S4E10 – How To Grow Your SaaS While Being Sued With Preston Keller

How To Grow Your SaaS While Being Sued

How can you Grow Your SaaS While Being Sued?

In a recent episode of the Grow Your B2B SaaS podcast, host Joran interviewed Preston Keller, also known as PK, the founder of Emergent 3 and creator of e3, a safety and emergency SaaS platform targeting governments, educational institutions, and businesses. PK’s journey from launching e3 in 2021 to achieving a million dollars in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) is filled with valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. His diverse background includes internal sales, consulting with professors, partnership at Thresik Group, and founding a company in Asia.

Founding E3 and Initial Challenges

PK started E3 in 2021, building the product for a year before entering the market. The company reached a million dollars in annual recurring revenue (ARR) two years post-launch. PK emphasizes the importance of focusing solely on the product, which now supports around 15 employees.

E3 Product and Market Differentiation

E3 handles emergency communications for various institutions by smart mapping buildings. In emergencies, users check in via e3, indicating their safety status, which is then shared with authorities. This unique feature differentiates e3 from other products in the market.

Entrepreneurial Journey and Motivation

PK, aged 33, discusses his lifelong passion for entrepreneurship, from childhood lemonade stands to a software startup. He shares his motivation, which centers on building others up and creating an awesome product.

The Origin of E3

The idea for e3 stemmed from PK’s experience at a previous company with a similar concept that failed. An investor’s support led PK to start a competing product, expanding into multiple markets.

Funding and Semi-Bootstrapped Approach

PK took initial funding from friends and family, including his co-founder’s best friend and his father. This semi-bootstrapped approach allowed him to maintain control and flexibility.

PK recounts being sued by his former employer, a large company, which was a significant low point. The lawsuit involved outrageous claims and was a federal case due to patent infringement, leading to substantial legal expenses and stress.

Despite the lawsuit, PK and his co-founder Dalton continued to grow e3, with Dalton’s sales covering legal fees. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed after 13 months, a major relief that allowed them to focus on development.

MVP Survival and Development Challenges

Due to the lawsuit, e3 operated with minimal development for over a year. The MVP managed to support 30,000 users despite significant bugs. Once the legal issues were resolved, they hired a new dev team to rebuild the product.

Sales Strategy and Growth

Dalton’s sales strategy involved a team of SDRs/BDRs for cold calling, setting up demos, and managing the sales pipeline. This approach proved effective, contributing significantly to e3’s growth.

Customer Retention and Transparency

E3 maintained less than 1% churn by being transparent with customers about issues and focusing on excellent customer service. This approach helped retain clients despite the MVP’s limitations.

Financial Management and Creativity

PK discussed the creative financial strategies employed to keep the company afloat during tough times, including leveraging personal credit and debt financing. This resourcefulness was crucial for survival.

Importance of Processes and Systems

PK highlighted the importance of processes and systems in scaling a startup. He set up efficient workflows in HubSpot and emphasized documenting processes to save time in the long run.

Lessons Learned and Outsourcing

One of PK’s regrets was not implementing offshore help sooner. He eventually hired remote employees from the Philippines, who became integral to the team, improving efficiency and reducing costs.

Gratitude and Team Trust

PK attributes e3’s success to the trust and gratitude towards his team. He stresses the importance of recognizing everyone’s contributions and focusing on the positive aspects of the journey.

PK encourages new founders to stay lean, be resourceful, and focus on building a strong team. 

Key Timecodes

  • (00:53) – Guest Introduction
  • (01:25) – Starting e3
  • (01:56) – Company Overview
  • (02:21) – Personal Background
  • (03:03) – Motivation and End Goals
  • (03:26) – Origin of the Idea for e3
  • (04:04) – Initial Funding and Growth
  • (07:32) – Challenges and Lawsuits
  • (14:35) – Post-Lawsuit Strategy
  • (18:49) – Go-to-Market Strategy
  • (20:06) – Customer Retention and Challenges
  • (20:45) – Processes and Systems
  • (23:04) – Learning from Mistakes
  • (23:55) – Advice and Outsourcing
  • (25:22) – Motivation and Team Trust
  • (25:58) – Family and Friends in the Business
  • (27:07) – Final Advice for Founders


[00:00:00.000] – Preston

So you just learn to trust your team. Good things are happening all around you. Actually, there’s a book called The Gap and the Gain. That book got me through the darkest times because it’s like, dude, focus on the good things in life. Don’t be in the gap, be in the gain. You just learn to trust people. Focus on the good in life and trust your team. When you are wanting to scale, if you need to do something, you know you need to train someone on it, take the time, the extra 10 %, to just turn on Loom and make a cool video. Instead of having to go back next week and be like, ‘Dang it, I got to go make that video, ‘ and go back through the whole thing. So just do the 110 % and save yourself that extra time doing things elsewhere. Just building others, helping and building others up and building an awesome product.

[00:00:53.770] – Joran

In today’s episode, my guest is Preston Keller. He goes by the name of PK, so I will refer to him like that going forward. Pk is the founder of Emergent 3, where they also have a product called e3. E3 is a safety and emergency SaaS platform where they sell towards governments, educational institutes, and businesses. Before starting e3, PK worked in internal sales, consultant professors on teaching methods, was a partner at Thresik Group, and started a company in Asia, making it a very diverse background before starting his own B2B SaaS. Welcome to the show, Pk.

[00:01:25.260] – Preston

Hey, glad to be here.

[00:01:26.430] – Joran

Let’s get to know you and let’s get to know e3. When did When did you start Etrie?

[00:01:30.890] – Preston

That would have been in 2021. Nice.

[00:01:33.290] – Joran

And what is your current ARR?

[00:01:34.450] – Preston

We built the product, took us a year to build it, and then we went to the market about two years ago, and we just crossed a million. Nice.

[00:01:43.170] – Joran

Congrats. And is there for you a separation between service and product?

[00:01:47.400] – Preston

No, just product.

[00:01:50.130] – Joran

Nice. How many employees do you guys have right now?

[00:01:52.450] – Preston

We have around 15.

[00:01:53.980] – Joran

In one or two sentences, what does E3 do?

[00:01:56.650] – Preston

We handle emergency communications for schools, hospitals, governments. What makes us different is we smart map your building. In an emergency, you check in on E3, your office will go green. It’ll go red if you’re unsafe, green if you’re safe. That whole smart map lights up. Green, red, and then you’re looping the police and everybody knows where the danger is and who’s safe.

[00:02:21.390] – Joran

I think for a lot of people, it’s a bit of a black box, so it’s nice to hear a bit more than one sentence. We’re going to talk about you. How old are you or I’m 33.

[00:02:30.840] – Preston


[00:02:31.580] – Joran

This is your first startup? You had a first company before I know, but this is the first startup you started?

[00:02:37.140] – Preston

Yeah, this is the first software startup. I’ve always dabbled in entrepreneurial, whether it’s the lemonade stand, snow cone stand when you’re little, all the way to software startup.

[00:02:49.060] – Joran

Nice. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?

[00:02:51.530] – Preston

Yeah. Ever since I was little, couldn’t even spell entrepreneur. Probably still can’t spell today.

[00:02:58.890] – Joran

Luckily, AI nowadays. Do you have an end goal to find with e3?

[00:03:03.760] – Preston

No, we don’t have an end goal. Just we’re in it for the long haul. We enjoy what we do and it’s just a lot of fun. Nice.

[00:03:11.880] – Joran

Love it. And then final thing before we start diving deeper, What keeps you motivated?

[00:03:16.480] – Preston

Just building others, helping and building others up and building an awesome product.

[00:03:21.700] – Joran

So first of all, let’s go all the way back again. How did you came up with the idea of E3?

[00:03:26.390] – Preston

I worked at another company and the founder, a guy by the name of Cole Smith, he was just an amazing guy. He actually was former military, and he came up with a concept similar to E3. And that company, it grew, but it basically went belly up. Everybody left, including myself. Founder, everyone left. Then I had an investor approach me and say, Hey, let’s go compete and start a competing product, but let’s go after more markets instead of just that one. We built an entirely new product.

[00:04:04.050] – Joran

And did you take the investment?

[00:04:06.420] – Preston

Yeah, it’s all been family and friends. I was a friend of a friend, that investor.

[00:04:11.860] – Joran

So I guess almost like semi-bootstrapped, or do you have more funding?

[00:04:15.510] – Preston

No. So what happened was that company, they were bought by a big company. And that big company, it’s like a horror film. Everything you’ve heard about in school and everything about small company gets bought by big company. I lived it, and it was terrible. They promised all these things, and that literally sales decreased. Everyone quit, including, like I said, the founder myself. Then before I quit, there was a guy that was like, Hey, I actually I’m a general contractor. So I went to this guy’s house. His name’s Adam. Adam was like, Hey, why are you coming after hours? Why don’t you come during the day? I was like, Oh, I have a day job. I do this software thing. He’s like, Oh, that’s really cool. Can I invest in that company? I said, Oh, you got to go talk to this big company. They’re the worst, but good luck. He goes and talks to him, and then he comes back to me and he’s like, Yeah, they are the worst. They’re not getting back to me. I went and asked the company. I’m like, Did you guys talk to Adam? They’re like, Yeah, that guy’s a joke.

[00:05:15.440] – Preston

He’s not to be taken seriously. I was like, Okay, I’m done here. I’m going to go be a general contractor. The market is really demanding for skilled labor. I went out and I was contracting, and then Adam came back to and said, Hey, dude, did you sign a non-compet? I was like, No. He said, Let’s go compete. I’m like, All right, dude, if you get the money, but I’m going to just keep working to support my family. But if you get the money, let’s get after it. He came back to me and he’s like, Hey, I got the money. You ready? I was like, Sure. Let’s do this.

[00:05:49.830] – Joran

Nice. Love it. So that’s how it got started. That’s how you got your first funding in. And did you guys take any funding after Adam?

[00:05:58.830] – Preston

Yeah. Then after After we started going, we did take on another round from my co-founder’s best friend and then my father.

[00:06:06.900] – Joran

But purely friends and family, as you mentioned yourself as well.

[00:06:10.210] – Preston


[00:06:10.800] – Joran

And you started this from a situation where you left the company, right? I think the assumption was that the product is good. Maybe the company you left wasn’t that good because did you know from the beginning when you started working with Adam that it’s going to be such a success?

[00:06:24.370] – Preston

I was a little hesitant because I had spent the last four years of my life pushing this a similar product, and I felt very passionate about it because it’s a product with a really good purpose. But we just were lacking the sales and the marketing efforts. I thought I was a decent salesman. I thought I could sell something. Then I actually met my co founder, Dalton, and he’s phenomenal. He’ll sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in white gloves. The guy is so great. Then he started selling E3, and my eyes just opened up and I was blown away. But I’m like, Hey, dude, I just spent four years of my life doing something. I got to give it one more try. That’s where we’re at today.

[00:07:08.980] – Joran

I guess it really helped getting somebody to sell early stage quickly for you guys. We When we talk about your journey, everybody hits rock bottom one point, either financially, personally, maybe one point, I guess for you was already that you quit your other job and to start something completely new. When we talk about E3, have there been any moment where you really felt like you hit rock bottom.

[00:07:32.260] – Preston

Yeah. When my previous employer, the Big Bad Wolf, came after me, and I was at home with my family, and Sheriff comes knocking on my door, and I get a huge stack of papers. I had been served, summoned in a federal lawsuit. So I was being sued. Preston Keller was being sued, and E3, my company was being sued. And there were just outrageous claims against both. That was definitely a rock bottom at E3.

[00:08:04.660] – Joran

Yeah. And how did you get out of that?

[00:08:06.640] – Preston

Lots of time and lots of money. Obviously, my previous employer was upset, but these guys don’t know software at all, and they missed the boat, if you will. They came after me making up all these things in my company. Because there was a patent infringement, it was a federal lawsuit, and it means big money for lawyers. I had lawyers knocking on my door, big companies. It’s not my door, but my inbox. Everybody wanted to represent us because it’s a high-ticket item. And literally, Dalton, my co founder, we had to just buckle down and say, Hey, we’re going to make this work. We feel like we have something here, and we’re not in the wrong. That was the hardest thing. When there’s a lawsuit, I don’t know if you’ve ever been sued, but it’s the worst feeling in the world. I feel for those that have been sued for no reason. You start questioning yourself. You’re like, Did I do something wrong? And we filed a motion to dismiss, which basically is like, Hey, there’s nothing here. I don’t know why we’re even having this conversation, but in my state, Utah, We’re a sue happy state.

[00:09:16.270] – Preston

So you can sue anybody just for the way they’re looking at you. Hey, I’m going to sue you. And then there’s no repercussions for the plaintiffs or the defendants. Everybody pays their own legal fees. Even if you don’t have grounds for suing, if you sue in another state, like our neighboring state, Idaho, you have to have good grounds or else you’re going to end up paying their legal fees for even attempting to sue. That’s what happened. We filed a motion to dismiss, and the judge came back After 13 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars, the judge came back. The first time we ever even talked to the judge. It’s literally we were trying to go back and forth to settle, and they were like, cease and desist, and we were going back and forth. They actually came back with a settlement offer to me saying, Hey, we want you to close your doors at E3, pay us 500,000, and we want you to come work for us. What settlement is this? I’m flattered, but no. Anyways, that was the end of our settlement discussion. Then we got into the court date and the federal judge.

[00:10:25.390] – Preston

Our lawyers, we had a stacked legal team. It’s a federal case, so Dude, it killed me. Every meeting we had with our team, we had three lawyers. We had a patent attorney, a litigator, and another one. And every call, these guys bill $400 an hour. Every call, it was over $1,000 an hour just to jump on a Zoom call. And as a startup, we were like, Dude, we can’t keep this going, but we had to. And Dalton was just phenomenal. He was on fire just selling and selling our product. And we were only paying the bills from Dalton’s sales. And then our customers were paying crazy fast. Dalton would close a deal in less than 30 days, and the customer would pay in 14. We were charging a year upfront. So we were getting money in. And as soon as we got money in, we were spending it on legal. And Dalton and myself, we took ourselves off of payroll just to keep the company going. We doubled down and we’re like, Dude, we feel strongly about this. We got to just keep grinding. And when that judge finally did in court, I’ve never been in court.

[00:11:32.650] – Preston

They were like, grining into me, villainizing me, saying all these things that I’m just like, This sucks. This hurts. Then do our side, and then the judge, an emotion to dismiss. Typically, The judge just hears both parties, and then he walks away, and he’s, Okay, you’ll hear from me in a month. After that, and our lawyers prepped us, they’re like, Dude, you’re going to have this option A, B, or C. The judge caught everybody off guard because He’s like, All right, I’m ready to make my ruling on this motion to dismiss. I couldn’t understand all the legal jargon. I don’t know if you’ve ever read a case file, but it’s pretty hard to follow. I’m like, I like what he’s saying, but I don’t know what that means. I’m not in the same room as my lawyer, so I was looking at Dalton and I’m like, What’s going on? It sounds good, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. The judge came back and he’s, All claims against Mr. Keller have been dismissed, and all claims against E three have been dismissed. That was it. It was a grand slam. Nobody saw it coming, including our legal team.

[00:12:36.630] – Preston

It was a total miracle. We were able to get out of that lawsuit, and our lawyers were like, Okay, congratulations, guys. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You guys are doing something right.

[00:12:46.170] – Joran

And suddenly all the expenses stopped, which was, of course, a great boat for the startup as well. So you don’t actually have to pay all those lawyers $1,000 an hour anymore to get them into a Zoom call.

[00:12:57.230] – Preston

And the ironic thing was, because we were in this lawsuit, we had no development. We had no dev team. We outsourced our dev team, and that dev team that we used was also in the lawsuit. So we weren’t allowed to work with any developers. So we had this MVP that we were selling to customers, and the customers were just… We just kept loading people on it. And 13 months go by. And within those 13 months, we have the craziest bugs. And somehow, our MVP survived. And we had over 30,000 users. And when I say no development, we didn’t have anything. I know a little bit. I can literally, when there was bugs and E3 would crash, I I literally go into AWS and I turn off all of the servers and turn them back on. I don’t know what else to do. Just turn it off and turn it on and say a prayer. But going back to your thing, as soon as legal, that legal expense, 40, 50,000 a month had ended, we just traded that for dev because we actually are new developers. We hired another dev shop, and these guys were like, Dude, we’re not even going to touch your old code.

[00:14:11.810] – Preston

If you want to scale, you actually need to build it properly, and we’ll rebuild it. We’ll do a full rewrite of your product, but it’s going to take another four or six months. So then we were 13 months, no dev. Then we got dev, but we still were living on the MVP for four more months, a year and a half before we actually at least like a version 2 of our product.

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[00:14:56.460] – Joran

When we put it in a timeline, you started in 2021, then you took a year to build? When did you got the saying, All claims were dismissed?

[00:15:04.910] – Preston

That was June of last year. Got you.

[00:15:07.270] – Joran

So only a year ago. Any advice for other founders who they might not go to the exact same journey, but maybe a similar journey, any advice for them from what you learned in those 13 months?

[00:15:20.010] – Preston

Don’t worry about things that are out of your control. You pay lawyers a ton of money so that they can handle that problem. And finding a good way to disconnect And it’s so hard, especially in a startup, because you breathe, you sweat, and you bleed your startup. And it’s hard to turn it off and go home and be with the family and kids. I made a huge effort to put a filter on for my wife. So my wife was aware of what was going on, but she didn’t need to know the nitty-gritty details. I didn’t want her overwhelmed with that because I didn’t want her to feel how I was feeling. I gave her just enough so she stayed aware of it. But I was paying lawyers a ton of money so that they could handle that problem and hopefully take some of that burden off of me. I didn’t want to put it on my wife. My advice is don’t worry about things out of your control and then try to leave work at work when you can.

[00:16:17.240] – Joran

Lots of follow-up questions here. I guess those 13 months, you had the MVP, your co founder was selling like crazy, which I think is nice. At least you paid the lawyer from the money which came in from the product or something there, and you can actually know Hopefully once things were dismissed, you had something you can start growing.

[00:16:34.700] – Preston

Sometimes we didn’t sell enough to cover the lawyer like our bills. I was getting all sorts of creative. I was taking out 0% interest credit cards to carry the legal bills on. Leveraging my personal credit score. We were taking out money through QuickBooks Capital invoices or debt financing. We partnered with CapChase. We were pulling out all the stops, anything we could to just keep the bills paid.

[00:17:03.870] – Joran

The business was going. You were growing the number of clients, number of users to 30,000 with a broken MVP. At the beginning, I think you mentioned you wanted to build a good product, helping others. But in the end, with a broken product, it’s a bit tricky sometimes. How did you guys manage with all those bugs happening to still keep those users happy? Because at one point, they might start complaining a lot more, right?

[00:17:27.520] – Preston

Yeah. The nature of our business is emergency notifications. So we have to work. And it worked for the most part. E3 has always worked, but there were bugs. I’ll give you a good example. Android, Samsung, they run on a slightly different operating system, like the one UI that Samsung uses versus the standard Android one. They changed something on their push notifications, which totally broke E3 push notifications coming through. So all of our app was working on all platforms, even It was working on Android. But if you had a Samsung, your phone wasn’t going to get an E3 notification for an emergency. I’d send out an email to all customers. Guys, I am so sorry, but we will fix this. I promise. Just stay with us. We were very honest and transparent. But yeah, we killed them with kindness. We really had our team just like, Guys, we got to be the best in customer service and kill them with kindness because product is lacking, but we will fix it.

[00:18:32.660] – Joran

When we talk about, I guess, the positive things because you’re now already, again, at 1 million ARR, right? What did you guys do to get here? You had your co founder selling. What has been your go-to-market strategy? Did he just go out and find leads himself? What did you guys do at the beginning?

[00:18:49.810] – Preston

Yeah, he’s an animal. He put together a SDR/BDR team, cold calling, and they would just slam the phones and schedule demos. And Dalton was just getting hammered with demos. He’d do 14 demos a day, just back to back and just follow-ups. He was managing the pipeline all himself. So he had a team of cold callers setting demos, and then Dawn was everything after that. He’d do the demo, then he’d do the follow-up, he’d do the close.

[00:19:18.920] – Joran

And what is your average contract value? It is going to probably be a bit higher to make this work, right?

[00:19:25.560] – Preston

Yeah. So anywhere from average back If I was selling it, I’m the worst salesman. I’d be like, these schools be like, Oh, it’s like 1,500 a year. I’d be like, Oh, that’s too much. I’m like, How about 500 a year? Does that work? I just want you guys to use our product because I know it can help you. Anyways, I think our average today is around 35.

[00:19:54.240] – Joran

I can imagine, I guess for you guys, once they start using you, the likelihood of them We’re leaving is probably going to be pretty low as in switching a different program. Is that happening a lot?

[00:20:06.850] – Preston

No, we have less than 1% churn.

[00:20:09.280] – Joran

Yeah, makes sense. Is this currently also what you’re still doing? Is this still your go-to strategy cold calling, or have you been adding other things to the mix?

[00:20:18.370] – Preston

No, we’re actually home made. That’s our only channel right now. We’re starting to explore other channels, but this is the first time that we’re like, Man, we can breathe.

[00:20:29.170] – Joran

It is interesting. I wanted to ask, but maybe this question is going to be a bit obsolete, but have you guys used any processes or frameworks to grow E3 besides doing the cold calling, has there been anything like part of the success you guys are having right now? Anything we can learn from you?

[00:20:45.220] – Preston

Dude, I love processes. I’m a total nerd when it comes to systems and processes. In fact, that was just me when E3 started. I was the only one. I was the project manager over the devs. I was managing all the devs, building our site. I can do front-end development. I’m a quick learner. We did all these things. I set up HubSpot. I never even used HubSpot. I watched tons of videos, and I was like, All right, I think I have a good idea of where we’re at. But I just like to make things like the path of least resistance. I just want to make it easy. When Dalton came on, Dalton came over from another company, and he was like, Dude, you set this up. This is awesome. I was like, Yeah, I don’t know what I’m doing, but you tell me. Start selling. And then we would finetune the process. And then we would do invoicing through QuickBooks and integrate it in. And it was just a seamless flow. And it was making his life really easy because it had to be easy because he was managing so much of the sales side. So I was constantly tweaking and then onboarding.

[00:21:47.170] – Preston

I kept it inside of the HubSpot ecosystem, and then everything was funneling. And I’ve just learned to really love a good system, a good process. And part of that success is just documenting it. There’s a cool theory on don’t do something like 110%, not 200%. When you are wanting to scale, if you need to do something, you know you need to train someone on it, take the time, the extra 10% to just turn on Loom and make a cool video. Instead of having to go back next week and be like, Dang it, I got to go make that video, and go back through the whole thing. So just do the 110% and save yourself yourself that extra time doing things elsewhere.

[00:22:33.820] – Joran

That’s interesting. So spend a little bit more time the first time you do it, so it’s going to save you the next time.

[00:22:39.120] – Preston

Yeah. Yeah. Literally, as a startup founder, you got to keep thinking in your head. It’s the old saying, If it’s to be, it’s up to me. You just got to keep doing everything. You’re like, No one else is going to do it, so you got to do it.

[00:22:53.550] – Joran

Nice. Love it. When we talk about your journey, has there been any big mistakes? Are there any big failures, for example, which you could share, which you learned from? Yeah.

[00:23:04.370] – Preston

As you’re learning, first-time founder, you’re just trying to do things that are best for the business. I’ve gone down rabbit holes and wasted thousands of dollars trying to generate leads because I’m not an expert in marketing. I just try to put things together. I would say those are mistakes, but they’re good learning mistakes. We’ve also entered markets too soon and basically paid a hefty price for market research when we could have pump the brakes and study that market, talk to customers or prospects a little more in that market before entering. But they’re all lessons learned and they make you stronger.

[00:23:43.390] – Joran

Yeah, because in the end, these things you can’t avoid. You have to experiment to figure out what is working. Is there one thing maybe now in hindsight you regret you didn’t do?

[00:23:55.050] – Preston

I was hesitant on outsourcing. When I started E3, I was on Fiverr and Man, I felt like I had a team of just freelancers helping me. I seriously had over 70 different freelancers doing design work, helping me with so many things. But my good friend was like, Dude, you should check out this. I’ve worked with freelancers from all over the world. He was just like, You need to check out this site. It’s online job stuff. I was like, All right, cool. I’ll go check it out. My buddy runs a company with 30 or 40 Filipinos. I jumped on a call and I loved his team. I was like, Dude, I need to… He was like, You can use some of my team to help you with your tasks, because I had really cumbersome, time-consuming tasks. I wish I would have implemented offshore help for a remote employee in the Philippines. They are the greatest. It was just a good fit, and I still love them today. They’re seriously my favorite people. They’re very highly intertwined in our team. We’ve got remote employees all over the States, and then we’ve got our Filipino team also.

[00:25:08.790] – Joran

Nice. Instead of going project-based or even task-based, you went to hiring people in the Philippines to actually do things on a recurring basis, train them, and almost get them in like real employees. How do you keep going? How do you keep yourself motivated?

[00:25:22.410] – Preston

You just learn to trust your team. Good things are happening all around you. Actually, there’s a book called The Gap and the Gain. That book It got me through the darkest times because it’s like, dude, focus on the good things in life. Don’t be in the gap, be in the gain. You just learn to trust people. Focus on the good in life and trust your team. We’ve had a phenomenal team. I’ve been very blessed.

[00:25:42.920] – Joran

You mentioned also you took already people into the company you trusted, friends and family. Maybe a bit of a fun joke, is the company now filled with all your friends and family? Is there any family member left who can join ETRI? Or they’re all joined already?

[00:25:58.990] – Preston

My little brother Fred still works here, and he loves it. Dalton’s little sister still works here, and she loves it. Dalton’s little brother works here on sales, and he loves it. But other than that, it’s just friends of friends. They feel like family.

[00:26:12.320] – Joran

Yeah. And how is that? Because I can understand in the dark times when you need them, it’s really nice to trust on them. Things are now hopefully a bit more stable, also company-wise.

[00:26:21.410] – Preston

Oh, yeah. It’s a double-edged sword. Do you have brothers or sisters, Jaran?

[00:26:25.360] – Joran

I do, but I’m not in a company with them.

[00:26:27.550] – Preston

Luckily, my brother and I have a good relationship, and you still have those moments where you’re like, Bro, what the heck were you thinking? What are you doing? And he does the same thing to me. What were you thinking? It doesn’t matter. We just got to solve the problem.

[00:26:43.630] – Joran

Yeah. The good thing is to your brother or to a good friend, you can talk like that, where with an employee, you might have to raise yourself a little bit. You can be more direct. Yeah. Nice. Let’s go to the final wrap-up questions. If we take advice to a certain stage revenue-wise, what advice would you give a founder who’s now on their journey and just starting out and growing to 10K monthly recurring revenue?

[00:27:07.730] – Preston

I’m known for being El Chipo, being the cheap guy, and it’s served me well as a founder. My advice here is to stay lean, be resourceful, be frugal, be good stewards of the investment that someone’s trusted you with or your own investment.

[00:27:24.060] – Joran

Would you recommend them doing the cold calling, for example, how you guys got your first clients? Anything acquisition commission advice for the first 10K?

[00:27:33.300] – Preston

It’s an old-school method, but it’s tried and true. The way we modeled it was like, Hey, we’re paying these part-time college kids 12 bucks an hour, and then they get a commission based on the demo that they said it was very cost-effective, and we’ve got the same model today. It is a very good base, but then they have a higher reward if they keep grinding and building up their pipeline.

[00:27:56.450] – Joran

What advice would you give somebody who’s growing towards 10 million ARR?

[00:28:00.890] – Preston

Same thing, being lean, being smart, resourceful, but also, I would say, gratitude, realizing that you’re only as good as your team, just being grateful for everybody else’s efforts. It’s like a famous quote. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let other people have the credit. Love it.

[00:28:19.970] – Joran

Let me try to summarize a little bit what we talked about today. Well, let’s start off with, don’t worry about problems out of your own control. Cold calling definitely still It has been the only acquisition channel for you guys. You got the one million AR, so well done. Be creative with getting funding for your company. Look at friends and families and all the creative tricks you guys did. Create processes, optimize your flows. Do the 110% the first time, so it saves you time the next time. So 110% instead of 200%, implement offshore quicker, read the Gap and the Game Book because it got you through the darkest times. You’re only as good as your team.

[00:28:57.660] – Preston

Yes, it’s been a pleasure. Cool.

[00:28:59.250] – Joran

If people want to get in contact with you, learn more.

[00:29:01.820] – Preston

You could just go to… You could send me an email anytime, press on emergent3. Com, and I’m always in my inbox.

[00:29:09.240] – Joran

We’re going to make sure we’ll link that in the show notes so people can find it. Thank you for the people listening. If you’re listening to Spotify, we’re going to add a poll to this podcast episode. So please respond so we can get some learnings if you like this episode and what would you like to learn more. And don’t forget to give us a review so we can help other founders out there. Thanks again for coming on, PK. Cheers.thanks. Cheers.

[00:29:31.020] – Preston

See you.

[00:29:32.200] – Show Outro

Thank you for watching this show of the Grow Your B2B SaaS podcast. You made it till the end, so I think we can assume you like this content. If you did, give us a thumbs up, subscribe to the channel. If you like this content, feel free to reach out if you want to sponsor the show. If you have a specific guest in mind, if you have a specific topic you want us to cover, reach out to me on LinkedIn. More than happy to take a look at it. If you want to know more about Reddit, feel free to reach out as well. But for now, have a great day. Great day and good luck growing your B2B SaaS.

Joran Hofman
Meet the author
Joran Hofman
Back in 2020 I was an affiliate for 80+ SaaS tools and I was generating an average of 30k in organic visits each month with my site. Due to the issues I experienced with the current affiliate management software tools, it never resulted in the passive income I was hoping for. Many clunky affiliate management tools lost me probably more than $20,000+ in affiliate revenue. So I decided to build my own software with a high focus on the affiliates, as in the end, they generate more money for SaaS companies.
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