Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about that journey. When did you start looking for customers? What did you have? Did you have an MVP?
Charles Miglietti: We sold the first pilot. There was no MVP. We built the MVP with our first customer.
Sramana Mitra: What was the problem that you were solving for this customer?
Charles Miglietti: The problem was to visualize social data for social unions.
Sramana Mitra: Who was the customer?
Charles Miglietti: It was a mutual insurance company.
Sramana Mitra: How big was the deal?
Charles Miglietti: It was worth $40,000.
Sramana Mitra: How long did it take you to finish that project? What product did you build out of that?
Charles Miglietti: It took less than two months. We built the first version of Toucan. It’s a way of telling data stories easily and dynamically.
Sramana Mitra: What happens next? How did you get to your next set of customers? What process did you follow for customer acquisition?
Charles Miglietti: At the beginning, we didn’t have a strategy. It was just pure opportunity. We relied a lot on LinkedIn. We did some mass mailing. We managed to sell in August and September 2019. The fourth time was in November. In the first year, we sold the product four times.
Sramana Mitra: What kinds of customers were you running into at this point?
Charles Miglietti: Only big corporates. We had a retail shipping company, healthcare company, utility, and a bank.
Sramana Mitra: There was nothing in common across these customers. They were just enterprise customers and you were doing data visualization for them.
Charles Miglietti: Yes. It was only for six months that we had a clear go-to market strategy. In the five years of our business, there was no pattern among our customers. We were addressing the market horizontally. It’s hard to scale.
Sramana Mitra: It’s very hard to scale. Where were you generating the leads from?
Charles Miglietti: In five years, it changed. At the beginning, we had no inbound sales. We were just doing outbound. We were generating the leads through mass mailing, targeted ads on LinkedIn and a lot of networking.
Sramana Mitra: It was ad hoc.
Charles Miglietti: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Why did you do that? There’s plenty of methodology guidance available today. To scale fast, you need to focus. How is it that you didn’t use any of those principles?
Charles Miglietti: We used the principles of iteration, agility, and simplicity. In terms of customer acquisition, we didn’t see the limit until six months ago. The business was growing. What we realized six months ago was that it was tough to scale with things like sales training. As you scale, you want to make things easier.
Sramana Mitra: The limit that you hit was in sales training that caused you to pause.
Charles Miglietti: Sales training and conversion.