Mon, 16 September 2019
Alex Yakubovich is the co-founder and CEO of Scout RFP, a SaaS product that helps companies with their strategic sourcing and procurement.
Alex started a web development company when he was still in college. Initially it was just a way for him and a few friends to make beer and pizza money. But over time, it evolved into an online ordering software product that the team sold to restaurant chains.
By the time they graduated the business was making 6-figures in annual revenue. And over the next 5 years, as they all worked full-time on the business, revenue grew to several million dollars and eventually they sold the business.
While working on this business, Alex had to deal with hundreds of requests for proposals (RFPs) and quickly became frustrated with how clunky and manual the RFP and procurement process was for most companies.
So in 2014 he and his co-founders started working on their next startup. With a successful exit and money in the bank, it would have been easy for the team to feel confident that they could solve the problems and start building a product right away.
Instead they agreed that they wouldn't build anything until they'd talked to at least 200 people who worked in procurement. They actually end up talking to almost 300 people and those conversations helped them to build a much deeper understanding of the space.
Although there were a lot of players in the market including some really big companies, the founders decided to focus initially on a really small problem. Their MVP was a one page application and so minimal that prospective customers would often say is that it?.
But once people used the product, they loved the simplicity and how this one feature saved them so much time. And from that simple, almost too minimal MVP, their company now has grown into a business with over 150 employees and they've raised $60M in funding.
There are some great lessons in this interview about the importance of listening to your customers, not jumping into building a product straight away and being really focused with your MVP by solving a really small problem at the start.
I hope you enjoy it.
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