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INSIGHT: 24sessions growth interview with Rutger Teunissen & Rick Brink

24sessions interview

Name: Rutger Teunissen
Age: 34
Role: CEO
Background: I launched my first website as a side project when I was working my day-job as a consultant. It grew quite fast and became one of the leading websites in its specific area. It got acquired, I became a full-time entrepreneur and owned 2 other business before launching 24sessions.

Name: Rick Brink
Age: 24
Role: Head of SMB (small and medium business)
Background: I joined 24sessions after graduating and working full-time on my own webshop for a couple of months. Selling screen protectors wasn’t my lifelong dream, working in a disruptive startup like 24sessions was. I joined as growth hacker and quickly worked myself up to managing the SMB division.

What is your SaaS called: 24sessions
Founded: 2015
How many people are on the team right now? 13
Where are you based? Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Did you raise money? Yes, we raised €400K
How did you use the money? Most of it acted as a buffer to increase our sales and product team.

Can you tell us what 24sessions is?
24sessions is the digital way to meet customers face-to-face. We help you deliver your most important customer interactions at scale with our video-chat, automated scheduling and analytics technology. Basically, we’re Calendly + Zoom on steroids in one simple white label solution.
Last year Google, McKinsey & Rocket Internet named us one of the 10 top B2B startups in Europe!

24sessions homepage
24sessions homepage

How did you get this idea?
Rutger: When my previous company got acquired I needed all sorts of specialist advice to help me with the financial, fiscal and legal hassle. I hated the fact that they all operated so traditionally. As a paying customer, I had to call them, make manual appointments, wait for weeks and get in my car to have a simple talk. But I did need them so I was forced to go through this hell. What I wanted was to A) be able to book their time straight on their site and B) to be able to meet them through live video-chat so I didn’t have to travel. It was then that I decided this would become my next entrepreneurial adventure!

How long did you work on it before you launched? When did you see your first dollar?
Rutger: I spent most of the early days trying to assemble the perfect team and build an MVP. That took about 6 months. We officially started our company in October 2015 when we joined the Startupbootcamp Accelerator. In that 3-month program we found 2 launching customers and saw our first revenue in January 2016. We were fortunate enough that those 2 launching customers were the largest bank and insurance company in The Netherlands, which gave us a lot of credibility right from the start.

Who are your clients? What is your target market?
Rick: We believe that businesses that depend on personal interaction for sales or service are the ones we need to focus on.
On one hand we serve large multinationals, banks & insurance companies. They use 24sessions to automate meeting scheduling and talk with their customers via video-chat. For example to give mortgage advice.
On the other hand (and way more exciting 😉 ) we focus on small and medium enterprises that use 24sessions for customer interaction. Mostly, we’re targeting software companies that do online demos. I’ll tell you why.
Everyone is putting a lot of effort in generating traffic, spending big bucks on SEA/SEO and optimizing landing pages. All of this to get those hot prospects to a “book a demo” contact form where someone will get back to them within 48 hours – wait, WHAT!? They will probably lost all interest by the time you’re responding…

In our minds this doesn’t make sense. With 24sessions, you can automate and optimize your online demo process. Your prospects schedule a demo directly on your site and in the agenda of a sales rep. They then have a personal video-chat with you in a branded environment and after each demo they can instantly leave feedback. A proven method to supercharge your demo’s.

Are you profitable? if not, when do you think you will get there?
Rutger: We’ve been profitable for the last 3 months but we’re continuously expanding the team as our MRR increases. We’re currently looking for Developers, Sales, Marketing & Customer Success talent so check out our careers page!

MRR today: Around the €50k mark

Number of paying customers: At the moment we have 15 enterprises and a few hundred smaller businesses using 24sessions.

Rutger: This one really differs. At our enterprise customers we have different contracts where LTV depends per company. At SMB level our LTV is around €1000, but it’s an ongoing process.

Rick: We’re very lucky to have experienced very low churn of around 5-6% per year. We achieve this thanks to our amazing customer success team. They onboard and educate every single customer by using Intercom and 24sessions itself (personal onboarding is awesome).

We are obsessed by feedback, which in our opinion is the only way to retain and grow your business in a healthy way. Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.

How did you get your first 100 customers?
Rutger: We participated in an accelerator program called Startupbootcamp. They got us in touch with some enterprises in the Netherlands that became our first customers. After that, press and word of mouth helped us reach the first 100 customers.

What are the 2-3 main distribution channels that work best for you? What channel didn’t work out for you?
Rick: We’re experimenting with quite some distribution channels – small experiments that give us indication of what works for our audience and what doesn’t. Adwords still isn’t a match made in heaven for instance!
What works best is an extremely personal yet still scalable approach using LinkedIn and cold emailing (although I prefer tepid emailing, it’s not cold) as the first step. Creating fun, engaging and genuinely interested messages and emails are great to write and they work so much better in the long run. Once we get a prospect interested, we send them over to our ‘book a demo’ page where we let them eat our own dog food! Then, using the product you’re actually selling makes the sell so much easier!

Tell us 2-3 growth challenges you encountered recently (and if you have a strategy how to solve them.)
Rick: So our main strategy, using LinkedIn and cold emailing in an extremely personal way, works great but is also a challenge. There is still quite some manual handling involved which tends to make our process less scalable. The challenge is to find a way to target the same lead through multiple channels and realize a more constant flow of leads.
On the other hand I feel like we should put way more efforts in an inbound strategy. We’re looking for an inbound marketer that can dig into our target groups’ pain points and write relevant/interesting blogs and whitepapers about it. We’re really solving problems and helping companies get more out of their demo process, but we’re communicating this too little.

Some of the tasks are not worth to do in-house. What do you outsource?
Rutger: At this stage we try to do as much as possible in-house because we believe that it’s crucial for a company to understand every aspect of the business and the customer as possible. #dothingsthatdontscale

What are the 3 tools you and your team can’t live without?
Rick: Well, Slack, Trello and Intercom are a no brainer and work quite good for us.
However, we have incorporated a few more especially for organizing our new business process. We really like Mailshake for organizing and monitoring our email campaigns while making sure no one gets spammed 🙂

Tell us the biggest mistake you had through building and promoting your product and what you’ve learned from it.
Rutger: Being too naive about the decision making processes at large enterprises. We really had to learn what it takes to do business with large enterprises because it is so fundamentally different compared to dealing with SME’s. It’s not just about convincing one business-driven decision maker, you need to deal with architecture, legal, compliance, procurement etc etc. In the end, it’s been great for us but we definitely made some mistakes along the road.

If you had to start 24sessions today, what would you do differently?
Rutger: There are a lot of things that I would do differently, but that’s always the case I believe. One of the bigger things I would do differently is celebrating success. We have achieved so much great things… From being named one of 10 best startups in Europe by Google & McKinsey to signing some of the biggest companies in the Netherlands as clients. I think this has to do with being dutch, it’s in our nature to play down accomplishments (although I think our Belgian neighbors would disagree;-) ). We need to handle this a bit more American!

Where do you see 24sessions in 5 years from now?
Rick & Rutger: In 5 years we’ll be the top of mind when it comes to online face-to-face customer interaction. I believe that even more things will be done digital, automated and by AI or bots. Quick and snappy interaction with business will be done by bots (hopefully they are smart enough by then), but when real human interaction is needed you need more than a bot.  That’s when 24sessions is needed the most.

Highly dedicated entrepreneur, co-founder of Poptin and Ecpm Digital Marketing. Nine years of experience in the digital marketing field and internet project management. Graduated with an Economics degree from Tel Aviv University. A big fan of A/B testing, SEO and PPC campaigns' optimization, CRO, growth hacking and numbers. Always loves testing new advertising strategies and tools, and analyzing the latest start-up companies.