Brendan Weitz, Co-founder of Journey, joins host Upendra Varma to deep dive into how his company is revolutionizing the B2B sales and marketing realm with an innovative storytelling format. Brendan walks us through how Journey emerged from a prototype to a game-changing tool, aiming to make B2B transactions as seamless as B2C purchases on platforms like Amazon.
Key insights from this episode:
- The inception of Journey and its mission to create a captivating buying experience for sales and marketing teams.
- How Journey transcends the conventional 16×9 presentation format to offer a more interactive, mobile-first experience in an asynchronous remote world.
- Brendan’s take on targeting sales and marketing sectors, yet being open to a wide range of storytelling use cases.
- A snapshot of Journey’s current customer base (around 200 customers) and its freemium model attracting tens of thousands of users monthly.
- The product’s self-sufficient viral loop driving 50% of their signups, and their aspirational aim to match viral growth akin to tools like Loom or Calendly.
- A nostalgic journey into Brendan’s past roles at major companies like Facebook, AdRoll, and Quora, and how these experiences shaped Journey’s growth.
- The vision of Journey and its future go-to-market strategy.
- Team dynamics, funding details, and Brendan’s ambitious outlook for the platform.
You can also watch this episode on youtube here.
we, we get about 50 percent of our signups come from a viral loop. So people share a journey that people that they, uh, that are receiving the journey sign up for it. And then we work our sales pipeline is based on what people are doing in the product.Upendra Varma:
Hello everyone. Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast. I'm your host Upendra Verma and today we have Brendan Bytes with us. Brendan here is the co founder of a company called Journey. Hey, Brendan, welcome to the show.Brendan Weitz:
Hi, thanks for, uh, thanks for having me.Upendra Varma:
Hey Brendan. So let's, let's try to understand what Journey as a company does, right? And why customers pay you money.Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. Uh, I mean, journey is a new storytelling format for sales and marketing teams. We basically felt like three years ago or two and a half years ago. B2B transactions should be as easy as buying something on amazon. com in the B2C world. So we're trying to bridge that gap now. large B to B transactions. So we create this storytelling format for salespeople, encompassing video documents, text, um, all in one place to create an amazing buying experience.Upendra Varma:
And, uh, so just talk a bit more about the product, right? So is it just, uh, like currently, are you trying to replace PowerPoints? Is that what you're trying to do? Or is it much more than a simple presentation format?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah. I mean, I think it's, uh, you know, we, we integrate with PowerPoint, but we, we feel like the, The 16 by 9 rectangle that we've all been used to for the last 40 years, uh, doesn't really give, um, much justice to the storyteller, the person behind the content. So we feel like Journey is a bit more interactive. It's mobile first and, uh, It helps people to gain context, especially in a asynchronous remote world where not everything is happening live. I think PowerPoints are better for live presentations. We play more in the backstage, like after the call, before the call, you know, internal meetings that you're not a part of, uh, is what we facilitate.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So I'm just trying to understand, it looks like this is a different way of, you know, presenting your ideas or, you know, getting your things out there. Right. So how have you sort of chosen this positioning of, you know, you deciding to just sell it to sales and marketing teams? Like, what's the backstory there?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah. Great question. I feel like a lot of, uh, a lot of companies. The founders kind of start with what they know best. I mean, we come from my, my co founders, uh, we, we kind of span the gamut of sales, marketing, and BD. So that's just honestly where our network started or our network lives and where we had access to customers the most, the quickest, and we understood the best. So, um, you bring up a good point. We see a lot of other use cases outside of sales and marketing, but from a go to market perspective, To not completely go insane. We try to focus on, um, sales and marketing. And, um, but as you can probably tell, you know, anyone can sign up for journey and use it for anything. Uh, and we feel like everyone is a storyteller in their own, in their own regard, regardless of what you're selling your company yourself. Um, so lots of use cases, but that's our focus.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So Brandon, let's, let's try to understand your customer base as of today. Right. So how many customers do you have? How many paying customers do you have on your platform as of today? Right.Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. It's around 200 paying companies. And those are. I would call them, um, early like series a series B startups. And then you have, uh, about 25 percent more growth companies like Reddit and Sightly more series D series E pre IPO companies. Um, and, uh, it's mainly our buyer is the, you know, the VP of sales or the CRO. But we really tailored to the end user. The end user is really the individual salesperson or the individual account manager. Um, so that's, um, that's our paying user base. And then we have a freemium model. So there's tens of thousands of users every month that, um, that, uh, use our, our free product.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. So, and, and how big of a deals are we talking about? I know there's going to be a big spread, right? So typically, for example, if you pick your series, there'll be a customer, right, that you have. Right. So how big of a deal are we talking about? Is it a thousand dollar deal? Is it a thousand dollar deal? I I'm asking you because I just want to understand your go to market motion later. Right.Brendan Weitz:
Totally. Yeah. So, uh, our team deals range from six to 10 K. So for those series a B companies, that's kind of the, the, um, the median, I would say.Upendra Varma:
That makes a lot of sense. Uh, all right. So are you comfortable sharing your revenue overall as a company?Brendan Weitz:
Uh, I would say our next milestone is a million in ARR.Upendra Varma:
Okay. That's, that's a wonderful data point. And how, how are you looking at like, when do you plan on achieving that? Like, how does the numbers look like?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah. I mean, hopefully in the next, you know, six to nine months.Upendra Varma:
Got it. That makes a lot of sense. And all right. So let's, let's talk about your go to market motion here. Right? So I'm assuming you've got 10, 000 deals, right? So just, just help us understand, right. Typically where you finding all of these deals or leads from a top up funnel perspective, and then we can talk about the conversion as well.Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we, uh, candidly, the founders of Journey, we don't come from, uh, enterprise sales background or direct sales background. We, uh, we've always worked at and built self serve software companies, um, in different spaces, but, uh, our entire motion is, um, I don't want to use too much of a buzzword, but product led growth. Um, we, we get about 50 percent of our signups come from a viral loop. So people share a journey that people that they, uh, that are receiving the journey sign up for it. And then we work our sales pipeline is based on what people are doing in the product. So. We are looking at, uh, signals from what people, um, when they're coming in, creating a journey, inviting team members. And then we have a lot of enrichment on, uh, what companies they work for, if they're a good fit for us to then reach out and engage. Um, we don't, we don't have any sales or marketing headcount at the company, so it's just the founders doing it. And then, um, uh, I mean, we have done things like product launches and things to drive, um, top of funnel, which have done very well. Um, we've tested out some very lightweight, um, email sponsorships. Um, and then, uh, yeah, I would say the majority though comes from the product. Um, I wouldn't say we're, we're viral like Loom or Calendly, but, uh, that's our goal.Upendra Varma:
but do you have something like what Loom or Calendly have powered by Loom, powered by Calendly? Do you have something like powered by Journey? And is that what's responsible for most of these top of funnel groups?Brendan Weitz:
Exactly. Uh, it's, it's really tough to track, like not the majority of people don't click on that button, but, uh, when we do like follow up surveys and things, you can tell that they've seen a journey and that's why they're, they're signing up.Upendra Varma:
Got it. And then what typically, and what happens after somebody signs up, starts using your product, right? So how do you convert them to a paying user? And I know you've got hundreds of customers, right? So what's, how have you managed to close them so far?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, typically it's, uh, once we, we, we use the, the framework that slack used back in the day, like once you get three people in an, in an organization, uh, that's, we consider that a team. And if they fit our ICP like a. Company that our sales team that is like most of our customers are selling non transactional deals, like, um, meaning that there's a lot of stakeholders involved. There's a lot of content going back and forth. So if we deem that it's a good fit for us, once we see three people in an account. We serve them hopefully helpful content that gets them to creating their first journey, sharing their first journey, inviting more team members. And then we engage with more training, uh, and onboarding content live.Upendra Varma:
So just give me one data point, right? So for example, for a 10, 000 deal that you might have closed recently. Right? So, so how, how much time did it actually take you to close that deal? Was it, are we talking weeks, months? And how much effort did you put in actually to close that deal?Brendan Weitz:
Uh, I, I wish it was faster, but it's probably two months right now. Like is the, is the deal cycle. I think everyone is, uh, the, the, the way the market is and the way the world is today. Everything takes longer, smaller deals have more people involved. And I think the beauty for us is that people can get started for free. They can, it's like no risk to them. Um, if we want to speed up deals, what we do is we actually can go in and help them. Create the journeys and customize for them and run like a very focused pilot. Um, but we live and die by the product. If, if our customers can't come in and do things self service, then we need to iterate more and make the product easier.Upendra Varma:
And it's primarily you founders trying to close these deals today, right? Or do you have anyBrendan Weitz:
Yep. Well,Upendra Varma:
we have one customer success slash. Sales slash rev ops person, but it's, it's basically me and one other person.Upendra Varma:
Got it. So, so yeah, just, uh, I just want to, want you to sort of go back, right. When it all started, right. So, and I want to understand that zero to one journey, right. I know you talked a bit about, you know, how you had this viral growth and all of it, right. But that's, that must have been, you know, your recent story, right. So how did it all begin in the beginning? Right. So how did you get that, those first set of customers, what was that journey? Like, how does that zero to one journey look like in your case?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. So we, um, we, we were accepted into Y Combinator and winter of 20, uh, 21. So that's January, 2021. And, um, our, we had no product, no customers at that point, but we had this idea and a prototype that we showed to, like I said earlier, Our network was primarily in sales and marketing. So we just went out to our network, um, warm to the best 50 or a hundred salespeople, marketing people that we knew, and I begged them to try the product or use the product and iterate.Upendra Varma:
and what's your background here? So how did you build that network over years?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, so I've been working in startups for the last 15 years. I'm from New York. So I started in around 2008, worked at startups here. I worked at Facebook fairly early on before the IPO in sales there. And then I, I led business development, corporate development at a company called AdRoll and then Quora. So I had worked at, you know, early stage companies like Series A, Series B, and then later stage companies like Series D, um, all in sales, BD, uh, functions. So that's kind of where my, my network lies and my, my co founders, um, also have, have worked at startups for. first for their whole career. So we grew our network through our previous companies mainly. Um, so I think, I think all the ex Facebook ad role Quora people for, um, helping us grow.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. Right. So, so a couple of questions here, right in, within this context here, right? So I'm assuming when you start, when you go to a VP of sales and, you know, sort of pitch your product, right? So is that something that is, is it really that pressing a problem for them that you're really solving? Right. I mean, I could, if I'm VP sales, right, I've got a bunch of tools, right? So I mean, I could invest in some other place, right? So why would I sort of prioritize your product? So what, what's that pitch that you're sort of using to sell this and, you know, create that urgency and importance for your product?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. I think the, you know, the The, um, the last 10 years really were focused on sales enablement, like training sales reps, coaching them. There hasn't ever been a focus on the buyer. Like how does the buyer want to buy, um, meeting the buyer where they are and, you know, just. The way sales has, has evolved is really changing. It's more virtual, it's less in person, it's more asynchronous and people like the buyers are getting younger. Like they're like me, there may be millennials now in buying roles where they don't like to always hop on a call. Um, so I think it's changing. It's changing slowly though, but our pitched essentially is, um, that you can. You can test out Journey fairly quickly to see if it's impacting things that you care about. Like VPs of sales, they pretty much care about three metrics. It's their win rate, their deal velocity, um, and then their, their net dollar retention. So we really help with the first two. Um, and we could help with the third, but, but we've tried to focus on just one of those and testing out, you know, uh, if it could help improve those metrics. And then you're also a bit doing a bit of consolidation with journey because we have a bunch of tools in one place.Upendra Varma:
Right. So what's, what's the vision here, right? So how are you going to grow, grow to that 1 million ARR and like, how are you going to grow to that 5 million mark? Right. So what's going to happen in terms of marketing sales, all of it. Right. So what's the vision here?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, absolutely. I think the, the, um, you know, the idea is like we're, we started in sales and marketing. I think we'll continue to focus there for, you know, until we hit that milestone, uh, of ARR. Um, but. I mean, we're just realizing that everyone is pretty much selling something. Uh, you know, whether you're, um, whether you're looking for a job and you're trying to stand out, like we have people that are creating journeys as a new format for a resume. We have like Tik TOK creators that are creating a portfolio, uh, on journey and selling, you know, sponsorships that way. So we think it's much broader, uh, to just like a new way of doing business in a B2B world. Um, and so I think once we get to certain milestones, we'll start to really pour the fuel on, you know, doing like actual paid growth and doing outbound sales, uh, because I think the reality is that. Um, in 10 years, every sales team is going to use something like journey. You know, I hope it's, I hope the majority of it is through something like, like actually journey, but, um, I think we're just going to see the digitization of B2B sales, um, become more like what I've said when I initially got on this pod. Of like, think of how easy it is to buy something on Amazon. Um, I think you'll see now I can buy a Tesla for a hundred thousand dollars with a few taps on my phone. Like, I think you're going to see that B2B sales move in that direction. And the role of a salesperson really is going to, going to shift. So that's where I think tools like this are going to be, uh, Um, are going to be a, uh, a need to have the bigger question is more so, is it going to be startups that scale or is it going to be the behemoths that just build or buy these things? That's really the bigger question.Upendra Varma:
So, and so far you haven't been focusing on any outbound sales or any of that, right? It's just, you know, a bunch of leads coming in through your viral loop, and then you're trying to selectively pick a bunch of them and, you know, go after them. Is that how it'sBrendan Weitz:
Yeah. I mean, yeah, candidly, we could probably grow a lot faster if we did outbound sales, but I think you, I mean, it's, it's time will tell if we're, we're doing the right thing. Um, I think that for us. We, like I said, live and die by the product. And if you're going to truly be a product led growth company, and that's your go to market motion, you can't force it with top down sales. Like you, you really should just pick one. Uh,Upendra Varma:
you doing with all of those, you know, uh, non aligned leads, right? So somebody from, let's say a HR team trying to use your product for something, right? So are you literally leaving them around and you're just saying, okay, we don't really care about you as of today. Is that what you're doing?Brendan Weitz:
yeah. It's a great question. I mean, I wouldn't say like we have. You know, once again, I hope it's helpful. We have hopefully helpful content for every type of persona, whether you're a salesperson, you're a marketer, you're a customer success, you're in recruiting, you're in, um, you're, you're a venture capitalist and you're fundraising, or you're a founder and you're fundraising. We have helpful content about how you can use journey for these different use cases. Um, but just the, the, it's not worth it to us from a revenue standpoint to like focus on those users. So we just try to convert them self serve entirely, like you can pay monthly orUpendra Varma:
Yeah. It makes, makes a lot of sense actually. Yeah. So, all right. So Brendan, let's just talk about the team here. Right. So how, how big is your team and what are they doing?Brendan Weitz:
Yeah, we're a team of nine, three co founders, three engineers, two design, one customer success, fully remote in crazily enough, like five, four or five different timeUpendra Varma:
Got it. And have you raised any external funding so far to build your company?Brendan Weitz:
Yes. We raised 4 million or a little over 4 million, uh, in 2021.Upendra Varma:
Got it. All right, Brendan. Uh, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Hope you scale journey to much, much greater heights.Brendan Weitz:
Yeah. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.