Key topics in today’s conversation include:
The SaaS(ramp) Podcast explores how tech leaders scale from product adoption to enterprise success. Learn more at www.saasrampmedia.com.
Pete Thornton 00:06
Welcome back rent, SaaS Ramp Podcast. I’m your host Podcast Pete. Awesome guest on today got to chat with him a little bit before the podcast number we’re calling that the pre-chat. This is Mike Heller. Please welcome to the show Mike’s head of go to market at Whimsical, awesome part lead growth company.
Mike Heller 00:23
Welcome the show. Thanks so much. Thanks for having me on. I’m excited to continue the free chat and yeah, and talk to you.
Pete Thornton 00:30
Yeah, it was really good. I just like getting to know everybody before we jump on the show. And if that part can be recorded, I’m always like, I’m an advocate of like, ooh, that’s some good stuff right there too. Like, why don’t we just click record before but some of the things that you were telling me that I’d love to start with today, were around your experience, kind of like how you’re sitting in the seat you’re sitting in today at Whimsical? And it will probably be beneficial to the audience to know as well. Since there’s a lot of context, there may be personal professional growth leading into the experience.
Mike Heller 01:00
Yeah, well, you know, it’s, it’s mostly luck, actually. So I’ll take you all the way back to graduation, and then zoom to where I am now. So after graduating in 2010, the economy was awful. And I realized that there weren’t a lot of interesting jobs out there. So I took the GMAT. I’d work somewhere for two years, go to business school, and then figure it out from there. And ended up finding this company in Singapore that was doing GMAT prep courses, that had kind of big ambitions to grow throughout Southeast Asia and Asia and within Asia before, totally random opportunity. But I loved doing it. And it was wild. But it worked. Well, I ended up running the business in Singapore, and then opening an office in China. And at the end of that, the thing I realized was, we never kind of really got to become a tech business. So everything we were doing was super manual, we had to hire trainers, fly them out, people problems, all this, I knew I wanted to get into tech and do something like that, but more scalable, just gonna go to business school. And then a friend of mine from college reached out and was like, Hey, I work at this company, Dropbox. And we have this team called online sales. And we’re looking for people that have kind of like, weird, interesting experiences to throw out the problems. It’s a bit different than what anyone else is doing. And I didn’t know much about tech, but I knew Dropbox. So it seems like that’s an incredible opportunity. And I ended up preparing a lot for that interview. And somehow getting this job. And the story there was Dropbox had a couple 100 million users, they were kind of like PLG, before that term existed. And the theory of the guys running that that go to market function, OJ who went on afterwards, and a few others was like, let’s take people with kind of various backgrounds consulting, thinking weird stuff like I was doing, and some people with sales backgrounds, and have them talk to customers and figure it out as they go. So I spent my first six months there doing online chat, five or six people at the same time, without 7% of my time, and the rest of the time, I would spend it building drip tracks in Marketo, flying out to Utah to try to onboard outsource folks that would do some of the more repetitive parts that we already had playbooks. And it was a really interesting experience. We kind of saw some success and drop off started building more market features. So at the end of those six months, that team got disbanded, that outsourcing stuff worked well. So we outsource most of that. And a lot of folks on my team ended up in growth or product roles, but a few of us decided to stay in sales. So I spent the next two years kind of going from no experience and six months of very transactional and down and some obstacles to getting on calls with that with CIOs and kind of just getting my ass handed to the sales calls I was really unprepared for. It was like a really good experience for two reasons. One, I got to work for just some really incredible sales leaders that were very patient with me, helped teach me how to sell and then taught me how to kind of handle the ups and downs of a job like that. And then also got exposed to a very different type of go to market. And so a lot of my colleagues had that point when we were doing real sales came from great sales orgs. And they were trying to cold call and get CIOs on the line. I ended up spending a lot of my energy figuring out hey, can we just email a bunch of people or every account has every account we’re going after hundreds of 1000s of end users using Dropbox. So I work on things like convincing an engineer to scrape LinkedIn to figure out what all their titles were, and then get them uploaded into a tool like outreach but before outreach existed, yeah. And that would work really well and I would do well. And then I was that specific experiment got shut down because it was against Terms of Service to scrape them. I spent a lot of time working on these kinds of wonky projects that ended up helping me do well in sales. But at the end of that Dropbox had gone from 20 ish to 300 A’s over the course of a year and a half. It just became a machine. So it was kind of time to leave, I ended up talking to a bunch of early stage startups that were kind of like, attacked by Dropbox. But early and scrappy, like the education stuff I would do before. And that clear bit. And when I met them, it was very clear that what Clearbit was building was this data set where data could this b2b and Richmond data could be that run in real time through API’s, that was exactly what we needed at Dropbox to figure out all those hundreds of millions of users, which ones are qualified for the business plan, and to be shown that in product, which one should say I’ll be reaching out to, it could allow a team an organization like Dropbox to do kind of more personalized marketing at scale. So those products, the team really resonated with me, and I ended up joining as the employee, and first kind of full time global market person. I’ll pause there, I realize I’m kind of rambling through the early experience.
Pete Thornton 06:21
That is fascinating. Help us be from my full audience, that this is a really interesting journey, because of a couple of things one, like because you call it luck right away, which is like so it just, there’s no way like there’s little pieces in there. But like, it’s, I don’t know, you’re attracting it in if nothing else, because anybody willing to go out to Singapore and hang out and like, oh, I’ll just learn a new language and culture and like do business over here immediately from school is like going to, you’re going to make your way we just hired somebody at postman, who had two years in Tokyo, a meet like almost immediately before, and he’s unbelievable person like, and just like the abilities for him to do that. Just translate in so many strange ways. So very cool. And then the thing at Dropbox, like a very progressive company just being hiring you guys in and you’d be like, well, we have a new problem. So we’re going to need some new kinds of people, like that’s a very, like injured, like, that’s a cool leader to actually have that insight, and then also give you the space to go work on those projects, and not like maybe demand, like an immediate ROI from it or something like that. So that’s a cool situation to find yourself in. But it sounds like you went and made the most of it. You call them wonky projects, but those sound like just really trying to like, be outside of the box, you know, like and, and come up with those things. So there’s some commentary here on that. And then the move to Clearbit is interesting, because you found a company that solved the problem that you were trying to solve at the previous company. So if anybody’s kind of curious about what career stepping stones might look like from one to the next. Like if there’s a company that is solving it in a more interesting way. That might be where you’re headed next, because you’ll understand the pain, the value, maybe the persona, who would want it, and it’s going to be kind of a progressive company. So I’ve got no questions on any of that really like to further we could just keep going. But that’s kind of like my snapshot summary, my enthusiasm for what you just told me, like, Did I get it right? Yeah, yeah,
Mike Heller 08:27
I think so. And I think like, on the big and queer bit, there was luck there as well, because I knew the problem existed. I don’t think I knew the extent to which kind of PLG was going to be QCon kind of one of the leading forms of go to market, which was really the trend that that Clearbit Road, kind of going from small company to to now at least a moderately sized one. So that ended up being something that powered a lot of the growth. But, yeah, and that’s a good summary.
Pete Thornton 08:59
Okay, very cool. Okay, so then what after Clearbit directly into whimsical or like maybe a one more little interesting turn first?
Mike Heller 09:10
Yeah, so I spent four years at Clearbit on basically solving whatever the problems were on the go-to-market side. So I probably had nine different roles across my time there to make it simpler on LinkedIn. And at the end, after four and a half years, this last summer actually I finally figured out I should take a couple months off. I had a toddler at home, who was just learning to walk and do stuff so but some time with him. And then my thought was I would jump into another one of these companies like I kind of have some sense of why did write that went well I did wrong that I can now fix. Let’s go find another early stage company and find a go to market leadership role. But what I found in The fall of 2021 was all the interesting companies I was talking to you had raised these $300 million $400 million valuations, some with no customers, some with a handful of customers, but definitely not with product market day, and now is terrifying. So you know what to do. But what started happening was I would talk to these founders. And I’d like, you know, I am not sure that this is the one for me, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do next. And they would say, Well, why don’t you come and kind of help us think through this or help us hire the person? You don’t want to do that? And I’ve always thought that, hey, my long term is probably something that’s more on the advising, consulting, maybe investing tab. So I’m spending nine months saying yes to these different types of advising and consulting gigs, and how to have a really kind of interesting time doing it.
Pete Thornton 10:50
That’s interesting. So okay, so when you unpack that first part a little bit more, because we might be seeing the other side of that same coin that she just mentioned? Yeah, very different now, isn’t it? Yes. More recently, of course. So when you were looking at these companies, they were like something that would have an interesting tech. But as far as like revenue fit, went like not necessarily like we did not have like this structured, Oh, it’s this much money means they must have product market fit is this much money, it means they must have go to market scale is this much like it was kind of already starting to break all the rules during that time period of what you’d previously known.
Mike Heller 11:29
I think a lot of these companies had really interesting tech, and they’re going out to solve really interesting problems. But the dude that just scared me as a revenue leader is when you raise the type of valuation, the expectations for revenue, like, are immense. And yeah, data sales is the person who is accountable to hitting whatever the goals that the CEO signed up with, with the raise. And I’ve kind of lived like one to kind of 40 million ARR thing at Clearbit. That process is really hard. And it’s not a super simple straight line. So maybe I’m just a little skeptical of my own abilities. But when you think about going from zero or a few 100k to 10 million in a year or two, it’s like, maybe that business has an M if they can do that, maybe they can’t. But I didn’t really want to be in this spot, where if the company raised too high of expectations, I wanted to before a little more had been proven. So I ended up taking a break. But you know, yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s my, my, almost a year in between qubit and whimsical. Okay,
Pete Thornton 12:47
okay. And so then let’s talk about Whimsical that maybe we’ll make that transition. And because you ended up at whimsical, obviously, you’re there now and have to go to market. And so maybe what was it about whimsical, any context for whimsical is growth, by the way, and just for the audience’s sake, like, I know, whimsical, like we once called utilized internally at postman. And anything that I see utilize it, postman, I just, I have a lot of faith in what postman like puts their faith in. So it was the first time I’ve ever seen the product and started using it immediately to like, put together our kind of enablement resources. And we just share these things over pretty intuitive drag, drop, like Adam, add these little places, you know, it’s just like thoughts on a board. My wife when I no longer had a physical whiteboard in an office and never will, again, hypothetically, then, that was what I started using with the team. So yeah, I know about it. But yeah, for anybody else besides the business, I’d be great to know. Yeah, I’m
Mike Heller 13:43
glad to hear that. Your user feed. And yeah, Phillies are a great customer of ours. I think it’s really customer friendly. So. So yeah, I guess making the transition. When ended up finding was, I didn’t do the dropbox experience and the topic clear that we worked with, basically, any of these product led growth companies were using clear, but as a data source to power their go to market, I end up just having a lot of like interactions with revenue leaders and growth leaders, the types of companies. So when I started consulting, the thing that kind of seemed to resonate was there are a lot of these product lead growth companies that have what I call it like product market fit 1.0, where they have some product that people are going to their website downloading using. But they haven’t yet figured out product market fit 2.0 which is like how do you turn that groundswell of adoption and groundswell of usage into something that maybe adds value not just for the end user, but for the leader of a function. And this is kind of like a repeatable sales motion, or at least that kind of product market fit component of the repeatable sales motion. So I ended up working with a bunch of companies that were solving that same problem. And I think I was useful. That’s been whatever. 40 hours deep diving, give them some reports. And then we started meeting with them a few times a week. to work towards some specific goals. And actually, I was talking to him as a call about something like that. But two things kind of became clear one, that’s a problem that takes real time and kind of consistent effort to solve. And I can only do so much with these kinds of these light consulting engagements. And then whimsical was the most interesting, like by far of the businesses that was facing, I wouldn’t say this problem. It’s like this opportunity, whimsical, that has few million users, it’s multi use case, multi persona, is this diagramming kind of visual design tool that makes it allows non designers like myself to build stuff quickly, that looks nice. It’s kind of, I think, the simplest way to frame it. So figuring out how to take it from this thing that Hey, Pete loves, then a few others at Postman love to the company has adopted it kind of top down, it’s being used for use cases across these functions is a really interesting problem to solve. And something that I don’t think I would have been able to really make any impact
Pete Thornton 16:10
with some type of kind of consulting engagement, so and then the CRO I worked for Greg Walder is awesome. And so when I worked with clear, but as well, we have good chemistry, trust each other. So that also made it a no brainer. That’s really important, okay, because there’s two things people typically talk about when you’re going to take an opportunity. And like one is like, the company like, is it right? Is it in the right vehicle? Are you in the right vehicle? Overall? Things like that? You know, can you catch a wave? Are you current? There’s a lot of different ways I hear people put it, but the other is like, Who are you gonna work for? Like, who are you actually going to spend all your time with all day, every day? Because it might, you know, the company is, you know, an obvious vehicle, but like, who sits in shotgun or whatever are in the driver’s seat. And your shotgun, however, seems to work. So it sounds like you kind of had like the one two on that one, which is excellent to hear. Yeah, that definitely made it a no brainer. And then we ended up hiring a few other folks we’ve worked with before. So we’ve got this lot of problems to solve, but we don’t have to worry about, hey, do we trust each other? Do we know how to work together after we figure out this stuff remotely, hopefully, soon, we’ll be hiring a bunch. And we’ll be facing those problems in a real way. But it makes it nice. And I think it’s just very helpful in the early days, that you trust that you can find the chance to work and stand up to people multiple times. That is cool. And that’s something that can’t be replicated necessarily with software. But you did say something I hear a lot. And this is like more of an aside, not a podcast thing. But people who go in and do consulting, because they’re very capable and able to solve this kind of problem from multiple different organizations, and don’t have to do it full time. But they’re like, I’m pretty much working for this one company now. But I’m not really worried. I’m not a W two employee, I just am consulting for them. And it’s taking all my time. And they’ll try to do that for two or three companies at the same time, they get really tired. And you see sabbatical hit the LinkedIn. thing next now. So I hear that from you, too, like this was taking a lot of time and effort and energy. So what is it? What are the different problems that are being solved? But like, in the world, where you’re solving problems? So well, the software that people you don’t even have to have like, sometimes a human to human interaction for the, for the free or this self serve motion? Like what is it about the challenge of trying to go from like, a self serve to a sale serve motion or figure out these problems? That really just takes the human brain that you cannot just download your software and be like, sold this for me, please? What’s the Mac? What’s the challenge there?
Mike Heller 18:44
Yeah, I know. It’s interesting. One theory I have is that you think about the first version of product market fit a company gets to, you have like a small startup. And everybody, all they’re trying to do is figure out, hey, like, what can we do to get this thing moving? Right? You’ve got founders, early employees, everyone’s trying to figure out how do we get to this, like early traction, cloud market fit or like a bunch of users, if it’s a PLG business, but a company Whimsical? You kind of have to do that again. So that happens. And it’s like, great. And now you’ve got a lot of employees who are working on a lot of hard problems to maintain the business and keep growth going. And you have employees, you have to have processes and HR and all these different things are happening. But you kind of have to go back to like, like almost its founding moment of how do you go from existing usage to a repeatable value prop to drive. Kind of like larger organization plans that are stickier, have much higher net revenue retention, and of the reasons you see companies that have recently IPO. They used to be valuable, the recent plg companies that are public that had such great valuations and are still amazing businesses. So to be able to solve that is like, it’s a sales problem. But it’s also a business problem. I think being able to work on both is really the appeal to work somewhere.
Pete Thornton 20:11
So it’s this overlap of the product with the value essentially like, like, not just the value, because I guess that could be a framework that moves across the whole thing. But like the products value with the communicated value to the people who not just would be users, but would actually be purchasers of ultimate purchasers of a software like that.
Mike Heller 20:32
Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. So for us, I think you could almost think of a product like whimsical where end users use it they share with their teammates, and then eventually, an IT leader, or a security leader might aid kind of the more enterprise version with more admin controls and security. And when someone leaves the data, it kind of goes to the right place, as well like the three different phases. So when I started whimsical, step one was basically, how can we make that last piece? When you have enough whimsical users at a company like postman? How do we sell them? Market version? So that’s what I had been working on, I can talk through kind of what we found works we’ve found doesn’t work. And then the two phases earlier in the funnel, how do you go from someone on the website to somebody using the product, and somebody using the products to kind of group with an debated use case, for a lot of folks are calling on it at QA, that product qualified account, are the other two stages of the funnel, that they’re not the parts that I’m directly responsible for, but I own the overall revenue number. So I am very focused and kind of involved in those parts as well.
Pete Thornton 21:47
Will you speak about that first challenge, then the one that affects the revenue number, because that is like, it is massive. And then oftentimes, that product, that the one that is often referred to as the Enterprise product is like three times as expensive two or three times as expensive. And then there’s something about it, that doesn’t affect the end user, which almost never affects the end user like capability. Sometimes they can do everything they need to do in the free version. But it’s only something that somebody way up high, who may not have ever even been in whimsical will care about there is a leap that has to happen there. That’s pretty interesting. So any insights you have on that I’m like, what’s been working? What other people should kind of consider would be awesome.
Mike Heller 22:27
Yeah, I think there are a few things that have helped us get much better at this. And the first is to basically be realistic about what it is that we’re selling. So I don’t need to sell people on the fact that the product is great. Like, if I need to do that, the product would be great. So I don’t need to go to an IT person and tell them hey, like it’s so easy to use. It’s beautiful. Like it’s fast. Their users are telling them that if they’ve used it, they already know that’s true. So the discovery that we need to do, and that’s made this process go much better, is around there, and it’s around, Hey, why are you interested in getting Sam lessons? So set up? What projects are associated with you? What types of content do you think exists? Or have you heard exists across these whimsical users? And is that content that needs to be wrapped up with security that needs to be off boarded in the right way? It’s figuring out Hey, like, I know, you want this you want the enterprise version? But who do you have to sell it to? Like is your finance team going to agree that this is kind of a worthwhile place for you to spend your company’s money and your embitter? It says, you’re going to be underwater? And like, if they ask you that, how will you make the case? So they’re kind of all these discovery questions that you go through that don’t really have that much to do with the end user product, which is kind of like an intuitive thing for someone who might have spent a lot of their time selling products to functional leaders. So that will be the first piece. And then the second piece for us is like, well, what is the pushback that we get on who aren’t buying? Why aren’t they buying? And we started tracking that. And really, it came down to two things. One, is it that the person that wanted to buy the consulted version will get pushed back? Right, that the company would say, or the finance would say, hey, we already have another tool? In our case, something like LucidChart, or Amuro. Why do we need whimsical? Just tell them to use that? Right? So that was a thing that we kept getting pushed back on, and ended up building a narrative that wasn’t so much to sell this IT person, but it was to arm them to have the conversation with their finance person. And that’s made a big difference. And obviously, the big difference is some data analysis. were initially like any sales or we’re trying to go get big deals, right? It’s like you want to buy 25. You know, there’s this many users on your account and you want the whole engineering team to make sure they get to 100 and end up creating a lot of friction in our sales cycle, right? And is the leader is trying to think through, do I get 100. That’s what a discount is 25 I don’t know. And this will prioritize that they would kind of go dark and come back later on. What we found running data on these company plans that we were selling was that the seat growth, the net revenue retention was incredibly high. So it didn’t actually matter that much. If we started with 20 seeds or 40 seeds, what mattered was that we started and that was the goal became a company sanction tool that users could then find because their coworkers are putting a whimsical diagram in notion or in Slack, and everyone else is seeing it that, hey, I want to do that, too. So without switching our pricing model to make it easier for our buyers to buy that through what we’re doing now that ‘s useful, but I’ll pause.
Pete Thornton 25:59
Yeah, yeah. Really cool. On the discovery side, it’s really interesting to note, I came from a top down sales motion myself, and then moving into heavy product led growth, like heavy, like, like pure product led growth, everything was it’s not, it’s not exactly upside down, that would be easier. It’s twisted. It’s like a 45 degree thing and everything you had to like, turn your head just a little bit to get your head around it. And so the fact that what you said about like you it’s not, you’re not selling the product anymore, like it’s a different conversation you’re having, you’re kind of skipping that level. But there was also this challenge of like, you lose deals to your growth team. So the company wins, yay. But like you still have a number. And so there’s two particular leaders in my organization, and I’m thinking of, and you’re like the two friendliest people you’ve ever met in your life, but then they’re kind of pitted against each other with literally the same number of the both of them annual number. And it’s so funny and one’s growth, one’s sales. So kind of overcoming that, as the sales leader and trying to understand how they can better have that kind of conversation. So the status quo of just staying in whatever sales sort of motion, they’re in, kind of stand. Anyway, interesting pieces, trying to interesting how you guys kind of took out the friction by just lowering ultimate deal size, or not extending beyond one department, it sounded like to let them just carry forward, like whatever you were thinking of, that’s probably right, going with the customer’s gut instinct, and just helping them along the journey, knowing it won’t be if but when later down the road, perhaps.
Mike Heller 27:29
Yeah, and the deal structure that we’ve been using has been started with a reasonable minimum. But we’re not gonna charge you anything for additional users that use the product over the next six months. So get everyone who might be actively using it to use it. Typically, what we hear from it is like, well, I don’t know if I need them to be in there. I need them to be in there, like, Okay, well, why don’t you just make it available, then, at the end of the six months, you can stay with that minimum, or you can add everyone who joins or you can keep the most div users who are using it. But because we’re blessed with this product that people love to talk about people share internally, that ends up working, or at least, the theory based on the data that we have is that is going to work pretty well. But it’s a new thing. So I can’t I can’t give you the results yet. But I’m quite confident that method kind of is a win for everybody because the customer ends up paying for what they’re using. And it also works great for us because we get a great net revenue retention rate. And I’m really happy customers continue to grow.
Pete Thornton 28:36
That’s cool, like I’ve seen a really interesting graphic, this kind of like top down approach or traditional sales all the way to plg. And like on that far side is usage based sales. And that seems to almost push it a little bit further towards that usage side. Which is again, it’s very like it’s very progressive, very much favors the customer. It’s almost beyond plg, in a sense. So it sounds like that’s where you have gone to which is interesting.
Mike Heller 29:02
I guess I’m lucky that we have a CEO who believes in this stuff. I think it’d be easy for a CEO of a company like this, like no, like, your sales, here’s what you make, I need you to bring in whatever 5x your salaries of the wraps. But I think because we kind of know what we are. And we have found that right now the most valuable thing is to drive usage. And we’re confident that the smaller deployments will grow. It just makes sense to start there. But I can’t say that it’s like, I’ve done something bigger. My boss and I had done something amazing. It’s the BI in kind of broadly that makes this possible. And I think that seems like there’s more. Yeah, they do that there’s more kind of awareness that like the revenue models are just different. Whereas I was in a similar role five years ago, I think it’d be really hard to convince an executive sales team based on the number of deals, and not necessarily a matter of rep. knew that would be presented as a fairly foreign concept. And as as well respected by CEOs and their VC board members,
Pete Thornton 30:08
I can imagine you said five years. Yeah, minimum? I mean, maybe a maximum of five. That is, yeah, maybe three years ago would have been harder. So you mentioned data like analyzing. Is this your kind of mentioned, like the customer usage data, something that you’re seeing in the background to something now your business intelligence data that you often look at? Are there any certain metrics that you like that you might want to just call out for other people to be like, oh, yeah, like to correlate with, we do that too, or something interesting that they might want to think about looking at, that’s been helpful for you.
Mike Heller 30:41
I don’t know if we’re doing anything particularly interesting. But I think that the main piece of data is you look at your net retention rate. So if you have $100, in revenue, how much revenue you have at the end of the year for your kind of overall user base, and then you’ll get that same metric for whatever your organization or enterprise plan if you appeal to a G company like ours. And I think what everybody tends to see, and I think David SaaS has a great blog post on this is the team’s adoption, or the enterprise adoption, it just ends up having a much higher growth rate. So for us, it’s like 160%, if we started the $100 of the organization revenue, at the end of the year, we’re at $160. And that’s before we go and sell new deals. So you end up having this business that’s organically growing or a part of our business that’s organically growing at a great clip. And if we can kind of just keep adding more revenue to that base, and the products, which she drives everything, it’s not go to market at a company like ours, but the product remains great and kind of becomes greater and takes on more use cases, then we’re going to be in great shape over to have a great business. So that’s kind of how I think about it, but it’s just looking at Yeah, net retention of the enterprise plan, or maybe you have a large customer. Large Workspaces are large deployments if your enterprise plan, versus the revenue of like, one user to user that might sign up, and churn again, and not be as stable of a kind of base to grow from.
Pete Thornton 32:22
Yeah, I’ve had some conversations with venture capital leaders and had a gentleman named Sooty on the podcast just recently, like, they would love it. They would hear that and be like, Yes, completely agreed. Perfect. That’s what we’re looking at as well. So I can’t argue with anybody.
Mike Heller 32:36
Yeah. Oh, yeah. He’s the best he was at second before, which was a very close partner of ours. Clearbit. Guys, super smart.
Pete Thornton 32:47
Alright, check them out. Episode was episode 30. Episode 30.,
Mike Heller 32:52
Yeah, you wasted your time. Listen to me, listen to that one.
Pete Thornton 32:57
Dude, It’s so interesting. He spoke at the conference as well. And anyway, it’s the stuff that they put out. I like what battery puts out as well, I think I think some of their posts have been awesome. Hey, you mentioned a blog. You said David Sachs.
Mike Heller 33:11
Yeah, David Sachs blog post on the value of teams revenue, which lays it out in a really kind of clear, mathematical way. Where it’s like, yeah, if you’re a single player SAS business, right, you start with one user as the atomic unit, he would be paid 10 bucks a month. Or they might say, on average for a year, right. So then one use of lifetime values with $120. But if you have a team’s product, where you’ve got 1010 users, which grows every year, the lifetime value of that might be $20,000, because it might just kind of keep growing over time and compounding. So that was really a useful blog post for me to kind of fully understand the concept, but also to be able to kind of express it well, with coworkers. So try socializing at lunch. That’s cool. I can check it this way. Yeah, love it, put it in the show notes.
Pete Thornton 34:11
Sounds like a nice article to sum it up. Because I can keep going down these rabbit trails, I find it really interesting because it correlates with various pieces of the journey of like companies I’ve spoken with and then company I’m at, but maybe the finale for the whimsical side of things. As you look at the next fiscal year, whatever that happens to be for you guys. I’m just kind of thinking of 2023 in general. What’s your focus going into next year? Like what challenge do you most look forward to slash dread? I don’t know. Like it can be the same challenge and often looking into next year.
Mike Heller 34:48
Yeah, on the personal side, I’m having a baby in two weeks. So that’s, I look forward to and read a little bit.
Pete Thornton 34:55
That’ll be number two. You
Mike Heller 35:00
That’s on the personal side. Yeah. So, um,
Pete Thornton 35:02
Yeah, so, um, how old? Like how old were your brothers?
Mike Heller 35:06
About two? So we’ll have to see one or two. I’ll be very busy outside of work as well.
Pete Thornton 35:13
Oh, my goodness, I only have the one she said. And now she’s like, like, set it and forget it. Like, she’s easy, man. She’s like, so. But there’s that time period, not infant, either infant I thought was gonna be so hard. It’s when they start moving. I’m like, where did you go? No stop, get out of the street, or whatever it happens to be. I was so concerned about water and cars after that, like swimming pools, and roads. And I just thought the hard part was done because she was sleeping through the night. So anyway, you know how that goes. Now you have the one that’s mobile, and you’re going to have the one that’s waking you up at night. So yeah, God bless you. Yeah, well, yeah,
Mike Heller 35:47
Well, have you ever thought that it’s you who has the answer is gonna be a unique set of challenges. So that’s why I’m on the business side, though, I think it’s just two things. One is, we are starting to be able to sell these organization plans, our version of an enterprise plan at a much higher velocity with this new model. But we’re still super early, I have a team of one and a half, I’m doing a lot of sales. And we just need to get better at that and kind of have it be a more repeatable, kind of velocity sale that we can execute on. The other piece, which is kind of a bit more cross functional, is, like I mentioned, whimsical, is really any function can use it. And any Philippine you can use it for a number of use cases. But I think what’s going to make a big difference is, and I got this from this guy named Peterson, who was our legal person to air table is we to kind of like, identify some use cases, that we as a business agree, you’re gonna be the ones that can take us from a single user, to a group of people that are coming back to whimsical every day, right. And that’s what I think we’ll see kind of the continuous usage that’ll allow my team to scale with the go to market ocean. So he’s got some ideas on what those could be. But probably a combination between for a product like ours, of getting a couple product teams on the same page as marketing and go to market and picking it. So that’s a project that we’re kind of still discussing at whimsical that I think will be pretty critical for our success next year.
Pete Thornton 37:30
That makes total sense. Where does the when you’re thinking through those, some of the I, when you’re thinking through those, what does that? Like? Where did those come from? Do they come from customer conversations, on customer conversations? Or do you go and see like, like, where the connections are being made? In your usage data? Do you see like, oh, they shared it seven times, you probably don’t know why, just from looking at the numbers. But then is there some kind of combination? Is there some strategy behind how you’re finding out what those use cases might be?
Mike Heller 38:02
Yeah, and right now, it’s really anecdotal. I go to market team and had a lot of conversations. Our product team is pretty good about talking to interviewing customers. But I don’t know, it’s a workstream that we’re about to kick off, I think it’s going to be a combination of looking at usage trends. It’s looking at roles, or even pockets of people with specific roles and specific usage patterns, surveys, which we haven’t done a lot of historically. And then a lot of kinds of, like customer development, Discovery like calls that we need to do, but sort of like it’s a broad project, it’s it’s, it will come from the user base. I don’t think it for a company like ours, where the problem is not like, Are there use cases we can support, it’s that there’s 70 of them, are probably more Raleigh, hundreds of them across our user base, I think, which are the ones that we can actually use to drive the types of usage. And then there’s other things you think about, like which of these use cases have the highest chance of increasing virality? At the company that’s using it? So it’s like, I think you would rather have it be something that like a product or offsets because they’re so kind of central hubs and a company, maybe that’s something that a sales team or an engineering team does, but maybe if a sales team dies, it’s externally viral. So a lot of things to think through. And I don’t want to pretend that I’ve got the so this one but hopefully, yeah, we can chat again at some point of view in six months to a year and I can tell you what worked or what didn’t
Pete Thornton 39:41
do this. Like honestly, with this podcast, I could just run the same route. I ran this year with all the same leaders and came to find out one year later what that looks like. It’d be very interesting, probably more valuable than just getting initial discussions again.
Mike Heller 39:56
What your earlier if you ever go here to revisit how fast People told you they’re going to be growing in their projects
Pete Thornton 40:02
where that was, yeah, that would be, that would be a fun project, get that into spreadsheets, see what that looks like. What you’re doing is fascinating. I would just kind of like, just like, recognize, like this, this, this mix between a, a growth leader and a revenue leader. I feel like you and you know, hundreds more, I’m sure, but like you and a handful that I know, are kind of like a prototype of what we’re going to see moving forward as like a much more standard or norm, but it’s just, it’s born out of an odd background, there’s a book called range that I love, because I’m a former high school biology teacher, and soccer coach who transitioned to tech, and I’ve had like seven roles, like distinct different roles in tech in seven years. And I appreciate it, because it talks about different kinds of people that people can go deep, or the people can kind of go wide, your experiences have been so wide, which has brought you to this point of this thing that you do. And it’s not really it’s not otherwise trained for not much experience around it. So anyway, just recognizing the interesting mix of talents that you bring to an organization. And I think it’s gonna be really financially viable for you for the future as well. So good job, kids. Pick the right one.
Mike Heller 41:22
I hope you’re right. I just might not have any specific skills. But I’m doing my best, and hopefully, making some progress. I appreciate that. And that is a great book. I read that as well. But I feel like I just read it because it validates the kind of the things I’ve done that talks about how great I am.
Pete Thornton 41:42
I know I’m like I don’t need any more challenges. There’s enough challenges. Let me read one that tells me I’m a good guy. Yeah, perfect. That’s so funny. Okay, well, Mike, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. I know the audience will find this fascinating. We’ll try to get some of those references in the show notes. And then yeah, talk to you next year when your children are three and one and whimsical is that fill in the blanks, you know, number of users number of amount of revenue, and we’ll just we’ll celebrate them.
Mike Heller 42:12
I love it. Thanks so much for having me on. This was super fun.