The Lucky Titan

How to Start a SaaS Company With Jeroen Corthout

December 15, 2020 Josh Tapp
The Lucky Titan
How to Start a SaaS Company With Jeroen Corthout
Chapters
The Lucky Titan
How to Start a SaaS Company With Jeroen Corthout
Dec 15, 2020
Josh Tapp

Jeroen is co-founder and CEO of Salesflare, an intelligent CRM built for SMBs selling B2B, mostly popular with agencies and fast growing startup companies.

Salesflare itself was founded when Jeroen and his co-founder Lieven wanted to follow up the leads for their software company in an easier way. They didn't like to keep track of their leads manually and built Salesflare, which pulls customer data together automatically and then actively helps you to follow up.

It's now the most popular CRM on Product Hunt and top rated on review platforms like G2 for its ease of use and automation features. 

Check out Salesflare's CRM: https://salesflare.com
Why you need an easy CRM: https://blog.salesflare.com/easy-to-use-crm
Connect with Jeroen: https://linkedin.com/in/jeroencorthout
Listen to his podcast: https://foundercoffee.salesflare.com/

Show Notes Transcript

Jeroen is co-founder and CEO of Salesflare, an intelligent CRM built for SMBs selling B2B, mostly popular with agencies and fast growing startup companies.

Salesflare itself was founded when Jeroen and his co-founder Lieven wanted to follow up the leads for their software company in an easier way. They didn't like to keep track of their leads manually and built Salesflare, which pulls customer data together automatically and then actively helps you to follow up.

It's now the most popular CRM on Product Hunt and top rated on review platforms like G2 for its ease of use and automation features. 

Check out Salesflare's CRM: https://salesflare.com
Why you need an easy CRM: https://blog.salesflare.com/easy-to-use-crm
Connect with Jeroen: https://linkedin.com/in/jeroencorthout
Listen to his podcast: https://foundercoffee.salesflare.com/

Josh: What’s up everybody , Josh tap her again and welcome back to The Lucky titanPodcast and today we have JeroenCorthoutwith  us here, I am really excited to have Jeroen here because he is the founder of Sales Flare which is a serum that’s really taking the marketing  by a storm right now, he’s been able to build multiple companies in the software space, software service space and like most of you know we really don’t really bring a lot of people in software space so this will be really fun to see kind of what Jeroen is doing currently and also really the direction of their company doing and helping people to succeed with sales so Jeroen say what’s up to everybody and then let’s hop in 

Jeroen: What’s up?

Josh: so glad to have you here Man, so Jeroen, let’s startit out first by I wanna ask you, why SAS, why did you get to this software service type of business 

Jeroen: oh to make a long story short, I always like building websites and sort of naturally flows in each other like a website a website it was fun at some point like to build sort of experience but really some points you wanna to build more than that, you want actually help people and that’s automatically leads to the software space and now it is also software is SAS I mean there’s still a lot software but most of software’s. 

Josh: yea I wanna agree on that, that’s why it been kind of funny that people still calls it SAS ‘com I’m like it’s pretty much the same thing 

Jeroen: yea, software business

Josh: what software isn’t the service that’s why I’ve been trying to figure out.

Jeroen: yea just about everything, actually fi you think about Photoshop this they sell it on a & you still download it, you buy this subscription together maybe premier or a top edition or whatever it also sort of becomes SAS even if it is not web base software 

Josh: Right. I’ve always been curious if people are going to start, somebody going to start a software company and then just sell it individually, instead of SAS, see if that happens like a big in marketing strategy 

Jeroen: it is depends, I think sometimes it makes sense when people need something went off it is really not something that investors like to see because they like to see and honestly for yourself it’s  better  to have recurring business, it’s much nice to build a business on the recurring business at one off payments but I know the guy  that offer you the option like either you do the other one of orresearch with their tool and that’s a bit more expensive for one off thing that’s at least you don’t pay for a while or you go for a subscription  to something you do regularly 

Josh: yea that’s awesome, so well I wanna ask you this, you know starting a SAS company, in today’s world, it’s pretty tough I mean , there’s a lot of companies that butter rock it right, they take off and they disappear so what have you guys been using, your methodology wise toactually get your product to market ‘coz I mean, I even know a lot of guys in the SAS space their really good coding, really good at making some product but getting out to market is what’s really hard for them. 

Jeroen: yea, I’ll maybe if I frame first a bit of what we’ve been doing so people understand this better so we built this serum system, serum space is if you think about this software space its the biggest software space out there like it is bigger than  I think the runner up is business intelligence the top is serum because it is very central to a business it’s where you managing customer’s if you look o G2.com there’s 600 serums out there so it is huge also difference software companies and in addition to that, there’s companies that dominate the space already which makes it extra difficult because these are gigantic companies with gigantic budgets that we fight against so for us first of all is very important to and that’s where most software companies begin is really pinning down your target market people often like to refer to their niche I think it’s a bit over use word of something that mean something else, so you are very specific about your target markets for us we don’t do enterprise that where it starts, we do small, medium size of businesses, we’ve started with small once, we have more medium size which is slightly better customer to us and we’ve sort of crawling into that; we focus on the ones who sell B2B that just helps very much  to keep our software straight forward because we need to a lot of people need to see kind of stuff as well sort of the software is built needs to be more complex and then within that, we focus very much on the aspect, we don’t do everything, we focus on company that want to do better in following up needs that’s the main purpose and then within that we focus on mostly agency in one hands think like marketing agencies of all kinds of sources, lot of types of marketing agencies out there and software development agencies that sort of quite related now a days especially a lot of marketing agencies are on digital agencies and on the other hand the second persona we have is text out I would say it is actually companies like us a lot of those are SAS companies and then when you done pick your niche and you go like deeper already than still in many spaces you have multiple competitor of which some of are big and that’s same in our case and maybe so because we are on serum space so then it is all about differentiation versus a lot of place and being extremely clear about it because after all people are buying through the internet they are very often to not need a sales person they do not have time to be convince or something it’s need to be clear to them when they read the webpage and with all the limited attention spend people have now a days, it’s needs to be super clear, so differentiation is essential when we differentiate then it is like most serums fail because you know manage to keep them to-date and sales we’re fills out itself very, very simply – that’s where it all starts and really knowing who you really going after and how you are different is going to inform a lot of things you do actually everything from the way you like way you find leads, when you to the internet to find them which you perhaps crave how you frame your messages  how you built your website the core things you focus on and product development all this thing sort of type to that, so when you start a company or you are trying to get better at you saw plateau and you what to make that next step this is where you should really, really focus on because your success at positioning your self will make all the difference towards your success just because the software space is just, just exploding so much out there and additional thing which I didn’t mention yet is the software space started in Silicon Valley where people gets a huge amount of money to develop a thing and really fast now a days especially B2B software it is not about that massive growth anymore that’s more of something for B to see and what you starts seeing them that is more about this consistency kind of growth and what is very important then partly is revenue vs cost and that’s where many company like in Silicon valley starts becoming quite weak because their salary so enormous versus compare to India where’s tons of good developers out there at extremely low at cost so you see more Indian Companies coming in the market, setting prices lower because in the whole market prices are lower already and their cost are lower and developing tons of functionality so you are definitely not gonna win the functionality and price game anymore what’s extremely important is your positioning and  additionally probably years of experience and years, if you don’t focus on this things anymore now a days you are dead. 

Josh: yea and I mea , it seems like when you are trying to launch products that’s a lower cost product, whether it is a physical product or  a SAS company, for you guys, like your base prices 30$ -35$ correct for your CRM per month right so when you look at that price point tell me it’s pretty ducting we have to have like 3000 or 9000 people to break a million dollars per year so let’s talk a little bit about distribution so how have you has been distributing your software especially in to B2B space right because B2B feels like you like almost have a sales team doing calls and everything 

Jeroen: No, I mean that is very  much depends on the size of the customer’s you are going after like you said if you think about our pricing to do a million you need to have lot of users but there’s still also company that aim that have a higher pricing per whatever user company or have a totally different strategy actually two weeks ago I wrote a blog post on this you can probably find if you type SAS Sales Flare in google, soon, soon, probably when you type SAS Sales but it’s not out yet because it is very new but in that article I explain like you can focus on different sizes of animals and that animals actually comes from what’s his name the Angel VC, that’s point capital and you can focus on mice, you can focus on rabbits, deer, elephants, whales I don’t know what’s on other huge ones is dinosaurs something, we are in the rabbit space, like I said at the beginning , we are doing more, more medium size companies more like small deer, not if you are focusing in small deer what’s where you can start doing actual outreach insight sales so – going to people or something but you can actually start doing more of the emailing, together with calling because then you can make a decent ROI but many software companies especially focusing on the ones small companies, almost most of them focusing on rabbits and in the case of rabbits you need to generate humongous amount inbound leads that’s the only way we’re gonna be able to grow your business to you said a million but actually the post of this guy I forgot his name Angel VC he says 5 strategies to reach  a hundred million business because that’s what’s VC’s have in mind is like can I take this company invest money in it and make it a hundred million in business  so for instance in our case what me make at least from is at least one word of mouth but that is something that only comes after you have people on words so it’s not the first thing, we get them from SEO, SEO on very specific use cases we get them from review site that is something that is similar to word of mouth  and we get them from content marketing and content marketing is SEO are quite related with some things are just more directed to, directly creating leads and some are or like putting people into a funnel you could say and that’s absolutely necessary if you focus on, on the smaller companies because anything else will not make sense on ROI’s because you’re gonna try to gain back what you’ve invested to into requiring these customers in let say about 6 months and it should not be more than 1/3 or ¼ of what you have spent to acquire them no; of the eventual customer life time value you shouldn’t spend more than that on acquiring them 

Josh: yea and I think I really like that thing, thanks for sharing that, the SEO, review sites content marketing I feel like those are the long term strategies like you are talking about when you are really shooting for then obviously they’re gonna short term as well when you are shooting for a hundred million dollar company, so for you guys, you know you’ve figure our distribution channels, you’ve figure out customers, but what core question that I’ve had throughout this interview is what was the need that you saw in the market that you’ve CRN feels 

Jeroen: yea, in very short, I used to work in marketing consultant before, I worked with sales force, self was  always, organize yourself, make more sales and all, I tried it, it didn’t work for me , it’s just wasextremely cumbersome, you didn’t feel like, like I was using consumers software at the one end and sales present in the other hand – totalopposites like our friends was like – keep my leads and wonder list, great, great to do app but it’s killed now and then I would try to Sales force and I mean how, why, I didn’t understand and I saw that, it was actually all my colleagues say  no body was really organizing their selves and sales force all we need actually was putting stuff in there from management pretty much management reporting and then I didn’t do anything with it inside in the few  years until I worked with my current co-founder on out software company and then we had a lot of leads, went to a big conference on Vegas and we had a booth there and start selling  and after the conference we have to follow these people up and we really want to build a good system like nobody would sleep through the cracks and would always follow people at the right time , know exactly when was the last time, who they were and what they care about kind of things and we tried to do that in different systems because I know that not going to help and we found some better stuffs but still these things always failed because simple we couldn’t master up the consistentdiscipline to fill up these system perfectly, like this, we didn’t feel like this perfect input robots so what always happens it that, it wasn’t completely felled out or the day that was not really quality enough we didn’t update or whatever at some point you look at the system and you look in there, like ohh yea it’s not there because we didn’t put in there and then this is just a start failing from there it’s all downwards and then we started a thinking about that how we could we sold out for ourselves and we figured it out with the serums what we are actually like maintaining two different worlds like we are communicating with the customer and then we have this other tab or whatever other app where we would then input manually whatever we did of maybe the information shared with us and we figured it out that actually all these things could be connected because in the sales process more, more things are digital and basically software could just pull it in, so we started building software that connects your mail box and pulls out like who are you in contact with, what did you change in terms of emails, what emails should they choose that they have and then pull that in out of thing, insert email tracking and connected up with web tracking, we connect with your calendar, pull out meetings, who are you meeting with, what it is about, those kind of things your phone, get full calls matched that up like I said the email tracking, the web tracking we also put in company data base info’s stuff in social media so I really start of living like you as sales person don’t have to do allthat work anymore a few things like saying, yesit is personal in this company stuff like that but not the bare data anymore and the system updates itself so you’ll always know what’s going on and that what makes it much easier for sales people to maintain a system that will make that take and built relationship and skills because in the end that’s what’s hardest as a sales person,as long as you are trying to sell something to 5 people you can do that just based on your memory right, we don’t need a system but as soon as you get to let say 20 then that becomes really hard and you’ll start missing out on things and people will be disappointed  and you won’t sell stuff that is actually you should have sold and then that’s when you need your serum and yeah, just make sure that, that works and by having the data there now is actually seeing that there a lot of possibilities to do more with that because as soon as you have data then that a least possibilities the software now helped you to automatically up to remind you when you didn’t follow up on someone, need to answer someone’s email when you forgot to, you put meaning notes or something  but it also can send automated emails from your mail box just as if it’s you based on specific triggers that you said and this can be even flows of emails  like you gets a send the first email and they don’t reply send another one so they system can taking over part of your follow up or your prospecting. 

Josh: yea, I love that so we’re coming up to the end interview here Jeroen, I wanna ask you two final questions,first one is where people can get access to sales flare 

Joroen: Ah, sales flare or just in salesflare.com and flare is FLARE and at the top right it says something try it for free, if you click that, you can try it for free and it takes anywhere between 7 and 20 days, we made it in such a way that people are incentivize to set up the software more because then your trials get longer and longer because we saw that the better people gets set up in the very, very, early stages like in the trial it finds your success for the years to come so we made sure that it happens 

Josh: that’s awesome, love that and then my final question to you Jeroen is if you could leave final parting piece of guidance for audiences what would that be 

Jeroen: is it about SAS or is it about. 

Josh: for you, you could say based of what’s the one thing would take away from this interview 

Jeron: maybe one thing I didn’t mention, thinking at some point that I will to add so I’ve been explaining what works for as in now where we get leads from butwhat I often see and other comes to me what works for you, like what are these,where do leads come from and mostly these companies are quiet stage, and they think they’re gonna built it in a way that sort of like we are much further take on a built it the same way well actually in the very early stage is we didn’t not get leads from there at all, we would have to go to the more non-scalable steps of finding people convincing them doing demos, setting the software together with them you know the full grant, I would back in the day I do this on skype every single thing with it together the leads didn’t come to us we have to find them, you know early stages are not to be confused with later onthere’s stuff you need to build up and its really essential that you built up your business step by step because it’s not just that you can immediately scale it, it’s also super dangerous because youwill miss out on so many things that you see when you first done it manually, when you first scalable way like for instance me setting up the software together with some I would always see this horrible things happening like oh my god, and then write it down you know, like oh no is that book you know and at least we can fix it those things when you immediately unleash people on your software without being there with them you stood after rely on this kind of screen videos that you automatically from or so but you don’t get the full story and it’s very hard to prove things and meaningful way.