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Zomentum: SaaS Customer Development and No-Code Prototypes – with Shruti Ghatge [269]

Shruti Ghatge - Zomentum

Zomentum: SaaS Customer Development and No-Code Prototypes

Shruti Ghatge is the co-founder and CEO of Zomentum, an all-in-one sales product built for IT managed service providers (MSPs).

Shruti used to work as an investment analyst at a private equity firm. She noticed that a lot of companies were building great products, but struggled with marketing and sales.

She and her co-founder Rahil identified this being an even bigger issue and opportunity with IT managed service providers. But neither of them had any experience with that market.

So they spent six months doing customer development and resisted writing even a single line of code. And then they spent another 4 months building the product.

When the product was ready, they sent out 2,500 cold emails to prospects. And they got a zero response rate — not even one person replied to their email.

Both founders were discouraged and started second-guessing themselves. Maybe the problem didn't exist and they had spent the last year building a solution no one wanted.

Their product lacked a lot of features and was unstable. And Shruti often felt embarrassed showing people the product and would worry that things were going to break during demos.

But, they just kept going and trying different approaches. Eventually, they found a marketing channel that was working and started attracting some customers.

Today, their business does multiple 6-figures in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and they've just raised $4M in funding.

There are some good lessons in this interview about doing customer development, why you shouldn't build a product too soon, how you can create a prototype without coding skills, and the importance of trusting your gut.

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, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Shruti Ghatge. co-founder and CEO of Zomentum and all in one sales product built for it, managed service providers or MSPs.

[00:00:37] Shruti used to work as an investment analyst at a private equity firm. She noticed that a lot of companies were building great products, but struggled with marketing and sales, she and her co-founder Rahil identified this being an even bigger issue and opportunity with IT managed service providers.

[00:00:55] But neither of them had any experience with that market. So they spent six months doing customer development and resisted writing even a single line of code. And then they spent another four months building the product. When the product was ready, they sent out two and a half thousand cold emails to prospects and they got a zero response rate.

[00:01:16] Not even one person replied to their email. Both founders were discouraged and started second-guessing themselves. Maybe the problem didn't exist. And they had spent the last year building a solution that no one wanted their product. Also lacked a lot of features and was unstable. And Shruti often felt embarrassed showing people the product and would worry that things were going to break during demos, but they just kept going and trying different approaches.

[00:01:47] Eventually they found a market channel that was working and started attracting some customers. Today their business does multiple six figures in annual recurring revenue, and they've just raised $4 million in funding.

[00:02:01] There's some good lessons in this interview about doing customer development. Why you shouldn't build a product too soon? How you can create a prototype without coding skills and the importance of trusting your gut. I hope you enjoy it. Shruti. Welcome to the show.

Shruti: [00:02:19] Thanks so much Omer for having me.

Omer: [00:02:21] So do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you or just gets you out of bed every day they can share with us?

Shruti: [00:02:28] But the one that stuck is, Luck favors the prepared.” So then it asked you to be prepared every single morning, because you never know when the luck will strike.

Omer: [00:02:39] Are you a very organized person?

]Shruti: [00:02:42] I would like to believe it.

Omer: [00:02:44] So people who aren't familiar with Zomentum, can you just give us a quick overview of the product and the business? So what does the product do? Who is it for? And what's the main problem that you're helping to solve?

Shruti: [00:03:00] Sure. So let me give, like, take two steps back and talk about the market really, before saying what we are solving. So if you look at any company which is in business today, however, smaller or big, right. They're dependent on technology in base, that was almost unprecedented a few years ago.

[00:03:20] For example, if you look at 2000 business owners, expected hardware to be functioning, and if something went down, they'd call like an IT technician to fix the problem  and as time changed, and yeah, thanks to cloud and cloud adoption becoming more prevalent. The needs of the business owners sort of also want beyond hardware to say security back up, employee productivity, internal communication, marketing, customer management, and many, many such other things.

[00:03:49] Which also means that now there's rely on so many different products that really drive that business. But unfortunately, if you look at the small and midsize business universe for those guys to do implement all of these products to ensure all of that is working smoothly to have in-house dedicated it, teams is wildly expensive.

[00:04:14] So they rely on an outsourced IT provider who can sort of do all of these things for them. So the IT partners usually establishes these deep relationships. They ensured that all the solutions required by the SMB are kind of catered to. They select the right products. They ensure they're integrated, but they train the employees and take care of security compliance and ensure everything's running smoothly on an ongoing basis.

[00:04:42] This buddy partner,10, 20 years ago was selling let say five hardware boxes. Today. He sells hardware and 1500 other SaaS products together works for the small business. This is really the change in landscape that's happened, and that's all thanks to cloud, but the poor partners, is really, really struggling.

[00:05:06] And they kind of process say $200 billion worth of services. That's being sold by largely, no purpose-built modern tools for this kind of market transition. And that's really what Zomentum is solving, giving kind of a go to market platform for the modern it channel partners.

Omer: [00:05:27] So give me an example of an IT channel partners, maybe an existing customer today, you know, who is that? What are they selling and who are they selling to?

Shruti: [00:05:36] Let's take the example of us any small business, right? Let's, a typical example would be a restaurant. For example, the restaurant will have like a POS system. They have a CRM, they have emails for all of their employees. They do marketing. In the restaurant itself, they have a music system, they have Wi-Fi.

[00:05:54] All of these things, the restaurant owner needs to take care of, but the owner in most cases would be like a chef who's addressed within cooking great food and providing great service. But all the ancillary technology is outsourced to a local IT partners. Now, these guys are small, so you will not have any branded companies, here or name brands. They will typically be like, less than 50 members, organizations providing these kinds of IT sales and solutions to small businesses saying a 50, 200 mile radius.

Omer: [00:06:28] Got it. Okay. So before we get into the, sort of how you came up with the idea for, for this business and got started, let's talk a little bit about your background because this was your first, or this is your first startup and you're not a developer. And also this from certainly from what I understand of your experience, this was, this was not an industry that you had actually worked in. And so, you know, often I have conversations with yeah, new founders who were sort of getting into a market that they know very little about.

[00:07:08] And they're often a lot of challenges that come with that because, you know, the understanding often is kind of pretty superficial. They don't have a deep enough understanding or they understand the nuances enough to really be able to make. Good decisions. And so I know both you and your co-founder, Rahil sort of didn't come from that, that industry. So tell me a little bit about your background. And then I think that will lead us into like how, how you guys got here or at least sort of came up with the idea.

Shruti: [00:07:35] Of course. So I spent over four years in the venture capital industry. My latest job before starting, this was in Accel. I was part of the investment team working primarily in the B2B SaaS segment and investing majorly in cross border companies, companies that built in India, but sold globally, taking advantage of the cost arbitrage.

[00:07:59] So that's what I've been doing at Accel, but the interesting part of this job is you, you speak to lots of startups on a daily basis. Plus you have lots of portfolio companies that you also work with. So the idea solely came from my time at Accel we saw largely was say consumers have app stores. So say marketplaces like Amazon where they go and buy what they want. The nature of business is, super transactional in those cases. The other end of the spectrum are enterprises which have high budgets as considered buying cycle and they almost get like a white-glove service because the deal size is really large.

[00:08:37] Somewhere in the middle of all of these are SMEs. They are almost like customers in the kind of, picket sizes of the purchases they make, but they're becoming more and more like enterprises in the way they want to be solved. So, this is really the problem we were trying to figure as to how do you create this kind of a real system to reach SMBs in a very cost-effective manner.

[00:09:03] That made sense for the SMBs and also for the cloud products that we're selling to SMBs. And that's really the pieces with which we started off. Say, how do you develop distribution systems to reach SMBs?

Omer: [00:09:17] ‘So in your role at Accel, I'm sure you came across a lot of different ideas and potential opportunities. What was it about this particular idea that inspired you to basically say, okay, this is a problem I'm going to go out and solve.

Shruti: [00:09:37] So essentially, like this seemed like very, very large problem. It is almost fundamental to any company to solve distribution, right? Because we know that the best product never really wins.

[00:09:51] It's the one that gets in front of most number of customers. So every company is trying to solve a distribution problem. But if somebody came in the middle and said, Hey, I saw the distribution problem. You worry about building great products. And then we can figure out how to reach the right customers.

[00:10:08] That seemed like a very interesting and challenging problem to go after. I knew that the answers would not be easy, but that's what kept us going and wanted, made us want to find the right solution.

Omer: [00:10:21] How did you go about validating the idea? Did you, you know, start talking to IT channel partners. Were you already getting a lot of these insights from just your role and how much of an understanding of the market and the landscape did you have when you started out?

Shruti: [00:10:39] I think two-fold here, of course, the being part of Accel, having access to the Accel portfolio company network really helped. So you could see from, but then how these companies are solving the distribution problem. But we also went on Reddit and Facebook and try to find out what IT partners were discussing.

[00:10:59] We joined lots of Facebook groups, there is a subreddit that's dedicated to these guys. So we'd spent hours and hours trying to figure it out what's the problem they're talking about, right. Like we have to figure a low friction entry point  into this market by building some solution for them, but also have to validate it if that was necessarily really large pain points for that, for them to pounce on the solution that they saw. So we did reach out on LinkedIn, Reddit, mostly on Facebook. Some of them welcomed us to their office and offices we just showed their part. So yeah, one on one interviews and these guys were really nice, like. what we realized with the process was the pain point was really high so they would sit down with us, help us understand that problem. In fact, they helped us articulate our solution better, and the pitch just got better with time and to act all of this, we didn't write a single line of code for first eight months of the company. We're just building mocks on InVision, showing presentations and made it look like it was a real functional product.

[00:12:05] And then they'll see, and they're like, Hey, this doesn't work. This should have been this way. Then we make that change and show it to the next customers. That's how the product feedback got better. And we get feedback from more than 50, 60 potential customers before we started writing that single line of code that we spoke about.

Omer: [00:12:24] So I think it's interesting that you said that the pain point was high and they seemed pretty responsive to talk to you guys. And I think there's a good lesson there because a lot of the times you you'll find people who are in a similar situation, trying to go out and talk to potential customers. And those customers don't seem as excited or it's harder to get their attention and it could just be busy, but I think there's definitely.

[00:12:52] Once you go through that experience and you hit a problem or a market where you're, you're getting people leaning in where they're excited they want to talk to you that on its own is a really valuable kind of part of the validation versus, you know, talking about these problems and people are telling you they have them yet they never seem to have any time or interest in, in really sort of sitting down and talking to you about it. So I think that that's kind of like was just one thing that I, I wanted to call out. The other thing was you mentioned finding a sort of a low friction entry point into this market. Because I'm sure when you start talking to these guys, they'll tell you about hundreds of problems and, you know, you could potentially have a feature list, which could keep you busy for the next 10 years.

[00:13:38] But what was that low friction point that you eventually found to get into this market? And how did you identify that?

Shruti: [00:13:46] I think this is the bit where not being from the industry helps because then you ask them to only talk about the problems and then being compete outside of the industry can come up with sort of creative solutions that does not have the baggage of how existing tools function, how these guys want to solve the problem.

[00:14:07] Right. We also very clearly stayed away from asking them, how would you like the solution to be just like, talk to us about your problem. But at the end of this right,, after doing so many in-person interviews and just showing up at events that were related to this industry, it boiled down to the fact that because now these guys who are selling so many different products to so many customers and managing all of the sale, the cross-sell and upsell that happens later there was no more than purpose-built solutions that helped these guys transition to these cloud selling model.

[00:14:48] So the only sales was the team that we took away and finding a creative way of solving the sales problem often IT channel partners.

Omer: [00:14:57] And were there not any products or solutions already out there too, to help them with this kind of thing? Because once I, when I read about, I thought, I mean, it sounds like such an obvious idea to sort of connect. The channel, as opposed to just talking about within a company.

[00:15:17] And obviously, you know, in hindsight, as they say everybody's a genius cause, but at the time were there other products out there, like when you looked sort of competitively.

Shruti: [00:15:31] So the answer is yes, but the only, so I like parts of the problem. These guys have really complex sales trusses. So either they use like four or five different to get the job done, or the tools that are existing in the market. They're super legacy that way like they were built for the one-time hardware selling. So they didn't really evolve into this new model of service delivery that these IT partners evolving into. So the competition was kind of sparse in the sense that it came from either legacy clunky tools or just pointed solutions, which didn't solve the entire problem.

[00:16:10] So we said that we wouldn't make a modern solution that does that stitches all of these different tools together and gives you one platform to do your sales. Because at the end of the day, sales is one process and it should be done on one tool.

Omer: [00:16:22] Now at the point when you were doing these interviews and talking to these prospective customers, had you guys quit your jobs or were you sort of doing this on the side while you were trying to figure out if the opportunity was with something, you know, it was worth diving into.

Shruti: [00:16:41] We both quit our jobs. So this is roughly July of 2018 when we started doing this. And that's when we quit our jobs. We had a high level team that we were chasing what I spoke about earlier, like the distribution landscape, but we knew that if we wanted to do it wholeheartedly, we have to quit our jobs. Spent time at customer locations, just observed them through the day and that wouldn't happen without doing it for time.

Omer: [00:17:05] And were you guys initially self-funded. You bootstrapping this business?

Shruti: [00:17:10] Oh yes, like the first six or seven months, but Accel participated very early. They were normally partner and they supported us through the journey.

Omer: [00:17:20] Yeah. That's a good connection to have good place to start. Okay. So let's sort of go through and say, you've done this, this sort of customer development process you, you sort of figured out, okay. You know, this is the sales piece that we want to kind of go and tackle. We haven't written any code yet. How did you go about building the product?

[00:17:41] Is Rahil a developer? Did you have to hire somebody? And how long did it take you to build that product?

Shruti: [00:17:48] So Rahil is a developer by profession, right? He used to work at Twitter and then I drew brick one of the early engineers. So Rahil comes from a development background. He, along with one of our other early team members kind of built out the product.

[00:18:04] And I think for us to launch and be early, be done, it took four months, but that four-month was just building because we spent the early eight to nine months just doing the mocks and getting what was required to be built. So I think that kind of made the engineering jobs slightly easy.

Omer: [00:18:24] Okay. And I want to kind of dig a little bit into what that first version of the product was like. Cause I think there's always useful lessons in there in terms of you know, ideally what we want to build and the reality of what you probably end up with. And a lot of the times that's okay. Before we do that, I want to talk about the InVision piece. Sometimes I often sense that there's a reluctance from for many early-stage founders.

[00:18:53] They sort of feel like if I'm going to go and talk to customers, I need to have a product built. I need to have at least an MVP. And when they sort of define an MVP, it's like code a working product because surely, you know, these people have to be able to see this, this thing. And, and you were like, basically just doing mockups and, and, you know, as you mentioned using InVision.

[00:19:16] What was your experience from that? And what sort of advice would you give to somebody in that situation? Like why that is a better approach or can be a better approach than sort of jumping in and, and writing code. And did you sort of have any pushback from customers? Because they were like, well, you know, this is just InVision.

Shruti: [00:19:35] Funny the customers never knew it was InVision mock. I would just navigate around I'd show them like, Hey, if because we bring like a full pledge of mock. Every button was sort of functioning and because I was driving it, I knew where to make those clicks and make it like a free product experience. So do you have any like kind of companies, like InVision that exists that made our job super simple and like shitty ideas get discarded in like 30 minutes by the customers or maybe even 10 minutes for that matter. Right.

[00:20:05] So if it is based at three months building that MVP for it to be discarded in three minutes, it would be quite sided.

Omer: [00:20:13] That's a great point.

Shruti: [00:20:14] But like this is what we do even today. Like when we are launching new features or new modules, it's all InVision till it is approved by like an advisory panel of customers and that's when we start developing it.

Omer: [00:20:27] Okay. So let's talk about, so you've got the product built and you said that was about another four months or so. How did you find your first customer?

Shruti: [00:20:38] Oh, so first customers were actually the ones who helped us build the product. So they weren't the beta customers as well. But in the meanwhile we'd started doing events like some large, some small events in the US speaking on stage, having booths like the product was ready only we knew that we were still building it while you're speaking at these conferences. So we used to get customers to sign up for an early access of the product. And then we each started reaching out to them when kind of the beta testing was done. And we were ready to put that product in front of a larger group of customers.

Omer: [00:21:17] So, you know, there's a saying that, you know, if you're not embarrassed by your first product, you probably took too long to, to ship it. So I'm curious, what was it about the first version of your product that now you look back or embarrassed about.

Shruti: [00:21:31] Very embarrassed. I used to do the early demos. It was at least 50 customers. I've personally done demos and I used to be scared to click every button to be banking on this. Don't know what would break when.  And you're always trying to punch up and position yourself. Like, you know what you're doing? This product is stable, large company. You can trust us with this product and those. It's just, yeah. I used to do a demo for 30 minutes and I don't want to recall them.

Omer: [00:22:04] Okay. Well, I won't put you through much, too much. So your, your first customer was in Southeast Asia and that sort of led you down a path of finding more of those types of customers in that area. And then at some point over the next few months, you realized that that wasn't such a good idea to get in. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what happened and sort of what you learned from that?

Shruti: [00:22:29] So we started somewhere in August and I think within the first 5-10 days, we took this bold step of taking up a booth at a conference in Singapore, it was Cloud Expo 2018, a large conference, large companies there. Somebody luckily had dropped out last minute and I happened to inquire and they said, Hey, this is the booth. We give it to you at a very discounted price. Do you want to come and pick it up? It's in the middle of the conference hall. So it would just look odd if it's empty. We were like, okay, fine. We'll do it at that point we were not even sure of what is the problem, right? Or problem you're solving or what the product does.

[00:23:09] Like we created banners like it was a full-blown the company, and two kids was in the middle of this. IBM's AWS is of the world, have a booth and not talking about what the product does. It was a two-day conference and  if you make us at [9:00] AM on day one and then [6:00] PM on day two, you'd have taught, these are completed different companies because the pitch was just evolving, talking to every customer.

[00:23:35] And if somebody reacted  they improve it, if somebody just walked away, we were like, okay, this pitch is not working. But it wasn't that very conference regard us with customer he was like, Hey, it seems like I need to solve this problem. You can custom implement it for me. I'm okay to wait four to six months for this to get implemented. We will share all our processes with you.

[00:23:56] And he thought we were a legit company just because we could afford that booth. Right. So he trusted, trusted us instantly and that burned their hands with some other vendor before us. They were like, if anybody's lost money, If you guys can solve it. I mean, didn't ask for any upfront money commitments, they were totally fine.

[00:24:14] But then we went down the rabbit hole of figuring out what they needed, based some version of the product for them to demonstrate, give them demos, but almost like two, three months later while development was going on for these guys,  did we realize that it was only not a repeatable process like we found one customer, but I don't know if he could find 10 others, even at that point

[00:24:40] Also US at the same time we were exploring, and that market seems much more open. They, they were willing to try out new products, the pain pointing more legendary, they valued efficiencies and productivity, an increase in sales, through software. So looking back, I just say that maybe we should have started with the US market. It would have saved us a good three, four months, which is really a long time in a startup journey.

Omer: [00:25:07] Yeah. And what do you think you could have. Done differently or if somebody is in that position to make that call because on the one hand, yeah I mean, you've got a customer. And so if there's one customer in that market then sounds like they should be more and seems like a good place as any to start. So what do you think were maybe some of the signs that this was not the best market for you to start with.

Shruti: [00:25:34] They would not just our first customer. I think they said that this is at least of $50,000 contract. So at that point, you're like we have to do this, but I think what is important is to establish that the pain point you're solving for across a larger base of customers, there's a repeatable way of getting these customers and there is one kind of solution that works across most of their problems. And that's something we didn't find. Every IT partner we spoke to in the Southeast Asia region had different kinds of problems. They were all over the place. So abstracting out that kind of peep, that kind of product that would work across all of them just didn't seem like it.

Omer: [00:26:19] Okay. So you, at some point you decided, okay, we're gonna, we need to focus in the US market. How did you find customers or, or maybe I should say, how did you try to find customers?

Shruti: [00:26:30] This is when people read it in Facebook journey began really. And this is when we learned also that let's not be, let's figure it out. This is the pain point. This is the product. That's where InVision came in. And in general, in US people were far more receptive, talked about almost the same kind of problems. I remember there were days when I was in New York and then somebody in LA was ready to meet us enough they can did it and  I say that hey, I'll be there tomorrow.

[00:26:58] Yeah, I think the three weeks that Rahil and I did extensive market research, we have not slept, slept at the same hotel room for more than two nights. That's how much we've traveled in the US during those few weeks.

Omer: [00:27:10] Wow. You also did a lot of sort of mass outreach with email, cold email. How did that go?

Shruti: [00:27:19] In hindsight, I just feel very foolish for doing it, but really scraped out emails of partners from some website and Rahil spent like a good three, four days writing the code to script that. And then I took those three, four days to draft that email, make it compelling, put a survey in there. I think we sent out the email to around 2,500 partners. I end up with zero responses like zero responses.

Omer: [00:27:51] Wow.

Shruti: [00:27:51] And this was very, very early in the journey. So at that point, you just feel like giving up. 2,500 of them have not just responded. Maybe this problem does not exist. Maybe this does not require to be solved. So by breaking up the next day and trying different ways of getting to talk to customers.

[00:28:11] But if looking back one thing like good fixes, just not do anything, one too many, do everything. One to one, at least in the early days, because the passion of the founder comes the excitement. You have to talk to potential customers and the interest you have in listening to their problems actually comes across. I think very evidently. And that's what makes them talk to you?

Omer: [00:28:36] So, what was the lesson from the, the cold email? Because you're right. I mean, sending out 2.5 thousand emails and getting a zero-response rate. Could be a very strong signal that you're wasting your time on a product that nobody or a problem that nobody cares about.

[00:28:50] And we all know how much crappy cold email gets sent out because we all receive it. Which means that even if you spend time, as you sort of described and trying to come up with something, which is kind of relevant, sort of, you know, sort of a higher quality sort of outreach. It still gets lost in the noise.

[00:29:14] So. What was the lesson for you there? Like why do you think that didn't work? Because the problem exists. Right? And you've proven that. So why, why do you think you weren't getting a response?

Shruti: [00:29:24] Think about it? If I got an email like that, I wouldn't respond either. So. Yeah, I think when you're just starting out, you have the energy to try everything, then being smart about it.

Omer: [00:29:39] I love that. Actually next time you send a cold email out or you're about to ask yourself, would you reply to this? And if you wouldn't probably need some work or a different approach. Yeah. Okay. And so the people that you were having, this one-to-one sort of outreach or conversations with, rather than trying to do it on scale, you know, these mass outreaches with more, most of those people coming through sort of the Facebook, Reddit groups, is that where a lot of the most these conversations sort of initially started.

Shruti: [00:30:09] Yes, because in Facebook you kind of have an identity and you're reviewing the person they're talking to and they can validate if you're legit or not. Reddit somehow our group of customers are very active, so they respond. So it's very easy to create a post and ask your opinion and people will respond on the thread and then you can reach out to the ones that have responded because they found something interesting about that post to talk about their problems. So that's, yeah, that's how it happened. And now that I've met all of them in flesh, I know that they're real people on Reddit.

Omer: [00:30:42] So, okay. So you're going around and, and, and trying to kind of break into the US market. Were you able to, like so far, you know, a lot of that focus had been on, on sort of being in, in Southeast Asia, did you sort of find you had to change the product in any way or change your marketing approach or was that a fairly smooth sort of transition from, you know, one, one sort of market to another?

Shruti: [00:31:10] Smooth is not perhaps the right way to describe it here because the first three, four months that we getting the customer, writing that code be discarded all of that and started from scratch in the US so it was kind of like our second startup that way. So we didn't want to repeat them the mistakes we did earlier so no writing of code let's nail down what the product is on InVision first, then don't do mass reach outs, like talking to people. But at the end of that process, I think we, yeah, we got feedback from over 450 potential customers before we launched the product. I think we just became more structured about our approach and smarter, I think, or I'd like to believe so. so you asked was more smooth sailing that way.

Omer: [00:31:57] And were you getting sort of like new objections from customers when you were trying to sell the product in the US or do you sort of feel like, sort of going back and saying, okay, we're going to sort of take a step back and it might feel like a bit of a step backwards, but we really need to go out and spend time again, talking to people. Do you think that that actually helped you to start getting sales quicker because you did that even though it sort of feels counterintuitive?

Shruti: [00:32:31] Yeah. I mean the sad part of what that process is, it's very hard to quantify progress when you're doing market research. And when you're writing code, it's very easy to measure progress, right? If we can 10 lines today, 20 lines tomorrow. So, you know, you're making some headway in market research that sort of is not the way you could do 10 customer interviews and maybe you're back to square one, but it does help once you launch like it helps build that momentum and get customers signing on early, like today, half of the customers will see our product actually sign up for it. So I would just give that credit of that conversion rate, they just do our market research.

Omer: [00:33:13] So, what's the size of the team right now. How many people do you have?

Shruti: [00:33:16] Oh, we have around 30 today across India and US.

Omer: [00:33:21] Okay. And in terms of revenue, I, I, you know, I think we won't go into specifics, but you're doing sort of multiple six figures in ARR and you guys have raised just over $4 million as well. Let's talk about, you know, sort of how you've got to that point in terms of revenue that you sort of obviously taking the one-to-one approach using Facebook, Reddit groups.

[00:33:52] That was the sort of a good way to sort of get out there and start talking to people. But then when you started sort of thinking about how to, to sort of scale this business and, and, and sort of drive more sales, what does the sales process look like today? Are you still doing a lot of one-to-one outreach? Is it kind of more about now inbound? Like what's, what's going on?

Shruti: [00:34:16] So we'd invested in events. Like I think since around 12 months we've been doing events and these are industry events. They're smaller size, but that's where partners come really to discover new products. And then they go and look for those products online.

[00:34:32] So that's how the typical discovery in our industry works. So that's what we've been doing and that's how we change. Agenda lead flow even today and, and kind of thanks to Covid this has become a level playing field now. So it's increased the number of audiences we can get in front of because all events are now virtual people can come in at any point.

[00:34:55] So that's really how we generate most of our leads to them. It's not so much one-on-one, but it's one on one when customers talk to each other. There's a lot of word of mouth that started to happen. So even though our focus go to market is still US-driven. We have customers in UK, parts of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, South Africa, Middle East. So all, everything other than US is really inbound for us.

Omer: [00:35:24] So do you think the virtual events are actually a good thing for you? Is it making it easier for you to reach customers than, than sort of physical in-person events?

Shruti: [00:35:34] I definitely think so. I think virtual events are good for startups in general because larger companies can buy the whole platinum, diamond sponsorship, have big booths and stage presence, which companies like us perhaps cannot afford to do. But when it's virtual, you are all the same. So it's made it kind of a level playing field for you to get in front of those customers and also opening up barriers, which are not really geography driven anymore.

Omer: [00:36:05] Yeah, yeah, I think it's just been such a crazy year and there are so many things that, you know, when we sort of looked at what was happening with events as an example, You're not the first person to have said that, that actually the virtual thing is actually working kind of better for us. And obviously it's a lot more cost-effective.

Shruti: [00:36:25] Yeah. Yeah. And organize this transition really far straight. Like I think the last two, three weeks off March when they were figuring what's to happen, but April events went back. They had figured the logistics of running those events online. So it was great for us. The lead flow did not get affected.

Omer: [00:36:44] So what are some lessons you've learned from just like virtual events? Like, I mean, obviously it's a very different format, but is there any sort of things that you, you sort of bits of wisdom that you can share about how to make the most of participating in a virtual event?

Shruti: [00:36:57] I think a four that's really a part of the sales team is in India and part is in the US. So my India team has gotten to attend these virtual events and talk to customers sort of one on one, which otherwise they wouldn't know ever had a chance of doing so.

[00:37:11] It just helped my team upskilled really fast, that matters one of my biggest takeaways. So, if there are companies like us, which are doing, thinks cross-border, then it's a great time to leverage and help everyone in the team kind of get in front of customers.

Omer: [00:37:27] Awesome. Okay. So I think we should wrap up on the conversation.  One question for you before we sort of get onto the lightning round is as you sort of look back at this journey over the last couple of years, maybe a bit more. What piece of advice do you wish you could kind of go back and give yourself when you were starting out?

Shruti: [00:37:48] When you're confident of something just do it. Like in my case, we were, we knew that it was US market. We should have just done it then. Like sometimes you have the fear of failure. I think that, Hey, if I go to do what I know and if that does not happen, what next, maybe just get rid of that field and face them head-on.

Omer: [00:38:07] Yeah, that's good advice. Okay. Let's get onto the lightning round. I'm going to ask you seven quickfire questions and just answer quickly as you can. Hey, ready to go?

Shruti: [00:38:17] I'll try, yes.

Omer: [00:38:19] What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Shruti: [00:38:22] Focus on a narrow problem and get it right first, opportunities and markets will open up.

Omer: [00:38:29] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

Shruti: [00:38:33] The one I read recently is Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman. And I was really inspired by it. It explains how Silicon Valley companies are disruptive in nature and how they've created sort of disproportionate value. So she really enjoyed that book.

Omer: [00:38:50] What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

Shruti: [00:38:54] Contact switching?

Omer: [00:38:56] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

Shruti: [00:39:00] I work out very regularly and that sort of keeps me calm and keeps my energy levels high throughout the day.

Omer: [00:39:08] What's a new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the extra time?

Shruti: [00:39:12] At the moment, I'd just say, just in season my, in and out of my business, which kind of catalyze the ecosystem, that's all going on in my head.

Omer: [00:39:21] What's an interesting little fun fact about you that most people don't know.

Shruti: [00:39:24] Oh, so my friends say I'm not a very fun person to hang out with. So that should answer your question.

Omer: [00:39:31] Well, they're still your friends, right? And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

Shruti: [00:39:39] So it's kind of repetitive, but I think working out, just working out.

Omer: [00:39:44] Awesome. Shruti thank you. It's been a pleasure talking to you and kind of hearing the story of Zomentum. If people want to find out more about the product, they can go to zomentum.com and if folks want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that.

Shruti: [00:40:02] LinkedIn would be probably the best way.

Omer: [00:40:04] Okay, great. We'll include a link in the show notes to your LinkedIn profile. Great. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate you making the time to chat with me and I wish you and the team all the best.

Shruti: [00:40:15] Thank you. This was a fun chat.

Omer: [00:40:17] Yeah. Thank you. Cheers.

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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.