In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr chat with Kevin Yip, Blueboard’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer. Blueboard is a platform that allows companies to reward employees with amazing experiences; anything from a skydiving adventure to dinner at a Michelin-rated restaurant is fair game. How does a company with such a unique business concept not only achieve product/market fit but stay dynamic enough to retain it through challenging times? In this episode, we find out.
- “Rewards really matter;” how Blueboard makes an impact (08:29
- Customer vs. investor conversation; why it’s not just about giving employees more money (38:41)
- Door-to-door; finding product-market fit one company at a time (26:01)
- The James Bond Experience (32:01)
- What happens when the world shuts down; product/market fit and COVID (33:55)
- Feedback loops; amplifying the Bluebaord experience (42:28)
And much, much, more . . .
While entrepreneurs often dream of bringing new ideas to market that nobody else has thought of, it can be a huge challenge to get from zero to one with a completely new idea. Kevin and his co-founder had their work cut out for them in their early days. They literally went door-to-door to try to get companies and their HR teams excited about the value of Blueboard experiences. An intro into GoPro proved to be a boon for the fledgling business, and eventually, Blueboard’s vision of an experience marketplace came to life.
The team continued to dial-in product/market fit. They learned how to more effectively sell into HR, they developed feedback loops to ensure that as employees enjoyed Blueboard rewards they were able to effectively share their experiences with their colleagues and more. The company had found its footing and was on a roll and then Covid hit. But Kevin’s team understood their product/market fit and quickly figured out how they could continue to bring value to employers and their employees in the new stay-at-home environment.
Take a listen, and please subscribe to our new Breakout Growth Podcast YouTube Channel Here
— Introduction 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan
Gar interview leaders from the world’s fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what’s
really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar.
Sean Ellis 00:00:26 And this week’s episode of the breakout growth podcast, Ethan Gar and
I chat with Kevin yet, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Blueboard. So Blueboard is a
platform that lets companies reward and recognize their employees, contributions with unique
and frankly, awesome experiences. So new and innovative concepts like this suggest a blue
ocean of opportunity, but sometimes when something is so innovative, dialing in product market
fit can actually be a real challenge. So Ethan, what stood out to you as we dug in with Kevin,
Ethan Garr 00:00:56 I, it was just that shot, you know, you and I can look at a company
sending a standout employee to a Michelin rated restaurant, or maybe sending them on a
skydiving adventure. I think. Wow, that’s totally awesome. But it was really interesting to hear the
process of Kevin and his team getting from zero to one with an offering that was really a totally
new concept. They’re not selling analytics software to companies that know they need better
visibility into their data. They’re selling employee happiness, probably to companies that already
value and recognize their employees in one way or another.
Sean Ellis 00:01:24 Yeah. And you, and I both know how challenging it can be to sell into HR
departments. Cause it’s something we did at the beginning of the pandemic and we quickly
learned that challenge and we were still trying to dial in product market fit. And that’s exactly
where Kevin and his team found themselves really trying to focus on finding ways to educate
companies by think Kevin understood that finding product market fit was job one. And he wasn’t
afraid of the hard work and diligence it would take to get there.
Ethan Garr 00:01:54 Yeah. I would say him literally going door to door to 300 companies. I
think he said in blue boards, early days, it was really proof of that diligence. But I think what our
listeners are going to find valuable is just how that focus on product market fit and really
ensuring that the company continued to validate it even as COVID and other challenges have
come up over the years, it shows just what it takes to always put customer value at the forefront.
Sean Ellis 00:02:14 Yeah, for sure. And by the way, like many of the companies we have on
the podcast, Blueboard is growing really fast. So if you are looking for a new opportunity with a
company, um, they definitely know how to recognize and reward employee contribution. So they
may be exactly the place you’re looking for. And who knows, you may find yourself climbing
Everest or some other great experience.
Ethan Garr 00:02:35 Yeah, that’s very funny. And before we jump in, we wanted to let our
listeners know that we’ve added a new format to this podcast every other week between full
episodes like this one, Sean and I are going to air quick seven to eight minute episodes that we
call growth snacks. These are quick hit conversations where we focus on sharing one learning to
help you and your team grow. And our first one is already up and you can also find it on our new
YouTube channel, which is linked from the homepage
Sean Ellis 00:02:58 Of growth.net. Yeah, definitely check out the, uh, gross snack episodes.
Um, to be honest, this last one we did was eight and a half minutes. So we’re shooting for that
seven to eight minutes, but they’re really loaded with one actionable piece of advice. And this
last one will help you drive higher impact experiments. Was there something we’re all trying to
do? So we’re excited for them and we’re also looking for cool ways to involve you as the
listeners in the participation of actually selecting a topic. So, um, keep your eyes open and ears
open for something like that, but for now, Ethan, let’s get to it. Alright, let’s do it. Hey Kevin,
welcome to the breakout growth podcast.
Kevin Yip 00:03:47 What’s up, Sean? Thanks for having me.
Sean Ellis 00:03:50 Yeah, we’re super excited. I’m also joined by my cohost Ethan. Hey
Ethan. Hey Sean. Hey Kevin, Kevin. And I thought I was just telling you, we, we met a few
months ago sitting on the UC Berkeley campus and I got really excited about his business. It s —
— ounds like you guys are doing some, some awesome things and on a really good growth
trajectory, but, uh, I’m guessing that there’s at least one or two members of the audience that
have not yet experienced a blue Blueboard. So maybe a good place to start is just give a quick
introduction to what the business is all about.
Kevin Yip 00:04:21 Yeah, so we, blue board is all about helping companies reward and
recognize their employees and where we kind of really focus is delivering experiences for great
work. And so experiences can be skydiving for the first time learning to make Italian gnocchi, uh,
surfing in Hawaii or just like a Michelin star meal. Anything that anyone would want to do, uh,
outside of work, we want to help deliver on behalf of great work. And so that’s yeah,
Sean Ellis 00:04:56 Yeah. Yeah. Where, where did you guys decide to? How did you come
up with the concept in the first place?
Kevin Yip 00:05:02 So yeah, no, it’s a great question. So I was a auditor at Pricewaterhouse
Coopers coming out of college. Very fun, sexy job. That sounds awesome. That was great. That
was great. Um, I had a buddy who was a roommate at the time who was consulting at
Accenture. And for me personally, I was put on a project and then the beginning of it had a
couple of team members quit. They were like outta here, don’t want to do the work. And so me
being the dumb one, not quitting, uh, I had to take on all, all, both of their work, right? So it’s
three people was work for one project. And so I ended up working about a hundred hour weeks
for over two and a half months, right. Seven days a week, 12 to 15 hour days complete grind.
Um, but I got it done.
Kevin Yip 00:05:48 Right. We didn’t look pretty, you know, at the end of it, I was like
anxious, stressed. I was about 25 pounds heavier my girlfriend at the time. Who’s now an
ex-girlfriend was on the verge of breaking up with me. Right. I was just a miserable human
being. And I remember my manager coming up to me and was like, Kevin, like amazing job.
Like, we really see how much you, how much energy you put into this, how much you’ve
sacrificed. And she put down an Amex gift card on my table, on my desk. And it was like, you
know, you know, the partner and I really appreciate you. And then like walked away. It was
almost like the straw that broke the camel’s back. But rather than feeling like appreciated value,
like, oh, wow, like I’m stoked. I’m going to do it again. Our next project as I I’m a cog in the
machine, I’m just a number.
Kevin Yip 00:06:37 This is bullshit. And I came back and I was like venting to my roommate.
And we started talking about, Hey, like what would have been a better option? Right. And so like,
we kind of started thinking like, wow, like actually there’s a lot going on in the background to
deliver that gift card. There’s millions of dollars in budget. She had to go to like our partner in HR
to get approval. They should pick up the gift card. Right. All of these great intentions. And then
like just to hit it to me and meet me reacting that way was exactly right. And so how Bloomberg
came about was like, we’re like, oh, imagine it. And said, she came up to me and is like, Hey
Kevin, I know you’ve been really frustrated with your health Naila boxing actually got you a
boxing membership to the gym around the corner for the next three months.
Kevin Yip 00:07:26 Or I know you and your girlfriend, you’ve been eating breakfast, lunch
and dinner here in the office, you know, for the life, you know, every day, you know, take her out
to a nice dinner date, you know, and maybe it’s, she’s in wine pairing class, same cost as a gift
card. But imagine how much more personal and thoughtful and out of felt for me is this like high
performing employee. And that was like the, uh, like I think we have like something here just like
from in the idea stage, right? Like companies are spending and it’s crazy. It’s like companies in
the U S spent over $70 billion on non-cash employee rewards. A majority of it goes to swag, a
Dyson vacuum, a blender and gift cards. Right. If we can help deliver something more
meaningful, like, oh, what would that feel? That feel better to the employee? And we just thought
like, absolutely. So anyways, now
Sean Ellis 00:08:18 You end up, uh, like, well, someone has to have thought of this already
and then go and start kind of trying to find someone who’s doing it and surprised us yet.
— aker 4 00:08:29 Yeah. And so what we found was that like recognition and rewards in
general, like was a very like software oriented solution. Hey, let’s track spend, let’s make it easy
to give out rewards, but like, they didn’t really care about the rewards themselves. And so like,
interestingly in our experience, I were like, oh, the reward really matters. Like actually like all of
these software and budgeting, like that’s required, but it didn’t deliver on what like a reward and
recognition should feel like to the end user. And so we, yeah, so we started going through it
realized like no one’s delivery experiences. And I think what in our like customer interviews or
like a research, what we found was like the top two to 3% of managers were doing something
like Blueboard is today. They’re stating about who the person is. They’re being thoughtful. They
might be spending even their own money and be like, Hey, I got you a whiskey tasting class. Or
like, Hey, like, you know, I got you, this gift card to Gary Danko is, you know, you know, take
your, your partner there. And we’re like, ah, there’s some of this behavior already happening in
top managers. Um, how can we make it easier for them? How can we make it easier and scale it
across the board?
Ethan Garr 00:09:44 It’s it’s funny. Cause, uh, Sean and I both, we we’ve been reading, uh,
empowered by Marty Cagan and I, there was a moment in it that stood out to me where he was
talking about rewards and where he said, you know, sometimes there have been times where I
took money out of my own pocket to make those rewards. It’s interesting that you’re saying the
top two to 3%, you know, I, I think the best managers in the world, they are really thinking, you
know, they, they are really taking that empathetic approach and they’re really thinking, like you
said, it’s not just about like, how do I tell Kevin, Hey, thanks for doing something. It’s I realize
who you are as a human being. And I want to reward that. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s interesting. Yeah.
How that could become the spark for this incredible business. I’m curious back at the time, what
did you identify as the biggest risks, uh, in starting that business,
Kevin Yip 00:10:34 Uh, w you know, with anything, with any kind of new venture, we, and I
hadn’t started a company before. Right. So it’s all of the, well, how do we build a product, right.
Um, how do we get an MVP up and running in front of our customers? And then like, how do we
ultimately convince them to buy? Like, there’s obviously like tons of risk in there, but actually,
like, for me, it was like personal risk, right. Because, you know, in the early stage, right, like,
you’re, you’re quitting your job. You have like a cush, like, you know, you know, salary you’re in
your mid twenties. You don’t necessarily want to be broke in your mid twenties and single. Right.
Um, and so like, it was all this,
Kevin Yip 00:11:19 And I went through a lot of that. Right. That was honestly like a lot of the
risk and that I had to like, kind of deal with personally. Um, but I take, you know, at the end of the
day, like, I think, you know, the risks can be mitigated with just like thorough research and like,
really like, okay, like curiosity, like, Hey, getting in front of your customers, like really, you know,
are you solving a problem? Right. Um, and so like, obviously as you start to build conviction into
what you’re doing, like, it becomes less of a risk because you have more confidence. Right. It’s
more, more data points that are validated. It’s kind of how I see it.
Sean Ellis 00:11:57 Um, sometimes people are this, like, you know, they, they, they don’t
want to deal with anything that, that could bring negativity to it. And so they, so they’re just like,
so laser focused on, oh, this’ll have to be successful. It will definitely be successful. And like, you
know, maybe ignore some of those data points. So were you able to, uh, able to, uh, kind of
remove the passion a little bit, just passionately kind of explore the opportunity,
Kevin Yip 00:12:24 Um, and maybe unpack that a little bit.
Sean Ellis 00:12:27 Yeah. So like, one of the things that I, I like to do is, uh, you, you may
have heard this before, like the, the, um, pre-mortem, have you heard that concept of just like,
essentially if this fails, what is the number one reason that it’s going to fail and, and then, and
then kind of like, so starting at the most n —
— egative and trying to, trying to like, kind of validate those assumptions and work your way up
to, to, okay. There’s enough stuff here. Let’s do it. Um, but what I was saying is that a lot of, I
think a lot of, uh, founders, they just like, they don’t want to hear the critics are so easy to be a
critic and they get kind of defensive about it. And, and, and, you know, obviously I can ask these
questions cause you, you’ve gotten to a point where, where, um, it’s really validated is growing
quickly, but in those early days, like, I mean, some people just get lucky and like, you know,
ultimately the, the, um, everything plays out the way that they hoped. But I was just curious.
Yeah. If, if, if you, uh, if you like how you could, how you could go, particularly with, like, let’s say
you’re pitching to investors, the idea you gotta be like, oh yeah, this, this is going to work. This
why it’s gonna work. And then, and then you have to switch into that critical mindset where,
okay, does this problem really exist and kind of, uh, dispassionately, uh, explore each of the
factors that are going to need to be validated in order for it to work.
Kevin Yip 00:13:57 Yeah. And honestly, you know, when I think about like kind of these
conversations, you know, I think of customer conversations and I think of investor conversations
and the investor ones have been by far, you know, 10 X harder. And if you think about the
business women, right, it’s, it’s really about saying thank you to your employees in a different
way. The Stanford MBA is going to tear that shit to, you know, they’re like, what, why do you
need to say, thank you, like, boom, well compensation, oh, benefit. You know, it’s just like, some
people just don’t get it. And there’s a really logical argument to that. Right. They’re going to be
like, oh, well the CFO doesn’t think these are the top three priorities. And I’m like, CFO’s right.
It’s not in the top three priorities. And yet businesses still spend on it. And they’re, they, you
know, they spend one to 2% of payroll.
Kevin Yip 00:14:50 So like, I think like what I’ve, I’ve come to understand over time. And it,
you know, it hasn’t been easy is that like, there are, like, there are like with any business, there
are going to be like, really, there’s going to be a critical feedback that will, like, if you really
perseverate on, we’ll almost tell you to not do the business. Right. Or, Hey, you’re not solving a
big enough important problem. And I think it’s the balance of like, you know, for me, it’s like the
customer conversations are always like, oh, wow, that’d be really interesting. Like, you know, I
have a couple people that I would love to do this for. Right. And so like, what I would always go
back to is that who are we ultimately serving? We’re serving the customer. And there is that,
there’s that kind of curiosity and that like natural interest that like, we like kind of flex to know
that, Hey, this is actually something that they are interested in and that they’re buying. And
they’re seeing success in that they’re paying more for a year over year that like, that has been
able to like investor, like, you know, you have a good point, but this is what a customer say.
Sean Ellis 00:16:03 Yeah. And what I also like is like, what really triggered you to even want
to pursue the opportunity was your conviction around the problem. And, you know, the, the
solution you want to be flexible on, but it, you know, if you, if you really understand the problem
and you feel like that problem, I mean, you, you saw it, you, you, you worked super hard and,
and then they cheapened it by just putting like a cash value on all the sacrifices you made and,
and, you know, no, no sort of meaning in that. And, and just saying, at least on a sample size of
one, I felt that problem, how many other people feel that problem. And if there are enough
people feel a problem, there’s an opportunity there.
Kevin Yip 00:16:47 Yeah, totally. Totally.
Ethan Garr 00:16:48 I I’m just, I’m curious. Um, did you ever since you’ve started this
business, have you ever had an interaction with the Pricewater, uh, um, PricewaterhouseCooper
person who gave you that gift card? Um, I’m just,
Kevin Yip 00:17:02 Yeah, definitely.
Ethan Garr 00:17:04 Can you tell us about what that conversation, cause it just seems like it’d
be fascinating to go back and I’m wondering like, if she even,
Sean Ellis 00:17:12 Yeah. —
— Did she, did she have an oh of course moment? Or was she like, what the hell are you talking
Kevin Yip 00:17:19 Yeah, I know the funny thing is like, we were really close. Right. You
know, we’re sitting right next to each other. Right. And we’re, we’re both working all that time.
Instead of, I think about like a person who could have had the opportunity to like recognize me in
a personal way, it would have been her and yet it still fell flat. And so that’s why I kind of we
joked around about it. Um, but, uh,
Ethan Garr 00:17:46 Um, in the end it turned out to be the best thing she could ever have
done for you. Right. No,
Kevin Yip 00:17:50 Exactly, exactly. And part of like, when you, and in conversations with
her, like kind of after starting this, a lot of managers, right. Like recognition is somewhat of an
afterthought, right? The top two to 3%, like I said, right. Like really take the time, but it’s, but after
that, it’s like almost like a checklist item for even the better 50%. Right. And so it’s like the fact
that you’re just doing it is like enough for them. Right. But it still doesn’t have the intended
impact. And so it, you know, to me, it just seemed like something that like, okay, if we can build a
system and a process and make it super easy to give something personal and meaningful, we
were like, companies are going to spend money on this. It almost like it’s like, why wouldn’t they,
Ethan Garr 00:18:41 I’m curious though. Um, you know, obviously you said, I think $70 billion
are spent, spent on, on things like this. Um, but were you trying to tap into like a clear existing
budget? Like, it sounded like that that gift card that you got probably was sort of like, it didn’t
come out of any specific budgets that she had to say, like, Hey, he’s been working his butt off.
We should recognize them and figured out a way to get you that money
Sean Ellis 00:19:08 Or that almost like car spot bonus. But yeah. So
Ethan Garr 00:19:12 It seems like now you’re going in you’re you have a, you have a pitch,
you’re saying, Hey, we have, we have this valuable thing that will make, you know, help you with
retention will improve your business where you did, you have to educate the, your potential
customer on how to find money to do this because, you know, they did it more ad hoc or did it
Kevin Yip 00:19:33 So the recognition as a kind of business has existed for years, but like,
you know, we, like, we are constantly educating companies. Right. And you think about a
maturity curve for, you know, even a, you know, a company today that’s like progressive, you
know, all about people and culture and like needs to be because, you know, like a software
company needs to keep their S their engineers happy. You know, they’re still like, you know, at a
certain point they’re like, oh, like we’re just, you know, charging this on like our, you know, our
Amex card. And like, you know, the CFO is like, what the hell is going on over here? Right. Like,
so like, there is a, there is like a maturity curve and like education needed to be done with like
almost every company. Um,
Sean Ellis 00:20:19 I could actually see myself actually being receptive to it. Um, I like, in my
last CEO role, I, I would say that the part I hated the most was the people part and that’s, and it’s
kinda, and I’m, I’m pretty good people person, but people are complicated, you know, like
Kevin Yip 00:20:38 I, you know, easy answers. Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:20:41 You know, I’ve got these puzzles of trying to figure out the business and
trying to get all these things and, and the puzzles feel more solvable solvable than the people.
And, you know, to the point, just, just to like iterate how, how scarred I am from that after I sold
my last business, I was like one rule in life. I, the previous role I had was I’m never going to work
for anyone else. Again, the rule afterwards was I’m never going to have anyone work for me
again. So it’s just kinda like, yeah, I guess, you know, the, the, the people side is complicated.
And so that’s why I’m saying, I would be receptive of someone said, you need a system for
meaningful recognition. And here’s how that connects with your broader goals in the business,
whether it’s, uh, retention, motivation, all these things that are really important to the success of
the business. So I think the education’s there, but, and even somewhat sounds like —
— the budgets are there, but the, um, but it, but it doesn’t seem like a huge leap for a lot of
people to, to be able to see what you saw.
Kevin Yip 00:21:45 Yeah. Even, you know, one of the, you brought up a good point that
actually we’re currently undergoing right now. And so like really, you know, the first several years
was about building a platform and making it really easy to send an experience, uh, deliver an
experience to an employee. Right. And what we’re seeing is like, our go to market is currently
evolving from like this like platform to like product marketing. And so like, okay, we have this
experienced delivery platform is what we call it, makes it easy to send the experience. How are
we productizing vertically on top of that to attack certain budgets. So we’ve built a, you know, a
product for, uh, anniversary and service rewards when people hit their five-year anniversary.
Right. We’ve built a president’s club product to deliver these, like, say like kind of these annual
sales incentives to top, you know, top sellers. And so, like, we’re kind of going through this, like
getting close to our customers, how are they using us in interesting ways? What outcomes are
they getting? And then like working closely with them to kind of productize that, and then like
market that out. That’s like something that we’re, you know, we’re currently going through right
Ethan Garr 00:23:01 Like w what drove that, what drove that change in the business? How
did you figure out that that was the logical next step to keep driving growth?
Kevin Yip 00:23:10 We always, you know, and it wasn’t, it was something we just, in how
we built it early on was like, Hey, like, let’s just make it easy. And like, you can, you can do this
for your customers and like pipeline and your employees, and let’s just sell it and like, figure out,
let’s get close to the customers and figure out how they’re using us, and then work to kind of
build support around that. Because we weren’t HR professionals. I, you know, I worked for 18
months, you know, I’ve had a job for 18 months, you know, in my career. Right. And so I’m like,
I’m not going to act like I’m an expert in like how the, of work happens and how organizations
run. So I think it was a little bit of just like, honestly, the awareness of like, knowing we were like
somewhat amateurs at this, uh, to like, not just like, make it functional and then like learn from
our customers early on.
Sean Ellis 00:24:01 And so where are you, where are you trying to get customers like from
day one? Or were you kind of going through that? Like, let’s, let’s get the solution just right
before we, before we try to scale the customer side,
Kevin Yip 00:24:13 We’ve, we’ve always been very like, kind of growth oriented as a
company. And I think part of the reason is, is both myself and my co-founder, we’re not
engineers. That’s a whole another story of how to get your first engineer, but like, we’re more
like, yeah, we’re more like business and sales folks. Um, and so before, even when we had this
idea of like, okay, how could it work? We had no product, and this is, you know, kind of going
back, I’d moved back to my parents’ place. I had gone completely broke. I was on the first Lyft
drivers. So it’s like, I had to sacrifice all that stuff. Right. That we kind of alluded to earlier. But
when we came up with this, I would like this, like an actual product idea. We sponsored a HR
innovators, meetup, we know product. And we showed up with our parents’ laptops. We put on
our iPads, we put on some, like, just pictures of experiences. And we said, Hey, like, you can like
give this to an employee. Like I was surfing lesson. I was like, oh, this got out of it. And we just
like, wanted to get feedback from HR buyers. And like, that actually was like, oh, this is really
cool. Like, there was enough like positive feedback. We’re like, all right, let’s build this.
Sean Ellis 00:25:26 Okay. Even at that point, you hadn’t quite told yourself we’re going to do
this. For sure. It was more, it was more in that kind of exploratory stage. And now you got
enough feedback there where you’re like, let’s go for it. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s
awesome. And then at what point, like, so, and then, but you aggressively were trying to grow it
or aggressively trying to sell it even while you were figuring out how to deliver it.
Kevin Yip 00:25:54 Yeah,
Sean Ellis 00:25:55 T —
— hat’s good. Yeah.
Kevin Yip 00:25:56 Yeah. No, no. So like
Sean Ellis 00:25:59 Real world stuff.
Kevin Yip 00:26:01 Yeah. No. So like early on, right. Um, this is early customer acquisition.
We were going to, you know, bay area skydiving and, you know, booth B academy of the
beverage arts to like be experienced providers on our platform, selling them at the same time,
like Crunchbase data used to be free. We like basically export it, all the data of companies that
had raised over $10 million through it on a Google maps API. And we went door to door. So we
went to over there. That’s how we got our first customer. We went door to door and over 300
customers. Um, I got kicked out of Dropbox early on. I being the amateur. I was, I didn’t know,
like kind of, you know, the, you know, the, the EAs could look at, uh, someone’s calendar. So I
was, oh yeah. We have a meeting with like Kevin who runs, uh, runs the sales team. And, uh, he
was like, yeah, what time is it? Oh, two 30. And I’m like, yeah, you’re not on a calendar. I’m like,
Ethan Garr 00:27:02 Uh, wait a second, John, you work, you worked at Dropbox.
Sean Ellis 00:27:09 I got in before they had calendars. So I could, I could be as my way in.
Well, that’s great. And then, um, and then, so it was there, was there sort of, uh, a marked
turning point there? Or was it just literally like EV every day getting a little bit better at how to sell
this thing and every day, figuring out how to deliver it. And it just kept, kept getting better and
Kevin Yip 00:27:35 The first two years were like, you know, every customer we won, like we
freaking scratched and clawed away. Right. Like there was like, it was like one customer, like a
month maybe, but, but it’s like, I think at an early stage and we, we didn’t take on any funding
early on. It was just myself, like a founder. Like
Sean Ellis 00:27:57 I think, I think with those kinds of results funding probably would have
been pretty tough.
Kevin Yip 00:28:02 Exactly. Um, you know? Yeah. And so, like, I think like the first turning
point was, you know, at first deal was like $5,000 right now. It was like, oh, am I spending so
much? Right. And, um, we had, uh, I had a buddy that I went to school with that was an NHR at
GoPro. Um, and we got in front of NAB and honestly a perfect customer for Blueboard. Right.
PR perfect prospect. And, you know, at the time they were about a thousand employees and it
was like, oh wow, this is like an enterprise product. And so they, we went through a sales
process with them, like, Hey, like we’re going to roll this out to our entire company. And we were
very clear, like, all right, it’s just, you know, there’s three of us. We had an engineer at that time
too. And that was our first big like, Ooh, like, But then also like, Hey, like the product is so
simple, right. It’s like, you know, you could probably program it on like, these no-code easily
these days. Right. But like, it was like, let’s, let’s get really close to them. Let’s build a product
and enterprise product for them. Let’s learn about how the budgeting works about who uses it.
And then like, then we can like sell more of a product and program to larger companies.
Sean Ellis 00:29:23 That’s a business model. Is it? Or has it changed, but what is it like
taking a cut of the experiences? Is it SAS? Like how did,
Kevin Yip 00:29:31 Yeah. Yeah. So we’re looking at, we’re like a SAS marketplace, right.
And so we kind of create and kind of build up our experience marketplace on one side. Right.
We kind of, you know, get a, a take rate from that spend. And then we charge like kind of a, a
software like fi um, SAS fee, uh, for
Sean Ellis 00:29:51 New sources,
Kevin Yip 00:29:52 Then two different revenue sources directly.
Sean Ellis 00:29:54 Cool. And that’s like almost a network effect too, in the fact that with no
customers, the experience side is pretty hard to build and with no experiences, the customer
side’s pretty hard to build.
Kevin Yip 00:30:06 Yeah, exactly.
Ethan Garr 00:30:08 I was just curious, you know, you, you, you, you mentioned at the
beginning, like simple, you know, the product was, was barely a product at the time. And at what
point did, did it become really a, or has it even become a really a technique? It seems like it’s
not, it’s much less about the technology and more about making those connections —
— that there must’ve been a point though, where it became a technical technology marketplace.
Was there sort of a defined moment where you’re like, we’ve got to invest in that.
Kevin Yip 00:30:36 Yeah. And so it was shortly after that we kind of acquired GoPro as a
customer. And so, you know, they were using us in the U S and S and, you know, they said,
Hey, we have a few different offices, um, in the Philippines, I think in London, who we want to
use you there too. Right. And so now, like, you know, a simple, like kind of see it, like kind of
content management system, that’s like kind of managing these offerings. Like they need to be
like geo smart. We need to route like the employees like to the right kind of geographic menus
Sean Ellis 00:31:14 Experiences in those markets.
Kevin Yip 00:31:16 We need experience in those marketplaces. Right. We need, like, there
needs to be like a, uh, like a workflow to help deliver those experiences. And so like, that’s
when, like we were like, we need to invest heavily kind of on the R and D to build out the
product. Um, and it just continues, right? Like, yeah, no, we w you know, last year we did
experiences and, you know, over 50 countries. Wow. Right. Um, obviously languages,
currencies, payments, et cetera, et cetera. Right. But,
Sean Ellis 00:31:50 But you’ve hired a fourth person now, now
Ethan Garr 00:31:55 What’s, what’s the wildest experience you’ve delivered most unique
thing that you’ve delivered.
Kevin Yip 00:32:01 Um, you know, we have this James Bond experience and, uh, that, like,
it has a really great story to it. But, uh, what you do is a good story in the formation of this
business. But what the experience is, is like you and a fan, you get a, a tux or a, a gown, you
know, that you rent out, you get picked up in a black car, skydiving land, you have an Aston
Martin or Jaguar waiting for you on the runway, zip that around, uh, the sequence here is
important. You drop off the car and then you have a private ecology class where you learn to
make the perfect martini. So that’s idea. So that’s the James Bond experience. Um,
Sean Ellis 00:32:42 So I, I had my, I had my own James Bond experience years ago. I was
in London and, uh, I get in the elevator and Roger Moore gets in the elevator with me and I’m,
I’m accidentally hit up instead of down. So we’re like going to the like top suites and, uh that’s so
he starts like striking up a conversation with me. Cause I, I don’t know who the hell he is, but I’m
going to the top. So if he thinks I’m important, clearly I wasn’t. But then, then I, but I still didn’t
know who he was and I get off the elevator and he, he comes back down a few minutes later.
And my, uh, as with my CEO of the company at the time, and he’s like, that’s Roger Moore over
there. That’s a dude from the elevator. Who’s Roger Moore.
Ethan Garr 00:33:23 What worries me is that some people listening to this hip won’t know
that Roger Moore was a James Bond several decades ago, connect the dots.
Sean Ellis 00:33:33 Yeah. I started thinking the James Brown experience was going to be
what mine was, but that’s different, but that’s awesome though. And then, um, I think if you, if
you look back at the, at the business and all the different stages and challenges you’ve gone
through, is there one, is there one challenge that stands out as like, oh man, that was a really
hard thing to overcome.
Kevin Yip 00:33:55 There’s a, there’s, there’s definitely a few, um, you know, I think one is
definitely COVID right. Um, right. Pre pre COVID, pre COVID. Our core buyer is HR mix up
nearly at probably a hundred percent of our business. Um, and we do only in real life
experiences that you think about, COVID kind of moving everyone from the office to home. HR
is, is slam, is probably like, you know, they’re probably the most overworked team
Sean Ellis 00:34:28 At that moment.
Kevin Yip 00:34:29 Yeah. Right. And then we’re also selling, Hey, send your employees out
to travel, you know, go do a cooking class. You’re like, oh, wow. Like this is like very tone deaf.
And so like, it just happened to coincide at the time that we were about to fundraise. I think we
took our first meeting, like end of February 20, 20. We’re like, oh, this is gonna be a great
Sean Ellis 00:34:54 Interestingly, uh, Ethan and I were working on a project, um, at that time
trying to contact HR dep —
— artments. So we know exactly the, the, the challenge of that. It was a, it was really,
Kevin Yip 00:35:08 Yeah. And so like, just like, you know, off a cliff, right. Anything from our
lead funnel, select just like people answered our customers, answering our emails. And so it felt
like one of those moments where like, oh, wow, like this actually could, this actually could
destroy the business. We could be a goner. And so we first launched virtual experiences. Um,
and we, you know, we rolled out menus, so our customers could continue to send out
experiences and people can use them. Um, uh, we launched virtual experiences in in-home
experiences. We call it, uh, you know, in four weeks we continue to add to that. And so that was
like a major win, uh, that we didn’t know if it would land or not. It, you know, that was a huge win
for us. And then the second thing we did was we rolled out a sales product and we said, Hey,
who’s trying to work right now. We’re like, we are the growth team. Uh, we’re trying to sell. So
are a lot of other people. And so like kind of wrong, like a mix of rolling out these virtual and
in-home experiences as incentives to sales teams took, you know, a few cycles of like learning
how to position it and sell and market it. But then after that, it just took off. And so now we use,
you know, now we have two core buyers, right. HR and sales, and they’re both doing extremely
Sean Ellis 00:36:32 So it turned out that that challenge was almost more of an accelerant.
Once you, once you figured it out, once the HR came back online, then you had, then you had
really two drivers of growth in the
Kevin Yip 00:36:43 Yeah, exactly. And so that’s been, that was like, yeah, kind of a big
challenge that like, you know, ended up being a huge opportunity once we kind of figured out
how to get around it
Ethan Garr 00:36:54 From the perspective of selling into HR teams, which is then more
general towards the entire employee population versus selling into a sales team. Is, does it
change the perspective on like what the value is that you’re offering or is it, is that consistent?
And it’s just about repositioning the language around that.
Kevin Yip 00:37:18 It’s, it’s, it’s, there’s a lot of repositioning, um, because you know, HR,
you’re talking culture engagement, right. You’re talking about like a lot of like, it’s an emotional
sale, right. Um, emotional sales, like just for, at least for us, I tend like you gotta be real direct,
you know, when you’re selling the sales teams. And so they like, Hey, I get the emotion cool.
Like, what are we going to do? Like, how are we gonna roll this out? And so it’s like very much
about the, how the value is still the same. Right. We’re delivering an experience to some
employee who is, you know, work their ass off. Um, but the, yeah, the packaging positioning
how we sell it much different.
Ethan Garr 00:37:58 So you mentioned earlier when you went, you know, selling, you know,
talking to customers, easy talking to, uh, investors was really hard because, you know, very nuts
and bolts and like, why not just pay them more money, right. Like, why not just give them more
compensation, sales, salespeople, traditionally, not all sales salespeople, I don’t want to
over-generalize, but you know, it’s easy for them to say, Hey, rather than giving me, you know,
this experience raise my commission. Right. Or like, it’s very easy to be just, yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:38:26 I mean, there’s the, there’s the cliche of coin operated salespeople.
Ethan Garr 00:38:31 So I’m totally, I’m just curious. Was that, did you encounter, has it been
a hurdle or, or, or is it, is that not really been the issue?
Kevin Yip 00:38:41 It’s definitely a hurdle because I think there’s like, I mean, the coin
operated rep is a longstanding kind of, you know, notion with, uh, with account executives. Um, I
think what people see, especially for high performing folks, if you go to a Salesforce or a
Workday, you, you take the top 10% of their account executives. They’re making half a million
dollars a year. Right. What’s giving them another $5,000, you know? And so like, that’s kind of
where we position is like a five, you know, you’re going to have to spend a larger amount of
money to actually have this same kind of emotional and like motivational impact. Right. But if I
say like, Hey, if I tell you that 5,000 and I’m like, oh, you’re going to do a, uh, y —
— ou know, two courtside tickets to watch Steph Curry, you know, you know, beat out Ray Allen
on this, you know, three, the number of three points all the time. Right. Like, yeah, let’s, let’s do
that. Right. And that’s probably like 3,500, you know? So it’s like, I think what we’ve done well is
like reposition. Like you’re going to have to spend more money on the cash. Right. Or you can
do an experience and have like a bigger impact with less.
Sean Ellis 00:40:04 And I actually, in my experience kind of top salespeople that I’ve worked
with tend to be sort of experienced junkies anyway. Like they, they, they they’re outgoing. They,
they got, they got more to talk about the experience that they did. And, and so I got to actually
see that being super appealing.
Kevin Yip 00:40:22 Yeah, definitely.
Ethan Garr 00:40:25 Yeah. I also think there’s something about the, uh, I would imagine the,
the culture, uh, the culture building experience of people coming back to the office and saying, I
just did this. And I mean, I know when I worked, when I was part of Tel tech, um, couple of years
into it, we had a bunch of people going to a conference and we’re like, why don’t we just take the
whole company? And we’ll just all go out to Colorado. And we ended up having this incredible
hiking and camping trip with like, whatever the company was at the time, 30, 40 people the next
year that turned into a company cruise. And occasionally I heard these, you know, a rumbling or
two from someone who’s like, yeah, I wish they would just give me more money than take us on
a cruise. But I don’t think anyone who went on the cruise came back from that and would have
traded that for even more dollars that, you know, let’s say it costs a thousand dollars per, per
employee or whatever. I don’t think they would’ve traded that for $3,000 in cash. I think it was
just, there was something magical about those experiences. Um, and I, you know, I do, do you
find that a lot of the experiences end up being group experiences or are they really more
individualized with what you’re offering?
Kevin Yip 00:41:33 We focus more on individual experiences and, um, we’ve just found that
to be the better like business model and product for us. I think there’s a, there’s definitely an
adjacency of group experiences that I think we’ll eventually get to. And the same
Sean Ellis 00:41:50 Budget though, is that, is there a kind of competition for that same
Kevin Yip 00:41:53 Uh, it’s not the same budget actually. Yeah. So we actually, it’s a
completely separate budget. Um, and so that, not that 70 billion on non-cash is, is individual
rewards, uh, mostly. Um,
Sean Ellis 00:42:08 So yeah, you mentioned SAS and obviously like a, like a big SAS metric
is, is usually customer retention. You know, how many, or maybe even customer expansion
when talking B2B, SAS, what, what needs to go right in, in an account to, to retain and, and
ideally even expand.
Kevin Yip 00:42:28 So now, and even your, uh, kind of your comment was a good lead into
this. Um, our biggest thing that leads to net revenue retention, that’s kind of how we that’s the
metric we focus on is in terms of like, kind of the tactics within like our programs. It, is there a, is
there a feedback loop for employees to share their experiences to the rest of the company?
Right. Because that’d be, you know, if we start with an engineering group and then all of a
sudden the engineering groups talking about it, they’re posting experiences on slack, it’s going
out in company newsletters, the sales team sees it, then the legal team sees it and they’re like,
huh, like we should be doing that too. And that’s
Sean Ellis 00:43:12 I gotten something like that. It can even be like, kind of pull demand.
Kevin Yip 00:43:16 Exactly. Right. And so like, that’s actually the huge thing that we really
focus on is like, we need it, we don’t have it. But like our goal is to have every single experience
like completed, gone on shared, um, you know, shared in whatever kind of feedback loop that
it’s set up at the company. And we even have like, you know, for certain things like companies,
like we’ll actually send out, um, we have a videographer who used to work at, at GoPro and then
we’ll go tell the story of what the person did, you know, to get the, the Blueboard experience we’ll
tape it and then they’ll share it on their link, their company, LinkedIn. So it’s —
— a good employer branding asset and also
Sean Ellis 00:43:59 On there, on the video as well.
Kevin Yip 00:44:01 Yeah. No, no. Yeah. So it’s like, um, so yeah, that sharing component is
huge for us in terms of like organic net revenue, retention and expansion.
Ethan Garr 00:44:11 Yeah. So do you have a, obviously you just said your retention is really
that key metric. Do you qualify, do you quantify that into like a north star metric that everyone is
Kevin Yip 00:44:24 ARR? Yeah. So we’re going, you know, we, uh, you know, our new
business team, new ARR, and then our account management team on, you know, kind of
retaining like our existed and my kind of net expansions,
Sean Ellis 00:44:39 But there’s not, there’s not something that’s kind of a little less, uh, just
dollar oriented, but like experience monthly experiences delivered or something that maybe, uh,
the team, uh, can, could feel a little more emotion toward,
Kevin Yip 00:44:54 You know, I, you know, I think for us, because we’re a big, like for
instance, right? Like we have this channel called blue boarding where it shows all of the
experiences that are being posted through our platform. Like this is, this is something we talk
about. That’s very front and center. We have a pretty like kind of culture, first company that I
think like for us, we don’t really need to focus on like that emotional metric as much because I
get so ingrained into kind of our product
Sean Ellis 00:45:23 That, that it’s not a, not a void if there, if it was not a void. Exactly. If it’s
an up until the right metric, that it doesn’t need to be something that’s a touchy, feely metric, it
can be, it can be, it’s just really funny. Cause it’s kind of like your whole business is not about the
coin and then you’re optimizing on the coin.
Kevin Yip 00:45:43 But that being said, and I don’t want to get myself and fell. It that’d be
sad. Like we do have this, like we do have this other thing called, and this is like on the other
side, but we don’t like, we don’t count this metric, um, in chocolate, but we get love letters. We
call it love letters where it’s like an employee, like just like thanking us or thanking their company
for like this amazing experience. So like, you know, we have, we have somebody probably like
every month proposing to their life partner with on a blue experience. Right. We have like
people, you know, we sent a person this by like one of my favorites. We, we sent a person to
the, you know, see the Northern lights and they named their dog. They’re kind of their newborn
Aurora after kind of that the Northern lights and that trip. So it’s like
Sean Ellis 00:46:30 Northwest or something.
Ethan Garr 00:46:34 Yeah. It’s funny how you you’re, you’re saying how there’s this sort of
this natural alignment because you deliver experience. Sean and I were, we were struggling
cause I, I had this question in mind and I couldn’t really articulate it that well, but we ha we
actually, um, we interviewed the CEO, um, Joseph Cohen of universe probably seven, eight
months ago. Maybe, maybe even longer universe is a website creation tool that, uh, it’s an app
where you can create a website and like two minutes. Um, and he, and he’s talked, uh,
extensively about the fact that one of the reasons he thinks he’s so successful is that the
company is so aligned. Like their goals are so aligned with their customer goals. Like, um, if
they’re, they’re helping people, individual creators create websites. And if they’re successful with
those websites, then that, that value is the it’s totally aligned with the value that they’re trying to
create by creating this easy, to make web experience on a mobile app. And I, it sounds, it’s
interesting that, because it sounds similar that because you’re so focused on delivering unique
experiences and valuable experiences, um, that, that sort of connects up through your
organization, I think is, is kind of what you’re saying. And that makes it easier for culturally to get
everyone aligned towards that.
Kevin Yip 00:47:51 We have a very mission-driven company. We have, you know, like
cause experience. Like we see ourselves as an experienced company and our product is, you
know, in recognition and building software and PR and like that. But because we see ourselves
as an experienced company, it attracts like, you know, people that are very like-minded right.
Like people t —
— hat like want to like kind of push themselves outside their comfort zone that like have these
like really rich passions. And they like that kind of like natural, like attraction of our employees.
Like it just like, it creates like a really like self-sustaining culture. It’s very similar to what you
alluded to at the university.
Sean Ellis 00:48:31 Yeah. You talked about in the early days being super, just like grinded
out sales driven and how you, how you, how you kick started the business. Is it still really sales
driven? Are you guys able to generate pretty good warm leads through something and that
salespeople are pushing them over the, over the finish line or like what’s the, what’s the kind of
acquisition model that you’re able to get someone from consideration to buying this?
Kevin Yip 00:49:00 Yeah, no, it’s a good question. What we’ve found like with HR, it’s very
community focused, you know, early on and that like kind of that code outbound court, like
smiling and dialing that does not work for HR. And so we really focused on in like, kind of also
like aligned with like introducing a new type of way to reward somebody that like becoming a
thought leader, having a point of view on like the future of work, having an employee to view on,
like, what does it mean to like invest in your culture, invest in your people was something that,
like, we think one that’s like important to have an opinion on. And like our customers would really
care about that. And so that was something early on, you know, on the content marketing side
and like where we really want to formulate a perspective. Um, and so we went in on the
community and thought leadership early on. And so right now, something like of our, of our HR
buyers over 90% of those are like kind of marketing generated. Right. Um, so we do very little
outbound on that side. Now, obviously when we spun up sale our sales product during COVID,
we didn’t have that brand
Sean Ellis 00:50:11 They’re much more into, so the problem is that they keep stealing your
salespeople. Probably man. You’re good. Come work for me.
Kevin Yip 00:50:20 Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:50:20 Yeah. That could be a little rougher, but, um, but yeah, so that, that
makes a ton of sense. And, and have you, have you, uh, have you seen like, uh, you said it’s
pretty community driven on the HR side, have you seen a pretty good kind of word of mouth
referral between different HR leaders across, across companies?
Kevin Yip 00:50:38 Yes. We have actually, these, that kind of blue boy, what we call
Blueboard advocates where they’ll like leave a job and they’ll take blue board to their next
company. And so like one of the top blue board advocate and has taken us to apply for different
companies. Um, and so, yeah, it definitely does, uh, the word does spread.
Sean Ellis 00:51:01 Hopefully it’s not cause they keep getting fired, but bad attitude actually
turns out to be the best customer profile. Anything else you want to, you want to try to uncover
Ethan? This has been, this has been awesome. I feel like I’ve got a really solid understanding of,
of how you guys got to where you are.
Ethan Garr 00:51:21 No, I, I, um, the, just the amazing thing is not 20 minutes before we
started this conversation. A friend of mine from college called me up and she started a new job.
I’m not going to say the company until it, because I’m going to make an introduction for you,
Kevin, but at, uh, at a very, very big software company, her, her role is senior director associate
engagement and wellbeing. So, uh, this is exactly, you know, th this is a role specifically about
delivering these experiences for employees. So I think you’re, you know, it’s, it’s interesting. I
think the world is, is becoming much more conscious of employee wellbeing and delivering real
value for the employees, uh, and rewards. So it’s, it’s just interesting. Like, um, I dunno, it just
seems like, uh, my, my ears must’ve been ringing as they say when she called. Um, but no
there’s has been really cool. And, um, you know, one thing I wanted to, you know, it sounds like
Sean Ellis 00:52:15 I have one more question before we get to that last question. Um, how,
you know, what, I’m a part of a YPO organization, a young, young president’s organization
where I interact with a lot of CEOs. And, um, I’ve seen a theme emerge in the last four or five
months is that, you know, so many companies went, went, rem —
— ote, went virtual, and as they try to move back to the office, they’re getting feedback from their
employees that they don’t want to go back to the office. And, uh, they, they at least want the
flexibility to have a lot of remote work time. And one of the big fears is, is sort of culture and a
lack of touch and lacks, lack of kind of loyalty when, when they don’t get to know their, their
teammates as well. I’m curious if, if you’re seeing that trend and if that trend affects your
business in any way.
Kevin Yip 00:53:12 Yeah. And this is actually one of the, one of the, one of the things where
we’ve done a couple, like different pieces of content is in the hybrid world and in like a remote
world, right. Where, where people are anywhere and everywhere. Like the biggest question to
answer from like, from the CEO down in terms of building culture, it’s like, how do we build this
distributed and asynchronously? Right. Because we’re all around the world. We can’t just like
hop on a zoom. Right. It’s all in different pockets. Right. And like, we don’t, we don’t have those
like, kind of in real life relationships. Right. And so like, you know, I think this is something we’ve
done really well. Right. And I think reward systems in general, right. When design will, are like
huge levers of culture, because you’re elevating and you’re amplifying what you care about as
an organization and then rewarding it. Right. And so like for us, it’s like Blueboard is not only like
a reward system, but it’s a very social and a very like kind of top of mind system that’s very
marketable. And so for us, like, we’ve been really leaning into this idea of like, how do you build
a stickiness culture? One of the key levers is a, is, is an important and impactful rewards
program in system.
Sean Ellis 00:54:35 That’s where I could see like a skydiving video being shared on the
network while there, where there w be wearing the t-shirt from the company. And just like this
like association of something really cool and fun that is outside of work, but still reflects work.
And that that’s, that’s, that’s part of an experience that you’re helping to create for someone can
Kevin Yip 00:54:58 Help fill that hundred percent.
Ethan Garr 00:55:00 Like I saw on LinkedIn, like within the last few weeks exactly. That
where someone went skydive and it may have been a Blueboard experience, but where they
were, they went on LinkedIn and they’re like, and they were, they were essentially bragging
about this experience that they had gotten through their company. So, um, yeah,
Kevin Yip 00:55:17 I think that was probably us. That’s awesome.
Ethan Garr 00:55:19 We’ll take credit for it either way.
Sean Ellis 00:55:22 Now, now you can ask the hiring question. I think that’s where you were
Ethan Garr 00:55:25 Yeah. I mean, it sounds like a pretty incredible place to work. I hope you,
uh, you actually give some of your employees, some of the experiences that you give to other
Kevin Yip 00:55:38 Yeah, we, we definitely eat our own dog food.
Ethan Garr 00:55:42 Um, so for our audience, uh, if anyone’s interested, are there roles that
you’re trying to fill at this point or anything that, uh, any place that they might want to check out?
Kevin Yip 00:55:51 Yeah. Um, well we are hiring a VP of marketing. Okay. Um, and that’s
kind of, you know, our, you know, that’s going to be our marketing leader kind of at this next
stage of growth, you know, kind of going to, you know, a hundred million ARR over the next
Sean Ellis 00:56:06 Of years, VP marketing roles.
Kevin Yip 00:56:08 Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, we’re, we’re really focused on that is like
the kind of the brand kind of category,
Sean Ellis 00:56:17 How much great brand and content you can build around that brand.
That, yeah, that’s a, the right person could just thrive in that role. So that’s awesome. Hopefully,
hopefully they’re listening today and, uh, and reach out there. So if they were to reach out to
you, how is it what’s the best way to do that?
Kevin Yip 00:56:32 Um, you could email me, firstname.lastname@example.org is probably the best
way to get ahold of me. Awesome.
Sean Ellis 00:56:39 Hopefully will flood your inbox with that. So, one other question we’d like
to end on is, um, what do you feel like you understand about growth now that you may not have
understood a year or two ag —
Kevin Yip 00:56:52 Um, so, you know, I think early on, and maybe not, maybe it’ll go a few
years ago, right? It’s like you’re as a founder, you’re very much on the ground and you’re really
in tune kind of to the sales process and like objections and how to position and things like that. I
think like what I become as the company’s grown, we’re over, you know, over 200 people now,
um, is how to better model growth and how to know when to kind of lean in to scale and to invest
in certain areas. And so, you know, we’re, you know, we’ve built out like our, you know, kind of
our, our pipeline models and like, you know, entering a quarter, how are we feeling about hitting
our goal? And like, where do we need to increase kind of pipeline generation. We, we lean
heavily on this kind of this like sales pod model where like, we know to hire this next pod.
Kevin Yip 00:57:48 When we, when we have both the dollars to generate kind of the
demand, uh, this sales development person to kind of qualify that demand and NDA to kind of
close on that demand. And like, we hire like a pod, a growth pod, and that’s kind of how we think
of like our, our like growth unit units to scale. So like, there’s this, I think, like being dialed into
like the model and how that kind of coordinates to the ground level has like, made my thinking
on like scaling growth, just like much more refined and precise.
Sean Ellis 00:58:22 Yeah. So Ethan and I actually interviewed my co-author on the book
hacking growth, uh, Morgan brown, this, uh, a couple of days ago. And, um, the, one of the big
things he emphasized that he’s kind of learned in his time at Facebook and now at Shopify is
this is this much more systems thinking. And it sounds, it sounds like that’s, that’s where you’re
going with that. Like the more you more you understand the system, the more you can manage it
and then, and also improve it.
Kevin Yip 00:58:51 Definitely. And so, yeah, it’s been, it’s been so much more systems
thinking and I’m like, oh, like back to more of the PWC days. Um, but it’s been, it’s been fun,
right. Because I feel like I’m not out of touch of like, what’s actually going down on the ground,
but like, okay. Like how do we think these from the system? Like how do we increase these
conversion rates and being like, yeah. So it’s been tops down, bottoms up. Um,
Sean Ellis 00:59:12 That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, congrats, Kevin, that’s a such,
such a cool story to hear the, the early just grind days and, and how you learn probably so much
through that grinding, but it’s put you in a position where you’re really making a lot of impact and
bringing meaning to the lives of employees beyond just simply dropping an annex card on their
desk. So, um, I’m stoked for, for what you’ve done so far and excited to see what, what comes
next. Thank you. Well, I appreciate y’all having me. It’s been, it’s been a fun conversation for
Outro: 00:59:50 Thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a
moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you’re at it subscribe.
So you never miss a show until next week.