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Colin Nederkoorn, CEO of Customer.io, on why knowing your customers is the key to growth
   

Colin Nederkoorn, CEO of Customer.io, on why knowing your customers is the key to growth

Customer.io is a SaaS product that allows companies to create, manage, and send all of their messages between their apps & their customers.

The software solves a common headache by providing a no-code-required solution for product teams — one in which you can pipe in events from platforms like Segment and then drag and drop automated email messages.

Since their launch in 2012, Customer.io has grown rapidly — to 41 employees and more than 1200+ customers ranging from SaaS to lot and beyond! In our conversation with Colin Nederkoorn, the CEO & co-founder of Customer.io, we’ll cover the origin story and how he powered early growth through directly talking to customers.

Then, we’ll dive into why word of mouth has been such a powerful growth method for their brand. Finally, our conversation dives into how Colin is approaching the development of paid & partner marketing, fundraising, brand, and remote culture.

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In This Episode You’ll Learn:

0:28 — Introduction
1:44 — What is Customer.io? What’s the origin story behind the company?
3:00 — Email felt like the universal thing we could affect. We were email only for 3 out of the 6 years.
5:55 — Learning to describe your customers is important — we sell to product teams
6:45 — Who do people switch from? What’s the use case for a product team using Customer.io?
7:40 — How did you get your first customers?
8:05 — We reached out to talk to and learn from future customers in forums and on Twitter
9:00 — Playing the long game is important. Early conversation with marketer at (Moz) became a sale 6 years later when that person was a CMO at another company.
9:43 — Launched in private beta in April 2012 with 5 companies paying us $10/month. Then opened as a public beta product about 4 months later.
10:16 — “People have their guard up when they think any conversation is going to lead to a sale at the end… If I was starting a company from scratch again, I’d start talking to people even if I had nothing to sell them”
11:15 — How are you acquiring customers today?
12:00 — The way Customer.io supports agency clients differently
13:14 — Customer.io’s entrance into paid marketing
14:35 — As a CEO, how do guide your CMO to approach entering the paid space?
17:40 — What levers are you thinking about pulling when you are focused on growth?
18:45 — Branding and messaging is important. We’re in a crowded space. You really quickly want to give a customer value.
20:22 — “So much of what people consider conventional has never felt right to me and our company”
21:33 — Colin’s decision in having a fully distributed team
24:22 — Customer.io’s untraditional approach to fundraising. “We view funding as a tool to get to the next stage of the business.”
26:55 — CEO to CEO, what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop yourself?
29:57 — The Salty Six

Full Transcript:

CN: Cool, hey Dave, thanks for having me.

DR: Pumped to have you, man. So, I guess, you know, I might of, you know, put you in this email marketing, you know, space in my mind. But I’m just curious, like, in your mind, you know,

What is Customer.io in your own words? And where are you guys kind of at today as a company?

CN: Yeah, so, we make it easy for product teams to send personalized emails, push notifications, SMS — really any message that gets sent from their product to their audience. Typically we work with companies who have really large user bases or are growing really quickly and expect to have really large user bases in the future.

Customer.io home page

DR: Very cool, and is it mostly SaaS companies or is it e-commerce, SaaS?

CN: You know, the way that I think about it is, if we work with a SaaS company, often times it’s a SaaS company that sells with a B2C orientation, rather than B2B.

DR: Yeah.

CN: So an example here might be, might be Cloudflare, where while they’re technically software is a service, they have a really really large freemium offering, and a lot of people signing up for that.

DR: Gotcha, gotcha, and, would you say, like, did you guys start out as like email marketing? Or was it always this kind of like, multi-channel, personalized, you know, messaging experience? Was that kind of it from the get-go, or how did it start?

CN: In the code base it was always this like, multi-channel, thing–

DR: Uh huh.

CN: We used generic terms when we wrote the code. But our, the decision that we made early on was that email felt like it was the universal thing. It, every web app, every mobile app, typically collects email addresses, so we decided to start there.

DR: Gotcha

CN: And I think we were email only for probably three or four out of the six years.

DR: How did you start, you know, the company? I was kind of digging and looking, I couldn’t find like, the origin of how this all came to be so I’d love to kinda hear that.

CN: Yeah, so, we were in, my co-founder and I started the company in New York. We were working at another startup in New York, and had this insight that if you wanted to send emails to your customer base, that database of emails, your list, was really disconnected from your app.

And so people are doing all these things in your app, and then you’ve got the same set of people in a list and the list is stale, it doesn’t have all of the information that you know about those people and what they’re doing from your app.

And we saw this opportunity to breakdown the barriers between developers and the marketers and product people who were trying to modify content of the email, trying to decide when it was time to send a new email, and really streamline that process of how web and mobile app businesses create, manage, and send all of their messages between their app and their customers.

DR: Very cool. And it still feels like today, there’s like this big gap between like marketing tools, and product tools, but then a few companies like yours are starting to kind of bridge that gap and say, “Hey, these are all people, you know, “why would you, you know, have this reset “whenever they sign up. “All of a sudden now they’re kind of in this new thing, “new experience, why do you have that reset?” So I’ve definitely experienced that.

CN: Totally, still a problem today. We’re not done I guess.

DR: Yeah, totally, I thought that was so cool, and my thought on your messaging is, you know, kinda like, just going in to it, I kinda had you guys in my mind, okay, this is email marketing, isn’t your like, your logo, like a, you know, a letter, an envelope or whatever?

CN: It may not be by the time this comes out.

Customer.io’s logo transition

DR: Okay, cool, cool.

CN: But today it is.

DR: Okay, so, I think that’s why I was kinda thinking that but then I get there and it’s like, you know, product messaging and it felt like much more, it didn’t feel like a, an active campaign or just this marketing automation. It felt a lot more product. And I was like, that’s such a great way into the market. And it felt a lot more relevant to us as a startup, you know, as opposed to just some, you know, maybe like a MailChimp or something like that. It felt, like, way different, and I was like, “Okay, okay, this is really speaking to “a particular market here.” I guess, did that kind of messaging develop over time into that?

CN: Yeah, I mean, we’ve, we didn’t really know who, how to describe our customers. So, I think, recently we’ve talked about them as product teams–

DR: Mhmm.

CN: But we didn’t know, when, especially early on when an investor would ask us, like, “Who’s our customer?”

And we’re like, “Well, there’s this developer who does the integration “and then there’s this marketer person “or they’re a product manager and they’re the ones “like, configuring the messages and the product.” And, we just never had this clear answer.

But, when you, when you look at it like that’s a product team. It’s a team of people working on a product and there are multiple people on the team that are responsible for these things and so, that’s, they’re our customer.

DR: Yeah, yeah, and so, is that that’s who you think of right now. When you guys are selling, you’re saying, “We’re looking for product teams.” Product people or we’re getting into that space.

Who do people switch from you to go to you guys? Or what are they doing before Customer.io?

CN: A lot of times the emails, or push notifications that they’re sending are baked into the code base of the application. And then, they use a separate tool for list management and the marketing side of things. And, we see a lot of companies who are sort of consolidating from code base plus list tool into Customer.io.

DR: Gotcha, because yeah, I felt like we kinda have like our marketing emails, and then you kinda have these like transactional emails that, you know, kind of, you know, get fired off and it’s like, they’re these different things. And I don’t even know where the transactional emails are, how do, you know, it’s like, inside the code. You gotta get like, an engineer to help us with that. So totally, totally feel that problem.

So how did you guys get your first customers then? I’m curious.

CN: Well, when we kind of decided to work on Customer.io probably six months before we were working on it full-time, and while we still had our jobs, I’d see people talking about terms on Twitter like “retention is a service.”

That was the initial wedge into the market that we went after. And so, whenever people would start Tweeting about things that related to what we were trying to do, I’d reach out to them and I’d say, “Hey, I don’t have anything to sell you right now, “but I’m working with someone on this problem, “can I talk to you? “And will you tell me what you’re trying to do? “I’d love to learn.”

So a lot of the early like customer development conversations we had came through that. And then we had a landing page where we collected interest and email addresses. We started, started actually doing a lot of education around how to write great emails and messages to people, even before we had a product. That was a way that we built up, or, kept interested after someone expressed interest in what we were selling. And I actually had, I shared a story with our team where one of the early companies that we spoke with was Moz, and they didn’t end up becoming a customer.

But we learned a lot from what their challenges were and funnily enough, the person who was on the call then is now a CMO at another company who just became our customer six years after we had this call.

DR: That’s awesome.

CN: We’re playing the long game.

DR: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome, very cool. And so, you built up this list. Then you kind of just, after you’d had a product kind of open up the doors and started letting people in. But you kind of been doing the work for a long time before that it sounds like.

CN: Yeah, I think we, we decided to start the company in December, January, of 20–, January of 2012. And then, launched in private beta in April of 2012 with five companies paying us 10 bucks a month. And then, opened into public beta probably four to six months after that.

DR: It’s so much easier talking to customers before you have anything to sell ’em and you can just be like, legitimately this is not a sales call. Like, I just wanna talk. And you can get, I feel like you can get, you know, through these open doors so much easier when like, you come with that mindset instead of this like sneaky sales mindset.

CN: Yeah, I think, I think people, people definitely have their guard up if your initial thing, or if they believe that any conversation with you is gonna turn in to you asking for the sale at the end.

DR: Yep.

CN: And, especially if they’re not ready to buy. And I think it’s also disarming to people when you start with that because they’re just not expecting it.

DR: Yep.

CN: So, if I was to start a company from scratch again I’d absolutely start just talking to people when I had nothing to sell them.

DR: Yep, yeah, and even now, I mean, we’re launching a new product, you know, to a little bit different segment of the market. But it’s not ready yet, you know, we’ve got a little MVP that’s kind of internal, but, you know, I’ve been kinda using this window to like approach these companies.

Like, I probably wouldn’t feel as comfortable selling to, but just being like, “Hey, can we just talk?” And so even like internally, as we launch new products, it’s like a great positioning strategy to just go and have the conversation and build the relationship. And my hope is that, you know, those relationships that end up buying six months through a year, or, you know, six years from now.

So, I guess, how are you guys primarily getting customers today?

CN: Every month for the past six years my co-founder and I have kind of been wondering when the music’s gonna stop, because it’s, in some ways it’s been a mystery to us like, how people find us and how people end up signing up for our service. So far the music hasn’t stopped.

And for a long time, we were doing content marketing, and by delivering people good experiences once they signed up, word of mouth helps us find, you know, them telling someone else, helps us find new people.

DR: Gotcha.

CN: Recently we’ve been working more with agency partners. I think for a long time, you know, as a business, you can only focus on so many things. And we had these agencies in the background who would come in and start working with Customer.io on behalf of another company.

Customer.io partnerships

Customer.io’s partnership signup

And we didn’t really support them any differently from we would, from the way that we would a regular customer but we hired a partners manager recently and we’re starting to learn what they need, what the agencies need to make Customer.io a great place for them to be, or a great company for them to work with.

And then, lastly, we started exploring some paid advertising very kind of, delicately dipping our toe into paid. Because I know it’s pretty easy to get burned there, but we’re starting to build our knowledge of how that works too.

DR: And, do you guys have marketers, like, full time on staff?

CN: Yeah, our marketing team is four people.

DR: Got it.

CN: We have a CMO who’s a former customer of ours. And three people who work with him.

DR: Okay gotcha. And how big, how many people do you have working there overall?

CN: So the team is, I think, 41 overall today.

DR: Gotcha, so about 10 percent is marketing. And, yeah, what are you guys trying in paid advertising? Like what’s working, what’s not working there so far? Like the early tests? I know a lot of companies, like, that’s a scary thing.

And how do you kind of even enter that space? How do you think about that?

CN: I think that I’m probably not the best person to speak about this on. Or speak on this. But I can tell you what I, what I’ve learned from the team that hasn’t worked.

DR: Yeah.

CN: And that’s like the various audience networks. Like, Facebook’s audience network, or Google’s audience network, you just seem to spend a lot of money and don’t get good leads.

DR: That’s like all the crap clicks. You get like, 10,000, you’re like, “This is amazing.” And then you look and it’s like we got one trial out of 10,000 clicks. What are we doing?

CN: There was a lot of, there was an article recently which you may have come across about, just, rampant fraud in audience networks, so–

DR: Like, bot traffic, or, you know, something like that?

CN: Yeah, I think it’s like a 17 billion a year industry or something in fake click–

DR: No way, that’s what it is. I’m just thinking, how could these people click, but not any of them are interested? Uh, okay, cool, so you’ve been doing that. And then I guess, you know, maybe you don’t know, you know, the specifics of the tactics and strategies, but even I think it’d be cool to hear like, how do you even approach that?

How do you approach helping your CMO have a direction? And approach that without maybe knowing exactly what to do yourself. How do you think about that as a founder?

CN: Yeah, and I think one of the things my CMO helped me to understand is that you really, you don’t wanna start a paid strategy by trying to boil the ocean and be like, okay, we’re gonna do a hundred different keywords and then we’re going to measure the whole thing end to end. And we expect to see like this result at the other end. Like, he’s done a really great job of breaking down the problem and picking different parts of the funnel all the way through to paid customers. And then, you know, when we, we make some progress on one part of the funnel, like, for example, we over doubled the number of signups that we got to Customer.io in I think two months.

DR: That’s cool.

CN: And, but, I think that there’s work to do later on to sort of figure out, okay, maybe quality has gone done a little bit, right?

You’ve increased this thing but the quality’s down. How do we get quality up? And not to panic, right? Not to panic at the point that you’ve like doubled leads, but reduced quality.

And give the team enough time to take that feedback to look at what’s happening later on down the funnel and say “Okay, well what do we need to do to maintain “this high volume of signups, but get quality back up “to wherever we need it to be.”

Then if there’s like another step, like, quality of leads, you know, maybe you’re measuring that automatically, and then there’s the conversion rate. And if the conversion rate is not where you want it to be, now, address that part of it, while maintaining the new, the new heights of your leads.

I think, my initial inclination was like, to freak out that like, okay, but this is great, but this isn’t. You know, we screwed up. No, we didn’t, we just haven’t, we haven’t done that part yet. And so, teams working on this need time and room to see what’s happening and then, make adjustments in the other parts of the funnel too.

DR: Yeah, totally, yeah, I think you’ve gotta get comfortable with failure.

And then switch your mindset a little bit from like, the goal is not to nail every month, but the goal is to learn from all these different experiments and it’s like, we may have flopped one month, but like, what did we learn?

Could we take that, feed that back into the machine, you know, tweak and make adjustments, and try it again. And yeah, you know, over a long enough time horizon six months or a year like you gotta end up seeing the goal happen, you gotta see results happen. But, you zoom in and it’s usually just like a bunch of failures, and a bunch of learnings, like, over and over and over. And then it ends up actually working out pretty decently over a year or something like that.

CN: Yeah.

DR: Very cool. So I guess, how do you think about, you know, growth in like, maybe the next year, the next couple years of Customer.io, you know, is that a marketing thing in your mind? Is that a churn thing in your mind?

What kind of levers are you guys thinking about pulling when you kind of approach the idea of growing over the next year or two?

CN: Yeah, I think, for us over the past couple of years, we’ve grown our average revenue per customer while growing the customer base sort of slower than our average revenue per customer. Over the next couple of years, I think the focus is gonna shift to growing our customer base again. And, how we do that, I think is still, we’re still figuring out the details of that.

You know, certainly, the stuff that I mentioned like, some paid spends, some partners, we’re doing a lot of work and it’s been a long time coming. But we’re doing a lot of work on our, on our branding and messaging right now because I think, you know, one of the things you identified is we’re in this really crowded space. And helping people understand what we do, really quickly when they land on the site. And whether or not that they wanna dig a little deeper, that’s really important and it’s something that we’ve struggled with because everyone in our space, even if they do something completely different from us, uses exactly the same language that we use.

DR: Yeah.

CN: Everyone uses the word segmentation. Everyone uses the word trigger. Everyone uses the word behavioral. And when we say behavioral it means that we’re looking at what people are doing on your website. When they say behavioral, they mean, they’re looking at whether or not someone opened and clicked a message.

DR: Yes.

CN: And like, those are really different things so if a customer sees behavioral and they see it in both contexts, how do they figure out which one it is? Especially if they’re looking for what we’re selling and not what the other company is selling.

DR: Yeah, totally, no, but I do think you guys are on to something with your positioning and it just being more product-focused because that’s not something I had seen, you know, many people are talking about.

Most people are kind of talking about it from outside the product, working your way it. It feels to me like you’re kind of like start in the product, like, working your way out. So, I thought that was a really unique way to approach it. As I’ve kind of looked at your company, seems like you got a really cool culture, cool team. You know you do a lot of, you know, unique things to grow.

What are some of the unconventional things you’ve done to grow. Or even just culturally. What do you do at Customer.io that’s maybe unique to what a lot of other companies do?

CN: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, like, so much of what people consider conventional has never really felt right to me, and to our company. So, we’re, I think in general we’re pretty unconventional.

DR: Like, your team page is a bunch of birds. With like mustaches and smoking jackets on, and I was like, what is this? This is so unique, I gotta ask him about this. And I feel like kind of goes, it feels like that goes throughout your whole company.

Customer.io Birds

CN: We’ve definitely gotten some interesting feedback about the team page. Some, a random person wrote into our support, who didn’t like the team page– and, so, yeah, I think, it’s definitely really interesting. So a bunch of unconventional things we’ve done, are we’re a fully distributed team. And there are a bunch of other companies who are distributed, but it’s still not the norm.

And it’s easy to forget. You know, you sort of, have a bucket of companies that are distributed, and you’re like, oh yeah, that’s just like a normal thing to do. No, it’s still really crazy if you look at the world at large to have a company that has people all over the world. And when we hire people, we tend to, we post a job and we’re open to hiring people wherever they are.

And, it’s really exciting. It’s a huge amount of work as well to go through. I was recently hiring a position and we had you know, over 700 applicants. Many of them were like really really qualified. And it’s a really confusing thing for people who are really qualified to like, not get a first round interview. But, we just had so many applicants. I think, what’s really important to me is that our team represents our, you know, is a representative picture of our customers. And a representative picture of kinda the world at large. And it’s one of the things that we can do having a distributed company. We don’t need to be a, you know, 20,000 person multinational, to have people in all of these different places in the world we just need to make a choice to hire people wherever they are.

DR: And for you, are you passionate about, like, remote work and distributed teams. And like, you kinda start and you say, hey, I wanna figure this out. Or is that more of like, you’re passionate about building a company, that seems to be a nice way to do it. But like, that’s a byproduct, you don’t have strong opinions about that? You know what I mean?

CN: Yeah, I’m passionate about building a company that people can work for where the company works for them as well. And I recognize that for most people, they make a lot of sacrifices to go to work. Like, they might suffer through a commute. Or they might not see their kids. And, you know, or, it might, otherwise, not, they have to travel a lot or something like that.

DR: Yep.

CN: And I think we wanted to, or, I wanted to create a company where people could have whatever they wanted out of life as well as a really great and challenging place to work.

DR: Love that.

CN: And building a distributed team helps us to do that.

DR: Love that. Very cool. Anything else, you know, really peculiar, unique, that you wanna share about how you guys are doing things?

CN: Um, sure. Our approach to fundraising has been pretty different as well. We’ve done a couple of rounds of funding, but we view funding as a tool to help us kinda get to the next stage of the company. Not as a treadmill that we need to stay on. And we, the last funding that we took was in the beginning of 2017. And we’re in a position where we don’t need any funding anymore. It should, I think, a lot of founders get themselves into a position where whether or not they get the next round of funding isn’t a choice.

DR: Yep.

CN: It’s a necessity for their business. And, that often leads to situations that aren’t great for customers, that aren’t great for the employees, and may not, may end up killing the company in the long term.Y ou know, I think that we’ve been fortunate in that our funding strategy has allowed us to maintain control of the future of the business. That’s probably, that’s probably atypical for companies who have taken any sort of funding, right? To be in a position where we are now. Where we still have control and don’t need to take funding in the future.

DR: Yeah, that’s really cool. Yeah, I’ve kinda begin to think about funding and like a lot more pragmatically and like you said, like, it’s a tool to be used. And, you know, we were bootstrapped for the first year and then we raised, you know, funding at the and, you know, so I’ve kinda had you know both experiences and it’s interesting to me like watching when companies kind of like define themselves by, you know, the way that they, you know whether they take funding or not. I probably see it more like in the bootstrapped world where they’re like, I’m a bootstrapped company. And I’m like, that’s fine, that seems like kind of a weird thing to like plant your flag on. Like, you know, it shouldn’t really matter or not. You know? And it’s like, you know, there might be a day when you say, man, we could produce so much more value for our customers if we raised a little bit of money or not. But I think that’s a good perspective to think, you know, this is a tool when we need it. But not when we don’t. It gives you a lot more freedom.

CN: Yeah, we talk about it as fun-strapped. Alex from Clearbit has told me, “It’s not gonna stick.” That I should drop my–

DR: Fund strapped.

CN: My efforts to like, keep pushing that term.

DR: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome.

CN: I’ll bring it up when I get the opportunity to.

DR: Yeah, totally. All right, before we wrap up here, CEO to CEO, what’s the best thing that you have done to just develop yourself over the last year?

CN: So I think there’s one of the key things that you need to be good at as a CEO is decision making. And, obviously, like, tons of reading. I think knowing the getting the advice of people who have been there and done it is great so, having a strong network or other CEOs is is a really important thing because you’re, you’re the one person in your job in your company and nobody else gets it. So you need to have other people who are also in your position who get it. I think the, and then, reading a bunch of books written by former CEOs on their businesses is really helpful. And then, getting, I mean, this is sort of not a direct answer to your question, but like, sleep. I think making sure that you get enough sleep is probably the best thing that you as a CEO can do for your performance. I think back on the times when I’ve been overtired and how short I was with someone on a, on, you know, from the team. And how little thought and attention I was able to give a decision because I was like, overtired and couldn’t process it. I think CEOs really need to be good at working smarter not harder. And, at least for me, getting, you know, a good eight and a half, nine hours of sleep at night is what I need to function. And if I do that, I can perform well. If I don’t do that, I don’t.

DR: Love it, man. Now, super smart in the world where people are competing to get less sleep. I feel like sleep’s making a comeback. And yeah, more and more people are kinda saying, “Hey, this is a good thing. “And there’s still a lot of other hours to work. “Like, let’s just make sure we like knock this thing out “before we kill ourselves.”

Why We Sleep

CN: And there’s a book called “Why We Sleep.” I got like half the way through it, I didn’t get all the way through it. It’s pretty, it’s a good bedtime read ’cause you get a couple pages in and you’re just like, I can’t make it anymore.

DR: Yeah.

CN: There’s some really interesting stuff in there that sort of helps you understand sleep. And I think one of, I don’t know where I read this advice, but just going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, is, really helps you a lot. So, anyway.

DR: Totally, yeah.

CN: I’m a big fan of sleep.

DR: Love it. Yeah, I’ve got a 14-month-old son and nothing will allow you to start going to sleep at the same time and waking up at the same time like having a kid ’cause I can’t push that alarm clock back. I mean, he’s gonna be up at seven o’clock whether I stay up til 1:00AM or you know to go to bed at 10:00. Very cool man, so wrapping it up. We’ve got what we call the salty six. It’s six rapid-fire questions. Salty questions, fast paced. And, just little questions I designed to get to know you better. So you ready to do the salty six?

CN: Sure, let’s do it.

The Salty Six

DR: All right. Number one.

What do you do for fun outside of working?

CN: I try to make some good food. So, my recent challenge has been to make sourdough from scratch–

DR: Oh nice.

CN: Which took me 13 days end to end.

DR: Awesome.

CN: Not full time. But like, watching it, monitoring it.

DR: Is it that hard? You can’t like, you know just get a recipe and watch a YouTube video and it’s just done?

CN: Well, you gotta, you have to grow the starter. So, it’s alive.

DR: Oh okay, so it took you 13 days just to do like one batch or one, like the first loaf?

CN: Uh huh. But now, it would be really quick.

DR: Okay, ’cause you like, don’t you like, keep it in a bowl and you like have your starter that you just kinda use every time?

CN: Mhmm. Yeah.

DR: Wow, very cool man.

What’s the best conference you’ve ever gone to?

CN: So I haven’t been to many marketing conferences in the past few years. But the one that I always remember is the Business of Software Conference. That’s a really great one for founders. And then, for, as far as like in the email industry-specific one, Litmus Live, is always an excellent conference.

DR: Okay, cool.

What podcasts do you listen to, if any?

CN: I like The Daily. Everybody Hates Marketers. Recode Decode. And recently I’ve been really enjoying Gimlet’s Startup. This series is on Success Academy which is like nothing to do with internet startups. But super interesting.

DR: Very cool, yeah that is a cool one. Gimlet does a good job.

What book are you reading right now? What’s on your nightstand?

fifth season

CN: Right now I’m reading The Fifth Season which is a Sci-fi book.

DR: Cool.

CN: And, yeah, I love reading. It’s how I unwind before bed and turn off my brain.

DR: It’s interesting, a lot of the people I interview read some sort of fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, like right before bed. That’s kind of a common trait that I’ve seen.

CN: Yeah, if I read business books before bed then my brain starts thinking. Or like, it starts working, how am I gonna apply this? Whereas if it’s sci-fi, it doesn’t relate to my life at all.

DR: Yep.

CN: And I can just kind of enjoy it.

DR: And it’s like if you know, you can’t remember the last couple pages because you fell asleep, like, who really cares?

CN: Yeah.

DR: All right, Michael Jordan or LeBron?

CN: So I don’t really watch or know anything about basketball.

DR: You don’t care.

CN: But I’d probably pick LeBron based on what I know about him. Even though, as a little kid, I wore Jordans.

DR: Awesome, very cool. Okay and then the last question.

What one person would you invite to a dinner party dead or alive, just ’cause you wanna get to know ’em and have a good dinner?

CN: So, I’m gonna go with you, Dave.

DR: Oh yes.

CN: We’ve never had a dinner party together.

DR: We never have.

CN: I’ll invite you.

DR: I appreciate that man. We’ll have to do that sometime. Next time I’m up in, and you’re in Oregon aren’t ya?

CN: In Portland, yeah.

DR: Okay, very cool man, I love it. That’s my first invite, so I appreciate that a lot. All right folks, well there you have it. Colin, thanks so much for being on man. I feel like I learned a lot. And, again, dude, I’m excited about where you guys are headed. Love the brand, love the product you guys are building so far. If people wanna, you know, learn more about what you’re doing or follow you, you know, where can they find you guys?

CN: So, the company’s @CustomerIO. On Twitter, I’m @alphacolin.

DR: Very cool, love it. And, what do you tweet about? You tweeting about business stuff, life stuff, whatever?

CN: Yeah, I try to stick mostly to business stuff. I try to keep things more positive than negative. And, anything interesting that I come across.

DR: Very cool man, very cool, awesome. Well, thanks so much man. This has been great. And for all of you listening and watching, thanks for tuning in to Scale or Die. We’ll see you guys in the next episode for more startup growth secrets.

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This interview has been edited and condensed.