Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs for an audience of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses and kind of listening to these stories for ideas, inspiration, and frankly, just for fun. Um, I find it the way that some people will listen to music.
My audience listens to entrepreneur’s stories. It’s not necessarily because they’re going to go and take action to me. Because we just love to be surrounded by stories of business. And joining me today is someone who probably should have been an entrepreneur from an early age. He felt it at an early age.
And from what I understand, he decided to go into law instead. And the thing about actually getting a job is sometimes you’re on the inside finding problems with the world that nobody else notices that people just accept. And as an entrepreneurial person, he decided eventually I’ve got to go and take this on and what he ended up doing.
And I should say his name is Richard. He ended up recognizing that there’s a problem with contracts that it becomes. In fact, if any of us have just even done one contract with someone, it becomes a pain in the neck to go and send the documents back and forth. Because what you do is you write the document in word, you send it using HelloSign or DocuSign.
It goes back to you where you want to make a small change. Maybe they even just have a simple typo. So you correct it, but you got to kill the previous document that you sent over. Send them over the new one. They’re not sure if they’re signing the new one, right. You get the point right back and forth for one contract.
Now, uh, if you’re doing this multiple times, it’s enough to, I wouldn’t say drive you crazy, but that’s your job. It’s, it’s a painful thing, but that’s your job. It’s worse than the drive. You crazy. It’s the. Could make mistakes. You could sign the wrong agreement. You could lose track of what’s going on. All right.
Anyway, that’s what he discovered. And a solution that he created is called Juro. I invited him here to talk about how the business is doing and we can, uh, and, and also to do the biography of the business. I love hearing how companies were started and how they were built and learning, uh, what happened along the way.
And we could do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, if you’re paying people, contractors, employees, Anyone you’re going to want to know about Gusto and you’re going to use my URL because they’ll let you use it for free it’s gusto.com/mixergy. And the second, if you’re looking to hire developers, you’ve got to talk to my friends over and literally they are my friends.
I’m not just one of these people who says my friends, my friends over at lemon.io/mixergy. But I’ll talk about those later, Richard. Good to have you here, man.
Richard: Thanks for having me. Yeah. Happy to talk.
Andrew: Give me the revenue. Tell me about how big the business is.
Richard: Yes. I mean, we, we just raised a series B um, in December. And so we we’ve kind of gone from nothing to something that took, you know, a fair amount of time. Um, I think as a company, Good, like three, four years to hit just a million in ARR. And that kind of like magic, sweet spot where you say, maybe this is a thing, like maybe we’ve got a business here.
Um, and we were able to grow our revenue to a hundred percent during, during last year. So we’re now kind of entering this scale-up phase, um, heading between, uh, you know, series B in a series C if you like the kind of the VC letters. Um, but ultimately taking us from like an early stage startup into something where there’s a little bit more to.
Andrew: Okay. And revenue wise, we’re talking what, two, 3 million roughly this
Richard: We were in say single digit millions or more, more than that, but some, yeah, we were on the, on the way to 10. That’s where our next milestone is.
Andrew: Okay. And overall, how much did you raise?
Richard: So we raised 23 million us for the series B. Um, and in total is about 32 million in total. Um, but you know that you have to understand the kind of early part of the company as we’re kind of grappling and trying to find product market fit. Um, we actually didn’t raise a ton of capital. So like our series a, which we raised from union square ventures was 5 million USD, which, um, unit.
At least 2021. Um, the series A’s were actually becoming quite a lot larger than that. So we’re really kind of for the first time, actually like taking in really significant amounts of capital and, and scaling up.
Andrew: We talked before we got started about how you were a corporate lawyer before, and you had this one situation where you had to have 50 NDAs non-disclosure agreements signed in five days. Why did you need 50 of them? And then let’s talk about what happened.
Richard: Yeah. So I was a corporate lawyer. Um, as you say, so, you know, what does that, what does that mean? It’s basically someone who deals with legal paperwork and contracts all day, every day. Um, so as, as part of my job in an M and a team, um, you’d sometimes have multiple bidders for a company. And they had this transaction, which really kind of stuck in my mind while we had 50 bidders for, for a company.
And my job is like the most junior attorney, um, in, in the, in the business was to basically prepare the most simple document, which was an NDA. And, you know, we’ve all seen these documents. They tend to be a couple of pages that pretty cookie cutter. But when you have so many of them, um, you start to notice that some of the process things around contracts, which, you know, we all kind of think of as a little bit painful.
Um, so, you know, loading them up in Microsoft word and running some track changes and sharing them over email and uploading them into hello sign and, you know, storing them somewhere. That was kind of compounded by 50. So it made me feel that for people who actually really process contracts at scale, actually these manual processes don’t make so much sense.
And I remember just kind of sitting there and I was, I had so saved, like the 500th, like version of a file on my desktop. I began thinking to myself, well, look, you know, maybe I’m this kind of risk of us attorney and maybe this is the life I’ve chosen, but you know what, actually, there’s something here that really sucks.
I know it sucks. And it’s like so badly that maybe if we started. We can actually make this process a little bit more efficient and take away the kind of pain for people like me who are just sitting there late at night. Um, trying to, trying to deal with the process that they were, they were given. So yeah, that that’s like was one of the sort of Genesis moments for us.
Andrew: And still you then went on to get an MBA before starting a company. Why, why did you think an MBA was so important to you?
Richard: I think great questions. So like, you know, I spent a lot of time talking to ex lawyers who want to become entrepreneurs and they’re kind of like me, like they were mostly a nightmare in entrepreneurship terms. Right? So they start thinking about things like, you know, there’s this very linear path, which if I do well here, I can then do my MBA and I’ll get business knowledge, and then I’ve got a product role.
And so a lot of my thinking was like, Hey, there’s this pause? To entrepreneurship and it’s like a step-by-step puff. Um, and of course, you know, the reality is like, things aren’t really like that in entrepreneurship. And you know, now I’m a bit of a change past them. I usually say to people just quit your farm and just start your business.
Right. Cause that’s how you’re actually going to learn anything. But, you know, th the nice thing about it. Um, and I’m finding this more and more now as the company kind of scales up, and we’re not like 75 people, and we’re going to be at like 130 by the end of this year. It’s actually like some of those things I learned on the MBA and now sort of popping into my mind is, you know, how do we build like a structure for organization?
How do we build like incentives? And the, I went to inside in Paris where there’s actually had quite a lot of entrepreneurial types. So I met and I got to meet some really interesting investors and go network and it’s all good stuff, but I think, you know, nothing actually beats the kind of cold, hard staring at a blank screen and like wondering like, how the hell are you going to actually like build this business?
Um, so yeah, so it took me a little bit of time to realize.
Andrew: You know what I remember going to school and reading a book on entrepreneurship, where the author said, people say that being the brain surgery is hard or being a brain surgeon is hard and says, I don’t want to minimize it, but at least there’s a path to doing it. You know what school you need to go to?
You know, what you need to do to get good grades, you know how you get a job. There’s a path because as an entrepreneur, there is no path. And in many ways that’s more difficult. So I get what you’re saying. And I also now understand why you ended up going to legal zoom for a short period of time. You probably want it to say.
What is it like to build a product? What’s it like to build a business? I want to get into Juro, but first I heard how you got the job at legal zoom. I feel like that gives me a sense of the spice. That is Richard. Talk about how you did that.
Richard: Well, I remember it distinctly, right? So it was coming to the end of my MBA. And it was the time where basically everyone is looking for a job, right. So there’s kind of careers, fairs, and, you know, people start speaking with investment banks and consulting firms and things like that. And that’s all, you know, fantastic.
Um, and there’s like some amazing jobs and opportunities out there, but if you want to do something unusual, like there isn’t really. Careers faff, uh, you know, jobs and entrepreneurship. Um, and so I I’d become super interested by that point in actually like, you know, legal technology companies, what they were doing, like why they were doing these things.
And I came across this company, legal zoom, which is, you know, um, in Austin, Texas, at least ballpark of the companies in Austin, Texas, and. I started to think, wait a second, this is a company that is working on actually automating legal process. Uh, and it’s doing it in a slightly different context than what I’ve seen, but like, isn’t this incredible, like, isn’t this an amazing thing.
Um, and I, I thought to myself, well, I didn’t have any experience in startups or technology, so what I’m going to do. So I ended up. Holds email outreaching to the, uh, European CEO and saying, look, can I just do some work for you? I didn’t really know what, like I’ll do like anything you want. Um, I just, you know, I I’m coming out of this thing.
I didn’t know anything about anything helped me. And, um, I met him in London and, uh, it gave me a job, um, working on some parts of the. Um, and, and it kind of went from there and I had to prove myself and I’ve worked like super hard and, you know, I spent a bit of time working with those guys. I learned stuff, but I think, you know, you start to realize over time, you know, what kind of person you are when you’re really up against it.
And I was kind of up against it because I was never going to be a con well, I, you know, I mean, I was very lucky in many respects. I was never going to be a good consultant or banker or lawyer. I don’t think so. Um, I, you know, I’m not well behaved enough for that. Um, and I, I don’t, I didn’t, I didn’t really have the discipline for that kind of work.
Um, and so I found like increasingly that as an entrepreneur, as you said, there’s no path, but you just have to aggressively find these. Angles and these opportunities. Um, and you know, there’s plenty of great entrepreneurs out there who just say, you know, I think there’s many examples of people say you just got to ask for these things.
And sometimes it feels uncomfortable. It’s like a British lawyer. I mean, British people are famously indirect, right? Lawyers are famously risk of us, but you got to just like try something and ask. Um, and I found often that you get, you got rewarded for, for taking those risks.
Andrew: At legal zoom. You mean, you did, what’s one thing that you asked for that you just had to beyond getting the job, which is a good example. That was there one thing there that you did where you had to ask.
Richard: Yeah. I mean, I think like the thing that I realized when I was working there was that I was very interested in product. And so I think in pivoting my, my job there into actually like working on some product related stuff. Yeah. It’s a bit of an ask, right? I mean, I had no experience. I just knew the pain points.
I knew the customers. So, yeah, so it’s being, it’s being a bit aggressive and asking, and then, um, you know, and just taking a bit of a leap of faith, right. Um, I’m sure it wasn’t, you know, um, the best paid of the jobs of the class in my MBA, but, um, suddenly he was one of the best learning experiences.
Andrew: Okay. And then you say, I’m ready. I’m going to start a company. And your plan from what I read when I was preparing for this interview was. You are going to tell me if I’m wrong about this. You’re going to contact people on late legal zoom. You figured there would be some kind of funnel from that contact what general counsels.
And if you contacted a hundred, five might talk to you, one might sign up and then you repeat it for the next a hundred and so on. Is that it?
Richard: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s on LinkedIn, LinkedIn. Um, so I basically said to myself, look, I’ve gotta be the first sales person of this company. Right. And some, some startup founders will say like, I’m not going to do any sales. Um, I didn’t like that. Um, I’m going to get someone in to do the sales and the. Uh, like, I didn’t really know anything about sales and I, I’m not sure I like it, but I’ve got to try it.
Right. Because if I didn’t know how to do it, I suddenly can’t hire anyone better than me, because I wouldn’t know what to look for. So exactly right. I did your classic outreach like mistakes. So our STRs are drew like laugh at me to this day because every single mistake was made like no personalization, like kind of long messages, not really a clear value story.
Spray and pray. Right. And I sent out like a hundred of these, the first hundred, there was zero. So not even a like go away message on LinkedIn, it was just zero response. Um, and then eventually I got through to one general counsel, um, and, and managed to get a meeting. Um, and, and from that meeting, uh, we got a customer, um, and, and that helped us usually on the way to actually building.
Andrew: Because then that customer told you what they needed for their firm. You were able to create for them and then eventually take it out to others. Is that right?
Richard: Exactly. So this was, I mean, it’s not now this company is still our customer, very large, um, like post IPO company, but I basically went into them. And it’s actually a kind of funny story, but, um, the first thing that general counsel said to me was you probably think I brought you into this meeting so you can sell your product.
But actually the main reason I wanted to talk to you as I’m hiring lawyers in my team, I’m looking for entrepreneurial lawyers. You seem like one of them, like you interested in applying for a job. You know, as, as like a, I’m already quite like deflated from having been rejected by the first 100 people, but still being a good salesperson.
I got up like my, you know, my, my laptop. And I was like, well, we’re building this thing. And like, let me ask you a couple of questions. Right. And I remember distinctly that. I showed him like a couple of wire frames. I’m not sure where they actually written a single line of code and the product at this point showed him a couple of wire frames, what we were building.
And he was like, yeah, cool. Like whatever. And then I just, I remember just like flipping it around and saying, look, you told me what, what’s your biggest problem today in the legal team, like what’s cinnamon problem. And he said, we’re signing 500 contracts. Um, we’re doing that. Using a combination of Microsoft word templates, uh, DocuSign with storing them in Google drive.
And we’re tracking them in this manual, like spreadsheet called a contracts register, where I literally have someone on my team reading these contracts, unpicking them and creating a list of what they are, which is basically now like what our website says. Right. So we read the first section on our website, basically like pretty much tells that story.
And we said, well, look, we’re building this all in one contract automation platform. So like our goal is to get you out of those like four or five tools into one automated
Andrew: So basically he was saying that he had the problem that you are building the solution.
Andrew: was It was. it off at all? How did what he described differ from what you had in mind for the original version?
Richard: Well, it was pretty much identical because, you know, I’d had that experience of dealing with these 50 NDAs. So I was using five tools to agree, like every single contract. Um, I think like what, what you learned from those customers is. Not so much at a high level, what your problem is. Cause I think that was a line.
It was more in the weeds. Like what exactly is your team doing with this contract down to the level of like I’m opening word, I’m saving a PDF on my desktop. I’m uploading the PDF into DocuSign. I want to know everything. And I actually spent a lot of time in that, in that office back then until I was basically a jacketed by security after like a few weeks, literally sitting next to the users and they just thought I was crazy.
I was like, show me what you do. Show me the status quo. Like, what are you doing? Like, what are you doing when you’re uploading this thing? Why, why are you doing that? Um, and then when we started building the solution, actually like writing code and sort of trying things out, I was like, right. Use this, like, tell me like, is this good?
Is this bad? How’s this better? And we just. Uh, really obsessed with that basic like, you know, problems, solution premise to try to get a really, really good match just with one customer. And the reckoning was if we could get this right, maybe there are other companies out there who are experiencing similar pain.
Andrew: Who built it for you? You were now talking about the product you went from sales to creation. Built it.
Richard: So I had a great co-founder. Um, so Powell, uh, who, you know, weirdly, we actually met at business school. I mean, we were the two most random people at the school, right? So I was a lawyer. That’s pretty rad. He was a software engineer. I, everyone else was like management consultants and bankers, all these kind of experienced business people.
Andrew: I heard the two of you have. And did you take a trip to Tanzania or something before you, before you even started the business together?
Richard: Not Tanzania. And then, uh, I mean, we, we, I mean, so he’s from Latvia, um, and you know, I’m, I’m national. Um, but, um, yeah, we, we, we worked actually remotely for a long time. Um, so since inception, this was in 2016, we’d built a fully like remote, like company with two founders in two different locations.
Um, so as you know, as, as kind of, you know, we’ve just been talking about working from home as this all kind of chain, right. Pretty normal. It we’ve been like zooming for like five years. Um, but yeah, he, he built the first, the first iteration of the product. And then we had like a couple of engineers who we hired really early, were still with us.
Um, so Anton and Valarie. Um, and I remember just like, we would sort of call them from the office of this first customer and say, look, we’ve got a customer. We haven’t written any code. Um, like we know they’ve got a problem. Like we’re going to do some wifi. I figure this out, but like, let’s just kind of build and you know, it’s so hard, right.
Um, you know, you speak to tons of entrepreneurs, but I think just thinking about those early days where you just have no resource, there’s like no engineering team, just like a couple of people, somehow you like wrangle it into a product and, you know, looking back, I, I’m just not sure how we, how we did it.
Andrew: Why do you think that the law firm was willing to take it when the product had flaws in it considering they were using Microsoft word DocuSign. I mean, all these top tier products, they’re not great, but they’re Bulletproof for what they do.
Richard: Yeah, it’s a great question. I mean, you know, I always have so much respect for companies that do that, and I always think they they’re going to be like an early adopter type customer. So this, this was a, this was a in-house legal team at a tech company. So, you know, by our reckoning, they might be more likely to be an early adopter, but actually it’s quite inconsistent.
We, we had some customers in the early stages from very traditional companies with like horrendous procurement processes and. So old-school technologies who still wear these visionaries. And I think it really comes down to one thing, which is like, how burning is the pain? So is it if your hair is on fire, right?
You’ll pick up the nearest thing, even if it’s like a brick and you’ll start like hitting your head, put it out. Like, I think that’s basically what happened. And I have so much respect for people who do that. Right. But in return as the entrepreneur, you got to give them value. Right? So you’ve got to be shipping new features all the time and taking them on this journey say, look, I know we don’t have all of this stuff, but it’s coming and here it is now you’ve got it.
And the next thing is coming in a couple of months, but yeah, it, boy, it’s.
Andrew: I’d like to understand the hair on fire. That’s more than just a hassle to use different software apps together and make them work. It’s more like there’s a real, but before we do, let me just quickly say. Anyone out there who’s looking to hire developers, go to lemon.io/mixergy. When you do, they will, within 24 hours find what they call on their website, your startups chosen one, meaning they’re going to find the perfect person.
And if you’re not happy, you don’t have to hire from them. If you are, you can get started quickly. You have an inexpensive developer from Europe who can work with you remotely. And really, if not, Don’t work with them. And if you use my URL, you’re going to get a discount on their already low prices. Like I said, they get, they get people from Eastern Europe and other countries where they could get lower prices for great work from people who do not want to come to Silicon valley or come to the U S they just want to be where they are.
If you go to lemon.io/mixergy, right now, you can get started. Like I said, 24 hours, go check them out if you’re hiring. So then what, what is that hair on fire description? What, what’s the real problem that causes.
Richard: Yeah. And it’s like, I think these, I mean, you know, entrepreneurs generally. The start often. And you know, I’ve been guilty of this in the past, jumping ahead to the solution, right. You start coding. Cause you kind of think you get the problem, but actually like the problem that you solve has, in my opinion, lots of layers to it.
Right. Um, so the first is like the purely personal problem. Which I think of this as like, what’s the status quo? What do you do today? What are the very specific friction points in there for us downloading, uploading all of these like little in the weeds, things that annoy you. Um, and, and, and then you can kind of move to like, what’s the promised land few personally, I think like one lab extracted from that is basically what’s the personal impact.
Right? So I remember when we were doing discovery for this in the early days, we start to hear, you know, really quite emotional stuff. Right. So sometimes. Yeah, it’s kind of annoying to like, have to save stuff on my desktop. And sometimes it was like more abstract, like, Hey, I work till like midnight again last night and I don’t have enough time to see my children.
Um, and it doesn’t help that I’m dealing with so many of these contracts without any process. So we started kind of almost like an emotional kind of level of impact on the individual. And then you can start to look a little bit outward. So then, you know, what’s the impact on the team. Well, the impact on the team is like, there’s no defined workflow in this team and the reputation and the team let’s say outside of the legal team is that this is just like kind of random cost center that just does random stuff.
Right? And then you can look at the business impact, which is like, maybe you’re missing key risks in your contracts. Maybe your auto renewing. We had a customer auto renew, a $1 million like vendor agreement with Salesforce because they missed a date. Right. They just missed the date because they have no tracking system.
So I think like, Oh my all the time, all the time. It’s and, and, and the values are crazy, right? So, so you build up this whole story, like long story short, it’s going to be painful for a person. It’s got to be painful for their team, and it’s got to be painful for the company. And if you know all of those things, you can paint this great solution on this great story, which says, Hey, this solves problems for you.
And you’re going to be a hero in your team. And the team is going to have more impact. And because the team has more impact, the company is going to grow from. Well, whatever it may be.
Andrew: Okay. I had the sense that it was clearly just about money, that they’d screwed something up, like the example that you had about a contract that renewed for a million dollars, but it’s more than that. It’s also a lifestyle. It’s also reputation. It’s also just being more professional. All right. I see how you got them.
How did you get the next client once you built the person?
Richard: Well, that’s an easier thing to answer. So, so we basically, um, went to like a very similar company and we said like, w we’re building, you know, expertise in the, on demand, you know, food delivery space. We think we get you. And like, of course it’s not enough to get a customer just to say, we’ve got other customers in the space.
But actually like when we got into the meeting, we were like, so what’s your problem. And then they said, well, we agree a thousand contracts a month in word and email and DocuSign and email and Google drives very manual press. And we go look okay, cool. Well, you know, here’s what our solution is and they go, well, that’s the exact thing we need.
So go going like one degree further was actually relatively straightforward. I think it became harder when we realized, well, we can’t just be this contract automation platform for like on demand businesses because that market’s not big enough. So we’d had to kind of figure out other segments and, and, and how, how our solution could fit in that.
Andrew: Where the first clients were they, these, I guess you, you, as you said, on-demand services, I picture them being like the food delivery companies and those companies that have lots of contracts to work with. Is that right?
Richard: Yes. It’s not just in food delivery, but like, and we still have lots of these customers. You can kind of see them on our website, but kind of marketplace businesses. Um, so for example, we work with, uh, uh, a big one listed in, uh, in New York recently called Kazu. It’s like a used car marketplace and it’s just like high volumes of contracts.
Um, so a little bit like me with the 50 NDAs. You know, your hair is not only on fire, but someone’s pointing like gasoline on your hair. Right. Because there’s so much light coming Um, and that worked great for us as a, as a first wedge.
Andrew: Okay. And then when you realize it’s time to go beyond, we can’t find enough, I’m surprised actually that you wouldn’t be able to find enough of those marketplace. It feels like everyone’s a marketplace like that. My sponsor lemon, uh, they are essentially a marketplace dealing with lots of developers, lots of clients.
And then they matchmake and they have agreements that are different. It feels like there’s so many, had you known that, that wasn’t going to be enough to sustain.
Richard: Well, I mean, it’s sustained us for like quite a while. I think. I mean, you know, and you’re you’re right. That, that isn’t an entirely a small segment. Um, I think like the, you know, the, the way our business kind of emerged was actually, you know, to take your other sponsor of Gusto. I mean, SAS businesses is now like a very major segment for us.
Right. Where we just like worked out that actually there’s plenty of SAS businesses, that process lots of contracts and they do it. And guess what? The same old, like, manual way. So, so, so this kind of like gentle expansion to these segments, I think the important thing for us is like, you don’t want to go too broad, too fast.
So we had all kinds of demand from like a large healthcare businesses, law firms, banks, financial services. And we’ve tried to be really disciplined in like turning them away because I’ve got, I’ve got no doubt. We can give them like a okay solution. But I know that in these little wedges we can really, really nail it and we can be better than any product in the world for them.
Andrew: You mentioned SDRs either. These are the people who now drum a business for you, who do what you are doing. As you say poorly, they do it well. They contact people on LinkedIn and other platforms. Start the conversation, transfer the sale over to, or the, the client potential client over to a COO to a sales person and close it.
How did you develop that process? What was the next step after you making phone calls or sending email to where you are to. Help me walk, help me by walking me through that evolution.
Richard: Yeah. So we, we have like, basically three channels work for us. So two are inbound channels. So SEO, which was basically just like me writing blog posts. We now have a whole amazing team led by Tom that does that, um, paid marketing, so paid search, um, again led by Vadim. We now have a great team for it. And then outreach.
It’s still something that we do. It’s still something that kind of yields results for us. Um, You know, your question, I think is like, how do we go from like, sending these like trashy messages on LinkedIn to like a highly personalized, sophisticated thing. Um, and you know, for me, it was just hiring to two SDRs, right.
That was the first step. Um, we still have both, they’re still actually both, uh, uh, with us in the A’s
Andrew: So the very first step was after you making those initial points of contact, it was hiring people who are going to start conversations that led to you being the sales person who closed them.
Richard: Correct. So, so, so we we brought in two wraps fast, right. Um, and you know, because it experimenting and being really disciplined data-driven and like how you do outreach, it’s a huge lift. And by that stage, I was getting like, very drawn between like selling staff and being like our CS team and the products into these kinds of things.
And. But the issue is that like, you can’t just buy it in. Right. It’s very hard at the earliest stages to say, look, let’s just get two SDRs ready, built, and they’re going to take no process and like no insight. And they’re just going to turn it into revenue. I think it was very much. Teaching process. Right?
So it was me articulating all of this stuff, like talking through which personas do we go after? What are their pain points? What could be the value messages? Um, and yeah, and it took us time, right? It took us quite a lot of time to iterate and find out what works. And of course at the same time, um, you know, the whole world of outreach was changing.
So we’re kind of moving to a world where, you know, people have bought like 150 SAS applications in their company. Pretty tired of getting the same old messages and, you know, there’s big need to kind of like iterate and, and, and innovate. Um, and yeah, so it was just trying some stuff failing quite a lot.
Um, getting a lot of rejection. Um, I think for us, the big turning point was starting to be really measured and data-driven so like, not just guessing, like what works, but actually having a really good structure for testing cadences and, uh, and,
Andrew: for testing what you are sending out or what the SDRs were, was sending out testing and seeing what gets opened, what gets read, what gets responses, testing out different language based on that.
Richard: exactly right. Yeah. That down to a level. And you know, some of it is very specific. So like, you know, maybe a subject line works better than another subject line. You can AB test that. But I think a lot of it for us was actually just getting them the core message. So finding someone, you know, at a time where they’re likely to be experiencing the problem, um, and articulating really well what that problem is and what the solution is.
Um, and yeah, it just, it just takes time to iterate. Um, and you know, you learn along the way, but once you’ve cracked that, then yeah. It’s optimizing stuff from that. Right.
Andrew: And then I noticed that search engine traffic was important to you. I’ve noticed things like, I think I saw that you’re ranking for something like Excel contract management issues. I guess there are people who are using Excel to manage their, their flow. Does that make sense?
Richard: Yeah, absolutely. So you’re exactly right. Um, I think, you know, when it comes to SEO and we have this amazing team that works on this now, I guess like, what you’re trying to do is you’ll try to say, look, someone’s got a pain point, where are they going to go to find a solution? They’re going to go to Google.
Next question is like, what do they search for? Right. And there’s all kinds of other things you might look at search traffic and rankings and whatever, but. What would someone who has a pain point so forth. And so we started to go, okay, well, look, there’s, there’s such terms like, you know, contract management, I think we still like such result.
Number one for that, that’s all fine. But like, you know, you may not, you may not know what contracts management automation is. Um, but you may be searching for an interim solution. And so exactly those examples of what really well for us, like, you know, search term, like how, how can you do red lining and Google docs?
And you’ve got an officer from jury is saying, well, you can hack this together. Here’s how here’s some value. It’s not great. There’s this other solution, which is your own. And it can help you more, um, same point on XL, which is like, basically there comes a point at which you call me, messing around with an Excel spreadsheet and you need tooling.
Um, and we, we try not to be too salesy in that we try to actually like, you know, say, look, if you can solve it in this way, go and solve it. If you can’t, you know, take, take a look at Euro.
Andrew: By the way, the name Gerald is so good because four letters eat is, is easy to spell it. J U R O has this connection to jurisprudence, to jurors, to, I mean, to juries, to like the whole justice system. How much did it cost you to get a four letter domain name?
Richard: So the short answer is $13,000, which is very Um, so I mean, it’s actually, it’s kind of a funny story. Like w we decided to name the company jury for exactly the reasons you mentioned. And the really curious thing is Euro and lats, the Latin root of all of those weird, like legal words and actually means promise.
So it means, I promise. And it, it, we got really curious about this. Cause you know, when you think of a contract, right, it’s such a formal thing and there’s all these kinds of words that no one really understands, but at its core, it’s just a promise between two people and we thought this was kind of neat.
We then thought exactly, as you say, look, yeah, the fallout is domain name. This is great. Um, and we bought dro.io, right? As lot of startups do, we didn’t have the budget jura.com. Um, and you know, one day I got this like outreach from a domain broker saying, you know, would I buy it, buy this domain for like, $300,000 or something like that, which is actually probably what it’s worth.
It’s probably worth more than that. course we, we had no money. So, um, so we ended up negotiating like very heavily, um, and it was owned by, um, you know, you can look it up on like the, who is right, who is the owner, but we found out there was owned by some, some guy in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada.
And we were just like, why, why do you own this domain? And it was one of these people just owns like hundreds of thousands of domains. And anyway, long, long story short, we managed, we managed to kind of cut a deal. Um, and, and it’s been great. You know, I think when it comes to brand, like we, haven’t invested very heavily in getting agencies to do all this stuff.
We’ve done most brand stuff internally, but I think having a, having a name that works is it is helpful. And again, you know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to put your best foot forward in negotiating, right?
Andrew: What’d you do that helped you with the negotiations to get it from 300,000 to 13,000?
Richard: So, I can’t even really remember the specifics, but I do remember a lot of backwards and forwards. And I remember, I remember us just saying, you know, ultimately we do not have any more money this stuff you can read about us and tech crunch. We’ve raised like a tiny round. We don’t have any money, but, um, you know, It’s a little bit valuable to us.
Um, you can get them the money today, or you can, you can wait. And fortunately the broker said, you know, we’ll sell it.
Andrew: it’s such a good domain name, such a good domain name. Um, you mentioned.
Richard: lucky, right?
Andrew: I think that’s true because they’re really that domain name because it’s three letters because it’s so broad should have gone for at least a hundred thousand, if not even half a million, that’s such a good domain name. Um, and so you mentioned raising money, you know what, let’s come back to that in a moment first, I’ll say my second sponsor, as you mentioned, is Gusto.
Are you familiar with Gusto Richard? It seems like.
Richard: I am. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: One of the things that I I’ve heard about them forever. And I’ve seen a lot of my friends use Gusto, and then for some reason I didn’t use them. And then I had trouble with every fricking alternative. And I don’t know why I didn’t just jump into Gusto. I think that they would always have. Extra features that seemed nice, but in reality, weren’t useful and were distracting.
It was a hassle to use. All I want to do is pay my people. Contractors, employees have somebody I can talk to when there’s an issue. And that’s it. And Gusto does that beautifully. If you’ve listened to me for a while now, you know that I, and many of the guests who I’ve interviewed here have used Gusto for a long time.
Well, not me for a long time. They’ve used them for a long time. I’m fairly new. I love it because it’s easy. If you’ve got people who are local in your country, in your city, or even now international. Whether they’re contractors or employees, Gusto makes it easy to pay them easy for them to receive payment, easy for them to control the experience.
Easy for them to see what’s going on. Easy for you to add benefits, easy for easy, easy, easy, easy. In fact, I’m going to actually make it even easier for you to say yes to trying them. Because if you use my URL, you can try them right now for free. See what you think. Talk to their people, see how amazing they are.
And if you want great, if you don’t nothing to lose, cause it’s going to be free at this URL. It’s gusto.com/mixergy, J U S T o.com/. So, let’s talk about funding, the original money. Did you use any money or was it just you and Pavel’s just doing the work for free and
Richard: so, so so when, when I was a busy, when I was a business school, um, I like a lot of my time is basically spent trying to clawback the fees I’d paid. Right? So business school is like an expensive endeavor, all kinds of, you know, higher education is. And I see like one, a little bit of money, um, from a venture competition, um, at, uh, at inside of my business school.
And so we put that money into the business. I was like a few thousand. Um, and I, I put
Andrew: How much, like less than 25,000.
Richard: 5,000 euros, I think it was, um, so not, not money. Right. And then I put, I think 10,000 GBP, so pounds. Um, so talking about like maybe 20, 20,000
Andrew: own money.
Richard: um, not, not a huge amount, but like, you know, it was significant at the time.
Um, and then yeah, w we were equity funded really at the idea stage. Um, so we took off first ramp pretty early, uh, which was. Accelerator called seed camp. So it’s kind of a European version of Y Combinator. Um, and, um, they gave us like 70,000 euros is like a hundred, just under a hundred K dollars. So again, we’re not talking about big amounts of money here, but this is more like, you know, feeding a couple of co-founders a couple of engineers on ramen for year.
Um, yeah, that was back in
Andrew: you could feed for a year or two developers and you and your co-founder.
Richard: Well, I didn’t have children at the time. Right. But, um, we, yeah, we, we were pretty disciplined, I would say back then. Um, and you know, people talk about, you know, it’s important to be hungry and entrepreneurial. I mean, we were literally hungry, right?
Andrew: You talk to me about what you would eat, what life was like in that, in that period, when you were hungry, hours, food, anything.
Richard: Yeah. I mean, I think, um, I think you have like a couple of things, like one is, you know, I didn’t get so much FOMO now. Right. I feel like, you know, but, but I, I definitely did. I had suddenly been, um, you know, I’ve been very fortunate in my life, right. I’d had like a lot of great experience. I’d worked for good companies being well-paid and whatever.
And, uh, you know, suddenly coming out of business school and my friends were going in and working for like McKinsey and bank of America and all these kinds of companies. Seemingly like this like amazing time. So like part of it is, yeah, there’s like a little bit of hardship because you’ve got no money, but there’s also an existential question, which is like, you know, what, if this thing doesn’t work out, like, what if we fail?
Like, what are we going to do? Are we going to have to get going to get jobs? So I remember most of it was actually like psychological, to be honest. Um, you know, I think like now you have more financial dependencies and things. You will have a little bit older now I’m 35 now. Um, but you know, I was in my late twenties and it was, it was okay to be honest, but suddenly like stress.
Andrew: I know what you mean about that? What happens next? What if it doesn’t work? It could be so distracting that you can’t be productive or it, and I shouldn’t even say it could be so helpful that if forces you to work, did it do that for you to.
Richard: I think so. I mean, I think a lot of I’m sure you have like a lot of people in the show who say this, right. But I think. Up against the ropes, something that just something about those conditions, forces some level of creativity. So I remember, you know, the end of 2016 after we’d sort of burned through like 80% of the cash we had, we were definitely running out of money and needing to go and raise again.
And I think some of our best work was done in product terms. Right. Which was just like, you know, Brute force and this discipline and this kind of working allowed us to get it done something about those conditions leads to some creativity, um,
Andrew: did you communicate that to the people who you’re working with and to yourself and how did it get expressed? Were you working later hours? Were you asking for more.
Richard: I mean, I’ve tried to be like pretty transparent. I mean, I, you know, I, I take feedback from my team all the time. Right. And some of it’s great and some of it was okay, it’s almost like you got to like shut shop in your game. Right. But the thing I, I sort of consistently get good feedback on is transparency.
And so we were quite radically, I think, transparent with the team at the time. We didn’t have much money. Right? So like, like here’s the balance, like, that’s what we’ve got. So, you know, we’ve got to work together and I think ultimately it scares some people, but people, you know, if you, if you were kind of like employee number four and five and a company, basically an entrepreneur, right.
You’re taking on so much risk there. They think if you start treating the team as your co-founders, you know, whether it’s two people or five people or 20 people, and you’re really open with them about that. I think it’s a positive thing. And I think that ultimately it helps everyone to focus. Right. And, you know, I’m sure you got millions of people talking about focus on this show as well, but you know, there’s focus and focus, right.
There’s focus, which is like, you know, for two hours a day, you’re doing productive work and the rest of the day, there’s just like other stuff that’s happening. And then there’s, we’re going to do like a 10 hour sprint together to make this thing work. And you know, when you have that pressure on those conditions, yeah, we did that and it helped.
Andrew: You know, Richard, I’ve got to tell you that I was a little worried about this interview because when, before we got started, when we were just chatting, it felt like maybe you were sick. It felt like you were maybe low energy because I imagine it’s the UK. So you’re a later in the day than we are. It’s 11 my time.
What time is it?
Richard: So I have nine now, full 4:00 PM. UK.
Andrew: Okay. 4:00 PM. So you’d had your day. I was just starting my day and I said, oh no, what’s it going to be like, I even gave you an out, do you want to record another time? And you said, no, it’s going to be okay. And dude, as soon as we started talking, you came alive. I feel like the same thing happened to you.
A journal having read your story, having now talked to you, I feel like there’s a part of you. As I mentioned earlier, that wanted to be an entrepreneur that was latent for a big part of your life. And. Tapped it. And you were ready to step into that. Just like as soon as we hit record, you are ready to step into this conversation.
Like, like some of the best people I talk to. Am I right? Who are you at your core? And what did this bring out?
Richard: It’s a really good question. I mean, so it’s one, I have been a little bit sick, so, but even when I’m sick, I would get super excited about entrepreneurship. And, know, I know there’s a huge passion of yours and I think it is so exciting. Right. And to answer your question, I mean, like, I think ultimately I was a, kind of, not a great lawyer.
So I had a, I had an amazing job. I had amazing training. I had all this stuff given to me, but you know, when you ask yourself, What do you want to do? And what do you want to be good at? Um, I think for most of the early part of my career, I was basically doing stuff which convention or parents or whatever said, this is the sensible thing to do.
And they did it. And I worked really hard. I, my hard work I always have been, and I did that at my law firm, but you know, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Um, and I think one of the reasons for that is that, you know, Something, there’s something entrepreneurial in me. Right. And that entrepreneurial thing is this constant drive to change stuff.
Really love change. I even did it at my law firm. It was like, you know, say, look, Hey, let me build a process map for how we do M and a deals. I remember it. And I was like, what are you talking about? Process map? Like, what is this thing? You know, I think now law firms have changed like quite a lot and there’s like a lot of innovation happening.
Um, but the cool thing about it is actually entrepreneurs are kind of everywhere, right? So I just backed a guy. So I wrote my first angel investment recently, a guy who worked at my law. And he was doing the thing to me that I did to the general counsel, our first customer, which he just sent me. He’s like LinkedIn messages and I was going, oh my gosh, this guy’s like a lawyer.
He’s like me six years. I’ve never backed me six years ago. This guy sounds like a nightmare. And eventually I just gave in, I took a meeting with him and they built this incredible business. Um, it’s it was doing super well. They’ve now just raised like a 20 million series a it’s this amazing entrepreneur.
And again, he was just like in the wrong. You know, situation the wrong scenario. And I just love these things, right? Because you articulated super well earlier in this interview, we’re talking about, you know, what was the problem we solve and actually like, that’s all it is really. It’s like, do you really get the problems?
You really get the solution? Or do you have this like relentless hunger and drive to solve it? And people do everywhere, whether big businesses, small businesses where they’re unemployed, like wherever they are. So for me personally, yeah, definitely a journey. And I think everyone goes on this journey, right?
But it, it it’s, it’s so rewarding because you know, even now if we fail, I still feel good about this stuff. I still feel every day that I’m excited to go and do that.
Andrew: Well, it seems like you’re pretty fricking far from failure. I see. I mean, I’ve gone back in time, both in the internet archive and news stories, and it’s just incredible to watch the growth and to watch the progress of the business. Um, The website, as we said before, is juro.com for anyone who wants to go check it out.
I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen again. If you’re hiring developers, go to lemon.io/mixergy, and if you’ve got people on board and you’re looking to pay them with a software that they will love, go check out gusto.com/mixergy. Richard is so fricking great to talk to you. Thanks for being on here.
Richard: Thanks for having me on the show.