SaaStr Podcast #207: Jason VandeBoom, Founder & CEO @ ActiveCampaign Shares Why Thinking There Is A Price Point You Need For A Rep Is BS

  • Jason founded the company in 2003: In 2013 they raised $20 million from a private equity firm. In the last 5 years they grew revenue to 50 million in Annual Recurring Revenue.

  • ActiveCampaign is a new take on marketing automation. To get to that idea took me 16 years: I started with on-premise software selling to small and midsize businesses. Basically I took two extremely difficult things and combined them together. I did that for a decade.

  • Employee growth over time: For the first 10 years it was just me. Over the next 3 years, I added 20 people. Over the next 5 years, I hired over 330 people.

  • What advice do you have for founders who are building a sustainable business but see all the headlines about large funding rounds? They should be excited they are building a sustainable business. Nobody gives enough credit to that. Even when we were only 20 people I’d argue the business was worth more than some of these businesses that take a lot of capital and then limit their [potential] outcomes.

  • What do you say to founders who say I need funding to build out my sales team and hire a VP of sales? You are your first VP of sales. Figure it out. You need to be close to that [process] early on.

  • Avoid this mistake: Keep more of your company. This means you control your destiny more. The biggest mistake I see is Founders giving up too much equity early on. If you get sustainable growth first then the opportunities come to you. Then you control the destiny of the company over time.

  • What are your thoughts about building out the sales team and when the right time to step away from the front line? I waited too long. I didn’t have a sales team for the first decade. What I would recommend is to try running the sales team with a sales manager. You need to be close to that because what you learn during the sales process will impact your product direction.

  • The concept that funding is validation is a flawed concept: No one really cares if you got funding. Don’t celebrate it. If you are selling to small businesses [those] customers are actually scared that you got funding because venture-backed companies are pushed to [sell to] enterprise.

  • The most valuable feedback is from the pain points of your product: Despite having over 60,000 customers I read every single reason for cancellations. Everyday. Do not outsource this. Do it yourself.

  • A shit hit the fan moment: In mid-2008 I had to stop paying myself. I lived off credit cards. I took on some consulting. Taking those things head-on and finding a way thorough made me learn. It caused me to think of our revenue stability and switch to SAAS. Every challenging thing is a blessing.

  • I may be the only person that hates annual deals: I love the pressure of month to month. You have to provide value all the time. You can’t get lazy.

  • Full podcast here.