SaaStr Podcast #358 with Tipalti Founder & CEO Chen Amit

Ep. 358: Chen Amit is the Founder & CEO @ Tipalti, the only global payable automation platform that scales with you and now remitting $5Bn annually across 3M suppliers. To date, Chen has raised over $146M with Tipalti from the likes of Oren Zeev, Dan Rose, Mike Chalfen and then Greenspring, Truebridge and 01 Advisors to name a few. Previously, Chen was CEO of Atrica, acquired by Nokia-Siemens. He also was co-founder and CEO of Verix. At ECI Telecom, Chen founded its ADSL business unit and led it from inception to $100 million in annual sales.

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How Chen made his way into the world of SaaS and came to found the leader in account payables with Tipalti.
* Why does Chen believe so much of his success is derived from saying no to customers? How does Chen determine which customer feedback to ingest vs to reject? If rejected, how can startups do this in a polite and respectful way? How can startups give the appearance of a large company to enterprises?
* Given the infinite supply of capital, how does Chen think about unit economics? How does Chen think the right way to calculate LTV is? Where do many go wrong? What can we learn from Amazon when it comes to LTV? How does Chen advise founders to think about annual dollar churn?
* How does Chen think about optimizing pricing models today? How can SaaS companies have variable pricing mechanisms without disincentivizing usage? How does Chen think about aligning revenue scale to your customers? How can this be done? What are the benefits?

 

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Jason Lemkin
SaaStr
Harry Stebbings
Chen Amit

Below, we’ve shared the transcript of Harry’s interview with Chen.

Harry Stebbings:

We are back for another week in the world of SaaStr. I’m very excited for this episode, having wanted to have this founder on the show for a long time. And, so with that, I’m thrilled to welcome Chen Amit, founder and CEO Tipalti, the global payable automation platform that now remits $5 billion annually, across 3 million suppliers. To date, Chen has raised over $146 million with Tipalti from the likes of Oren Zeev, Dan Rose, Mike Chalfen. And, then Greenspring, Truebridge and Zero One advisers, to name a few.

Harry Stebbings:

Previously Chen was CEO of Atrica acquired by Nokia-Siemens. He was also co-founder and CEO of Verix and at ECI Telecom, Chen founded his ADSL business unit and led it from inception to a hundred million dollars in annual sales. And, I do also want to say a huge thank you to Oren Zeev for both the intro today and some fantastic questions/suggestions. I really do appreciate that.

Harry Stebbings:

But, that’s quite enough for me so now I’m very excited to hand over to Chen Amit, founder and CEO at Tipalti.

Harry Stebbings:

Chen, it is so great to have you on the show today. As I said, I’ve heard so many good things from Oren Zeev, so thank you so much for joining me today.

Chen Amit:

Thank you so much for having me. It’s a privilege.

Harry Stebbings:

That very kind of you. But, before we dive in, I do want to start with a little bit of context. So, how did you make your way into the wonderful world of tech and startups? And, most importantly, come to found the game changer that is Tipalti.

Chen Amit:

So, I started in the tech world many years ago and actually started and made money as a youngster before the personal computer was created. It was Commodore 64, Vic 20. I was a geek programmer before the word geek was invented. So from very young age, I was a programmer and entered the world of tech at a very early age. I was always around starting new businesses, new projects, even at the start of my career. Initially, as a member of teams that started new businesses, then leading new businesses with only one piece of my experience being taking over as the CEO of an existing company.

Chen Amit:

But, all the rest of my career was starting new businesses. So, that’s what I know what to do, that’s my career. In terms of starting Tipalti, I sold another company in the telecommunication space in 2008. I was living in the Bay area at that time, moved back to Israel and then did some hobbies and ran some of my ideas, at some point in time called Oren, my cofounder in Tipalti. And, told him that I’m itching to do something different and if he learned of any interesting opportunity, I would love to hear about it. I think it was three or four months later. He calls me and says, “Look, one of my founders described the problem to me. Would you like to hear about that problem?” We met together with that founder and that problem I found interesting and the rest is the history of Tipalti.

Harry Stebbings:

I love that in terms of that problem fit. I do want to ask though, because post that when you embarked on really trying to solve that problem. For the first year and a little birdie tells me that you were the only employee and it’s kind of [inaudible 00:05:00] that rapid [inaudible 00:05:02] startup, where people raise a pre-seed before anything else. They hire a team and get going as fast as possible, with it kind of being the only employee strategy, why did you start that way? And, I guess what were the benefits?

Chen Amit:

So, I’ll tell you the whole story. When I met that founder of that portfolio company, a forensic, his name is Ureev and the company’s Infolinks. When I met him, he described the problem to me. Initially it sounded like an obvious problem. Paying suppliers, paying payees, it’s so obvious. It should have been available since the beginning of money. Then I started the research and through the research, in addition to Infolinks, I immediately met another founder of another company who expressed the same pain, but the next dozen companies I met were not as positive and don’t do that. There’s no pain. We have other alternatives. Just discouraged me from going that way.

Chen Amit:

So, I was in this conundrum. I had two people who are very passionate about the pain and the need to solve it. And, then a dozen others who I equally respect, who said, “Don’t bother.” So, I thought, “What do I do?” There are two avenues to go. One is to prove to myself that there is a company here and start building it. The other avenue which I like just the same, was to just keep it as a project to solve it for these two companies, these two founders. I love programming. I haven’t programmed for, I think, 17 years before that day, but they always had my pet project every year. And, I did some programming project almost every year. And, I said, “You know what? That’s ideal. I’ll just run it as a project for these two companies and gradually develop it. If it remains just for these two companies, I’ll be happy. It’ll make me a little money. I’ll do my hobbies. It’ll be a great balance. If it becomes a company, also great, then we’ll go forward and build a company out of it.”

Chen Amit:

And, to be honest, I was really more towards the project version than the company version. And, I was really happy. I was sitting with these two founders, exploring their pains, starting to develop mock-ups and MVPs, getting feedback, adjusting the MVPs, developing it, solving programming problems. I really loved that year. I really enjoyed it. So, within six months I had an MVP, it was live, it was revenue generating. And, I had two happy customers. By the end of the year, I had four customers. More than just having four customers with one of those customers, I was in a competitive situation with a 500 person company. Well-established where a board member of that ventral customer told them to explore that larger company if they want to look at the solution. And, I won with that headwind against me. So, I really felt confident that I was onto something for a very specific segment at the time it was only ad networks and crowdsourcing’s in Israeli companies.

Chen Amit:

So, the next question was, does it fly in the US? Is the same pain available for US based companies because the Israeli market is limited. So, I like to say that I doubled the company and went global from one person in Israel, we became two people, with one person in LA. And, he was responsible to exploring customers, opportunities and trying to gain some wins in the US, and very quickly we won two customers. One of which is still among our top 10. So, two fairly sizable customers. So, for the second year, it was mostly me doing all the engineering and product and most of sales out of Israel and he supporting me in the US. And, later in the second year, we figured that it’s company worthy and it’s time to accelerate, raise money, more money, and hire people and get an office. So, that’s the history of that part.

Harry Stebbings:

Totally with you. I do have to unpack some elements there because there’s some there that essentially, they’re too good for me not to double click on. And, one of them is, you mentioned the size of the clients that you’ve got in the first one or two years being so prominent. I think a big thing that early stage companies struggle with is the balance between selling enterprises on the vision, what they can do, what they will do, what a product roadmap looks like. Versus what they actually have today in the product. How do you advise founders on this balance? And, what works when successfully selling to huge companies that is a very young company?

Chen Amit:

So, they were large. I won’t say huge. Both of them were a thousand person company. So, not minor, but not your General Electrics and Coca Colas. Look, early stage companies, I like the analogy that it’s like riding a motorcycle full speed, max speed at the edge of a cliff hanger with the road crumbling below your wheels. So, it’s just a risky endeavor and you have to take risks and just devote yourself to addressing the risks.

Chen Amit:

I can tell you that the first customer that went live, the moment the customer went live, obviously the system collapsed. It collapsed for probably half a day and we just had to scramble and solve it. But, that was a great teaching moment for us and we grew from that. And, then the second customer was willing to go forward, but they wanted our complete legal agreements to be modified. So, we scrambled and changed and they wanted us insured and all kinds of things that took us a while to develop. And, we did, and we scrambled and solved for them. And, then they didn’t like our security mechanisms, so we adjusted that.

Chen Amit:

So, you just need to be uber responsive to commit. 90 days they say, especially in the early days, to just deliver the value that they expect from you. But, there are risks with that. You cannot come with a fully baked, ready, mature product in the early days, you have to come with the MVP. You have to be agile. You have to listen and adapt, listen and adapt, but just adapt very quickly. And, there’s no way around it. It’s a risky business, more for the customers, maybe, then for the entrepreneurs. But yeah, that’s the only way I know how to go about it.

Harry Stebbings:

Can I ask, on the listen and adapt element, how do you determine between the customer feedback to listen to and adapt to, versus the customer feedback to disregard because it may be specialist. It’s maybe wrong, or it may not fit with your kind of product vision moving forwards? How do you determine between keep and disregard?

Chen Amit:

Great question. I love the question because I feel that I built my career, built my confidence as a product person by saying no to my customer.

Chen Amit:

I’ll give you the example, not from Tipalti, but I was in the telecommunications world. We’re building an ADSL system, way back when, 96. The internet just started, ADSL was not something known. And, Deutsche Telecom, one of the largest carriers in the world, told us that he doesn’t like the way we build the system. And, I felt strongly that the only way that this product is going to succeed is by ignoring the advice of the largest customer in the world for us. Later they bought billions of dollars of that product. And, the reason I was so adamant about it, because we had the strategy for the product, it was a mass market, low cost, there was reasoning why I said I needed to decline that customer feedback.

Chen Amit:

And, I was right then and the same is true in Tipalti. Actually, that first customer, Infolinks, the person who brought the idea to me was one of the founders, the president. But, the COO of the company, at one point in time, decided to kill the project and said, “There’s no value and we shouldn’t do it.” And, more specifically, didn’t like part of the technology that we used. We used something called an I-frame. But, I knew deep inside that if I do anything but the way I designed the product on that aspect, that it cannot scale. It cannot become broadly used. It required too much from the customers and the customers, unfortunately, don’t care enough. It’s part of the strength of Tipalti is that customers don’t care enough about this problem. So, they need someone else to solve it for them and if we want to solve it, it needs to be frictionless.

Chen Amit:

So, there’s some logic that I knew were critical for the success of the strategic vision of the product. You need to have a backbone to have a strategic vision, to know what are the key success factors. And, even if the customer tells you that the way you’re going is wrong, you need to have the backbone. You need to have the trust in the strategy and the vision to proceed with your way. There are things–I must say, there are things that every year, some customers will go back to the same question that first customer told us that they didn’t like one version of the product, but they are critical for the success of Tipalti to this day. And, nine and a half years later, we’re still not willing to back down and change the way we operate it.

Chen Amit:

So, it’s a balancing act. You need to listen and internalize and believe in what the customer says. If you do not believe and it doesn’t become part of your vision, then you shouldn’t follow it.

Harry Stebbings:

Can I say, I love that about having the backbone when it comes to product. I think a lot of early stage founders, and especially first time founders, are bluntly more nervous to push back, even elegantly with customers, especially large customers. Is there a right way to do it, in terms of how you frame your discussion and disagreement, in terms of the product moving forward?

Chen Amit:

Yeah, I’ll go back to these two examples.

Chen Amit:

So, in the Deutsche Telecom example, again, the first project we signed, and this discussion was prior to us winning the project, the first project was a hundred million dollars. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Harry Stebbings:

Wow.

Chen Amit:

Yes, it was just deploying tens of thousands of lines in Deutsche Telecom. And, it was the chief architect for that project who said, “We don’t like the way you do it. We prefer you do it in a different way.” And, I explained to him our vision. And, explained what his vision should be and how our vision aligns with his vision and why, if he insists, his approach will not scale for him. I said, “You know what? I hear you. I understand what you’re saying. I’ll open it up.” It was an RFP. “I’ll open it up for your version, but just for you to know, you might lose the deal for that.”

Chen Amit:

So, there was an RFP, instead of limiting it to that variant that he wanted, he opened and allowed our variant. And, eventually we won. We won against the giants, the biggest monsters of the world, because it was such a great competitive advantage, it created such a competitive advantage that others could not compete. And, the same happened with that other customer. And, it’s not always like that. We lost some customers. So, we definitely lost customers who said, “We are not willing to work with you with an I-Frame.” I-Frame is kind of the example.

Chen Amit:

And, one in probably 300 deals will say, “I’m not willing to work with you.” And, I’m willing to lose that many and more because I believe in the vision, I believe in the strategy, and believe that this is critical for our success and for the customer success and for our ability to support the customer. So, the way to engage in a discussion, professional way is to explain your vision, to show how it aligns with the customer’s vision and how deviating from it will hurt your vision and the customer’s vision. And, if they understand it, then they will play ball. If they don’t understand it, then you need to be willing to lose that customer.

Harry Stebbings:

Yeah, now, I mean, I love that kind of willingness to lose the customer and having the backbone of the product there. As I said, I think it’s a really strong mindset to adopt. When they kind of do convert and they do align with you, obviously the company sales scale, and you move from the early stage company with doubling with one to two employees. I love that story. But, you moved from that early stage company to a growth stage company with hundreds of employees as more and more sales convert. I’d love to hear, what are your thoughts and reflections almost on the biggest differences for you between growth and early stage from the leader’s perspective?

Chen Amit:

One of the things I love most about my job is that it changes, I want to say every year. Every year it changes so much that it’s so interesting and is so exciting and it’s just different. My role changes, so far has changed almost every year. And, in the early days I was the product manager, the programmer, the QA, well, actually I did have an outsource QA, I must say, through Upwork.

Chen Amit:

So, I was the programmer, the accountant, the marketing, the website programmer, et cetera and that was great. By the way, at that time, if you called our line, you had press one for marketing, press two for support, press three for finance, they all led to me, but it gave the sense that it’s a bigger company than it was. So, yeah, initially you’re doing everything. You know everything, you do everything. It all relies on you and that’s how it works. Then you need to teach, you have more people you need to teach. You let go a little bit, but you know everything, you still know everything, but you don’t do everything.

Chen Amit:

For the first three or four years I was still writing some code part of my time. Then, you know most of the things and you do less because you have more people, more managers, you need to train them and enable them and empower them. And, today my role is completely different. Today, it’s more about setting the vision and the strategy, hiring executives, fundraising, of course. And, there’s one other part of my job, which I call starting fires. Every few months, I will start a small fire, whether it is to burn that grass or to expose an opportunity, but you’re in the position to see all of those opportunities or many of those opportunities. Obviously, you have a large team and they see many of the opportunities themselves, but.

Chen Amit:

Another big difference between the early days and today is funding. In the early days, you really have to fight to convince in your vision and in the path that you’re taking. In these days, it’s more of a matrix exercise. The abundance of money is quote, unquote, unlimited. You really have to optimize for growth with the assumption of unlimited availability of funding. And, I optimize for growth. So yeah, these are some of the differences between the early stage and the growth stage.

Harry Stebbings:

I’m too interested not to ask, in terms of kind of the infinite supply of money, as you said, absolutely I can see that, especially kind of, as you go further and further down the funnel and focusing on the growth, I’m interested there. How does that mean that you think about unit economics? Is it growth at all costs? Is that the right mindset? How should one think about unit economics in a mindset of infinite supply of capital?

Chen Amit:

So, I’ll tell you where the infinite supply of capital makes a difference. Definitely we were lucky or fortunate to have great unit economics from the get go. So, the one key metric that makes life so great for us, we have less than 1% annual dollar churn. When you have 1% annual dollar churn, it cures so many other things. So, that’s great. Most of our metrics are just phenomenal, so that didn’t make any influence that much. The only area that it makes a difference, if you know, when Amazon was asked about the payback periods and customer acquisition costs and LTV to CAC, and all of that, the answer that they gave was that since their customers stay with them forever, they’re willing to invest as much as they need because they know that the customer will continue to produce for them.

Chen Amit:

And, when you have 1% churn like we do, the lifetime value like we do, that obviously drives LTV to CAC indefinite. With an LTV, we don’t assume a hundred years LTV because of a 1% churn, but we have a very high LTV. So, we are less sensitive to the payback periods. Because, our customers will keep on producing for such a long time, I’m willing for the CAC to go higher, because I know that the lifetime value is so productive.

Chen Amit:

So, the way I look at it, I’m willing to invest in a business that has this ROI. We will get to the return on investment, it just starts later in the process. So, for instance, for some of our segments, we have 18 months, 12 months, nine months, 21 months, we’re fine with that. There are some segments where it exceeds that timeline. We won’t go beyond 24 months of payback period, but given an unlimited supply of money, you need to be willing to invest more during this phase of land grab. It’s a land grab. Our target market has roughly 600,000 companies in it, between everyone in the market we’re servicing three, four, 5% of the market. So, it’s still a wide space and it’s a land grab period. And, I’m willing to invest more and to accept a longer payback period because it’s this land grab phase.

Chen Amit:

But, all the other key metrics, margins and churn–definitely churn–and organic growth and all of that are in a perfect situation.

Harry Stebbings:

I mean, incredible to hear about that dollar retention. The importance also there is placed on kind of upselling and expansion of accounts. I’m too interested. In terms of like pricing mechanisms. I’m always challenged by the right pricing mechanism, because if you have a usage based pricing mechanism, obviously you disincentivize people from using the product more. And, then if you have alternative forms, you maybe don’t have some optimal value extraction for you. And, so how do you think about effective upsell and maybe the pricing mechanism has worked for you in terms of achieving that?

Chen Amit:

Yeah, I can tell you what our pricing mechanisms are. And, I think they’ve worked wonders for us. So, we price across three main levers, and the fourth, that is in the making. The three main levers are what we call SaaS fees. At large SaaS fees would be platform fee, monthly subscription per user, but generally around the software and the usage of the software. And, for the most part, they are fixed with the exception of per user, but that’s the software fees. They are one of the levers.

Chen Amit:

The other two levers are transaction fees and currency conversion fees. And, the more business the customer drives through Tipalti, the more revenue we have, the faster and the further the customer grows, the more they are successful, the more we are successful. And, that’s what I love about transaction currency conversion fees. The more the customer is successful, the more we’re successful. And, for instance, today in the COVID times, if the customer business contracts, then we will contract with them. And, I’m fine with that because the customer, he or she, are under pressure and they cannot pay too much for the product.

Chen Amit:

So, the balance between some SaaS fees and transaction currency conversion worked wonders for us. Many of our customers are high growth companies. We’re based in San Francisco, you have the Twitches and the Twitters and the GoDaddy’s and [inaudible 00:23:46] and a lot of very high growth companies. And, the more they grow, the better they do, we do, and that works wonders for us. We have the SaaS fees for a host of reasons. Predominantly because we provide value through software and we can show the ROI that would bring through that value. The transaction currency conversion fees are paid mostly by the suppliers. So, it’s not the pain for our customer. The SaaS fees are paid by our customer. They have control. They can decide who pays what, but this balance allows us to generate revenue without hurting the customer too much and position the product for the value it provides.

Harry Stebbings:

Chen, do you find that there’s a tipping point? You mentioned in terms of customers kind of shifting their transactions over to Tipalti. In the early days, I mean, obviously now Tipalti is a much more prestigious name and got a lot of social validity and credibility to it. But, in the early days, did you notice people landing and expanding in terms of how they shifted their transactions? And, I guess, what was the tipping point that caused people to go from putting 10% through to going, “Ah, Tipalti’s fantastic. Let’s just put them all through Tipalti.”

Chen Amit:

So, I didn’t describe what we do, but what Tipalti does is kind of a holistic supplier and payment management solution. So, you onboard your payees, we do tax compliance, we do AML compliance at the front end. Then we do payments and at the tail end, we do reconciliation and tax reporting. Because, it’s such a holistic solution, it doesn’t make sense to do anything but a hundred percent of your business with Tipalti. How would you do tax compliance without us? How would you do AML compliance? Will you have two systems for tax compliance? Two processes for reconciliation?

Chen Amit:

It just begs for a holistic end to end usage and I would say 98% of our customers use us exclusively for the use case. So, Amazon is a customer. It’s not that all of Amazon runs on Tipalti, it’s the one business unit called Twitch, huge business unit. In Twitter, there was an RFP for one business unit, MoPub. And, then another business unit and another business unit and today, literally every dollar for every supplier touches Tipalti one way or another.

Chen Amit:

So, the model itself lends to defaulting on a business unit or a use case that does everything with us. And, when that business unit grows, we grow with them. So, there’s not much of an upsell from that perspective, it’s more of an expanding to additional business units, less so that they carve out business that they do with us and they can add more later on.

Harry Stebbings:

Yeah, no, I get you totally in terms of kind of not making sense to shift partially. I do want to ask you, you said about an expansion there and before we move into the quick fire, I’m too intrigued, in terms of expansion of the team, obviously the world’s changed so seismically with COVID. I’m interested, now in a remote world, how do you think about hiring when everyone is working from home?

Chen Amit:

Yeah, that’s a great question that we’ve been discussing internally for the last few weeks. So, obviously we paused our hiring at the beginning of COVID, but we reenergized the plans back to the original plan and we are roughly 300 people and we’re hiring another hundred people in the next six months. And, that is a major undertaking under COVID, always, but under COVID specifically.

Chen Amit:

So, we’re doing the following things. One, we’re adding to the interview process, stages, steps, and questions that are meant to evaluate if that individual is a good fit for a work from home environment. So, you need to be a little bit more of a self starter. You need to be more communicative. You need to be a little bit more social when you work from home. So, we try to assess these skills. We opt to hire, especially because you’re in this environment there’s also more availability of talent. We are opting to hire a little bit more experienced people. So, if before we would hire out of college, we are now trying to limit the out of college hires and hire with two or three years of experience.

Chen Amit:

So, the person knows little bit of what it is to be working in a company. And, last, we have three major offices, one in Israel, one in Vancouver, Canada, and one in San Mateo. Where relevant, where it’s possible and make sense, we will opt to hire in the office where there is some work in the office. So, in Israel, we can work in the office. In Vancouver, we can work in the office. In San Mateo, we cannot. We will still hire in San Mateo, but for roles that we are in different, whether they are in San Mateo or another office, we will prefer the other office.

Harry Stebbings:

No, I’m with you in terms of kind of favoring the other office. I do want to move into my favorite element of any episode, which is actually the quick fire round, Chen. So, I say a short statement and you give me your immediate thoughts. Are you ready to rock and roll?

Chen Amit:

Let’s do that.

Harry Stebbings:

So, what do you believe most that others around you maybe disbelieve?

Chen Amit:

I think today, the bon ton is to believe that work from home is great and it’s changing work for the better. And, I believe that work from home is great for some, but not for all. And, there’s data to support it. I’m very data driven and there’s data to support that younger high growth companies do worse in remote. So, that research I’m referring to was for companies that operated in complete remote, but the same is true for work from home.

Chen Amit:

I think the collaboration is lost. That magic that happens when people just meet in the corridor, when they overhear something. There’s a lot of value in that magic, especially when you’re building, when you’re creating, when all that creative part in company’s life cannot completely be replaced while work from home.

Harry Stebbings:

How do you think the world of fundraising’s impacted from work from home and remote work?

Chen Amit:

For us, the reason I stopped hiring in March was because I didn’t know how the investor world would work. Because, at our pace of growth, we can find ourselves certain pace of growth, but we’re trying to grow so fast that we still need to raise funds from the outside. And, I was worried that it didn’t know how to… What to expect from investors, but we’re getting a ton of inbound from investors. And, when speaking with fellow CEOs, I think that investors are flocking the larger companies, the 50, a hundred, $200 million rounds will be easier. And, possibly venture will be a little bit harder.

Chen Amit:

For me, from my perspective, when I engage with investors, I really am not engaging with investors that I don’t have a relationship with. Especially if there’s any board advisors seat or just, I’m very careful with my investors. So, I would limit the people I speak with to people I know, I’m comfortable with, I’ve known for a while. And, I won’t open new discussions with investors that I’ve never met, or I don’t have a history with.

Harry Stebbings:

Totally get you in terms of that existing relationship. Can I ask, what single trait do you want to see most in an investor when you are selecting them?

Chen Amit:

I’m spoiled because I’ve worked with Oren for so long and the other investors, [inaudible 00:30:59] and the rest. And, I just have a great team and I will just look at Oren’s traits that I love the most. And, I think one of Oren’s traits that I love the most is that he’s just the ultimate optimist. He is the most optimistic person I know. He’s always positive and I think it’s a great trait for him to have.

Chen Amit:

And, the other is that–it’s a saying in Hebrew, that someone is trying to hold the steering wheel with you, right? He doesn’t try to hold the steering wheel with me. He lets me run the company. He provides advice. He provides connections. He makes intros. If I need to consult with him on a strategic topic, he’s the smartest person on the planet, but he doesn’t try to run the company with me. And, I have had different experiences with VCs who just try to be too close with the CEO. He’s very close with me, we’re friends before we were partners, but try to hold the steering wheel together with the CEO. And, I think that’s wrong. I think you need to let the CEO run the company. So, just his optimism and his ability to let the founders run the companies and provide value where he can.

Harry Stebbings:

What an Oren Zeev fan club. I’m totally with you. I think Oren is fantastic so, it makes me very happy to hear that. Final one though, Chen, what’s the biggest challenge for you with your role stay with Tipalti?

Chen Amit:

I think two challenges. One is just growing at the pace we grow, especially from a people perspective while in COVID while predominantly work from home. This is a departure from our experience. Work from home works for us excellent, with the existing team. It will be different exercise with 25% of the company joining and onboarding and learning the ropes while work from home. So that is a challenge that we’re focusing our attention on and trying to build the processes and the thoughts–thought process and the systems that will allow us to be successful.

Chen Amit:

The other is also a people challenge, which is how do you maintain your agility? How do you maintain speed, aggressiveness? Risk-taking, when you grow? We’re 300 people, will be 400, and it will be 600, we’re getting there. And, if in the past, I knew everything, I did most of the things, and then I was able to influence most of the things in the company. I’m getting a little bit more remote from most of the people and I can’t influence everything myself and the influence needs to come in some other way. And, this is where I’m thinking, “What do we need to change in order to maintain agility, maintain aggressiveness, maintain risk-taking in a safe way.” So, it’s just this balancing act.

Harry Stebbings:

Totally with you in terms of that, balancing act. As I said, I’ve known Oren for a long time, and he’s always said the most incredible things, Chen, so, this has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Chen Amit:

Thank you for having me.

Harry Stebbings:

So much fun, having that discussion and such exciting times ahead for Tipalti. And, if you’d like to see more from us, you can on Instagram at HStebbings1996, with two Bs.

Harry Stebbings:

As always, I so appreciate all your support and I can’t wait to bring you a fantastic episode next week.

Published on August 6, 2020

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