaS business. Today, the company generates over $4 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and has been self-funded from day one.

This week's interview is a story about a first time SaaS entrepreneur. She didn't have any experience with software and didn't the first thing about coding.

But she was already building a following in the social media space and realized that the way that most people handle social media isn't sustainable for small businesses. She thought there was a better solution and decided to build a software product.

And she's done a lot of things that many startup founders would consider counter intuitive. For example, her product's homepage is optimized for email list building and not getting people to immediately sign up for a trial.

And her approach to Facebook advertising was deceptively simple. And it went against the advice that most Facebook experts would give you. But it worked.

And she's kept her company laser focused on small businesses. She could have easily started adding more features and higher level plans for teams and agencies. But she has been very deliberate about not doing that.

In fact, her product doesn't even offer multiple plans. There's one plan, one price if you pay monthly and one price if you have annually. That's it.

And that approach has paid of her. The business is now doing over $4 million in annual recurring revenue and is continue to grow quickly.

There are some great lessons here and I hope you enjoy the interview.

Do you want to learn how to build, launch and grow your SaaS product? Get Our Free Learning Guides.
Direct download: 142-Laura-Roeder-Edgar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT