The SaaS Podcast - SaaS, Startups, Growth Hacking & Entrepreneurship (formerly ConversionAid Podcast)

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

Luke Swanek is the co-founder of GrowSumo, a marketplace that connects B2B SaaS companies with resellers. The GrowSumo platform provides its customers with the tools they need to build and scale reseller programs. And it enables the resellers to earn revenue from selling those products.

GrowSumo is a YC backed startup. But the founders had to apply three times before they were finally accepted into YC. So that alone, is a great lesson in being persistent.

One of the biggest challenges for building a marketplace is that you've got a chicken and egg' situation. You don't have buyers and you don't have sellers when you start. And it can be hard to get the flywheel spinning and build a marketplace that actually works.

So we talk about how they built that marketplace and how they landed customers like Evernote. And we explore some of the tough lessons the founders have learned along the way such as what happens when your product is not ready for a big customer or how you can lose customers when you try to build a scalable product too soon.

I hope you enjoy this interview.

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Direct download: Luke_Swankek_-_GrowSumo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact, a SaaS platform that makes it easier for businesses to create online quizzes. You can create a quiz to engage with your online audience or generate new sales leads.

I originally interviewed Josh a couple of years ago, where we discussed how he and his co-founders bootstrapped their company from zero to $15,000 in monthly recurring revenue in under 10 months. And they did that with zero outbound sales. It was all through content marketing. You can listen to the original interview on episodes 57 & 58.

Since then, the co-founders have grown the business to over $40,000 in monthly recurring revenue. That's almost half a million dollars a year. So it seemed like a great time to invite him back and find out what they've been doing to keep growing.

And the interesting thing is that the content marketing that worked so well for them when I interviewed Josh last time, dried up. And they had to find another way to generate traffic because content marketing just wasn't working for them anymore.

I hope you enjoy this interview.

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Direct download: 164-Josh-Haynam-Interact2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Dan Faggella is the founder and CEO of TechEmergence, an artificial intelligence market research firm. TechEmergence helps companies to gain insights on the application and implications of AI and machine learning technologies.

Prior to launching TechEmergence, Dan founded Science of Skill, an ecommerce business which he grew from zero to over $2 million in annual revenue in 4 years. He went on to sell that business for 7-figures.

Dan is a very interesting guy. He's actually a former martial artist and MMA fighter who has been training other fighters. And Science of Skill initially started as a blog where we could teach more people.

So what does this have to do with SaaS?

Firstly, there are some valuable lessons that Dan shares on how he built a recurring revenue business. Those lessons will be useful for anyone focused on SaaS recurring revenue.

Secondly, he talks about how he generated traffic for Science of Skill and a systematic approach he took to convert as many leads as possible into customers. So if you're struggling to find customers, you might get some useful tips.

And thirdly, I think it's crucial that he think outside of the box and learn from people in different industries and types of businesses. I think that's how we can find more creative solutions to problems in our own space.

So I hope you enjoy the interview.

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Direct download: Dan_Faggella_-_Tech_Emergence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53am PDT

Erik Christiansen is the co-founder and CEO of Justuno, a SaaS conversion optimization platform which helps businesses to build their email list, drive more sales and reduce shopping cart abandonment.

The company was founded in 2010, has been self-funded since launch and is profitable. Justuno is based in San Francisco and Austin, Texas.

Prior to launching Justuno, Erik worked at where he managed the growth of sales from $0 at launch to $24 million.

In 2010, Erik and his co-founder Travis built a widget to make it easier for ecommerce businesses to use coupons on their sites. It was a simple widget that took less than a month to build. And they were able to get some ecommerce sites to be early adopters.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing from there. The co-founders were actually working on 3 companies at the same time. They didn't know which business idea would work, so they were trying to hedge their bets.

We'll talk about how Erik and Travis had their aha' moment, which led to them finally going all in' with Justuno. And you'll learn how they've built a profitable SaaS business doing over 2 million dollars a year, with a zero marketing budget.

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Direct download: Erik_Christiansen_-_Justuno.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Jim Brown is a sales coach, founder of Sales Tuners and the host of the Sales Tuners podcast. He's spent the last 10 years helping lead two companies from $1M to more than $10M in annual revenue. And has a founder he took another company from $1M in funding to zero.

Today, he coaches tech companies and salespeople through his Skeptical Selling Method. And on his weekly podcast, he talks with great sales leaders and high performing individual salespeople about the behaviors, attitudes ,and techniques that have lead to their success.


This interview is a story about a sales guy who spent 10 years helping to lead two companies to over $10M in annual revenue. Then as founder, he took another company from $1M in funding to zero. Yup, you heard that right.

He shares with me some important but tough lessons he learned from that experience. And we talk about how losing other people's money was one of the hardest challenges that he has faced in his career.

There are a lot of stories about how a founder went from zero to a multi-million business. And those stories are great because we can learn from those entrepreneurs and their successes.

But it's equally important to learn from business failures. And I'm fortunate enough to have a guest today, who's willing to sharing it all.

My guest also shares his sales expertise and takes me through a simple but powerful 4 step process to help you achieve the sales goals for your SaaS business this year.

We do a deep-dive into that process so you might want to be ready to take some notes.

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Direct download: Jim_Brown_-_Sales_Tuners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Steve Benson is the co-founder and CEO of Badger Maps, a sales routing software that helps salespeople be more successful.

The product enables sales reps to map their CRM customer data, integrate with their calendar, plan routes and find nearby leads. Badger Maps is a SaaS product and mobile app.

Badger Maps was founded in 2012. The company is based in San Francisco and to date has raised just about $1M in funding.

Prior to founding Badger Maps, Steve worked in sales for companies like IBM, Autonomy and Google. In 2009, he was named Google Enterprise's Top Performing Salesperson in the World.


This episode is a story about a sales guy who had an idea for a SaaS startup. He realized that there was a lot of time being wasted as sales people drive from one customer's location to another. And he figured he could make them more efficient.

So he started with a really simple idea -- take all those customers that a salesperson has to see each day and map them as points on Google Maps.

That simple idea has grown into a SaaS business with over 6000 customers today.

In this episode we talk about how he came up with the idea, what he did to build his business and some sales lessons that have helped him grow his business.

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Direct download: Steve_Benson_-_Badger_Maps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Nick Francis is the co-founder and CEO of Help Scout, a simple help desk product designed for small and medium sized businesses. Help Scout was founded in April 2011 and now powers over 8,000 support teams in over 140 countries.

Its customers include companies such as Basecamp, Trello and Grubhub. Help Scout has raised just under $13 million in funding. The company has offices in Boston & Boulder, but most of its employees work remotely in 40 cities across the world.


This is a story about a three guys who started a small consulting company in 2006. They were building websites for their clients. And on the side, they were building small products for fun.

One of these products, a tool to manage your RSS feeds, got a little traction. It grew to over 200,000 users, but it was free and made no money. But it did generate a lot of support and feature requests.

And the founders realized that trying to use a shared Gmail inbox for support didn't work too well. They needed a helpdesk solution. But they couldn't find exactly what they were looking for.

And this wasn't an overnight thing. My guest spent about 2 years on this problem. He spent time thinking about the ideal solution. And he also tried out a number different support tools during that time.

My guest realized that he wanted a helpdesk that didn't feel like a helpdesk. He wanted people to be able to send an email and get a reply, without the need for a support portal, ticket numbers etc.

And that's how the idea for their business was born.

Today, they have a multi-million dollar business. They have over 8000 business customers in 140 countries. And they've raised $13 million in VC funding to date.

But for the first 4 years of their business, they survived on a seed round of a few hundred thousand dollars. They put a lot of focus into becoming self-funded and building an efficient business. And when they did raise money, it was the 'rocket fuel' they needed to help them grow faster.

There are a lot of great lessons here. I hope you enjoy it.

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Direct download: Nick_Francis_-_HelpScout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT

Janna Bastow is the co-founder and CEO of ProdPad, a product management tool for product managers. ProdPad helps you to build product roadmaps, uncover the best product ideas to work on next and build what matters most to your customers.

ProdPad was founded in 2012 and its customers include companies such as Disney, Automattic and Ebay. The company has been bootstrapped since day one and is based in the United Kingdom.

Janna is also the co-founder of Mind the Product, an international product community which has grown to consist of 50,000 members and sold out events in 100 cities around the world.


This is a story about two product managers, who were looking for software that would help them do their jobs.

When they couldn't find what they needed, they decided to build a tool themselves. It started with some very simple functionality.

After two years, they had an insight. They realized that there were other product managers who would pay to use their tool.

So they finally had the guts to quit their jobs and work on this idea full-time. They had no customers and had raised no money. They figured they could bootstrap the business for 6 to 12 months.

They had their first customer in about 6 months. And from there, they kept improving the product and getting more customers.

It took a lot time and hard work to grow their business to around $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Things were looking good, until they lost focus.

They ended up wasting a year trying to do too many things, instead of doubling down on what was already working.

At the end of the year, they started thinking about raising money. It wasn't something they wanted to do, but felt they had to.

It was around that time that they had another 'aha' moment. They identified ONE metric that could make all the difference for them.

They decided to have everyone on their team focus on improving that ONE metric. And that's all they did for the next 3 months.

And amazing things started to happen once they focused. And they also did a number counter intuitive things to get more customers.

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Direct download: Janna-Bastow-ProdPad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PDT