Sujan Patel is the Founder of Mailshake, a simple email outreach and sales engagement software. He is also the Managing Director at Ramp Ventures, which buys, partners, and works with SaaS companies on revenue growth, product management, and operations.
Sujan is a veteran SaaS marketing leader with over 16 years of experience. He has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit, and many other Fortune 500 organizations.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Sujan Patel talks about the genesis of Mailshake and what he learned from the early days of business
- Why Sujan transitioned from entrepreneur to employee
- The value of having a partner that complements you
- Tips for successfully running multiple SaaS companies
- What does Ramp Ventures consider when acquiring a company?
- Lessons learned from past acquisitions
- Actionable tactics to make a company sellable
- The go-to-market strategies that drive Mailshake forward
In this episode…
What does it take for a business to succeed in the Saas space?
Sujan Patel has been in the SaaS industry for nearly two decades. He has encountered different challenges, overcame them, and learned valuable lessons. With the wealth of knowledge and experience he has gained in this space, Sujan now buys and partners with SaaS companies to help them scale and grow in revenue. Tune in to learn how you can also thrive in the SaaS world.
Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz as he welcomes Sujan Patel, the Founder of Mailshake and Managing Director of Ramp Ventures. Sujan shares tips for successfully running multiple SaaS companies, lessons from past acquisitions, actionable strategies to make a company sellable, and more!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz
- Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age by Porter Gale
- Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top by Bo Burlingham
- “Automation Solutions with Wade Foster Founder of Zapier”
- “Pipedrive: Brain Surgery, Married, & Moved Company from Estonia to U.S. All at Once – with Urmas Purde [Inspiration]”
- “The Impact of Automation and Email Marketing with Tom Kulzer Founder of AWeber”
- “Putting the Customer Experience First with Jason VandeBoom Founder of ActiveCampaign”
- “Leading with Passion with Gino Wickman Founder of EOS Worldwide”
Sponsor for this episode
At Rise25, we’re committed to helping you connect with your Dream 100 referral partners, clients, and strategic partners through our done-for-you podcast solution.
We’re a professional podcast production agency that makes creating a podcast effortless. Since 2009, our proven system has helped thousands of B2B businesses build strong relationships with referral partners, clients, and audiences without doing the hard work.
What do you need to start a podcast?
When you use our proven system, all you need is an idea and a voice. We handle the strategy, production, and distribution – you just need to show up and talk.
The Rise25 podcasting solution is designed to help you build a profitable podcast. This requires a specific strategy, and we’ve got that down pat. We focus on making sure you have a direct path to ROI, which is the most important component. Plus, our podcast production company takes any heavy lifting of production and distribution off your plate.
We make distribution easy.
We’ll distribute each episode across more than 11 unique channels, including iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We’ll also create copy for each episode and promote your show across social media.
Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve got Sujan Patel, he is the founder of Mailshake. And also we’re going to talk about Ramp Ventures as well. Sujan before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast. And since this is part of the SaaS series, you check out the one I did with the founder of Zapier, that was an interesting one. And also Pipedrive. I remember, I think they, Sujan, had 10,000 customers when I interviewed them, I think they have over 100,000 now, and we were talking about your website, it says 49,000 plus for Mailshake. But that needs to be updated to over 60,000. So and Aweber Active Campaign and many more, check those out at inspiredinsider.com. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run their podcasts we do strategy, accountability, and full execution and Sujan for me, we’ve known each other I was looking back in our email threads since 2015. We’ve been communicating and for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. And I know the same as with you, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that in the profile that people and companies I most admire and have them on the podcast. So if you’ve thought about it, you should give questions go to rise25.com and learn more. And we have Sujan Patel, he’s managing partner Ramp Ventures. And they’re the makers and owners of Mailshake right inbox and so many more sales and marketing SaaS companies. Sujan, thanks for joining me.
Sujan Patel 2:10
Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m excited. I can’t believe we’ve known each other for like eight years now.
Jeremy Weisz 2:14
2015, it was content marketer.io. And you were doing I think gingers across the nation.
Sujan Patel 2:23
Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, that was an interesting time. So that’s Mailshake originally started off as content marketer IO. So long story short, I started to build a solution to a problem I had, which is outreach as a marketer, to like other partners, podcast guests, all sorts of use cases. But when we built the product, the folks that like, loved it, and then told their friends and like, just grew like, wildfire was the sales customer, because the sales rep would jump in and like, oh, this is awesome. I don’t even need to tell anybody how to do it. Like, there’s only one path forward. And so okay, well, content marketers a really bad name for a sales tool, right. And we definitely don’t do content. It’s not for content marketers anymore. So we rebranded to Mailshake.
Jeremy Weisz 3:16
I love it. Even going back a little bit, you had a successful marketing agency, and you were basically doing the marketing driving trafficking and acquiring helping these companies acquire customers TaskRabbit Mint, talk about the marketing agency and what you learn there that you bring to the SaaS companies.
Sujan Patel 3:40
Yeah, so the agency started with single grain kind of did that, like, 05 to 2013 and 13. It was it was good. I mean, I think no, knowing what I know now, um, how I operate companies. I did everything wrong, which like, first-time founder, like two major exports. Not enough managers. I was doing too much myself. Right. Under invested in like the finance department. And so like, didn’t have really a way to forecast stuff out. So we’re selling stuff for certain prices. And then when we scaled it, like made us less money. And so if I just had a part-time, CFO, that just telling me like, hey, stupid, that’s a bad idea. And here’s why. I would have been like, wouldn’t have done that, right. So we just were charging too little, and that it would work to get enterprises anyways. Lots of stuff. But during my process there, we’ve helped what we were really good at was marketing, not running the business of a marketing agency. So I knew how to build marketing teams, and they’re very effective, as well as cost-effective. And so we work with all types of companies, e-commerce, SaaS, digital, like publications, you name it. And what I realized I got a front-row seat to see all different types of business models, and then how they panned out over the course of like, seven, eight years. And just like the trend that has happened in tech over the last years, two decades, is that like, software’s kind of eating the world, like, and so these companies that work with like, Mint, they were acquired, and like, ridiculous exit value, very quick growth, and the LTV just kept growing. And so I was like, all right, I need to be on the other end of the economics of this. And so I brought on a COO, but you sold him the business, and pretty much the whole time I was running this company, I wanted to get the hell out of it. Okay, so like, that’s the backstory is like day one, this company can generate revenue. I don’t want to do this forever. Let’s go find other stuff. And so I think my partner and I spun off maybe three or four different random companies like he created like a publishing, while, like, he worked with publishers and bloggers, essentially, and create a product offering for them. And then they use that to create revenue. And so me eventually kind of divested from SEO grant and kind of went and did that. And we did a couple affiliate sites, like, we did some exact match domain stuff, lead gen, like lead gen and stuff was my background, I knew how to drive traffic, I knew how to get leads, and I knew how to generate revenue from those leads, but I didn’t know what software okay, what’s a product? Like, how does that work? Right? And I was like, honestly, that was like, I was like, 23. And that’s how naive I was. I was like, What’s a product, like, You mean, like a physical product, you know, so like, software was really a new concept. And so I sold the business, took a job, moved to Minnesota, as an SF and moved to Minnesota, crazy move really cold, I was really bored. And actually, my wife and I were doing long distance at that time. And so due to the extreme boredom, going from entrepreneur to an employee, I went to join one of my clients, early-stage SaaS company that just raised a Series A, that actually protected the A and then eventually, like, joined as an employee, as a head of marketing. So effectively as like the number three person there, and running sales and marketing. And what was really marketing as hydrogen marketing, and then eventually, like, seeded into writing sales and like, really driving product as well. And why goal that I joined as an employee, I’m going to be here through for five years to learn how to run a SaaS company, no marketing, no sales, like kind of no sales, but not sales for SaaS, don’t know customer support, no product. And effectively, in six months, I kind of figured out enough to like, let me just take a stab at it. And that’s kind of 2015 and that was where lots of marketer Mailshake was born.
Jeremy Weisz 3:48
Talk about how hard was it for them to recruit you? Right, going from entrepreneur to now you’re employee? And also you’re going from San Francisco to Minnesota, it doesn’t seem like it easy sell.
Sujan Patel 8:21
No, it definitely wasn’t an easy sell. I think it was at the same time I had other like clients and other people. And I probably took the wrong opportunity. There was a small company in the Bay Area in SF, that offered being a director of marketing role. There was no one on above that director. So it’s the same thing, right? But they ended up six to 12 months later exiting to Microsoft. And I calculated the shares and then now like, I missed a $4 million opportunity for under a year. Right. So yeah, definitely kicking my butt.
Jeremy Weisz 9:01
What made you choose the opportunity that you had over that one at the time? I mean, looking back it may seems obvious obviously the time it’s not what made you choose the one that you chose?
Sujan Patel 9:11
The goal was based off of what my objective was, which was to learn how to run and start and run a software company. So the CEO of the company I joined was a product-driven CEO and very strong and product and UX and all those things that honestly like I was super weak at and so to me, it was like small enough company where I can be involved like learn about the other parts of the mark-up everything but marketing to where I get as much FaceTime with the founders. And I did I was effectively going to dinner and like when I joined, it was like maybe 20 people and took that not my own doing. It was a product sales marketing kind of collaboration with two tech companies with 1 million ARR to about 13 or so million before when I left. And those dinners that we met or when we talked about those or dinners I was actually doing around the US was to meet other VP of marketing. Second back, though my role, the hard part about leaving a company you invest in is you’re putting your investment at risk if you leave, right. And so company was doing well, growing fast, and I was like, who the heck is crazy enough to come to Minnesota, they same problem and who the heck is going to leave wherever they’re at and moved to Minnesota. And I didn’t believe we tried really hard, I didn’t believe that talent was really great for a startup in Minnesota. So Minnesota actually has a whole lot of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul have a whole lot of marketing agencies, but their enterprise or like larger, like, they don’t translate well to early-stage startup, or they’re working at Best Buy target. And I’m like, we cannot have that energy they will not fit in, we will get stuff done too slowly. And so these marketing dinners, I did more a way to connect with other folks. I’d go to Boston, I just went to all the best cities with marketing, folks. I just said, hey, let’s get together a little did people know secretly interviewing them? Just see who I would want to have coffee with the next day? To see what would present this offer to. But anyways, yeah, that was kind of the goal that dinners and honestly, it was also a way for me to connect with other marketers see what everyone’s doing. And like, the whole, like, Never Eat Alone book, big fan of that, you know, Your Network Is Your Net Worth. And that was all those folks that connected with, I’d say 70 80% of I still connect with like, I’m still in communication frequently. And I’ve made a measurable impact on my life, whether it was like, oh, like some work, a conversation we had or advice they gave me or something down the road that manifested into employee-employer relationship or whatever.