How To Find Early Adopters For Your B2B SaaS
- What would tell you, looking from outside, maybe through a website, maybe looking at a building, maybe where they're located, that would tell you that they would care about carbon offsets? - Their CSR strategies and their CSR projects. Yep. - All right, you're a smart cat. (energetic music) - Luca, how's it going, man? - All good, all good, great. - [Dan] Very cool. - For the last time, yeah.
- All right, well, let's talk business. Tell me about your business and we'll get into some question. - Let's, sure.
So for short, our business is called Cruise. And we connect employees from the same company to go home or to work together. Uber, but like for employees inside the company, right? - So it's carpooling for employees.
- Yeah, that's right, we sell it to the company. The ride is free for the user, only the company pays. And the main differentiators are that we track the carbon footprint that you reduce. And we're also tracking and offering benefits to the drivers and to the passengers, so it's like a gamified system for them. - All right. Did you know that Lyft started off as this before they became Lyft? - I heard about it, yeah.
- Yeah, yeah, that's cool. I got the premise, where are you at? What stage are you at? - So right now, we're in development. Our businesses is like, we're starting to put together the UI/UX.
We're starting to integrate our interviews, our qualitative, our quantitative. We started putting them together. And right now, we've just received an investment from Shark Tank Romania. And we're using that to finish up development. - There's a Shark Tank in Romania? - Yeah, actually, it's called Lions Empire.
- Oh, okay, but it's not the Shark Tank producers, it's a separate producer. - It's the show licenced here in Romania. - Okay, 'cause we have Dragon's Den in Canada.
- [Luca] Same concept. - Yeah, same concept. Cool, so you went on this show and you got an investment? - [Luca] Yes, yeah. - Awesome. So how can I help? - So right now, we have like three main things that we're struggling with, is first, signing clients before we launch. So for us, it's very important to have somebody on board 'cause it's easier to convince others.
We can go, hey, look, this corporate entity, this company signed up for us, but why don't you as well? And that smooths it out in the sales process, but it's hard for us to convince before we even have a demo or a product, to get that foot in. - So it sounds like your challenge is trying to get a company to take a bet on you when you don't have the demo built yet. - [Luca] Yeah. - So here's a important concept that I think, you know, has been written about a lot, but it's the idea of the technology adoption curve, right? So Jeffrey Moore wrote a book and he drew this curve and essentially in it, there's five stages of technology adoption. And I think it's like- - [Luca] Early adopters, the majority- - Yeah, the innovators, early adopters, then there's, there's even one before, I think, but I think there's five.
And then there's like the laggards, right? So the way I think about it is if you have a product that has demand, right, like there's some kind of thing, but most things that are crazy like, you know, like super specific innovation, should have a market, right? But even in that market, that total addressable market, there's essentially these early adopters. - [Luca] Yeah. - So then the question is, in Romania, I'm assuming, is it Romania you're trying to get some companies on board? - [Luca] Romania, yeah, yeah. - In Romania, and then there's also for you kind of a company size that needs to be big enough for it to really work, so what's the minimum amount of employees you think it requires? - [Luca] 600. - Okay. So in Romania, you need to find companies that have 600 employees or more that care about the things that you solve.
'Cause it sounds like the employees get to use it for free, which is fine, they would use it for free. But the company is gonna pay, so they need to want it and they need to care about the things you built in it, which is the carbon offset. So then the question to you is, and everybody listening, is what would tell you, looking from outside, maybe through a website, maybe looking at a building, maybe where they're located, that would tell you that they would care about carbon offsets? - Their CSR strategies and their CSR projects. Yep.
- All right, you're a smart cat. 'Cause I've actually had this conversation quite a bit with entrepreneurs. So if I go to their website and if I find that they have a CSR component, then that tells me they're at least in market. Now, does having a CSR component tell me they're an early adopter? - [Luca] No, not even close.
- Perfect. So at least tells me they're qualified for what I'm doing or they're at least a target. Then I need to find out what makes them an early adopter, so my question to you is, what is true about a 600 person company that would tell you they're also early adopters of technology? - I think, at least for us, we don't try to perceive it as a technology bid, you know, as they are early adopters of technology as much as they are early adopters of a subscription. So we have this thing here in Romania which is called 7card. Subscription to gyms, right, but to all gyms indifferent of what kind of a chain they're a part of. So that became sort of like, you know, it's not adoption of technology, but the adoption of this trend of, oh, you got a 7card? I got a 7card too, that's cool, and the- - But who's buying the 7card, the consumer? - [Luca] No, the company, the company.
- Okay, the company buys 7cards for their teams, employees. - [Luca] Right, exactly. - Okay. Now- - [Luca] And they move that in the, yeah, please.
- I mean, I get that that's important, and that's not bad. But if I was also trying to find that plus technology adoption. - Right. I would probably look at smaller, right, so I wouldn't look at that corporate, I wouldn't look at- - Nope, think at 600. - Probably fast moving consumer goods.
I would look in that direction. - You're looking at industries, I'm asking you what is true about something in the company that tells you they're an early adopter? For example, for example, if I was trying to figure this out for a consumer, I would ask them, do you have TikTok account? - Oh, right, right, right, right. Okay, now I get it, now I get it, yeah, yeah. So then I would look to see if they already have a 7card, first things first, 'cause also 7card is in the same stage as us.
Then I would look at recruitment platforms, how do they recruit? Do they recruit through new platforming? There are a couple of new platforms here in Romania that just started popping out like Jobful that do gamified recruiting, so I'd look, oh, look, are they using this? Are they using this gamified recruiting that's different? Yeah, they're in the target. - So that's like, that to me is the answer to how to find these people. Seven's card, the recruiting platform.
One I like to use is Google Apps for domains or Google Apps. - [Luca] Nice, yeah- - So I do a reverse lookup on the DNS, right, 'cause I can look, I can grab their domain, I can see if they have a mail record pointing to Google's mail server. I'll look at some of the technology on the marketing website, right, where I might see if they're using Clearbit data, seeing if they're using HubSpot.
So like, I'm looking for the fact that they are not laggards, they're early adopters. - [Luca] They're actively looking, yeah- - Yeah, they're looking for an edge. Yeah, right? Because if they're willing to deploy these technologies, then my technology seems like a no-brainer, right? So you already got the CSR that kind of validates the behaviour or at least makes it open to it. You have the 7card, which shows you that they care about employees' perks.
So literally, if you could get a customer list of everybody at seven's card, that would be a good place to start and then reverse engineer from their customer base who are the people and then see if they use these recruiting platforms. - Yeah, we actually can, that's a good idea. That's a good idea, thanks. - That's the way I do it.
- One more question, and I promise I'll leave you after this, thank you, is regarding revenue model. So we had a competitor on the market that tried to merge with us but we rejected them in terms of, you know, it wasn't a good fit in terms of founder team. They were called Teamway and they had a couple of companies already signed up, larger, let's say, you know, automotive manufacturing or whatever. But they had a different revenue model, so they charged per ride.
So every ride would cost, but it wouldn't cost the employee, again, for the employee, it was completely free. It would cost for the company two euros per drive. And then a monthly fixed subscription of like 400-600 euros.
So we're trying to find our own revenue model that would work. Right now, we're working with a per active user. So if we have a per active user is four euros per month per active user and a fixed monthly subscription for like maintenance and servers or whatever. - Yeah, I'll tell you a few things. The issue with the per active users is it makes it hard for the company to estimate cost. - [Luca] Right.
- So the fixed monthly fee, 100%. And then what you call the value metric, like what is the activity that lets me know that the business is getting value and that I'm getting value? I wouldn't do, I mean, again, there's two things, at your stage, optimising for pricing is actually not what you need to be doing. - [Luca] Right. - You need to optimise for usage, you need distribution, okay.
The good news about software is you can change your pricing at any point. And most of my clients that I coach, they're changing their pricing every six months. - [Luca] Nice, okay. - So know that it's not about getting it right today. It's about getting the data to be able to look at the data to then figure out the pricing.
'Cause like, when I'm doing pricing coaching, I'm looking at the analysis of how people are currently using the products, what is a histogram analysis of usage features by cohort to see, oh, these are the natural break points of activities that make these plans or packages make sense, right? And any time you peg a price to, especially to an enterprise, they just don't like surprises. So if they don't have any sense of, if you don't say it's $2 per registered users and you're gonna deploy this to 100 people and I can, I know that, then it makes it tough for them to agree because they're like, well, I don't know if it's 200 or 220, right? So I would just say, try to figure out what an enterprise licence could look like for now, get 10 customers, you know, make sure you price it so that you're not losing money. And then you use those 10 customers to really build the case study to then go sell. And as you go get the next set of 10 customers, then you'll have enough data to be able to start looking at some of these things. But if you didn't wanna do a per seat type pricing, active customers, I think, would create a lot of friction in the buying process.
Whereas I would rather do it per, so like, I know how many team members I have, I'm gonna invite them all to be on the platform. And if I have more team members, it costs me a few bucks more, right? So instead of four bucks per active, charge $2 per employee. - [Luca] Right. - So you got a value metric, which means that the more employees, there's scale, the base fee, but you're not making them try to guess what the active's gonna be.
Does that help? - Okay, yeah, yeah. It helps a bit. But just the fact that we have to, you know, first collect some data.
That's for- - 100%, pricing is an analysis game, it's saying, I thought these things would be value to a customer, it turns out that this is, 'cause you might find out that maybe the most valuable thing to the employee is this chat thing that you've got built in the product, right, that people just love, right? So then you might say, well, it's the pricing, the packages are this for the base plus you get so many chat volume, but if you go over a certain amount of chat volume, just like Slack, now you have to get pushed up to the next package. Right? - [Luca] Right. - And then the per user fee C is X, right, instead of Y. So like, to me, it's really about, can I get enough customers to use the product, get them using it.
Then I can analyse it and figure out how I'm gonna redesign the pricing and know that- - [Luca] And see what's the most used, yeah. - Yeah, just like your product changes, your pricing should change, every six months, you should be doing add-ons, changing limits, changing pricing. Yeah. - Right, right, fair enough. Thank you.
- I'm just curious, if you had one more question, what would it be? - It would actually be regarding scaling. So how do you push through, right? We're in Romania, a small, tiny European country, we've got a market of like 2 million people, a total, TAM, a total addressable market, right? We're probably gonna grab 200,000 in the best case scenario, right? Question is how do we break through into the other countries, especially taking into account the high competition of Uber, Uber Pool, Bolt, Bolt Pool, or whatever comes after. That could be it.
- Yeah, so when it comes to international scaling, I personally, obviously, I'm Canadian, I do a lot of stuff in the US, it's kind of easy, right? I normalise my pricing in USD, the Canadians buy in USD. And even international, it's always done in USD. When I've worked with clients in Europe or Asia, et cetera, the question is, first is, do we use our local market to R&D this and then make a decision to go to the US, okay? So that's one decision. So, and some do, some say, look, we've got enough traction here, it's great. But you know what? We're gonna join YC or we're gonna go do this thing and we're gonna bring it to the US 'cause the amount of effort to do that outweighs us trying to dominate this region, because it's a lot of different pieces, currency, as you know, like it's just so many intricacies. Versus, okay, we're gonna make it in Europe and really grow that way.
And if you're doing it that way, then what I've seen clients do, especially if they're in like Germany or other parts, the UK, is they'll just, they'll choose the natural markets where they can get leverage, right? So the language, the currency. So you just gotta be strategic of like how you roll it out, right? But for the most part, it's gonna be country by country. So I don't know Romania specifically, but I think of it like bowling pins, right? Is there, and then close cousins, so there's the first pin, which is Romania. What is the close cousin to Romania, what are the two other countries that use the same currency or speak the same language or most likely that are big, what are they? - Or have the most Romanians, 'cause we're the second country in immigration, right, in the world. - Maybe.
Yeah. - Netherlands, Italy. - Okay.
So then you gotta decide, if I go to the Netherlands, right, is that French, the language? - Dutch. Dutch. Yeah. - Yeah, so it's kind of like, you wanna figure out what's the least amount of moving parts, 'cause if I'm gonna go and create another language to go to a market, then I could easily go to Germany.
- [Luca] Which is larger, yeah. - Exactly. And then from there, I get more resources to then build the rest.
And maybe I go Romania, Germany, UK. - Kind of like a game of Risk, right? - It's always the strategy of saying what's the least amount of moving parts, the minimum effective dose for me to go to market, to get distribution. And if I'm gonna add another currency or I'm gonna add another language anyway, let's not do it with a small market when it's the same amount of effort to do it with a big market.
- [Luca] Right, right, right, fair enough. - Right, but I can't be too far away that maybe time zone or geography is gonna cause issues from a support point of view. So there's kind of those constraints that I'm gonna take into consideration.
- [Luca] Okay. - Right, so it's kind of like this sweet spot of like, this is the one that looks the most like us, it's close to us, they have a lot of Romanian people there. But it's a new language, it's a big enough market we can grow into so we can grab the Romanian companies maybe initially. Then we'll localise it, language, currency. We'll be able to grab the full country and then that's gonna build the base for us to go to the next big one.
And once we get that third one, then we can fill in the rest of it 'cause we'll have a bigger team and more resources. Most people don't realising that success is a sequencing problem. So success equals sequencing, right? I need to strategically look at the list of activities in the sequence I'm gonna do them in that's gonna give me the most leverage. That's why, for a lot of companies, from a growth point of view, it's easier to double down on something that's working today than to start something new that's unknown than, because I don't know if it's gonna produce, but this thing's working, I know if I do more of it, it's gonna work more.
So for now, I'm gonna do more of the thing that's working that's gonna unlock more profit, which is gonna allow me to invest in the team so I'll have a bigger team, so when I go do that other thing, I'll be in a better spot than doing two things at the same time, but not having a big enough team to actually do either one really good. - Right, right, fair enough. Fair enough- - Yeah, most companies die, most businesses, startups, they die from indigestion, doing too many things at once, than starvation. They think it's a lack of opportunity, I'm telling you it's not saying no enough.
- [Luca] Yeah. - Right, 'cause it's only in the no that it provides focus. So if you're not saying no, just be aware that you may lack focus. 'Cause the best people in the world, think about the best entrepreneurs in the world, you ask them for something, they'll give you a yes or no right away, why, 'cause they know where they're going. And if your thing aligns with where they're going, great, if it doesn't, no.
And startups don't typically approach it that way 'cause they don't have enough of a strategy, a sequence, a vision of where they wanna go. So just, it's kind of a feedback loop for you. Based on our conversation, Luca, what did you take away, what were the big takeaways for you? - So big takeaways regarding the data, that we have to analyse data of users before we even start pricing it properly.
Then second is about how to- - But do get paid, do get paid. - Yeah, yeah, no, we get paid for sure. That's not, yeah. Then second, how to target these early adopter slash innovators company that we can have join our ranks as soon as possible and start working with those and how to identify the details that lead me to that. And last but not least, about focus, about focus.
'Cause I get it, like smart rides is one of the ideas from our startup studio. You know, so I 100% get that. - Awesome. - [Luca] And I fund it, yeah. - A lot of fun, great conversation, appreciate the time. And I look forward to staying connected.
- For sure, thank you, thank you again, great convo. See you. - [Dan] Cheers. (energetic music)