These 4 pHD’s Choose Entrepreneurship, Raise $75M for Data Indexing Tool Collibra with CEO Felix Van De Maele

Felix Van de Maele

In Episode #683, Nathan interviews Felix Van de Maele. He’s the CEO and one of the co-founders of Collibra which he took the idea of funding to more than years of record growth and industry leadership. He’s responsible for the company’s global business strategy. Prior to Collibra, Felix served as a researcher at the Semantics of Technology and Applications Research Laboratory at a university in Brussels where he focused on the technology crawlers on the semantic web and semantic data integration. He holds a master in computer science and software engineering from that university and masters of general management from Vlerick Business School.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Crossing the Chasm
  • What CEO do you follow? – n/a
  • Favorite online tool? — Evernote
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 6-8
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “I won’t change much”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:39 – Nathan introduces Felix to the show
  • 01:33 – Collibra is a SaaS company helping larger organizations to better find, understand and control their data
  • 01:47 – Collibra started in financial services
    • 01:53 – Every bank needs data governance, which is what Collibra does
    • 01:58 – Data governance is needed for regulatory compliance
  • 02:16 – Collibra now covers different industries
  • 02:25 – Collibra was launched in 2008
  • 02:31 – Collibra raised capital
    • 02:40 – Collibra raised a seed round of €800K as Felix’s first company
    • 02:48 – They bootstrapped after their profitability tripled every year
    • 00:57 – They’ve raised their first bigger round which is a series B of $20M in 2014
    • 03:14 – In December 2016, they did a $50M series C round
  • 03:27 – Felix is now 32 and has been focusing on Collibra for almost a decade now
  • 04:00 – Felix uses the analogy of the library and the index card that is used in a library to elaborate data governance
    • 04:09 – A library card with all its information is similar to an organization with all its data
    • 04:27 – Collibra wants to get to the Amazon of the notifications of data
  • 04:46 – Collibra is similar to a search engine for data sets
    • 04:59 – Now everybody does data and it’s chaos
  • 05:14 – Collibra has close to 200 customers
  • 05:25 – RPU is $200-250K annually
  • 05:41 – Average customer pay per month is 20K
  • 05:46 – Collibra has annual plans with cash upfront
  • 06:13 – Collibra started with a perpetual model which is a licensing fee upfront, then they have the software
    • 06:29 – There’s an annual maintenance fee which is 20% of the initial fee
  • 06:46 – ARR is $10-30M
  • 07:00 – The idea of Collibra
    • 07:13 – Felix had 4 options after graduation
    • 07:23 – Felix was inspired by a book he read and thought that he could start his own business
  • 07:57 – Collibra has 4 founders
    • 08:25 – The equity is just 25%
  • 08:55 – The founders split the shareholders from their management
    • 09:06 – “We try to separate the 2 as much as possible”
  • 09:40 – The investors own a different range in Collibra
  • 09:55 – The percentage of the company that they give away during the series C depends on the trajectory and how much money is raised
  • 10:12 – The biggest round for Collibra is the series B
  • 10:39 – Collibra’s trajectory is to have $100M ARR as quickly as possible
  • 10:59 – The picking of investors is mostly because of the valuation, but there are other factors involved
  • 11:27 – Collibra picked Matthew of Iconic because he clicked well
  • 12:00 – Customer churn is 3-4%
  • 12:30 – Net revenue expansion
  • 12:52 – CAC
    • 13:30 – Some of Collibra’s customers have been with them for several years
  • 14:08 – Collibra looks at their sales efficiency and their marketing efficiency
    • 04:13 – The marketing dominance they’re spending to generate $1 of ARR is around 0.8-0.9
    • 14:30 – It costs $1 in sales and marketing to generate $1 in ARR
    • 14:42 – Payback time is around 12 months
  • 14:54 – Team size is 210
    • 15:00 – Biggest team is in New York, engineering team is in Brussels and sales and marketing in London
    • 15:30 – The HQ transferred to New York because most of the customers are in USA
  • 16:25 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. There are so many data sources available and it’s difficult to know which one has the most accurate data.
  2. You need to find a way to govern the data that you have—this helps in regulatory compliance.
  3. Sometimes, ignorance IS bliss—it can cause you to take more risks.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives