Robin Singhvi, Founder of SmartCue, talks how about how they acquired over 30 paying customers ( of 5-6 figure ACV deals ) primarily with founder-led sales. We deep dive into his entrepreneurial journey and learn how his monthly newsletter and enterprise sales expertise are propelling SmartCue’s growth! 🚀
Here’s what we will discuss,
- 🚀 Building Credibility: Robin leveraged a decade in enterprise sales, positioning himself as a thought leader to establish trust early on, setting SmartQ apart in a competitive landscape.
- 🌟 Navigating Enterprise Sales: With a background in million-dollar deals, Robin’s diligence, proactivity, and methodical engagement laid the groundwork for successful sales in the enterprise market.
- 💼 Founder-led Power: Emphasizing a personal touch, Robin’s active involvement in the sales process boosted SmartQ’s credibility, building confidence and trust.
- 📅 Monthly Newsletter Magic: Initiating a monthly newsletter since SmartQ’s launch in October 2021, it evolved into a valuable tool for lead generation, sharing experiences, and fostering relationships.
📊 Key Metrics Discussed:
- 📈 Current Customers: 30+ organizations.
- 💰 Revenue Target: Aiming for $1M+ by March 2024.
- 🚀 Growth Goal: On track to reach 100 organizations on SmartCue.
- 🛠️ Sales Approach: Founder-led with plans to build a robust sales engine.
- 💸 Funding: Raised capital from an accelerator program and angel investors.
- 👥 Team Size: Core team of 3, augmented with interns and contractors.
- ⏳ Product Age: SmartCue launched officially in May 2023.
You can also watch this on youtube here,
so, I mean, especially in early days for any, any, uh, any stage company, the credibility is not of the company, but of the founder. I mean, there is actually no doubt about that. So when I, when I go sit to the table, yes, I represent SmartKey, but they're like, okay, what, who are you for us to be able to trust you? What have you done? What is your pedigree? Right? Uh, and, and I think that, that has held me in good stead, I would sayUpendra Varma:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast. I'm your host, Rupinder. And today we have Robin Singh with us. Robin here is the founder of a company called SmartQ. Hey, Robin, welcome to the show.Robin Sighvi:
All right. Thank you. Thank you for having me.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. Hi, Robin. So let's help us understand, right. So what your product does and why customers are willing to pay you money.Robin Sighvi:
SmartQ helps teams create interactive self serve demos with the goal of improving the quality of leads in their funnel. We basically turn traditional product demos into personalized self serve journeys that will significantly boost your lead conversions. That's what smartkey does and uh, the reason people sign up for and pay us for the key reason really is that b2b buying behavior is now starting to look a lot more like b2c buying behavior, which means that People want to do their own discovery, do their own exploration, want to get a touch and feel experience of your product before they click on the book a meeting or sign up for a free trial button. And you as the seller need to enable the buyer as much as possible to be able to do that. Because if you do, then your sales cycle will be compressed. Your lead quality obviously is. Uh, is significantly improved and, uh, that is the, uh, the goal of every highly efficient sales team, right? So that's the promise that we, we provide. And that's why we're able to sign on customers.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. So if, if, if I'm a user of one of your customers, right. Who's using you, right. So where exactly do I see this particular automated demo coming to me and automated and personalized demo.Robin Sighvi:
Yeah. So if you are the user at, at, at my customer, right? So, so you, you will either be a marketer, right? So either a product marketer or the margin person, or you might be part of customer success teams or product teams, right? And, uh, where you would see the output of what you end up creating in smart queue will vary depending on your function, but it actually goes all the way across the funnel. So right at the top of the funnel, when you were trying to embed these interactive showcases on your website or landing pages, or even inside of your ads to, uh, if you're a demand gen person, you are embedding these demos inside of your cold outbound emails. you're a salesperson, you're embedding these in your follow up or leave behind assets after you've had a meeting with your customer. If you're a customer support person or a product person are using SmartQ to create or augment these nodes, your onboarding material, your sort of customer enablement material as well. So it spans the entire funnel.Upendra Varma:
So, and I'm assuming a lot of people can use you, right? So everybody under the sun can use you, right? To create product demos. So I'm, I'm saying that because, uh, I just want to understand your customer base so that I could really understand who you are trying to sell to. It's to help me understand, right? Uh, today. Right. So who are you primarily selling to and how many customers do you have on your platform as of today?Robin Sighvi:
I mean, so, so that, that's an interesting question, right? So anyone under the sun can use me, uh, when anyone under the sun pay me TBD, right? Uh, but, but the folks who do pay me tend to be, um, uh, it's, it's a spread right now in terms of, uh, enterprise customers, which have, uh, well oiled marketing teams to PLG companies or very small lean startups, which are trying to optimize. Their marketing motion so that they're able to sort of get the best out of their existing resources and, and automate the stuff that they don't need to do. So it's kind of spread across the board. And of course, when I say my customers, all of them are sending some software of some kind.Upendra Varma:
got it. And then just, just quantify this, right? So how many paying customers are we talking about today?Robin Sighvi:
So we have, we have about 30 odd paying customers organizations.Upendra Varma:
then what, how big are these, you know, deals right now? And I don't want the exact number. I'm just looking for the range. Are these hundred dollar deals, thousand dollar deals, ten thousand dollar deals, hundred thousand dollar deals? What are weRobin Sighvi:
so these, these depend, these depend on whether it's an enterprise or whether it's a smaller customer, and we have, Uh, if you see on our website, you know, we have plans that appeal to younger companies where we're giving it away for 400, 500 a year for a couple of users. Two, you know, five to six figure deals for larger enterprises.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. So it's, it's, it's still the best is, I think the enterprise deals are around 50, 60, 000, right? Is that what I'm understanding? And you rangeRobin Sighvi:
Yeah, I think it, it, it, it depends. Again, it depends, right? It depends on the need, depends on the function. It depends on, uh, the number of licenses. Uh, itUpendra Varma:
Yeah. So I know there's going to be a spread and I'm specifically trying to understand this because I want to understand your go to market motion after this, right? So I just want to get a sense of like how, how many, like how big of like how many enterprise deals you've cracked so far, right? So if it's a lot, then maybe we'll talk about that motion, right?Robin Sighvi:
I mean, when I, when I talk about, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's 50, 50 right now.Upendra Varma:
got it. SoRobin Sighvi:
terms of enterprise versus, uh, versus smaller companies.Upendra Varma:
got it. Right. And yeah,Robin Sighvi:
we also have a long tail off of sort of individual creators who are actually using the product as well. So there's like a significant number of those. So, so, uh, GTM actually, you know, before we get into it, that is the next challenge that we are trying to solve that, you know, which of these people do we target, which are those going to be the most value for our efforts. And things like that. So those are still things that we are, uh, in active discussions to figure out the right approach.Upendra Varma:
and then, uh, how old is your product? Like when have you launched it?Robin Sighvi:
Uh, the product is actually only about four months old, maybe four now, you know, we launched officially in like May, uh, late May, and so yeah, it's just been three to four months now.Upendra Varma:
And what did you do at launch?Robin Sighvi:
Uh, so yeah, when we say launch, it's, it's basically, you know, we launched our product and, uh, sort of amped up the product, uh, tried to, we tried to create as much buzz around it as possible. Uh, used that launch to sort of, you know, um, get our name out there in front of the right customers, uh, using that, that credibility of not just launching on product hunt, but also being part of the day on product hunt. Right? So using that, leaning into that credibility, uh, to open a few more doors for us.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. So, so again, I'll just, I would just, I just want to touch upon this. Right. So because a lot of people, right. They just want to launch on product and they want to be the product of the day. Right. They can't. Right. So, so what, what has worked for you? What did you do there?Robin Sighvi:
Uh, so, so interesting enough, we actually launched on product hunt twice. Um, one was, I think, uh, last. September and then this, uh, this may, uh, April, May launch. And the first time around, it was truly just brute force because it was literally just me and a couple of interns trying to make it happen. Uh, this time around, we kind of just took those learnings, tried to, you know, make a playbook of sorts. Uh, and then try and execute that even so, uh, being number one on product front is actually a lot of luck. Uh, I'll be, I'll be honest and say that, that, you know, yes, you can put in a lot of effort, but if you know, a YC company or if a well funded company comes in the door, the odds are that you're not going to get the catch up, right. It doesn't matter whether they're number one or not. Uh, what matters is if you can get enough people to know about the fact that you've launched and, uh, more people having sort of affinity or recognition of the brand.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. So what, what, what worked for you this time? Right. So any insight there, right. So just one, if you were to pick.Robin Sighvi:
Uh, there were quite a few, right? So, so this time around, you know, we had our email list in order. We had, uh, you know, our Slack approaches and all the WhatsApp groups and stuff like that in order. We also ensured that we, we, uh, gave people a heads up the last time around. We just launched and told people on the day of launch, whereas this time around we had like a month long plan that, Hey, so first go on the coming soon page, create discussions on Product Hunt itself. You know, a, a small thing that actually worked, uh, and I think a lot of people should do, is you go on product hunt, uh, stay, you're coming soon. So there's an option to go on there and say that you're coming soon. Then start commenting on a lot of other top products during that, that month because when you do, it shows up. You show up as coming soon and a lot of people go and sort of sign up to get notified. That actually led to a lot of, uh, people signing up to get notified and that, I think that gave us a, uh, a bit of a boost as well. Which was new for us this time around. Yeah,Upendra Varma:
it. And that's wonderful. Right. So what, what did this product and bring, right? So how many signups did you get in like as a result of this?Robin Sighvi:
yeah. So, so this is interesting, right? Because, uh, one question is how did you launch in product front? But I think the more interesting question is that what did you get out of the product front launch? Uh, and, and the of people. And for us, it was, it was more of that. There is a company that is doing some very interesting stuff in the demo automation space. We got a bunch of signups, but like a lot of other companies. Not all of them were good quality signups, if you will, right? Uh, but that kind of gave us impetus to sort of then go find the right communities, find the right people. A lot of technical folks or product folks who hang out on product hunt found us and then referred us to their marketing teams. Right. So in that sense, Product Hunt worked really well, but I wouldn't like necessarily quantify success on Product Hunt as a number of signups that got on Product Hunt, to be honest. Like we got thousands of signups, but that doesn't really matter.Upendra Varma:
Got it. Right. So, so over the past four months, right, after you launched on Product Hunt, right. So what have you been doing in terms of, you know, strictly from a top of funnel perspective, right. What's been working for you in terms of lead discovery?Robin Sighvi:
Yeah. So like I said, we're still very early, right? So, so our primary go to market is still FounderLed, which is me. Right. Uh, you know, I have a monthly newsletter that goes out to a few hundred people, uh, that actually has been my biggest lead gen engine, because these are people who've been aware of and been on this journey with me. And now that they see that, okay, you know, we've gotten to a meaningful place in terms of product, in terms of funding, in terms of, you know, uh, closer to PMF, I wouldn't say at PMF. I've been getting a ton of messages every time I send out this monthly newsletter, just from them, right? Uh, which is great because these are, these are highly qualified leadsUpendra Varma:
talk about this newsletter, right? So when have you been building this? Like, when did you start? And like, who are these people? Who are these audience?Robin Sighvi:
yeah, so this started when I launched the company and that was back in October 2021. And, um, I'm a first time founder. I worked in enterprise. I've worked across a number of different startups, but sold to enterprises for the past 10, 12 years in the US. And so I've been fortunate enough to have like a small set of trusted advisors, friends, you may call them. And I figured that, hey, you know what, this, this is, this newsletter was kind of a safe space for me where I would tell them of all the things that I messed up. All the things I had no idea about and all the things that I was taking a shot on the dark end, right? And then it, it became a way for a solo founder like me to have like this informal, but very vested group of advisors, uh, who always kind of supported and, and, uh, led me down the right path. As I started talking to other customers, other prospects, uh, fellow founders, uh, who I felt, you know, resonated with me and, and really kind of wanted to support me. I started to add them to the newsletter with their permission. And now, yeah, like I said, it's about, you know, a couple hundred people, but each of them, I know personally, you know, I could pick up the phone and talk to them, but. Especially being a founder, you just rarely have time. And so for me, this is, this is actually the one thing every month that I have to do without fail that, and that is drafted by me and not like an AI or like a ghostwriter or whatever. This is the one thing that, that, that, that I have to do without fail and I think it has paid off in schools.Upendra Varma:
How is it attributing to this user growth? Are they, are they the ones who, who's trying out your product? Are they referring you just because they wanna help you? Like how is that, you know, funnel getting closed?Robin Sighvi:
Yeah. Yeah. So, so it is, while there are a subset of those folks who've ended up using SmartQ at their organizations, uh, the bigger vote of confidence is that they've been referring me to other companies saying that, Hey, you know what? I think this is a really good product. Not that, Hey, I know this guy and he's a good guy. So you should talk to him. The vote of confidence is for the problem that I'm solving and the product that I've built to solve that problem. Right? So that's, that's the kind of warm introductions that are happening. Uh, and, and, you know, I'm kind of glad to say that 90 percent of my customers right now are folks who I never knew before, right? It's not that, you know, I knew this guy, so he used SmartQ and now he's paying me. There are a few ofUpendra Varma:
how many of them can you actually attribute to this wonderful effort of yours?Robin Sighvi:
Uh, yeah. I mean, like, uh, you know, out of the 30, 40 enterprise customers that we have, I want to say at least half. If not more have come from this specific channel, right? So a lot of my revenue is actually due to that channel. And then the other, I mean, you're talking about go to market. The other thing that's worked for me is a twofold approach on LinkedIn. One is sort of trying to write content and establish thought leadership on LinkedIn, setting myself up as, uh, you know, someone who is involved and deeply ingrained in the sales enablement, buyer enablement, demo automation space, uh, and also You know, on a more tactical level, like a lot of cold out in general, right? So that's, that's the channel that's worked for me. Now, the challenge is that how do I move from being founder led to having a true GTM motion in place, right? So those, that's, that's something that I'm figuring out, figuring out as IUpendra Varma:
Yeah. And then just help, help us understand it, the sales cycle so far, right? I mean, you might have closed, you know, 10, 10, 10 to 20 of these deals, right? So however big they are, right. So how have you managed to close this? I mean, what happened there?Robin Sighvi:
So, so like I said, right, so I've, I've done enterprise sales on my life. Like that's the, interestingly enough, a lot of people. I've advised me to go the PLG route for smart queue. And while that could potentially work, I don't know anything about PLG, right? What I do know is the enterprise motion, right? And that, that, that, and I'm sure all the sales are like that, but especially enterprise sales are all about being diligent, being proactive and just being very methodical, right? It's like when you're following, you know, when you, when you think of a prospect becoming, you know, going through your funnel. It takes a while, right? Like there, there are times when, you know, I spoken to someone about eight months ago and I just nurtured him, nurtured him, nurtured him, nurtured him for eight months, as opposed to when you think of like, you know, a lot of cold email sequences, like six, eight, 10, and you're done right over the two months, three month period. But in enterprise sales, it's, it's not that you just have to keep engaging them and not with, Hey, can we sell now? Can, can you buy now? Can you buy now? It's just more about relationship building first. Uh, establishing that level of trust confidence that, you know, Robin actually knows what he's talking about of the problem that he's solving. And, and he is, he is knowledgeable enough to understand my problem, right? So once I, once you're able to do that, then you bring them to the table. And then when you bring them to the table, you know, it's, it's a pretty straightforward sort of, in the, in the sense. That, you know, there's processes that you have to follow to sort of get them over the line, right? So whether it is following up consistently, sorry, go ahead,Upendra Varma:
yeah. So Robin, so have you raised any external funding so far? Uh,Robin Sighvi:
I went through an accelerator program and I also raised a little bit of funding from some angels from my network back in the US. But, but not a whole lot, very small. And thatUpendra Varma:
So, so I'm asking you this question, right? Because one of the things that I've observed a lot of founders do, right? So they start a company, right? So, and they're going through this enterprise, enterprise sales motion, the top of funnel, yes, they can handle, right? A bunch of cold emails, you know, a bunch of cold outreach on LinkedIn. You can get there, right? But everything else after that, it falls apart, right? Because they'll say, okay, you're not credible enough that I go and close a 20, 000 deal with you, right? So like, what's working for you? Just talk us through that, you know, process and you know, what's really working for you and what, what are we missing here?Robin Sighvi:
So, so it's interesting you say that because my challenge is actually the reverse. Like I, I, I stay awake at night that my funnel is not full enough, right? Because my confidence in, in my sort of, in my ability is. That if someone comes to the door, I'll be able to close a deal with them. And it's also interesting, you know, what enterprise deals are for smart Q versus what I used to sell, like, you know, going from million dollar deals to, you know, 20, 30, 40, a hundred, 200 K deals. These are actually smaller size deals. So, so for me, I'm like, man, this should not be a big deal. Uh, but so I have the reverse problem where I'm like, okay, yes, IUpendra Varma:
then, but back then when you were selling million dollar deals, right? I mean, you must have this fancy product out there that everybody in the world knows that. I mean, you, you were dealing with a different spectrum, right? So now you are this solo founder or you do this founder, you just got this new company. I mean, it's just brand new, right? So there is no credibility or, I mean, or how are you building that credibility? Like, so what's like, that's, that's what I'm talking about. Like, and how are you overcoming those?Robin Sighvi:
So, I mean, especially in early days for any, any, uh, any stage company, the credibility is not of the company, but of the founder. I mean, there is actually no doubt about that. So when I, when I go sit to the table, yes, I represent SmartKey, but they're like, okay, what, who are you for us to be able to trust you? What have you done? What is your pedigree? Right? Uh, and, and I think that, that has held me in good stead, I would say. Um, so far. Um, so, so yeah, I mean, I, I, I unfortunately don't know the answer to the problem that a lot of other founders face, but I would love to learn from them how to fill up my top of theUpendra Varma:
But I think you in a way answered it, right? So you talked about positioning yourself as a thought leader in that particular space, right? So I guess you must have raised a couple of rounds of funding or, or, you know, a couple of known angels that may be adding credibility over there. And you obviously are an expert at enterprise sales, right? So maybe that is helping you out. So, but yeah, that's, that's aRobin Sighvi:
It's the whole package, right? I mean, there's a, there's a lot of things. I think we said it, but it's about, uh, it's about positioning and the brand that you cultivate, even if it's early on.Upendra Varma:
And Robin, like how big is the team today?Robin Sighvi:
A team is very mean get about three people and then. A rotating door of interns and contractors as well.Upendra Varma:
Who's building, who's building the software?Robin Sighvi:
Yeah, so my CTO and my other team, which is augmented with external folks from time toUpendra Varma:
Got it, right. So what's, what's the next big, you know, milestone you're targeting and how do you intend to get there? What's the vision?Robin Sighvi:
Yeah, yeah. And the next big milestone is twofold. One is we need to have 100 organizations on SmartQ by March of 2024.Upendra Varma:
That's a million dollars in revenue you're talking about, right? So a hundred, a hundred deals aroundRobin Sighvi:
Uh, probably more, uh, probably more, uh, but, uh, but yeah, so like, that's, that's the goal that if we hit a hundred, uh, you know, specific sized organizations giving us a specific revenue, then I will be a very robust and healthy, uh, company, uh, which, which will allow us to, to choose our path, you know, which is either raising more funds on our own terms, hopefully. Or being a very, very sort of, uh, robust and, and, uh, viable, uh, uh, you know, business traditional or otherwise.Upendra Varma:
Yeah. And then, and you intend to do that all by yourself. Like in terms of, you know, selling all of these deals.Robin Sighvi:
I mean, of course, we'll have a team. We will definitely need a team to do that. Uh, you know, a part of, part of the activities that are happening right now is figuring out the motion that, okay, how do you go from from the lead to, uh, a proper, uh, sales engine or an organization, right? So what are the processes? Like I, I, I spend, I spend a lot of days and especially weekends going through all of the calls that I've done and trying to find patterns and a process that I can document for whoever I bring, like, like my first SDR, SDR of our, my first. So, so that's the, that's the obvious next step that we need to bring the team both on the, on the GTM side of the house and on the tech side of the house.Upendra Varma:
got it. Alright Robin, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Hope you scale SmartQ to much, much greater heights.Robin Sighvi:
Thank you. This was great. I enjoyed it.