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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