14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E16 – Tyler Koblasa, CloudApp founder / Invisible Technologies CRO – Not Sweating the Small Stuff – 2 of 2

Tyler Koblasa, CRO at Invisible - Episode 2 of 14 Minutes of SaaS

E16 – Tyler Koblasa, CloudApp founder / Invisible Technologies CRO – Not Sweating the Small Stuff – 2 of 2

Part 2 of a talk between Stephen Cummins and Tyler Koblasa, Founder and ex-CEO of CloudApp (now CRO of Invisible Technologies). Tyler talks about his daily routine and some of the attributes that he believes make an entrepreneur successful. He discusses his interest in machine learning, voice UIs, AR/VR and considers developments around crypto to be mostly noise. He talks about CloudApp and innovation. Tyler thinks a lot about his journey in life and as an entrepreneur. His hero in life is his father …. “Dad has been someone that’s always been very grounded and I’ve looked at him and his journey. So he escaped the former Czechoslovakia when the Russians were occupying there and came to America, after having taken asylum in Greece. I think just seeing kind of his journey and how he’s always said ‘Don’t, sweat the small stuff!’ That’s one trait that I kinda picked up from a Dad … and he’s never seemed stressed”

Transcript Episode 16 (Tyler Koblasa – 2 of 2)

Tyler koblasa (excerpt)

0:00 ” Dad has been someone that’s always been very grounded and I’ve looked at him and his journey. So he escaped the former Czechoslovakia when the Russians were occupying there and came to America, after having taken asylum in Greece. I think just seeing kind of his journey and how he’s always said “Don’t, sweat the small stuff!”

Stephen Cummins

0:36 Part, two of our conversation with Tyler Koblasa foundry and former CEO of CloudApp, a conversation that took place in Collision New Orleans -amongst other things he talks a little bit about his daily routine and some of the attributes that he believes make an entrepreneur successful. And of course he talks about CloudApp and innovation.

Stephen Cummins

1:04 A big part of your value proposition I feel is speed … speed of communication, speed of ideation, speed of creation of productivity. It’s definitely an app that improves productivity and creativity. Could you tell me would that be an accurate statement?

Tyler koblasa

Spot on. You know, how can we enable a faster innovation, faster collaboration, replace text with visual content and, you know, obviously we know human beings think visually but we’re still communicating in text everywhere that we work. So if we can enable more intelligent, smarter communication, faster communication. The end result is ROI to a business, happier customer, happier NPS scores, more deals closed really driving outcomes. I think we’re very, kind of outcome driven as far as… as enabling any of our users and customers to achieve an outcome in a more efficient manner.

Stephen Cummins

You’ve developed some amazing customers like Zendesk, Twitch, Foursquare, MailChimp. And you’ve got air AirBnB, Uber, Facebook using you. Did you work your way up to get to those incredible labels? Are you you now primarily a large enterprise play or do work with a lot of the SMB still?

Tyler koblasa

So I think the… the product was seeded in the early adopter and designer developer community and commonly early adopters will adopt a product that allows them to do something fast or smarter … really the productivity hackers and that’s led to companies starting to see how did Bob or Suzy do X or Y – and one by one accounts say, “hey, actually we need a business plan” and, then that’s obviously provided a means to expand and grow and for us to nurture those. 3:05 And I think, you know, we obviously started off with the individual license model … the business evolved into team plans and business offerings. And then kinda now more towards the enterprise. So we definitely still serve the two three four person startup and their dog up to the, you know, thousands of employees at some of these larger organizations but we’re definitely focused on all of the above. [Like that] it’s hard to have a focus but at the same time if you look at the needs of a company with a 500 to 2,000 employees, security and compliance become very important. So that’s one thing that we’ve doubled down on over the last year. 3:43 We’re definitely continuing to sell all of the gamut including free licenses and individual licenses for professionals or consultants.

Stephen Cummins

What would a normal day of the week be like for yourself?

Tyler koblasa

Yeah. So I think the first step is the alarm clock going and trying to wake up to start off with a little bit of journaling. So I’ve been really starting to kind of build that practice more thoroughly and so try to bucket that into like 10 15 minutes max. I’m really starting with questions. Like where are you now physically sitting how are you feeling? Why? What did you learn from yesterday? I’m trying to look at actionable. What can you bring into that today? And then maybe like 10 to 15 minute meditation. So this is still a practice I’m trying to develop and build. Recently started working with the executive coach. And then, you know, our offices are in SOMA – kinda close to 5th and Howard. And, you know, we currently have different department meetings or obviously all hand staff meetings. Definitely quite a bit of effort these days on recruiting – in the process of scaling the team. 4:50So we’re about 21 now in total. We’ve got our headquarters in San Francisco which is about 9 to 10 – and then also the office down south of the border so installations.

Stephen Cummins

Congratulations. Its a great achievement. One thing I do notice is that, entrepreneurs in the Bay Area … a lot of them get into meditation. I think more than Europeans do. And I’ve no doubt in my mind it must be working for you guys … what have you noticed that it adds to you on a daily basis?

Tyler koblasa

5:26 Yeah. I think it gives you a sense of clarity. And some time to actually block out – [personal] time for you, which is common when you’re thinking about .. whether that be your business, your team … as well as you know, friends and family and taking time … and, just really trying to understand where you are mentally and just let thoughts come and go and just being aware. I think self-awareness is one thing that we’re all struggling with even more and more with modernization and … if you look at the rates today of depression, anxiety and stress … all this modernisation has resulted with these other new [negative] trends. I think it’s critical that we really take time and have practices like yoga – and whether that be getting cardio in and eating healthy and trying to create a ritual and a practice. There’s a book called ‘How to be the luckiest personal alive” by James Altucher. He kinda went through that journey and also built out a practice. I think it definitely has resonated and trying to like ask ‘what is your practice?’ and having one and trying to create discipline – especially when there’s so much going on and whether that be events and calls and meetings and whoever it might be that, you, know you, might be connecting with.

Stephen Cummins

I’m actually writing done ‘how to be the luckiest person alive’ because it’s one of the best book titles I’ve ever and if it’s helping you, I definitely want to have a read of it – you’ve piqued my curiosity Tyler. What are you not good at then? … if we talk about self awareness … What’s the one thing you’d look to improve? Or what’s the one thing you just accept that you’re not good at …and you will always have a co-founder do or have an employee do?

Tyler koblasa

I’d say definitely … again self-awareness … it’s a journey … and just more and more finding yourself in the now … and reminding yourself if you’re not thinking about the past or the future, are you present? This is an ongoing journey … it’s definitely the challenge for myself, a challenge for most. But, I’d say definitely on our team … I think it’s nice to create broad strokes in the clay … and then have team members that are very kind in the details. You know, as a small team and they start to get into all the numbers and the modelling and all that wonderful Jazz 7:48  – it falls a lot on the executive team. I’ve definitely tried to lean on others on our team as far as some of the finance side and just all the modelling. At the same time I definitely love getting the details on product as well as kind of the branding messaging and very detailed on customer facing and internal operations I. think we do our best but lean on others to try to fill those gapd.

Stephen Cummins

8:24What’s the one personal quality that you feel has helped you succeed in life?

Tyler koblasa

Good question I. Think just definitely my… Dad has been someone that’s always been very grounded and I’ve looked at him and his journey. So he escaped the former Czechoslovakia when the Russians were occupying there and came to America, after having taken asylum in Greece. I think just seeing kind of his journey and how he’s always said “Don’t, sweat the small stuff!” I definitely have really taken to heart that … and also learned and am still learning how to not react to different experiences … because that only kind of induces more stress or anxiety or unhappiness. That’s one trait that I kinda picked up from a Dad … and he’s never seemed stressed – he’s always said he was quote unquote ‘loose as a goose.

Stephen Cummins

So your dad is a massive influence in your life … Is he your hero?

Tyler koblasa

Yeah, definitely!

Stephen Cummins

That’s very cool. What’s, your vision for CloudApp going forward? You do have a cool app, you’ve got traction, you’ve over 2M users. What’s the next step or the next stage of the next two or three years?

Tyler koblasa

We definitely are investing heavily in AI and machine learning. Again, the, goal here is how can we allow teams/businesses/professionals to work smarter and faster?. Today we call it the intelligent visual communication platform. As we evolve the platform into more of a full blown productivity suite, we’re really kind of bringing together a kind of best in class series of different solutions that live within the platform …as CloudApp evolves into more of a platform for various productivity hooks. If we kind of look at this 1, 2, 3 years out around how can we again enable individuals to communicate faster, work smarter … and really be that invisible yet accompanying offering that is in their tool Kit to get their job done and help them succeed.

Stephen Cummins

How do you think the rise of the voice interface is going to affect CloudApp? Is it something you can embrace as part of your productivity platform or is it a challenge? How do you see it?

Tyler koblasa

I think it’s huge. I’m an avid user and promoting a product called Finn. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it … but, you know they, leverage text based inputs, also voice base inputs. So I think if we look at how the brain thinks and is able to communicate – voice is obviously one of the fastest mechanism to get anything out … [that is] until we can be reading our thoughts. I think the next step is just to verbalize it and then you can have intelligent machine learning powered engines that are able to understand what the objective is of that … So whether that be creating tasks, workflows, – I know we’re working on those things.

Stephen Cummins

That was going to be my next question actually because with that many users, and with that much communication going on … on your platform you are generating a massive amount of data. So … you are actually looking into how you may have a machine learning or deep learning type strategy with this.

Tyler koblasa

Yeah. Exactly, so … We definitely as of today generate millions of these shares monthly – so millions of pieces of content … and within content – whether that be images, video, or even audio clips – there’s a huge amount of information that can be leveraged to enable that user to achieve their outcomes faster. Even if it was like a support person understanding the context of a workflow, responding to a ticket, and within that ticket knowing that ‘hey, maybe, this piece of content can answer that’ … help that customer faster. So definitely going much deeper into all the ML / AI kind of deep learning technologies and also doing that for compliance reasons and in enterprise use cases.

Stephen Cummins

I suppose they are 2 of the hottest trends right now – machine learning and voice interfaces. Are there any other tech trends relevant or not relevant to your business that excite you?

Tyler koblasa

I think those are the most interesting and again looking at how quote unquote ‘AI’ which I actually I, don’t think didn’t really a thing … it’s more what will machine learning do .. it’s deep learning … it’s building models to understand patterns. The crypto trend in my opinion is 99 percent noise and not much substance – again it’s the solution looking for a problem yeah. So definitely I’m very excited about machine learning and deep learning. And then also howcthese new types of interfaces – looking at augmented reality and VR – when does the screen in front of us start to disappear, and, what does that look like in the business workflow of the future?

Stephen Cummins

Mark Weiser prophetic words about computing power disappearing into the environment and … devices like this that only exist for computing pretty much disappearing … Would you agree that that’s an inevitability?

Tyler koblasa

Definitely yeah. I think the first step is looking at like augmented reality and VR. Obviously Google Glass was a nice first attempts. But, if you can really start to imagine even our desktops – like even if the desktop is still sitting here with a flat screen, like what is augmented reality looking like on the desktop. How do you get contextual awareness of everything you’re interacting with – whether it be on a flat screen or on a three dimensional virtual reality yeah?

Stephen Cummins

And have you any thoughts in terms of CloudApp and how it may evolve with that or is that a tiny bit far out at this stage?

Tyler koblasa

It’s far out, but keeping in mind that we have users that share millions of these piece of content monthly … definitely, we’re thinking very actively about it!

stephen Cummins

Really appreciate you giving us your precious time here on 14 minutes of SaaS and I wish you every success

Tyler koblasa

Awesome. Thanks Stephen. Really appreciate it!

stephen Cummins (post interview)

Since these interviews, Tyler has overseen a major investment by Adobe in CloudApp, bringing total funding under his 5 year watch to $6M. He has since left his role of CEO, but remains part of the board of directors.

You have been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thank you to Ketsu for music provided under a creative commons license. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

 

14 Minutes of SaaS