The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 2 months ago

Ep 256: Focus on Scaling Expansion in PLG w/ Mickey Alon

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Focus on Scaling Expansion in PLG w/ Mickey Alon

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Pavilion Podcast. I am your host, Brandon Barton. You are listening to Is This a Good Time? The show where I'm put Pavilion members on the hot seat for fifteen minutes we hear their stories. Shows are out on every Monday, so hey, subscribe you will not miss hearing from our experts. Our guest today is Mickey Alone. He's the CTO and founder of gain sighte p X, and we talked about why you should focus on scaling, expansion and user adoption in p l G. This month's sponsor is six cents, the leading platform for B two B organizations generating predictable revenue. Two years ago, six cents wrote the playbook for modern B two B sales and marketing in the In the book, no forms, no spam, no cold calls. Thousands of practitioners have implemented the book, and now an updated version is out. The expanded second edition includes a new chapter just for sales leaders and even more becausit six cents dot com slash the book to order your copy today. All right, let's do this episode one? Is this good time? All right? Everyone? I'm so excited to have our guest today, Mickey Alone is with us. He is the CTO and founder of gain Site p X. Mickey, so great to have you on the podcast. Thank you for having me. Awesome man. Well, look, I know we're gonna we're gonna be the theme that we've been having on the pod. We've been talking a lot of p l G, so it's interesting and fun to do that. But um, we're gonna all meet no philler, jump right into the questions here. Um, you know, start with what you're doing today. But I want to go back. I mean, you have co founded a bunch of stuff, You've gotten acquired a bunch of times. Men. You you you have just an incredible track record. Um, I want to hear about what led you, you know, to to obviously, um, starting these businesses. I want I want to learn about, you know, starting Uptrinsic, which obviously got bought by gain Site. Um, so start with gain Sight, tell us what you're doing today, and then let's let's roll back. Okay, sounds good.

So, as the founder of gainst p X, it's a product experience platform that helps product teams identify and learn about product experience. It's provide product analytics. So they can build better products, but also providing the tools to drive adoption. So if they have any challenge with proculic growth or they're trying to drive the product adoption, and then on insights, they can use gainst p X to drive not just the insights but also the action. UM Previously, I was part of Marcato and I enjoyed marketing through another m and A, which was through the company I founded named inside Era. So my my background is coming from technology and business UM, and I always want to help companies really either build better products or build better brands. With the inside there was a way personalization where what I've noticed is customer acquisition and all the optimization is going to be becoming a market demand. It was back in two ten, so most countries had like very static websites. Digital marketing was very basic UM and what they needed is actually to really amplify what marketing is doing through online channels and then feeding sales with more qualified its furious. When I joined the MARKETO at some point it took over the global product development team, and I've seen that we're taking this like we as a big public company and growing very very fast. We still didn't have a clue our customers use our products. We still have very unecdoted data points and when the way we drive decisions, it was the lack of data. So roadmap was something that was I was intrigued by saying, Hey, as a young start up, understand, you know you have to kind of find your park market fit. But as a...

...big company, you should have a lot of users. You have a lot of um customers, and you want to understand what should you prioritize from road map? And that was not trivial. Let me think about that. Second, Marcato kind of established the marketing lad growth if you think about it, because sales left growth, marketing lead growth is all about amplifying the brand and also creating more leads and feeding sales. Right, it doesn't it never replaced. It's just like feeding them with more ready to buy people and also delivering better experience for the customer because customers actually wanted to check out your website the content before they actually have, so I kind of and we try to. When we built that, we thought that we're kind of gonna take care of the entire customer lifetime value. Marcato can the customer experience was the center and core of what Marcato was planning to do if eventually down the road we came SASS and the subscription model and most of the customer lifetime value moved to the product. So before that, you acquire customers that download your software and you move to the next customer. There's no renewal, there's no subscription moving to subscription. Suddenly the entire customer lifetime value is tied to the product, and then you need a different tool to influence by a decision. You saw more and more free trials fremium. So that has led me to to start Atrinsic to say, hey, sure, experienced management is moving from top of funnel into that sas into that product. And my passion is always to kind of help companies build their products. And I believe that there's always a science and out to actually building the next product. But I believe that the data is a gold mine and you can run experiments if you do those things. So...

...that's kind of fun led me to build I love it, man. I mean, you you sold two companies to two other pretty great companies. Tell me, tell me about the tell me about the process. I mean, you know to extent that you can, you know, and and and I'd also point out that the companies that you started, you sold them after about twenty four months it seems, or just like maybe two or three years, um, pretty short time horizon to get out there and start something and make it have such value. Tell me about the process towards the end there, did you feel that the timing was right? Did people reach out to you that you were just you had built such an incredible piece of software that that people reach out to you and said, hey, we need to you know, and give you an offer that that um, you know, you said, hey, I have to choose this over running it myself. I'm really curious of the psychology in those moments. Yeah, it's a great question. I think in both cases of hit product market fit very quickly. One of the things, it takes them years and years they created category and you know then and so I saw, like, you know, the first mover doesn't necessarily is going to be the right you know circution in the market. And um, and you know, i'd like to be like actually in competitive situations, is opposed to just like build something that I fall in love with hopefully the market. So one of the things I saw that the market timing was as as I started inside era. It's like we started that, by the way, as as what gain sate px is doing today. What we saw that most of the SaaS dignote exists. It was like three thousand SAS companies back then. So we kind of pivoted to marketing UM in marketing automation because that's like the same technology could be applied. And this is where we felt like it's going to be demands. So as you launch the solution, you're already dealing with demands of customers coming to you. They demand for more features. It's not like you need to convince them, um, that is better space to be. But that at the same time, when you have innovative...

...solution, you also get you know, acquirers coming and investors so um. And then one of the challenges is actually scaling all right. So usually in most cases I would go into a space when they're like a couple of big guerillas out there, so and they have hundreds of people. So one of the things we say, how do I scale? I need to hire a lot of people. So sometimes the kind of balance of partnering with a player like Marcato, for example, which was very, very successful. And now gain Side you get this combination of the immature company with the right executive team and go to marketing plus a strong technology. Um so that's kind of thing twice happened like a hit proup market fit. We become very competitive and one of the challenges how do I close the gap not from the products side, actually from the goal market side. Sure, so yeah, that's lot kind of led me to do the merger and and I think you know, um with with gain Side, you kind of execute again on the customer experience like Marcato tried. So I feel like it's kind of a long journey towards optimizing customer experience. In the past it was marketing. Now it's more product and I think that the future we're saying it's that's kind of a delivering better customer experience. It's kind of the way I focus on and I'm passionate about right. Love love that I and I gotta like it seems like part of your part of your journey there there should have there should have been, and probably were moments of luck, whether it was finding early product market fit. I mean, I wonder can you recall kind of a moment you know that just was being in the right place, right time for for what you were doing. Yeah, I think that's as many kind of folks in your life that you need to take the decision. I think there's a lot of obstacles all the time. Uh and luck has a lot to do with it for sure. Um So I think you know, even starting the first company, h the started to do it and going all in and also during that you're gonna...

...have a lot of obstacles. So um, usually you know, my advice would like go with the challenge because I've never seen people just regret trying something is opposed to regret not trying and down down during that journey, you'll have a lot of bad luck and good luck. And one of the things we had, like for example, I made it very clearly, Um, I sponsored my first Drainforce. I bootstrapped at the company, like we bootstrapped the first company. So funding or there's no like VC funding goes back in two thousand and twelve, so every penny counts and and and sponsoring both in Drainforce was very heavy and everything went wrong. Uh. Yeah, like the things for the book, like being arrived, you know, the ups or whatnot lost kind of the ashipment, and then the marketer is supposed to be in the booth, she couldn't fly. So actually an SDR that was just in in the company said I'm gonna I'm gonna join, so last minute he kind of took the flight. UM and my partner and I flying like got into issues with the flights and like, you know, it was a terrible you know, wow, very six hours. Eventually we get to dream falls um. But the good part was like at some point Phil Fernandez, the founder of Marcato, walked next to the booth and that same as DR just jumps on him and just like start a conversation. So this is we got got to know Marcato. UM. A year later was the M and A. But you know, the first personal interaction was just completely coincidential. Oh my gosh. I I hope that that str got got some love for his his or her efforts. That that's incredible. He stalled his own company. Now...

...like ten years later now he has his own company. Definitely, he got like a lot of entrepreneurial stories as well. So I love that that's that that obviously makes sense well, um, from from your years of getting out their bootstrap and selling yourself to any sales or marketing tactics that let's talk about some p LG tactics like what are some things that people aren't paying attention to that are going to help people, you know, get through your product funnel, get converted into paid you know, annual subscriptions, whatever which way you want to take it. Would love to hear it more on the p l G side. Yeah, I think PLG came from an area that trying to optimize customer experience but also optimize and building more sustainable, durable growth. Yeah, and taking into consideration you need to make sure that you need to renew, you need to retain customers in order to thrive. You need to stop looking at the product experience most seriously, so we probably grow of I tend to split the two areas. One is the customer acquisition, where it can offer trial freemium depends on the market maturity and your solution, but that can help you scale customer acquisition because you can use your product to just as a tool to acquire them without being bounded to seale resources. The second is expansion, which is where most companies don't do necessarily a great job, like how do you take customers from basic value to realize value? The truth product they can so that your customers can experience outcome and then you can expand or cross sale through that. And that's also p l G because the product itself is it has a lot of signals and data that tells you were customers are the experiencing value? Do they have the outcome they expected to have? Are the ready to uh? Is there renew going to be something you know? More predictable? Are they going to renew? And they're ready for expansion as well.

So I think the biggest miss I would say companies stop thinking plgs for freemium of free trial. But that's actually the most complex area to start because they need to change a lot of things in your company, the way marketing work, sales and everything. But if you stop actually in retention and expansion and see what can I do in my product to scale the adoption to basically have customers in a healthy place so I can have more predictable revenue, They're gonna renew and I can also offer them additional functionality which they are happy to pay for. I love that that's that's Um, that's really insightful because I do think a lot of people are focusing on the top line and getting people into the funnel, so to speak. And and uh yeah, I mean makes total sense to me. Any key positions you're hiring for, we are hiring uh in engineering, product management, but mostly less in the US right now. We're doing global hiring, so also Europe, in India. And but yeah, you should check out our website against the dot com and they have jobs opening beautiful, beautiful, and give some shout outs. Any people that you um, you know you you love kind of what they're talking about, neither p l G or marketing or sales and and and appreciate kind of what they're up to. Um, I think that you know your west Bush is has the icle author the Masterly Portly Growth, but he also wrote the book from Marketing Perspective and partly Growth. So it's always a partner and great speakers. And west Bush is one that definitely worth wine to follow. And I think that other personas in the space, but he's like someone that I definitely a big shout out. I love that, love that and look, last but not least, very important to me. You got you gotta give me. You know, it could be in the Bay Air, it doesn't...

...have to be, but you've got to give me a wonderful restaurant that I should I should go and visit or we should go check out that maybe flies under the radar. I don't know about the Bay area, does us any great restaurants things? One actually grub on one next to the Beers that I definitely remember for having great one. But I can definitely tell you about tell where I'm coming from. Yeah, the Jeffa area has a fantastic restaurants. Just can go at any time. It's like midnight locout. You're gonna find really a good, great food, also healthy food and great atmosphere there as well. I love it. I love it well. When I come visit, you're gonna take me out for for all the good food and tell AVI absolutely Mickey, thank you so much for being a man um Just really awesome to hear your stories and kind of how how you've built some companies and just to admire kind of what you've done in your career so far. And I know it's it's not nearly over. You've got more to come, So thank you for being here, Thank you for having me. All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, rate and review, Apple podcast, Spotify apps, send it to friends, smash the subscribe. This episode was brought to you by six cents, powered by AI and predictive analytics. Six cents helps you unite your entire revenue team with a shared set data to achieve predictable revenue grow I had a lot of fun today. I hope you did too. Now get out and crush those numbers.

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