From $0 - 100 Million With No Sales People

Just watched a 35 min retrospective talk with the Atlassian co-founder and CEO Scott Farquhar and here's the rundown of it, in bullet points. The talk itself at the bottom.

1. start with two (founders)

  • divide half each, go 50/50.
    it's basically half of nothing when you start of. It doesn't matter if one work harder than the other. You're going to build this together so, go 50/50
  • don't be stingy about it

2. need a business model

  • online you can sell things under 10K
  • if you sell stuff for more than 10K you need sales people
  • ppl could download our software, no professional services
  • SaaS isn't a business model, it's a delivery model
  • we couldn't have a sales team, we couldn't afford one
  • needed to sell itself
  • affordable, low price
  • need to sell a ton of stuff, global
  • stay true to your model
  • online sales + OEM sales is just not gonna work
  • OEM sales is the antithesis of a word of mouth business model

3. use your own product

  • you are your best customer

there's thousands of other startups doing the same thing, you don't really have time going around asking customers what they want, get feedback etc

4. test everything!

  • where people come from, sales by country.
  • even if you don't have time to analyse the data, make sure to capture it
  • you have to test everything ...and fail fast
  • New York is not a great place to start a tech company
  • after 6 months in NYC we moved to the west coast

5. Always Be Marketing

  • Be loud and unique
  • Sponsor beer instead of having a booth
  • Ship something tangible (we shipped t-shirts)
  • make everything a campaign
  • we don't really work with recruiters
  • did a recruitment run a bounty hunt, generated lots of press

6. your first idea will fail

  • your first idea in a business failing isn't necessary a bad thing
  • don't be afraid that your first idea fails

7. long term thinking

  • always wanted to build something that would last beyond me
  • our mission: we wanted to the be the best
    • iterate your mission atlassian: "create useful products people lust after"
  • goal: 50.000 customers, when we had 500 customers

8. know when to switch gears

  • when you're a startup you need to be absolutely scrappy
  • eventually I had to let go of the reigns
  • struggle to move from generalists > specialists
  • it's tough to bring in management
  • bring in support (devs usually suck at it)
  • we've let 40 people go. the hardest thing to do
  • you have to trust your guts, no one will back you up (on firing ppl)

9. build somewhere you want to work (for as long as you want to work with it)

  • build and set culture!
  • culture starts with hiring
  • we use top grading for hiring
  • there are two things you want to know about a person
    • are they smart, will they survive, will they find their fit where you put them
    • are they passionate
  • you need to have company values, more important when the founders aren't there any more
  • Our values
    • open company, no bullshit
    • build with heart and balance
    • don't fuck the customer
    • play, as a team
    • be the change you seek
  • what this mean is that we attract more people like us. //with the same values

10. give experiences

  • if people do a good job, don't give them cash bonus.
  • no one remember cash bonus
  • people remember experiences

Watch the talk here, if your impatience can handle it.


photo by alvaroanovo