I'm Mogens Møller. I'm CEO and Co-founder of Sleeknote. AMA!

Hi everyone,

I’m Mogens Møller. CEO and Co-founder of Sleeknote.

Sleeknote is a non-intrusive and personalized popup tool to collect more email subscribers, leads and in general increasing sales in online stores.

We’re growing 35% yearly and have $3,2 MM in ARR. We’re remote-friendly, and have our headquarters in Denmark.

I’m happy to talk about:

  • Building a bootstrapped SaaS business
  • Getting true and actionable feedback from customers, partners and employees (I’m a HUGE believer in feedback)
  • Company Culture (our eNPS is 83)
  • Doing presentations at big conferences when it’s not COVID times (I’m a keynote speaker)
  • Key SaaS metrics
  • Usability testing

I’ll be back on March 25th to answer questions. Would love to hear from you :slight_smile:

3 Likes

This March 25th, we’re stoked about hosting Sleeknote’s co-founder and CEO, Mogens Møller. Founded in 2013, Mogens and team have continued to turn their great grasp of usability and digital conversions into an elegant, versatile product; trusted by the likes of Toyota Denmark, Campaign Monitor, Oberlo, and others.

Aside from the subjects listed above, you can ask Mogens about charging beta users from the get-go, choosing the premium route in a market abundant with cheap products, and his love for electronic music pioneers, Kraftwerk! :slight_smile:

Mogens’ brain-pickings: :raised_hands:

Here are some incredibly interesting insights drawn from interview excerpts to help you understand his thought process and key ideas better. Dive in!

On obsessing over feedback, almost as a verb than a noun:

One of the things I know how to do is to ask people for feedback. It’s actually extremely simple. There’s no rocket science in it. There are no tools needed for it. But it takes a lot of courage to do that. To ask people for feedback.

And that is something I’m always willing to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s colleagues, if it’s partners, if it’s customers, feedback is implemented throughout the whole kind of company and the processes that we have.

To give a few examples, this is more on a company level, but every quarter I ask all the employees in Sleeknote an anonymous question. So it’s a survey I send out to all employees. ‘If you were in my shoes as the CEO of Sleeknote tomorrow, what would you do differently.’ …

And after I did that for a few years, I decided why not ask our customers the exact same question. I think we started this about half a year ago. And we have about 2,000 customers in Sleeknote so it takes some time. But I send out an email to all our customers where I ask the exact same question…

I will personally read all answers and reply to them individually. So I set aside around a week in my calendar to do nothing else and answer these emails. And, honestly, I can’t wait to do this again. Because it gives you so much honest feedback.

Because it puts customers in a situation, not only to say, ‘I need this feature,’ but more like, ‘if I were Mogens, what would I do differently. If I was the CEO of this company, I know I wouldn’t be able to do just this and that.’ But maybe it makes them think about what kinds of processes, what kinds of tools, what kind of stuff would I do if I was in his shoes.
I really love that kind of feedback. …

I could do a lot of other things that for some CEOs would make more sense. But that kind of brings me back to the first thing I said, that is what you believe in. I believe one of the most valuable things I can do as a CEO of a company is to know what our customers feel about our product. And why they decided to use us. Or why they decided not to use us.

Source: Out of Growth with Nicki Friis | 2020

On discovering the precursor for successful partnerships:

In the first year or so we were extremely lucky and everything just happened for us. A challenge for us is to scale our products to new markets. And while we’ve got great success in Denmark and Scandinavia. So web agencies often recommend customers to use Sleeknote, as they can see it generates a lot of value.

About a year ago we thought, now we’re going to the UK, we’ll try and approach this new market because it’s a lot bigger than Denmark and has a lot of potential clients. So we thought that we can just contact all the web agencies in the UK and get them to recommend Sleeknote to their customers and to their clients. But man were we wrong.

That didn’t happen. We traveled over there a couple of times, did some meetups, trying to set up some meetings with these agencies. None of them wanted to just hear about our product. Because we didn’t have any clients in the market. That was really a wake-up call that things just went extremely easy in Denmark but it’s just a whole another game when we enter a new market where nobody has heard about us and we have got no clients…

All these web agencies have so much else to take care of and selling another SaaS product is just not interesting for them. Even though we could provide some kickback or something like that. It was just not interesting. So what we found out is that it works the other way around. We need to have customers in a given market before partners contact us. And sign-up and recommend us to their customers.

Source: The SaaS Podcast | 2016

On founding-team-segment fit:

After we had created this app and had some customers using it, we actually focussed a bit broader. We said, ‘well, why should it only be e-commerce websites that use our product.’ So we tried to get everyone onboard.

We got newspapers, a lot of customers that were consultancies. And this is one of the mistakes we made early on, as we could see these clients, consultancies, newsletters, and all; we couldn’t really advise them as well as we could advise these e-commerce websites. And what we really essentially built was more valuable for ecommerce websites…

So we started very narrow, with ecommerce websites because that is what we tested the product to begin with. And then we thought, now we’re going to conquer the world and get everyone. But then actually, a year and a half ago, we decided to focus back on this one group. To be honest, also because we saw more competitors in the market, we saw that these competitors were good at targeting other niche websites.

Our team, me and my co-founders, and the people that we hired were all e-commerce experts, we had a lot of knowledge developing e-commerce websites, I had advised a lot of them. This was what we loved. So it was obvious for us. [Going broad] was a mistake we made.

Source: The SaaS Podcast | 2016

On what a usability test isn’t:

When you ask people if they’re doing usability testing, most of them say ‘yes we are.’ And then when you ask them how they’re doing it, they’ll say, ‘well, we’ve implemented Hotjar on our website or some similar thing.’ Hotjar can be perfect for a lot of things. We’re using it ourselves. It’s a great tool. But it’s not usability testing.

It’s, you know, user sessions that you’re seeing recorded. So you’re not sitting besides one of the people from your target audience and you’re not listening to them. You don’t get any audio. And that’s the whole thing about usability testing.

Hotjar would often tell you what a person is doing on your website, but you don’t know what they’re thinking or why they’re doing it. And that is the information that you get in a usability test. You’re listening to what is actually the problem. You’re not just experiencing the problem, you’re listening to what the problem is and why they think it’s a problem. And that is where you can get some really actionable insights.

Source: Growth Marketing Toolbox | 2019

1 Like

Hey Mogens,

Glad to have you on Relay!

Your enthusiasm for candid feedback is inspiring. But with such a wide pool, isn’t it difficult to pin down context and intentions? It’ll be great to hear how you process all that you gather, separate signal from noise, and discover what is really actionable as a leader?

Looking forward to your answer.

3 Likes

Hey Mogens,

Thanks for doing this!

You’ve mentioned in an interview, how during the early days, you decided to focus on a particular segment (ecommerce) as you sought a better fit. I can see that Sleeknote now serves multiple segments yet again, from SaaS to agencies. This is a journey a lot of SaaS founders go through and spend precious years figuring out. My question comes from a point of view to help early stage founders to learn from our unique experiences.

What were some of the indicators that you considered for going broad? And how did this expansion affect how you think about pricing?

3 Likes

Hi Mogens,

   Thanks a lot for the AMA. Couple of questions.

From your UK market experience, I infer that you followed a strategy of growing a market through web agencies, once you’ve a set of customers there . 1) How did you go about recruiting the web agencies. 2) Since you chose premium route, did you use any criteria for web agency selection.

3 Likes

Hi Mogens,

Congrats on the success of your company.

I have a number of questions for you :wink:

  1. I wonder if you still speak to your customers directly. You mentioned that getting true and actionable feedback from your customers is important so do you work on features that they request, or how do you go about it?
  2. Do you have a research team?
  3. How do you position yourselves as compared with other pop-up tools?
3 Likes

Hey Mogens,

Thanks for doing this!

Now that most SaaS companies are remote. The playing field is supposed to be levelled and geography shouldn’t matter as much. It’ll be helpful to hear about some of the challenges you’ve had scaling a global business from Denmark and how have things changed over the past year or so?

2 Likes

Hey Mogens,

Kudos on the great journey you’ve had!

Really liked your thoughts on usability testing. It’s one of those things that aren’t practiced as often as they should, right? I’d like to learn what are some of the tweaks you’ve made in your approach when doing this for e-commerce stores vs. B2B SaaS products like Sleeknote?

2 Likes

Hi Rajaraman,

Thanks for your question.

Actually, it’s not that hard. It can seem overwhelming, but when you get the feedback, it will probably make sense what you need to do afterward.

Low-practically I create a Google Sheet where I add the different answers and consense them to only a few words. Then I group them. This is basically my overview. Then I can quickly see that 10 customers would like us to develop e.g. an email platform, 15 customers would like a specific contact person in Sleeknote etc.

Besides this overview, I also add all the answers to a Google Doc and I assign colleagues/stakeholders to some of the answers when it’s relevant. E.g. if something is giving me input about our marketing effort, then I will assign our CMO. I know Google Sheet and Google Docs is pretty old school, but it works for me :smiley:

I hope this makes sense. Thanks again for your question :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Hey Mogens,

I’ve got another one in mind. Aside from seeking feedback from everyone as rigorously as you do, what are some of the other team-level practices/principles that have helped Sleeknote stay both innovative (valuing diverse ideas) and efficient (executing well) at the same time?

2 Likes

Hi Krish,

Thanks for your question. It’s a tough one :slight_smile:

You’re right, today we target different industries again. We have mostly eCommerce websites still, but also many other websites. It’s actually been an internal discussion for a long time and still is: Should we change all our content so that we only “talk to” online stores, and should be talk more broadly to all kind of websites.

Until now, we’ve decided the broad approach. And then we actually try to tailer the content on our website, so that if you visit our site and you’re an online store, then we use words like eCommerce, online store etc. If you’re a SaaS business we use other words. We use Clearbit to do this.

We haven’t really changed our pricing based on what industry we target. Maybe we should, but we haven’t yet. Our pricing works very well right now, once in a while we do some price increases, and we regularly upgrade customers. That said, it can definitely be improved.

I hope my answer makes sense. Thanks again for your question :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Hi Murthy,

Thanks for your question.

Actually, most of the partners we have today come from Inbound which means they’ve contacted us because they want to become a partner. We haven’t had much success by reaching out to potential partners ourselves. There needs to be someone in that agency that has “fallen in love with us”. Otherwise, it’s really an uphill battle.

Then the interesting thing is: How do we get web agencies to reach out to us and become partners? :slight_smile:
The strategy we’ve found works best is to get common customers. If there’s a partner e.g. in the UK we really want to get, then we’ll figure out what customers this web-agency has. If we can get maybe just 3-5 of their bigger customers to use Sleeknote, then it’s likely they will reach out. If not, we still have a good case by reaching out ourselves because we have these common customers.

Regarding your second question. It’s funny because it’s actually really hard to predict which partner will become great. Some of our biggest partners are big SEM agencies and some are small email marketing agencies. Most times it’s a matter of how great one or more persons in the agency think Sleeknote is.

If they really really like Sleeknote, then a small agency with 50 customers can be amazing. If they get 90% of those customers to use Sleeknote, then it’s definitely an amazing partner for us.

So in short, the best partners are those that really get and understand what we do and how this can benefit their customers.

I hope it makes sense. Thanks again for your question :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Hi Ai Ching Goh,

Thanks for your questions :smiley:

  1. Yes, I still speak directly with our customers. I still believe this is one of the most valuable things I can do as a CEO. It’s so easy to stop doing this since we got both an outbound sales team, inbound sales team, customer-success team, managed service team. All these teams also talk to customers and I could just get the condensed version from them, but it’s never the same as actually listening to the customer myself.

How this works today is that an email is sent to all new customers from me where I ask: “Why did you choose Sleeknote?”. We get around 100 new customers each month, and typically about 20-30% answer this email. Everyone who answers my email, I answer back personally.

Other than this I do what I call “Customer Pulse” every 6 months. Here I send an email to all our customers and ask them: “If you were in my shoes as CEO of Sleeknote tomorrow, what would you do as the first thing?” Again, I answer personally everyone who answers my email.

Today we got 2.150 customers, so it takes some days to answer all these emails. But again, I feel it’s extremely valuable because we always have the customers’ ideas and wishes fresh in mind when we do big decisions about our strategy, product roadmap, etc.

  1. Hmm, no we don’t have a specific research team. We got a Product Team where we do a lot of user research e.g. usability testing, looking through screen recordings of our app, etc.

  2. Great question :smiley: Since I ask every new customer why they choose Sleeknote, I have a pretty good feeling about this. It’s mainly because we offer to completely customize the design of the popups and at the same time we offer an advanced rule-engine with tons of targeting options, so our customers can create popups that are personalized and non-intrusive.

I hope my answers make sense. Thanks again for your great questions :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Hi Aditi,

Thanks for your question.

I can answer your last question to begin with: “how have things changed over the past year or so?”
This global pandemic hasn’t really changed that much for us. Of course, we’ve closed down our HQ some months, which is not normal. But other than that we’re pretty used to working remotely. Every company meeting has always had to work online, so meetings on Teams, Zoom and Meet are not new to us. The first employee we got was a frontend developer from Estonia. So from that day, we’ve been doing stuff remote-friendly :slight_smile:

Your next question:
I think scaling a global business will always be challenging. No matter what your home country is. I guess doing it from Denmark is not that different from other countries.

So the list of challenges in scaling a global company is pretty big :slight_smile:

It’s always hard to find really great people. We’ve never accomplished finding a real shortcut to this, other than doing a lot of interviews and ask well-thought questions, tasks, roleplays, etc.

Scaling sales and marketing is tough as well. We’ve always been pretty good in Scandinavia. But we’re struggling with achieving the same conversion rates from free trial to paying customers in the rest of the world. We haven’t found the perfect solution for this yet.

I hope this answers your question somehow :slight_smile: Thanks again.

2 Likes

Hi Akhilesh,

Thanks for your question.

Actually the usability tests are pretty similar. I use the same introduction script (I’ve pasted below). Then if I want to test our website, I typically start them out at Google and let them search for popup tools. This typically bring them to some of our competitors websites which is great. I let them browse these sites. Then afterwards I take them to Sleeknote.com and give them a task. For example: “Figure out if Sleeknote will make sense for you to try/buy”.

After giving them this task, I set them free. Now I don’t want to interrupt, just watch and listen.

Then I probably have some more tasks e.g. about our pricing page.

By letting them visit competitors website first, they can often say stuff like: “I liked this better at X” or “This description of exit intend popups was much easier to understand here than on X other website”. This is really helpfull in the following optimization work.

If we want to test a popup builder, I typically let them start a free trial and create a popup that will make sense for their website. Again, I give them the task, and the shut up, listen and watch.

I usually use eye-tracking equipment as well. But this is definitely not necessary to get value out of usability testing.

Here’s my typical script. Feel free to copy it :slight_smile:


Small talk

Introduction

You’ll now be part of our usability test, which basically means that you’ll browse a website and tell me what you experience. It’s neither complicated nor hard. Just imagine sitting at home in your living room, browsing the Internet.

The only thing different, is that you must think out loud while you browse. I.e. try to tell what you think works, what doesn’t work, what’s logical, illogical, etc.

The purpose of this test is to get a fresh set of eyes on the website and experience how others use it. You can’t do anything wrong during the test. If there’s something on the website you can’t figure out, it’s not your fault, but rather the website that isn’t built correctly.

Don’t be afraid to upset me. I’m doing this to optimize my website, so I need you to be completely honest.

Scenario

Your bike was just stolen. You use your bike every day to work, so you’ll need to purchase a new one immediately.

Google

Start your search on Google and enter the word or sentence that first comes to mind.

Scroll down the search results and decide which pages you’d click on first.

Browse the websites and try to find your new bike.

First-hand impression

Imagine that a friend recommended the online store cykelpartner.dk and you decided to try and find your new bike there.

If you haven’t already been to the site, go to cykelpartner.dk.

Start by browsing the front page, and tell me what your first-hand impression is.

Assignment 1

Now, try to find a new bike that you like and fits your needs. Your budget is approximately $750.

Assignment 2

You don’t want your bike to be stolen again, so you’ll need a new lock that fits your bike as well.

Assignment 3

Buy the products, enter your information, but stop when you reach the checkout page.

More potential assignments

Potential final questions

2 Likes

Hi again Krish,

Great question.

I will highlight a few different things.

First of all the whole company do OKRs together each quarter. Both company OKRs but also OKRs for each department. We’ve done this for a few years now and it has really been a game-changer for us. It aligns all departments towards the same goals so we all run in the same direction. Very simple, and but yet so powerful.

Another thing, every quarter we fly in all our remote employees (when it’s not Covid-19 times) and do a meetup week. In this week we have a full-day Hackathon. This is one day where the whole company works together on a completely new feature or idea. The goal is to launch something before midnight.

A few days before the Hackathon we all pitch ideas to each other. 2 min. per idea. And then we vote and find the best idea which is gonna be the Hackathon project.

I really like these Hackathons and some of our greatest features today come from one of these Hackathons. It’s kind of a way to bypass our product roadmap and just do and implement something crazy and funny.

Regarding development, we’ve recently implemented the Shape-up methodology from Basecamp. I’m not an expert in this, but I know our development team really likes this and I can see we’re pumping out new features like never before after we started out using it :slight_smile: You can read more about it here: Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters | Basecamp

Hope it makes sense :smiley:

3 Likes

Hey @mogens-moeller,

Thanks so much for taking the time to share some insightful perspectives from the Sleeknote journey! All your responses, with their unmistakable openness and detail, made for a great session. Thanks, again, for doing this! :slight_smile: :cherry_blossom:

1 Like

And, as always, thanks to our ever-earnest members @Murthy, @cathching, @aditi1002, and @Akhilesh for joining us with some great, context-infused questions! :raised_hands:

1 Like

Hey Mogens,

That’s helpful to learn, thanks! Can see how immediately sharing patterns with the right stakeholders can lead to important conversations and necessary change. Also, really liked how thoroughly you approach usability testing!

Cheers, Rajaraman

2 Likes

Great session, Mogens!
Thanks for sharing how you think about segments and also execution at an org level. Particularly interesting to hear that some of Sleeknote’s best features have come from hackathons. It’s a discussion for another day, but I’d love to learn how the follow-through process works on some of those ideas. Because from what I’ve seen, most internal Hackathons tend to bring in great energy across teams, but they don’t quite produce breakthrough features with any consistency. We are going to do our first virtual hackathon in April and I wonder how we should design it to discover such features.

2 Likes