In this week’s episode of From Vendorship to Partnership, Ross talks to Kris Rudeegraap, CEO & co-founder of Sendoso.
During his time as a salesperson at Talkdesk, Kris wanted to differentiate himself when building rapport with prospects and customers. He’d send handwritten notes and quirky gifts from Amazon, and his prospects loved it – but it wasn’t scalable. So he set about building a solution himself. Sendoso is now the leading sending platform and integrates with dozens of marketing, sales, and operations tools.
Watch the full episode to learn about Kris’ journey building and scaling Sendoso, including:
- Validating the MVP
- How he got his first “real” customers
- The importance of recruiting early
Listen on your favorite podcast platforms: Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.
3 Lessons Learned from Building & Scaling Sendoso
1. Validate your idea early with an MVP
The first version of Sendoso was Copysender.com, which was a simple website and Salesforce app for sending Starbucks gift cards. It was a night and weekend project for Kris that only cost about $5,000 to build, but ended up reaching $300-400,000 in revenue in a short amount of time.
“It validated the need that salespeople were wanting to send more than just emails,” said Kris. “It gave me the confidence that I could build something people would actually want to use.”
So Kris quit his job at Talkdesk and started focusing on building out Sendoso full-time. Since 2017, the platform has evolved from the simple MVP to a full sending platform that includes a gift marketplace, fulfillment & logistics, and integrations.
2. Hire sales leaders early to help find your “real” customers
In Sendoso’s very early days, Kris said they were selling at a very low price point that didn’t make sense economically. “At that time we had maybe 30 or 40 customers, but they weren’t ‘real’ customers. They were friends and family, or people that we as founders were selling to.”
Things changed when they decided to hire a COO/CFO early (who set a realistic pricing model for Sendoso) and when they hired their first two AEs. That’s when Kris says they started getting their first “real” customers.
“I think you can find product market fit in the early founder sales,” said Kris. “But if you really want GTM fit, then you need to have non-founders selling to strangers at a price point that scales.”
That’s why Kris recommends hiring sales leaders and SDRs early, even if you as a founder can continue selling. “It’s a function that’s hard to get right, and you need to prove that you can build a GTM engine.”
3. Always be recruiting
Even if you don’t have a role open, Kris says, it’s important to build your pipeline of potential candidates to work with in the future.
“The best entrepreneurs scale by bringing on amazing people,” he said. “I think you should always be interviewing and networking and finding the next hires, even if it’s months away.”
Developing your own network prior to founding your business can help a lot in the early days, Kris said, because it helps you find people you already know and trust to join in on the adventure. After you have your initial hires and you’re trying to find GTM fit, it may be worth bringing on a dedicated recruiting partner to help find more talent and scale the team.
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Kris Rudeegraap is the co-founder and CEO of Sendoso, the leading Sending Platform for sending direct mail and corporate gifts. Kris has more than a decade of sales experience and has spent time in sales at Talkdesk, Yapstone, and Piqora. During that time, he discovered that creating meaningful engagements through direct mail and gifting was an effective way to drive demand and increase sales—which helped inspire the idea for Sendoso. Since founding the company, Kris has helped scale Sendoso to over 500+ employees and $155m+ in funding. Kris is a California native and CSU-Chico alum currently residing in the Bay Area.