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Navigating the Challenges of Building a Tech Company (Episode 148)

Drew Sechrist is a serial entrepreneur, veteran sales leader, and the CEO & Co-Founder of Connect The Dots.

A cold email to Marc Benioff in 1999 landed Drew an account executive job at Salesforce, where he was employee number 36. Drew became the company’s highest-producing seller, then the highest-producing sales manager as Salesforce scaled from zero to more than a billion dollars in revenue.

When Drew moved on in 2010, he was the VP of Salesforce’s High Tech vertical, calling on customers such as Apple and EMC. Drew launched his first tech company, Koozoo, in 2010. He went on to serve as an investor, advisor, and Chief Revenue Officer for various startups before founding Connect The Dots in 2019.

As a young seller, leaders like Marc Benioff, Jim Steele, Carl Schachter, and Susan St. Ledger transformed Drew’s career by opening their networks and making warm introductions on Drew’s behalf. With Connect The Dots, Drew is making that experience possible for anyone.

What you will learn

  • Discover the power of networking to dramatically grow your business
  • Drew unpacks the lessons he learned from his first tech company, Koozoo
  • Drew shares the idea behind Connect The Dots
  • Find out how Drew raises and funded the growth and development of his company
  • Learn about the troubles most entrepreneurs face when growing a company
  • Plus loads more!


Jeff Bullas

00:00:04 - 00:01:19

Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me, Drew Sechrist. Now, Drew is a serial entrepreneur, a veteran sales leader and the CEO and co-founder of Connect The Dots that helps people connect people to each other to help them make more revenue for their company increase their sales. It was a cold email to Marc Benioff in 1999, that landed Drew an account executive job at Salesforce. He was employee number 36. Drew became the company's highest producing seller than the biggest producing sales manager at Salesforce scaling from zero to more than a billion dollars in revenue. So Drew knows about sales and we're gonna be finding out more about that from him. When Drew moved on in 2010, he was a VP of Salesforce’s High Tech vertical, calling on customers such as Apple and EMC.

Drew launched his first tech company, Koozoo, in 2010. He went on to serve as an investor, advisor, and Chief revenue officer for various startups before founding Connect The Dots in 2019. As a young seller, leaders like Marc Benioff, Jim Steele, Carl Schachter and Susan St. Ledger transformed Drew's career by opening their networks.

Welcome to the show, Drew, it's fantastic to have you here.

Drew Sechrist

00:01:20 - 00:01:22

Jeff, thanks so much for having me.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:23 - 00:01:38

So Drew you very early on discovered the power of networks and how they made a big difference to growing a company and to increasing sales. So where did that all start from?

Drew Sechrist

00:01:39 - 00:03:43

Well, I think the earliest, really impactful experience I had on this was as you mentioned, I cold emailed Marc Benioff and ended up landing this job as employee number 36 at Salesforce in San Francisco. But I was an East Coast kid. I grew up on the East Coast and really had almost never been to the West Coast I think, except for one trip. When I got there, I, you know, the company wasn't terribly big yet, but it was a pretty well networked company. Marc Benioff had been in Oracle for 13 years at that point, and he had a pretty good network and he brought a team of people, Silicon Valley vets with him. And I learned, you know, very quickly early on in my sales career that if you can get to the right person, if you know the right person and you can pick up the phone and call and say, hey, you know, we want to sell your product to your company. Are you game to have that conversation? If it's somebody you know already you can get them to pick up the call, you can get them to take the meeting, you can get them to entertain that conversation. If it's not somebody you know, it's real hard to break in and, I learned really quickly that, you know, Marc Benioff has a great network and I could tap into it because our interests were aligned, I can say, hey Mark, do you know anybody at, you know, Cisco that we can sell to? And he'd say sure, I know, you know, John Chambers from such and such. And so you know, I'd say, okay, great Mark, let me type up an email for you to send to John and frame up a conversation with the right people over in this organization and that just, you know, knock doors open, we could get in and have all these conversations with the companies that we wanted to sell to. But I didn't have any of those contacts, I didn't know anybody. But the cool thing was I had stumbled luckily into this company that had a bunch of contacts that knew a bunch of people that they could introduce us to. So that was probably the earliest, like the moment when the light went on and I was like, wow, this is really amazing that you can tap into relationships like this.

Jeff Bullas

00:03:44 - 00:04:17

So you leaned into using the networks of the team that you're working within the company. So, it's really quite cumbersome, isn't it, really? The old way of networking is that you've got to, you know, lean out to reach out to people, you've got to do this, you gotta do that. And back in the early 2000s and you started working for Mark and Salesforce was back in around late 1900s, is that correct?

Drew Sechrist

00:04:18 - 00:04:36

Yeah, yeah, it was right around was about this time in 1999. So right around Thanksgiving was when I took the job there, Thanksgiving for those of you down under is the last, I think it was last Thursday in November every year. So it's about the time that I moved out to San Francisco and took the job.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:37 - 00:05:06

We have heard of Thanksgiving over here, so we do read the news occasionally, that's global or USA century and were sort of aware that you stop answering emails for a couple of days really, we've noticed that as well. Yeah, and that's fine, you know, the turkeys aren't so lucky, but that's fine.

So alright, so fast forward you've got involved and started a company called Koozoo as well, just quickly tell us about that. So obviously there's some inspiration to do that, what happened there?

Drew Sechrist

00:05:07 - 00:06:58

Yeah, I think so, I always knew that I was going to be an entrepreneur. When I moved to San Francisco, it was to be kind of at the, you know, the heart of entrepreneurship in our country and probably in the world at that point. And so I went out there with the intention to see how, you know, how do companies, how do technology companies get formed from an early stage, how do they grow? What makes them successful? And then also to build my network so that I could one day do that myself and frankly I thought I would do that after about two years, I figured I would put two years in Salesforce, learn everything I needed to learn, make some money and then start my own company. But you know, two years in the dot com bubble had burst. The economic environment was, it was desolate. It was not a good time. Well actually made in retrospect may have been a good time to start a company, but it was a very scary time to start a company. If you had a job that paid you pretty well, you were in pretty lucky situation so you wanted to keep that job. So I did. I stayed at Salesforce instead of for two years. I stayed there for a decade, but eventually towards the end of my time there, I had this idea for a really interesting product and service called Koozoo that I thought, you know, the time was right that it was time to start that company. And so I, at that point I, you know, I had socked away some earnings from Salesforce and I definitely made a great network and I set out on my own and started Koozoo and it was largely because there are two things that happened. One is I had an entrepreneur scratch, I'm sorry, entrepreneurial itch that I needed to scratch. And then the other thing was I had this vision for what I thought would be a really transformative product at that point and I just couldn't stop thinking about it and had to go pursue it. So that was the origin of Koozoo.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:59 - 00:07:01

Tell us quickly what was Koozoo about.

Drew Sechrist

00:07:02 - 00:08:34

It was, imagine we all use Google Street View, right? We all use Google Maps and Google Street View and Google Street View is cool. You can look at any spot on the planet and then you can see what it looks like, what's the storefront look like they're, you know, what does that street look like? The idea behind Koozoo was that we were going to enable people to crowdsource cameras that would look out windows and they would all be woven together into a basically a single street view except live of, you know all over the place. So we had, we imagine that San Francisco and Tokyo and Sydney would all be visible, you know, not just with that static picture on street view that you get, but actually with a live video showing what's happening. Is there a line there, you know, lined up is the traffic, are people, you know, are people doing something interesting in the park at that moment? So that was the origin that was the idea behind Koozoo. There are a lot of lessons from that experience. We built some really interesting technology, we got some adoption early on but we did not get enough adoption to turn that into basically what it needed to become, was like a viral growth machine, and it never turned into that. So after 3.5 years of hard work and kind of, you know, some hard lessons. We wrapped up the company, and wound it down. That was not an entrepreneurial success, but it was certainly, there are a lot of learnings in there that I'm happy that I learned even though I learned the hard way.

Jeff Bullas

00:08:35 - 00:08:40

Well you don't learn from comfort. You usually learn from hard times.

Drew Sechrist

00:08:41 - 00:08:42

No kidding.

Jeff Bullas

00:08:42 - 00:10:00

Yeah. And I'm sure you had quite a few hard times. Like it should have been challenging with financing, would have been challenged with getting the right team. It's like we're not getting sales. How do we do this? Okay. So you've, yeah, certainly for me, the best things I've learned, one of the best things I learned life is actually almost didn't need to embrace hard times going, you know what, this is where I learned, not said, not see it as a bad time, but just as a hard time that you maybe didn't want or welcome, but nevertheless it's showing up. Okay. So well now little bit further down the track and you have another idea and I noticed that you've got a few co-founders with Connect The Dots. Now, Connect The Dots is about using technology to help you control and manage and help you produce a network. So where did the idea come from? Because we've moved from 1999, the Salesforce technology 20 years later is quite different. So where did the idea come from, Connect The Dots? And was it through your networks if you had discussions and then you pulled the team together to start it and fund it?

Drew Sechrist

00:10:01 - 00:14:22

Yeah. So the the origin goes back to the very early days of Salesforce when I had those first lessons about, wow, you know, if you, you know, if you really know the people that you're trying to get to in a in a sales process, you are way ahead and so knowing who knows who is incredibly important, and we did a really good job of that at Salesforce and I'm sure that they still do to this day, you know, it's just at a massive scale and they do a good job of helping each other out and figuring out which relationships they can leverage to get into accounts and to expand accounts and that's great. But the, you know, the problem had always been and still is today, really getting a comprehensive view of the, you know, all the different possible best relationships that you could be leveraging to get to any specific company or any specific person that you're trying to get to. So let's say you're trying to get to the CFO at XYZ company, because you know, that's the person who's gonna be the decision maker on your, whatever it is, whatever product that you sell, you sell to CFO. You might check on LinkedIn and see that, you know, there are some common connections that you could possibly have and the, you know, the challenge with that is there are a lot of people who are connected on LinkedIn that don't really know each other that terribly well. They might have met at a trade show once 15 years ago or something like that. And so it's hard to kind of pick through and figure out which relationships you should be leveraging in an efficient way without annoying a lot of people along the way. And what we realized was that artificial intelligence was getting to the point that you could point it at semi structured data sets and turn that into something really magical. That would reveal these relationships, who actually knows who and the semi structured data set that we kind of, you know, realized. We could point it out was email, we've been emailing for a long time. We've been emailing for decades now and it's been piling up for decades. We've got these archived emails that are basically like, you know, remnants of or traces of relationships caught in amber over the years and the decades now. And but people have emailed from lots of different email addresses and they've changed jobs a lot and trying to figure out like who are these people that have emailed over the course of the past decades and turn that into a graph of who really knows who like which people actually know which people. We thought we could do that. And and so I pulled together the team, the founding team that did do that and that's exactly what we've built. And so now when you're looking for an introduction to the CFO at XYZ company, you just type in that person's name and then up pops their profile. And then you can see maybe I've actually interacted with this person in some capacity in the past because I've emailed with a lot of people over the last 20 something years. So maybe we've already connected. It happens all the time for me. And then the other possibility is if that hasn't happened then I can see all of the people in my network who actually know that person and really know that person well. I can see how well they know that person and I can pick up the person that I know best to say hey Sally, it looks like you really know the CFO ofXYZ company. Well, could you make an introduction? I'd like to talk to him about blah blah blah, whatever it is. The thing that I'm trying to sell and Sally can make a decision, you know, sure, Drew, I'm happy to help you out. I know you well, I know him well, I think he probably likes your value proposition. Then she sends an email to that CFO, that CFO gets an email from Sally whom he knows quite well. And so he opens it, it's not spam, he reads it and says, okay, well sally, if you really think it's worth my time, then I'll spend 15 minutes with Drew to talk about the value proposition and voila, there you are, you're right, and you're on a call with the decision maker of you know, the company that you want to sell to and you skipped all the fuss, all the, you know, spamming and banging your head against the wall, you got right to that decision maker. And so that's that was the mission that we set out to accomplish, and that is the product that we built that exists today, you can leverage it, and so if you're in a B2B sales role at your, you know, I kind of think you're a little bit crazy not to be doing this because this is the short circuit in your sales process.

Jeff Bullas

00:14:23 - 00:14:40

So, when you kicked it off, obviously sort of a technology solution, so I think you're really a technology company. So what were the challenges in getting the right technology and did you create a minimal viable product, it is maybe a second question first?

Drew Sechrist

00:14:40 - 00:17:49

Yeah, I mean, I would say the challenges were not insignificant at all, so the first thing, the first technology challenge that we had to accomplish was let somebody connect an email account to our service and then be able to figure out and resolve the identity of all the humans that you've communicated with. And so an example, Jeff, you probably have a bunch of the email addresses that you've used over your life. You know, you might have [email protected] and you might have [email protected] and you might have, you know your hotmail account, you might have, you know, that we've all had different companies and different over the years and different email accounts were created and those represent the same person, that's you. But you got to figure out how they all tie together into a single human being, like all these email addresses belong to you and then you've emailed with a lot of different people over the years, just as I have and that we all have different email addresses too. So like that was a big problem and a big challenge, figuring out how to consolidate all those email addresses into a single person and then calculate a relationship score between those two people. That's a really big technical challenge. And so it was frankly, something we just have to keep chipping away at, chipping away at, chipping away at because there's no silver bullet to that, it's like there are, you know, a gazillion bullets that you need to fire in order to accomplish that. And so it is a problem that we just tackled over time and got into . By the way, it's a never ending problem. Now, we're just in the 99% range of accuracy. When we started out, we were in the, you know, 15% range of accuracy, so we had to keep working our way up and now we're in the 99 then we want to get to 99.9 and 99.99, so that's a huge technical challenges. And then there was a, you know, there's a challenge of like figuring out what's a human, what's not a human because people, lots of emails have gone back and forth between humans and things that are not humans and then figuring out how to identify those, and so, you know, there are all kinds of other challenges along the way too, of just ingesting large volumes of data, processing that data, making it usable and understandable for people. We started out with a small team and we've built a prototype and we got enough of a prototype running that we could get our first seed funding, we got our seed funding and then we turned that into a more mature product that actually worked and people could use and get value from. And we turned that into our series A and as we went, we raised more money. We were able to recruit, you know, more experts in their fields in order to do the various technical components that needed to be done and so we just have continued to chip away at the problem and get better and better and better at delivering that solution to people.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:50 - 00:18:05

So you build a prototype which was also another name for that is maybe minimal viable product. In other words, it could be shown to work. So are your own best case study in using it to actually reach out and use it to sales?

Drew Sechrist

00:18:05 - 00:20:33

Yeah, well, we, I think today we are and I think in the not too distant future we're gonna be dramatically surpassed by our users because our users, I have a really good network just to put them some things in perspective here for you. I have emailed with across the email accounts that I have access to and I've connected to Connect The Dots. I've emailed about 26,000 people in my life. Crazy to think about. It's a lot of people, I can't keep all of them straight in my head. I don't, I'm guessing that maybe a couple 100. I know, you know, I really know a couple hundreds or thousands. I mean, how many people can you keep in your head? But there's this long tail of relationships of people that I, you know, I can see now neatly organized and I can see what companies look at what your title is. I can see all my history with them. You know, I might have emailed them when they were at eBay 15 years ago and now they're at Amazon and in a completely different capacity and I can still see like the context, I can see the complete context about how I know this person. And so I have of those 26,000 people that I have emailed within my life, about 750 or so our connectors for me on Connect The Dots, that means I can see their network, they can see my network, that gives me access to just under a million people that I can reach reach out to. So I when I'm looking for the CFO of XYZ company, there's a really good chance that I know one or more people who know that person and depends on the industry. But if it's in the technology industry, I can usually find a strong path and I can find like I know somebody well who knows that person well now, sorry. And the last thing I was gonna say is when a company turns us on and goes wall to wall and every employee in the company becomes a connector for everybody else in the company. Then immediately they have a large network to tap. Much larger than my network. And I'm the CEO of this company. So you know, if your 2000 employees all of a sudden you get 2000 connectors instead of my 750 connectors. And so right now, we are very, very successful with being able to use our product to get to the people who want to get to. But I think we're about to be really dramatically surpassed by our customers are going live right now.

Jeff Bullas

00:20:34 - 00:20:42

Because they'll have bigger networks then, which because data gives them more power, doesn't it? The more connections they have, the more power they have.

Drew Sechrist

00:20:42 - 00:20:44


Jeff Bullas

00:20:44 - 00:21:51

Yeah, that was interesting, is that I, you know, did a little bit looking at LinkedIn and looked you up, we've got, I hadn't heard about you until a week ago. We've got five or six common connections on LinkedIn for example. So and that's and you know what, that almost happens with everyone just like this is interesting. Look, I have a fairly big LinkedIn connection. I think I've got 30,000 actual connections and then I've got over 50,000 network. So, but I don't use that data very well and I know that I've got and then I hate to imagine how many emails I've sent in the last you know, 30 odd years. Now, the other question I'm really curious about is number one, you've got all this information, how do you represent it? And do you do data visualization? Is it just that I just want to get into this industry and how would you use your tool. Tell us quickly how you use the tool?

Drew Sechrist

00:21:52 - 00:23:43

Yeah. And just one thing since you mentioned it, I looked up on LinkedIn your profile and I see the people that we have in common and I know one of them. That's the problem with LinkedIn, right? I know one quite well she worked for me, but that's the one that I know. So yeah, the data visualization is very simple and Connect The Dots. It's basically you can search for a company or you search for a person specifically or you can search for a title and then it comes up with that, you know, the thing that you're looking for. So if you're looking for, you know, Bob Smith, CFO at XYZ company, it comes up with Bob Smith and it'll tell you, do you know him because he might be somebody that you emailed, you might, you know, I've got 26,000 people have emailed with maybe already know him somehow. And if I don't know him, it'll tell me how do I get to him? And these are all the people that I know that can get me to him. And these are all and this is how well each of those people actually knows Bob. And the way that we represent that is by three dots. One dot means it's a weak relationship. Two dots means a familiar relationship and three dots means it's a strong relationship. So I'm always looking for those three dots if I can find three dot connections in and I'm like, great, Jeff, you know, Bob Smith, can you make the introduction from to talk to? And so, you know, it's always up to, this is all social capital. All social capital. Like I can ask you to make the introduction and you, you know, you can say Drew. I'm sorry, I may not be, you know, I'm not interested in help reaching out to him right now for whatever reason. Or you can say sure. Drew, I'm happy to do it. I think it's in our mutual best interest and I love to make connections. So, you know, that's entirely up to you. But yeah, that's our user interface is really, really kind of dead simple. Just look for the company or look for the person and then we'll show you all the pads in.

Jeff Bullas

00:23:43 - 00:24:02

Right, okay. So you got the data, you're looking for the three dots. Do you have templates or best practice for sending messages and how to use, how to build your network?

Drew Sechrist

00:24:03 - 00:25:21

No, the short answer is no, we don't. But we are working on it right now. So we are working on a set of templates for exactly that purpose, all the different scenarios. We actually, to say no, it's not entirely true. On our website, we have some examples that you can look at, but we're actually gonna embed that in our product very shortly. So if you're making an ask of a coworker, you know, like let's say you and I work at the same company and I say, hey Jeff, could you introduce me to, I see that, you know, the CFO of XYZ company. Can you introduce me? That's a pretty simple thing, right? We're both in the same company, you know, we both want our company to succeed. So generally, people in the same company are happy to make those introductions. If you are a friend, that's a slightly different scenario, you know, if Jeff, just my friend, we don't work too. If you're my cousin, that's a slightly different scenario. If you are a customer, that's a slightly different scenario. And so in all of those things you need to, there's always a slight little little different touch, you know, to send the request out and make an ask of your network to introduce you, so we are working on that, but you know, to be, you know, technically correct. It does not exist in the product today, but it will very shortly.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:22 - 00:25:46

So the other thing I'm really curious about is, alright, so you develop the technology, got a prototype, you then had enough to go and show venture capitalist, How do you go about raising money to basically fund the development and also the growth? How did you go about that?

Drew Sechrist

00:25:47 - 00:29:21

So we were about to start a process to go raise our series A and this was a year and change ago. This is probably like August of 2021, or something like that, so we're about to go start a process and, but there had been one firm that had asked about us, we were in stealth, we weren't talking to anybody and we actually ended up, they had heard about us through the grapevine and they wanted to speak with us six months earlier and we said we're not ready yet, we'll, you know, we'll reach out to you when the time's right and they ended up reaching out to us when the time was right or just right before the time was right. And so the partner at that firm, so we raised from Norwest, which the top tier VC in Silicon Valley and the partner, there was Scott Beechuk, he had spent time at Salesforce, he was actually seen productive at Salesforce before he became a venture capitalist. So he knew the space, you know, the general space of sales technology very well. And, when he reached out the second time, we were like, well, it's a little early, but okay, we can have this conversation. And so, we had an initial conversation, I said, okay, we've been in stealth, I'll show you what we've got, kind of pulled the curtains back and showed the product at that point and, you know, don't get me wrong, my product, it's not perfect. It's still, you know, remember I talked about the getting the 99%, you know, accuracy on everything. We weren't anywhere close to that. We were, you know, maybe in the 80’s at that point, you know, and so there are a lot of problems in delivering the quality experience. But you could see the progress that we're making, we were very excited about the progress we're making. We're very excited about the line of sight to getting to where it needed to be. And so we walked through the product together and he got very excited too and seeing that it's quite different than anything that had existed before and solved a real problem. This is a, you know, me coming from a sales background, and Scott having been in the sales technology world with Salesforce, everybody knows that the only thing that your sales people in the world want for Christmas for real is warm leads. Give me please, just give me a warm introduction to the makers at the accounts into. If I can only get that for Christmas that would be my dream come true.

So you know, he was clear that this was a very immediate problem applicable to everybody on the planet who's doing B2B sales and he got really excited. So we ended up both flying into New York to meet in person. So I was in Serbia at that point with our team there and he was in Silicon Valley, you know, San Francisco VC. So we not quite halfway, but we met in New York and then we spent a day going through the details, doing a bunch of due diligence on the product, on the market positioning and by the end of that we both felt pretty good that this is the right partnership and so that was it, that was our series A raise. We didn't go out, we didn't talk to others. We felt like we found the right partner and I feel very much like that's the right, that was the right call. They've been fantastic to work with.

Jeff Bullas

00:29:22 - 00:29:28

That's a great story. How many, how much did you raise at that particular?

Drew Sechrist

00:29:29 - 00:29:50

So I gotta, let me think, in the series A, I believe the total that rolled into that was 15 million. I think that's right. So bringing our total to, yeah, I think that's, I think that's right. I think we, you know, across all of our fundraising efforts, I think it's been about 24 million total at this point.

Jeff Bullas

00:29:51 - 00:30:03

A lot of challenges with technology company especially, and do you see the other question I do have is software as a service. And that word is a monthly subscription per user. Is that how you've got the business model?

Drew Sechrist

00:30:04 - 00:30:29

Yeah, that's right. So we're free for life for everybody. So you can set up an account and any individual can set up an account and plug in all of your email accounts to it. That's your personal account. You keep that for life, if you go to work for a company that wants to turn this on wall to wall for everybody, then we charge a per seat basis for all of the employees in the company. But that unlocks this amazing network effect for everybody in the company.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:30 - 00:30:51

So the challenge then is, one of the challenges I see too is a lot of people, they buy technology, company buys technology, they lean in, but they don't use it. Do you have an onboarding approach that makes sure that once they've got the product they use it properly?

Drew Sechrist

00:30:52 - 00:32:19

We have an approach and I would say it's certainly not perfect yet. So the couple of things that we've discovered that helped make this usable for everybody on a daily basis is number one, we have launched a Chrome extension that once you install the Chrome extension, then it's there and it pops up, keeps itself up to date automatically and it pops up wherever you are. We're working already. So if you're in B2B sales, you're already working in LinkedIn, you already working in sales navigator, you're already working in your Gmail inbox, you're already working in your Salesforce instance, your CRM and the Chrome extension for Connect The Dots is everywhere. All those places everywhere you are, it'll pop up in context and tell you, hey, take a look, you know, knock, knock, look at these relationships that you are unaware of, that you should be leveraging right now to get into the decision makers and influencers at the deals that you're selling. So when you're in your Salesforce instance, and you're looking at Acme Inc it'll say, hey, look at this, there are, you know, 723 potential contacts that you can get too by leveraging your network and here are the best ones that the highest probability ones with the titles that you want to get to. So we try to make it so that you, it's full proof you can't miss it. It's going to be there when you need it, when you are searching for ways to sell into that company better.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:20 - 00:33:34

Right. Cool. Alright. Yeah, because onboarding, there's a lot of people that you buy software and then you, it doesn't really get used a good idea at the time you introduce the team and then it quietly is not used or just people just because they're not being encouraged by the team management leaders, whatever. So the other challenge for especially software startups is you've got two battles that you have to fight. n Number one, you've got to keep investing in your tech. Okay, so for example, it's going to get to that being very, very usable, robust, easy to use. So the other battle is actually market share and that is where, and there's attention with a startup, isn't it? In terms of how much more money do I need to keep doing both. In other words, keep developing the technology and that's going to be going to go on forever because technology keeps changing as competitors enter the market as well. The other side is, okay, how can I dominate my industry? How do you see those two? And what is your approach to that in terms of fundraising and growth?

Drew Sechrist

00:33:35 - 00:36:29

Yeah. On the technology side, you know, it's just a like death taxes and engineering costs, you just have to keep doing it over and over and over again to build your product. So, we, I think right now, the way that we think about it is we have a certain set of features that we know we want to deliver a capabilities over the next 6 to 12 months. And then we've size are organizations that can deliver those on pace. As far as sales is concerned, there is kind of a holy grail here in the world of PLG software, product led growth software. And then, you know box? You know Dropbox? It didn't have a sales team for a long time and then they do now but they cracked this code on becoming a viral model where if I invited you, Jeff, to Dropbox, then I would get another 100 megabytes of storage or something like that. And so I would do it. I invited you and I invited a bunch of other people and then you got it. And you're like, well, hey, if I invite people, I get 100 megabytes. So you, you would do that and you know, self perpetuates. And, and that is an X Factor that the way that Connect The Dots is designed. It's possible that we have some significant variety in our product. We see it already to some degree but it gets better if you're on the network with me and I can see your network and you can see mine? Great, it's all the better, right? And then so encouraged and it's free to invite people. So we think longer term there's a really interesting opportunity there but that's not how we're starting. We're starting with a top down sales motion where we actually use Connect The Dots, our own instance of Connect The Dots to get the introductions directly to the C level executives at the companies that we're targeting and it works like a charm so I can see exactly who I should ask for the introduction. I ask that person for the introduction. They make the introduction. I'm on the call with the CEO of that company and then we spent about 30 minutes having a conversation about how they can unlock the power of their network for their company. They're very intrigued by it. And then we're off to the races. We have an opportunity for to close the transaction then and that is how we are growing right now my guests is what we will do over time is we will scale that sales organization so we'll have, you know, we'll keep adding more sales people that are doing that top down sales motion and then we're also going to keep working on the PLG motion to make it easier and more powerful and and more rewarding for everybody to invite their networks to participate because that becomes a viral growth element to how our sales can grow. So that is that's my prediction but let's check back with me in a year and I'll tell you that prediction came true or if I was way off base.

Jeff Bullas

00:36:30 - 00:36:43

Because you’re targeting enterprise effectively, aren't you? That's B2B sales. So it's sometimes, it's just getting into the trenches to get your hands dirty and just go and get them.

Drew Sechrist

00:36:44 - 00:36:46

Amen. Absolutely .

Jeff Bullas

00:36:46 - 00:37:39

And then after that is, okay so now I've got enough scale, can I create it into a perpetual cash flow machine that actually grows? And that's about building critical mass which is, so it's very interesting to hear your approach to your growth is very very interesting. So just a few quick question, just to wrap it up, I am aware of time. Number one, what was the question? Sorry, what are some of the biggest lessons you've learned along the way as an entrepreneur? What are some of the biggest questions that you've had and challenges you face? What some top tips for other entrepreneurs that are in the trenches? Having trouble growing, having trouble building technology, raising money. What are some of the top tips that you've learned along the way?

Drew Sechrist

00:37:39 - 00:39:55

So I would say, you know, one thing is just know that it's not going to be easy. So just be prepared for that. You gotta love it because it's not gonna be easy, and if you wake up every day and you don't love it and it's not easy, then that's the definition of a bad life, right? So, you know, I know that it's not gonna be easy, just get yourself mentally prepared for that and realize that every day you gotta fight and every day something's gonna go wrong and sometimes it's not just one thing, it's 2 or 10 things and you know, so there be ready for that. I would say that's one thing. Another thing is, I learned this, I just watched Marc Benioff up close for the first decade of my real career at Salesforce and he was really chill. He was very excited and passionate about stuff, but he was also, you could see like he had this very zen approach to things and I think he, you know, I learned that he, early on that he meditated every day and I didn't really even know what that meant. I had to go that was from the East Coast and meditation really wasn't a thing back then on the East Coast and so I learned over time. I was like okay, I'm curious how does he do this? So I think meditation is really, I learned it, I read a book on how to do it and then years later in like 2008, I took a transcendental meditation class. So I actually got the official like this is how you do it, transcendental meditation style. And I think that's super helpful because, you know, it going back to lesson number one, it's gonna be hard, right? Lesson number two is, you can look at hard anyway, you want to look at hard, hard, can mean like, oh no, this is so hard in my life is miserable or you can look at hard like, hey, I'm learning so much today and you know this challenge is a fun challenge that gives my life meaning and I want to rise to this challenge and learn the lessons that they are to learn from it and then succeed. And so I think meditation puts you in that frame of mind every day to do that. So I would say if you're gonna be an entrepreneur, be a meditator for sure, do that. I can probably dig up some more lessons, but those are two good ones.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:56 - 00:40:38

I think both are great. Number one, it is going to be hard, but don't let it overwhelm you and that is where meditation comes in that you've got to provide quite time to stop. I meditate every day and it's just something that gives me some quietness. I'd spend a fair bit of time reading as well because how do you get ideas? Well, it doesn't come out of nothing. So, but thank you very much for sharing those. I think they're great tips and meditation. I would certainly recommend anyone is that you've got to become the middle of storms and that helps you a lot.

Drew Sechrist

00:40:38 - 00:40:56

I don't know if you feel this way, but I feel like I kind of sense that you might meditate on a daily basis. I just, I can say I can sense it sometimes and just the way that a person presents themselves and I can also sense it myself when I don't do it because they're a day, I don't do it and I'm present very differently in those days.

Jeff Bullas

00:40:56 - 00:41:34

Yeah, that's fascinating. Yeah, it's something I tried for the first time about 35 years ago. I haven't practiced it all the time, but it's certainly part of my routine and daily practice now, so, and yeah, I would recommend it to anyone and thank you very much for highlighting it to our listeners and viewers. It's been an absolute pleasure, buddy. I really have enjoyed it and I think what you're doing is going to help a lot of companies grow and also make their lives easier. So thank you very much for sharing your stories and your insights. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Drew Sechrist

00:41:35 - 00:41:37

I've had a lot of fun, thanks Jeff for having me.

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