Software Sales Tips by Matt Wolach

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Scale Your SaaS

Ways to Overcome Startup Challenges – with Luca Zambello

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

The Power of Customer-Centricity

One pivotal lesson learned was the paramount importance of customer success. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and engagement, the company transformed dissatisfied users into brand ambassadors. Implementing a robust brand ambassador program fueled organic growth through word-of-mouth referrals, underscoring the significance of building a loyal customer base.

Lessons Learned: Reflections on the Journey

Reflecting on the tumultuous journey, Luca imparted invaluable insights for aspiring software founders and leaders. Emphasizing the need for realism amidst optimism, he stressed the importance of transparent communication and laser-focused problem-solving. Identifying the ideal customer profile early on and delivering instant value were highlighted as key drivers of success in the competitive startup landscape.

Final Thoughts: Navigating the Road Ahead

While the startup path may be fraught with challenges and uncertainties, it is through resilience, adaptability, and unwavering dedication that startups carve their mark in the annals of innovation. With each twist and turn, founders continue to rewrite the narrative of entrepreneurship, transforming dreams into reality, one milestone at a time.

TOP QUOTES

Luca Zambello

[07:11] “The journey from initial product-market fit to achieving market dominance is both exhilarating and challenging, marking the transition from exploration to exploitation.”

[10:52] “Navigating the mid-stage requires strategic focus, alignment among teams, and personal growth from its leaders.”

Matt Wolach

[09:56] “A sharply focused strategy, grounded in understanding the target market and ideal customer, is crucial for success in the mid-stage of software company growth.”

[16:03] “Founders transitioning through the mid-stage must be open to personal growth and self-awareness, seeking feedback and adapting their leadership styles accordingly.”

LEARN MORE

To learn more about Jurny, visit: https://www.jurny.com/company 

You can also find Luca Zambello on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucazambello/ 

For more about how Matt Wolach helps software companies achieve maximum growth, visit https://mattwolach.com.

Head over to leadfeeder.com and sign up for a 14-day (no strings attached) free trial: https://www.leadfeeder.com/ 

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Check out the whole transcript of the episode here:

Matt Wolach  00:10

Running a software company. There’s so many different things that can be thrown at you in so many different challenges. You have to face hurdles you have to overcome. It’s so frustrating sometimes. And a lot of times we don’t know how to get over some of those hurdles or how to face those challenges and what to do. Well, Luca, he’s the CEO of Jurny. And he started this thing and they had some definite challenges early and he shares exactly what they went through and how they overcame it. I think a lot of this is going to apply to many of you out there. So if you’re facing some of these same startup challenges that everybody’s facing, Luca walks you through exactly what they did to gain success. So check this out.

 

Intro/ Outro  00:48

Welcome to Scale Your SaaS, the podcast that gives you proven techniques and formulas for boosting your revenue and achieving your dream exit brought to you by a guy who’s done just that multiple times. Here’s your host, Matt Wolach.

 

Matt Wolach  01:04

Hello, and welcome to Scale Your SaaS. Thank you very much for joining us. I am Matt, I am your host and I am delighted that you are here. By the way, if this is your first time here, what we do is we help you understand how to do exactly that how to scale yourself through great lead generation awesome ways of closing deals, and incredible opportunities to scale your team. If you want any of those things, definitely hit the subscribe button right now that way you’ll be notified of any new episodes and you’ll be able to level up with us and one of the amazing guests that we have for you today are the amazing guests that’s going to be one of them along our entire season is Luca Zambello, Luca is with me and this guy is a rockstar, Luca, how’re you doing today?

 

Luca Zambello  01:45

I’m great. Thank you for having me.

 

Matt Wolach  01:48

Absolutely, thank you for being here. Let me make sure everybody knows who you are Luca. So Luca, he’s the CEO and co founder of Jurny and as a leader in the SaaS space, particularly in transforming the hospitality industry through AI. Luca has been featured in Forbes, entrepreneur, Bloomberg and other major industry publications journey. This thing is a cutting edge technology company dedicated to revolutionising the hospitality industry. By making AI automation and other complex technologies easily accessible and manageable. This company journey, it was born out of the desire to create a powerful, easy to use tool that would address the challenges faced by hospitality businesses from small single Airbnb management companies, boutique hotels, to large scale vacation rental companies. So when it comes to tech, when it comes to growing a company and how to help, especially his industry, the hospitality industry, Luca knows his stuff. And I’m delighted that he’s here. So Luca, thank you so much for coming on the show.

 

Luca Zambello  02:44

Yeah, thank you for having me. And thanks for the great intro.

 

Matt Wolach  02:48

Yeah, you’re welcome. It’s awesome to be able to talk to you so. So tell me, what have you been up to lately? And what’s coming up for you?

 

Luca Zambello  02:55

Yeah. A lot. I think like whenever you have a start up, there’s like so many things to do. Like, you always have those goals that you want to achieve. But then there’s always new targets and new things that you have to do. The grind never stops. In my head, and maybe many other entrepreneurs that you think you have a you’re going to arrive to a stage in, which is like little less of a grind. But I don’t know as it happened to me yet. So I’m curious to see if I ever get to that point. And I have a feeling they want.

 

Matt Wolach  03:36

It’s funny, the journey and one of the things that I always laugh about with my startups is every day it’s such a roller coaster, and something good happens and you think, Oh, we’re gonna be super rich, and then something bad happens. You’re like, let’s shut it down. It is not going to work. And it’s just such a switch of mindset. It’s crazy, isn’t it?

 

Luca Zambello  03:55

1,000% That’s actually my wife says says that, like, feels like one day we’re gonna be billionaires and now today we’re gonna be almost billionaries.

 

Matt Wolach  04:07

exactly, but that’s part of the fun.

 

Luca Zambello  04:10

It’s  gonna happen within the same day, dude. Like that’s the that’s the funny thing.

 

Matt Wolach  04:15

So true, so true. But so I want to ask you what inspired you to start Jurny?

 

Lead Feeder  04:21

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Matt Wolach  05:31

And we’re back

 

Luca Zambello  05:33

i Well, let me give you a little bit of background about myself like so. I’m originally born and raised in Italy, I moved to LA almost 15 years ago now. And I didn’t move from there. Basically. I arrived there and I stayed there. Really the reason for me going there was because I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I went there to study but but I was always attracted by the tech space and how sometimes young kids with great ideas got massive funding, and they were able to build amazing disruptive technologies and businesses. And so that’s that’s really what I wanted to to chase. I didn’t start really in the tech space, but I always had an eye for that. I stumble into the short term rental industry Airbnb industry very, very early on Airbnb wasn’t really yeah to thing. My first business was literally I built a landing page for luxury villas for for short term rentals, or to rent for vacation rentals, production companies, and end events. And the reason why I did that is because I stumbled into an opportunity in which I realized that short term rental was done through brokers before in the luxury space. And and I said, and I was myself looking for someone else for luxury villas to rent online, I couldn’t find anything. I’m like, this is a great opportunity. Let me let me try to build a small database and launch a landing page and see what happens and pay for some ads. And that landing page did $1.2 million in revenue in year one. Wow, very short with business because it literally lasted like 50 months. And then it became from very profitable to unprofitable to run to run ads, because everyone jumped on the market and market exploded, Airbnb became huge VRBO aesthetics are skyrocketing. Owners are becoming smarter and listing the properties online. Then you had like competence and luxury retreats and onefinestay come into play. Like everything literally within like 24 months, like the market environment, completely change, which showed me that the market in us is very different than the European market, but how quickly it can move right? definitely helped prepare him that and I understood that that sometimes raising money, that’s the importance of raising money is so you can move quicker than other people and get market advantage but long story short. From there, I stayed in the business. I grew and scale management company in the short term rental space up to 300 units. And I was really going after the race, raise venture money for for that and I was going after a race I don’t know if you’ve ever heard company like lyric sander. Bokassa all this company really tried to do fast scale venture back businesses within this industry. But they all fail in one way or not, even if some companies still exist and became distant size, but they didn’t really make it happen. And one of the reason is because the nature of the business is extremely fragmented. So we inherited technology from hotels, which is I wouldn’t say existing but exist, but it’s extremely fragmented. And then at the same time, we inherited at the same time, like hotels have centralized operations before from rentals are extremely fragmented. So you now have a closed environment, the fragmented business. And so that’s the number one reason why all these businesses fail. And then, from there, I realized that there was an opportunity to start building technology. So because I couldn’t find that technology for myself and realize that that was going to be a roadblock for the entire industry. We tried to fix that problem myself first. And then we basically became from a management company to a software company, started building software for ourselves, but eventually and then eventually decided to start selling throughout the conference.

 

Matt Wolach  09:51

I love it. I think that’s always the best way you saw the problem. You experienced the pain yourself. And now you realize, hey, we need a solution. There’s nothing else out there, let’s build it. But then that also gives you such a powerful message to others, when you’re talking to them and you’re selling the product, you can tell them, hey, we’ve been in your shoes, we’ve gone through these challenges, we know what it’s like. And that’s why this whole thing exists. So you’re able to share kind of the journey of journey, I love it. And help them understand why you are the best one to be able to help them right.

 

Luca Zambello  10:26

absolutely. I think it’s such a key thing. And sometimes often, oftentimes, you see, people are trying to sell software’s in a space, but they have, they don’t have experience, about the space. And, and it’s an it’s an issue, because you don’t know the nuances of what it means to run that business, and what the pain points are, because you, you only know them if you really leave them because you can just talk as much as you can with your customers. But sometimes you want or everything until you’ve done it yourself. Absolutely.

 

Matt Wolach  10:58

Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree. Okay, so you launched it, that’s great. But there’s probably some some difficulty getting going. So what were some of the initial challenges? How did you? How did you gain traction in the early days,

 

Luca Zambello  11:12

a lot of challenges. It’s it’s been everything but easy. Because A, I never build a software company. I mean, I have good I’m very connected in we’re good developers, like, basically, a one of the partners is our CTO. So like, from a tech, technical standpoint, we’re prepared but nobody’s ever built SaaS companies we’ve, we’ve experienced in software, but in nine SaaS, and if you don’t have experience in SaaS, it’s a, it’s so it can be an issue. In the beginning, because you’re still learning you have to learn quickly. Part of the biggest challenge for us was like pivoting from a management company to a software company. So maintaining the same theme. So a lot of people were not prepared to do this, we didn’t hire right away that people that were prepared for to run a SaaS company, and we didn’t have experienced our stuff. So that was like challenge number one. Challenge number two was that the software was built for ourselves and our people. So while we thought that was great for us, which was I was clunky and not and not intuitive at all. And so that comes the UI UX experience that you need to have, especially on SaaS product, right. And so like, we had to learn all of that very, very, very fast, because while we were pivoting the business, the economy flip completely. And so finding it wasn’t as easy as fun to find. And in the end of the day, your business with baggage, but what he wants to fund businesses with baggage, even though you’re you’re building something that is really the future of the industry, you’re going to find challenges and so that it was very challenging. We had, we got out of sight, and we were able to we actually got insane amount of traction from the geiko. But we had issues because of we didn’t have experience running the software companies for the reason that listed below which before which is what cause having quite a bit of churn in the beginning, which was an issue, because if we if we weren’t prepared, we knew what we were doing from day one, we would have been massive from the get go. Because what we’re doing is really fixing a massive issue, which is the positive the positive side of this. We’ve now are on the other side of unfixed. I say 95% of those things. I didn’t even figure out how to assess company. And so we’re now on the much more aggressive, growing growing stage of the company.

 

Matt Wolach  14:07

That’s fantastic. Good job on fixing that. And kudos on some initial traction. But that churn is frustrating. I totally understand that. What did you guys do to to turn the tide on that and fix that that churn issue? How did you change that?

 

Luca Zambello  14:20

Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s one of the problems coming from being a management company is that you are a fixer, but in a different way you kind of have to your job is to find workarounds. Well, if you’re running a software company, you have to do the exact opposite. You have to be proactive. Or, or if you’ve, if you are acting on something specific, you have to figure out how to fix it from from, from its source. Where’s the problem coming from? How can we fix it with the software? Well, we were used to be a management company that we were or given a software and we had no very much no say on it, or if we had a say they will take years for them to do something so that that mindset had to shift. And then the second biggest piece for us was like creating ownership, like, customer success, I think was a key component for us. We had a customer successful wasn’t set up correctly. And so really, for us to create a much larger team, like kinda like, remove resources elsewhere, just focus in on on the customer success, Dan was for us key because the product sells itself. So we really need to focus on, on on taking care of customers feeling customer service, and, and making sure that they know how to, because it’s okay, if your UI UX is not insanely perfect, because even communists have been around for 10 years, there’s, there’s sometimes harder to use, especially if they accomplish or offers like think about a CRM. So you need to train them on how to use the software. And eventually start working on creating more more and more intuitive software which become self explainable and users can can navigate and learn them themselves. So those those are kind of the steps that we did, but really asset customer success. I wish we did it before. And the way we set it up now because it’s it’s not even close to what it was in the beginning.

 

Matt Wolach  16:24

It’s kind of funny that evolution your company goes through as you learn some of these things, isn’t it? So I’m so glad that you guys figure it out exactly what works for you guys in your industry. And it sounds like getting your customers to be raving fans to be super excited and happy with what’s going on and how you’re solving their problems is great. Were those customers then going out and telling others about it? Were you getting any referrals?

 

Luca Zambello  16:47

Yeah, absolutely. That’s, that’s one of the things that happened. And when you when you turn is is double trouble because they get when they leave? And and then they also not talk good about, right? Yeah, it won’t. On the other hand, if, if, if you have a raving customer that loves your product, it’s gonna go and tell our hosts and refer you business. We actually because of it was highly requested we we built a brand ambassador program which people can can refer us business and and make Commission’s on it. And that’s actually been pretty successful. Fair, fairly young program, but But it’s getting a lot of traction. So we’re excited.

 

Matt Wolach  17:37

Can you help us understand that the brand ambassador program is that like an affiliate marketing play? Yeah,

 

Luca Zambello  17:42

Yeah, it’s like an affiliate marketing. Exactly. And it’s an affiliate marketing, but it also like, it brings additional advantages to those users using our product, including, like early access to some releases, more heavier say on future roadmap. That’s another thing we started doing, like be way more communicative without with, with the users and our customers and just making them feel parts of our community. Our roadmap now is being decided by by our customers on a boat adventure, they love that. They love that. Absolutely. And then we have sharing a lot more transparent, like we were delivered, like delivering new features, and we wouldn’t even announce them. Like it’s like now now there’s a lot more communications like people feel a lot more engaged, a lot more hurt hurt, cuz the end of the day, you can even have the best software ever. But if customers don’t feel taken care of, especially on the b2b, it’s it’s an issue.

 

Matt Wolach  18:48

I think that’s one of the biggest shifts that I had to learn with my own products as well was, I always thought, Oh, we the most amazing software, the the best system and the tools got to do everything. And actually, I learned that if we have great marketing, great sales and great customer success, we can be very successful, even if the product isn’t perfect. Are you feeling the same way?

 

Luca Zambello  19:07

I couldn’t agree more. I wish I knew that from when I started, honestly, exactly. would have saved me a lot of money.

 

Matt Wolach  19:20

Yeah, I totally agree. So what steps have you taken, I want to just make sure that everybody can kind of grasp and download from you. What steps have you taken that of that you have felt have been so positive and successful toward the growth of your company that you wish you would have done more of or you wish you would have learned earlier other than what we just talked about?

 

Luca Zambello  19:42

Yeah, I mean, obviously it goes unsaid exactly what we talked about. I think that’s that’s definitely number one. Number two is I probably would have start better communications with with our customers even on the roadmap Oh, and I actually this is, this is a big one that the ICP ideal customer profile, I, I didn’t know the importance of it until, until it cost me money of knowing the importance of it. But really focusing at first, it doesn’t mean that your product cannot solve problems for a lot of people and for our wider market, but at first, you got to focus somewhere. Because if you don’t, and you tried to do everything, you got to do everything in a very mediocre way. And that’s another thing that going back to the to the ICP, is to build specific core functionalities that are excellent, they’re perfect, specifically for that ICP and focus on that and selling that. Because my, the way, I mean, I just have such long term visions, and sometimes I I have issues, looking at what’s or the current problems, right. And so I focus on the big vision. But sometimes you have to focus on on on the smaller as well and delivering instant instant value to customers and time to value. That’s another thing that I learned that I wish I knew earlier, like get them to value as fast as possible. That’s extremely important.

 

Matt Wolach  21:25

Definitely important, and I love that you said ICP, that’s literally the first thing I work on with my clients is Let’s nail who our ideal customer profile is who are the personas we’re going to talk to, let’s make sure we fully understand that because it plays so much into the product that you build and how you build it. And the marketing and the messaging and all the sales communication. Everything goes right to that ICP and it’s so critical to have it right away.

 

Luca Zambello  21:49

Everything Yes, exactly.

 

Matt Wolach  21:53

Awesome. I’m glad you agree. Okay, so, Luca, this is great stuff. So as we wrap up, what advice would you share with other software founders who are in their early days, they’re getting started and they want to create the type of success you’ve had.

 

Luca Zambello  22:06

I say be very honest to yourself on what is going to take to do it intrapreneurs are extremely optimistic, usually. Because otherwise, if you don’t have a little bit than vision or you’re not going to be an entrepreneur

 

Matt Wolach  22:29

no doubt

 

Luca Zambello  22:32

You have to be optimistic because otherwise if you’re too realistic, you’re gonna be like this is too hard. There’s no way I’m gonna do this. But if I could from the beginning with investors and everybody I would tell people it is hard and I I’d rather wait to raise money or to get people on board but they need to know exactly what they’re getting into. And they need to know exactly how long is going to take because if you’re too optimistic and people are investing based on of what you’re telling them or investing in could be investors but it could be like people that you hire or anybody or customers then you just naturally speaking going to let people down and you might lose credibility. Luckily that wasn’t my case but but I can see that being a very dangerous thing so be very realistic and a and be very focused laser focused on solving one specific problem at first to one specific ICP. I think that’s that’s very important.

 

Matt Wolach  23:44

Great stuff. Luca This is so awesome. And I really appreciate you coming in and sharing all of this with us. I want to make sure people can learn more about you as well as Jurny where best can they find you?

 

Luca Zambello  23:57

Yeah, I think obviously our website Jurny.com And subscribe to our newsletter they are going to get definitely a lot of updates and they can reach my I’m very active on LinkedIn. So definitely come find me on on LinkedIn at Luca Zambello.

 

Matt Wolach  24:19

Okay, perfect. We’ll put all that into the show notes. Make sure that everybody can get there easily. So if you’re listening right now, if you’re watching go check that out. You’ll be able to find Luca, this guy is awesome. He’s doing great stuff running his company journey getting it to where it has to be, Luka thanks so much for coming on the show.

 

Luca Zambello  24:34

Yeah, thank you for having me. It was fun, fun questions and fun conversation.

 

Matt Wolach  24:39

Yeah, I super enjoyed it myself and everybody out there. Thanks for being here. By the way, make sure that you are subscribe so you don’t miss out on any other amazing innovators like Luca coming on in the next few weeks. Thank you for being here. We’ll see you next time. Take care.

 

Intro/ Outro  24:56

Thanks for listening to Scale Your SaaS for more help on finding great leads and closing more deals go to Mattwolach.com