Note: This AMA is closed for new questions, but you can check out the existing conversations below.
This July 1st, we had the pleasure of hosting Pipedrive’s co-founder, Timo Rein. For more than a decade now, Pipedrive has shaped what it means to be a truly global SaaS. Founded in Estonia, even two years in, Pipedrive was available — not just the website, but the product and the customer support they offered — in six different languages. That far-reaching a GTM approach (and impact) is still rarely seen. And it kicked-off their enduring eminence in the forever-competitive, CRM space.
AMA Index (Timo’s brain-pickings)
(Hard-won insights, opinions, and observations; thoughtfully examined and articulated)
— Founding-team-market fit, targeting SMBs, and why Timo wouldn’t do it differently
— Keeping product problems front and centre across the org, not just solutions
— Hiring outside one’s country of origin and why it remains difficult
— Fundraising; “raising money is more about finding than convincing someone”
— Effective remote operating practices at the leadership level
— Figuring differentiation in a competitive space; “the space might feel crowded for some, especially on a high level, but near empty for someone else”
— Sustaining a competitive yet healthy sales culture
— How customer support informs the roadmap
— Beliefs that were the hardest to change
— The many things that must be true for an at-scale business
Further reading/listening/pondering from the interwebz /
(Other insightful excerpts drawn from blog posts, interviews, and conversations)
On choosing to go global exceptionally early:
The biggest part of it was necessity. There was no other way. When you think of a whole market which is 1.3 million people as a population, and then you get to numbers which are actually there for you as potential customers you’re in a situation where you have to. As far as SaaS SMB goes, we had to look for customers everywhere. That’s outside of our home market.
That’s our story. In terms of benefits we had to, because of that situation, think in global terms of what is the main problem to solve for everybody? It also forced us to think, what makes different regions approachable in a global manner and where localization is almost a must from day one?
I also think that building that organization up that we built, which is able to serve a global customer base, is one of the benefits. We had to do it from the beginning. Last, but not least, you have to test marketing methods which would work globally. There’s no way around it. Even today, I think it gave us a head start and gave us the momentum which we’re using to this day.
Source: SaaStr | 2018
On segmenting goals to create org-wide definition and meaning:
I’ve always kind of felt when we talk about goals in a business, it quite often steers you to think that the goal is financial….That’s revenue. For me what has been helpful is to break it down into three pillars so that I look at setting goals for three different paths.
One is definitely, obviously business. But the one that I think comes before that for us is the product itself. Because that is the driver of the business. And then also what comes before that is the organisation. The team that we’re building.
And having this breakdown, I’ve always looked at them as we should have goals for each, basically. So when we look at the product, we need to understand what we want to build over long term and short term. And then set goals…
And then when we talk about the organisation, we need to understand if we want to build something like this, what sort of people we need, what sort of teams we need, at what points we need them….Understanding what kind of an organisation you want to built, I’ve always felt that we’ve needed goals which are specific to organisation as well.
And then business, obviously. Just understanding what sort of business growth you should be on. I think that’s quite tricky. I think quite often companies are influenced by outside forces. Investors, obviously…
But it’s important to recognise what sort of growth you’re able to produce and also understand whether you’re in a game for 1-2 years and you don’t know what’s going to happen then or you’re building something sustainable over long term…
But definitely this breakdown is one thing that I’d point out, which we’ve done, to make sure that we can have definition and also meaning in goals.
Source: Geckoboard | 2017
On how their support team has remained a conversion engine:
Our support team, they have been our conversion engine, really. Because they have worked with people on trial, answered their questions, and really helped them onboard through the different things they might have had struggled understanding or just getting their data in. Whatever it is.
So yeah, that was one thing that we did immediately. Less than a year into this business, we started scaling the whole support team and they were, I think, in our company, the people who would normally be your salespeople , they were the ones doing customer support in a low-touch model, effectively becoming salespeople.
Source: Rocketship.fm | 2016
On the biggest contribution an accelerator makes:
The biggest thing for me, I still do remember the questions early on from these people in accelerators, was that, here I was, with one other co-founder and we were trying to see if these guys would accept us into their accelerator. And then we were kind of happy that we had about close to a hundred customers already. Very small ones. But like a hundred.
And then they started questions like, ‘okay, guys, so you’ve been able to get to 100 in 5-6 months, how do you think you can get a hundred, like in a month?’
As soon as they asked that question, I was like, ‘yeah, how do you get there, I don’t know. We’ve been barely making this happen in six months. You should tell me.’
But then I realised the power of that question was so amazingly big that you just have to have the right question in front of you at that very moment and then you start to look for answers.
And that’s what I realised that this accelerator time would probably be about. It’s that you’d have new questions, you didn’t have before, maybe you didn’t have the courage to ask them. And then you have people expecting you to find these answers from somewhere.
Source: Startup Sense | 2016