SaaS Founder Interview with Andrew Butt, CEO & Co-Founder of Enable
Enable is a modern, cloud-based B2B software solution for rebate management. Distributors, wholesalers and manufacturers across over 50 industries now have an easy, seamless solution to execute and track their full range of trading programs. The company is backed by $16M in funding from notable Silicon Valley investors, Menlo Ventures and Sierra Ventures.
Tony Zayas 0:00
Hey welcome guys! Welcome everyone, it’s the SaaS Founder Show. We’re back for another episode here. Nothing going on in the world to be paying attention to. So I’m sure everyone’s looking for some fun on the slow news days do and check out. So here we are. Back again, I’m Tony Zayas joined by Andy Halko. And this week, our special guest is Andrew Butt from Enable. And so we’ll talk to Andrew in a second. But Andy, how are you doing? I hold them up out there.
Andy Halko 0:14
Fantastic. I was thinking that we need to start doing these shows starting off with me doing like a Seinfeld stand up and a kind of like little intro and stuff. So that’ll be… that’ll be coming soon. Right?
Tony Zayas 0:51
Yeah, for sure. That sounds like a good idea. So Andrew, welcome. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to jump on here. We’re super excited to hear, you know, about you about enable, what you guys have been able to accomplish. Something that I noticed over the site is I saw you on the about page at Enabled.com. It says the world needed a better way to manage complex B2B deals. So we don’t want but let’s hear the story of just, you know, tell us about enable how the idea came to fruition. And we can kind of go from there.
Andrew Butt 1:24
Sure. Yeah. Great. Well, Tony, Andy, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here. And yes. So where to begin? I’d say probably the beginning is kind of my two passions in life were always computing and flying. So as a child, I wanted to be an airline pilot, and which, sort of, you know, try and hang out to airfields as a young as a young kid. And I met a flying school and basically help them with a lot of computer programming. This was in the 90s, really late 90s. And they gave me some great advice. They said, stick to computing as a career and do aviation as a hobby. So that that did turn out to be great advice. And it was through the flying school, I met my co founder, Denys Shortt. And Denys was already a very successful entrepreneur back then. And this is in the UK, if you can’t tell by my accent, by the way. And so Denys was running a very fast growing distribution business. And that’s now actually the largest in the UK, in his sector which is health, beauty and household. And these complex deals that we talk about, that you refer to, they were causing a lot of challenges. Okay, so we can talk more about that. But that’s really where the initial inspiration came from is, is really, these complex deals within his business, that we kind of led to a really fast growing company.
Tony Zayas 2:51
It looks like we lost Andy. So we’ll be back. But that’s super exciting. So what’s um, so the the deals that you guys are working with…Is that like, distributors, suppliers, kind of a supply chain and that yeah.
Andrew Butt 3:10
Yeah, I mean, what’s what’s fascinating is, if we look at the whole GDP, whatever it is, now, at $86 trillion dollars, I think it is. About a third, a third of that GDP is business that goes through distribution. Okay. So there’s been lots of digitization hasn’t there over the last 10 years, and probably even more 20 years on kind of ecommerce, you know, B2B and B2C. But actually that that’s, you know, there’s a hole, plus, let’s say, two thirds of business. But there’s a whole kind of third call. It’s a 30 trillion a year where it goes through that supply chain. And a lot of those guys are in the dark ages. And so businesses done still by email, telephone, and dare I even say, fax. So yeah, these deals that we are focusing on, managing in that supply chain to make that supply chain really flow better. And I’ve coined the phrase, the deal economy, and it does refer to this 30 trillion of trade that goes through the supply chain.
Andy Halko 4:10
Pretty cool. Can you guys hear me I got kicked off.
Tony Zayas 4:13
Yeah, you’re back.
Andy Halko 4:14
I assume that you didn’t want to talk to me anymore, is what I just assumed.
Andrew Butt 4:18
I thought I did something wrong… Shutting down the session.
Andy Halko 4:23
That’s the you know, the internet these days. It’s crazy. But I’m jumping back in but hopefully you talked a little bit about the product. I always like to start with kind of origin story. You know, where did you really get started? What did you do before? And yeah, what did that process of like getting started up look like.
Andrew Butt 4:44
Sure, sure… Well, we talked a little bit about that. But that was when he went here. And the blog. Let me expand on that. So I mentioned that I met my co founder whilst we were both learning to fly helicopters and I was a kind of computer programming geek, you know, building various systems. And the flying school were really happy with what I was doing and basically gave me some some free flying lessons. This is going back to when I was I was a kid, really. So that was extremely kind of them. But I met lots of fascinating entrepreneurs during that time, you know, all these guys learning to fly helicopters and so on. And so that was where the whole thing started. But there were quite a few years where we were, we’re building different types of software before we landed on this current business. And we launched several businesses together. Some of those were services companies, where we were building software for other, other companies. And we built the team up to 100, you know, largely engineers in the UK, building all sorts of software for different types of companies. And that really led to the inspiration to launch a SaaS business. Okay, so we we… We co-founded a SaaS business back in about 2010. And that was all in construction, information, health and safety information, and so on. And exit that to private equity in the UK. But this business, this really was launched, because we kept having requests from customers saying, we’ve got all these deals, they’re on spreadsheets, they’re a real pain to manage. And we were actually building custom software. So we were building, you know, on a per customer basis software to manage these deals. And we’re a bit slow, you know, but eventually, we thought, this is just a huge opportunity with genuine SaaS products. And that’s really when Enabled was launched. And we can talk more about that.
Andy Halko 6:30
So you you had a couple businesses prior to this,
Andrew Butt 6:33
Andy Halko 6:34
And even an exit. Were there, when you started enable, were there any great lessons that you took from those past experiences, as like, you know, almost principles for starting out this new endeavor?
Andrew Butt 6:47
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think one key thing is, is no, I was in the UK, a lot of our team are in the UK. We’ve got great people there. But it wasn’t like being in Silicon Valley, okay? So So access to ,kind of, the tech community, and also access to funding was very different from what it is now. And we basically had to bootstrap, which was great and a good discipline. And we were making a profit from a very early stage and growing steadily. And that was fine. But we were really just taking on the work, whatever work we could get, you know? We were building software for anyone to to just pay the bills and just fuel some growth. And then that was allowing us to build some of our own products on the site. So that’s very much how we were working for a few years. And then, you know, when I discovered, kind of SaaS and Silicon Valley, and realized that actually, because our idea was good, and there was a huge market opportunity, it would be possible to raise some great funding and focus on that and, and to be patient for profits that the old lesson of, you know, impatience for growth and patience for profit. So I guess to answer your question, and a big lesson is is to have that focus and really have that clear vision and have that focus, and then go and raise some funding and and develop that business rapidly, rather than being kind of distracted by doing lots of other things just to kind of try and pay the bills. So that’s, that’s definitely if I’d learned that few years earlier that might have been, might have been great.
Andy Halko 8:13
So you raised money for Enable?
Andrew Butt 8:17
Yeah. So I mean, the story was that we were bootstrapping up until 12 months ago. We were winning a lot of US and Canadian customers from the UK. And so we realized that we need to set up in the US ,for a start. Because you know, we were not… We’re even here, and we were winning customers. So we thought what can we do if we’re here? And then also yet, we need to raise capital, because we can take this business public and well beyond that. So but we’re not going to do that by bootstrapping. So 12 months ago, I I basically relocated from the UK to San Francisco, raised a series A, and that’s quite fun story, again, that we can talk about. So I was I did, it took me two weeks to get here on a ship and an RV, which we could go into. But yeah, we raised that 12 months ago. And that’s really been rocket fuel to to get this company growing on a much faster trajectory.
Andy Halko 9:05
Yeah, I can imagine and I’m always curious to talk about with SaaS founders, the raising money process. Because I think when you’re on the outside, and you hear about this, and you’re just starting a business, you hear, oh, that I went raise this much money in your head, you think it’s go to an event or meet somebody or whatever it is, what what for you did the raising money process really look like?
Andrew Butt 9:30
Sure. No, it was definitely a fun process and intense and a bit of a roller coaster. And and so I think, you know, what was most successful for us was being introduced. So warm introductions, and I had some great kind of people and advisors around me that really could see what we were doing. And we’re definitely more tuned into the venture community than I was. And one of those, by the way, were our counsel, our legal counsel. So we were recommended to a great firm. When we were in the UK, but they were an American firm, and they work with all the VCs, so that was particularly helpful. So we got a series of warm introductions. And this is winding back now to November 19. So just over a year ago, and we kind of turned up and did some some pitching. And my message was, look, you know, I’m going to be here in the country from January 20. All right, it’s now November 19. So just kind of showing you what we’re doing. And if you’re interested in talking more, let’s meet up in January. And what basically happened was, I think the initial response is everyone says, It’s amazing, you know, well done, congratulations on coming this far. And it’s, you know, so on. And then of course, you start getting the rejections coming in, where people say, well, that’s really good you’re doing, you’re gonna do really well, but we’re not, you know, it’s not for us, because… So then you kind of think, oh, okay, fair enough. And it No, you know, lots of nose, and then you start to get the yeses. And the yeses are along the lines off, we want to do this, and we want to do it right now, you know, we’re not going to wait till January, we need to get going. Because, you know, time is the killer of deals. So, so that was the sort of abbreviated version of the story. But needless to say, I think we in the end, we signed a term sheet with our lead investor at the end of December, and we’d only met them in the middle of November. So it’s quite quite fast.
Andy Halko 11:17
Now, what was the biggest takeaway from that process? You know, either something that was really valuable for you to do, right, or a big challenge that you would do differently? Yeah,
Andrew Butt 11:29
I mean, I think this was the first time that we’d ever raised any capital into any company. So we and also, we were a bunch of Brits who, you know, here, turning up in Silicon Valley, so we were really naive, and just didn’t know what was involved. And I mean, the team pulled together really well. And we just, you know, we worked 24, seven to get through, and provide all the info in the DVD that the investors needed. But certainly next time around, and you know, next time we’ll be coming, and it will be soon, we will be much better prepared, and we’ll have our data room set up well, in advance, we’ll have everything in there that we know everyone will want. And we will run a much tighter process where we go to No, we target and approach a lot of investors at the same time. And then we really run the process. Whereas I think last time, it was much more ad hoc of having a nice meeting. And then we will kind of then being led by the timescales of the investors who were interested, that that would be a key learning. Tony,
Tony Zayas 12:33
I would just say, to shift gears a little bit, I would ask, you know, I see that there’s some core values listed at your site. And I’m curious how you convey how do you find the right people? Does that pay play a big part in it? And kind of where do those core values come from? Talking about kind of the Enable culture?
Andrew Butt 12:55
Sure. Absolutely. So. So I think for me, the most important thing is having a very exciting mission. And and, you know, related to quote, kind of Steve Jobs, you know, how are we going to make a ding in the universe? Or is it a dent in the universe, one or the other? And, and, you know, another, I’m a member of a great CEO, peer group, which is called tech Co. And they’re all venture backed SAS CEOs, and, you know, one of the chair, men there talks about building companies of consequence. So how are we going to build a company that is has massive kind of global consequence. And for me, that’s the number one thing because people then can see that vision, and that mission, and it will resonate with them, or it won’t. And, and, you know, we’ve got a clear purpose here. First, the first thing and of course, the death thing you mentioned, pay your compensation. And for me, that’s a hygiene factor. So we need to pay the top top market rates to get the best and retain the best people, but it’s more of a of a hygiene factor. And then I think on the values, those actually did come from the team. So we, we literally ran workshops with our entire company, and your team by team and we use cards. And this was done by my CEO, David. So we literally had cards of all sorts of values and got every individual to kind of rank and which ones represent what we’re all about. And there was great commonality, by the way. So across every team, whether it was engineering or product, or sales or customer success or finance, it, there was huge alignment on those seven values.
Tony Zayas 14:28
That’s really cool. How big are you guys when you kind of work through that exercise and just carry on? Yeah.
Andrew Butt 14:35
So that that particular exercise, we probably were about 80 people I’d say.
Andy Halko 14:43
I’m kind of curious, your role, personally, how it’s changed from day one, to now after you’ve gotten some funding and where you’re moving into the future. You know, as one of the CEO, the CEO and co founder Under, what is your day to day change? And what is it, you know, evolved to over that time?
Andrew Butt 15:06
Sure. Yeah. So I think in the early days, I was always the kind of salesperson really so. So again, David was, was really with us from day one. So it was David, Dennis and me. And, you know, Dennis was this great entrepreneur who was very well connected, and Emily understood business. And David and I were both geeks. But, you know, he was the kind of brains really, so he was doing the development, the engineering, and the kind of operations and clearing my mess, I was more talking to customers talking to prospects, you know, looking at the market selling. So that was the early days. And then as we grew, that naturally moved in a direction where he was kind of running operations, and, you know, engineers, and so on, and I was running sales. And I think where we’re getting to now is, is, you know, I’m much more trying to be a sort of, you know, genuine CEO. So by that, I mean, kind of running the leadership team, and I’ve got the different different functions, obviously. And then what I’m basically doing is, is talking to investors talking to the board. So it’s a much more kind of balanced and rounded role that I’m looking to achieve, and also bring in great people. Of course, that’s so important with experience. So that’s, that’s what I’m doing now.
Andy Halko 16:23
How do you find those great people? You mentioned that and and i think in every interview we’ve ever done, we’ve talked about people and finding great teams. And it’s, you know, it seems like it’s always a challenge. So how do you find great people? How do you know that they’re great? And then how do you keep them? Yeah, sure.
Andrew Butt 16:40
So we’ve got some different strategies here, one that’s worked for us very, very well, is we have hired people from university, okay, who are great high caliber, very talented, brilliant attitude, but actually don’t have much experience. And, and in whether that is in, for example, engineering, I mean, that’s been very successful. We’ve hired mathematicians, people, like, Great at physics, for example, and train them, and really then been able to mold them to our values and our ways of working. And most of our engineering is in the UK, which was very well for us. And, and literally, the guys have bought real estate, you know, they’ve literally bought their first house, next to our office, and this is obviously pre COVID, that we are going to get back to our office. So that’s been very good. And we’ve kept people for years and just promoted them from within. So I think that’s a key strategy. But the other thing is, I have recognized that for us to achieve hyper growth on a sustained basis. And as I say, get past it, and it gets YPO and beyond, we also need to bring in people that have done it before, as well, you know, we can’t, it will take too long for us to teach ourselves. So with that it is about attracting people that have done very specifically what we’ve done. So b2b SaaS, you know, our level of revenue and tracking your where we want to be over the next couple of years. And, and we’re in the early stages of doing that. So I’m using some search firms and and great people to help me. But But also, we are sort of networking and being approached by people as well. And and we, I will be making a very exciting announcement will be a press release in the next few days. But we’ve just brought on board an amazing kind of go to market leader who’s going to be leading our global revenue function. And and he has very specific domain expertise and has done it before. So I guess the short answer would be networking, you know, talking to other CEOs, networking in Silicon Valley, to really bring in that talent that has done it before, and then merge it with our great team who we’ve kind of promoted from within. And that’s the kind of happy hybrid that I’m looking to maintain.
Tony Zayas 18:51
With a pretty big team there. I’m just curious, how do you really articulate the vision that you have for the company and help people to understand that because you got a lot of, you know, large team, different functions? I love what you did with like, the values and things. But how do you Andy talks about this and actually has a white paper? It’s called the vision gap, right? It’s how do you get everybody to see or hear that vision in your head of where you are? where you want to go? And, and be? are you what are some of the things you do to help articulate that sort of everyone’s kind of on the same page? in it together?
Andrew Butt 19:29
Yeah, sure. So I mean, I think it’s, it’s the C word Well, isn’t it it’s we can’t over communicate, Alaska, it’s up to words, but, you know, we can never over communicate. So it’s lots of communication. So we have we have good all hands meetings, we have different forums where people get together. We have, for example, kind of all of our managers meet with me very regularly. And and so I can kind of tell them where I’m trying to get to and what’s in my head is to use your words, but then definitely, you know, Getting them to play back what they’re actually hearing, you know, because again, communication is about what people hear as well as what someone says, isn’t it? So, so a lot of communication and a lot of forums, whether it be events, or whether it be, you know, just simply emails and newsletters and videos and that type of thing, but that’s the number one number one thing. Curious, do
Andy Halko 20:20
you use any, you know, management systems, like entrepreneur, entrepreneurial operating system, or Rockefeller habits, are there any, you know, systems that you found, and they’ve helped, you know, helped you manage successfully.
Andrew Butt 20:38
So, I mean, we have a lot of our own homegrown systems, actually, that we’ve, we’ve built in house. And, and we do also use them, somebody could best of breed systems as well. So whether it be, you know, Salesforce, which of course has grown and grown and does a lot more than CRM, doesn’t it. And, for example, we have our own business planning methodology, we use the 135 of you know, one, vision, three kind of core objectives, and then five, five goals, if you like, for each quarter. And that’s for every function, and then we have that for the company as well. So the overall company, and then each, each function, and that all knits together, and then it’s down to individual people. So we do use, I think, some great methodologies, we’re using okrs in a number of areas, we were tracking weekly metrics across the business on all functions, and roll that up to four week periods and courses and so on, but we don’t have come across some of those operating systems. And I need to investigate further. Do you guys have any recommendations on that? Or maybe I should look at some of your white papers, Andy?
Andy Halko 21:36
Yeah, you can always look at that. But well, I mean, I think it’s just about using like, okay, ours are great. And the one through five, you know, I’m always more curious about how do you make sure that you stay accountable and stay using the system? You know, as long as you have a system? I think it’s, that’s a foundational piece. But then where I see a lot of SAS founders fall down, and I’m kind of curious, again, from your standpoint is, you know, how do you hold everybody accountable to the systems in these ideas? Because it’s easy to get busy? and skip over a meeting? Or, you know, let some sort of piece go and so how do you, as a leader, make sure that you stay on the systems and processes that you develop?
Andrew Butt 22:26
Yeah, well, I think we try and keep it as simple as we can. And, and, you know, again, try and be focused on the right things. And there aren’t too many metrics, which are, you know, right at the top of that list. So I think, for me, the most important metric, and the whole, the whole business is net new Arr, okay? And that that covers product, it covers retention, it covers customer satisfaction, it covers new business, because at the end of the day, if the product is not not delivering, then people will be churning, we won’t be able to win new business. And and if we’re not retaining customers, even if we’re adding lots of new logos, we’re not going to be hitting the growth trajectory. So, you know, one of my favorite articles of all time was the Walton by Frank Sweetman called amping it up. And, and, you know, he talks about this, that even his companies like ServiceNow, and snowflake, you know, as sort of 80 billion, whatever is now 85 billion market cap, there was really one metric, which was was whether it was net retention or net new Arr, that that he measured the whole kind of leadership team on so I think, for me, it’s about trying to take away the noise and work out what’s really, really important. And if we can get that if we can measure and get these things, right, then ever, most of the things will sort themselves out, rather than being too kind of obsessed with millions of metrics, which are maybe not not as important.
Andy Halko 23:50
It’s great. Do you expose a lot of metrics to the to the company and team? You know, you, you mentioned that there’s a book the great game, and it talks about a critical metric, but then it’s a lot about how you are very transparent about business metrics, you know, even including finances, where do you kind of stand on that, you know, transparency for your organization?
Andrew Butt 24:15
Sure. I think it’s pretty high. So I mean, we share monthly KPIs with the whole company and that does go into things like burn rates, you know, in the month versus the plan and what the difference is, so it does go into financials there. Also we have weekly go to market metrics that that will meet up we don’t hide from anyone but we specifically share that with our whole kind of sales and marketing teams. And as I say, that is literally weekly where we are versus plan on everything from top of funnel down to to existing customers. But it’s a really good point because one you know, one debate we had for example is is our app, you know on financials, our cash balance, okay. I’ve got no problem telling anyone in the company what that is, but of course, it is going down. So and when will people start to freak out, you know, if we if it does run down quite low, and we’ve got a great debt facility, for example that we’re not using, and so we’re fine. But and by the way we’ve got in and we’re healthy right now. But you know, will that worry people? So? I think it is this the eternal debate, isn’t it have to share absolutely everything can Is that the right thing to do? Or actually, is it it are the good reasons to not share certain things, but I’d say we found a balance, which seems to be seems to be good. And there’s a lot of detail that we share compared to other other companies.
Andy Halko 25:33
Yeah. And I find that an interesting debate, because I’ve seen that where people are super transparent, like you said, how much money is the bank, especially in a start up when you’re trying to get folks really excited and feel like they’re, you know, an owner in the business and just moving at that pace? But then, like you said, I’ve heard stories where the bank account gets low, it’s being shared, people start looking for jobs.
Andrew Butt 25:57
Yeah, exactly. It’s, yeah. And, and I know, I’m used to, to kind of, I can I can live with quite often certainty. I’m sure most of your audience can, are listening today. But, you know, I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve got, say, two weeks of cash in the bank. I mean, that’s, that’s not been for long. It’s been quite a long time ago now. And now I’ve got multiple years of cash in the bank. But, you know, I’ve had plenty of months, as I’ve been building this business, where I’m thinking, we will not make payroll, unless we collect this money in this money, this money. It’s just something I live with. But I would I know that you know, a lot of people that would definitely be very concerning. So as I say, we’re a long way from that right now. But I think consistency is important, isn’t it? And if you share things, once you start sharing things, then you would never stop sharing them. So we have debated and that I think, we’ve decided things like, actual burn versus budget is good. And then we can say, look, we are burning more than we wanted to, or we’re burning less. That’s pretty transparent, but maybe not absolute cash.
Tony Zayas 26:58
So I’d be curious to hear just, you know, based on where you guys are at what your growth goals are, and perhaps, you know, what are you looking to do this year? 21. I know you said you recently hired someone to leave lead the revenue side of things. curious to hear what what some of those initiatives might be? And how you track that progress?
Andrew Butt 27:21
Yeah, absolutely. Sure. So in simple terms, we’ve, we’ve more than doubled our customer base in the last 12 months. And we were we were originally going to do more than that. But when the pandemic struck, we, which was days after we closed our series a by the way, and we did decide that we would just cut a slightly more cautious plan and and think more about runway than kind of absolute growth. But nevertheless, we’ve done more than a double in terms of customer numbers and revenue will be similarly in line with that. And this year, we’re planning to do the same again, for sure, you know, we, we want and we will make sure the growth rate is more than 100% year on year, because when we do our next raise, which will be the other say in the next 12 months, then we need that growth rate to be over 100%. Still, and we need to be you know, 120% net retention. And there’s lots of other things that we’re we’re tracking to get to now the the new kind of global revenue leader on bringing in this week, he has a very established track record with two previous companies or more than two, but two that are very similar to us, where they went from our current size, which is kind of like the five to 10 million range through to sort of 40 to 50 million. And, and one of them was acquired, and the economics of that acquisition were very good. And the other one actually went public whilst he was there. So that’s it gives you a sense, we kind of five to 10 million growing at 100% year on year, and we’ll be sustaining or accelerating that growth rates. That’s the headline numbers.
Tony Zayas 28:58
Be curious where you found him. A gentleman bringing on board to focus on revenue because it sounds like obviously he has a track record. When you are aware of and pursue. Yeah,
Andrew Butt 29:11
yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny, because I mean, there’s there’s no way we would mail to get him say six months ago, because we just, you know, we were too small. And we were to just to improve and really in the US, but a lot has kind of gone well in the last two or three quarters. And we’ve been kind of starting to use that, that the funding we raised, we’ve been hiring us, a US sales team. They’ve been absolutely winning deals and doing well. And, and we’ve now got a track record of continued to kind of growth in the US and kind of got to that sort of threshold where a really good proven guy would be would be very interested in taking the reins. So So this guy, yeah, it was a very successful revenue leader at a at another another Kind of VC funded SAS company. And I just got to know him through a network, I initially thought he could be like a board advisor and give me some great advice on a monthly basis. And, you know, he’s been pursued by lots of companies since he, he kind of completed the integration of his previous company that was acquired. Okay, so so it’s really great news, but he’s seen the opportunity that we have here, and how big it is, and is really excited. So, so this hot, the timings been perfect, and the stars have aligned?
Tony Zayas 30:29
Andy Halko 30:31
We’ve talked to a lot of b2b SaaS, folks. And one thing, I don’t think we’ve gotten into a ton, and I’m interested in doing and I was on your site, and you offer a, you know, free trial. So go up, how did you guys work through model because in b2b, it’s, you know, you can offer a free trial pilot programs, you know, sales where someone has to do a demo and walk through it. How did you think about both pricing? And, like, go to market strategy as you were building the product?
Andrew Butt 31:01
Sure. Great question. So the thing that really inspired me is I wanted to make the software consumer grade. And the space that we’re in, as you said, pointed out, you know, distribution supply chain is an old fashioned kind of dusty, dusty space. And software vendors are really old school. So we might say this software is modern, it’s easy to use, it exists, you know, you can just sign up and start using it, it doesn’t take very long, for example. So things like putting some pricing on the website and the free trial. And we’ve got an API, what that’s documented on the website, we’ve got all of our Help Center publicly available. That’s just to show that this is real, and it’s easy, and you can just get using it. And none of our competitors have that at all. But we also do all the other things you said. So we do we do demos with with humans. And we do pilots for sure. And we recommend and say to people just get started to get try this product. And some of our prospects say, well, we’re running an RFP, and it’s going to take six months. And we say, well, that’s fine, carry on and do that. But in the meantime, just let’s just do a pilot anyway. Because you’ll see how great this is. You might decide to abandon your RFP, because it’s it’s easier to use our product and is to do an RFP. So we’re trying to make it consumer grade. And I think you guys probably have come across Siebel before. If you if you know for us, I talked to some salespeople, and they kind of that they haven’t ever heard of Siebel. But Have you guys heard of Siebel? Yeah. So, yeah, so I think when you look at Salesforce, and Siebel, you know, Siebel was kind of pre cloud, wasn’t it on premise, very expensive compared certainly compared to what you’d pay today for CRM. And Salesforce is whole kind of disruptive message was you can just this app software is on a web page. And it’s $50 per user per month, and you can be using it today. So that’s exactly what I’m replicating within this, this distribution space.
Andy Halko 32:52
What about the pricing side? How can you because that’s a place that I think a lot of SAS founders I talked to, especially in the early days, and even, you know, the first year to struggle with it, how do they figure out what their price model should be? Did you use advisors that you go through a process? Did you use a system? How did you go through the pricing? Yeah, no,
Andrew Butt 33:20
I think it’s, it’s challenging. And I know, even very established companies continue to change their pricing. I mean, I bought a Tesla Model X in the UK a couple years ago. And virtually every time I logged on to tesla.com, the pricing was changing. And then it continued to change in a downward direction after I placed my order. So that wasn’t, I wasn’t very good, but they sorted it out. So I was very happy. But, you know, I was thinking, wow, you know, those guys, I think back then they were like a $40 billion company. And now they’re, like a $900 billion company. But anyway, it you know, if they can’t get the pricing, right, then that, you know, how can anyone else. So I think we’re still very much experimenting all the time, you know, we want the pricing to be linked to value that customers get, we want customers to get 10 extra value as well. So we want we want to leave money on the table. Because we’re in a market share game now where we’re, we’re really trying to get our products out to as many companies as we can and help them to get huge benefits from it. So we want to sign the pricing that way. But all the things you’ve said, talking to advisors, talking to customers, having some focus groups with customers to try different models. And you know, what we landed on was, we didn’t want to restrict things like number of users, or number of suppliers that can use the product. But we recognize that if if a distributor is doing $20 million of business, or $20 billion of business, there’s a huge difference in the value they get from the product. So we’ve kind of linked the pricing to the value actually flowing through the product. But look, we definitely were this is going to continue to change. And I think with our new guy that I mentioned, I’m sure he’ll have a lot of us so watch the space
Andy Halko 34:59
Yeah, you You know, it’s interesting I, I’ve worked with a number of pricing consultants over the years with clients and, you know, etc. And it’s interesting in the software space, because you do tend to be public with your pricing. And there is a model where you kind of change your pricing. And over time, you know, as you move it around, you start to see that trend of what people are willing to pay for something and it becomes more and more profitable, as you’ve, you know, kind of chosen different prices to go after over time. But one of the challenges, I think, for that model and SAS is that your prices are public. And it’s hard to do that testing. So you almost have to do it internally. But,
Andrew Butt 35:41
yeah, yeah, I mean, our kind of average contract value is quite quite high compared to a lot of sass companies. And so the product, we have got pricing on the website, but it caps out. So it almost just shows the starting point. And we’re you know, some of our deals are certainly hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year. And in that kind of territory, there’s there’s there are some variables, if you like, depending on on what the customer needs and the level of support they need. So I don’t I would say we don’t have that kind of transparency, that for example, if we were, if we were charging $50 per month to use my Salesforce, like my old Salesforce example, that there are, you know, we can still have a conversation and and there are variables we can we can bring in. All we’ve put on the website is just a starting position. And you can absolutely Sign up today and pay that price for sure. But we don’t, it’s not that kind of comprehensive, really what’s on the website.
Andy Halko 36:39
What about finding customers and marketing, we talked last week with a SAS founder. And he talked about in the first year, it was a very like manual process going out and talking to folks to find clients, you know. And then as he evolved the business and got into funding, they shifted to a marketing route where all of their opportunities came through, you know, SEO and other methods. And they didn’t really do any manual sales at all. How did that work for you? How did you get your first customers? You know, and then how do you now today really go out there and find opportunities? Sure.
Andrew Butt 37:18
Yeah. So it’s interesting, because we’re doing really well on SEO. So we’re getting inquiries all around the world and signing customers up all around the world, just by people searching for rebate management software, for example, we are number one. But the flip side of that is there aren’t that many people searching for it, because it’s a new category. And people don’t know exists so that they’re kind of happily using their spreadsheets. And they don’t, they don’t really think there’s a category there. But you know, it’s no doubt we are winning business from inbound SEO, we’re winning business from inbound on a paid acquisition on LinkedIn, and Google, we get a lot of referrals for sure. So customers refer their their fellow CFOs, and, you know, CEOs of companies. But you know, one thing which is really powerful for us is a network effect. Because in the supply chain, you know, we’re being used by distributors and retailers typically. And the first thing that they do when they sign up to our products is they invite all their suppliers. Because if you if you are a distributor, let’s say you’re an automotive distributor, automotive components and automotive parts, you will have, say, at least 1000 suppliers who are the manufacturers that you take the parts from. So they all you give them a login to enable.com. And then you are creating deals with them and collaborating on the deals and signing off the deals. so on. And so that’s great, because those manufacturers also are doing deals with every other customer. And they can actually do a free trial to go back to your point and they can sign up. So this is something we haven’t really tapped into yet, and monetized in a big way. But we are seeing early wins, you know, we are converting some of those already. And what we’ve decided is to just focus on our existing motion to get to the next milestone, which I’ve given you sort of a hint on what that is, but the next milestone, and then at that point, and we’ll we’ll when we raise again, we’ll be investing heavily in product lead growth, and really monetizing that kind of network and looking at making ourselves more of a marketplace rather than just a software platform.
Andy Halko 39:21
It’s really cool.
Tony Zayas 39:23
To kind of the team aspect. Andrew, what is the dynamic between you and your co founder? He’s on the board. Correct?
Andrew Butt 39:33
Correct? Yeah. Yeah, we’d
Tony Zayas 39:34
love to hear just what that’s like. And then also here, just you know, other voices that you tap into for guidance and ideas and suggestions, because it sounds like networking. So it’s been a big part of your growth and success.
Andrew Butt 39:48
Yes, yeah. No, no, it’s a certainly house. Yeah, absolutely. No. So So I have a great relationship with with Dennis, who’s my co founder. He is on the board. And you know, Dennis has a very successful business and several businesses actually in the UK. Which is probably his kind of day to day focus. And, and then so he’s really it kind of evolved in the board capacity, which is very helpful. And you know, being a very successful distributor, having all of these challenges himself is clearly a great kind of board perspective. I think other other things are I mentioned tech Co. And that’s been a great peer group, and for sure, and to be working alongside other CEOs at a similar stage on things like revenue and growth rate. And of course, the chairs of that group are all kind of x SAS CEOs. So that’s a great source of kind of mentorship and advice. And then I think a lot of the blogs that are around so you know, one guy I really like a lot is Jason Lemkin and sasta, which I’m sure you’ve come across, but there’s loads of great advice on there. And, and some of the VCs have very good, very good blogs and inflammation. And I should say that, that our kind of VC partners, so Menlo ventures, and Sierra ventures are the kind of primary two in the series A, they’re just great, you know, they’re great people, that they’re kind of on our board. And that they, you know, we’ve got great experience, of course of building businesses. And so I have one to one sessions with them every month, get great advice.
Andy Halko 41:22
Now, in your previous businesses, did you typically have mentors that helped you out there as well? And have you kept any of those over that time?
Andrew Butt 41:30
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So I think before I moved to the US, and in the previous businesses, then then certainly Dennis and I were physically, geographically very close together. So there was a lot, you know, Dennis has given me a huge amount of mentoring over those those years. And yeah, I again, through networking, I’ve met some great people, and, and I’ve certainly kept in touch with them. So so it’s that, that that continues, and I’ve always valued having different, different people, I think in my very early days, I kind of would attach myself to one person and think, you know, everything they say, is kind of the gospel. And I realized quite early, it’s, it’s so important to have different perspectives, you know, and take take kind of nuggets from each individual person. So I’ve since then been keen to surround myself with great, great kind of successful people
Andy Halko 42:22
have asked this question before with mentors, but you know, it’s always an interesting thing you do. I think it’s fantastic, and having mentors and feedback, you know, but you get a lot of different viewpoints and opinions. You know, sometimes you agree with them, sometimes you don’t know, how do you take all that information in and utilize it and make decisions from it? Because, again, there there can be a lot of mentors with a lot of different opinions.
Andrew Butt 42:52
Yeah, absolutely. No, it’s a really good point. And, yes, I’m very familiar with that. That’s happening. And I think at the end of the day, you know, we, as entrepreneurs or CEOs, we just have to back out judgment, and it’s better to make a decision, and and then make another decision or change it if needed. later down the line. There’s no such thing as a perfect decision. No, I like the Bezos kind of point about if he’s if he’s got more than 80%, the information is too slow or something along those lines. So. So, you know, and also one of the guys at Menlo, who I find very inspiring, you know, he said to me, anyone can make a decision when they have to, but it’s really making the decisions before you have to and And that, I think is important. So yeah, I mean, clearly, some things are very clear curtain is very easy. But there’s plenty of things which that where there isn’t really a right and wrong. And it’s really just using my experience, intuition, what color what you like, you know, gut feel. And I’m sure some of those decisions will turn out to be in need of correction. But I think there’s no easy answer to that. And it is, at the end of the day, yes, I recognize my responsibility to make the final decision. And some of those are quite tough, but I’m just going on on take all the advice I can get and then and then go with what I think is the best.
Andy Halko 44:12
Yeah, and I’ve just seen that as a challenge for other folks founders and CEOs that I’ve talked to is that they do they sometimes just get overwhelmed with insights because they’ve got investors they’ve got or they’ve got mentors, family, employees, you know, and and sometimes it just gets overwhelming. So I’m always curious how people manage that.
Andrew Butt 44:37
Yeah, I guess one thing one thing is is probably to not ask too many people. And, and also to keep the context right because again, growing a company on the West Coast with with high growth rate and high burn is a very different mentality to say doing it in the UK, so I just wouldn’t phone up a UK mentor and asked because they would find it confusing and They’ve just kept I know, they give me contradictory advice. So I guess trying to understand the context, and then definitely speaking to, you know, several people, but not not not too many, because I agree this thing of you ask more and more people and get more and more opinions, it’s just it’s not really helpful. It’s too slow, as well, I
Andy Halko 45:16
think your point earlier about the critical metric that you’re focused on, you know, and how do you have a litmus test that anything that comes through is filtered out by does it point to that critical metric that can be really helpful for folks that are getting a lot of insider ideas? Yeah. Yeah. And I think leaning into that a little bit more to what about with product, you know, that’s the other side that I see with a lot of startups, especially in the software space is big ideas for features, big ideas for expansion, you know, lots of ideas coming in from clients, or even employees for where the product should go, what’s been your process to develop a roadmap and how you see the future of the product? and evaluate, you know, specifically feature ideas that come?
Andrew Butt 46:11
True? Absolutely. So I think what I’ve learned and and, you know, recognized talking to lots of people in this game is, is is that our stage, you know, we do have to be very much led by our customers. And, and it’s almost we can’t be too focused, really, so. So in terms of product market fit, and getting to that next milestone, we kind of got to 10 customers, and we got to 50 customers, and now we’re getting to 100 customers, and, and really focusing on existing surface area of the product, and incrementing and making that kind of better, rather than bloating and going out sideways. You know, I I definitely see, already we’ve got more surface area in our product, but some companies have that are quite a lot bigger than we are in terms of customer numbers and revenue. So I think a tight focus on the current surface area. And, and being very much led by what customers need right now. You know, so existing customers prospects, where the common ground is, and then we were certainly doing some very innovative things where we’re doing, you know, inventing the next the next, the next thing or the next thing, but that is pretty small as a resource allocation, most of the resource is on incrementally improving the current product. So those would be some of the basic principles, I’d say. And also I was keen, you make me think that Andy, just to go back to a previous point about decision making, and just just kind of focus in general, I think, if you look at what we’re doing now, with our, our VCs on board, we have fundamentally all got the same goals, you know, because we all want to grow this rapidly get this product out to lots of companies and win market share. And we’re kind of got the same agenda. And that’s very helpful, because, of course we are, we are under pressure from the board and the VCs to achieve the numbers. But it’s our own pressure, because we actually want to do it is all the same agenda. And I think where things are less healthy is where people have different agendas. So and, you know, On a related note, prior to becoming venture funded, and we were bootstrapping, a key thing every day was just surviving, and just paying the bills. And so we would be distracted with all sorts of things if it would help us to pay the bills. And and so what’s been really positive for me is now we are not thinking about short term cash flow. You know, of course, we’re thinking about medium and long term, but short term is just not a concern. And so we can be making the right decisions for the long term, rather than being pulled all over the place. And I think that helps when you talk about product decisions as well. You know, we can we’ve got a much longer term focus now than we ever had before.
Andy Halko 48:47
Yeah, really like that, that line of thinking is that, and I don’t know, if I’ve ever, you know, brought it together like that in my own head. But this idea of when you’re bootstrapping, there can be a lot more pulling in different directions, because you got to find money to do what you need versus, you know, when you do raise money, it lets you hone in and have a little bit more bumpers towards that vision and that that critical focus, so it’s really interesting.
Andrew Butt 49:18
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think what we did, I mean, I, you know, certainly certainly wasn’t perfect at all. But, but bootstrapping to the point of getting real traction. And again, I think Jason Lemkin talks about initial traction and initial scale, so we hadn’t got any scale, but we had got traction, and we’ve got a good idea of how to start scaling, if you like, and, and we, so that was on a bootstrap basis. And then when the funding came in, we then were able to close down the focus if you like, narrow down the focus, and then execute. And that that worked well for me, I think if we’d kind of raised funding with no revenue or something or you know, one or two customers then that you know, that’s again, I think a different a slightly different ballgame.
Tony Zayas 50:00
For sure. Andrew, I would just be curious, you know, with all the on your plate, as a founder of growing this, you know, business, how do you what are some of the things that you do to disconnect to recharge, the focus driven, etc. Yeah,
Andrew Butt 50:20
um i mean i’m i’m really kind of focused on on work and building this business. And I think what my interests really are things like business and, you know, networking and these types of things. So they kind of align align together quite a lot. And I guess with us all being in lockdown, it’s been a great excuse to just get completely stuck in to that to that, and this is a critical period for me right now.
Andrew Butt 50:49
You know, a lot of my my hours are focused on this, and I’m enjoying it, it’s all positive. And I think, you know, there’s terms of outside of work, I’m really interested in hiking and walking and exercising. So being in the Bay Area with my wife and I are discovering all sorts of great, great places and going down, you know, quiet areas, but we’re not not getting within two meters of people walking, we’ve got our, our dogs and I mentioned the two week journey from the UK to West Coast. And that was because we didn’t want to fly long haul with these animals. So we literally brought them over, we brought two dogs and a cat, believe it or not, over on the queen, Mary two, and then we on an RV. So you know lots of dog walking is good. We enjoy wine, for example. So again, whilst most of NAFTA is shut, it’s nice to be in this region. So So those would be some of the things you know, traveling and exploring new places. But I guess this has been the last 12 months in a new country, in a whole new kind of world has been exciting. And maybe I’m still in that kind of honeymoon period. But it’s been a great 12 months, just just enjoying being a new, new location.
Andy Halko 51:56
Any challenges with work life balance, I think, you know, especially I kind of want to get the perspective of someone just raise funding, they’re in that mode, they’ve got a lot of pressure behind them. You know, and I think any of us that are in this seat that likes founding a company enjoy the pressure in the feed, but still, how do you any challenges with the work life balance side? Yeah,
Andrew Butt 52:21
I mean, I don’t really see it like that. Because this, I’ve, you know, I’m so focused on work, and I want to be doing this, and I really don’t feel like I can’t, I can’t do anything else, you know, I really have to be doing this, I want to be doing this. So I don’t I don’t feel that I think of course, there’s always pressure points during the quarter, you know, of different things going on, whether it’s it’s so so there’s pressure, but I don’t see it as being a challenge that I’m not expecting or, or like a work life balance challenge at all. I guess one thing I have been enjoying in the early days of being on the west coast is almost all of my team were in the UK until recently. And now the US team is growing. But the eight hour time difference is quite quite good. Because I could kind of get all my UK and Europe business done by 10 in the morning. And then and then this goes quite quiet. And that means I can then focus on on, you know, strategy and kind of growing in the good old working on the business rather than in it. And that is, of course changing now, because we’re building the US team. But it’s just been quite a fun thing over the last year or two. Yes, there’s a huge email inbox at 5am. You know, when the UK is already in the afternoon, but then you can kind of get on top of that and have the rest of the day with a little bit less intensity of inbound activity.
Tony Zayas 53:43
So when you said when you first you know, major move to the US, you you drove an hour view cross country. Yeah. So what was your favorite stop?
Andrew Butt 53:54
We barely stopped Actually, we literally we did New York to San Francisco in four nights. And, and so we were driving combinar 16 hours a day or something. But we did stop at the Grand Canyon. And that was a slight detour. So we thought that was a one place we would have a bit of a detour. And the amazing thing with that was Believe it or not, it was snowing. It was heavy snow at the Grand Canyon. And we could see nothing. So we arrived in a fairly late on whichever day it was installed. Nothing. camped overnight in the RV got up in the morning, still could see nothing. And then we just went on our way. So that probably was the highlight seeing nothing but the Grand Canyon.
Andy Halko 54:31
Fun Dr. Tony and I did it once truly Francisco from Cleveland together. So okay. It’s an interesting one. We did the same thing like three days, I think. Yeah, that’s fun. So I have a question that I want to ask every founder that we interview this year. And so what what I want to know from you is if you were able to go back in time, right when you started the business first month And sit down and have coffee with yourself, you know, what advice would you give to yourself about what you’re doing and where you’re going? And what to be thinking about?
Andrew Butt 55:12
Sure. I think the the main thing would be about this, this kind of balance between bootstrapping and venture funding and focus. And I think what I would say is, is, I think I hadn’t really considered that we would be raising and kind of going on this trajectory in this timescale. And now I know that’s possible, and how to how to go about it, I would say, I would have been told myself to be more focused on on building the SAS product, you know, earlier in the journey, and then kind of setting up in us and raising the funding sooner and just getting on with it. And the fact is, we’ve been a bit more capital efficient. And and, you know, we’ve taken it a little bit further, before we did that, but that probably taken us an extra couple of years, really. So I would have just chopped out a couple of years and been more focused from day one.
Andy Halko 56:04
Would you just push on that a little bit? Would you call that like, you know, being less risk averse? Or, you know, what is for others that are out there? Is it you know, your would the advice potentially be like, just, you know, go with your gut, move faster? Take risks? faster? What How do you summarize that a little bit for those folks?
Andrew Butt 56:30
I think I think, psychologically, again, the sort of culture that I’ve come from is all about, you know, successful businesses, one that makes profit, and bottom line profits, and therefore kind of, if you if your bottom line is in the reds, that’s kind of very, very bad. And that’s been that was ingrained into me really is no one’s fault. It’s just where that’s the culture I came from. And what I’ve what what I would say is, once you can demonstrate, you have got something which you can, which you know, you can scale and you’ve got some traction, and some kind of product market fit, then, as long as you’ve got a good gross margin, that kind of what happens down the bottom of the p&l is really, it’s just, it’s just get you need, you need to get on scale and go go faster, and grow. You know, growth is more important than profit in those early days. And I think that would summarize it that once you’ve got traction growth is important. And bottom line is less important. And I hadn’t really realized that.
Andy Halko 57:26
I think that’s great, especially for folks that are early in their journey. Just having that perspective. So that’s awesome.
Tony Zayas 57:35
Great. Well, we’re just about out of time here Android, I want to say thank you. Again, this has been awesome. Some really fascinating insights. And we wish you certainly the best of luck as you guys continue to grow and do great things. I would just encourage everybody go check out enabled comm Andrews has been fantastic. Again, thank you for your time and thanks everyone for tuning in and watching the show. with you guys, for sure. Take care guys.
Andrew Butt 58:03
Strategy & vision can propel an organization into scalable and predictable growth.
Download 'The Vision Gap' to understand the challenges a weak Vision can cause and the steps to begin building a smarter Vision to drive a business to success.