Software for sales teams “the sales tech stack” is growing in complexity and costs. Multiple enterprise software vendors are fighting for the same $300 per rep IT budget, and most of these solutions are out of reach for the SMB. We see a massive opportunity in this “crowded” space.
The common wisdom is that entrepreneurs find a problem with a big enough TAM, interview potential customers via Lean methodologies, then find your product-market fit. And this is right, but for me I’ve found that it’s better to first start with finding the team you want to work with.
Meaning, regardless of the product, “Would I enjoy riding with this team for the next 4 to 5 years?”
After my second startup DoctorBase was acquired, I wasn’t sure if I would do another software company or if I would just become an investor and advisor. As part of the purchase I had agreed not to solicit any DoctorBase employees as long as they were working for the acquirer, which is quite standard.
But then that company decided to consolidate some of their engineering, there were some inevitable layoffs, and I found that fate had given me an opportunity to work with my core engineering team again. I hired them all immediately without a plan.
So then the questions came up in our group – “What do we code up? What kind of company do we want to build? Can we handle John’s bullshit for another 4 years?”
One of the biggest challenges we had running both Five9 and DoctorBase was growing our sales teams –
We had a variety of wonderful tools for our sales reps, but their cost and complexity meant we had less money to spend on generating leads for them, and reps were increasingly spending more than 30% of their day on IT and admin tasks.
Mischa (who had started DoctorBase with me) and I discussed creating another startup and we came up with these elements that we wanted for our company –
- We agreed that we had too many expensive software apps for our sales teams that we either didn’t end up getting sales rep engagement or didn’t integrate into other apps, creating administrative overhead for our reps.
- Running a sales team cost us nearly a third of our operational costs (normal for SaaS) at our previous startups and we did not want to repeat that. We wanted to build a product that was low-priced and so easy to use that we could run a self-service model. This way we could be a price leader and invest heavily into fanatical customer support.
- We wanted an international team. Over the years we spent building DoctorBase, Mischa and I made friends with brilliant engineers all over the world, and we wanted a chance to be able to work with them.
- We’re big believers in Machine Learning. While few models in the sales tech stack are true machine learning right now, we think models will emerge where machine learning, and maybe even A.I., can be applicable.
- We want competitors. DoctorBase operated in the healthcare vertical, where EHR systems fought madly to lock out competing vendors. At JetBridge, Mischa and I both agreed that open platforms where 3rd parties can re-use our base infrastructure to create their own new features aren’t just better for customers, they make us cooler people too.
We decided JetBridge would build an open software platform for professional communications that’s affordable by all and easy enough to onboard yourself. Built by a team of the best engineers we knew.
I quickly drew up our logo over beers for Mischa and the gang.
“So you’re basically making our logo look like your new tattoo,” one of the engineers said.
“Uhm. Yeah.” I took a pic of the napkin and crumpled it up. “Look guys, let me worry about the marketing, ok?”
They smiled. It felt like we were back in business again.