14 Minutes of SaaS

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14 Minutes of SaaS

Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS  Spotify Apple podcasts / Google Podcasts / TuneIn Stitcher

E72 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 1 of 4. 100 SaaS Integrations in 2019!

Episode 72 – Part 1 of a 4-part mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall in conversation with Stephen Cummins at the Dublin Tech Summit. Founded in Paris in 2013, it’s the only cloud phone system that has built integrations into 100 different SaaS applications in 2019. Its mission is to unlock the power of voice, specifically the power of telephone calls through integration the Intercoms, Salesforces, Zendesks, gong.io’s and freshdesks of today. Its doing dozens of millions in revenue after raising $41m in investment and Jonathan reveals to 14 Minutes of SaaS that its valuation is already north of 250M US Dollars. It’s a leader in G2’s contact centre operations grid and at time of writing has a perfect score for both company and CEO in Glassdoor.
Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn Stitcher

Transcript:

Stephen Cummins

If you choose one word to differentiate yourselves … it’s quite a hot space from others in that space, like new voice media et cetera … you know, is integration that word.

Jonathan Anguelov

Yes, definitely! …. Ah you really understood our business pretty well! I do interviews with candidates and they’re not able to say it, you know, I swear… I swear and very often I’m super disappointed. I’m like … ‘Am I the only one that understood what we are doing?’ …  and no, yeah, integrations really … we… we believe in the fact that with the regular phone system …  the phone conversation is being lost very easily. So, you know, we want to integrate into all the business tools. Today what happens in companies is that all business tools are going into the SaaS. Okay? So it’s SaaS. Everything is in the cloud. So now we have the opportunity to… to integrate with all those single tools. So now for every single person using the phone system, we get some value off it … and not just ‘hey I made a call …’  and that’s it …its a commodity. Yeah, now, we bring value. So that’s really our big differentiation compared to the others. We are building over 100 integrations in 2019 alone.

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 SaaS ScaleUps.

Stephen Cummins

Episode 72 of 14 Minutes of SaaS is the first part of a 4 apart mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, Co-founder & CEO of Aircall. Founded in Paris in 2013 – Its mission is to unlock the power of voice, specifically the power of telephone calls through integration the Intercoms, Salesforces, Zendesks, gong.io’s and freshdesks of today. Its doing dozens of millions in revenue after raising $41m in investment and Jonathan reveals to 14 Minutes of SaaS that its valuation is already north of 250M US Dollars. It’s a leader in G2’s contact centre operations grid and at time of writing has a perfect score for both company and CEO in Glassdoor

We have Jonathan Anguelov Co-founder at Aircall – a cloud phone system and call center system that integrates with most CRMS. Delighted to have you on 14 minutes of SaaS here in the Dublin Tech Summit.

Jonathan Anguelov

My pleasure Stephen. Really nice to be here.

Stephen Cummins

Great to meet you. Tell me a little bit about …. I know you have an interesting cultural background and you grew up in France. Can. You tell us a little bit about your background and … then maybe your childhood and all the way up to when you got into working

Jonathan Anguelov

Sure… sure. So I’m French actually … because I’m born and raised in France … but I’m actually not really French from a blood perspective. My mother was born and raised in Bulgaria …  she emigrated to France in the seventies … illegally of course … because, at that time Bulgaria was still in communism. She came to France and started her career as a modal actually …  so that was a funny place [time], but I never knew my father. So until like recently actually … I didn’t know what was my other side. And I actually did this DNA test called 23 and me. It was last summer and I discovered that I’m Lebanese … so my father is probably somewhere from the Lebanon … which was a really funny thing. And, yeah … about my childhood, I really grew up in Paris, went to business school then. Started a career as a stockbroker in the early days. Then I Aircall when it was 27 [years old] and now one I’m 32.

Stephen Cummins

Five years almost … so it’s been a bit of a rocket ship in those five years compared to most people’s yes startup experiences – which is why you’re here here telling your story. So, you worked with equities and stockbroking and…  stuff like that. What attracted you into that area? I suppose the answers maybe money, but what drew you into it.

Jonathan Anguelov

Actually it was not money at all. I’m really passionate about the economy in general. I really, really like business .. how companies work and how they make money. Very early I was super interested in how the economy works … how the market … so the public market … can react to a simple thing. So, you know, the butterfly effect. So a simple announcement, a profit warning … can mess up the whole company. And I was always really interested in that. So. Very… very … like normal business school … They push their students. ‘Hey, you have to be a good guy in finance or in consulting.’ And, you know, I got trapped into that somehow even though deeply myself, I knew I wouldn’t do that for a long. I was really already an entrepreneur when I was 20, I bought my first apartment with a student loan – kind of illegal. So a French bank … I hope they don’t listen to that. But then, I did a few loans to be able to buy very tiny flats in Paris, then rent them out to different people and make it a little bit of money. Pay my studies that way, because I had to pay my studies. I always had this entrepreneur spirit.

And I remember in business school when people were asking what they want to do later … I was more like an entrepreneur. And people were like ‘So what are you doing at school? … and I was like ‘That’s two different things, I want to learn things. I want to start maybe a career and we’ll see where it takes me’. And, after a few years. I was just like ‘I have so many ideas … things I want to build … and this opportunity of creating Aircall with my co-founders came up in my mind … and there we are, 4 co-founders back in end of 2013 … with the idea of revolutionizing the phone system industry. People were laughing about it at the time. I remember seeing an entrepreneur in the telco business in the beginning in San Francisco. And he was like ‘Dude, you’re just going the wrong way there.’ And then and I recently saw him again and I was like, so …

Stephen Cummins

So what are you saying to me now?

Jonathan Anguelov

Exactly! And he was like … ‘Yeah, but you’re still small.’ I was like ‘Come on! We are 200 people, you know, making a few dozen millions of revenue!’

Stephen Cummins

And this guy that made the comment. Don’t worry, I won’t ask for a name but it’s not someone who started the company from zero to 200 people before.

Jonathan Anguelov

No … he’s just a CEO like a working his way up to the system. Exactly.

Stephen Cummins

He doesn’t understand how hard it is.

Jonathan Anguelov

No, he doesn’t understand at all. But, you know … There is still a lot to accomplish. I stay very humble on what we’ve done. It’s good. We are disrupting our markets. We even have copycats now copying our business… on our business. So it’s interesting to see that we attract people and even the big guys are copying our strategy now.

Stephen Cummins

Amazing. That’s a great sign.

Jonathan Anguelov

It’s a great time, but I stay humble in a way … that I haven’t accomplished so much! … You know …  200 employees, few dozen those kinds of millions of revenues nothing in the… in the telco business.

Stephen Cummins

How many dozen?

Jonathan Anguelov

I can’t say exactly. But it’s small in the telco business when you compare it to a Cisco or RingCentral that just announced that they’re making a 1B USD in revenue. So, you know, we are small … but we are coming! You know, we are coming …  and we have a very unique way of thinking of the telco business … of how Aircall will interact with all the software businesses used to make every phone conversation unique and count!

Stephen Cummins

If you choose one word to differentiate yourselves … it’s quite a hot space from others in that space, like new voice media et cetera … you know, is integration that word.

Jonathan Anguelov

Yes, definitely! …. Ah you really understood our business pretty well! I do interviews with candidates and they’re not able to say it, you know, I swear… I swear and very often I’m super disappointed. I’m like … ‘Am I the only one that understood what we are doing?’ …  and no, yeah, integrations really … we… we believe in the fact that with the regular phone system …  the phone conversation is being lost very easily. So, you know, we want to integrate into all the business tools. Today what happens in companies is that all business tools are going into the SaaS. Okay? So it’s SaaS. Everything is in the cloud. So now we have the opportunity to… to integrate with all those single tools. So now for every single person using the phone system, we get some value off it … and not just ‘hey I made a call …’  and that’s it …its a commodity. Yeah, now, we bring value. So that’s really our big differentiation compared to the others. We are building over 100 integrations in 2019 alone.

Stephen Cummins

So you’re not going into a company and then asking them to recommend a partner to go in and integrate with this and that and all of that rubbish that can happen. You’re going in and your value is you guys work on whatever you’re using, because you’re going to be able to switch it on and get us going very quickly.

Jonathan Anguelov

Exactly. ‘What are you using?’ So the real strategy is that we want to go to a company and say, ‘Hey, what are the business tools you’re using? Alright. We integrate with all of them. So your phone system will integrate with all of them. Isn’t that amazing? And tomorrow, you want to add a new software, you will be able to integrate because we are building Aircall like an API. Yeah, we’ll be able to integrate to anything. So we are really the phone brick into the business.

Stephen Cummins

I interviewed the CEO of Algolia, Nicolas Dessaigne. Who is also from Paris .. or certainly he founded Algolia in Paris. And is expanding and headquartered out of San Francisco  … you’re in New York. But he sees Algolia as a lego brick basically – that slots in as easily and beautifully as possible into the stack … that people are using. So it seems like you’re following the SaaS API route. And it really is the rise of the SaaS API.

Jonathan Anguelov

And we are the phone brick.

Stephen Cummins

Absolutely. Soo let me ask you something. You guys empower people pretty much to create a call centre – whether they’re all together in a room, or whether they’re all distributed all over the world. And there’s a lot of talk these days about the difference between being co-located in the office and being distributed. So there are companies like Invision that’s valued at 1.9 Billion, they’ve got 800 people, no offices. Given that you’ve got the power to do all of that, that you would be particularly adept at it, have you ever been tempted to think about a distributed system … or would you be in the future? Or what are the advantages of having the guys together in New York or in Paris?

Jonathan Anguelov

Distributed is for … I think … it’s for very smart people. I think we are not smart enough. No, I’m serious … already managing two offices is extremely hard and the few managers that we have that are managing people in Paris and New York .. it’s extremely hard for them … and we had a few fails. So having distributed offices – people like all over the world, everywhere. I think its extremely hard. And the fact that we are not smart enough to do it is okay, because we have a good product … good enough to not need to be distributed. Today, for a simple example, we have about six or seven percent of our revenues coming from Australia. I have never stepped foot in Australia. So six or seven percent coming from there.

We don’t need to be there to sell. So lucky enough our product is extremely scale-able, extremely simple to put in place, you know, you can create your phone system, your call center software anywhere in the world in a few minutes. So we don’t need to have an office. And actually talking about failure ..  I love talking about failure …  because I think we failed more than any company … We tried actually at some point to open an office in Berlin. Because one of our first employees wanted to move there. And we said, okay, well, we want to keep you, let’s try to open the office there and after six or seven months I thought ‘What did we win by opening the office? Are we better at something? Did we grow faster than before? And I realised ‘no!’ So I just thought well it doesn’t make sense.

Stephen Cummins

Yeah. And when I say distributed, I don’t mean co-located offices. I don’t mean multiple offices. I mean people working from anywhere.

Jonathan Anguelov

Yeah, but for the culture … it’s super tough!

Stephen Cummins

It’s fantastic when you get it, right? But as you said you need to think through it a lot. It has some advantages. I mean, you can hire amazing people in… in zones that are not as expensive as New York or Paris. But for you co-located works very well.

Jonathan AnguelovYes. Yes. And culture-wise, I think it’s very hard to have people located all over – especially when you build a startup. I don’t like to use the word startup. I’ll use the word company because I don’t like the word ‘startup’. It’s so intense. You want to go so fast. So you need to have other shoulders you can rely on.

Stephen Cummins

In the next episode, part 2 of a 4 part mini-series, Jonathan reveals what drives him as an entrepreneur and explains why he doesn’t believe in losing the fear. He also talks a little bit more about the influence his late mother has had on his life.

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 enjoy the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

Listen to 14 Minutes of SaaS on Spotify Apple podcasts / Google podcasts / TuneIn Stitcher