Can $1m MRR Company Grow Into $10m Post Money Valuation?

Venkat Nagaswamy

In Episode #773, Nathan interviews Venkat Nagaswamy. He’s the CEO of Mariana IQ. He brings a long and diverse background in high technology to apply artificial intelligence and deep learning to help marketers make account-based marketing at scale a reality. “Big Kat,” as he was nicknamed by friends and colleagues, has led teams in creating analytics, technology and business development solutions at McKinsey, Juniper Networks and GE Plastics, among others. He’s worked in enterprise and digital consumer hardware, SaaS, corporate and business unit strategy, market entry strategy, and product development. He’s a proud graduate of the University of Michigan and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He holds an MBA and a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Good to Great
  • What CEO do you follow? – Marc Benioff and Mark Zuckerberg
  • Favorite online tool? — Calendly and Feedly
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— 6
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “Being diligent and hard-working counts for a lot more than being smart and clever”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:54 – Nathan introduces Venkat to the show
  • 02:54 – Venkat was in Juniper trying to implement account-based marketing
  • 03:14 – Venkat is trying to solve the problems in account-based marketing
  • 03:27 – People buy a monthly subscription to Mariana IQ which will allow them to run campaigns targeting the same audience across different platforms
  • 03:37 – Mariana IQ is a SaaS business
  • 03:43 – Average pay is $4K a month per customer
  • 03:55 – Venkat started Mariana IQ three years ago with his three co-founders
  • 04:02 – Venkat also uses their technology
  • 04:16 – Venkat and his co-founders felt that marketers need more tools to be successful in the field
  • 04:36 – First year revenue was zero
  • 04:45 – Late 2015, Mariana IQ made $155K and $550K in 2016
  • 04:59 – Venkat is expecting to get 5x more in annual revenue this year
  • 05:17 – MRR in June was $70-80K
  • 05:45 – Mariana IQ has around 20 customers
  • 06:00 – Zendesk is one of Mariana IQ’s clients
    • 06:13 – Zendesk wanted to target larger companies and so they gave Mariana IQ their data
    • 06:30 – Mariana IQ used their API to find the targeted companies for Zendesk
  • 06:54 – Venkat shares their success rate at Mariana IQ
    • 07:27 – “We got better quality, 4x the volume while keeping the cost the same”
  • 07:36 – Mariana IQ has raised capital
    • 07:39 – First seed round was in 2014 which was led by Blumberg Capital
    • 07:58 – David Blumberg owns Blumberg Capital and Bruce Taragin is who is on Mariana IQ’s board
    • 08:05 – Blumberg Capital has been around for 34 years
    • 08:19 – The first round was a convertible note round with $6M capital
    • 08:47 – Mariana IQ did another round in 2016 which was a priced round
    • 09:10 – Mariana IQ has raised a total of $4M
  • 09:48 – Venkat doesn’t worry about growing into their valuation
  • 12:00 – In Mariana IQ’s first year, they were only getting beta customers
  • 12:41 – Venkat shares the unconventional way he attracted more customers; a video of him in the shower, singing
    • 13:05 –The video was posted on Twitter and got a million views
    • 13:38 – “I’m the worst singer on the planet”
  • 13:57 – Gross margin is around 80%
  • 14:10 – Gross customer churn is quite high, at 3%
  • 14:22 – Revenue churn
  • 14:55 – Full weighted CAC is $22K per customer
  • 15:06 – Customer LTV is $200-250K
  • 15:40 – Venkat is looking at increasing their CAC by spending more on sales and marketing to increase their volume
    • 15:54 – They will add two more salespeople
  • 16:23 – Last month, they spent $2k on marketing alone
  • 17:20 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Marketers are constantly looking for alternative ways to become more effective and successful in their industry.
  2. A business shouldn’t worry about its valuation—as long as they’re confident with their product and continue to add value to their customers; it will work out in the end.
  3. It’s necessary for companies today to invest in their sales and marketing to increase that engagement with their audience.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Simplero – The easiest way to launch your own membership course like the big influencers do but at 1/10th the cost.
  • 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
  • GetLatka – Database of all B2B SaaS companies who have been on my show including their revenue, CAC, churn, ARPU and more
  • 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