In this episode of SaaS Origin Stories, Phil speaks with Kaumana Rindlisbacher, Co-Founder and COO of Pickle, a platform designed to help companies of any size understand their customer conversations and strengthen their relationship by transcribing audio into text. He is also a member of the Revenue Collective, RevGenius, and Modern Sales Pros. Prior to this, he was an Enterprise Account Executive at EasyPost.
They discuss Kaumana’s atypical journey into becoming a founder, how COVID influenced the creation and popularity of Pickle, why he quit his job in order to pursue his vision, and the importance of having a distraction free space. Not only that, but they also delve into why having a sales-driven business model works so well for them.
Guest at a Glance:
Name: Kaumana Rindlisbacher
Kaumana Rindlisbacher is the Co-Founder and COO of Pickle, a platform designed to help companies of any size understand their customer conversations and strengthen their relationship by transcribing audio into text. He is also a member of the Revenue Collective, RevGenius, and Modern Sales Pros. Prior to this, he was an Enterprise Account Executive at EasyPost.
A previous colleague of his, Carlos Diamond, said about him, “Kaumana is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. He comes in early and stays late. Not only is he working hard to reach his goals, but he also goes out of his way to help others too. Kaumana is the type of worker you want on your team no matter what project you are a part of. He will learn what is required of him and find success whatever it takes”
Kaumana on LinkedIn
Kaumana on Twitter
Pickle on LinkedIn
Topics we cover:
From Salesperson to Founder: Kaumana’s aTypical Journey
Kaumana says it’s not all that common to see salespeople become business founders, especially in SaaS. It’s for that reason that Kaumana’s journey was an atypical one, especially considering his dense background in sales. But this gave him a unique perspective as a founder, enabling him not to fall into traps his peers do.
“A lot of people think that if you build it, they will come, especially first time founders,” he says. “They focus heavily on product, and they think ‘if we just focus on product, the rest will take care of itself. That’s not the case. You have to be able to sell”
“This Call Will be Monitored for Quality and Training Purposes”
We’ve all heard those words spoken into our ears the minute you call a business or a call center. But how much of those calls are actually monitored and reviewed? According to Kaumana, even the biggest corporations only review about two percent of their customer phone calls.
This is how Pickle came to be, and because of the pandemic and the uprising of Zoom calls, they were able to really focus in on and transcribe different conversations, making a name for themselves and really coming into their own.
The Fundraising Process: All in or Nothing
Kaumana says that Pickle wasn’t something they just did as a side project. In fact, they were so determined and enthusiastic about the idea that they quit their jobs to pursue it and rented an office space. However, this isn’t to say that you should do the exact same thing. After all, it is a very risky move to pull off, and if it wasn’t for how lucky they were with the fundraising, it could have gone very wrong.
But luckily, it didn’t! Their passion for the project and their willingness to learn elevated them to heights beyond what they could have imagined. If you have a project that you’re passionate about, or a business idea you’re certain will work, you should follow through with it! You never know what could happen!
The Importance of a Distraction-Free Space
There is something unique about working in an office compared to working from home; we are social creatures, and being able to see and talk to people in the flesh can make a huge difference in our outlook. While it may seem like SaaS companies don’t need to meet in person, you’d be surprised just how much of a difference it can make to your morale.
While remote working has revolutionized the way we work, Kaumana points out just how important it was for him and his co-founder to have a distraction-free place to work while building their company. As they both had infant children at the time, they needed to be able to meet up and work in order for the business to be successful.
A Sales-Driven SaaS Business Model
The secret to building a successful sales-driven business model is actually quite simple: content. Produce lots of good, diversified content with a focus on SEO and creativity. Think about all the different routes you could take in terms of marketing: blog posts, podcasts, LinkedIn posts, website SEO - there’s so many tools at your disposal, just waiting to be used!
“A lot of our buyers are on LinkedIn, so he’s posting on LinkedIn everyday, doing a blogpost every week. We’re releasing a podcast every week - forty episodes at this point. So we’re generating content, working on SEO, driving people to us on LinkedIn, driving people to the website.”
It's amazing for our customers who come on board, especially the earliest customers who came on board three years ago, and the product is so different. And just to think, where are we going to be for six months from now, 12 months from now, I can't even imagine what the product is. It changes so much, and it's one of the best things about being in early stage. Welcome to SaaS Origin Stories.
Tune in to hear authentic conversations with founders as they share stories from the earlier days of their SaaS startups. We'll cover painful challenges, early wins, and actionable takeaways. You'll hear firsthand the do's and don'ts of building and growing a SaaS, as well as inspirational stories to fuel you on your own SaaS journey. Here is your host, Phil Alves.
Phil, thank you. Glad to be here.
The first question that I'd like to ask our guest is, what problem does your product solve?
It's a good question, right?
And a lot of times this is difficult for founders, I think, to do in one, two sentences. But we help, we enable sales teams to sell more by making sure that they're able to sell more products. And we're also able to make sure that they're able to sell more products.
We help, we enable sales teams to sell more by helping them capture and share key moments from their meetings. We also unlock the siloed nature of these sales calls to the rest of the organization that we give insight, marketing insight into sales calls and customer success, product operations.
Ultimately, we want to have the entire organization in pickle, looking at meetings, customer-facing meetings, and then also internal meetings, but be able to share all of this information, disseminate throughout the organization.
And how exactly do you guys do that?
How does the Pico software work?
Yeah, so we're, one, we're recording meetings, right?
So we record meetings, transcribe, have a really high-quality, accurate transcript, but also using artificial intelligence and machine learning to track topics and questions. We want people to also take notes on their meetings. So we tie notes back to meetings and make all of this searchable. So you can go back and you can find topics and you can find meetings.
If you're looking at a specific call, you can see the notes that were taken.
And you can see all of the notes that we take are time stamped, right?
So they're time stamped to specific parts of the meeting so you can get perfect context.
And then, you know, we also want to push this back to CRMs. We're pushing Salesforce and HubSpot, eventually other task and project managers as well, right, to get this information where people are living and make it really easy to share and collaborate on. That's pretty cool. So let's talk a little bit before the company start.
What's your background and what you're doing before you start this company?
I come from a sales background. So silicon slopes, a lot of local tech companies, and I worked at a few San Francisco-based startups as well, account executive and enterprise sales roles. And I think it's actually interesting where I don't see many salespeople becoming founders. I think it's mostly product, sometimes operations folks, you know, and then, of course, you need technical founders, especially in SaaS.
But atypical, I think, where I went sales to founder.
But that's good because usually people are going to do the product and they're like, oh, shit, how do we sell this?
We've networked with a lot of Silicon Valley founders, some of the smartest people, right, and extremely technical. And a lot of people think if you build it, they will come.
They, hey, we're just going to build a great, especially first time founders, right?
First time founders focus heavily on product. And I think we fall in the same category where we really build product, product, product, product. And you think, hey, if I just build an amazing product, go to market is going to take care of itself. It's not the case. Right. You have to be able to sell. You have to. There's product market fit. There's product go to market fit as well.
And you got to talk a lot about that later on the show. So tell me how you guys come up with the idea to build this. When we first started, it was initially we started early 2020. We started March 2020. We started March 9th, 2020, which is like COVID day zero. I don't know what the official start of COVID, but it was like right there at March 9th or March 10th.
But when we first started, it was based off of the line that everybody's heard when you call into a call center, like you're going to call Delta support or Comcast. And it's this call may be monitored and recorded for quality and training purposes, or this call may be monitored and recorded for legal purposes. Right. So it was we were thinking about that line.
Birch and I, my co-founder, we want to start a company. We wanted to build something. And we started to research into those types of calls. And we knew there had to be massive amounts of volume on those call centers. They're recorded.
But are they really being used?
Realized, hey, the best, even the best organizations are reviewing like 2%, one and a half those meetings.
So we started the company thinking about how can we unlock the black box of the rest of those calls?
How can we make the customer experience much better?
There's got to be valuable insights and questions and pain points and topics in those meetings.
How can we easily extract those with the onset of the pandemic?
We quickly not really pivoted right, but started to focus more on Zoom conversation. I think this is more fall to end of 2020. We had been running for a while on these MP3 kind of phone conversations. We started to focus more on longer form, you know, 30, 45 minute Zoom conversations. A lot of that was driven by our own need as well.
Just like sort of the rest of the world back to back Zoom meetings. We're on back to back Zoom meetings. We're trying to take notes. We're trying to get information from our customers back to Birch who oversees more of the product and the technical side of Pickle and trying to remember things, trying to run a good sales process. And naturally started to focus more on these Zoom conversations.
And that's where we've really started to grow since then. That's cool.
And how, tell me about like funding. Like I imagine you say your first time founder, so you had to leave your job to start this business. You and your co-founder.
And how was that decision making and how did you guys fund this company to start?
Yeah, we were all in from the beginning. So maybe atypical on that end. It sort of wasn't a side hustle, grow into something big.
We said, hey, we're all in from the beginning. We both quit our jobs, start new.
We even, we both have young kids. So we even got office space right from the beginning and said, hey, we're going to get in on this office space together. It's just you and I. And that was self-funded. It was ourselves right in the beginning.
And then we did get an early investor that is both in both of our networks to invest a little bit of money just for us to get off the ground initially. And we started in March. Like I said, we raised friends and family around in September that year.
Well, one, we got revenue fairly fast. So we built an MVP and really built a PDF deck of like what the product would be and started to sell. And we figured from the very beginning, we started in March and we had our first customer in March. Like this is even free product.
Well, if people will pay us for this, then we're on the right track. If people aren't going to pay us, we got to keep iterating. We got to figure it out. So we got revenue really fast. That was really helpful. We got actually to about 10K MRR pretty quickly. So that helped a lot. But we did raise the friends and family around.
We raised about 400K, a little over 400K in September of that year. And then we had some decisions to make if we were going to go raise VC money, if we were going to go that route, if we were going to run off with the friends and family, try to get profitable or get really profitable, grow in that profitable enough to build a team. And we're looking at those different avenues.
We started to look at startup accelerators and incubators as first time founders. We felt like there was a lot to learn. We felt like we needed a little more credibility also with VCs.
In Utah, there's a strong VC network and there's a huge VC network. You go to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, but it was all new to us. So we started to look at accelerators. We figured if we're going to do an accelerator, it had to be Y Combinator 500 startups or Techstars. We also applied to a few others.
There's Launch Accelerator, Jason Calacanis and some of the others and ended up getting into Y Combinator.
So Y Combinator invests some money, right?
They also help with a lot of coaching and the network effect is huge. So got into YC, went through Y Combinator Winter 2021, the January to March of 2021. Coming out of that, we raised the seed round about a little over $2 million of seed. So basically, funding today, we raised $2.5 million. Tech was 2021. Let's take a step back. You talk about making that decision.
Do I go the VC route or do I go the bootstrap route?
And so why do you guys decide to go the VC route and how was the process of like making the decision?
I worked at Podium right when they raised Series A and they were fairly large, I think, from an account perspective. When they raised Series A, you know, I was like employee 100 or something like that. But Podium was one of the early Utah Y Combinator companies. So I always thought really highly of YC and that experience and sort of the network.
After Podium, I worked at a San Francisco based startup called Easypost, who's also a Y Combinator company. So anyways, I sort of always had an affinity to YC and that route.
So that sort of had, it's always sort of been a dream to go through YC, right?
Outside of that, we felt like there's a huge opportunity and we needed to be able to capitalize on the opportunity, go to market really quickly, grow big. So I don't think we actually dwelled on it too much.
You know, we thought, hey, we're going to run with just us and bootstrap, get really profitable. We need to hire a little more help. Like we needed a real CTO, a few engineers. So anyways, decided to at least apply.
And, you know, that's something you can do.
You can, I think the process is actually really good to just apply to Y Combinator and some of these other accelerators because, you know, you're going to be forced to write down what you do in 50 characters or less, which is very hard actually.
And you're going to be, you're going to have to talk through in detail who your customer is and what the problem is, right?
And what the market looks like. So it's just a good practice in general, I think, to do that. But there wasn't too much thought that went into, hey, at least let's apply. Good chance we don't get in. If we don't get in, it's not the end of the world. It's not like, you know, not the only way to be successful. But we applied. We got into a few other accelerators.
We got into Launch Accelerator and some others. We had an interview with YC. The fact that we had strong early revenue really quickly helped a lot. But somehow, I guess, Bert and I, first time founders, both not super technical, honestly, somehow got in. And the rest is history. You say that having the revenue from early on made the difference.
It looks like that basically being from the sales background, you didn't start by building a software. You start by building a sales deck. This is all we're going to sell. And then you build a software later.
It's how you did this?
Yeah, exactly. We got in Figma and started to mock up some designs and what this would look like and what the functionality looks like and why this is important. Build a deck, like you said. But technically, we didn't actually go out and build a whole deck. But we just got some screenshots and we got some PDFs together and we got a few resources.
We started doing discovery meetings and selling and seeing if we can get commitment. People are going to pay for this. So you're telling people you're going to pay now. I'll give you the software in three months, six months. How you're doing this.
Yeah, you're going to pay now. Here's where we are today. We've got this much of the product, but we don't integrate with your phone system and we don't integrate with these other systems. You're going to pay us now and give us four to six weeks to get the rest connected. That's awesome. That's a great strategy. So walk me through the process of building the first version of your product.
How long did it take to actually have a user using your product?
It was about four weeks before we had our first user. So we started the company in early March.
Well, it was about four weeks after we signed our first customer. We signed our first customer at the end of that month. So we started the company in March, started to build. Birch is fairly technical, but he's not a true engineer, but knows enough to be able to cobble together the first frameworks and what the product, how the product would act and feel.
We used a little bit of freelance help as well, sort of accelerate that. But anyways, we started the company early March, signed our first customer towards the end of that month. So just a couple of weeks later and they were in the platform in April, maybe four weeks after that. And at the same time, we're probably onboarding our second customer around then.
And by the time, let's see, by the time we were starting to raise our friends and family round and apply to Y Combinator. So we raised friends and family in September. We applied to Y Combinator in October. We had 10 or 11 customers, 10K MRR. That's awesome.
How do you guys attract and retain your first few customers?
Welcome to like the first strategy and trying to find like the first go to market plan that work for you guys.
Yeah, because I come from sales and comfortable with outbound and cold and prospecting, right?
So emails and cold calls primarily did a lot of that, especially in the beginning. But a lot of those early customers also came from network. But I don't know if we, you know, maybe we did have a strong network, but it came down to more like, hey, open your phone, Birch, open my phone, Kalmona. And we had one, Birch's best friend from high school who's still working with us, Taylor.
He heads up everything content and marketing today. He came on board really early. So it's the three of us. And you talk about remote. He's in Kentucky, but we had an iPad and we put it on this medical stand that you can roll around. They'll have an app. So and he would FaceTime in the morning and you just stay on the iPad all day long.
So he's got his iPad on his desk and he's working on the computer and we're talking and we're shopping and we're working and talking and working and talking. Really felt like he was here from day one in the office with us. He gave us, hey, pull out your phones and start calling everybody.
You know, it's like every family member, every friend, every person you've ever interacted with. They pull up LinkedIn and start talking to every single person we know. And that's where a lot of the a lot of the customers came from. Maybe it's those people or maybe they introduced us to somebody else or sort of that type of network effect. But those are where the first customers really came from. That's awesome.
And how did develop the you guys stay sales led. You try to change the product led how your like engine to bring customer develop over the three years that you guys are running this company for sales led. We will build we will sort of introduce a product led model and some self serve. But that's still DVD. It's not live even today.
So we've been alive for three years, been sales led from the beginning, sales led today. We don't have a large sales team, though. At this point, we've only had one salesperson, Junior, full cycle, you know, setting his own meetings, running, running the process from A to Z.
And Taylor, that first employee is head of marketing and he's he's not buying any ads or doing any PPC, but he does a ton of content. So a lot of our buyers are on LinkedIn. So he's posting on LinkedIn every day, doing a blog post a week. Taylor and Junior run a podcast and they're kicking out an episode a week. There's in like the 40 40s of episodes at this point.
So we're generating content, working on SEO, driving people to us on LinkedIn, driving to the website and getting inbound that way outside of that. And then Junior and I are running those meetings, running those demos and running that process. And then we're also still outbounding with whatever time we have left. And when we first saw Junior, Junior's been with us for two years. It was heavy outbound.
Majority of opportunities are outbound generated. Now it's closer to 50 50, maybe even skew towards the inbound content generated MQLs. But there's still a heavy outbound. So a lot of our our best deals have come from cold calls.
So what's your take on that strategy?
Why you think that's a solid strategy to to take your company to market like staying sales led and doing outbound?
What do you think are the biggest benefits of going this route?
Because we have like a lot of talk around product led today, but most founders that come to this show is still what works. And what I have been seeing people do is the is the sales led, the founder led sale and like the outbound.
But like what's kind of like your take on why that's a good strategy and why work for you guys?
That's the only thing that I knew when we first started. Right. So coming from a sales background, I was an SDR at Podium and executive at a company called Peking Easypost, et cetera. So I only knew sales led. I had never worked at a product led company prior, so I didn't even thought of that.
I over the past three years, I've learned a ton, learned so much more about product and go to market strategies and growth channels. But in the beginning, that's the only thing I knew was pick up the phone. Let's get some lead list together. Let's get some contact data. Let's look to set up some campaigns. And in the beginning, it's not even campaigns.
It's just say to style this list and call everybody once a day. But that's the only thing that I knew. And it worked right. And it still works today. I do think we are interested in introducing a PLG channel, but it will never do away with having a sales team and doing outbound. I think it's actually really fun for us as well because we're mostly selling to sales teams.
We're selling to EPS sales and mostly B2B SaaS, account executive teams, who are also typically doing their own outbound prospecting, et cetera. So it's fun to prospect into those companies as well. There's an interesting dynamic with that.
Yeah, probably. They're like, oh, this is a good outbound message. I'm going to respond to this is bad because it's like they do that the whole day.
Yeah, you get that. There's more satisfaction with, you know, really having some good outreach, creating a really great experience or a VP of sales or sales manager.
Or even, you know, sometimes we work up from the rep level. So creating really great experiences and relationships and providing value.
Yeah, mostly LinkedIn for account executives and being able to work up the organization that way. I think there's an interesting dynamic for to sell to salespeople. Yeah. And I think a great insight here, too, is like you stick to what you knew. It wasn't about doing maybe what's hot or like, let's go figure this out and make something different. This is what I know. And that's what you did.
And that's what worked for you guys. Sometimes you're always chasing the next shine object and we don't do just what we know and what's going to work. Another thing I was looking at this case study and it's kind of funny. So it's Slack. It's the company that made sales led super popular. Microsoft actually made teams a lot bigger in revenue following a full sales led enterprise approach.
So they both work, but you have to decide.
You know, I think it's a good idea to have both. And I agree with you. I really like the targeting. And I also I think I have the opportunity to test our messaging. It is a good opportunity to talk to people. And as you kind of get a better messaging, you can then get the message into your inbound and go from there.
That that being said, talking about product market fit, how hard was to get the product market fit for you guys?
I bearing definitions on product market fit, right?
I don't know if we actually feel like we have incredible product market fit.
You know, we're growing. We have really good revenue. There's the space is getting crowded.
You know, there's companies, big and small, the various price points, et cetera.
But it's it's tough, right?
Zero to one million is is a wild journey. Founder led sales is important. Being able to figure out exactly what people want.
And, you know, that's the Y.C.
There's slogans make something people want is surprisingly difficult. It's hard.
It's hard to explain, right?
How difficult that is. There's a lot of things work and a lot of things aren't working at any given time.
There's, you know, at podium, they say macro optimism, micro pessimism. So at a macro level, you stand back, you're looking. Everything's amazing.
You know, we do this today. It's it's incredible how far we've come. But you dive in really deep. There's so many things that are broken. So many things we can do be doing better and so many problems to figure out. So I don't know. I don't know if we're you know, some people will say the analogy for product market fit is you're pushing this free PMF.
You're pushing this boulder up the hill.
And, you know, every day you're pushing, pushing, pushing. If you stop pushing for a day, it's coming back down on you and you're losing ground pushing. When you achieve product market fit, you kind of crest this hill and then you're chasing the boulder down the hill. And you just you can't even keep up.
And you're trying to, you know, you got to bring people on in our model, go raise up, raise money, right?
To bring people on so that you can keep up with this thing. I don't know if we're, you know, just honestly chasing this boulder down the hill, but we're doing a good job of pushing it up to hell. Makes sense. Makes sense.
Yeah, that's a good answer.
So what's kind of like the first old shit moment that comes to mind from your journey as a SaaS founder?
OK, like tough time, tough moment.
Yeah, they can do a good old shit moment, a bad old shit moment on you or one of each.
Well, there's a virginite joke sometimes, you know, if there was this Forbes top 10 ways for startups to die, we'd probably experienced all 10 already.
And, you know, maybe majority of startups that are three, four years old and, you know, seed stage are feeling similar. You feel sort of you get beat up in a lot of different ways, but you also have super big wins in a lot of different ways.
There were times early on, you know, when we basically had no money in the bank account, you know, and, you know, we went on to raise a little a little bit of money.
But before that, you know, it's like, are we going to be able to pay ourselves right now?
We still had paychecks and we took some money and we know we put health care in place and we have families and kids.
So, you know, we're we're trying to figure that out. I don't know that the bank balance got to like a couple thousand dollars.
And, you know, we had one employee at this we had Taylor at this point. So it's like, you know, we actually had real payroll and, you know, so kind of crazy times, you know, you got to figure things out. We raised the money. We got into Y.C. And I think things smooth out a bit there from a finance perspective, but they're crazy all around and, you know, different dynamics to manage.
I'm trying to think that was like, you know, definitely a crazy time. I remember we kind of staying on that topic. There was one time we went to Topgolf on a weekend. Topgolf. We're in Utah. There's Topgolf in Murray. Right. We went to Topgolf. It was super expensive because we sat there for like four or five hours. They charged by the hour. Right.
We sat there for forever and we were kind of just down on our luck a bit.
Like, what are we going to do?
You know, there's so many things, so many problems. You start kind of feeling just bad for ourselves a little bit. There was like a therapy session between Bert and I. I think golf balls for hours and hours. And then we have to pay this like two hundred dollars bill. But we come out of that. We're feeling a little better. We're feeling optimistic again.
You know, remember our customers, remember everybody that that believes in us.
And, you know, we're we're not going to give up that easy.
So I think a lot of those moments as founders, right?
Like, oh, my gosh, is this going to just crash and burn?
And it is hard to get over those those moments. And they keep happening. And it's funny because they keep happening. Right. It's like they never, they never start. Yeah. It's funny because like I used to think we've got a business all the time when we're much smaller. And then I would go home and stress my wife. And now I'm like, we're going to go to business and she's like, you're crazy.
No, we're not going to go to business. Business is a lot bigger now. It's very unlikely.
And then but I still have that worry, what if I'll disappear tomorrow?
You know, because I don't know if the effort goes away because like we grew to 100 people and still sometimes I'm driving home.
I'm like, what if everyone leaves?
Crazier things have happened. But it's irrational, probably. And I have to remind myself, I actually think I'm fairly good at this in the moment, realizing the highs aren't as high and the lows aren't as low. I'm going to stay even keel is important. You've got to be anyways. I don't know. I'm not perfect at any of this, but there's a lot of irrationality.
And maybe you sort of have to be irrational and eccentric as a founder for sure. But you just worry about stuff all the time.
Yeah, but I do have to learn to to kind of navigate those ups and those downs and the lot that affect you so much. And I think that's why tech and third time founders like have an easier time raising money and have an easier time doing stuff because they already built that tough skin. And for you as first founder, I'm sure that was pretty hard. Definitely.
But it does help to have a great co-founder, right?
To be a solo co-founder is difficult. I've never been a solo co-founder. I'm a first time founder and I have a great.
But that has made a huge difference for us, right?
When I'm low, Birch can help me. When Birch is down, I can help him. And we complement each other in a lot of different ways in that aspect. And at this point, we're still small. We're a 10 person team. But we've got a phenomenal team and we all work together. And we've got people to lean on, people to help, collaboration, pick up the slack when needed, take a vacation.
My wife and son and I went on a cruise a couple months ago. A lot of founders don't do stuff like that. Birch went to London as well. So anyways, we have a team to support each other now.
Could you share a very smart decision that you made in the early days of your company?
I had to be selling from day one. So from day one, we were having sales conversations. This is we are writing the very first lines of code and having sales conversations at the same time. And they're not they weren't product feedback or like, yeah, they weren't product interviews.
There were sales for stations, right?
There were, hey, we are selling to you. We want you to pay us conversations.
Yeah, like you didn't know that was hard. So just go and do it.
How about like a very bad decision, like a mistake that you made in the early days?
We learned a lot from from a lot of this. But our first 10 customers were so different. There were different problems, different use cases, different integrations. We had two RV dealerships. We had an HVAC solar company. We had a state senator in Indiana, a politician. Right. There were there's like pest control companies. There were all of these different companies with similar use cases, similar problem, but different. Right.
So when we're trying to build product, if we're building features, a lot of times it was only building for one customer. It wasn't building for, you know, when we had 10 customers, we're building for one. It doesn't that feature doesn't help the rest. We're building there's like millions of phone systems. Right.
So each person had a different phone system that we have to build a different integration for each customer and then try to maintain that. And we don't have a real engineering team. Right. We're all bandwidth here. So that's difficult.
And, you know, this contributed a lot to, hey, let's focus on Zoom. Let's focus on video calls. Let's not try to build every integration in the world. We'll just build a really, really great, smooth, stable, robust Zoom integration. But we definitely had to get to that point before we made that decision. Get to this point where, you know, we were spending so much time maintaining integrations and fixing things that were breaking.
And we could no longer, you know, it wasn't scalable at all. So I don't know if it's a dumb decision because there is some good in doing things that don't scale. But we had to learn that firsthand for sure. Yeah. I think that's a good lesson for sure.
Like, because you have to build a product that to the right ICP that's going to love your product. And I think that's so common and it's so hard because in the early days it's about getting money. Right. You have this company and every money is good money. But you start to bring the money in and then you realize every dollar is equal because this one dollar gives me 10 times more work.
This other dollar. But they were just trying to pay rent and keep it open. And I kind of feel like that's the stage that most companies go through. And then you realize, oh, I can't do that.
You know, like the more mature the more mature you are, the more selective you become to who you serve. Yeah.
You see that with second time founders, third time founders, right?
They're definitely as a whole more clear on who the customer is and what the problem is. More comfortable with saying no to some business.
You know, we definitely did not say no to anybody in the beginning. And we so we would win a customer. This is a pretty product that we're winning customers and then we're building for them. Right. And for their use case. And then we go win another customer and we build for them and their use case. And it's different than that first customer.
Then we win third customer and their use case is different than the first two. But we're building for it. Right. And we're accommodating anyways. So that's how we operated for the first really the first year.
Tell me a little bit more about where the company is today as far as size and how do you see the future for the company?
Kind of like what's your vision for this year?
Where do you think you guys are going?
Like how big, how fast, especially this year that we are going through kind of like a weird economy scenario. Walk me through like where you are and where you're going.
Yeah, we sell to sell seems primarily that's sort of the tip of the spear. That's where we get into organizations. But so many of our customers have expanded from sales to customer success and then to internal meetings as well. And basically getting the entire company on Pickle where there we've got several customers that they literally record every single meeting, whether it's customer facing or not.
You know, and we're building a really robust library that's searchable and being able to categorize things and organize and, you know, and then move these out to different platforms and be able to collaborate and share and send pieces around. So the future of Pickle is being this conversation of this conversation, OS or HQ for the entire company, not just sales conversations.
And we from the beginning, we've never wanted to tell salespeople how to sell. I think that's a lot of our space is sort of sales insights, what you should be doing, what you shouldn't be doing. And we've more been productivity and collaboration focus. And that has lent us. This is why we are able to grow into all of the other organizations and team company.
So, you know, we're going to keep working on that. And that's where we're going to be. We're going to be farther down that road in a year from now and 24 months from now. Another thing that you chose that we talked about before, you also chose a platform, which is Zoom, and you guys did the integration.
So do you guys do you see you extending up to other platforms or how do you see that the future?
We right before this meeting, we onboarded our first customer to Google Meets integration. So we have not officially beta, beta launched Google Meets connection. But it's been a while coming where Junior is our one account executive. We've made him say no to a lot of business that is not Zoom. Right. So needs and teams being the other big video conferencing players. We have said, hey, we blinders on. We are only Zoom.
We're going to make this integration perfect. We're going to be super robust. We're going to live inside of the Zoom window. There's a lot of functionality inside of Zoom. And we've been this way since beginning. We made this decision early 20, like January 1st, 2021, basically.
So was that 20?
This is two years, two years of only Zoom. At this point now, we're starting to open up a little bit and we're going to do Google Meets. In the meantime, we built some CRM integrations and other places to disseminate Slack. But Zoom was the only place that we're ingesting data from. Now we're going to start ingesting from Google Meets.
I don't think we're going to like really open up and start building every integration still sort of perfect these nail and scale it kind of a kind of a thing. I think that's a very, very smart strategy. And then scale it, like you say, like you spend enough time in one place.
So, you know, sometimes we might be worried about, oh, but there is like a platform risk if I'm staying only here.
But first, you have to make sure that you're going to stay in business. But sometimes you're trying to solve problems that we don't have yet. And that's it's hard for sometimes we figure out. So that's an amazing sight of how you guys are thinking about building the product in the future. Thank you very much for your time in the show. It's been fun to learn about your company and about your success.
The final question I would like to ask you is if you have a book they recommend for every founder. This is tough. I actually since starting Pickle, I really got into reading. So I actually don't want to be really like funny because everybody else in the company is always talking about all these shows, white love this stuff. And I've got no idea what they're talking about. I've been reading a ton.
If I had to pick one, I would maybe say Atomic Habits has been really big for me and identity based habits. And like taking on this persona and using that sort of method and methodology to accomplish things and understanding the impact of how we think about things mindset when we're thinking about our goals.
You know, it's the classic atomic habits example is, you know, if you're trying to quit smoking, you don't say I don't smoke. You say I'm not a smoker. And that's there's it's very different when you think about I don't do this or I am this. Right. So that's been huge. I love essentialism as well. We talked about album VC a little bit pre show. Right.
And you know, the yoga introduced essentialism, the virgin I and that has been great as far as you know, you know, learning to say no, learning to be smart with time and not stretch yourself too thin. Those are both those are both amazing books. I think I read Atomic Habits like four times.
Yeah, it's just such a good book and essentialism is an amazing book to learn. At the same time, recently, I've been getting more into out of the business books and doing more nonfiction. That's that's actually helped a lot as a way to unwind. But anyway, if I and they would are to I would have to say atomic habits essentialism.
Yeah, those books are amazing. For sure.
Again, thank you very much for your time. If you want to follow you learn more about what you guys are doing.
What's the best way to do?
LinkedIn, for sure. So I'm on LinkedIn, come on over and listbark or pickle as under pickle AI. If you want to get to our website, it's pickle AI comm or pickle.ai. But link we're very active on LinkedIn. We're especially if anybody is listening to this, they're in sales, we were geared towards salespeople, sales teams, especially with the content that we're putting out on LinkedIn.
So some good memes and some good gifts and some really actionable stuff as well. But that's that's gonna be the best place to get to that. That's awesome.
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