Riding Unicorns

S3E9 - Jonathan Anguelov, Co-Founder & GM @ Aircall

February 02, 2022 Riding Unicorns Season 3 Episode 9
Riding Unicorns
S3E9 - Jonathan Anguelov, Co-Founder & GM @ Aircall
Show Notes Transcript

Jonathan Anguelov is the co-founder and GM of cloud-based call center software unicorn, Aircall. Jonathan has always had a passion for entrepreneurship. In fact, prior to launching Aircall in 2014 Jonathan had already amassed a great deal of business experience through his various ventures in real estate. 

In this episode Jonathan opens up about the struggles he faced during his childhood and how the challenges he overcame early on in life propelled him to pursue a life as an entrepreneur. Jonathan also goes on to recall the time when in an unprecedented move he ordered Aircall to suspend all sales for two whole months in order to fix the quality of their service. Finally we are able to get Jonathan to share some of his tips for fundraising and building a collaborative culture. 

Make sure to like and subscribe to the Riding Unicorns podcast to never miss an episode. Also don't forget to give Riding Unicorns a follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep on top of the latest developments.

James: [00:00:00] Welcome to riding unicorns. The podcast about growth startups. I'm James Pringle and I'm a technology entrepreneur and investor and the founder of Pringle Capital. My co-host is Hector Mason. Hector as a partner at B2B investor episode one ventures. Our mission is to uncover what it takes to build a unicorn business.

For season three, we're speaking to some of the best founders, many from unicorn companies and asking them about their journey, operational insight, tips, and lessons they've learned along the way.

Today's episode is with Jonathan co-founder and GM at Aircall. Aircall is the cloud-based call centre and phone system of choice for modern businesses. There are a unicorn and Jonathan story is one of grit, determination, and ambition. It's a super episode. So let's get started.

James: [00:01:00] welcome to riding unicorns. Jonathan, thanks so much for joining us.

Jonathan: Thank you, Jen. It's my pleasure.

James: So Jonathan, we're starting each episode for season three, with. Broad question, which is what's does entrepreneurship mean?

Jonathan: Oh, my God. That's a funny question. I I've been thinking about it quite often, actually, during these past seven years, like since 2014, when we build the recall, I think there is like some very, very good things, but also some very, very. Tough things and probably I'll start with the tough things.

so a lot of risk, it's a lot of stress, several nights without no sleep, doubt. And finally, always this, uh, passion that stays inside of you. At least that's what I, I lived. I know that there is not an entrepreneur that sleeps well every night and that wakes up every morning. in a good conditions.

that's the tough part of being an entrepreneur sometimes. but of course the good part is that at the end of the [00:02:00] day, you might not sleep an entire night, but funnily in the morning, you're always up for working. You're never really tired. You don't fall asleep at work. Like some people might doing some regular work.

so it's a lot of joy. I would consider. And I really do consider it as the most amazing job in the world because you own your destiny. Uh, you wake up every morning with a smile, even though you might have stress inside yourself. and the good thing is that as entrepreneurs, your ideas, your beliefs.

They can come through and which is pretty rare in any job where, you know, you can use, you have ideas, you can say things, but it's not, easy to put them in place. And somehow as an entrepreneur, that's probably, uh, the most amazing thing, is that you own your future. and you're the only one. And that can make the difference finally for yourself and for the entire.

Hector: [00:03:00] Definitely. And I think, um, there are probably some listeners who are entrepreneurs, who things aren't going well for. And, um, I think the joy probably comes when things start to really pick up and, you know, you guys had an amazing journey and, I'm sure it's brought with it a lot of joy. So.

Jonathan: But the joy is always there. I mean, you know, I still remember the early days of eriko. we were four, believe it or not. We were in like in an office less than six square of. and it is so small that believe it or not, I was so proud every morning when I was sitting on the desk, I was like, yeah, that's our own spot.

And I remember having friends, always like telling my Fiat come for lunch. So I show you the office because I was proud of the office seriously. And it was six . Okay. that somehow there was always this joy, this just at every stage, you get something. And of course, when you get [00:04:00] the 2000 square meter office, end of Siri B, you're like, okay, that's even more joy, but I swear to God that inside myself, it was always the same at every stage.

You get this Lino spark that makes a difference.

Hector: Awesome to hear. you've had pretty varied background, you know, I've looked at your LinkedIn and you have founded a hotel. you're a banker, you've made various other investments, angel investments, property investments. so I wonder at the start of your career, Where did you see your career?

Jonathan: the real story is that my life is Like very hectic, as a background, I'm kind of different from the classic, entrepreneur, at least in, in France, you know, there was a few studies in all of our Europe actually.

you know, I come from a very. Kind of very poor family. Like I I'm born without a dad. I was not raised by my mother from my 13 year old time. So at 13 I was raised by another [00:05:00] family that took care of myself because my mother couldn't take care of me. And, so I was raised by other people. So how, and so I managed to win from, uh, from being in this like, Very low level, education.

cause my mother is an immigrant from Bulgaria. Uh, so didn't speak really good. French couldn't teach me how to do things, how to learn, how to. And I had to do it on my own. So today, when I look at the entrepreneurs in general, they're coming more mostly for, from kind of wealthy backgrounds. So I'm kind of an Albany there, uh, where usually, you know, they come from these amazing business schools and so on with these amazing families, backgrounds and the opposites.

I ha I did a good business school. But somehow I always managed to sneaking new schools, uh, when they were realizing my story or where I was coming from, they were always surprised. there was embarrassing,

Hector: Just a quick, so that there's some interesting research that we did. And, um, you know, for many people [00:06:00] business school, but actually going to, so we've done analysis on what founders convert their company from a series a to series B fundraise and actually having an MBA reduces your chance of converting to a series B, which is kind of against what a lot of people would probably believe.

Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah. And B I wouldn't do that. I did a master degree, which is very common in France, what I feel is sometimes when I speak with other entrepreneurs that we didn't have the same life early days, but that's okay. I mean, somehow. I've never gendered itself. Anyone's background. I just think, the difference can be made, out of work.

And somehow I we worked so hard with my founders to get where we are, so I I'm just happy and I just feel it's, uh, it's amazing to get there. And so my background was always like, I had to find ways to make money very early because. I had to pay my studies from 18 year old. I was on my own, started to work when I was 16, delivering [00:07:00] pizzas, being a waiter.

Hiking does, I mean, doing any job, delivering newspaper, you know, I had to pay my study. I had to pay my life. Uh, I always like to, to be like the others, even though I didn't have, parents like the others. Uh, even though I didn't have the money of others, I want it to be like the honor. So somehow I worked.

And so I did all the jobs that you can imagine as a, as a. And from my 18 year old. So I had, I was working 20, 25 hours a week during my studies just to pay my studies. I did student loans and so on and very early, somehow I started to, I realized when I did my first student, actually the bank sends you the money on your account.

And I was surprised. I was like, that's funny. They don't control that. I actually pay my study with it. And so actually I didn't pick my study with my first loan. I bought a flat, for, uh, twenty-five K uh, years and I put it on rent and then I realized no one asking me anything. So I did several loans all over the banks in France.[00:08:00]

To buy all the flats. And of course, at the end of the day I was paying my loans, and my studies. But somehow I didn't use the money as I was supposed to, uh, and working at the same time to. And the right lifestyle, you know, and don't look like the, poor guy at school, because, you know, in business schools, in France, you pay 10, 12 K per year.

So, you know, it's, it's a lot of money. My mother was not making that money on a yearly, basis, you know, and working at the same time, doing everything. So I learned, let's say, I don't like to say the hard way, but. From the bottom, what it is to be at the end of a chain of a business, which is very interesting because you, you see things that top management can never see.

So very interesting. And I, my entrepreneurship spirit started at that point where I was realizing that some weird processes, some weird things that it's impossible to get the information to the [00:09:00] top and zone and. I was born in inside myself like this envy at least to start my own business one day.

And we'll see at that point. And, you know, I did my, uh, my studies. I was doing my internship, so I did quite a lot of finance, beginning of my career as an intern, mainly, And at the end of my studies, yeah. I went to London, being a stockbroker, enjoyed it for seven, eight months. And then I realized, wait, that's not really what I want to do.

I was doing real estate on the side all my life. My weekends are dedicated to real estate, taking care of the flat side, both taking care of the renters, doing Airbnbs by the time, managing quite a lot of things during the weekend. Reset. That's all the care let's. Let's stop doing a finance. I anyway, don't enjoy.

I don't think I'll be the best anyway, and let's start something and, uh, met with Olivier my partner. and we started air cool with a [00:10:00] B2 crazy. Crazy idea of making the phone system of tomorrow, creating a, a business phone that any company in the world would use, and being able to install that. In a minute and that's what we did.

And it kind of worked, I mean, seven years later, I mean, we have accomplished amazing stuff. Of course there is still a lot to do seriously. we are like 600 people currently should be about a thousands, by the end of 2022. But still, we are very small in our markets. Uh, it's 15 billion, market, that we are in.

So we stay very humble towards that and across all that. Did that, all the things in mainly my weekends, did a hotel, as you said, have this passion for real estate in some young, probably because I never really had the roof from my 14 year old, time. And, and it was like having a roof, having something you own is important.

So I started real estate and the [00:11:00] hotel was the next step a little bit like in monopoly, you know, you start with the small houses and at some point you have enough policies to build up. And that's what I did. It's a four-star hotel in Paris called . I'm extremely proud of it. and did several other projects in the real estate business on the side of Eric, always during my weekends, dedicated to that.

James: Very cool. I'm very entrepreneurial, which I love to hear. And we have a lot of guests come on and they say that the idea for that business came from working at that previous company. but it feels like air cool. Was this sort of. Quite separated thing from what you'd been doing previously. So how did that vision actually come together?

And then from that, I'm sure there were months of kind of iteration and tweaking the idea and the business model and everything. So what was the moment you realized we're onto something here? People are actually going to invest in this and pay offs. And when, when was that inflection point? When it became, turned from an [00:12:00] idea into a scale up.

Jonathan: So the idea finally, or if you and I being a 10 years difference, he's 10 year older than me. didn't know each other, but we had the same idea that came in our ears somehow. So. He was doing consulting, uh, and working for some telcos and realizing how complex it is, the telco business, myself being, working in finance and being very often on the phone with customers and so on and not being able to listen back to my calls.

seeing new employees coming, on the trading floor and having to wait one to three days sometimes to get the phone system working, Making Coles with people and not remembering exactly what you said and not being able to just find out when did you speak with them last time? And somehow this idea born in our minds, but we, we realizing it and, uh, our first [00:13:00] investor talked about it with us and we realize, okay, we got to do that.

We go to simplify the way a phone system has to work. And so the idea was very stupid. We thought. Today to create your phone system. You need 80 people. You need developers, you need to understand very complex, protocols. you need hardware. several stuff. Server is a mess and we thought, okay, we are anyway, not from the telco business.

we want something simple. We want the same way. And by the time WhatsApp existed, we. What's up phone, but for business where, you know, we'll communicate with all the tools that the companies are using. Very simply a phone system that integrates to the business source. It's as simple as that.

And so we built very candidly software that you can get a, number anywhere in the world. By the time we had 30, 40 countries, I think. You can set it up. It's [00:14:00] on your computer. It's an app. You can have it on your mobile as well. So you don't need a second mobile for a professional matters. Let's do that.

And I remember speaking with, by the time with big telco CEOs, that made fun of us when we said no, no, there won't be any hardware because hardware doesn't make sense. And they were like, oh God, you guys don't know where you're heading. You're going to. You going nowhere, but we, we we're sure it, that we have to go towards the pure software phone system, you know, Skype existed by the time it was more for, uh, CTC.

So customers speaking with their parents, whatever, and we thought, okay, needs to be somewhere as simple as Skype. So your grandmother can set it up on, the computer, but at the same. It has to be very professional and brings value to the customer. And we started and do amazing stuff. I have to say is [00:15:00] that more than 50% of the people we were telling the idea, they were like, really didn't exist.

Like, wow, that's amazing. It's incredible. Okay. And 50% were like, yeah, but I need to hardware. Like I need to have something when I call someone. And by the time go back in 2014. Believe me, having someone putting that on his head to make phone calls was not that easy. You had that in big call centers and so on, but we were setting to companies to entrepreneurs, to SMBs you.

And in SMBs, you were not seeing everyone with a headset by the time. So sometimes there was this friction and we were like, are we going the right way? Maybe these telco guys that told us that we are stupid. But we are stubborn and we went all in on that. And the truth is that we had such an amazing traction.

The product was really, amazing in terms of features.[00:16:00] our problem was more in terms of quality. Honestly, we suffered a lot, the first four or five years, Everyone loved the software. But the hard part was people were saying, we love the idea.

We love the concept. We love everything, but it's not good call quality. We can't hear each other. They don't understand us. The quality is crap. And that was really tough. So we had to work in parallel of building a software, all the pain that it is to build this. But also find out how can we improve the phone calls and the quality of the calls during all that time.

Hector: Super interesting. And I'm sensing that you have sort of a mindset where, you know, you've had a life that you've been faced with quite a lot of adversity, you know, you've had to, you've had to fight to. Yeah, to where you are today. I sense that you are someone that when people challenge you and these people say this can't be done, you know, you need [00:17:00] hardware that you're someone who really relishes that challenge.

And you know, that that's what gives you energy by the sounds of things.

Jonathan: Oh, my God. You can't imagine. I love challenge. And when people tell me that it's impossible, it's because they told me it's impossible that I want to make it possible. And I'm like that. And so stubborn with my partner and. You know, I, I defend my ideas and I, and I like failing by the way. I love doing things that don't scale and that fail because I want to learn by on my own that it wasn't possible.

and you know, as, as a famous expression says, it was impossible until someone made it. and, uh, and honestly I love doing that. And. And yeah, we had doubts so many doubts. We were like, okay, so we have a software, we have the idea, everything works, but the coal quality doesn't work. So it's like if Tesla would sell [00:18:00] cars without wheels, you know, it's the same.

You have a car, but you have no wheels. You have a phone system, you can speak on the phone with it.

Hector: People would still love it because it comes from Mila.

Jonathan: And so you stay in your car and you play with the software, but you don't go anywhere with it. So beginnings of Rico until 2018. So it was long ago, where people were unsatisfied and it was so difficult and so intense that at some point, and I swear to you guys, this happened and anyone at Aircall back in the days in 2017 would testify, what I am saying Is that during two months we decided to stop selling. We said, okay, we shut down the sales We shut down the sales. We don't close any new customers anymore. Now what we're going to do is that every salespeople at Aircall we start calling the whole database, every single indidvidual at Aircall has been called at that period to understand what is their problem [00:19:00] of quality.

Why What happens tests do screen shares, go on site, no matter where they are, understand test tech team, understanding working during two months, that's intense. Imagine by the time we are doing maybe 10, 15 million AR you stop selling. When you say you invest it, we don't sell it. Doesn't work. Anyway, people are in a happy, we keep them just because they are, it's a very sticky product, but.

And we did that and kind of, we find out a way and things got better. And by the end of 2018, things were fixed and the hyper-growth continued of course, but you know, it was very difficult because there was no one in the word we could copy. We could inspire ourselves from, because the phone system purely in the cloud, where there is no servers, everything.

Cloud-based people [00:20:00] using your code wherever, you know, like are. In the office, but sometime they're home, uh, sometimes they are working from the garden and they take sales calls or customer service calls. And, you know, it's like intense, it's hard to bend which wasn't right. Uh, we were consuming too much men, which so it was tough.

And so as a, cloud-based one sees them as a business. It's our first thing. We are a cloud-based phone system and call center software. Not delivering quality. Believe me. That was extremely tough intellectually and psychologically for the entire team.

James: Yeah, I love that. There's definitely something in there about being stubborn with the overall vision, but being humble with the awareness to go you know, we're growing, but I'm going to tell my investors, which must be really hard. We're going to stop selling and we're going to go back to basics and we're going to fix this thing.

So huge lesson in there about. stubbornness and humbleness kind of matching in the middle [00:21:00] somewhere,

Hector: Yeah. I mean, by the way, what did you say? Because I know as a venture capital firm, we're very keen that founders get the product. Right. And you know that it's not like sales at all costs. I'm interested to hear, you know, where your VCs like yeah, this is the right thing to do because ultimately you're both aligned on the longterm goal to build a huge business.

so what did.

Jonathan: Honestly, they were super supportive. Always. They always said that building a company, succeeding a company it's about having happy customers. You can't scam people and succeed that doesn't work. Yeah, you can, a few months is years, whatever, but you won't build a sustainable business that way you won't sell that business.

You won't IPO, you won't do anything. And so. They saw that the traction was there. Believe it or not, with a very negative NPS, by the time, very negative. So churn was exploding. It was [00:22:00] tough. And so at some point we told them, okay, we growing very fast. It's good. You guys are happy, but we haven't happy customers. Why did we build their code? Honestly, we build their code for one reason, make customer interaction better. We were not succeeding at that one. We said, okay, we need to succeed at that one thing, customer obsession.

that was always like our obsessionally or Airco. That was always, even customer obsession today is one of our, values. And how could we say we are customer obsessed with unhappy customer in the sky rocketing, And so at that point we tell them, I think that's the right thing to do.

We need to find out the routes. And they were like, all right, let's do it. And honestly, they were always super supportive for that kind of stuff. bound on your door. That is our first investor is a longterm investor. [00:23:00] one of the first European guy to introduce, to IPO his company on the NASDAQ.

So very long-term vision. So he was like, okay, you got it. You got to do it. We are not here to make like a one time when we are here to build the future of the phone system. We are here to build really like a long-term adventure and so very supportive. We did it. of course, after the two months, everything wasn't fixed we got the right directions. And so at that point, uh, we continued, executed the, things we find out executed tech wise to, find out. And by end of 2018, things were fixed. And since then we are going all in.

James: Yeah, I'm pretty sure we're going to be using that soundbite. You can't have a great company with unhappy customers, So true. how has the expansion of remote work helped a cool scale? I mean, it sounds like. you would doubling or tripling revenue each year before COVID and [00:24:00] remote work.

It kind of really exploded. but how has COVID kind of accelerated.

Jonathan: Honestly, didn't really accelerate it. I mean, first Covina, he does like every company we lost about a quarter, let's say we got like one quarter less than we could have had. So imagine if, 20, 20, we did three quarters instead of four quarters basically, but okay. Now the reality is that I see this horrible thing that happened with, COVID like a positive thing for tech, for companies in general, which is, we understood that it is possible to work, not being every day at the office, That's all right. And also people realize that you can't be a company that depends on Harvard. If your business depends on people plus on hardware, you'll get problems because things don't scale. If you have a pandemic, [00:25:00] whatever you need to have software. And so somehow Airco become, became obvious at that time, which was already the case for tech companies and more like, you know, new generation company, but it became more obvious for companies.

with a more traditional business. And that was very interesting having these new typology of customer, that came and that, started to use eriko and discover the way it works. So only, no, I wouldn't say that there was a positive impact. Business-wise I think the impact is more global for every time tech companies is that we probably would have.

Three to four years of, digitalization of companies. so it's a good acceleration and, it was interesting now, nevertheless, it was still very, uh, very hard for companies also to, maintain their business and at the same time to have to, migrate to new tools to new, ways of working. So,[00:26:00] at the same time, very like amazed by what happened. Now I'm curious to see what would have happened in the next couple of years. Is, are we going to see some bankruptcies, some horrible stuff because of that horrible pandemic, because I can't imagine that things are went so nicely and everything, uh, when trite, I hope it stays like that, but it's a, it's a tough thing that happened.

Hector: And you've talked about the problems with product in the relatively early days. I think in the last couple of years, these numbers might be not quite right, but last couple of years, you've roughly quadrupled revenue. You've doubled head count, so huge growth. what have been the challenges, with hyper growth and are there areas which you guys have experienced, which you've identified as being reasons that, other companies going through the same might fail because companies do fail during hyper growth rate.

So what would have been the big challenges that you've seen.

Jonathan: People of course, I mean, software a DNI is easy. do things. [00:27:00] Those always the same people. You all got to manage them, you've got to onboard them. You got to make sure they understand your values. They understand where the company is going. So it was extremely hard, you know, at Erica, we are super transparent, maybe too much, even sometimes because we give so much information that people can get lost somehow at the Airco everyone knows the Mr.

The AR. I've every single moment we have dashboards. We have it published every day on slack, for ENEA for APAC, for, uh, north America, for every single regions inside Airco. Everyone knows everything. So it's super transparent, policy, but at the same time as a newcomer last year, like in 2021, we hired about, 300.

Imagine those people that have to understand everything that comes in. So it's a lot, a huge like HR challenge, being able to make all that function. [00:28:00] but also, finance wise because we opened offices, in 2021, we up in Sydney, we have about 40 people on. No one formed the leadership team, including Olivier and myself.

the co-founders CEO and general manager pack. We never stepped in a senior yet. Pandemic reasons, several reasons it was closed. It's still closed, supposed to go there soon, but we've never been there. And 40 people are working day and night. They're doing, dozens of millions of revenue already. And it's just amazing.

So the challenge is there is how you onboard people, how you make people, understand your product, your values, and your vision, and make sure that they're on the right trails. They have the right information to execute. and to, take over finally what you did in the beginning as entrepreneurs and your first employees as first employees, [00:29:00] then the second round of employees and the third one.

Now we are in that third vague, of employees, which the first vague I call it the, first employees, which are entrepreneurs, very, I called them warriors. You know, they come, they don't know where that's heading. Uh, if he's going to go bankrupt in a months or in six, Then you have the second vein, which is the people you still know because you, they are hired by your direct, reports.

So, you know, them, even hired that second base and the third vague wages, the people that arrived between 2020 and 2021, which are people that have been hired by people to three levels under yourself. So those people it's hard to know them. it's hard to know that. As a founder, but it's even harder in a pending meek, situation where you got to make sure that they, they understand where you want to go.

Hector: how do you do that? So that's what you need to do. How do you.

Jonathan: Communication, a lot of communication, weekly meetings, [00:30:00] explanations training. We have a air cold academy inside eriko before starting here, you'll have a two weeks, incubation period where, uh, you're moving from meeting to meeting from webinars to webinars by every single person at Aircall.

Tells you what they do, what team does, what, how it works. What's going to be your job, how your job is going to work. over communication is good in that period. It's hard because you need like a structure that it brings a lot of value to the new car. And it helps you scale.

Otherwise, you know, it's getting can go like, uh, to the moon and even faster, backed on earth, uh, to crush. So it's all about making sure that everyone knows what they do, why they do it and how they will do it. And of course the finance function is key in that situation because you don't want to ever burn.

You don't want that your, you degrade. your ratios, like [00:31:00] a rule of 40 magic numbers, EBITDA, all this. so, you know, the finance function is key to make sure that we hire the people that we're supposed to be hired at the right salary, at the right moment of the year. et cetera, et cetera.

So. The head of spending and so on to not end up in situation and the receivers that you, you know, where companies scale, then the scale killed the company.

Hector: just on, on culture. So I was listening actually to, to a podcast yesterday, with the founder of Coinbase on it. And, and he was saying, if you went to the Coinbase HQ, you would very quickly realize that everyone communicates very concisely and clearly like that's that thing.

He was very proud of it. Do you think. James. And I walked into the air call HQ tomorrow. What do you think we would notice? what are the cultural norms that you try and instill in your employees that we might know?

Jonathan: Passion people are. So passionated [00:32:00] people talk about customers about business, about features, about the product the whole day, even during lunchtime, even when they go to the bar next to the office, uh, some groups. And sometimes I joined them, realize they're talking about eriko, it's the passion of what we do of making customers.

Happier, being obsessed with the ability to be the best. Always the best. Yeah. We, we, some features, we know we miss some features. They know it sometimes. Yeah. This customer, I couldn't sign him because we were missing, but you know, they're fighting so hard to, okay. The feature should work that way. That way salespeople are imagining the product.

So there is dispassion and disrespect at the same time for Airco one thing that I love to tell, and it really helps. Back in 2018, before COVID, we are like end of December. And, uh, we have so many framers. We are very diverse as a company. I think we have [00:33:00] 35 nationalities, people coming from all over the world in our different offices.

and by the time we had only Paris in New York, and I remember. Results being asked or anything, honestly, and I'm happy. They didn't even ask me. So people were working until the last hours of 2018 to do the target and so on. And somehow I don't know how they decided to make new year's Eve in the office.

And we had like 30, 40 people. Making yours, even our office celebrating, eating, forgot, you know, a goose lever. drinking champagne, having fun in your office. Isn't that insane somehow. Isn't that insane that people from all over the world, instead of being with their friends or, or going outside and look at fireworks or whatever they say, Hey, let's be in our office.

Let's have a dinner altogether. Let's enjoy the time. Let's put loud music. Let's get happy together.[00:34:00] when I came at the office on Monday, probably it was the second or the third, I saw pictures and I was like, wow, that's amazing. Do it anytime you want, the office is your office.

Hector: It must be a great fit. We had another guest, Jeremy King from a test, which is a series B company. I think he puts what you're talking about quite nicely, which is basically, he asks himself, how do you get other people around you to care as much about the problem as you do as a founder and that's employees, that's investors, that's customer.

that is another way of saying, you know, how do you get people passionate about the company? How do you get people passionate about the company? I mean, part of it comes from the top and you know, you listen to you speak and you're incredibly passionate about it, and that is infectious.

Sure. Co-founders as well. And I'm sure senior management is, but how practically do you get people to care passionately about call centers?

Jonathan: I guess it's our passion as founders, as [00:35:00] first employee. And you know, it's always like that. It's a, top down thing, but at the end it becomes a bottom up. I was so passionated my partner was so passionated the old co-founders were passionated. So it goes all the way down. somehow it's not on purpose, which was never calculated, but we had one mission.

The mission is to give the ability to any company in the world to communicate with the most important people of the company, usually your customers, because it's a customer service, a lot of customer service departments are using us, your sales department or your prospects. And so it's so important and we can't fail, namely me, one software that realized that the business realized so much, then something like Airco where if it just stops working for one hour or 10 minutes, It's done.

It's a mess. People are calling. They don't get the,[00:36:00] people they need to get. They get unhappy with the other party or a CRM that stopped working for five minutes. It's okay. It's the CRM, you know, that you feed up data it's all right. The impact of your cost stopping to work is insane.

It's insane. So the passion comes also from the importance of ourselves. And from the importance we give, but also our customers are getting. And so by definition, as an employee, you get like, and we try to hire them on that, of course behavior, which is, do you believe in customer obsession, do you believe in the fact that if your customer is happy and you sell to happy customers and you delight customers, you.

As an individual we'll make your life easier will be happier. And your career growth is exponential because you just grow. You just do things better. The company [00:37:00] scales you scale with the company, individuals at eriko changed their life forever, I can take several examples that off my first employees, of course they were youngsters just out of school, fresh out of school.

Ambitious four or five years later now when they're managing 150 people and there are not even 30, it really changed their life. Why? Because they were passionated and then made it happen. And they met ethical, successful more than we did at DIA.

James: Yeah, it's great. I mean, we've covered so much already about product obsession, hiring, onboarding culture, everything one last bit that we haven't covered yet. Really. Fundraisings. I mean, you've raised a lot of money. If you could do one tip to founders about fundraising, what would that.

Jonathan: yeah, we raised like 220 million to date. the point was always hypergrowth customer satisfaction and, you know, [00:38:00] hit the market with a new product and make sure that we are big enough to bring value at the right time to every company basically. So raising money is not always. A mandatory thing for entrepreneurs.

It shouldn't be, I know it today. It seems that it becomes more and more like mandatory, but I would say it's not necessary. Now, when you think you're got to do it, look at your metrics very early, be very data driven. look at the ratios. You are, you gotta respect and you gotta make sure that. What do you do is right.

And if tomorrow you have no cash, you still grow the company still floats. and all of the entrepreneurs go only when they raise money. And then they realize that the business model just doesn't fit because to acquire customers, you need so much money, then it makes just no sense from an investor perspective, And so my advice is look early at your numbers.

Be frugal, stay frugal at any time [00:39:00] when we raised our first, million, it seemed so much when you raise your first 8 million, it seems again so much. And every time it's more, but every time it burns the same way at the end, because you're just bigger. So stay frugal. I think always like what if tomorrow there is no cash on the market.

Does my company can still run? I might see that acquiring customers. Do I spend rights? You know that things you should ask yourself as an entrepreneur and Eve all these fits. Usually you're in the good business model. Investors will trust you and you're going to raise money. You ain't going to make, uh, the best thing can advise to any companies think about what makes you.

You got to do what makes you happy? If what makes you happy is manage 10, 20 people. A small SMB makes cash. It's good. Do it. If you want to go make a billion dollar company, multi-billion dollar company do it, but don't [00:40:00] go somewhere because you think that. The market or the, the, your investor tells you where to go do what makes you happy?

It's the most important people always forget that, that you should do. What makes you happy? If you think having a company with thousands of people, won't make you happy. Ask yourself if you should do it. And if it's about the money, it's the wrong reason because the money there is several ways to make money and making money and happy.

Believe me, you won't get tired.

Hector: Awesome. Um, so we like to wrap up with the dinner party guests game, and we ask our guests to imagine they're going to have a, dinner party or a business lunch. who would you invite? You can have three guests. They can be anyone dead or alive, famous, not famous. who would you like to cook for?

Jonathan: That's a tough question. I mean, there is three kinds of people. Take one. and I'll start with her because she's a woman that really, for me, it's so much [00:41:00] inspiring her life or career, that probably, you know, mother Teresa. That's dedicated her life to others. This is for me.

So inspiring her life was always about how can I help others? How can I make a better world? And I would have loved to meet her before she passed away back in 1917. I think, mother Teresa, because I would like to ask her. What do you think we should do in that word to stop the wars, to stop all this mess?

All this crap that is happening she's has been seeing several stuff. How can we stop having children's being hungry or people being hungry in the world. And at the same time, seeing all these influencer on Instagram, taking picture of food off of it being thrown away, these people. by closes hundreds of clothes and never wear them and all these, things that we [00:42:00] comes in one pocket and gets then out, nowhere, ends up in trash and so on where people have nothing.

And so ask her, what do you think we should do? How can we make that word better? Because that's terrible for me. I I've been growing in, uh, in that situation where I was not sure what. Tomorrow the next day. And you know, I didn't know if I could have a close, I was dreaming of being able to have new jeans, new shoes.

You know, I had holes in my shoes when it was raining. So it's horrible to think that the word can be that selfish, and that people just don't feed the reality, which is, there is a part of the word where, They don't have anything to eat. They die from, from horrible diseases that do not exist anymore in most of Western countries.

And so, yeah, mother tourism as the first one. second one. and then of course it's an entrepreneur here, bill [00:43:00] gates, because I'm amazed by someone that builds something as big as microwave. And still being the number one in the world, seeing being, I mean, he's still there. He's still around.

Companies still relies on him somehow. I mean, the guy is just incredible and being in the tech for just seven years, I'm a newbie, I'm a children, you know, seeing that man, all that he did all the fortune. He gaves away all the work he did. To end up, with Microsoft still growing, like crazy. It just amaze me.

So I would love just to understand what's his vision, why he did it, how he did it, what was in his mind when he did it and years after year allow his mind evolved. I will never be bill gates and I don't pretend, are we leaving behind a, a quarter or a, person of bill gates? [00:44:00] But I would love to understand what's in your mind when this happens and how do you stay so humble.

So fits on the ground. Somehow. This is something really like inspiring for me. As an entrepreneur. and th the last one, which is very personal, and this, no one can bring it to me. So, uh, But he's met my father. I never knew who was my dad. my mother didn't know it's a complex story because she, she had like a pregnancy problem where she realized after eight months that she was pregnant, it's a very rare disease.

And so am I in my mother is passed away. So no one can help me. but I would have loved to put a face on my. Well, my dad and just to know, okay, who is he? Is he healthy? AC happy? Do I have siblings, whatever. that would be funny somehow, just for the sake of knowing who it is,

Hector: I'm sure it'd be very proud of you. And I'm sure he'd also love to meet bill gates and mother Teresa. So.[00:45:00] Jonathan has been absolutely brilliant and having on the show has been filled with passion, and we've covered so much. We have to cut things off, but, um, yeah.

Great to meet you. And thanks for coming on the show.

Jonathan: Thank you so much, guys. Have a great day.

James: Thank you, John, if you need.

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