How to build a strong Culture
In the third episode of season two of Growing a B2B SaaS, host Joran Hoffman delves into the vital topic of building a strong company culture to foster growth in a B2B SaaS organization. Joined by Mads Wedderkopp, CEO of Dream Influence, an influential marketing SaaS platform, they explore the significance of recruiting and retaining top talent to accelerate SaaS growth. Mads, drawing from his experience in scaling a SaaS company from zero to 6.5 million ARR, emphasizes the power of a strong culture in unlocking a team’s potential. He shares invaluable insights on identifying core values and aligning team members to nurture a thriving culture. The episode also delves into the challenges and advantages of maintaining a strong culture while transitioning to remote work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Tune in to discover practical strategies for cultivating a robust company culture that drives B2B SaaS success.
Defining a Strong Company Culture
- A strong company culture goes beyond superficial values displayed on posters; it is a living and breathing aspect of the organization.
- The core values of a company should be identified early on, often initiated by the founders, and carried forward by cultural co-founders, the first 50 to 100 hires.
- Culture should serve as a shared compass, guiding decision-making and actions across the organization.
- A strong culture is a unifying force, where all team members align their behaviors and decisions with the defined core values.
Building a Strong Culture
- Aside from identifying core values, companies must define and implement specific rules of engagement.
- Creating frameworks for communication, feedback, and problem-solving helps maintain a healthy and effective culture.
- Companies should prioritize hiring team members who are a cultural fit, even if they possess exceptional technical skills or credentials.
- Hiring based solely on technical prowess can lead to subcultures and silos within the organization, disrupting the overall culture.
Remote Work and Culture
- The viability of a remote work culture depends on the company’s values and the nature of its work.
- Some companies, like Dream Influence, prioritize physical presence to foster accountability, feedback, and innovation.
- Hybrid work arrangements may work for certain companies, but maintaining a strong culture while fully remote can be challenging.
- Remote work may hinder effective problem-solving, creativity, and casual interactions that spark ideas.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
- Companies often err by not staying true to their culture during the hiring process.
- Falling in love with impressive resumes can lead to hiring individuals who don’t align with the company’s core values.
- A structured hiring process based on core values is crucial for making successful and culturally aligned hires.
- Founding CEOs should focus on working on the business, defining core values, and setting the strategic vision for the company.
Mads Wedderkopp shared insights on building a strong culture and how he uses a specific talent assessment test called TT 38 to identify cultural fit and match candidates to their nearest leader. He also emphasized the importance of helping employees achieve their personal goals while aligning them with business goals through frameworks like “The Alliance” by Chris Yee and Reid Hoffman. This approach not only creates loyalty and enthusiasm but also leads to positive word-of-mouth and a strong inbound funnel of talented candidates.
Regarding the B2B SaaS growth journey, Mads mentioned that in the early stages of growth (from 0 to 10K MRR), it’s essential to experiment and find what works best. However, as the company surpasses 3 million in ARR, it becomes crucial to double down on what works and scale that to drive further growth.
In terms of personal advice, Mads reflected on his own journey and suggested that if he could go back 10 years, he would have gained experience by joining a fast-growing startup for 3 to 5 years before starting his own venture. This experience would have given him a better understanding of the startup landscape and improved his chances of success.
- (00:29) Guest intro
- (1:21) Why you should listen to Mads
- (2:53) What Mads determines as a strong culture?
- (4:28) What else needs to be in place before you can really start building a culture?
- (5:54) Can you have a strong culture while working remotely?
- (9:15) Common mistake companies make while trying to build a company culture?
- (14:26) The effective hiring structure
- (14:54) Other Processes or strategies for building a strong culture.(Mads secret)
- (26:56) Why leveraging somebody else’s network is important as a B2B SaaS company?
- (30:15) Advice on how to grow to 10K MRR ad then to 1m ARR
- (32:44) What Mads wished he knew 10 years ago
- (35:37) Mads contact info
[00:00:00.000] – Intro
Welcome to Growing a B2B SaaS. On this show, you’ll get actionable and usable advice. You’ll hear about all aspects of growing a business to a business software company. Customer success, sales, funding, bootstrapping, exits, scaling, everything you need to know about growing a startup. And you’ll get it from someone who’s going through the same journey. Now your host, Jeran Hoffman.
[00:00:29.220] – Joran
Welcome back to already the third episode of season two. In this podcast, we discuss all topics on how to grow your B2B SaaS, no matter in which state you are in. The basis of a good company is its people. Recruiting and retaining good people will help you to grow your SaaS faster. This is easier said than done, though. Having a strong company culture will help you doing this, but how do you build a strong culture? That is what we’re discussing with Mads Wedderkopp today. He’s the CEO of Dream Influence, a SaaS which is the Swiss for your influencer marketing. Next to this, he’s also a board member at two companies, Wake Up Data and Morning Score. Before this, he was the COO and co founder at Quick Order, a SaaS which he helped grew from 0 to 6.5 million ARR. Get ready, we’re going to pick Mat’s brain on how to build a strong culture. Welcome to the show, Mat.
[00:01:19.720] – Mads Wedderkopp
Thank you a lot. Really looking forward to this.
[00:01:21.500] – Joran
I’d like to start off with this question. Why should people listen to you today?
[00:01:25.500] – Mads Wedderkopp
My background, as you described very well before, is that I’ve built a SaaS company from zero to somewhere between 6.5 and 7 million ARR. When I left roughly, what’s that now, one and a half years ago, we were 70 people. That obviously taught me a lot. Then I’ve always been super passionate about setting the right team. I always believed in the power of teams. Before I became an entrepreneur, in my very young days, an early career, I was a middle manager at a big sales company where there was this maybe a bit old fashioned way of running things where it was a lot of whip and a lot of pushing people. When I took over my first team, I flipped that upside down because I believed in training and I believed in setting my team free to do what they were best at and learning from each other. W e beat the goal eight months in a row and that had never happened before. I think just from very early on in my leadership career, I experienced the power of a strong culture, being it in a team or in an entire company. That really made me double down with time and perfect everything from hiring to onboarding, to training while being a part of the team and then in the end, offboarding when people leave.
[00:02:40.370] – Mads Wedderkopp
Done it once before, now doing it again in Dream. When I joined Dream, we were five or six people and now we’re 16. That’s a little less than a year ago and it’s a bootstrapped company. So that’s pretty great. I’m trying to do it again and supercharge it this time.
[00:02:53.920] – Joran
Nice. I think one thing you said as in you learned how you don’t want it, so you actually are going to do it the complete opposite route. I think everybody has an example where they had a manager which they don’t like and that’s always a learning experience, how you actually should lead. You already said it, you want to build a strong culture, but I guess maybe with a really basic question, what do you determine as a strong culture?
[00:03:16.300] – Mads Wedderkopp
When you get a strong culture, it’s not just where it’s on the wall or on some fancy posters. I think that’s a bullying victim of the courtyard. It needs to be something that actually lives in the company. The first thing I did when I joined Dream was I was to sit down with the founding team and then not define, but identify what are the core values of the company. Because it’s not something you define, it’s something that lives in the company from the very first day that it’s founded. O ften it’s the founders that create the first motion of those values. But the first between 50 and 100 hires, depending on the setup, is actually what I consider cultural co founders. T hat’s why it’s so important in order to create a strong culture and have a strong culture, that you define or identify, rather, those very core values. It’s never more than free. Then you religiously hire and fire based on those. That’s really how you foster a strong culture and you can see when you enter a company where that lives, you can see everybody has this unified way of moving around and making decisions because they have this shared compass, which is the core values and that’s what’s creating this strong culture.
[00:04:28.080] – Joran
I guess that’s one thing, like you have to have in place or you need to identify them as you say it. What else needs to be in place before you can really start building a culture?
[00:04:39.490] – Mads Wedderkopp
Obviously, you need the right team. Let’s say you start identifying those core values and you figure out there’s actually people on the team that is not able to lead them, then the first step you have to do is get rid of those people. It sounds hard, but it’s reality. If you have somebody that is not a fit, they will never be able to perform when that’s done. You have to have a core and a basis of a team. Now you need to set some playing rules. You need to have very specific agreements on how we engage with each other. Obviously, the core values are the headlines of that, but there’s so many facets to each value, so you need to outline. Let’s say feedback. Feedback is a thing that lives in every company. But how do we provide feedback to each other? When do we provide feedback to each other? And how do we make sure we implement that feedback so we continuously improve? That’s one example of an area where you really need to align as a team very early on on. And the longer you wait to make these frameworks for yourself and for your culture, the harder it gets because then you’re not conscious about them while you hire your first one or two, or three, or five, or maybe even 10 employees, and all of a sudden you have a mess.
[00:05:44.890] – Mads Wedderkopp
And then you have a big bit of a big cleanup to do. So you really have to nail your team, nail your core values, and start to build around those with rules of engagement.
[00:05:54.940] – Joran
Yeah, and that makes sense. I think indeed having those rules as indeed as you mentioned, how to communicate with each other is always a really good one and understanding that you will have different cultures because that might go really well in the next question, especially the Corona. Of course, everybody work remote now. People are talking about do we need to go back to the office? But let’s not go in that discussion. In your opinion, can you have a strong culture while working remotely?
[00:06:18.820] – Mads Wedderkopp
It’s a hard one. I don’t think there is a true answer to it, but I’m probably… In my companies and the companies I’ll be running, that’s a hard note. That will never work. But that’s also because of the way I build the culture in the companies that I’m in and the culture that attracts me as an employee and as a founder, as a CEO. What attracts me, so what our core value is, just to give the example and agree, is freedom of responsibility, it’s accountability and it’s execution. That’s our three core values. Those three requires you to be physically present. Otherwise, you will not be able to live those things. It’s really hard to keep people accountable online. It really easily turns into a pit fight. If you try to do that online, you need to be able to look each other in the eye. Freedom of responsibility means that you can actually flex. You could be hybrid. I personally have two days from home every week, but I prioritize to be in the office three days a week because I genuinely believe it’s important. What lies under those values is something like direct, honest feedback at all times and honesty and transparency.
[00:07:22.570] – Mads Wedderkopp
That’s subparts of those three elements that in order for those to live, you need those three items. T hat’s really hard online. It’s really hard. I genuinely believe that at least for the companies that I’m in, we need to be more together than apart. But I also realized that hybrid has its charm and it has its benefits, but fully remote. Actually, I’m yet to see it work. I haven’t seen it work yet. I’m not saying it can’t, but I haven’t seen anybody nail it 100 %.
[00:07:49.290] – Joran
We’re going to prove you wrong. We’re actually doing full remote at the moment. But I agree, I think some messages do get lost a lot more in translation, plus being textual, where if you can have somebody in the office, it is going to be better. Accountability, we fix it by focusing on output where you have clear things to find. But still, there’s pros and cons to both of them.
[00:08:11.540] – Mads Wedderkopp
There is. That’s my point too, that there’s no right way. Each company is its own and there’s no company that’s the same. Just because I haven’t seen it work doesn’t mean it can’t work. I think what I really missed doing COVID and what became really apparent to me during COVID when everybody was sent is that problem solving and innovation is two things that really suffered when people run remote entirely. The developer that has some annoying bug that they’re trying to fix where they might end up down in a rabbit hole sitting at home and spending a full day trying to fix that bug, where if they had been shoulder by shoulder, elbow by elbow with one of their colleagues, they might have been rubber dugging, and the colleague had helped them solve it in five minutes. Also that chitchat over the tables and at the coffee machine where you pick up on those small, subtle things and subtle issues around in the company that all of a sudden sparks some ideas. That’s something that’s really hard to create online. That doesn’t mean that you can’t. You just need to be very conscious about facilitating that part of the culture.
[00:09:15.990] – Joran
I definitely agree. I think last point on my side, what we, for example, do is we have team weeks or at least we come together. We fly everybody to the same place. In three weeks, the devs actually coming here to the Netherlands. But I agree, that’s a moment where we look at the strategy, look at the roadmap, we do some creative things, but it has to be planned. You can’t just do it day by day. Exactly. When going back to building a strong company culture, what is the most common mistake companies make while trying to build a company culture?
[00:09:44.760] – Mads Wedderkopp
It’s definitely not staying true to your culture. Let’s say you’re hiring your first VP or you may be hiring your first CTO. If you don’t have a CTO co founder, or maybe your first developer, or something like one of those very crucial hires early on. You find this guy who has a girl who has an amazing resume. He or she is brilliant in the interview phase, but there’s not a value match. Some of the values is conflicting between the candidate and the company values and the company culture. But because they are so technically gifted or they have this insane professional record with these beautiful logos on their resume, you get blindsided and you end up saying, How do you make it work and this is an amazing profile and how lucky are we that we can get such a talented guy or girl to join our team? And it never works out. And even if you keep them and they end up performing, you just blindsided your own culture. You went down a slippery road because you’ll do that again and you’ll do it again and you’ll do it again. And all of a sudden you’re creating subcultures because those people that then are like will start to create their small own subcultures in the company and then you start having silos.
[00:10:57.010] – Mads Wedderkopp
And then you start having turf wars in the company and you’re starting to have politics and everything is going down the drain. It’s really staying true to the culture, to your core values and hiring and firing based on them.
[00:11:09.240] – Joran
I think this is indeed the most tricky thing because it’s easy to say, indeed, we need somebody, we have a good profile, let’s hire them. But in the end, people make the culture. So if you not stick with them, then you’re going to create a different one indeed.
[00:11:22.190] – Mads Wedderkopp
Exactly. And that’s why I’m saying that at least the first 50, if not the first 100 is cultural co founders because they each impact the culture in their own way. And if you’re not aligned on what the culture is like and you’re not hiring based on it, then it’s taking small D rounds every time. And it’s actually changing a tiny bit every time you’re putting somebody new on. And then all of a sudden, before you know it, you have something entirely different. And maybe all of a sudden you’ll have a company where people come in at nine and they leave at five. And it’s pretty hard as a startup to run it that way. Not that people need to kill themselves working, but you need that, especially in the early days, you need that grit, you need that grind, and you need that very hard working mentality in order to get far. Before you know it, you’ve changed that. That’s really where I see a lot of people go wrong because they fall in love with former results of candidates and what candidates says in their job interviews. Even worse, sometimes they don’t even fall in love.
[00:12:19.810] – Mads Wedderkopp
They just don’t know what they’re doing because they don’t have a structured way of hiring. It ends up being the classical, you invite somebody in that you think is nice, that applied, you have a cup of coffee, you have a chat, you like that the guy likes you. You think, Oh, J oen was a genuinely nice guy. I could see myself drinking a beer with him. And you leave the job interview and you think, Oh, Matt was a really nice guy. I think that was time well spent. But then your next thought is, What was the job actually about? My next thought is, J oen knew and did the job. Oh, he was nice, we’ll hire him. And if you go down that trap, then you just have a recipe for disaster really quickly. That actually often ends up being a lot of turnover in employees. It ends up being a lot of missed hires. It creates a lot of confusion, a lot of uncertainty in the company because who’s being fired next? And then you just basically have a recipe for disaster. Structured hiring process based on your core values is the step two.
[00:13:09.740] – Mads Wedderkopp
F irst you define your core values, then you define a very structured hiring process. I can really recommend reading the book Who, a method for hiring, or the A method for Hiring or The A Method for Hiring. That’s really good. It’s a framework that you basically can copy straight out of the book. It’s better than not having something. I’d highly suggest to adapt it to your reality. But if you want to, you can just copy it and then you have something that would take you very far.
[00:13:34.200] – Joran
Nice. We’re going to link to the book in the show notes. One thing you mentioned, you need to start up grinding at the beginning. Also, the beginning is the most important with the employees. That’s I think where it does go wrong a lot of times because you need the grinding, you need to do a lot of things at the early stage. You don’t always have time to make it really structured, but you need to have it structured to actually build the culture going forward. I think that’s where the big challenge is for a lot of companies.
[00:13:59.590] – Mads Wedderkopp
Yeah. I think a lot of founders, and myself included in my earlier days, are so busy working in the business that they forget to work on the business. At least as the founding CEO, that’s actually your job. If you have a co founding team and you’re the founding CEO, it’s more important that you work on the business than in the business. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work in the business, but you’re the one ultimately responsible for those things not going wrong, so you need to get them right from the get go.
[00:14:26.050] – Joran
Yeah, that definitely makes sense. You’re going to be the one defining the core values. You also need to make sure that the structured hiring process is in place.
[00:14:34.640] – Mads Wedderkopp
Exactly. A lso, if you haven’t defined your core values for the business, it’s really hard to create division in the strategy because it’s all tied together. You’ll be missing a piece when you create division and the strategy for the business if you don’t have the core values. T he other way around, it’s really hard to define your core values if you don’t know what division for the company is.
[00:14:54.040] – Joran
Yeah, definitely makes sense. When we talk about other processes or strategies, is there anything else you’ve used to build a.
[00:15:01.570] – Mads Wedderkopp
Strong culture? Yeah. I have this secret sauce actually. I use a very specific talent assessment test called TT 38. It’s issued by a company called Talents Unlimited. It’s basically based on Don Clifton’s positive psychology and is most people probably know strength finder from Gallup. It’s in the same realm of personality testing. That test has been a cornerstone of, one, identifying cultural fit, two, identifying that the candidate has the right talent for doing the job. And three, it’s been key to identify match to the nearest leader because that’s another thing when you get a bit bigger and you passed the early stage and you start to have middle managers or VP level, another thing that often goes wrong is that companies doesn’t take into consideration that now we have another facet to our hiring. Now it’s not only skills and cultural fit. Now we also need to make sure that this hire is a good fit with their nearest manager. That’s also really good for that. That test is really good for checking for that. Then the fourth part of using that test is it’s not only for recruiting, it’s actually for training and developing the employee afterwards and using it as a tool for hosting one to ones and moving the employee in the right direction and making sure that they are being played to their strengths.
[00:16:27.760] – Mads Wedderkopp
Because if everybody is high performing, you also have a much easier time creating and high performing culture.
[00:16:33.110] – Joran
Yeah, it makes sense. Do people then fill this out every year or every?
[00:16:38.180] – Mads Wedderkopp
No, it’s just once. They do it when they get hired and then it’s just being used there. If they’re really young, if they are, I’d say 23 and below when you hire them, then we try to when they surpass 26, we try to get them a new one because some things do move around until you hit that 26 mark. But after your 26, it stays somewhat the same for the rest of your life. There’s a few talent that moves with experience, but it’s very much the same. There’s no drastic changes after 26. So then it’s just the basis of making sure to play that employee to his or her strengths and making sure that he or she is maximizing the potential.
[00:17:17.150] – Joran
Yeah, because you mentioned also, is it the right talent for doing the job? Can he do the job? Not does he have the knowledge, but does he have the characteristics you need to actually do the job?
[00:17:26.890] – Mads Wedderkopp
The underlying things. Not so much the knowledge, but more the capability abilities. Let’s say it’s a financial role. As a financial role, you need to be very assessing. You need to be pretty analytical. You need to be able. You need to have the talent for structuring data and finding the truth in the data pretty quickly. You need to have the ability to do that and think it’s fun and not be drained energy wise from it. It should actually be something that you gain energy from doing. In the test, the talent I would be looking for there would be something like assessing, analyzing, and maybe be connecting where you see connections between things. Those three talents would be something I would need to see in the top talent from that person. Then culture wise, we are looking for things as targeted, responsible, and problem solver because how our culture is. Those three talents would also need to be in the top package. We have three talents that always needs to be there. Then we have talent that are independent to the role and then talent that depends on the nearest manager. A ll three things need to be there in the candidate.
[00:18:29.780] – Mads Wedderkopp
A s much as it’s a qualifier, it’s actually more of a disqualifier in the hiring process when we screen out for culture and fit for the role because you can have the perfect answers. I can have the perfect gut feeling with you as a person and as a candidate. But if the test tells me that you’re not the right fit, then you’re out. But I would never hire only based on the test because those two other things also needs to be there.
[00:18:53.790] – Joran
Yeah, definitely makes sense. I think that’s a good one because then you just don’t go for your guts and for the answer somebody’s giving in the interview, but you actually have the data behind it to align with it. Yeah.
[00:19:03.850] – Mads Wedderkopp
I think it’s the closest thing you get to being data driven in your hiring process.
[00:19:08.680] – Joran
That sounds good. I think this sounds like the ideal scenario, right. But I think you also had a lot of challenges, obstacles while building the stream and coming to the conclusions you made, I guess. Can you tell a little bit.
[00:19:21.560] – Mads Wedderkopp
About that? Yeah, sure. I think it’s all based on me making a lot of fuck ups and running into a lot of glass and walls and breaking my nose and having to get back up and just run into a new one. I think I learned it the hard way when I was in Quick Order when we hired our first developer. We basically had very little hiring experience. I never hired a technical person before. I obviously had my technical co founder, but he never hired anybody before. We ended up making this huge miss hire where there was no cultural fit and he was not even as good as we thought because we had no case in there, so we had no way of testing his actual skills. It just showed us that it’s really expensive. It’s insane. It’s not just the salary, that’s what it is. You end up having somebody on the payroll for X amount of months that is basically just sucking money out of the bank. But it’s all of the effort and all of the time that actually takes away from the business where you are in hiring mode. Then you end up firing that person and now you have to do it all over again.
[00:20:23.410] – Mads Wedderkopp
It’s that opportunity cost that you really have to factor in when you think of building your team. Then I think early on, I also really struggled with having some framework for aligning on one to ones. A book that helped me a lot to really create a framework for that was the Alliance by Chris Yee and Reid Hoffman. It’s really good. It talks about how you can tailor goals for the individual employee and make the employee see that they are not only working for the company by doing this true of duty, as they call it, they are also working toward their own goals. What you actually really do in the one to one is that you tie the employee’s personal goals, personal life goals and career goals, to goals in the business. So say if you were an employee of Mind your own and you had a dream of becoming an entrepreneur, then I would try to give you goals within dream that you could chase, that would help you obtain skills or experience or knowledge that would put you one step closer to obtaining that dream. And then at the end of your tour of duty, which is time boxed, so it could be 12 months, we have a social contract that the next 12 months we’re working together, we are working towards these goals together and you’re not leaving, I’m not letting you go if we are on path.
[00:21:40.820] – Mads Wedderkopp
And then at the end of that two of you, we have a very honest dialog about, do you feel ready to take that step as an entrepreneur now? Or do you need another two of you? Are we doing another 12 months or 18 months? And then it just opens up this very transparent, honest dialog with each employee about where are they on their journey? And what happened in quick order was, over time, it actually became really strong, both marketing wise and recruiting wise, because all of those people that we helped obtain that dream, which some of them wasn’t in Quick Order because everybody cannot become the CEO or the CMO or whatever the dream was because that position, it most likely filled already. But we helped them land that dream job in another place. And what happened is that when they had people that were outgrowing the company where they were, they would point them to me and they would say, This was where I came up. This was where I achieved my dream. If there’s a position that fits you, you should definitely apply there. I all of a sudden had this inbound funnel of super highly talented people that were vouched for by people that understood the culture of Quick Order.
[00:22:41.750] – Mads Wedderkopp
And that’s magical when that happens. And that was really the alliance that started or kick started that for me. But I think having that framework to really help your employees succeed in any way you can, and it can be the Alliance framework, it could be any other framework, but creating a framework where you help your employees achieve their dreams just creates so much loyalty, so much enthusiasm, so much goodwill. It also creates this really nice inbound funnel of highly talented candidates and also sales. Because if it’s employees that go to other companies that might be future customers of yours or they might have customers that are relevant for you too, so you can start to lead share. It just creates this ripple effect where you get so many positive things from it. But when you say it in a very short way, what I’m actually saying is I’m helping my best employees leave my company. It sounds pretty ludicrous, but it’s actually working.
[00:23:42.000] – Joran
But in the end, I guess everybody is an employee, you always have your next step in mind. You don’t want to work as a marketing executive or as sales executive. It’s all the time. So you always have personal goals. I never heard of this before, but I think it’s genius just because tying personal goals with business goals and making it super transparent, I think that’s really good.
[00:24:05.040] – Mads Wedderkopp
You just get so much from those employees. I just had an employee recently that we had to let go, but she was so thankful for the time she had in Dream because of this, because we helped her get closer to her personal goals. What also happens now is I’m helping her get her next job. It really creates this belonging to the company and this very a lot of gratitude towards the company that you worked for and you get ambassadors in the market.
[00:24:32.790] – Joran
It’s always good to keep the balance, of course, that the main focus is, of course, doing the job there in. But this is, of course, next to it. You’re basically making them ready for the next step.
[00:24:44.680] – Mads Wedderkopp
Yeah, exactly. And we’re tying the job there in for the next step. So it becomes very understandable and visible for the employee that, Okay, I’m actually not stuck because let’s be honest, let’s say you’re a Marketing Manager, what you’re doing on a daily basis can become repetitive. It’s a lot of the same. And you can end up feeling like, Oh, my career is not moving, or I should be progressing faster. But if it’s very clear that what you’re doing on a daily basis is actually taking one small step towards your dream job every day, then that’s super motivating because you know why you’re doing it and you provide that, you tie the why of the job to the employee’s dreams. T hat’s super strong, again, to create a strong culture where everybody wants to help everybody.
[00:25:28.920] – Joran
I think it’s also helping you as a company to make things more predictable because you have that trans conversation. People just don’t leave right away because you already had those conversations, you’re making them ready and you’re actually discussing it.
[00:25:43.090] – Mads Wedderkopp
Yeah, exactly. That’s a really great point. T hat’s one of the, I should think one of the important points that I left out that it creates for costability. I know three months in advance that somebody is ready to leave or is looking for the next thing. They advise me when they are looking for the next thing. I want to have time to actually find their replacement and they can help find that replacement. Who better to find the replacement than the person that’s actually doing the job right now? It just creates a way less volatile company running it that way.
[00:26:15.680] – Commercial
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[00:26:56.660] – Joran
When we go forward, I guess when we talk about Dream, I I’m going to call it Dream now as well, and you help brands to connect with influencers. When we tie it back to B2B SaaS, how important do you think it is to also leverage somebody else’s network as a B2B SaaS company?
[00:27:11.670] – Mads Wedderkopp
I think that’s basically just what we also discussed. I think the saying your net worth is your net worth, or your net worth is your net worth, I think that’s very true. T hat also goes for a company as a whole. I think what you’re doing at Redis is brilliant and especially for companies like Morning Score, where I’m the chairman, where it’s product lead growth, where you can really utilize other experts in the field, people that are thought leaders, you can utilize that through something like affiliate. Linkedin is coming with their thought leader apps and ads now, and I’m already thinking of some really fun ways to using that where imagine you have a client that’s super happy. They might have a small audience on LinkedIn or maybe even a big audience on LinkedIn, and you make them write out what they gained from using your SaaS on LinkedIn and then to create an even bigger win for them in order for them to boost their own profile. Because as we just discussed, your network is your network, so getting more exposure is great. You forward leader push their profile with their testimonial or with their case on what let’s say Red Yes did for their business.
[00:28:19.710] – Mads Wedderkopp
So it becomes super authentic. It becomes with a strong CTA and it comes out way wider than it would normally would do. And you create a win win. That’s just one way of exploiting those 40 that are coming now. I really think it’s super important. A ctually, I think it has never been more important to have that network and to have those true human connections because of AI. There’s AI all over the place right now and what is real and what is not? Search results are becoming less clear how that will look in the future. Will people actually search the way they’re searching today or will they start asking AIs for recommendations? How do you rank in an AI recommendation? I think that uncertainty has made human to human connection way more important than ever before. Network is also becoming way more important than ever before.
[00:29:14.590] – Joran
Yeah, exactly. Because in the end, I love AI and I love the chat tip tee how it helps me in my day to day. But in the end, it’s a standard answer and it can’t give you anything. So if you ask it like, what is the best restaurant in Utrecht or in Denmark? It just going to go from data. But it’s not actually somebody who went there and would give you the recommendation or used a B2B SaaS tool.
[00:29:37.210] – Mads Wedderkopp
Yeah, exactly. People buy from people. So I believe that will become even stronger. Now, a lot of things are being done like this online on some online call. We started in twin visiting clients again and going out and having physical meetings. I’m traveling to Oslo every month now to meet Norwegian clients and Norwegian leads because that’s our next big market. It works wonders. People are like, Wow, why are you coming to our office? Hell yeah, I’m coming to your office. I think that’s the human connection for any B2B SaaS is going to be gold and it’s going to be a differentiator going forward.
[00:30:15.780] – Joran
Nice. We’re going to jump into advice per stage. I always like these questions at the end. When we talk about building a strong culture, what advice would you give somebody who’s just starting out in growth to 10K monthly recurring revenue? Yeah.
[00:30:30.260] – Mads Wedderkopp
If you’re growing to 10K, you’re probably just you and your co founders. I’d say be very conscious about start talking about now at least ask co founders before you bring on your first employee, which type of companies that we want to build? Which type of culture is it that we want to build? And also make it very clear where you want to be in three years. Not as in we want to be at a free million ARR and we want to have 50 employees and we want to have CAC LTV of this and that. No. Well, if you envision, where is the company in three years? How does it look? What’s the feel when you enter the office? What’s the impact you’ve had on the world? What does the media say about you? What does the employees say about you as an employer? Kind of those things, envision those things and then build on that because then you stay on course and you make sure you build a company that is built to last and doesn’t just take in small wins.
[00:31:25.950] – Joran
What advice, indeed, would you give after that 10K MRR and growing to 10 million ARR?
[00:31:32.800] – Mads Wedderkopp
That’s obviously a very huge span. Let me try to break it down a bit. Until you hit around three million, embrace that you can be a bit chaotic, that you don’t need a process for everything. That’s the time where you can really experiment and you can afford to take a deep route at that stage. It’s not the end of the world. But when you surpass those three million, you created a real business. Now you actually figured out, based on all of those experiments and all of those swings you took at the bowl, you figured out what works. Now you need to double down on that. You need to double down on what works. That can be anything from how we hire, which people we hire, how do we do sales, how do we do marketing, how do we develop the product, how does all of the internal processes work, very holistically in the company, what works, and then you do more of that and then you supercharge that. You do way less off course things. You don’t have the same flexibility because now it’s about doubling down to get to that million and three and a half X the company from there.
[00:32:33.540] – Mads Wedderkopp
Embrace that you can do a lot of experiments, do a lot of experiments early on, find your way. But when you found it, you need to actually acknowledge, okay, now it’s time to double down.
[00:32:44.060] – Joran
Yeah, really nice. A bit of personal advice, what would you wish you’ve known 10 years ago? This could be really general or really specific.
[00:32:56.070] – Mads Wedderkopp
Yeah. 10 years ago, I was 17, 18, so So on one hand, I wish I’d known how hard it is to actually do a starter. And that’s something that you just do because 18 year old me for that shit man, I’m just going to do that. No problem. But on the other hand, if I knew how hard it was, I would probably never have started. But if I were to change something that 10 years ago, if I were to do something entirely different that I think would have benefited me widely when I then founded my first company, then it would have been to instead of just founding my own company, dropping out of high school, founding my own company, quitting my middle manager job. Then it would have been join a fast growing startup for 3 to 5 years. Be a part of that journey from a million to 5 or 10 million ARR, see what that looks like, and then start. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Get some experience before you get started. Create some network within the field that you are starting in before you get started. T hen it just dramatically increases the likelihood of success.
[00:34:04.590] – Mads Wedderkopp
If you can say you were part of a widely successful startup when you’re going to fundraise, call yourself revolution alumni or Uber alumni or Airbnb alumni or whatever. One, there’s probably somebody in there that can intro you to investors. And two, investors know that you’ve seen it from the inside, so you know what it takes.
[00:34:23.680] – Joran
Yeah, I think that’s really good because you have to experience it at somebody else’s money or at least somebody else’s mistakes and then you can avoid it to make your own.
[00:34:32.990] – Mads Wedderkopp
Then if you feel like you’re still missing something and you’re most likely when you’re starting, one thing I wish I would have done earlier is to get either an advisory board, just very non official but surround yourself with three, four, five people that can contribute value. Don’t fall into the trap of giving away a ton of equity to them. There’s a lot of vultures out there that is just looking for grabbing equity from you. But find advisors in your network that wants you to succeed and wants to help you because it’s you and not for their own benefit. Then if you want to go as far as getting a professional board, I highly advise that too, if you can afford it. That could be with a bit of equity, but no more than a % or two for the early bird. But surround yourself with somebody that is equally interested in the business and wants to help you succeed that have done it before. That will help you navigate those big decisions and open doors for you that you couldn’t open yourself.
[00:35:31.370] – Joran
Yeah, exactly. Making sure that you leverage somebody else’s network and don’t make the mistakes.
[00:35:36.100] – Mads Wedderkopp
[00:35:37.490] – Joran
The big mistakes. Nice. I don’t know if you have time to answer, but I guess if people want to get in contact with you, what would be the.
[00:35:44.270] – Mads Wedderkopp
Best way to do it? Definitely LinkedIn. Find me on my LinkedIn, I guess we can link it in the description of the podcast, but just hit me up in there, connect with me. Always love to meet new people.
[00:35:55.580] – Joran
Nice. We’re going to definitely link it in there. Thanks again for coming on the show, Mat.
[00:35:59.840] – Mads Wedderkopp
Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure. Likewise.
[00:36:02.690] – Commercial
You’ve been listening to Growing a B2B SaaS. Joran has been ahead of customer success before founding his own startup. He’s experiencing the same journey you are. We hope you’ve gotten some actionable advice from the show, and we hope you had fun along the way. We know we did. Make sure to like, rate, and review the podcast in the meantime. To find out more and to hook up with us on our social media sites, go to www.getreditus. Com. See you next time on Growing a B2B SaaS.