Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz 15:15 

What’s cool about this, I find, obviously, there’s a lot of benefits from a company, but from a it’s very sticky, right? Like, if I do a starter plan, Nalin, like, I’m never going to take it off my site. I mean, most likely, like, it’s there. So it’s very interesting. What are some use cases for it says, obviously you could do unlimited demos. What are some of the ways they use your product? Like, yeah, and we can maybe look at a few. There’s a customer Showcase tab, so if you’re looking at the video, but like a company doing more than one Storylane demo, what are they using it for?

Nalin Senthamil 15:55 

Yeah, no. There are multiple use cases. So definitely you will see them marketing. Then within sales, pre-sales and customer success, so broadly right. Now, within marketing, if you look, start drilling down, there is, again, like you have many different use cases. One is people using a top of the funnel. They call it like people coming to your website, like how you are in my website, seeing what it is. People drive this as a lead capture, getting the intense signals and telling people who’s on the website. So people get intense signals today who is visiting your website, but it’s even more engaging.

Hey, somebody from this company was spending like half 30 seconds, one minute on your demo. So those kind of data points become very important. Marketing loves the data, because they’re all about like, qualified people coming in. So big driver on marketing, top of the funnel, and within marketing, running campaigns. How do you upsell? How do you do account expansion? You want to show your product, core of everything b2b SaaS is all about showing the product. So now, as you start thinking about showing the product, marketing is all about showing the product. Best way to attract upsell and through campaigns and account expansions. ABM campaigns becomes very important within that. Now, when you say sales teams comes in.

So sales teams have like, when you talk about, like, custom demo POCs that you want to put together with your prospects as they’re engaging more down in the funnel, you really want to have custom versions that you can show it to your champions, enable them. So that’s another place where we plug in actually, and people see a huge value within Storylane to create customized versions of demos itself. And customer success. Customer Success is again coming on to onboarding. If you go to a documentation pages, you get lot of text data, but now you want to visual. So you want to actually know how something works. And that’s another place where people use this as well. So multiple use cases that way, and what we see and to drive leads all the way.

Jeremy Weisz 17:42 

Yeah, I could see that when people have different types of product, they want to put those on display, so they’ll have different demos for the different types of product they may have within their company. Talk a little bit about the, when we were looking at the pricing for a second, how you decided on what to include in the different stages, I can see, obviously, in this stage the starter, there’s video, right? So I don’t know if you found you got feedback and that was kind of more popular, and maybe it takes more energy and time from the team to build that and why you included things in different stages here?

Nalin Senthamil 18:26 

Sure, definitely. I think the reason in the starter, let me talk about starter. So we included, I mean, not just the video part of it from the capture. So there are two parts to it, right? You will see like, one is unlimited demos, letting them once you’re a paid service we support comes with that to help you go live with the demos as well. So you can build more than one demo, plus how you capture the demos instead of screens, we can mix it up with videos as well, and it’s just more capabilities and functionalities within them, so that they’re able to showcase more dynamic content within that right, not just static ones. Now the other things is, analytics becomes important. People need data. People need information. Who is viewing it. Those signals become important. All of those come with a paid version starter one. Now, when you look at the growth, the growth…

Jeremy Weisz 19:10 

Just talk about that for one second. So with the lead capture, collect potential leads directly from the demo. Does that mean it will redact if someone goes on from their IP address or whatever, it will actually collect their email and data into your system?

Nalin Senthamil 19:28 

Correct so we take the email information like you can actually add a form like ours don’t have it, so some of the demos have it. So what it gives you is like a lowest user, while they’re interacting to fill in their email contact information, everything passes them directly to your CRM or marketing stack that you have of record. So it’s a great way to capture leads. And you capture leads through book, a demo, or through eBooks. Like, how many people go to eBooks and put your lead right? How many of them are really engaging? So you really get engaged, high quality leads because people looking at your demo.

Jeremy Weisz 19:59 

So like in this example. Now, like you could some people go, hey, check out the demo. And they’d make someone put in their email first, and then it would take them to the demo itself.

Nalin Senthamil 20:10 

That is correct. And then that lead comes to you for sales to qualify them. Yeah, yep. Okay, yeah. And you, you also see the buyer reveal, which is also a paid version, even if somebody didn’t put the email, but we still tell you which company they are from. Just based on IP data, we are able to provide you information which account, which company they’re engaging. So that’s another part…

Jeremy Weisz 20:31 

That’s pretty cool. So they could reach out to that company and say, hey, we saw you. Look at our demo, right? Or start, we have a secret magic that allowed us to see who you are, right?

Nalin Senthamil 20:46 

And I think people do that using people visiting websites, right? You know who is visiting websites, but now you get a lot of noise people visiting websites, but you get really good quality when they’re visiting demos. So, you want some kind of filtering, which is high intent. So this qualifies more into a high intent for all of our customers today.

Jeremy Weisz 21:04 

Great. Then, why did you include some of the elements in the growth?

Nalin Senthamil 21:09 

Yeah, absolutely. In the growth, you will see the capture itself is different. One is not just a screenshot, but you can actually capture your front end, clone of your product, the HTML. So what I mean by that is like, so let’s say you have your sandbox, your application definitely a lot more sales use case comes with this, the growth one. I don’t have a demo environment. I need to have a sandbox that I want to share with the prospects. Now you want to replicate what your sandbox looks like, so we allow you to clone that environment quickly by clicking through your product.

So now you have a custom version of your demos of your sandbox environment that you can share with different prospects, different segments as well. So that’s what comes with the growth gear. So now with growth gear, you get not just putting something on your website, but you also can get something like allows your sales team to share it as a sandbox experience. Now with that comes editing capabilities, lot of customization capabilities as well. I want to change the logo of what I have, an environment to my customer logo. I want to change the names to have those capabilities here, personalizing.

Jeremy Weisz 22:07 

When you did the demo day, how did that go for you? I know there’s investors in the crowd, right? You’re doing the demo. What was the result of your demo day?

Nalin Senthamil 22:23 

In YC, Demo Day, typically demo days are very short in YC, because a lot of large batch of companies go through it. A demo day went well. So we did use our product like a demo on the screen quickly to show what the demo day was as well, of course. And then the demo day went well. So I think after the YC demo day is when we raised our seed capital, actually, so seed round as well, through angels and investors, so we raised close to 1.5 in seed so, and then not a big round, but enough we know what is important for us to take us to the next page. So it was good. So that’s what happened after the demo day.

Jeremy Weisz 23:02 

Talk about getting your first clients,

Nalin Senthamil 23:06 

Yeah, and getting the first customers, since we’re in YC network batch, so we had another batch, like 300 people in the company. So first thing, what you do is, like, goes talk to other people in the companies where the batch sell them, right? This is great.

Jeremy Weisz 23:21 

So everyone is buying each other stuff.

Nalin Senthamil 23:24 

I think the one thing you should they’re all startups. They’re all raising capital at this point, right? So I think we spent enough time there, and then realized this is probably not the right set of people, because startups are only going to be using it free. The cool tool, great. I’ll use it for free, right? And we realized, like, okay, great. Now we need to start selling it to customers who are in our growth tier. Because when we started out, we started with the growth tier and the plan that we saw with HTML, cloning sandbox, so getting those first set of customers was it’s always any or any going out and selling it comes with two few things, right? Email, outbound, reach out as many as you can, personalizing it.

LinkedIn, so me and my co-founder did at least like each day, like 30 each. So we did a lot of that, and then, so that’s how we landed up the first set of customers. I mean, this was even not after, even before having a product. We were doing this because you need to know what you’re building so you’re constantly doing so by the time we had it, we had some people identified who was ready to get into a trial at the point.

Jeremy Weisz 24:21 

What was the first milestone customer for you?

Nalin Senthamil 24:25 

I think our first milestone customer for us was like, it was a YC companies, some of them who I don’t know, so some startups who are first five customers itself. But for us, the milestone that we were tracking is like, typically in YC demo day, you start tracking with your where you are in your MRR, ARR and everything. So for us, it was all about like getting the first 10 customers, then the 100 customers, and that’s our milestone around it. And then today, we are able to empower like, 1000 plus customers using these demos in either in some form, or that’s how we measure it. Each year, we put some milestone. Around like number of customers, along with that, like how our growth looks from ARR perspective. So 2021, we ended the year close to two to three months around, like, 10 to 15 customers. That’s basically where we were.

Jeremy Weisz 25:14 

What about, I’m gonna share my screen here, and maybe you can talk about one of these. I don’t know, we say it’s near and dear to your heart, but maybe, like, one we can demo here that is a fan favorite any and I had the people at FCM rush on the podcast. But any of these that stick out, like this was a milestone for you as a client customer.

Nalin Senthamil 25:43 

I think the first one — Gong was a milestone. I would say, they came on board. Gong is a big brand around it as well. And then so Gong, I think they, if you go to the gongs website, there’ll be a lot of demos as well. I mean,, directly. And then what you will see is like they drive huge amount of leads again through this. And you just saw the pop-up right when people are on the websites viewing the demos. They drive engagement through this and capture leads as well. So Gong was one of the big drivers for us, as well. And then, if you go to product page, I think, yeah. And then as you scroll through it, you’ll see it actually there, yeah, product store on the top.

Take a product tour, yeah, yeah, there you go. So, basically, yeah, so they’re getting it, so essentially you will have to fill in the information to try it out as well. So Gong was one of the milestone definitely, and because they were one of the very early enterprise, big brand customer that came to us, Gong. And I would say the second one was Nutanix. Nutanix is a public company, and then the challenge for Nutanix was also they were one of the early ones. When you go in, they have a test drive in their website when you go to Nutanix. So they run clusters on their websites, right? So spinning up these clusters was so hard for them, because it cost them money to spin up clusters when somebody wants to try it or sandbox it. So they had a way for people to use Storylane to spin up those instances. But again, they’re also gated, so they want your information, and then you will get to do it.

So for them, the biggest driver was like, hey, how do I run different use cases without having to spin up these clusters every time, but sure, showcase what this will look like through Storylane. So those are a couple of milestones. You could look at it from a customer perspective that you’re seeing here. Definitely, those are initial ones.

Jeremy Weisz 27:47 

I could see, really, this is huge for a sales team, because they want to show people the product and step them through it, right? And so this allows someone actually to step through an actual demo because, I mean, someone could do a video, but it doesn’t quite take them around specific steps, like yours does, and yours also can incorporate video as well, right?

Nalin Senthamil 28:13 

That is correct. We can incorporate videos as well inside the demos.

Jeremy Weisz 28:18 

Talk about just learnings from the first SaaS company, and what you bring to this one because of learnings or mistakes or whatever you made with Kinderlime?

Nalin Senthamil 28:32 

Yeah, no, absolutely so with Kinderlime, I think one of the things that I learned is we were a remote company even with Kinderlime. So it’s not like Covid made us remote. So we learned about being remote even in Kinderlime. We’ve been efficient in capital, how we built the company as well that time, and we’re a remote team. Definitely, when we moved into Storylane, I think Covid made everybody being remote. For us, it was like as an extension what we have done before. And naturally we moved into remote, right? And we’ve learned about how to optimize, to work through the remote environments as well with the team, as you scale through it. So that’s definitely something — even today we are remote, and we are excited about it, and it brings lots of benefits to it as well for us.

So that’s one thing, and in terms of lessons learned, I mean things that we definitely doing differently from what we’ve done before, is even before Kinderlime, I was in a company, DAQRI, so that was very tech, and I focused more on tech, less on product marketing. Now, after DAQRI, I definitely learned tech is great, but product is more important at the right time. So we focus a lot on product. With Kinderlime, definitely I’ve learned this product is great. Tech is great. You need to focus on GTM and go to market and marketing around it. So definitely we’re doing those things better today. And every startup, you’re learning some things you know, you think you know them. And definitely we’re doing a lot better. So one of the reasons for us to build a little brand around it to get to these 1,000 customers quickly. So we’re definitely taking hyper-focus. On those things.

Jeremy Weisz 30:00 

Now, what did you learn from the acquisition process with Kinderlime?

Nalin Senthamil 30:07 

Kinderlime, I mean in terms of learning. So we sold it to a PE firm, and then it’s a PE firm Warburg, in the Bay Area. So we sold it to them. So the reason why we also sold it at that point was basically like, we are in edtech space. And we didn’t feel like this is a space that has a market that can continue to grow at the speed in which can grow. Edtech is always like 10 years behind in general tech, right? So they need it, and then they adopt to it. So that was one of the things, and we were efficient enough not to raise more capital around it.

So, be sure, like, hey, we got to a scale and then sold it to another company. The acquisition was great, and then with the parent company, and then in those two years, kind of lock in, and then where we wanted to stay and integrate this as a SaaS platform and offering within the parent company. So I think for us, financially, it was beneficial to take some time off think about the next company, you know, and all of that definitely helped us. But overall, it sets you up thinking about like, hey, what else you want to build out right into the space? That’s something that you get clarity more.

Jeremy Weisz 31:21 

For a founder that sold like you, what advice do you have for a founder? Now, let’s say they come to you like nail and I just sold. What should I do differently? Or what did you learn from that time between when you sold and starting your next one?

Nalin Senthamil 31:40 

So most important thing we learned about it is having the optionality when you’re building a company. I mean, founders, right? Forgive it. To founders, it’s more about like people talk about, like the best, the best, unicorns. Yes, you got to, you need to know the gut when you are ready for it, to shoot for it. But then investors, it’s a probability game, right? They invest in hundreds. They want one to be successful as a founder, you’re spending your decade into it. Having options is very, very important, right? One thing, what does it mean?

It means like having raising the right amount of capital, getting into profitability, being efficient around what you’re doing, spend on what you need to spend, don’t spend on anything else becomes very, very important. People learned it through the COVID times. But definitely that is something it’s even before COVID, we’ve been very ingrained in our minds. So I mean, but that’s something that I would recommend for everybody, and to keep that always so that you have your options when you need to know what you need to do, like exit out of it at this point.

Jeremy Weisz 32:38 

What do you wish you would have known in that process, when selling to a PE company?

Nalin Senthamil 32:49 

I wish, I mean, the biggest thing is like, I wish I knew how efficiently we could have done even marketing and something we always felt like a marketing means a lot of capital you need. But there is efficient marketing that can be done and that always makes it like you don’t have you can, you can continue to grow efficiently, right? Efficient marketing. So that’s something that I learned. I mean, like we do this today, a lot more efficiently.

Jeremy Weisz 33:19 

Will be an example that now that you do that you would deem more efficient marketing that you weren’t doing at the previous company.

Nalin Senthamil 33:29 

Yeah, no, I think it’s just everything that you’re doing, be it from paid ads, Google ads, whatever you’re running, it being very hyper-focused about it being like, drilling down into like details about like, what really people search for, where is the highest intent. Don’t be very broad. Be very detailed. Once it works. Start doubling down, right. So until then, be close to it, right. Don’t step away from those things. That is one big lesson I learned, and we do that a lot efficiently. So I mean, we have sales teams, three, four people at this point in the team, and who’s doing the go-to motions as well. Still very small, 40 people. But what we do is like, I still talk to customers.

I do the demos again, going back into, how do I take that and put it into marketing? It’s very important to hear it. Lot of little inefficiencies. We feel like, hey, we can just drive through capital. But there are some data points that you can pick and insert those kind of knowledge back into your LinkedIn profiles or back into your email campaigns and running things so that you’re running more thought leadership content, rather than just more like a gimmicky content.

Jeremy Weisz 34:36 

So really focus in on the highest intent, not just to get a bunch of eyeballs or even free users, but the people you think that will get the most value from your product and obviously pay you. What did the hiring look like? So you get an infusion of investment. You’ve decided, where do we deploy this capital, what do you decide as far as the hiring process and what team members you brought on?

Nalin Senthamil 35:09 

So we’re close to 40, and we’ve hired everybody’s remote. So for me, hiring, I mean, learned from previous companies and from 10 years back, is like I have a framework in which I mentioned to people, like, very simple framework when you hire people and at different stages, right? I mean, like, one of the things about startups is like, you need to have a simple — it works for you. So it’s work. So for me, it is more like there are two axes. You look at it, hey, there is a skill today. They can do this job. As a company grows, can they expand their skill set? Number one, next is, of course, the most important thing in a startup is like, can they get things done independently, right?

So those are the two qualities, and both of this needs to constantly increase for anybody you hire, because they’ll become like stale a year from now, because, as a company, you’re growing, but you need to make sure this person can grow. It’s not about getting a sales guy writing engineering code tomorrow. It’s about getting a sales guy. Can he expand Himself to go sell from mid-market to enterprises? Can he has the skills a little bit? So that’s what it is about. And for me, that is very, very important. And we hire always with that criteria in mind. This is always what I look for. And once they tick that box, they have an efficiency to learn a lot of new skills. That’s great. So it’s worked definitely in the previous company. Definitely, that’s the framework I look for itself.

Jeremy Weisz 36:27 

How do you evaluate that someone can expand their skill set in that hiring process? Because it’s really, I mean, it’s tough, it’s tough to hire. It’s tough to know.

Nalin Senthamil 36:37 

It is. It’s very high. So the simple thing to find out is, like, understanding, like, Hey, this is what you’re supposed to do in your in your role currently, like to understand, like, do they know? Are they successful in the role? It’s very simple things. You’ll be surprised. A lot of people don’t know, are you successful in your role? What’s your measure of success? What’s the goal KPI? Did you go and ask your boss or your mentor, like, what does this look like for me from a year from now, right? The second thing is, like a lot of people actually don’t know. They feel like they’ve done a great job, but does it impact to move the needle in the company? What is it impacted? Right?

They don’t know those details, so that, to me, tells me like they care about what they’re doing, and in order to impact they’re ready to learn a few things to get that impact. So simple ways like that to understand and asking those questions and also finding out, like, hey, what other additional things that they learned right, apart from what the role did, did you go and impact in other places? Right? Those are the ways. But again, it’s not easy, but talking, having those conversations, understanding what they have done in their career definitely gives that.

Jeremy Weisz 37:40 

What are some valuable, along your journey, you’ve probably had different mentors. They could be colleagues also, who are some of the mentors in business for you, and some of the advice they’ve given you?

Nalin Senthamil 37:59 

Mentors is like, I take, firstly, I read a lot, not I want to read. There’s a lot of content on the internet. So basically, like, for me, it is all about, like, always consume as much content as possible, be it whenever you’re not working or doing things, just consume as much content as possible. So the mentors and people I get inspired through is like people I’ve worked around with itself employees, because it comes from them, because they have shared some important, great conversations about it as well. My co-founder, Akash, so I’ve known him for like, seven, eight years. Great person around it. So I’ve learned a lot from the previous company as well.

And what we’re building as well comes with a completely different demeanor compared to what I do. And I look back into my DAQRI days and Amazon days, there have been my bosses who have inspired me to go into a tech world as well, in Amazons and DAQRIs. And the DAQRI CEO definitely is one of them that I’ve looked up in terms of looking ahead into vision. Brian Mullins as well there. So these are some of the people that I have inspired, directly and indirectly to help me drive right, at least, to think about like tech and product building itself.

Jeremy Weisz 39:10 

You mentioned resources, and I don’t know if you have any book recommendations, like some of your favorites that you’ve read throughout the years.

Nalin Senthamil 39:19 

There are few I’ve read, but I think what I consume more today is content on the internet. Less books, more like because fast short-form in a way of content. And then that could be podcast series, or that could be like content that you just surfing through the internet, right? There’s so much like news, articles, products and everything, so, pretty much that. And in terms of book definitely, a lot of books are on leadership books, effective leaderships and other books have definitely gone through it. Podcast that I like, I listen a lot now, is like All In. I mean, that’s a good way for me to spend the time, I spend time on, I wish the content is definitely less.

A little smaller, but there’s a lot of conversation goes in, but I pick and choose within that as well, and those are the ones I love to listen and then I’m more into geopolitics Now. It’s just like to distract myself from the startup world. I am very fascinated with geopolitics, what’s happening around the world from the time the wars have started. So for the last one and a few years, I listened to a lot on geopolitics, how things work, yeah.

Jeremy Weisz 40:25 

Any other favorite, like business or leadership-related podcast besides All In? Or is that the main one?

Nalin Senthamil 40:32 

I mostly spend time on All In, yeah, the podcast itself, yeah.

Jeremy Weisz 40:39 

Go ahead.

Nalin Senthamil 40:39 

I was just saying, because All In helps me think about like outside the startup world, right? Startups in general, around like the economy itself. So that’s probably what my fascination goes more into.

Jeremy Weisz 40:51 

Nalin, and I just want to be the first one to thank you. Thanks for sharing your journey, your story and some of the lessons learned. I want to encourage people to check out, to learn more and check out more episodes of the podcast, and we’ll see everyone next time. Nalin, thanks so much.

Nalin Senthamil 41:11 

Thank you. Thanks for having me.