Navigating the turbulent waters of uncertainty. Join Tullio Siragusa as he converses with Braydan Young , Co-founder and Growth of Sendoso, on how to explore the dynamic world of tech start-ups and companies as they navigate the challenges of economic uncertainty.
Discover the secrets of recession-proof leadership and unlock the path to achieving success in this constantly evolving industry.
Crafting Tech Success and Navigating Uncertainty: Insights from Tullio Siragusa's Interview with Braydan Young, Co-founder of Sendoso.
In a world of ever-changing technology and unpredictable circumstances, navigating the turbulent waters of uncertainty can be daunting for tech entrepreneurs. Tullio Siragusa recently sat down with Braydan Young, the co-founder of Sendoso, to gain insights on how to craft tech success amidst the chaos. Young emphasized the importance of adaptability, customer-centricity, and building a strong team.
By embracing change, understanding customer needs, and surrounding themselves with talented individuals, entrepreneurs can ride the waves of uncertainty and steer their tech ventures toward success.
Tullio Siragusa (00:12):
Good morning and good afternoon everyone. Welcome back to Tech Leaders Unplugged. This is Tulio Siragusa, I'm hosting today, and I have my guest, Braydan Young, who's co-founder and head of growth at Sendoso. Welcome to the show. It's good to have you this morning. It's
Braydan Young (00:28):
Good to be here. It's good to be unplugged, you know?
Tullio Siragusa (00:30):
Yeah, exactly. Let's get crazy <laugh>. Let's get crazy exactly on a Monday morning or afternoon or evening, wherever people are watching. So we're talking about something really important today and probably a top of mind topic for everyone in tech. And that is crafting tech success, navigating the turbulent waters of uncertainty. Now, Braydan, if we were having this conversation a couple of years ago during a bull market, we'd probably be focusing on different topics. Within this context. We'd be talking about challenges around data security ethics around artificial intelligence. We'd be talking about the digital divide of inequality in the tech industry, environmental impact and sustainability. These are all still very important topic and probably workforce and skills gap. That was definitely a top of mind topic during the bull market. Yeah. But we're not, we're not in a bull market anymore. We're in a bear market. So the, the landscape has changed dramatically. And so what are your thoughts in terms of what we need to be focusing on today? I, I, I would think it's safe to say that financial stability and survival is probably top of mind in today's tech economic climate. What are your thoughts?
Braydan Young (01:47):
Yeah, I mean, when, when your team reached out, it was one of those like perfect days where it was a board meeting day. And so those, those, those, those meetings are like, what's direction, what's strategy, what are goals? And like, how those conversations have shifted over the past seven years. We've been in business at Sendoso are, are pretty dramatic. So when we started as a company, it was, you know, the heyday of VC money. It was like, Hey, how much can you raise growth at all costs? You know, push, you know, get as much market share as you can. Doesn't matter how much that, you know, costs, burden the money. And now it's shifted. Now it's all about profitability and where your margins are, and the right people working smarter. So I'm sure everyone's heard the phrases a million times. Like, oh, like we have less cash. We have to be more efficient. Like, every single company that's out there is like, how to become more efficient with less people, which is the hardest thing ever. So those are typically the conversations today is, is how you can motivate your team to do more with less. And which is I think a very hard phrase to really sell to anybody. And basically grow efficiently is, is sort of the name of the game these days.
Tullio Siragusa (02:51):
So let's talk about the five key things. I, I did a little research to try to figure out what are the five key things that companies should focus on during a bear market and see if we can uncover some nuggets here. Some, yeah.
Braydan Young (03:04):
I'm going to take notes also on that.
Tullio Siragusa (03:05):
The number one that came up was financial stability and survival. You know, it's like, like you just mentioned, maintaining stability, making sure your cash goes as far as possible. And I would say pretty big shift in mindset. Used to be you would focus on getting to the next milestone that would trigger the next valuation. Cuz money was cheap and easily accessible. So you're building business toward achieving more investment. <Laugh> mm-hmm. <Affirmative> versus now it's like growing the business to achieve profitability so you can have more money to keep reinvesting, to keep growing. Right? Which is mostly how most, you know, mom and pop shop businesses run, right? So they're not VC funded. And then of course retaining talent is a whole different story than it was back then, right? Because some people want to be part of a company that's more stable. The question that maybe during an interview that would come up is, you know, what series are you in and when is the next one being triggered? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, it's probably more like you know, how much money do you have in the back and how long is that going to keep you afloat with your current burn rate? So what, what are you seeing in terms of those conversations and, and what's working for you guys? How are you managing through it?
Braydan Young (04:20):
Yeah, I, so a lot is focused on just your customer churn. So if you have customers, like those folks are the most important thing on the planet. So it's maintaining those and making sure they're not going anywhere. So making sure they're happy, making sure you have executive sponsors, making sure you're doing qbr, making sure there's tons of check-ins there. So your churn rate basically stays well, or you get it better. Basically, it's like the number one goal across any company that's in tech right now, across the board. Any company in like this bad market is like, Hey, customers are the key, most important thing. The second thing is like, there's a lot of tools that all of us bought that are just unnecessary that, I mean, they were cool, they were fancy, they were great. And you know, there's been a lot of companies that have raised money that, you know, had the right marketing around these tools.
Braydan Young (05:03):
And if you can't prove ROI on the tool that you have, or if the team that's using it as like, Hey, like we have one, we bought a hundred seats, we use one seat, then get rid of it. Like, if, if you go back to that company, you're like, Hey, so we bought this. Can you help us prove ROI to my C F O as to why is this important to keep? But they can't do that, then that's a software that's probably unnecessary to have. So those are probably the two, like one, the big one to churn is every day the software one is becoming more efficient. So you're getting rid of those tools that you just don't need. And third is like making sure that you do whatever you're doing day-to-day across the companies is there's the, the right steps are being taken to improve churn, to become more efficient.
Braydan Young (05:39):
And then the last piece is selling's different. So I would say going out and like selling a piece of software, selling a piece of tech the way that we used to do it is just not as effective anymore. So you need to be able to have different models and fit the budgets of company to try to sell to. For example, if you go up in a very expensive enterprise software, maybe you need to start more like the PLG land and expand model, which was the play that we just did. So we now have a free product. So that you might need to pivot is like the big piece, I would say, kind of across the board.
Tullio Siragusa (06:11):
Yeah. So it's an interesting conversation. You, you mentioned earlier about growing at all costs. Yeah. It was all about top line acquiring new clients, new logos, and that's very much shifted during a bear market. You try to anchor down on your existing business, make sure you're servicing the heck out of them, make sure that they're staying they're not turning over, but then also identify new revenue models, right? Yeah. So, you know, if you have the existing business, you want to maintain it, you want to maintain churn, then how you can also grow that base if you have a good cross-sell or an upgrade capability or something of that nature that you can earn more opportunities to grow revenue.
Braydan Young (06:58):
Tullio Siragusa (06:59):
So how, how are boards adopting to this, right? Because, you know, you've come from this mindset of show me the money of what you've got in terms of growth, and then you show up quarterly on the board meeting and say, okay, we had you know, growth of 20% across the existing base and we crossed, sold some additional capabilities that we invested in. Maybe you got another 20% out of that and new logos was like zero.
Braydan Young (07:23):
Tullio Siragusa (07:24):
And, you know, how is that being perceived? Because that's often sometimes a difficult conversation that says, I just had 40% growth, but in the past that meant nothing unless it was new logos, right? I, I
Braydan Young (07:35):
Think, I think a board would be happy with that. Now, I think that like, for, for us, like if, if I went to my board and was like, hey, like our churn is, you know, close to zero, like everyone's staying with us, it's fantastic. So no one's leaving us and we're basically, we're, we're, we've upgraded them to, you know, pay additional, like let's say 20% because we've added services there or we've added new capabilities. I think that would be a fantastic board meeting if I hadn't sold any new deals that <laugh>. I think that's where it gets a bit strange, but I think that the goal is if folks are staying with you, then that's a fantastic challenge or the kind of message to get to your board. Because when you go and get new customers, like the cack of like trying to acquire one is expensive.
Braydan Young (08:15):
It takes time. And so I would lean towards that right now, at least for the next quarter. And then maybe a quarter from now that's like, all right, now we should go find new logos again. Like, I'm not saying get rid of your sales team, like that's wild. But I'm saying like, Hey, like let's focus on how we can land and expand these smaller accounts and grow with these big companies. Maybe we already have, like how we can sell the departments, how we can cross sell, I think is a good muscle to flex these days.
Tullio Siragusa (08:40):
All right. So let's recap a little bit. We talked about changing the sales strategy to one where you could have an easier entry point, lower hurdle rate for the client. So maybe it's about giving some things away from if you're doing a product like growth strategy and then upgrading as they get used to using the product. If it's a service business, it might be some other entry point or some proof of concept where you give that away. Yeah. but so it's, it's really about getting in the door and building on that relationship and building on that success factor to expand the scope of the business. The other piece you talked about is retaining the client base, you know, making sure that that's well serviced and, and good, and giving yourself time to put value behind that and seeing where there's opportunities for growth.
Tullio Siragusa (09:31):
Would you say that it, you know, what I've discovered often in the bear market, it's also an opportunity to really look within and identify where you can optimize things, where you can make changes, where you can make improvements, where you can improve, where you can do some investments in even your existing product line or services line to make them better, more efficient to potentially even grasp additional revenue opportunities that weren't looked at because you were so focused on the logos. Would you say that's probably also an opportunity for companies to kind of just hunker down and like, do those things you've been meaning to do for years, but you never got to do and just optimize the business, you know, what are some of the tips and ideas that have worked for you guys? You're head of growth there, so this is, you know top of mind for you. I'm just curious to see Yeah. What you guys have done that's worked well for you guys. I
Braydan Young (10:22):
Mean, when you, if you have the runway, absolutely. Like, like spend time in and, and fixing those components. I think if you go back and, like, if you're building a company, a lot of the pieces that you end up doing is you, is you chase certain features you need to build. So if someone inbounds, for example, and it's a big logo, you're like, oh, I really want to sell this company, but they're like, Hey, I need this feature. Typically you're like, yeah, we'll build it. Or like, yes, it's on the roadmap. And so I think that works really, really well when it's kind of growth at all costs. It's like, hey, like, yeah, we'll build that feature over that feature. Like, like this company, we can sell them if we build this thing. And like, I get that in early days. That's that's what you want to do because you're like, Hey, like we can get this logo and then we'll, we'll grow with them.
Braydan Young (11:01):
But I think it's important to especially have like a, have a pretty strong plan and strategy right now as like, these are the steps we're building because each step we take can bring this amount of customers in. So I don't think it's good to chase the big enterprise logos right now. I think it's better to really kind of stick to the plan of why you started your company, the plan of like what strategy that you've been given from your executive team and stick with that and then see kinda like if that brings in more folks, but it's important to be able to know how to pivot, which is what we got good at as we were building the company, we were like, Hey, we know who our ICP is, which is the number one thing you need to know who you sell to, and that might change right now we're all selling to the C F O, so you have to basically know exactly how to talk to see if I had to prove roi. And if you don't have that story, that's a different conversation. You need to do that. But the, the second piece is like, is just, just know like the, your strategy and the course you're building kind of stick to that rather than jump around, I would say is a, is a good piece of advice.
Tullio Siragusa (11:59):
Okay. So historically, especially if you're a startup, it's kind of the yes, we'll do it
Braydan Young (12:04):
Strategy, ab it's on the roadmap, don't worry about it.
Tullio Siragusa (12:06):
It's on the roadmap. If it's not on a roadmap, it's going to be on the roadmap. The minute you sign the agree, right? It's
Braydan Young (12:10):
Tullio Siragusa (12:11):
It's, it's yes to everything, right? And, and sometimes you find yourself a few years down the line not having good rigor or discipline around any particular area of focus that's repeatable because you've brought, you've, you've spread yourself pretty thin in terms of all these different capabilities, but eventually you figure it out, right? Yeah. A lot of work that you figure out. Absolutely. What I'm, what I'm hearing from you is it's, that's not a good strategy right now. Really hunker down, know what your ICP targets are, repeatability is key. You know, do something that can be repeated over and over without additional investment or additional changes or future Yes. Promises that may or may not, you know, come true. How do you keep that discipline in place in the sales and marketing organization?
Braydan Young (12:58):
Yeah, I think so. You kinda have to look at your days. There's so many hours in the day. So kind of where you spend those times and like, what's most important. And if for me it's, you know, how can I talk to existing customers right now? And it's like, know what they're using, know what we don't have. So like, I'd rather spend my time there right now and maintain them. And then the extra hours, those are when you're selling new deals and new logos. So if you're in sales and marketing, I would say a big piece is are you talking to your existing customer base? What are you talking to 'em about? Like, are you landing, expanding? Are you making sure they're having success? So spend some time there. And then secondarily it's like, all right, the new logos that we're going after, we need to be very targeted as to who these folks are and how if they're perfect fits for us. I would say a lot of the experimental side of like, hey, like let's go after a whole new department, a whole new, like basically class of customers is great, but take time before you get there. Make sure you've, you know, spent time with your customer base first and like people who are your icp like spend, spend more time there.
Tullio Siragusa (14:00):
So what I'm hearing is the customer success team is key right
Braydan Young (14:05):
Now. Yeah, they're very key.
Tullio Siragusa (14:07):
How do you make that shift? A lot of companies who have had predominantly new sales focus marketing to new clients, very little customer success focus or the customer success predominantly on the technical side of it, right? The account management from a delivery or implementation or adoption side. But you're talking about really shifting sales focus to the traditional custom success of someone like a client partner who's able to manage both the relationship and the value chain for the client. How, how do, what do recommendations of making that shift? I mean, do you change the, do you refocus sales people that are normally hunting to be focused on customer success or do you make a more of an investment there? What's worked in terms of making that shift?
Braydan Young (14:54):
Yeah, I, so I, I think it's two different roles
Tullio Siragusa (14:57):
And, and I want to clarify that. I'm sorry. Some have made that shift by force <laugh>.
Braydan Young (15:01):
Tullio Siragusa (15:02):
By budgets. I'm talking about making that shift proactively where you're strategically going through it so you don't put yourself in a place where you have to lay off a bunch of people because you didn't plan, right? Yeah. I'm interested in that part of it.
Braydan Young (15:13):
So I think that typically AEs and CX folks are two different people. I think it's hard to make an AE become a CX person. I I, I think that's a tough like gap to jump. So, but I want the AEs focused on land and expand. So if we've already sold a big enterprise account and they've already, we've already gone through all the riam mor like, like, like, like putting a contract in place, see it's unplugged wife walking by in the bathroom, like unplugged. Oh wow. So, so if, if we've already gone through the steps of putting something in place, so it's there. So I'd rather have that ae focus on like, how can we sell other departments at that company? Cuz we already know they're a fit. So like, how can we get other folks basically? So like, that's wrong with that person focusing for cx.
Braydan Young (15:49):
I want them to have like the exact same kind of like, all right, like we've brought this account on like what metrics matter to that CX person and that matter to your company. So like, just like sales, you have a number over your head. CX needs to have like the exact same like guidelines. And so like what are our success metrics for a CX person? Is it for us internally, it's like send, so we use sends across Syso, so how many sends have they done a week, a day, a month? And like if it's low, how can we get it up there? Are they enabled, are they trained? How many seats are they using? They bought a hundred Cs are using two. Like, like those are things that we need to look at for a CX person and spend a lot of time figuring out like how we can correct it. So I think there's two different sets of metrics, but it's just spending more time internally with that existing customer base rather than doing this with new, new customers every single day. I'm not saying you don't sell, I'm saying it's a very good time to focus on your existing customers.
Tullio Siragusa (16:37):
Yeah. Curious to learn what you guys are doing. Cuz I think one of the great values of focusing on the existing customer base and having the right metrics in terms of the adoption rate, for example you just mentioned sold a hundred seed, only two are being used. What's going on? Why is the adoption rate two rate 2%? How are you tying in that understanding with product, for example, and even a development team Oh yeah. To really get alignment. You know, we're talking a little bit in some cases some companies use design thinking it really, really close to understanding the real problem that matters to the client and then match up everything else around it. The customer success being the front line to that. How are you guys leveraging that information to drive everything else in the
Braydan Young (17:21):
Business? Yeah, so we have an all hands every week at the company and we spend time talking about those metrics with the whole company. So we go, Hey, here's our churn metric and here's our new sales goal and here's, and we call, we have a spend goals, how much is like being spent on the platform? And we talk about what our goals are for the quarter and where we are. Like, we're very transparent with that. And so what our goal is there is we're trying to make those numbers like for the entire company. So if you're an engineer and you're working on a feature of the product, like that's great, but you need to know like what you're working on is going to help churn. And so like, and if it, if it does, so that's the goal there is that we want everyone obsessed with those numbers and focused on them.
Braydan Young (18:01):
So like I I, I think that like, you know, when you do like a okay r exercise, like they're great and they take forever, but at the end of the day, like everyone wants like a north star and like, and like the North Star is like, this is our focus is like we need churn to Bex, we need like retention, we need spend to Bex. And like if we miss that, then like we gotta figure out how we would focused as a company. So that's kind of what we've done to sort of, and like this is new for us. We've only been doing it for like probably like six to six to eight months, like focusing on these numbers because our employees ask like, Hey, we want transparency. We want to know what's going on, like where's our north star? And so this was kind of our answer to it. And so far so good. Like we, you
Tullio Siragusa (18:40):
Said something about OKRs. Have you guys adopted OKRs or something? Oh yeah.
Braydan Young (18:44):
Tullio Siragusa (18:45):
Cause I I was listening to him like, that sounds like an oqr kinda thing.
Braydan Young (18:48):
Tullio Siragusa (18:48):
Yeah. I mean a big, big proponent of OKRs is getting everyone aligned around the same goals, but it sounds as though you've also adopted an agile Yep. Sort of standout methodology within the entire business. Can you go into a little bit more about that? I mean that's something very familiar for a lot of tech developers for example, who come from that environment, but that might be new to some others who, who now suddenly feel like they're being micromanaged, right? How did you balance that feeling of being micromanaged versus, well this is actually acting in an agile environment with transparency. Did you go across any challenges along, along that or any and, and any tips that you could share with everybody else who might be listening?
Braydan Young (19:28):
Yeah, I, I I think a lot of it is having just a transparent conversation with your team around like, the reason you joined a startup is because yes, there's passion around like building companies, like that's awesome. But it was also to build something that's going to have, you know, lasting power. It's maybe it's going to get sold, maybe it's going to go public. And in order to do that, you need to spend time on like the metrics, the goal of the metrics. Everyone knows like, what's your cac, what's your C to L t V? And so like you spend time educating the team on why these metrics are important to investors and when we go out and raise money, this is their first question. What's your churn metric? What's your CAC metric? What's your V metric? And so I think that we spent time educating the, our entire employee base on those, basically like those plans and those actions.
Braydan Young (20:10):
And then we introduce like, hey, the numbers we need to hit, this is how those numbers play into how our board looks at it and how the public markets look at it. And so that was how, that's what we, we've done so far in terms of pushback a little bit. It's a, it's lot. There's probably like a lot of questions as to like, okay, like how can I affect this as like an engineer or how can I affect this as a product person? So it's a lot of going back to the feature they're building and once they built it, we had the salesperson who sold the deal basically bring up like, Hey, I sold this deal because of X feature, or I sold this deal because of, you know, the this, this security measure we put in place was important for this enterprise client. So that's kind of how we've, we've brought it back to like proving that what you're working on is actually, you know, successful in closing the deal.
Tullio Siragusa (20:54):
I love that. In some ways you're forcing everyone to level up in the organization to think as business people, right? Instead of owners focus on your department and your assignment. Think about how that fits into the bigger picture. And in order to do that you have to understand the bigger picture and how it all plays in. Yeah.
Tullio Siragusa (21:15):
So are you guys also implementing any learnings or any training to help people make that shift? Because that's a big shift for some folks who've been very departmentally, you know, focused, they're focused on their, their lane so to speak, right? Yeah. and you know, now you're asking them like think like a co-founder, you know, think about how what you're doing impacts our goal and our metrics. How are you supporting people through that? Yeah,
Braydan Young (21:39):
We haven't, I, I would say we haven't nailed it yet. So, cuz like, like I think if you have an all hands, and that's basically the biggest communication piece that I think most companies have is cuz we're all everywhere right now. So you and I don't think it's changing anytime soon. When you have those and you kind of go through like all these like definitions and all these things that you're looking for, I think some of it sinks in but probably five, five, 10% of it. So you kind of have to repeat it every week. And that's why we still have all hands weekly. I don't think I, I think we might get like half to 80% of the company on there. And so if you miss it, that's okay. We send it out and hopefully you watch the recording. But the goal is we keep bringing it back to it and like the thought is like this re repeatability of talking about it will hopefully refocus everyone and they'll learn like why this matters to us. And then if you're a new person, it's a lot of those conversations around like, hey, like these are the metrics we care about as a company, and then if we can tie that into your reviews, to your promotions, things like that, then I think that'll be huge for us in terms of like, this, these are the things that we care about, but we haven't found that magic enablement pill yet <laugh>. So
Braydan Young (22:46):
Let me know if you come across that.
Tullio Siragusa (22:48):
Well, it sounds like you guys are on your way. So we're, we're coming up on time. We're actually up on time. I just want to quickly recap in case we missed something. I I what I heard today is in, you know, in a bear market or in any really, in any market, if you want to run a smart business, really this is how businesses should be run every day. Get really close to understanding your clients, serving your clients, maximize the services you're providing, the products you're providing them. Make sure you manage to churn. See if there's an opportunity to expand the scope of the opp, the, the client opportunities there. Focus on things that are repeatable, not a bunch of one-offs because that's going to meet, allow you to work faster, move faster, and get alignment in, in the organization that not only happens through, you know, radical transparency is what I like to call it, right? Just be open and train people to think as business people. You know, that's the key thing I've heard and how to support that. Well, you know, that that's a topic al to itself. But there's sounds like there's opportunity still to, to, to, to shift people from thinking about this is my lane to thinking about as business people. What can I do to impact the organization? Did we miss anything? Raymond, that you, that's perfect. You
Braydan Young (24:02):
May made it be sound super smart. Appreciate it, <laugh>.
Tullio Siragusa (24:06):
No, this is a great conversation. I think it's, I think it's important to have these conversations, especially right now. You know, we don't know when we're going to come out of this thing, but doing the smart things and, and, and, you know, can move you from surviving to thriving. So congratulations great job. Stay with me as we go off there in just a second. Thanks for joining us this morning. We have another show coming up this week. We have a show with PJ Malik, who's the CTO O at ver. We're talking about decoding tomorrow's tech insights on strategy and processes in the digital frontier. So we're going to talk about what we can do next in the tech frontier. So come join me on Thursday morning, May 11th at 9:30 AM Pacific as we have another interesting conversation. Thanks for being with us today. And enjoy the rest of your week. Thanks.
Growth & Co-founder
Braydan Young is the co-founder of Sendoso, a leading engagement and gifting platform. With a passion for innovation, Braydan has shaped Sendoso into an industry leader, revolutionizing how businesses connect with customers and employees. His strategic insights and data-driven strategies have positioned Sendoso as a go-to solution for personalized experiences at scale. Braydan's commitment to entrepreneurship and community engagement has made him a respected figure in the business world. His unwavering dedication to transforming the way organizations engage and build relationships has driven Sendoso's success.