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Taker: Lessons on Failure & Perseverance from a SaaS Founder – with Abdullah Alsaadi [260]

Abdullah Alsaadi

Taker: Lessons on Failure & Perseverance from a SaaS Founder

Abdullah Alsaadi is the co-founder and CEO of Taker.io, an online ordering platform and mobile app for restaurants.

How many failed startups could you handle before you gave up?

Abdullah was working as a security systems engineer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He had an idea for a cryptocurrency app. He was so excited about it that he jumped into building the product. After writing almost 30,000 lines of code, his app was ready.

And that's when he realized he'd built a cool product, but there was no market for it.

Sometime later, he had an idea to build an app on the Salesforce Platform. He'd learned his lesson from his last failure and had a clear market and customer in mind this time.

But Salesforce wasn't set up at the time to support app developers in the Middle East. So Abdullah wasn't able to sell anything on their platform.

He then decided to start a B2B last-mile delivery company.

This time he made sure that customers could actually pay for his product. And his solution was a success and he had happy customers.

But the business wasn't profitable and there was no easy way to find efficiencies and scale.

His perseverance and grit kept Abdullah going.

He pivoted to a delivery management software product. He knew this business could be profitable and his prospective customers loved his product.

But they used legacy point of sale (POS) systems which were impossible to integrate with.

It seemed like no matter what Abdullah tried, or how good his idea or product was, he just couldn't find success. It was failure after failure.

Most of us might have given up by now. But Abdullah started working on his next idea.

But he was out of money and didn't have the funds to build a new product. And he didn't exactly have a strong track record of success to persuade investors.

Yet he found a way to build the product and get it to market. And this time things started to move in this favor.
He's grown Taker.io from zero to almost a million US dollars annual run rate (ARR).

There are some great lessons on what Abdullah did right with Taker.io and how he funded the development, found customers, and grew the business.

But more importantly, he learned far more valuable lessons from all the failures he had over a period of 5 or 6 years. And that's what is really interesting about Abdullah's story.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

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Omer: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you build a launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Abdullah Alsaadi the co-founder and CEO of Taker.io an online ordering platform and mobile app for restaurants.

[00:00:38] How many failed startups could you handle before you gave up? Well, Abdullah was working as a security system engineer in Riyadh, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He had an idea for a cryptocurrency app. He was so excited about it, that he jumped into building the product. And after writing almost 30,000 lines of code, his app was ready, but that's when he realized he'd built a cool product, but there was no market for it.

[00:01:07] Sometime later, he had an idea to build an app on the Salesforce platform. He'd learned his lesson from his last failure and had a clear market and customer in mind this time. But Salesforce wasn't set up at the time to support app developers in the Middle East. So, Abdullah wasn't able to sell anything on their platform.

[00:01:30] He then decided to build a B2B last-mile delivery company. This time he made sure that customers could actually pay for his product and his solution was a success and he had happy customers, but the business wasn't profitable and there was no easy way to find efficiencies and scale the business. But his perseverance and grit kept going.

[00:01:54] He pivoted to a delivery management software product. He knew this business could be profitable and his prospective customers loved the product, but they used legacy point of sale. Systems, which were impossible for him to integrate with. So it seemed like no matter what Abdullah tried or how good his idea or product-wise, he just couldn't find success.

[00:02:22] It was a failure after failure. Now, most of us might've given up by now, but Abdullah started working on his next idea, but he was out of money and didn't have the funds to actually build a new product. And he didn't exactly have a strong track record of success, too. Swayed investors. Yet he found a way to build the and get it to market.

[00:02:45] And this time started to move in his favor. He's grown Taker.io from zero to almost a million us dollars in annual run rate. There are some great lessons on what Abdullah and his co-founder did, right with Taker.io and how he funded the development, found customers and grew the business. But more importantly, he learned far more valuable lessons from all the failures he had over a period of five or six years.

[00:03:13] And that's, what's really interesting about Abdulla's story. So I hope you enjoy it. Abdullah, welcome to the show.

Abdullah: [00:03:19] Thanks Omer for having me.

Omer: [00:03:21] So, do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you or just gets you out of bed every day?

Abdullah: [00:03:28] Oh yeah, of course. I do have a one that I think I invented myself, which says, “Fear failure, but fear the fear of it”. Which means yes, on a head of time, make sure you don't fail, but at the same time, do not let the fear of failure stop you from doing anything.

Omer: [00:03:47] Love it. So, for people who aren't familiar with, Taker, just tell us, what does the product do? Who is it for? And what's the problem that you're helping to solve.

Abdullah: [00:03:56] Taker is basically is a SaaS-based online ordering system for local on demand businesses. What we're trying simply is that where the local on-demand businesses like restaurants that we are focused on today, that we hold them, have their own online ordering channels, like a website and an application. So, their customers can order directly through them. So, this is simply what to Taker does.

Omer: [00:04:19] Okay. So, like any restaurant can, can sign up, use Taker and they basically get a, their own website ordering system and they just pay you a subscription for that.

Abdullah: [00:04:31] Exactly. We could say Shopify, but for restaurant.

Omer: [00:04:34] Okay. So, you've got an interesting story. You've bootstrapped the business. You launched Taker early 2019, and you are approaching very close to a million dollars in ARR. So, I want to really dig into what you've done over the last year to build this business out. But before we get into that, I think you have a really interesting story about the multiple failures in different businesses that you try to build before you got to Taker.

[00:05:16] So why don't we start with that and why don't you tell me about the first attempt at building a business?

Abdullah: [00:05:24] It's actually interesting, you know my background is computer science and I actually was specialized masters in computer science, but specialized in crypto. And I was looking at crypto from an engineering side, not from the math side, basically, if you know how crypto works, it has to pass it the math side, where they invent the equations, et cetera.

[00:05:43] And the engineering side where you implement the systems, cryptosystem. The first stuff that they actually did was called Secure Me. It was basically content security solution. Well, it's interesting that I actually spent. Six months, coding myself that solution. I wrote, I dunno, 20, 30,000 bytes of codes.

[00:06:05] And I was, I was actually trying to target businesses. But the problem was that when I created the first version of it, it's like I was asleep and I woke up, stop looking out for who my client is, who my segment is. You know what I mean? I completely forget about the business side so much on the, on the technology side, how I should build it in how it should work, et cetera.

[00:06:25] And I know many founders might fall into that trap, but it wasn't bad. It was actually very, very bad because I wasn't focused on a specific segment. I wasn't focused on a specific set of clients. I wasn't like aware of, because if you didn't know that, if you don't know that you wouldn't be able to have product market fit to speak, basically.

[00:06:45] So it didn't work out. Basically, I tried to find clients, I tried to find here and there everyone had different ideas, different requirements. That that was actually my big mistake. I actually killed it eventually, but I wouldn't want it to kill it. What did, what I did was that I had a mobile app. I actually took that mobile app.

[00:07:02] Okay. And kind of tweaked it a bit. And then I released it on the Android, the Google store I had actually, I remember, you know, back like six, seven years ago, someone actually it was, there was a light version and a paid version. Someone actually paid for my app. It was kind of a $2. Yeah. Someone did actually.

[00:07:24] No, it was, I said was it's good that I made money, but it was $2, but it's still someone wanted to look for it. And, and the funny thing is until today, okay. Google. It is still sending me emails saying that, you know, we're holding your money because they don't have my bank account details to give me, give me that, that $2.

[00:07:46] So yeah, but I dumped it there. I dumped it out. I did not continue with it just from that, that, that business basically,

Omer: [00:07:53] You know, I mean, I love marketing and I spend a lot of my time on marketing these days, but when I get a chance to start coding and I get really in the flow. I really don't want to think about that other stuff like customers.

[00:08:12] And I just wish, like, I wish somebody else could take care of that because I'm just so into the code. And I just don't want to do anything else. I don't want to think about eating or whatever. And, I think a lot of, lot of developers get into that because you're doing something that you really love doing.

[00:08:27] You can see that you have this in this vision of this solution, is this going to solve this problem? But you just don't know, you haven't thought about who it's for, or then that's where it often falls over. So, you have the $2. That's great. And you know, I, I was kind of joking about that, but I think it's just for anybody and the fact that you still remember that it's just like when you do something and you get the first sale, no matter how small it is, you always remember it. Right. It's an awesome feeling.

Abdullah: [00:09:01] Yeah.

Omer: [00:09:02] So what happened next? So, you've sort of, you, you did something on Salesforce as well, right?

Abdullah: [00:09:09] Yeah. Actually, when we basically stopped at that crypto solution, we basically started thinking about, okay, I want to do next. Okay. We wanted to do something on cloud. Alright. and when we started digging, where should we go?

[00:09:24] Or what approach should we take into, you know, offering a cloud service or cloud solution? We actually came across Salesforce. Salesforce at that time was very famous, as you know, and then we decided to build an app over the Salesforce platform. As you know, they have an app exchange platform where developers can actually build their own app on the Salesforce platform.

[00:09:49] So we decided to do, to do with that way, to leverage the infrastructure, to leverage the existing clients, because anyone who's using Salesforce can actually buy our app with like few clicks, which was amazing and amazing business approach. And then we we've thought about, okay, what to build, what kind of apps should we build?

[00:10:06] We decided to build an app like an HR management solution or app. We called it Humanage from like human management. So, then we stopped a bunch of you, but I'm thinking out we had, okay. We had the first version and then the problem was that we had two problems, okay. The first problem was that you had, there has to be an approval step from Salesforce, they have to approve your, your solution that you've built on, on their platform. As you know, because there is an agreement, there's a revenue-sharing agreement. They have to know the value provided to their, to their clients, et cetera, which was fine for us. We actually passed all of the steps, but one step that actually stopped us for, you know, for how long it stuff was for a year and a half.

Omer: [00:10:53] Wow.

Abdullah: [00:10:54] And the problem was that we found out later, we were the first in the middle East to build an app over the Salesforce platform. And in fact, Salesforce did not know how to treat us because we were the first. One of the things that Salesforce focuses on is a pricing. They have to have a, an agreement with you where when they basically determine the lowest price that you could go with yourself basically.

[00:11:26] But this is where we spend a lot of time just discussing. I want to go into the details, but we spent a year and a half trying to get the app approved. And as you know, you don't have, or startup not being able to sell is a nightmare, basically. So I wish Mark Benioff can hear that. But yes, that was actually a big, the business support was amazing.

[00:11:50] The product was amazing. The way we crafted this solution was amazing. But we could not sell actually we could not sell it. The other problem is that we decided to basically seek funds and, you know, approach investors. The other problems that we faced was that when we told investors that we're building an app or solution of a Salesforce platform, they actually didn't know what Salesforce was.

[00:12:13] And I remember one of them told me that why would I invest on something that I don't know. I said Salesforce is a, at that time is a $70 billion company that's listed in the market stock market and, you know, the biggest cloud company. but still, they actually did not, did not know what Salesforce was, so we, we could not actually respond to that so well yeah. And then the business just was, was, was bankrupt, basically. We could not sustain that anymore and we killed it.

Omer: [00:12:45] So that's like the second. Yeah. Sort of business. And then you got into the delivery business.

Abdullah: [00:12:54] Yeah, exactly. And then we were actually, after that, we did, we created a company called Duke. It's basically a B2B last mile delivery service. Our approach, what we wanted to do is that we wanted to deliver products, okay, in one hour, like you, you it's, it's faster than you are going out to buy something. So, we wanted to make it so easy and fast to, to buy products online and get it delivered within one hour.

[00:13:25] It was a very risky way because as you know, it's kind of, from a logistics point of view, it's a warehouse list approach where there is no warehouse. We don't do like products and we will bring it to the warehouse where they, when we read this back to them again, no, we pick and deliver it quickly.

[00:13:39] I think after several months we realized how difficult that was. And in fact, the clients were happy. The businesses were happy. The end consumers were happy because they get products fast, but we were not happy because business is not scalable at all. We cannot really scale up the business. We decided to turn it into a SaaS product.

[00:13:58] It's a delivery management platform, SaaS based delivery management, but for more than we want it to basically help those who have the delivery fleet have to have a, like a software to manage their deliveries. Yeah. And then we, what we did was that when we turned the business, pivoted basically, we said, okay, who do we sell to?

[00:14:15] There were multiple loans, segments, but the logistics companies, the, the retail. To delivery the, the restaurants also. So, what we did, we said, okay, we need to focus on one segment. And we just decided to focus on the restaurant segment because they have, you know, high volume I'll hold those delivery orders.

[00:14:33] But at the same time, everything is paper-based operations basically. So we want to help them with efficiency to reduce the cost, to improve the efficiency, et cetera. When we started to sell and approach the, the, the restaurants. In fact, everyone loved it. Everyone loved the product, how it works. The problem it solves, but the problem or everything has problems.

[00:14:55] Obviously the problem was that our product by nature comes integrated. It has to come. It has to be integrated with the older sources like POS systems or whatever for the order to be created on Duke for, for them to deliver. So the problem was that the restaurants industry in general, they have like this list of based legacy systems that you can never integrate with.

[00:15:20] They're not cloud, you know what I mean? That you can integrate et cetera. So we have, this was the biggest problem that we faced. Everyone wanted to use our product, but they're going to be creating the delivery of this manually. It's just a nightmare. It's against the whole idea of efficiency, right? So, yeah, that was actually the, the, the thing that I hated the most, everyone liked the product, but no one was able to use it because of this issue.

[00:15:44] We tried a few tricks; we tried a few things to overcome this. Each one of them was to partner with one of the biggest club restaurant gear systems. And the end of the region we did do that were successful. And they did the integration with us. it was, it was like one click away from using our software.

[00:16:02] Again, technically it works, strategically it works, but on the back, when it comes to sales it didn't worked for again, for other reasons and then I can talk about that later. So we, we figured out that you're not on realized it. It's not going to work that way. We have to do something. Then we decided to build Taker because Taker is going to solve the problem of the other source for the delivery management, where we can integrate both products together perfectly.

Omer: [00:16:31] Did you think about building Taker as, okay, this is going to become the flagship product or was it we're going to build this taker so the restaurants can start using it. So then we can sell our delivery management software.

Abdullah: [00:16:46] We knew there was a need for Taker. We knew that, but we didn't have the time to, to build it out at that point, we were building the delivery management software and we had to focus. When it didn't work out with the delivery management software, we had to build Taker. We didn't know, like we didn't know it's going to be the lead gen. It's sending it's negative. It wouldn't know it's going to be the flagship product basically, but it has become the company. It's not just a flagship product.

Omer: [00:17:15] So when, when was it that you got to the point where you decided to build Taker, was that in 2019? Was it sort of before that?

Abdullah: [00:17:26] It was actually late 2018.

Omer: [00:17:28] Okay. So late 2018 is when your focus starts to move towards this idea for taker, everything that you've described so far, the crypto solution that didn't have a market, the Salesforce app that you couldn't sell, because they didn't know how to deal with products in the Middle East, the last-mile delivery, you know, everybody's happy except you guys, because you can't, you know, kind of run this thing efficiently and scale it over. What period did all of that happen from the crypto solution until you got to the point of late 2018?

Abdullah: [00:18:03] I think we started, 2014.

Omer: [00:18:06] So it was about four years that, that you were on this journey trying to figure this out.

Abdullah: [00:18:10] Yeah.

Omer: [00:18:12] Okay, great. So you've got the idea for take a and one of the reasons you said you hadn't built, it was because you needed to focus and you knew it was gonna be a, a fair amount of effort to kind of build it as a, how long did it take you to get to a point where you had something that you could get in front of customers?

Abdullah: [00:18:33] When we came to an end and realized that that, or it had to do something we had to build, Taker. We need to fund. Okay. And we had two ways. Either we seek investments and approach investors to get funded or, you know, other ways what we did was we decided not, not to go after investors because it's a very long journey and you don't have anything in hand, you know, it's going to be very difficult to respond. Very, very difficult.

[00:19:02] What we did was that we approached clients before even we had product, how we sold them the vision. And we had them pay like five years’ worth of subscription in advance.

Omer: [00:19:15] For how long?

Abdullah: [00:19:17] Five years.

Omer: [00:19:18] Five years.

Abdullah: [00:19:18] Yes.

Omer: [00:19:19] How did you get people to commit to paying for a product for five years that they hadn't even seen?

Abdullah: [00:19:24] Well it's, as I said, too, we sold them the vision. Okay. How are we gain their trust? Yeah, and they did that.

Omer: [00:19:34] And did you sort of give them a, a great deal to, for them to want to come in? I mean, if you'd come to me, even if I was excited about it, I'd probably say, well, that sounds great. And maybe I'll commit for a year. So what was it? Were they getting some really great deal for the pricing to sort of make that sort of commitment?

Abdullah: [00:19:52] Yes. Yeah, of course. Yes they have, they have to have something basically, but it was, it was good for us, for both of us, basically until, until today they're getting, you know, a very special treatment to be honest. But the thing is, when they committed to that, we use that fund to build up product and we did deliver, we did deliver a very good product.

[00:20:10] That was what we were actually promised, and they were happy. And in fact, they came back to us, asking us to build POS system, point of sale system. To that extent, how, you know, how happy they were with us, because we did deliver a good, a good product to them. But of course, should we say, okay, we, we barely focus.

[00:20:28] We really can build, Taker, okay. We're busy on the percent with Taker account bill than other systems actually. Yeah. So we used a fund to build Taker, which was actually, which worked perfectly fine. And we did not have to actually seek investments at all, which helped us focus on the company, growing the company and building the product and we had a great team.

[00:20:51] That's actually, I think that was the most important factor. The great team that we have, was able to successfully build the product in a very, very short amount of time and resources.

Omer: [00:21:00] How many customers. Did you presell this product to.

Abdullah: [00:21:05] If I still remember, I think four customers.

Omer: [00:21:08] Okay. And are they still customers?

Abdullah: [00:21:12] Yes.

Omer: [00:21:13] All four?

Abdullah: [00:21:14] Yes.

Omer: [00:21:14] That's good.  Okay. Great. So, you did something small there and you find a creative way to, to finance and fund the business by pre-selling to these, these customers. And that gave you enough there to be able to build out the product. And when you launched, they were happy with, with what you created, what did you do to start finding more customers growing beyond the, those initial four?

Abdullah: [00:21:44] Yeah, we did something that was very risky, and I don't recommend B2B SaaS companies do that, but this is what we did. We started to approach the big clients, the big guys. We knew that if we were able to get them in the, the rest would follow, but if we were not able to get them in, we would have wasted our time and resources.

[00:22:09] I know we'd be a very bad thing for the business. It was a very, very risky thing. So we did approach them. We basically show them the product, how it works. We create successful stories. We show them the success story basically. And we were successfully able to get them in when we government, I said just like another B2B companies, as you know, it's like a ball rolling.

[00:22:36] You know what I mean? It gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So then eventually. And instead of, because we started from sales perspective, we started to do a campground, typical B2B sales, where we outreach and approach clients, et cetera. That was our plan. Actually, we knew that if we got the big guys, they would turn would be turned into like a word of mouth referrals. This is what is actually happening right now.

Omer: [00:23:01] So when you, Hey, big guys, how did you define that company? What sort of size are we talking about?

Abdullah: [00:23:06] Well, you know, if we talk about restaurants in general, there are two things to, in the mind when you're defining how big that restaurant is versus the number of splashes on the store that they have, if it's a chain. Second sort of sales, their sales, basically. How much they're making a year, et cetera. That, because why I'm saying this is because there are people, are restaurants that are like, maybe have five branches only, but they're making like huge sales a year and we consider that as a client.

[00:23:36] So if, if it comes to a number of branches, we were looking at like a 20, 30 plus restaurant chain. If it comes to revenue and sales, would, we were looking at like, those are, have overall over like, a $40 million sales a year. That was our definition of a, sort of the big guys.

Omer: [00:23:58] And how many of them were there?

Abdullah: [00:24:00] Plenty!

Omer: [00:24:00] Was this just in Riyadh? Or was this kind of broader across, you know, different markets in the Middle East? Like where are you focusing?

Abdullah: [00:24:12] Till today? We're focused in Saudi, Saudi and Riyadh specifically. It has like 70% of the Middle East market almost, or 60% of the Middle East market. So, we have a very big enough pockets to conquer.

[00:24:27] So that's why we're still focused on there. But of course, we always say Taker is born global because it's a SaaS company, but until we get we're going to basically dominate our market. Then we will be looking at other markets.

Omer: [00:24:42] Yeah. I mean, there was one thing sort of surprising about Taker in the website was I didn't see any clues that this was a business focused in Saudi when I knew it was because of you, but in terms of like the way that the website came across, just never an idea other than when you look at maybe some of the logos and the companies that you have there also, it was, it was interesting that it's just like everything is in English. Was there ever a, you know, a, a need for people to say, well, we, we need sort of, for you to support Arabic version or anything like that?

Abdullah: [00:25:22] It has two languages right now, even the product has two languages. It has English and it has Arabic. By the way, even though we have them, the population of Saudi is 32 million half of which is ex-pats speak, mostly English. So English is, is, is, has to be there in any way.

Omer: [00:25:42] You have 16 million ex-pats

Abdullah: [00:25:44] No, not 10 half of half of the 32 million, like almost 10 million, 10 or was 15 million in Saudi?

Omer: [00:25:54] Wow. Okay. All right. So, you've identified these bigger companies. What did the, sort of the, the outreach to these companies look like? And tell me a little bit about what type of challenges or objections you had getting them on board?

Abdullah: [00:26:12] If your question is about sales on sales strategy, you know, the B2B sales has its own challenges. There is like, I would say a scientific way of doing it, where you have to identify the stakeholders, you know the science company, the decision makers. And then you have to know who your champion is that you can, you know, they can help you inside the company, making the decision to go with Taker.

[00:26:39] We had to play all of these games as you already know. So, we played that, that game basically with, with the companies. It's not a game, but it's a way of selling to the businesses, in general. We had a definitely have we had friends. Also, we had friends of friends, also that all together, we tried to leverage every single channel that we had, you know. In hand, conversely and all to facilitate the sales.

[00:27:04] But overall, we knew that if we had a good product, we were be able to set up, that was actually the thing that we really focused on. We did something that helped us in a big way why big companies started to join Taker. We knew that people love apps. We could have sold on the website, ordering website, as you know, but we decided to build an app.

[00:27:34] And this is something that I want to talk about why we decided to do so because you know, at least in Saudi, pretty sure everywhere, kind of the same people are used to ordering food from the app, not from the websites. And we got those statistics from our friends, building the aggregators applications in other food opening applications, like UberEats and HungerStation that we have in Saudi.

[00:27:57] Like I would say over 90% of the orders over those platforms come from the app, not from the website. So, we knew that people are used ordering food from the app. So we focused so much in building the applications and perfecting kits. So, and, and our strategy did work because the potential clients didn't look at the website.

[00:28:15] They actually looked at the apps. They liked the apps and then they decided to join us. And in fact, until today, 95% of the orders created on Takers platform comes from apps, not from the website, by the way. So that was something that we knew beforehand when we wanted to build a product, which helped us a lot with our growth because everyone wanted, wanted an app.

[00:28:39] So. Yeah. So I thought I forgot your question, but the question, how did you, what was your question again? Sorry.

Omer: [00:28:48] So, yeah, the question really was how did you do outreach to these companies? And as you've talked about it, it was an account-based marketing approach, right? You have a certain number of target customers here.

[00:29:02] You're, you're figuring out exactly who the key people are the decision-makers, the stakeholders, you're working, the relationships, you try to figure out how to do personal outreach here. Once you've got your foot in the door, what did the sales process look like? What did you have to do to get to a sale? How many meetings were they, how many demos? Did you have to do?

Abdullah: [00:29:25] It's a good question. Today, it takes us, you know, no more than two phone calls today. Because we have already established the brand have established the company and everyone knows us. But before we had to do many, many things. We had, like, he used to the sale cycle used to be three months, by the way.

[00:29:43] Now it's been shortened. Now it's almost like a, I would say two weeks when the client started interacting with us. But of course, when you do a B2B sales, after identifying the stakeholders or decision-makers, you have to do one thing that is. Buddy-buddy enforcement. You have to have your champion inside the company because you know, restaurants are companies at the end of the day, they have management to these sort of things, how to get the champion is a different story, but you have to, at the end of the day, get to know him, have to talk to him.

[00:30:15] You had to, I have to make him feel that, you know, it's choosing Taker and going with Taker would get him promoted and his job. If you reach that level, it means he's going to fight for you inside the company when they are on one table, deciding whether to go with Taker or not. But it's a combination of, I would say social intelligence, you know what I mean, social engineering, you know what I mean? It's also psychological tricks also that you need to. Do a to get to get there.

Omer: [00:30:47] How did you figure out who these champions were the, in the organization?

Abdullah: [00:30:51] Well, he had to do your homework before approaching a new client. You have to do research. You look up the company out like LinkedIn or elsewhere have to look at the social media, how they work.

[00:31:04] It has to know who they are working with like other companies they're working with. You have to ask, you know what I mean? We do ask our clients also about other companies and restaurants. There's no like one way of doing it, but at the end of the day before getting in a meeting  with them, you have to have a good idea who they are, who the stakeholders are,  the decision-maker is. Not only that one, the pain that they are having is because if you come talking about what you, how brilliant your product is, no one cares. They cared about the problem that they have problem with that they want you to solve, basically. So that's why when have all of this research, you have to and the meeting itself, the first meeting, you have to let them talk.

[00:31:49] To for you to, to grab what their problems are. So when you talk about your product, you don't talk about your product. You're talking about the solution to their problems. So if you did all of that, you maximize your chance that the sales is going to go through.

Omer: [00:32:03] Do you have a sales background?

Abdullah: [00:32:05] I never studied sales. But I did sales. So, I practiced it, I would say. Okay. Most of my time, like building those products, and the journey that I went through. It was all B2B. I never did B2C, any B2C business. Yes. So that's why I kind of learned how to sell, you know, one way or another. I'm still learning actually.

Omer: [00:32:27] So in the four years before you got to take a, you were getting practice with B2B sales.

Abdullah: [00:32:34] Ah, yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah, we did make many, many mistakes. We did lose deals actually before, because we didn't attack from the sales properly, but we learned again, we learned.

Omer: [00:32:47] Okay. And so out of these, you sort of targeted about 20 companies that these big guys, how many of them were you able to land as customers?

Abdullah: [00:32:55] I think at least 15. Yeah. At least 15.

Omer: [00:33:00] Wow. Were you the only show in town? Were there other products or solutions out there or were you the only, like what, what were the alternatives that they could choose from building something themselves? Was there's something app of some other product they could buy?

Abdullah: [00:33:15] There were actually other products locally and internationally too. Not only that they had our choice of building it themselves. But however, as I said to you, we have, an extensive experience in the industry. We know how it functions or the pain points are. We knew what people wanted. And, we worked building the product. We worked with clients, as I said to you, right from the beginning.

[00:33:39] So we were working with them to understand exactly what to deliver to them. So I would say we just built a very good product. That was actually the, the, the point, if our product wasn't good, it would not, we will not be able to, to sell it. Even though if we had experienced selling B2B, you know, solutions, et cetera. The product at the end of the day is what the clients look at at the end of the day. So this is how it would work.

Omer: [00:34:07] And did you find that once you'd worked with those initial four customers. Like how did you get to a point where you felt like, yeah, we've, we've pretty much nailed most of the problems that most of these customers are going to have, or were you finding that when you still went into do these deals with these bigger companies, there was a bunch of work you still needed to go back and do on the product

Abdullah: [00:34:31] Before Taker as I said to you, we had the delivery management software, which we were targeting restaurants too. So we were not too new to the industry. We knew the problems. We knew what the clients, but of course there are many, many things we learned as we, as we were building the product. But right from the beginning, we were not be able to sell the vision as I said to you, to the clients before building even the product, if we did not know what they wanted. Yeah, we knew many, many things. We knew the pain points, as I said to you, and, and also working with them closely, building the product was actually also very, very helpful. So when they talk to you, when they talk about product-market fit, right from the beginning, we had a product-market fit because we did not almost have assumptions you know to validate. What everything was validated right from the beginning. So, so that's why that, that actually escalated, our growth because when we approached new clients, after those four, everything was there almost. So they did not like they did not say, okay, you don't have this, you don't have that. Everything that you needed was there, which was helpful for us.

Omer: [00:35:42] Right. And then as, I think you mentioned earlier that the, having the social proof as well, that when you've got some of these bigger brands or logos and already has customers, it kind of makes the decision for a lot of the smaller businesses easier, right? In terms of, well, if these companies are using Taker, it must be good.

Abdullah: [00:35:59] Exactly. Yes. That was possible for it also.

Omer: [00:36:02] So it's, it's kind of been an interesting journey that we've talked about here for you and the multiple businesses that you, you try to build. And all of them were, you know, there was, there was just like something missing, right? In terms of whether it was like, Oh, I've got the product, but don't have a market or we've got a market, but we are unable to sell it to them or all of these things until you get to the point where you kind of almost really prepared you and primed you for, for being able to build Taker.

[00:36:34] And I think that's probably part of the reason why you've been able to, to, to bootstrap this business and, and do really well, in terms of growing it very quickly over the last year, looking back at this journey, what do you wish you had done differently?

Abdullah: [00:36:55] Well, many things actually see the failures. Yes, they are failures, but actually they are lessons  at the end of the day. We would not having been able to build Taker or grow Taker or even sell Taker, if we did not go through those obstacles and failures at the end of the day.

[00:37:11] But the thing that I was, I, you know, go back the thing that would really focus on is, focus on specific thing and choose the segment, not all in the industry, also the segment inside the industry, as I said to you, when we built the, the delivery management software, there were multiple segments. Like they will, there will be a delivery companies that are logistics companies, there was the retail industry and it was the restaurants, a couple of others. So we picked the rest shots.

[00:37:41] Basically we had to pick one because. Even though they all had the same pain point, but everyone solves it differently. So focusing on one on one segment is the thing that I would, we did it with a little bit of management software, but we did not do it with Humanage. The, the Salesforce product, we did not do it with SecureMe, you know what I mean?

[00:38:06] We did not even know who called the client was. So yeah, choosing the segment even, even though if you had wrong assumptions being focused on one segment would help you correct it quickly instead of being really scattered around multiple segments, multiple problems, multiple ways of approaching also like the same, the same problem.

Omer: [00:38:31] Yeah, I think that's good advice. All right. We're going to move on. Let's do the lightning round. You're a listener of the show, so you know, the drill hair could ask you seven questions and just try to answer them as quickly as you can. Ready?

Abdullah: [00:38:44] Yes, ready?

Omer: [00:38:45] What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Abdullah: [00:38:49] Focus.

[00:38:50] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

[00:38:52] The book that I love is called, “Law of Human Nature”. It's basically, it basically teaches how psychology works and that's when it comes to business that holds a lot, the only in your personal and social life, also with like hiring and managing employees, et cetera, also dealing with that with, with clients. So, it just teaches you how psychology works.

Omer: [00:39:15] Do you know who the author is?

Abdullah: [00:39:17] He's called the Greene, Robert Greene.

Omer: [00:39:19] Robert Greene. Okay. Yeah. Oh yeah. I think I, I think I know you're talking about, okay. We'll include a link to that. And, what's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?

Abdullah: [00:39:31] But I would say her perseverance.

Omer: [00:39:35] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

Abdullah: [00:39:40] Productivity tool? So, I like Spark. It's an email client that is really brilliant. It helps you with your, with your, it helps me be productive with emails. Put it that way.

 [00:39:51] I use Spark as well. So, there's two of us. What's your crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the time?

Abdullah: [00:40:00] I wouldn't even call it a business idea, but it's actually something that I have been because coming from a crypto background, what I want to know is I want to know how AI can help break crypto. I'm not sure if someone has done a, like a scientific research doing like trying to figure out if that works or not. But I believe there is a, there's an interesting thing to it.

Omer: [00:40:24] How to break crypto

Abdullah: [00:40:26] with AI.

Omer: [00:40:27] Interesting. What's an interesting fun fact about you that most people don't know?

Abdullah: [00:40:33] Well I write poems.

Omer: [00:40:35] You're a poet.

Abdullah: [00:40:37] You can say that.

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

Abdullah: [00:40:44] Oh yeah. I'm actually, I'm actually a cultural tour guide. I have been doing this for, for nine years voluntarily. What I do is people coming from like outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I take them out. We will go to the, like a traditional and historical sites.

[00:41:03] We talk about, you know, cultural, et cetera. I have, I have met about like, I don't know, thousands and thousands of people from over 150 countries, you know, having different backgrounds, different educations, you know what I mean? Different nationalities, different colors, a different way of thinking. I think this has been extremely helpful for me. That's why I'm passionate about it because people think they are learning from me because I'm the tour guide, but I'm actually learning from them because they come from all different backgrounds. So, yeah, that's kind of a passion that I, that I do outside of my, my work. I'm not doing too much these days, but nine years.

Omer: [00:41:44] Wow. That's awesome. Great. Well, Abdullah thank you for joining me. It's been, it's been a pleasure talking and sharing your story. If people want to find out more about Taker, they can go to taker.io. And if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that.

Abdullah: [00:42:03] They can reach out to me on my email, abdullah[at]taker[dot]io  also, they can reach me  out on LinkedIn or Twitter where it says my handler is S-A-A-D-I-N-E-U-R. Yeah. I'll be happy to help.

Omer: [00:42:19] Awesome. Okay. Well, they got the emails of the taker.io and then the links to the LinkedIn and the Twitter, we'll include that in the show notes for people.

[00:42:32] Great. Well, thank you very much. Appreciate you joining me, and I wish you all the best of success with Taker.

Abdullah: [00:42:40] Thanks so much for calling me.

Omer: [00:42:42] My pleasure. Cheers.

Abdullah: [00:42:43] Cheers. Bye-bye.

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The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early-stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.