The Revenue Engine

Being a Successful Entrepreneur with Nicolas Vandenberghe, CEO and Co-Founder of Chili Piper and KosmoTime

August 20, 2021

The Revenue Engine

Each week, Revenue Operations expert Rosalyn Santa Elena shines the spotlight on founders, CEOs, and Revenue Leaders from hyper-growth companies and dives deep into the strategies they implement to drive growth and share their learnings. Rosalyn brings you inspirational stories from revenue generators, innovators and disruptors, as well as Revenue Leaders in sales, marketing, and operations.

Nicolas Vandenberghe is the CEO and Co-Founder of Chili Piper and of KosmoTime. In this episode of the Revenue Engine Podcast, Nicholas shares insights from his amazing entrepreneurial journey as an individual who has sold 3 tech companies and is currently the CEO of two successful businesses that are revolutionizing how revenue teams optimize meeting lifecycle automation and manage time for focused work.

Nicolas is a true visionary who knows how to not only build a successful business, but how to inspire, lead, and have some fun at the same time.

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Nicolas Vandenberghe
CEO @ Chili Piper & KosmoTime

[00:00:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the revenue engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena. And I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue, generators, innovators, and disruptors revenue leaders in sales, in marketing. And of course in operations. Together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers that the revenue engine are.

You ready? Let's get to it. So super excited to be here today with Nicholas Vandenberghe, the CEO and co-founder of Chili Piper and of Kosmo Time. Chili Piper is the most advanced routing and scheduling software for B2B revenue teams. Chili Piper helps teams convert more leads into meetings, book more demos, faster, and drive more value with customers.

And Kosmo time is a smart calendar for time-blocking and focused work. So welcome Nicholas, and thank you for joining us. Great, thanks for having me. So you've had just an amazing career long before chili Piper. Um, before we dive into chili Piper, can you walk us through your journey as a founder of multiple companies?

And I also saw you are a guest lecturer at Stanford. 

[00:01:22] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Um, so, uh, go back to. My childhood, I grew up in the south of France. Um, and then I went to school in Paris and I always had a lot of ideas of things I wanted to do, but, um, I was not exposed to the concept of, uh, entrepreneurship. Um, so finally I decided that I wanted to travel some more and I, um, Went to Stanford business school.

And when I got there, um, one of my classes, Steve Johnson, who is now a famous VC, invited Steve jobs very early on. So I'd been three weeks on campus and, uh, we sat down and Steve jobs came to talk to him. Um, at the time he was doing a company called next and the joke was that it was going next to nowhere.

Cause it was, he was actually struggling with that company. But yet it was so inspiring that, uh, I looked at him and says, this is what I want to do. When I grew up, I want to be a tech entrepreneur. I want to create things in bend things and try to get millions of people to use what they do. So that was the revelation that came to me, uh, at Stanford and ever since then, This impetus to, to, uh, create companies.

And more recently, um, I got back in touch with Stanford business school and try to give back. So share my experience. I mean, obviously I doubt that that inspires students the way Steve jobs inspired me, but if I can contribute a little, get the people interested, uh, you know, share the lessons I've learned in my different companies.

Um, that's what I'm doing. That's 

[00:02:56] Rosalyn Santa Elena: awesome. Yeah, I think that's so great to give back and I'm sure I'm sure you've impacted a number of folks. I'm sure people have listened to you talk about your companies and have also been inspired. So what's a little bit about what led you to starting chili Piper. You know, I read your story about how you and Alina initially underestimated sort of the importance of meetings in the revenue process.

So can you share a little bit more about that backstory, um, and how chili Piper really came to be. 

[00:03:24] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Yes, very much so, so, um, there's more to a TD paper actually. Um, usually companies start on an ID or solving a problem in this case, uh, a qualitative thesis company. So it wasn't that we identified the particular problem with the thesis that, uh, there would be a new wave of software, um, that was going to change the way.

Salespeople do their job. And the reason we thought of that, we came at it from two angles. So I was running a sales team for a friend and a telecom company. And, uh, my reps were reluctant to use Salesforce. They didn't want to do it. They wanted to use their own things. So Salesforce was never up to date.

And at the same time, Allina was running. Uh, product at Pearson, the running company, building apps, and she had these, um, these incredible level of adoption on the apps. And so we look at the two together, right? There's new apps where kids love. I mean, you have to pay them to get off the app. Like my daughter's right.

Have to drive them to get up their phone. And on the other side, the salespeople where you pay them to get on the app. And so Alina and I thought. This is I'm going to change. Yeah. Somebody is going to crack it and build up that IP people love, uh, professional people love. And so I actually thought we should go to the entire enterprise market.

And I was out of sales that I started earning money when I was a kid selling newspapers. So I was affinity for salespeople and I said, let's focus on salespeople. So that's how we started. And, um, Then the next question is w w where exactly do, what problem do we solve, right. And that's what gets started.

And the, the, the, the thing that few people know that we actually started with another, uh, uh, idea or along the, these Stevie's of helping sales people, that was very, uh, Natural to me, after my experience with salespeople, they refuse to update Salesforce. I thought I'm going to build a cloud solution that, that does it for them.

That goes into their email. They contact the meetings and automatically update Salesforce. So I built that, um, it was called automagic sync because it would sync automatically, I think. And the, I actually started that before. Um, And that's starting working. And then, uh, it turned out the two competitors, one called implicit and one called retake you and Salesforce, uh, decided to buy both of my competitors.

So, uh, VP paid 30, 20 to 30 million for our implicit, some in this range. And then mark. Spent 400 million to acquire. So we really take you. So that, that was interesting because you know, it's a very violent way to get validated in your idea. Right. So the idea was right, so that Salesforce, but it's pending.

So then, then there was obviously moments of dabs there. What do we do? Um, one of my angel investors, uh, Um, reach out to me and cynical, you cannot assume that Salesforce is going to screw up 420 million worth of acquisition. Right. They have to make it work. So you're dead. So that's when Alina joined and we, we thought, okay, do we give up, but do we find another angle?

And of course we decide to find another angle. And you mentioned that we didn't ride that meetings were so important. The way it happened is that, uh, we were already in touch with a few, uh, companies and one of them, or five styles came to us with this problem of, um, sales, development teams, booking meetings for account executives.

So that handoff process and, uh, they told us, look, It takes them seven minutes to book a meeting because they're supposed to run Robbins, these meetings to be fair. And sometimes they don't know who's next. Some other time they do know what's negative. They cheat because they give it to a friend. So, so it's a problem.

And it was a leader. Yeah. I was bidding system for like $1 billion system for the, uh, LA county, um, education border. And you want me to solve that little problem? So is it an hour problem? So that's where you heard that we didn't raise was such an important piece, but we thought we have to start somewhere.

So we built that and we went business and we bootstrapped and we, we, we had five stars prepaid for the solution. And then we had a greenhouse in New York, the ATS company. Uh, bio solution and next thing we were in business. So we had this grand vision of transforming the world of sales in a very narrow entry point in automating.

Been pointing the, in the, in the process. And then when we found that is that there's a lot of issues around meetings and booking meetings and what needs to happen before and after a meeting. Um, so that gave, um, really, um, the foundation that we could build on for TD paper. And that's what we've been. Got 

[00:08:44] Rosalyn Santa Elena: it.

Wow. That's an amazing story, especially, I didn't know the backstory about the other two companies. It's, you know, you just have, you obviously have a natural knack for, you know, you said you love sales and wanting to help salespeople. You obviously know where their pain points are. Yeah. 

[00:08:59] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Yeah. Um, I wish it was also more precise, but competitive move.

If I guess I was going to bite you, but, but, uh, but it works as well where it goes away. 

[00:09:10] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's great. Um, so you started, um, Tilly Piper back in 2016, I believe. And you talked about this sort of this thesis of helping people and solving problems. So how has your, I guess your vision for the company changed if at all, like over the past four to five years.

And I think you've touched on this a little bit, cause you talked about sort of the small problem and it's become, you know, it's you started out with them sort of that small problem and it's actually yeah. Much larger, I think in size and you probably anticipated, but how has your vision changed if at all?

[00:09:41] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Yeah, so, uh, again, we start with this lost these that we gained to innovate in that space. And as we discover, uh, um, partly as we go along. So one of the things that surprised us, and that's one of the things you curious or what the surprises, um, is that some processes. Badly broken and yet continue existing.

So the way we were in 2016, uh, we were, as I mentioned, selling a solution to automate the handoff between sales development reps and account executives. And, um,

we were talking to some of these up on reps and I said, what do you do? And I said, I'm an inbound SDR. And I said, what does it mean? One is the, uh, Do for a living and say, well, you see when people come to our website and then once you talk to sales, the submit to form and they get a thank you page. Thank you.

Somebody is going to call you well, I'm that somebody was going to call them and say, all right, and how's that going? He said, it's going great. I'm converting at 40%. And I heard that over and over is going great. I'm converting at 40 bucks. And I thought, you mean to tell me that 60 out of a hundred people asked for a meeting and didn't get the meeting.

Right. And that seems completely crazy. And to these days, this company is continuing along. These lines, added some chief revenue officers tell me you don't want to touch it. Tim converting at 40%, the reason why they kept that is because they compare that to others. Where you, when you call somebody, you, you convert 2% or 3% or 4%.

So 40%, it was great, but. Independently you think this is insane. These people are asked for a meeting and you, you you've lost 60 of them. So that's the product we launched. Um, it's called concierge and upon submission of a form, I, one took somebody. We in real time of software qualify the prospect, rather retrieved the calendar and book.

And that now takes just a few seconds for the prospect to book. And as a result, that conversion rate goes up to 80% because very few of them actually very few perspective, you don't book. And then we send reminders to make sure that they attend the meeting. So that has been just super surprise, the double surprise with a, that it still exists.

And B that some companies, even though they aware of existence, concierge continue doing, going with this, uh, um, broken process. Um, so, so going back to your question, how is the, uh, Just the vision has changed. Um, the vision, the grand vision doesn't change itself because we all along wanted to build cool solution for, for, for revenue teams.

Um, but for sure, we didn't expect to find so much depth around these processes around meetings. Uh, we, we. Expected to do more things on emails. Uh, he has a lot of things that could things on cadences and I'll have to wait with a lot of ideas of things that could be done around emails, but we've naturally been driven to, to this, um, Issue of calendaring and meeting.

And now we're spending so much depth in the, in, uh, around mid we call it meeting life cycle information, sort of the things that should happen before and after the meetings, that includes routing. That includes a qualifying that includes, uh, with CRM and everything on the calendar. So that that's something that's changed for sure.

If you had told me four years ago, you're going to be so focused on meeting life cycle information that would have thought that doesn't seem deep enough until it is very deep and there's a lot to do. 

[00:13:14] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, that's great. I love that that 40% conversion rate sounds great compared to an outbound rate, but 40% you would think a hundred percent of folks who actually ask for a meeting would attend or would want a meeting.

Maybe they can attend that first one, but you definitely 80% sounds much more, much more reasonable. Um, so just this past year and you raised your series B $33 million. Congratulations. Thank you. Amazing. Um, so what are some of the things that you think that you've really done right. That have really helped drive revenue and really have helped the company be successful and get to this 

[00:13:50] Nicolas Vandenberghe: point?

Yeah, so something that, uh, We've done it. Right. I think he is scaling when the time is right. So, um, we work with sales teams a lot. And what we see very often is, um, company over-hiring and then having layoffs because the things are not working anymore. And we see that very frequently. Um, and, and we.

Probably because we bootstrapped, we, we, we always made sure that, um, we were on solid foundations before or something, and that played out very strongly for us when COVID happened. Uh, last year. So, uh, you know, it was around February, March when everybody started freaking out that I've, I've been public about that Nemo from Seiko.

Yeah. I think they call, yeah. The venture capital firm did a disservice to the entire industry by publishing this memo of the saying, oh, it's back to like 2009. It's a disaster is going to be a nuclear winter on if you're a year, you need to, in a sense that they said you should. Got you on the staff and Leo and I believe was in here.

We always. Some of our investors came to us and say, you have to lay off. So you have to get, you know, and, and they thought, you know what, uh, we have no evidence that we need you to, that we are strong foundations. We have some strong customers. Yes. We understand that some companies like, uh, we had a company called remote year.

I was traveling around the world for a year. And then we see that the company struggled in, in COVID, uh, but other companies continued prospering. And so, um, because we. Consistently being on strong foundations is that we're not going to touch anybody. We are going to continue, uh, the business, we prepared and make sure that we were in a strong enough cash position and, and we continue it.

And that, that will work beautifully. So we, we continued growing last year. Uh, we did our air on last year and then beyond the convention this year. And, um, uh, I can see that now we have the foundations in place to grow even faster because every piece has been we've we've, we've really iterated on the difference.

Components of the business before we find the right solution and then scale 

[00:16:13] Rosalyn Santa Elena: it really great advice. I think that's really great advice for the audience. Um, so, so you're really, well-known right as a CEO of chili Piper. And I think for a lot of these other companies that you've also helped with successful exits, but I'm not sure how many folks are aware that you're also at the same time, the CEO and co-founder of Kosmo time.

So can you share a little bit about. I guess how Kosmo time came to be and how do you actually manage and juggle both roles, being a CEO at two different companies? 

[00:16:44] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Yeah, so it's ironic because I was finding myself, um, too busy at T pepper, so struggling to do, be effective with my time and the solution they found it was to spend more time on something else.

So it's a bit ironic, but, but, uh, I looked at, how can I, as we grew, uh, as I said, I was struggling to, to remain productive and I looked at the tool that would help me be more productive. And I didn't find the tools that worked for me. And we came up with some ideas of a better way to organize time and task management.

And so since nobody was doing it with that, okay, we're going to build these tools. And we said, we have to go in and do it. And we thought about building that the chili pepper, but it was a very different problem. Right? So it's cheaper. We are meeting all the external meetings. I call automation. More of a tools for all professionals.

So that's why we decided to do a separate company. And because the company was designed to help me manage my time and my task is actually kind of, self-referential where I'm actually using the tools to manage these books, these two jobs. And this works really well. It has worked really well. I mean, the cosmetology is differently.

Um, Uh, the right solution for me. Um, it helps me block time for certain tasks. It's helped me focus. Um, I should add that, um, understood very late in life that, uh, I'm one of these people who have ADHD. So I have a hard time focusing my attention. Um, it's it's a friend of mine would told me like, uh, just a few years back and it was like, uh, Light bulb went up and thinking, yes, you're right.

That's what happened. You know, that's why I couldn't focus whether it was a student. So customer insight maps focus, it grows, closes tabs when you're working on something and reopen them at the end. Is that the things? So, um, it's really helping me managing these two, uh, these two, um, companies, I must say also that, uh, building companies and building software is my passion.

So when, when, um, you know, some people, for example, I haven't watched TV in about two years. Right. So people also was a new shows. That's amazing whose Netflix shows I haven't watched any of them because if I have, if I have time on a Saturday afternoon or evening, I would rather spend time on customer time thinking about the go to market strategy than watch a TV show.

So not everybody not everybody's like me. Um, but that's my passion. So I find it very. 

[00:19:28] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's a super interesting story. I love that you were having a hard time managing your time and decided to go start another company to solve your problem. I love that. Um, so let's shift gears a little bit and let's talk about customers, right?

Because customers, you know, We see a lot of companies talking about customer first, right. Quite a bit, especially after a year, like 2020, where, you know, customer retention became even more critical than ever before. Um, can you share a little bit about, you know, what is your philosophy when it comes to customers and, you know, because we're all we are talking about kind of generating more revenue it's and how has that helped you really accelerate your revenue?

[00:20:06] Nicolas Vandenberghe: We started, uh, from day one with a very unusual, uh, policy. Decided would give no discount, same price for everybody. Um, and that came from the idea that, uh, We didn't know if you'd give a discount too. Right. So if you're a small commission, we'll give a discount because you're in your money or your big company, a discount because you big or mid-market come in, it's done because you ask for it.

And so, so very other fields say we're going to serve all our customers equally. And there was, there was a not obvious, right? Cause there's a lot of economies of support, um, tiers for different level of support. And I didn't, I was adamant that we should. All our customers be happy, um, and not have, be more happy.

Producers pay less than happy. And that does, um, work really well because, uh, each other in our space, we booking meetings. So people, our customers send, uh, you know, meeting invites from TD pepper. So they exposed to other customers and making sure. Everybody's happy from the smallest to the largest customer is, um, critical in the arm brand and reputation.

So we've had the things now th the, um, other aspects to it is, um, uh, sometime we perceived as, um, inflexible because we don't do discounts. Right. So, so people can just view that, uh, we really focus on bringing value. All right. And, um, the value is there and, and, uh, it's easy to justify that you could spend this money on CD paper based on the return on investment.

And therefore there should be no need for a discount. So that, that has been one of the few times of fees as a neutral. The other pieces are more traditional. I mean, obviously we, we. I have a customer success team, making sure that the customers are successful. Um, we have a very high level of, uh, net revenue retention because very often companies start with one department which Piper and extend to other departments.

So for example, they have their website using concierge to book meetings, and then they have a customer support team also using chief Barbara to prepare meetings. So that, that has worked really well. Um, we also, um, So you say customer first. And when I had that, I've actually written the memo that said that customer is not always first.

Um, that was an interesting, uh, situation last year where, um, one of our customer fishing rep, um, changes.

he decided that he would have been piercing. Right. And so, uh, People in our team were concerned that a particular customer was going to be offended by that and find it inappropriate. Hmm. Um, so that would, the dilemma is how do we tell the gentleman to remove his nose piercing or do we deal with an unhappy customer?

And in that case, I made the very clear decision to say, everybody should be free to a dress that they want and behave and appear that they want. And it's the customer is wrong. And as a result, we are not going to put the customer first and say, we can get you a tailor. I'm pretty sure just something is not right.

So we made the decision said if we, if the customers cannot accept it, we'll try to educate them and say, look, you have the wrong attitude. But if, if, if that's solvable, then we'll give up a customer before taking it on for years to do something that he's not right. So, yeah, that, that was an interesting moment because I realized that, uh, you know, our employees, we are not.

As a company, um, we're not just at the service of shareholders and we're not just at the mercy of the winds of customers. We're really trying to, um, and the organization that brings that to all stakeholders. So we want our employees to be happy. Of course, we want to make money to our investors, but we want our customers to be finding value from what we do, but it's a full equilibrium.

So. Um, so actually I wouldn't say that we, I mean, obviously we care about our customers a lot, but I wouldn't say that we're customer first, because that would invite it's a bit like, you know, I have a daughter who says that my favorite daughter, I don't have a favorite artist, so I don't know that it should favor my customers over my employees.

I think we all trying to do what's best for everybody in equilibrium. 

[00:24:58] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love that so much. Thank you for sharing that story. And, um, I have, I have three kids and they always asked to who's the favorite thing. They assume they assume they're the favorite. They always say my, your favorite son, your favorite.

And I only have one daughter, but that's easy. She can be my favorite daughter. 

[00:25:16] Nicolas Vandenberghe: That's right. You can segment in February or something. Yeah. 

[00:25:21] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Oh, so I love that story. So thank you for sharing that. Um, so one of your company's values is innovation. I saw that. So within this value, you talk about wanting to be different and wanting to come up with new angles on existing problems.

What are, what are some of the ways that you sort of stay ahead of the game? Right. And continue to kind of keep that innovate mindset 

[00:25:43] Nicolas Vandenberghe: we are, um, or remote, um, other company. Uh, so we we've, uh, we've had to invent some tools that work well for a distributed company. And some of these tools are particularly favorable to innovation.

So we have a very, uh, inclusive way to make decisions. So, um, the way we do it is, uh, Inspired by Jeff Bezos at Amazon. So Jeff is us in the early days when on decided that it would ban PowerPoints from meetings and everybody would come to a meeting, would have to write a six page memo. So instead of doing slides is what we should do.

It would write the navel and then people would read the memo at the beginning of the meeting and then comment on the nimble. So we started doing that because we distributed, we put these memos online on Google. And then some of the attendees said, can we have it to head of time instead of being in waiting.

So we started reading these meeting these memos ahead of time and on Google look, of course you can comment. So people started commenting on anymore. And then we found that we actually didn't need a meeting because all the discussion was already happening at a Google doc. And we thought it was so brilliant that we generalized the use of that.

So we have decision and we share them. Every more, we show it with the entire company. So by default, everything is shared with them. So whatever decision we have to make on pricing, on hiring. And, um, we share that with the entire company and what we found, the, that, that, that brings a lot of ideas. Uh, we know it helps with.

Involvement with the people involved and help with generating ideas. So as a result that a lot of it is that come up and we, uh, always put them through the filter of the decision memo. So new ideas will come from another memo say, okay, let's, let's decide what to do. And, um, and whenever something seems, uh, promising, then we not, we not afraid of, uh, exploring it.

So we've had actually products with that. We build go in alpha. Version, get people on and then pull out and say that it's working as we wanted. So we've had this culture of exploring and involving people and that's working really well. So we, um,

constantly try new ideas, come up with new products, extend what we do, uh, you know, and explore things, good work. And by now it's become, it has become second nature. Um, in the company, I would say also the. Culture where being wrong doesn't matter. So one of the things we have done recently with decision memo is the contrarian club look, and try and collaborate that if in general, this is a memo, um, brings a consensus because when things are clearly explained in general, most people agree, but occasionally some people would use it.

And in general, when too many people disagree, then we don't make the decision. And we say, obviously we don't have enough data because there's opposite views on, on how it should be. It's never a vote, but, but it's, um, we do take into competency degree. So recently I thought, okay, you know, if I'm going to overrule somebody, maybe that person was wrong.

Maybe the person was right. So this thing that if the person, the person can just log into the control contrarian, Uh, and if John adds a few months later, because down the road, we always find out, right, we actually do something, sign up, then they'll get, they'll get a, a thousand dollars in a public recognition for having the right back at the time, this season, um, So that's when your process and, you know, we, we just want to encourage different point of view in different ideas.

And that just is a source of innovation or one of the enablement of the innovator. Yeah, 

[00:29:49] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. Have you had to give away a lot of thousand dollars yet? Yeah. 

[00:29:53] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Somebody asked me yesterday.

It wasn't a kick gods. 

[00:30:02] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, great. Well, I love that idea. Um, I guess along some of those same lines of innovation, right? I mean, chili Piper obviously makes it so easy to book a meeting and everything is integrated and you know, there's so much, you know, as you mentioned, um, so much more. In this area to be developed.

Um, what do you see sort of in terms of where the market is headed? You know, not with calendaring, with scheduling and sort of with the software, um, around what you're doing. 

[00:30:30] Nicolas Vandenberghe: Yeah, the, um, the, the trend is to, um, as an, as a. Mentioned good, deeper around what should happen before and after the meeting. So that's what I call the meeting life cycle automation.

Um, all the other players are going the same way. There's a lot more that can be done. I mean, the obviously things to do with scheduling. So you send a link to schedule, but then you find out that before scheduling you each qualify, you need to route after scheduling, you need to follow up, you need to send, send them.

You know, maybe a recap of what has happened. So, so that, that's where we see, um, a lot of innovation in what we do, um, around this meeting life cycle information and, uh, flea products are getting more and more. Um, so for example, uh, we I'm about to launch. A solution to book meetings at in-person events. So in person, and so, you know, uh, had disappeared and that they can come back with him.

where, when you meet in person, you have the additional issue of, uh, at the trade show of the meeting rooms, uh, or replacing one person with another and so on. So we, we doing things that are more, um, the market has been toward solution that, that, that, uh, A lot more detailed by use case. So a lot more automation around what should happen before and after, and that's what we're working on.

And so we have a lot of, uh, new products coming for different use cases, eco because we finding that, uh, at a high level, booking a meeting with the customer success rep is the same thing as booking a meeting with an account executive. But when you get to the details of what should happen, then he still has all the same.

Right? Uh, the, the customer success rep, um, As a customer success software behind the scenes that should be updated. Maybe there's some missing type that should be held that you want to keep track of where the account executives, maybe you want to include somebody else in the meetings. It's a military party meeting.

So that's critical. I speak to when it comes to executives. So the use cases, when you go deeper, uh, quite different than in different software solutions. 

[00:32:46] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. Cut it. Thank you. So, as I think about, you know, relatively the revenue engine in this podcast, I always hope that others will be able to learn how to accelerate revenue growth and really power that revenue engine.

And I think you've shared a lot of great, great advice and good, um, expertise here that folks can really take away and learn something. But what I'd like to know is, you know, kind of from your perspective, like what is it. You know, top, maybe two or three things that you think all CEOs should be thinking about right now to accelerate 

[00:33:16] Nicolas Vandenberghe: revenue.

For sure. It's something that, uh, works, uh, well, is segmentation focus. It would be the, the, the first thing, uh, now I'd see pepper. As I mentioned, we get to more specialized by type of process. And, uh, and we, and so we, we, we, we finding the segmenting and the, the saying better each case because nowadays that more and more software solutions rights.

If you look at the MarTech landscape, it used to be that there with 500 solution in lock deck, then there were 800 social life. No, don't keep counting.

If every problem is there's no solution. So as a CEO, or if you want to grow, you have to be stronger than all those solutions. And you want to pick a persona and a use case where you really the strongest. So you really want to, to, uh, segment these use cases and understand the, where, where you are best. Um, so that's, uh, for sure the first thing, this thing of course is to, uh, keep exploring, um, I've been, um, um, striking by, by, uh, what happened to us, you know, uh, sales, development approach.

So on effort, uh, we, we started and we're getting poor results and you're looking for the magic one. This is okay, we're doing it wrong. We're going to find the magical anyway. And what, uh, so we hired people with experience that, that didn't make much difference. Well, the funding, the entities that I keep trying and exploring my experiments, experiencing it eventually with the compound in south working.

And so I have found that in, uh, in, um, all the disciplines, the same thing with, uh, marketing, you know, eventually do something. It doesn't quite work, but you keep, keep optimizing and optimizing and optimizing. And eventually it gets to the point where it's viable in south working. So this is a. A bit counterintuitive because you say we feel a revenue engine.

What it tells you is that what secret they can find to grow all of a sudden, but over and over, I find that a there's no secret weapon. It's just a matter of keeping focused and doing more and more and more things in the compounding effect, I think is one benefit though. Took a very often, but the compounding effect, the fact that, you know, a 20% improvement, uh, every month, uh, Wieland uptick, you very far.

Right? So that, that the thing that, that I'm finding that, um, you want to stay focused and keep improving, um, always yells now doing incredible. Getting incredible results. Uh, and it looks like all of a sudden it's happening, but it's been three years into the work where we helped you guys. Um, so there's no, there's no, uh, Secret weapon, but there is a discipline that, that will take them.

We will take a big company to a hypergrowth. That's great. 

[00:36:25] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Thank you for sharing that. Um, so is there anything that, you know, maybe you wish that you knew earlier or maybe. Do differently. If you could go back and, you know, do it all over again, 

[00:36:37] Nicolas Vandenberghe: you just mentioned this, uh, effect of compounding because, uh, when we started the, uh, the company that, that use case that I mentioned, um, we expect it to be just a small start.

And what, what happens is that if you stay focused on something and you keep working on it, it's actually. Gets much bigger than you would expect. So, uh, this has happened to us, a chili pepper when, when we launched that concierge product. So it worked both ways. Um, when we did our first product, I didn't believe it was going to be big enough.

Um, so we, we only that we can looking for other products as far as products, as an opportunity. And the challenge was much bigger than we expected. Then we did our second product. The opposite happened. We did this concierge, uh, so forth to book meetings in websites. Right. I mentioned earlier that we change conversion rates from 40% to 80%.

Right. Um, and so I thought this is, it is a huge one. Uh, everybody should have it. I mean, all of us, but people on the outside didn't believe that. Uh, so when we talked to me she's, um, we, they would give us some sheets that were way below what we were expecting. We were cash positive. So we actually turned them down because I think you don't understand.

And the same thing up, and eventually we kept growing. It kept growing and eventually, you know, tiger global came and say, you guys are doing amazing things. Uh, 33 million in England, but we haven't changed anything. We've just done more. Uh, and so, um, looking back, um, your question, is there one thing you wish you had known?

That's the thing I wish we had known. I wish that if you keep focusing you and you do the same thing over eventually, uh, you know, things would convert and you don't need to worry about it, you freak out or you just stay focused on, I mean, obviously you want to. Uh, I often say you want to accept defeat in a battle very quickly and just, and just never accept defeat in the war.

Right? So you focus on the war and the little things that may not work, and that's okay to accept if it quickly, as long as you're reading focused on the goal. So this, this aspect of, uh, the, the power of compounding the border of, of optimizing optimizing and the way it takes you is, uh, Is something very striking.

I see some VCs also. I look at the other companies in our space. Uh, a lot of them couldn't get funding at the beginning because people thought the opportunity was too small, but then it turned out that, uh, you know, know if you, uh, nowadays the. But that's number of users. Five application is very large.

Everybody's online, right? There's billions of people online. So in the end, if you keep working on a use case and make the right movies will always work out to be a, to be an interesting opportunity. And I wish I had understood that. Earlier and you, from my peace of mind, you would have said if he's going to work anyway, 

[00:39:45] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that.

That's great advice. Thank you. So, so thank you again for joining me. I mean, it was just such a pleasure to chat with you and I'm just so incredibly grateful for your time and sharing your story, your amazing backstory and your perspective with us. Um, before I let you go. One question I wanted, I always like to ask guests is, you know, what is the one thing that you want everyone to know about you?

[00:40:12] Nicolas Vandenberghe: The one thing that, uh, is unusual, but, um, I'm a, an eternal optimist. And I'm a big believer in, uh, in human beings. So, uh, Alina, my boyfriend girlfriend always tells me, uh, do you remember that bad things that happen? And no, I don't remember that this special, uh, gene where I felt maybe it's a gift, uh, where I forget all the bad things that people do, the bad things that people do to me, to the whenever and breeze thing was concerned.

Uh, some, some, some rent, a concern and I'm always positive. And then I, um, and so I hope that, uh, it's something that will benefit everybody achieve ever internally, but also want to take it to the outside. Right. I want to share my optimism with, with other people. I see a lot of. You know, especially on politics, you see there's different bodies attacking each other, which is in the video surveillance way.

And, um, to me in 2021 is madness that we would do that. Uh, I think that, uh, I wish that people share my positive field of fear on human beings. And so that's my intent to try to do my little piece. Yeah. Um, making the world a bit of a better place in the less violent and more inclusive place 

[00:41:37] Rosalyn Santa Elena: that I love that so much.

Thank you so much. I, for sharing and for just sharing your background and being on the podcast, I really appreciate your time. Um, and just all of the learnings, this has been amazing, amazing discussion. Sure.

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