Ep. #1222 - AI-Driven Self-Improvement
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt Watson and Kris Gunciarz, Co-founder and CEO of Innential, talk about AI-driven self-improvement. Listen to Kris and Matt discuss the never-ending challenges of training and upskilling hundreds of employees. They also discuss workplace learning platforms, costs, and the challenges of getting your go-to-market strategies.
Covered In This Episode
Managing and upskilling employees for optimal productivity will always be challenging. Since people react differently to similar situations, it requires significant resources to determine the ideal learning cycle. Innential uses artificial intelligence to create the ideal learning experience.
Listen to Matt and Kris’s conversation using AI to solve complex problems. They start with Kris’s background, then go on to him shifting from a dev agency to a dev company and starting Innential. They also discuss content creation and curation, monetization strategies, and how Innential sells its products.
The conversation turns to the challenges of training hundreds or thousands of employees. They also discuss why finding a niche is vital and what’s next for Innential.
Are you having difficulty with worker productivity? Find solutions and insights in this Startup Hustle episode.
- Kris’s background (2:34)
- Creating a product to solve a problem (4:40)
- Shifting from a dev agency to a dev company (7:31)
- Innential (10:21)
- Content creation and curation (13:09)
- Monetization strategies (18:13)
- Workplace learning platforms and their costs (21:50)
- The challenges of training hundreds or thousands of employees (25:07)
- How does Innential sell its products? (30:12)
- The go-to-market challenge (32:27)
- Finding a niche (35:02)
- What’s in the future for Innential (38:17)
- Kris’s advice for entrepreneurs (39:33)
I love the fact that you were solving your own problem, you know, you saw the opportunity and decided to build something. I think it’s one of the greatest ways that businesses are created.– Matt Watson
Many times, when it comes to learning, the challenge is that it’s not being used throughout the entire year. You only use it in those particular moments when you actually need it. So let’s say someone is not on a project, and they’re on the bench in this in-between time. Then it’s when you will probably jump into courses and learn more about something new or completely change your profile because this is where you have the time.– Kris Gunciarz
We went all over the place a little bit then started to narrow it down. And this narrowing it down is, I think, the most relevant thing. Going into one niche is very, very helpful. Going too broad is difficult. Narrower simplifies your life. So, you can actually achieve much, much more with that.– Kris Gunciarz
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 0:00
And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson. Today, we’re gonna be talking about training. reskilling, upskilling employees. You know, like a Full Scale, we have hundreds of employees and it’s never-ending. We’ll call it an opportunity to always be training all of our employees. Today with me is Kris Gunciarz, who is the co-founder and CEO of Innential, and they have a really cool product that actually helps with that, that integrates with Pluralsight, YouTube, and all sorts of different things to help bring online learning educational content together and uses AI. So, be a cool conversation today, to remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Full Scale. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. Please visit FullScale.io to learn more. Kris, welcome to the show from Germany.
Kris Gunciarz 0:58
Yes, thank you. Thank you, Matt. Thank you. Hello, everyone.
Matt Watson 1:03
I don’t think I’ve ever had a guest on the show from Germany before. So this is the first time, but you’re you’re actually from Poland, right?
Kris Gunciarz 1:11
Yes, originally from Poland, but I have lived here in Germany for over eight years.
Matt Watson 1:17
But I have been to Poland once I was in Warsaw and Krakow. I think, for like a week, many, many years ago, like 15 years ago or something. But
Kris Gunciarz 1:27
How did you like it?
Matt Watson 1:29
My only memory is I got there. I don’t remember exactly what time of year it was. But I got there, and then like the next day, it snowed. And I want to say it snowed, like six or 12 inches of snow. And all I remember is there were like 1000s of people everywhere shoveling snow. And, like the snow, did not face anyone. And then there were giant trucks, like giant dump trucks full of snow, like hauling all the snow out of the city. That’s all I remember.
Kris Gunciarz 1:56
Yeah, yeah, that’s the rest of it, like deep winter, right? It’s it happens every year, though. Like not in Berlin, Berlin is more likely to start rainy. And, like, it’s not as pretty as simpler. But it’s it’s a great city, though.
Matt Watson 2:11
Well, so I’m, I’m excited to learn more about what your company does and talk more about self-improvement and ongoing education and stuff like that for employees. But first, tell us a little bit about your background and how did you. What did you do before you started the company? And what was the kind that gave you the idea to start the company?
Kris Gunciarz 2:32
Matt Watson 4:19
I love this because you are solving your own problem. Exactly. We’re using you’re solving your own problem using your own expertise. Did did you guys look around for other solutions like so before you had this view before he built this product? How did you solve this problem before? Did you just buy Pluralsight or Udemy? Or something like that direct? Or how did you do this for?
Kris Gunciarz 4:41
So we would we would actually this is actually quite interesting. So we did a couple of things. First of all courses, like Pluralsight or Udemy. This was a this was by the way, around eight years ago. So a while ago when we started to to really do this. There were a couple of platforms. For online courses. This was like let’s say the first thing that We, we wanted to go for, but everyone wanted also a bit of a different thing, right? So you needed to, like juggle around with the subscriptions and with what everyone wants, what to offer. We also had this as a mentoring structure where the senior engineers would actually support the junior engineers with the their needs. But also we were actually encouraging the junior engineers to be mentors. So we actually created this structure where anyone could provide or create a small type of knowledge sharing session, even if they didn’t necessarily know the topic very well. They could talk about the topic for 15, maybe 10, 10 minutes and then train the others. And this was more like learning by teaching, let’s say, which is actually very interesting, because then you, you need to be prepared when you’re actually going to do a short, short presentation. So this was one way, obviously courses was was one of the main main main ways that we, we approached it.
Matt Watson 5:59
Well, I love the fact that you were solving your own problem, you know, you saw the opportunity and decided to build something. I think it’s one of the greatest ways that businesses are created. And I’ve told this story a few times, but like, 20 years ago, I worked on some software for ticket brokers. So it was like resell of tickets for sporting sports events, and concerts and stuff like that. And the owner, you know, mailed 1000s of tickets a month, a week, you know, via UPS, and FedEx, DHL, stuff like that. And what he noticed is a lot of the packages weren’t delivered on time. And he could get a refund if he’d go and fight the carrier to get a refund, because it wasn’t delivered for, you know, within two days, or three days, like it was supposed to be. And so we built that software, or we built that functionality into the other software we built. And a few years later, he took just that part of the software, and spun it out into another company and started auditing shipping invoices for other companies. And that turned into a giant business, he sold for like $100 million, or something like that. But it’s, it’s cool, like, you know, seeing those problems, and being able to build a solution specific, you know, for an industry and the expertise and all the things and then figuring out how to how to take it to market. I also feel like a lot of DEV agencies. So sounds like you got a dev agency, you said we’re about 40 people, a lot of DEV agencies are always trying to build products, they like don’t want to be debt agencies, they want to be product. Yeah. And so tell me about that struggle for a minute.
Kris Gunciarz 7:30
Yeah, so for us, you know, we actually worked primarily with the public public sector in Europe. So this was European Union, European Commission, European Space Agency. And this was actually more on the personal side, when where I was like, Alright, I’m actually more made for things in our lives, maybe faster paced in the public sector. And I was looking into, into opportunities, you know, how to basically leverage what we what we already know, and what we already have, even actually, because we’ve built a lot of, let’s say, boiler plates and some software that we could already use. So we had already the building blocks, even for that software that we initially initially created. But indeed, there is loads of companies, especially dev agencies, I’ve can see actually in Poland that are creating spin offs directly from their agencies and creating some interesting products because they understand like, no, same here, right? Like we literally had this problem, and we literally were struggling with that.
Matt Watson 8:36
Yeah, well, so like at Full Scale, we built our own internal system we call Rocks. And basically, it’s like an employee tracking system, kind of like, you could see everybody’s profiles, like resumes kind of stuff. And then we built an applicant tracking system into it. So when we go to hire people to do all this applicant tracking stuff, and they built a time clock, and they started building all these different different things. But I think some of it is a byproduct of having, you know, bench time or extra resources, right? Like, if you have a couple extra developers or whatever, you can give something, give them something to do. And hopefully, it becomes something valuable, you know, as a byproduct. Is that Is that how you guys built some of this stuff was as was bench time, or?
Kris Gunciarz 9:20
Yeah, exactly. I mean, in case of financial, it was actually we decided from the very beginning to, to basically turn it into a separate company. So we didn’t really, let’s say use the resources that we had in the, in the agency for us. This was also a decision like, Hey, should we, let’s say focus then on on financial or should we focus on the customer projects, right. And that is, like, if you start seeing the opportunity, you can start, let’s say cannibalizing yourself. Yeah, that could be an issue. So we were from the very beginning, we decided to split it basically.
Matt Watson 9:56
So do you still have that dev agency?
Kris Gunciarz 10:00
The agency is still operating. I’m still partially, let’s say involved, but let’s say not operationally myself at agencies called fat and we’re still sealed here on the European market. Yeah.
Matt Watson 10:12
Okay. Very cool. Well, so tell us more about an Innential and what it does. We’ve talked we’ve talked about a little bit here, but give us give us the 62nd pitch.
Kris Gunciarz 10:20
Sure. Sounds good. Sounds good. So, with Innential, we supporting companies. Primarily, I would say within the IT space IT consulting. IT, IT services companies with upskilling reskilling certification. So those topics that you might need to service your customers to get more projects or to work on projects, let’s say like certifications. And we actually providing so called an AI-powered learning assistant so that the system can actually give you guidance of what kind of topics you can work on personally. So you can focus on your personal development as an engineer, and you can figure out what what’s best what’s what’s the best thing that’s, that’s, that’s then the next best thing for you. But it also can support companies on this more strategic initiatives. So let’s say exactly like, you might need certifications for let’s say topics like AWS, or Azure or others. We actually combine over 30 platforms, 30 learning providers on Innential, like Pluralsight, Udemy, Coursera, data camp and others and find you the best resources that can actually solve some of those strategic initiatives or those personal development topics. And, and yep, this is like I say, the long story short, a short story of like, Innential basically does, yeah.
Matt Watson 11:50
Well, what I love about it is you guys, also you can curate across all of those. Right? And then we can upload our own videos, you know. So, at Full Scale, this would be super useful for us, because we have 300 employees, we have 200, and something software developers. And yeah, we’re always, you know, trying to train them, upskill them on new things when they’re between projects, or we hire some kind of entry level people sometimes fresh out of college, and we send them through a fast track, like, internship program that we do for a few months. Yeah, and, and but I love the idea of being able to use your product and creating those kind of learning plans. You know, be it like this programming language or, for us, it could be things like other communication skills, or like interviewing skills, or what you know, whatever the things are, but some of it would just be internal training, like, what does it mean to work at Full Scale? And what do we do and blah, blah, blah, the thing. So, I really love that. And tell me about, there’s so much content out there from all these different sources. But one of the one of the one of the things you told me the other day that that was really valuable, is you guys can also help people just find and curate free content.
Kris Gunciarz 13:09
Yeah, exactly. Right. So there is so many different content options that you have out there. Even on Innential, itself, we have over 60 65,000 different courses for I think over 1200 skills at the moment. So anything from technical topics can be soft skill topics, like communication or other some really specialized areas. And finding the right resources can be really, really challenging. And same you when it comes to actually free or even paid resources, you have platforms like Udemy, that is providing a lot of different kinds of options. You have platforms like Pluralsight, that you also have options that are free from actually edX or YouTube or medium or other other platforms. So for us what we do, we basically take all of this content and look really at the quality of the content. And so we have a system that can actually check and validate if the content is good or not. We’re using NLP and AI for that to do this initial analysis, looking at all the data that that is in each actually content piece, and then only the best content that is out there lands on on the Innential platform, and then it’s delivered based on needs. And this is also like another, let’s say, big chunk to making sure that we’re providing the content directly to the specific needs of the individual person, or the needs of let’s say the organization that is currently looking for, let’s say, you know, let’s onboarding someone or upskilling those juniors who are just just joining.
Matt Watson 14:50
So, as some of the content duplicated? So, for example, this um, I upload the exact same like 30 minute video to Udemy and the Pluralsight and two Central YouTube and like, potentially you have the exact same video that’s a multiple of these sites too.
Kris Gunciarz 15:06
So typically, I would say it’s a good question. But typically, I would say no. And normally, let’s say the content is, is limited to the this particular provider. It could be though, right? We actually don’t don’t know for sure if let’s say the content from Udemy and YouTube, if someone, let’s say, the person who is was upload content to Udemy, has also uploaded it to YouTube. And I will argue algorithm found out that it’s the same, it’s obviously not going to be there. But then if it’s, if it’s something different, maybe different description, different titles, it could end up on the platform.
Matt Watson 15:43
Just curious. So I have a friend here in Kansas City, his name is Corey House, who has created a lot of videos on Pluralsight. They’re actually some of the most popular videos on Pluralsight. And I don’t know how much money he makes right now from portal site. But at one time, I think he was making like, hundreds of 1000s of dollars a year or something crazy, from his videos that he made and just published on there. So it’s insane. Some of these content creators can make a huge amount of money for creating super high quality content and putting them on these platforms to which is its own interesting monetization strategy. Just like you have great content creators on YouTube that make money. There’s a couple of them, I follow that publish new videos every couple days, and they get like, hundreds of 1000s of views and stuff. So you guys, continually pull in new videos from YouTube? Like, how do you deal with that part of it? Because there’s like new videos every day? And how do you? How do you figure out which ones are good? And which ones to pull in?
Kris Gunciarz 16:47
Yeah, so for us, we have the content team that actually makes sure to look at specific publications. So for example, YouTube is a very specific case because if we would just, let’s say, pour all the content that is out there, that might be tricky. So we actually looking at publications that we know are providing quality content. So for example, Free Code Camp has, you know, videos and other materials that we could, we could provide, are there other publications for, let’s say, business topics or sales topics that we actually digging into, and not let’s say, like the entire YouTube library. Same for example, for for for Udemy, like there to make sure that we have, let’s say quality content, we’re also looking only at content that is rated higher than 4.2, I think, at this time. So discounted that is to say, rated lower, or actually has no ratings would not end up on the Innentia because then also like we we wouldn’t know if it’s a quality content or not.
Matt Watson 17:48
So if I, I can’t wait to go in there. And I want to I want to see if there’s like a whole growth plan of like watching Mr. Beast videos. Is that is that a plan? I want to, I’m gonna try that.
Kris Gunciarz 18:01
Good to be good to be exactly.
Matt Watson 18:05
So what? How do you guys sell your product? How do you how do you charge for it?
Kris Gunciarz 18:13
Yeah, so we have a normal SaaS license, licenses. So we we sell those, let’s say packages of, let’s say 50 100 150 users to access the product. So this is pretty much depends on the the size and say we have this starter pack option that costs 200 euros, $200 a month, this is what you can start with up to 50, 50 users. And then normally the company who is working with us would use their training budget or learning budget. So there’s budget that you dedicate for individual employee to basically train and you use those budgets to purchase individual resources. But what’s interesting about us is that we don’t charge you for, let’s say yearly subscriptions with Pluralsight, or Udemy, or others. So you only buy what you actually need from those providers for that particular period of time. And that’s actually what’s what’s pretty interesting because many times when it comes to learning, the challenges that it’s not being, let’s say, courses and passwords are not being used throughout the entire year. You only use it in those particular moments when you actually need it. So let’s say someone is not on a project, and it’s on the bench or like it’s in this in between time that we talked about. Then it’s the moment when probably you will jump into courses and learn more about something new or completely change maybe your profile because this is where you have the time.
Matt Watson 19:50
Well, so as I mentioned before, at Full Scale, we’ve got 300 employees that do software development for the people and we’re always trying to train them and we, we have been using Pluralsight. And it’s definitely a challenge when you have 300 employees because like, I don’t want to buy a license for, you know, 300 of them, or 200 of them, if they’re not all going to use it, right? Like, Pluralsight is not cheap, I don’t remember, is it like $500 a year or something like that I remember what the number is. But it’s several $100, it’s several $100. And you really need the ability to like, one month, like 30, people are going to use it the next month, like 50, people will use it or whatever, and kind of move it around. And that is always been one of my challenges. Pluralsight for the last, like 10 plus years when I’ve had employees is, it’s like, I don’t want to buy licenses for everybody because I know not everybody is going to use it. And so I feel like one of the biggest problems that your your company your product actually solves is that is being able to say, you know, we know we need training for a lot of people, but different people use it different months. So you guys can help optimize that spend and that expense. So to that degree, I feel like it will pay for your pays for your product, right? Like we’re gonna save money on Pluralsight. And then we can pay a few dollars for your for your product, and you’re actually gonna help us save money on Pluralsight. You kind of see that as one of your biggest benefits?
Kris Gunciarz 21:15
This is definitely one of those one of the big ones, but also the fact that you can actually access different providers. So you’re not only Yeah, it’s a using Pluralsight. But some providers, let’s say for cloud are way better than Pluralsight. And some providers for, let’s say more business topics, let’s say like even Udemy is just a separate thing. So you would need to really have multiple different subscriptions that actually cover all the needs that you might have in your organization’s. So, that’s I think another thing that is very, very valuable with with our product.
Matt Watson 21:51
Which also kind of date, it’s also kind of dangerous. I use like not not that not dangerous, dangerous. But it’s also kind of dangerous from an expense perspective, right? Because you could go in and like, hey, I need a license, a Pluralsight, and I need a license to Udemy. And I need a license to Coursera. And it’s like, now you spend $200 A month because you’re using all these things, right? So when I say dangerous is just from an expense perspective, you have to be kind of careful of like, okay, we really want content, probably from one of those providers. Otherwise, you’re it. It’s like living in the US today, you got to pay for Hulu, and you got to pay for Netflix and Paramount, Apple TV, it’s like we’re paying for all of them. And all of a sudden, right? Isn’t it enough to watch? Is there enough shit to watch on one of these things? Like why do I gotta pay for all of them. But it would, it would be great. If in the future, all of those different providers, instead of charging per month would charge like per stream or viewing or more like consumption based would be nice, because you’re like, I just need one video from Udemy and two videos from this and whatever, but
Kris Gunciarz 22:58
But their business model then is not not adding up for them as well. Right? That’s yeah, that’s always the challenge here. So that’s why I think you know, with Udemy, this is more or less what you could do what you can do, right, you can buy just a single single course. And then you don’t need to buy those those yearly licenses. But still, let’s say if you’re you know, if you keep on using the platform, it might make more sense to buy it yearly. You know, what’s interesting is like we see, especially with with larger companies, larger customers of ours, they have used, say three or four or five different subscriptions for LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Pluralsight, economic guru, some other providers. And it all adds up. And they are, let’s say, you know, overlapping at one point because you basically are using LinkedIn learning and let’s say Udemy, sometimes that their courses might be very similar, but still, you know, if it’s a larger organization, they already have purchased this licenses and they have won a year or two years of, of contracts that they that they do. So what we’re trying to do is to basically optimize this as you as you mentioned, as I mentioned, and making it accessible to everyone so that you can access all these courses, all this providers without having to really struggle in a sense of setting up all of these different contracts and and having those yearly licenses for everyone.
Matt Watson 24:28
So your, your largest customer today, how many employees do you think they have that may use your platform? Do you have customers with 1000s of employees?
Kris Gunciarz 24:38
Yeah, so I think the largest one at the moment is over 2000 or 2500 employees. So it’s a company here, here in Europe, Nortel actually, they have been using us since two years now and exactly they have actually teams all over the all over the globe and and they are using us for skilling certifications, rescaling their teams.
Matt Watson 25:07
So, you know, at Full Scale, we’re not at that level yet. We’re at 200, something almost 300 employees. But I can definitely appreciate the problems when you have like hundreds and 1000s of employees have constantly need to reskill and upskill employees. You know, when you just have like 10 people, it’s not as big, big of a thing. And you’re like, oh, I need to teach one person about something, you don’t really think much about it. It’s like, hey, you know, we’ll teach teachers one guy this thing. But when you got hundreds of people, or 1000s of people like us, or Nortel or whatever, it’s like a never ending never ending challenge. You’re like, okay, AI came out? How do I teach everyone to use AI? And what how does that affect their job? Right? So like, at Full Scale, we’ve had some we’ve had some of our employees create our own content about using AI with different programming languages and get hubs co-pilot and chat GBT and things like that, which is great. And we you know, it’s not super high quality content. Love you guys if you’re listening, but it’s not super high quality content, but it’s content. But it’s a never ending set of challenges to train. Right. And so that’s, that’s where it’s like regret to use your platform of like, hey, how do we go find super high quality content, you know, on AI and ChatGPT and all that stuff that was done by like, professional and you know, kind of instructors and content creators who are super good at what they do that, that we can show to our team and train them all these things. But like AI, I think is a great example of something that comes kind of out of nowhere, that, especially for software developers, it’s like, how would we use AI to like build products, improve products, right, but then how do we use AI to like write code? How do we use AI to help us do things with our job that aren’t just writing code, but like soft skills? Or writing emails or research? Or? I mean, I use it all the time for just like, how do I, how do I do this thing with Google’s API? Like I use? It’s like, you know, it’s like, the cheat code for looking at docs, like instead of going and digging through dogs, like just ask it and like, magically knows, right? Like, there’s so many things. And I would imagine you you’ve had to talk to several customers that like AI has to be one of the big topics that somebody would use, you know, a product like yours.
Kris Gunciarz 27:24
Yeah, definitely, definitely, I think it’s, it all comes down to the strategy that the company has, right. So let’s say if, like, you know, we work with those IT services companies, and if their customers are now all of a sudden requesting anything about AI, which is actually the case, right, like you probably also have had it in your company, Matt, is that you have your customers talking about generative AI or other topics. And you’re like, Alright, I need to get, get the generative AI topic going. So what’s the best way to actually do it, right. So you can, of course, record your own videos, which you can also upload to financial and then distributed to everyone, especially if you have a larger team, right. So you want to make sure that everyone is on on it on the topic. But you can also use existing materials like high quality stuff that is out there being produced regularly by content producers, those guys who are, you know, doing it professionally, and they make sure that this is a quality stuff that you’re going to learn quickly. But it’s really a variety of topics, we see that sometimes it could be something related to cloud, sometimes it could be more, let’s say soft skill, power skill related topics. Like recently, we had this case with one of our customers who talked about how to quickly provide interview training for the teams that are now in between projects. So especially in IT services, know when you’re in between projects, sometimes in in some business models, you might want to have your engineers being interviewed by the customer, right. And then the customer wants to talk to the talk to the engineer, but as you know, sometimes engineers say are maybe not the most interview. Let’s say the people who are more happy to do interviews, and are good at it. So it’s good to actually help them out a little bit, right, like help them out with providing them some training on that. So this was one of the cases, right, which is not really strictly technology related, but also also related to topics that are relevant and not not really just just tech.
Matt Watson 29:41
So changing topics a little bit. I’m curious, how do you how do you sell your product? So as entrepreneurs, especially software developer types, like us, like we can create products, we’re going to create creating them, having product vision, solving our own problems, just like you, but then there’s this huge challenge of like how do I actually sell this thing? And a lot of people overlook that part of it, they get enamored with the problem, they go they go build a product, but how do you guys sell, sell what you do?
Kris Gunciarz 30:12
Yeah, I think this, this has been the biggest learning, I would say, on my end, because you know, coming also from the from the service industry first, where you know, it’s relatively simple because it’s simpler. I would say it’s not simple, it’s simpler. Where you have your service, you know, someone is that service, you sell the service, you know. And here, you know, with product, it’s, it’s a little bit more navigating around use cases, what people exactly want and what they need, what kind of problems are you solving. So for us recently, this is a recent thing, what has been our biggest shift is to really narrow down our niche. And so we were actually going a bit broader when it comes to tech. So now we decided, alright, we are actually going to focus only on the IT services, IT consulting, so the dev shops, because we understand those problems much better. And we can target this type of customers were way better. So we actually like if, like, if we go to practicalities, like we do, experiment with several channels. So first of all, you know, simply just outreach is one of the main channels, I would say, email, LinkedIn makes calls. And this is like one of the one of the, let’s say, bread and butter kind of channels. But we also produce a lot of, or started to produce a lot of content. So content, partnerships, content that we have on our blog on our platform that we are distributing, we’ve seen a lot of that it’s also bringing us bringing us leads. And we want to now this is like a push in that direction. But we’re also experimenting a lot. So a recent thing that we introduced in our team is this experimentation mindset that is changing significantly how we think about sales, where we’re running those like two weeks experiments of different channels are different ways how we can basically approach and whatever hits we basically go that direction. I’d say that’s that’s the that’s the current approach. So long as long story short, it’s it’s tricky. It’s tricky thing is the trickiest part of the of the of the business there, get it get it right.
Matt Watson 32:27
Well, I talk about this a lot on my blog and on LinkedIn. And if you guys don’t follow me on LinkedIn, just look up Matt Watson on LinkedIn, I post stuff every day. About for me, the easiest part about business and software business, a lot of times is writing the code is. You know, knowing what code to write is its own set of problems and the challenge of the product and how the product should work and how to architect it like all of those are problems. And those are really hard problems to solve. I feel like actually writing the code is the easiest part. But the hardest part of all, is the go-to-market strategy, like how do we sell this thing, right? And so you kind of describe how it’s working for you now and some of those challenges, but I guess I’m curious, from the time that you guys started selling, like you built a product, you started selling it? Did you have any that go-to-market figured out, or it took you another year or two to kind of figure out the go-to-market? Or?
Kris Gunciarz 33:24
Yeah, so for us, you know, when we started, when we started selling the product, we actually did this, the biggest mistake or maybe not the biggest mistake, but the biggest learnings that we’ve had so far, when it comes to product is how to what kind of problem you’re solving for, for your audience. Right? So this is like, we’ve built a product that that was based on interviews, but this interview has not been done properly in the first place. So then we build it the wrong product. And we started to sell that product and we were like, Okay, it’s not selling so what is what’s happening, you know, we really needed to take a step back and trying to understand like, Alright, so what’s what’s wrong? Like? What are we doing, like trying to redo the interview process, trying to understand deeper the user the segment that the use case? And that was kind of, let’s say, unlocking it, I mean, I don’t say it’s completely unlocked, but slowly started to unlock for us the sales process. So I would say, you know, when we thought about you know, the go-to-market, or like so like first you know, with this ideas, like naively like alright, we can go and just gonna solve because we know we build this based on like interviews, you know, and we know
Matt Watson 34:35
ya know, the audience everybody needs this know, probably everybody
Kris Gunciarz 34:38
knew this. Yeah, exactly. But then it was like, yeah, actually, it’s not not what anybody needs actually. And, and then we had to, like completely restructure and change and, and I think where we are right now, it’s already like, it’s, it’s been, I think, two years or more that we’ve been experimenting and changing and adapting, and this is this, I think, It is a long process a good learning, though.
Matt Watson 35:02
So originally where you’re trying to sell to where you’re trying to originally target a different type of customer, are you just trying to target everyone?
Kris Gunciarz 35:11
Yeah, so we were going after I would say the general tech we set. So this is basically customers, could be startups could be scale ups could be, let’s say it services firms could be actually tech teams in enterprises. So we went all over the place a little bit of then started to narrow it down. And really this narrowing it down is I think the most the most relevant thing, like going into like one niche is very, very helpful. Even like, you don’t have really the brain capacity to like, think about five different niches and or 10 different niches. It’s just way easier for for Yeah, you know, maybe you have the brain capacity, but there is still the team who that needs to support you and like, discussing it with everyone is way easier?
Matt Watson 35:57
Well, it’s funny, it’s like the product is probably 80% the same, right? But there’s a little bit that’s different. And some of it’s just the term is the terminology and the specific value proposition, right? Like there’s on the dev agency, it’s easy to like speak that language, and have the right messaging around that. Versus if you’re also like, Hey, you have 1000s of manufacturing employees that you need to get certified and learn how to use equipment or whatever, like whatever the things are, that sort of like a different different, you know, value proposition, like potentially the software does both. But, you know, going across industries and verticals like that, you have to make everything kind of more generic. But when you make things more generic, you kind of don’t sell to anybody and their language, right like that. That’s the hard part.
Kris Gunciarz 36:43
And also, you know, they’re standing deeper problems that the customer has, right? So if we going into, you know, IT is considered as consulting or dev shops, like we’re trying to understand, right, like they’re selling this type of customer. And then when they’re selling for the SaaS customers, like what happens, like, what do they really need to do? So for example, we’ve learned, like topics like certifications are very, very important for certain types of dev shops, right? Not for everyone, actually. But like for certain types, where they’re selling to customers who actually require those certifications, or maybe they want to sell their services for premium. And they say, right, you know, we’re AWS Certified, or we’re Microsoft Certified. And that way, we also, you know, this is only the one way how we can really deeply understand the customer is to really narrow down on that niche.
Matt Watson 37:34
Well, I love it. And, you know, this is a reminder that this podcast is brought to you by Full Scale. And, you know, I think we definitely could use your guy’s product to certify our employees and all the different things, we had Azure, and AWS and programming languages, and all these things, and we do some of that stuff today. But I think your guys’s platform, would help us organize and do that in a more effective way. And so I’m definitely a fan of what you’re doing. And if anybody needs to hire software developers and grow their team, please keep us in mind. We’ve got 300 hardworking, very talented employees who work for a lot of different people doing a lot of different things. And we can help. So, Kris, what do you what do you see is the what is the future? What is the next step for your company?
Kris Gunciarz 38:17
Yeah, so for us, you know, as I mentioned at the beginning, we are a we say we are basically a learning assistant. So we can support you pretty much as an extra team member who is working for you within this learning space that pretty much does a lot of different things. So having this integration, I mean, we already integrated with AI for topics like analyzing what kind of needs you have individually are recommending you the content that. We see in the future that really going deeper into becoming pretty much, let’s say, an AI-oriented company, and that learning assistant is quite relevant. We, obviously, you know, trying to now with trying to go for different markets. So we’ve been approaching Europe, but now we’re also going a little bit broader and trying to see how it is in the US markets are for us. So that’s definitely going to be an important and important step. Yeah, I think those are the two main things at the moment.
Matt Watson 39:23
All right. Well, thank you so much for being on our show today. always liked it in the show and ask if you have any other final words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs out there.
Kris Gunciarz 39:33
Yeah, I think, you know, as we were talking about and find your niche, I think that said, let’s say the most recent one from that I’ve learned, and that really unlocked a lot of things, so having that, you know, finding that niche that segments that works for you. Going too broad is difficult. Going, you know, a bit narrower simplifies your life. So, you can actually achieve much, much more with that.
Matt Watson 40:03
Absolutely. That’s fantastic advice. Well, everybody, this was Kris Gunciarz from Innential, and his company is I-N-N- E-N-T-I-A-L.com. From Berlin, so thank you so much for being on the show today.
Thank you, Matt. It was great talking to you. See you, everyone.