The SaaS Podcast - SaaS, Startups, Growth Hacking & Entrepreneurship (formerly ConversionAid Podcast)
Max Armbruster is the founder and CEO of TalkPush, a SaaS recruitment platform that leverages the power of messaging and social media to help businesses that need to hire large numbers of employees.

Max used to interview hundreds of candidates on the phone every year. It took up a lot of his time and at the end of each day he felt drained. He desperately wanted to use technology to make hiring more productive, but he couldn't find anything that didn't create unnecessary barriers between him and the candidate. So he kept calling.

In 2014, he released the first prototype of TalkPush and sold it to a small call center. The product would call candidates and use an interactive voice response service to ask them screening questions.

One day during lunch with his team, someone mentioned that Facebook had launched a platform that enabled you to build and integrate chatbots with Facebook Messenger. Max hadn't heard about this before, but immediately he knew that this was what they needed. So before they finished lunch, Max had already told his team that they needed to stop what they were doing and start focusing on building a chatbot.

From its humble beginnings in 2014, Max has grown TalkPush into a business that's doing over $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

We talk about how he took a pain that he was personally experiencing and turned it into a business. And we have a great discussion on the ups and downs of building a million dollar SaaS business and the lessons he's learned along the way.

I hope you enjoy the interview.


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Direct download: 175-Max-Armbruster-Talkpush.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm PDT

Sri Ganesan is the Director of FreshChat, a modern messaging software product that helps businesses to have marketing, sales and support conversations with customers.

FreshChat started out as Konotor, a startup which Sri founded with a couple of friends. The founders originally set out to build a Whatsapp competitor. But realized that building a platform like that required a lot of capital. So they pivoted and focused on a mobile user engagement platform for 2-way messaging inside your app.

Eventually that product was acquired by FreshDesk and became FreshChat.

In this interview you're going to hear that story and discover some interesting lessons.

Firstly, Sri wasn't happy about how the sales guy on his team was pitching the product to customers. Sri felt that the sales guy was under selling the product by pitching just one basic feature instead of communicating the full value of the product. But in hindsight that turned out to be a smart decision by sales guy and Sri shares what he learned from that experience.

Another great lesson Sri shares is how many customers kept asking them for a feature, but the founders didn't agree. They had a strong vision for their product and felt that this particular feature would move them away from that vision. So they never built it. But years later, after they were acquired, they did add that feature to their product which resulted in significant revenue growth. We talk about what that feature was and the lesson that Sri learned.

It's a great an interview. I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: 174-Sri-Ganesan-Freshchat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Kyle Racki is the co-founder and CEO of Proposify, a SaaS product that helps you create proposal documents, collaborate with your team and streamline your sales process so you can close deals faster.

The company was founded in 2014 and is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Kyle and his co-founder Kevin came up with the idea for Proposify when they were running a design agency. But they didn't do anything with that idea for several years.

Eventually they decided that they wanted to get out of the agency business and went back to their idea. They built a prototype and got a lot of positive feedback.

But when they launched, the results were disappointing. They got to around $800 a month in MRR and flatlined there for almost a year and a half. Today, their business generates over $4.5 million in annual recurring revenue.

We talk about what kept them going when they were only making $800 MRR. And we deep dive into specific things they did that led to their hockey stick growth.


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Direct download: Kyle_Racki_Proposify.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:53am PDT

Hannah Chaplin is the co-founder and CEO of Receptive.io, a platform that helps SaaS companies to identify the highest impact things that their team should be working on right now.

The platform helps to gather feature requests and feedback from customers, internal customers and the market and turn that data into clear and actionable insights.

Receptive.io was founded in 2015 and is based in Sheffield, England.

The founders came with the idea for Receptive when they were running another business and struggling to manage feature requests and feedback from customers.

After building an MVP, they joined an accelerator in England and spent about 5 months just doing customer interviews. They learned that they were focusing on the wrong customers and needed to think bigger.

But once they'd built the product, they also had a hard time selling to these big customers because they didn't lack sales experience and know how.

In this episode, we talk about how they overcame those challenges, what they did to grow the business and what they've learned from making many mistakes along the way.

It's a great interview. I really enjoyed chatting with Hannah and I hope you'll enjoy this interview too.


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Direct download: SaaS_172_-_Hannah_Chaplin_-_Receptive.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Kelsey Recht the founder and CEO of VenueBook, a booking platform that connects event planners with venue managers. VenueBook helps venues to manage their leads and bookings, and market their space. And it helps event planners to easily find and book the right venue for their event.

VenueBook was founded in 2010 and is based in New York. The company has raised over $9 million in funding.
Kelsey is a first time entrepreneur who came up with the idea for this business after experiencing the pain of finding venues and booking events herself. And one of the smart things that she did in the early days wasn't to start building a software product right away, but going and talking to prospective customers and talking about their pains. In fact that's how she found her first few customers and her first developer.

We also talk about raising money. Although, Kelsey's raised over $9 million, it hasn't been as easy as it may sound. She started with a small family and friends round to get the business started, but raising a seed round was seriously hard work. In fact, she had to go out and talk to over 100 investors before she was able to get her seed round. So we talk about the lessons she's learned there, as a SaaS entrepreneur, as a first time founder and as a female entrepreneur.

So I hope you enjoy the interview...


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Direct download: SaaS_-_Kelsey_Recht_-_Venuebook.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Mike Carson is the founder of Park.io, a service which helps you to backorder expiring domain names.

Mike is a developer who for many years struggled to find business success. He was working hard on multiple projects. But none of them were working out.

And it was a painful time for him. He couldn't understand why he kept failing. And he'd often wonder if he wasn't working hard enough or just doing thing the wrong way.

One day he just decided to let go of all that frustration and work on a project that he was curious and passionate about. He wasn't even thinking of it as a business.

And ironically, that project turned into Park.io.

Mike is currently doing over a million dollars a year in revenue. And he's a one person company. He has no employees and continues to run the business by himself.

Mike says that he just got lucky with Park.io. And there's some truth to that. We all need some luck from time to time with our business.

But I don't think it was all just down to luck. And in this interview, I deep-dive into what exactly he did to build that business, how he's dealt with major problems and competitors and how exactly he's able to run a one-person million dollar company.

It's a great an interview with a ton of valuable insights and lessons.

So I hope you enjoy it.


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Direct download: Mike_Carson_-_ParkIo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Mike Muhney is the founder and CEO of VIP Orbit, a software company focused on building great contact management products.

He launched their flagship product VIP Orbit in 2010 and they raised $6.5 million. Recently Mike had to shut down the business because he ran out of money and wasn't getting the traction that he'd hoped for.

So in this episode, he joins me to talk about the lessons that he's learned from a failed startup. We have a very open and candid conversation about what he thinks led to that failure. We explore the different factors, why he got into that situation, what are some of the lessons he's learned from that, and what he'd do differently now.

He was in a similar situation in the 1980s when he co-founded a startup which eventually failed. He'd raised $100,000 from an angel investor. He ended up with $15,000 of that money left and needed to give the money back or come up with another idea.

And they did come up with another idea which was ACT! Contact Management Software, which they went onto sell for $47 million.

So Mike is a seasoned and experienced entrepreneur who's seen the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. And in this episode, he's willing to talk about the tough parts of being an entrepreneur.

If you listen to this podcast, you'll know that the majority of times we're talking about people's successes. And I try to get as much as I can out of them about what didn't go well, what failed and what they learned from that.

But this episode is different because the entire interview is about failure. A whole business that failed and what lessons were learned from that.

So I hope you find it useful. I certainly did. Mike's a great guy and there are a lot of useful lessons here.


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Direct download: Mike_Muhney_-_MikeMuhney.com.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Jon Ferrara is the founder and CEO of Nimble CRM. Jon is a serial entrepreneur, who started his first company in 1989 with just $5000 and went on to sell it for $125 million.

Around 2001, a year after selling this startup, he was diagnosed with tumor in his head. Life and his priorities quickly changed for him.

Thankfully he made a full recovery and went on to launch another startup in 2009. He set out to build a social sales and marketing CRM product in very crowded market.

He had the vision of creating a product that you would live in for your email, social media and other communication. But that plan didn't work out, so he had to pivot.

He also built great integration with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. But after a while LinkedIn cut off their API access and Facebook severely restricted theirs. So he had to do a mini-pivot again.

In other words, even though he had a very successful exit with his first startup, it hasn't made it any easier for him to build his second company. And he's faced a lot of challenges, like any of us would face or are dealing with right now.

But he's kept going. And recently after years of trying, has built a partnership with Microsoft which could be massive for his business in the next couple of years.

He was one of the very first guests on this show in 2014. And I'm delighted to have had him back and given me the chance to catch up on the ups/downs of his business over the last 3 years.


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Direct download: Jon_Ferrara_-_Nimble.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Krish Subramanian the co-founder and CEO of Chargebee, a platform that automates subscription management and billing for SaaS and e-commerce businesses.

Chargebee was founded in 2011 and is based in Chennai, India. To date, the founders have raised $6 million in funding but bootstrapped the business for the first year and a half.

We talk about the challenges faced by SaaS businesses in managing subscriptions and recurring billing scenarios. And we explore how Chargebee is solving those problems and helping SaaS businesses to reduce customer churn.

The founders knew that they wanted together, but it took them 10 years to save enough money and have the courage to finally take the leap and quit their jobs.

And then it took them over a year to launch their MVP because they tried to build too many features. We talk about the lessons they learned from this experience and how they'd do things differently now.

We also explore what it's like to build a SaaS business in India. You don't have the benefits of being in Silicon Valley and you're trying to convince SaaS and e-commerce businesses around the world to manage their revenue with your platform. And they faced a lot of resistance and challenges along the way.

We talk about how they overcame those challenges and what they've done to get over 6000 companies around using their platform.


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Direct download: Krish_Subramanian_-_Chargebee.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:02am PDT

Nathan Kontny is the CEO of Highrise, the SaaS CRM app that was originally developed by the 37Signals team, the makers of Basecamp.

Nathan is the co-founder of two YC companies - Inkling and Cityposh. One of them is still in business. The other one failed and had to be shutdown. We talk about the lessons he learned from both those experiences and what he'd do differently now.

Nathan is also the creator of the online writing app Draft. He built that product and business as a solo founder. And he used blogging as a way to build an audience and get customers. That's a lot to do for any founder. And we have a great discussion on how he managed to keep so many plates spinning and get things done without going crazy.

A few years ago, Nathan became the CEO of Highrise. We talk about how he met Jason Fried, the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp and how that led to a job offer. And we discuss the big challenges he's facing in turning things around at Highrise.

Nathan is an experienced serial entrepreneur. He's very transparent and shares a ton of valuable insights and advice with me. And is a great guy who I've really enjoyed getting to know better. I think you'll enjoy this interview and get a ton of value from it.


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Direct download: Nathan_Kontny_-_Draft_Highrise.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT