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Getting Your first Enterprise Customers - Michael Grinich from WorkOS Episode 72

Getting Your first Enterprise Customers - Michael Grinich from WorkOS

· 39:21


What you should really try to do is fall in love with the problem space, and fall in love with the issue that people have, and not fall in love with your solution. Because your solution might be wrong, you might end up going in the wrong direction. And if you fall in love with your specific solution, it's gonna result in you not wanting to change, not wanting to adapt, your aspirations will die.

Hi, everyone, you're listening to scaling deficits. I'm joined today by Michael from WorkOS. And before I introduce Michael, we also have an announcement that we have our first ever sponsor, and it is Michael, and it is working less. And it's a big moment for me is like 60 Odd episodes. And Mike reached out and asked if he could sponsor the podcast. So here we are. Thank you so much, Michael. Jack,

thanks for having me. You know, it's honored to be invited as a guest to speak on this. But I had been listening to your podcast for a while and love this type of content. So I'm just delighted that we're able to support you and have you keep making stuff like this.

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much. And would you like to tell us a bit about WorkOS?

Yeah, sure. So WorkOS is a developer platform. So we focus on developers building apps. And we help them at enterprise features to those apps. So imagine that you build, you know, the next great SaaS tool, the next Dropbox or notion, or slack or what have you. If you want to go sell that to a big company, they're going to ask for features like SAML login, single sign on, or sophisticated things around user management, or provisioning or security, kind of everything around the authentication and identity and user management stuff. We build all of that as a service. So some people have called WorkOS stripe for enterprise features, it's really easy to plug in. The company is about five years old, I've been doing it for a while, and we have a hundreds of customers, people listening to this podcast, you've probably used an app, plugged into WorkOS, some of our customers include versal, and Netlify, planet scale, Webflow, Carta, plaid Brax, you know, a lot of big names, and then a lot of small companies like startups that are just starting to go up market, just starting to close their first few enterprise customers. So it's a really exciting thing to be able to serve both, you know, those big companies, but also ones that are starting to grow, help the next generation of founders expand their business.

Yeah, it's, it's amazing. It's, it's something that we're going to dig into in this episode of like that, of what it's like to actually work with enterprises. But I can just share a recent like, facts that the startup that I've been contracting with, they recently went through like a big compliance situation, or like, customer that required compliance stuff. And it took so much time from the core team. And I know that they use Vanta, and that was like a massive accelerator for, like, their compliance. And that's kind of how I'm seeing work is is that like, it's a bit like vanta. And it's like that. They're helping you with one aspect of it, and you're helping with like, the kind of all this SAML signing and stuff that would be an absolute nightmare with something like, yeah,

we have a lot of customers that start using WorkOS around the same time they start looking for something like Vanta, you know, for the compliance pieces, WorkOS provides all that functionality in your app, which the enterprise customers are going to ask for all those products, product features where, you know, developers don't necessarily want to build it, they just you if you can get it out of the box, get back to building unique stuff. That's a big win for you.

Yeah, 100%. So, if I'm, I've got like a startup. And there's, you know, two of us, we've maybe got like a little bit of funding a million or something. And somehow, someway, we have like, started to have conversations with an enterprise customer, let's say, you know, like, what, what is it actually? What is an enterprise customer? That's probably the first question.

That's a good question. Yeah. I mean, you know, enterprise means a lot of different things to a lot of people. Let's zoom back. Yeah. So imagine that you're, you know, your two folks starting to build some some new app, maybe you're working in a coffee shop, or in your dorm room, maybe you're like, during a rush, you started Dropbox, you know, and you're building this thing, this tool, you throw it out there, you demo it on Hacker News, you get a bunch of users, and you start finding that product market fit by people start using it, they start actually bringing it to work, maybe using it for, you know, workplace stuff. Maybe they even start paying for it, you get individuals to start paying or small teams. At some point, you're gonna have a large organization that wants to use this, you know, you're gonna want to have, you know, maybe your buddy who works at Coinbase says, Hey, I really want to use your app across our whole team. And in that type of environment, the features that you've built, maybe for people signing in, aren't necessarily sufficient, you know, for a company like that. They'd say, hey, we can't have you signing in with a custom password Casta tied to our identity system, or we need to groups in the permissions to come from our system. We want to be able to control it and sync it in and that As the features starts piling up, then there's stuff around data retention or process, you know, on your back end or, you know, just there's a really long list of this stuff. And that gap of product features ends up slowing down. People when they're growing, you know, in that moment, when you have product market fit, it actually stops you from closing deals. And I've talked about this so much, because this is kind of the thesis around WorkOS, we call this the enterprise chasm, that step in between when you've got product market fit. And when you've actually been able to, like capture the revenue, the deals, the enterprise customers. And the worst thing that can happen is if you don't cross that enterprise chasm, you might lose those customers to a bigger company, Microsoft might come in and take all of your users or, you know, clone your feature or something like that. And so what we built as worker was kind of bridges these two things, it allows you to really quickly to add these features to your app, because we essentially come it comes pre built, we've done all the integration work, we've built all the components. And but the core insight, you know, if you're building Dropbox, the off components that you would build for enterprise stuff, it's exactly the same code that you would write, if you're building slack, if you're building notion, if you're building the next finance tool, or legal tool or tool for schools or hospitals, it's the same stuff is just this kind of integration layer. And so WorkOS provides that all to you, it's really easy to plug in, we've taken a tremendous amount of inspiration from platforms like Stripe, you know, very developer focused, great SDKs, and all that. And then right out of the gate, you're able to go back to those those deals and say, Yeah, we can't actually support you, we'd love to have you as a customer. So you know, everyone wins, like worthless, people think about us as API's and developer tools. We're really in the business actually, of helping startups grow and expand helping companies succeed faster as they expand. And helping developers not need to, you know, read the RFC spec on what SAML means, allow them to actually just get back to building unique, you know, unique product features and cross that chasm.

So like other stuff as well, like, what if you've got like WorkOS? And you've got like, do you need other stuff? Typically, like if your Is there a whole range of things yesterday as well?

Yeah, well, we already mentioned vanta, you know, which, which, specifically vanta helps people get sock to compliance. And sock two isn't isn't really a feature in your app. It's actually more about the way your company operates. How do you release code? If there's a security issue? What happens? How do you train people do you do background checks, it's all the stuff around kind of your corporate policy, but it's not a feature in your app. So that's really important, we don't do that at work. Last, you know, there's there's a few different vendors that are options fancy is one of them. You know, as people are going up market, you have to look at changing your pricing, who your customers are willing to pay more. And so there's this kind of delineation between your product features, what goes in the enterprise version, versus what goes in maybe the pro version or the business version. That's a big distinction you need to make, and we don't have a product for that, you got to figure that out by yourself. You'll also find that bigger organizations, you know, bigger deal potential, they'll say, hey, we don't want to just put in a credit card and sign up and use it. We want to talk to somebody, Hey, we're going to spend $100,000 a year on this thing, we just have to have somebody to talk to, we want to understand how this is going to work, what kind of support we're going to get. And it turns out the people that talk to customers are called sales. So you end up needing to hire salespeople to most developers, you know, think, oh, I can maybe go forever without hiring sales. They've had bad experiences, maybe talking to salespeople, I know, I've been one of those people. You find as you as you grow up market, you actually need to have a group of people who can talk to sales when they when they want to know when they want that. That type of experience, or they need that for their their product. Sometimes they need a custom contract, talk to sales, figure out what are the details you have to write down for them to be able to use the product. And that just might be the way that they bet they buy software, you know, this big company, there's a whole bunch of stuff you need to change. But when it comes to the product features, a lot of them are around kind of user management, login and integrating with their IT systems. That's what workwise helps out. That's kind of the meat and potatoes of what we do.

Yeah, you actually like mentioned us it's like $100,000 a year. All of this stuff, like hiring salespeople, like maybe like if they have lawyers and stuff as well, like in terms of financials around, like, how much should you minimum be looking for to deal with such a big organization? And then if so, like, how much does this stuff cost?

Yeah, it's a great question. It really depends on your business. You know, there are like, I'll just tell you work with us. You know, we have customers paying us over $100,000 a year or more, much more, who are just on a credit card, month to month, that's just charging their card. It's a big credit card charge every month, but they're happy with that just self serve experience. It's just a high volume usage. Now we have other customers of that scale that are like no, we want this on a contract. So, you know, we want an annual contract in terms of our agreement with you. We have small customers, of course, that are on a credit card pay as you go every month. We also have companies that are smaller that say, Hey, we have to sign a contract, even if this is only, you know, $20,000 a year $15,000. Here, we have to have it on a contract. So you really need to be flexible to your customer base. But you know, there's some general rules of thumb. I think it comes back to actually having a sales team how salespeople get paid salespeople, if you haven't managed a sales team, or, you know, deep into it, I noticed the dev tools podcast talking about sales teams. slight, slight digression, you know, salespeople are paid based on performance, they close deals they get paid. It's actually this kind of beautiful thing. It's like input output, it's very much like a system kind of love it as an engineer. Oftentimes, salespeople, half of what they get paid is based on their earnings, their target earnings. And so you actually can build the system around how many leads you need, how many opportunities are actually real potential deals, how much they get closed, how often they get closed, and then what the average deal size is. And that total amount, that that salesperson kind of has closed in revenue, actually maps to their take home pay, you know, and it's, it's commonly is kind of around like 18 to 22% of the first year contract kind of goes to the salesperson, you know, which seems like a lot, but it's also they're the one closing the deal. So you need to have contracts that are big enough to support that relative to the, you know, compensation of the salesperson, it's pretty hard to have a sales team with contracts less than about 20 or 30k, annually. So usually, it's like, a couple $1,000 a month that kind of contract, you can build a sales team around it, usually smaller than that. You can't afford to pay salespeople to do it, or it just has to be really, really fast to close, you know, the salesperson is spending very little time on it, they're essentially just getting the person to sign a piece of paper. And that's it, that's it, but where it really starts working, and when you can hire really amazing salespeople, you know, really good good, folks. It's kind of I think, when your contracts are 50 $60,000 and beyond, you know, that's, that's when you get really strategic selling, and the salesperson is trying to understand the business of the customer to really map the product in the right way. People that are good at that watching them work, you know, it's it's kind of like magic. It's like, it's pretty, pretty incredible.

Yeah, how you mentioned the magic, like, what is the magic part?

Well, you know, sales? Here's a great question. So sales, most people think about it as a value extraction. You know, I want to use this thing, and I have to talk to a salesperson, and they're going to squeeze me for all I'm worth, they're gonna squeeze me till my eyes bleed, you know, and try to get as many dollars out as possible. Those salespeople exist, they are out there for sure. And it might even be the majority, I don't know, you know, salespeople are incentivized by how much revenue they're closing. And so it is their incentive to push up the deal size. But I found that really, really, really good salespeople, they seek to understand, if you watch a an expert at sales in a call, you would think that they're going to spend 90% of the time talking about the product, telling you all the features, here's what it does, here's how awesome it is. Here's, here's why you should pay for it. Here's why it's so incredible. The opposite is true, though, they will spend 90% of the time asking questions. Tell me about your business. Tell me about what you're trying to achieve this year. Tell me about the biggest problems you have as an organization right now. What have you tried? What have you not tried? And then, you know, once they understand, hey, here's what your challenges, here's what's in front of you. Maybe then they'll talk about the product. But they might even save it before that, like, how valuable would it be for you to solve that problem? The one you just described the biggest problem you have this year? How much would that be worth to you as a company? Probably a lot, right? It's the biggest problem you're trying to solve. And so they map actually the product specifically around what you're trying to achieve as a company. And and when you do sales in that way. No longer is it like value extraction, it's problem solving. Just like going out as an engineer and saying how do I help this team solve this problem or re architect this or debug it, you seek to understand what they're trying to achieve as a business and kind of wrap your whole solution in that way. Because oftentimes, a product can be used for a zillion different things, you know, is a lot everyone's life is different. Everyone's job is different, every company is different, what they're trying to achieve, and you build one product that can go everywhere, right? But but you can't sell it until you understand what they're trying to, you know, achieve if you're selling water. You need to understand if the person is thirsty because they're going hiking, or they trying to wash their dishes, you know, is it going in the radiator of their car? Are they taking a shower? Like it's just water? It could be used for a zillion different things and only when you totally understand like, what they're trying to get done with their business. Can you can you approach it so I, I found really, really amazing salespeople are extraordinarily empathetic. They're really curious. They seek to understand and learn. It's fun to talk to them. You feel like they're actually they're interested in you And only at the end, you know, do they map the product to it. And ideally, they've kind of built up the trust. Really good salespeople will also tell you if it's not a fit at the end of that call, they'll be like, you know, I don't think we're actually the right ones to solve this for you. You know, you guys, yeah, I don't want to sell you the thing. You're not gonna, it's not gonna be a slam dunk, slam dunk for you guys. Yeah. And when that's done really well, you know, it's like breathing air, you don't feel it. It's just, it's super. It's almost like a supernatural feeling to witness it and be on the other side of it as well. So unfortunately, there's a lot of bad salespeople in the world, there's a lot of people that are very transactional value, extractive. You can still make money if you're a bad salesperson, it turns out, and by bad here, I mean, not doing that, you know, that kind of discovery. But the people that are really good, really, really good. It's something special.

Yeah, that's, that makes total sense. Just like, I kind of imagined that, like, if you go into like a bike shop, and like this, like the person helping you, they're not going to just start selling a bike like immediately, and they'll actually just help you.

It'd be like, what do you what do you want to do with this? Why are you here? What brings you here in the first place? Maybe you know, you want to go ride bikes with your son, you know, is that it? Do you have a buddy that mountain bikes and you want to go shred some? You know, shred some trails? Do you want to go road biking? Do you want to get in shape? You know? Or do you want to just go right on the beach, you're, you know, totally different, right? If you start talking about the size of the wheels, and you know how many spokes it has, like you're, you know, you've already lost, you've already lost. So it has to start with curiosity, it has to start with questions and, and genuinely want to help that person succeed, not to extract the value. But together, create the value, if

like, let's say, you know, we used to work last, and we got our first customer. And now we're looking to act like we're like, Okay, well, we're a good fit for enterprise. So I want enterprise clients, I want to like hire a salesperson, start start doing that thing. What kind of advice would you give that person?

Well, yeah, great question. So we don't help you get product market fit. I think that's an important thing. Important thing to say, getting product market fit is really tough. It's sort of like trying to catch lightning in a jar. You know, you got to capture the zeitgeist. And that's, if there was a simple process for doing it, or something repeatable, and everybody would do it, you know, but it's not, it's different every time. And that's the first thing you need to figure out as an entrepreneur, can you make like a Y Combinator says, can you make something people want, it makes something that people are, you know, find valuable, and they're, they're willing to pay for willing to use. However, like, once you get that even the initial versions of it, usually, you want to scale it, you want to get a bigger organization into it. And so we first talked to companies, usually, sometimes it's earlier on, we have some free stuff people can use. And we actually have an amazing free auth system that you can use on day one, like, kind of gives you the login box and everything up to a million users for free. So it was like really good, you know, for free. So you can use that immediately on day one. But usually when people start paying for work, unless they actually start using our commercial side, is when they have their first few enterprise customers kind of knocking at the door. And when I say enterprise, what we're saying earlier, it could be your friend's company that's just a little bit larger. And they're like, hey, we want to use this on a bigger team. You know, just the kind of first nibbles of enterprise. And WorkOS allows you to have a kind of, it's just a stronger position, you know, going out to this company saying, hey, yeah, we are enterprise ready. We're ready for your business. We might be, you know, for folks in a coffee shop. But we have all the battle tested enterprise features you're going to need. And for every company that's different, sometimes that's within the first month of building your app, sometimes it's it takes a couple years to get there. It's really dependent on when you launch and how you get customers. And we work with people at all different shapes and sizes.

That makes sense in terms of like actually getting this ends process like is it a case of like, okay, go go go to the salesperson store, acquire yourself, a good salesperson, bring them into the Gulf today had that like, go

to the salesperson store? Yeah, like you can start? Yeah. Well, I don't think so. So I think that sales, you know, as I was saying earlier, seek to understand ask questions. Be curious about the business. That's what the founders of the company do. You know, when you're trying to find product market fit when you get on calls with customers, you aren't doing sales. Any founder that says they can't do sales is wrong. They've been doing sales since the beginning since day one you're selling when you hire people to join the team. You're selling when you raise money you're selling when you go to a house party and you have to convince someone else you have a real job you know, like Oh no, this is you arguing sales you know whether you think sales is good or not. Sorry, you're a salesperson. If you hate salespeople, you know, you've become that just self hating. But no, you do that you do that by yourself. First. You know you and I think when the right time is to hire sales. Is, is for like kind of two different reasons. One is you want to scale it out, you have figured something out, and you want more people to do it, you don't have enough time during the day, you can don't have enough meetings, you're like, gosh, my calendar is full. I wish we had more people to talk to sales. And every one of these conversations is pretty similar. I'm just doing the same thing again and again and again. And you also might hire a sales leader, when you want to expand it even more, you want to bring someone in that's managed salespeople that has kind of strategically expanded understands different motions, and just can kind of do it in a smoother way than you figuring it out. But you definitely don't want to hire those people before you figured it out yourself. It's pretty much impossible to hire, I've never seen it happen really actually go hiring and sales talent to figure out how to initially sell the product that's, that kind of has to come from the founder, you know, the founders relationship with early customers, that's where it's derived. And it's really hard. Most people want to go hire someone else to do it. Because they're like, Oh, this is exhausting. I'm kind of slogging through it. But I promise you, you figure it out, you know, it gets better later. But that's a core responsibility and an E that you you can't really hand off to anybody else it is discovering the market, discovering how to sell the product, is the step towards product market fit. That is the responsibility of the founder. And you wouldn't say like, can we just hire someone else to go get us product market fit like that? That would make any sense, right? Of course, that's your responsibility. Sales, early sales fits within that too. So don't go to the salesperson store, and he'll pull a few few off the rack, you know, to put in place. But once you get moving, you know, once you have, you know, customers coming in, they're like, hey, I need some more firepower. Definitely. That's a good time.

What was it like that stage when you were like finding product market fit, like getting your first doing the sales or yourself. So

developer tools are kind of weird in that it often takes a long time for customers to mature. You know, you might talk to somebody who's building an app, and they're like, oh, yeah, this sounds great. But I don't need it yet. I'm gonna need it in a while. You just have to wait. And then they might plug it in, and they might start using it. They're like, Okay, I started using it. But I don't need that much of this just a little bit. You have to wait for them to grow and mature. So, you know, for the first two or three years, the company our revenue is quite minimal, you know, it's grown steadily, but it's slow to start. And this is really common with a lot of developer products and SaaS products, you can see a slow, it's like not everything is chat GPT, you know, like. And so I think what you want to do is just connect with those developers understand their needs, build for the ones that that are willing to use it early on, and get their feedback. And just be like, really patient, this probably means raising more money than you would expect. So you have a longer time horizon, you can be more patient. And that way, I think the last thing you want to do is to try to over optimize the amount of revenue you're getting early on, early on, when you're selling and when you're building product you're selling to learn, you're selling to learn about value and how customers think about and care about, you might change your pricing, you might change your packaged kind of your pricing structures, you know, different features and different plans. And you want to be able to be flexible and all that stuff. So it takes a while for me. You know, I live in San Francisco is a bunch of startup founders around here. You can you can't you know, throw stone without hitting another another founder. And I've met a bunch of those folks, I wouldn't talk to all my friends building apps and Next Generation Entrepreneurs, I went to events where other you know, SaaS founders were hanging out, I went to conferences and you know, constantly talk about workouts. My friends are probably sick of hearing me talk about this.

Your friends are all enterprise ready.

Yeah, exactly. That's like when, when you're ready for this, you know, let let us help you, you know, we're ready to go. And, and you know, even people that came inbound, I've become friends with them, too, you know, versus a customer of ours. Friends with Guillermo, or loom is a customer with power all looms enterprise, you know, features. You know, those, those three guys, and especially today, you know, he was CTO really brought us in, gave us a lot of amazing feedback. We learned a lot from them from them, too. So I think it's kind of a long game. You know, it's it's, again, like there's no, I don't know, it's kind of hate to say it. There's no like pithy, quick way to do a lot of this stuff. You just have to be patient and really believe in what you're what you're trying to achieve. Yeah,

that's actually a really good segue, Michael, because like something that we were talking about before the court was that I watched your it's a great talk, by the way, your talk on being crossing the enterprise chasm that you gave five years ago. And I think you were like fairly early on at that point. Relative Yeah, we

hadn't launched very company was maybe like three or four months old. And we just raised a little bit of money. Actually gave that talk at get hubs office at this kind of startup event. And it's coming up on five years. And it was kind of just the idea for the company. It's like, here's why I care about this. Here's, here's, you know, here's why I'm doing this. And honestly, the presentation was made literally the night before. And I was kind of scrambling to put it together. If you watch it today, it's remarkably consistent with what we're doing right now. It's almost eerie, how similar how similar it is. And I think, to a large degree, I kind of just got lucky, I kind of knew what we were shooting after. And, and it's, it's pretty rare that that happens that you're like, kind of right on the money initially. But I think it's because we centered around the problem, you know, not it's not just about authentication, or user management. It's not just about, you know, Directory Sync, or skim or audit, logging, or access control, or all these other things that we do, it's about going up market becoming enterprise ready. I heard this thing a long time ago, I'm not sure who said it. But you know, it stuck with me that when you're thinking about a company to build a problem that you want to dig into, what you should really try to do is fall in love with the problem space, fall in love with the issue that people have, and not not fall in love with your solution. Because your solution might be wrong, you might end up going in the wrong direction. And if you fall in love with your specific solution, the future you've built or exactly the app you built, you're going to result it's going to result in you not wanting to change, not wanting to adapt, and you're probably you know, your aspirations will die, because you won't be able to change. You should be flexible on your solution, but laser focused on the problem and always hold the same problem. I see a lot of entrepreneurs kind of doing the opposite thing where they like build some shiny technology or some capability. And then as you go search for problems, like oh, well solve this will solve this will solve this. I guess sometimes that works. I don't know, I haven't seen it work that often. I think it's much more durable. If you think about the problem space and just obsess over the problem. And for us, for work of us, that's really this enterprise chasm stuff that talk I gave, you can see on YouTube crossing enterprise chasm actually turned into a podcast and podcast, I've interviewed a bunch of, you know, CEOs, I've gone up market, you know, of companies like CloudFlare, you know, Stripe and stuff like that. Just because I become obsessed with this transition that companies companies make, and we build technology to help make that transition. But it's just, it's a bigger problem than just what we solve. It

feels very, because I was, you know, preparing for the podcasts and watching that and thinking about it. And I did feel very kind of like, out of my depth. And there was so many things that I just didn't know. And it's like, oh my, well, if like, if somehow I get to that point, it's going to be tricky. Like, I feel like I'm starting to kind of understand a little bit at least like the early stages, like, like a vague idea of how the different parts work. Whether or not I can pull it off is another one. But like, once it gets to that point, it just feels like the difficulty gets so so much because like probably no one person understands any of these things anyway, it's like, starts to become so complex people specialize. And

yeah, I don't understand that I wouldn't claim to that. It is it is it is really complex, you know, we've found with this type of problem, like the deeper and deeper you go, it actually gets more complicated. It's like a fractal. You know, you zoom in, and it gets more and more complicated as you because you get closer and closer. And that's why it's interesting. Sometimes people ask me, like, why would you even work on this things? Enterprise API's, SaaS, you know, it's kind of these dry pieces, but it turns out, it's, it's a really deep complex thing to solve. And if you do it, right, it has a huge impact for folks. So I've had the same kind of conversations with, you know, friends of mine that work at stripe, you know, this thing seems so complex and kind of dry. And when you do it, and it turns out, if you start building it as a platform, not just doing it as a one off, but really thinking about how to solve it in totality, like solve the whole category as a platform, that becomes really fun. Because you start being able to think in new ways about how to approach it, and go deeper, and be more rigorous than any company has ever done before. You know, we we have this like, kind of narrow problem we're solving for companies, we can go so deep, we hit bedrock, we can go deeper than anybody else has ever gone before. And and you know, do it sustainably make money grow, you know, continue to work on it. And that's I love solving problems. And the thing I love about engineering is just completely solving a problem, you know, completely doing it and there's such opportunity to do that. And that's the space there's so much depth to it. It's it's really compelling. really satisfying. Yeah.

Yeah, it totally makes sense is such a big difficult problem that say one of those problems that can never really be fully solved. You could always do it better and it's like, just seeing it finished for your whole Life and just make it done. Yeah,

the the market keeps evolving and changing, you know, we plug into IT systems and gosh, shoot who like, what hasn't changed in it over the last three or four years, you know, COVID Even this mass transformation to remote work, change the way so many companies operate, what tools they use and how they collaborate, I mean, this huge upheaval and in what IT systems people use at work that were that change stuff for us to, you know, in terms of how we, how we support our customers and our product. So yes, it turns out, you can kind of become a geek about anything. Go deep. And then, and I the approach that we've taken to that is the other piece of it, you know, in this Dev Tools podcast is preaching to the choir, I love building things for developers, I kind of fell into it accidentally, my first company built this email API and and I just found that like, when you build infrastructure and tools for other developers, other makers, other engineers, it's sort of the pinnacle of engineering. They're like the most discerning customer, they care about the tiniest, smallest things, you know that. But if you can do it, right, if you can do it really well, they're so loyal. They ruthlessly love what you've built. And they'll, they'll defend it, you know, they'll be close to you. And it's, it's just this. I don't know, developers are wondering, some people really hate it. They don't understand, especially, especially people that are not engineers. I don't get developers. I don't know how to market to them. But but I'm like, yeah, if you can get in, you know, kind of do the right thing for them. become one of them, if you are one of them. It's such a cool audience to build and sell for, I think it's the best. I was.

Like, I've kind of talked about this on the podcast, but like, I've done a few different things. And like, I worked as a salesperson for like, a couple years, I didn't really know. Yeah, and then I saw, I was actually working at Stack Overflow. And I'd done programming before that. And one of the things was like, I went to like a developer meetup. And I was like, Oh, my God, it's just so amazing, like the way that everyone is like helping each other. And I just come from, like, the sales environment where the person next to me like she, her life goal was to just like, get one one more dollar that month than me, basically. And like, it was like, just amazing. And I think that was one of the reasons why like I quit and went back to development. And I just think that developers are awesome. And dev tools like developers squared, like, Yeah,

that's exactly right. Yeah, I tweeted this thing. The other day about how you know, when you're starting to think about building a company, and you're building a startup, you should be really specific about what type of customers you want. Because if you're the founder of a company, one of the co founders, you know, you're going to spend a tremendous amount of time talking to your customers, if you want to succeed, you have to talk to customers every day, for a ton of a ton of time, every day for years. You know, I talk to customers every single day. If you don't like your customers, it's gonna drive you nuts. Because you're talking to them constantly. But if you love your customers, if you if it's a group of people that you're like, I just want to spend time around these people. It's the best job in the world, you know, and that can be different things for different people. You know, if you really love hanging out with doctors, you should build stuff for doctors, if you're building software, build software for doctors, if you grew up, grew up on a farm, and you love agriculture, and you just kind of love hanging out with farmers. And you're like a, you know, software developer and engineer, you should go build tech for farmers, they love that kind of stuff. Like it's a huge thing you could help them with, because because every day you'll be spending with that, that customer base. And I think me having the opportunity to build for developers and spend time with other engineers and the other people building companies, other entrepreneurs. It's such a such a cool thing. I mean, it's such a good perk of the job. It's it's really, it's not just me, it's like everyone wants our engineers talk to our customers, too. It's one of the pretty cool things about building for for building a dev tool.

I completely agree. I feel like that's that's to at least to like huge points around like falling in love with the problem falling in love with the people who you're solving the problem for. Is that would those be the takeaways?

And that's kind of sales. You know, going back to the first thing we were saying, like if you can do those two things. You're halfway to doing sales.

Michael, I think we're coming to the end. But if you had any kind of like takeaways other than those, for anyone who's deaf sort of founder or like I said, early stage dev tool. What What would advice would you give? Yeah,

gosh, there's so much stuff. I mean, startups are so hard. I think everyone kind of hears that and knows that. You know, people blog and tweet about it, but you really don't get it until you start You really don't? You don't totally feel it, you know, and there's I think it was the NVIDIA CEO said an interview a few months ago, like, if you're unknown how hard was it was going to be? Would you have started it? And he was like, Absolutely not. Yeah, absolutely not. And look how successful he is people would kill to be him. Yeah, you know. So it's really hard. It's really, really hard. And if you can, if you can cultivate a mindset, it's really tough. If you can cultivate a mindset, though, where you celebrate that, or embrace it, embracing the struggle of it, not avoiding it, not feeling like you're the victim, when it happens, you know, when things are tough, not shying away from it. But But when things get really hard, you're like, This is it, I'm in it, this is what I sign up for. And this is where the value is being created. It kind of changes your ability to operate in your perspective. You know, and I think just most people don't anticipate how hard it's going to be. And so they assume it should be easier. They assume I should be able to hire someone to go fix this, or I shouldn't have this problem, or, gosh, it just shouldn't be this hard. And anyone listening that's thinking about starting a company or is starting a company and you feel this, it's supposed to be that hard. That's why not everyone does it. You know, no one goes and climbs a super big mountain. And halfway up, they're like, out of breath. And like, I thought it was going to be easy, you know, or like, it should be easy to take every step of the way. I know, I'm angry at the mountain because this is, this is harder than I thought it was going to be. No, it's just hard. It's just hard. That's what it is. And that struggle. I think when you find groups of people who are company, company, builders, founders, co founders hang out. It's one of the things that unifies them, no matter what you're building, across, no matter what domain that shared struggle is, it's part of the entrepreneurial journey. And so I'd say just anyone to doing that, just like don't give up. Like, realize that's really tough, and just kind of keep plowing through it. And it's saying, that doesn't make it easier. But I think it's probably just important to hear that, like, you're not alone. And that being hard. And that is the job, it's it's not the thing to avoid it quintessentially is, is what the job is. And on the other side of that, like, through struggle, is the reward is the success. Every single success has come through struggle. So, you know, it's it's a requirement for the job, lean into it. Take it on as a challenge responsibility. And, you know, and if you get lucky, you know, because success is not guaranteed. But if you also get lucky. You know, you might have the chance to build something really great. Amazing.

Yeah, I love it. Unlike ready to ready to march and never give up.

And use work. Alas, would you do it?

Of course, yeah. Use it. Yes. Use work at West become enterprise ready. Exactly. Exactly. Michael, thank you so much. Thank you for coming. Thanks for sharing amazing stuff. Thank you for sponsoring the podcast. Thank you for being our first sponsor. Thank you to WorkOS. And yeah, where can people learn more about you and about working with us? Yeah. Well,

it's been an absolute delight. This is this is really fun. I could talk about this for hours. She's gonna work on west.com. You can Google it. I'm on Twitter. I love talking to founders of the developers about this kind of stuff. And you can even email me just Michael at work. os.com I love hearing from folks. So feel free to anything on this podcast kind of resonate with you feel free to reach out I'd love to chat with you.

Amazing. And then I recommend people go watch that enterprise crossing the enterprise chasm.

Yeah, that's on YouTube. And, and also, as I mentioned, I do have this other podcast, it's like talking about a podcast on a podcast, all with other company founders and CEOs, people who have gone through this transition, you know, people who are later stage who have shipped, become public companies are raised hundreds of millions of dollars, all about this transition of going up market and I've I've interviewed a lot of quite technical founders of companies, you know, so, so if that's interesting to you definitely go check that out. It's, you know, it's everywhere else on Spotify and Apple podcasts, all those places.

Amazing. Well, thank you again, Michael. And thank you everyone for listening.

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