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How to create a stickier product with the right partnerships

Bob Moore | CEO and Co-founder of Crossbeam

  • | Activation | Engagement | Growth | Onboarding | Retention | Sales
  • January 2020
  • EP43

The power of partnerships

Find the right partners to make your product better

Today on Churn.fm we have Bob Moore, serial entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Crossbeam, a platform that helps companies find overlapping customers and prospects while keeping the rest of their data private and secure. Bob was also the founder of RJ Metrics and Stitch, two data analytics startups that got acquired by Magento and Talend respectively.

In this episode, Bob shared his experience on how his company’s churn rate affected their acquisition value, how partnerships can be a powerful tool to fight churn, and why he decided to build Crossbeam.

We also discussed why Bob considered RJ Metrics exit as a $2.6 Billion fail, how better product positioning helped them decrease churn, and how a change in your customer mindset can affect your product-market fit.

As usual, I’m excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on Andrew@churn.fm. Now enjoy the episode.

Mentioned Resources

Highlights

Time

How important was churn on Bob’s previous acquisition experience 00:02:23
How Bob’s experience in motivated him to build Crossbeam 00:07:23
How partnerships can be powerful to make customers more sticky with churn and retention 00:10:38
Power dynamic in partnerships 00:18:54
Bob’s $2.6 billion mistake in his previous startups RJMetrics 00:21:54
What Bob would do to turn around the churn situation in a company 00:26:30
How better product positioning helped RJMetrics to decrease churn 00:29:29
How the change of customer mindset can affect your product market fit 00:30:58

 

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Bob Moore

CEO and Co-founder of Crossbeam

Bob’s recommended resources on churn
What Bob is reading right now

About the podcast

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In the real world tackling churn and increasing retention is one of the hardest problems a subscription business faces.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.

Transcription

Andrew Michael
Hi, Bob. Welcome to the show.

Bob Moore
Hello. Great to be here.

Andrew Michael
Thanks. It’s excellent to have you on board. I noticed a really interesting post that you put up on Twitter, which I’d recommend everybody go check out around RJMetrics and a mistake that you believe you made at the time. But for the listeners, Bob is the co-founder and CEO now of Crossbeam, a collaborative data platform that helps companies build more valuable partnerships. They act as an escrow service for data allowing companies to find overlapping customers and prospects with their partners. Welcome The rest of the data private and secure. Prior to Crossbeam, Bob was also the CEO and co-founder of RJMetrics, which was acquired by Magento in 2016, and is now part of the Adobe commerce cloud, where he continued on his Head of Magento business intelligence for a while before spinning out a new company called stitch as part of the deal. Stitch was then later acquired by Talend in November 2018. So my first question for you, Bob,is churn and retention must have been a central focus for you throughout your various ventures. How important was churn during the acquisition discussions?

Bob Moore
Oh, it was fundamentally important. I would say that churn, especially in the case of RJ metrics was probably one of the most focused on topics at the board strategic level all the way down to the day to day tactical level throughout pretty much the entire life of the company. And it was probably one of the larger things that throttle the growth of that business over the years and In the case of Stitcher, it was almost the opposite, where we had a super sticky product where revenue very naturally had a growth path through people’s usage of the product. And, you know, we had we had negative churn throughout the life of that business. So, yeah, it’s it’s part of the lifeblood of doing this work is working in around retention and churn.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, maybe you want to just give us a quick overview of RJ metrics and stitch and why you think the two differ when it came to churn and retention.

Bob Moore
Yeah, so RJ metrics was a data analytics platform, we sold mostly to e commerce companies. So we would help those companies identify things like customer lifetime value, conduct cohort analysis, really basically figure out who their most valuable customers are and how to get more customers like them. And RJ was we sold into marketing departments and we were very much kind of your one stop shop for analytics. So we plug into your shopping cart and then you know, do our Our number crunching and spit out these dashboards that would give you kind of some best practices analytics, and then maybe some more pointed analysis around potential action items and things like that. So very much a, you know, used by people in the go to market organization kind of dependent upon or downstream from your shopping cart or transactional data. And stitch was much more like a data infrastructure product. So we helped people in their journey to answer a lot of the same questions. But instead of being a one stop shop, or this big, monolithic platform that kind of did it all, we basically just helped Connect tools to each other. So for example, you can use stitch to pull data out of your Magento shopping cart, and drop it into your Amazon Web Services, Amazon redshift data warehouse, and stitch would be very good at making sure that data got synced on a regular basis that it was always accurate that it was structured the way you want That, you know, either sides API’s change, we would, we would make sure that that got addressed very rapidly kind of save you the trouble of building little scripts to move data around or data pipelines. But we didn’t actually do the analysis, we left that to companies that we were partnered with, like, like Looker and, and the like. So basically, the big difference if you really dial it back and you know, forget the vertical we’re in and everything is that RJ metrics was a giant, multifaceted software product that solves a lot of problems in one for the purpose of giving you a very specific output. Whereas stitch participated in a large ecosystem of products and help tie those products together to get basically the same output but giving customers a lot more control over the tools they use for each step of the job.

Andrew Michael
And make some sense to us. And, by the sounds of this one sounds like very user facing front facing when it comes to our gym metrics and then stitches more sort of like Quietly working in the back end and Thomas like maybe a set and forget sort of thing like once you’ve done it you should can relax about it as opposed to something that you constantly saying, Is that correct or?

Bob Moore
Yeah, that’s fair. I you know, I think I said in that blog post, you know, stitch was all ecosystem no glory, right. I mean, we’re, we were the plumbing business with that company.

Andrew Michael
Yeah. But when you say no glory, I think one of the greatest things I found actually with stitch was how incredible the SEO work was. Like having the business intelligence team busy building it out for them. And every time I would search sort of a specific topic, like there would be a stitch post for it, or there’d be a stitch link explaining how to get it done, but then also like hinting towards its teachers and does this for you. So I think there was you said, no glory, but you definitely came up everywhere.

Bob Moore
Yeah, it was a fun business for that stuff, because we were able to because the nature of the business was connecting one system to another, every single permutation of anything. Systems was kind of its own unique topic you could talk about. So the long tail search dictionary for that business was enormous. And that just gave us the opportunity to build probably more content marketing assets than any other company I’ve been at.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, super interesting. And maybe even something I want to reach out to, like, push on at the end of the show as well, just something for us to think about it. So then you went on now and you founded crossbeam, as well. did sort of like your experience when it came to train and retention from both these previous company sort of motivate you in any way to founding crossbeam? Like had that have any influence in what you’re building today?

Bob Moore
Yeah, kind of on two levels. One because I wanted to obviously create a product that had that stickiness and that value growth like we saw at Skitch. And I think that was a big input to choosing, you know, which idea to work on and ultimately landing on crossbeam. But then there was almost this other level to it like that. A level where Crosby was actually a product that by using it also helps companies increase the stickiness of their products and make those products more valuable. And it does that by basically helping create a go to market layer, which includes retention and account management. On top of all these technology integration is that everybody is building. You know, when you build a tech integration, or you open up an API to your platform, you end up basically opening yourself up to that enormous partnership ecosystem that exists out there especially we see this in b2b SAS right now. But what happens in a lot of companies is that that’s very much a product or a technology decision. And the actual the sales teams, the retention teams, don’t think of that as an opportunity to actually directly drive more deals or increase retention or create more value that might allow for account expansion or Growing ACV, but in reality, it’s probably one of the most powerful and underutilized weapons at the disposal of those teams. They just don’t have the data and the basic that the systems to run and scale all those operations. So what cross beam does is allows you to work with your partner companies where you do have these tech integrations and other partnerships. And systematically, it’s scalable identify when, for example, your sales pipelines overlap, or when maybe your target account list overlaps with the customer list of one of your close partners. And by identifying these things in a safe, secure, trusted environment, where you know that the rest of your data is kept completely private, you can actually build systems and actions around these overlaps, that let you make sure that you never miss an opportunity to upsell a tech integration or you never make the wrong decision about what to hook into your products next in terms of where you make that that integration investment or Never miss a deal where your sales reps and the reps from a company that you’re close with could be collaborating and helping each other win. And that’s at the core of all of that is create more value make your products more sticky, all as a result of collaboration through through partner ecosystems. And I think that’s tied directly into churn and account expansion. It’s a big part of that story.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, that’s super interesting as well, like just thinking about the different use cases of having the knowledge and having those interests you mentioned sort of like retention team customer success, potentially having that knowledge, being able to put together webinars and training sessions. And I think the use cases become very, very interesting. The, the topic of partnerships itself hasn’t really come up much on the show, but I do believe it is a very, very valuable channel and a good way to sort of make your product more sticky and sort of sort of embed yourself further into the users workflow. Do you want to just walk us through like some of the things you see when it comes to general attention and how powerful partnership can be in integrations.

Bob Moore
Yeah, I think when you think about churn problems, in almost all cases, they amount back down to problems with product market fit. You know, there’s been a failure to deliver on whatever the promise was that people signed up for your product within the first place. And in a lot of cases, that is because where the intersection of their needs and your offering has been created, the the overlap there just isn’t high enough to create the kind of value that they need to justify the expense. And, you know, in potentially competitive situations, there’s there’s another option out there that they think like, or that is able to make that ROI calculation a little better. But at the end of the day, building something that is a force multiplier for your clients, and that creates value for them is the number one hands down thing you can do to reduce churn and to increase the size of accounts that you have. So when we think about partnerships through that lens. The question is how can a partnership actually increase product market fit? And the answer is really fascinating because it works on both sides, it works in terms of helping on the product side and on the market side. on the product side, it basically allows your products to become more sticky by hooking it into the fact that they’re using other products. So you know, you can imagine, if you had a partnership with just a, you know, maybe example of a company, everybody knows slack. So, you know, it’s one thing to have a product that creates a lot of value for your customers. It’s another thing to have those customers also inside of the context of slack, be running a slack integration or slack bot that allows them to interact with your product and extract value from it in that environment. You know, when when you have that kind of integration, it not only makes your product more valuable because it’s it’s where your users already are but it also makes slacks product or valuable Because inside the context of that environment, it’s yet another way that people are extracting value for slack. So inherently by doing that, and by having an integration like that one, both sides are benefiting because it means that if someone stops using Slack, then they’re going to miss out on a way they’re getting value from your product. And if someone stops using your product, they’re going to miss out on one of the ways they’re getting value through slack. And what happens is you get this rising tide lifts all ships, mixed metaphors, you get one plus one equals three situation where it is this bi directional value creation that is really profound in nature. And that just makes products more valuable and more sticky. So anyway, that that’s the product side of the product market fit right now. It’s really kind of core to how retention gets driven through collaboration and partnerships. on the market side, you have this opportunity to actually do business development and have the people that are out in your revenue funnel so that means your sales People, your customer success people, your account managers, even your marketers, be enabled by the existence of partnerships as well. And where that comes into plays in the motions that these people actually go through in the process of winning deals, and also, you know, to address churn, kind of focusing on account management and growing accounts. So, with the help of a tool like crossbeam, for example, suddenly your teams are able to know, okay, we’ve built this tech integration, we know that it’s valuable and that it makes each other’s products more sticky. But how do we know that everybody who could be using it is using it, like you can look at your product data and know that 50 people have the slack bot installed or whatever, what you don’t know is whether or not there’s another 500 people out there that already use both of the products but just don’t have that integration with them. And historically, there’s no way to figure out that overlap without oversharing like one side or the other has to give up their whole customer list in order for the other side to do the math and find their overlapping customers. But with something like a crossbeam sitting in the middle, I was acting like an escrow service for data, you can answer that question, how many customers do we have in common? Who are they without needing to worry about the rest of your customer list making it through to the other side. And that could be a tool that gets used by folks that are trying to do account management to, you know, drive the install of different integrations to make the product more sticky. to basically place yourself in that ecosystem where that value that we talked about on the product side actually gets realized. So what’s cool about partnerships is really they make products more valuable, and they make markets more actionable, and they unlock emotions for your sellers and your retainers to go and take. And that I think makes it uniquely powerful in the world of just making your revenue

Andrew Michael
grow. Yeah, I love so much of what you said now, and maybe we can start to unpack a bit of it. So the first part of think which is really interesting, sort of aside the concept of product market fit and how to sort of strengthen that product market fit you have. And I think one of the interesting things as well, that you’re touching on is unlocking and enabling multiple new use cases for your product or service by making having a power up of that sort of one plus one equals three. And I think this is something as well, that’s heavily undervalued. I think when it comes to general attention of really like, it’s one of the most powerful leavers as well, when you can is making an unlocking new use cases. Because if you have a company or a user, using your service in multiple different ways, they become more and more reliant on you for the service. And you gave the example of slack. And I think, ultimately, every business out there today is making slack more powerful when you think about the number of partnerships and integrations that are being built there. I found that very, very interesting. And then the second part was the market side as well. I think that’s also a very important thing. And I think one thing you said, which was key was not only like, Where’s the overlap, but who are these customers that overlap because that can also be a powerful nicad attendance, okay. Is this something we should really building? Do these people fit in Todd, your customer profile that we have this overlap with? And then if yes, I mean, that should be highly prioritize integration that you start working on. Yeah.

Bob Moore
Another example maybe that might just really resonate given the rest of our conversation is, if you think about two companies, like stitch and Looker, for example, as partners, so think about what stitch does helps the day to get where it needs to be. You think about what Looker does sits on top of that data and provides the ability to analyze it. The cool thing about stitch is that product market fit is very real, right? Because if you get rid of stitch other things break, like if you remove stitch if you turned off of stitch, but it was the thing, putting data in your data warehouse, all of a sudden, Looker, which is sitting on top of your data warehouse doesn’t have fresh data anymore. And that’s like the embodiment of right but like making something so sticky that it cannot possibly be removed is that it’s in the value chain. It’s actually In that best in class stack such that other products depend on it. And it depends on other products, and it was almost impossible for people to remove. And then on the market side, what we saw was, you know, Looker, which is this wildly successful business intelligence company would go out and would be selling deals. And sometimes their potential customers didn’t have the right data in their data warehouse yet. So part of them actually closing a deal and then figuring out how to help them get the right data there. And lo and behold, a great option for them was to introduce them to the team and stitch it to say, hey, stitch will solve this problem for you. So you kind of open up this co selling motions co selling channel between these companies that extensively don’t even have a direct tech integration to each other. They both just kind of have the middle. Now, the warehouse has the middleman. But you get this real embodiment of what I’m talking about in that in that case,

Andrew Michael
absolutely. The one empowers the other to get the job done. I think it’s also very interesting from that perspective, and sort of like what you mentioned, now is the And I think this is definitely a theme that’s come up on the show, like when speaking to people that really turn wasn’t such a big issue. It was tended to be those products or services were really, it was a vital part of a workflow there was very, very difficult to be removed. So like in the case of stitch, as you mentioned, like, if you remove stitch, things start to break. Whereas on the flip side, when we think about something like maybe like RJ metrics is that you could remove our geometrics and replace it with something else. And then the switching costs wouldn’t be as high and things wouldn’t necessarily break. You might have less information, but it’s not doesn’t mean that you don’t have information. So how much of this do you see with customers as well, like the example that you gave now of stitch and look like with your platform that you will know the crossbeam? Like, do you see that there’s this power dynamic quite a bit in partnerships where the one is really feeding the other and do you sort of see this as a way as a bargaining chip for companies?

Bob Moore
Yeah, it’s it’s interesting. Because you can obviously name cases where you’ve got a partnership in one parties, it’s significantly bigger than the other. But I would actually say in the majority of our the use cases for customers, that value creation is really, truly bi directional. And I think the reason that it works is because in the case of a big company helping a smaller company, the value is self evident, right? The big company commands a lot of power and attention and influence in network in their ecosystem. And then bestowing some introductions or collaboration on a smaller company is a very easy thing for them to do and an extremely valuable thing for smaller company, when it happens in the opposite direction. It’s not necessarily that that one small company can, you know, really move the needle for the bigger one, but it’s the fact that there are in some cases, hundreds, if not thousands, of small companies that in aggregate actually represent an extremely powerful and sizable contributor of value innovation. You need backup to the big company. So when you when you look at companies like Salesforce or like HubSpot, or like Slack, and you look at their app stores or their app ecosystems, what you see is a really, really long tail of companies that have a lot of cases, you know, look at the bottom 50% of the companies in there, and you probably never heard of any of them, but they’re all real. And they all make those products be days Slack, HubSpot or Salesforce more valuable and more sticky. Because when these these little specific tools get installed, it means that the place where people are going to interact with them is actually those core platforms. And because of that, the big players, the slacks, HubSpot and Salesforce to the world, they love those ecosystems, they cultivate them, they invest in them, they back these developers that are working to build these integrations, because they know the impact that it has on churn and retention. So that the value is really bi directional. There’s the shape is different.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, and I think this is touches on a little bit about the blog posts that I mentioned earlier in the show. So For the listeners is something I think you can find it on Twitter on Bob’s account at the moment. And it’s it’s titled My 2.6 billion ecosystem fail. And RJ metrics post mortem. And I think like the central of the topic is all around it was ecosystem is everything. JOHN to talk us through a little bit about sort of why you believed you made this mistake and how ecosystem is everything?

Bob Moore
Sure, yeah. I think the the root of the reason RJ metrics didn’t sell for $2.6 billion, but our largest competitor did was just kind of the thesis of the article. The biggest input to that after having some time in some business to look at it is how extremely closed off we were to letting the value that we created flow into other systems and make other products more valuable. I think that we were we were not a hub where data Kind of, you know, float in and float out. And everybody benefited like what we’ve been talking about in the rest of this episode, we were more like a terminal. We kind of, you know, we pulled in your data from various sources, we would analyze it for you. But it was kind of like where your data went to die, you know, you got our charts out. And that was it. That was your consumption point. And because of that, there just weren’t that many other people outside of the people that, you know, collecting paychecks from us. And we’re on our team who were motivated to get our product in the hands of their customers in their ecosystem. The fact that somebody used RJ metrics didn’t really help anybody except RJ metrics and the customers of our geometrics. And because of that, we basically shut down this entire potential growth Avenue, which was a big universe of partners, that could have been a larger force multiplier and megaphone for our messaging than anything we ever could have done internally. But I think it was something that was just not not part of the picture. It was because we took with too big of a bite on the technology side and tried to own too much of that technology stack as opposed to playing nicely with other players where the data could have, you know, lived or moved or Urban Health. So I, if you look at Looker, on the contrary, you know, Looker decided to take on a very specific part of that stack. In some ways. Looker was one third of the product that RJ metrics was from a comprehensiveness standpoint, because they didn’t bother trying to build their own data pipelines. They didn’t bother trying to build their own data warehouse. They just were really, really good at business intelligence. And they partnered with everybody for for everything else. And what that meant was two things. One, they built a better business intelligence product, and we did because they could focus all their energy on it, and to they had an army of other companies. In addition to channel sellers and resellers and system integrators and other folks who were out there beating the drum saying lookers amazing, and that provides this ability to scale exponentially that we just never talked to. And I think those things really compounded. You know, again, it’s the product market fit thing, right? They had a far better and wider product market fit, because the product was better. And because the market was more able to disseminate that product due to their work in the ecosystem. So you know that when I say that it was a kind of ecosystem fail on our part. That’s why and then when we got the stitches when our eyes got open to really how real that was, because ironically stitch our next company was a big liquor partner, liquor went from being our worst enemy to our best friend pretty much overnight, because we were, we were playing a different game, and we play that game. You know, we grew faster, we got more sleep at night, and you know, we ended up having a much more lucrative outcome. So that was that was the lesson learned. I think

Andrew Michael
It definitely, it feels like it’s a trend of the time as well. Like if we think about the sort of this concept of walled gardens with ad networks now like getting big kickback and backlash and people wanting to have a little bit more country control over the data and not being locked into sort of a specific system. And in the case of maybe our geometrics is your sort of locked in to the system with the data and with the opposite look at being able to have the flexibility to plug and play and pulling data from every people are really looking now for this not to be tied in not to be held down and to have more control over the data ultimately, of how they use it, how they store it. So it’s an interesting one. So next up, then I it’s a question I ask everyone on the show, and I’d love to have your input on it as well as let’s have a hypothetical scenario now that you start a new role a new job at a company and Turner retention is not doing well at all. And you’ve been tasked now to turn things around for the company. You’ve been given three months and they want to see results. What would be some of the first things you would do within those first 90 days?

Bob Moore
My guess would be that if it has not historically been a priority that there’s a lack of data readily available to really paint a little bit more of a story around what’s going on. And I think a lot of people with churn when they think about data, they think about, you know, let’s let’s build a dashboard or do a cohort analysis, just look at like the numbers. But I actually think, like, the more time goes by the more, it really rings true for me that churn issues, again, are issues that are way more fundamental. They’re way more at the product market fit level, they almost feed up from, like the core vision and positioning of the company. And I think the data that can help support that or help build a case around what to do about it is much, much less structured in a lot of cases. Then just looking at a bunch of transactions and trying to do a cohort analysis of you know, who’s turning off from what cohorts so honestly, my answer would be get on the phone with as many customers as possible. Happy ones, unhappy ones, ones that have turned. And if possible, try and scale that data collection in the form of a, you know, current and past customer survey and create some incentives around collecting that data. And I think really, what you would try to do there is collect a large enough number of data points that you can really put some trend lines together, kind of doing like the five wise style of questioning, right? Like, okay, why did you turn? Well, we went to a competitor, but why did you go to a competitor? Well, we thought they would give us more value. Well, why are you getting more value? Because they had this feature that you don’t Well, why is that feature important to you? And you keep digging down? And ultimately, I think you do unavoidably make your way down to either a product issue or a market issue. Market issues could be things like pricing being way out of whack, or something about the positioning or who you’re selling to, or some execution failure on the part of the delivery team, but more often than not It’s a product issue. And what you’ll actually get down to is the fact that, you know, there’s confidence was lost or faith was lost in the product for some reason, and they didn’t believe that they could get out of the set of issues that they were in. And they thought the best course was just go elsewhere or to have nothing at all. So long winded answer. I don’t know if this was supposed to be the lightning round. But I think what I would go do is collect data and I would just talk to as many customers as humanly possible.

Andrew Michael
Yep. And I think what you’re saying now, as you’re going back to sort of the core of it and really challenging like, does this company have product market fit yet another it’s a problem with product or to problem with the market. I find it very interesting as well, that you touch on the market as well coming being like a very heavily data driven background as well in your past building these different startups. But really, always it comes down to the very beginning of like, do you have that product market fit and potentially there’s a problem with your positioning people not understanding what your product is? Maybe overselling it and under delivering like, or like you said, on the product side that really lacking that confidence or lost it somewhere along the way, and not really fulfilling the use case that they intended to.

Bob Moore
Yeah, or selling into the wrong market to I mean, we learned this at RJ metrics where we initially we were kind of trying to sell it, like anybody who had a website could be an RJ metrics customer. And for her, it was really bad. But when we did an analysis of our term by vertical, we found that when e commerce it wasn’t bad at all, but it was actually really healthy business we had going in e commerce. But we were also trying to sell to SAS companies and gaming companies and publishers and tech companies and all kinds of other stuff. And the churn was brutal in this vertical. So by the time we we got acquired at argit, we had almost entirely narrowed the scope of the business into e commerce, and it made a pretty drastic impact on the reliability of our revenue. And I think is a main part of the reason why we were such an attractive target for magenta, which is obviously an e commerce only player. Yeah,

Andrew Michael
and I think that’s actually a very, very Interesting point, I think it’s something that is not looked at enough in the sense that if somebody looks okay, we have a term problem. And they’re just looking at the high level like aggregated data. And yes, okay, if you’re looking at the numbers like that, you can see the geometry and sometimes more often than not, if you really start to look down and break down your different segments and trying to understand who are these customers, and what does our successful code look like, you can definitely sort of be able to pick up either an industry or a specific demographic or some customer traits that can then go help you out and find more of those customers. What led you to the sort of point we selected? Let’s sort of double down on e commerce sec. What was the research or what was the process look like when in order to make that decision?

Bob Moore
Yeah. A lot of kind of my answer to the last question came into play here where it’s one thing to just look at, okay, turn by vertical, right. And that’s something you can do in a dashboard without talking to humans. It’s another thing when you go a little deeper and you get to asked the question of why did you turn. And I think what we saw was not just that the churn rates were higher in those other verticals, but that the reasons for churning were different. And in a lot of cases, what was happening is that people were just leaving, not just RJ metrics because they didn’t like the product or didn’t get valuable because they had a mental shift in how they wanted to solve this problem, like a fundamental thing where even if RJ metrics was a perfect product, but knocked out of the park and did everything we said we were going to do for them, they still would have left because they didn’t want big monolithic solution. They wanted to buy a data pipeline product of data warehouse and a business intelligence tool and stitch them together themselves. And in that case, we were just not compatible with the market that we were in I think for for b2b SAS companies we were selling into this was really probably the most pronounced the reasons people were leaving were not reasons that we can fix without basically starting an entirely new company was it without ironically is pretty much What we did with with stitch but but for that vertical, I think we just had to shut it down because there was no there was no path to success. Whereas people that were turning in e commerce, they might have turned because they wish we had they were migrating to a new shopping cart and they wish we had an integration for it. Or they found themselves doing more work in Excel and NRJ. And we built some Excel like features and we can address it like that those are iterable incremental products, fixes that can make things better. But in those other verticals, the reasons for turning were so existentially deep that they were on addressable. And that’s why we left those verticals.

Andrew Michael
That’s very interesting. And it touched on something as well similar to what we’ve previously discussed. Is it also that people maybe in the beginning when they come to to solve a specific problem, your product might meet that need to begin with, but then as they start to understand the problem better and understand their business better. They start to realize that potentially this product or service is not what I was actually looking for an alternative. Was this something that you also saw geometrics where people would initially come to you They were meeting their needs. But then as maybe they became a little bit more sophisticated or their game to grow and understanding what they were actually looking for. Then that was at a point in time where you might have initially had that product market fit, but that markets, product market fits definition started to change as well.

Bob Moore
Yeah, I think this comes up, it didn’t happen in RJ and I would say it came up probably the most when the idea of data and big data was really at like the peak of the hype cycle. So there was a point in time there were just the word of the day was data and anybody who is in a, you know, in a business that isn’t focused on their data is missing out. And obviously, that’s become kind of conventional wisdom today, but there was a point where there was hype around it, like in the way that like blockchain and AI are kind of the the buzzwords of the day, you know, at the moment. It was big data and data that kind of captured that Zeitgeist, you know, in that era, you know, 2012 to 2014 ish, so That was great for us because we did data, kind of broadly stated, if a company at large felt like I gotta get in on this data thing, or I am failing, because I’m not doing something in the world of data, we were definitely a way to check that box. But, and we got a lot of leads that just came to us and said, my boss told me we need to be doing more with data. So here I am. But the problem was those people while we could get them on board and close deals and collect some dollars from them, they insured at an inordinately high rate. Because once we gave them the data, which was exactly what we pitched them executives that we were going to do, they had this now what question because they had not operationalize their company in a way that they can actually use the data to do anything, you know, to make decisions to enact actions to change behaviors to influence workflows. They didn’t do any of that. They just went on that, you know, a great hunt to invest some money in something and Jason’s data and the data wasn’t Hot buzzword anymore. They weren’t buying our product anymore. And the onus really fell on us to make sure that they could operationalize our outputs, which was kind of different than what our core product was, which was kind of like, we’re going to give you the answers to your questions, and then you gotta go, you gotta go run your own business with that information.

It was a challenge for real, and just kind of a scope creep of what our responsibility was. Yeah,

Andrew Michael
it’s interesting. I think this came up with episode of Elena Dorfman segment, which I think is maybe competitive, just stitch in some ways. But they also realize similarly that that was a challenge for them. And they actually added friction to the onboarding process, to ensure that the business sort of goals are aligned that a good understanding what they were trying to achieve before they actually went out starting to implement and roll after tool or service. So

Bob Moore
yeah, there are there are very smart company. We’re big fans of those, folks.

Andrew Michael
Cool. So you’ve done this now a few times, built a couple of very successful companies and now you’re on to crossbeam what would be one piece of advice that you would give to an entrepreneur starting out now when it comes to sort of building a company that’s going to retain customers.

Bob Moore
Yeah, I think it really is the old like, know the customer adage, and get in the room with them spend time. You know, even when it feels like you know what they’re going to say, I guarantee you can have, you know, a 30 minute jam session with them. And you’ll come out of there with things that that were not on your mind before. Like, really customer driven development, customer influence roadmap, no matter how strong your vision is. There’s nuance there that I think without customer empathy, you’re you’re going to, you’re going to stumble. So that’s that’s rule number one for me. Why? Because your customers ultimately are the be all end all of whether or not they get retained on your platform and the things that are on their mind. are the things that are potentially connected to all the decision making triggers that might exist for them whether it is meeting a budget for that quarter hitting a goal for that quarter, some other abstracts emotional issue or political issue that’s going on. And having visibility into that not just an individual accounts, being able to spot trends that can allow you to speak the language that creates empathy with those users is just really critical to marrying the product and the market sides of that critical product market fit stuff so I think you can build the best product in the world but if you don’t know that customer you don’t know that market and you’re not gonna be able to position that product in the way that is going to be most conducive to having them stick around.

Andrew Michael
Yeah, I was gonna continue with another three wise to get to the very bottom, but I think you nailed it.

Unknown Speaker
Man, that was

Unknown Speaker
hard.

Andrew Michael
Yeah. Cool. So Bob, do you have anything you want last things you want to leave the audience with kits been a pleasure having you today? But is anything last that you’d like to leave them with? How can they keep up to speed with what you’re doing? or?

Bob Moore
Yeah, I think, definitely check out get crossbeam.com learn more about what we’re up to. It’s a very new type of technology, there’s not really been anything like it before. And we definitely want to raise awareness of it. And, you know, come on sign up, you can get a free account, kick the tires. That’s kind of rule number one and stay in touch with our content, head over to the blog, sign up for the newsletter. We’re doing a lot on all these subjects on a regular basis. And we try to put out really high quality stuff. So we promised that to chunk up your inbox. We’re love talking about this stuff, and we’d love to engage with everybody.

Andrew Michael
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining the show today. It’s been a pleasure having you. And for those listening as well, like as Bob mentioned, make sure to get and check out get crossbeam.com a lot of exciting things happening there. And just thanks a lot for joining.

Bob Moore
Thank you. Great to be here.