Reducing churn starts with this

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Shreesha Ramdas

Shreesha Ramdas

Strikedeck

Shreesha Ramdas is the founder of Strikedeck, which captures and organized customer feedback.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Um, joining me as an entrepreneur who said that.

SAS is great. And one of the beauties about SAS is that you get a customer, they pay you monthly or annually, and then you get that recurring business with them recurring relationship, but also a recurring revenue from them. And everyone talks about how can we get more of those customers? Because they’re just so valuable, but he said, What about churn?

What about the need to pay attention to when they’re so unhappy that they leave and what impact that has, and maybe we could actually reduce churn. And if we were juice churn, it’s better for revenue growth than going out and looking for more customers. So Theresa rammed us focused on that. He created a company called strike deck.

They are the customer success platform that prevents churn. I invited him to talk about that and about his other businesses and we could do it. Thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first, no shot before we got started, you said Andrew you’re. So like, I’ve got a good ability to talk now. Right? I used to suck, well, this company Unbound said, how about we pay you, write out the things that you do and just publish it.

I said, do you know what I’d like to do that? So I did it. If you want to get that it’s for free right now available to you. All the listeners at unbounced.com/mixergy they’re landing page creation site. They just put it up on their site. No need to even give an email address, just go to unbounced.com/mixergy.

They’re a sponsor and so is HostGator, but I’ll talk about HostGator later. First shisha,

Shreesha: Good to be here.

Andrew: the revenue it’s strike deck. How high did you get it?

Shreesha: So I cannot, um, mention  we are a public company Medallia, but, uh, we’re doing well. Happy to share

Andrew: Because you got acquired. Do you remember the day of the acquisition?

Shreesha: Well, absolutely. Can’t forget that.

Andrew: me about it.

Shreesha: That blows me off 2019. And, um, you know, uh, it was a great day because Medallia was a leader of customer experience and them at gliding us was a big beam funnel. The entire strike big team.

Andrew: And this was just before they went public.

Shreesha: It was a bout three full months before they went public. And that was again amazing because I always had in my bucket list. Uh, to be there, the company when it goes public. And so that was a big day as well.

Andrew: You’ve got to go. Where do they go? Public? What market?

Shreesha: New York. Yeah,

Andrew: New York. So you got to go to the New York stock exchange.

Shreesha: that’s right.

Andrew: You got to see, I went to see it with the company. My wife works for it is just an amazing experience. I hope they don’t get rid of it because of COVID. What was it like for you?

Shreesha: It was great, you know, it was, uh, thankfully before COVID nowadays I’m seeing people do it on zoom, which is not just imagined that, but, um, uh, the energy that mosques fear, um, and would laugh people. You know, who have been in the journey for a long time feeling that they have accomplished something great.

You know, that whole, whole atmosphere has been nominal.

Andrew: Plus that atmosphere. And I saw Brian Chesky of Airbnb do the whole thing from his, I guess, his living room or his house in some ways it’s appropriate because Airbnb is all about sharing your home and other ways, it just felt like sad for him. He should get that experience of going to this. But I still feel as hallowed ground.

I remember as a kid going to the New York stock exchange, getting to see the future of like stock trading and they’re getting, see my future. Anyway. Um, it’s exciting that you got to do that any, any way that your life changed after he sold the company, did you get to buy something fun? Do you get to do something to treat yourself after all this hard work?

Shreesha: Yeah. So the one thing that I’ve had a lot of fun, um, after the acquisition is investing in other startups. So, uh, that has been phenomenal. I just love this whole startup, uh, energy

Andrew: What’d you invest in, what’s exciting for you

Shreesha: So the one company that I’m really excited about is, uh, the event. Uh, it’s an online event company, three young guys out in London, uh, reading the whole, uh, even management platform.

Andrew: for managing online events.

Shreesha: That’s right.

Andrew: Okay.

Shreesha: Conferences. Uh, it’s just going beyond just the online meetings. It’s the flu fledged conference experience, where you have exhibitors, you have food, you have different, uh, pattern tracks, all of that. Right? How do you manage it? Can

Andrew: you move all that to the internet,

Shreesha: that’s right?

Andrew: including video, including like a presentation and all that.

Shreesha: Yes.

Andrew: All right. I want to hear your story, but I’ve got to tell you about one that I just invested in a past Mixergy guests, Matt Miralis. He said, you know, You know, when you, and I appreciate when we get on camera, you, you paid attention to your background.

I love the backdrop over there. I, uh, make sure that I’ve got something in my background, but we pay attention also the way we looked at I shaved today. Cause I want to be at my best. Do I look okay? He said, you know what, what if we do away with the whole thing? And instead we give people avatars that look just like them.

We take their face, a photo of their face on their best day, the backdrop, the best way that it looks not a fake one, though. You could do a fake one. And then we have them control it remotely so that if I kind of arch my eyebrows, my avatar will Archer eyebrows. If I smile, it looks so real that when he did a demo online, I said, okay, that’s you right?

And then you switch faces to this older man. He said, no, no. The whole thing was avatars that I was controlling with my face. Anyway, the beauty of it is. Um, that it allows us to have these remote meetings, low bandwidth, and without having to worry about how we look as we’ll always look at our always look our best and people don’t even have to know that we’re using it.

It’s called the Oasis. It’s

Shreesha: Well, Hey, that sounds good. Not melon too.

Andrew: I am. I am really excited about that one. I know that it, that you’re supposed to invest with the idea that most startups will fail and all that, and be accepting. I want that one to do really well because I need that. I’m tired of looking my best. I want to look a little sloppy sometimes.

Um, all right. Speaking of my best, let’s go into your story. Where’d you come up with the idea to focus on churn. It was at your previous company. Wasn’t it.

Shreesha: Yeah. So my previous company that was focused on marketing automation lead for comics, it was acquired by galleys SAP. And, uh, when I was doing that, I felt, um, we had always focused on new logo acquisition, and we don’t do enough about the goldmine that’s in our backyard. Right. Which is all existing customers.

And there’s gotta be a better way of managing your customers. And so in that company, I, I told our head of support that we are not going to have support. We are going to have customer success. Your title is going to chase the repeat customer success. And I remember he mentioned that he would walk in to a customer and give them their business card and the comments that he would get.

Uh, that’s a cool title, right? Where do you guys do? Right. And so that was inspiring. And so when I came out of SAP, got into this, I was like, what should I do next? And I fed ’em if I continue on the customer journey as focused from. You know, a lead being generated to a sales, getting closed with marketing automation.

How about if I go from closed deal to a successful customer, you know, and that’s how it all came about.

Andrew: Because lead for mix was all about how do we get businesses, more customers? And you said, all right, let’s now think about how do we, what do we do with those customers? Once we land them?

Shreesha: That’s right. That’s how it came about. And then this whole, uh, the board philosophy, if you take any, uh, technology from their board, all this focuses on new logo acquisition, and, um, I feel not enough is being done. And so that’s why I. Uh, my favorite, um, uh, phrase these days, Andrew is, is new era, which is

Andrew: MRR is a new ARR.

Shreesha: and our net retention rate is the new era.

Andrew: Ah, net retention rate and you know what, it’s so frustrating that it’s it until recently it’s been really hard to even figure out how long you’re retaining your customers. Right. But now I see Stripe is building it in before there were some ad-ons that did it. It’s it’s been tough to measure it, let alone improve it.

Go back a little bit lead for mics. That was your first startup that you cofounded. Right? What did you get the idea for that?

Shreesha: so that, uh, we got inspired by this whole digital movement, everything, uh, that was offline was moving online and you start with the, our daily newspaper. Right? So. A lot of them were struggling for existence and this whole search engine optimization was coming about. And that’s where I felt like there should be a better way of nurturing prospects and taking them to the finish line.

Right. And so that’s what, uh, drove the original concept of marketing automation. And initially Andrew, we were focused on sales and, uh, we would go in pitch to the sales guys is an amazing way to close a deal. And the sales guys would direct us towards the marketing folks. And they would say the marketing guys are the ones who are controlling the budget for the dude.

And then the marketing guy said, we need a better way to manage the email communication that happens. So it’s not just nurturing the deals, nurturing the prospects, but also, uh, engaging with them, but email content. And that’s how we, we build a solution geared towards marketers.

Andrew: So you did email marketing and what else?

Shreesha: Email marketing and what we used to call drip marketing, which is, uh, uh, design the workflow that if Andrew opens the email, but does not engage with us then after five days, how do you send a reminder saying, Hey, Andrew, we are here to help you with this, this whole process.

We can take you through the demo and so on.

Andrew: so marketing automation, but largely done by email. Is that right? What about this when you guys sold? Um, I see tech crunch says lead form X, lets B2B vendors turn anonymous visitors to their site into qualified leads by tech, by identifying potential customers and reporting their intent. How did you do that?

That seems like it’s much more than email marketing.

Shreesha: Yeah. So, um, as I mentioned,

Website is your primary destination. It showcases your company, your offering your product. So anybody who’s coming to the website, we should be able to figure it out. What is the intent that they are coming to the website for right. Based on how they browse the website. So we, we went and found their form of graphics, which is, are they coming from Cisco?

Are they coming from IBM? If they are coming out, they’re looking at pricing, which means that they are ready to buy, or they are just looking at some of the collateral, which means that they are still doing their research. So based on that, we would figure out the intent as well as, as, uh, some proxy information about the prospect.

Andrew: That’s the type of stuff that now, um, active campaign and others do for SMBs. You did that one. What year?

Shreesha: so this was back in, uh, 2000 line. Um, so, um, just the time when, um, Marketo Eloqua, we’re also going about the marketing automation we started, except our difference was this lead forensic or li uh, you know, um, all the background information about the lead intent that we used to also bring to the table.

Andrew: Knowing what they’re based on what they’re doing on the site or also where they came from.

Shreesha: mainly where they came from and what they’re doing on the website. So where they came from, showed the organization name and what are they doing on the website? This demonstrated the intake.

Andrew: Which is now so common now that everyone with a Shopify store can pretty much do this. Doesn’t Clavio do stuff like this, maybe not exactly. And, uh, or is it Klaviyo? I never know. Um, um, active campaign. I mentioned a convert kit, even on the smaller end. Drip does.

Shreesha: Yes.

Andrew: And you are ahead when you were trying to explain this, was it a hard sell to explain to those departments that they should be buying this was enterprise accepting of this?

Or did they say we already have a solution?

Shreesha: Yeah. So it was really tough selling all the years. It became easier. Initially, when we used to market us. Uh, the questions we would get as what is marketing automation? What do you mean by nurturing? Um, and, and so on. And so we had to explain to them the whole concept of, of understanding the lead details and, and how the workflow and how it’ll make their life easier.

Right. And so there was a lot of explaining to do. There’s a lot of evangelism that we had to do, um, in the beginning,

Andrew: How did you learn to sell? You’re not someone who, who came from a sales, loving background. Are you.

Shreesha: So that’s a great question, Andrew. Um, you know, I was managing engineering team. Uh, I had a fairly big team, uh, at Yodlee, uh, which was a FinTech platform. And, uh, uh, we had, uh, B come in, what would have been Chris came in and I came out. And, um, uh, uh, trying to analyze my stint there. And I felt, I need to understand the world outside of engineering to engineer to become a better entrepreneur.

And so.

Andrew: you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur, you were working for Yodlee and you said at some point I want to be an entrepreneur. You knew your weakness was sales. Okay. So.

Shreesha: Yeah, absolutely. Right. And, uh, uh, why I gravitated towards sales was as an engineer, you just curse the sales guys. You curse them for the type of the customers they bring in last for a lot of customization and so on. And yet I felt the sales guys are the ones who are keeping the revenue growing. And so it was like a black box of mystery for me.

And so I wanted to go in and figure out firsthand, what is this world all about? And so, um, I went in, um, I went to, uh, an early startup and begged the founder for a chance. And, uh, and the founder was very open. He said, you are, uh, an accomplished engineer. Why do you want to come to the sales side? And I, I told him, I must, I’m going to be a student again.

Right. And so, um, and I wanted it to be tough. I did not want it to, you know, to be, um, for me to be treated differently. And so I started with cold calling Andrew and I still remember the first call that I made. Um, wasta, Y com MTV networks. Uh, Trish Bertuzzi was a guy. I still remember his name. And, uh, I was praying to God at that time that it goes to voicemail and I don’t have to talk to a person, but he picked the call and I froze.

So, so anyway, so learnt a lot from that whole experience because I,

Andrew: the deal?

Shreesha: I closed the deal. Yes.

Andrew: Did you do to close a deal and why would they even need Yoda? Leo totally was a way for companies to let their users log into their bank accounts so they could export it. Right.

Shreesha: Yeah, so this was not for you and Leah had already come out of Yeardley. This is far. Um, uh, services from golf catalytic at that time. And, and, um, I froze for a minute, but then, um, I started speaking and I think I was able to close the deal because I was a technologist Andrew. So Trish had been through number of vendors and he was seeing that the project implementations were not going well.

And after my conversation, he felt like this is the guy who knows the solution really well. And he will be on the hook to implement it. And so that’s where the trust came along.

Andrew: Ah, you know what it’s I would have thought, look, you don’t have the slick voice. You don’t have this lit com the confidence. You don’t have the thing that’s going to make him love you instantly. But I could see the customers don’t want that. They want to feel like they’ve got somebody who could implement someone who can, who can understand what they need.

All right. So you learn to sell, and then you came up with this idea that you needed to create sales, automation, software. You made the first sales calls, the way that you talked about now, how you sold to Viacom MTV.

Shreesha: Absolutely I do. So, um, that whole seamless experience, I would say was the foundation of all my entrepreneurial experiences. Because I would, um, you know, rather than being, uh, rather than developing the perfect solution, I would go and start talking to prospects. And that is important because the prospects would then help you figure out what exactly solution they mean, whether the solution that you’re reading.

So early feedback really helped a lot.

Andrew: They’re basically building it with you, you sold. And how long did it take you to launch the first version?

Shreesha: Yeah, it took me about three months to last the Bush Russian and the flush tuition was really, really light. Right. And at that time, your sales is all evangelical sales. So you are going and, and, and cheeking out early design partners. And you are promising them a lot, promising them the future. You’re telling them that initially it’s just a framework, but you can customize it to their needs.

They’ll benefit from that. And eventually you get to the desired state and at that time they can be the other true ambassadors of the program. So that’s the vision that you would set.

Andrew: Okay. Did you raise any money?

Shreesha: So, uh, would lead for mics. Um, we did not raise any capital, um, because having gone through the uni experience, I wanted to try, uh, build the company without raising much. So,

Andrew: Why? What was the channel? What was the challenge with Yodlee?

Shreesha: so yeah. Uh, Andrew wasn’t dot com days where money was always there. And so, um, released a lot of capital early on. And when you raise a lot of capital Leon, you always find a way to spend it and that’s what happened. And so, um, so I realized why one should not be raising a lot of money before they find product market fit.

So that was a lesson I gained from you.

Andrew: Product market fit because I remember Yoda lead. They were the ones who powered mint. For example, mint was this new, amazing software that would allow individuals to, for free keep track of their spending. And because it did that and it made them better spenders, they would be able to offer them credit cards and other things.

Well, men didn’t have a way of logging into everyone, Citibank chase and other bank accounts. So they just partnered up with Yoda Liotta we would take their contact information and log them in. It was, it was brilliant. It was behind the scenes and it worked. What was the problem with their product market fit?

Shreesha: Yeah. So, uh, you’re right. Um, mint was built on top of a steak day. Um, and, and a lot of the other financial firms were actually built on top of you and the SDK. What w you know, um, we had, uh, had a great broad bucket fit. Um, we had million users, um, pretty quickly after we lost the product, but Andrew, it took us a lot of time to build that product because, uh, we had to bring in all the financial data into the platform.

And so we had to work with a lot of the financial institutions. Remember, this is we’re talking about 99, 2000. A lot of the financial institutions did not have that infrastructure back then. Right. And their website will fail the accessing the website. Their website was really tough. And so we had to work with them.

So it took, took a time to perfect the solution. Right. And that’s where

Andrew: the, it’s making the product that customers wanted. That was a challenge now, figuring out what they want is that right?

Shreesha: that’s

Andrew: And from what I understood, I I’m kind of fascinated by . They would also have to. Take people’s username and passwords, and then scrape the D log them in behind the scenes and then scrape the daily data from the banks because the banks were just that unprepared for online customers.

Want their data outside of the online site, inside of the bank site. Right.

Shreesha: Absolutely. And that again is a fascinating story and who a lot of the, you know, um, a lot of the users would expect all their financial data to be as instant as possible. And so, um, we would log on their behalf to the bank servers. And as I said, the infrastructure was very poor those days and we would crash that infrastructure.

And so then the data would not be available and the banks and the other financial institutions. Got pretty angry with me and they would shut me down. Right. They would not let our traffic come in. And so then we had to go and negotiate with them and we would tell them that it’s their users want the data and they can not shut their users.

And so then, but then we offered to collaborate by either funding a server in their premise or funding, the whole XML, um, uh, OFX data exchange.

Andrew: I think so I invested in a, in a company called inDinero at this point, it’s almost a decade ago and they were going to take on QuickBooks and, um, allow businesses to have a better online experience. They pivoted since then to doing books for businesses, the, the manual part of keeping track of people’s finances in QuickBooks.

Um, but I remember that, sorry.

Shreesha: I believe they are doing well and Rema.

Andrew: I saw, I see Jessica ma on the cover of what was it. It was ink magazine, I think. And she’s been sending out some updates and I’m excited about how they’re doing. Uh, but I think that even she, for business customers had to use Yoda Lee in order to get business customer’s data.

And when my, when my bank failed, I was just frustrated, but she said, this is what we’re doing. We, this is the world that we’re living in right now, but it will change. And sure enough, it did change, but you know what it seems to me. Sure. He shall like. They needed the money. Then if they had to deal with all these headaches that were unforeseen, the money helped them.

But you still took a lesson away from it of don’t raise money. Why, what was it about the Yodlee employment that you had there that told you not to raise money?

Shreesha: So, um, you know, when, when money is there. Um, you just spend, you don’t think about, um,

Andrew: what did they spend on that in retrospect? Didn’t make sense. Do you remember.

Shreesha: well, so I remember we took our engineering team to Hawaii. We took our services team to Vegas to celebrate our new milestone. So that’s the access spending that happened and it happened not because of any bad intention. The first it was a movement back then, right. When every other, other company were spending.

And so you are going with the norm, all the employees were expecting, right. Uh, back then. And so that’s where I feel like if you do not. Uh, if, if you are, if you’re not taking that much funding, you’re taking only that much, what is required to deliver the product or for your GTM, then you are, you will be conservative in your approach where you need to be

Andrew: Okay. And so that’s what you did when you, when you launch your own company lead for makes according to tech crunch sold in 2012 for $9 million cash. Is that reasonable?

Shreesha: that’s right.

Andrew: Okay. And you were a sole owner of the business. Co-founder at that point. Did you start investing in other businesses?

Shreesha: I did.

Andrew: You did. What’s your biggest hit?

Shreesha: So biggest hit is a company called Workato, uh, which is spelled w O R K a T O S. Now Salesforce, Workday service. Now all of them are investors and they raised their last round at a 1.7 billion valuation.

Andrew: What did you like about them when you first saw the founders?

Shreesha: Yeah. So what was incredible, incredible was a founders came from this company called tech coach. They were like employed, uh, third, fourth, um, employees. And so they understood the middleware piece really well, Andrew of how the data should flow, how the data should come in, all of that. And so they were taking that expertise into integration space.

And then also the three co-founders knew each other really well. One of them had sold ’em. His previous company to Skype, uh, and so had great track record. So I saw all the signs that this company is going to be really do really well.

Andrew: Hmm. How’d you connect with them.

Shreesha: So, um, so one of the founder was at his previous company was a customer of lead for mics.

And so, so that’s how I got to know him. And we stayed in that. And so I was ready to bet on him when he started his.

Andrew: Why did you sell lead for mics?

Shreesha: Uh, so we were at that point, uh, competing English market or Andrew, where we realized that either we had to raise a venture round our look for the option. And at that time, um, um, you know, the, the acquisition offer was there. We had two competitive offers and, uh, it just seemed right fit and, and right timing, more importantly.

Andrew: And Marquetto just became a beast right there. Just huge. I’d hate to compete against them. All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then I’m going to come back. And when you found your idea, how did you launch, um, is what I want to get into? So, and by the idea, I mean, for a strike deck, My sponsor is HostGator and Trisha, you know, that I like to brainstorm with my guests about ideas for what they would, what they would launch if they had a HostGator account.

You and I have talked about this before. I think the easiest thing to do is a service business to say, I’m really good at this one thing. I’m going to launch a service of it and then deal, do it for your customers and look for problems. And as you find problems that have repetitive solutions create software to solve it.

Right? So for example, what I might suggest is, um, Right now, I think that there’s this new job title kicking around Tricia, something like automation specialist, you know, like, you know, there’s, there are people who are really good at taking data that comes in from their form, feeding it into to their email app and then also adding it to the CRM and getting it to getting it all over.

Like, the stuff that people used to do is now being done using Zapier and this and that. I feel like that automation specialist with a few great case studies would be an excellent job because you could cut down on the nonsense work that people do. And a lot of times when people think they need a virtual assistant or another sales person, what they really need is better systems.

And that would be a good, um, a good consulting agency to create. And that automation expertise. What do you, what do you think, do you have any idea for, if you wanted to create an agency, what it would be.

Shreesha: I love the automation agency concept that you just mentioned. I’m also finding, um, a lot of new, um, software players are doing low code, no code. Uh, so, um, low-code software still means that you need to do some amount of coding.

Andrew: A low code as opposed to no code. Yeah. Yeah,

Shreesha: yeah. So, um, but who will do that low code? So I think that is an agency idea right there.

And what you mentioned, you know, if that low code can be. Can be convert, transformed into an automation scenario, more power to it.

Andrew: Okay. You know what? I’ve got a great, I’ve got an example of someone who did this. One of my past interviewees, uh, run squared away. She said, look, they’re military wives like me. They need jobs. And they could do great virtual assistant work from anywhere. And they’re the kinds of people who can make things work and be counted on.

So she created an agency called squared away, which does it. And she started. Paying money for all these different apps, CRM, and, uh, in a way to keep, to keep track of her people’s hours and all this stuff. And I didn’t realize it, but the cost was just going up and up and up on that she had a, one of my friends, Matt Galligan, um, create using Coda.

Um, everything that she does with all these other apps in one little app and codas, uh, basically a no code solution, right? It’s a way of CRE of turnings. They, I think they used to say it turns spreadsheets into, into apps, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Right? That now is software basically perfect for her.

Her cost went way down. She doesn’t have to pay for all these different apps. You now has this one app that she pays for and gives her everything she needs in the order that she wants it. And it’s all because Matt set it up. That is, uh, that’s, that’s an example of what an agency could set up.

Shreesha: absolutely. That’s exactly what I was mentioning. Similarly, air table and notion people have done wonderful things with those two tools as well.

Andrew: All right. And then, uh, Matt Galligan is mg. If anyone creates a, you should be hitting up mg on Twitter, uh, Matt Galligan stuff. All right. And what you need when you do that is a basic website, right? To let people know that you’re in business and to get started and to get that basic website, go to hostgator.com/mixergy.

If you throw that slash Mixergy at the end, they’ll give you the lowest possible price. And frankly, they’ll take good care of you no matter what. And the price is really inexpensive. The service is really great, and I’ve been using them for a long time. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Alright, so strike deck.

I know now where the idea came from, you started having customers, uh, you started interviewing customers. Who did you talk to and what did you learn?

Shreesha: Yeah. So we, uh, spoke to about 300 odd customer success leaders, practitioners, Andrew, and, um, So, what we wanted to understand was they life of a CSM, how does the CS leaders perspectives, you know, what are their, what are their daily activities that they do? What are the processes they are involved with?

And more importantly, what are the things that they do in spreadsheet? Because if they are doing things in the spreadsheet that can be transformed into a software, right? So we wanted to have all those scenarios right now. They’re doing health scoring in spreadsheet. Are they tracking which customers are healthy, which customer is not, are they tracking customer lifetime value in a spreadsheet?

Are they tracking the revenue expansion in the spreadsheet? So we wanted to know all of that. And that’s where. Uh, we’ve been out far, uh, finding, um, a scenario that we’ve at all.

Andrew: Can you explain what a customer success leader is?

Shreesha: Yeah. So, uh, customer success overall, Andrew is a new phenomena tanks to the SAS, uh, where as you mentioned, recurring revenue is key. And so people, uh, understood that in order to retain in order to expand and more importantly, in order to burn customers. To, uh, uh, to an advocate right, where they start referring other leads too.

So it was important to, uh, be proactive with customers. You just cannot wait and let them figure out how to use the product. You have to guide them on how to leverage the product. You have to guide them on how to get to their outcomes. And so that’s where, uh, this customer success group came along. And, um, uh, the leader of the customer success group is either the chief customer officer or VP customer success.

Andrew: And you were looking for a certain size company. What was the size.

Shreesha: So we were looking at, um, uh, companies that were about million in revenue. Um, 1 million to 10 million in revenue. We know that. Uh, we knew at that time that we could not go to the larger companies because we don’t have that credibility, but companies, startups of size of one to 10 million would be, uh, willing to give us a chance would be willing to be a design partner.

Andrew: And they’d have enough customers. I’m imagining. To where churn could be an issue could be measured, could be improved. Okay. And so what did you see that they were doing in spreadsheets

Shreesha: So all of them where we’re running a health scoring, uh, algorithms in spreadsheet, uh, they would have this formula by which wish they were compute, uh, red, green, yellow, red, green, orange, uh, for their customers where they are.

Andrew: based on.

Shreesha: Uh, based on, uh, how long is the contract? How are they using the product?

Uh, the usage data, how many support tickets they have open? Right. If there are a lot of support tickets that mean this customer may be frustrated.

Andrew: Uh, and if there are no support tickets, could that also be an indicator that they’re not using the software or were there others it’s that? So they were manually keeping track of how people were using their, their software.

Shreesha: That’s right. And that’s really tough, Andrew, because, uh, in order to keep that updated, they would need to import that data into a spreadsheet. And so they would have to do manually every single day.

Andrew: okay. And so now that you knew that, what did you think the first step was to fixing it? What’s the first version.

Shreesha: So the first whichever of the product, we had data coming in from the CRM, from the support ticketing system and the usage, those three data sources we focused on how do we bring that data in to our platform and then showing them the visualization of the three thing that we call us customer three 60.

So in one glance they knew everything about. The customer, all the interactions. And, uh, then we provided this, um, this, uh, algorithm, um, screen where they can go and figure out what battery meters can influence the health score. And so, for example, if you take usage, you don’t have been, have they been logging into the product every single day?

Have they, uh, have they been using this key feature every, every day? Um, of all the features that they are using, does all the feature contribute to the perceived value that they are getting from the software?

Andrew: And so they already had software in place to measure usage, to keep track of whether each customer was using the key features. They did have that.

Shreesha: so a lot of the forms at least had Google analytics in place. As you know, Google analytics is free. So a lot of them had are Andrew. They were putting that data into their own database. So we would go into the database and track. They had some logging in there about, about how the customers were

Andrew: individual customers to know if they were using it. Okay. And then for CRM, what do you get out of the CRM?

Shreesha: So CRM, we wouldn’t get who’s the stakeholder that would help us to track whether the stakeholder is still at the job or not. How long is the contract? A three-year contract is obviously more healthy than one year contract, right? And then we would understand revenue, you know, where they are in terms of revenue.

If all the customers are there on the. But on the lower end of the revenue band, or are they on the higher end? Because the lower end tend to be, um, more churn, trigger, friendly.

Andrew: So you’re sucking in all this data, you’re analyzing it. And then you’re giving them a dashboard that says where each of their customers are. Right. Color coding. I’m guessing like they did in their spreadsheets.

Shreesha: That’s right. That’s right. And so, uh, we would, you know, if a customer goes from green to red, then we would provide the notification saying that these three customers are in red. Please stay proactive action now, right. Set up a follow-up call. Um, guide them on where they are struck and how to go move forward.

The advanced notification was that our customers who turned red and the renewal date is closer. And so that means the time for action is now, right. You cannot afford to wait because anyone data’s coming closer.

Andrew: You know what this, this, I don’t mean to put it down, but it doesn’t seem like it’s that complicated now that could be done using no code solutions. Right.

Shreesha: Yeah. So it, where it gets complicated, Andrew, is that the data coming from different sources. Generally, there’s no way of figuring out a common customer ID, how they allow come together. So the data mapping, the data transformation is really complex. In this case, the health score in once all the data is in the place health scoring, the simple health scoring can be done with a local solution spreadsheet, but in the, if the, uh, if there are like we have customers who have got 36 parameters going into the health scoring calculation, that then becomes difficult.

Andrew: Okay. So it’s how do we get the data from the various places that the company has it in, whether it’s even accessible or not as a question Mark, I imagine. Right. And then how do you get it in? And then basically you could do the health score easily. Unless they have way too many parameters, in which case it becomes more complicated.

All right. But we’re still looking at version one. Did you give this away to customers for free for feedback? Do I understand that? Right.

Shreesha: Yeah. So, uh, initially we gave it free. And then, um, after a specific period, we started charging a small nominal amount, just so that they have some skin in the game.

Andrew: How much worry are we talking about?

Shreesha: We fucking bought $500 for a

Andrew: Oh, got it for enterprise. That’s nothing. But you want to see that they’re at least putting in their credit card that goes under the credit card authorization requirements. Right. They don’t need to check with the boss. Okay. How, how did you do with those customers?

Shreesha: Uh, so it was great. You know, some of the feedback perspective, once the data started flowing into our platform, we could also start seeing the usage patterns. How long would it take them to onboard? How long would it take to in white? Other users into the platform, how are they? Um, they w what feature are they, are they finding value in?

So those, that kind of feedback helped us to iterate on the, on the product and, uh, helped us to come up with the future version.

Andrew: so let me see if I understand so far, what I’ve taken away from this number one, you’re recognizing you have a problem yourself. You want to know that you’re not just closing more and more sales, but that you’re keeping the sales you’ve got right. And so the first step is understand that there’s a problem.

And in your case, it’s you had it. Then the second step was talk to people who could experience the same problem. In fact, first narrowed down who you want to talk to. You didn’t talk to everyone who has a churn problem. You said they have to have at least $1 million to $10 million in sales. You don’t want them too, too early.

You don’t want them too late. And then you find the right person in the company. You said it was the customer success lead, and you’re asking them. How are you doing this? Is this a problem for you? Am I right? And then the next step was to say, would you pay if we solve it and you gave them a nominal price, then you created the first version.

How, how minimum was the minimal viable product on that? Yes.

Shreesha: Yeah. So it was pretty minimal looking where we are today was bare bones. Uh, Andrew. So it had just the basic import facility of some of the data sources. It had. Uh, you know, a simple customer, uh, health scoring algorithm and, uh, some key activities that were, that, that got created once you have those notifications

But today, like for example, where we are today, we have a lot more automation. We talked about automation specialists. We have  automation today recognizing the fact that customers can be segmented as high touch and low touch. Um, if they’re not paying that much revenue, they are in the low touch ban. And that means you cannot afford that many, um, that many human, um, integrate invention or engagement on that particular customer.

And so you need to have a way to automate the whole process.

Andrew: How did, and I think now you also will be able to signal that someone is likely to turn based on how they’re acting in relation to how other people who have turned it. Right.

Shreesha: that’s right, right. So, uh, once the, uh, historical data comes in, Andrew, you can figure out the patterns on what’s leading to the children. Right? And then you can apply that those patterns on your current customers and figure out who are the most likely pitcher.

Andrew: Okay. At this point in this story, you’ve got a few customers they’re paying you. You then go back and try it. Well, you have to go and find more customers. What did you do to get, find your next batch of customers?

Shreesha: Yeah. So at that point, once we, once we felt we had the, we had a Worsham that people would like would appreciate then, uh, now it was a time to, to build process to scale. Right. And so. Then I went and hired my first, uh, sales rep, Andrew. And, um, so that, because founder selling is one thing, um, because founders are passionate about the space.

And so just because of her passion, we can come and speak to buy, but we now have to figure out. You know, are the customers, can we scale the whole process? And that’s where the new seats rep gain men. And so I trained the new sales rep, went on calls with him and then left him alone to figure out the next path and see how he performed.

Andrew: But it was still outbound sales to companies that hit the criteria that you mentioned before.

Shreesha: That’s strong. People still are bound, um, because I wanted to see, um, More customer an option before we turn on them marketing program.

Andrew: Did you ever get to the marketing part before you sold? You? Did. Where did that go?

Shreesha: So, um, marketing was more, I would call it more growth hacking, uh, Andrew, because, you know, we did not have the problem of a budget, plenty. Um, we were always, um, shot on that. So we had to be creative and. In how we go to the market. And so, um, you know, the few channels we relied on was obviously website, search, changing, more content, putting more content on the website.

We created a best practices guide. We created a template book. We had infographics. Um, we created a lot of infographics. We created a lot of blog posts.

Andrew: It’s all about the customer success leader, what they need to know, what someone who’s doing, the job would want to know.

Shreesha: That’s right. That’s right.

Andrew: You were saying, and then.

Shreesha: And, and then, uh, we decided to, uh, innovate in terms of how we bring the community together. So what we did was we started doing meetups customer success, meetups, and so I opened an account in meetup.com. I approached a service now approached Autodesk. The sponsor, the space, um, and, uh, sponsored the, the, the dinner, our other lunch, and, uh, uh,  came forward in supporting us.

And so started doing meetups. And today the customer success group that we created in the meetup is one of the largest customer success community on the meetup group.

Andrew: What do you do now? Is it all done online,

Shreesha: It’s now it’s all done online. Yeah. I miss those days where we used to in track and love the collaboration at that time.

Andrew: I do too. I love seeing people in person. The, I still have not found an online equivalent. It’s just too easy to stop online, you know, and to get right down to the point where offline is more, it’s more relaxed. We take your time. You wander a little bit in conversation. Um, how did you end up connecting with Medallia?

Shreesha: so, um, we were, uh, come 2019, Andrew, early 2019. I was thinking, um, you know, um, my sales team is small. How do I expand my coverage? And that’s when I felt like a channel partnership is, is good thing to consider. Um, because if we set up a good channel partners, then, um, they are going to their customer base and that gives us wider distribution and, uh, started talking to, uh, three companies, uh, you know, Bendo segment and Medallia.

And, uh, with segment, we went and participated in their marketplace with Pendo we started co-selling and then, um, with Medallia, they asked us to do. Uh, proof of concept. Uh, and so we, um, did the demo for platform. We took in their data. We showed what other software can do. And at that time, um, Medallia felt that since they do customer experience customer success, Is is close to the philosophy that they have adopted in customer experience because customer experience, Andrew is outside in you get the explicit feedback from the customer and customer success.

I view as, as a inside out, which is implicit feedback that we gathered from the data. And so, uh, getting them both side-by-side next to each other, made sense. So that,

Andrew: what does Medallia do?

Shreesha: so Medallia is customer experience.

Andrew: What does that mean? I see that their home, their tagline, at least on their homepage, it says growth happens with experience. Turn signals into actions that drive growth.

Shreesha: yeah, so, um, Medallia is, um, um, is a customer experience platform. What that means is basically they are taking in signals from every interaction that’s happening, whether it’s chat, whether it’s video, whether it’s in call center,

Andrew: surveys. I see.

Shreesha: surveys, um, and so on, and then bringing that together to create the customer journey.

Uh, analytics. And that gives a lot of these organizations. You have almost all the fortune 500 companies are using Medallia and, and you would find that, uh, they live in bead that customer journey. Right? How do they ensure that the customer is having a great time with their service or the product?

Andrew: Based on what the customers, how the customers are talking to the company.

Shreesha: That’s right.

Andrew: Got it. It’s all, it seems like it’s all that right. All about the way that the customer explicitly talks to the company via surveys, as I said, via speech, text messaging and so on. Am I right?

Shreesha: That’s right. That’s right.

Andrew: Okay. And then what you do is say, all right, once the, how is the customer using it and what does that tell us about whether the customer will stick around?

Is that right? Okay. And so that was the combination. You said they’re dealing with the same customers as you are. Maybe they could resell your software. They then said, well, yes. But how about if we do it as, as a buyout? Is that what happened? Okay. All right. And then the segment part, you were in the S in segments, marketplace,

Shreesha: That’s right segment, uh, which recently got bought out by Twilio. Um, so we, um,

Andrew: what does segment do?

Shreesha: so segment, uh, is. Is in a category that’s called CDP, which is customer data platform. So they are essentially think about them as a warehouse that contains all the information about a customer. So it goes, and, and it’s, it’s in a warehouse.

And then from the warehouse, anybody can go in and pick that data, right. That, that organization or advisors.

Andrew: So anything that a customer does, they’ve got instant Instacart on their site. Anything that I might do on Instacart? Like what I bought, what credit card I use with it. Where I live, all that is housed in one place that then other departments can tap into like engineering, like marketing. Is that right?

Shreesha: Yeah. So think about your customer. I’ll finish a card. But before you used Instacart, you went to the Instacart website and registered and signed. And before that you may have Lisa. So when you went up there, not as a customer, but as a prospect, trying to understand their service there’s, um, uh, there’s data that you’re leaving on the website that goes into segment.

Then once you become customer. Now you’re, you’re registered, you’re registered. Right. And that information goes into the segment. And after that you start doing transactions, then that goes into segment. All of that data is there in the segment as a warehouse.

Andrew: So one big database of it that then is more accessible to the other teams in the company. Okay. And then what was your connection to them?

Shreesha: So we were, um, you know, having all the data housed in segment gave us easy way to. Dig that data in. And so it, it saved, uh, effort at our end to combine the data

Andrew: And then if a company, he has all this data coming in from their customers, they might as well do something with it. And the number one thing you want to do well, one of the top things is keep your customers instead of turning them out. Right. Got it. So all this data comes in from segment. You don’t have to gather it.

You just use it. I see it. Are you still, uh, partnering up with them? Well, segment,

Shreesha: Yes, we are still in their marketplace. Yeah.

Andrew: I’ve heard that that’s the segment acquisition and the way that, uh, Jeff Lawson has grown Twilio is just, he’s become one of the iconic entrepreneurs here. I hear a lot of entrepreneurs try to be like Jeff Lawson, the founder of Twilio, which acquired segment.

Um, all right. You sold the company life easier now that you’re not trying to figure out everything on your own, you have a company behind you. Is it easy?

Shreesha: I would not call it easy. I would call it, uh, exciting. Uh, definitely because, uh, Now we want to grow the business. We want to penetrate every B2B organization out there. And we have now that the sales team to do that, right? So the sales engine is there. And so what I have learned from my previous acquisitions, Andrew, that once you are acquired, You should knock vest.

You should now think about, um, you as a, as a, as a knowledge repository, and it’s your duty to distribute that knowledge and the only way to distribute that would be good to eat sales person in the team, and then, uh, educate them about the product. Show them how to sell and show them the value that you create for the, for the prospect and the customers.

Andrew: Why you just sold it? Why not just move on rest, invest it rhymes. That means it’s good advice, right?

Shreesha: But listing’s always good. I’ll never deny that I look forward to every weekend that I get, but, um, if you’re passionate about something and really it’s an unfinished business for you. And right now, customer success is an unfinished business for me. Uh, I, I feel like we are only 20, 30% penetrated yet. I feel that customer success philosophy will go beyond software companies.

And that’s why it’s an unfinished business. And that’s why, uh, you know, there’s still a lot of things to accomplish.

Andrew: All right. How do people connect with you? What’s a, what’s a good way for them to follow what you’re up to.

Shreesha: Uh, LinkedIn, uh, is a, is a great way to keep in touch with me. Uh, I go to all my LinkedIn emails.

Andrew: You get all the LinkedIn messages. You will read them all.

Shreesha: I read them all.

Andrew: Wow, we should send messages just to see, uh,  respond. You, you don’t get overwhelmed by the number of people who are messaging you on LinkedIn, or do you

Shreesha: These days. Definitely it’s getting overwhelming, especially all the different channels you get messages from. Um, but if it’s a genuine connection, I would love to respond because I feel every human deserves that respect.

Andrew: All right. I see. Obviously very easy to find you on LinkedIn. You know, when I was a kid being named, uh, Shuki Khalili was a pain because people couldn’t remember it. It sounded so soulful. Foreign to them. Now, what I realize is that having a name that’s a little bit different makes it so much easier to Google a person so much easier to find them.

I’ve got some people like Ryan Smith, the guy from Qualtrax, he now has dominated the name, Ryan Smith it’s incredibly popular. And so now when I interviewed the founder of, uh, leaf link, his name is also Ryan Smith. Just couldn’t find him. So anyway, all that to say is Cerisha Ramdas is super easy to find.

You’re definitely the most popular shisha around us out there. You’re in like Forbes you’re on all these other sites. And so your LinkedIn shows up pretty quickly, so people will be able to reach you. I appreciate you coming down here and doing this interview. And I want to thank the sponsors who made this interview happen.

The first HostGator, if you need a website hosted, if you have an idea, take to hostgator.com/mixergy. And second, I think unbalanced for encouraging me to write some of the tips that I’ve used to. I don’t even know what’s in it for them. Trisha. They’re not even asking for an email address. All right. I shouldn’t keep complaining about, I feel like they could do so much more with this, but I’m also overwhelmed by their generosity.

They just said here, take the money, go write something. And so I did, it’s a few tips that I’ve learned from interviewing that you can use in your daily conversations. And it’s available to you right now at unbounce.com/mixergy. All right, Tricia. Thanks so much for doing this.

Shreesha: Thank you so much, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks, bye. Bye.

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