SaaStr Podcasts for the Week with MessageBird and Gainsight — October 18, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Ep. 274: Robert Vis is the Founder & CEO @ MessageBird, the company that allows you to talk to your customers via Voice, SMS and Whatsapp. The company raised a monster $60M Series A from Accel and Atomico with only one prior investor being Y Combinator. As for Robert, prior to MessageBird, he was co-founder and CEO of Zaypay.com which focused on driving mobile payments into 50+ countries, enabling 1.5bln users to pay for virtual goods through their phones (sold to Mobile Interactive Group (MIG).

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In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How Robert made his way into the world of startups and SaaS and came to found MessageBird. What was the a-ha moment for him?
* Why does Robert believe the most important element of being a founder is “thinking big”? How as a founder do you balance between thinking big with investors and then the day to day in the weeds with the team? How does Robert as Europe’s mentality of thinking big today? Have our ambitions exceeded what they have been before? How does being in Benelux change how Robert thinks about global ambitions and growth ambitions?
* What does Robert mean when he tells founders, “Don’t try to scale”? How does Robert think about knowing when a business is ready to scale? Where do many founders go wrong in the preparation for scale phase? What does one need to get in place before scaling?
* Why did Robert wait 6 years before raising any VC money? Why did he decide then was the right time? Once the raise was in, did he feel the pressure of suddenly having a lot of VC funding? How did his mindset to capital allocation change post-raise? How did he see his decision-making process change post raise? How did raising from the US differ from raising in the UK?

 

Ep. 275: SaaStr CEO Jason Lemkin sits down with Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta to discuss what it means to be a SaaS leader. What are the day-to-day struggles? The fears and the worries and what it means to be “crushing it” today.

This episode is sponsored by Owl Labs.

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 from Jason and Nick’s session at SaaStr Annual 2019.

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
Harry Stebbings
Robert Vis
Nick Mehta

Below, we’ve shared the full transcript of Harry’s interview with Robert Vis.

Harry Stebbings: Hello and welcome back for the official SaaStr podcast with me, Harry Stebbings, @HStebbings1996 with two Bs on Instagram. And this week we have a special one, as this is a live interview taken from one of my favorite conferences out, SaaStr Europa and joining me in the hot seat today is one of Europe’s leading SaaS founders in the form of Robert Vis at MessageBird, the company that allows you to talk to your customers via voice, SMS, and WhatsApp. The company raised a monster $60 million series A from Accel and Atomico in 2017 with only one prior investor, being Y Combinator. As for Robert, prior to founding MessageBird, he was co founder and CEO st zaypay.com, which focused on driving mobile payments into 50 plus countries, enabling over 1.5 billion users to pay for virtual goods through their phones. They eventually sold the company to mobile interactive group, or MIG. 

Harry Stebbings: But now it’s time for the show with Robert Vis, founder and CEO at MessageBird. And check out this incredible intro from the event. It’s one of my favorites.

Harry Stebbings: You’re listening to the 20 Minute VC with your host, Harry Stebbings. The official SaaStr Podcast with me, Harry Stebbings. And joining me today, I’m so delighted to welcome:

Robert Vis: My name is Robert and I’m the founder and CEO of MessageBird. Communication with end users has become more complex than ever. Businesses no longer dictate the way they talk to customers. Your customers dictate the way they want to talk to a business. Businesses have to reach their end users on a growing amount of endpoints. Our platform abstracts the complexity of a really difficult experience and makes it simple.

Harry Stebbings: Robert, listen, I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time, so thank you so much for joining me.

Robert Vis: Likewise.

Harry Stebbings: Let’s kick off today, a little bit about you. How did you come to found MessageBird? Really one of the fastest growing and most exciting opportunities in SaaS in Europe today? What was that aha moment?

Robert Vis: I was working on my previous company called Zaypay, which was an API to pay for virtual goods on your mobile phone bill. We ran into this problem where we needed to use text messaging as a way to verify users’ phone numbers. And we were using this provider and they were market leader back then and every time we tried to send a text message, because we were doing this in 50 countries, a lot of times the message wouldn’t arrive or they would arrive late and then we couldn’t process the payment. So it was an incremental part of our business process that we needed to run our business and we weren’t able to fix it through a third party provider. So we built it ourselves and that sort of kick started the entire company. I ended up selling Zay Pay and interestingly enough, the vendor that we were using back then became my very first customer.

Harry Stebbings: Love it. What a star. And what a journey it’s been since then. I do want to start on something that you said before and we constantly hear in Europe, which is the think big mentality, which we need and absolutely agree with it. I had Mathilde Collin on my podcast from Front the other day and she said, “Actually organizational discipline is more important than this think big mentality and grand vision.” I’m intrigued because you’ve spoken before about the importance of that. How do you think about that and what it really means and embodies to you today?

Robert Vis: Look, I agree with both. I think you need to start off with a vision. You need to think big about your ideas. I think especially if you’re founded out of Europe, you look at the demographics, the US is like what, 400 million people? It’s 40 ish countries that you need to cover when you’re in Europe. So the idea of starting a company in Amsterdam and then having to go global is kind of natural to you because just winning Netherlands isn’t probably going to get you anywhere. But obviously you should always make sure that you have the right foundation to scale and in that sense, yeah, organizational discipline, super important.

Harry Stebbings: No, I totally get you. In terms of kind of the thinking big, do you have to hat switch, actually, between who you’re talking to? And what I mean by that is when you’re speaking to investors, absolutely, it’s the grand vision of how this can be $1 billion company. And then when you were talking to customers, say large enterprises, it’s this the product roadmap for the next six months. Do you have to switch your mentality on thinking big according to who you speak to?

Robert Vis: I mean, I would say that you basically need to do it all the time. I think investors and customers both want to deal with a company that’s focused on long term growth and has a long term vision that they think that you’re the company that they can trust and build there for an investor, invest in and make a lot of money probably and for a customer that they can work with and that’s going to provide them into digital transformation or things like that. So I think it’s both providing the vision as well as showing how you’re actually going to execute on the vision, both short term and then how you’re going to get there long term.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. I mean, actually getting back to something you said earlier about the first customer that you got. A lot of questions that I get from early stage SaaS founders is do I go for that hallmark logo branded customer or do I just try and get as many logos on the board? How do you think about that quality versus quantity in terms of logos in the early days?

Robert Vis: I mean, it’s so company specific, I guess. I think at the very early days you want to speak to as many customers as possible. You should be very customer centric, trying to figure out what do they want, are there certain features that they’re looking for, are they willing to pay for your products? And the more feedback that you can get, the better. I would probably go more on the side of having a few more customers than just putting all your eggs in one customer and then building everything because if that customer ends up being unhappy or leaves, your business is screwed.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, then you’re in trouble.

Robert Vis: It’s probably not a good idea.

Harry Stebbings: I did hear that you spoke to a group of founders at event or work space in Amsterdam and it related to ambition and something that one of them said struck you. Talk to me about that event and that experience and your take away.

Robert Vis: Yeah. YC invited me to host an event for founders in Europe, so we did it in our offices. We had a couple hundred people show up. It was quite good. And struck me that I spoke to a lot of Dutch founders and I was like, “So it’s what do you get?” They were pitching me or they were trying to tell about their business. I’m like, “So what are your missions? Where are you going to go?” And like, “Yeah, we’re in Amsterdam now. We’re in Netherlands and yeah, next up we’re going to go to Belgium and then we’re going to go to Luxembourg.” And I was like, “Really? You’re going to win the Benelux? Do people even know what the Benelux is?” It’s like the three smallest countries in the world. It’s Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

Robert Vis: And I think that’s one of the things that Europe has to sort of get over, think big, go global, think outside of your country to really start winning because that’s the advantage that the US has that one state to another state, you have 400 million people, same language, same currency, same regulations in most situations.

Harry Stebbings: That’s the last question I have before we move on to kind of more granular elements of scaling and hyper growth. But it’s just when you do a comparison and things stay, we always hear that now is the time for Europe and it’s often pumped in many cases by the VC community where there is an incentive for that to be pumped. For you on the ground, as a founder, do you definitely see that scaled ambition in Europe? Or do you still think that we have quite a way to go in terms of scaling that ambition in Europe?

Robert Vis: I mean, I’m from Europe so I’m going to side with Europe on this one. I read this Bloomberg article the other day and it said, “Why can’t Europe do tech?” And I’m like, “Really? Europe can’t do tech?” I mean, I think we have a bunch of really, really good tech companies out here. I mean, very proud of iGen, Dutch company worth over $20 billion. There’s with a ton of others, Spotify, et cetera. So I think Europe is catching up quite quickly. The US might be a little beat ahead, but it’s not necessarily the first one that wins.

Harry Stebbings: So you mentioned some of that kind of hallmark names of Europe that who’ve had incredible scaling journeys. And I want to talk about scaling because when we chatted before you said something relatively counterintuitive to me, which was don’t try to scale. What did you mean by don’t try to scale and what’s your thinking around that?

Robert Vis: I think your approach to building a business should be the same as you would build a house. You want to have a good foundation before you build the rest of the house because otherwise the house sort of collapses over time. And I look at the same way in building a business, you want to have the right team, you want to make sure you have a good culture, basically have the basics set up well and then you really have something that you can sort of execute on in scale. But just going around hiring folks and going ballistic probably won’t build you a very good sustainable company.

Harry Stebbings: So ensure the foundations are stable. How do you know when the foundations are stable and you are fundamentally ready to start that kind of inflection, scaling point? What are the leading indicators of that kind of foundation stability?

Robert Vis: I think first it’s your people. You need to have a good team around you. You need to make sure that as a founder yourself, but also a good middle management and maybe some executives around you. They can sort of help you to scale so you’re not doing everything by yourself. Probably need some money coming into your business at some point just to make sure that you’ve proven out your product and that people are willing to pay for it and customers are coming to you, “Hey, can I have more of your product?” Yeah. I think those are the two fundamental things that I think you really need. You need good people and you need a fundamental good business. In that sense, I like Europe, traction’s more attractive in Europe where in the US, people are more about ideas.

Harry Stebbings: If we take that there and then align it to the MessageBird journey, you waited six years before you raised funding and you had great people and a great business before that. So I’m intrigued. Why did you wait so long to raise financing and what was the thinking behind that for you?

Robert Vis: Well, I mean, we were very fortunate that we bootstrapped for six years. We were profitable. We still had a 100% growth rates year on year. So we didn’t really need the money, first of all. But I think when we decided to actually raise the funding, key decision was we basically had the things that I just talked about. I mean, we had a great team, we had a good product, customers wanted more of it, so we had a good foundation that if we would raise money that we could really go and execute on the opportunity even faster.

Harry Stebbings: So you have this kind of great opportunity in front of you. The business is stable, the foundations are great. And you have a lot of offers in terms of financing. Intrigued. For founders may be raising today, how do you think about investor selection? What advice would you give in terms of finding that right partner for you?

Robert Vis: Well, I think the number one mistake people make is to go for brands. Having a board member is like a marriage that you can’t get out of, so you should be very careful who you select as your board member. You should make sure that you really gel with that board member. I think that’s really the most important thing. And then obviously try to go for an A list firm. If you have a good company, you want to go for more of an A list firm than some of the smaller firms just for they’ll probably have a better network and better surroundings.

Robert Vis: But the number one thing is choose your board member right. It’s something that I see a lot of companies do wrong and then they end up being disappointed or not getting the help they wanted. But spend time with that board member, or go to dinner and have coffee. Make sure that you have a relationship because those are the people that are going to be helping you out when things aren’t going so well. And mostly when you’re raising funding, things are going great and at some point you might have an issue or something that you need to solve for and that’s when you want somebody by your side that’s really going to help you.

Harry Stebbings: I’m so pleased you said about the board there. I was with a 24 year old founder and it was his first time starting a company and he’s just got a board and he was like, “It’s great. I’ve got all this wisdom now on my side, but I’ve never run a board before. I have no idea about board management.” What advice would you give in terms of effective board management and you have Accel, Atomico behind you. How do you think about effectively running your board?

Robert Vis: I found it very challenging in the beginning. First six years, my board meetings were very lonely. I would sit there, in front of a mirror, I would have a glass of whiskey and sort of talk to myself for a while, trying to figure out what I should do next. In all seriousness, I read a couple of books on it. To be really honest, I would say the title if I remembered it but I don’t. But it was something like How to Run an Effective Board Meeting. Very efficient book. You want to focus on metrics. I think… Okay. Couple of things that I think are really important. One, you want to send a deck before the actual board meeting. What you don’t want to do is start your board meeting and in that board meeting start discussing about your business.

Robert Vis: You want your investors to be prepared and ask the right questions. Two, you probably, if there’s big topics coming up at your board meeting, you probably want to tell them beforehand. So you might want to give them a call or maybe have a coffee before and sort of explain, “Hey, these are some of the things that are going on.” Just so you can spend the time in your board meeting actually making decisions and not spending an hour going off topic on a discussion on something that you should have probably prepared for. And then the actual board meeting itself, the way we run it is we always send the metrics beforehand. We go through some of the high level metrics, we discuss the issues at hand, and then we take one topic that we do a deep dive on.

Harry Stebbings: I hope it’s not too personal to ask, but I speak to a lot of founders also who say they feel this intense pressure once they raise external financing, especially maybe if it’s from the tier one brands that maybe everyone wants to have on board and you do have on board. Did you feel that pressure in terms of suddenly taking on the external funding and actually having that now kind of imparted on you?

Robert Vis: I mean, if you can’t stand pressure as a founder, don’t become a founder. There’s pressure everywhere, right? There’s pressure from your customers that always want more. There’s pressure from your team, there’s pressure from your family. So I guess as a founder you get used to it, but for sure when I was spending… When we were bootstrapped and we owned the business and we were just spending our own money, it’s added pressure. When you feel more responsible, when it’s somebody else’s money. But at the end of the day, don’t get caught up in all these other things, they’re completely unimportant, just focus on your customers. Only thing you should worry about as a founder is focus on your customers, your customers, your customers. Your investors will be super happy if you focus on your customers because you’ll build a very successful business.

Harry Stebbings: How do you think about competition? It’s one where I speak to a lot and founders who obsessively focus on competition, [inaudible 00:15:06] through dimension. Should it be a run your own race or should you actually be quite cognizant of what your competition are doing, how they price, they go to market here? What are your thoughts?

Robert Vis: Again, focus on your customers. If your customers will tell you what they want to pay for the product that you’re selling to them and you should sort of find your path there. I mean, I believe in knowing what’s going on around you, but if you’re checking your competitor’s webpage every day or every week, you’re doing something completely wrong. I mean, maybe that’s something you will look at directionally what are they doing and then… But you should always focus on yourself, your own company, your own customers and try to differentiate yourself from the rest.

Harry Stebbings: For sure.

Robert Vis: You don’t want to be a copycat. That sucks.

Harry Stebbings: You said about kind of sending the metrics before board meetings. In terms of the decisions that drive metrics, how does the decision making process change as you scale, say from the early days to maybe where you are today, how have you seen what drives your decisions change and what part of you does it?

Robert Vis: Yeah. Well look, I think in the early days we didn’t have a lot of data so it was a lot of gut feeling. Gut feeling from me. Gut feeling from the early team and we had an idea or somewhere we wanted to go, we would build it and we sort of find customers later for it. And I think over time as you’ve progress as a company, you try to be more data-driven. So you try to have more of a data driven process around products that you’re building. Again, listening to customers and then trying to use data from the customers to actually drive the decisions of your growth.

Robert Vis: But I think at the end of the day, a little bit of both. Is probably over time, it’s a little data-driven and a lot of gut and that sort of switches where you should still have a little bit of gut. Henry Ford famously once said, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse.” As a founder, as a team, you still have to focus on where are you actually driving your company? And that’s probably a little bit of gut as well.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, I totally agree. In terms of gut, and this is unfair because it’s off schedule but I am interested by it. I asked someone the other day when it comes to letting go of people, they said, “When there’s doubt, there’s no doubt.” When you think about a stretch candidate versus a stretched too far and they’re maybe not suitable for that role, would you agree with that, when there’s doubt, there’s no doubt? And how do you think about determining between a stretch and a stretch too far?

Robert Vis: I would agree with that.

Harry Stebbings: You’d agree?

Robert Vis: Yeah. I think people see not being a fit with a company as a bad thing and I fundamentally disagree with that. We live in such a good economic time at the moment where there’s jobs everywhere, luckily. So if something isn’t a good fit, both sides are way better off cutting it than staying. And I think in that sense the US has done a better job at that where it’s a little bit more common to to do that. Whereas in Europe, people are a little bit more tight and they stay a long time at a company that they don’t actually enjoy or they go home and complain about their work.

Robert Vis: If you go home for a month or two months and every single day you’re complaining to your friends and family about work, quit your job. There’s so many jobs out there. But I think, as a founder, there’s just something about that you probably instinctively have a feeling. But I’ve been wrong, so you can always give people a chance, have people figure it out, give people three to six months, but if after three to six months it doesn’t work out, you should end it.

Harry Stebbings: Do you believe… And often kind of in the segmented stages of SaaS, be it nought to one millionaire, or one to 10, 10 to 50 and onwards, people often think that people are destined for certain stages, so to speak. Would you agree with that or do you think actually people are flexible and able to move throughout stage? How do you think about that stage versus flexible?

Robert Vis: I guess it’s true. There’s people that just like a start up environment more and once you’re a hundred or 200 people, it’s less of a startup environment so they like it less. But I think as a company you can do a lot in order to make people grow. I think the best, my view is that the best people always want to achieve the best results both professionally and personally. So you can do a lot from an HR perspective around education, training, explanations. Or what you see a lot in engineering is that you make your best engineers managers, which necessarily didn’t want to be managers, but that’s a natural thing you see in every company sort of happening.

Robert Vis: And what we’ve done, which is sort of taken away from what Spotify and Google and companies like that have done in also, we have a lot of individual contributors. So for example, in engineering, engineers that don’t necessarily want to become a manager but they’re just super good. So to just be an a team is hard and they help other teams and they go around, work two months on a project and then move around and that’s almost like a startup feeling. So I think you can always find something for somebody if, as a company, from an HR perspective you’re willing to invest the time in it.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, I do agree with you. I do want to talk about one thing that I’m very passionate about and we hear a lot of in your work life balance discussion because when we discussed burnout before, you said, “Burnout is real.” I’m totally with you. So I’d love to hear, how do you think about the balance between really just being at the grind, putting in the hard hours versus this work life balance discussion?

Robert Vis: I mean, founder life is hard and it should be hard. When I speak to founders and they’re like, “I’m starting a company but in two months I’m taking a three week nice, relaxed holiday.” That’s not how this works, dude. That’s not how you build a company. So the first couple of years you’ve got to grind and grind. It’s hard and you probably have very little work life balance. Over time, you should try to figure it out somehow.

Robert Vis: I think the things that are super important is to just focus on your health a lot. Try to eat well, try to go to a gym or do some sort of exercise. And these things sound logical, but you’re basically performing all the time. It’s like being a sportsperson where you need to keep your body and your mind in shape in order to be able to perform. And then, I’m not good at this, but a lot of people have said things like yoga and meditation work really well. I don’t have the patience. I wish I did. People–

Harry Stebbings: I tried to meditate the other day. I fell asleep. I woke up three hours later. I felt great. I do you want to ask though, in terms of being disciplined around actually still having some time off and having some time to decompress. I heard from some members of your team that maybe it was forced or instilled upon you at a certain point. Tell me, how did your COO enforce this rest and relaxation break on you? How did that come about?

Robert Vis: You’re well-informed, Harry.

Harry Stebbings: Great messages.

Robert Vis: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, we grinded for about eight years, didn’t take a lot of breaks and we just raised the series A funding. This was a year that we had massive growth in employees, and revenue and, obviously raising our first outside funding. And basically my COO, Mayke, was like, “Okay Robert, you really need to go take a break right now.” And she said, “I don’t want you to take your phone either.” So she bought me this little old school., 3311 Nokia and was like, “Two people can have this number, your mom and me. And I’ll call you if there’s seriously something wrong and your mom will probably call you a little bit more.” And I did. I went away for three weeks and I came back and one of the learnings that I had from it that actually as a founder you should take some breaks.

Robert Vis: It’s really good. The clarity of mind that you get, the bandwidth that you sort of get back in terms of where you want to go with the company. Actually rest and peace is something that you really need in order to perform. So it sort of changed my perspective.

Harry Stebbings: Sure, absolutely. No, I get you. The final element that I wanted to discuss before my favorite, which is the quickfire round, but it’s culture. Culture is such a loose term that we were hear today, so I’d love to hear, especially from your perspective in hyper growth and scaling the team as fast as you have done. How would you describe your personal relationship and attitude to culture today?

Robert Vis: Culture is a driver in every decision that we make, but it’s a moving part. Something interesting happened not so long ago, which was one of my engineers who was back then, relatively new, he came up to me and we had this poster on the wall when you walked into our office and it’s a famous quote that Peter Thiel told Brian Chesky of Airbnb and it said, “Don’t fuck up the culture.”

Robert Vis: And he said, “I really disagree with that comment because it makes me feel that as a new employee that I can’t contribute to this culture, that it’s something that you’ve set in the past with your early employees and then now I cannot mess it up.” And that really made me think and one of the things that we did is we set up a group, which is the nest, which is basically our first 50 employees and we work together with them in collaborative sessions and teaming them up with newer employees in order just to together come up with our new culture and what that means and what our values means and how that should sort of improved. So it’s super important for our company.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, I was speaking to a founder yesterday and they were like, “I get that culture’s important. I actively do things to try and make mine better. But unlike every other element of my business, I have no way to measure it.” How do you think about analyzing the success of culture and measurement of culture internally? Is there a way to do it?

Robert Vis: So there’s a great tool that I’m just a huge fan of that we use. I mean, I didn’t invest in the company, they don’t even respond to me. And we’re a big customer. It’s so unfair. But it’s called Officevibe and I love it. It’s actually a tool that’ll sort of measure employee happiness and it does it in a very intuitively way. So I have no benefit in saying this, by the way, but we use it all the time. And it’s a tool. Look, you can use tooling in order to do surveys or ask questions to make sure what sort of your satisfaction scores in your company. And also what the satisfaction score of managers are and sort of peer reporting and things like that.

Robert Vis: You should use technology for everything, so including culture, you should just try to figure it out somehow. I think if you have a bad culture, you’d probably score very low. And if you had a good culture, you’re probably more on the higher end. And if the culture is bad in a certain team, you’d score low and if it’s good in another team, you’d probably score pretty high. So there’s things that I think you can do, but I also agree with the founder, that it’s super hard.

Harry Stebbings: Okay. So I want to do my favorite, which is a quickfire round I’m going to ask you a series of questions. You have sub 60 seconds for each rapid fire. Ready to go?

Robert Vis: Okay.

Harry Stebbings: Okay. Favorite book and why?

Robert Vis: Book I just read, Drive, because the book speaks about what really drives people, how people in this day and age, you’re looking for purpose in their lives and in their work. And I just find it psychologically very interesting to figure out what drives me and what drives our employees and how we can be a better company.

Harry Stebbings: What do you need now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your journey?

Robert Vis: That my business scales but I don’t. And what I mean by that is that the beginning, I tried to do everything myself, all the time, and that’s just completely not scalable. So I had to learn that, go through it and figure out a way to make my business… My business will scale cause it’s doing great. But now I had to make myself scale by getting the right people around me and not having to do everything by myself.

Harry Stebbings: What’s your biggest weakness and what are you doing to work on it or improve it?

Robert Vis: Pretty impatient. I’m a person that likes to go 200 miles an hour every single day, 7:00 in the morning, 12:00 at night. And that’s not always good. Sometimes you should be a little bit more patient. So what I’m trying to do is be more patient.

Harry Stebbings: What keeps you up at night? Is there a recurring challenge that you constantly think about?

Robert Vis: Customer problems. That’s just something. We have this vision where we think the way that… Because customers talk to a business is fundamentally broken. And at the end of the day, I’m a consumer so I run it out all the time. Whether I’m talking to my airline or whether I’m talking to my internet provider or whether I get a package delivered. Every time I need to change something or do something, it’s a super hassle and I’m on the phone for 20, 30 minutes and nobody wants to hold online and spend their day on a bad customer service. So how you solve that problem with all the technology that exists today is still really hard because there’s all sorts of systems within big enterprises that are just old school on legacy and you sort of have to figure out how you get through that.

Robert Vis: That’s a really hard problem to fix and that keeps me up always because that’s just something, I really want that as a legacy.

Harry Stebbings: Move fast and break things. Agree or disagree?

Robert Vis: I agree. It depends on what stage of a company is. I think Facebook changed it to move fast and build stable infrastructure, which is fine. I think as a startup you need to go quickly, get a lot of opinions. You need to fail fast and learn, I think is a more appropriate one. If you’re starting a company, you need to be able to accept failure and you need to experiment a lot to figure out what you really need to do, but you need to learn from it and then don’t make the mistake again.

Harry Stebbings: Final one. Next five years for you and for MessageBird, what do the next five years hold? Paint that picture.

Robert Vis: So in an ideal world, in five years time, I never have to waste my time on bad customer experience anymore and MessageBird plays an incremental part in building the technology on the back end to enable that.

Harry Stebbings: Robert, listen, it’s been such pleasure. I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time. So thank you so much for doing that.

Robert Vis: Thanks, Harry. Thanks, everyone.

Harry Stebbings: I mean, what a special guest and what exciting times ahead with MessageBird. If you’d like to see more from Robert, you can find him on Twitter, @RobertDVis, that’s @RobertDVis. Likewise, it’d be great to welcome you behind the scenes here. You can do that on Instagram at HStebbings1996, with two Bs. As always, I so appreciate all your support and I can’t wait to bring you a fantastic episode next week.

Published on October 21, 2019

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