Why 1 Year Payback Period is Important From $50M Funded CEO

Don Mal

In Episode #694, Nathan interviews Don Mal. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Vena Solutions which was established in 2011 and is the fastest growing provider of cloud-based corporate performance management software. Prior to Vena, he’s owned several executive tech positions along the way with companies like Clarity Systems and IBM.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Who Moved My Cheese
  • What CEO do you follow? – Satya Nadella
  • Favorite online tool? — Dropbox
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 7-8
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “I wish I knew that sales cures all”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:44 – Nathan introduces Don to the show
  • 01:21 – Vena was the fastest company to acquire a hundred customers
  • 01:29 – Vena is growing a 100%, year over year
  • 02:05 – CPM or corporate performance management is budgeting, planning and forecasting financial performance
  • 02:28 – A fastfood chain can use Vena’s service to capture the sales of their burger
  • 02:55 – CPM is about measuring results in a couple of different dimensions
  • 03:16 – The Top had Glen Coates of Handshake and they’re an inventory management
  • 03:31 – Vena is more horizontal based and vertical industry based
  • 04:20 – Vena doesn’t compete with Bill.com and Expensify.com
  • 04:31 – Annual RPU is $50K
  • 04:53 – Vena was launched in 2011
  • 05:02 – Team size is almost 200
  • 05:18 – Vena has raised capital with equity rounds
  • 05:49 – Don was running sales for a company in the same space that Don sold
  • 06:02 – Don has already built credibility, so he was able to convince families and friends to invest
  • 06:21 – Don has raised over a million to launch the business
  • 06:50 – Don’s process of closing
  • 07:06 – Don was able to raise $3M from other sources
  • 07:30 – If your friends and families can’t write a $25K check, a $1k check will do
  • 07:42 – Don has now raised a total of $50M
  • 08:35 – Having the right kind of partner is important in raising a round
  • 09:17 – Vena is approaching 350 paying customers
  • 09:38 – Average MRR is $1.4M
  • 09:47 – Vena finds new customers with a combination of inbound and outbound marketing
    • 10:04 – Vena also nurtures their prospects through drip campaigns
  • 10:22 – Total spend on paid acquisition is a couple of hundred grand a month
  • 10:40 – Vena has a team that does the testing for new channels
  • 11:05 – Don wants to keep their CAC below a 12-month cost of the revenue
  • 11:38 – Don is looking at a 12-month payback
  • 11:55 – LTV
    • 12:05 – A customer stays with Vena up to 10 years
  • 12:48 – Don sees the significant expansion of their platform
  • 12:55 – Client starts with 2 user cases and can end up having more than 20
  • 13:28 – Gross churn
  • 13:39 – Vena has hit their net negative revenue churn
  • 14:05 – Vena’s dollar will turn into $1.20 with their current system
  • 15:15 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Before a big round of fundraising, master your pitch and start with your friends and families.
  2. Make your product stick to your customers and you’ll experience amazing growth.
  3. Have experts in your sales and marketing team; trust and release them to do their job.

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