Lars Grønnegaard - Dreamdata

Dreamdata: Scaling a SaaS to 7-Figures with Perseverance – with Lars Grønnegaard [395]

Lars Grønnegaard is the co-founder and CEO of Dreamdata, a revenue attribution platform that helps marketers improve their go-to-market performance.

In 2018, while working at Trustpilot, Lars and his co-founder faced the common challenge of data silos across different departments.

They built an internal tool to address this issue and quickly realized its potential as a product. Soon after, their entrepreneurial journey began.

One of their biggest struggles was nailing their ideal customer profile (ICP). They spent too much time trying to cater to a wide range of customers, which created a lot of extra work on the product and slowed down their growth.

Also, in the early days, their cold outreach efforts were also ineffective, making it difficult for them to acquire new customers.

And if that wasn't enough, they had to deal with fundraising both during the pandemic and later during the war in Ukraine. Investors were pulling out, making the whole process drag on much longer than expected.

But Lars and his team persisted.

Eventually, they brought in a marketing co-founder who put together a content marketing strategy focused on LinkedIn. It took time, but their hard work started to pay off.

The strategy helped them attract customers and eventually hit $1 million in ARR.

However, scaling the business came with its own set of challenges.

The founders learned the hard way that having a documented sales playbook was crucial when their attempts to expand the sales team failed because of inconsistent onboarding and training.

They had to go back to the drawing board and create a repeatable sales process from scratch. Eventually, the hard work paid off, enabling them to scale their sales team and continue growing the business.

Today, Dreamdata is a 7-figure ARR SaaS business with a team of 45 people based in Copenhagen, Denmark. To date, they have raised $12M.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • How Dreamdata's founders navigated pivots, setbacks, and defining moments while searching for their ideal customer profile.
  • Why focusing on a specific ICP is crucial for early-stage startups aiming to gain traction and scale, and the consequences of not having one.
  • How Dreamdata overcame ineffective cold outreach and the lack of a formal sales playbook to build a scalable sales process.
  • Why resilience and adaptability are essential qualities for founders, particularly when facing fundraising challenges during difficult times.
  • How a well-executed content marketing strategy can be a game-changer for generating inbound leads and driving growth.

I hope you enjoy it!


Click to view transcript

This is a machine-generated transcript.

[00:00:00] Omer: Welcome to the show.

[00:00:00] Lars: Hey, Omer. Omer. Great to be in the show.

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

[00:00:08] Lars: Yeah, I think I love this. I think a lot of people love this quote, so like if we have data, let's look at data. I. All we have opinions, let's go with mine.

[00:00:17] This quote from old Netscape Co. So I, I think that's a great quote.

[00:00:22] Omer: Love that. So tell us about Dreamdata. What does the product do? Who's it for and what's the main problem you're helping to solve?

[00:00:30] Lars: So you can say like fundamentally, like we're in the, we target B2B marketers and we target mainly B2B Tech companies.

[00:00:39] So that's sort of our, the core people we sell to, and B2B marketers are suffering from an overload of data. They, I think everybody in the B in B2B marketing function would say that they, they have too much data and fundamentally it's because they acquire products, lots of products. I came across this number that somebody said, like, like some of those tools that, help you manage software? Is that like average company acquires six new products every month? It's pretty crazy. So they are not all go to market products, but basically in the marketing function, a lot of software gets acquired and a lot of it will build data around the customer and sort of remains siloed in all those different products.

[00:01:22] And what our product does is like it extracts all the data, builds one sort of unified data model that covers sort of costs, activity outcome. So that's typically revenue and also basically basic demographic and demographic data that's available. So we build like one data model and we absorb data from all those tools that you buy and then you can use that for optimization.

[00:01:47] So that's a key thing like, the old quote of like 50% of our marketing works, I just don't know. Which in B2B is probably more like 25%. That works and the problem is that. All that data reciting in different silos, but if you bring it together, you can actually start sort of activating some of that wasted money.

[00:02:06] And then there's a ton of automations that also sort of where you, if you bring this data into play, then yeah, you can do great efficiencies in your go to market. So that's our product. And it delivers great savings, especially if you have sort of a, it requires that you have a, a go to market that is marketing focused where you have a sort of serious investment in marketing, but then there's a lot of efficiencies to be found.

[00:02:33] Omer: And give us a sense of the size of the business. Where are you in terms of revenue, size of team, number of customers?

[00:02:41] Lars: Yeah. So we are sort of in the seven digit range in terms of ARR we're business course, we raised Series A end of 22, beginning of 23, and we've been scaling since then. So we're sort of still on the path with, at the, at the lower end of that seven digit space.

[00:02:59] Omer: And I think a team is what, 40 or 50 people?

[00:03:02] Lars: Yeah, we're 45 people. We're based in Copenhagen, Denmark. We are kind of old fashioned in the sense we're a, an office company.

[00:03:09] Omer: And as you and I were talking, the, the, the fact about me that most people don't know is that I spent a couple of years as a kid living in Copenhagen, so it's a, a special place for me as well.

[00:03:20] Yeah. So let, let's talk about where the idea for Dreamdata came from. The company was founded in 2018, and around that time I think you were. You were working for Trustpilot?

[00:03:34] Lars: Exactly. So we came out of Trustpilot, which is also a Copenhagen company. So there's like a review platform primarily for consumer experiences, buying experiences, but at the other end it's also a SaaS platform, so it's monetized as a SaaS.

[00:03:49] And we were sitting on the product team there. And like back to the data silos, we were sort of generating one of those data silos about the customer, which was all the product data. And we had a PLG motion you can say. So that was like a huge free, free freemium play going on. So all that data that was sort of in our silo.

[00:04:08] And then we had the sales team, they had their silo and the marketing team. Then they had like a bunch of silos of data. So we had like a lot of data. But very few answers. So that's how we got started on this. Like yeah, so we went looking for products that would do the aggregation of the data into a, to a model that we could use and do that sort of without us having to build it.

[00:04:32] And it didn't exist. And we thought, okay, this is a massive problem because you need this. And then we built off internal solution, started looking at whether other people would like it, and then we got started that way.

[00:04:43] Omer: Got it. Okay. So you are, you're, you, you, you have two co-founders, right? So there's Steffen and Ole and so all three of you were at Trustpilot?

[00:04:51] Lars: No. So I think like Ole and I worked together there. We ran the product team and the engineering team there. And then when we sort of started, you know, you go out, you like. We product people. So we didn't build a product like Smart Top product. People don't build a product.

[00:05:09] So we went out with you know, presentations and. The, the knowledge that we could build sort of a duct tape and other products kind of prototype rapidly and, and deliver if somebody would say yes. And then we went to a network to try to see if somebody was interested in sort of buying a solution like this.

[00:05:28] And then one of the people we got introduced to was Steffen. So he was another growth stage company. And then he, instead of buying the product, he sort of bought into the company and, and became a co-founder.

[00:05:40] Omer: And, and so while you were going through this process of, of trying to just get feedback, did you, did you guys do this full-time?

[00:05:49] Did you leave Trustpilot or was this sort of a, a, a transitional thing where you were like, you know, evenings and weekends, let's try to develop this idea and, and figure out if it's something worth pursuing.

[00:06:00] Lars: I think we did a little bit before we left but there was sort of a natural transition that was happening at the company.

[00:06:06] It was a good time to leave. So we sort of, we handed off the torch to other people to run the product team transitioned as well as we could, and then we went off and for a period I would say it, it was more sort of a. Take a bit of time off and in, in that time off, also do a bit of this and then transition into doing it full time.

[00:06:26] It was more that motion. So we, I think we, when you've been on a sort of a rocket ship for five years, you need a, you need a couple of days to recover before you jump another one.

[00:06:39] Omer: Okay, great. So you've got this slide deck. You're going out there and you're talking to people. How, how long did that go on for?

[00:06:47] And, and what point did you start building a product?

[00:06:50] Lars: So, so the flow was we did sort of two paying customers on a sort of very, like it is a data product. So the prototype was essentially like data warehouse, ETL product that moves the data, a dashboarding product on top and then make it look a bit like a product.

[00:07:08] So that was like the solution we would bring to people if they said yes we would rely a lot on I don't know if you familiar, but it's a tracking platform primarily, and also data moving platforms. We relied on that. We did that for like two paying customers plus Steffen. And then we thought, okay, there's enough here.

[00:07:28] We know there is a, like, there's enough people who think that this is a problem. We think we can, we think we can build a product in this space. And then we raised a little bit of money in 19 so that we could hire a small team. So we hired a small team so we could start building a tiny bit more product, but it was still very much sort of a duct tape prototype.

[00:07:49] It was sort of initially built per customer, so it was like just. You know, if we continued it would've just been, I guess, tech scale consulting. So we did that and then we went sort of, you know, one part, Ole and an engineer and a designer went sort of building a bit of product. Me and Stefan went out to try to see if we could find customers for the product see if we could find more customers.

[00:08:13] Yeah, and that went on for. Roughly six months or so, and then we started, like, then we had accumulated. 10 customers and a hundred K of ar and it was like, okay, let's raise some more money. Hire a bigger team. That was the process.

[00:08:30] Omer: So tell me a little bit more about that, that initial solution you put together with, like you, did you actually build anything or were you kind of just taking, it was kind of a bit of consulting, a bit of tools here and there and, and trying to put together a solution for those first two customers.

[00:08:48] Lars: I, I. Like what is it to build something? But the first customers, it was a bit like, okay, deliver something next customer, make a copy of all of that next customer, make a copy of all of that. So like after five customers, you have five instances that are not the same. And then when you reach 10 customers.

[00:09:10] Then you stop and start building. Right? So that was the process. And the, the foundation was basically, we were in a Google Cloud platform. So foundation was Google, BigQuery, you know, the orchestration component, like data form. Was at least very early back then, so we ran the sort of data pipeline like very hacked way with I think Circle CI or something.

[00:09:35] So it was like a super hacked product. And then sort of gradually transitioning into something that's a bit more manageable. I think our transition from prototype to product has been sort of a bit, sort of a fluid motion. But where now we are like, think what? Late, early 21. So there's like. Two years after first money in it was like a fully scalable product.

[00:10:07] We could offer free product, a free trial, et cetera. And it was sort of, now it was fully automated delivering the entire product. Right.

[00:10:14] Omer: Who was your ICP when you started out?

[00:10:17] Lars: Yeah, so the ICP when we started out, I think was that's a, I think one of the learnings from the early stage of, of the company was, I, I would say if you go and look at the first deck, it was quite precise.

[00:10:27] It was like, look, 250 people using Salesforce. Even using segments, it was like very precise on technologies and like the vertical and size and everything. So the very precise. But then when we started, the, the way we acquired the first customers was very network driven, but maybe also you can say maybe we shied away.

[00:10:49] Like none of us were like really salespeople. So we shied away a bit from sort of doing. Very sort of like, I would say cold outreach. So we would always value more sort of the warm introduction. And it meant that when we then looked at the first 10 customers and compared it to that ICP, that was in those first decks, I.

[00:11:09] That was not the same. So we had, we, we, we did have some SaaS companies. Some were smaller, some were about that size. But we also had like a couple of sort of more sort of traditional companies that were more like. You know, companies that would sell stuff in boxes like one did like robotics and one did headsets.

[00:11:29] And they were larger, much larger than what we thought. They were not on Salesforce, they were on dynamics as the CRM system. And then we also had sort of couple of customers that were more sort of like, it was. Tech, it was like everything was B2B, so we stayed true to that. That was good. But some of them would have like you know, where it's like more, maybe there was a SaaS component, but there was also certainly like a, a sort of unit billing component to it.

[00:12:00] And you know, in some cases this wouldn't have mattered, but for us, because a fundamental part of the product is sort of this sort of tying together. The absurd behavior with business outcomes. Then when you sort of wanna model the business outcomes, if that's very different, you know, in a SaaS company, most SaaS companies, they care a lot about, you know, booking new business because that's fairly good indicator of what's gonna happen.

[00:12:28] You know, if you know what your churn is, your NRS. You know what's gonna happen, that's good. But if you are someone's, like where you have a more sort of transactions based business, then the first transaction is actually maybe very, very small relative to maybe you're building up the sort of monthly transaction based over a year or so.

[00:12:53] So the, the way that you measure success. You know, if you just say revenue, yeah, that's great, but how do you actually do that? That becomes different and that in our product it means a lot of difference in, you know, if it's, if it's gonna actually fit the use case, it's different. So for us, maybe, you know, the fit for those type different types of customers is, you know, variations of the product that are significant enough that it's actually a lot of work to do it well.

[00:13:25] I think we had a lot of learnings early on, on sort of when, when we look back, I would say one of the key learnings from early on was yeah, stay true to that. You know, I think you focus initially, of course, you might discover it's wrong. That's fine. Then you can sort of, then you can adjust, but try to figure out a way of, of sort of nailing your ICP.

[00:13:51] Omer: For this first 10 customers. It's kind of inevitable that something like that can happen because you might, you might set out and say, this is my ICP, but you don't know for sure. And with those first 10 in many ways, your ICP is anybody who will talk to you and give you attention, right? Because you don't have any customers, so you're happy to, to bring anybody on board.

[00:14:16] But once you went beyond that and you, you were like, okay, we've, we've kind of got the initial customers. Through, through our network, through warm intros and you had to go and find some of these complete strangers, did you then go back and say, let's, let's FF focus on, on this ICP that we originally set out to?

[00:14:37] Lars: Eventually we did, and I think that was sort of one of the learnings. I think it took us too long, so we spent too long sort of not. Committing to an ICP and a fairly narrow ICP. And I think there are a couple of things at play there. One is this, you know, at that point we were starting to see more and more inbound and it's hard to turn away people at the door.

[00:15:01] And the other thing I would say is something I think, you know, at least I've heard other founders experiences, they sort of. You know what you're doing when you're seeking investment, where you are looking to, you know, you want to address a very large market, so you want to target like your, your addressable market.

[00:15:20] You want that to be large. And sometimes you confuse that with your ICP and say, oh, then the ICP has to be super broad. And I think that that's like we did that mistake. I feel that we sort of, we, we, we mistook, you know, we thought, okay, look. Yeah, B2B, that's a big, that's a big ICP. That's good. But the from sort of like your gradual sort of easing into your go-to market fit or whatever you want to call it, like.

[00:15:50] There you have to go. I would say as narrow as you possibly can. So you know, if you can figure out a way of getting to a million dollars of a a r with a super narrow ICPR do that. And then you also get like very, very committed customers that love your product a lot because it's like very, you need to know that you can build for a, you know, you can expand the ICP but that doesn't mean that you should do it early on.

[00:16:18] Because that was for us, a learning, and I think it took us, you know, that's a piece of advice that if somebody ask me for advice, I always say like, yeah, go as narrow as you can here. And if you, if the investor says, oh, well that's not a very large term, then just find another investor or educate them.

[00:16:38] Omer: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I have this conversation a, a, a lot with, with super early stage founders who are. Very reluctant to go that narrow. And it's, I think you have to remind them that, look, you're not, you're not committing to this narrow segment forever. It's just for this initial period to go out there and, and you know, get some, get some traction, get some initial customers, and then you can kind of expand from there.

[00:17:09] I, I'm curious when you, when you did. Get to the point where you were like, okay, we are like super narrow now with the ICP. Did you get it right the first time? Because that's the other thing, right? It's like when you go that, that narrow, is it the right one that you picked?

[00:17:28] Lars: I think to some extent, yeah.

[00:17:30] I think we are still narrowing the ICP and the persona. So I think we are actually sort of, even though now we are like, I don't know what 20, 25, 30 x that where we were there, we're still sort of narrowing it down a bit. Especially I think especially when you do outbound, you can be super intentional about who you're talking to.

[00:17:53] And I will also say one of the things that probably play in here is that we. All and I came from sort of product and I, I, I feel that it meant that when people said product market fit, I only heard product. That was the word I heard. Product market fit. I hear product. And then the learning for me through this process has been, look, no.

[00:18:15] You know, you can build a a product and that product can be good. But it can be useless if your market definition is wrong. And like the market is the ICP, I would say like at least it's a way of thinking about the market is the ICP. So if you build a product, you try to push it to the wrong ICP, it can be completely unsuccessful.

[00:18:37] And then with the same product you target other people, well then you can be very successful. And I think at least for, for product people. I, I, that can be a, a sort of a pitfall that you focus too much on the product and not enough on the, on the market of the product market fit.

[00:18:55] Omer: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you've gotta build a great product, but you also gotta think about the who you're building it for.

[00:19:03] Lars: Yeah. Who is it great for? Because it might be that that product is you know. Great for, you know, you might be having no success because you're just trying to give it to people that don't care about it. Right?

[00:19:18] Omer: So when typically a lot of founders, once they've gone through the network, got those warm intros or exhausted them, and then they're looking to, to expand beyond that.

[00:19:32] Cold outreach. Right. That's the, that's the common thing to kind of go and try. Let's just start emailing people or whatever we're gonna do. What was your experience? Did you take a similar approach?

[00:19:44] Lars: Yeah, I, I think when we raised the second time we were very sort of determined that, okay, now we're gonna see if we can build, can we find a way where you, you can sell without founder involvement? So we can sort of find a, a more scalable way of, of getting the, the product, product into the hands of customers. So we hired our first two salespeople and our initial hypothesis was, okay, we're gonna do an outbound sales motion. And then, and I think maybe the first mistake was that we'd never done that before, so we didn't know anything about it. I would say the people we hired, so they're still with us. So like the two first salespeople, Lauren and Sander, they're still with us. So they had done outbound, but they done it in different, you can say context.

[00:20:29] So Lauren worked at Gartner, so that's like super enterprise, like very, very well known brand. You send somebody a calendar invite, they accept it. Or you send somebody a a Dreamdata calendar invite, they don't accept it. That didn't work. Right. And still like sander here had a bunch of, of Alpine experience, but also from a more sort known product.

[00:20:51] So there was a lot of sort of false, I would say, false starts where we try to sort of just copy learnings from other settings. We also brought in a guy who was a very, very, very good salesperson. And had run like super successful sales teams in like similar, similar setting, but just, you know a company that was sort close to IPO.

[00:21:17] So maybe they were 70, 80 million. So a more well-known brand. And. And basically he was, you know, he'd done things that worked super well. So he went sort of, okay, let's build sort of an outbound playbook around this and, and, and, and set it in motion. And we did that and it just didn't work. And it, what we, we sat down, then we looked at it and like the first thing we realized was, okay.

[00:21:44] I would say it didn't work. That's a maybe not correct for me to say because we realized that we would not know if this worked for the next I think 180 days. Because the, the sequences that we were running were so elaborate that to run through sort of a big enough cohort of accounts to know if it worked or not, would just take us 180 days with the people we had.

[00:22:10] So we basically, we cut down the sequence to something like very, very basic and designed it in a way where, okay, this is not an optimal sequence. We know that and we assure we can improve it, but we can make sure we can get results in, I think, 28 days. So within sort of four weeks, we want results.

[00:22:33] We wanna know if this works or not. And it's a bit like. You know, it's not, does it work perfectly? It's just, does this work at all? Okay. If it works at all, we can probably improve it. So we ran that test and I would say eventually we discovered, okay, yeah, we can do outbound. And, and then at that point, other things that happened that meant that for a period it wasn't really relevant for us because we, you know, built other.

[00:23:01] I would call like growth channels. That worked really well. Then we just had, you know, a little bit like, say almost too much inbound to keep running the the outbound sequence. And then we did a lot of like a period of almost exclusively inbound selling.

[00:23:18] Omer: What, what was driving most of the inbound?

[00:23:21] Lars: So I think, well, like, I would say number one is that we, we brought in a marketing co-founder. So Steffen is a marketer and a very good marketer. So I think that was maybe the you wanna look at the, the, the, the foundational reason, you know, you bring someone in who has a marketing mindset that helps.

[00:23:38] And he did build sort of he did build a lot of sort of, you say foundational plays of like. Some paid and that sort of try started bringing a trickle of, of, of inbound. But what I would say really worked very well for us was that at 1.7 said, okay, look, I think marketers spend a lot of time on LinkedIn.

[00:24:00] Let's try to post a lot on LinkedIn about, you know, things that are relevant to marketers. Not necessarily a product, but just stuff that's relevant in this sort of data marketing space that we're in. And we made a, he, he said, let's do a competition. We'll try to get to, I can't remember, 300,000 views in three months.

[00:24:20] And that was like. Ton, like 10 times more than we'd ever done. And we tried that, and then we saw that, okay. That actually brought sort of a gradual increase in our inbound when we did that.

[00:24:33] Omer: And were you, were you guys posting from your personal LinkedIn profiles or from a company account?

[00:24:38] Lars: So we didn't use the company account.

[00:24:40] So we, it, it was sort of exclusive building up the personal LinkedIn profiles of, of, stefan the salespeople, so Lauren Sander me that just, it, it, that worked really well for us. And I think it's, it depends on like who, who your persona is. But if your persona isn't go-to market, then LinkedIn is a very powerful play to be place to be, especially if you sort of, if you.

[00:25:05] If you use the medium in a way that it, where you sort of play by the rules of the medium, right? I think a lot of social selling is connect. Can I have a meeting that doesn't work, but you know. Engage in the, in the community or engage in the conversations that are happening. Be interested and like, you know, hopefully you don't have to pretend you are because you are in this space, because you're interested in it.

[00:25:31] So, so it's natural for you to be interested and that will build that following. But I think this works for marketing audiences on LinkedIn. They talk sometimes to people like, you know, you can't. Other people might have to. I think a lot of sort of community led growth is something you'll do. If there's not an easily accessible community, then you can build your own or try to find one where you can tap into.

[00:25:57] Omer: Right. I think these days there's so many people on LinkedIn that it's, it's actually a great platform to connect with all types of customers. I mean, you're right. Not everybody is there, but now I think people are getting more, more sophisticated with the, with the social selling and we are moving beyond, which is why I asked you about whether you're posting from the, the, the company profile, because I, I've seen a lot of companies that still do that, where you just get these random posts from the company account, but nobody from the org, from the organization is actually spending time on LinkedIn to, you know, you, you don't even have to be a content creator. You can just be engaging in the conversations that are already there.

[00:26:49] Right? So, huge opportunity, I think

[00:26:52] Lars: I, I think it's a massive opportunity. That has worked very well for us. And then I would say the last component, I would, you know, product, that growth comes in many versions. So I would, our product in itself doesn't drive growth, so it's not like, you know, if somebody picks up our product, then magically he will connect with 15 other ICPs and they will go and try the product.

[00:27:19] So we don't have that sort of circular like of virtuous circle. The product plays a, a significant role in our sort of sales process. So we always trial with customers and that, you know, both builds credibility in the sales process, but it, it also works for us as was like qualification mechanism.

[00:27:41] So if the customer , if, you know, if you are a SMB account and you can't onboard in a trial in a couple of weeks, then. We know that it's not gonna be a good fit later on either. And then, you know, maybe we shouldn't sell to that customer because that's gonna be a churn problem later.

[00:27:59] Omer: Basically, initially the cold outreach didn't work and it wasn't that it didn't work.

[00:28:07] It was, as you described it, it was, it was probably just a too long a process and you guys just didn't have the, the luxury of time to wait six months for that to play out. And when you took a. A more lean approach. You are able to start seeing and prove that there was some signs of life there and you could, you could generate some leads and then the social selling LinkedIn.

[00:28:30] And even using the product to, to help you drive growth, were those just the, the main ways that you eventually hit the first million in a RR or was there anything else that you.

[00:28:41] Lars: I think like we also had a paid component in our sort of marketing strategy. So there is, I think in, in with our, we can sort of go one path of sort of a more broad category proposition where we almost have to educate the customer, but there's also sort of a more narrow proposition, which is basically like revenue attribution or multi-touch attribution, which is just basically just a feature of a product, but it is like a micro category where there is demand.

[00:29:15] So if people are searching for multi-touch attribution. We buy that keyword, then we can insert ourselves in sort of, you know, late stage processes. So we do that. And that works to compare like billing on competitors brands and like all the sort of classic tactics that everybody does. We do all of that.

[00:29:35] And that drives maybe, I don't know, 10, 15% of, of of the inbound we have. But then the rest is from more of a. I, I think the whole LinkedIn approach is a bit like a content approach, but more like personal micro content approach. That is the main driver of the rest.

[00:29:54] Omer: Okay, great. So, so eventually you are, you're getting clearer and clearer about, you're honing in on your ICP.

[00:30:01] You are, you're bring bringing in customers. You get to the first million in ARR. Then you, you, when you and I were chatting earlier, you said, we thought by that time we knew how to scale sales and we were wrong. So tell, tell me what happened.

[00:30:21] Lars: Yeah, I think, okay, so we raised some more money and then because like seed stage is like, prove your product market fit, prove that there's an inkling of scalability.

[00:30:31] Series A is like, okay, now. Build sort of the scalable, like the components of a scalable go to market so that you can raise a series B and just replicate what you did there. And we thought, okay, look we had super nice growth, consistent growth numbers leading up to the series A, otherwise you can't raise it.

[00:30:48] So that worked super well. So we thought, okay, great, we know how to do this. And then we raised the money, got some money, now we can hire, start building this sort of scalable unit that we wanna scale. And then it just didn't work. And I think that was like, it was some, some, some wrong assumptions on sort of okay.

[00:31:05] We, we can bring in more junior salespeople and teach them how to sell the product that just proved to be harder than we thought. And I will, and also. I mean, we did many mistakes like for instance, we did not develop. I think when I speak to founders that are, they come from a sales background, they will develop the sales playbook themselves.

[00:31:27] So they will to the founder led sales initially. Then they develop the playbook and then they teach them someone the playbook. Because we didn't have that sales background, we relied on like the sales people to develop the playbook by actually just doing sales. And I think that worked very well. They developed a playbook, but it was not sort of a formal playbook.

[00:31:48] It was, you know, it's a bit like culture is what you do. The playbook is what we did. Then we wanted to document that, like, so, okay, let's document that. And that, I think that process failed. So when we started onboarding people, we didn't actually have a playbook and that led to sort of a false attempt of scaling this, which caused us, I guess it was also a, a, a rough time because like, this is 2023, so everybody was struggling, so it was also maybe not the easiest time to do this.

[00:32:20] But I think even in a more sort of benevolent environment, it would've failed. And then we basically, you know, went back and said, okay, let, let's actually develop a playbook. Let's look at what actually works, start developing a playbook, see if we can teach people to do that playbook. And, and that is then starting to work now.

[00:32:40] We are getting closer to that sort of scalable unit that we can, that, that, that we can replicate.

[00:32:46] Omer: So what, what was, how, how were you getting your sales team to go out and sell without a playbook? Like what was the training, what was the training process and…

[00:32:56] Lars: Yeah, I think it was like learn from, from sitting next to someone.

[00:32:59] Like there were also there, there was also intentional teaching, you can say. But maybe because it was not led by founders there was, this is a case where maybe the sort of the focus was too much on the sales process and not enough on the product, I feel. So, so this was maybe the risk of sort of seeing sales as a, as sort of a discipline that is a bit detached from product and not sort of saying, look, no, I mean.

[00:33:32] Whatever your sales methodology, whatever you pick, however you're gonna do that, like however you qualify or whatever the demo is or whatever the trial is. Well, in the end, you need to connect that ICP with the product, right? So you need to care deeply about the product. And I feel that that was maybe a bit what we were missing in our sort of when we try to teach people how to sell the product.

[00:33:56] We actually fucked up the product. It's a bit weird.

[00:33:58] Omer: Right. And how long did it take you what, to, to, to build this playbook? Was this just you as the founder sitting down and, and, and, and, and just trying to, you know, create something. Did you like, have to get in, get some help in and, and like, how long did it take to come up with something that was usable for your sales team?

[00:34:20] Lars: That didn't take too long because it was happening and it was getting into something that was fairly structured where we had some, some salespeople that were sort of very successful with a sort of repeatable methodology. So it was about documenting that and then starting to sort of with like teaching it to people.

[00:34:39] But I think developing the play, I, I think if you are, I think again, if you are intentional about it, you can do it fast. But if you're doing it the first time, which was what we were doing then it just takes longer. The risk is when you bring someone in from the outside, we've seen that, that they often, there is sort of a bias to what, what, what, what worked somewhere else.

[00:35:03] And sometimes it's sort of, you know, some people hate trials. But in our setting, it works. And maybe it's because of the product and like there are many, you know, many factors. That means that this is a good approach for, for the s and p deals for us. And then it just doesn't work that you come in and say, though, your trials are bad.

[00:35:23] You need to sort of respect that in, in, in this environment, in this setting right now it's good. And then you document that and build that into the process. You need to sort of formalize like. You know, strategy around how do you run the trial, how do you make sure it doesn't get out of hand? How do you make sure that the customer gets the validation that they want, et cetera.

[00:35:44] So you need to be intentional about it. But yeah.

[00:35:48] Omer: In, in terms of raising money, you sort of beyond the seed round. You raise money at the start of the pandemic, and then when you went to raise money again, you did it. The, the war in Ukraine was about to start.

[00:36:08] Like we, we, we chatted about this. It's like, you, you have great timing. It's like.

[00:36:14] Lars: Yeah, you can't, I mean, you can't plan this. So I think, yeah, we, we just have had like very, very bad timing for fundraising and we definitely, I, I think it is like whatever, you can't control it, right? If you. If you're fundraising and you have to fundraise at that point in time, you can't really delay it without making like very, very rough adjustments to the company.

[00:36:38] You have to go fundraising, so you have to raise money at that point in time. And then if the whole world is falling apart. Well, whatever you have to deal with it. So, but I think that for us it has been kind of like, that has been some, some rough periods raising, because we literally kicked off our fundraising in 2020 just when everything closed down in Denmark.

[00:37:03] Like probably the same time in the States and all funds were like, nobody knew what was happening. So a lot of those funds that we could raise from, they were a bit like, oh look, I'm just gonna sit on my cash a little bit, look what happens, and, you know, make sure that my, you know, my portfolio companies don't go run out of cash.

[00:37:23] So they sort of, they prior, they didn't know what was happening, so they just said like, let's make sure we have enough money to. You know, support the companies we already have backed make sure that they make it through this. So that meant a lot of people were pulling out processes and it just got to be a very pro like, like protracted process.

[00:37:41] It got very, very long. And basically the same thing happened in like, we kicked up the next fundraising pretty much when, when Putin was sort of marching up his troops getting ready to invade Ukraine and then he did it. And the same thing played out. Right?

[00:37:55] Omer: Well, please, please do let me know the next time you plan to

[00:37:58] Lars: Exactly.

[00:37:59] I'll announce it well in advance so that people can go out and bet against the market and make a ton and shorting some tech stock or whatever.

[00:38:10] Omer: All right. We should wrap up. Let's get onto the lightning round. I've got seven quick fire questions for you, so you ready?

[00:38:17] Lars: Yeah.

[00:38:18] Omer: What's one of the best pieces of business advice you've received?

[00:38:22] Lars: Yeah, I was gonna say, do things that don't scale and then when you make them work, then scale 'em. But we discussed this i, I also love yeah, remember that when you look at other companies, you're seeing they're outside not the inside that I think that's also very, very sound piece of advice.

[00:38:38] Omer: What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[00:38:41] Lars: I'm a product person by heart. So Loved by Marty Cagan is one of my favorite books. So it's a very good book about how to build product in effective way, like where you make sure that you get a product in the market that actually works. I would also mention like April Dunford. Obviously awesome.

[00:38:59] I think because we didn't know a lot about the market side of the product, market fit. That book taught me a lot about that.

[00:39:07] Omer: What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

[00:39:12] Lars: I think what has like keeping going, not giving up, I think is a very fundamental thing. And I think like going through fundraising those periods has been times where you've definitely felt like maybe giving up sometimes.

[00:39:24] It was a good thing not to do it.

[00:39:26] Omer: What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

[00:39:29] Lars: So I love jet GPT. I get a lot out of talking to Jet GPT initially I, I didn't think I would, but but now using it, I think it's a fantastic tool.

[00:39:39] Omer: What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

[00:39:44] Lars: Yeah, so if I was doing a new, like, I love the idea. Okay. I love the idea of doing a, a product that sort of. Mitigates the risk of doing contracts because that's a very big pain when you're founding a company. So something that sort of makes the whole contracting insurance liability process transparent.

[00:40:01] That would be awesome. And then the other thing would be, I would love. To build a product that sort of worked to sort of be like a very, like a super efficient company advisor based on data that you visor, basically like feed, record every meeting, record every call, everything into a large language model and then you can ask it everything.

[00:40:25] And I think Chatt PT is, is getting, like, if you feed a lot of this data, it's already very good, but if you could sort of be. Very broad about what your stuff in there. I think that would be an awesome tool if sell it to VCs. They can ask better questions at board meetings.

[00:40:41] Omer: Yeah. Right. What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

[00:40:45] Lars: Yeah, so I once won an award for saving the annual sheep drive in the Pharaoh Islands. I. That's pretty crazy.

[00:40:52] Omer: And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

[00:40:55] Lars: So road biking. So bis biking. I love that. Takes my mind of War Park. It also, it, it, I would say it builds grit and it builds and for me it's also like networking, keeping like, I tie back to a lot of my social life.

[00:41:09] I know a lot of people bike, so, so that's very important for me.

[00:41:13] Omer: Awesome. Well, last, thank you so much for joining me and, sharing your adventures over the last, I guess, five or six years now. If people want to check out Dreamdata, they can go to and if folks wanna get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:41:29] Lars: I think LinkedIn is, is very good.

[00:41:31] Omer: Of course,

[00:41:33] Lars: I, I'll have reply there.

[00:41:34] Omer: We'll include a link to your, linkedIn profile in the show notes. Great. Well, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. And thank you for staying up late to, to chat with me today. I appreciate that. And I wish you and the team the best of success.

[00:41:49] Lars: Thanks, Omer. It's been great chatting tonight.

[00:41:52] Omer: My pleasure. Cheers.

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