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[Transcript] The appliance of science: Mark Roberge’s formula for scaling

Kate: Mark, welcome to the show. We are so delighted to feature you as part of this new ongoing series of Scale. You’ve had such an impressive career to date with experience that takes in venture capital, lecturing at Harvard Business School, writing a best-selling book. And that’s all after you left HubSpot, having been part of the founding team. So maybe to kick us off, could you give us a rundown of your career to date and add some color?

Mark: Thank you for that introduction. I started my career as an engineer. That’s why I studied. I studied that undergrad. I wrote code for the first couple of years, but, very early on, got the entrepreneur bug, and then ended up at business school at MIT, which is a very quant-oriented program. And then just by serendipitous luck, ended up at HubSpot, as part of the team.

And also as luck, was directed to be the salesperson and run sales. And I was very fortunate that, the timing of me finding myself in that sea, had this, unbeknownst to me, there was a pretty significant shift happening in the industry of sales. We were moving from these outside sales teams to inside it. It’s almost hard to imagine a world where we didn’t have an inside sales team closing business today. But a good 15 years ago, that was a relatively new concept. And what that meant was a tremendous amount of data available to us in running our teams.

And for a former engineer quant, that’s just a really fun thing to geek out on, and that’s what I did… not to later on write a book, not to later on teach at Harvard Business School, but, honestly, just to survive. When I get nervous, and I’m under pressure, I lean to the quant. And so that was just a remarkable, life-changing, blessed, nine-year run that led to the book that led to teaching at Harvard Business School. And then, just another serendipitous piece of more recently starting a venture capital firm, that we can talk more about later, help with the ecosystem as well, all within the frame of world-class, go-to-market design.

Kate: Thank you so much for that. That’s a really, really interesting recap, really interesting summary. So let’s dig into the book, The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology and Inbound Selling to Go from Zero to a Hundred Million. It’s enjoyed huge success. But earlier this year you decided to release an e-book, which builds upon the content that you had launched previously. Why did you feel it was due an update, Mark?

Mark: I probably wouldn’t even look at it as a revision of Sales Acceleration Formula, but just really a different objective and a different book altogether. The Sales Acceleration Formula, to be honest, I didn’t set out to write a book. I was having breakfast with a good friend of mine and extraordinarily successful multi best-selling author, Jill Konrath, in the world of sales, and she had proposed writing a book together, The Art and Science of Sales. Actually, she wrote it on a piece of paper when we’re sitting at the Inbound Conference together. So that’s how I got into the idea of writing a book. And when we both wrote a sample chapter, she was just like, “You gotta write your own book.” And I was like, “Okay.” I mean, I respected her, and she said she’d help me out and that’s what led me to write it.

And a big part of the motivation was I’m always looking for ways to impact the entrepreneur ecosystem at scale. And I was using my commute to and from work to do calls with entrepreneurs that were looking to learn about how we built the HubSpot sales team. And they were literally the same question every morning and every evening on the ride. And it turned out that I get these letters, these emails, after the fact, saying how much the advice helped and these outcomes that were really impacting their businesses. So that was the main motivation. This is a pretty obvious book to write that I think could make a pretty big impact, because I’m getting the same questions every time, and I’m telling them what we did, and they’re making an impact on these businesses. So it’s everything from how to think about hiring salespeople, training sales people, managing sales people and providing them with demand, all within the foundation. That was the sales acceleration formula.

But then, since leaving HubSpot, and joining the faculty at Harvard Business School, I was given a lot of flexibility to remain very active in practice, and I really enjoy the startup scene. So I basically parachuted into a different startup every quarter and spent a day a week there. And after about six weeks, came back to the board and the management team with what I call “go-to-market assessment.” And that was essentially two or three go-to-market risks that they probably weren’t as focused on as I would be and some guidance on how best-in-class businesses have previously mitigated those risks and that. And looking back on that, these entrepreneurs told me that, that assessment made a big impact on their business and helped them avoid some, possibly, fatal potholes for their business.

And so, I started studying what the pattern was amongst those observations, specifically, providing a more data-driven perspective on when a business is ready to scale and how fast. Those are two, very critical questions that, if you get them wrong, they can kill your business. And, yet, when I would ask entrepreneurs how they think about them, they were just pretty subjective and qualitative. And that’s really what my more recent work, that’s currently in a form of an e-book, called The Science of Scaling, really sets out to answer is, “Precisely when should we scale? And precisely how fast?”

Kate: Right, because from drawing on all that experience as a VC, you’ve seen companies falter at the point and struggle at that point.

Mark: Yeah. This was even before deciding to do a venture capital firm. I was really just out there, being called into various startups to help, and that’s where I started to do the work. And the venture capital business, my partner Jay, who is over… Jay Po was over at Bessemer, and we started to do some work together on their portfolio with this framework, and he was like, “We need to start a venture capital firm based on this. We need to start the first venture capital firm that’s run and backed by sales and marketing leaders to help entrepreneurs with the go-to-market design.”

So, again, I didn’t I didn’t really set out… I didn’t wake up one day and try to go into venture capital, but Jay, I had formed a really great personal and professional relationship with him, and then he had this idea, and I realized that this could have a huge impact on the ecosystem. It could really change the success rate of startups as we know it. That’s a big idea, and that was worth putting time behind. So now, I’ve moved a lot of that, pretty much, I’ve moved all of that advisement work over to doing the same effort through the front of the framework of a venture capital firm.

Kate: I’d love to chat a little bit more about that framework that you’ve developed for organizations who are at that point, organizations that are ready to scale. Can you talk us through those phases as you see them?

Mark: Sure. So there’s three: Product market fit, go-to-market fit and growth and moat. And so, when I go out, and I ask entrepreneurs and I ask my students at [inaudible] Harvard about, “When do you think you’re ready to scale?” Pretty much all of them say the same thing, which is product market fit, and I think that’s a pretty good answer. And that kind of came from the remarkable work of Eric Ries in The Lean Startup and Steve Blank and his work on customer research. This is roughly almost 20 years ago now, and it profoundly changed entrepreneurship for the better. Prior to that, we would sit in a room for a year and build a product without the customer, and that was not good. And thanks to Eric Ries, we work with customers to build products. We test and iterate and we pivot and we do a lot of minimum viable products. We invented this word called “product market fit,” and it’s our zero to one execution is so much better because of it.

However, there’s just too subjective approach to product market fit. When I do ask students, “Okay, well…” or ask entrepreneurs, “What is product market fit?” I’ll get 10 different answers from 10 different entrepreneurs, and they’re pretty subjective. Sometimes they’ll be like, “revenue.” And maybe even they’ll throw some quant behind it, like, “When I hit a million in revenue, I have product market fit.” Yeah, I couldn’t disagree more, to be blunt. I just don’t think sales have anything to do with product market fit. I think that’s message market fit. I mean, you told the buyer a story, and they gave you some money. Fine. Has nothing to do whether your product solves the problem or not, or whether they still have value. So I think that’s not a good answer.

Sometimes they’ll say, “You know, a workable product and a big market.” And that’s fine, but what exactly does that mean? What’s a workable product and what’s a big market? And I know Sean Ellis has some good work on when you survey a customers and 40% say they can’t live without it, and that’s much better. Now you’re getting more toward the product value side, and you’re providing some quant around it. I’m just really concerned with the typical false positive risk that a survey can yield. I don’t, Kate, if you’ve taken a survey on a product from an entrepreneur, I’m always really nice.

Kate: Very kind. Very kind.

Mark: Yeah, I don’t want to hurt their feelings. So for me, if I were to choose a metric, I would choose customer attention. I think that says a lot if someone keeps buying your product or buys more of your product or renews your product, however it is, whether it’s a sweatshirt or software subscription or whatever. I think that says a lot. Now, the problem is customer retention. It takes a long time to figure out what it is. It can take a year. And let’s just talk software for a sec, because this is mostly the world we’re living in, or at least on this webinar. So it takes a year for us to know what our customer retention is sometimes. So what we have to do is seek out and leading indicator in customer attention. And that, to me, is the basis of good product market fit definition.

Mark: And so, I have… I don’t think there’s a universal answer to a leading indicator. Yeah, I don’t think it’s always like people set up your product or people use it every day or anything like that. I think it’s unique to the business, but I do see that most good leading indicator designs have the following format, which is P percent of customers do E events within T time. Okay, so you isolate it down to three variables, the P, the E and the T. If you look at Slack, there’s pretty much if 75% of customers sent 2,000 team messages within 30 days. I think if that happens, they’re product market fit. And if it doesn’t, they probably don’t. I like that definition. And Dropbox, 85% of customers back up their files within one hour. And for HubSpot, I know ours was 80% of customers use five or more features out of our 25 features within 60 days. So that’s it: P percent, E events, T time. And I think that’s a far better definition of when we have product market fit. I’ll stop there, Kate, before we go to go-to- market, but does that make sense?

Kate: That’s super interesting. These are things that I talk to my customers about every day. How do we get our customers to do X action so that they’re activated, they’ve adopted and, ultimately, as you said, we’re impacting retention, so that’s really interesting. And it is that no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s going to be different for everyone, but there is that framework or that guide that we can follow, right?

Mark: Yeah, again, I think that’s a much better approach than a big, workable product in a big market. And, it’s like the P percent is usually between 1680. The T is usually like 30 to 60 days if you can. Dropbox can do it within an hour or two, because it’s so easy. And Workday selling to huge companies, that might take six months. But, for the most part, it’s 30 to 60 days. Th E is the hard thing to define, and it is usually something around product setup or usage, or if you even have a low time and effort to value, it could be seeing some sort of value, like a lift in leads, or something that’s measurable there. That’s the tougher part. But at least it gives us a much more precise framework in which to define.

Kate: Fantastic. So what happens next? We’ve got product market fit. What’s next in the framework?

Mark: So at this point, Product market fit, again, all we’re trying to do is we’ve proven that when we sign up a handful of customers, 10, 20 30, a large percentage of them will see the value that we promised them. We’re creating that value consistently. That has nothing to do with profitability and scalability. In fact, I’d encourage you not to do scale. I’d encourage you to unscalable things at that stage. My friend, David Cancel, who would ran product for us at HubSpot and now founded Drift, in the early days of Drift, he literally got on an airplane to onboard customers that were paying him $50 a month. I mean, if you’re doing that, that’s good, during the product market fit stage. It is so hard, Kate, as you know, to invent the business idea one day, and to literally get 80% of your people you sell to realize the value. If you do that, you have achieved something that’s so few entrepreneurs have achieved, and you should just throw everything and the kitchen sink at them to make that happen.

Now, when you have that, go-to-market fit is about doing that scalably. It’s about doing that profitably, before we’re ready to add a bunch of sales reps. And in our world, Kate, of SaaS and software, we usually talk about that in the form of unit economics. Okay, so we search for LTV to CAC ratios of three, greater than three. We search for payback periods less than 12 months, 12 months or less. And again, our payback, our unit economics are lagging indicators. If we sign up a bunch of customers this quarter, we may not know until January or February what the unit economics on the effort is.

Kate: That makes it tough. That is tough.

Mark: So we, again, have to seek out the leading indicators. Just like product market fit was a lead indicator to customer retention, go-to-market fit is the leading indicators to unit economics. And this one’s a little easier, it’s algebraic in the sense of all we’re trying to do is knowing that we want to have an LTV to CAC ratio greater than three, we just have to basically calculate what that means for our sales activities today. So if we’re going to if we’re going to have an LTV to CAC greater than three, how many appointments a week do our SDRs need to set up? What does the conversion rate from appointment to customer need to be for our sales reps? What is the average sales price for the customers that we sell? These are some of the inputs that we’ll know sooner, we’ll know, kind of now, that will yield the unit economics down the road. So that’s where we can just simply set up a dashboard, an RCM or whatever, to figure out where that sort of line in the sand needs to be and then operate to see if we’re above it.

Okay. And so, with those two things in mind, our decisions around go-to-market design are very different. So when we’re pursuing product market fit, I don’t really care about your pricing model. I don’t really care about any sort of compensation design for your reps. I don’t even care that you have scalable demand yet. I would think you need dozens of customers. You should be able to get that through referrals, like personal referrals or referrals through investor or referrals through your board. You should do unscalable things. You do not need a codifiable sales process. If you’re going to hire a sales person, do not hire the scalable sales rep. They’re not going to help you. You got to hire someone that’s some sort of a mix between a product manager and account executive. You look for early adopters. This is the playbook from pursuing product-market fit.

When we get to the pursuit of go-to-market fit, that’s different. Now, the pricing model does matter. Now the commission plan does matter. Now having a sales playbook is required, having one scalable demand channel is necessary. So those are the definitions and how it impacts our decisions.

Kate: It’s almost like you’ve earned the right, then, to mature. You’ve earned the right to grow up and almost start worrying about those things.

Mark: Right. And it provides us, as entrepreneurs, with a clear North Star for organization, a sequential North Star. If we’re at the product market fit stage, let’s not talk about the pricing model. You know what I mean? Just get them paying something. I love it at that stage to tell a customer, “Listen. It sounds like what you need is what we’ve built and thank you for elaborating on your needs. We’ve got 10 customers today. We’re just trying to get to 20 beta customers. We’re selling this thing at $70,000 a year at scale, but we’re giving our first 20 customers a 90% discount. Would you be willing to jump on board?” That’s fun. It’s not free. I just need enough to get them committed to set the thing up and use it. Not only does it define our North Star from a metric perspective, but it instructs us on what decisions in the go-to-market design are critical at this point.

Kate: And then what happens next?

Mark: Now, we’re ready to go, kid. Once we have product-market fit, and we have go-to-market fit, we’re ready to scale. And listen, I’m not advocating going slower. I’m just advocating growing healthier. No one comes up with a business idea and then hires 20 sales people. You just don’t do that. Bu what this does is allowed us… You can take two or three months, you can get through each one of phases. A lot of times, it takes longer, but at least it tells us we’re ready, and now we’re ready to hire salespeople. Okay, now, so that’s the answer to, “When are you ready to scale now?”

The other piece is, “How fast?” And this is another area that I see it just kills businesses. It kills good businesses. Pretty much 50 out of 50 entrepreneurs that I’ve met the last year, did this. They built their product. It was going well. They had some initial customers. They felt like they had product-market fit, and they raised a big round of financing from a venture capital firm. And they hired 20 sales people in next month. That’s really bad.

Kate: That makes me nervous.

Mark: I’ve never seen that work. I’ve seen it tried. I mean, maybe it has work, but I haven’t seen it. And it’s like, if you’re a 20, 30-person company and you’re going to hire 20 reps a month… How could you do that? Do you know how many interviews that is? Who’s going to manage them? Where’s the demand gen going to come from to get the meetings necessary to hit their quota? And everyone does it, so… Go ahead, Kate. I know you’re trying to say something there.

Kate: I was going to say, I think that, as a sales rep, as someone who, every day, this is my role, this is what I’m doing, that’s sort of more considered… not cautious. “Cautious” is the wrong word, but more measured approach. It’s attractive, rather than knowing you’re going somewhere that just has a ton of heads and not the same input, or you went through the same sort of success as a rep, if that’s the strategy.

Mark: The goal is to get them to be able to hire 20 reps a month. That would be fantastic.

Kate: The dream.

Mark: But they’re just not ready at that point. And so, that’s the… The final stage is growth and moat, and this is where we’re starting to add sales people, and we’re going after the question, “Now that we’re ready to scale, now that we have product-market and go-to-market fit, how fast should we scale?” And the answer to that is a pace, not a lump sum hire. It’s not about hiring 20 reps in the beginning of the year and crossing your fingers that they work out, because they’re probably not going to. It’s about hiring one rep a month for four or five months. And then, what we’ve got, is we’ve instrumented this leading indicator of customer retention, and we’ve instrumented this leading indicator to unit economics. And we just watch the instrument. I call it “the speedometer”. We watch the speedometer, and if the speedometer stays green, we go faster. If we hire one rep a month for five months, and the speedometer stays green, you’re doing it well. Go to two reps a month for five months. And then four reps a month for five months. And then eight reps a month. Now, we’re cooking. And you’ve shown that you know how to hire reps and onboard them and coach them to productivity.

And you can form a management layer. And that’s what happens in the growth and moat stage. So our work in the product-market and the go-to-market phase of finding our lead indicator to customer tension, our lead indicator of unit economics, becomes our speedometer as to how fast we can actually scale.

Kate: And to think a little bit more about that phase where we’re adding heads, we’re building our teams, I think one of the things that really sticks out is the importance that you place on alignment between those teams. And I would love to drill into that a little bit more and ask what are the different strengths that teams can offer one another at that point? So for example, what might a customer support team learn from sales and vice versa?

Mark: Yeah, it’s a good question, Kate, this whole [inaudible 00:25:51]. That’s one of the key questions just in the go-to-market design. It’s in vogue these days to have specialists, to have one person set the appointment, one person close the appointment and one person onboard the customer and even have another person potentially expand and renew them. We’re in a massive specialization preference these days, which wasn’t always the case and still, in some sales models, isn’t used. Just look at partners at McKinsey or BCG? They pretty much do the whole thing. They set the appointments, in a way. They’re out there networking with CEOs of public companies. They sell the deal. And then they are a big part of the delivery. They lead the delivery. And that’s the optimal design.

So you have to think about what’s best for you and your organization. Having one person run the whole thing, like at McKinsey or BCG, that’s awesome for the customer. They meet one person. They like that person. That person understands their business, and they work with them for the lifespan of the relationship. Fantastic. And, also, it really eliminates any sort of alignment complexities as a manager. No one’s going to set a bad appointment if they have to work it themselves. And no one’s going to sell a bad customer if they have to onboard or renew them themselves.

But the reason why we moved to like massive specialization is there’s a lot of advantages to that. It allows us to hire the right person for the right job. As you know, as a sales person, the best salespeople are very different than the best customer success people. You have very different skill sets. And then furthermore, some aspects of the go-to-market buyer journey take a higher skill set, like selling a big, complicated deal is a very challenging skill set. And it would be a shame to waste that skill set on setting appointments or on onboarding customers, where that person isn’t as strong. So that’s where this stuff comes from.

But to your point, Kate, it creates all these misalignments., So as we’re setting up these alignments, one thing that’s actually quite helpful is to, instead of having a big BDR team setting appointments for a big account executive team, signing up customers for a big customer success team, you can organize your company around the customer in cross-functional PODs. So instead of having 50 BDRs setting appointments or 50 AEs signing up customers for 50 CSMs and it’s complete round robin, instead having a team that works on, maybe in Europe. It would be done more like a country… This team’s working on Germany. And you’ve got four SVRs setting appointments for six account executives that sign of customers for two customer success managers. And they sit together. And when you set up that type of relationship, they’re not going to screw each other over. They’re not going to set up a bad appointment, and they’re not going to sign up a bad customer. And if they do, they’re right there sitting with each other, talking it through.

And then, furthermore, you can have incentives in their job that are upsides and downsides to good behavior later in the funnel. So what do I mean by that? Don’t comp the BDRs on meetings set. That’s going to end up with a bunch of bad meetings. Have at least a portion of their compensation correlated to the revenue that comes from the meetings or the conversion rate of the meetings to customers. That’s-

Kate: I think that’s the age old conundrum, isn’t it? It’s a really difficult one to balance.

Mark: I did that. I was finding that didn’t work. I mean, every time… For the first three months, it was if I comped them on meetings set, and if the account executive they were setting meetings for hit their number, then the account executive would lie on behalf of the BDR, and tell them they had more meeting set, so they got more money, because they liked what they did. And if the account executive missed their number, they would complain that all the meetings were crap, and the BDR shouldn’t get paid for them. You know what I mean? Maybe you’ve been there, Kate.

Kate: It’s a balancing act.

Mark: Personally, I leaned in, I just comped them on their revenue, that’s it. And it went a lot better, especially in those small PODs. And then, same thing with the account executives. Their job is not to onboard customers and to renew them. But what they say during the sales process is largely going to dictate how that goes. So I like to do half of their comp on the sale and half of their comp on the lead indicator of customer retention.

Look at Slack. Slack’s lead indicator of customer retention was when the customer sends 2,000 team messages. So guess what, Mr. Salesperson or Mrs. Salesperson? You get half your commission when they sign the contract and half when they send 2,000 team messages. It’s just a 30-day delay. Ten days if you’re good. And I don’t want you to get involved in the onboarding. That’s not what I’m saying. I just want you to set good expectations on what it’s going to take to set the product up and get your people to use it.

Kate: So we build about the right behaviors based on the comp planning question?

Mark: And don’t just comp them on the handoff point. Don’t just comp them on the meeting stack or the customer sold. Have a portion that’s correlated to the quality of it. That’s teeing the next person up in line successfully, teeing them up successfully.

Kate: I think that’s very interesting, especially what you say around PODs, because it’s not only just customer focused and only putting the customer at the heart of the POD, but it’s also relationship focused. It’s the relationship that the [inaudible] has with the AE and almost everyone having each other’s back that nurtures that alignment and takes away the challenges of misalignment in the process.

Mark: That’s right, Kate. You grab beers with these people. You go to pub together. You sit with them. You play ping pong. You have a coffee break. It’s not that they’re not going to set up a bad appointment, But you’re going to hear about it. You’re going to learn about it, as opposed to if you’re setting up an appointment for a bunch of account executives that are on a different floor that you never meet or a bunch of CSMs, on a different floor, that you have no idea who it’s going to. This is a person that you sit next to.

And there’s empathy there. The CSM sees you struggling on the last day of the month, trying to hit your quota. And maybe this customer has some risk on it, but the CSMs like, “You know what, Kate? Let’s go for it. Let’s go for it. I know how hard you’re working on this.” So there’s some empathy there that the team, right on the front line, can make these decisions.

Kate: And it’s something I’ve seen myself. We’re aligned really closely with our customer solutions team, and you’re right, that if they know there’s something challenging arising, they’re ready to jump in and support you, if necessary. And that change for us has been so successful and has really helped foster those strong, supportive relationships between the solutions and the sales organizations. So yeah, it’s ringing true for me anyway and what I’ve seen.

Really quickly, just to shift gears a little bit, I think for a lot of 2020, there’s been an understandable shift in focus for SaaS brands. And this shift in focus has gone from a focus on growth to a focus on retention. And all of these economic circumstances have meant that many management teams are having to reassess measurements of success and pivot to seek new markets and all of our new work environments and still dealing with this unprecedented economic situation. So with all of that in mind, how can companies know when is the right time to almost shift that focus back?

Mark: It’s really this framework, right? It’s answer of, “When do we re-establish growth?” I would say when you have product-market and go-to-market fit and when they’re measured within the depth of this framework. That was kind of the irony of this whole, pandemic, relative to just the software execution. Of course, there’s so many societal negative impacts and tragedies. And it’s just how for everyone, but I just think, from a software execution perspective, we were unhealthily obsessed with top-line revenue growth, and it was killing on a businesses and wasting a lot of money, wasting a lot of careers, like valuable time and careers. And we’ve been going at it from this standpoint since the beginning, and our portfolio’s very healthy because of it.

So I think you just use the exact same framework, and this shift back to unit economics. Again, I’m not I’m not advocating slower growth. I’m just advocating healthier growth. And so, when you have product-market fit and go-to-market fit is when you should re-establish growth. And now is the time, even if you’re 50 million in revenue or more, now is a great time to take a step back, if some of these concepts have resonated with you and start measuring them. Because the entire funnel shape has changed. The entire optimal target market is maybe changed, because some people are affected more than others. So now is a great time to just set up this infrastructure.

Kate: Yeah. And with everything that’s happened this year, what’s next for Stage 2 Capital? What’s next? What’s coming up?

Mark: Yeah. Things have been going well. We made 11 investments in fund one in over 20 months. And we were told if three or four mark up, that would be pretty remarkable performance. And we’re excited to say that 8 out of 11 have already marked up to their next round.

Kate: Wow.

Mark: Three of those have happened since the pandemic. I think we have verbal on a ninth one. Not that the other two aren’t any good. It’s just we just did those investments two, three months ago. We’re pretty psyched about how the thesis has played out so far. And we’re raising our second fund now. We started that about two months ago. We’ve already raised… It’s a $50 million fund. We’ve already raised a third of it in the last two months. So we’re equally excited that that has gone with tremendous momentum, despite COVID. We raise it obviously from VPs of sales and CROs and CMOs and heads of customer success at most of the software unicorns. We have like 90 of them signed up as already on as investors. You know, the executive team at Atlassian and Zoom and Salesforce and Oracle and Twilio and former Dropbox folks, LinkedIn, Asana… Most of the software unicorns are behind us, so we’re excited. We’re about to make our first investment this week out of fund 2. I just want to keep going out there and writing a lot of content on this and hopefully help a bunch of entrepreneurs.

Kate: That all sounds so exciting and great to see such, I think, positivity coming out of times that… I don’t want to keep saying “these unprecedented times,” because I think everyone has used that term an awful lot. But it’s great to see such positivity coming out of the difficult and challenging times.

Kate: So before we let you go, I’d love to also talk a little bit more about something else that’s incredibly positive, and that’s all the profits of your book. So I noticed that they all go to what seems like an incredible organization called build.org. Could you tell us a little bit more about the project before we let you go?

Mark: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, thanks for mentioning that, Kate. Yeah, a hundred percent of the proceeds for the book are donated to build.org. It’s a remarkable organization. Unfortunately, I think they only have U.S. presence, but they are in a couple dozen cities. What they do is they choose the worst performing high schools, to be honest, in each city where these kids just haven’t been dealt the deck that we likely have been dealt. Graduation rates are low. There’s not a lot of matriculation into college. And they basically engage them in entrepreneurship, of all things, in their freshman year of high school. And they teach them how to start a business. And it’s a four-year program that they are part of with mentors and working on their business through high school, all with the intent to get them through high school and into college. And the success of the program is unbelievable.

My friend, Ayele Shakur, runs it. And I think 99% of the kids that go through it graduate from high school and 85% end up in college, which is leaps and bounds ahead of what the average is for those high schools are. So if you do end up supporting the book, thank you. You’re supporting a remarkable organization as well.

Kate: Thank you so much, Mark, for sharing that. I’m sure everyone can go and check it out now. Lastly, before we finish up, where can everyone go to keep up with you and your work?

Mark: I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, so I try to get to as many messages I can there. I apologize if there’s a delay but you can send me a message there. I post all my work there, as well other people’s work that I find to be tactically helpful to the ecosystem from the perspective of go-to-markets. So you can follow me there.

Kate: Do you miss your commute for responding to those messages or are you thankful you don’t have to do right now?

Mark: I drive, so it was harder to do that. So I don’t miss it at all. I like to work virtually. It’s very productive.

Kate: Brilliant. Well, thank you so, so much for taking the time to connect with us. It’s been brilliant to talk, Mark.

Mark: Thanks, Kate. I enjoyed it.