SaaStr Podcasts for the Week with Pleo and Talkdesk — October 4, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Ep 270: Jeppe Rindom is the Founder & CEO @ Pleo, the simple spending solution for your company automating expense reports and simplifying company expenses. To date, Jeppe has raised over $78m in funding for Pleo from some European favourites of mine in the form of Creandum and Vaestfonden and then also their most recent round led by Stripes Group in NYC. As for Jeppe, prior to founding Pleo he was the CEO @ Nodes, a design and development house that worked with brands including Loreal, BMW and Lego. Before that, Jeppe was the CFO @ Tradeshift where he first hand saw their scaling to 190 countries with offices in 6 different locations.

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In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How did Jeppe make his way into the world of startups and SaaS with his becoming CFO @ Tradeshift? What were his biggest learnings from Tradeshift and how did that impact his operating mentality? What was that a-ha moment for him with Pleo?
* Why did Jeppe decide to focus on SMBs from Day 1? How does the product build in the early days differ when building for SMB vs enterprise? Why does Jeppe believe that building for SMB makes it easier to build a great culture internally? How does Jeppe think about when is the right time to move into enterprise? What changes?
* How does Jeppe respond to 3 common concerns VCs have with SMBs:

* The price points are so low that it takes huge volume to scale to meaningful revenue?
* The mortality rate of SMBs is so high that you are going to always have high churn due to the customer segment?
* Serving SMBs in the way that Pleo does is an intensely competitive space, is this a winner-take-all market? How does Jeppe think about competition?

* How does Jeppe think about NPS today? How does Jeppe approach the problem of agency when the buyer is not the user? How does Jeppe think about being customer informed but not customer-driven?
* Pleo has a part-remote work structure, why does Jeppe advocate for this structure in the face of many saying it either has to be remote or not? What has Pleo done to make it work? What tool stack do they have to ensure seamless communication between remote and non-remote? Where are the challenges? What must one always do?
* How does leadership change for Jesse in the face of scale? How does Jesse think about scaling humanity and the personal touch with the scaling of his leadership? What are the challenges? When do they start to arise? How has raising in the US compared to raising in Europe? What are the core differences?

 

Ep 271: Gillian Heltai oversees Talkdesk’s Customer Success and Technical Support teams, partnering closely with customers to achieve their CX vision. In this session Gillian will walk you through how to build a high performing CSM Team.

 

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 of Gillian’s session at SaaStr Annual 2019.

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

  • How to build a CSM team
  • Avoiding the mistake of over defining the candidate profile
  • How to divide responsibilities across roles

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
Jeppe Rindom
Talkdesk

Below, we’ve shared the full transcript of Harry’s interview with Jeppe Rindom.

Harry Stebbings: This is the official SaaStr podcast with me, Harry Stebbings, at hstebbings1996 with two Bs on Instagram, and there you can suggest both guests and questions for future episodes, but I’m so excited for the show today, because it’s rare to have a product today that you use every single day without fail. Well, this one I certainly do, and I would never have thought I would say this, but they make expenses fun. Plus their leader is one of the most thoughtful and empathetic leaders who really understands their team that I’ve met while doing the show. Yes, I’m thrilled to welcome Jeppe Rindom, founder and CEO at Pleo on the show today.

Harry Stebbings: For those that don’t know, Pleo is the simple spending solution for your company, automating expense reports and simplifying company expenses. To date, Jeppe has raised over $78 million from some leading VCs for Pleo. Those VCs include the likes of Creandum and Vaestfonden, and then also their most recent round led by Stripes Group in New York.

Harry Stebbings: As for Jeppe, prior to founding Pleo, he was the CEO at Nodes, a design and development warehouse that worked with brands including L’Oreal, BMW, and Lego, just to name a few. And before that Jeppe was the CFO at Tradeshift, where he first hand saw their scaling to 190 countries with offices in six different locations.

Harry Stebbings: However you’ve had quite enough of this Harry, and so now I’m delighted to hand over to the one and only, Jeppe Rindom, founder and CEO at Pleo.

 

Harry Stebbings: Jeppe, my word. I feel like I’m talking to a celebrity. What you don’t know is that I’m a massive user of Pleo, both at the fund and at the show. So super excited for this one and thank you so much for joining me today, Jeppe.

Jeppe Rindom: Thanks, Harry. That’s super exciting that you’re using Pleo. I love that.

Harry Stebbings: Absolutely. I told you before, you make expenses fun, which I never thought would be possible, but I do want to start today with a little bit about you. So talk to me. How did you make your way from CFO to being the co founder and CEO of one of Europe’s fastest growing startups in Pleo? And what was that aha moment?

Jeppe Rindom: That’s a good question. I actually never really considered myself as the CFO as such. I come from management consulting and I worked with large companies for quite a few years. And then the stepping into technology, I joined the company called Tradeshift, and sort of the role open was the CFO, but I was kind of playing everywhere and I was also doing financial products. So I’m not really sort of the classic CFO type, but I have the responsibility of everything that related to you could say the spending in the company, and the receipts and the accounting as well. And that was kind of how I came across the pain points and essentially what we ended up trying to solve with Pleo a few years later.

Harry Stebbings: I thought you sounded far too interesting to be a traditional CFO, so I’m not surprised at all to hear that. But I do want to ask, Tradeshift has obviously it’s had an incredible journey, and you experienced it firsthand. Tell me, what were your biggest takeaways from your time with Tradeshift and how do you think it maybe impacted and how you think about building Pleo today?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think first of all, Tradeshift was my first journey in technology, and I came in on the team quite early. It was just a great inspiration for me. We moved to San Francisco eventually and I think it was a lot of the reason why I was inspired to go and build my own business. But also I think that was my firsthand experience for this whole area around spending money in a company context. And Tradeshift was a modern company in many ways and we really trusted everyone, and we wanted everyone to be empowered and efficient and we also trusted them to use the company money in a sensible way, because they needed to sign up to services, they need to travel and advertise and stuff like that. But, we never really had a good way to deal with that. So it was always this common hack that carts were shared in the office, and people were paying out of pocket, and it just came with so much, on one side de motivation of the employees is not being fully autonomous here, but also a lot of administration that we ended up picking up in finance.

Jeppe Rindom: So you could say it was my first hand experience with all of these pain points and a few years later we came up with the idea of solving this in a completely new way.

Harry Stebbings: I do want to kind of to start then with the entry point that you chose in terms of solving it, because you started with the SMB segment and that’s exactly where you focus today. It’s the common question that I get with founders, and they ask, Harry, should I start at SMB and work up to enterprise, or should I start at enterprise and work down to SMB? How did you think about this, and why did you start with SMB?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think you can be successful in both ways. And you can say Tradeshift started with enterprise, but I also think I had a little bit of scar tissue from that because selling into enterprise as an early stage company, it is just tough because it’s hard to get your product market fit. You’re facing extremely long sales cycles, which doesn’t really align with the quick results you want to have as a business. And with Pleo, we had the opportunity to build something fairly simple in the beginning that would have a really good fit with smaller businesses. And I think the benefit of that was we could get to 50, 100, 200 customers extremely fast. We could get the feedback running and we could get our first ambassadors and evangelists out there and the reference customers with investors and so forth. And I also think it’s good for culture somehow that you get these small wins every single, in the beginning, week, and then it became every day, and then it almost became every hour. So it aligns really well with the culture you want to build in an early stage startup. So that’s kind of why we started with SMBs, but it also has flipped sides. So you can go both ways, let’s say.

Harry Stebbings: No, I totally get you. I guess my question there is, one, how do you think about SMBs, because you also serve obviously a ton of startups. How do you think about them as they grow and scale into actually very large companies and become enterprise companies? How do you think about that and the maybe different product requirements that are needed with scale and with that growth?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, indeed. We currently focus on businesses, I would say generally from very small teams starting with three or five people, and then all the way up to a thousand people. I would say we are more successful in serving larger companies when they’ve either scaled with us, or scaled really fast. So they have fairly simple processes, but they might be many people. The challenge that we have is, if we face an opportunity that has been a company for 20, 50 years or whatever, and they have very complex processes, so that might mean that they have customized ERP requirements, or they have a very complex geography footprint and stuff like that, and that is difficult for us to service. So we target a very big market and we target any industry and in theory we can target any country. So we don’t really need to go too fast into the enterprise offering. I think right now it’s actually okay for us just to focus on the kind of companies we focus on now.

Harry Stebbings: No, I totally agree, and I mean my word, the market is absolutely huge. I think people always underestimate just how big the market is. I do want to ask you a couple of questions, though, that to me potential investors always pose as concerns when they assess the SMB market, and there’s three main ones, and the first is on pricing. How do you respond to investors when they say, it’s seven pounds per month, ugh, Jeppe, it’s just so hard to scale to 100 million in revenue. How do you think about that and the pricing element with SMB?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think pricing has been an iterative process for us. I think in the early days we even tested out with two or three pounds a month, just to see the reaction and we ended up agreeing on seven pounds, and I think the main focus for us in the beginning has just been let’s get some good experiences out there, let’s get some good feedback, let’s not care too much about fine tuning the pricing in the early days. And then also, it’s not only the seven pounds. We also tap into the more payment ecosystem, and we have ways of earning money there. So we have a dual business model, on one side, the SaaS, and then on the other side of the financial income. So even seven pounds is actually fairly sensible for us, and we can get our acquisition economics and everything to work around that.

Harry Stebbings: Mm-hmm (affirmative). No, absolutely, that totally makes sense, and especially on the ancillary revenue streams that you said there. The other element though that all VCs say is the mortality rate of SMBs. When you go to bat for the SMB approach, how do you respond to the mortality rate being higher for SMB than it obviously is for enterprise?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think we’re little bit fortunate because we don’t really focus too much on the micro-businesses. So the one to three employees is not really where we play. And I think that’s where the mortality is really strong. But we do of course have businesses that go out of business, and I would say churn in general is not our biggest problem. We have churn of less than .5% a month, which I think is fairly strong in our stage. So I think as long as your growth and your addressable market is there, churn in the zero to one, two percent is probably okay, and we are within that range.

Harry Stebbings: This is so unfair of me to go off schedule so soon, But I do have to ask, you said churn is not your biggest problem there, what would you say your biggest problem is today?

Jeppe Rindom: I think we’ve reached our product market fit, the business model works, the acquisition economics work as well. So for us, it’s really about scaling and that’s also why we raised a fairly, at least for European standards, a big series B. So we are all about scaling now, we are about motivating our team, opening up new markets, figuring out how we can ramp everything as fast as possible without losing the culture and what excites all of us. And that’s really what we invest in right now.

Harry Stebbings: And the other element that you said there was the 0.5% churn, which absolutely incredibly low given the segment. I do want to want to ask, though, despite that, do you do post mortems on lost clients that you think one needs extra time on, how do you think about analysis of lost accounts?

Jeppe Rindom: We do, but I must admit it’s fairly simple. We have a really high deal flow given the size of businesses we target. We close tens of businesses on a daily basis. So just losing one is not really a big deal. But what we do make sure to do is, we collect the competitive insights and the key objections that we meet out there and we pass that onto product as well, but we also pass it on to sales excellence so that we can learn from that and figure out how we work around that going forward.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, how do you, sorry, and again, I’m just too interested, and it’s not on the schedule. How do you structure the sales team given the segment being targeted?

Jeppe Rindom: Right, so we have a team in each market. We have a part of the team that works purely on outbound, generating their own leads. So those are typical, the younger account executives, as they get and grow their tenure, they will start being fed with leads from marketing, which is actually the bulk of our business. We get more than half of our business from marketing. So as they become a little bit more tenured, they get fed with that and then they can grow their careers into being team leads, helping out in hiring as well, eventually owning a country and then becoming maybe one day a regional director. So I would say we have a fairly classical sales model. But we’re also now pushing along with a more self onboarded approach where leads actually don’t really have to touch sales. If you’re totally capable of getting started, we should be able to enable that. And that’s kind of like one of our focuses going forward.

Harry Stebbings: Gotcha. Okay. No that makes total sense. There is one final element though that is probably another terrible VC question, before we move into the product itself. But it is that there are a number of players in the space, Pleo is obviously the best product by miles ahead of everyone else. And the question though that many VCs I think will ask is, is this a winner take all market, and how do you think about competition? Is there a right way to assess it?

Jeppe Rindom: I think competition can to some extent be quite healthy. And I think founders should follow competition of course very closely, but I don’t think you should stress too much about it. I think in this case we are addressing a really, really large stressful market because this is relevant across industries and across countries and sizes of businesses. And you can say the licensing required in being involved in payments and so forth also makes it a little bit difficult just to win globally overnight. It’s something that happens a little bit more organically. I think when you see these big market opportunities, and a couple of players entering it, I think you see that the requirements for the products increase, and over time these competitors will sort of drift apart slightly in terms of the kind of product experience that they provide, making it more natural and more natural division of the market. And I think you’ve seen that a ton of times in accounting software, where you have at least five, 10 players that have really solid businesses globally, solid on SME POS systems where it became divided between Square Up, settled some up, and other players. So I think there are room for more and I think we can build, there can be a handful of companies that can build great companies here with each or different approaches.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with the different approaches element, but I do want to get stuck into the product. I said earlier that you make expenses fun to do. So if we dig into the product itself, and with the consumerization of SaaS, obviously the core user is always at the center of your mind, and I’m sure you have a super high NPS, how is how you measure customer satisfaction with the product in NPS, how has that changed over time and how do you think about it today?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, it matters a lot to us. We see ourselves as very, not only customer centric but we are very end user centric and I love to get your feedback that this has completely changed your life as a user, and actually we care more about that than what it has done to your finance person because at the end of the day, you are the kind of ambassador that we’d like to have out in the markets talking about our product, and sharing your experiences. So we’ve taken a stance that we really want to prioritize the end user in everything we do. And if sometimes the decision maker, being finance, wants to push development on us that doesn’t resonate with what the end user wants, we really challenge that. So we really want to be beloved by the end user. We have promoter scores of around 70, so there’s surely a lot of Harrys out there loving our product and spreading good news around.

Harry Stebbings: Oh for sure. Absolutely. Especially with that NPS. Can I ask you, is there a right way to challenge it? Because often when the buyer, so to speak, suggests something, often SaaS companies do amend what they do to fit them. As you said, if you push back, given the end user won’t benefit from that change, how does one push back politely and constructively?

Jeppe Rindom: I think we’re trying to ask them why they need that specific feature or element, and understand exactly what is the deeper cause behind this, and then we figure out would there be different ways of arriving at such experience or what would it at least impact in terms of the end user, which is a higher priority for us. And then sometimes we do something slightly different, but it’s still acceptable for the end user, or sometimes we just reject doing it. At the end of the day, we want this product to work really well with employees and we want them to love it.

Harry Stebbings: For sure. You mentioned that the feedback, and them having a voice, so to speak, in terms of the product development, how do you think about customer success and that customer interaction given the sheer volume of clients that you serve?

Jeppe Rindom: It’s very important for us. We invested into customer success extremely early, and we did a lot of things in the early days that just didn’t make sense. If we messed up, there was a couple of cards that didn’t work, we would send out a person on her bike and replace those cards and buy a box of chocolate on the way, just because we really didn’t accept poor experiences by the customers. And often we were actually able to turn around the customer that was about to leave us or anything like that. That is kind of still I would say the DNA we have in the team that we don’t want to sacrifice on the customer experience. So now we have the customer success team focusing on both the more reactive support, but they also focus on the activation of the account and the ongoing nurturing. And you can say our challenge now with the team being 20 people is, how do you ensure the same degree of service and experience at scale without adding one-to-one head counts. So this is about being more data-driven, having better processes, better tooling and so forth, which is, you can say, the topic in that team currently.

Harry Stebbings: I mean I’m so pleased that you said about better tooling and better processes, because I want to talk about the team itself and how it’s structured, because it’s super interesting. You’re partly remote as a team. I had a guest on the show the other day that says, you can either be all the remote, or office based as kind of traditional companies where in days of old. Part remote seems interesting. Why do you think they were maybe wrong and how do you think it works so well?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, so we have 106 people, and I would say we roughly have 25 peoples that are working remotely. It’s mostly engineering, I would say. And it’s worked really well for us. We haven’t really had, I would say hardly any churn in our remote workers. So we’ve somehow found a formula that has worked. Even our engineering leadership team is remote. I think there are the more low practical things like you need to have your mics in every room, your 360 degree cameras. You need to have your meeting hygiene in place so that it works with everyone’s time zone, and stuff like that. And then I think it’s a little bit about the culture in the company as well. We base a lot of stuff on both trust, but also transparency, and we communicate everything, and we encourage people to participate across teams and so forth.

Jeppe Rindom: I think that becomes even more important if you’re fully or partly remote. And then I would say the last piece, you can never replace the human touch and the human interaction in person. I think it’s very difficult not to have that at all. At least if you hit the chubby waters, I don’t think the loyalty with your remote workers will be as strong if there is no sort of human relationship in place. And the way we do that is we make sure to bring people together four times a year, and they also spend the first month in the office here in Copenhagen. And when we are together, we make sure that we really push a lot of social activities and we make sure that remote workers and everyone else who’s sort of exposed to each other across teams, et cetera. And I think that is just super, super important. If you want the same sort of engagement everywhere in the company.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to the kind of optimization of processes. What tools do you actually think is critical to really enable the team who works remotely to coordinate seamlessly with the team in the office? What does that look like today for you guys?

Jeppe Rindom: I would say for meetings and stuff like that, we’re in love with the Owl, which has sound sensors and 360 degree cameras and microphone because it works just really well and it’s cheap. So, we use that in the meeting rooms and Zoom everywhere so you can connect to any meeting room. For communication, we still use Slack, it has pros and cons, but I think it kind of works for us if you have the right hygiene around it, and then be mindful that the remote workers here are mostly engineers, and I think working remotely works quite well in engineering because there’s even benefits of different time zones with code reviews and so forth. So you can almost sequence your day and with code reviews and get help and all that kind of stuff. It’s almost designed around remote working principles.

Jeppe Rindom: I would probably be a little bit more reluctant when it comes to stuff like sales, at least in a fast moving sales environment. I think we have a lot of benefits from having a good sales culture in the same room, because it’s just you get a lot out of a little bit of music and having power hours two times a day where everyone stands up and they do their prospecting call out and stuff like that. And I think that kind of culture is a little bit more difficult if it was remote. So that’s why we focused a lot on engineering.

Harry Stebbings: Sorry, I have to dig in on that. What is the power hour?

Jeppe Rindom: A power hour is where everyone just goes all in and they go out of their comfort zone. For some people, especially the younger ones that have not done a lot of outbounding before, it can be a little bit controversial to be on the phone and be rejected over and over again, which happens. So we make sure that people do that at the same time, twice a day for one hour. They stand up and they do their phone work and there’s a lot of energy in the room and no one is left behind. Everyone is just banging on.

Harry Stebbings: I absolutely love that. I haven’t heard that before. I do want to ask, though, because for you as the leader, the leadership style does have to change when part of the team is remote. So how does your leadership style and kind of temperament change as a result of this change in structure to part remote?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think everything has to change. The way you run your company, and the way you communicate, and the way you nurture your culture. Everything has to change every six months, and that’s kind of like that’s the circumstance. It’s almost like your product, your product needs to be updated every time and now and then, and the same the way you deal with the organization. So that’s how we think about it. And also with my leadership as well, I still try to hang on to meeting everyone in person the first week they’re here, and it’s becoming harder and harder. We had 20 people starting two weeks ago. I still try to figure out how the human part of my leadership, how can I scale that? Last year, I recorded individual videos for everyone from New Year’s Eve, just to compliment them on their achievements of the year, and that kind of worked with 80 people. It took a bit of time. But now with 250 people, probably end of the year and it’s going to be much harder for me. So I need to figure out how can I still come across as human and being in touch with things. But now with a bigger scaling challenge.

Harry Stebbings: You recorded individual videos at the end of the year to congratulate them on the year that they have achieved?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I did that.

Harry Stebbings: Wow. I always think that there’s not enough humanity in business today, and there’s not enough personalization and true human relationships. So I’ve never heard of that being done before. And that’s incredible. Absolutely love to hear that.

Jeppe Rindom: No, it was actually really fun. It was a good thing for me as well just to spend a day or two just thinking, how’s it going with this person and that person, and just figure out how to put that into words in one to two minutes, which was the video. So it was actually a lot of fun.

Harry Stebbings: No, totally. Can I ask, though, because that’s actually a very emotionally aware, experienced leader style of culture building. How have you seen yourself change and evolve as a CEO?

Jeppe Rindom: I think coming from the CFO mindset, I was probably not the most typical CFO, but in like you’re still like very much focused on the cost and the processes and stuff like that. And then you move into becoming a founder, and I think you fairly quickly realize this is all about people, and it’s about finding the best people. It’s about keeping them motivated, retaining them, and figure out the operating model around that and around keeping that. And this is really business. Once you found your formula, which I think we have, it’s about scaling, and scaling with people and people only, so I think that I take that as my responsibility that whatever I can do now is to figure out how do we keep people culture, how do we scale it, how do we keep finding best people and how do we promote and develop the best leaders? And that is really, which is my job now. And, that’s why I put a lot of dignity into this.

Harry Stebbings: Absolutely. Did you find it difficult to transition from player to coach and move into that very much management role where you sit on top of all the functions?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, but also I think it’s not just about me. I am surrounded about some great people that have led great companies, and I just need to figure out how to find them and turn them in love with our vision and then I can benefit from all of their experience as well. So I learn a lot from them as well I would say.

Harry Stebbings: That’s amazing to hear, and I do want to touch on the element of finding them. Before we move into the quick fire round, because I wanted to talk about building this incredible company outside of the Valley, based in Denmark today, well away from even the European hubs of London and Paris. So diving straight in, what advice would you give to founders building a business outside of Silicon Valley, London, Paris? Where the traditional tech hubs, what advice would you give?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah. So we never considered ourselves as being a Danish company, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do that. We just considered ourselves as being an international company. My co founder is Italian, and we always just hire the best person for the job, and I didn’t really care too much about where they were located. Some we brought here, some we accepted that they work remotely, and when we turned 15 people, I looked around and I was still the only Dane in the company. So we don’t see ourselves as a Danish company. But eventually you get into a scale where you need a lot of people, and that’s where I would say being in Denmark is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It’s an advantage because you don’t compete a lot with very progressed startups here. There are not as many as there would be in London or Silicon Valley.

Jeppe Rindom: So in terms of the talent available, it’s easier for us to get it. Now, where it becomes a little more challenging is when you look into your experienced leadership team, where you want to find that Chief Sales Officer or Chief Revenue Officer, or whatever that has done this before in a hyper-growth company, there are not that many available. And I think that’s where you need to figure out can you bring people here or figure out another place to recruit from. And we have a decent sized office in London where our Chief Sales Officer sits in London and our Product Officer, so he comes from a Stockholm based business, and he is here in Copenhagen five days a week. So there are different models around that, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. No totally, I think the scaling of talent and the depth of talent is always a challenge, so to speak. The other element that can be a challenge is funding. And I do want to touch on the funding and discuss really the contrast between the US and EU. So how did raising funding differ when raising from Europe versus the US, and those investor conversations?

Jeppe Rindom: Yeah, I think it’s become a lot easier to fundraise from Europe and also from Denmark in Europe. I think 10 years ago when we were raising money at Tradeshift, I think it was harder. I mean they would expect us to be incorporated in either the UK or in Delaware and I think that is not the case anymore. They don’t really care where you incorporate anymore. Now I do think that there’s a difference between Europe and the US. We raised the first three rounds from Europe and the last round from the US and I think there is still an element of stuff being a little bit more crazy in the US and the valuations being a little bit more hyped, in certain situations, at least. And I think the good part to think about that is there’s a quite a bit of US investors that are starting to look towards Europe to find more reasonably priced businesses. And I don’t know if it’s because of the market in the US for some parts is a bit easier to scale across States than it would be in Europe, country by country, language by language. But I do still think there’s a difference between round sizes and valuation, Europe versus the US but the gap has been grips.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, is there a contrast in engagement, and mindset? And what I mean by that is I often think that when it comes to investor mindset, the US has this mindset of upside maximization. What could happen if this goes right? And in the UK and Europe it’s a little bit more, what’s my downside protection? What do I have to claw back on this? And a little more downside protection mindset. Would you agree with that? And how did you see the engagement differ?

Jeppe Rindom: I think they’re like more like two parts of that answer. I think on a contractual level we haven’t seen many differences, I would say. I guess it’s also how much you push it. If you push it more, you want more downside protection. We’ve offered the same terms across Europe and the US and that has worked. But in terms of the expectations, I would say expectations are higher with the US investors, they are just slightly more ambitious. And I think for us that has been healthy. We were proud showing a business case, how we would double or triple next year. But what happens if you want to have 10X next year? So they push us on our ambitions and I think that is healthy. Especially if you come with a conservative CFO mindset as your [inaudible 00:26:49].

Harry Stebbings: Totally. No, I do get you and I’ve seen that ambition firsthand. I do want to move into my favorite though, Jeppe, and do the 60 Second SaaStr. Are you ready to dive in?

Jeppe Rindom: Go for it.

Harry Stebbings: So when is the right time to pour fuel on the fire? As you said, it was a big last round. How do you know when it’s the right time to pour fuel on the fire?

Jeppe Rindom: You’ve got to have your product market fit, and you’ve got to have your acquisition economics in control, maybe proved yourself in more than one country and then I think you’re ready to go.

Harry Stebbings: What would you most like to change in the world of SaaS today?

Jeppe Rindom: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I think, did you know that actually on a global basis, 80% of employees are feeling disengaged in their workplace? That’s a pretty insane number, and I think what we’re trying to achieve here in Pleo with the more democratized with these kinds of things, more empowering is kind of a little attempt to sort of change that sort of towards a better work.

Harry Stebbings: Speaking of that empowerment, sorry too interested by this one, speaking of that empowerment, how do you create ownership where they feel like they have that real accountability, but not too much ownership where they feel almost too much responsibility on their shoulders?

Jeppe Rindom: It’s something that we’ve had to work around. I would say for some teams in the company, we actually refer to them as founders. The team leads, we call them founders and we expect that they act as founders and they carry their mission as a founder would do. Now, I do think we’ve underestimated a little bit the lead time of being able to take that responsibility. Today we try to be a little bit more supportive, sometimes actually a little bit more direction to the team in the beginning. But then the aim is that after six, nine months, you should be able to leave the nest and kind of own it yourself. So that’s an attempt to live these values and still be supportive.

Harry Stebbings: I absolutely love that in terms of the ownership around that labeling, so to speak. Final one, but I’m excited for this. What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of your time with Pleo?

Jeppe Rindom: I think coming from a CFO role, I was a little bit more conservative in the beginning and I think over time we’ve become more bold and sort of aiming more for the stars and I think it’s actually not that scary. And there is a lot of benefits from that. You get to work with the best and the most ambitious people if you have high ambitions, and at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to take you there. So I think don’t be afraid of being bold.

Harry Stebbings: Jeppe, I have absolutely loved the show. I can’t get over the videos to every single employee. That’s absolutely one of my favorite moments I’ve done in a long time. So thank you so much coming on the show today. Thank you for making expenses something that I actually finally do, and it’s been so much fun having you on.

Jeppe Rindom: Wonderful, Harry. I’ve loved it. Thank you.

Harry Stebbings: I have to say, I just loved that episode. I love the way that Jeppe really thinks about bringing true humanity to leadership, and if you’d like to see more from Jeppe, you can find him on Twitter @JeppeRindom. Likewise, as I said at the beginning, the Pleo product really is a game changer. So that’s a must try. And also we’d love to see behind the scenes here. You can do that 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 another set of fantastic episodes next week.

 

Published on October 4, 2019

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