He Sold His Previous Company to Oracle. How Far Will His Sales-Tech SaaS Soar?

Join us in this episode of the B2B SaaS podcast as we deep dive with Suresh, co-founder and CEO of Sales Table AI, a sales readiness platform aiming for repeatable quota attainment.

  • Suresh shares insights from his previous entrepreneurial ventures, including exits to companies like Oracle, shedding light on the highs and lows of the startup journey.
  • We explore the evolution of Sales Table AI from its inception to its current standing, examining pivotal decisions and strategic pivots along the way.
  • Discover the challenges faced by early-stage startups in driving sales and customer acquisition, and how Sales Table AI navigates these hurdles.
  • Learn about Sales Table AI’s target customer base, ranging from SMBs to mid-market enterprises, and the value proposition it offers to sales leaders and reps.
  • Dive into the metrics behind Sales Table AI’s growth, including ARR, deal size, and customer acquisition strategies, providing valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Explore Sales Table AI’s product roadmap, which incorporates AI-driven features and integrations with leading platforms like HubSpot and Salesforce, catering to evolving customer needs.
  • Gain valuable insights into the internal dynamics of Sales Table AI, including its lean engineering team, bootstrapped funding model, and plans for future expansion.
  • Discover the importance of customer feedback and market validation in shaping Sales Table AI’s growth trajectory, emphasizing the value of agility and adaptability in the startup ecosystem.
Transcript
Upendra Varma:

Hello everyone. Welcome to the B2B SaaS podcast. I'm your host Today we have with uss. Here is the co-founder and CEO of a company called Sales Table ai. Right? Hey Reh, welcome to the show.

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Hey, uh, hello everyone. Uh, Hey Upendra, first of all, uh, it's an honor to be part of your podcast. I've definitely seen a lot of great entrepreneurs coming and then providing their insights and their experiences. And the way I really think of it is, uh, I've been a full time founder at this point of time and every journey is very different and every journey is. And at the same time, painful, right? I think, uh, I'm really at a point where, uh, I love to, uh, talk about not just about the, uh, Uh, good points about the entrepreneurship and being a founder, but I think, you know, there are also a lot of, uh, pain that people go through. And I think, uh, it's really important for, uh, the people in the founder community, entrepreneurship community to talk through. So that it's not just about the great side of the things, but there are also, uh, on the dark side of the things that we need to talk through.

Upendra Varma:

So, alright ish, so before we sort of get into sales table, right, so I see that you like, I think I as you already mentioned, you full-time SaaS, like fulltime founder, right? So what sort of companies have you like sort of tried to build in the past and what happened to them? Just, are they in B2B or are they something else? Like, just, just, can you give us a sense of that?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, uh, my entire life has been, uh, B2B, uh, I would say enterprise, um, uh, products. That's really where, uh, I grew up, I would say. Uh, and, um, the first company was really about a, uh, B2C by the way, but it's really about, uh, bringing Kids, parents together. Uh, it's a tech, uh, company almost about, uh, 15 years ago. And, uh, that, that's even before Facebook came out with groups, for example. Right. Uh, so that, that's really the idea over there. And then, uh, we ran it for about a year and a, uh, year and a half. And then the financial, um, downturn began in the us. And, um, uh, I think, you know, clearly at that point of time, there was no, uh, clear, uh, uh, product market fit, but at the same time, I think, you know, the financial downturn didn't really help us to really get to the next, uh, milestones for us. Uh, so that, that was the first one. Um, and the second one was, uh, really all about, uh, How do we bring in the service oriented architecture into the enterprise space? And, uh, uh, we actually build it and then, uh, we actually sold it to Software AG. And, uh, a lot of, uh, lessons learned. That was completely a VC backed, uh, company, but, um, within five and a half years, we were able to kind of, you know, get it to, uh, exit, uh, out of that. And, uh, the third company was. really in the space of construction, uh, management. And, um, uh, that is the company. Really think of it as a lot of construction project management happens, uh, in the offices, right? Uh, that's really where you plan a project. That is where you Uh, people think of it as the execution happens unfortunately at the site, right? But Uh, there is no proper way to really understand, you know, how do we collect the data? What kind of progress has been made? All that and that's what we were able to kind of, you know Bring it using the mobile apps and the cost management and all that Um, that's the company that was sold to oracle. Um, and uh, that, that was the last one. And then of course, I mean, you know, sales table is, uh, the one, uh, that we are building now. So, uh, I'm really excited about everything that we've done in the past. A lot of lessons learned for sure.

Upendra Varma:

All right. That's, that's a lot of exits as well. Right. So, and, and like, what keeps on, like, what, what does keep, like, how do you keep on building things? Like what keeps on going? Right. So what, what's, what's the, what's the goal for you? Right. So do you just keep on building stuff? Right. What excites you the most here?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, that's a great one. I think at some point of time, again, For me, uh, after, uh, probably seven years into the workforce is when I realized that, uh, I really take pride in building things right. You know, I really love that process of zero to one. Uh, when I say zero to one, it's really about, Hey, you know what? You have a big idea. And then, uh, to really make sure that that is, that idea makes sense. It, it provides value to somebody. And then take that idea to something as a product and then build a company out of it. And then getting the first customers, um, getting the first employee and really talking to your customers, prodding the value. That is the process that I love. Um, and, um, On the same side, I, I really suck or I will be really a bad employee per se, right? You know, I just can't, uh, really fit in big companies. That's not really, uh, me. Uh, so I think, and again, the reason why I'm mentioning this is I think, you know, everybody has their own personality. Everybody has their own way of doing things. And, uh, in the founder entrepreneurial journey. It's very, very, very important to really realize who you are, what you like, and really go from there. Right? Because. A lot of, um, friends and, um, family members who are in the big companies, they will say, Hey, you know what, I'm really, uh, taking this, um, uh, idea to, uh, product, you know, it is like a startup in my big company. And then I say, sorry, no, it's not a startup. Right because you don't have the same pain you have a brand, you know people associate you with that brand And then you don't have the problems in paying the employees You're not really looking at you know, whether I can pay these employees or not You are not looking for the payroll, but I think you know that's really where we need to really see where you are comfortable with and Really get to that. So To your question, I think, you know, that's really what drives me

Upendra Varma:

makes sense. So let's come back to sales table for now, right? So like what, what does sales table do, right? And what's the product about and who are the customers that primarily using this particular product?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

So, uh, we, we think of a sales table is a sales readiness co pilot for repeatable quota attainment. So let me tell you what that is, right? So when you think about, uh, sales leaders, a huge part of their life is really thinking about, Hey, what, what, what are the, um, uh, what is the quota that I have? I mean, how do I make sure that my team is performing and they are able to attain that quota? And then not just about, you know, one particular quarter, but then over a period of one year, and then in big companies, we actually kind of, you know, plan it out for the next five years, in terms of the, Uh quota and then how do we want to kind of do the revenue growth and everything? and uh in many cases in the last uh, four five years or so uh, we've been definitely seeing a challenge in terms of the growth rates have um come down and then the Sales cycles have gone. Um, the duration has become really huge and then people are not making decisions and all that. So again, And a lot of it really comes down to the fact that 80 percent of the salespeople are not hitting the quota. That's super unfortunate. That's the number one thing. Number two, according to a latest report last year, Only 17 percent of the salespeople hit the quota, which basically means that 80 percent of the people didn't hit the quota. Right. So now when the way we think about a sales table is there is so much of activity that happens, you know, the, in the sales table. sales side of it, we want to make sure that we want to give back the time to sales leaders so that they can go and do the strategic activity and the vision planning. And then we want to give the right tools and confidence to sales reps. So that when they go in front of a prospect, they are confident on how to sell the product. I mean, the pain points, and then really understand the whole pitch as itself. And, uh, that's really what we do bring confidence to sales reps using sales table.

Upendra Varma:

Got it, right. So just, uh, let us help us Just let me help you understand the customer base today, right? So like how many active paying customers you have on sales table right now?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, sure. So the way we've uh, started this journey is about two years back we launched our product. And then, uh, at this point of time, uh, we have 150, uh, beta customers, uh, who are, who have validated our product. And then, uh, we are close to 15 paying customers at this point of time. And, um, uh, we are very proud of, I think, you know, the journey that we have taken because. We wanted to initially provide and then really see uh, who are those beta customers who is really excited and then the kind of uh Um, usage metrics that they are providing and clearly, I mean, you know, sometimes in the last three years because of the economy, because of, uh, what is happening in the international markets, you know, a lot of things change, right? I mean, which basically means the ICP or the ideal customer profile that we define probably three years back is not relevant right now anymore. And that's exactly what, um, uh, we had to pivot along the way. And then make sure that we are serving the right customers.

Upendra Varma:

Okay. And what, like, just, uh, sort of what's the profile of this customer? So how big of a deal are we talking about? It is the, are the SMBs, big market enterprises, like, just, can you just help us understand that?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Absolutely. So initially when we started, we really started with what we call as the SMBs, I think almost two years ago, right? And the one thing that we realized with the SMBs is that, uh, while there is a lot of pain point for them, especially because of the, uh, External factors with the economy and everything, the spendings, the budgets have cut down and then the people are cut down, unfortunately, and they don't have somebody who can take on the role of having the tools implemented, or even have somebody evaluate the tools. And I think, you know, that has become, you know, a bigger challenge, especially in the last couple of years. And then that is one reason why we moved to mid market. I think, you know, mid market is, uh, is still growing and then there is a greater need out there. And we especially kind of, you know, really focus and then provide value to sales leaders, right? Think of it as sales ops, uh, CSOs and then CROs Uh, and then even the sales enablement teams. Those are the teams that Take a lot of value from sales table So that at the end of the day sales reps are the ones that we really focus and make sure That they are getting the right value when they go in front of our customers.

Upendra Varma:

Got it. So can I assume like these, these deals are on 10, 20, 000 deals that these 15 paying customers

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, uh, so we go anywhere between 20 to 24k per year.

Upendra Varma:

that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And like, just help us understand, right. So the, the, how you've driven this 150 beta customers, right. So how have you worked with them? Like, like what's that, you know, uh, you know, lead generation look like for you, right. So.

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah Um, so There is, uh, definitely I would say, uh, outbound is, uh, by even though it is not a magic bullet, but that is really where we started. And when we say outbound, it's really about the initial, the email, uh, and LinkedIn and Facebook. I think, you know, it's a mix of all these three things. And I mean, we, we kind of mix and match based on, uh, the segment of the customers and whoever that is. But typically I would say at this point of time, the outbound is really a major part of how we were able to bring in the customers. But if we go actually, you know, two years back, I think, you know, this is one of the things that as a, Uh first time founder or for anybody that is super important is The question really becomes how do I even get the first beta customer or first? You know a paying customer and one of the things that we always looked at is Make sure that you know, you have enough folks within your network Uh that are able to help you out, right? so really look into your network on if you are able to bring in some of your first set of network or second level of network whoever that is make sure if there is somebody who can Kind of you know sign up, uh, and then really provide the value and We actually got some of the initial five, six customers like that, right? Really somebody who are friendly, who can provide you great value, uh, feedback. Uh, and then of course, you know, then you go to the outbound and then get to somebody completely unknown and, uh, all that. So that's really the journey that we've been through. Uh, the last thing that I would say is Even though how much ever we want to do the outbound, uh, or the inbound, um, in terms of, uh, doing the, um, uh, right, you know, podcast, like, you know, what we're doing now, uh, doing the webinars and then, you know, really doing a lot of, uh, Google or LinkedIn ads and all that thing. Again, As a startup, the resources are super constrained for anybody and then for us as well. And that is one of the part where, uh, we are, we don't do a lot, even though we should be doing a

Upendra Varma:

Yeah, makes sense. Right. So, and like, what's, what's the plan here? Right. So how do you go from, let's say, whatever ARR you are at today, right? Maybe 200, 300 K to, let's say 1 million. Like, what's the plan, right? So are you planning to hire somebody in terms of sales reps or like, what's the vision? How do you grow from here?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, definitely. So I think there are two parts that we are really looking at, right? I mean, especially with the Advent of, uh, the GPT's, LLM's,

Upendra Varma:

you talk about that, right. So can I assume all the 15 paying customers that you've closed so far are primarily led, like from founded, let's say it's like you went and closed or found us from founders actually ended up losing. Okay.

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

correct. Yeah. Uh, all of them are founded at sales. And then, um, we do have a great, uh, head of sales that we were able to, uh, tap into last year. Uh, Dakota May, I mean, um, and he's able to definitely help us, you know, bring in the great pipeline. And then, um, we get to that next steps, but I think at the end of the day. Um, it's sales is really founder's problem, right? Uh, I don't think we can, uh, give it to anybody else until, of course, you know, we get to a certain stage and then, uh, what are those trigger points? I think, you know, that really depends, you know, varies for, uh, uh, company to company, but initially it is really the founder who has to, uh, bring in the sales at that

Upendra Varma:

right. So like, what about the engineering team here, right? So how many have, like, how many do you have on your team today?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

point. So we have a, uh, super small, uh, team. It is, uh, two engineers. They are based out of, uh, Mexico. And, um, uh, for us, yes, we, we work out really well, you know, same timeline, and then there is a great talent that is actually coming out of Mexico.

Upendra Varma:

So the two engineers are working on building the entire product. Like your product looks pretty complex to me, right? So there's a lot of integration sort of stuff out there, right, that you're doing, right? So how are two engineers even sort of handling all of this?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah. I mean, uh, again, uh, I, I really kind of, uh, bring in the talent aspect of it. Right. I think, you know, there are, Uh, some engineers who are able to really crank up a lot of things together. And then we are really fortunate to be able to find, uh, the engineering team who is multi talented full stack. And, uh, they're able to crank features like, uh, super fast. Uh, but at the same time, they also kind of, you know, push back on the things. Hey, you know what, you know, why do we need this? Why do we need that? And I think, you know, we have a very healthy conversation in terms of, uh, What is needed? Why, why is something needed? And, uh, that's the only way, uh, especially in the small teams, we make a decision and then move fast.

Upendra Varma:

So have you raised any external funding so far to build the company?

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Uh, we haven't, I mean, uh, the company is completely bootstrapped at this point of time.

Upendra Varma:

Okay, like and what's the vision, right? So what are you looking in the next two to three years, right? So, and just talk about from product perspective, from go to market perspective, and maybe a couple of, you know, key goals that you're aiming for internally, right? So that we could understand how, where this is going to go from now.

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah, so I think, you know, there, there is probably, you know, I'll just provide a little bit of context, right? So for us. Uh, the whole, uh, advent of the AI in general, I think, um, even though we are not crazy about just putting the AI just for the sake of AI, I think, you know, that's really definitely not, uh, our vision, but I think there are some parts of AI where, you know, For example, chat GPT, the LLMs can summarize things a lot better, for example. So those kinds of summarization techniques are very helpful. And the second part is, uh, they can actually provide, uh, let's say sales scripts, uh, for salespeople in a, uh, fraction of, uh, time. And those are the kinds of things we do want to build into the sales table. I think, you know, there is a, pretty good healthy road map that we want to build into sales table and we constantly work with our customers in terms of what is needed and what kind of features are really helpful and valuable for them. That's the first part. The second part is The go to market strategy, I think, you know, we want to do a good amount of, uh, product marketing at this point of time, uh, so that, uh, our, um, customers as well as the prospects actually see the value, see the work that we are doing at this point of time. That's going to be very important. And of course, I mean, or the third pillar for us is we want to be able to, uh, kind of really see Those growth hacks in terms of the sales and uh, that's going to be important for us, right? so now fast forward, I mean for the Next couple of years we want to get to at least a two million dollar era. That's really our goal at this point of time and using all these, you know the product features and then the marketing angle and then the growth hacks is really where There, uh, most importantly, though, uh, we really feel, uh, we are blessed to have, um, a lot of great customers who are, who constantly provide us the feedback. And, uh, that's really one of the internal, I would say, a secret weapon that we use, uh, to really build the right features and, uh, get the right value to our customers.

Upendra Varma:

So this, I'm going to ask something very specific, right? So I think you're closing it on 20, 20, have, has any of your customers so far asked you for any certification, security certifications or compliance, like SOP2 or ISO, have they asked you and what was your, uh, you know, take on that, right? So did you

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, that's a great point. I think, you know, for any startup, uh, in general, I think, you know, that's a constant battle that everybody goes through. Right. I mean, um, no amount of, um, uh, feature set is going to Make customers happy because it is just there is a constant, uh, things that keep flowing but I think most importantly the security angle the SOP2 compliance is something that people keep asking us and That is something that we will provide at some point of time that is there as part of the roadmap But I mean, for example, if you just see Uh just about this monday, we released the HubSpot integration, right? You know now we are actually part of uh, You HubSpot app marketplace, uh, which is a very great milestone for us. And, uh, that really brings a lot of value for our sales reps where they don't have to, um, double enter the numbers. And then everything comes from, um, HubSpot into sales table. It's a one place, uh, that you have all the data to look into. So those are the kind of, uh, valuable integrations that we will keep building for sure. Uh, and then the next thing is we're actually planning for a salesforce integration for sure, right? So those are the things as and when We actually get the feedback and then we see that there is a value for a lot of our customers We absolutely want to build that but again, we need to understand right at some point of time Every startup, you know, irrespective of whether it is sales stable or not Uh, we need to decide on you have a limited budget limited resource and then you know Where do you want to focus and that's really where I would say there is a constant push and pull.

Upendra Varma:

Yeah. Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Hope your scale stays stable to much, much greater heights.

Suresh Madhuvarsu:

Absolutely again um, thanks a lot for asking all the relevant questions, I think That that really got me, you know Started thinking about you know our growth as well. So thanks for that

Upendra Varma:

That, that sounds good. Yeah.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top