Etienne Garbugli: My guest today is Patrick Campbell. Patrick is the founder of ProfitWell. ProfitWell is a business intelligence platform helping more than 8,000 subscription companies reduce churn, optimize their pricing and grow their subscription business end to end.
Patrick is an economist by training. Before starting his company in 2012 he worked in data and strategy at Google and Gemvara in Boston.
Patrick, welcome to the podcast.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. Awesome to be here. Talk about research, all kinds of fun stuff today. Excited.
Etienne Garbugli: So, ProfitWell has a really interesting story. It started out bootstraped providing services, helping businesses with their pricing strategies, but the vision was always to be a product company from what I understood. How were you going about figuring out what the product should be initially?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So this is one of the biggest misconceptions about our company, and it’s kind of our fault if it’s a misconception, right?
So we, we actually ended up, starting off as a pure product company. Um, so we had this piece of software that we started off with that it did, essentially pricing research. So you build these surveys and you send it out. Um, and then what we discovered is, basically people, they liked the data. And they liked the output. They didn’t want to do the work to get the output, and they didn’t want to,, how do I put it? They didn’t want to make decisions without talking to a human. So they wanted like, services and things like that on top of it. And we were like, Oh, that’s dumb. We don’t want to do that. And then it was like, well, no, we’ll pay you money. And we’re like, Oh, okay. So it was one of those things that kind of worked out in a good way.
And then, you know, when we were doing our research, we wanted a better way to get data than just surveys. And so we, we started building other products and things like that. And that’s what came about with ProfitWell Metrics. And now we have a whole suite of products out there.
Etienne Garbugli: So, at what point did you guys start thinking about adding multiple products? Like was it the, what made you think that this was the right strategy?
Patrick Campbell: So, um, yeah, that’s a good question. I think it really just came down to the math and, and just the velocity. So what I mean by that is, we realized very quickly that our TAM, our total addressable market from a logo perspective was actually quite small. There’s only, you know, depending on how you measure it, about 150,000, maybe only a hundred thousand subscription companies.
And when you cut that by SaaS, you know, mainly the B2B SaaS market, then all of a sudden you’re talking about 20 to 30,000 companies, which is not a lot from a market perspective. And so. You know, the advantage of that market is the, the revenue on all of these businesses is growing exponentially, right? It’s compounding as the world of subscriptions and recurrent revenue does, which is our market. And so we looked at it and we said, okay, well, to be a hundred million dollar company, a billion dollar company, we can’t sell $50 a month products to a lot of people, right? We have to sell like higher priced.
We needed high LTV, and the best way to get a high LTV is through good pricing and good monetization as well as, good retention, obviously. But then, you know, the way that you increase that ARPU [ Average Revenue per User ] or that ACV [ Average Contract Value ] further, the average revenue per user, or the average contract value is basically by adding more products, right?
And so it kind of created this thesis of being multi-product. And we’ve taken this on really early in our life cycle. Most companies don’t take this on until they’re $100 million company and we’re, we’re a $10 million company. So, it’s kind of fascinating.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So, the metrics product actually. So, like I kinda said before, we were looking for a product that we could, so survey data is amazing. A lot of people misunderstand survey data. They don’t know how to clean data properly and, we’re terrible as human beings or as operators at sending surveys, but the people who are really good at it and they realize how much power is there. The issue that we were having is it’s a higher cost way to get data.
And so we were thinking, well, there were two things, like one, we were thinking, well, how do we get the data we need at a lower cost? And what that became was, well, what if we had access to their financial data? Or what if we created personas? And it was like, well, then we would need financial data probably top of the funnel data, engagement data. Ooh, all of a sudden it started to become, you know, really, really, really complicated, right? And then it’s like, um, okay, well, uh, how do we get that data in a better way? Well, we’re always going to have to start with financial metrics, right? So that was kind of a little bit of a thesis that we’re having. And then all of a sudden, we were helping a company that was about to IPO with their pricing, and we discovered that they were basically calculating MRR churn completely incorrectly. It was a public company that was about to be public. And so, we kind of started of putting the two together.
And we just were like, oh, well we have multiple things that are showing us like that this is something that we should go into. And that’s when we jumped into ProfitWell Metrics. And then everything else was like, very much like the flow of information and the flow of resistance, right? Which was like, oh, like, this is not good, let’s solve it. Or, hey, we’re right next to being able to solve this. Let’s do that. Or this is what our customers are screaming, you know, all types of things.
Etienne Garbugli: So, one opportunity came out of the previous and the previous, and then the previous, and then… It was a sequence of different opportunities that came out from the previous.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, exactly.
Etienne Garbugli: Okay. And how much effort did you guys put into finding what the next opportunity or the next product opportunity should be?
Patrick Campbell: Um, so yeah, that’s a really great question. It’s really hard to quantify effort, right? If it was physics, it’d be a lot easier, right? It’s hard. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to quantify just because you’re always like rationalizing why you’re doing things right, and so you’re like, well, of course. Of course, we put a lot effort into it because we just rationalize why we’re doing it, and it’s like, well, hold on a second. No, maybe we didn’t put that much work into it.
So I think for us it’s like. The effort, the flow starts with a thesis, right? And it’s like, Hey, I have this thesis. And that thesis is probably based on something that someone said or like some feedback that we got or someone we really trust, like being like, Oh, you guys should totally do this, or something like that.
And then what ends up happening is, is our CPO, our head of product and I, we then just start debating. Oh, we should do this, or we shouldn’t do this, or we shouldn’t do that. Right? And so there’s a lot of effort that actually goes there and it’s very much a qualitative, and yes, there’s some quantitative aspects that, you know, we go through, like with this of, Hey, well why would we go into that space? Well, let’s look at the size of the space. Well, this, these three articles, say the size of this space is this. Like, that makes sense. Or that handles that objection. So, there’s a lot of debate that goes on. And I think that a lot of companies, this is where they should start, but they don’t because it’s uncomfortable to debate. And we’ve created a pretty big, you know. A culture of debate and feedback.
Then what we ended up doing is let’s say we’re like, cool, we’re going to go after it. Then we write a narrative, which is basically like a memo of sorts, or we just go through like X, Y, and Z of this is the logic behind it.
And then what we end up doing is if the logic makes sense and we send it to like another group of people internally. We then go and, we then start doing market research. Now, this market research, will probably start with just qualitative interviews. Hey, how are you doing this right now? What does this look like?
Kind of like being a prosecuting attorney. Like you’re not asking them directly, do you want this, right? And I think that’s another problem is people don’t do the narrative, they don’t do the debating. And then they just go out and be like, Hey, do you want this? And then what you’re doing is you’re just, you’re just doing the path of least resistance, which is, I’m just going to build the thing that someone says.
And it’s like, yeah, but there might be one person, they might not be articulating things properly. Like you have to be that researcher to basically dig into it. And then after those conversations we’ll start to have a clear thesis on some of the details of what we’re doing. And then we’ll do some quantitative research.
Sending out some surveys to our customer base and then like, disregarding certain people’s answers if they’re, you know, Hey, we know this isn’t going to be a startup product. This is for big dogs. So, we have to like, get big dog data and things like that. And then, you know, what ends up happening is, and then there’s this iteration cycle, right?
So, we’ve decided on this big thing that we’re going to go after, and now there’s just constant iterations. And those iterations have their own research cycles. And their own debates and things like that. So like right now for our Retain product, which is a churn reduction product, we did those big debates and the big narrative like years ago at this point.
Now it’s like, hey, should we go into this part of the market or should we add this feature? And so those cycles are shorter because the overarching thesis has been thought through and now it’s just more detailed work. Even if it’s a big feature or something like that. So hopefully that’s helpful.
I mean, that’s kind of the process that we follow and it probably isn’t as linear as I’m saying. It’s probably all over the place and in some cases as is the case when you’re building something.
Etienne Garbugli: No, no. It’s great. So, is there an overarching persona or like a profile that you’re specifically targeting across these opportunities?
I there like a unifying tread behind these opportunities in terms of the targeting or the market that you guys are going after? Like you mentioned SaaS, but within SaaS?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, so we’re subscriptions targeting. So that’s not just SaaS. So, it’s DTC or direct to consumer, which includes subscription e-commerce, subscription media, subscription nonprofits, all kinds of stuff.
And so I think that the big thing to kind of think through for us has been. Multiple products means you typically will have multiple personas, but maybe the same company you’re targeting. So, this has made it a complicated, and we admittedly have not figured out all of this from a go to market perspective or even a product perspective because you can’t just spin up four teams for four products, right?
Like, this is just not how it should work, especially when you’re, we’re a bootstrapped or a customer-funded company of about 80 folks. And we have four different products, right? So like, that’s a lot to like. Yeah, a lot of surface area. And so, you have to, you’re probably going deprioritize a product on some level and then you have to come up with some framework of targeting.
Now, from a go to market perspective, they’re all subscription companies and we tend to target companies that are doing tens of millions, if not more of revenue. But we get a lot because we have a free product, we get a ton of startups and we love them and we like them. They like us, they’re getting a ton of value.
But because of that LTV problem that I was describing, we need to go after like more upmarket companies, and then each product has different personas. So, on the Price Intelligently product that typically is targeting marketing and product folks, and normally the head of product or the head of marketing unless it’s like $100 million plus company then it might be a director of some sort.
Retain product is customer success or product. And then our Recognized product is very, very much, the CFO or the. There’s not really Chief Accounting Officers, but the lead accountant at a company. And so, it’s kind of interesting too, because we use the free product as basically a signal.
So, depending on who comes in, you know, cause it might be the founder, well, if it’s a founder at a smaller company, we’ll go at them with a certain product, right? Probably Retain, if it’s a founder at a larger company, we’ll probably be do an enterprise type deal where we try to sell them the suite.
But if it’s customer success or CFO or something like that, we’ll lead with like those different products mainly because those are the ones that they’re, they’re most interested in.
Etienne Garbugli: So, in a way, the free product helps qualify a certain set of prospects and then the behavior within the free product or the people that sign up will help you qualify what the next step should be.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, 100%. So, basically the idea and that sounds really elegant and smooth. It’s not that elegant and smooth. So, it’s just one of those things that there needs to be a lot of, a lot of adjustments depending on how things, how things go forward. But it’s one of those things where, you know, it’s, it’s at least like, that’s, those are the, not only the constraints, but those are the, the playing field or the framework that we’re working with, which allows our team to kind of work within it.
Etienne Garbugli: So, you mentioned before, like that a lot of times businesses will start thinking about a multi-product strategy later on. You guys did it a bit earlier, so when you think is the right time to start thinking about that specifically? You guys did it earlier. There’s a specific reason for that. But when do you think for other businesses, when should they start thinking about expanding their product line?
Patrick Campbell: As late as humanly possible? No. Just because of our pain. No. I think that our, yeah, it’s a good question.
I think the model there is more around, like if you were seeing. If you were seeing like crazy traction on one product, like I think you need predictable growth for one product before you move on to the next product. And that’s the thing where you have infinite optionality. And so, what’s really, and this is the classic product advice is.
Hey, you need to say no more often than you say yes, right? And so much more like 99 “Nos” to one “Yes”, right? And I think what ends up happening is, we, we can even get a little bit too like, oh yeah, we could build that, we could build that because we have 20% of the entire subscription market using ProfitWell.
And so it’s one of those things where it’s like, well, you have 20% of any market. There’s just infinite possibilities of what you could build to monetize that market, right? And so I think for most folks, you gotta have predictable growth in one area. And then the market’s going to pull you. And I know that feels like fluffy, but the market’s going to pull you into a direction of like, hey, this is what makes sense, or this is not what makes sense.
And I think that that’s kind of the structure of how to think through things. And your measurement of the market pulling you is going to be, it’s going to be different depending on the vertical and the company.
Etienne Garbugli: So, so when you guys start looking into a new opportunity, how do you start thinking about pricing when it comes to the new products? From what I understood, the different products you have, have different value metrics and different, not business models, but different ways of charging specifically. Like how do you guys start thinking about it? How do you guys start thinking about the pricing?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So, our directive is, so we basically have this spectrum and this spectrum came about in just thinking through like the analytics space.
So, there’s a spectrum of data, analytics, insights, outcomes, right? So, the only reason you want data is to solve an outcome. The only reason you want analytics is to help you solve an outcome. The only reason you want insights is to help solve an outcome, right? So, everything leads to this outcome. And it could be reducing churn, improving ARPU, it could be a whole host of things, right?
And so, our thesis was, okay, anything that’s just data or analytics, we’re probably going to not charge for, right? Like that’s where we’re going to have freemium. Anything that’s insights or outcomes, we’re going to be driving towards an outcome. The only reason we have those insights is to get towards the outcome, but we’re going to try to charge based on the outcome as close as humanly possible.
And so, what’s kind of held us back from building certain products has been. Oh, there’s no effective way to charge based on an outcome. So, for example, like, we want to come up with this, there are certain retention aspects for retention products that we wanted to build and we’re probably going to build them, but we’re going to include them basically in the Retain products rather than spinning them into something else because it’s like, hey, we can’t charge in a clean way that isn’t tied towards that outcome. But if we put it into Retain, we can still charge based on that outcome. And yeah, maybe we’re not monetizing that feature as effectively as we could, but we’re monetizing the entire product.
And so, our Price Intelligently product, that’s morphing into a pure software product, or a lighter service product, you know, at some point in the next couple of years, because we now have a clean thesis on hey, this is how we could charge based on an outcome, you know, for a pricing product, right? And so that’s what really drives us. And I think that when you have some initial traction and you’re moving, this is how you should think about your pricing, or your products like, Hey, is there a way that I can charge effectively to increase my overall ACV or ARPU.
I think this is the reason why we gave away ProfitWell for free. The metrics product was one, because, metrics products are terribly difficult to monetize. They all go up market. They all start out saying, hey, we’re going to be like the democratization of this type of metric. And then it’s like, nope, we’re going to Fortune 500 because people just don’t appreciate metrics and analytics products as much as they should. And you know, we’ve tried to change that, but it just doesn’t, it doesn’t work. That’s just how people are hard-coded. And so it’s a gateway for us. And the only reason it’s a gateway is because from a unit economic perspective, as well as from a network effect perspective, not only for a network effect of the data feeding our algorithms, but also the network effect of people like referring other people to use the product. That just kind of worked out, right? And so, I think that that’s, that’s been the big thing that we’ve kind of focused on is how do we charge for products that, basically make people more money. And that’s like the central thesis.
Etienne Garbugli: So, each of your products, the products that you’re charging for have a specific outcome that, that people are buying it for.
So, like Retain for example, is churn reduction. And all of the other products. So, the way you kind of segment these products as well, is based on the actual outcomes that’s coming out of the products.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, that’s the goal. Now, we are not in a perfect place because we have some, some pricing debt, we’ll call it.
So, ironically, our Price Intelligently product, the way that it’s set up. We don’t, we can’t charge purely based on outcome. Now we have a plan, like we have this ROI plan that people can pay for, but what ends up happening is, it gets really complicated when you’re selling to an enterprise company, right?
We’re selling to like giant, Autodesk or something like that. They need a little bit more predictability and they can’t handle the ambiguity of, the type of pricing that we would come up with. Now we’re working on basically. A new product coming down the pipe where we would be able to do that.
Now, that’s going to be some time though. So, but we have this deck where it’s like not a perfect thesis yet, but it’s something that we are, we are basically guiding ourselves towards.
Etienne Garbugli: Okay. Okay. So, once you have these products, how do you figure out what the value metric should be for these? It’s tied to the outcome I assume?
Patrick Campbell: For the new products?
Etienne Garbugli: Yeah. Well for the new products or the products that you add or you created in the past?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So that, that, that’s what we’re trying to do. So, all new products, we’re trying to get as close to outcome as possible. Now, some of them might still be in the insights like world, which isn’t necessarily, so that’s where Price Intelligently is, Hey, we’ve done this research. We have these insights, we have this data or these insights that tell you that you should do X, and that’s what’s going to help you improve that, that ARPU or that ACV, right? So, it’s basically like one degree away from that outcome or two I guess one degree to do your, I don’t know how the degree, but it’s like basically right next to that outcome.
So, we’re okay with that for now. But basically, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to get all of our products into a world of outcomes, which, you know. Might not be possible right now, but it will be possible as we kind of advance in the future.
Etienne Garbugli: Okay. Okay. So, when you’re working on say the pricing model for Retain or another product, how do you go about creating the segmentation for your pricing strategy?
Patrick Campbell: Uh, so for us, like which axis of segmentation are you referring to? I just want to make sure I understand.
Etienne Garbugli: I think that’s part of the question. So, how do you figure out which axes of segmentation are important for a specific product versus another one?
Patrick Campbell: Got it. So, when you’re referring to segmentation, are you referring to like verticals, these types of things or like types of personas?
I just want to make sure I understand cause there’s segmentation. I can take that way. Or packaging.
Etienne Garbugli: That’s also the question. Which dimensions are you’re looking at specifically, and like, how do you. How do you figure out which dimensions matter for that specific product?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So, okay, I’m going to answer based on my interpretation of segmentation.
Yeah. Cause segmentation gets tough because most people what they refer to is, which aspect of the customer or the segment of the base that you have. So, for us it’s. When we’re doing research, and we’re putting together our pricing specifically for some, most of our products.
We just go back to those, those ideal customer profiles that we’ve set out and we really focus on the data and the information that’s coming from those target folks. So, for example, on the pricing side, we will weight data or we will wait information for customers that come from those companies that are doing $75 million or more in revenue per year versus those who are doing less than that, right?
Because we’re pushing ourselves to continue to go up market. Now in terms of like, the segmentation of when a deal comes in. We typically price, also along that axis on some level. So, we have a couple of different levers within our Price Intelligently pricing. One is like the size of the company, and that’s very much like pure segmentation-based where it’s like, Hey, if they’re above this threshold, the price is different than if it’s below this threshold.
And that’s basically just because the value that they’re getting, even if it’s the same level of work is very different, right? If I improve ARPU for $100 million company by 30%, and I improve a startup by 30%, that $100 million company is going to see those gains in a much, much quicker way, but also a much more dramatic way. So, that’s kinda how we weigh things there.
What’s kind of beautiful with the Retain product is the segmentation is just built into the value metric. We charge based on recovered revenue. So, you know, if you’re a large company, you have a lot of failed payments and the price is then going to be higher because it’s recovered revenue versus a smaller company where you might have a lot of failed payments, and so the effective percentage we take based on revenue, we don’t charge based on percentage. We charge based on, we have some tiers that basically backs in you based on how much we recover. But either way, like that allows us to, basically get as close to pure value as humanly possible. And yeah, we’re pretty proud of the elegance of that pricing model because it’s, it’s pure ROI.
If they don’t make any money, it’s $0. It doesn’t cost you anything. And if we make you a ton of money, we take, a good amount of money, but it’s nowhere near the amount of money we made you.
Etienne Garbugli: Hmm. So, in that sense, the segmentation that you guys have is based on… So, you have an overarching hierarchy of the market that you guys are looking at and the products, matter to different types of audiences and different types of segments that you guys have or different ideal customer profiles within, in relation to that specifically.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So, from that perspective, yeah, exactly. So, we have, depending on the product, we have different segments that we target, and then our pricing model shifts depending on who actually comes in, right?
So, on our inbound side, on, on the lead to demo, to our ops team, you know, they’re not BDRs [ Business Development Representatives ], we don’t have BDRs, but they’re like BDR equivalent. They are only taking certain, or they’re only going after folks outbound who are of a certain size or of a certain caliber, but they’ll take inbound from different types of groups as well.
So, it’s structured based on those segments coming in, but that’s, that’s the nature of a value metric is that it can kind of save you a little bit from having to overthink segmentation.
Etienne Garbugli: Okay. Okay. So, in that sense, that also helps you guys minimize a little bit the diffuseness of having a multi-product strategy where you guys are targeting the same profiles, but approaching them with a set of products that cater to their realities?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, it gets tough. It just gets tough because like again, there’s a lot of surface area, but yeah, the long and short of it is we are, we are trying to make somewhat of a path of least resistance for folks coming in. And we don’t want to, obviously get it wrong when they come in just because they might not. They may not, you know, we don’t want to confuse the sales process, if that makes sense.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah.
Etienne Garbugli: Yeah. So, he talks about how the multi-product strategy that they add actually confused there because they had different personas, different targets, and the products didn’t overlap that much.
I think you guys have a structure that kind of makes it. More consistent, which is really interesting.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. Yeah. Which works out well. Yeah. It’s interesting. I think it’s super hard, with whenever you add multiple, multiple pieces to a situation, and that’s kind of what we’ve done.
Etienne Garbugli: Well, what do you feel are the, the pros and the cons of having a multi-product strategy?
Patrick Campbell: Cons we’ve talked a lot about, so I’ll summarize them. I mean, it’s, you have a lot more surface area for limited resources, right? And there’s, there’s definitely an argument not to do it because you have, again, if you were targeting, if we were targeting different types of companies AND different types of buyers, I think it would be a very dumb decision and we’ve, maybe it’s still a dumb decision, but we’ve tried to convince ourselves it’s a smart decision because we’re going after the same companies and we have this hub and spoke model where they can come in through the hub, which is ProfitWell Metrics, or they can come in from one of the spokes, which is our different paid products.
Now, what’s super interesting is on the pro side. We get multiple bites at the apple, as they say, or maybe I’m using the metaphor incorrectly where let’s say someone, someone stalls on the Retain side of the house, right? You know, the customer success person, they’re really busy or he or she just isn’t interested for some reason.
We can go at them for the Price Intelligently product, right? And that customer success person may or may not even be involved in that process, right? And so, there’s a little bit of a swarming aspect where when one path fails, another path can be successful over time. I think that the other, the other pro is, is that.
We, and this might be just rationalization of a bad idea, but we don’t have to necessarily be as targeted with some of our marketing strategies because there’s a little bit of a pick your own adventure because people can kind of come in and see what’s going on. But the con there is that our homepage is a little generic, right?
It’s a little bit hard to understand exactly what we do from the hero, right? It’s not just like. We do this, we help with this, right? It’s like we have a suite of products that help with this nebulous thing, right? This outcome-centered products, right? And it’s like, what does that mean? Well, you have to read a little bit more to understand, right?
And so, the goal is we have to be so good at our marketing, so good at our content that people are willing to read that whole page, right? If they can read the whole page, we can get them. If they don’t read the whole page, then it’s really complicated, right? So, I think that there’s, those are some of the pros, some of the cons.
I think it’s, it’s something that we’re constantly, literally every quarter we’re like on some level debating, should we focus all on this thing right now? Should we, should we do this? And we always kind of talk our way out of it. But yeah, it’s something that’s, you know, something that’s super interesting.
Etienne Garbugli: So, how would you assess a product that would be too far off the platform that you guys have created? Like would you say, for example, a product that is for acquisition or something else like that? Is there like something that would tell you that this is, this is too far off, what we currently have.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. I think that it really comes down to, so it’s, it’s less about the space. So, we believe that we will, we’ll have an acquisition product at some point. And it’s more about. What is it that we can do that no one else can do better, right? Or what makes us unique in doing it? So, one thing that we thought about is like, Oh, let’s build an NPS [ Net Promoter Score ] product.
Cause it’d be really useful to have NPS inside ProfitWell, so you can segment your data by NPS, but then we’re like, eh, like what are we going to do that’s anything different than every other NPS product that’s out there. And we have some ideas of how we could do this in a unique way, because you know, the Price Intelligently software is survey-based. And so there’s some things we’ve learned there, but we’re probably not going to make like a four to five X, let alone a 10 X product in that space, right? So, it’s like, eh, let’s just integrate with people and people can use whatever they’re using right now. And then, yeah, maybe we offer up a version of it because our really basic product there, but yeah, it doesn’t.
It probably doesn’t make sense for us to build that, right? So, it really kinda comes down to that uniqueness factor. Like, what can we do that someone else can’t? Well, right now with Retain, our data set allows us to basically be the best in the world at recovering failed payments because we’re sitting on more failed payment data than anyone else, right?
And data as you know, is the fuel for those algorithms. Now, that is kind of expanding now into active churn as well. We’re not going to be a Gainsight, we’re not gonna be anything like that, but we might be a product compliment to the Gainsights of the world and those types of things.
So, yeah, I think long story short, it really comes down to that thesis of how are we better than, how would we, how can we be better than anyone else who would be building this? And that’s, it’s not always obvious. And so, there’s, there’s definitely a debate that goes into that.
Etienne Garbugli: So, in a way, it’s kind of looking at what your current platform enables. Find a way where you could expand in the most, strategically sound way to be able to address, in a unique way, other outcomes?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, 100%. I mean, we’re going, so for give you an example. So, we’re going deeper and deeper into revenue operations, which is this new newfangled term, which is basically the combination of sales, marketing, and customer success operations under one roof.
And. What we’re finding is that, you know, we’re, we thought the cleaning of data and getting accurate financial data was going to be, something that, yeah, it’s hard, but everyone was going to be able to do. Well, it turns out, we’ve been in this game now for like six years and we’re still miles ahead of our competition and other people in terms of accuracy.
And so, it’s like, okay, well if that’s the case, maybe this is a lot harder than we thought. And so, as we go deeper into revenue operations, okay, well we can create products that help with revenue operations that are, we’re uniquely qualified to solve, around accurate data and things like that.
And so, that’s kind of how we think about it. I think that there’s a world where you still have to say no to some of those ideas, but right now that’s the guiding light for a lot of the ideas that we have, because a lot of the ideas we have, it’s all of a sudden, we ask that question and then poof, that idea goes away because we’re, eh, there’s nothing that we can do that’s going to solve for this.
Etienne Garbugli: No, it’s definitely a super interesting approach. I like in a way how contrarian it is to a lot of the thinking in startups right now. How would you… Maybe last question, how would you, if you were starting over today, how would you approach figuring out what your opportunity should be?
Patrick Campbell: Say that one more time.
Etienne Garbugli: Like if you were starting all over today. You were able to start anything, any kind of business in the current, in the current space. How would you go about figuring out what your opportunity is?
Patrick Campbell: Yeah. So, from scratch.
No, it’s hard. You asked really good questions cause they’re not obvious answers. I think that. Here. Here’s what I think on approach. I feel as if most companies, they do this a little bit backwards. You know, product-market fit was a really good concept when product was really difficult to build.
Now, creating a great product is still and always will be really difficult because it’s like creating a great piece of art or a great, math theorem or like a great chemistry innovation or something like that. It’s always going to be hard to do great. But I think the barrier to entry is so low right now where all of us can just basically build a product, very quickly, right?
We can spin up a server and all those things that we take for granted of. Being able to just grab a website off of Squarespace or doing X, Y, Z. Like those things were so hard 20 years ago. It took so much effort and so much money to do those things. And I think so now product-market fit made sense because Hey, if you could build this innovation, there weren’t a lot of features and functionality out there, so you could just go find this market, right?
You have a product now I’ve got to go find the market. And I think that really, we’re in a world of market, right? And so like, Balfour, Brian Balfour, good friend of mine who’s, runs Reforge right now, and used to be former growth or leader of growth over at HubSpot. He basically started talking about like, it’s really market-product fit.
What is the market you’re going to go into. And then, gleaning from that market, what makes the most sense to build for that market, right? And I think that what you need to do in terms of approach, if we were starting over, I would, I would think about the market and then there’s a bunch of questions, right?
Well, if the market’s so astronomically big, there’s probably people in it already. So, what makes you different? If the market’s small, but growing, what’s the thing that can make you unique now, but also helps you ride the wave of the market? And just really going deep on what that market is and then kind of thinking through like what you build.
And so. I really like what DC, David Cancel did at Drift where you know, the first year and a half, two years, they built like four or five different products, to chase different markets and it was all in the name of research and then they said, Oh, this is the space we’re in. We’re going into this space. And then they went all in, right?
And so it’s less of, I think right now, I guess to put it in more practical terms, there’s too many people going, Oh cool, I can create this cool thing. And then they go all in on this cool thing they just created. Not enough people who are like, Hey, let me research this cool market, and then based on that, I’m going to go all in on it.
And it’s just because research isn’t as sexy as pushing code. The problem is, is that research helps you understand what code you should push, and enough, not enough people realize that.
Etienne Garbugli: But in that case key, would you define that market?
Patrick Campbell: Which one?
Etienne Garbugli: Well, yeah, maybe Drift is an example. Cause a market could be like, for example, pharmaceuticals or it could be a segment within, within that market. Like how, would you, would you start with a market…
Patrick Campbell: That’s a whole podcast, right? So, I think that. Now, how do you define that market?
I mean, that’s, that’s where you have to go into research mode, right? And again, it’s going to start with an inkling of an idea, right? Or it might start with like, I mean, I know some people who build their companies based on, you know, what are the top 10 largest markets? Or what are the top 10 growing markets, right?
You know, so the, the classic Amazon. Hey, like retail’s interesting, but this internet thing, like it wasn’t an eCommerce play, it was an internet play. He’s like, Oh, the internet is going nuts, there’s going to be a, an eCommerce person or a commerce retail person who wins in that market, right? So, you’re looking at trends, but you’re also looking at, those inklings that you might have and then kind of like sanding down.
And then it comes down to a combination of, all kinds of stuff, right? Like, you. You know, there’s some folks, and I think I’m one of them. I don’t, I can fall in love with any market, right? I can fall in love with every single market that’s out there. I could be making… shower curtains, right? Know all, everything about shower curtains. I could tell you everything and everything about it.
But then I think that there’s, there’s a ton of people who are more, they’re more, I need to love it. I need to like it, right? And that’s a constraint. And that doesn’t mean you can’t find a big market, you just might have to find a, find a little bit of a more unique play on it, if that makes sense.
Etienne Garbugli: That’s really interesting. Thanks for taking the time, Patrick. Where can people go to learn more about your work and your company?
Patrick Campbell: Uh, yeah. So, I’m just profitwell.com is, you know, we write a ton of content and do a bunch of other fun stuff.
And then, I’m just Patrick Campbell on LinkedIn, so find me there. That’s where I publish a lot of fun stuff. But if you ever have any other questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes it takes a little bit for me to get back to you, but I always will get back to you.
Etienne Garbugli: Amazing. Thank you very much.
Patrick Campbell: Yeah, absolutely, man.
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