You know, a lot of people are working remote right now and especially in smaller early stage software companies are most kind of the thing. But how do you make sure that as the team grows, you continue to keep that cohesion you continue to keep everybody working towards the same common goal. And you don't have anything that's creating too much yuckiness? Well, I talked with Richard White, he's the CEO of fathom, and they're doing some great stuff, but he also has a remote team. And so he shared all of his best tips and tricks to help you make sure that you keep an amazing work environment for your people, even if they're remote or if they're hybrid. So I think you're really gonna like this one.
Welcome to Sas three in the making the podcast that features the people who made the software world what it is today and the leaders who are shaping the future of technology. Here's your host, Matt Wallach.
That's right. This is Sastre in the making. Welcome. Welcome. Super excited to have you here. Thanks for being here. If you're on YouTube, thanks for watching. If you're listening on the podcast channels, thank you for doing so. I am Matt Wallach, I'm your host and I help software leaders software founders really scale their businesses so they can get better and better at closing and earn the revenues that they deserve. I am super excited about my special guest today. I've got Richard White with me, Richard, how you doing?
Man? I'm doing great.
Awesome. I'm so excited. He's this guy. By the way. He said he's fairly nomadic in the pre show. And he's traveling through Mexico right now. So how cool is it that he's joining me while traveling on vacation in Mexico? Thank you for doing that.
Of course happy to it. Here's great, so it can't complain.
That's awesome. Well, let me tell everybody about your Richard. So Richard, he's the founder and CEO at fathom, and fathom. It's a free app that records transcribes and highlights your calls. So you can focus on the conversation, instead of taking notes. I know a lot of salespeople, sales leaders who would absolutely love to have something like that. So I can't wait to dive into it. He's also formerly the founder and CEO at user voice. So he has absolutely has a strong understanding of how to make sure you can grow, and what SAS is all about. So Richard, once again, thanks for coming on the show.
Yeah, thanks again, for having me, man. I'm excited to get in here and chop some stuff up with you.
Perfect, perfect. Well, tell me what's going on with you lately. And what's coming up for you.
I mean, we're kind of in a fun period, so Fathom with my new venture, we started fall of 2020. And so we're about 18 months. And now, we didn't launch until about a year ago. So we didn't launch until last fall, when we launched the new zoom Apps platform. So we've been live really for about, Gosh, coming up on we're just shy of like, 10 months right now. But we really, I think, started to see some real traction, really, starting with last November, December, we did our product launch. We did, we got our seed funding story out there. And since then, we've been seeing pretty strong, you know, 30 40% growth a month. And so right now it's, you're in this fun period of just kind of like, you know, riding the mechanical bowl, right, like, you know, our teams working overtime, making sure systems stay up, don't fall over, you know, you know, as we kind of grow and scale and so, it's, uh, you know, I think we enjoy kind of the beginning period, where you kind of, we had a very long beta period, like, you know, a long build period thing longer than most SaaS companies, right, you know, a year and build. But I think we're having more fun if like, now we're in the wild and kind of like in the arena and doing the thing.
That's so cool. I love that whole battle phase, just totally, you know, energizes me, I remember it from my companies, it's just super fun to be in that build and figure out, we got to make sure this works and how we solve that. It's, it's so fun, but I want to go back even further. So how did you come up with the idea for fat? And where did that start from?
is, I think early 2020, I was actually still at user voice. And I was doing a lot of customer research calls, we were actually like building a different product. And I was shot I think I was on like 300 Zoom calls and the first like, you know, month or month and a half of 2020 before the pandemic even. And I just remember being kind of exasperated with like, I love this conversation like 15 minutes 20 minutes with like, a customer prospect. Like, I find it invigorating to kind of do that, like detective work like what, what challenge do they have? What can we solve? What I didn't love is I'm like, single threaded, and so as soon as my hands touch the keyboard, and I like try to type out like, Oh, my notes about this, like, my mouth stops moving it like ruins the flow of the conversation, right? And then I'd have this awkward period where I have like five minutes after every call where I've gotta like, take that chicken scratch that or like writing or typing during the meeting, like turning to something and that whole process I just was like, this process is terrible, right? This is like real, real headache. Right? Like, the Zoom calls are actually fine like talking to someone remotely, totally fine. Love it. It's this like, terrible notetaking process. And then the worst part of it would be I'd invest hours and hours into doing this right until like writing up good notes. And I sometimes go back two weeks later and I don't remember the important nuances of this conversation. But even more importantly, when I try to share it with my team, like the translation should have like someone's on a call. And they're really excited about something or frustrated with something. And then two weeks later, someone on my team gets a note and says like, they were frustrated or excited, just does not carry the same gravity, right. And so that was kind of like the the aha moment like, gosh, it's got to be like a better way to like, do this, oh, my gosh, we should just be sending people the clips of the right parts of the call. And that's kind of that's what kind of sparked that idea for me.
I absolutely love that. So true. I always say necessity, creates that, that invention and that creation. So let me let me ask you, you talked about getting now you're doing 34% growth? And that's phenomenal. What was it? What What helped you in those early days, kind of get off the ground, get people excited, get them into the application, and start to see that growth?
I mean, I think there's a couple different phases. I mean, we, I think it is kind of a hack to like, solve a problem that you have yourself that, you know, a large other large group of other people happen to have. Because it gives you kind of conviction, I think, like, I probably had strong conviction, like fall of 2020, because we had a crappy beta version, right? That like barely worked. But I was like, This is what I like, this solves my problem. It's like getting me keep me conviction. And then we had like, a, we had a very, I think, a six month or a month like beta period where we had like a couple 100 people, really, we had like 50 to 100 people that were consistently using it. And at some point, you know, there's a point at which we stopped losing people, right, we kept like putting more people in, and then they turn out like in two weeks, because like there are too many drugs or whatnot. And there was some point in which we realized like, okay, we're seeing the same people week after week. And even when they go on vacation for a week, when they come back the next week, they're using the product again. And so then I think that allowed us to give us this pre launch conviction that like, Okay, if we put people in the top of the funnel, they will stay in the product. And then I think honestly, we launched on the Zoom app marketplace, it's kind of a huge opportunity to get a whole bunch of leads up front. And we did, and I think we really spent the first half of or sorry, the latter half of last year first like six months, really just working on onboarding, like we thought we had onboarding like pretty good before launch. I think we probably spent like, third to half our engineering time for months, just constantly iterating and iterating iterating. It. It's just a good reminder, like that part's also really hard. And so again, you went through these phases, right? Like, I conviction that it worked. We had some external users shows like once we could get them through the crappy onboarding part, they would use it. And then we figured out the onboarding part. And so it's, it's kind of a strategy, like I call like, working back to front, right, like focus on retention first, and like acquisition last right. And but yeah, that's it's kind of worked out pretty well.
I love that idea. It's doesn't work too. Well. If you do great at sales, then everybody leaves, right. Yeah, exactly. I mean, based on your customer acquisition, cost, payback period, that's gonna suck, you're gonna lose money. So I love that focus. But tell me, you know, we talked about user voice a little bit at the beginning, what has been different? What are what are some of the things that you've noticed? What have you taken away from the first and what have you been been able to apply to your second startup now?
The second startup is honestly, highly recommend doing a second startup. It's kind of amazing. I did user voice and I ran that company for gosh, 1012 years. Right. So is that it that for a long time, we did a bunch of different things, right. But I think you know, your second startup almost, I kind of described as like playing an old video game again. And you like vaguely, you know, when you played it the first time, it's like playing Minecraft, when you drop something in Minecraft, and no idea what to do. You don't know you could punch a tree to get wood, right? Like it takes you a while to figure out all these things. That's kind like your first step you just don't what you don't know what you don't know. The second one, it feels like I know where like, you know, the good shield is in that castle. And the good sword is in that dungeon sort of thing. And so it feels like you're speed running an old video game because you always know here's all the levers to pull. And also from a you know, go to market perspective. You know, my backgrounds engineering product, so I didn't know anything about marketing, sales, you name it, going User Voice having coming out of user voice like okay, now I understand these disciplines, at least to a degree at which I can decide what type of you know, or what you know, these to keep using my RPG analogy, like what class of you know, we're gonna be a mage type sale or we're going to be like a paladin type sale right? And so, you know, I think a lot of the go to market stuff that you figured out much earlier which informs product which informs onboarding, so it's, it's amazing, man, it's a lot of fun. And the other thing the killer thing is you know, having worked in the industry for 10 plus years with user voices start with like myself and anyone I could kind of like trick into working with me and this time I got to start from scratch with like, a rockstar team of like senior engineers and like salespeople and stuff like that and so you know, it's one part knowing where to go and where not to go and it's one part having from the day one like a good you know, a good clan, right? We keep reusing this RPG analogy, right like a good kind of like raid group to go after this after something with
that's so cool. And I know the gamers out there loving your analogies that so, so awesome. So you just talked about your crew, and so is everybody remote like you? Everyone's fully remote? Yep, Okay, awesome. So I know a lot of teams are doing that. So talk to me, what are some of the challenges that customer facing teams have in a fully remote or, or even a hybrid environment?
I mean, I think the the hardest thing is always like making sure we have shared context, right? Make sure everyone's kind of seeing the same thing. I think it's also true of of in person companies, too, right. But like, you know, a lot of people we work with our, or they use fathom, or sales teams and success teams, right. And when it's when you're in office, there was some ambient awareness of your manager, you could hear what your team sounds like, you can't do that anymore, right? Or you could, you know, someone gets off the call, oh, my gosh, that went really well. What did they say, Oh, they said this, right? Well, it's fresh. And now it's really hard to do that. And so I think, I think one of the things, there's a huge difference, I think, too, between companies have been built from the bottom up to be remote first, versus companies that have like begrudgingly become remote first. And you have to be very intentional about building out a lot of like, internal processes and workflows that create that like shared context. So everyone knows what everyone's doing. And everyone can see the coalface. And so we've got a lot of channels, inside of Fathom where you actually can see, here's clips of people giving us product feedback, here's straight from what they're saying. It's coming straight out of fathom, right, like, within 30 seconds of someone being on the call saying, this thing sucks, or this thing is great. That cup is in Slack channel for us to watch and react to and hopefully, you know, move very quickly on. So I think that's yeah, trying to create kind of like the remote first, but hybrid like Salesforce success for you. I think it's an interesting challenge.
So what are some of the best, you know, things that people can apply? What are some of the best, you know, tactics that teams who are remote and maybe some they were forced into, of course, COVID kind of created that? Or even if you're just setting up your team right now, what should people be thinking of? And how should they be doing it? And how should they make it happen?
Well, it's a giant, I think the thing that I most commonly see is one of my biggest things remote is like, question, all synchronous communication. And really try figure out it's funny, because we're building a product for meetings. But mostly, we're building this product for like, external meetings, right? Like you're meeting customers and prospects. From an internal perspective, I'm always often question like, Does this need to be an internal meeting? Or can this be a womb? Or can this be a, you know, a notion page or something like that? Right. And I think I think in our environment, there's almost this like tendency to over invite people to meetings, because like, what if they need to hear something? I feel like you actually should go the other direction and say, like, how do we like we we revise that all hands scheduled, we only have like one all hands meeting for the entire team? Like understanding, we stayed for a week, per week. Great. And you know, and you know, I think at times, we've had three or four will be constant ask question, Does this need to be a meeting? And so I think that's the biggest thing, meetings are great. When you want to discuss something once everyone has context. They're terrible once it's like we're using the meeting to get context. And I think a lot of in person companies historically use meetings to get context. And so nothing else. It's kind of the Amazon meeting style, right? This where they have to write a six page memo, before the meeting, and then the first part of the meeting is people just sitting there reading the memo. So it's like, Great, yeah, we all have context. So worst case, is something like that. Right. But like, I think the big thing is moving to like, asynchronous communications are great.
Yeah, I think it's so true. And I remember the some of the meetings I was in back when I was in office, some like past companies. I mean, you just could see they were they weren't helpful. And as the company got bigger and bigger, they got worse and worse. And, you know, it's almost like people, you know, almost were trying to justify their jobs, as opposed to doing something productive within a meeting. But now you're right, my team right now is fully remote. It's very effective, we hardly meet and everything happens through slack or through through our project management systems. So I completely agree, that's definitely the way to go. One of
things we're working on next, I was like, when you do these internal meetings? Yeah. How do you not have to invite everyone, right, you're going our meeting, Tim only needs to be there for five minutes of it or even know that John needed to be there until 30 minutes in, rather than trying to get by over by people everything they might need to hear, you know, can we get to what's going to send them that clip at the meeting or at mention them in the meeting? Hey, John, like, check out the last five minutes discussion, right, like, stuff like that? I think it's also kind of a, you know, we start figure out how to collaborate around pieces of meetings, as opposed to it being this big, like, synchronous elephant, you have the sort of thing?
Sure. And with fathom, should they be using that for internal stuff? Or just for external meetings? How should that be used best with?
They use it for both? You know, I think the majority of our usage itself is like external meetings, right? It's, it's the, I can't get the person back on the phone. I have 20 minutes with the person and like, and what I'm getting out of this is kind of gold. Everyone wants to see those customer conversations. Right. So there's some interesting use cases for internal meetings. I you know, I think a lot of people that do have a lot of internal meetings have the same problem as like salespeople success people, which is they all work together at the end of the day, and it's like, oh, right, what am I exact, say three hours ago? Oh, I'm gonna go back and look and rewatch that. Right. So I think there's a big opportunity there. But right now, we've been think we've started mostly with thinking about how do we make the external meeting the one you can't reschedule that when you can't? and follow up with and ask 10 more questions. If you miss it, you miss something, right? How do we make that as productive as possible?
Yeah, I think that that's super key that productivity is huge. What are some of the mistakes you're seeing of companies who are trying to make this happen? What? What issues are they running into? And how can they overcome them?
You know, I think the biggest thing we see people run into is just a, a fear of asking people, Can I record this call? And this kind of varies by vertical, right, I think and, you know, if you talk to most salespeople don't have this don't have a challenge with this, right? It's become kind of like, normalized in sales conversations. But if you're not familiar with recording it, like, it may seem like oh, my gosh, how are people going to react to this? Are people gonna like this or not like this? Right. And, you know, we've often seen that the fear of people being afraid of recording is way bigger than there are people actually see that actually want to, like, opt out of recording, but like tennis is great, right? And then we try to do things where it's like, you know, one of the things people like is like, if you just give them the recording afterwards, too, they'll actually really appreciate like, now you're actually providing value to them. Especially in like a sales context where it's like, they're generally trying to sell up the chain to like, we should buy this thing sort of thing. So somebody's at sales enablement. But yeah, I think the biggest thing that we see is just like this fear of, of recording and, you know, in certain verticals, like, if you're dealing with lawyers, or something like that, or politicians, whatnot, yet, maybe maybe recording is not for you. But for everyone else, I generally feel like, you know, this sphere is, is generally blown out of proportion.
Yeah, I totally agree. So in my business, I help people make their demos amazing. But part of that process, part of my coaching is, record your demos. And you can go back and watch. And if you are running a team, make sure your team has recorded demos, so you can help them you can coach them, you can see where the right and wrong is. And, and by the way, I just was talking with a client this morning. And he was going through a demo that he had done. And in the middle, he said, why? What am I doing right there. And because when you're in the heat of the moment, and you're so focused on I got to touch on this, I got to hit that I gotta hit that you're not actually thinking of the overall dynamic. And it's, it's amazing what you can get. If you go back and watch a recording of yourself in a meeting or giving a demo or a presentation or what have you. You can learn a lot from it. I love that first of all, zoom. Now it's a newer thing in the last six, eight months, that's probably getting longer than that. I'm getting old. But it does automatically tell them this is being recorded. And if say, Yes, I got it. And that way you overcome the weirdness of like, Hey, is it okay, if I record? Right, so so it's great that it has that built in capability? Right?
Yep. Yeah. And I think the other nice thing, so like you touched on coaching, right, which would be able to go back into like, what it actually sound like, during the segment of the call, it's helpful, because we do all get into our talk tracks, right, we're gonna get a hit all these things. And the other thing we've seen is that like, increasingly, you know, it's really hard to get decision maker on the meeting, right? Like, especially for demos, usually, there's someone decision maker has charged, like, go find out if this thing's any good. And so we're empowering salespeople to like, pull out the most important highlights for them, oh, here's where they talked about their pain, or here's where they talked about the impact or their timeline. But the other side of the ball, which is the prospect is doing a similar thing on their side where they're trying to be like, tell their boss, here's the cool things about this vendor. And so one of things we're doing the recordings allowing that your prospect to go and say, Oh, let me go grab the, you know, the screenshare section, and forward that to my boss. Right. So, so you're not playing this game of telephone of like, you know, them passing notes on their side. This thing looks good, right? You know, if, if their DM gets to see your your demo, because they got forwarded along, and your competitors? Yeah, it was kinda like, Oh, good, right, who do you think's gonna win that deal sort of thing? So I think that's another interesting thing where this kind of data flows out on both sides of, of that organizational divide.
Yeah, I totally agree. One of the things I teach is how to get people really emotional within that call, and what levers to pull to make that happen. And you're right, if they don't have that recording, they get to the next person, and they say, Hey, here's this cool product. But what is it? I don't know, he clicked some buttons, and it did cool things. Versus hey, here's the walkthrough. It's going to show you exactly and they will see holy cow, we need this. Yep. 100%. Love it. So you know, wrapping up here, what advice do you have for other software leaders who are trying to grow their company grow their teams and kind of get to where they want to be?
Oh, gosh, I mean, how many more hours we have here, man? You know, I think, you know, I still think the oh, here's my get on my soapbox. My one, two boxes. I'm still shocked by how many companies do customer care very poorly. In that, like the number of companies were like, you know, I have vendors we pay $1,000 a month and I can't find a way to like, give them feedback or contact them or support problem without jumping through 10 knowledgebase articles and buried somewhere deep down in the bowels of some system. One of the things we've you know, mentioned at the stage that we're going back to front, but one of things we've been told Now over the product is like a really high touch Customer Care Organization. You know, we try to isolate, we try to give you kind of like five figure level service for free product. And so if you reply back, you know, we do things like anything goes in your support queue gets routed, everyone gets assigned to CSM, it gets routed back to the CSM, there's like multiple layers of people checking, make sure it gets you get answered quickly, we use a whole bunch systems to keep track of what you've said, historically. And, you know, we make sure none of our emails have no replies on them, you know, your bot, any email goes back to us like, and I it's, you know, when we have when we, when you have a bug, we try to have a goal of like, we contact you and tell you you had a bug before you even notice, right, we try to make sure like, we're really on top of user experience. And we have like a core group of founders, sorry, a core group of users, we call it our founders club, I mean, some T shirts and stuff like that. We're also giving some of the top ones like equity in the company. And so like we're doing a ton to basically build out strong customer like user advocacy in a world where I think word of mouth really matters a lot. And I don't see a lot of other companies doing that I see most companies just trying to keep their users at arm's length and being like, you want to contact us jump through 10 hoops, and it boggles my mind. Because it doesn't cost that much, frankly, it's just like an organizational like attitude that, like, we're not gonna build a great product, but we are going to be a great service as well.
I think it's fantastic stuff. And I hope everybody out there takes that to heart. I think that's really, really super important. I've seen in my past companies the good and the bad of that. If you do it right, it works great. If you don't do it or don't do it. Well, it doesn't go well. And so I think that's awesome, awesome advice. Richard, this has been phenomenal. I really appreciate you coming on sharing all of your wisdom with us. I'm definitely going to go back and re listen to this. Make sure I have a full understanding of everything you talked about, because it's super important stuff. But how can our audience learn more about you and what you guys are doing it for them?
Yeah, if you want to fathom, fathom that video slash pod pod, there's kind of a waitlist on on Fathom right now. But if you go take that link, you'll skip out of it. And I'm on LinkedIn. So Richard went on LinkedIn, I'll have like this little blue looking kind of pixel avatar. Feel free to message me on LinkedIn. I'm always happy to chat about these things.
Okay, perfect. We'll put that stuff in the show notes. So if you're listening, you'll be able to see that there. But this has been great. Richard, thanks so much for coming on the show. Matt, thanks
so much for having me. It's
been a blast. Absolutely, likewise, and everybody out there, thank you for coming. Make sure you're subscribed to the show. You do not want to miss out on any of the cool people that are coming up sharing their wisdom, their experience, so you can learn from it and you can scale even further. Also, make sure that if you have any questions, if you have any ideas for upcoming shows, send me a message. You can do that through the channels there or leave a comment. Thank you very much for coming. And we will see you next time. Take care