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Why do 40+ B2B SaaS Customers pay us $100K+ to fix their Usage-Based Pricing
Episode 591st April 2024 • B2B SaaS Podcast • Upendra Varma
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Griffin Parry, founder and CEO of Meter talks about how their usage-based pricing SaaS has acquired over 30-40 customers with ACV’s in the range of $100K.

Here are the talking points,

Meter's Mission:

  • Meter aids B2B software companies in deploying effective pricing strategies for growth.
  • Offers a pricing operations platform for companies utilizing usage-based pricing models.
  • Helps in distributing customer spend and usage data seamlessly across the organization.

Differentiation:

  • Complementary to subscription management platforms like Chargebee.
  • Provides necessary data integration and processing before billing systems.

Product Overview:

  • Offers a primary usage data tracking mechanism via API.
  • Assists scale-up companies in coping with increased complexity by ingesting data from existing sources.

Customer Base:

  • Focuses on scale-up companies facing growth challenges due to organizational pain points.
  • Targets finance personnel handling billing complexities in expanding businesses.

Metrics and Customer Profile:

  • Approximately 30-40 paying customers, with ARR ranging from $50 million to $200 million.
  • ARR exceeding $100K per customer, indicating critical business value.
  • Targets companies at Series B funding stage or beyond.

Pricing Model:

  • Utilizes usage-based pricing, charging based on data delivery and bill calculations.
  • Offers predictability with significant minimums and overage charges for exceeding allowances.

Growth and Sales Strategy:

  • Utilizes inbound, outbound, and partner channels for lead generation.
  • Engages in high-contact, value-added conversations to address customer skepticism.
  • Sales cycle typically spans six months, involving reassurance and guidance through complex transformations.

Zero to One Journey:

  • Founded by repeat founders with prior experience in cloud infrastructure and usage-based pricing.
  • Conducted extensive discovery conversations with potential customers before product development.
  • Collaborated with design partners to co-create the platform and validate its effectiveness.

Funding and Team Size:

  • Raised $31.5 million in external funding, leveraging favorable market conditions.
  • Currently employs a team of approximately 60 members.

Next Milestone:

  • Focuses on efficient and profitable growth, with a potential Series B funding round on the horizon.
  • Aims to achieve $100 million in ARR, fulfilling the vision of building a successful B2B software company.

Transcripts

Upendra Varma:

Hello, everyone.

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Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast.

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I'm your host Upendra Varma.

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Today we have Griffin Parry with us.

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Griffin here is the founder and

CEO of a company called Meter.

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Hey Griffin, welcome to the show.

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Griffin Parry: Hey, very nice to be here.

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Upendra Varma: All right, Griffin,

so let's try to sort of get a sense

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of what your company does, right?

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And what your product does and why

customers are willing to pay you money.

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Griffin Parry: So meter exists

to help B2B software companies.

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So there'll be many

listen to this podcast.

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Um, deploy pricing is a growth leader

because it's highly effective, helps

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you grow faster and more profitability,

profitable, profitably, um, in terms of.

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How we do that, we provide the

operational capability they're missing.

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So, um, our products, we call a pricing

operations platform and it helps B2B

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software companies who are using usage

based pricing strategies, which is most

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of them, they'll painlessly distribute.

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about customer spend and usage wherever

it's needed throughout the business and

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to make pricing changes, um, easily.

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Upendra Varma: Yeah, that

makes a lot of sense, right?

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So, and I just want to get a

sense of how you are different.

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So most of these B2B

SaaS companies, right?

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So they use one of these subscription

management sort of platforms, right?

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You heard about Chargebee or

all of these platforms, right?

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Where you can sort of do all

of this, where you can bring

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in all of your customer data

and sort of have this, right?

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So where exactly do you

sit in this space, right?

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So how exactly are you different or like,

what exactly are you sort of doing here?

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Griffin Parry: We're complimentary,

um, to those type of players.

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Uh, so charge me, you mentioned

they're, they're a good partner of ours.

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Um, essentially we help them work in

a scenario where the customer is, um,

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using usage based pricing strategies.

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And I'll tell you why.

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Um, you need to feed those systems with

the amounts that need to go on the bill.

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And if you're doing usage based pricing,

um, you need to bring usage data together,

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usage data together with pricing data

and combine them to work out what the

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amount should be for each customer.

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Um, so that needs to happen

before you get to charge me.

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So that's, that's what we do.

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Upendra Varma: And let's talk

a bit about the product here.

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And so how exactly are you doing this?

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I could imagine, I mean, if

I'm a software company, right?

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So my data could be sitting

at any layer, right?

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It could be at the database level, or

it could be, it could just be sitting

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in some other external platform, right?

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I could just store that data anywhere.

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So how exactly are you solving

this from a product perspective?

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Griffin Parry: So our customers

broadly fall into two camps.

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So, um, some of them are looking for a

primary usage data tracking mechanism.

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And so they'll deliver

us usage data by our API.

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And we do all the process of ingesting

it and transforming it and cleaning it.

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Um, Other companies and remembering

that most of our customers are scale

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ups who already been successful.

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So we're helping them sort of cope with

increasing complexity in their business.

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They already collect this issues data.

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Um, and so we can just take

it from wherever it exists.

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The last thing we want to do is ask

people to rip and replace something.

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So if it's sitting, for example,

in an analytics database, we

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can ingest from there as well.

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Upendra Varma: Makes sense.

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So just talk about these customers

that you've been mentioning, right?

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So, so who are these customers, right?

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Who are you primarily

trying to serve, right?

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So just talk a bit about, you know,

your existing customer base today.

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Griffin Parry: I'll tell you, I'll

tell a story about the individual

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because that'll bring it to life.

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So the broad comment is that, um, we, uh,

our particular area of focus is scale ups.

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So it's companies who are being

successful, but their, their

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success is creating pain in their

organization, which is an obstacle to

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further growth and further success.

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But I'll, but I'll make it

specific to an individual.

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So imagine you are a finance person in a

company like this, and you've got to do

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billing, and Every month, and your your

business is getting more complicated.

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Like, you know, a couple of years ago, you

know, you had only had a few customers.

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You only had one product.

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You're only in one year.

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Um, you didn't do much private pricing.

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You didn't really have a sales team.

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Now your world is much more complicated.

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You've got, you know, Hundreds

or thousands of customers, um,

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multiple products, multiple geos.

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You've got creative sales teams doing

all this private pricing, and every

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month you've got this offer process

where you've got to go and get usage

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data and ask an engineer or a product

person to send you the right usage data.

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And then you've gotta get the pricing

data from wherever it is and make sure

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that it's all up to date, depending

on any renewals or, um, new deals.

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And then you've got this.

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Painful spreadsheet that you've got to,

um, set up all this complex logic in and

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you process it and then you work out how

much you need to charge each customer and

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then you've got to feed that information

into your revenue stack wherever they sit.

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It's a nightmare.

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So it's incredibly painful,

but more importantly, it's,

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um, It's very error prone.

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And so, you know, you're making errors

on bills that undermine customer trust,

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but also, and you really care about

this because you're a finance person

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causing a lot of revenue leakage.

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You're not billing for

stuff that you should be.

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Sometimes you're aware of it.

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Sometimes you're not aware of it.

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So anyway, so that's, that's

the person who we help.

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The, the, the burning pain point that

our customers have when they first

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come to us is always about billing.

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We go on to solve other problems,

but that's the first key pain point.

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And.

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It really becomes acute when

the customer's being successful.

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So that's why I describe our ICP or

our target customer as a scale up.

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Upendra Varma: Makes sense.

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And it just gives us a sense of what,

you know, these customers, it's how

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many paying customers do you have on

your platform today, approximately,

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Griffin Parry: So, I mean, we are,

so in terms of our company stage,

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we're at classic series A business.

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So, you know, we did our

series A raise nine months ago.

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Um, so, uh, we've got 30 or 40 paying

customers in our ICP type of stage.

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Um, and.

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You know, they, they, they tend to be

$50 million plus arr, got some that

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are slightly smaller, but, you know,

a hundred or 200 people, plus they've

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got some complexity in the business.

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Uh, they're probably at series B or

series stage funding or, or beyond.

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Um, and they pay us a reasonable amount

of money because this is a big problem to

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Upendra Varma: how much is that

rates and how do you price, right?

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So just give us a sense.

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I don't want the exact number.

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So, so I'll ask you three questions.

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Is it thousand dollars per year?

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Is it 10, 000 per year?

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Or is it like a hundred

thousand dollars per year?

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I'm just getting a sense of, you

know, Uh, this, so that we could

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understand your sales motion better.

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Griffin Parry: it, um, so the ACVs

are higher because we have a direct

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sales motion and we need to, um, be

able to support the cost of that.

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So it's, it's.

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Far to the extreme of the

scale you just described.

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Upendra Varma: so it's more around

a hundred thousand dollars, right?

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Something like that.

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Griffin Parry: Yeah, yeah, this

is an important problem and it's

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business critical for our customers.

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Upendra Varma: And then how

do you sort of charge, right?

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So like, how exactly do you charge

your own, uh, software, for example?

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Right.

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So is it again, usage is

metrics or is it based on the

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number of customers they serve?

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Like, how does it work?

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Griffin Parry: So, I mean, I would

preface the answer by saying we're still

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a relatively early stage company, so we

have experimented with, you know, various

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different ways of pricing, but we do seem

to be settling on sort of a standard.

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Um, now our customers all

deploy usage based pricing.

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of some description.

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That's the reason they're coming to us.

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So you'll be, you'll be

unsurprised to hear that we

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also have usage based pricing.

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So we basically price based on the

amount of data that you deliver into the

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platform and the number of times you're

asking the platform to calculate a bill.

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So if you, uh, if you only ran billing

Um, if only use me to run billing once

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a month, it would be the number of

customers you have multiplied by, um,

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um, basically one by one for each month.

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But, um, it can, the number can be much

higher than that because if you're using

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me to deliver up to date bills in mid

month to sales teams who want to know.

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What the latest is or customer success

teams, or maybe the product team is using

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it so that there's a, there's a billing

dashboard exposed to the end customers.

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That's always up to date.

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So basically it's, it's amount

data or bill calculations out our

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customers are those slightly mature

businesses, they value predictability.

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So almost all our deals involve

a significant minimum that

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includes a generous allowance.

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And then if they exceed the

allowance, they'll pay us overages.

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Upendra Varma: And so just give us a

sense of how you're growing, right?

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So last 12 months, right?

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So how many customers you had

around 12 months before ago, right?

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Today, right?

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So approximate numbers.

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Griffin Parry: So, so they, I mean,

so we're in that, we're in that

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phase where we know we've got a

product, we know we can sell it.

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Um, we know that our customers love it.

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So I'm in tinkering mode at the moment.

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Like my whole focus is how do we

scale the business effectively?

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How do we grow quickly and efficiently?

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So yes, we are, we are

growing fast at the moment.

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Um, and my role as

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Upendra Varma: you had more than

20 customers 12 months before.

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Is that how it was?

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Griffin Parry: sorry, I didn't, I

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Upendra Varma: how many, how many

customers you had 12 months before today?

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Right.

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So is it like 20, 10, 15?

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So I just want to understand like at which

stage you are right in terms of, you know,

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number of customers that you're acquiring.

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Griffin Parry: I mean, we're

kind of in the sort of.

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We are growing fast, basically.

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So we're sort of like revenues

that sort of like the plane,

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um, year to year or more.

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So it's, it's at that kind

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Upendra Varma: that's, that's a

good number that I can work with.

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Right.

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I think let's, let's move

on to other things here.

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So like where you're, where

you're growing, right.

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So I just want to get a sense

of how your top of funnel works.

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Right.

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And then we'll talk about

your conversion as well.

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It's so just from these

are big deals, right?

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So how are you finding them?

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Like, what's that first

touch point for you?

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Right.

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In terms of, you know, reaching out

to these leads, like what channels.

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Are you really, you know, working on

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Griffin Parry: so we have, um, we have

three channels, which is probably quite

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a lot for a business at our stage.

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Um, so underpinning it all is like,

we do quite a lot of work around

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branding and Messaging and content

because that supports all of our

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channels and then the three channels

are we have an inbound channel.

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So we capture the demand mostly via, um,

by the website, but it's generated by.

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All the work we're doing in branding,

messaging and content, and that's,

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um, creates a steady drumbeat of

opportunities, um, and some of our biggest

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customers has been acquired by that group.

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Um, then we do some, uh,

we do targeted outbound.

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So, you know, we, we do the work

of working out who, which customers

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we'd like to, to win, um, working

out what's a good indicator of a

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good customer, creating lists, and

then finding ways of reaching out and

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starting a conversation, um, with them.

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Um, In the early days, it was

actually mostly focused on asking

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venture capitalists to introduce

us to companies in their portfolio.

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It's an easy conversation to have,

because we're a B2B company, it sells

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to B2B companies, so B2B are interested

in talking to us as a potential

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investment, but it allows us to ask for

introductions to their other companies.

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So, um, but then it sort of, uh,

it progressed into a more sort of

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standard BDR, Progressive BDR approach.

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And then the third channel

is, uh, is partners.

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And so you mentioned in your first

question, like, you know, how do we work

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with subscription management and revenue

management platforms like ChargeBee?

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Well, we partner with them.

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So, um, and ChargeBee is

a great example of that.

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Upendra Varma: that makes

a lot of sense, right?

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So I think at this stage, right, I

think you're more worried about your

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conversion and how it all works, right?

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How do you convert that customer to

convert that potential lead or the

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customer that you know, would be

converted to an actual, actual customer.

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So just give us a sense of, you know, how

your sales cycle work and also just talk

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about who these customers are, right?

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How, what exactly are they doing

today to sort of solve this problem?

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Are they using something else

or they're hacking it up or.

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What's what's happening?

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Who are these customers and

how are you acquiring them?

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What's that sales cycle look like?

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Griffin Parry: so we're selling into

the, the CFO or the office of the CFO.

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Sometimes we just sell them

to product, but it's mostly

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into the office of the CFO.

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Um, there are other people on the buying

committee, so engineers are important

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because they are the people who implement.

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And, um, and it needs to be built in a way

that they respect and want to work with.

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Uh, and.

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various operations teams around

the business, other users.

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So rev ops, sales ops, then ops, billing

ops, you name it, but we're really

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selling it to the office of the CFO.

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Um, in terms of what they're doing now,

uh, they are, they're either doing this.

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Based on spreadsheets.

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So very manual based process using

spreadsheets, um, which can't cope

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as they scale and a successful.

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It just doesn't work anymore.

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And the consequences of it not working a

really significant like revenue leakage,

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for example, it was a big problem.

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Um, or they have built bespoke

tooling automate this, but the

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problem with bespoke tooling is.

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It's expensive, not just

to build, but to maintain.

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Um, and it's also pretty inflexible

and you're asking an awful lot of your

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engineering team to anticipate everything

that that tooling will need to do.

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Whereas we're a specialist vendor

and we've got lots of customers.

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And so we, you know, we're much more

fully featured and we can deliver

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the capabilities as they're needed,

but yeah, so they're either replacing

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a spreadsheet or a bespoke piece of

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Upendra Varma: It's mostly not one

of your competitors, I'm assuming.

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Okay, so let's talk about

the sales cycle, right?

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Now that we understand where

they're coming from, right?

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What happens once you

reach out to them, right?

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How long does it take to close a typical,

you know, 100, 000 deal for you, right?

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How many touchpoints?

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What do you do during those times?

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Do you have any Implementation, right?

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Any paid demo?

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How does that even work?

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Just give us a sense of how it's working.

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Griffin Parry: um, so the sales

cycles are relatively long.

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but it's not necessarily to do

with Us as a product, but more

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the customer understanding the

business process transformations

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they'll have to be going through.

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So the implementation of meter will

be part of a broader change in the

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business because our customers have

worked out that operationalizing pricing.

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usage based pricing is, it's quite hard.

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You need to change the way you

do things in various places.

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Um, and it's not just about billing.

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It's about making sure that usage data

is available wherever it's needed and

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you can make changes to pricing easily so

that they're changing a bunch of stuff.

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And so a lot of what's going

on in the sales cycle is.

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Explaining that meter

can do what they need.

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And so there is quite a lot of high

contact, sort of high value add, um,

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conversation because naturally a customer

will be wary of whether a vendor can

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meet their business specific complexity.

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And it's one of the things that

differentiates me to that they

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can, but then they'll reach

a point where they go, right.

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I want to buy this.

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And then, and then it's sort of,

you shift into a slightly different

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phase where we're basically providing

them with reassurance that, They

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can minimize and manage the risks

of what looks quite complicated.

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Remembering this is

critical infrastructure.

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So, so yeah, so there is, I mean,

look, it's not usually long, but it's,

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um, you need to hold the customer's

hands because they're going through

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quite a scary transformation.

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Um, and once they've committed that there

is, you know, the implementation depends

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on, uh, Whether they're doing this in

a greenfield basis where they haven't

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had anything like this before, whether

they're replacing an existing tool, most

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of our customers are replacing something.

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So, you know, there's a little bit of work

to do to make sure that you're running

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everything in parallel, making sure that

it's working effectively and going live.

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But it's what we do all the

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Upendra Varma: This is

how long does it take?

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Are we talking about weeks,

months, quarters, right?

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Is it?

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Griffin Parry: It's a bit difficult

to give an average, but let's say

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from first sales contact through to go

live is probably about six months and

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sometimes the sales cycle could be a

little bit longer because they'll do

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more of their thinking and planning

about implementation before they commit.

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Sometimes it could be a bit shorter,

but then the implementation is a

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bit longer because you're answering

some of the questions in an

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implementation phase, but it's roughly

six months, something like that.

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I mean, if you're, if you're dealing

with a Greenfield customer, somebody

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who's never done it before, then.

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This and has no customers,

you know, it's a day.

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Uh, it's it's really the it's the

migration of existing customers and

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billing for existing customers onto onto a

new system that creates the the timeline.

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Upendra Varma: That makes a lot of sense.

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So Griffin, just talk about

that zero to one journey, right?

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How did it all start and how did you

get those first couple of customers?

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So just talk about that journey.

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Griffin Parry: So we're repeat

founders and you know, we have that

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classic story where we're solving for

pain when we had direct ourselves.

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So, uh, my co founder and I had a

business called GameSparks before, which

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was a cloud infrastructure business,

uh, focused on the video game space.

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And we deployed usage based pricing

strategies and We experienced

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a lot of it worked for us.

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It was great as a go to market strategy,

but we experienced a lot of operational

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and go to market pain associated with it.

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We sold that business to Amazon and

then worked at AWS in our own app for

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three years, and they're also a usage

based pricing company, and we saw that

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they had exactly the same problems.

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And we also saw the tooling that they

built to solve for those problems.

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So.

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We left, we became convinced there was

a big opportunity here and we left.

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AWS to found me to solve for it.

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Uh, We were still pretty humble though.

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We went we did a lot of discovery

conversations So, you know, we

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talked to mean, I would say 60.

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I actually think it's probably more

like 80 or 90 Companies and just

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to really understand the problem.

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Um, and then we started

Propositioning some of those

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discovery conversation people and

saying, look, we want to build this.

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Like, will you be a design partner?

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So, so we did the classic thing

of recruiting a small group of

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design partners and co creating

the platform with them, launching

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them, making sure they were happy,

using it properly in production,

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and then go properly to market.

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So that, that was our,

our nought to one journey.

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So it was actually nought to five, but

you know, you get, you get the idea.

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Upendra Varma: That makes a lot of sense.

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And how much have you raised in

terms of external funding so far

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and how big is your team today?

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Griffin Parry: We've raised about 31.

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5 million bucks in external funding.

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So we, you know, we chucked in a bit

of seed, pre seed funding ourselves.

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And then it's worth saying for context

that we founded the company at pretty

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much the best time you could ever found.

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I can't be doing our kind of thing.

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So like we founded it

in the autumn of:

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And so, yeah, we were just, that was

just getting into the go go times

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where, you know, it was very, there

was a lot of money around and it was

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relatively easy, relatively easy to raise.

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And because we were repeat

founders, we found, we basically

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raised quite a lot, quite quickly.

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So, so we raised the initial two and

a half million dollars seed round.

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And then eight or nine months later,

we got a preemptive offer for another

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10 million from a big, um, US VC.

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And then another 5 million about.

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Five or six months later

from another big U.

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S.

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B.

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C.

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Um, and then we raised a 14 million

series about eight months ago,

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led by motion capital in the U.

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K.

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So it's one of those because because what

we're doing is critical infrastructure.

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You have to build quite a lot of

product to reach a genuine MVP.

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I'm not sure whether we would have been

able to build me to had we not found it

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:

in those funding conditions, but we did.

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So we are where we are.

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Upendra Varma: Makes sense.

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:

And how big of a team are

we talking about today?

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Griffin Parry: Oh, sorry about 60.

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Upendra Varma: 60.

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:

All right.

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:

So, so just one last question here, right?

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So what's that next milestone you're

targeting as a company and right?

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:

How do you intend to get there?

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:

Griffin Parry: What goes back to what

I said before, like my whole, my whole

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world at the moment is about tinkering

and tuning and building a machine

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that can scale for a long period.

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So, I just want to, we're very

focused on the business at the moment.

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We just want to continue to deliver

that growth and for that growth

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to be efficient and profitable.

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:

I suspect the next big milestone

will be raising a series B.

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:

I mean, we're, we're relatively, um,

committed to the VC funding path.

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Um, it's different from

what we did last time.

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Uh, we're very lucky.

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We've got some great, we've

got some great investors.

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So yeah, I think that's the obvious.

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Next milestone, but we'll see.

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:

Upendra Varma: And what are

the internal goals, right?

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When, when you actually

take that money, right?

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So what do you, what are you looking at?

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Is it in terms of revenue or

what exactly are you looking at?

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Griffin Parry: I mean, there's some,

there's some rules of thumb out there

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in the market about, you know, how

much you, what kind of ARR you need

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:

to have to be sort of in the Series

B zone, which is sort of, um, might,

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:

you'll know better than me, but it's

about sort of 10 million ARR is sort

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:

of where you need to be for Series B.

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But for me, it's not just that we

are, um, hitting the marks that

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would, uh, allow for us to raise.

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:

I also want to feel really confident

that I knew what we would be doing

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with the money that we would raise

because, you know, it's just a, it's

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just a milestone on the journey.

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It's not the destination.

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:

Upendra Varma: And what do

you plan to do with that money

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:

that you're going to raise?

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:

So it's

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:

Griffin Parry: Well, I mean, the

goal is to build, you know, a, uh,

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:

properly decent B2B software company.

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:

So, like, the goal that I have

in my head is 100 million of ARR.

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:

That's where I want to get to.

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:

We have some unfinished business

from our previous startup.

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:

We didn't get to that level.

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:

In fact, we, we, we didn't get

that level by, um, quite a way.

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:

So I would like to experience the journey

all the way through to that point.

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:

At that point, I've got no idea

whether I'd be suitable for the

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:

business anymore, but I would love

to go on the journey to that point.

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:

So, so yes, that, that's the, that's

the goal in the middle distance for us.

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:

Upendra Varma: all different.

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:

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

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:

Hope you scale meter to

much, much greater heights.

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:

Griffin Parry: Cool.

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:

Thank you.

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:

Thank you very much for having me.

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