NUOPTIMA > SaaS Podcast > SaaS Secrets from $40m Revenue Serial Founder

SaaS Secrets from $40m Revenue Serial Founder

April 5, 2024

Interviewee Introduction: Jordan Shlosberg

Jordan Shlosberg is the Founder and former Managing Director of proSapient, one of the leading expert network technology platforms. proSapient helps investors make great investment decisions by supporting primary research through features such as transcripts, surveys, and expert consultations. Jordan successfully raised $10 million Series A led by Smedvig Capital and built his team to 300 people and more than $40 million in revenue.

Since taking the decision to leave proSapient, Jordan has embarked on two new business ventures. He started a recruitment business for growth companies, Berg Search, and is building a HR tech business, Atlas, an end-to-end platform for recruitment companies, which will deploy in June 2024. 

Jordan has a BSc Economics degree from the University of Bristol, is a CFA Charterholder, and a Certified Scrum Master.

Summary 

In this episode with Jordan Shlosberg, you’ll learn:

  • What problem proSapient solves and how Jordan came up with the idea 
  • How Jordan validated proSapient and had confidence that the big players in the industry wouldn’t overtake the business 
  • How proSapient gained their first customers
  • What the challenges were that proSapient faced 
  • Whether proSapient used any marketing channels like SEO or paid marketing in the life-cycle of the business 
  • How proSapient sold into larger private equity funds and how they made the jump into the US market from the smaller UK market 
  • Insight into the two new businesses Jordan is building – recruitment business Berg Search and HR tech business Atlas (Atlas is an end-to-end platform built for recruitment firms like Berg Search) 
  • How Jordan juggles running two businesses now and how he intends to do so going forwards 
  • What drives Jordan to build two new businesses instead of just one 
  • Jordan’s advice to second-time entrepreneurs 
  • Jordan’s personal book recommendation for SaaS founders, an entrepreneur he admires, an underrated SaaS tool he uses, and the best advice he has ever received

Alexej: In this episode, you will learn how to scale a tech-enabled service business to $40 million ARR. My name is Alexej and I help founders scale. My guest today is Jordan Shlosberg, the Founder and former Managing Director of proSapient. proSapient is one of the leading expert network platforms out there.

Jordan successfully raised $10 million and built the team to 300 people in his business. Since then, Jordan embarked on not one, but two new businesses. And in this episode, we will discuss why he made that decision. He started a recruitment and an HR tech business. And we dive in how as a second time entrepreneur, you deal with two businesses at the same time.

So join me now for this episode.

Hi Jordan, super excited to have you here.

Jordan: Good to be here, Alexej. Um… the first time we’re going to chat in these auspicious circumstances, but excited nonetheless.

Alexej: Absolutely. Okay awesome. So for the audience, some context. You are the Founder and former Managing Director… partner of proSapient, which is an expert network technology platform. You raised $10 million Series A led by Smedvig Capital, and you had more than 300, you know, staff in your team, more than $40 million in revenue. And then you left and you’re now working on two businesses, two new businesses. And I guess we will explore a bit more why two and not just one business. Is that correct?

Jordan: Perfect. 

Alexej: Okay. Awesome. Now, before we dive into some of the other stuff, can you tell us a bit, what solution you were actually solving or what problem you were actually solving with proSapient and how did you actually come up with that idea?

Jordan: Yeah, good question. It’s, it’s one of those industries that no one knows about, but is actually sitting behind a lot of quite important things. And generally, it’s an industry that helps investors make decisions of investment. So the best way to explain it is taking an example. 

Let’s assume that, you know, Bain Capital is going to acquire McDonald’s and obviously no one from Bain has probably worked in McDonald’s, but they need to understand the industry. So, they would come to a company like proSapient and ask, “can we speak to five former executives at McDonald’s? Can we speak to 20 competitors of McDonald’s senior management? Can we do a 10,000 person survey on the Big Mac versus the Whopper to fast food consumers around America and Canada?” 

And so the expert network has this huge number of experts and has the ability to go out and scale and find those people and then services those insights through one-hour calls as well as surveys and then what proSapient did on top was to bring a technical layer over that to allow people to make much more from that insight. So we were the first people to offer transcriptions totally free of charge, the first people to allow you to have this text-based chat with experts after you’ve finished the call. 

The end goal was we want to help you make great investment decisions. And so that was the problem we were solving and still solve today.

Alexej: Amazing. Amazing. And how did you, how did you validate the business? Because on the one hand, you know, coming from finance similar to yourself… there were these four dominant players, or maybe two super dominant and then, you know, a few newcomers. And now I think it’s like four or five, six now with proSapient, obviously dominant players… how did you validate the business and how were you so confident that you can, you know, sustain and not be overtaken or like, kind of, you know, absorbed by some of the other big players?

Jordan: The benefit of being a tech-enabled service, which this was, is that you don’t buy one or the other. So for very large projects where someone might speak to 50 or 60 experts, they may use three to four networks at the same time to make sure they get all those conversations done. So the demand was there because there were people in that market selling the product.

We also checked how happy people were with the current solutions and the answer was not that happy for numerous reasons. One, the technology was terrible at the time. It was a technical laggard industry and secondly, because there was so few competitors and the margins were so huge, there was a general view that there was a bit of laziness i.e. “I want to speak to 20 people really quickly, but my current suppliers are just providing me the same people over and over again. There’s no one who’s really interesting and new to speak to and if I have a specific request it wasn’t done very quickly”. 

So we came in, you know, using a few early stage clients, you know, some which came from my Co-Founder who was in the industry before and some we just did aggressive cold reach out to actually get people to say, “okay. We’ll give you guys a shot.” And so it turned out that actually just the two of us with technology were able to deliver experts that were unique and experts faster than the incumbents. So that was the point that we could then, you know, say, “okay, our service is at least on par or better than the existing”. And therefore there was a right for us to play in that industry.

Alexej: Makes sense. And I think you, you answered, you know, some parts of the other questions I wanted to ask you, which is, you know, how did you get your first hundred customers? But maybe let’s rephrase it because it was essentially a bit of a marketplace as well, right? You had, you know, investors on the one hand, the private equity houses, the hedge funds, and then you had the experts on the other side. Now, obviously it’s super helpful having a co-founder with domain expertise and network. Did she bring the private equity, hedge fund clients, and then you got some projects and then you found the experts? Or how did you go about that?

Jordan: Actually, so really, you know, she had a few kind of small companies that were not well-served from the company she came from, which was Coleman. So it was, you know, the small people that no one wants to really service, and then we were desperate to service anyone. And they always say, you know, “you want to scale a business, start by doing things that don’t scale”. And this was exactly that. 

It was tougher to service customers. And because they were tougher, they weren’t getting the service levels from the incumbents who were thinking, well, “I’ve got these really easy and lucrative contracts and I have limited amount of resource to service. So therefore, they’re really a third priority.” So… but they weren’t that big. So, you know, it was useful to start with, but we essentially, A, used our networks massively extensively. So I’d spent 10 years in hedge funds and started off calling every single person I knew, you know, rapping on the door for any kind of business.

And eventually, you know, that started to unlock. At the same time we were doing cold calling, you know, really picking who are the people that actually use this product and just, really just hammering in different ways on their door until they gave us a shot. So it was hard yards at the beginning. But then, of course, as you begin to build a reputation, inbound starts coming in and the unique aspect of, of the expert network industry is that there’s probably only a thousand customers in investment land. So you kind of know who they are, which helps when you’re thinking about building your prospect lists.

Alexej: Yeah, it makes sense. So everything sounds really, really easy so far. Can you tell us a bit more about the challenges then? What, what, you know, what was difficult and, you know?

Jordan: Yeah. So we, I remember we started in June and the first month, you know, we did two calls, which was something like £1400 of revenue. The next was four calls, then eight calls, then 16, and it really doubled every month at that point. So in that respect, and then, you know, of course, we actually got our first extremely large client somewhere nine months after we started. So actually, in this case, building the demand was actually not as difficult as, you know, it is in other industries…just the unique aspect of this industry. 

The challenges, I suppose, were on a limited budget building the software. So every industry, as you know, has software that services that industry, real vertical software. And the problem is when you’re in an industry where you only have really six or seven players… there’s no software. So you can’t- you have to build your own. So it’s a very weird thing where if you’re, for example, a recruitment business, you would buy all the recruitment technology and then you would use it. 

In this industry, you have to build your technology to then use it. And so, the hard- you are essentially building two businesses, a service business and a technology business in parallel, which requires a huge amount of effort and hours. And I suppose a bit of a, a bit of a founder who seems to enjoy working 200 hours a week for God knows how long. 

Alexej: Makes sense. Yeah. And then in terms of your client acquisition, right? So you mentioned obviously your network, cold calling, cold outreach, et cetera. Did you use any other marketing channels later in the life-cycle of the business? Did you do any SEO, any paid marketing, any partnerships?

Jordan: It’s a great question. The answer in this case is no, actually. When you look at this market, right, who wants to spend $1,000 speaking to a, an industry expert on their experience with that industry? You’ve really got investors and that comes via management consultants. And you have got corporates, you know, a company and the strategy department of a company might want to speak to one of the competitors who’ve left the company, but it’s a much smaller industry and they’re not willing to pay $1,000 per call.

So, and the other part here is that people kind of know you. So the top of the funnel is almost sorted. There’s a thousand people in the industry. It doesn’t take very long for them to understand, okay, this is a new competitor in the industry. And what we did, which is really smart, and this is something that I’m trying now continuously, is that, it’s, what is the marketing message you use? Now, you may say, and it sounds completely obvious to say, well, “what do the clients value the most?” and then you should focus on that. So in this particular case, our clients value the quality of expert i.e. did the expert have the right answer, and the speed at which that expert was delivered. So that was the two things that mattered most to clients. However, everyone knew that. 

So everyone’s marketing was, “we send better experts, we send it faster”. So actually, if you try to market on the things that people cared about the most, you end up competing with your voice against everyone else. So maybe it was accidental when we did it, but I now realize it was smart, was that we said, “okay. Let’s go down the technology route” which was the fifth most important thing at the time for our customer. But it didn’t matter because for once or the first time they were receiving this messaging saying, “oh, that’s actually different”. You know that, you know, it doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. It’s just different.

And there’s a fantastic book called Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini, which talks and gives evidence to say, if you’ve got a collection of people giving one message, actually it doesn’t matter what your message is. If it’s different, it’s elevated. Even if that, even if it’s elevated on a completely irrelevant purpose, different gets you noticed and then it gives you the opportunity to deliver. 

Now of course difference gets- different gets you in the door. You still got to deliver the product. So we didn’t rely… coming back to your question. We didn’t really rely on much top of the funnel activities because it was quite easy to become known to everyone in this small market, and really we came to the conclusion that, you know, people kind of change when one of their existing suppliers does some bad work i.e. a couple of bad projects on the trot, they get upset, then they go to market.

And that’s why, when you look at the website we have today, it’s set up in terms of solutions. It’s set up in, “I want to find better quality experts” because we thought, okay, when people actually go out to look, it’s not like they’ve suddenly said, “this is a great product I’ve never used before”. They all use them already. So the only reason they go to look elsewhere is because they’ve been let down by their current provider, and so that’s why we said, “okay well, we know why you’re coming to us now because you’ve probably been disappointed. So let’s tell you exactly why we won’t disappoint you.” 

Now, should we have taken marketing more seriously? Probably yes. But I don’t think we had the right, you know, or the right type of commercial strategy at the time to understand how to deliver the marketing side rather than the simple, you know, cold calling and relationship building that you typically do in a very small niche industry. 

Alexej: So basically, yeah, really smart account-based marketing, that’s what you basically were doing. And then maybe just in terms of… of course, there are a lot of these small hedge funds, small private equity shops, which are, let’s say, just UK-based, right? How did you sell into some of the larger, you know, private equity funds, which are maybe US-headquartered and how did you then make that jump into the US market, which ultimately is, you know, 10x, 50x bigger than the UK market for proSapient’s industry?

Jordan: Yeah. So we obviously started in the UK cause it was the ones we could actually physically get to. And there was a few methods of doing so. So the first one was the geographic expansion. You know, you delight, let’s say, take EY-Parthenon. You go to them, you delight them and they say, “well, actually we have an American team too”. And you’ll know that you’ve delivered and that’s a much easier sell than going in cold to a, to someone in America, I suppose. 

For the big- so in this industry, the big three consulting firms Bain, Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey… They probably are 25% of the entire industry spend. So you kind of have to have them, if you don’t have them you’re going to be terminally smaller. And with them, you know, the first one we, we won was because I happen to know someone very senior at the company who at least got us an introduction to the decision-makers and from then it was three to six months I believe of checking, you know, “are you looking for new things? Are you RFP?” “No, no, no, no, no”. Then suddenly, “ah, yes, we are”. 

In fact, amusingly enough, we actually, we built the first version of proSapient on a, on a shoestring budget. It was a terrible platform. And after four months, you know, proving the concept generated revenues, we, we raised money and we did the initial build of what today’s platform is. And so the first of these three consultants came in and said, “right, we want to do a trial with you as soon as possible”. And we were about a month away from actually delivering the actual scalable platform. So we were thinking, “geez, actually, I don’t think we want to service these people yet because the system we’re currently using is terrible”. And so we had to make loads of excuses as to why we couldn’t, you know, we’re like, “we’re so busy for the next six weeks”, you know, but actually we were just trying to get the new platform across the door. 

And the second of the big three came because in fact, the decision-maker from the first big three moved and became the decision-maker of the second big three. And initially was like, “why is proSapient not on your list?” And then brought us in immediately. We did an RFP and we started working with them. The third one just took way longer. You know, we, we did a multithreading approach, spoke to principals, consultants, and just kind of repeated ourselves. “Can we do a trial? Can we do a trial?” And about a year it took before they said, “okay, we’ll do a trial”. 

And so that’s how we managed to get the big three consultants on side. And those people, of course, the trial started in Europe and then naturally they said, “okay, you’ve done really great here. And we will now want to try you in this country or this geography” and that’s how we managed to get over to the States but proSapient as a business is still very much European-centric. I think it’s, you know… I mean if you look at the headcount on LinkedIn, it’s probably 70% people in Europe, 30% in the States. Not sure on what the split is revenue-wise though. 

Alexej: Makes sense. Makes sense. Yeah. Fascinating. Amazing. Cool. All right. So let’s move on then to the two businesses you’re building now, right? Maybe, you know, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Jordan: Yeah. So why, why make one business when you can make things more difficult with two, right? I suppose with proSapient, we were building two businesses actually as well, the service and the technology. And so after leaving proSapient, I was already thinking, you know, as that period of time was coming to a close, “what’s my next thing going to be?”

And one of my friends who’s a really successful founder gave some really good advice, which was essentially “don’t bother turning your sixes into sevens. You want to turn your nines into tens”, i.e. what are you really good at? And double down on those things. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t say, “okay, I’ve just done a knowledge tech firm. Let’s go and do a food delivery business because I’m a founder.” It was more like, “what did I build that I can use as cheat codes to get somewhere else quicker and faster?” And of course, at that point, generative AI was, was coming really big. So this was about seven months before ChatGPT had launched when I made the decision to leave the company.

So really my, my sphere was “GenAI is the future”. We had just deployed a huge GenAI search system about a year before GPT or ChatGPT came out at proSapient. And at that point I was thinking “Yes, this is, this is the next dot-com era”. And so I wanted to make sure that everything I did will be on the forefront of that. And I thought okay… what I’ve built essentially at proSapient was a CRM, a central system that, you know, sells people to people.

I thought “okay, what’s another industry that essentially is people selling people to people?” And it’s recruitment. Exactly the same processes and the CRM that we built looks like a very much better version of the CRMs that recruiters would use today. So, that was the beginning of the genesis to say “okay, I know this process inside out, and I know there’s a very big technology coming”, but the one problem I thought was, A, it takes a long time to build really big technology, and, B, I don’t trust myself to build something for a customer that I have not been before. 

And so we thought, “okay, let’s build a recruitment business. Let’s understand what tools around there and actually use all the tools as customers”. A, it’s going to help us really understand those little nuances that you’re never going to find in research. B, it’s going to be profitable from day one. And C, it’s going to become your testbed. So anything you build for the end customer, you can essentially test immediately in production, which is actually a very unique testbed environment, which allows you to innovate and iterate much quicker.

So Berg Search has become the first business which launched in June. And what we’ve done there is we have our entire team in Athens. So we employ the smartest people in Athens and we deliver, essentially, recruitment services, talent acquisition services, for growth companies, because simply, that’s what I know. I’ve grown a business from zero to 300. I’ve made all the mistakes you make. 

There is a very unique set of things you need to look for, for someone who’s great in a growth company. And we didn’t feel that there was, that that was really catered for. And that’s done tremendously well. In six months, you know, we, we’ve gone from zero to seven people and the last quarter, I’m not sure if it was a fluke or not, but our EBIT margins north of 40%.

So what’s great is we’re actually now moving to the point whereby we’ve got a piece of technology coming out, but it’s actually backed by a profitable business. But the big thing that’s going to happen in 2024 this year is Atlas, and this is this technology that we’re building, which essentially is an entire end-to-end platform for recruitment firms to essentially do their job, if that makes sense.

Alexej: Yeah, yeah, no, no, totally, totally. And then I guess, and it’s, yeah, it’s a super smart approach. I think you mentioned to me this example where there were a few founders who bought a barbershop to understand everything about the barbershop to then build software, right? Which is now almost a unicorn. 

Jordan: That’s Squire. Yeah. So Squire, it’s, it’s the same thing. It’s big- software costs money to build. And we are in a current climate where it’s very difficult to raise capital. And to be honest, when you’re a first-time founder and in a, an environment where it’s more restrictive, the only solutions or the only venture problems you can solve are the ones which you can get to market quickly, you know, very simple point solution, which means you can’t really focus on, let’s take a customer and say, “what is this customer’s main problem? Can we solve that main problem?” Because that requires more capital, more time. 

Squire solved that problem beautifully by essentially building, you know, they bought an ailing barbershop, ran this barbershop, doing everything but the haircutting. And from there, they really, A, they generated a profit, which was great to show, “look, you can trust me as a founder because I can take a business that you’d never want to touch and I can turn it into profitability quickly”, which says, “okay, this person is serious”, but again, it’s a testbed because they were the people that could say, right, “we really understand barbers because we’ve actually been them”. And that is a real powerful thing to say. So, you know, for us, we’re doing exactly the same thing, be the customer and then deliver the solution for that customer.

Alexej: So let’s assume you launch Atlas and… will you then hire somebody as an operator into Berg Search and then spend all your time on Atlas? Or will you continue running both businesses?

Jordan: It’s a great question. So obviously I have a Co-Founder in, in Ben, who I competed against in my previous life. And he was a, he was a formidable competitor. So I thought “wouldn’t mind working with him”. But you know what, there’s this kind of, if you, if you’ve read the book, Jim Collins, ‘Good to Great’, he talks about the, the “Genius of the AND” versus the “Tyranny of the OR”. You kind of have to have the short-term view and the long-term view at the same time.

And so currently the short-term focus is grow Berg Search as quickly as possible, delivering amazing service. But in the long-term, we want to be, you know, either recruiting the world’s startup, sorry, the world’s startups or, you know, or- and, building the central platform for recruiters. We actually haven’t got to the point where we’re thinking, “what do we do in June?”

Because it’s one of those things you can’t control. Generally, we just know what we need to do. And there’s various ways in which we can solve that puzzle. You know, does Ben look after one business and I look after the other? Do we separate the business entirely? Do we sell one of them? There’s loads of ways you can, you know, you can put the puzzle together.

But I think for me it’s like, I don’t need to make the decision now. So I’d rather use any of my cognitive powers to deliver, you know, on the mission. Which generally is on Berg Search, do great service, and create a scalable business, which essentially will operate if Ben and I both get run over by a bus. 

And then on the Atlas side, you know, we’re deploying the platform in June. It’s, can we get over 500 people on the waitlist so when we launch the product it can go live? And at that point, we might then think, “okay, what’s the structure?” So I just don’t have the right answer for you there, Alexej, if that makes sense or is disappointing. 

Alexej: No, no, that’s, that’s okay. That’s okay. But in terms of your time split today then, right? How, like, what is the split? Is it 50/50 or how much time do you dedicate to Berg versus Atlas right now?

Jordan: It’s, it’s 70/30 Berg to Atlas. But, you know, there’s a lot of days and a lot of hours that are going into that. So, you know, I’m working six days a week, probably seven, but I do casual things on the seven.

When it comes to my working day, you know, I’ll turn off about 5:30PM cause I’ve got three kids. And then once they’re all in bed by 7:30PM, I’ll come back on again and do the night shift. So anything that’s not time-sensitive, like writing content and building, that will be done late at night. So, you know, I am running 13-hour days currently, probably six days a week.

So obviously that has to change at some point. It’s not a long-term solution, but I think it’s one of those things that you don’t realize, or maybe you don’t take seriously when you’re thinking about building a business the first time is, it takes a lot of fucking hours to scale. Because if it was easy, everyone would be a, a founder, you know, living in eight-figure houses. But unfortunately, this is one of the sacrifices you’ve kind of got to make at the beginning.

Alexej: Yeah, absolutely. So, and you mentioned there, you know, second time you know so much more than the first time. Given that you did fairly well from proSapient, what drives you to build, yeah, two businesses, not just one, right? Like, what is, what is your motivation to be still working crazy hours?

Jordan: So you know, I’m, you know, I’ve done very well, which is great. But not well enough to retire just yet, because as I said, you know, I’ve got a large family I need to look after. But I think, you know, it’s one of those things where entrepreneurs…it’s not like they’re in it to make a certain sum of money and then retire to the golf course. I think there’s just an innate drive to build in the successful ones. It’s enjoyable to do. I really enjoy the competition of “let’s take a market and let’s see how we can outcompete and we can deliver an amazing service to a customer”. 

So that is one of the things that drives me I guess, just the urge to build. And I also want to be able to make a material life difference in the first hundred people that join Atlas. And as I’ve said to the team, you know, I…if we are fortunate enough to build a unicorn piece of software, I do not need that money. Happy to even have it recorded because, you know, it’s what I believe. I’ve given a lot of equity away, a lot more than most people would, to already, to the engineering team, for example, because I want them to essentially have a life-changing outcome if the software they are hard at work building works. The same with the rest of the team.

And so that is a life ambition of mine, which I haven’t yet satisfied. And so maybe if we do fantastically well with this, this pair of companies, maybe I will, and maybe I’ll think, “Jesus Christ, I can’t do any more of this”. But, you know, inherently you kind of know in the back of your head, you might, okay, you might not want to do another business that’s going to require you to put stupid hours in at the beginning. You might say, “okay, you know what? I’m going to put more capital in the beginning and hire people quicker so I end up doing hard work, not ridiculous work”. But it is, it’s just the urge to build, I think. 

I mean, look, we’re in, we’re in the new dot-com era. This is, this is the time, you know, the first time in 20 years that any person can build something that’s 10x better than a huge incumbent. And, you know, if that doesn’t excite you at this point, you probably shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. But if it does excite you, it’s going to excite you whether or not you’ve got nothing in your bank account or 10 million in your bank account.

Alexej: Yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense. So what’s your advice to, let’s say second-time entrepreneurs, right, rather than, you know, first-time founders, you know, specifically the second-time. What would be your advice?

Jordan: I think I’ve gotta ask that to the third-time founders really. What I’ve noticed is that there are cheat codes to being a second time-founder and you, and they’re actually a lot more valuable than you think they are. And the few that I’m definitely making use of are as follows. 

Is firstly, you know, don’t do something totally new. With Atlas, because I’ve built this system once kind of already, I already know very clearly what the system is going to look like. So the amount of technical debt that I’ll accumulate, at least in the first 18 months, will be a lot less than anyone else’s. Of course, once we go to the unknown, I’m sure it will normalize, but you can get to a position way faster because there’s just less trial and error. You inherently have learned a lot. 

The second thing is that you probably learned how to manage people much better. So you’ve probably learned a little bit about what you need to do and say and how to act to empower the team around you to run at the same speed. 

And thirdly, it’s your access to capital. And it’s not just your own because, probably, you’ve got, you know, you may not have 10 million, you know. You may, you know, because you may- to be honest, you may, you could have made seven figures and you could have then bought a house, put it away for your children’s school fees. So you, you know, but you’d be a successful founder. I think the risk/reward for you as a bet as an entrepreneur is probably much better. 

And so what I found is that I was able to raise a much higher valuation with much better corporate terms. So, you know, we control a lot of the votes and we didn’t give away much of the company to raise. And obviously you can’t really do that first time around unless you’ve got an absolutely amazing background, of course it happens, but generally a second-time founder, you do get to have ownership and a bigger ownership and get to hold control if you can for longer. Because you have implicit trust by the success you’ve had previously.

Alexej: Makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. All right. Should we move on to the quick fire questions? We have four for you. 

Jordan: Fire away.

Alexej: All right. So what is a book recommendation you would give to another SaaS founder?

Jordan: I would go ‘Beyond Entrepreneurship’ by Jim Collins. I think he wrote it…I think it was after ‘Good to Great’. I’m not quite sure, but it’s a really good book to provide some really thoughtful lessons…not from zero to one, but for the scaling events you go on. So loads and loads of advice that’s very useful, highly recommended. It’s one that’s not on as many recommended book lists. So let’s be different. 

Alexej: Yeah, cool. Yeah. I think it’s, yeah, it’s definitely his latest one. I haven’t read it yet, but I will definitely read it as my next book. Okay, and in terms of entrepreneurs who you admire, who is that for you?

Jordan: Parker Conrad, Rippling. So part- you know, we are building with Atlas a compound startup, and this is a term that Parker Conrad essentially created because, you know, he…when he looked at Rippling, it was the same concept as “I could build a point solution, but my customer is using 20 tools currently. Actually, if I take a step back and I think about, it’s kind of, I’m not going to focus on a specific point solution, I’m going to solve the entire problem, then essentially I’m going to become uncompetable because the integration becomes the product”. And of course you have this power of bundled pricing, which is just unmatchable. And of course, you know, native integrations, the same user interface between all of the tools you use, it does really make a much better experience.

So…and I didn’t really know that that’s what I was doing until I saw him at SaaStr. And if you Google that particular talk on YouTube, you’ll see a lovely long-haired gentleman asking a couple of questions at the end. So I would say he is the person I’m admiring at this point.

Alexej: That’s cool. And what’s the SaaS tool you use, not many other people use?

Jordan: I’m now wondering if a lot of people use it, but just don’t talk about it, but it’s Surfer SEO. So I’m in an industry like many other where you really want to get your SEO right. Content is a pipeline for inbound business and Surfer is a great way for you- it kind of bundles in ChatGPT where it’s needed, Ahrefs for what keywords you need to write, and it allows you just to write a piece of content much quicker. So I can write a big article in an hour or two hours, whereas, if I didn’t have that, probably would take me four times the amount of time. So in the world of inbound marketing, given it’s more important, Surfer SEO would be my tool of choice.

Alexej: Yeah, we actually use Surfer SEO as well. Yeah, and then finally, what was the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Jordan: The best advice I’ve been given came from a partner at one of the big three consulting firms who I got to work very closely with at proSapient. And he was actually an entrepreneur before he joined that company as a partner. And his advice to me was: the job of an entrepreneur is to create a function and then hire people that can do that better than you and then delegate it out. 

So it’s a bit different from saying, “okay, I haven’t got a marketing team, so I’m going to hire a Head of Marketing first and ask them to do it.” I think that doesn’t really work. I’ve never spoke to anyone that makes it work. What seems to work is, for example, what we’re doing now with Atlas is, I know I’ve got to create content so I’m hiring two content, content creators. And my plan is to just structure the function to understand, so I understand, what on earth we need to do.

And once it’s beginning to propel, being a meritocrat, I’m hoping that my VP of Marketing will be in one of those hires. But then at that point, when it’s started off, then I may hire someone in who can take that to the next level. So I think that was a really great piece of advice, which I’ve taken very significantly and seriously since I received it.

Alexej: Makes sense. Awesome. Cool. Look, it’s been super interesting. And look, I mean, good luck building not only one, but two businesses. And yeah, thank you so much for, you know, the time and making it. 

Jordan: Appreciate it. 

Alexej: Thanks for sticking around. If you want to see the show notes, please go to www.nuoptima.com/saas-podcast. Otherwise see you at the next episode. Bye.

Book Recommendation

  1. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini
  2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  3. Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0: Turning Your Business Into an Enduring Great Company by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier

Growth Strategy Call

Book a call with one of our growth experts to discover the best way to grow your business

Contact Us