SaaS Product Market Fit: Lessons from Klipfolio’s CEO
Allan Wille is the co-founder and CEO of Klipfolio, a SaaS application for building and sharing real-time business dashboards on browsers, mobile devices, and TVs. Klipfolio helps you stay in control of your business by giving you visibility into your most important data and metrics, wherever you are.
Klipfolio is based Ottowa, Canada and was founded in 2001. To date, the company has raised over $16 million dollars. And it has over 8,500 customers including companies such as Jet.com, Zendesk and Ikea to name a few.
This episode is a story about 2 co-founders who struggled for 3 years to get their first paying customer. And to make ends meet during that time, one of the co-founders even had to sell his car to be able to put food on the table.
These guys spent 3 years building a business to consumer (B2C) product. And they had almost 300,000 users. But the problem was that they had zero revenue. But they kept telling themselves that they just had to keep going.
Then one day the received a call from someone at Lufthansa, the largest airline in Germany. The company had a number of their employees using the B2C product to track soccer game scores. They wanted to know if the app could also be used to display business data in a dashboard. And that was the day that they co-founders pivoted to a business to business (B2B) model.
They built what Lufthansa wanted. And then went out to find their next corporate customer and then the next one. It wasn't easy. It involved a lot of cold-calling in the early days, which both the co-founders hated. But slowly they started to get traction.
And it was really slow growth. After 10 years of being in business, the company had 14 employees. But finally their persistence paid off and they started to see the elusive ‘hockey stick' growth after year 10. The company now has over 90 employees and does over $8 million in annual run rate.
TranscriptClick to view transcript
00:11 Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast I'm your host. Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interviewed proven founders and industry experts who share their strategies and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business.
00:29 This week's episode is a story about two co-founders who struggled for three years to get their first paying customer and to make ends meet during that time. One of the co-founders even had to sell his car to be able to put food on the table. These guys spent three years building a B2C business to consumer product and they had almost three hundred thousand users. The problem was that they had zero revenue but they kept telling themselves that they just had to keep going. Then one day they received a call from someone at Lufthansa the largest airline in Germany. The company had a number of their employees using this B2C product to track soccer game scores and they wanted to know if the app could also be used to display business data in a dashboard and that was the day that the co-founders pivoted to a B2B business.
01:25 They built what Lufthansa wanted and then went out to find their next corporate customer. And then the next one. It wasn't easy. It involved a lot of cold calling in the early days which both the co-founders hated but slowly they started to get traction. And it was really slow growth. After 10 years of being in business the company had about 14 employees but finally their persistence paid off and they started to see the elusive hockey stick growth after year 10. The company now has over 90 employees and does over $8 million in annual run rate. It's a great story and I hope you enjoy it. Before we get started, I'd love to send you my free productivity tool kit which will teach you the habits, hacks and tools used by successful founders and entrepreneurs.
02:15 If you'd like to get a copy just head over to theSaaSpodcast.com. Also I'm delighted to announce the launch of SaaS Club. A premium membership site for software entrepreneurs. It will cover more in-depth content for people who are interested in going beyond this podcast. Initially, it's starting out as a monthly training program. Each month we'll have a live master class or mastermind and Q&A will cover the topics that are most important to the members. From finding a winning business idea to learning how to hire the right developer learning the essential growth hacks for acquiring new customers. SaaS Club is the place to connect. Share ideas. Ask questions. Get help andcelebrate our successes. If you'd like to find out more about SaaS Club or want to be notified when registration opens. Just head over to saasclub.co. OK. Let's get on with the interview.
03:12 Today's guest is the co-founder and CEO of Klipfolio a SaaS application for building and sharing real time business dashboards on web browsers mobile devices and TVs. It helps you stay in control of your business by giving you visibility into your most important data and metrics wherever you are. Klipfolio is based in Ottawa, Canada and was founded in 2001. To date, the company has raised over $16 million and it has over 8.5K customers including companies such as Jet.com, Zendesk and Ikea to name a few. So today I'd like to welcome Allan Wille. Allan welcome to the show.
04:01 So great to be here.
04:04 Thanks Omer.Now I would like to start by asking my guests getting inside your head a little bit. And you know figuring out what makes them tick. So what is it for you. What gets you out of bed everyday to work on your business?
04:17 I think there's a lot of things and probably most importantly it's people that I work with. You know fundamentally I've always been a huge fan of hiring the right people and really surrounding myself with amazing people. So that's something that I've really taken to heart. We've done that quite successfully. So working with a team that is inspiring really here to us to solve problems and solve problems for customers is probably the biggest thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.
04:49 I also love and I remember and a lot of entrepreneurs probably have this experience but I remember the very very first time that a customer actually paid us like real money he paid us for our software for our service, and it was just such an insanely humbling experience.
05:11 It was such a high. It was almost unbelievable that somebody was going to part with their money and and buy what we had created and I don't think I'm alone in that.
05:21 But I think that's another huge thing that drives a lot of entrepreneurs, this idea that they are truly helping and building value.
05:31 You know I think if you ask most folks and that's why they're in it that's why they're in it for sure.
05:37 Yeah it's interesting I've heard a number of people say that and in many of these people have got to a point where you know like like your business they're running very successful businesses.
05:48 But they still look back and remember that first customer or the first time it happened and it's almost like that that first $10 or $50 or whatever it was seems more valuable than a lot of what really really.
06:04 It really does. Right. Because you were you were intimately involved at that time. You know like you know the first thousand customers that we brought on I think I was intimately involved with almost every single one of those. And there's real there's there's huge value in that of course right. And I try to stay as close as possible to all customers and especially the early ones. But you're right that first customer or the first dozen customers they're really really special and they really they really shape how an entrepreneur approaches you know what they're doing and how they get up in the morning right.
06:41 Yeah. Now I gave the audience an overview of Klipfolio but in your own words can you help the audience understand a little bit more about who are your target customers. What's the problem that you're trying to solve? Sure!
07:02 Sure. I mean the business has changed quite dramatically over the past 15 years and I'm sure we can get into that.
07:08 Today we're really lucky in that we work with a lot of multiple thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. So I know that you mentioned some of the bigger names like Jet and Ikea you know whoever else it was and we deal with big companies as well but the bulk of our customers are small and mid-sized companies.
07:30 And you know the the owners or the founders or the the managers they'll come to us and they'll say I know I need to be monitoring the health of my business. I know that these things should be things that are on my radar on a daily basis.
07:45 But first of all I don't I don't know what I should be monitoring. Right. So we can help them and guide them. A lot of what we do is you know with our content and with our sales process is cost them into what metrics and what passport's they should be looking at in the first place. And then secondly you know is this a good number or is this a bad number. So when these customers first come to us and we've talked to them about this they'll often say I don't feel that I'm in control of what my business is doing or I have so many data sources or so many apps that are providing data. Again I don't feel like I am in control and that's a that's an interesting word because I think that's something that you know every entrepreneur needs to feel like they are in charge and are on top of what the business is telling them so.
08:33 So I think in that regard I mean there's a real connection between what we're doing and how we can help our customers build a better more successful stronger more competitively sustainable businesses. So I mean that in a nutshell is what we're doing we're helping them bring all the varied metrics on all the things that matter and put them in real time to operate so that they know and can make better decisions throughout the day.
09:01 The business loan was founded in 2001, 16 years is a long time for any SaaS business I'm even sure there are that many out now I know. Can you tell us a little bit about how you co-founders Peter right. Yeah that's right. That's right.
09:24 And we actually went to school together. I've known him for a long time. Actually my second company I started another company in 96.
09:33 And I mean just a quick sidebar with that company in '96 you know straight out of university. And for those of you old enough money was being thrown around like crazy.
09:45 And we were raised $45 Million within a matter of three years in '96 and I accepted that company the company did an IPO and I mean nobody really got terribly rich.
09:58 But when I started this company in 2001 you know my only real experience was that I was going to go out to market and raise funds you know and this is 2001-2002 you know and we had a product idea but there was really no evidence.
10:19 And I think yeah I think that was probably one of the earliest misconceptions or mistakes that I made and what's what's maybe the lesson in this is that I still see that behavior today. There's a there's definitely a glorification of companies that go out and raise money and raise money often far too soon. You know really it's a case of you know the cart before the horse syndrome and we were doing exactly the same thing. We went off to market. First of all. In 2002-2001 there was no VC or Angel in their right mind that was going to invest in a pretty revenue startup. And that was probably one of the best things that ever happened. It really sort of level set our expectations about what it meant to be starting a business whether it meant to be an entrepreneur and I mean I always caution folks that you know being an entrepreneur is both the best thing and the worst thing in the world.
11:19 And. You had better have an expectation to be self-sufficient, cash self-sufficient for two years because it was going to be hard. And I remember the early days I mean Peter my co-founder founder sold his car so that we could put some food on the table. Well you know we were married. We didn't have a house with kids at the time I stuff so you know those things there are you know it's easier if you don't have those obligations. But still I mean there's there's a lot of hard, perseverance and really painful difficult and certainly in the early years. Now what was interesting when we first started the company it actually wasn't a B2B player it was B2C player where we had a dashboard. We've always been dashboard vendor real time dashboard vendor.
12:11 But the promise was we have dashboard that you download to your desktop.
12:18 It was an on-prem tool and you monitor your software scores your weather your sports news your your your stock prices etc. etc..
12:27 And it was actually wildly popular. We have thousands of downloads every day and we could not find a business buyer.
12:35 You know it was it was really really difficult to just see on the one hand the success but on the other hand you know this inability to get money coming in.
12:47 So you know that was very difficult and it wasn't until one of our early customers Lufthansa came along and said well would you consider pushing business data to the desk dashboard instead of you know soccer scores.
13:01 And that was really our first customer and we listened and we made an overnight decision that we were going to move into the business dashboard space and and of course at that time it's not hard to do as you're starving.
13:15 There's really no viable business model that is making sense.
13:21 So if a customer comes along and presents an opportunity I think it's a very clear indication that you jump on it and you listen to that customer and you pivot the business very quickly. And that's enough. That's a clear indication right. But I'll tell you the flip side as we were then moving into the business space and we we sold into customers such as Intel and EMC.
13:48 We had this downloadable desktop dashboard that was very expensive and it was being sold at the IT and the sales cycle was very long and we started making revenue. But we never really experienced a tremendous amount of growth.
14:07 And here's one of the places where a lot of our customers get stuck as I said if you're if you're not making any money whatsoever and there's a clear indication that things are not working it's very easy to say Hey let's move on let's let's discard this business model or discard this product and move on. On the flip side things are growing like crazy.
14:32 You're two exing or three exing your revenue.
14:33 Again it's clear to say that hey we've got something that's working but a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck in that middle ground where they have fits and spirts of successes little successes that drive hope and drive these false positives.
14:51 A business model or product that actually has fit and we were in that same boat for actually a very long time. And you say things to you yourself you say things let's stay the course because look at last month we sold this big deal and you say let's stick to our guns. But the reality is is that product is not working it's not working to the expectations that you that you should be should be growing at.
15:20 So I think this is this is definitely one of the lessons that you know I would put out there. Be be as brutally honest as you can with your success and your growth rate. And if you're stuck in that mediocrity that's sort of a middle ground where it's not a horrible disaster and it's not a wonderful success. You really have to ask yourself is this as good as good as it's going to get. Or should we try something different. And in our case we spent too long doing the same thing and we should have said listen this is not working let's retool. Let's go back to the drawing board and try something different. So certainly you know in the early years we were definitely struggled. You know we struggle with the fact that we're not funded. And that was probably a good thing. We also of course struggled with the fact that we had this very slow growth that that we should have probably killed much much earlier than we did.
16:17 So that the funding is is a great point. So why do you say that you see too many startups that sort of going out and trying to get funding before they really have traction.
16:36 What are, what are, from your perspective what are some of the downsides of raising money to early.
16:41 The downsides are that you don't have any leverage. You know if you if you go out and raise raise money or if even if you start working with an incubator I think that's that's often one of the first places that that put companies on the wrong on the wrong path. Now there's there's incubators that are really really tremendous at what they do. But
17:05 I always caution people if you're if you're getting involved with an equity-based incubator I would definitely say think twice about it. You really have to believe in the value they're going to give you for that equity.
17:20 But there are also tons of non equity based incubators accelerators and those are the ones that are a big fan of. So they're more about more of a place where you can bounce ideas you can work with a like minded group of folks.
17:38 You know when you're not giving up equity in the early days I mean the days are so much. I mean even your Comcast has so much information online there's so many. Areas that are willing to help you can get advice and it used to be that that was the big thing that an incubator would offer.
17:56 But I think that that model has changed somewhat. So I would be cautious very indefinite cautious about bringing equity on to order. I think to the very very first thing that a company should be focused on is product market. You know you need to get it out and have you know 12 customers say you know this is fantastic. I love this and you want to hear words like that right. You want to see if you can replicate that get another 12 customers, right?
18:25 Can you then you know push that a little bit further in and maybe only then say okay do we have something that is scalable like could we put money on the top and either further build out our product roadmap for further build out our sales and marketing organization. The only time that you really should be looking at.
18:45 A capital inclusion is if you can accelerate the business and I think a lot of companies look at it the other way around where they say let's get some funding in here so that we can build the product so that we can build out the market use case and then we'll sort of go for another round and then we'll scale it. I think there's a tremendous amount of respect that you'd learn early you gain if you bootstrap and really have to fight for that first customer in the first dozen customers. The first two dozen customers. So I'm a huge fan of bootstrapping it first proving it out and then only.
19:26 And most companies actually I would argue should actually never go for capital.
19:32 You know probably only a few companies really really should be looking at giving up that valuable equity.
19:49 So the the the the lesson that you kind of shared in terms of that mediocrity can be dangerous and kind of not totally being honest with yourself that you know is your product, actually getting somewhere are you actually onto something or do you need to make a change.
20:14 And I think that maybe in hindsight that's easier to do but if somebody is kind of in that stage right now where maybe they have a product in market they have some customers maybe they're not getting the the rapid growth that they would like to see. What are some of the signs that you would the advice you could give them exactly what are those telltale signs.
20:44 I actually just wrote a blog post about this. So it's top of mind.
20:49 And we went through it as well. And when I talked to other entrepreneurs around here you know I often hear one or two stories I hear entrepreneur saying how do we generate leads. How do we generate demand. You know you have a direct sales force and should be investing in the partner channel. So I hear questions like that and.
21:13 It feels to me like you're still pushing the string but you don't have a product market fit yet, you don't have that demand yet.
21:22 So if you're if you're asking questions about how do we grow marketing, how do we grow leads, how to grow sales. Those may be red flags. Once in a blue moon and unfortunately there's fewer of these companies. I will meet with a founder who says, how do we scale, how do we build our dev ops, how do we build our way. You know we don't have enough support people. Those are very very different questions. And in that case the business is feeling a call from the string. The product is fitting. I use case and it's really valuable and it is moving and it's a totally totally different feeling than a product that doesn't have a fit. So if you're in one of those situations it will feel very very different if you're in the first situations where you're trying to figure out how to market and how to generate more leads and sales. You may want to ask yourself the question if the product is really something that customers you valuing.
22:24 And also how about is the amount of effort you need to put into selling your product.
22:35 You have to really you know if you're if you're chatting with prospects you know it's a long sales cycle is it a difficult sell cycle. Some products are more difficult to sell than others. You know there are more technical sales so that can give get your false positive.
22:50 But you're right those kind of things are often telltale signs as well. On the flip side you know the customers that you have you know do you have high churn, do you have customers that are you know have low engagement. So all of those questions as well will point to you know is your product market fit. So. I really see the growth stages as as three things. You know first the company any company needs to really focus on product. You know do they have valuable product market fit. Right? Only then they should sort of add on the second stage which is all about growth. What can we do to grow and accelerate as quickly as possible. And once they got that then they should be thinking about efficiency metrics what can we do to not only have broad market fit and grow this but also be efficient with our with our metrics.
23:42 So going back to 2001 when you guys launch this business how long did you run it as a B2C play before you sort of pivoted to a B2B business.
23:55 Well it was three years. It was three years before we had Lufthansa, our first keying B2B client and you know in the early days we were building websites for people we were doing odd jobs to keep the money coming in. And you know I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think those are good and humble playing experiences that that entrepreneurs need to and probably should be doing.
24:22 So three years it took me three years to get your first paying customer.
24:27 Yeah absolutely. But in the meantime we had we had close to 250 or 300,000 users that were using this B2C product. So again we were stuck in this sort of false positive market we had sort of this this side of the market that was working side of the business that was working but it wasn't generating any revenue. So it's hard it's really hard to get all these different mixed messages.
24:52 And I guess one of the dangers is that you can start to look at that and say great we've got you know a few hundred thousand users they're not paying us anything. Let's kind of focus on how we can monetize that. Maybe we can grow that to you know five hundred thousand users and sort of then we'll figure out how to make money from it.
25:16 But there's a danger with that right because you can kind of you can kind of fool yourself into thinking that. You know in every company will take a lot of different ways to sort of figure things out. You know and we were we were we were still passionaite and excited about this but it wasn't until this customer came to us and opened our eyes to a different business model that we really said hey this is something that we can still be passionate about and grow the company.
25:44 So how did you go about getting a company like Lufthansa as a customer well like that came with it that came with the volume right.
25:56 So we had a lot of customers or users on the consumer product you know fast forward to today. You know today I'm a huge fan of content marketing or su. And it's something that I actually think that we've done very very well. You know we've put a lot of energy the way we structure our marketing department. We've put a lot of energy to into writing relevant valuable content. So and again that kind of content really drives the best type of of leads as well. So I think I think yes you can have you can have this user-based that will buy you know through a viral or sort of have customers come back to your site. But in many cases you know for customers or for businesses that are that are starting to generate leads and really need me to look at demand generation.
26:50 I would say one of the most efficient and probably the highest quality things to do is to really look at what kind of content what kind of questions are your customers asking and can you put valuable content around that that will drive leads and awareness back to your website. So I mean thats what we do today. We really spend most of our effort on that. We spend quite a bit of money on Adwords as well of course. We have also invested in Facebook but you know we found that Facebook is is too high up in the in the final so theres not enough intent because again it's not it's not a search driven or an intent rich rich channel. So I mean you've got to try all these things you know something or for some companies and not for others, one lesson that.
27:41 I have found is that it takes it takes a lot of effort and testing to get advertising spend right. You can waste a tremendous amount of dollars if you don't really monitor the leads and the quality leads. They come in through some of the paid advertising channels like Facebook's, Facebook gave us a tremendous amount of volume but the quality of the conversions and the retention of that cohort was very low. So you know it doesn't make sense to continue investing in that for example so it's tough everything test every single cohort. But consistently we found that content marketing and SEO effort. Was content marketing the way you acquired that first customer the Lufthansa know that first customer was acquired because they had. A couple of hundred tons of employees that were using our consumer dashboard to monitor their soccer scores.
28:41 Love it you know.
28:44 And they were like OK enough is enough. You know let's see if we can push some business data through this channel as the first of the soccer sports right. You know the Germans are pretty passionate about their soccer sports. So there you go, that's how it happened.
29:00 And so what were what were you guys doing in those early days to get customers so you get Lufthansa you know you got a big big kind of corporate customer. It kind of validates the shift to the pivot that you decided to make. And so what did you do next to then say OK how do we get the next customer with the one after that.
29:28 Right. So. So this is this is still before we launched our cloud-based application that we pivoted the business model to more of said the model. So we're selling we're selling enterprise grade software we're selling into you know we sold it to Intel and American express. You know H&R Block and Staples. So this was this was very much direct selling. Now we we really still had a lot of alert content focused and SEO always been something that has been very close to close to everything that we do. But for the most part I remember you know I would I would prospect and I would cold call and Omer I can tell you I hated it. I mean it felt so inefficient you know no matter how well I targeted a person you know there were just there was just a real real difficult struggle to get them to spend any time with me and listen to the story.
30:31 So I remember that was very very difficult and it's rather entire period. We continue to spend more time on growing our inbound processes so really you know with content and with demand generation through SEO that started making that much easier. So I had to do less outbound cold calling and what I was doing as I was then were replying to warm leads that were coming through through our inbound process. And that's, it's night and day I mean anybody that's tried that you know firsthand. It truly is night and day and it's much more efficient because here's somebody who is has raised their hand and they said hey I'm interested in what you're what you're selling. I would like to speak to somebody. And again back in those days this is sort of you know 2007-2008.
31:22 You know the product in this self-service is the one that is that we have today. So we had to talk to them we had to on board them we had to have a technical discussion with IT and it still wasn't relatively long sales cycle. So you know that that direct approach was necessary. But moving from a cold call to a warm prospect to raise their hand was a huge shift and a very viable shift as far as the efficiency of that process went and also my mental health. You know I think it's really it's truly hard to sort of pick up the phone everyday and reach out to folks that fundamentally probably don't want to talk to you.
32:04 How long did you have to do that food before you were able to rely more on inbound marketing.
32:11 We that happened relatively quickly. I mean I was I was super motivated because you know this was simply not working. It was not working. From from my happiness point of view and it simply wasn't working from a value point of view. So we started investing very early on in blog posts and in content. And the other thing is I mean the 300,000 consumer users actually helped us quite a bit as far as our presence and our back links and our buzz. So when we started writing content and really you know employing SEO tactics it actually happened pretty quickly and keep in mind back back then there was there was not a lot of sophistication in the in the search engine optimization world and we were actually made able to make some huge strides very very quickly. So luckily for me. I didn't have to do more than maybe a year or so of a cold calling in before we had warm prospects coming in. A year of cold calling for you know probably day of cold calling feels like a year. Oh. It is horrendous.
33:20 Alright. You also when we were talking earlier you also mentioned that when it came to your first thousand customers you had be pretty involved with just about all of that. Yeah. So how did that happen. Was that because you were you were having to onboard these people. What was what was the level of involvement you had.
33:45 Yes. Let's let's switch gears for a sec. Because the first thousand when I talk about the first thousand or so in 2012 we launched the prime product which is our cloud-,based dashboard that is targeting small and mid-sized businesses. And it wasn't being sold for $50,000 that was being sold for $25 a month per user. So very very different business model super risky move on our part. But the reason the fundamental reason and we have lots and lots of inbound volumes. The reason I wanted to talk to all of these customers and I was motivated to talk to all of these customers because it was a brand new product it was it was mature. We were trying to understand the market. And I really wanted to talk to as many customers as I possibly could. And there's there's there's a huge advantage to that.
34:43 So a lot of founders will shy away from the idea of talking with customers and either they'll say well we're going to build something that is totally self served and it's going to be through the Web site only or else say listen I don't really like sales and I'm going to hand it over to some sales rep that I that I bring in or that I hire. There's a huge advantage especially for the founder or the CEO to talk to those early customers. A) You will find that your customer retention rate is through the roof because the customers have got a personal relationship with with the CEO or the founder. And fundamentally I'm asking about the health of the interest and the value of the product. So you know it really is like we're using we're involving these early customers in every single decision and there's huge value in that.
35:38 So I really I really tried to you know talk to on board, help, learn from you know each one of those first thousand customers and then and then then the volume starts becoming too difficult. And I still try to reach out and you know get involved as much as I can and especially if a customer today if a customer says hey we've got an issue you know I might jump in and see if I can help out or likewise. Which is really nice if a customer you know writes in and says hey we had a great experience you know working with your support team. You know all reach out to that customer again and I'll say listen thanks so much for the note. It really makes a big difference. You know let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Those touchpoints I think are so incredibly valuable especially in the early days when when you're really trying to figure out product-market fit.
36:33 Yeah totally. So how big is the company now. How many employees you have.
36:37 So we have about 90 employees today. You know what we launched the cloud which was in 2012. I think we probably at about 14 employees if you charged that it was basically you know there was a you know it was the founders you know and then we sort of had very very slow growth for a very very long time like 10 years and then all of a sudden we've had this hockey stick you know over the past five years.
37:08 So in the first 10 years you were probably hiring about an employee a year on average Yeah or maybe not even that. I
37:15 mean you know there's ups and downs and sometimes it was even worse than you could possibly imagine. That's you know like it was a slow growth in the first 10 years. I mean I have zero regrets I don't know what else I'd be doing. You know it's always been something that gets me up in the morning. But but it's very different. That was about it today.
37:38 I don't know if you talk about revenue publicly but if if you don't do you can you give us kind of a broad sense of how big the business is today?
37:47 Yeah for sure. So I mean we've got a 8500 customers and we're closing in on doing sort of 8 million kind of number.
37:56 Well that's that's awesome. And to think you know for a business that took three years to get the first paying customer it's it's it's a truly inspirational story.
38:08 I mean I am a huge optimist right and so we were taught we were talking about quotes before you know as your favorite quote of mine and I don't know that there is but I I don't know who told me it was first it was either my my chief customer success guy or my CFO and they said, listen Allan nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems. And you know you take that to heart because I think a lot of entrepreneurs live on the rollercoaster every day and there're really are extreme highs and extreme lows. You know and I think you really have to say OK you know what. You're right the sun will always come up tomorrow. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems and both things are true. But through that even keel is something that I think that perspective can help a lot of entrepreneurs.
39:03 Yeah that's that's great advice. OK let's move on to the lightning round.
39:08 I'm going to ask you seven questions. Just trying to ask them as quickly as you can. You ready?
39:13 Yes absolutely. Let's do it. What's the best piece of business advice that you ever received?
39:19 Hire the best people. And we live by that and it is hands down the most important thing that you can do.
39:26 What book would you recommend to our audience and why?
39:30 So there's a couple of books, I gonna say Good to Great has been one that I've always found fantastic. Hard Things is is it's a raw rough read and I'm not sure if I like tactics but it's still a really good lesson and the one that I just finished reading was an amazing book called Lead by Greatness by David Lapin.
39:52 Also I would include all those in the show. What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur.
40:00 We talked about and I love it but I think a combination of this optimism and brutal honesty is secret.
40:08 What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?
40:15 If it's a productivity to I'd probably have to say you know doing lots of reading you know or chatting with, I love chatting with other founders I find it so motivational. So yeah reading it and getting information from other founders.
40:29 What's the new crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the extra time?
40:34 You know I struggled with that one but it was probably some be something you know energy or ecrelated. I think there's just so much opportunity and so much to be done in that space.
40:47 What's an interesting little fun fact about you that most people don't know?
40:54 I'm I'm pretty open book. Most people know quite well sometimes people are surprised to find out that I'm not a software or a business person. You know I had gone to school.
41:06 I actually gave industrial design I wanted to be an architect or an industrial designer when I was in school so you know I think there's there's all sorts of different backgrounds that can serendipitously you know lead to different things.
41:22 And finally what is one of your most important passions outside of your work?
41:27 I do a lot of cycling. I cycle every single day to work or back. And to me it is such a mental health it's fantastic and I've got a lot at the office to be into cycling or riding as well so I'm a huge fan of having that balance.
41:44 How far do you cycle?
41:48 I mean for you guys in the States I don't know how long this is. Sixteen kilometers one way so both you know 30-32 kilometers a day.
41:56 That must be about at least 20 miles.
41:59 I don't know what that is but yeah it's good it's it's perfect.
42:02 I get tired driving my car that far.
42:02 Get used to be cycling or walking
42:11 Allan thanks! It's been a pleasure talking to you.
42:13 Now if folks want to check out Klipfolio you can go to Klipfolio that's a clip with a K Folio.com and I include a link in the show tunes for that as well. If people want to get in touch with you what's the best way for them to do that.
42:30 You know I'll be happy for them to ping me on LnkedIn and look me up. I think that's probably one of the best ways you can DM me on Twitter as well. But that is probably the best thing to do. OK. And in the notes always say Hey I heard you on the podcast like notes, with LinkedIn request with no notes, I tend to ignore.
42:49 Good tip there. Yeah I tend to do the same as all these things. All right. Awesome.
42:55 Allan thank you. It's been a pleasure and I wish you and the team of Klipfolio all the best in the future. Absolutely. My pleasure.
43:05 Alright thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed the interview. You can get to the show notes by going to thesaaspodcast.com where you'll find a summary of this episode and a link to all the resources we discussed. If you enjoyed the episode and want to show your support for the show then just head over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast and even consider leaving a rating and a review to show your support. If you're not already in iTunes just head over to thesaaspodcast.com and click the iTunes button. Thanks for listening. Until next time take care.
- “Good to Great” by Jim Collins
- “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
- “Lead by Greatness: How Character Can Power Your Success” by David Lapin