Interview With Daniel Hellerman
Describe your product or service:
“Saleo is the #1 live sales demo experience platform helping software companies create incredible demos, that are data complete, directly within their own SaaS product. We help revenue teams shorten their sales cycle, increase win rates and close more deals by removing the burden of missing data, outdated demo environments, and time-consuming demo prep. Saleo provides complete control over every element of your demo environment — graphs, metrics, tables, text, images, and icons, enabling you to create the perfect software demo that connects directly to your customer's pain points and lands exactly the way you want. Customize new demos in minutes that turn more deals into “closed won.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We exist to help software companies create incredible software demos to win and retain more customers.”
How are you funded?
“We announced our $1.5 million fundraise yesterday 5/5/22. It is the only money we have raised to date. We are being invested in by household names in sales & marketing including the cofounders of Salesloft (Kyle Porter, Rob Forman), the current and previous CEOs of Terminus (Eric Spett, Tim Kopp) as well as others.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Four full-time currently. Justin McDonald was the previous CEO of Ramblechat, which sold to Terminus in 2020. Daniel Hellerman was one of the first employees at Terminus joining before the first 100,000 in revenue; prior to that he ran digital marketing at SevOne, one of Delaware's fastest growing startups that sold to Turbonomic.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“Both Justin and Dan have worked for multiple SaaS companies that struggled with this exact problem. For years it was considered unsolvable. We saw other platforms on the market trying to solve this problem by copying the product or making screenshots interactive. We didn't think this was the right way, so we set our minds on using some of the latest web technologies to create a live sales demo platform that interacts with a customer's live demo environment and brings it to life with fresh data in real-time.”
How did you come up with your startup’s name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We took the word ‘sale’ and added an ‘O.’ We wanted a short five-letter domain name. We considered about 100 different names we have a whole list of — from a million variations of ‘demo’ to words like ‘exhort’ or ‘peppers ghost.’”
Did you always want to startup your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Yes, both Daniel and Justin are serial entrepreneurs. Justin recently sold Ramblechat to Terminus in 2020.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what did you do to solve them?
“Live product demos are difficult. While our competitors took the easy path of copying products into a (non-working) environment to edit them, we allow you to do it in real-time. The amount of sophistication it took to be able to do this on every platform with all the complexities of modern SaaS was a huge undertaking. We tried multiple approaches to solving this problem and even tested on over 130 different SaaS platforms.”
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Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“B2B SaaS companies with > 50 employees. Ideally larger SaaS companies >100 employees that have dedicated solutions engineer/presales teams building their demos.”
What’s your marketing strategy?
“We spend a lot of time doing direct outreach to solution engineers to show them what's possible. We also have joined most of the thought-leading slack channels in presales/sales to start networking and hearing their problems first hand.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We are still on the way to 100. Lots of word of mouth from existing customers. We are also investing in existing presales groups and community building.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Adoption rate, usage rates, how many demos are given over a time period. Last login date.”
What’s your favorite startup book and podcast?
“As an ‘out of the norm’ pick, Dan loved ‘Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture.’ On a technical side, ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel. ‘Masters of Scale’ as a startup podcast. ‘Two PreSales in a Pod’ for industry-specific.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“Virginia Coalition — ‘Voyager 2’”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“ClickUp and Slack for company organization.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“We split our days early on to be accessible to our families and can spend the most amount of time with them as possible. Working till 5-6 spending the evening with family or a long lunch, then working again after kids go to sleep until early morning.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Daily standups and a ClickUp board with a standing list of tasks. We organize our tasks the same way we do tickets, so we are always prioritized on the most important tasks.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Absolutely. Daily dives into the top social channels for sales and presales groups. To truly understand our target market and best align features to them.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“First job for Dan was at a drug store. $6.15 an hour. I learned hard work, how to interface with fussy customers, and the importance of being customer-facing.”
More on Saleo
Daniel Hellerman, founder of SaaS startup Saleo, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.