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 0:00
All right welcome back everyone to The SaaS(ramp) Podcast I want to call the audience ramp. It’s now by the way rampant flourishing and spreading unchecked ramp. And so The SaaS(ramp) Podcast. Awesome guest today: Troy Goode, CEO at Courier. Troy, welcome to the show.
Troy Goode 0:22
Hey, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to connect again.
Pete Thornton 0:26
Yeah, really excited to have you on really excited to kind of learn about your journey. And we chatted earlier and you were set. You said I could just jump right in. So I was like, Alright, thank you. Thanks, Luke. We’ll give them some will give them some value in the first three minutes. Its CEO, you’ve got a hockey stick-looking company. So biggest challenge last six months? What’s that sound like?
Troy Goode 0:47
Oh, my God. So last six months, for sure, it’s the awkward transition from an early-stage company to a growth-stage company. And figuring out, obviously, the obvious side of that is, is growing your business on that hockey stick trajectory. And then the part that’s maybe talked about less frequently, but still very important is how do you build the organization to be able to achieve that? And it’s definitely one of those things where you can’t just kind of continue doing what you were doing when you were a small, scrappy team searching for product market fit.
Pete Thornton 1:20
Yeah, yep. Totally understand that hear that a lot as well. Is there any milestone just up ahead that you guys are thinking about? Are you just thinking like super large and taking incremental steps? Or do you really try to tighten in the focus?
Troy Goode 1:33
I think both. So it’s clear, you know, I think it’s helpful for the company to have a mission of where are we going, what’s our big, hairy, audacious goal, but just to only keep your eyes on that is insufficient, right, you have to be able to break that down into the baby steps. But some of those baby steps honestly are pretty hard to achieve. And pretty big, so not quite baby steps. And yeah, we’re kind of in what you might consider kind of the post-initial traction growth phase where it’s a lot of things that we were doing before the non-scalable activities that were, you know, where you’re just being scrappy, and now it’s okay, we want to see the machine if you will. You transform from this probable business into an actual business with, you know, mechanisms and the proverbial you pour the money in and more money comes out. We’re trying to figure out, you know, how to measure that how to make sure we’re on track for that how to where are we at on that journey today? So that’s the next big milestone for us.
Pete Thornton 2:39
I actually have a little add is like my own personal interest, but a side trail on that one, do you have anything that y’all have done extremely manually, that you are now going to turn into a machine, but that you think, maybe looking back to like, oh, I kind of missed that, like, Do you have any kind of like, admin sort of task that you’re like, it’s your baby, but you know, it has to die?
Troy Goode 3:01
Yeah, I mean, look, I think we’ve done frankly, most things manually, in terms of pointing out favorites, you what I’d like to point out as the one thing that we do, that I would love to try and keep doing manually, and it’s one of those things where people told us, we wouldn’t be able to do it, we wouldn’t be to scale it, we’ve scaled it so far. Although it’s, it’s tough. And I’d love to keep it going, which is really exposing our whole team directly to customers. So a lot of software companies, for frankly, relatively good reasons, build a bridge between the customer and your own engineering team, your own product team. And we’ve fought hard internally to destroy that bridge, right? or destroy that wall and build a bridge instead. And have our, you know, engineers can go ask a question to our customers directly, right? Or vice versa, our customers can go directly to our engineers and product managers, which carries some risk and is quite manual and can cause some things to be more challenging, but I guess that’s kind of my baby is having that high bandwidth relationship.
Pete Thornton 4:06
Okay, that’s super interesting, like had a couple of experiences like that, where we’re trying to almost like enable at a much further growth stage, some of those pieces, you’re almost trying to, like curate a piece of that from early stage and see if you can give everybody a little bit of that flavor. And it’s a fine line to walk between efficiency and productivity. And then like, really, you know, the things that maybe are just they take a while but they’re so valuable, like a razor’s edge.
Troy Goode 4:35
100%. And, you know, the reality of the situation is, you know, we would do this for every customer when we were, you know, much, much younger and that was necessary as we thought, you know, product-market fit, whereas point well, where we can’t do it for literally everybody, but we’re trying to keep it as broad as we can.
Pete Thornton 4:52
Yeah, yeah, got it. Okay, so CEO, so ultimate leader of a company, it doesn’t have to be from Courier. It could be from some of these others. cuz you’ve been in leadership roles prior as well. But do you have a favorite leadership moment or type of moment?
Troy Goode 5:09
Oh, interesting. Interesting. Yeah. There’s a lot of great moments, obviously, there are moments on along the great side and the challenging side, on on the great side, you know, look, I think, I think it’ll always be special. Like, there are a lot of great things that have happened to a career and we’d love to share those. But personally, from my career, top leadership moment, when company I worked for previously elico when we went public, and all of us were kind of crowded around, and it’s all the bell get rung. And we got to experience that, that. That’s one of those things where I was already hooked on startups, but I don’t know that I’ll ever stop chasing that particular dragon.
Pete Thornton 5:50
Okay, that is so interesting, because you do see that, because you—y’all, as we say where I’m from—it’s a different breed. There’s this like hypergrowth, SaaS junkie, and they run this cycle over and over. And there’s got to be something I always assume that it’s something like that. But then you’re saying, Yes, I have felt that achieved it. And it’s not something you want to say one and done. It’s something that you’re intrigued and want to do it again.
Troy Goode 6:17
That’s right. And you know, I think some folks have gone through it and then they liked the other side of it a lot more. They like the larger company because you have more resources you have, you start to go and multi-product. There are a lot of advantages and differences to what happens on the other side of that bell. But God the fast hard run up to it is, is really exciting. So hopefully knock on wood, we’ll do it again soon.
Pete Thornton 6:41
That’s awesome. Awesome. Okay, cool. One thing that you have to get right, or somebody in your organization has to get right now in order for the org to grow. The next step or the next milestone.
Troy Goode 6:54
Yeah, I think one of the things that we’re trying to shift internally right now that we’re all on that journey is shifting to be more data and experiment oriented. You know, there’s, there’s a, I think, as a company, we’ve invested in David data very early, build out a data team, much earlier than I would say most organizations would. But then you compete that up against the realities of being early stage where you don’t have that many customers, you don’t have that many users. So you can’t always run data-oriented experiments, and you have to be a little bit more speculative. But then as you start to get into that growth stage, now, you start to unlock the ability to do more of that. But that is a cultural and operational shift, you have to make that I think, even if you intend to, is not an easy one to make, right? Where the decisions we’ve made previously because of best practices and prior experience. Now, how do we, you know, pull out of that and start to say, Okay, well, we should only make this decision, if it’s backed by data.
Pete Thornton 7:55
That’s interesting. On the one hand side is really, really nice to actually have a benchmark for later, like, on the data side, as well, that you’re actually gathering enough data that you can make decisions on at least a quarter-by-quarter basis, it sounds like.
Troy Goode 8:09
Yeah, much more frequently, in that we hope, you know, we were kind of forced to be data-oriented early, because of the nature of our product, where it’s a usage-based business, it’s high volume, you know, smaller transactions, people sending messages. And that meant that a lot of the traditional tools that you might adopt, didn’t really work for us. And so we had to build custom data infrastructure to build even tell our customers adopting the product, and things like that we couldn’t just use, say Mixpanel or Amplitude. And that meant that we had to be robust, early on with that data infrastructure. So yeah, we’re able to measure that very quickly. And we do have enough data flowing in that we can, depending on the nature of the experiment, try and iterate rapidly.
Pete Thornton 8:52
Okay, okay. On your side, then. And this is something like people in your space, he doesn’t even know. But like, Yes, I don’t know, a Postman, other organizations, monthly active users a big metric. Is there any primary like, you know, acronym, or something that you guys keep constant tabs on?
Troy Goode 9:10
Yeah, so there are two. Interestingly, one is also monthly active users, but it’s not the same as your monthly active users. So our first key metric is send volume. So how many messages are our customers sending to their users? And then the second is monthly active users, but it’s not our monthly active users. It’s our customers monthly active users can because we want to understand how many different users are they messaging using the courier platform. We’re an API product. So you know, we’re the other side of the Postman ecosystem. We’re using postman to come to us and the nature of API products is it’s really the computers that are using you, not the humans. So we do track our Ma use, but those are less important to us than the usage our customers product is using.
Pete Thornton 10:02
Right. Okay, so still usage data but like yeah, twisted into the, into more of your product line, which makes sense.
Troy Goode 10:09
For us a customer could get career up and running and then not come back for two months, and they might be happy with it. Right? That’s not necessarily a problem. We don’t actually see that in reality. But it just means that there’s a looser connection between our Mo use and our success and growth than the traditional SaaS business.
Pete Thornton 10:27
Okay, is there anything—and this is more data stuff, but it’s just kind of fascinating—is there anything that is more qualitative that you getting from the customers that you find hard to capture within the back-end data?
Troy Goode 10:43
Certainly. We do NPS and the kind of qualitative assessment of how happy our customers are, there’s some quantitative as well, but it’s always, it’s always a little bit loose, it has to be kind of you put up to put your thumb on the scale with your own experience from the customers, I would say the probably bigger thing for us is, we found product-market fit a little over a year ago, probably a year and a half ago. But product market fit is really a spectrum and being able to measure how far along on Product Market Fit we are with some of the other verticals, that we’re interested in engaging with how far along we are with maybe more mature companies than our existing customer base, right, much larger organizations, figuring out how on track, are we for some of the growth goals that require us to expand our service addressable market? It’s less clear how to be quantitative about that.
Pete Thornton 11:35
Yeah, right. Right. Right. Because it’s almost like how do you use it exactly. Like you have to know enough to know what you can track and how to interpret it, I suspect.
Troy Goode 11:45
Well, even when we’re engaging in sales conversations. There are a lot of reasons why customers might be excited, there are reasons why customers might not be able to use Courier. And really then kind of adjudicating what we hear from those sales engagements. Because sometimes it might be a product market fit gap that slows the deal down versus kills the deal, right? Sometimes we might get the deal through. But we still, that doesn’t mean we really have product market fit because they’re betting on where we’re going, rather than where we are. So really figuring out what is the data telling us about product market fit with some of these other verticals? And ICPs definitely require a lot of qualitative assessment.
Pete Thornton 12:28
Okay, okay. Yeah, I can totally imagine there’s no, that’s a whole genre, I can picture the person that Postman who’s like running these things all the time. And now, I believe I met the person that your organization does.
Okay. So you’ve had quite a career, like, if you’ve got to hang out, ring the bell, and do some of those things. This might be interesting then. Tip for yourself 10 years ago. You’re talking to the former 10-year-ago self, the former Troy and you kind of know what you know now. Anything that you would do differently? Advice could be personal, professional, whatever.
Troy Goode 13:01
For sure. Just by way of background for myself, I’m a software engineer by trade, engineering leadership for a long time. And this is my first CEO role. So all of my prior roles have been Engineering Leadership, Vice President of Engineering CTL. And I think that one of the things that maybe I didn’t prepare for earlier in my career, at least as much as I should have, in hindsight, was really driving a higher degree of expertise in other aspects of the business. And so there’s been a lot of on-the-job training, if you will, as the CEO of a growing company to learn about marketing, to learn about sales to learn how you structure a CS program. And I’m really less, you know, I had spent more detailed time with my peers at those other organizations and learned a little bit. You learned some from osmosis, just by working on the same team as the other executives, but really digging that next layer down to make sure you understand the why not just the what could have done a better job of that.
Pete Thornton 13:58
Yeah, that’s so tough, though. Like it has a very good tip. It’s like it’s one of the things it’s not in your purview. Right. Then your purview is to go narrow and deep on your area of expertise. I’ve heard this and really cool book called range called, like, frogs, like narrow and deep and birds. You know why? Yeah. And, yeah, David Epstein, I believe I really enjoyed that book from kind of like a learning and development standpoint. But it is so tough when you’re just hypothetically thinking like, this might be something you need to know somewhere along the way, or you’re just trying to, like build rapport with colleagues and understand where they’re coming from.
Troy Goode 14:34
Yeah, for what sorts even if I hadn’t started a company to become CEO, I think it would have made me a more effective executive to have that additional context, even in that more frog role.
Pete Thornton 14:48
Right, right, right. Yeah, it totally would. And that’s like the paradox that kind of sits right there. That’s where people like make the argument for like a liberal arts, college education, which like, but I need a job One day, what about no? way at least an hour? It seems like a very similar kind of interesting. That’s a cool answer. Okay.
Hey, thanks for bearing with some of the intro like, skipping all around like that. It’s fun to get some like to bounce and get some sound bites like that. But your role. You’re CEO, interesting background, you touched on it just a bit with software engineering. But when you kind of walk us through, how’d you get to the point we are? It’s a big story, I know. But understanding would be helpful.
Troy Goode 15:32
Absolutely. So look, I started my career off in startups in the in the.com, boom of yesteryear, and I wasn’t a software engineer early on. The first company I worked for was a small startup where we ended up selling the company had a decent exit, just as the crash was happening. And so we were very fortunate. And I went on, spend some time in consulting, so doing software engineering, consulting for large NGOs in the DC area, so the World Bank and the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, so So those folks, but then as I kind of got, you know, got married, had my first kid, the itch, to get back to startups is really what kicked back in. So this is, you know, been about a decade, the startup ecosystem was coming back in full force. So you know, we’re talking like 2009 or so, and started to look out around and say, Hey, are there any startups I’d be excited to get back involved with and found a company called Eloqua, which was spearheading something called Marketing Automation at the time, and competing with Marketo, and HubSpot, and others, and they were on that IPO. Warpath had had some challenges getting there had been around for a long time, but had some new leadership, and we’re moving quickly. And so hopped on board. And, and obviously, we had a great, great result there took the company public sold it to Oracle, and that and that was kind of my springboard. It’s all been it’s been just startups ever since. After that lead engineering for two other startups as of Vice President of Engineering, and CTO. And kind of along the way, that was also the journey for starting courier is career was started out of kind of my own pain, which are real best startups when you can, when you come up with idea not always relevant. There are other good ideas, but in my case, it was seeing my teams have to build notification infrastructure for the products that my teams were building over and over again and saying, Hey, this looks a lot like what we built under the hood over and Eloqua. But it just that was built for marketers, what if we go build something like that, but for developers, that was really inspirational start Korea a few years ago?
Pete Thornton 17:46
That’s really interesting. I really do like wants to scratch your own itch. Like, it’s some form of validation already. And it got one customer. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s like, if you start a podcast, it’s like, it’s like, oh, I have one view. But yeah, that’s your mom. Like, you know, Mom, the other one, like that kind of thing. And then yeah, but it is helpful to have that kind of that piece in play. Let me ask you something on the personal side, you have a very calm demeanor, like so. But you have been in this ecosystem for a while now in this thick, very high growth, fast-paced ecosystem. I don’t know what your Slack inbox looks like right now. But I can assure it’s pinging and overflowing. So that’s, that’s maybe not the perceived persona of somebody in that space. Like, do you have any? This is totally an aside, but do you have any, any kind of is this naturally already who you are? Have you lightened gain Tips and Tricks over the years of chaos?
Troy Goode 18:42
You know, it’s funny. I was just talking to our head of operations about this last week and was sharing a little bit of my own journey. And I would say, No, I didn’t start with this demeanor. As an early software engineering manager, I was a bit more brusque and wanted to move fast held the bar high could sometimes be a little tough on folks and had some great feedback from folks. Above me that kind of helped me understand what is the proverbial you get more you capture more flies with honey than vinegar even. And really learned that as a high-performing IC engineer, it was all about my performance is all about go build, execute. And so when I looked at the other folks on my team, I kind of expected that of them and I and, and that is fair. But how do you interact with each of the folks on that team and how do you kind of capture that level of performance? It’s the hopefully you’re being a lot harder on yourself than anybody else being on you. And so then if you go and you are as hard on others as you are on yourself, well, is that going to motivate or demotivate? So you have to, and I’ve struggled with this, how do you find that balancing act of pushing for and expecting high performance while also being supportive the entire time. So something I’m constantly working on.
Pete Thornton 20:09
Yeah, interesting. And like, Look, I’ve not worked with you. So I don’t know if there’s another side but like it just in general, there’s a calmness to it that could be soothing. I don’t think it drops the bar. But, you know, even in the sports round, they always talk about Kobe, they’re like, listen, I mean, it’s just so rough to be his teammate. But you know, like, when he score 60 points, those types of things. Hear about the rates all the time.
Troy Goode 20:31
100% Yeah, there are different types, but yeah. I don’t think I’m the Kobe style.
Pete Thornton 20:40
Well, it seems to be working. More about courier than so we got a little understanding scratches your own itch. It’s, it provides notifications, like there’s a replicable thing happening in the background. It sounds like and so like this is now a software to engage that. Yeah. What else like some context for the hypergrowth especially.
Troy Goode 20:59
Absolutely. So the way to think about what we do and kind of the context for that growth there is, if you rewind 10 years ago, and you think about notifications, there was really only two kinds of notifications, you had your b2b products that you were using that were probably sending you some emails from time to time. And you had b2c products that were maybe split somewhere email, the older ones, but the more modern ones were mobile push. So those were kind of the two kinds of notifications that you as a consumer would receive your business systems, probably emailing you favorite games, and apps are probably sending you push notifications. But what happened over time is that the challenges inherent in building that into your software product became more complicated. On the marketing side, that also communication became much more complicated. But we had teams and organizations building sophisticated messaging platforms to help marketing teams reduce the burden cost of these programs. So that’s the Iterable, and the Braves and the one signal and the Eloqua, and Marketo, and HubSpot, that world, right? They already had a solution. But what we found and what I experienced myself was that the software teams that companies like LinkedIn, and Airbnb and New Relic, and Uber had to spend millions upon millions of dollars to custom build infrastructure that sat on top of services like Twilio, SendGrid, Mailgun, Slack, Google Firebase. And so you know, there’s this kind of systems out there that could power a text message or an email or a Slack message. But the software companies had to build a layer on top of that, to help manage everything that’s going on, like what are Pete’s preferences? Does he wants to receive this notification? Or not? When does he want to receive it? Does he want to receive it via slack or email? You know, how do I set up a weekly reminder, there are all these use cases that required product and engineering to build out. And that just grew to be so so expensive. And that meant that, in a world where software companies are always restricted more by their ability to hire engineering talent than by the budget to do so, you’re basically sinking a ton of engineering resources into something that’s essentially not your core value proposition to your customers. That’s really been what kind of triggered our growth is being able to go to these companies and say, look how much money you’re spending on this investment. Look how poor the results you’re getting because of the fact that this is not your core competency. It doesn’t really make sense on either front, on either the cost side or the value benefit side, but this is all we do and we can do it better, cheaper, faster.
Pete Thornton 23:45
Yeah, the value makes complete sense. It’s like one of those ones you hear he goes, Oh, yeah, of course, there’s gonna be a product for that. And of course, it’s right here like, and it works like this. Who’s the persona? Is it marketing ops that would be the initiator?
Troy Goode 24:01
No, no, marketing doesn’t buy us. So that’s one of the interesting things. And this is one of the things that it takes some time for new for your teammates to learn. We have very few users that are even in the marketing organization. So our core buyer is normally the VP of engineering or CTO of a software company.
Pete Thornton 24:17
Okay. Because they’re the ones having to feel the pain of like having this sub-team do this one thing that is otherwise not actually part of their core competency, like you said.
Troy Goode 24:25
That’s right. So we sometimes have stakeholders from marketing or even more frequently from the product management team. But if you think about it, really, they’re the ones saying, Hey, this is what I want our product to do. This is how I want to communicate with our users and our customers. But who’s actually servicing that demand? Whenever it’s these, this programmatic messaging, right? So it’s not just a marketer saying, I’m going to set up a campaign that’s going to go out about this, you know, Halloween promotion, and I’m gonna schedule it. But think about the messaging that happens because of your usage of the product. Well, that has to happen from the engineering side because it’s data-oriented. It’s event-oriented. And so engineering teams are the ones that are being tasked with building out this infrastructure. And so that’s really who comes to us and says, Hey, we, we need a solution where we’re able to respond to the business more rapidly. Give them a better solution. But I also want to do that without kind of tanking my roadmap and spending a bunch of time and money on something that’s not the thing that our customers are actually buying.
Pete Thornton 25:22
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay. That also makes sense with maybe a stakeholder from that side to say, can it do with the things they wanted it to do? Okay, okay. Very cool on that one. That makes sense as well. I’m always curious about this with like, with like, newer software because product lead growth is such a massive thing these days and like Postman is such a heavy, I’ve never been an organization with 2 million developers. And like, there are four product tiers. And it just It boggles my mind, it turns everything in the go-to-market world 45 degrees. It takes everything and twist it a little bit. But it’s not the only way to do a go-to-market program. But since it has such a heavy developer standpoint, I’m like, how do you guys interact upfront with your customers?
Troy Goode 26:10
Yeah, great point. I mean, there are really like two angles to it for us. One is that that is one of the things that we help drive for our customers is a lot of times they’re coming to us saying, hey, we need to revisit our notification ecosystem or notification strategy, because it’s a key part of a product led growth initiative that they have. It’s one of the angles that we take at. But then for our own business, we are also at least partially product lead growth, we have some challenges that maybe are not unique to us. But I think it’s one of the things that I think the world’s you were talking internally about how right now product lead growth feels very much like Agile Software felt, or agile development felt, you know, a decade or two ago, where everybody wants to be agile, everybody wants to do Agile, but they didn’t really know how or whether they should or whether they were. And I think that we’re in that phase today with product-led growth, where I think everybody understands the benefits of it, and why you would want to be product lead growth. I think it’s harder for folks to know, how do I get there? Or am I even really there, and frankly, in some cases, can I get there. So when we break that down for courier, we absolutely have a product lead growth path, that’s probably, you know, almost required at this point for any developer tool, which is not gonna have developers, they can show up, they can see the docs, it’s public, they can sign up for an account for free, it’s not a trial, they can use that account for free forever. There are some limitations on it in terms of how much volume they can send in our case, and a couple of other things. But fundamentally, there’s that kind of that baseline entry that in and of itself, in my opinion, is not product lead growth. We do build on top of that, though, with things like, if you’re on the free tier, and you’re sending emails, it’ll have a little powered by courier thing, the email or on the Preferences page, there are a few different areas where we can kind of hook back into that flywheel. And so we do, you know, map out that product lead growth journey. But what we also see is that we have a lot of our and frankly, most of our revenue comes from direct sales, where it is often people coming in, maybe they do sign up for that free tier, but it’s not a gradients of usage that you often would expect from appeal a true PLG. It’s more, okay, I’m going to play with this for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. And then I’m going to request the demo. And we’re going to trigger a conversation with sales. Because this product needs to go through security review, privacy, review, review, legal, like I need to see if I can get volume pricing based because we were sending 300 million messages a month. You know, there’s all these kind of reasons why it doesn’t, it can’t really fit into like disable the slack model of just roll it out for the small team over here and then grow organically from there.
Pete Thornton 29:02
Right. Now, to me—and everybody has a different opinion and like you can get into the friends over there and open view because they’re always like posting about this, I really appreciate their stuff—but that that is part of like growth to me like the only time when it’s not are people like we really love our product. We’re PLG-like, it’s not quite the way that works. In my opinion. There’s a wide discrepancy there. But when somebody can jump in and give it a try, especially for that persona, that like “show me, don’t tell me” kind of persona of developer like, I think that’s very strong.
Troy Goode 29:30
I think it’s so open to you guys, and I’ll have to go look, refresh myself on the content. I think they have something where it’s like sales assisted model right there. I think there are a few difference, right? I think there are a few different models of PLG. And if you think about like, like the purest form of PLG is like the old Dropbox scenario, right? You sign up as an individual user and then they basically give you some credits and some additional storage space if you go do referrals out to your friends or whomever and then it goes. Did this PLG flywheel of people sign up? They liked it enough. They want more of it. And so that leads her to refer it and so that that obviously led to great success for them. But I think there is there’s there are multiple other models. And in our case that happens to be that sales assistant model.
Pete Thornton 30:14
Okay. Yeah. And it’s honestly like whatever works and like works for your customers and works for you. And so that, that’s, that sounds. That sounds great. And one more piece of commentary on what you were mentioned, it is interesting that you say it’s like agile 10 years ago, I was not aware of that. I mean, I’m aware of obviously the framework, but like that exact context, but I can, I can definitely, I can see it in my mind’s eye right now. Like, people read the book, like, oh, I want to do that so bad. But you’re so you have so much invested in this. It’s like deciding you don’t want to become a doctor after you finished, you know, medical school 32 is so and trying to back out and see if you can undo what you’ve done previously and become PLG. Like very, you know, very difficult. It seems like so I’m sure you’ve been in enough business and looked at enough especially to kind of see where that model fits like one side or the other. Is there any like hard milestone you think a company passes when you’re like, Hey, don’t, don’t go back and try this? Or like any certain kind of data point that you might want to have them consider? Not new, this is your area of expertise.
Troy Goode 31:16
I mean, I guess the way I would think about it is I think when you start a new startup, it’s actually quite hard to do plg, you can, you can hope for it. But I don’t think you can actually do PLG until your product market fit. Unlikely to start with it. So I would focus on in the early days when hustling and finding that product market fit. And then you start to figure out your growth flywheels from there. And then if we look at the other end of the spectrum, when we look at maybe older, more mature businesses that kind of predated strong understanding of PLG, and maybe a different economic distribution model. One of the things I think that they are going to have to struggle with is they presumably, at that point, have product market fit. But do they have product market fit with their users or just their buyers? Because I think if they only have product market fit with their buyers, and not their users that might have helped them build a strong, amazing business, maybe even a public company. But if they don’t have product market fit with their users, it’s unclear to me that they’re going to see you succeed with a product-led growth.
Pete Thornton 32:23
That’s extremely interesting because the reverse is true with strong plg companies moving from product into enterprise motion is very hard because you have fit with your users. And now you need to speak to the people way up above or maybe the economic holders who just absolutely don’t— you have to connect the dots for them bottom up as opposed to top down.
Troy Goode 32:45
I mean, historically, right? You can find all sorts of articles that say, you know, it’s hard enough to be nearly impossible to do both a bottoms-up model and a top-down model. And that was when we thought about, you know, those as being kind of these separate models. And it’s funny, because essentially, when we’re at least for b2b, when we talk about PLG, we’re we are talking about doing both. And I don’t know that anybody has really connected the dots that we used to say it was so hard, that was nearly impossible. And now we’re saying, oh, you should do it. It’s like, I don’t know that it actually became any easier. So I think we are holding the bar very high for ourselves. And frankly, very few companies are going to get it right.
Pete Thornton 33:23
Okay. Yeah, I think it just became very lucrative to do so. And so everybody’s like, you should.
Troy Goode 33:27
Yeah. It was always lucrative to do both.
Pete Thornton 33:33
I’ll be here with my pen whenever they like, show how it’s done perfectly. A man what, uh, sorry, rabbit trail. Very interesting, though, by the courier like, like vision for scaling, like you, you guys, again, back to the initial thing, you’re on this hockey stick. So, so where to from here? What are the next milestones? Maybe, maybe just over the course of the year? I mean, it’s too much to think of this thing and its whole trajectory, but 12 months.
Troy Goode 33:58
Yeah, I mean, so for us, we have, you know, it’s always funny, like, you look at folks, you know, seed round pitch decks. And they’ll say, like, look how, you know, our tam is a trillion dollars. And if we only get 1% of them, alright. There’s, there’s that whole meme. For us. We do think that we have a ridiculously large Tam, which is essentially every software business that sends messages to their users, which is quickly growing to be nearly every business. But the truth is that our Sam or service addressable market is a much smaller percentage of that Tam. And today, so if you’re not familiar, there’s a tam is a target addressable total, total addressable market, everybody who could possibly block by your software, once you’ve kind of built out the Vision Service addressable market is, but who could you actually sell it to today? Right, because that today, like where the software currently sits, what’s your domestic born? Exactly? And so we have this here. Ah, Tam, but our Sam is much smaller, it’s still quite large. We’ve started off having a great fit with b2b SaaS, and cloud-based b2b SaaS companies, we have an amazing product market fit. We’ve got some of the best cloud-based SaaS businesses in the world as customers, we have a large enough, Sam that we can continue that that kind of growth trajectory for a while just going increasing the market penetration for just that, Sam, but we need to execute well against that. But really, to keep that hockey stick going, you know, what we also need to do is be growing that Sam, and that means finding product market fit with other parts of the industry that we have not found it with today. So that’s nontech companies, right travel and hospitality, it’s b2c e-commerce, which has not been a strong fit for us to date. There are all these different ways to slice our ICP, our ideal customer profile up and say, Okay, well, how can we expand the breadth of that ICP?
Pete Thornton 35:58
Yeah, yeah. I knew I’d give away anything proprietary, but like, what would the methodology to go do that? Would you want to bring in people from those industries? And say, you, here’s what we do, here’s what you did, can we make the match? Or would you want to just break off some of your marketing efforts over towards one or the other kind of strategically?
Troy Goode 36:18
I think we’re honestly still trying to answer this for ourselves. But I can kind of tell you where we’re at. Right now, with with asterisks, that’s subject to change. The, there’s two key things that where we’ve started, from the very beginning of the company, one of the things I’ve done is, no courier is not trying to convince any company to do something they weren’t already doing. We just have that better, faster, stronger version, right? So so what I do is I spent a lot of time talking to the teams that have already pre-build this infrastructure. And I’m not going out. And so LinkedIn, for example, has 60 engineers that work on their internal version of Courier, that’s all they do for a living. And what I do is I spend time with that team because I’m learning from them. And, you know, we’re able to then not necessarily sell them, like, I’m not trying to convince LinkedIn to drop their, you know, eight-figure investment and their infrastructure and adopt courier. It’s more about, okay, you’re giving me the path. You’re telling me what a company like LinkedIn, or what a company like Airbnb, right, a company like Uber, what, what you value, and then that’s the path that we’re able to build towards. And so that gives us a bit of a shortcut, right? Because we’re not trying to, you know, guess, what do we need to have, it’s already out there, people have already invested 10s of millions of dollars to build it. Now we have to build it in a way that they could have bought it instead. So that’s number one. And number two’s then find, how do we get the word out there to the folks that would be the next ones to build that in that space and make sure that they’re aware? Courier is an option instead of building it themselves.
Pete Thornton 37:53
Okay. And then, like, work backward to prior to this commitment to this headcount in this entire methodology rolling out.
Troy Goode 38:01
Pete Thornton 38:03
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, it’s a good method. Who does that, by the way? Do you go? Who goes? And has these conversations with these types of companies?
Troy Goode 38:12
Yeah, that’s me. Right. So and maybe, you know, that could have been one of my answers to what’s my baby? That’s one of them. I like I think, you know, again, this is one of those founder visions where it’s not a, we’re going to change the world by making it look different than it is we’re not, you know, going out and saying, companies should start to send notifications to people that are already doing it, we’re not saying you should send more, I don’t think you should send more, I think you should probably spend less. But what we’re trying to do is make it possible for customers, our customers have healthier communication relationships with their customers. In order to get there, I have to understand what are they doing today? And what are their pain points. And so as many companies as I can talk to that are already investing in this, even if they’re never going to be a courier customer. That’s like the lifeblood of understanding that founder vision and extending it further out the future. So yeah, I care deeply about having those conversations myself.
Pete Thornton 39:12
Yeah, well put. I think that’ll be something that founders always care about. I watch it at my company as well because I’ve watched them try to try to pull back just for a moment to get another something taken care of, and they go back to the customer and need to go back to the customer and this cycle back to it. So she probably count on it seems to be that important. That’s awesome.
Okay, so maybe in closing, we’ll always do this, you know, minutes for blowing through it. But it’s been fascinating. I really thank you for that one. Two to three people maybe to thank for the journey to date just didn’t again don’t have to be a Courier. But that’s, that’s as your solid career and just wondering if there’s anybody out there.
Troy Goode 39:50
Absolutely. Well, look, I think there’s a bunch of folks from the run at Eloqua. But I’ll call out Joe Payne, who is our CEO and an investor in Korea. He was an amazing leader. I think that the parts about being a CEO of career that I do well are shallow imitations of what I saw Joe do right. And then maybe one day, I’ll live up to it. Pat Malak, who was our lead our seed round? Obviously, I’m thankful for all of our investors. But in particular, Pat, had been the Vice President of Product at Twilio, from roughly employee 20 to well pass IPO. It was deep subject matter expertise in the communication and messaging space. I met Pat on day five, you know, of courier like founded the company wrote, like, you know, a couple dozen lines of code met Pat. And it was a partnership from then on, you know, the next week, we’re shoulder to shoulder at a whiteboard doing API design, superior would be very different. If I had not met Pat, and if you hadn’t let our seed round in those first few weeks. And then I think on you know, on our team, certainly, so thankful for our whole team who’ve been executing, to move really quickly to serve kind of the, our, our customers have high expectations are when courier doesn’t work, all of a sudden, their users can’t get their password reset email, they can’t, you know, tell, you know, drive, they’re their own PLG growth mechanisms, there are high expectations there. And one of the most important things is, you know, delivering on the capabilities that those customers need, and then be making sure that the lights stay on. And Seth Kearney is our CTO. He and I have worked together four times over the last 16 years. And certainly I owe a huge debt of gratitude for everything he’s done at Courier and still has yet to do.
Pete Thornton 41:37
And still has yet to do, as a reminder. Yeah, that’s beautiful. That’s a really great career and good thank you. The SaaS(ramp) and off after being in this space for ever since before the first.com little bust. What does SaaS(ramp) mean to you?
Troy Goode 42:00
Oh, man. So the founder of constant contact did a session a long time ago. I’m sure you’ve seen it where it was like the long slow ramp of SaaS death or something like I can’t remember what she called and I’ll, I’ll follow it up. And you know, we talked about hypergrowth. Gosh, hypergrowth doesn’t always feel like hypergrowth, especially in the early days where you’re just trying to plug along, and I think the ramp is more important than the angle of attack, right, as long as that ramp is going up. But you know, Jason Lemkin points out like if you can get to 10 million Arr, you’re undefeatable you do they can’t get rid of you. So just making sure that that ramp is happening is the most important thing. And then some, some lucky few of us will hit that hypergrowth stage, but you don’t need that. You don’t always need that, but you need the ramp.
Pete Thornton 42:49
But need the ramp. Yeah, that’s such a good point. So like progress over progress over necessarily, like certain angle of the ascent? Absolutely. Okay. Yeah. That’s great. Well, Troy, it has been magnificent. I really, really appreciate it. Thanks for you. Learning all nice to have somebody who’s gone super deep over a number of years, multiple organizations and has now taken that expertise wide with such an understandable and like, obviously, like super valuable platform. So wishing you guys the best and thanks again for participation. We’ll have all eyes on you for the next few years.
Troy Goode 43:24
All right, sounds good.