SaaS Founder Interview with Francis Martens & Hilde Van Brempt @ Exalate
Tony Zayas 0:06
Hey everybody and welcome. It is the SaaS founders show we’re back for another episode I’m Tony Zayas, my co host here is Insivia’s very own founder, Andy Halko.
Andy Halko 0:18
Tony Zayas 0:19
Andy Halko 0:20
How are you doing today?
Tony Zayas 0:24
But today is actually episode number 60. So we’re piling them up. This year, I think we’ve had some amazing conversations. So super interested, we have a couple people tuning in, always enjoy these international interviews that we have two people in two different places in the world today. So I’ll tell you guys a little bit about who we have on but we have Francis Martens, and Hilde Van Brempt from Exalate. And Exalate is the most powerful integration app that provides limitless flexibility and ultimate control, built to create a seamless collaboration between teams across JIRA instances ServiceNow, Salesforce as your DevOps, Zendesk, GitHub and other trackers. Exalate Its mission is to build a network of connected companies and teams experiencing seamless collaboration, regardless of the tracking technology being used. So some pretty cool stuff here. With that I will bring him on. A Francis and Hilde, how are you both doing today?
Hilde Van Brempt 1:29
Fine. Hello, Andy. Hello, Tony. Nice to meet you.
Tony Zayas 1:34
Nice to meet you and welcome.
Hilde Van Brempt 1:35
Good to be on your show today.
Tony Zayas 1:38
Yeah, pleasure having you both. So I guess to start the conversation, we would love I read the descriptor, but we’d love to hear a little bit more about Exalate. And really, what’s the origin story? Where did the concept start from?
Francis Martens 1:56
So I will I will start to then. So we started, or I started a long time ago, a professional services that accompany the outcome, focus on the eight on the attraction, stack everything, which is Atlassian. And while we were doing our professional services, we did find the use case which came back over and over again. And you know how it goes. So do you see an opportunity, you start to build products. And so they’re based on customer demand, we built the first integration between two jiras, JIRA is an issue tracking system, I’m sure that our audience, most of our audience will know about it. So so so we built the first integration for one of our customers. And they came back and they said, Well, this, this was really solving a business problem. And so well, if you have something that solves a business problem, you know what the next step is, right. And so, it started there.
Andy Halko 3:07
Very cool. I was like to look at it from a perspective, if you could talk through what’s the day in the life of one of your customers look like? What what from their perspective? What do they do? And how do they utilize your tool? Because that I think always helps people really, you know, comprehend it.
Francis Marten 3:26
Yeah, exactly. So that’s a good question. So, so before they deploy, excellent, so any company is working with other companies to accomplish services, to create products to to do stuff, right. And as we went into the pandemic, more and more companies are using issue tracker, so task management system to get organized internally, and that’s really helpful. So, the people companies are seeing quite a bit of additional efficiency by using a a task management system to ensure that the things that need to happen happen, but what happens also is if they have to work with another company, to implement them services or products, they get stuck. Because, so, the other company is also using a task management system and whenever they have to coordinate the project over over the company orders they have to revert to email or to telephone or whatever exchange of information and things get lost, right. So and that’s really the business friction that Exalate helps to solve. So what what Exalate will do is it will allow you to connect the two issue trackers or JIRA with ServiceNow or, Salesforce with Zendesk and then start to exalate issues from one environment to the other. Exalate, it’s a bit of a wordplay on escalate. So whenever you have a problem, you will escalate it to some other organization. And that’s where the word excellent is, is coming from. So this company normally would then use an email to exchange information, information just keeps on working on their environment on the JIRA, they exalate an issue to the other side. And the other side will then handle the task as if they as if it was generated on their site. So all companies remain on their own environment, but still can exchange information in a fluent manner.
Andy Halko 5:45
You know, I’d be curious, you know, going back to origin story for both of you, you know, what were you doing prior to this? And what kind of brought you to this journey?
Francis Marten 6:01
Well, well, as I said, it’s, it was a, a customer, it started with the customer demand, and recognizing that there is a need for integration. But we will, if you look at it, it’s really logic. So you have to you have all these companies who are doing a digital transformation, or building their own internal, digital tools to get organized, and more and more companies are doing so what’s the next step? So the next step in the digital transformation is really connecting companies to each other. And in our wildest dreams, we are saying, why don’t we build a worldwide network of connected companies, where every company can start to escalate issues to other companies, as if it’s a telephone network or, or like an email network? And so this vision of creating that worldwide network was a trigger to start that journey.
Andy Halko 7:10
How are you? Hilde?
Hilde Van Brempt 7:12
I’m fine. Yeah, I think I think one of your questions, if I honestly, is, what did we do before a telco? And how did we come to this? This startup actually, maybe myself, I’m Hilde, I have like a career background, I have been studying IT. But I have kind of built my career around pre sales, sales marketing and operations. So it’s like, not I do understand it people I can understand I can talk to developers, I can kind of understand what they do not like all the nitty details. But that’s important. I like we are in a very technical environment. Our product is also rather on the technical side, although that it’s used by a lot of end users. We talk with a lot of tech guys, whenever we also want to sell our product. But I based my career in the sales and marketing. So like Francis Francis, he will explain a little bit about his background, of course, but he’s more like what we say the tech guy. He’s also the CTO, the CEO and the CTO of the company. But I think we are a perfect match here in combining per the technical part, and like the operation and sales and marketing part together.
Tony Zayas 8:36
And how did the two of you come together to you know, launch this venture together? Did you know each other prior?
Hilde Van Brempt 8:48
Yes, we did. Already for quite some years, because also in our private life, we are partners in crime, as we can say. So to be honest, we always had our different thoughts very wise also, we, we data, we worked with different companies and so on. But when Francis started in Elko, and when this idea came up for Exalate, and when we started to build a vision around it, I was like me, I have been working in a lot of very large companies, and multinationals and so on. And one of the things I really wanted to do was to get involved in a startup entrepreneurial type of organization. So I thought this might be my chance to work together not only privately but also professionally together at some some joint vision there.
Tony Zayas 9:45
Hilde Van Brempt 9:46
Tony Zayas 9:47
I guess I would like to go back a little bit in here about what did that you know, MVP look like when you first launch it. You have a concept you recognize, you know, demand in the marketplace. What that initial iteration of the product work like?
Francis Marten 10:05
So the initial one was matching the requirements of that first customer, it’s really helpful to have like a external party saying, We really need this, because it’s, it covers the basic functionalities of your product. And, and so so the next customer, the second customer is MRP, with with new functionalities, and so on. So the development is both vision lead, but also customer lead. And a lot of that, by the way, these two customers are still using products on daily basis. So the team did a good job there.
Andy Halko 10:51
You know, one thing with, you know, I talked to a lot of companies that our software development companies and they build something for a client, they think, Oh, this could be a product, was it right in your head? Like, oh, we can take this and turn it into something much bigger? Or was it later after? You know, you got someone else that was interested? You know, what was kind of the thinking in your mind? As you know, you took it from a custom solution to a product.
Francis Marten 11:19
Yeah, so so when we were discussing the the feature set to be delivered to this first customer, we were like brainstorming and look, and you know how it goes like, you have a good beer or a glass of wine and you discuss what what can we do with it? Do it is ID and in there that that vision of that worldwide network popped up? Say, Hey, why couldn’t we do this. And so, so it’s it’s the original ID has been inserted by this first customer, but the vision and everything else, it’s really the result of teamwork.
Hilde Van Brempt 11:54
And also to complete that actually, we entered an incubator program. It’s a startup program here in Belgium with a lot of starters. So it was actually treated like like really a starting thing, because indeed, it was already developed for a customer. But we had this vision around it and and we had to probably change the architecture again and rebuild the product to have a commercial version and a market ready version together. And we actually got a lot of help in the incubator program as well, because we were surrounded with with other starters, we were surrounded with specialists. And they really helped us create and form the vision. We built the business plan, we started to learn to pitch the product as well, because having both a technical background of one of our most challenging things was to create it into a story that we could also tell people who are you who did not have the background or the technical background. Like we could tell on the receptions, we had to exercise a lot. Pictures even even talk at the family table just to when my mom says, Okay, tell me now what are you doing, it’s like, we have to create really a story behind it. And, and that really helped us because then we had this ID and by the end of the incubator program, we could actually say that we had our first MVP. So that was a really good help also. And still now today, we have a lot of contacts out of that incubator program that we can also hook up with. Also, we we tried to bring back some of the knowledge that we built and we bring it back into the network so that by coaching and by by by helping other people’s people building their own business there. And that’s really a nice thing. I love it pretty much.
Andy Halko 13:56
Do you mind talking a little bit more about that story development process? Because I think a lot of the founders that we speak to, you know, that is one of the biggest challenges that they have. They’re technical, and they don’t know how to tell the story. So yeah, can you tell us more about like, how you went through that process and and what it took to accomplish?
Hilde Van Brempt 14:22
I think it came a little organically, like in that network where we had to meet. I mean, we had to meet a lot of people. It’s like we never met so many people in such a short timeframe that you normally meet at maybe your receptions and so on. And every time it was like okay, I’m Hilde I work for Exalate and and then they asked and what what is actually doing and how I started off this difficult story about my integration and you have this and that and then after two minutes, you see the eyes of those people going like Okay, so, so in the end, we we tried, we talked with with a lot of people, several people that we said, okay, help us. And then we started building a story. And actually one, the story went a little bit like this. Okay. You have a problem with your internet, what do you do, you call your internet provider, probably. And you get like a nice guy or a nice lady at the telephone, you explain your problem. And most probably, the person will enter a ticket into their system, and try to help you. If they can help you, fine, if they can’t help you, they probably have to work with some other people, maybe some other companies that would help. And normally what happens there is that they pick up the phone again, and they explain, like the problem again, and they information gets lost and information gets killed and so on. So the information is entered in the other system and the other person. Yep, they have another question. So there’s like a complete communication house, which is actually happening. And so you as a customer, the next day, you call back and you say, Okay, what’s happening with my internet problem is it so often, okay, or some cannot help you. So that is where Exalate comes in. And where you actually seamlessly connect all these systems together, and you make sure that that it works in a smooth way. That’s a little bit how we ended up with it. And one of the first things that came out of it is that we also made kind of a comic, you remember, Francis had come in. We made just to yeah, to explain it. Also, we use it on, I think social media and in in one of our pitch presentations that we had to give. So that was a it’s
Francis Marten 16:55
Not working, right? It was not working. So it’s the only way to develop that story is it’s, it’s an iteration, you just keep on trying keep on trying to. So getting to the elevator pitch, like, what is actually doing, it’s building a bridge between two key task management systems. That means it right. But getting to one phrase explanation of your product, it’s it takes ages.
Tony Zayas 17:30
I’d like to hear a little bit about if that story that you guys developed that elevator pitch, if and how it has since, you know, once you refined it, how has it influenced your marketing?
Francis Marten 17:52
So your, how do you mean in terms of content, which is being used?
Tony Zayas 17:57
Generally speaking, you know, typically, that story is pretty foundational, if you can, you know, create a very concise explanation on what it is in story format. How has that played into your marketing efforts? You guys use that in there?
Francis Marten 18:13
It’s it’s an interesting question in the sense. What we see so nobody is waiting, for course, for worldwide network, of course, of connected companies who work in a structured manner, nobody’s working waiting for that. What what companies are looking for is an easy way to integrate, right and, and matching these foundational story with the thing that customer needs. That’s that’s a really huge effort. And it’s an ongoing discussion within the team how to how to handle it. Just to give you an example. Last year, we said okay, let’s focus on the cross company integration story. And let’s create content, which is related to it. And so we, we created the cross company integration guide. We focus on Siam, which is a kind of business to business integration approach. And then we created content on it, just to find out that, although that this content is being read, it’s not converting into customers. And the reason is that it’s it’s an interesting topic to understand, but what customers are really looking for is this integration capability. So and and so that’s why I’m saying it’s an interesting question, because you have this, this you want to tell about your story, but the guests were saying oh, okay, no, but we we have really this, this, this problem to be solved. So we translate is that that we do see a roadmap in the type of messages that we have to bring to our to our markets, in the sense that that in the current iteration, we focus on the peer to peer type of integration where we focus, okay, collecting geo with Salesforce, with the ticket integration and all this capabilities which match what the customers are looking for. And gradually, we will start to build an ecosystem networks, where complete groups of companies are going to interlink and make sure that that, that, that we achieve our vision on the long term, and making the translation of being really optimistic and telling, telling the story, to a more roadmap approach to introduce the story into different audiences is something that we learned in the course of last year.
Andy Halko 20:47
We’ll hear a little bit more about the company and growth. So, you know, how many folks do you have? And what was kind of the trajectory of, of expansion for the team?
Hilde Van Brempt 21:03
Shall I tell? Yeah, we actually made like, you say, an exponential growth over the last even two to three years. So when we started off with accelerate, we had this little team of two to three developers in Ukraine, and we had like one guy in marketing, doing everything. Now we have an organization, when we talk about Exalate of over close to 50 people. 60 people, I guess, we are already with a with a major growth and especially not like we have a complete engineering team. With everything like developers front end, back end, release managers, QA, and we have a complete support sales and marketing organization. Even the last two years, we organized ourselves to support our customers, both from the sales in the in the in the support part in the different parts of the world. So we kind of spreads our people worldwide. Of course, with the pandemic of the last two years, we kept on growing, which was very nice. But with everybody working remotely, we already had some experience there. But it’s it opened up a lot of opportunities to really go to the markets where customers are.
Andy Halko 22:38
I’d be curious if you know, you said you’ve had exponential growth, we’re talking to founders, they’re building their products. Are there any specific things that you think were major catalysts to drive the growth that you’ve had something that you did or executed or something that changed in the marketplace?
Hilde Van Brempt 23:04
No, I think I think we kind of, we always planned our growth and it came kind of organically although that the pace was very fast. So so so. And of course, as you are challenged as an organization, if you do that, that kind of growth, you go from a team of five people, everybody well knows everybody, but everybody knows, also everything that’s available in the systems and so on. And in, in like their heads. But then then now we are with 50 people, so you need processes, you need better agreements, you need more trainings, and so on. So, so it’s, it’s quite challenging to actually transform transform your organization from really a startup to we call it a scale of now, where can kind of different loads are active? But to answer your question, there was not like a very specific event that caused us to grow exponentially, we we are driven completely by our customers. So our customer base is growing. Of course, if you Francis talked about the integration. So we started our product off with with Atlassian. So it’s JIRA to JIRA integration and then we added new connectors. So every time so we if we go to the ServiceNow market, to the Salesforce market to the Zendesk market as well. So every time our market grows like why debates because suddenly you have a complete new market that you need to approach and of course, you need to prepare a unique more people to to approach that market to research that market and so on.
Francis Marten 25:00
Yeah, well, I think the feature of additional trackers. So support for additional trackers helped us to, to win the attraction markets on the Atlassian marketer, like three main competitors. But since I’ve introduced additional capabilities, we do see that the number of active installs is almost double of what our competition is, is having. It’s a thing that that listening to your customers is the most important thing that you have to do.
Tony Zayas 25:39
What is the process that you guys have in place to collect that user feedback? And then make sense of it and prioritize? You know, what you want to take action on? How do you guys manage all that, you know, customer feedback and input?
Francis Marten 25:57
This is coming in, in different channels. One of the most important channel is support. So integrations are never easy. So people start Okay, yeah, I have to do a summary to summary type of integration. But then, then people start to think how can we use this capabilities, and then the company specific environment is getting into into play. And support is an important channel. So so we really focus on support, we add, we have quite a large support team that are listening to what type of problems that our customers want to solve. And we use that to translate it in into features in in our product. Next to that we do have other channels, like the intercom, like the demos, that that our STRS are doing, which is our documentation itself, and the remarks. And lastly, the community coming community to have excellent outcome, where we get a lot of questions about a would this be possible? How should I solve this? And that’s all helping us to develop our roadmap.
Andy Halko 27:16
That’s been some of the challenges of extreme growth. I think any founder that’s looking at trying to grow business, you know, what are some of the pitfalls that you guys ran into, or some of the things that were just big surprises as you started the scale?
Francis Marten 27:32
It is what what Hilde was mentioning is, if you’re with a team of five people, then it’s easy to get everything done. Right? So it’s also easy to communicate with 50 people is different. And the main main thing is knowledge. How do you how do you manage your knowledge? How do you ensure that everyone within the team has the right set of things to know? So So one of the challenges that I do see is that people are doing doing stuff over and over again, because they don’t know that someone else has been doing this, this type of work before? Like answering to a specific question, or customers have or structuring some information, and so on. And it’s still a challenge, it’s not easy to ensure that also because that everyone knows everything. Also, because you grow, you get more people on the team. Everyone has questions, how should I handle this thing? And so how do you structure this information? Or do you know that everyone knows what they should know?
Hilde Van Brempt 28:49
I can, one of the challenges that I faced is it’s probably on the recruitment sites. Also because if you want to find a lot of people either in a very short timeframe, okay, you try to work with recruiters and so on. So you try to try to find as many people there’s a war for talent going on. Still, especially when you’re looking for ideas but also sales marketing people if you if you want to go for the right level it’s it’s it’s difficult to find them and one of the traps probably were that we actually fell in and that we had to experience like, how you say it? Yeah, we have to we have to go through it is that we we hired here and they’re the wrong people. And probably because there was always an urgency involved, right. It’s like, okay, you we need that arctic marketing or sales or technical profile, like so badly, and we’re looking for it and it’s difficult to find and it takes a while and in the end, you go, Okay, let’s go for this or this person. And then it’s never a good idea. And we had to, we had experiences And we have to close now. Well, our Well, recruitment channels had to be become much better. I mean, we had to look for the quality, low quality people, but they had to fit the team. Well, there’s many factors when you want to go for the right people in the team. It’s a qualification, it’s a personal thing. It’s, it’s a team thing. So we actually slow down our processes a little bit, just to say that we will go for the best person for the job. And that’s something that’s really still challenging, because people were like, I need them, I need him. And then a second thing, that’s something closely related to the to the recruitment is the onboarding process, we have, because in the beginning, if you hire new people, the first two to three months are crucial for the individual, or those who have or the organization just to see that there is and they need to, they need to be coached and humbled in a very good way. It’s also something that we found out that is very important, especially when you’re spread over different locations in different time zones. It’s sometimes very challenging, actually, it’s one of the reasons that Francis is now in Costa Rica, and I’m still in Belgium, is because we hire new people in Costa Rica, they’re new, and we want to be sure that they are like 100%, up and running in a short timeframe. Because, you know, a lot of our technical knowledge is still in the European timezone. But you know, after eight o’clock here in the evening, there’s nobody available about nobody, our Slack channels are quiet. And so if people in Costa Rica need some help with because they have a customer on the line that needs some technical support, or whatever. I mean, the next day for the technical people to wake up in Europe. So we Yeah, that’s one of the things we are now building and we try to now after, now, it’s still it’s again, possible, we try to move people to different places, with, with reason for training, training and onboarding.
Francis Marten 32:26
Andy Halko 32:28
Yeah, those are two fantastic points, I think. I see that all the time having to settle because you’re so in need of resources. And then onboarding, I can tell from my own experience of running a business. If you can’t get it right, it really causes a ton of problems down.
Hilde Van Brempt 32:49
In the end, if you lose two people, I mean, it’s yeah, you’re back to zero and you lost a lot of time and investment. And hiring and onboarding is crucial.
Tony Zayas 33:04
Continuing on that topic of onboarding and going from, you know, the early stage startup to where you guys can fit in house today, a lot of you have developed processes that to ease that, you know, as you go through and bring people on, so everyone can have access to knowledge. What have you guys done as an organization to help make that?
Hilde Van Brempt 33:36
Yeah, we are okay.
Francis Marten 33:45
There was a it was a bit of a network lag.
Hilde Van Brempt 33:47
Tony Zayas 33:48
You guys want me to repeat it?
Francis Marten 33:50
So Tony, could you repeat your question?
Tony Zayas 33:53
Yeah, absolutely. As a relates to onboarding, what have you guys done from the perspective of defining process, as you’re smaller, a lot of people have things in their head and could share a little bit easier. But as you grow and have more team members, and more people need access to information and resources. How have you guys, what have you guys done from a process standpoint to help team members get up to speed easier?
Francis Marten 34:25
There too well, it’s work in progress. And we’re not there yet. But one of the most important things that we do is we appoint a buddy. It’s a standard way that someone who is experienced experience with with how we work, who’s going to work on a daily basis with with the new hire, to get to what this person needs to know. And secondly, we are we are building a kind of knowledge base now. Come obtaining all the information that new hires should know. But it’s not only a new hires, but also like, like existing people who want to move from one job to another, they have an easy way to collect all the information. And also, we do have like 135 x with partners. Also these people, well, the people from this partner need to go through kind of onboarding process, because they need to learn. And so the investment that we’re doing on this knowledge base, can be reused in many different use cases. So so both so the having like a personal coach, helping you to get up to speed, and having a good knowledge base is what we see the way to solve this challenge.
Tony Zayas 35:52
Yeah, that’s great.
Andy Halko 35:55
I think along these lines, the other thing we always talk about is culture. And I’ve asked a lot of our founders on the show, you know, how much did they? How much are you trying to drive culture, you know, defining core values and reminding people and doing different things for folks versus letting culture create itself?
Hilde Van Brempt 36:20
It’s, you see it very nicely, culture creates itself, I think it’s something it’s not something that that that you, of course, we define our values, but that values come from the people themselves. And it’s something that of course, yourself, as a person, the founder, you go after, and you live by some values, and probably you hire also all the people that should live by those values, and so on. But then still, culture comes comes comes when the company forms itself a little bit. So one of the things that we see is very nice to see that we are so international, but also with a lot of different cultures as well. So people coming from different nationalities, even in Belgium, here, we hire a lot of people in sales and marketing, we’re like the sales, and especially the marketing hub, which is over here. But because we can hire people that do not have to speak the local language, so they, they can speak English, we attract a lot of people with different backgrounds and nationalities, and cultures. And that’s also very nice of culture in itself. And multicultural is spread over the whole organization, we have like 20 Plus, nationalities, we speak like all almost 30 languages, if we all count it up. So So that’s also nice. So it’s, that’s, that’s, it’s something and now we have set it because we have like a PR and brand personnel in place. And she kind of defined the values now together with the people into the organization. It’s a little bit of a formal process now. But the values that come out of it are the values that yeah, we know that are already there. So it’s not like something new has been invented. And it comes out of the organization itself. So you want to, like, what’s important for us as values is how we have like, of course, we need to respect each other. And we need to create a trusted environment. So especially with people from different cultures, it’s always difficult to not difficult, but it’s there’s always challenges that go with it if you work together. So being respectful to each other, being creative being open, that’s very, very important.
Francis Marten 38:55
Well, actually, we defining making these values really explicit was, was kind of a huge effort. And the Feanor has been working really, really hard to get with with the team. But lastly, we found four core values, which is that we are diversified, that we are in sync as a team, that we that we take action to do stuff and that we enjoy the journey. And getting into this for four phrases, which sounds really simple. It took a lot of discussions with a lot of people in the team. It’s it’s an enriching process, in the sense that you get, you don’t only talk about like, oh we have this defect that needs to be solved by tomorrow or we have discussed work. But you all work together on on the company and the product and you do do feel like like that you’re working as a team. And that’s that’s really nice. You still there?
Tony Zayas 40:10
Yeah, we’re here.
Francis Marten 40:13
Can you hear? Can you can hear me?
Hilde Van Brempt 40:17
Tony Zayas 40:19
Sounds like we have a little lag. Just to shift gears a little bit what what is the future look like for? Excellent. What do you guys? What are the hopes and plans for the next year to three years?
Hilde Van Brempt 40:36
First of all, we have this very ambitious goal of Exalate 10x. It’s cold, so you can guess why. So we want to go 10x with with our product, and then in the next coming two to three years, it will it will take that, yeah, 10x Of course, that’s our main goal, we want to grow our customers and our revenue by 10x. Probably not a company like the organization itself, but the organization will grow along of course, with with with, because we need more development, we need more sales, we need more marketing, and so on. So, so yeah, that’s our main goal. We also want to, like Francis is telling his division of accelerate is really to build a cross company. So it’s like companies working together, because integration can also have an inside the company. But it’s a cross company network. And that’s our main goal for and one of our focuses for the next three years that we want to Yeah, that we want to prove that that vision as well.
Andy Halko 41:46
From a product perspective, what do you see the future? Being in what? Especially, you know, we talked to a lot of founders that are looking at AI and looking at blockchain? Is there anything, you know, on these bleeding edge technologies that I know are a little bit? Just words, but I’m just kind of curious, where’s the product going? What’s the big vision there?
Francis Marten 42:09
So there. So of course, as you say, like blockchain and AI are our words. And indeed, we consider that as a means to implement the roadmap. We are not looking into blockchain at moment, we are looking into AI to analyze all the data that we’re collecting of the usage of product, but that’s some that’s outside of product itself. But in product, we do have two main drivers that reach is how many different tracks are we going to support? And that is how deep can we do an integration. So and along these these two vectors, we are defining our roadmap. And if we could, if we could use AI, we probably will, but not the way around, we are not going to say hey, here, we do have an AI component in our product because it’s it sounds fine. We don’t have time for that. It’s too difficult, right?
Andy Halko 43:13
So you’re not gonna have the acts of late Metaverse anytime?
Francis Marten 43:18
Yeah, maybe. You ever know.
Hilde Van Brempt 43:23
Good to think about. But on the other hand, talking about blockchain will not have blockchain in our product. But But what we do have and that’s one of our big advantages are key different key differentiators against our customer. Competitors, I’m sorry, is that we have a distributed architecture a little bit like what we have with blockchain and so on. And, and that’s very important because then you keep, it’s we don’t have a centralized hub where we organize and this and configure and monitor and control everything. Now everything is distributed so that everybody has control over their own environment. And that’s a little bit what we find in those more modern networks is that it’s, it’s completely distributed. So you you spread the power over the network, instead of keeping it in some kind of a big data center or one one big hub somewhere. That’s great. And that’s already built in into our product. And that’s probably the visionary part. Because in an in essence, integration is something that happens that happens already since we have computers as since the beginning of times. But the way we build our product was already with a distributed architecture and with that cross company in mind, and that’s and that’s what what we’re gonna live for. I mean, we’re not going to change that part. We just need to valorize it in the markets.
Andy Halko 44:54
So where can um, you know, I’m gonna I have a final question that I’d like to ask both of you. But where could our viewers learn more? Or how can they get in touch with you guys if they’ve got questions?
Hilde Van Brempt 45:14
Where they can, where they, if they have questions where they can find me?
Andy Halko 45:19
Yeah. So if you just want to talk about your website or other channels to reach out to you, that’d be great.
Hilde Van Brempt 45:26
Yeah, so actually, of course, you can find me on LinkedIn, that shouldn’t be no problem to find me. Everybody who’s interested to learn about our products, our sales guys are like, almost angles are almost everywhere. So if one of the things that really helps is like on our website, we have the chat component, and that works really well. If people just reach out to us. If they have any question like, whether they’re looking for a job, whether they have a technical question, sales question, any question, they will always be directed. And we try to keep these communication channels as close as possible. Also, we, as a founder, we want to be very approachable so that, that people can just reach out. And if they have any questions, if they want to know how we did this, or that, in building or growing our company, first reach out.
Andy Halko 46:21
That’s great. So a question I asked every one of our guests on our show is, and I’d like both of you, the answer is, if you were able to go back in time, before, right before you started the business and have coffee with yourself. What advice would you give?
Francis Marten 46:39
What are the should give myself while buying a lot of coffee? Yeah, so the I think that that we’ve been lucky with with finding good people on the team. And everything’s team, everything is team related. And focus on the team make sure that the team is is operational, we would have been starting with knowledge base or a lot earlier as collaborative efforts. So I would I would say so but but many of the things that we’ve been doing, I would do them again.
Tony Zayas 47:53
Hilde, any do you like to add to that?
Hilde Van Brempt 47:56
Yeah, maybe they it sounds a little bit contradiction a little bit. Maybe sometimes go a little bit faster still. We have been we grown, because we haven’t talked about like financial things and so on, but we’ve grown rather bootstrapped, we kind of, because we are we also have a consultancy department. So we, we we build our own means. We have a little bit of funding. But it might be and it worked well. So we kind of grown organically. Not slowly but prudently and still it. It was quite a roller coaster. But still I think we I should have gone for more for more money and more investments. To have it. Yeah, even boosted more rapidly. A second thing I would actually also do is invest in senior management.
Andy Halko 49:03
Yeah, that’s always a good one. I one that I don’t think that we’ve heard for sure which is, but it’s important, right?
Hilde Van Brempt 49:09
It’s important because we have been investing in a lot of people, but you also need management and you need to set your procedures and you need to set your Yeah, your strategy and so on. And that’s that it’s very important.
Tony Zayas 49:26
Well, fantastic. We just want to say thank you to both of you. So Hilde, Francis from Exalate. Really appreciate you guys spend the time here with us today and learning about the business and your journey. For those of you tuning in, thank you guys so much. We’ll be back again next week. But again, thanks so much Hilde, Francis, take care.
Hilde Van Brempt 49:50
Thank you, Tony. Thank you for having us on the show. And
Francis Marten 49:56
Andy Halko 49:57
Tony Zayas 49:58
Thank you. Take care everybody.
Hilde Van Brempt 50:00