How does a leader begin their journey? For some, it’s building a career. For others, money. For the select few, it’s passion.
On this episode of the Fuel Growth podcast series, Clint and I met with Andre Yee, Chief Product Officer at Foundry (formerly IDG Communications). Andre’s true calling is leading the people that work in technology – and he’s proven his leadership strengths over the years by leading several companies that have gone public along with building a team from scratch to form Triblio (now Foundry).
Andre believes that creating demand early through product market fit and maintaining a happy customer base creates the conditions for business growth.
What Product Market Fit Really Means
Every company learns from their mistakes. While Triblio, the ABM platform founded by Andre, was in early stages, they learned that revenue does not equate to product market fit: “I thought if someone signs an invoice and says, ‘I want to buy it’, I viewed that as a product market fit signal. And I think that was where I misunderstood that a little bit. I’ve now come to believe the number one indicator of product market fit is not revenue […] when in the early stage, it’s not revenue, it really is usage. Are people using it? Because what I found is that people will sometimes stroke a check for some interesting new tech, but then a month and a half in, they’re not using it. And that’s a problem in a SaaS model.”
Sticking to Your Vision and Values
Triblio has gone through two stages of growth: One, as a standalone company, and the second, as part of Foundry (formerly IDG). While acquisitions lead to company culture shifts, Andre still closely holds some of Triblio’s values. One of the key sort of tenets [at Eloqua, where Andre served as SVP] was ‘Get it done. And do it right.’ And what that means is we’re a results, performance-based culture. But we also believe strongly in how we get to those results. It’s part of the value that I imported into Triblio when we started the company.”
Another value that Andre ranks highly is constructive feedback, or, as he calls it, positive candor: “There’s even a book out there called Radical Candor. And we liked that idea, except that we thought, rather than radical, positive adds a better descriptor in the sense that we want all our employees to be candid about how they feel about their jobs […] we added descriptor positive because, if possible, we only want you to do it in a positive way…”
Connecting Company Culture to Company Objectives
It’s not enough to focus your company culture on just positive office vibes, good ethics, and happy hours. To really click with growth plans, your company culture should be intrinsically connected with objectives:. Andre shares: “In your culture, you have to have some connective tissue to the idea of growth. If growth is a primary objective, then your culture should sort of speak to that in some way. […] So, having said that, I think one of the most important things about growth culture is placing your customer at the center of your identity as a company. You’re about serving your customers […] and we put that at the core of not only our identity, but then as part of our culture. So there’s a real sense of the customer, serving the customer, so that they can be heroes in their organization…”
Learning From Mistakes
As a leader of several companies, Andre has learned valuable lessons from early mistakes: “I think a mistake that early-stage founders and CEOs make is they focus a lot on competition, because in a lot of ways, we’re sort of like as businesspeople trained to do that. But I think when you’re early stage, I think you want to focus on not so much the competition, but where the demand is or the future demand is.”
To find out more Andre’s experience in several companies’ growth and leading a company through an acquisition, listen to the conversation here. If you want to catch up on our previous episodes, you can do so here or on your favorite podcast app.
We enjoyed learning from Andre and learning more about his impressive career journey from a software engineer to CEO and CPO!