14 Minutes of SaaS

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14 Minutes of SaaS

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E75 – Jonathan Anguelov, COO & Co-Founder of Aircall. 4 of 4. Building a Billion Dollar Company.

E75 – Part 4 and concluding episode of a mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this final episode we find out about Jonathan’s beliefs regarding a lot of faster developing tech areas – and, more importantly, why they should be adopted and introduced into the business with caution. And – he has some amazing advice for anyone seeking to start a business.
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Transcript:

E75 – Part 4 TranscriptJonathan Anguelov

So for Aircall, you know .. it’s keep growing. Yeah keep hitting the market extremely hard. Yeah, revolutionizing the way the phone system industry works how our software is linked to revolutionize the companies .. the way they work … the way they integrate their phones to their tools. Going to of course, a 1 Billion dollar company. We are not so far anymore, but still a long way.

Stephen Cummins

Halfway there? That’s pretty good : )

Jonathan Anguelov

Not halfway. One quarter way. I don’t know .. I wanna make my Mum proud somehow. And that would be building a billion dollar company.

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.

Episode 75, Part 4 and concluding episode of a mini-series with Jonathan Anguelov, co-founder and COO of Aircall. In this final episode we find out about Jonathan’s beliefs regarding a lot of faster developing tech areas – and, more importantly, why they should be adopted and introduced into the business with caution. And – he has some amazing advice for anyone seeking to start a business.

Stephen Cummins

How do you stay healthy? I mean you’re working an awful lot. Is it all that physical work in the Hotel … that keeps you so in shape? And like do you like find time to look after your diet and stuff? What’s it like?

Jonathan Anguelov

Luckily, I am as you see .. I’m quite thin, but I eat like a pig.

Stephen Cummins

Lucky guy!

Jonathan Anguelov

I only eat three times a day. I never eat in between meals. So that’s makes it quite, you know, healthy. Unfortunately, I would like to say, ‘yeah, you know, like the Americans would say, you know, ‘I do sports wake up at 6am and do a lot of sports’ et cetera… et cetera. No, I’m a fucking lazy ass. Yes, I wake up at 8.30. I’m tired every morning. And I, yeah, I don’t do sports enougf unfortunately. And I have this bad, excuse of saying “I don’t have time” which is wrong. When you want, you can have time. Luckily, I’m still young. I’m 32. I don’t have like the big impact of being older, but one day probably I’ll start having problems if I keep doing like that.

Stephen Cummins

Do you see any other tech trends around you… or business trends outside of your own businesses … that catch your attention, that kind of excite you at the moment?

Jonathan Anguelov

I’m very curious about what will happen with machine learning. I’ll say what I think of machine learning and all this. There is a big belief that it will come fast and that, you know, autonomous cars and all these things, you know, will come [soon] et cetera… et cetera. I really don’t buy that. Unfortunately there are things that are really hard for a non-human being to analyse and to take decisions. And I think it will … I’m very curious of what will happen … and I’m really curious to see in 10 years from now, you and I in the same room, what would the world be [like] on the machine learning side? Will it be what lots of us believe – like autonomous cars driving everywhere – will it not? If you take the example of an autonomous car. Okay. This car is driving on the highway. On the left you have this line where you cannot cross and you see a deer, crossing the highway. So the regular autonomous car sees this line and knows it cannot Cross the line. But it sees this deer, or it could avoid the deer by crossing the line. But it won’t do it because it’s a machine, while the human being would say ‘Hey, oh, of course, I will cross the line and avoid the deer.

Stephen Cummins

Yes, I was watching a Russian science fiction movie, as you do, a few nights ago made in 1972. I recommended it. It’s called Solaris. And I was amazed! It’s one of these really ground breaking movies. It was my first time seeing it. I love of movies. I was amazed that they had driverless cars in the movie – there was a lot of confidence in Russia at the time – they in the time of the space race. And the guy was communicating with a Zoom type of mode from the car. So, you know, if you think back to that time … I mean the US had just put somebody on the moon. Before that Russia put somebody up doing a space walk – or put the first satellite up … and performed the space walk before them. But if you think about those things we would have expected to be much further down the road in this space than we actually are. So I think 10 to 15 years is very hard to predict.

Jonathan Anguelov

It’s very hard to predict. It’s very hard. It’s very hard. And that’s why when I look at some companies – and how they invest in machine learning and so on .. I’m like [thinking] ‘Either I’m totally wrong and it will come very quickly. Or everyone is wrong and we adjust from investing in things that will take way more time than we think. Because the human has something … the mind. And the machine will never have the mind. It can learn, but the mind is something unique.

Stephen Cummins

Oh, never say never. It’s a long way away of course.

Jonathan Anguelov

It will happen one day, but I don’t believe it’ll happen fast … it’s a long way. It’s a long way. It’s really a long way. And it’s funny because there are things that haven’t changed in almost 50 years. If you look at the plane industry, you had the Concord that was going from Paris to New York very quickly. What happens today?

Stephen Cummins

They didn’t know it would lose money.

Jonathan Anguelov

It didn’t work. Yeah, it didn’t work and today we are still taking as much time as 40 years ago to go from Paris to New York.

Stephen Cummins

And that was hubris on the part of the British in French governments … they knew was losing money but they just couldn’t step away.

Jonathan Anguelov

You know! So things are not that easy as they seem. So I think that it will take more time. So, yeah, I’m following very… very closely what happens. Especially as I have a friend of mine that has a company into blockchain and machine learning. I keep my on it.

Stephen Cummins

If you were to give one or two tips to somebody looking to be an entrepreneur – whether they’re stepping away from a safer role like that CEO that said, “Oh, just 200 people. That’s not so many” … you know, who obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like when you jump off that building. If you were to give him some advice to somebody who was thinking of actually taking that brave step. What advice would you give that future entrepreneur?

Jonathan Anguelov

Really… don’t be afraid of failing! Depends where you are. In for instance, in France it can be shit because it’s negativley perceived to fail, but elsewhere I feel it’s not so negatively perceived to fail. So you got to try. Do it! Take the year … take a year to do it.… It won’t ruin your career or whatever. And if you do it, be focused … be super focused on what do you do, what’s your vision, and how to execute. Don’t believe in the fact that your idea is worth millions. Don’t believe in the fact that if you tell it to your friend, he’ll take your idea. He’s gonna take it. It doesn’t work like that. I said it previously, but ideas are worth nothing. So yeah, it’s important to try.

The other advice I have is don’t do it because you think it’s in fashion to do a startup, because startups now .. it’s everywhere. You hear ‘startup’ everywhere. Everyone is a startup now. Back in the day – like five or six years ago when I graduated, everyone wanted to be a banker. And now everyone would be a startup. Don’t do it because it feels like it’s where you’re gonna make money. It’s actually wrong, because it will take you ages and it’s going to be a lot of suffering. A lot of doubt. So it’s, you know, it’s also something … entrapreneurship … about who you are. And do you have the guts to do it?

Stephen Cummins

Now you are someone who has embraced the fear. And turned it around to use it … the fear of the plank giving way … to drive you … to propel you forward. And you said earlier in the interview that you embrace all these failures that you guys have had. However, if you could go back in time, over those last five years, what’s the one big thing that you would done differently?

Jonathan Anguelov

Didn’t go into telco business. No … it’s hard. When you build company, think of … are you an expert in the industry that it helps a lot? Because, you know, telco he is very specific. So we were good in software. But telco is another thing – its not the software.

Stephen Cummins

So do you feel you should have brought in a specialist into the founding team earlier?

Jonathan Anguelov

Yeah, it’s important to have specialists in… at least in the things you do. First, when you do a generalist software, that’s okay. But specifically telco you know … it’s very hard to have always calls with a consistent quality of voice, avoiding distortion, to avoid to have like a difference of a few seconds of speech.

Stephen Cummins

So it’s actually the technological expertise that you would have welcomed. So what do you see for the next five years for Aircall and Thunderstone Jonathan Anguelov? What do you think the next few years has in store?

Jonathan Anguelov

So for Aircall, you know .. it’s keep growing. Yeah keep hitting the market extremely hard. Yeah, revolutionizing the way the phone system industry works how our software is linked to revolutionize the companies .. the way they work … the way they integrate their phones to their tools. Going to of course, a 1 Billion dollar company. We are not so far anymore, but still a long way.

Stephen Cummins

Halfway there? That’s pretty good : )

Jonathan Anguelov

Not halfway. One quarter way. I don’t know .. I wanna make my Mum proud somehow. And that would be building a billion dollar company. And for Thunderstone … again …  you need to speak to Arthur. But yeah, I think he can really revolutionise a bit the way companies are working, sorry [I mean] shops are selling. And yeah, probably a few hundreds employees in the next couple of years for him. I hope. And hopefully I have a few more hotels in the next couple of years as well. Because my idea is to buy one Hotel per year, you see. So I bought one in 2018. So now I’m trying to buy one in 2019 already. Lots of irons in the fire.

Stephen Cummins

And I think it’s really beautiful that you’ve referenced your Mum in this way, so positively.

Jonathan Anguelov

It’s important.

Stephen Cummins

It’s really important. So its been a pleasure Jonathan.

Jonathan Anguelov

Big pleasure!

Stephen Cummins

Great to meet you and great to interview you.Jonathan Anguelov

Amazing! Great!

—-

Stephen Cummins

Next episode will be the first of a 5-part mini-series with Sean Percival, CMO in Oslo startup Whereby – a provider of video meetings software. A born content marketer and investment advisor to major accelerators (including 500 startups in the past), in episode 1 he’ll remind us of the huge cultural phenomenon that was Myspace when he was their VP of marketing – and why Facebook ultimately won the day.

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