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Bootstrapping With A Paycheck to YCombinator and $10M Series A: Ryan Chan, CEO of UpKeep (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Jun 17th 2019

Sramana Mitra: What kind of numbers did you do in 2016, 2017, and 2018? What was the ramp in terms of free users and paying users? What was happening?

Ryan Chan: We’ve been growing very fast. We’ve hit a true nerve in this market and the completely underserved industry. Over 2,500 paying companies use UpKeep. Each company could have anywhere from a single user to several hundred users in their UpKeep account. Again, we literally had zero about three years ago, which is nuts.

Sramana Mitra: You started off by saying your first company that paid, Universal, said that the company they were considering was charging too much money. What does the competitive landscape look like? Whom do you see in deals? 

Ryan Chan: There’s actually a lot of competitors in this space. Just to name a few, there’s a company that was purchased by IBM about 12 years ago that’s really the gold standard in this industry. It’s called Maximo. Infor is another acquisition by a big company. These are super enterprise deals.

For us, we fall more into the small to medium sized business range. We compete with Dude Solutions, eMaint, and Fiix.

The biggest differentiating point for us is we came in with mobility as the core. A lot of our competitors started out decades or multiple decades ago. So their entire tech stack is based off of the desktop. We came into this market saying we’re going to build for our end users and just put a relentless focus on having the best experience with UpKeep.

That’s really what has separated us apart – both the tech and also our relentless focus on our customers and their experience with the product.

Sramana Mitra: What else do you want to share about the company?

Ryan Chan: I’m on this wave right now. It’s just so meaningful to me. We’re basically in the maintenance industry. A big reason that maintenance has been this underserved for a very long time is because they’re always working in the shadows of the normal business.

If you’re in a manufacturing plant, you pretty much don’t interact with the maintenance team until something goes wrong. When something goes wrong, that’s when the maintenance team gets called and blamed. I want to completely reframe and reshift that focus to celebrating maintenance and the work that they do.

Maintenance is in every single business, facility, and building. You don’t care about that. That means your facility is well maintained. That means the machines are well lubricated and not breaking down.

So one of our core missions is shining the spotlight and turning the maintenance into heroes that we believe they are versus pushing them into the background and only calling them when something is broken.

Sramana Mitra: Based on the pitch that your agency made to us, your revenue level is at $5 million plus. Are you okay with reporting that or do you want to provide a more granular number beyond that?

Ryan Chan: That is absolutely true. Is it okay not to share that?

Sramana Mitra: Well, that will be shared because we don’t do profiles like this for companies below $5 million. That’s the cut-off. That’s something that we qualify in taking you in the series.

Ryan Chan: That’s fine. We just try not to share revenue numbers.

Sramana Mitra: All right. I have your story. It’s a fabulous story. Congratulations! I love it. We look forward to covering it.

Ryan Chan: Thanks so much.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping With A Paycheck to YCombinator and $10M Series A: Ryan Chan, CEO of UpKeep
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