Episode 1 Founder's Journey: Pouyan Salehi, CEO of Scratchpad

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In this very first episode of the Vendorship to Partnership, Ross interviews Scracthpad CEO and Co-Founder Pouyan Salehi. A serial entrepreneur, Pouyan draws on his deep expertise sharing what he’s learned from starting two companies creating software for sales teams. Pouyan and Ross cover a wide range of topics about the world of building a B2B SaaS company:

  • How Scratchpad sourced their first batch of customers
  • Why they opted measure user market fit before product market fit (and the difference)
  • The evolution and nuances of product market fit
  • Transitioning from doing everything yourself to letting go and working ON the business

Listen on your favorite podcast platforms: Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

5 Insights from Pouyan Salehi, Scratchpad CEO & Co-Founder

1. Build empathy for your persona

When Pouyan co-founded PersistIQ back in 2014, he and his founding team didn’t know much about sales. They spent a lot of time on ideas that they thought were interesting, but which didn’t actually connect with users’ problems. So the team went on a 5-year journey building for salespeople and sales teams and diving deep into understanding their buyer persona.

“Something I wish I knew earlier is how important it is to connect with the personas or users you’re solving for,” Pouyan says. “Developing that empathy helped us get to that first 10 customers.”

2. Find product-user fit, not just product-market fit

Since Scratchpad solves for multiple types of users, Pouyan says rather than finding product-market fit first, they went for product-user fit: ensuring that users loved their product enough to actually use it regularly.

“We knew that the majority of sales tools that existed failed because they just weren’t adopted,” Pouyan says. “So we obsessed over that.” Pouyan’s team set a goal to get 10 users to use and love Scratchpad by the end of the quarter.

They didn’t reach their goal of 10, but they got one. And that one user was so passionate about Scratchpad, using it every single day, that Pouyan’s team knew they were onto something.

3. Focus on your north star as you grow

Knowing what your north star, your purpose, is as a product or organization helps keep the team focused and aligned as the business grows. Product-user fit and having a meaningful impact on users was Scratchpad’s north star. “Does someone care about it enough to say, ‘I would be incredibly upset if this was no longer part of my workflow’?” Pouyan says.

By surveying and interviewing users about how and why they’re using Scratchpad, the team aims to drive better product adoption by salespeople, and then extend that value to as many people on the revenue team and sales ecosystem as possible.

4. Understand the difference between users and buyers

“In a bottom-up world, it’s important to understand who your users are and who your buyers are, because they can fundamentally be different,” said Pouyan. Figuring out what your users need as they work in your product on a daily basis vs. what buyers want to see in order to make a purchase decision can be challenging, but critical for the success of your product and business.

“That’s why it’s so important to know early on what’s going to make you (the company, the product) successful,” said Pouyan.

5. Let go!

At the earliest stages, the founders work on everything in the business themselves. But as things start to work, transitioning to working ON the business and letting others take charge is a critical — but hard — step for founders to take.

Pouyan says that trust is key during this transition: prioritizing which tasks should be handed off so the founders can focus on the overall business, and then actually letting go and trusting others to do the job.

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About Pouyan:

Pouyan Salehi is co-founder and CEO of Scratchpad, the pioneer of the Revenue Team Workspace. Prior to Scratchpad, Pouyan was co-founder and CEO of PersistIQ, the complete outbound platform engineered from the ground up for sales. A successful serial entrepreneur, Pouyan is passionate about creating delightful user experiences and products that impact how people and teams work, especially in sales.