Kapost Funding and Video

Yesterday, Kapost announced that it closed another $10 million dollars, some of it from Salesforce.  Salesforce is the arguably the biggest and most badass B2B company on the planet so to get an investment and endorsement from them is huge.

This is a great accomplishment for the team.  It’s never easy raising money and this round took around 4 months to put together (maybe more)

Also, Megan over at Techstars shot a video of us in the office and just pushed it out.  Here it is: 

Kapost Culture & The Alliance

Kapost is still expanding rapidly.  A year ago we were ~20 people and now we’re ~60.  That’s a lot of new faces and we’ve done a lot of hiring. (Blog post about Kapost expansion)  Thinking about our our expansion brought me to how we view culture.  Some thoughts on that…

Culture is Important

We have a culture doc that is on the web (below). It gets a lot of views (over 2k).  It’s also important as it’s how we describe working at Kapost. We actually thought a lot about it. 

I’ve been asking a lot of people who have scaled companies what they would do differently and what’s worked for them.  They repeatedly talk about culture. This is what keeps it all together for them. As David Cummings (Founder of Pardot) says,

Yes, the people are the most important part, but culture is reflected in the core values, processes, and the way the company chooses to act.

Basically, it’s super important.  I’ve also been thinking about what culture actually means.  More and more to me it means just how stuff gets done.  How do conversations go, how fast are decisions made, how honest should people be?  That is all defined by the culture.  It takes a while for people to realize.  I’d say that at Kapost, people have described our culture as super transparent, high accountability, and very fast.  I think that’s true. I think it’ll change over time but that’s how it’s been for the past few years. 

Vibe vs. Values

Brad Feld had a post that described the difference between Vibe and Values.  It says how the music in your office, the dress code, the food in the office is all “vibe” and the vibe can change in a company and are defined by employees.  The values are “the guiding principles or a code-of-conduct upon which a company was founded and which it operates on a daily basis” and are defined by the company.  Things like “don’t be evil” at Google.   They are two different things and we should differentiate between the two. 

The Alliance

This is a business book I read this summer when it came out. It’s by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.  It’s very interesting and something we talk about a lot at Kapost.  The idea is that employees are no longer hired for their entire career and because of that you should treat them as though they will someday leave your company.   Each employee is coming aboard for a “tour of duty” and you should actively define that tour, being explicit about what the employee will do for the company and what the company will do for the employee.  It more accurate reflects how people treat a job.  It also allows for honest conversations about what employees and employers want.  It’s a great framework and I recommend you check it out. 


Product Stuff at Kapost

As Kapost grows, I really aspire for us to continually get better and better at what we do.  I ran the product group by myself for so long that i’m really excited to have more kickass folks on the team now (Anthony, Niraj, Eric, Jace).  With this extra firepower, we are able to do some really cool things and we’ve done some recently.  

First, customer development.  We’re taking this to another level. We’re talking to customers more and more. We need to. As we get more customers, it’s harder to know if your roadmap is what they want.  Also, our product is getting more complex so the feedback has more breadth.  We’re off to a great start in 2014.  We had a Kapost conference in SF a few weeks ago and Anthony and I flew out there to talk to over 20 customers.  We talked about new features coming out and our upcoming redesign.  We got some great feedback. 

In fact, it worked out so well that we even had one of our customers write an article on Inc.com about how much she loved talking to us.  You know you’re doing something right when a customer starts thanking you for listening. 

Inc Mag article about Kapost

Second, we’re finally putting goals and metrics on product releases.  I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, but we’re actually doing it now.  Here’s the deal: when you’re planning a feature or new product, we (the PM’s) attach what success means for that product 8 weeks after release.  For one feature it means usage by 50% of customers 8 weeks after release.  For another, we had 10 customers asking for it, so we considered it a success if 7 of them using it regularly 8 weeks after release.  There’s lots of talk about customer development, prototyping, MVP, and agile methods, but much less about the followup that happens once a product is released. 

Our engineering team is evaluated by shipping code, but we’re evaluating our product team by whether or not they are hitting the success metric.   This has resulted in some interesting behavior in the product team such as: 

  • when a product is released they are much more inclined to explain it to the sales and customer success team so customers will know about the feature and use it
  • if a customer asked for a feature, they then make sure that the feature is adopted before moving on and if it’s not adopted, figure out why and fix it. 

After a product release, a feature should be adopted and hitting its goals.  If it’s not it’s either because the requirements were bad or the implementation is bad.  Either way, tracking the adoption is necessary.  This rigor is new to Kapost and already is paying dividends.  I have another post coming soon about why Mixpanel and Totango are great for tracking.

As Kapost grows (we’re now over 50 people), the teams get bigger and more sophisticated.  Lots of founders dread the growth because they no longer can have their hands on everything.  For me, i’m loving the growth of the company, the team, and our ability to do more.