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Episode #40 – Geoff Roberts – Outseta
November 5, 2020
Podcast

Episode #40 – Geoff Roberts – Outseta

Geoff Roberts is the co-founder of Outseta, a tool which combines multiple different types of functionality into one platform allowing you to launch your project faster.

Outseta brings together Billing, CRM, Email, Help Desk and Authentication into one place.

In this discussion Tom and Geoff talk about:
- Why he built Outseta - 1m 50s
- How using multiple different tools can become painful - 3m 55s
- How he got into the no-code space - 6m 13s
- What no-code is and how it’s changing - 8m 48s
- Where no-code is going - 11m 20s
- Addressing the question of scaling - 12m 56s
- Lessons to be learnt from traditional software engineering inc version control - 15m 07s
- What’s missing in the space - 16m 52s
- Bootstrapping vs Raising Venture Capital - 19m 18s
- New Funding Models - 26m 02s
- The Tools Outseta replaces - 27m 51s
- Time vs Money Saved - 32m 24s
- Remote Working with Twins - 40m 33s
- What he would build if he wasn’t building Outseta - 50m 10s
- What is he most excited about? - 51m 47s

We hope you enjoy this conversation.

Geoff Roberts - Co-founder of Outseta

SPEAKERS

Geoff Robert and Tom Osman

Tom Osman: [00:00:00] Geoff, thank you very much for joining me.

[00:00:02] Geoff Roberts: [00:00:02] Thank you so much for having me. I'm good. I'm good. How are you?

[00:00:05] Tom Osman: [00:00:05] Good. Absolute pleasure. We've actually spoken a few times recently, which is good. what's going on?

[00:00:12] Geoff Roberts: [00:00:12] Not too much just starting out my, Tuesday morning, we've got a big time gap difference here. So it's 9:00 AM for me. And what 6:00 PM for you? 7:00 PM.

[00:00:22] Tom Osman: [00:00:22] Yes, we're getting on a little bit

[00:00:25] Geoff Roberts: [00:00:25] Keeping you busy in the evenings.

[00:00:29] Tom Osman: [00:00:29] Always busy in the evenings. Yeah, it's a good time. So wanted to talk to you today,  because you, have an awesome tool and we like to talk about awesome tools here.

[00:00:42] So why don't you just give us the lowdown on yourself, who you are and what you're doing at the moment, and then we can dive into some other cool bits.

[00:00:51] Geoff Roberts: [00:00:51] Sure. So my name's Geoff Roberts. I'm one of the co-founders of Outseta.  I am from the Northeast of the US I grew up in New Hampshire about an hour North of Boston.

[00:01:02] I currently live in San Diego, California, where winter has officially showed up today, which means it's about 60 degrees Fahrenheit here. which I think is 15 Celsius, something like that. So it's still pretty mild, but it's cold for us. and yeah, at an Outseta, it's a startup I've been working on for four years.

[00:01:24] And the basic premise is it's an all-in-one tech stack to launch a subscription business. So whether you're building another SAS product or a membership site, it helps you get up and running with subscription billing, in particular very quickly. And then also gives you a series of other tools that you can use, like a CRM help desk, to grow your business going forward.

[00:01:45] Tom Osman: [00:01:45] Nice. And why did you build it? That's a question I always like to lead with because it pokes into a few other areas which are worth exploring as

[00:01:54] Geoff Roberts: [00:01:54] well. Yeah, it came out of, my experience, leading marketing at a, another SAS startup that was called Buildium. and in the very early days we were bootstrapping that company.

[00:02:05] And as we were scaling the business, we had. Needs arise for various software tools. So early on it was, we needed some sort of billing system to charge our customers. After that, as the marketer, I was going to the founders of the business and saying, Hey, we need to get something like HubSpot for marketing automation.

[00:02:24] Then it was, we need a more serious tool for support something like Zendesk. And we did what every other subscription business does. We bought five, six, seven tools. We integrated them, stitch them together so that they were working properly. And it worked, decently well, but as we reflected on our experience at that company, we said for an early stage business, our CTO he's now my co-founder, at Outseta, Dimitri spent a lot of time working on integrating those software systems, sending data between the various tools and there's an opportunity cost there, right?

[00:03:00] It's time spent  working on the systems that support the business rather than building the businesses core products. And we said for an early stage business, that's expensive. That's, developer time put in an area that's not building core product. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a platform that brought together all of the tools that an early stage subscription business needs.

[00:03:22]and in short, that's not a very difficult. sort of common denominator to get to every subscription business needs a CRM, every subscription business needs, subscription billing, almost all of them need some sort of help desk tools. So what we've delivered is basically a stripped down version. of a fancier tech stack for an early stage business.

[00:03:43] Tom Osman: [00:03:43] Got it. And when did that become painful for you? So there's going to be people who listen to this podcast who are doing exactly what you started with combining lots of different tools together. Obviously we recommend using different sources cause we do it here. And then at some point it starts to become painful.

[00:04:00] When was that inflection point for you?

[00:04:02] Geoff Roberts: [00:04:02] Yeah, I think there's actually a few different pain points or a few different lenses that you can look at this through. The first is, if you have spent a lot of time in this industry, you spend a lot of time in tech. You're probably familiar with a lot of the tools that are out there, and it's not that challenging for you to figure out which ones you want to use because.

[00:04:22] You've used them before, but for somebody that's new to the space, the first pain point is even just time of valuating, all the options that are out there. There's dozens of CRMs, dozens of email marketing tools, and even time spent trying to find the right tool. There's an opportunity cost there.

[00:04:40] So that's the first one. I think the second one then is the initial integration of these tools. So you wanted to send an email campaign, to somebody based on the subscription that they were on. You'd typically have to take data from your billing system, send it into your CRM from there, connect your CRM to your email marketing tool.

[00:05:00] And it's common that these sorts of workflows are built. but again, it's time consuming and it's the type of thing that also can. Breakdown or data can map incorrectly or zaps can break. so you're just building a more fragile or brittle business than maybe you need to. And I think ultimately the pain is when you're scaling quickly and.

[00:05:22]trying to move your business, as you go through a hyper-growth phase or as you really start to grow, inevitably these things break and it's usually the customer experience that suffers. So for us, I think a lot of this was not so much that there was an enormous amount of pain and we were breaking things left and right.

[00:05:42] Although that certainly happened, it was more a recognition that for an early stage founder, There could be a better way of doing this. And I think that's what we set out to execute on.

[00:05:54] Tom Osman: [00:05:54] Got it. And how did the no-code side come into things?

[00:06:00] Geoff Roberts: [00:06:00] Yeah, this is a interesting part of our journey. we initially were scratching our own itch and.

[00:06:07] For really the first three years that we were building out, set out, we were focused almost exclusively on selling to other SAS businesses. So our initial ideal customer profile, if you were. was a developer, a software developer building a SAS business. And our message was, yes, you have all of the tools to, and all the skills to integrate the perfect tech stack.

[00:06:29]but there's an opportunity cost there and we're selling you speed to market, if nothing else, long story short. what we realized was there's definitely. A subsegment of developers that instantly got it. And there's a lot of people out there that do commonly launch new SAS products. And they said, this is perfect.

[00:06:47] It's going to help me validate my ideas that much more quickly, but developers on a whole, like to over architect there. Software solutions in their tech stack from a very early stage. it's  asking a carpenter to build you a step stool and you just need something to stand on very quickly, but they're going to build you this beautiful box and polyurethane.

[00:07:09] And, as much as, we started tried to convince developers that it wasn't a great use of their time to be spending so much time building their tech stack in the early days, many of them chose to do it anyways.  at the beginning of 2020, really. Without any effort. We started to get, a lot of interest from the no-code community to the extent where started scratching our heads and saying, these no code people don't have the skill set to integrate all of these tools, at least using code.

[00:07:39]and the tune that they were singing was very different when they saw Outseta of software developers typically were pointing out all the things that Outseta I couldn't do. Whereas the no-code community was saying, this is speed to market. That's what I'm after this gives me all the tools that I needed.

[00:07:53] This is amazing. So we started to follow that a little bit, first by a partnership with web flow. And as soon as that went live, it was really like the flood Gates opened and. Since then we've really had more interest in the product than we can even feel ourselves efficiently. So we're very happy about that, obviously.

[00:08:14]and then maker Pat is definitely,  the biggest inroads that we've made into this community.

[00:08:20] Tom Osman: [00:08:20] Let's ask next, Abe, like a theory based question. what is the code in your opinion and how has your opinion changed since you first entered into this kind of. Let's call it a target audience for the sake of a better word.

[00:08:39] Geoff Roberts: [00:08:39] Yeah. I think people get hung up and it's probably, a lot of people are saying the name no-code, isn't the right name for this category because it's got a negative connotation. I don't necessarily feel that way. I don't think no code is about saying, the ability to code is a bad thing or something you shouldn't pursue to me.

[00:08:59] It's about, Really access and making the ability to build a real functional business, more accessible to people that don't know how to write code. And from my perspective, there's nothing about that. That's negative, it's something worth celebrating. And I think the thing that I like about the no-code audience that I've been really overwhelmed with.

[00:09:23] Is first of all, they're movers and shakers. These are people that don't know how to write code, but they are out there trying to build businesses and are super entrepreneurial and whatever, they don't know they're going to figure it out. So that's a pretty amazing, description of a target customer to have in the first place.

[00:09:43]and I think beyond that, They get speed to market. These are people that have a vision for a business, and they understand the importance of getting that business up and operational as quickly as possible. And they're going to figure things out as they go. They're not over architecting their business or the tools that they use that in early stage.

[00:10:05] Tom Osman: [00:10:05] Yeah. I think movers and shakers are definitely. A trait of no code like makers in general, because I think for having, once you understand the ability to tie certain tools together and then maybe use the best in class tool to solve your problem, if you can integrate it, obviously that comes eventually where there's limitations.

[00:10:27] And we can go into that in a minute, but yeah, by actually practicing that. Yeah, I'm not sure you become better at building stuff anyway. And also I think I want to get on to as well as the lessons learned from like tree building software, traditionally is now jumping the gap into the no-code sphere as well.

[00:10:48] So on that vein, how have you. How do you see the space evolving? Because we feel like we're, although the tools are getting more advanced and you can do more things were still early stages in it. I think. How do you see it moving from where we are now over the next few years?

[00:11:05] Geoff Roberts: [00:11:05] Yeah. I don't see it going anywhere, but up and up to be honest with you, I think people are just starting to realize, how.

[00:11:15] Significant this movement is and how legitimate of a business they can build with no code tools. I think there's this common misconception that no code tools are great for building like a really flaky MVP. but I think there's more than ample evidence out there that you can build a $10 million a year business on nothing but no code tools without question.

[00:11:39]yes. Are there things you can build with code that you can't build it out code? Absolutely. No, one's saying that's not the case, but I think as more and more people realize that they can basically control their own destiny by building a no-code business. This is just going to continue to grow.

[00:11:56] Tom Osman: [00:11:56] Yeah, I completely agree.

[00:11:58] And w what are the main pushbacks that you've seen about. Using the phrase, no code, because like you referred to in what you just said is the word like flake, Mbps. You still see that now. Even when people slightly agree with how good, what you can build with no code, they they always, sometimes there's always that barrier there to say, yeah, But eventually, or this isn't great for this.

[00:12:27] So there's always that pushback. And then you get like the scaling question. how would you address that if you trying to stick up for NOCO let's play that side of the fence first.

[00:12:38] Geoff Roberts: [00:12:38] Yeah, I think there's two things at work here. and certainly my intention here is not set to pick on software developers.

[00:12:46] I work with software developers all day, every day.  but I do think, there's an aspect of software developers. Feeling proud about the fact that they write code and they're just viewing this no-code thing is this annoying little trends, that they're gonna look down on to some extent.

[00:13:05]so I think there's a bit of that and maybe that's to some degree ego-driven and I get it if, I spoke fluent Mandarin. I would think speaking Mandarin is great and people that don't speak Mandarin well, whatever.  it's not a perfect analogy, but I think you get where I'm coming from.

[00:13:23] I think the other thing is really just preparing first scaled before you, you have a scale. there's nothing wrong with doing that, but I think speed to relevance is something that doesn't get spoken enough about in the startup world. And it's. get your business off the ground, get some money coming in the door.

[00:13:41] And if you have problems with scale, you can solve those at a later point. I can't tell you how many founders I talked to every day. Just. doing demos with Outseta and prospect calls and that kind of thing who raised these sorts of concerns and say, what am I supposed to do? And I get to $10 million in revenue as Outseta are going to support me then.

[00:14:01] And my answer is what are you at right now in terms of revenue? And the answer is usually zero from the people I'm hearing these concerns from. and my pushback is just, I get it. But if you were the fastest scaling company in the world, it might take you. Three four, five years to get to $10 million in revenue.

[00:14:18] Let's focus on getting you to $10,000 in revenue first.

[00:14:23] Tom Osman: [00:14:23] Yeah. And if you get there, then you're in a great spot. Then you can do whatever it is you want and OSI. You're not going to have wasted a whole load of development hours and tens of thousands of pounds to get there

[00:14:36] Geoff Roberts: [00:14:36] about.

[00:14:37] Tom Osman: [00:14:37] Some traditional, software engineering methods because we, having built multiple solutions ourselves and seeing our members also build up solutions every day.

[00:14:48]what are the lessons you wish people would bring over from traditional software engineering over into the no-code space?

[00:14:58] Geoff Roberts: [00:14:58] Yeah, that's a good question. I think at a basic level of version control and the ability to, if you're building software, you're typically. testing it very thoroughly before you're pushing it live.

[00:15:11] I think one of the downsides of no code is there don't seem to be the same level of a staging environment. If you will. A lot of times you are building things and breaking things and making things in a live environment. and to be fair, Yes, I think that's something no code needs more of, but we're also talking about early stage businesses here.

[00:15:33] So I think it is more appropriate or more tolerable to be constructing things in a production environment and an early stage business. but that's probably, probably the biggest one that comes to mind immediately.

[00:15:49] Tom Osman: [00:15:49] And how about things like the white, so maybe not just like methodologies or ways of working, how about no code as an industry?

[00:15:57] Or maybe even like from your side, just touching on like more like low code products. How do you think like this. How do you think this space sits at the moment and what's the most obvious thing that's missing?

[00:16:12] Geoff Roberts: [00:16:12] Yeah, I think just going back to no code versus development, we are  accustomed or drawn into looking at these things as being polar opposites of one another.

[00:16:24] And you're either on the no-code side or you're on the code side. And I think generally that's just the wrong mindset to have, One of the benefits of no code is in my mind, there's less complexity code is almost always a more. Complex solution than a no-code workflow. and from that perspective, I think what we all should be aiming for is not necessarily no code or code, but as low code as possible low code is going to be, less brittle.

[00:16:53] It's going to be easier to maintain. So that's really the mindset I think every company should have. And what. That life cycle probably looks like in most instances is we start out building an MVP using as many low-code solutions as we possibly can, as we realize traction and have more and more sort of complex requirements for our project.

[00:17:16] As it scales, we probably move a little bit more in the direction of code, but the overarching objective should be let's build the lowest code business that we can. because it's going to be cheaper, faster, more durable, et cetera.

[00:17:30] Tom Osman: [00:17:30] Yeah. That makes complete sense. And one of the things that we obviously promote is just things like boot strapping, and that kind of lends itself to no-code in general, that you're able to just start.

[00:17:42] In whatever your financial situation. So you no longer need tens of thousands of dollars. And although we know this and we talk about it a lot, and it seems obvious to us, if people are hearing about no code for the first time, maybe they listen to a podcast and it's realize that you can't actually build products now with.

[00:18:04] Almost starting at $0 a month. There's a lot of these tools offered like really generous, like free tears, just to get you onboarded. They'll happily like guide you through getting your first that built and you can even publish it with some information on, or although, like you may be limited information, you can't actually publish something live having spent $0 and just your times, it's something I can, we need to probably do.

[00:18:25] A better job of as an industry to make people aware of just how incredible it is now that you can actually bootstrap all of these products yourselves. and you've got a background in bootstrapping. And are you talk about it on your blog a bit? what are your general thoughts there?

[00:18:42] Geoff Roberts: [00:18:42] Yeah. So we're a bootstrap company. very intentionally we have, dreams of never raising a dollar of investment. We sell largely to bootstrap. That's

[00:18:52] Tom Osman: [00:18:52] interesting.

[00:18:53] Geoff Roberts: [00:18:53] Yeah, we sell to bootstrap. So there's kind of two pieces, I guess we sell the bootstrap companies. So we feel like, eating our own dog food and practicing what we preach makes a lot of sense and will resonate with our customers.

[00:19:07] The second part is, Having done a few SAS businesses before all of which started out bootstrapped, but eventually raised venture capital. we had great experiences. I've had nothing but great experiences with the VC firms, to be honest with you. but as we decided to build this business, a big part of our co-founding teams interests.

[00:19:28] And working together was really how do we want to operate this business? how do we want to do things differently here? And part of that for us was saying, we want to stay intentionally small, intentionally independent, and bootstrapping is going to allow us to do that. I think the interesting thing about.

[00:19:47] Oh, it's set up in many ways is it's not a business that really lends itself to bootstrapping. it is a huge product. It's really more like three or four software products instead of one. So when we were talking about founding the company, we had this conversation very openly amongst our founders and said, it's going to take us a couple of years to even deliver an MVP and to get to any sort of scale.

[00:20:11] This is a business that. We have to commit to this at least for 10 years, and we're four years in now. That's absolutely proven to be true, but we're at the point now where we're past the MVP, we have very sellable products and we're realizing or something, I guess I didn't realize was. How defensible this business would be because we've spent four years bringing it into existence.

[00:20:34] We can afford to offer a product at a price point that a VC backed competitor simply can't.  it's been great for us. I think, similar to code versus no code. The idea of, do you bootstrap or do you raise venture capital is unnecessarily polarizing in most instances? I think it really comes down to what's the business that you're trying to build.

[00:20:56] And what are your sort of personal circumstances to how long can you afford to go without a paycheck or without a normal paycheck? That kind of thing.

[00:21:05]Tom Osman: [00:21:05] sort of the things that you wish people wouldn't know, about a venture capital company, so maybe bring up their own issues. Obviously they present.

[00:21:16] Enormous opportunity in terms of funding, which enables you to do things. Obviously we make Pat to con some funding, the early stage. yeah. So what are the common misconceptions of having venture capital funding and how does that change? How you approach things?

[00:21:35] Geoff Roberts: [00:21:35] Do you want the good stuff or the bad stuff?

[00:21:37] Her  

[00:21:38] Tom Osman: [00:21:38] both bad stuff equally as valuable.

[00:21:41] Geoff Roberts: [00:21:41] Yeah. so I'll start with the good stuff. Cause I think, yeah, the spheres that I run in it's, easy to see a lot of people trashing the VC route these days, and telling horror stories of their experience. And, I've seen those, but I haven't experienced them myself or myself.

[00:21:59] I think that the good things are one. If a company is raising venture capital. There's some degree of ambition there, right? They have a big vision, they have something they want to go after and raising VC allows them to do that. It allows them to hire the best team of team members and pay them well and get aggressive with marketing and all those sorts of things.

[00:22:23] And I think people forget that and that should be celebrated. Your it's not about. Prioritizing revenue over everything else. It's about. We want to take a serious to it back here and build something pretty special. And VC money allows you to do that, much more quickly than bootstrapping us.

[00:22:44] I think, from just a people perspective as well. having worked at, bootstrapped early stage businesses and companies backed by a lot of venture capital, you're able to take care of your people better. And in a lot of ways, whether it comes to just benefits or salary or all those sorts of things.

[00:23:01] And I think people also forget about that sort of people component and VC is attractive for that reason too. On the flip side, most of what you hear is it can create a lot of bad problems, in terms of chasing growth at all costs. So when you take that money, you are, in a lot of cases, losing some sort of control over your business in terms of inviting new board members on, or just not owning a majority stake in the business.

[00:23:32]but beyond that, there is this mindset that. An enormous return needs to be generated for the investors. And you do need to. Rapidly grow the business, basically, no matter what. And I think what you do see is oftentimes that leads to short-sighted. Decision-making where you're prioritizing, next quarters, revenue growth over things that could have a.

[00:23:57] Much more impactful business impact on the business longer term. and when things do start to go sour, or when you do hit rough patches, I think it just cranks up the stress level of times 10. So if you're building a business for five or 10 years, it's not always going to be perfectly rosy. It's like a global pandemics or, whatever it might be that impact your business.

[00:24:21] And it is harder when you've raised VC money to not, if you're not showing that quarter over quarter revenue growth that the investors expect,  they start to assert their influence in more direct ways, whether it's looking to add head count or firing people that haven't driven, the level of performance that they're looking for and things can turn.

[00:24:43] Ugly more quickly, based on the pressure that's put on the business.

[00:24:49] Tom Osman: [00:24:49] Yeah. I think there's some really important points to keep front of mind and there is some new. funding models coming out. So seeing companies, for example, like this capsule where they actually, Tyler, I know who runs that is actively going out to fund calm companies, almost trying to flip the model a bit and saying, we're going to chasing this like high growth trajectory that traditional venture capital funding seeks to do.

[00:25:21]what's your thoughts on that? Do you think that's potentially a better route or an, a more interesting route

[00:25:24] Geoff Roberts: [00:25:24] to go down? Abs. Absolutely. I think, this is something I've written a lot about on our blog, because we get lots of questions about this topic from our customer base.  but I think these new alternative funding models are amazing.

[00:25:37]I said, when we set out, we said, we're never going to raise venture capital. I still think that is a goal of ours, but seeing some of these new models. has absolutely changed our tune in the sense that there might be reasons even the money aside to raise from some of these firms. And, you're just right.

[00:25:54] Tyler and earnest capital is arguably the best example. tiny seed is another similar accelerator. And then you're seeing things like, everything from deal sites, like AppSumo to revenue based financing, from companies like lighter capital, all of these things, I think, just like no code should be celebrated in the sense that it's making access to capital.

[00:26:17] just more accessible. and it is also. Unique in that a model like earnest, isn't looking for the same level of returns that a traditional VC firm is so hugely positive all the way around.

[00:26:31] Tom Osman: [00:26:31] Yeah. Got it. Yeah. I can completely agree. Just flipping the switch back to out setter for a moment.

[00:26:38] Let's people can be listening to this. Having tied a few tools together, we're going to have people here. Listen to this podcast are just setting out, thinking about what tools to use, tactically, which tools. As an example, it doesn't necessarily have to be like the only option in their category, but which tools does Outseta a replace.

[00:26:56] And let's talk through just like these like functionality from CRM all the way through the stack.

[00:27:01] Geoff Roberts: [00:27:01] Yeah. We actually have a funny, I don't know if it's funny, but an illustration on our website that kind of speaks to this and I'll give you a couple of the common tools that we displaced. So the first thing, tends to be subscription billing and subscription management.

[00:27:18] So our most direct competitors are companies like charge me or Recurly or paddle, that do that subscription management piece. so on the CRM front,

[00:27:39]HubSpot CRM is free. Pipe drive is it's not, I think

[00:27:42]Tom Osman: [00:27:42] I think we're just losing your connection is just dropping out. It's just

[00:27:52] we can just wait for it says come back. I'm sure it will come back and live in a second. Yeah.

[00:28:05] Is it still got some red bars on my screen? I'm sure it would just come back in a second.

[00:28:22] Is it? yeah, maybe  Yeah. yeah. Should we get, yeah, so I'll ask the question again and then we can edit it. However cool. so flipping the switch back to the setter for a moment, let's just talk like tactically, what are some of the pools and stack the at the Outseta are actually replaces.

[00:28:45] Cause you know, that there's a lot of things. If somebody is building with a select set of tools, what would they be replacing if they moved over to Outseta

[00:28:53] Geoff Roberts: [00:28:53] Sure. So most subscription businesses, to start need some sort of subscription management functionality. so they'll use a tool like charge B, or Recurly or paddle in the context of a SAS business.

[00:29:06]on the membership site side, you tend to see tools like member stack. so we similarly manage subscriptions and those are, products that we compete with. On the CRM side, it tends to be pipe drive and HubSpot CRM, on the email marketing and kind of automation side again, HubSpot and tools like MailChimp.

[00:29:26]and then on the help desk side, I would say Zen desk, Intercom,  those kinds of tools.

[00:29:32] Tom Osman: [00:29:32] Got it. And what. From that selection of tools, we'll say the most common combo and people would come over. And so that they're using is it, they use it, they're looking to replace a tool or are they looking to say implement some sort of CRM functionality and they want to have at the bits at the same time.

[00:29:51] Geoff Roberts: [00:29:51] Yeah. So we have two different circumstances that drive us customers far and away. The ideal circumstance is a brand new business. That's just starting out that hasn't adopted any technology and the way that our pricing model works and really what we hope is we can intercept them early on. They can start using whatever feature of Outseta is immediately pertinent to them, but then grow into the rest of the functionality of the product.

[00:30:15] As their need for it arises. The other type of customer that we see increasingly as the customer that has launched their business has gotten to some scale and they just feel like their tech stack is duct tape together. Things are constantly breaking. They're pulling their hair out and they come to us and they say, we just need operational efficiency.

[00:30:35] We need. So start to bring some calm to the chaos, and that is much more of a migration project, but we can take their business that is split between five to 10 tools and really put them onto a single tool or one to two tools. so those are the two circumstances that we encounter.

[00:30:53] Tom Osman: [00:30:53] Got it. And what was probably the biggest benefits moving off of like a multi-tool stack on SWAT Seto in your opinion?

[00:30:59] I know I have my insights to this, but it'd be interesting to see what you think.

[00:31:04] Geoff Roberts: [00:31:04] Yeah, I think it comes down to one of the answers is cost. I try not to hang my hat on that. Yes. I think if you are. jumping through pricing tiers of all these different tools. it is easy to lose track of what your actual costs are as you scale.

[00:31:21]but I think the bigger benefit is really operational efficiency and having a more durable business that you can manage from a single tool. As,  you integrate all those different tools. It's inevitable, as we've said, that things break and, the impact ends up being on your customer, or just time that your team needs to spend wrangling these tools into submission so that they're sending the appropriate data back and forth.

[00:31:46] And, your billing data can be used in your marketing campaigns and things of that nature. I think the real benefit is just. All of your data, whether it's your customer communications, your billing data, your CRM data is in one platform. And that allows you to do a lot of things, from a segmentation standpoint, from how you communicate with customers really effectively, knowing that the data that those campaigns are being sent on is, clean and accurate.

[00:32:14] Yeah,

[00:32:14] Tom Osman: [00:32:14] that's probably going to lead on to what I was going to say is for me, even probably slightly more than cost because. Just a quick note on cost is although your cost is like a big saving, especially when you start using say like six tools and the scripts institutions add up, there's always the flip side to that way.

[00:32:38] As you're already saving quite a lot of money on development time. What you thought was going to cost you 10,000 is now costing you $150 a month, which is in the scheme of things. You're still saving like 10 X, 10 X for the year. So although the cost is really important for me, I think it's data. And I say that it's a data and insights realize that because.

[00:33:04] The majority of projects built without code by cobbling, these tools together, as we alluded to earlier on in the conversation, nobody actually has any idea what anyone is doing, usually in terms of user activity, in terms of things like billing. You, like you said, you have to go to each platform and because it's so awkward, that data is never centralized.

[00:33:27] So you, we, maybe you have a segment on an email list in say ConvertKit or MailChimp. You've had to create that segment and maybe you've got like a zap, which updates it, but that's your, that segment is for email only. That's not got information on last logins. how many times they've been active? Have they.

[00:33:47] I attended a workshop. I have, they that's just an example. Have they bought anything recently? when did they last login? Are they active all day? Are they like a power user? Like this, these type of insights are few and far between if anyone has got this figured out. So I think for me, when I first saw an assessor, that kind of gives you that instantly.

[00:34:10] And whereas. That might be like an obvious thing to somebody like you coming from like a bigger business background. You obviously have all this stuff in one place. This is already goes against the grain of a no-code application where by default is not in one place.

[00:34:28] Geoff Roberts: [00:34:28] Yeah, absolutely. I think a perfect idea.

[00:34:30] Example to bring this to life. I actually shared a tutorial and Outseta his channel on maker pad recently in this regard. But, one of the things we heard all the time from early users and experienced ourselves was we've got people signing up for our products and then they don't come back and log in.

[00:34:46] How do I reach out proactively to those sorts of people and do one of two things. EI either offered to provide some help and help them get onboarded or be asked for feedback and say, you're clearly not using our products. where did we fall short? And typically the challenge in setting up that workflow is you need to communicate between whatever you're using for authentication to realize which user is logging in, how often, et cetera.

[00:35:13] Without set setup with everything being part of the same system, you can literally create a segment that just says, show me everybody that hasn't logged into our product in 14 days, use that to trigger an email campaign, asking for that feedback, offering help. And if the person does log in, immediately remove them from that segment.

[00:35:30] I was able to set that up and 90 seconds literally, whereas. That sort of workflow is pretty tough to do with other tools.

[00:35:40] Tom Osman: [00:35:40] Yeah, it is Tufts. It's probably worth noting. If anyone is looking to start a project from scratch, it's easy to get to the first stage. So there's. Tons of tools out there.

[00:35:51] You can actually create your app really quickly. Now then when you start getting users and you're going to start charging money, you're going to need to start getting insights into who's doing what and how can you offer them value and then actually using your product, et cetera.

[00:36:05] This is where starting off probably with a product. W like our sets, it gives you all the benefits of saying, okay, I've got a big team of people, admin people, data scientists, or whoever is working at like a bigger business, but within one tools, this is, that was one of the things that I liked. And I think it was one of those valuable things, So that's a for sure, absolutely. Yeah. What was, what's the plan in terms of where you go now with the product? Because it seems like a pretty feature complete in terms of what. I imagine you were saying out to complete from the start.

[00:36:48] Geoff Roberts: [00:36:48] Yeah, absolutely. we get asked this question a lot. and one of our problems is Outseta is so feature rich.

[00:36:56]we get lots of prospects that just show up and are like, you've already got 20 features. Let's build 20 more.  and our answer at this point is. We have delivered the core features of the product we offer. We were a broad, wide product. There already were, a CRM, a series of communication tools and a billing system.

[00:37:14]if you want to really simplify it, but we're not going to be adding a lot of new functionality per se. What you're going to see us do going forward is take each of the software categories that we cover and take them that much deeper and creep closer to feature parody. Would the point solutions that we compete against.

[00:37:31] So a perfect example. And one of the areas where Outseta is a little bit light at the moment is our email marketing system. We allow you to design your own HTML email templates. We give you a default template. That's skinned for your business and pulls in your logo. Or you can send plain text emails MailChimp.

[00:37:50] On the other hand has, a builder in 300 plus templates that you can pick from, We're not going to be building 300 plus templates, but I think to be more competitive on some of our features, we need to,  creep in that direction and just go a little bit deeper on some of the features that we currently offer.

[00:38:07]so that's really, what's on our product roadmap.

[00:38:10] Tom Osman: [00:38:10] Gotcha. And is it a team, a fully remote? So I know I saw where it might be fully remote now, but was it the plan to always be fully remote?

[00:38:19] Geoff Roberts: [00:38:19] Yes, absolutely. yeah, it's, the team is always going to be completely distributed. right now we have of my two co-founders happen to both be in Boston.

[00:38:29] I'm in San Diego and we have our lead designer in Portland, Maine, but one of my co-founders from Boston is actually going to be moving to Greece. So we're going to be all over the globe here shortly. And,  that's very much how we want to scale the business.

[00:38:42] Tom Osman: [00:38:42] Nice. W what are your thoughts of remote working?

[00:38:45] Cause I know you like myself have twins. So how's that been working out for you building a business at the same time?

[00:38:51] Geoff Roberts: [00:38:51] I do.  let me start with the first bit, then I'll get to the twins.  the first bit is I was somebody. that was fortunate to be on the remote work train early. I started working remotely in 2012.

[00:39:05]and I went into the office of my now co-founder Dimitri, who is my boss at the time. I had a job that I absolutely loved, but I was hell bent on a personal level,  to move to the West coast of the U S and I asked for permission to work remotely. If I was not granted it, I was ready to leave this job that I had grown to love.

[00:39:25]and they gave me permission to work remotely. I've been working remotely ever since. And from my perspective, it's just about empowering your employees to live the life that they want to live, whatever that means to them.  my life has been enriched in countless ways by being able to work remotely, I've traveled all over the place while working remotely and, I can't imagine working for a company that didn't support their employees in that way.

[00:39:50] So that's the first bit, the second bit. yes. I have infant twins at home, that were unexpected in the sense that my wife and I, after dating for 13 years, decided we were going to have. A child. we decided one, one was going to be at, because we wanted to do things like continue to travel and, not just be hunkered down all the time.

[00:40:12] Next thing two showed up. And, that also happened right before this pandemic started. My wife and I for a while where, she was laid off and we were both at home with infant twins in a relatively small two bedroom apartment,  trying to get work done all day. So that's been a small catastrophe, as you can imagine.

[00:40:32] But on the flip side, I've got to spend pretty much the whole first year of my kids' lives at home with them, which is an opportunity. Not a lot of parents get so definitely a silver lining.

[00:40:44] Tom Osman: [00:40:44] Completely agree. I've had friends who had children during this period and. Yeah, they've actually enjoyed it after the fact, because I know there's all that thing about people getting involved and always wanting to come round and interfere.

[00:41:01] And it's just actually quite a nice period of when you've got children that she don't, you won't get the chance to do ever again, should things return back to normal. So first of all, congratulations. That's awesome. I know how hard it is to work with twins is currently half term here. So they're all. Yeah.

[00:41:19] The, I also say you are looking potentially at a place in the woods. I think he looks on  planning a move, a relocation.

[00:41:28] Geoff Roberts: [00:41:28] I'm not planning a relocation. at least at this point, I, I really San Diego, for a lot of reasons. I think this is going to be. the closest thing to a home for me, longer-term going back to the previous company where I met my co-founder, it's called Buildium, and that is a rental property management software products.

[00:41:49] So when I was working at that business, I learned a lot about investing in real estate. And for me, that is, something I'm interested in two ways. one is just as an investment. So there's lots of people that. invest in cryptocurrency or whatever it might be the stock market.  for me, I look at real estate as a good investment.

[00:42:11] I think if you look back over time, owning land has worked out pretty well for just about everybody. yes. there's a financial component to it.  but more than that, I think I'm not the type of person that's going to make a lot of investments solely for. The financial upside of the investment.

[00:42:30] When I look at real estate I'm and I just made my first real estate investment, which we can chat about, but, I'm looking at, where do I want to spend time long-term and the investment is yes, someone can pay my mortgage for the months that I'm not living there. But ideally what I would like to do is have small places, two, three bedroom places in three or four locations around the world and be able to hop between them and spend three, four months at a time at beach.

[00:42:59]I'm not there yet, but that's something that I'm working towards and,  looking at locations that are off the beaten path and then beautiful places is certainly where I'm headed.

[00:43:09] Tom Osman: [00:43:09] Yeah. Nice. I'm a big fan of getting our doors and running. So anywhere in the wilderness, on my own for a few hours is ideal.

[00:43:19] So we actually moved out of city, out of towns and we live up on something called the mall and here in England. So yeah. Completely understand your feeling there. The. Back onto the topic of building things. You have silos, multiple projects set. So being your latest one, if there are people listening to this podcast, thinking about the next project.

[00:43:47] So maybe they're like looking for inspiration and in the no-code era, there's a low barrier to entry of actually trying. So it's going to be zero opportunity costs apart from time, where would you like to see more projects being started in what sort of sector? Where should people be focusing the time?

[00:44:09] Geoff Roberts: [00:44:09] Yeah, that's a good question. I don't have a strong opinion on the sectors that other people should be starting their projects in. I think there is. Lots of obviously good sectors things that,  impact climate change or the healthcare system or things like that I think makes sense.

[00:44:27] But I don't think, you should dictate Tate where people look. I think for me like the strongest opinion that I have on this topic in general of where do we find ideas and how do we decide what we chase is? I think one of the downsides. particularly of the indie hackers community, if you will, is there seems to be this really predominant.

[00:44:54] Mindset that if an idea doesn't show like immediate traction that it's not worth pursuing. And I think that comes from a good place. It comes from, Eric Ries and the lean startup and traction is the best indication that you're onto something. but if you look at. The history of humanity and all the great things we've achieved.

[00:45:15] How many of those things became instant successes? very few. And I think the topic that doesn't get discussed enough is when you're evaluating startup ideas, how do you decide which ones you need to see immediate traction from versus ones you can dig into and take a longer term perspective.

[00:45:33] So giving you a example from Outseta up. I already told you, we talked about this and said, this is a big project. It's going to take us years to get something off the ground. there's two things at play here. One is we were comfortable. Sort of building this product because we build, or we're building a billing system, a CRM, email marketing.

[00:45:56] These are categories of software that have been validated long ago. I'm betting that they're not going anywhere. I think there's going to be a continued need for these, decades into the future. So from that perspective, We also knew we were entering incredibly crowded markets. And why would somebody buy our, lousy all-in-one system in the early days of the business?

[00:46:18]they're not going to do that. It's going to take us a long enough time to build something compelling. That's truly competitive. and we knew that, but I think if you followed the common guidance, people would say, you're not going to see immediate traction, you're entering a competitive market, et cetera.

[00:46:34] And discard that idea altogether in lieu of something sort of new and shiny, where you are seeing immediate traction. And I think that is unfortunate. So my advice for other people would be, you should look more at whether it's software or anything else, markets where people have already built solutions.

[00:46:53] That's a pretty good indicator that there's demand. And those markets can be just as compelling. If you can build a better mass mousetrap, if you will.

[00:47:03] Tom Osman: [00:47:03] Yeah, I like that. I think it also just science build projects that are going to interest you long-term I know absolutely avid is spoken to multiple times, make bad bootstrap.

[00:47:14] Founder is a big proponent of building something that scratches your own itch, because that's going to be something that you could work on for a long time, rather than the flash in the pan interest. That's just going to fade off. Like pretty quickly, we see these graveyards of projects that look promising, like an initial product launch, great success, like few users.

[00:47:35] And then within a month they're just, they're gone. So yeah. I'm completely agree with what you just said. Yeah. One of the final couple of questions, first one, what would you. Build, what would you like to have built if you didn't build out setsa in the no-code space?

[00:47:58] Geoff Roberts: [00:47:58] That's a good question. honestly, I, I've been in the software industry for 11 or 12 years now.

[00:48:07]I pretty much haven't spent any of my professional experience aside from some consulting gigs outside of software. and I'm not a software person. I'm not a terribly technical person. I know it's weird to say from the co-founder of a software company.  but my, my co founders are software engineers.

[00:48:24] Certainly. I've got a lot of experience,  with UX design and building software companies in general. But I think longer term if there is life after Outseta, which I hope there's not, I genuinely hope this is the last company I build and work for. I think I would probably move outside of the software industry.

[00:48:44] And it's not because I'm disinterested in software it's because I think I have so many diverse interests in general. anything from, I like to cook, opening a small restaurant to,   a grander vision of mine on the real estate investing front would be. To own six or eight of these properties around the world and rent them out to tech companies that want to do off sites.

[00:49:08]things like that really appealed to me. And I think I would probably look in a different direction just to do something new.

[00:49:17] Tom Osman: [00:49:17] Got it. And final question is this year has been a bit gloomy. To say the least in terms of if you read anything online. So for me, I try to avoid most news, et cetera. So I tried to keep it as positive as possible, but I know it's hard because of the obvious reasons.

[00:49:41]what are you most excited about?

[00:49:44]Geoff Roberts: [00:49:44] good question. And it's funny. I'm I've always identified as being a pretty nonpolitical person. I've never been the type of person to watch the news a whole lot, at least. And that changed for me when COVID first started. All of a sudden I was watching the news like.

[00:50:05] Six hours a day. and I burnt myself out on him really fast at this point. I'm going to the other direction and I'm like running from the news. I think the hard thing for me is like what really gets me out of bed and gets me excited and, Helps me enjoy life to the most is travelling.

[00:50:24] And right now I can't travel. So that has legitimately been a challenging thing for me. I think how I've dealt with it is twofold. One. I'm throwing myself into being a dad. I've got that opportunity for the first time and God knows my, my wife needs the help.   that's been a good distraction for me.

[00:50:45]and the second thing, this is a cop out answer, but just planning things for the future to be excited about. I've got all kinds of trips planned next year. I hope I can actually go on them. but having things to look forward to and feeling like there is some end in sight to this year that we've had.

[00:51:04] Tom Osman: [00:51:04] I couldn't agree more. I think that's a pretty good spot to leave it on as well. Geoff, where can anybody find you online?

[00:51:14] Geoff Roberts: [00:51:14] Yeah, you can find me, www.outseta.com. You can always find us there. I'm on LinkedIn and on Twitter @GeoffTRoberts. I'm a Geoff. So it's G E O F F.

[00:51:26] Tom Osman: [00:51:26] Okay. Yeah, we'll make sure we add all the links to the profiles and in the show notes, but Geoff has been a pleasure speaking to you as always, and hopefully we'll do this again soon.

[00:51:37] Geoff Roberts: [00:51:37] Yeah, likewise, Tom, that was fun. Thanks for having me.

[00:51:40] Tom Osman: [00:51:40] Excellent. See you again.


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