Sramana Mitra: Let’s switch to team. You started as a solo entrepreneur?
Cedric Saverese: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you carry on as a solo entrepreneur?
Cedric Saverese: Two to three years, while it was a side project. When I did it full-time, I hired the first person within the next few months.
Sramana Mitra: What was the position that you hired?
Cedric Saverese: I hired a developer which, in retrospect, was a mistake. I hired someone that was more like me as opposed to hiring someone that was more complementary. The first two hires were developers. I would have needed a marketer or, at least, someone who can take multiple hats. Ideally, you pick someone who doesn’t have the same skills that you have.
Sramana Mitra: When was the third hire and what position did you hire for?
Cedric Saverese: I’m pretty sure that was Customer Support.
Sramana Mitra: How many people do you have now?
Cedric Saverese: We have 46 employees now.
Sramana Mitra: What was the trajectory of building up to 46 people?
Cedric Saverese: Maybe going backward will be a lot easier. A year ago, we were about 32. We hired 10 to 15 people in the last year.
Sramana Mitra: Why so much?
Cedric Saverese: We’re hiring across the board. We needed more people in customer support. We needed to build up a marketing team. We needed to build up a sales team. We needed to reinforce our product development team as well.
Sramana Mitra: All these people are in Indiana?
Cedric Saverese: They’re distributed. They’re in 17 or 18 different US states and in four or five countries.
Sramana Mitra: Do you have a physical office or are you doing this as a virtual company?
Cedric Saverese: We do have a physical office.
Sramana Mitra: How many people are in that office?
Cedric Saverese: We have eight people in Bloomington, Indiana. We’re 100% distributed.
Sramana Mitra: Excellent. The reason I’m probing all this is the formula of solo entrepreneur going from getting a product a done and starting to sell to a bootstrapped 40 to 50 people with over $5 million in revenue is a very good model for the current generation of entrepreneurs who are trying to build small businesses anywhere in the world.
Your story is a classic textbook case study on how to build these businesses. In all these vectors that we are touching upon, are there strategic things that you’ve done that are worth discussing and sharing with our audience that people can learn from. What would you like to discuss more in more detail?
Cedric Saverese: We can talk about the remote aspect.
Sramana Mitra: Yes, talk about that please.
Cedric Saverese: I started down the path of having a distributed team because, at that time, I was not in Silicon Valley. I didn’t really care about moving to Silicon Valley to build my business. So, there was a limited pool of potential candidates locally. I figured out that to do the work that we do, you need a laptop and a connection.
The first few employees that I hired were in and around Bloomington. Pretty quickly, I opened the job positions worldwide and tried to see who I could find. That allowed me to find people who had the kind of experience that I wanted who were also affordable. I was able to find great people that way and work with those.