Saastr Podcasts for the Week with Gong and Brex — June 7, 2019

 

 

 

 

Ep. 239: Amit Bendov is the Founder and CEO @ Gong.io, the startup that provides you with powerful visibility into your customer conversations with conversation intelligence. To date, Amit has raised $68m in funding for Gong from the likes of Norwest, Battery Ventures, Cisco Investments, and Wing Venture Capital, just to name a few. As for Amit, prior to founding Gong, Amit was the CEO @ SiSense BI software that enables business users to connect to multiple databases of any size. Before that, Amit was the CMO @ Panaya, helping companies that use SAP or Oracle to reduce 80% of their ERP upgrade. Finally, before that, Amit was the Founder & CEO @ SparkThis, an outsourced marketing and sales service for cloud companies.

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How Amit made his way into the world of SaaS and came to found Gong, the leader in conversational intelligence driving deal conversion and rep success.
* How does Amit approach the process of idea validation? What can founders do to make sure their idea is a hit before they start work on it? How many customer conversations should they have? What questions are crucial to ask? What are the answers they want to hear? What is enough proof that there is a ready and willing customer base for this idea?
* With many products starting as free, how does Amit think about when is the right time to start charging for your product? What does Amit think about the differing variable price mechanisms that one can choose? How does one have a variable pricing mechanism without disincentivizing users to use the product? What does Amit advise founders should charge in the early days? Should they leave money on the table?
* How does Amit think about monthly/vs annual deals? What are the core benefits and drawbacks of each? How important is it that multi-year deals are paid upfront? What must you account for with regards to multi-year deals? How do you know when you have the right pricing mechanism in place from the sales cycles of the reps?

 

Ep. 240: Brex Co-Founder and CEO Henrique Dubugras will talk about what he’s learned building the fastest-growing B2B company. Henrique started his first company at 16 and has now built two successful companies from nothing. Learn what he did differently the second time around and the specific decisions he made to drive growth among B2B companies with Brex.

SaaStr’s Founder’s Favorites Series features one of SaaStr Annual’s best of the best sessions that you might have missed.

This podcast is an excerpt of Henrique’s session at SaaStr Annual 2019.

Missed the session? Here’s what Henrique talks about:

  • How Brex grew from a few basic functionalities to a corporation
  • Growing from $0 to $2B in ARR in less than two years.

 

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin
SaaStr
Amit Bendov
Henrique Dubugras

Below, we’ve shared the full transcript of Harry’s interview with Amit Bendov.

Harry Stebbings: So, we are back for another week in the world of SaaStr with me, Harry Stebbings. SaaStr Paris is just one week away. I cannot wait for it. If you’d like to see more from us, behind the scenes, you can do so on Instagram @Hdebbings1996 with two B’s, it would be great to see you there. However, to our episode today, and what an incredible operator we have in the hot seat today, as I’m thrilled to welcome Amit Bendov, founder and CEO at Gong.io.

Harry Stebbings: The startup that provides you with powerful visibility into your customer conversations with conversation intelligence. To date, Amit has raised $68 million in funding for Gong from the likes of Norwest, Battery Ventures, Cisco Investments, and Wing Venture Capital, just to name a few. As for Amit, prior to founding Gong, Amit was the CEO at SiSense, a business intelligence software that enables business users to connect to multiple databases of any size. Before that Amit was the CMO at Panaya, helping companies that use SAP or Oracle to reduce 80% of their ERP upgrade. And finally, before that, Amit was the founder and CEO at SparkThis, an outsource marketing and sales service for cloud companies.

Harry Stebbings: And I do want to say a huge thank you to Ryan at Sprout Social for the fantastic intro to Amit today, I really do so appreciate that, my friend.

Harry Stebbings: But enough of me droning on, so now I’m very excited to hand over to Amit Bendov, founder and CEO at Gong.io.

Harry Stebbings: Amit, it is absolutely fantastic to have you on the show today. A big hand to Ryan Barretto at Sprout Social for the intro, but thank you so much for joining me today, Amit.

Amit Bendov: Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Harry Stebbings: Not at all, but I would love to kick off today with a little bit about you. So tell me, how did you make your way into the world of SaaS and what was really the genesis with Gong, and what was that “a-ha” moment?

Amit Bendov: That’s kind of a long story, but I started my career, actually, in sales. I was selling audio equipment to recording studios and professional rigs. So a lot of what we’re seeing in Gong actually has its origins in the 90s. Then I kind of made a turn to computer science. I was fascinated by computer and software and had a short stint actually developing and writing code. Gong is my fourth company in a leadership position, I’ve been founding team member of Click Software that brought it from zero to an IPO, that was traditional enterprise software product. And then I was CMO and VP of Sales of a company called Panaya in a pre-SaaS phase which is my first SaaS company. Then I was a CEO at a company called SiSense out of New York City that is in a business intelligence space, and that’s where I pretty much had the idea for Gong.

Amit Bendov: All the companies were growing super fast, and all was well, but I was frustrated by the limited information that we’re getting from our systems. As soon as a company starts to grow, we’re losing touch with what’s really going on. When you start and you have a couple salespeople, then you know exactly what’s going on and you know every customer, you understand every bits and pieces. But as soon as you start to scale, you’re being fed by reports from the customer-facing people, whether it’s in customer success or in sales, and the way that CRM was built, it’s nothing like that is flawed with any specific CRM, but it was built like 30 years ago that the customer-facing people are having conversations with customers, they’re sending emails, they’re meeting, they’re having phone calls, and then they put very little information into the CRM.

Amit Bendov: 95% of the information never makes it there and the other 5% is lost. And obviously it’s highly subjective, so as an example, if someone put, there is a field that is pretty popular called “loss reason,” why did we lose the deal? Have you seen it before?

Harry Stebbings: I have indeed, you know it.

Amit Bendov: Everybody. It has a pick list like “no budget, no decision, liked competitor better, unqualified,” whatever, but nobody has things like “I wasn’t in the zone,” or “I didn’t do a good job uncovering the value.” So, that’s why it’s highly subjective, and can’t blame the sales and customer success people, I mean there’s nothing in it for them, they hate putting data in and sometimes just misinterpret it. It’s not for them. So I was thinking, is there a system out there that can really give me the data and can answer some basic questions? Not by hearsay but directly, why are some people more successful than others in either sales or customer service? Why are we losing the majority of our deals? Everybody loses four out of five or sometimes nine out of 10, right? So what happens with the other nine?

Amit Bendov: And three, what’s our competitive situation in the market? I mean you can’t blame it all on the sales people, right? Is the product competitive? Who is eating our lunch from a competitor. What do customers like about our competitors? What do they like about us? So, I was just looking for a system that would give me all that information, and I couldn’t find it, and that was the genesis of Gong.

Harry Stebbings: I mean, I love that as the genesis of Gong and kind of that real idea validation stage for you and really the very kind of gestation period. Idea validation’s always an incredibly tough one, so let’s put ourselves in the hypothetical situation. So I’m an early stage founder with an idea for a SaaS company, okay? Picture that, I know it’s a stretch from today, but what can I do to validate my idea? And how can I assess ahead of time the likeliness of this potential idea becoming a hit?

Amit Bendov: So I’ll tell you what we did at Gong and this is like it could be anything. So, obviously, I wasn’t even looking to build something, but there’s nothing out there that we could realistically use, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I built this system that would do it automatically, right?” But the risk that you’re running into is, first that this is not a great idea and the second, it’s more typical that you’re one of the few people in the world that thinks it’s a good idea or willing to pay the amount it will take to create a viable business. So let’s say that I want to create a new razor blade using slick technology that is 100 times smoother, there are never any nicks, and you don’t need the shaving cream to shave.

Amit Bendov: Isn’t that a great idea?

Harry Stebbings: Amazing.

Amit Bendov: So let’s say now that I do some math and it’ll cost … this thing will need to sell for like a couple thousand dollars. Then how many people in the world would be willing to pay this kind of money so you can build a viable business? That’s the question. So, most companies don’t succeed, not necessarily because they don’t have a great idea but because there aren’t enough people in the world that are willing to buy or are willing to pay what they need to get paid to build a viable business.

Amit Bendov: So what we did at Gong, and we did two things. First, we validated the market. So I called 50 people, most of them people that I don’t know that aren’t going to be nice to me, they aren’t going to tell me what I want to hear, and I told them, “Listen, we’re looking to build a system that will automatically glean information from conversations and kind of shine a light on everything that’s going on with your customer facing teams. How much would you be willing to pay? What concerns do you have? What would make you not buy this?” And that was super valuable.

Amit Bendov: So first thing is, everybody says “Yeah, that’s going to be amazing, but it sounds too good to be true, will it actually work?” And too good to be true is actually a very good signal. It means people see the value, but it’s a hard problem. So that’s a good place to be. And the second, we asked them how much would you be willing to pay, everybody said, “Okay, $50 a month, it’s half the Salesforce.” It’s not exactly what we wanted to hear, but it was good enough to start a business, and that was pretty unanimous. So at least there are 50 people in the world that are willing to buy.

Amit Bendov: That still doesn’t promise that it’s going to be a success, I mean there is a validation down the road, but that was the initial thing. Before we had anything, we didn’t have a product, we didn’t have a demo, we didn’t even know what the product was going to look like, we just validated the concept.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask? In terms of that pricing question to those potential customers, did the predictions that they gave in terms of what they were willing to pay, did that transpire to be true and is that actually quite similar to your pricing today? Or did you find that actually there was a lot more scope on the upper end than people actually thought? Because they’ve seen the product now and they’ve seen it in use.

Amit Bendov: So people pay more, and I kind of knew that when you ask people how much they’re willing to pay it’s always less than what they’re really willing to, especially when they see the product and when you have a lot more behind you. But that was good enough and ultimately you want to charge substantially more, but that was good enough. Even with that, we can almost build a viable business.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, absolutely. I do want to get onto pricing, because it’s one of my absolute passion points, it’s one of the many reasons why I’m still single Amit. But, before we dive into pricing itself, say we take this idea and we run with it and in the early stages it’s just not quite hitting. A big question that founders often ask me is, “How do you think about a balance between vision and mission?” But then also realistically assessing when something’s just not working. How do you assess that balance?

Amit Bendov: You’ve got to sell. When I try to sell something early on, I’m not saying, “Okay, this is like an idea that will change your life and make this a better world.” People don’t understand that. You need to bring it down to something like super tangible and down to earth so people understand what the product does. So, don’t confuse what you’re pitching to VCs with actual buyers. With buyers, you need to sell a product that solves a problem. What’s the problem you’re solving, and how does the product solve it? Just bring it completely down to earth.

Amit Bendov: You may hate it, but that’s what actually works.

Harry Stebbings: It’s super interesting to hear that’s what works, because actually, it goes contra a lot of other previous guests on the show, who said that when you’re selling to big enterprises, you have to sell them the vision of what the product will be in five years’ time. Would you actually disagree with that and say, “No, it’s about the tangible today and you’ve got to show what works and what’s real?”

Amit Bendov: There’s nothing wrong. I think with large enterprises I think it is good to share your long term vision. It is a long term relationship and that’s part of it. But, it’s hard to sell just on a vision, and I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s harder. You’ve got to understand what the product does today and in addition on top say, “Oh, by the way, next year it’s going to do A and in two years it’s going to do B.” You could share that vision.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, absolutely. And nothing like stoking the flames of excitement within them. So, now we’ve assessed the idea though, and we’re feeling very confident that it has legs and it’s going to be a success. We mentioned pricing, so I do want to deep dive on that, so to speak. First, most often today, just to get the users on the platform, get some data back, and get some product feedback, people will release the product for free, as you know. How does one know when it’s the right time to start charging on this?

Amit Bendov: We charged very early, and that would be my recommendation. I know there are some people that are successful. The freemium model, depends who your audience are, but for us, it wasn’t the money. So first we reached out to a dozen friends and family companies, “Hey, can you start using a product?” This is early, we didn’t even have a product. Just to test it and develop it. But very quickly we saw that they’re pretty engaged with the product and then we said, “Okay, let’s do a trial close.” A trial close is it’s making sales that if you want to know where you stand, you just go and ask for money. You ask for the order, and that gives it a very good indication where you are, and if you get a no, then you understand what’s missing.

Amit Bendov: You don’t necessarily expect to sell, but it’s a good test to understand if you’re ready. If the customer’s ready and if you’re ready. And when we saw that the engagement with the product was pretty good, we said, “Let’s do a trial close, let’s see what happens.” And we reached out to everybody and said “Hey, beta is over, time to pay.” And to our surprise, everybody said yes. So it’s not always like that, and again, it wasn’t the money we wanted. We didn’t need the money, we were pretty well funded, but we wanted to know, again, what would people be willing to pay and if they weren’t willing, what are we missing? Either in our story or in the product that we need to fix to get people to buy.

Amit Bendov: So that was early knowledge that is super important, just know where you are and what you’re missing. And by charging, it shouldn’t be cheap. So think what you want to get paid ultimately and try to get that, and if you get a no, understand why.

Harry Stebbings: Now I totally get you on the context of understanding why, so now we want to charge and we want to charge early, let’s take that mindset. But we’ve got to think about the pricing mechanism behind it. Obviously variable pricing mechanisms are relatively the de facto today, but I always struggle with them in the way that they can disincentivize users to really use the products, whether it being seats or usage charges. Can I ask? How do you think about these variable pricing mechanisms and how do you determine the right one for you?

Amit Bendov: So early on, it was a question that … I still have the deck from the pre-seed area, and we’re asking like pricing, should it be by usage or by users? Both of them are viable. For our business, we do real costs. So every minute of conversation we record and process or email has a not negligible cost. So we do mind our margins and processing costs. So, for us, the easiest thing would be to charge by the minute, but we thought that’s kind of hard for buyers because they don’t know what to expect, they’re used to paying per user.

Amit Bendov: There are a few vectors of innovation in every start up, first what the product does, where do you fit in? And we chose to minimize the innovation vector. So we didn’t want to introduce a revolutionary product with revolutionary pricing. So, we knew that people are used to paying for most of their CRM licenses by users, so we made it pretty simple. We weren’t optimizing for prices, we’re in uncharted water, we’re creating a new category, and for us it was like market share and creating a new space as quickly as we can. It doesn’t matter if the pricing’s like 10 or 20% better one way or another.

Amit Bendov: We still haven’t optimized for pricing.

Harry Stebbings: Totally get you. So would you agree then, with Jason Lemkin? Because Jason said to me the other day, “It’s okay to leave money on the table in the early days,” but then we have our oracles of industry like Marc Andreessen saying, “Whatever you do, raise prices.” How do you think about the balance of those two opinions?

Amit Bendov: I don’t think that they contradict. You can raise price and still leave 20%. So I agree with both. And I told you we charged early and it wasn’t cheap. It was more than what people were telling us that they’re willing to pay in the validation phase. And again, because we wanted to know what it is, and later on we even raised prices. That said, we’re not optimizing, because we don’t have pricing levels still, even though it makes sense. We might introduce this, but we haven’t bothered with it so much, so the idea, I think that Andreessen is talking about is different. 10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000, right? But there’s no difference between 100,000 and 80,000. That doesn’t matter. So I think they’re both right.

Harry Stebbings: Now, I do get you in terms of the scales of pricing they’re talking about there. I think one interesting thing to touch on is where you sit in the market. Be it enterprise or SMB. How does thinking on pricing–both size and mechanism–really change when considering enterprise versus SMB in your mind, Amit?

Amit Bendov: I mean it varies. I know, maybe not a great answer, but it depends on the product. If I want to generalize, generally enterprises are much larger deals. You need to make sure that you’re speaking with the buyer that can authorize these kind of purchases, and I would [inaudible 00:16:53] if you sell to IT or business users, if your product is kind of grass root or top down, sales motion. But I don’t know that I have anything that is generically. For SMBs, usually most SaaS product would be in the thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, and enterprises, most of them would get to six and seven figures. But there are exceptions to all these.

Harry Stebbings: You said about kind of who you sell to within the enterprise there. It’s funny, I spoke to a VC the other day and he said, “Ugh, enterprise pricing, such long sales cycles.” And then he said, “And then there’s no man’s land in the middle which is just horrible too, and then SMBs, ugh, tiny ticket sizes and they all go out of business.” Which led me to be a little bit confused about what did excite him. How would you respond to this thinking in terms of actually where and how an opportunity lies in pricing?

Amit Bendov: Well, pricing is just part of it, you need to understand. If you’re an SMB business, you will have high churn, relatively speaking, no matter how good you are, because it just is the nature of the business. Some of them die, some of them go get acquired, some of them just lose people. It’s also a possibility with large enterprises, but much less so. SMBs, higher curn, usually lower acquisition costs, make sure that your support model can support scales and it’s hard, not impossible, but it’s hard to build a very large business out of SMBs. Some companies have done that very successfully, but the thing is you need to get a lot of customers to get beyond like $20, $30 million in ARR, you need to start bringing like a lot of deals.

Amit Bendov: Both the product and the market needs to support these kind of sales, almost no touch, no support sales motion, and the product has to be there. So that’s hard. Enterprise is much more difficult because they’re much longer sales cycles, so it takes more time to understand what works and what doesn’t. Usually anywhere between six to 12 months, sometimes even longer, but once you get it right, you could grow pretty fast.

Harry Stebbings: I’m sorry, I do have to touch on two elements that are just too intriguing there. One, you said about SMBs and the customer acquisition cost obviously being lower. What do you think about the right payback period for SMBs which really would look good and excite you? Is that six months? Is that 12 months? What’s good to you?

Amit Bendov: I think six to 12 months is pretty good. And again, it depends on the churn. So what you need to look at is the lifetime value of the customer, divided by your customer acquisition costs. That’s the real thing. So payback within 12 months is pretty good, six months is even better.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. No, I do get you. And then on the enterprise pricing, you said about knowing when you get it right. How do you know when you’ve got that enterprise sales motion right? What does that look like?

Amit Bendov: That you have a predictable model and repeatable model means that when you hire new people and the ramp up time is predictable and you know what their KPIs are going to look like. How much you’re paying them, how much they’re achieving in sales, how quickly did they get it, and what kind of marketing and support infrastructure needed to do them? And if you could just scale and add more people and more marketing dollars for the business, then you know that it’s working. But usually when you have about a handful of people that are successful on your team that are not you, and not the VP of Sales, then I would say that it could be comfortable to give it a repeatable model.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, I do get you on that kind of repeatability with new reps. I do want to drill down one layer deeper into the actual contracts themselves maybe in terms of what causes them to succeed and maybe what doesn’t. A lot of founders often ask me whether they do monthly pricing or annual pricing. When founders ask you this, Amit, what advice do you give them and how do you tell them they should think about this monthly versus annual?

Amit Bendov: The nice thing about monthly is that it makes it easy to buy. The not so nice thing about it that it makes it easy to buy. Remember pricing is not just about the money, it’s about knowing your value. So when you’re selling in monthly, often times you’re not really selling because it’s very easy for someone to make a decision, but it’s also very easy for them to leave. So when you ask, let’s say if you’re charging $100 a month or let’s say $1,000 a month, that’s one decision. Everybody, “Oh, let’s try this new project management offer, right? Let’s see if it works.” And then after a couple months, “Oh, nevermind.”

Amit Bendov: But if they need to pay, let’s say $12,000, it’s a larger commitment, it’s a much more deliberate effort and you need to involve other people in the company and they’re more likely to be serious about it to actually use the software. It’s not guaranteed, people still churn even with annual subscription. But I’m in favor of trying the annual, that’s what I’ve done, and most, especially if you sell to enterprises, most of them do not want to pay monthly. They don’t want to deal with invoicing and just deal with the annual commitments and pay the longer term.

Harry Stebbings: I do agree with you, especially on enterprise favor. The annual. Can I ask? In terms of multi year deals, taking annual one step further, I had a guest on the show that said, “Multi year deals maybe aren’t all they seem. If they’re not paid up front, they’re just really passing renewal from CS to accounting.” How do you think about the benefits of multi year and whether that’s fair that maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be?

Amit Bendov: I mean that’s a topic for a podcast itself. There are pros and cons. Let me try to go through some of them. Multi year could be beneficial if people pay up front and you’re bootstrapping or optimized for cash flow, that could be substantial. Just make sure when you’re billing financial planning, you aren’t getting this cash in year two and year three, so you need to note. Some people make that mistake and think, “Oh, [inaudible 00:22:14] an extra 20 million,” and then they don’t get the cash in year two. I do agree that the value, if it’s not paid up front is pretty limited. It’s better than not having it, but it’s not as solid as not having it, because if a customer doesn’t pay, I wouldn’t recommend … you wouldn’t take them to court. Then it goes to legal and something, we never want to find ourselves in a situation. If someone doesn’t want to use the product, let them go.

Amit Bendov: And the third, maybe a little more controversial, but especially if you’re new, you’re losing very important learning by doing multi year contracts. So if a customer has to renew every year, this really keeps you on your toes and if there is a problem, you’ll know pretty early that you need to fix it, specifically the churn. And if you do a three year contract, that kind of tends to hide the problem away. So if you’re in an early stage, there is value in doing short term contracts, just to again make sure that you’re good enough, that people actually renew. And then the fourth thing, I think that multi year contracts are overly discounted. Sometimes people get like 15 or 20% discount. If your renewal rate is good, if you have a healthy business and your renewal rate is good, then a multi year contract just financially isn’t worth a 20% discount.

Amit Bendov: If your turn is high, then that’s a different story, but that’s a bigger problem. We don’t do a lot of multi year contracts. Sometimes we do but not a lot.

Harry Stebbings: Listen, I think it’s a podcast series to come, Amit’s Multi Year Contract Podcast. It’s going to be the new hit. Do you want to finish this today, Amit, with a quickfire round? It’s my favorite of any element of the show. So I say a statement and you give me your thoughts in 60 seconds or less. Are you ready to roll?

Amit Bendov: Oh my god. Yeah, let’s do it.

Harry Stebbings: Okay. And this was actually from our friends at Norwest. What sales productivity technologies are going to be the winners in what is now a crowded space?

Amit Bendov: First, I don’t think it’s a crowded space. If you look at those market texture diagrams from marketing, there are 100 times more marketing automations technologies than there are in sales. Sales, there are maybe like 100, in marketing there are thousands. So I don’t think it’s overly crowded. I think they’re like system of records or system of workflows are things of [inaudible 00:24:25] things that automate a lot of processes and that’s what most of the SaaS product. The system that are trending right now are systems of intelligence that can drive you to the next level, instead of having people operating, have this software automatically do a lot of what people are doing manually, even with workflow systems.

Harry Stebbings: Tell me, what’s the hardest element of your role today?

Amit Bendov: Time. But really, the CEO project responsibilities are three, maybe four, right? It’s like vision, cash, people, and culture. So, just finding the time to do all of them, you need to hire pretty aggressively at the pace that we’re growing. Make sure that we have enough quality time to think about the strategic direction of the company and make sure that everybody’s is aligned. Cash isn’t a huge problem for us, we’re very responsible financially and we have plenty of funding, but mostly between people and the direction of the company and finding time to all of that, not to mention having a life.

Harry Stebbings: I totally agree with the last one there. Tell me, I had Lars Nelson on the show, and he said SDRs are the most important function in the sales org. Agree or disagree and why?

Amit Bendov: Disagree. I love Lars, and SDRs are super important, but so is everything. So my approach is every function in the company is super important and without one piece not working, you don’t have a great business. So, I want the SDRs to be amazing, the sales, customer success, product, finance, marketing, that’s how I view it. But I totally understand where he’s coming from and it’s hard to disagree with his point.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask? What’s the hardest role to hire for today, do you think?

Amit Bendov: Product and product marketing. Those are the hardest role, because we need people that combine multiple abilities and skills and disciplines, and to find people that are fantastic, that’s the hardest. I hope I’m not getting in trouble with other people, “Oh, sales is the hardest,” and all of that. Everything is hard, but I think these are the hardest [inaudible 00:26:17] pivotal roles in the company.

Harry Stebbings: Don’t worry, Amit, this is a conversation between you and I, no worries. Now, [inaudible 00:26:22] tell me a moment in your life that’s maybe changed the way you think today?

Amit Bendov: Oh there are quite a few, but I’ll give you a good one and a not so good one. So, I went through two downturns, 2000, and 2008, and I know that there’s cycles in business and you have to think about it not just drink your own [inaudible 00:26:42], just work pretty aggressively but also responsibly and just make sure that you understand that sometimes the market changes and be prepared. I’ve seen large offices that are totally empty with new furniture and everything and that’s a devastating view. The other side of [inaudible 00:26:59] what goes down comes up, eventually, so when you go through difficult, not necessarily market downturn, but every company faces bumps and slumps, just hang out there. You’ll be okay. Just stamina, resolve, and hard work, and you can turn it around.

Harry Stebbings: Final one here, Amit. What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your time with Gong?

Amit Bendov: I don’t have anything–I don’t know if we’ve been lucky or smart or whatever, but everything that we’ve thought early on is pretty much as we believed. I don’t know that we knew what we were thinking at the time, but it turns out to be true, and the reality is actually even better. So if I knew how good it’s going to be, maybe I could’ve done a few things a little faster. There aren’t a lot.

Harry Stebbings: Let’s change that one. If you were to advise a graduate coming out of university, what would you most advise them today?

Amit Bendov: So, first, if you want to start a company, if you want to be an entrepreneur, just make sure you’re … this is hard work, it’s pretty rewarding, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. It’s pretty tough work, you can enjoy it, but it can also torment your soul sometimes. So it’s not necessarily for everybody and before you embark on something, just validate your concept, make sure that you’re not the only one that is excited, that there are enough buyers that are willing to start your business. Because most of the technology startups are going to waste because there aren’t enough people that are willing to buy.

Harry Stebbings: I couldn’t agree with you more there on the focus on customer validation. I do want to say a huge thank you, Amit. As I said, I heard so many great things both from Ryan and the team at Norwest, so thank you so much for joining me today, this has been a lot of fun.

Amit Bendov: My pleasure, thanks for having me.

Harry Stebbings: What a fantastic guest, I couldn’t be more excited for the future ahead with Gong, and if you’d like to see more from us, behind the scenes at SaaStr, you can on Instagram @hstebbings1996 with two Bs, it really would be great to see you there.

Harry Stebbings: Thank you so much for tuning in as always, I really do so appreciate your support and I can’t wait to bring you a phenomenal episode next week.

 

Published on June 7, 2019

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