14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E61: Martin Henk, Co-founder of Pipedrive. Focus, Validate, Say No!

Martin Henk, Cofounder of Pipedrive, in conversation with Stephen Cummins on Episode 61 of 14 minutes of SaaS

E61: Martin Henk, Co-founder of Pipedrive. Focus, Validate, Say No!

Episode 61: Martin Henk, Co-founder of Pipedrive, in conversation with Stephen Cummins. Martin talks about Estonia’s minor economic miracle, it’s pre-eminance in the world as a digital nation and it’s huge success as a 4-unicorn startup nation. He talks about the importance of staying clear and focused in the early days of building a company. We estimate Pipedrive will reach 100,000 customer companies in 2020. It’s in the leadership quadrant of the CRM quadrant of G2 Crowd. However, despite G2’s classification (in fairness they have to draw the line somewhere on categories), PipeDrive is definitely not a full CRM tool. Pipedrive describe itself accurately – it’s a Sales CRM tool.
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Martin Henk

My best advice to anyone that is trying to build something is kind of …  be focused …  be really clear what the problem is that you’re trying to solve and then stay true to that for a while … don’t go all over the place and try to solve every problem in the world, but kind of … really understand your customer and really take care of them and validate… validate… validate. Over the years I’ve said ‘no’ so many times in PipeDrive that when someone wants to say ‘no’ they just use my picture. Luckily, I haven’t yet seen a bot really close a deal. Like there are bots that are gonna help you schedule meetings and kind of take care of the tedium … and that’s good. Like nobody wants to do all of these kind of repetitive boring stuff anyway. But when it comes to kind of really closing a deal, especially when you’re selling something expensive, it takes a long time … you really need that human touch. I don’t think sales people will go away anytime soon.

Stephen Cummins

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable ScaleUps.

Martin Henk

Martin talks about Estonia’s minor economic miracle, it’s pre-eminance in the world as a digital nation and it’s huge success as a 4-unicorn startup nation. He talks about the importance of staying clear and focused in the early days of building a company. We estimate Pipedrive will reach 100,000 customer companies in 2020. It’s in the leadership quadrant of the CRM quadrant of G2 Crowd. However, despite G2’s classification (in fairness they have to draw the line somewhere on categories), PipeDrive is definitely not a full CRM tool. Pipedrive describe itself accurately – it’s a Sales CRM tool.

Stephen Cummins

So we have Martin Henk, co-founder and head of product management in Pipedrive, here on the SaaS  podcast stage in SaaStock … for 14 Minutes of SaaS. How are you doing Martin?

Martin Henk

Good… good yeah. Thanks. For having me so.

Stephen Cummins

Tell me maybe a 90 seconds … your life up to the point when you create you started building this rocketship.

Martin Henk

Up to the point when we started building PipeDrive? Alright. So. I grew up in Estonia in a really small place. I went to the school that got internet access really early on so. That was in the nineties. You wouldn’t have computers and internet at home yet, but we were lucky enough to have a really good computer class in school. So I spent all of my free time at the computer learning to program, learning to design, to edit videos … and that kinda progressed naturally … so I kept doing that. And when I went to college I started my first startup with some friends in college. And that failed in a very spectacular way – it became this zombie startup. Went through a couple of corporate jobs … I couldn’t stand them for more than a year. Joined this startup early on – that was a social network for people that really liked their pets. So you could upload your pictures of your dogs and talk to other people that are into pets. And that went bankrupt in a very public way. And out of the rubble of that startup we met up with some other people that were looking to build a tool for salespeople. We started Pipedrive.

Stephen Cummins

Right now, Estonia is quite a phenomenon. It’s only 1.3 million people – which is significantly smaller than even Northern Ireland – which makes us look big (the Republic of Ireland). I’m amazed at how strong you are in SaaS, Blockchain, crypto … What is in the water? I’m actually a resident …  digital. Resident … of your country. I joined about a year ago. It’s such an amazing program. First of all … what’s in the water in Estonia? What’s happening there? And what do you think of that ambitious plan to bring in people from all over the world as e-residents?
Martin Henk

Yeah. So many things came together, especially in the nineties where we gained independence again. …

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[transcript under construction]
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Stephen Cummins

In the next episode of 14 Minutes of SaaS, we move to the Web Summit in Lisbon, where we’ll welcome back my old friend Polina Montano, who was the 3rd guest on the show way back at the start. This time, instead of a single episode, we recorded a 3 part mini-series together. She’ll tell her whole history from humble beginnings in the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg in post-perestroika in Russia. Like our very 1st guest, Branch’s Mada Seghete, a strong mother had a massive influence on her career. Polina went on to become an international business person and accomplished polyglot, a champion of operational excellence and a hugely successful co-founder of SaaS rocketship Job Today – an employment networking app and SaaS service. The platform handles over 6 million applications per month and 70% of their job matches happen within 24 hours.

Stephen Cummins

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills. And to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoyed 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