Kaveh Rostampor - Planhat

Planhat: Bootstrapping an Enterprise SaaS to 8-Figures ARR – with Kaveh Rostampor [401]

Planhat: Bootstrapping an Enterprise SaaS to 8-Figures ARR

Kaveh Rostampor is the co-founder and CEO of Planhat, a customer success platform that helps businesses keep customers and grow revenue.

In 2014 Kaveh was working at a SaaS company, dealing with a bunch of challenges around reducing churn. At the same time, his future co-founder Niklas was trying to solve churn and retention issues using technology.

The two teamed up and started Planhat.

For the first six years, the founders bootstrapped the business. They had to be really careful with their cash, focusing on building a product that delivered real value.

Getting initial customers was also tough. It required building a deep understanding of potential customers' problems and relentless cold calling.

As Planhat started to grow, the founders faced a new challenge: trying to make both small companies and enterprise customers happy. They had to make tough decisions about which features to build to ensure their platform was powerful yet easy to use.

Despite these challenges, they kept pushing forward.

There were moments of doubt and financial strain, but Kaveh and Niklas stayed committed to their vision. They constantly improved their product based on feedback and steadily gained traction.

Today, Planhat serves hundreds of customers with tens of thousands of daily users, generating over 8-figures in ARR. Despite raising over $50 million, they haven't spent that money yet and continue to operate with a frugal, bootstrapping culture.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • How Kaveh and Niklas used their own experiences to build a product that solved a critical problem.
  • How they leveraged just two customer acquisition channels to help them grow to 8 figures in ARR.
  • How the founders navigated the challenges of serving both smaller companies and large enterprises as they scaled.
  • Why being smart with their money and maintaining a bootstrap mentality, even after raising over $50 million, was crucial for Planhat's success.
  • How the founders persevered through the challenges of bootstrapping, finding product-market fit, and fundraising to build a successful SaaS business.

I hope you enjoy it.


Click to view transcript

This is a machine-generated transcript.

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

[00:00:01] Kaveh: Thank you. Thank you. Omer.

[00:00:02] Omer: Do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you that you can share with us?

[00:00:07] Kaveh: Yeah, I actually don't, I'm not big on quotes. But there's one I think is very good that we think a lot about when thinking about Planhat , building Planhat.

[00:00:14] And it's, we say that nothing of value comes easy. And I think that that's very true, at least for, from my experience and experience of building this company.

[00:00:25] Omer: So tell us about Planhat. What does the product do? Who's it for, and what's the main problem you're helping to solve?

[00:00:32] Kaveh: So Planhat is a customer platform built to retrain, retain, and grow and service your customers.

[00:00:40] So you can think of it as like a post sale on CRM that we built. Maybe a bit more. Nerdier way of thinking about it is that it's a time series CRM built for customers to understand their full sort of customer lifecycle and give, give, help, give their customers a better experience.

[00:00:58] Omer: Yeah.

[00:00:58] Who are your typical customers? Maybe some, some logos.

[00:01:01] Kaveh: So, well, you know, we we sell to data driven companies, so we're starting out, we sell a lot to SaaS software companies. We also have a lot of customers in healthcare, MSPs, services companies service security companies and whatnot. And interesting with our platform and our businesses that we serve, sort of both the SMBs fairly smaller, smaller companies up to very big, large enterprise companies.

[00:01:25] Omer: Cool. And give us a sense of the size of the business. Where are you in terms of revenue? Number of customers, size of team?

[00:01:32] Kaveh: Yeah. So we are roughly 200 people. You know, split between both revenue and employee. In both in me and Europe and North America. We're eight figure business in Planhat and we're growing.

[00:01:45] Omer: And I think you guys have raised about 50 million now, right?

[00:01:49] Kaveh: Yeah. Yeah. So we the background of the companies that we were bootstrapped for a fairly long time we raised the $50 million a few years ago. But sort of the bootstrap mentality has not disappeared. So company still has roughly $50 million in the bank and, you know, operating similar to, to before.

[00:02:07] Omer: So when you say bootstrap for a long time, how, how long are we talking about?

[00:02:11] Kaveh: Oh man. The first six years of the company was the bootstrap, so a fairly for a long time.

[00:02:16] Omer: That's a, that's a bootstrap business, right? Like some people say we bootstrap for the first six months. Right. But…

[00:02:22] Kaveh: yeah, the first few weeks.

[00:02:24] Omer: Yeah, exactly. Cool. Okay, great. So before we get into like where the idea for this business came from, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background, because I think that's pretty relevant to like how. You know, Planhat came about. So like where, what were you doing before this business? What's your background?

[00:02:45] Kaveh: I worked for so I've done, I, I say to people, I've to kind of done two things in my life. One is that I was used to be a fighter before studying and go to school at university. But after school, university, I joined a, you know, a software SaaS startup, a fairly small company back in the day from Scandinavia.

[00:03:03] I. Swedish myself. And this is now, I think 19 soon, 20 years ago. So yeah, that's how I learned business by working in software and SaaS. I joined that company when it was fairly small and I was there for a long time and helped to grow the company. It was yeah, it was a SaaS business fairly early on, you know thought about, you know, fighting, churn, selling deals, entering new markets and whatnot for, for, for a long time.

[00:03:31] Omer: So you founded Planhat with your co-founder Niklas. Where did the idea you come from?

[00:03:40] Kaveh: Yeah. So as I said, so I was working in a SaaS business, right? And I was in charge of go to market teams. I was in charge of the customer success team there, and at a fairly young age, I.

[00:03:51] I was managing, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in, in Planhat and try to fight churn and reduce, reduce churn, do more upselling, grow, grow revenue from a consistent customers and whatnot. And you know, they're thinking about the problem a lot that the problem of gross and net retention or problem opportunity of, of improving growth and net retention go becomes bigger over time. And you know, I try to solve this by a bunch of different things. I don't have a technical background, so you know, I try to solve it by. You know, a addressing it through different salary models for post-sale functions from, you know, a bunch of different playbooks and just trying a million different things to solve gross net retention.

[00:04:38] So, you know, identifying that, like at the core, this problem has to do with customer centricity. You know, where companies typically, when they're growing, they're thinking that, you know, sales is typically king in a company. Sales is king. You typically see a lot companies as they're growing and scaling quickly, selling bad deals or non bad fit deals to their customers.

[00:04:58] And as the company grows, you know net revenue retention becomes this key metric in companies. Sort of seeing that and also seeing that this is very much a technology problem a time-based problem that you need to sort of understand your customer data. Over time I need to make sure that everybody in the company have access to customer data and whatnot.

[00:05:20] So so that's sort of from thinking about this problem. And also Niklas is my co-founder. He is an, an amazing guy. You know, as a Matt background, national chess player went on to be a management consultant and done a lot of really interesting things. And he sort of came to this. A bit more from a technical perspective.

[00:05:39] You also worked in SaaS and software for a long time and try to solve for similar things, but. By thinking about technology first and building products and technology for these things. So, you know, you have one from co-founder coming from the sort of, from a commercial background, the other one from a technical background and be like, Hey, like this is this is a problem.

[00:06:00] Like, yeah. A lot of the CRMs and technologies out there, they're sort of mainly transactional systems built to help companies close deals, not necessarily to grow existing customers over time.

[00:06:15] Omer: Okay, great. So you've, you've seen the pain firsthand. You guys feel that this is a problem worth solving. How did you get started?

[00:06:25] Did you go out and do the whole, let's, let's validate this idea, let's find, you know, customers, potential customers to interview, or was it more about let's stop building the product? Like how did you guys start?

[00:06:38] Kaveh: It wasn't a research based for sure. It was. Niklas was, we met many years ago and Niklas was on paternity leave and they were like, yeah, this is a problem.

[00:06:47] And, and Niklas, you know, being a ticky, he, he was like, I'll start building on this thing and let's see what comes out of it. So validating, I would say that no, like we weren't out there researching and. Interviewing companies because we sort of felt this ourselves firsthand for many years felt the pain deeply, right?

[00:07:07] So it was very pragmatic, like, Hey, let's sort of build the first version of this thing, see if we like it ourselves, if it works and, and sort of take it to market. Now, what was interesting for us was that. Very early on, we started to get a lot of inbounds because, you know, it was obvious that it wasn't only us thinking that this is a problem that the CMS sort of weren't sufficient enough for this, for this problem.

[00:07:31] So a bunch of inbounds, you know, plan has had this bootstrap story, but we had a, I remember that we had a very important customer fairly early on that invested in the company by buying the product and helping, helping to sort of shape the product. So that came from fairly early days. We had customers signing on and, and try to, you know address this with the product that we started to build.

[00:07:57] Omer: How are they finding you?

[00:07:58] Kaveh: Yeah, that's a good question. Website, SEO I usually say that if you if you build a good product, people will find you in the era of internet. But yeah, but yeah, so it was, I, I can't think that of that we did, there wasn't much SEO or paid advertisement that we did. It was, we had a website out and, you know, maybe there was some blog posts out there, but, you know, yeah. People, people, people found us.

[00:08:22] Omer: Yeah. So I, I know that in, in the early days, I mean, one of the, the, the, the biggest challenges that founders have at this stage is figuring out who is their ICP and, and, you know, what's the target market? And I know you, you guys got to a point where you were very focused on who that buyer was and a very specific problem in terms of like you know, net revenue retention, but.

[00:08:49] How, how did, how did that come about? Like how did you figure out who your ICP was, what industry you were gonna go after? Like it, it, again, it's, it's a pretty broad problem you're solving here and there's a lot of, you know, SaaS businesses out there and, and or, you know, and already doing any kind of subscription type business.

[00:09:13] How, how do you, how do you, how do you focus in so they know when they come across the product that this is what they need? Like how did you go through that process?

[00:09:23] Kaveh: When we started out, we thought about the, the product, and we still sort of think about the product as a, as solving something much bigger than solving for churn, right?

[00:09:33] We thought about like, Hey, you know, you have this big, you know, big, big company Salesforce with their CRM sitting in all these companies. It's a big system. It's clunky, it's super expensive. And like we're like, Hey, the world needs something else. And let, let's build some platform, you know, inspired by Salesforce.

[00:09:53] But that where we look at, instead of having sort of the opportunity being center of the business and sales being king, making sure that the customer is center of the center of the business and making sure that everybody in the company can access information about the, the customer is the most important thing you have in your business.

[00:10:10] So that's how we started. And then we said that like, okay, so let's start with sort of selling this thing to SaaS B2B companies that are scaling fast. So today we have customers, you know, telcos, healthcare businesses, services businesses using Planhat. But we started out, we were thinking that, hey, our ICP is just SaaS B2B businesses that are scaling fast.

[00:10:34] And the problem we wanna help them with is only to solve for churn prevention, you know? So that's how we started out and that was a big, and still is a big enough problem for us and for our industry. So to, to, to tackle, so, so that's, that's how we started then. That, that was sort of the pitch.

[00:10:53] That was the, that was what the product was about early on or whatnot. But, but you know, obviously as we grew, we saw that, hey, this customer centricity and having access to customer data and managing customers, giving customers a great customer experience throughout the full lifecycle, this is not just something that is important for saaS B2B businesses. It's everywhere. Like it's,

[00:11:16] Omer: Yeah. How long did it take to get those first 10 customers?

[00:11:20] Kaveh: That's a good, I think within the first year we got the first couple of the customers but I'd say like, say 12 months, six, 12 months, the first 10 customers. And always say, it was fair to say too, right, is that Planhat is a bigger company today, but like when you're a small company, you sell to other small companies.

[00:11:36] That's what you do when you're a bigger company. You sell to bigger companies and so, so, so, yeah.

[00:11:42] Omer: And I, you know, I think the, you mentioned earlier about that you sell to SMBs and to enterprise businesses. Was that something that. You set out early on in, in terms of thinking about this as a enterprise type product, or at least, was that the vision or did that come later?

[00:12:04] And, and in those early days it was like our customer is like, whoever will buy this thing from us.

[00:12:10] Kaveh: Yeah. No I think that when you just, when you know. Day one, we just start out the first couple of weeks, months. Obviously, whoever is willing to buy from you, you're happy. Right. But, but that said, we were I mean we, we, when I say that we sell to SMBs, we don't sell to, you know, 10 man companies, 20 man companies.

[00:12:29] We, our, our product is not necessarily super cheap. So, so we don't sort solve the very small companies out there. And early on we, we did speak about that, hey, we, we think that our experience and knowledge, sort of fits better if the company has a, some scale. So, you know, today I think the Planhat is good if you're at least, you know, 50, a hundred employees and up.

[00:12:54] That was always been sort of that we, that that's where we wanna operate. We don't, if you're a hundred people or less than maybe Planhat is not always a, a good fit for you. So. So, so, you know, yes, early on we said that we wanna build an enterprise grade product. So that's always been important for us.

[00:13:12] You know, which is why we spend just all this time building out the technology and, and product and security and all the things that comes around it. If you wanna serve and larger companies.

[00:13:22] Omer: Let, let's talk about that, that journey to the first million in Planhat. 99% of the time when I talk to founders and I'll say, how did you grow?

[00:13:32] Or, or what worked, what didn't work? Paid ads is always like top of the list. We tried paid ads, didn't work. And I asked you that question and paid ads was like top of the list in terms of one of the things that did work for you guys. So just tell us about what. Like, you know, how how'd that work for you and, and you know, how easy or hard was it to, to get that working as a growth channel for your business?

[00:13:56] Kaveh: Yeah, so pay that is definitely somewhere you can just spend a lot of money and don't see it's easy to spend money in, in comes to pay that, so I, I mean obviously I, I know about our business, I know about all the business out there that, that you speak to. But in a B2B setting, typically you're building a software for some that you are sort of selling to some division, head of a company.

[00:14:18] You know, you may have, you sell something to head of engineering, head of finance, head of head of something, right. And I think that. What helped, what helped in this case was that we sort of deeply understood the people we were selling the product to. So, and if you fully understand the, sort of the challenges or if you deeply understand the challenges that the.

[00:14:41] Buyer of such a product would have, or the department head of that function would have. And it's easier, I would say, to sort of tailor your messaging both SEO and paid advertisement for, for that, for that buyer. And the, the sort of more specific use cases you can, you can connect your messaging to the better and the more outcome based you are, the better.

[00:15:06] So I think that for us, that was. That was, I mean, that, that helped a lot. You know, and, and I say to a lot of people like me that said that, Hey, nobody, you know, nobody says that, Hey, I don't want to invest in improving my NRR. Nobody says that, oh, I'm not interested. I don't wanna improve my NRR. Like, no, that, that, that's not a, that not something that we, that we hear a lot.

[00:15:28] So I think that, that, that, that helps you know that together with like timing. Targeting these ads and, and and whatnot. And also, we're not selling a product that is super cheap either, right? So if you pay X dollars to get the person to do a demo with you and your contract size are fairly big, again, it's not $10 per month or something, then, then you can get, get the math to work.

[00:15:51] Omer: So, so back in those days, like typically, what was the average contract value of this type of deal?

[00:15:57] Kaveh: Early in, maybe first one, two years. $10,000 ish per year. And then, yeah, so I would say around at around 10K and, and then, and then up from there. Yeah.

[00:16:07] Omer: So, so you're using paid ads, and you mentioned SEO.

[00:16:12] So basically the hypothesis being that, you know, your ICP, they have this pain, they're probably searching for some kind of solutions. So let's spend some ad dollars to get in front of them. Let's also do a great job with organic search because then we don't have to pay for, for those clicks and especially as a bootstrap business, right?

[00:16:34] This is not like you don't have a lot of money to blow on, on paid ads. Once you were getting leads coming through these channels, what was happening? How easy or hard was it to, to close these types of deals and, and who was doing the selling?

[00:16:52] Kaveh: You know, we, one thing that, I mean, obviously I'm biased here, and, but I think that we, we have a great product.

[00:17:00] We've always had a great product. Obviously it's way stronger today than it was day one or year one. But product has always been something that we have wanted to lead with. We say that, you know, we're a product company, first and foremost, we take great pride in our technology. So we always say that, Hey, if we get somebody to just see this damn thing, then they'll buy, like it's a good product.

[00:17:22] It creates a lot of value and you know, it's as I said, like if we help you to improve your net revenue retention, get faster time to value, to hire less people in your post-sale function and, and scale well, you know, with our product more than you would do without our product. The, you know, it's, it's an easy investment.

[00:17:43] It's easy to justify the investment. So I think that getting, if you get to, we got people to, to view the product and get a demo of it and try it out a bit, then then, then we typically always have done really, really well. The, the times when we have not, you know, still today we don't do well is, you know, if it's more around brand recognition or not getting.

[00:18:06] The foot in the door, in the fir in the first place. So I would say that in the early, early days who sold, like I know Nicklas as CTO Co-founder, he sold deals even though he is an engineer. So that's cool. I've sold deals, obviously. So anybody, we had a very flat organization early on, so you know, anybody that we had people in customer success support selling deals early on, so that helped. But obviously for myself and Niklas being, you know, senior in the space and understanding the problem deeply and, and product really well, it's very easy to sell a deal, a $10,000 deal in, in early stages and, you know, so yeah.

[00:18:42] Omer: Cool. I know the other growth channel that worked. Well, for you guys was just doing direct sales and cold calling, and you made the point that cold calling is not dead.

[00:18:55] So what, what were you doing there and, and why do you feel that you, you were able to have some success with just calling people.

[00:19:06] Kaveh: So again, like, you know what problems you're solving. You have a pro, hopefully a very good product, competitive product. And you have a buyer there, you identified, you know, I, this is the person that's head of this department or function or the workflow that we can help or reduce cost or whatever it is that you can help the customer with.

[00:19:25] Just getting the fastest way from point A to point B is to get a hold of that person and get the person on a call or on a Zoom meeting and describe what you're doing and see if you can, you can be helpful. So that has worked well for us. And yeah. You know, personally, I. Been involved in a bunch of different companies throughout the years as board members.

[00:19:44] You know, early, early employee of companies that grow to be very big public companies, private companies, whatnot, like direct sales works really well. It's a very efficient if, if you get it, if you get it to work. But, but as you're saying, like, you know, it typically obviously starts with having a good product and two you know who you are going to talk to about what I think that it, it sounds very basic, but it's surprising how many companies I think, or people are struggling with, with that.

[00:20:15] Omer: Yeah. I, I, you know, I think that's one of the biggest things where whether you're doing cold calling or cold email is like, just, just the relevance, right?

[00:20:24] If, if you're, if you're talking to the right person about the right problem. It's a much easier conversation than, you know, just kind of prep you know, whether they say like spray and pray, right? In terms of I'm just gonna try and contact everybody and, and, and hope that there's somebody out there who might have this problem.

[00:20:45] Kaveh: On all that too, right?

[00:20:46] It is, so if you are head of function, like your job is to find ways of creating more efficiencies in your business. Part of the job is to buy software, is to implement methodologies or whatnot, to just make your team more efficient and grow faster, more profitable and and whatnot. So if the yeah.

[00:21:05] If you're speaking the right person about the right things, like it happens all the time. Yeah. People call me all the time. It, it, it sometimes it works.

[00:21:16] Omer: How, how did that play out once you started building a sales team? You're starting to hire salespeople. Was cold calling still part of the kind of the, the, the plan?

[00:21:26] Kaveh: Yeah. So yeah, yeah, of course. Yes. But I would say that majority, up until maybe just 2, 1, 2 years ago, majority of our sales was on inbound still. So again, right, so we're, we're solving this fairly starting out. We started to solve this very niche problem, which is to improve their net revenue retention.

[00:21:46] We have a very good product. Great reviews, customers speaking well about us, customers changing jobs and buying our product again and again. And and we are, I think what's important is that we're sort of operating in different markets. So we don't have a sales or go to market team sitting in California where I live and try to sell to companies all over the world or all regions or all, you know, countries.

[00:22:14] We have sort of this go to market motion where, and this is start, when we started to hire people in on this salespeople that, you know, if you are buying Planhat today in France, you speak to a French ae, you speak to French speaking customer success managers or people that are implement your software.

[00:22:32] There's a person that speaks French that is head of that market. Same thing if you're in Germany or you are in Scandinavia or in the uk or US or whatnot. So that localized approach has, has always helped us a lot. You know, so, so that, that, that has helped. I. I, I think that's one. And then, and then second thing is that like when you're doing, when you're looking to buy software like this, if you, again, like if you, if the people you speak to and is servicing you is just local to you, that this is something that we experienced is, is helping a lot.

[00:23:06] So, so was outbounding a strategy from early days? Yes, but it was enough. You know, obviously when you're a smaller company. That if you do inbound well, there's enough to just focus on for, for, for, for the, for the sales team in, in the early, in the early days. But then, yes, as you know, we're hitting scale.

[00:23:27] You need to have other channels helping out too.

[00:23:30] Omer: When I talk to founders who are, you know, on their journey to, let's say, the first million in Planhat there, there's often this assumption that, you know, you've gotta be, you, you gotta have a ton of different growth channels. You gotta be trying, you know, 7, 8, 9 things and, and working all of these channels to, to acquire customers.

[00:23:54] And one of the things that you had said earlier on when we were kind of preparing for this was focus on like just one or two channels you know, even to get to like the first 10 million in, in Planhat. So just, just kinda tell me about that. Just, just, just help, help kind of rationalize that for somebody who's thinking sort of very counter to, to that, that, that kind of point of view.

[00:24:22] Kaveh: I think it's easier when you start out that you have these I don't know. That you listen to all this advice from different people and there's all, you know, somebody was very successful with partnerships from inbounds, outbound enterprise sales, PLG, and you, and you get excited and you think that, well, it worked for those people, so you should work for me.

[00:24:39] I think that that's I think it's focus is extremely important. Yeah, so I think, so I think that. Two channels for the first $10 million in revenue. Absolutely. I think that that's plenty. I do think that, again, like the, the, the place to start is to think about like, hey, like who am I solving a problem for?

[00:25:00] You know? And then it should be extremely clear and it shouldn't be a problem that only I think that I'm solving for the person, but the person is like, yeah. I'm head of whatever function in a company. Like, I think that this is a problem. I want to have a product or service that, you know, help me reduce costs doing this thing or, or grow faster or, or whatever it is that, that, that they try to do.

[00:25:21] Right? I think that nailing that early on is very important and then. Nailing sort of the product, making sure that the va the product is actually creating value and is not something that you think is creating value that like is actually creating value. I think, I think, I think it, I mean I appreciate that it sounds very basic, but like get spending time getting that right.

[00:25:43] Then experimenting with 10 different channels. I think that I would focus more on, on, on the first. Now the, in a B2B setting, again in a B2B setting, I think that, there's a lot of companies going, PLG, some people, companies starting out, they just wanna serve the enterprise or mid-market or whatnot.

[00:26:02] I think that like companies should I think it's good if you sort of focus on the segment where you feel that you have maybe as the founding team or the first couple of employees in the, in the company, you feel that, hey, we understand this segment really well. So if none of us have ever done PLG before.

[00:26:20] And we're all, you know, in our entire careers, we'll be doing enterprise B2B software sales. I. You know, if feel like, Hey, let's do a PLG motion, like we've never done it. Like it's not, it's not as easy as you may read about in a blog post. And the same thing if you're a PLG experience, a background as a founding team and be like, Hey, let's start selling to the enterprise.

[00:26:40] Like it's stick to what you know really well and sort of do that, do do that well.

[00:26:46] Omer: Did you try doing PLG?

[00:26:48] Kaveh: No, we've never done the PLG. And again, like it's not that core. Experience in our sort of management team today. And we said that like, un until we have, we have people that are, you know, have deep understanding of the PLG motion.

[00:27:02] We're not going to sort of do that. Stick with what you know, right? Yeah. Yeah.

[00:27:09] Omer: Let's talk about, I wanna go back to this thing about serving SMBs and enterprises and one of the. The, the challenges of of that is like, how do you build the right product for two very different types of customers, I think, right?

[00:27:28] So was this a struggle for you guys?

[00:27:30] Kaveh: Oh yeah, man, it's still like, it's still a struggle, you know? Because at the end of the day, like it's about how do you prioritize your resources. And resources are always limited. You don't have you know, unlimited resources to, to, to serve both. Enterprise customers and smaller companies.

[00:27:45] So I, I show that it's still a challenge with our company. You know, as the years pass we sort of getting closer to picking lanes and saying no to business which is obviously hard to do especially if you have a ba, a bootstrap background. But yeah, I think that, it has a lot to do with the depth of the platform that you have.

[00:28:02] Enterprise functionality to build out the security layers and, and all, all just all the things you need for enterprises. It just takes time to do. But once you've built it, and if you have a sort of modular platform where you can sort of make it. Be also easy to use and is fit for smaller companies.

[00:28:22] If you can, I mean, then you can obviously serve both. But that's, that's just on the. Product and product side, right? I think that is an equal big challenge on the Go-to market side. If you have say salespeople that again, like have a enterprise background, enterprise sales motion background to hire those people and say, Hey, go out and sell 10, $20,000 contracts.

[00:28:43] Like, that's, that's hard. And the same thing if you have really transactional sellers in the business saying that, Hey, go and chase this big you know, public company. I think that that's equally hard. So, so getting these things right is, I think it's I think for us at least, it's still something that is hard, that we struggle with.

[00:28:59] How do we organize the teams? How do we package the product? How do we charge for different things? How do we let people, companies that are fast scaling to scale with us, you know, and maybe bring them on board even though they're small. And, and yeah, just, just be able to sort of live up to the promises that we make to both big and small companies. It, it's hard.

[00:29:19] Omer: I mean, somebody listening to this might be wondering like, what, why not Just like, what's holding you back from picking a lane? From just saying like, we just go all in with SMBs or we just do enterprise. Like, can you just explain what the, what the, the challenges of that?

[00:29:32] Kaveh: It's a, it's a very good question, man.

[00:29:34] I, I mean, I, when we have our management meetings at Planhat, I ask the same question. We speak it in our board. It's a very, very good question. I, I don't have a good answer to it, to be honest. I think that there's two things why it's hard. One is that if you are successful with, I think, yeah, if you're successful with serving both segments, then it's hard to say no to one of the segments, right?

[00:29:59] So if you come to our, you know, if I come to your company, say, and I'm like, Hey. Omer, like, forget about this segment, just focus on this other one. You're like, Hey, I'm doing well. Well here, why would I, why would I stop? It's different if you're struggling as a business, right? And I'm like, Hey, why don't you pick one of these lanes?

[00:30:16] It's, it's hard to do well in both. So I think that that's one. The second thing is that, at least for us, if you come from a bootstrap business. And bootstrap background. It's very hard to say no to business. You know, it's theoretically it's easy. It's easy in an Excel sheet to justify it, but like you are out there in the fight and somebody's there, I.

[00:30:41] They want to pay you say half a million dollars, but for some reason you can't serve that big company. Like it's hard to be like, oh, no, you know, it's not right for us.

[00:30:50] Omer: Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that's, it's, it's almost like it would be easier if you weren't doing well with one of those segments. Right. The decision is like…

[00:30:58] Kaveh: but, but also just, just on that.

[00:30:59] I think another thing is that like. Even though, and you know what is doing well, you could always do better. You could argue that, hey, you would do better as a company if you actually picked the link and just focused ev even more so that, that's the other, other side of that, I think.

[00:31:14] Omer: Right. You mentioned the, the kind of the bootstrapped mindset and, and kind of difficulty saying no to, to business. Completely understand that. Did you did you say at the beginning that you'd raised the 50 million, but pretty much most of that money was still in the bank? Yeah. Yeah. So, so the company's growing. You gotta, you gotta what? Like a couple hundred people in the company.

[00:31:37] Well funded, generating, you know, eight figures in revenue. Is that bootstrap mindset just with you and Niklas, or, or do you still try to kind of create that as part of the culture in the company?

[00:31:53] Kaveh: Yeah, I think that if we're trying or not, it is part of the culture in the company, you know early days, I say that like when you're bootstrapped, the good thing with being bootstrap is that when you start out, you know, everything everybody is doing has to create real value, you know, real value.

[00:32:11] If it doesn't, then you'll die. Now that and if you operate like that for many years and then, you know, get a big sum of money on your bank account, that doesn't disappear over time. You know, it sort of becomes part of your culture. It becomes part of the standards you have for, for yourself and for each other that, hey we're not gonna have any people that in the business that's not creating value that, you know we're just not gonna be that kind of company. So I would say that it's, yeah, it's it's not from the founders but it's like it is how we operate, how we think about things. It's also core, if you think about the platform and the mission that we're at, right?

[00:32:47] We think that hey companies, there's like this big era. Where businesses are moving away from being promised things, you know, in this sort of sales-driven world to a, to a place where people won't only pay you for the value that you actually deliver to them. See this in subscription business models and you know, consumption-based business models and whatnot. And, and, and, and when you're operating in these business models, you have to create actual real value for the customer. And that means that, like internally, you need to be value-driven. So yeah, it's very core to the mission at hand, how we started the business and how we just operate.

[00:33:25] Omer: And on that note, I think we should wrap up and get onto the lightning round. So I've got seven quick-fire questions for you. What's one of the best pieces of business advice you've received?

[00:33:36] Kaveh: Yeah, so I don't know if I have the, the best business advice, but I think a good advice is like, don't listen to advice especially from people that haven't done the things that you're trying to do.

[00:33:48] But so yeah. So anybody listening to this, like you're on your own path. What may have work for us doesn't work for anybody else. Like it's…

[00:33:55] Omer: Yeah, totally. And, and I think, you know, having done like, you know, like over 400 of these interviews, it's like, it's amazing how you come across people who do, founders who do exactly the same things and get completely the opposite results from that.

[00:34:11] And so to be able to just say, go and do XYZ because it worked for so and so is like, is, that's a dangerous kind of, you know, thing to do. What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[00:34:24] Kaveh: So I think, I worked for a guy who recommended the Good, the book Good To Great by Jim Collins many, many, many, many years ago.

[00:34:32] I think, I still think it's a great business book. You know, empirically speaks about sort of what sets great companies away, apart from good companies. I think it's a great, I haven't read it now for many years, I would admit, but like, yeah. It's a good book.

[00:34:46] Omer: Cool. What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

[00:34:50] Kaveh: Successful founder? I think you need to be very good at building teams. Yeah. If you especially wanna scale something, I think that's very important. It's obviously important that you are lent and like that you that you stick to the things, but I, I think if you cannot build the teams, you're not a good team builder.

[00:35:08] It's harder than to build a successful company.

[00:35:11] Omer: What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

[00:35:15] Kaveh: I don't have any productivity tools, but I I say to all our employees as often as they can, that they need to sleep well, eat well and exercise every day. I do that myself. I think that that's my best productivity.

[00:35:27] Hack.

[00:35:28] Cool. What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

[00:35:32] I don't I, I don't, I don't have one. I mean, I work plan. I'm very passionate about Planhat, so I think it's the best thing ever. So I, I don't have one.

[00:35:41] Omer: And what's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

[00:35:44] Kaveh: I think your audience don't know that. I used to be a fighter. I've been a Swedish champion in martial arts many times. I've been fighting for the national team. I've been I still fight. So yeah, I'm a good fighter.

[00:35:57] Omer: Wow. So, so like, it, it's something that you still do like train seriously for like even now, like while you're still running Planhat.

[00:36:06] Kaveh: Yeah. Be, being a serious fighter is hard, as you sort of get older, let's put it that way. It's not yeah, it is not like a lot about sports, but yes. You, I still work at, you know, go to the gym. I still do martial arts. Yes. It's I do. It's just like, it's definitely, it's, it's, it's absolutely not at the same levels as as earlier.

[00:36:27] Omer: And, and, and, and what is this, is this like TaeKwonDo or was it, is that what I came across?

[00:36:31] Kaveh: Yeah. I started doing TaeKwonDo. I do jiujitsu. I've been doing Muay Thai, I've been doing a bunch of different sports.

[00:36:38] Omer: Wow. And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

[00:36:43] Kaveh: So I have a family.

[00:36:44] I have three kids. I have a dog. I. And yeah, I said I work out, then I work at Planhat. That's sort of my life. That's that's what I do.

[00:36:52] Omer: As long as you're happy, that's all that matters, right? Yeah, I am happy. Alright, love it. Okay, Kaveh, thank you so much for joining me. It's been a pleasure chatting. If people wanna find out more about Planhat, they can go to Planhat.com and if folks wanna get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:37:08] Kaveh: Send an email or yeah, email is best my first name at Planhat. Is, is a good one.

[00:37:14] Omer: Awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks for making the time. And I know it's a lot to unravel kind of going back almost a decade and you know, distilling that down. But appreciate you doing that and congratulations on everything you've done so far, you and Niklas and the team.

[00:37:28] And I wish you all the best of success.

[00:37:31] Kaveh: Thank you. Thank you, Omer.

[00:37:32] Omer: My pleasure. Cheers.

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