SIT DOWN STARTUP
Here’s how to startup.
From one home office to another, Zendesk leaders chat with founders, CEOs, and makers on their startup journey. There’s rule-flipping, new dogma, and recycling failure into growth.
Plus, why customer experience is at the heart of success, as told by people who know unpredictability inside out. (That seems pretty helpful right now.)
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Calling curious minds
Listen in for advice on making success out of customer-focused thinking and a good spattering of risk.
78. Tailscale’s $113M Success: Developer-Led-GrowthTailscale has been a huge success, raising over $113 million and growing to 80 employees. They discovered that if developers love the product, they will tell their decision makers in their organization to buy it, and the money will follow. To ensure customer satisfaction, they use Net Promoter Score to move people from the middle to the top and offer free support for everyone, even those on the zero dollar plan.
77. [$161M Raised] From Series A Struggles to 400 Employees: LinkSquares’ Growth Strategies with Founder Vishal SunakVishal Sunak, Founder of LinkSquares, shares his journey of building software for legal teams. Listen as he speaks to Sit Down Startup’s host Adam O’Donnell about raising $161 million over five rounds of venture capital, overcoming fundraising struggles, and unlocking the secrets to growth. Discover the importance of building a strong product, founder-led sales, and knowledge assembly, as well as how to validate product ideas before building solutions. Vishal also gives invaluable advice on understanding buyers as well as his superpower as a founder. Don’t miss out on this engaging and informative episode packed with valuable insights that every founder should know.
76. Bootstrapped to $100M+ Exit: Pardot’s Founder, David Cummings’ Startup JourneyJoin Adam O’Donnell on Sit Down Startup as he sits down with David Cummings, the founder of Pardot, which eventually sold to Salesforce. In this episode, they discuss pivoting from unsuccessful strategies, customer discovery, and marketing automation platform, while sharing their personal stories of startup challenges.
75. Instacart’s Former Chief Growth Officer; Building a Successful ML Startup: Anomalo’s, Founder, Elliot ShmuklerAdam O’Donnell sits down with Elliot Shmukler, former Chief Growth Officer at Instacart and co-founder of Anomalo, to discuss the challenges data teams face in detecting and solving data quality issues using machine learning. Despite the initial failure of their product to meet customer needs, Anomalo was able to grow 10x ARR during the big recession by listening to customer feedback and building a fully-featured product to address gaps in their initial product. Elliot emphasizes the importance of talking to customers regularly and trusting your gut when experimenting with ideas. Through a shared Slack channel and regular office hours, Anomalo maintains its customer feedback loop, leading to successful customer experiences for their notable clients like Discover Financial, Buzzfeed, and Notion. This episode provides invaluable advice for any startup founder looking to develop a successful product that meets the needs of their customers.
74. $0 to 100M ARR in 18-months: Revolutionizing Cloud Security With Base Thinking; Wiz’s Co-Founder, Ami LuttwakWelcome to the Sit Down Startup podcast, where host Adam O’Donnell interviews entrepreneurs and startup founders about their inspirational stories. In this episode, Adam brings in Ami Luttwak, the CTO and co-founder of Wiz, one of the largest cloud security companies. Ami shares the hands-on culture of the company, where all managers do the work themselves, and explains how they identified a gap in the market by combining vulnerability, application, network exposure, and identity analysis. Together, they discuss the success of Wiz, how the COVID-19 pandemic was actually beneficial to their product development, and the importance of focusing on the customers’ needs. Listen now and be inspired by their entrepreneurial journey!
73. ($155M raised) Glean’s Founder, Arvind Jain: How to close enterprise deals from day oneGlean was founded in 2019 as an AI-powered workplace search engine aimed at helping people browse through their company apps to find the information they need and boost productivity. Since then, Glean has raised $155M+ and grown to 200+ employees while staying true to its initial mission. In this episode its founder, Arvind Jain, shares his experience and provides a few key insights:
• Ask the hard questions. Make sure prospective clients are willing and able to implement what you’re offering.
• Quantify the problem. Prove the value of your product by quantifying the problem your customers face.
• Sell at the top. Pitch your product to key leaders such as CIOs, and let the word spread internally.
72. Bootstrapped to nearly $100M exit to Citrix; Jesse Lipson; knowing when to ignore the “smart” advisors vs. just buildingJesse Lipson initially thought he would become a philosophy professor — until he took a job with a startup that changed his career path. After founding his first company Sharefile in 2005, he sold it to Citrix in late 2011 for almost $100M. And in October 2017 he established Levitate, which helps relationship-based businesses keep in touch with clients in a more personal and authentic way. This entrepreneur offers a few insights from his career to date:
• Acquisitions are a rollercoaster. Deals can take months to finalize and it’s important to maintain focus while they’re ongoing.
• Do the hard work. Attracting customers doesn’t happen overnight, so be prepared to go the extra mile.
• Be data-driven. The benefits of testing and measuring everything outweigh the costs.
71. [$271M raised] Frubana’s Founding Engineer, now board member, Daniel Bilbao; GTM tactics for $0 - $1MDuring Truora’s first year, they raised no money. Four years later, this customer-engagement and WhatsApp-first startup has come a long way, with 8M USD in ARR, 14M USD in revenue, and presence across seven Latin American countries. Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Bilbao shares his tips for founders looking to succeed:
• Hire the best people you can. Talent comes first; good recruiting never fails.
• Do the homework beforehand. Spend time on the setup and talk to founders before going to market.
• Don’t avoid the “no”. If you tell someone all the cons and they’re still interested in your product or service, the deal is likely to go through.
70. Backed by a16z, Virtually Human Studio’s Co-Founder, Chris Ebeling: Building with community, listening vs. letting them leadWhen Chris Ebeling co-founded entertainment company Virtually Human back in 2018, Blockchain was just becoming popular. Since then, the company has raised $21M+ and their online horse racing game ZED RUN gained an impressive following. In this episode, Chris talks to Adam about his experience launching in the digital world and shares a few tips:
• Innovation comes with risks. Don’t be afraid to seek advice; be transparent and self-critical.
• Nothing is permanent. If you believe in an idea, don’t overthink it — start making it a reality.
• Involve the community. When your product is in beta, let your users weigh in on what is and isn’t working.
69. Zapier’s Founder: scalable growth strategiesZapier has one mission: to help companies use automation to connect tools and apps so data can automatically move between them. The business was founded in 2012 and their remote team has since expanded worldwide across 40 countries. Founder Mike Knoop shared some takeaways from their 11-year journey so far:
• Stay patient. Growth is organic, so be prepared to play the long game.
• Tap into search. Creating landing pages will make your product more visible to potential customers.
• Always look ahead. Where do you want your company to be heading?
68. [$0 - IPO] Braze’s Founder, Mark Ghermezian; knowing when to pivot & the power of persistenceBack in 2008, when mobile apps were the talk of the town, Mark Ghermezian had an idea: build a bridge between app developers and users. That was the seed for Braze, a customer engagement platform, which has grown to 1200+ employees and 3.5M+ monthly active users. In this episode, Mark tells his story and teaches us a few lessons:
• Iteration is key. Listen to feedback from designers and people using your app in order to innovate.
• Trust the process. Sometimes the market won’t be ready for your product, but when it is, you’ll be ready to deliver.
• Choose your market. Every customer requires a specific approach — whether they are enterprise, long tail, or mid-market.
67. Talkdesk & Cleverly Co-Founder: Cristina Fonseca - Product obsessed, 5-min rule & not being distracted by competitionCristina Fonseca, our very own VP of Product, knows a thing or two about being a founder. She has set up two companies specializing in CX: Talkdesk, back in 2011 (right after college!), which went on to raise over 250M USD; and Cleverly in 2017, now acquired by Zendesk. In this one-to-one with Adam, she shares her experience:
• Build trust. Stay present and proactively communicate with your customers.
• Be aware of the market. If there is more than one company offering the same product, that means the demand is there.
• Share your knowledge. Make sure your team is aware of what the goal and product are, and use disagreements as an opportunity to reach compromises.
66. [$396M Raised] Nailing pitch-market-fit? Eightfold AI’s CEO, Ashutosh GargWhen Ashutosh Garg founded talent intelligence platform Eightfold AI in 2016, he had one clear goal in mind: to help businesses hire and retain the best professionals out there. The company has since grown to almost 700 employees and has raised $400M. Ashutosh sat down to discuss Eightfold’s journey with Adam, sharing a few learnings along the way:
• Strike the right balance. Both a lack of and overconfidence will stop you from going anywhere.
• Keep evolving. Adapting to market changes in order to maintain product market fit is crucial.
• Come up with your pitch market fit first. Do you have a story and vision that the market needs?
65. [0-IPO] Yext’s Founder, Howard Lerman: key to building a lasting companyHoward Lerman founded tech company Yext in 2006, recording revenues of $100M during his final quarter as CEO. In November 2022, he started building his next project: Roam, an all-in-one Cloud HQ — and predicts it’s going to be even bigger. The entrepreneur joined Adam for a chat to share some key insights and strategies from his +20 years’ experience:
• Make customers love you. Happy clients will get you everywhere.
• Try and try again. There’s no single magic trick to growth — except to try everything.
• Growth isn’t the be all, end all. There are other ways to measure success.
64. [$0-IPO] Shift’s Co-Founder, Toby Russell; knowing when to pivot DESPITE having product-market-fit?!In 2013, e-commerce platform Shift set out with one simple mission: to make car sales and purchases a seamless experience. The company began accelerating in late 2015 before they went public in 2020, and last year recorded revenues of 630M USD, selling vehicles in all 50 US states. Co-Founder Toby Russell joined Adam to share a few insights from their journey:
• Keep it simple. When scaling, don’t try to do too much at once.
• Make your mission matter. Will your idea have an impact on people’s everyday lives?
• A little humility goes a long way. Trust in your team instead of doing everything yourself.
63. [$99M raised] Sweep’s Co-Founder, Rachel Delacour; listening for low signals during customer research to land big logosCarbon emission tracking company Sweep was founded in June 2020. In just over two years, they have evolved to employ +80 people across Europe and the United States and, in less than 12 months, raised an impressive 100M USD. We sat down with Co-Founder & CEO, Rachel Delacour, who shared some key learnings:
• Test your product with friends. Get in touch with past clients or contacts to present your new idea.
• Pick up the phone. Talk to big brands to get your product out to the markets and generate trust.
• Understand the need. Make sure that you are supplying a solution to an actual need in the industry.
62. [$12B val] Deel’s Founder, Alex Bouaziz: pivoting with convictionFounded in 2019 with the goal of offering a simple solution for hiring freelancers and contractors internationally, Deel pivoted just a week before demo day. They restructured their program and grew to over 1,300 employees, 10K customers worldwide and raised +600M dollars. Here are the key takeaways from our chat with Co-Founder & CEO, Alex Bouaziz:
• Time is money. Move fast and see what sticks — you are defined by your growth.
• Be customer-centric. Have strong customer empathy and work hard to maintain their appreciation for your product.
• Put your hands in the “mud”. You need to be able to fully understand and do the job yourself before you hire other people.
61. [$1.6B val] Mercury’s Founder, Immad Akhund; rapid growth via word of mouthMercury, a banking service for startups, was launched in 2019 but their business idea had been brewing since 2013. Mercury has now grown to 357 employees and tens of thousands of customers. CEO & Co-Founder Immad Akhund joined us to share some advice:
• Classic strategies work. Encourage your investors to talk about you on social media to get word-of-mouth going.
• Show ambition. Make sure your message encapsulates the scale of what you’re trying to achieve.
• Get talking. Participate in podcasts or start your own and chat with other founders.
60. [$1.2B val] Pilot’s CEO, Waseem Daher; knowing where to stay in the weedsFounded in 2017, Pilot is a platform that offers bookkeeping, tax and CFO services for growing businesses. From a team of 10 to now 400, Pilot helps thousands of startups — crediting their speed, responsiveness and going above and beyond for customers as key to their growth. We sat down with CEO & Co-Founder, Waseem Daher, who shared his biggest takeaways:
• Be ‘in the weeds’. Stay close to the delivery of your product or service and know what your customer base is up to.
• Engage with your customers. Talk to them to understand what they are thinking and feeling.
• Move fast and get things done. Pick up on common themes from sales calls or support tickets and quickly address them.
59. [Growth strategies] Beats by Dre’s Omar Johnson on building a brand and standing outIn 2010, Beats by Dre saw a huge opportunity to pivot and make a mark. They were able to uniquely combine the world of sports and music in a way people hadn’t seen before. A clear vision and authentic messaging helped differentiate themselves. We talked with former CMO, Omar Johnson, who shared insights from Beats’ early days:
• Set clear objectives. Find an authentic place for your product.
• Discover interesting ways to tell the same story. Come up with a clear and simple focus and apply that message to different contexts.
• Listen to people’s needs. Pay attention to real human behaviors — listening is what sparks big ideas.
58. [Over $70M raised] Origin’s Matt Watson on finding clarity to target problemsIn only three years, financial planning company Origin grew from 20 to more than 150 employees and raised over 70 million USD. While only beginning their journey, the company — created to help employers answer their employees’ tough questions about financial benefits — has found success by focusing on solutions for real-world problems. We sat down with Co-Founder & CEO Matt Watson, who shared tips from his experience:
• Run towards the pain of your customer. Find out what you can take off their plate.
• Tell your story. Gain trust in the industry by showing up and making yourself known.
• Be resilient. Expect adversity and stay true to why you started the company.
57. [$194M raised] Bizzabo’s Alon Alroy on pivoting early and fastIn March 2020, everything stopped for events company Bizzabo. So they quickly pivoted and designed a new product for the times we were living in — pairing in-person conference tools with a virtual event management platform. With offices spanning the globe and a team from all walks of life, the company is united by one mission: to define the future of hybrid events. We chatted with Co-Founder, CMO and CCO of Bizzabo Alon Alroy about:
• What to do when VCs are saying no, but prospects are saying yes
• Finding ways to provide value to core customers
• Investing in a strong company culture
56. [Over 3M users] BharatAgri’s Sai Gole on reworking strategiesBharatAgri began as a college project back in 2015 and came to reality when they launched in 2017. Since then, the company has stuck to their mission of being the bridge between tech and farming. Today, their app has over 100K subscribers and is available across India. Co-Founder & CEO Sai Gole gives us a glimpse of their journey:
• Think outside the box. When hit by adversity, work around it by changing your strategy. Personalize content. Keep users top of mind when designing your product.
• Innovate comms.
• Stay on the lookout for the best tools to reach your audience.
55. [$85M Capital to date] Paystand’s Jeremy Almond on effectively communicating with clientsWhen digital B2B payment service Paystand launched in 2013, it had one mission: to democratize commercial payments. Today, the company has over 400,000 businesses making payments through their network, as well as $4B of volume on the block chain. Co-Founder & CEO Jeremy Almond joins Adam to give some advice:
• Stay true to your mission. Imagine the world not as it is, but as what it could be.
• Meet clients halfway. Make sure clients can understand what your business offers.
• Talk to your customers. Build a product and communicate with customers to lift off.
54. [$164M+ Raised] Aisera’s Muddu Sudhakar on fundraising the right waySince launching in late 2017, AI service experience startup Aisera successfully raised over $164M from VCs such as Zoom, Menlo Ventures, First Round Capital and Norwest Ventures — helping them grow to the +180 employee company they are today. Co-Founder and CEO Muddu Sudhakar gives his tips on fundraising:
• Vision is everything. Make sure your investors share it and are in it for the long haul.
• Board members matter. Get people who are running businesses now.
• Don’t waste your time. If they have serious interest, they will invest early on.
Check out Founders Village: https://bit.ly/3QPApIe
53. [Ukrainian Founder] Fuel Finance’s Alyona Mysko; growth during a warIt’s been a rocky two years since Ukrainian cloud-based financial company Fuel Finance opened their doors. In 2022, they faced the toughest challenge yet — the invasion of their home country. Here’s what Co-Founder & CEO Alyona Mysko had to say:
• Adapt your priorities. When times of uncertainty hit, it’s important to look out for your family and team — understand where they are and be there for them.
• Find purpose to boost growth. Fuel reshaped their mission to include supporting Ukraine, adding core human value to their business objectives.
Check out this week’s podcast partner MassChallenge: https://bit.ly/3NrGisF
52. [$LFLY] Leafly’s Founder, Cy Scott - don’t hack everything & knowing which battles to fightThis week Adam sat down with Cy Scott, Co-Founder of Leafly — think Yelp, but for cannabis — now a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ ($LFLY). Here are some key learnings:
• Be smart about hacks — know when and when not to do them. In the long term, doing things the right way can bring far better results than cutting corners!
• Keep user experience top-of-mind to choose when to fight for your convictions. Navigating through change means pushing through barriers.
51. Pair Eyewear’s Nathan Kondamuri on letting your customers guide youWhen Pair Eyewear first started, their focus was on making glasses a fun and dynamic accessory for kids. Today, they provide frames for everyone and employ over 90 people across the U.S. In this episode, Co-Founder and Co-CEO Nathan Kondamuri shares their journey as we discuss:
• The importance of evaluating possible paths when opportunities arise
• How social media channels like TikTok can be used as a trigger for growth
• Why listening to what your customers want and need is the key to success
50. Carrot Fertility’s Tammy Sun on knowing your business inside and outTammy Sun co-founded Carrot Fertility in 2016 with a mission to provide personalized fertility benefits for everyone, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, income or geography. Since then, the company has gone global and their services are available in over 120 countries. Adam sat down with Tammy to get her take on:
• Why you should always listen to your customers and stay connected to your mission
• Strategies for navigating rejection and developing resistance
• The importance of understanding your category and business model better than anyone else
49. Swag.com’s Jeremy Parker on targeting the top from the get-goJeremy Parker made the unusual switch from documentary filmmaker to entrepreneur in 2007 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, he founded promotional product platform Swag.com in January 2016, before it was acquired by major online apparel retailer Custom Ink in 2021. Adam sat down with Jeremy for a virtual chat to get the stories behind:
• How Swag.com landed Facebook as its first customer
• The importance of getting your foot in the door early on
• Why fully understanding your buyer is crucial to success
48. [$6.5B Exit] Auth0’s Founder, Eugenio Pace on prioritizing people over segmentsAt the age of 42, Eugenio Pace was a late bloomer in the startup game. But he more than made up for lost time when he built up identity authentication platform Auth0 from scratch in 2013, before the company was acquired by Okta in May 2021. The Co-Founder joined Adam for a chat about:
• Why developers are so important in the tech industry
• The first sale being a valuable milestone for any startup
• How the right timing (and luck) both play their part in company growth
47. Modern Health’s Alyson Watson on staying focused when navigating changesModern Health first opened its virtual doors in 2017 and has since grown to 400 employees — experiencing a surge in demand as a result of changing perceptions towards mental health. We caught up with Founder & CEO Alyson Watson to talk about:
• How focusing on the big picture is key in periods of growth
• Looking at business objectives to find out where to prioritize resources
• The importance of looking after and supporting your own team
46. Outreach’s Manny Medina on why you should stay close to your customersWhen sales software company Outreach began back in 2014, there were three people making the amount of sales a team of 20 would. Today, they have 1,000 employees across the world and over 5,000 customers. We were joined by Co-Founder & CEO Manny Medina to discuss:
• Encouraging your employees to be high performers in and outside the organization
• Using feedback to understand what you’re doing right and where you can improve
• The importance of prioritizing customer retention before expansion
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45. DocSend’s Russ Heddleston on the importance of getting product pricing rightSince launching at New York’s TechCrunch Disrupt back in 2014, DocSend was acquired by Dropbox in March 2021 and has brought on over 20,000 customers. In our Season 5 opener, Adam sat down for a virtual coffee with Co-Founder Russ Heddleston to get the lowdown on:
• How word of mouth is still important to achieve growth
• Using customer feedback as a base for making improvements
• Why founders should monetize their products from the get-go
44. Jane Technologies’ Socrates Rosenfeld on industry buildingSince 2015, Jane Technologies has been revolutionizing the world of e-commerce, providing a channel for cannabis businesses to get their product directly to consumers’ homes. We talked to Founder & CEO Socrates Rosenfeld to learn more about:
• Market innovation through product development
• Focusing on long term strategies
• UPC codes and product data in e-commerce
Shout out to our top partner Segment! Here’s a link to get $50k in free credits: https://bit.ly/3wdhYGb
43. Sense360’s Eli Portnoy on getting the most from your data and the power of cold-reach emailFounded in 2014 and acquired by Medallia in September 2020, Sense360 offers businesses clearer insights on customer behavior through data. We met for a virtual chat with Founder & CEO Eli Portnoy to find out more about:
• Prioritizing value at every step of your pitch
• Effective cold outreach strategies
• Leverage your existing data to engage prospects
Shoutout to our top partner Deel! They are a global hiring platform that makes it easy to hire anyone in a new country in minutes.
42. OLO (NYSE) Founder & CEO Noah Glass talks about segmentation & the demonstration effectAfter 16.5 years in business and a half a billion-dollar IPO, Olo still has that “day-one energy” and lives by its original vision: to enable restaurants to meet the needs of on-demand consumers. We caught up with Founder & CEO, Noah Glass to discuss:
• How to best segment in the early days
• How to leverage the demonstration effect to create FOMO with prospects
• How resilience is the best founder superpower
41. ZoomInfo’s CEO, Henry Schuck; Prioritizing Go-to-market-fit & Getting to $800M ARROver the past five years, ZoomInfo has grown 10X to an $800 million dollar run rate business with over 3,000 employees and 25,000 customers. We sat down with Founder and CEO Henry Schuck to hear a few of his growth strategies. Here are a few things we talked about:
• Prioritize your go-to-market fit
• Increase expansion with CDRs (customer development reps)
• Never stop listening to prospect calls
40. ZFW’s Madhav Kasturia on pandemic pivotsGoing from a small takeout store to a hyperlocal fulfillment platform in 6 years, ZFW Hospitality has a story to tell. We spoke with their Founder, Madhav Kasturia — one of India’s youngest serial restaurateurs — about:
• Lockdown lessons and the impact on the hospitality industry
• Decision making in challenging situations
• Empowering customers through a great experience
39. Accion’s Matt Schaar on building a financially inclusive worldAccion Venture Lab provides support to early-stage startups looking to tackle financial exclusion around the world. Zendesk’s Adam O’Donnell sat down with Accion’s Senior Director Matt Schaar for a chat about:
• Strategy development with founders
• The importance of product market fit
• Why low-income customers shouldn’t be overlooked
38. Guava’s Kelly Ifill on helping Black-owned businesses grow and networkGuava is a banking hub for Black entrepreneurs, aimed at closing the wealth gap. CEO & Founder, Kelly Ifill has a virtual coffee chat with Adam about:
• Authenticity in startups
• Guava’s customer journey
• Equitable financial products and support for small business owners
37. Capchase’s Miguel Fernandez on funding startups with future revenueRapidly expanding Fintech company, Capchase, partners with startups to help them tap into upfront capital in order to grow. Zendesk’s Adam O’Donnell and Capchase CEO & Co-Founder Miguel Fernandez dive into:
• His personal path to entrepreneurship
• What it takes for a startup to succeed
• Customer centricity: the importance of action over words
• How Capchase raised over $500mil in equity in one year
36. ERA’s Jonathan Axelrod on prioritizing the customer for growthCombining seed capital and hands-on support, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator has gained the title of NYC’s top technology accelerator and early-stage venture capital firm. We sat down with serial entrepreneur and ERA Co-Founder, Jonathan Axelrod to talk about:
• How ERA helps founders learn, fail and succeed faster
• The need for agility and a customer-driven mindset for growth
• Stories of companies that led successful pivots
35. Ada’s Mike Murchison on scaling customer experienceUsing AI as fuel, Ada equips companies with everything they need to make personalized customer experiences at scale. And all without the help of an engineer. Co-Founder and CEO Mike Murchison takes us behind the scenes of Ada in this discussion about:
• How to free up live agents and focus on more creative work
• What to look at when building software
• Behavior traits among top leaders
34. Pachama’s Diego Saez Gil on building startups that make a true differencePachama is on a mission to remove carbon from the atmosphere — with the aim of protecting and restoring forests globally. Through machine learning, the startup monitors carbon capture and finances both conservation and reforestation projects. Zendesk’s Brad Bowery chats with Co-Founder and CEO Diego Saez Gil about:
• How to help companies and consumers navigate carbon removal and offsetting
• The importance of finding solutions to climate change
• Building trust in the marketplace with a long-term approach and patience
33. Lang.ai’s Jorge Peñalva on powering customer experience with AILang.ai is a no code AI platform designed to help CX teams automate repetitive tasks. This startup is breaking the stereotype that AI is built for engineers by engineers. Zendesk’s Pedro Muller sits down with Co-Founder Jorge Peñalva to discuss:
• How AI boosts efficiency and prepares companies for the unexpected
• The importance of tagging systems in early stage startups
• Lang.ai’s role in freeing up operators to focus on creativity
32. Highlights episode: Making it through a pandemicIn this episode, we reflect on how two startups navigated a rocky year. Our hosts, Pedro Muller and Tara McCann, handpick their favorite moments with past guests from TravelNest and Wavy. Both businesses found unique ways to grow, even during the pandemic. Find out some of their top lessons, including:
• Switching strategies in times of crisis
• Ways to put your customers first
• How customer experience starts with employee experience
31. Live episode: Creating the future of skin healthIn our first episode recorded on Clubhouse, we invited the Co-Founders of OneSkin onto the show. OneSkin develops products to improve “skinspan”, and was founded by Brazilian entrepreneurs, Alessandra Zonari and Carolina Oliveira. Join their conversation with Zendesk’s Pedro Muller to learn:
• The unique challenges of growing a startup in a new country
• Creating a business based on a love of science
• How to identify a specific customer profile
30. Product School’s Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia on unifying product with customer experienceCarlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia is the CEO and Founder of Product School, the global leader in product management training. Since 2014, the community has grown to more than one million people. In this episode, Carlos shares his experiences from the digital product world, in a conversation with Shawna Wolverton, Executive Vice President of Product at Zendesk. Learn about:
• The bootstrap approach to building a community-centric business
• The role of a product manager in early stage startups
• How to best unify the customer experience from product to service
29. Kaizo’s Christoph Auer-Welsbach on hacking Zendesk MarketplaceChristoph is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of performance management platform, Kaizo. He is an entrepreneur and investor with a passion for ecological innovation. Prior to it he was a Partner at IBM Ventures. In this episode, Christoph is in conversation with Zendesk’s Pedro Muller. Find out:
• Kaizo’s journey in building tools for support heroes
• Best practices for growing in the Zendesk Marketplace—the one-stop shop for apps and integrations
• How to empower support agents to achieve goals
28. Atman’s Pedro Sorren on inevitable foundersPedro Sorren is the founder of Atman, an early-stage venture capital firm. The firm has seeded category-defining companies, like Coinbase, Instacart, GitLab, and Webflow. In this episode, Pedro shares a virtual espresso with Zendesk’s Pedro Muller. Listen to the pair chat about:
• Why the venture capital industry needs innovation
• Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley versus Latin America
• The mighty force of “inevitable” founders who don’t give up
27. Finimize’s Max Rofagha on becoming your own financial advisorFinimize is working on making finance a breeze. The London-based startup gives people information and tools that empower them to make smarter decisions about finance. In this episode, Founder and CEO, Max Rofagha, is in conversation with Zendesk’s Tara McCann. Learn about:
• Putting in the grind to reach critical mass
• The power of driving community and brand equity
• How to align your business model with your consumers
25. bud.com’s Justin Hall on making it in a fresh industryIn 2019, legal cannabis business sales hit an all-time high of $12 billion. In this episode, get insights on being the first in a fresh industry. Hear Justin Hall, Founder and CTO of Bud.com, in conversation with Zendesk’s Pedro Muller, as he clears the smoke on building a cannabis startup. Find out:
• The blazing journey of bud.com, starting with a domain purchase in 1994
• How to enable customer support teams to educate users
• Growing a business in a highly legislated industry
24. Unstack’s Grant Deken on helping businesses be digital-firstUnstack is a no-code marketing platform for startups. It aims to replace systems like WordPress with all the tools that teams need to win in the digital economy. Learn about Unstack’s journey direct from Founder and CEO, Grant Deken, as he chats with Zendesk’s Tara McCann on:
• Identifying the problem and building the ultimate solution
• The power of building community to improve loyalty
• Advice on creating a strong feedback loop with early customers
23. Defy’s Madison McIlwain on breaking into venture capitalDefy is an early-stage focused venture fund based in Silicon Valley. In this episode, Madison McIlwain, a Partner at Defy, catches up with Pedro Muller, GM of Startups at Zendesk. The pair discuss Madison’s journey from growing up chatting entrepreneurship at family meals, to transitioning out of the corporate world. Learn about:
• The role of Venture Capital on the startup ecosystem
• How innovative investors are making it easy for founders to grow their business
• Advice for getting backed by a venture capital firm
22. Vindi’s Rodrigo Dantas on finding success in emerging marketsVindi is a leader in payment solutions in Brazil. The startup was one of the first SaaS businesses in Brazil, and was recently acquired when it hit $33 million in valuation. Co-Founder and CEO, Rodrigo Dantas, is in conversation with Maira Gracini, Senior Director of Marketing LATAM at Zendesk. You’ll get insights on:
• Challenges unique to growing a startup in Latin America
• How to hire and train talent to build a world-class team
• Getting an edge on Silicon Valley and competing with big names, like Stripe and Paypal
21. Mary Louise Cosmetics’ Akilah Releford on following good ideasMary Louise Cosmetics is a natural and organic skincare brand. Founded in 2017, CEO, Akilah Releford, was inspired by many of the homemade beauty remedies used by her grandmothers. So, she started the company in her university dorm room. In this episode, hear Akilah in conversation with Marissa Tree, Zendesk’s Senior Director of Public Relations. Learn:
• Why a good business idea is always worth following through on
• The power of frugal bootstrap founders to investors and VCs
• How to avoid comparing yourself to other founders
20. Dispatch Goods’ Lindsey Hoell on building sustainable solutionsDispatch Goods is a zero-waste alternative for restaurant delivery. The startup provides reusable to-go containers for restaurants, so customers always have a sustainable option. Join CEO, Lindsey Hoell, in conversation with Zendesk’s Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Todd Lineart. Get insights on:
• Taking action to support business to be more sustainable
• Making it simple for people to choose eco-friendly restaurants
• Unique challenges as a female founder
• The value of customer feedback to shape the vision of the business
19. Live episode: How to find your product market fitEveryone knows the value of understanding your product market fit. But getting there is never straightforward. For this live episode, we’re delighted to share a recording of a Zendesk webinar, in partnership with Pendo. Listen for insights and practical advice from two product experts: Mike Gozzo, VP of Product at Zendesk, and Eric Boduch, Co-founder at Pendo. You’ll learn:
• How to define product market fit is and measure it effectively
• The right time to prove your fit—should you ever stop?
• How to get feedback to guide your efforts, and metrics to prove your fit to investors
• Why product market fit must be a company-wide initiative
18. Wavy’s Victor Lebeau on helping beauty services scaleWavy aims to bring simplicity to hair and beauty salons. It’s a simplified cash register app and booking app solution that gets to the heart of what counts: saving time. Join Victor Lebeau, CPO & Co-Founder in conversation with Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, Zendesk’s VP of Marketing for EMEA on:
• Why agility is vital in order to respond to shifts in customer sentiment
• All the ways Wavy prioritizes customer relationships
• Supporting remote teams during tough times
17. LeaseQuery’s George Azih on making accounting easyLeaseQuery is a cloud-based lease accounting software. Its CEO and Founder, George Azih, took the idea from a one-person startup to a thriving company with 180 employees—in less than six years. The entrepreneur talks with Zendesk for Startups whiz, Brad Bowery, on:
• The rollercoaster journey towards record-breaking growth
• Getting to the heart of understanding your customers
• How a 3-year subscription model proved to be a recipe for success
16. Freshly’s Michael Wystrach on the future of foodFreshly is a meal delivery service that not only provides nutritious meals, but cares about reducing the food waste caused by the grocery supply chain. In this episode, CEO and Co-Founder, Michael Wystrach, chats with Zendesk’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Titterton, on Freshly’s unique journey hacking the food industry. Together, they dish insights on:
• The power of identifying your core customer
• How to scale a food business
• Freshly’s approach to reducing environmental footprints
15. TravelNest’s Rebecca Moore on strong leadership in times of fluxTravelNest is on a mission to reinvent the way hosts market their rental properties. The Edinburgh-based startup solves the problem of low occupancy by improving visibility and boosting bookings. From one Chief Operating Officer to another, TravelNest’s Rebecca Moore and Zendesk’s Peter Lorant get together (virtually) to chat:
• The fast-growth journey of a company that bridges tech and travel
• How COVID-19 is impacting the travel industry
• Robust and inspirational leadership amid uncertainty
14. Ameelio’s Uzoma Orchingwa on changing the future of prison communicationsIn 2020, a couple of bright and compassionate Yale students decided to do something about the captive $1.2B prisons telecommunications industry. They founded technology nonprofit, Ameelio, to provide free communication tools for incarcerated people to connect with their families and loved ones. Learn from Co-Founder, Uzoma Orchingwa, on:
• How Ameelio is decoupling incarceration and profit
• Overcoming technical hurdles of providing free communications
• The value of human connection
13. Raheem’s Brandon D. Anderson on using AI to end police violenceIn the United States, 93% of people who experienced police brutality, but did not report it. The independent service, Raheem, is working to change that. Raheem builds tools for communities to report and track police, and leverages open complaint data to find ways to respond to conflict with care. In this episode, learn important insights from Founder, Brandon D. Anderson, on:
• Ending policy terror against Black people in the United States
• Building a team of incredible organizers, policy experts, and data science
• Using tools like AI to create better customer experience
12. Novo’s Michael Rangel on building a customer-centric FintechMichael Rangel, Founder and CEO of Novo, believes all founders are a little outrageous. But that didn't stop him from creating Novo, a powerfully simple banking platform built for the modern entrepreneur. Since its founding, Novo has experienced fast growth and continues to do so, even during a pandemic. It’s a big credit to their laser focus on customer experience. Learn about:
• The process behind Michel founding Novo
• Why Novo chose to become a B2B vs. B2C banking platform
• The challenges of building a Fintech that puts customers at the heart of business
11. Code for America’s Amanda Renteria on bringing startup values to governmentCode for America believes the two biggest levers for improving people’s lives at scale are technology and government. Since 2011, the non-profit organization has been helping state and local governments serve communities better to ensure that technology is simple, fast, and effective. In this episode, CEO, Amanda Renteria, shares how their team of techies and social justice activists do just that. Listen to learn:
• How to solve problems with human-centric systems and processes
• What's needed to build a diverse and equitable organization
• The unique value of applying startup principles to government
10. (Live episode) Software taking over the worldIn 2020, Forbes Cloud 100 list is at its most impressive, with a record 87 companies valued at $1 billion or more. In this episode, we sit down (virtually) for a candid chat with two Cloud 100 leaders. Hear Archana Agrawal, Chief Marketing Officer at Airtable, and JD Peterson, Chief Growth Officer at Culture Amp in conversation with Zendesk CFO, Elena Gomez. Get lessons on:
• The unexpected acceleration of the cloud and SaaS in 2020
• Challenges of building a high growth cloud company
• How investment in customer experience plays an important role in achieving growth
9. Lessonly’s Max Yoder on doing better workLessonly is powerfully simple software that helps teams learn. Co-Founder and CEO Max Yoder chats with Zendesk’s Tiffany Apczynski on all things empathy. They explore how education can be used to build the new generation of leaders that the world needs. Tune in to hear the pair talk:
• Tying ROI and behavioral change to software
• How to boost confidence and competence with communication
• Living whatever you’re asking your team to do
• Letting go of perfectionism and tapping into play
8. Mindler’s Magnus Pettersson on scaling a fast-growth startupMindler believes that everyone should have access to mental health services. In this episode, Mindler COO, Magnus Pettersson sits down with Zendesk’s Warren Levitan at a time when distress is on the rise. They chat about the importance of the first interaction with customers, and defining best in class CX in the world of startups and mental health. Listen to learn:
• The journey towards making mental health accessible remotely
• Valuable lessons on scaling a growing startup
• The role of empathy in strengthening customer trust
7. CodeSignal’s Sophia Baik on hiring with less biasCodeSignal is the first company to build an objective skills-based platform for recruiters and employers. In this episode, Co-Founder, Sophia Baik, chats with Ryan Nichols of Zendesk, about avoiding biases, and pivoting business strategy based on customer feedback. Listen in to learn:
• How to hire an effective remote team
• Why bias in the hiring process can damage startup culture
• The value of listening to customer feedback
6. Zenni Optical’s Bai Gan on how customers influence productZenni Optical’s Chief Product Officer, Bai Gan, sits down with Kristen Durham of Zendesk—from their remote home offices in California. The pair chat about Zenni Optical’s growth journey, from the days of building a bootstrap startup to navigating the tides of 2020. In this episode, find out:
• How to listen to your customers in order to predict trends
• The importance of investing in a direct to consumer strategy
• Lessons on building a business during the dot com crisis
5. Lemlist’s Guillaume Moubeche on CX as everyone’s jobLemlist is an email outreach platform helping sales teams, agencies, and B2B businesses stand out in a crowded inbox. Speaking across the pond, France-based CEO and Co-Founder, Guillaume Moubeche, is in conversation with Prelini Udayan-Chiechi, Zendesk’s VP of Marketing, EMEA in London. Together, they chat:
• Prospecting techniques, and the “right time” to reach out—even during a pandemic
• The undervalued power of empathy in sales
• Aligning sales and support strategies
4. Glofox’s Anthony Kelly on the rise of the Chief Customer OfficerAnthony Kelly is the Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Glofox, an intuitive gym management software solution, which enables entrepreneurs to grow their own fitness business. From his home office in Dublin, Anthony chats with Zendesk’s Chief Marketing Officer (and fitness lover), Jeff Titterton. They discuss delivering experiences in a shifting world, including:
• Anthony’s tried-and-tested motto: “When the customer wins, we all win”
• Why the virtual fitness format is here to stay
• How Glofox is evolving their customer base from boutique to enterprise gyms
3. Tymeshift’s Elisa Reggiardo on the value of support leadersTymeshift’s Chief Brand Officer, Elisa Reggiardo, sits down with Zendesk’s Senior Director of Content and Event Marketing, Sarah Reed. While continents apart, the pair catch up on:
• Why support gets deprioritized by founders, and the power of support leaders driving efficient and engaged teams
• The unique startup challenge: balancing team culture with growth and change
• Making the most of workforce management solutions to build teams of all sizes
2. Startup Grind’s Derek Andersen on virtual C2C strategyDerek Andersen is the Co-Founder and CEO of Startup Grind, a global community for educating and connecting entrepreneurs. He chats with Marcio Arnecke, Zendesk’s VP of Regional Marketing AMER, on the value of investing in community, especially in a post-COVID world.
• Building community for altruistic good and pipeline generation
• Learning to thrive in our new normal, through the power of end-to end virtual communities
• Startup Grind’s successful pivot online, and “no limits” when it comes to digital messaging
1. Aura’s James Gutierrez on empathy as secret sauceAura Founder and CEO, James Gutierrez, sits down with Zendesk CFO, Elena Gomez, to share Aura’s mission to provide affordable, credit-building loans to working families in America. While pretending to sip cortados in a coffee shop, they chat:
• James’s personal journey building Aura, and his motivation to open doors for low-income families
• Adapting to COVID-19 by arming customers with “moral collateral”, making customer experiences more digital, and offering “pay what you can” options
• Leading with compassion, and how empathy drives Aura’s startup culture—and success
We’ve got a thing for startups
Sit Down Startup is made by us, Zendesk. We were once a scrappy startup (and we’ve got the kitchen bench we were born on to prove it). Now, we help all kinds of startups, baby to big, build the best customer experiences. Support, sales, or something in between, let us lend a hand in providing a solution that’s mightiest for you.