Adam Gavish - DoControl

DoControl: A Founder’s Lessons on Validating & Selling Your SaaS – with Adam Gavish [392]

DoControl: A Founder's Lessons on Validating & Selling Your SaaS

Adam Gavish is the co-founder and CEO of DoControl, a SaaS security solution that helps companies protect sensitive data stored in their SaaS applications.

In 2020, while working as a product manager at Google, Adam faced the challenge of securely sharing sensitive company data with external partners. The experience made him realize the need for a better way to balance security and productivity.

Adam eventually teamed up with a friend to validate their idea. They leveraged their network to connect with 50 security professionals, spending three months interviewing them and digging into their challenges.

After building confidence in their idea, the founders traveled to Israel for a week and pitched to 22 VCs. All but one rejected them, but thanks to that one VC, the founders raised a $3 million seed round.

With funding secured, the founders formed a small team and collaborated with early design partners to develop an MVP. They also went back to the security professionals they'd interviewed in the hope of landing their first customer.

After three months, they reached a point where one company saw enough value to pay $2,000 annually and become DoControl's first paying customer.

To grow further, Adam had to take on the role of SDR, even though he had no prior sales experience. He found himself sending hundreds of LinkedIn messages each week, hoping to book customer calls. Despite the challenge of learning sales from scratch, Adam persevered and slowly started to gain traction with customers.

But as the company grew, the crowded cybersecurity market made it increasingly difficult for DoControl to communicate its unique value proposition. This became an uphill battle for the founders.

However, despite those challenges, the founders have grown DoControl into a multiple 7-figure ARR SaaS company and raised $43M in funding.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • How the founders validated the problem and solution through extensive customer interviews before building anything.
  • How Adam navigated the balance between addressing customer feature requests and staying true to DoControl's core product vision.
  • How Adam developed his sales skills and embraced the SDR role to grow DoControl's customer base in the early days.
  • What strategies the founders used to refine their messaging and differentiate themselves in a competitive market dominated by large, established players.
  • How Adam adapted his pitch and found new ways to communicate DoControl's value as the company expanded into the enterprise market.

I hope you enjoy it!

Click to view transcript

This is a machine-generated transcript

[00:00:00] Omer: Adam, welcome to the show.

[00:00:01] Adam: Hi. Thank you for having me.

[00:00:03] Omer: My pleasure. Do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you that you can share with us?

[00:00:08] Adam: There's one by Kobe Bryant actually by Kobe Bryant and Shaq, where Shaq tell him there is no mean team but Kobe tell him. Yeah.

[00:00:15] But there is, I,

[00:00:16] Omer: I love that. So tell us about due control. What does the product do? Who's it for and what's the main problem that you're helping to solve?

[00:00:24] Adam: Yes, absolutely. So DoControl is a SaaS security solution, helping security teams understand, protect sensitive data stored in SaaS applications such as Microsoft SharePoint or Google Drive, or Flag, Zoom, JIRA, GitHub and so on, so forth.

[00:00:41] We begin to help by just discovering how much data do you have, who owns it, how it expose, what, how sensitive is it, and then, you know, helping you eliminate those. Hold and exposure to reduce what we call attack surface. And then by that we significantly reduce the risk that, you know, organization take in as a company.

[00:01:04] I know that now I have a lot less data exposed to the wrong person at any given time. And moving forward, we help to build automation or workflow around all different business logic. To either enable or restrict access data based on, you know, the business context.

[00:01:21] Omer: Got it. Okay. Give us a sense of the size of the business.

[00:01:23] Where, where are you in terms of revenue, customers, size of team?

[00:01:28] Adam: So we are in the early, early few millions of, there are across a couple of dozens of customers, primarily from the us. That's where I did customer profile is.

[00:01:36] Omer: Got it. And I think you've raised 43 million.

[00:01:39] Adam: Yeah. We, we raised C, the A and B.

[00:01:42] Between 2020 to 2023. Yeah, so far so good.

[00:01:46] Omer: And, and how big is the team?

[00:01:47] Adam: We are a group of 50 people in the US and Israel.

[00:01:50] Omer: Okay, cool. So let, let's kind of talk about like where the idea for this business came from. It was founded in 2020. So where did the idea come from? What were you doing at the time?

[00:02:04] Adam: Yeah, so I, I, I was a product manager at a company called Google. Where I was in charge of one of the very sensitive projects in launching a gov cloud solution for the federal market. And of course as a product manager, I had to collaborate with third party partners you know, research agencies, marketing, PR, and all of that.

[00:02:26] And of course I shared information with them over Google Drive because, you know, trying to work. And every couple of weeks, information security will just. Reach out to me via ticket and say, Hey, remove that permission. They're not employees. I know they're not employees. I'm trying to work with them.

[00:02:41] But after several times I went to the eighth floor, I, I got a bag of cookie. We have good cookies at Google, and I asked them, why you doing it? And they told me, you, it's me. You know, we have over a hundred thousand employees. We can't possibly know the business contract of why people are doing what they're doing.

[00:02:57] But one thing for sure can't have company information share to the wrong person forever, which. Totally makes sense, but to me I thought maybe there's a better way to do that with minimal frustration and more productivity.

[00:03:11] Omer: Okay. So, so many people kind of come across these types of problems and then, they just go back to work. Right? They just go back to their day job. Right. So what one, what was it about this problem that felt, you know, kind of made you want to go out and solve it? And what did you do? Like, how long did it take before you said, okay, I'm, I'm actually gonna, I'm serious about this, I'm gonna go and actually do something.

[00:03:34] Adam: So I actually didn't wanna open a startup. I had a good life, but, my partner is very persuasive and very smart person and, you know, we decided to just test the water. Just talk to a bunch of security people here in New York where I live and really validate the problem. You know, it's one thing to experience the problem but it's another thing to validate that with the actual.

[00:03:56] Persona you, you could potentially sell a solution to. And we talked over the course of about three months, we talked with over 50 security professionals from various companies, large public, super small startups, and they all mentioned there is a problem in this space, right? In different variations. But there is a problem, there is a pain.

[00:04:19] And that may be understand, okay, there might be something there. I'm still like, I'm, I'm convinced I'm, I'm, I'm in. But of course, to kick it off, you gotta have funding. The technology is so complex you can't possibly put bootstrap it. Right. And that's what we did. We flew to Israel for a week, booked 22 million with VCs.

[00:04:40] Everybody said no, but one. But they only needed one.

[00:04:43] Omer: Wow. So wait, so let's go back to the, the validation. So you say you spoke to about 50 security professionals. Were, were these people all in your network or were there like strangers that you got time with?

[00:04:59] Adam: So what we did is we, we reach out to all of our friends in the area that are kind of executive or even the leaders of companies. And we just asked them to connect to the security guy or go. And then when we met those people, we asked them, Hey, do you have other security people I can talk to in the city? And that's how you build a momentum. You build database of just friendly innovator, security people who just.

[00:05:27] Love to give back to the community. None of them were people who we actually know. I couldn't reach out to my customers at Google. Of course.

[00:05:35] Omer: So, so basically it sounds like you, you kind of tapped into your network to get those initial meetings through people that, you know, either they were in the security space or they knew somebody.

[00:05:45] And then you use that, that good old, who else do you know? Who else should I talk to? Question, which many of us don't use, but it can work very well if you're, if you're good at it and you do it consistently, so that got you more doors open and more conversations started. What do you asking them? Because at that point, I guess you don't really know what problem you're solving.

[00:06:09] Adam: No I had some experience in doing some product research, and I knew that the one thing I should never do is ask very specific questions, because that limited limits the way of thinking. Instead of just ask open-ended question and let them talk and let the conversation flow. So we were asking things about, Hey, you know, how do you know how much did they have in SaaS applications and how is it exposed on a high level?

[00:06:35] And then we let them speak. And you gotta pay attention to the tone of voice and body language and how they talk about those things. And wherever you feel like there is some slight frustration, you double down on that and dive deeper to better understand why did they react this way When we talked about, I.

[00:06:55] For example, managing permissions for third party vendors. Why is it so annoying you, and then you do it again and again and again. It's like a muscle, right?

[00:07:04] Omer: Okay, cool. So where did you land after those 50 conversations? Like you, you mentioned, okay, we flew out to Israel and we had those VC meetings booked.

[00:07:16] But what problem did you, what was your pitch?

[00:07:19] Adam: Yeah, of course. So after consolidating all the feedback we get from those 50 people looking at the market, looking at existing players, looking at technology advanced all those stuff. We landed on on the idea that to solve for SA security, you have to understand staff applications and existing solutions.

[00:07:40] Try to solve that by you know, leveraging your network traffic or your endpoint traffic. And things that are really great, but they're not your actual SaaS application, API, where you can truly fetch the information, cross reference different piece of data from SaaS application and understand why the data is exposed and how can I fix it, and things like that.

[00:08:04] That's what the, you know, very unpolished first pitch. And then the pitch of course evolved. From every meeting to another, of course, based on the feedback we got. So I think that we had like maybe 22 different version of the deck within a week.

[00:08:20] Omer: Okay. You've, you've, you've sort of narrowed down the problem that you're going to solve.

[00:08:25] You've got deeper insights because you've, you've had all these conversations with security professionals. You have your own experience from having worked at Google and seen firsthand some of these kind of security issues and risks and so on, but you didn't have a product. Nope. Nothing. So, so in some sense it's not that surprising that most of the VCs said no 'cause they said, okay, you got an idea, but you don't have a product, you don't have customers, you don't have any traction. So why was it that that one VC saw this differently?

[00:09:00] Adam: I. I think when you raise a third round, the majority of the decision is around the team and the potential and, and, and how big is the market and who else is in the market in terms of, you know, validating the market less about what do they have today?

[00:09:18] Again, specific, I'm talking specifically for the market. I'm operating in cybersecurity. Right? Because they know in cybersecurity for the most part. It's not about building a quick and dirty PLG staff solution that you can ship, right? It's not that. This is pretty cool. I, by the way, but it's not that.

[00:09:35] It's building an enterprise focused solution with a bunch of enterprise ready features that have nothing to do with your product, but you have to get them done. It takes time, it takes people, it takes money, and they get that. So I think at the beginning they're trying to understand, okay, do we have the right team in place?

[00:09:50] Do we have the right market in place? Is there a potential there? And then they bet. It's a big bet. It's early stage.

[00:09:57] Omer: Yeah. And I'm curious, like this VC that they, that said yes. Was that one of the earlier meetings you had or one of the last meetings that you had?

[00:10:07] Adam: Good question. I would say something in the middle.

[00:10:10] I don't quite remember, but definitely not the early, definitely not the late. Something in the middle.

[00:10:14] Omer: So your pitch was getting better and better from each time you go and talk to people.

[00:10:19] Adam: Even within the process with them, we got much better from the first bit to the. You know, advanced due diligence.

[00:10:26] Omer: Okay, great. So how much did you raise and then what did you go and do with that money?

[00:10:30] Adam: So we raised today sounds, nothing. We raised a humble round of $3 million. And so the first thing we did is of course, putting together like a small SWAT team. People we work with, people we started with, you know, close friends, people who trust, right?

[00:10:45] The second thing is we. Went back to those 50 CSOs, 50 security executive, and asked them, Hey, we're kicking things off. We would love to partner with you on building the right solution. No commitment, no nothing. All we need is like maybe a weekly, biweekly, 30 minute call with your team to make sure we are doing the right thing.

[00:11:07] And then I think we found maybe two, two of them said yes, two or three or something like that. You know, it's very, very, it's super hard, right? And then you talk to them and they tell you, okay, we need first we need to understand how much data do we have? Okay? Then you go back to your team and say, okay, let connect to those apps, and the first feature will be, okay, give me all the data they have in, let's say Google Drive.

[00:11:30] Show it on the screen. Then you go back to them and then then they go and the the feedback will be like, okay, we need analytics. We need to understand from a aggregation perspective how it looks like, and then the next one will be, okay, then we need to break it down by department because we need to solve it business unit by business unit, and so on and so forth.

[00:11:50] To get more and more and more and more feedback and feature request, and then build accordingly until you get to a point where you find. A flow, a use, a story, a use case they can work with. It could be very small, but it's something that provide value. That's the goal at the beginning, right? Just show them the value somehow, and I think it took us about three months to get there to a point where one of them really got like nice value.

[00:12:19] Like they, we, we uncovered information that you didn't know about before, which is great. Then the next question is, okay, how much value is it for them to pay? You know, and that's so hard because then you're moving away from, okay, we have one flow. It works. It provides value to what is the minimal set of flows, providing value that this customer is willing to pay for.

[00:12:45] I don't care how much, I don't even care how much they pay, because for them to pay, it means they need to go to procurement, to legal, to finance. They need to pitch it internally to require the work. If they're willing to do that, it means they really get the value. Otherwise we're wasting their time.

[00:12:59] Right. And so, and, and that's what we wanted. We wanted a paying customer, you know, and I think they paid like. $2,000, which is, it's like an iPhone and a half, right? It's nothing in enterprise sale, what, two, $2,000 a month? No, a year. A year. A year. So it's like it literally nothing. But again, it validates the fact that there is value, there's so much value.

[00:13:22] You went to procurement, legal, finance, to getting to get the contract done. That's what we wanted. Then you build it from there, then, okay, 2000, it, it's ridiculous. We build an enterprise business. How do we make them pay 20, 5,000? And that's where you really start to build a business.

[00:13:40] Omer: So the they, you said they were like two or three customers that were working with you, so presumably it was one of these that you know, started paying you.

[00:13:49] Where did the next few come from? Like you had to find other people, right? Like you had to be on these initial two or three.

[00:13:55] Adam: So that was a interesting part in the journey because I officially became a an SDRA sales development representative. I didn't have any experience with te like I'm a product guy.

[00:14:05] I'm a software engineer. I didn't know how to sell, like fail cold call, but that's what it takes. Because this is a numbers game. There's hundreds of thousands of companies in the US, right? So many different people on LinkedIn. It's a numbers game, but at the end of the day, somebody will answer, somebody will reply, somebody will be willing to go on a call and give it some feedback.

[00:14:26] So effectively, we build like a small pitch and we send it to so many security people. We, we, we hit the weekly limit in LinkedIn every single week, by definition.

[00:14:38] Omer: So what, so what were you doing? You, you, you, you were building a list of finding people on LinkedIn and then sending them, sending them a message or a connection request with a message.

[00:14:46] Adam: Yeah. You send 'em a message. Again, something super simple around, Hey, I'm not selling to you anything. I'm trying to build a relationship. I'm working on an idea that I, I discovered at Google. We'd love to get the feedback. And then, you know, let's say 5% of those really go on a call, and then 5% of the 5%.

[00:15:06] Maybe start to work with the other design partner. It, those are the numbers. It's super hard, but the markets are huge that you hit it. It's okay. Just takes time and consistency. And it's just, just me, me and my partner. So we are two. It's good.

[00:15:22] Omer: How many messages or LinkedIn connection requests you need to send to hit the limit on LinkedIn?

[00:15:28] Like what was, what, what, what are we talking about here?

[00:15:30] Adam: I think, I mean, when I started the journey, I had maybe. 3000 friends, friends connection on LinkedIn. Today I have 17,000. So, and, and, but that's what it takes again, it's about getting the market awareness, market questions, getting to know people. You gotta be likable.

[00:15:52] You gotta really care about those people. You gotta get really become interested in those people. Who are they? What their background, what are they doing for a living, you know? And you build a relationship and this is a valuable skill later on when you really try to close the deal. Right? So, yeah, so we, so we discovered more potential design partners, and from three it became 10, and then from one paying customer, it, it, it became five from $2,000, I think we hit 12 and then 16.

[00:16:22] And then I will never forget the first category we hit in like 25 KA year. To me, that went. Becoming like a serious amount, right? 20 5K is a serious amount, but it give you the confidence to keep, keep pushing. Like you, you know, the only reason they paid is because they get value.

[00:16:40] Omer: So were you, were you selling them on the same use case as that first customer, or did you have to, like, as you started talking to these additional customers, the requirements just got, like you had a long list of things that.

[00:16:57] They wanted to solve or, you know, I'm, I'm kind of curious about how, how close were you with that first curse customer versus what everybody else wanted the next, you know, nine or 10?

[00:17:07] Adam: Yeah, so it's a, it's a delicate dance between what the customer want to, what we think is best for overall customer base and what aligned with our vision and so that's where, you know, luckily I was experienced as a product manager, so it wasn't new to me. It was new in terms of the pace. It's much faster on a startup versus Google where I worked. But here you kind of lead the customer gently to your roadmap and to what makes sense to other customers. And you try to understand if it makes sense for them as well, because they might not, they might not think about that angle that the other customer thought about to cross reference between the feedback.

[00:17:51] And you try to get to the minimal common denominator of official request that customers want and then they ship it and see how they react.

[00:18:01] Omer: And, and on in terms of pricing, like going from 2000 a year to. 25,000 a year. That's great. Right. You are, you are kind of closer in the ballpark of where you want to be in selling these enterprise type deals, but how, what were you doing with the pricing?

[00:18:19] Were you, were you trying to, like each sale, you know, incrementally kind of increase the price and test it? Or did you just say, okay, the 2000 thing was just the initial validation? We're now gonna charge everybody 25K. Like how did you get to that point of charging them that much?

[00:18:36] Adam: Generally speaking, it, it comes down to the kind of value the customer get because the first customer got certain value and then, then the, the 10th customer got a whole different product, whole different package.

[00:18:49] So it only makes sense to increase the price. But that's where a lot of founders are really scared, you know? But I, what I've learned in the west is that chip is, doesn't perceive as good. It's the opposite. When you charge more, you kinda make a perception that your product is worth it. It's expensive for a reason because it's all a ming for problem that it's super hard to solve on your own or with scraps or with the other product.

[00:19:16] And I, I, I think it works. And, and today, 25 is for us, you know, it used to be an insane back then, but today again. The product evolved so much, which showed hundred of thousand, if not a million, but you gotta be determined to, to, to show that amount.

[00:19:32] Omer: It, it sounds like, you know, getting those initial customers and, and, and getting to that first million in ARR was largely through outbound.

[00:19:44] Sales and with you being the, the SDR on the team, you, you told me earlier that it's like, you know, you had you, I mean, you mentioned you hadn't done that before. You didn't have a sales background, but you've really enjoyed doing that role. Just, can you, can you walk us through, like, how, how did you learn those skills?

[00:20:07] What were some of the things that you think are most important? Like, you know, if somebody's listening to this, they're in a position where, you know, they're a founder and maybe they're in that position where they have to go and start selling and they don't really know how to do that well, or, or, you know, maybe they don't even know what an SDR is, right?

[00:20:26] So. What, what advice would you give them or give yourself back then in terms of here's, here's a good way to go about it and learning some of those skills that you need?

[00:20:36] Adam: I think that for me, specifically for a founder, I'm not a sales executive. For me selling is having a conversation with a customer where it doesn't think I'm selling right.

[00:20:50] I'm not talking about thing. Let POV I'm not pushing for doing something to get none of that. Instead the opposite, Hey, I'm not sending anything, don't worry about it. I have a sales team for that. You know? And it get the job done because it, it, it kind of lower down the pressure. Like, because they, they did what we call buying fatigue in market where they, they don't, don't have time to talk to so many vendors all the time.

[00:21:10] But when somebody approach 'em and tell 'em, Hey, I only need your feedback. I only, I need, I need to know what to build. It means a lot. I can change the, the industry they feel like they. Kind of becoming part of history. Like I work with that vendor when they were so young, I helped them shape the product.

[00:21:26] It kinda, it, it, it bring them pride in, in a way. And, and, and to me, the beauty in this story is, you know, it comes down to understanding people, what people want. People want to, to learn anything. People want to feel like they're part of something bigger. People want to stay on top of the latest technology specifically in our space.

[00:21:49] And that's what I deliver them for them in the call.

[00:21:51] Omer: Gimme, gimme an example of that.

[00:21:53] Adam: So I would talk with sales executive that, you know, maybe they were earlier in their career and they wanted to know more vendors and more people and more VCs and more whatever. And I would just tell them, Hey, you know.

[00:22:10] I would love to have you as part of our journey to help us build the best product possible. Did you hear me saying, I would like to sell you? No. Right. I would love to, you know, work with you on the product. It's a different way than telling you, Hey, it costs 24K and here the term fine here it's different, you know, but it is selling.

[00:22:33] Omer: For sure. So one is that mindset in terms of what you're describing there, just like, Hey, I don't think of it as selling. I think of this as having a conversation and, and, and I'm looking for feedback and, and I'm just trying to, you know, add some value for them as well. So I think that's a, that's a great way to, to think about it there.

[00:22:53] What, what else did you. Have to do or learn to be able to, 'cause you, you've gotta, you've gotta get that, you gotta find those people first. You gotta figure out what kind of message to send them and get their attention to. They actually, you need to get to the point where they'll actually listen to the first word or the first sentence.

[00:23:13] Right. So how, how did you learn to do that? By failing a lot.

[00:23:19] Adam: Most of the messages you send at the beginning, they don't, they don't work. Nobody reply. So you change, you change, you do a lot of, and until, until something works, then you're like, okay, I got that. And then the second thing is when you actually doing a call with them, I failed many, many times.

[00:23:38] The pitch wasn't right. They didn't understand me. I didn't hit on the right problem. I, I might sometime I was too fast. Sometimes I didn't care about them enough. I didn't try to build a relationship like. There's a lot of moving pieces that I had to learn, and it just takes time and consistency. The more you do it, the better you are at it.

[00:23:56] And, and there's no magic formula. Every single founder has to find this for their own journey, right? There are no two pictures equal, you know?

[00:24:05] Omer: Yeah, yeah. Totally. Totally.

[00:24:08] The the other thing I think I wanna try and understand is like with this, with, with a product, like DoControl and. The security space, number one.

[00:24:18] It's a pretty crowded market and I know when you and I were chatting earlier, you said, Hey, you know, getting really having a very specific problem that we're solving and being, having super clear messaging is so important. Can you any, help us understand, like what was the process you, you went through to get to a point where you felt happy that maybe you didn't have the perfect messaging, but you were, you had the messaging that, that got people's attention.

[00:24:51] Like how, how did you, how did you get there?

[00:24:54] Adam: I don't think you ever get there because the market is changing all the time, right? It's up and down all the time when people are not buying they, or they start buying. And so I think the main thing you have to do is to really kinda suspect your messaging all the time and test it all the time and, and test it in different mediums.

[00:25:17] You need to test it in your NoShow campaigns, in your emails. You need to test it in how you follow up with prospect via email in how you approach cold calling via LinkedIn in how you interact with Prospect on a call. You take all of that feedback from those different mediums and you just review it every once in a while, every few weeks to nail down, okay, what worked and what didn't work.

[00:25:40] And, and, and, and I feel like if you pay attention to details like body language tone, voice tone on a call, you understand when people really understand you and where people lose you. You have to distinguish, distinguish between the two. We reviewed a lot of our coding of our calls. You know, we record our calls and we reviewed them after the call to again, to investigate and understand what works better.

[00:26:04] We have a lot of metrics on all the emails, open rate, click through rate to understand what works better, right? Same. Go through the website. And you always test it on the go. A successful messaging can only be measured by how quickly customers are willing to talk to you, right? If they don't understand, or the they could, might maybe don't understand the problem, maybe don't understand how you solve the problem, and, and then they're, they're gonna be hesitant.

[00:26:31] They might not wanna talk to you, but if they're talking to you, they're gonna go on a call and they're gonna work with you. It means that they understand. It doesn't have to be perfect. You need to be understandable.

[00:26:42] Omer: Right, right. Yeah. I, I, I spoke to a founder recently who, who told me that they, they really struggled with their messaging and they would spend, they would get on a customer meeting, so there was something they said that would get them in the meeting, but then they were having sp to spend 80% of that time explaining what the product did.

[00:27:03] Right. And then that's when you know that there's a problem, because, you know, it's like. Your customer should kind of have known that at a basic, at least it's a basic level before they get to the meeting.

[00:27:16] Adam: Not necessarily because those are different things. The first goal is how do I allude in for a meeting?

[00:27:21] That one type of messaging. The second thing is, okay, how do I get 'em excited within the meeting? That's a different thing. Then when they become the customer, they come to renew. How do we. I messaging do I use to help them renew? Those are very different messaging frameworks that you have to put in place, right?

[00:27:41] I don't think that, you know, the fact they understand you what you do and come to a meeting right away means they're going to understand the product right away. It's not, it. Those are two different things.

[00:27:50] Omer: Yeah. And that's a fair point. I I, and I think that the, the same goes for like if you have a, if you have messaging, which gets people's attention. Interest doesn't necessarily mean that's the messaging that gets you to close the sale. It just got them to click the link on the website or whatever. Right. So you've, so you've got, you've got two problems here, right? I, I'm, I, I, as far as I can see, probably lots, maybe lots of other problems. But the, the, the two that I'm seeing here, one is you've gotta figure out that messaging.

[00:28:18] You've gotta get the meeting with the customer and, and, you know, persuade them that you know you can solve these problems that they have. The second problem that you have is you are a startup in an industry with lots of established incumbents. Players who've been around for a long time, who probably have more, you know, brand equity and, and trust because of the time they've been around.

[00:28:46] So you've, you've also gotta persuade these people probably, you know, not that they're gonna maybe not use, you know, some of those products in, in place of yours.

[00:28:56] Adam: Yeah. You gotta be very careful there because if you're gonna. Talk trash on your, on your competitors. You know, customers don't like, like that, right?

[00:29:05] It, it's a sign of weakness in my opinion. Instead I would just talk about, identify what kind of gap they have from their current solution. That's a very legit qualifying question. It's one of the first questions actually, what doesn't work for you? Why are you here on a call with me? Right? And, and then they tell you this doesn't work, or this, or that.

[00:29:25] And you use that to establish your differentiation points. A critical component of the messaging is how am I differentiated? Why me? Why did better? Is it do I have a faster product? Do I have a more reliable product? Is it easier to maintain? Is it easier to roll out? There are many, many things you can say and the faster you find the differentiation point, especially from the larger vendors the better your position in a call with a prospect because they smell that they smell whether you understand or don't in a space. And, and when you have a very clear differentiation point, it give the, the prospect the confidence that you know what you're doing.

[00:30:09] You're here for a reason. Let's go test it out.

[00:30:12] Omer: So you let, let's say you're talking to a prospect today. What, what's, what, what's your differentiation point? If they say, you know.

[00:30:19] Adam: I'm gonna tell them that hey, DoControl is event driven, which means that whenever users perform any kind of activity on SaaS application, that's that application push, that event activity to DoControl in real time so that we can really monitor for user behavior with very low latency versus.

[00:30:38] Larger companies that pull those event every couple of hours and then you have blind spots. That's just an example, right? Another example is larger vendors. They tend to scan your data. For PII, PCI, PHI like sensitive data, right? Which is excellent, but it's just one signal. If somebody is sharing PII externally, it could be totally legit.

[00:30:59] It could also be very dangerous to distinguish between the two. Our differentiation point is that we also connect to your HR software to understand the employment status. If the person is living, it's a high risk situation. We connect your identity provider to understand what group the person is coming from, whether or not it should be dealing with sensitive data.

[00:31:18] We scan the actual data for, for, for, for the classification, of course, and we also reach out to the end user to ask for the input. That's why you bring something fresh, something new, something they haven't heard about, get 'em excited, get into wanting to try it out. You touch on the pain with a new technology that can solve a gap.

[00:31:36] They acknowledge just previously..,

[00:31:38] Omer: yeah, yeah. No, I like that. Yeah. I think, I think it's, sometimes we think that there's one differentiation point, and the example you just gave is there can be multiple ways that you're, you're, you're different.

[00:31:50] Adam: There have to be multiple ways because. Again, the, the, the, the more you grow the business, the more you know co differentiation points you have to find in order to really justify for larger deals with the larger customer.

[00:32:04] And, you know, I'm asking them to leave a very legit product behind and come to me. So it's better worth for them.

[00:32:11] Omer: Yeah. And typically, what, what does your sales cycle look like? Like how long does it take for you to close these types of deals? Because, you know, this is, this is like, this is kind of one of those places where it's like, I heard this quote where somebody said to me or somebody said like.

[00:32:30] Hey, if I do my job right, like nobody cares, but if I screw up, I get fired or something. Right. And it kind of hits me like that kind of the security space is a little bit like that, where these people are, are doing these jobs and trying to keep the organization safe and, and if they're doing their jobs, it's like nobody cares, right?

[00:32:47] But to make a big decision like this and change something out and then to have to go and get the decisions made internally and like you talked about, like how to, how to get the, the funds and the budget and the authorization. It sounds like it's, it's not an overnight thing.

[00:33:01] Adam: I think it used to be like that for security people, but a little bit less today, because today they, they're really business enablers, not just security.

[00:33:10] The guardian of your, you know, crown jewel today. They're really enable the business in a secure manner, but I'm enabling you to use, I don't know ChatGPT, but without the, you know, sensitive data exposed to ChatGPT, but I'm enabling you to use that, right? I'm enabling you to collaborate via slack.

[00:33:29] But whatever the sensitive, sensitive data involved, I'm gonna intervene gently to make things right, but it's always about an enablement today. Different I think a little bit different. In terms of going back to the question for sale cycle anywhere between two, three months to six to eight months, depending on the company side.

[00:33:49] We're working on Fortune 500 deal now, take forever. But we also closed deal within the same quarter with smaller account, you know, a thousand, 1500 people organization those are much easier to work with.

[00:34:01] Omer: Are you still doing sales today?

[00:34:03] Adam: Of course, every single day. You have to, you really do love it.

[00:34:07] I mean, to me, sales is people and I like people, you know, getting to know new people every single day. You know, laughing about things, laughing about the cowboys, losing again, you know, whatever it is, it's fun. But that's my job. I have to support my sales team because they bring me at the, you know, strategic executive to kind of\ provide FaceTime to their customers to make them feel super important because the CEO is in the, call it the dynamic, right? So I'm not like, I'm not calling cold calling customers anymore because I have a great team doing that today. But I am definitely hands on helping them to shape the self playbook making sure that, you know, product and sales are aligned on, you know, what our value proposition and how the roadmap look like.

[00:34:48] Omer: So you really, yeah, it's, it's funny, it's like you, you kind of hadn't done any sales before and, and now you've realized that you actually really enjoy it. And I, I think a lot of founders, maybe if they put the same mindset as you in terms of, you know, it's a, as an opportunity to connect with people and meet people and, and just have conversations where you're learning and maybe you can help, maybe you can't.

[00:35:11] It's, it kind of takes a lot of the stigma away about sales, I think.

[00:35:14] Adam: I think it. A founder doing sales is very different from a salesperson doing sales because a salesperson by definition is measured by, you know, new money attainment, quota, whatever. A founder is expected to fail at sales all the time like this, for sure, like, but your job is not to really do sales.

[00:35:36] Your job is to do what it takes for the sales team to do sales. Right to be there and understand the right context from the prospect to shape the playbook for the sales team, for them to do sales. So it very different from classic sales guy. Maybe that's why I like it. Yeah.

[00:35:57] Omer: All right. We should wrap up.

[00:35:58] Let's I'm gonna go into the lightning round. I've got seven quick-fire questions for you. What's one of the best pieces of business advice you've received?

[00:36:06] Adam: One of the best business advices I received is that always hire people who are better than, better than you in a certain domain. Always.

[00:36:15] Omer: What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[00:36:18] Adam: Zero to One by Peter Thiel. It's amazing.

[00:36:21] Omer: What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder? Optimistic. What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

[00:36:32] Adam: I'm the king of reminders, so I don't even remember anything because I'm utilizing Gmail, snooze, slack reminders, all of that good stuff.

[00:36:41] So every Monday, 8:00 AM I have probably 30 or 40 different emails coming back to me to make sure I'm staying on top of everything.

[00:36:49] Omer: King of reminders. What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

[00:36:58] Adam: Ooh, I would love, let's talk about it this week with our Chief of Staff. I would love to build a product where you input question and answers, presenting your sales playbook.

[00:37:09] That product would use generative AI to output an amazing sales playbook. Diagram a couple of slides, and then also take recordings that can auto correct your sales people against the question and answers provided earlier. I. To me. That's amazing.

[00:37:27] Omer: There you go. What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

[00:37:32] Adam: I'm still a gamer.

[00:37:34] I'm playing counterstrike every, every week. I love it. It like, to me it's my you know, my meditation.

[00:37:40] Omer: You're meditation. And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work, other than gaming?

[00:37:50] Adam: After of work. You know, I love my family. I love my kids. They're the world to me.

[00:37:54] I love growing them. I love laughing with them. Besides that, I really love playing basketball, skiing and playing poker.

[00:38:03] Omer: Love it. Cool. Adam, thank you so much for joining me. It's been a pleasure chatting and unpacking the story of, of DoControl. If people wanna check out the product, they can go to and if folks wanna get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:38:20] Adam: LinkedIn

[00:38:21] Omer: LinkedIn, of course. We'll include a link to your profile in the show notes. So thanks so much. It's been a pleasure. Wish you and the team the the best of success.

[00:38:30] Adam: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

[00:38:31] Omer: Cheers.

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