B2B Gifting King: Expert Talk w/ Sendoso CEO Kris Rudeegraap

Feb 2, 2024


Dive into an engaging conversation with Kris Rudeegraap, CEO of Sendoso, as we explore the evolving landscape of B2B marketing, the power of gifting, and the importance of content creation. Kris shares his insights on leveraging personal connections, the impact of changing email marketing dynamics, and the creative strategies behind Sendoso's success. Learn about the future of sales development roles, the role of AI and automation in sales, and how building a strong team and product can help you outpace the competition. Whether you're a marketing professional, a startup founder, or just curious about innovative marketing strategies, this episode is packed with valuable insights and actionable tips.

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Kris Rudeegraap:And they have like a 90% hit rate. They were booking millions of dollars in pipelines, sending these like $10 rubber chickens. I'm like, what's going on? No way. Sometimes it's just the creativity, the weirdness, the timing, the message. You know, if it's a funny pun that goes along with it, you never know.

Andy Mewborn:What in terms of this gifting, right? Like, I want to ask you this. I've seen other gifting platforms come to market, right? And how do you deal with competition. Because I think right now in this age of AI, things are getting so much easier to build, right? And people are coming out of nowhere and they can rebuild software quickly. You have a moat, right? Because you have warehouse, you can't just spin up a Sendo. So you've got a good moat. But when new competitors come to the market, what's been your your operating model or kind of your personal like mental framework on how to deal with that, right? Do you ignore it? Do you say, Oh, let me check them out, stay close, like, you know, like, make frenemies, like, what, like, what's your kind of mindset there?

Kris Rudeegraap:Yeah, so I like to keep an eye on it, kind of make some frenemies. But ultimately, I think of competitors as alternatives. And so what's the biggest alternative to not using Sindoso? And so that scares me more of the hundreds of thousands of companies out there that are not using any of any competitor, any nature or are not doing gifting and direct mail yet, or not doing tech enabled, gifting and direct mail yet. And so that's the biggest competitor that I keep my eyes on. much bigger of a competitor than some ankle biter copycat that pops up. And so I try to keep an eye on them, see what they're doing, and it's important for product marketing or for pricing and packaging, but I definitely don't want to lose sleep or lose track of the bigger picture because of another alternative that's popped up. Yeah. So I think there's tons of examples in the past where of other companies where as long as you just have a great team, a great vision, and you just execute the heck out of what you're trying to do, then you can build a huge, everlasting company, even if competitors pop up.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. And who is this is always interesting. Who were your first hires? Like when you like walk me through that. Yeah. Because you came out like this is an interesting idea. I bet you so many people were like dude send gifts. Like that's not sales. Like what is that? You know. But like, so walk us through, like, when did you, did you, did you raise GoAllIn or did you were testing it? I think you were a side hustler, like big side hustler your whole life too, right?

Kris Rudeegraap:Yeah. So it kind of got started as first as like a side hustle in terms of building out the software. So had a bootstrap, built a couple, had a couple of engineers. Then went all in full time, hired a few more engineers. Me and my co-founder were salespeople. So we just hit streets sending stuff. reaching out to people, doing outbound, building up our customer base. And then we hired a CSM marketer, a couple more salespeople. Got it. Got it. It was really just sprinting to grab customers. And then also, how do we hire customer success managers to help support all the demand we had. So we had no problem driving demand in the early days. And it was, how do we make, keep the demand happy?

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. It was more like fulfilling everything, right?

Kris Rudeegraap:Because the promise was very apparent on why you needed us. And so how do, you know, that was, very advantageous and people love sharing cool new tools, cool new channels, cool new strategies. So we got a lot of word of mouth, a lot of referrals from customers, still do, from just people having success and wanting to share their success.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah, that's interesting. And I always like asking this question. So you hired some engineers first and you, you didn't like, did you even validate the idea or you were just like, no, I know this is needed. Like this is, this is, you know.

Kris Rudeegraap:Yeah. I was the customer. So I was like, I need this desperately. And so I kind of skipped a little bit of like the design partner and market research phase and just said, I want to use this. I would pay for this. Like, I need this tomorrow. Dude, that was enough for me to build it up. So that probably saved me six, nine months of kind of that phase. And then also, I think sometimes during that phase, you could get discouraged by what looks like a competitor, which again, might discourage you from going forward. And instead, if you know that you want to build this, you're passionate about it, and you've got that, you know, urge, then go for it. And maybe you'll find some competitors later on in life, but you can out-execute, you can out-scale, you can out-bound.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah. That's interesting because you built it for yourself, basically, which is like the interesting... It's always interesting to see what founders do. That's been my secret sauce, right? People are like, how do you come up with these ideas? It's like, I just build what I want for me. Like, and I know if I'm building for me, there's a million other people that probably are. We're not as unique as we think we are. Right. Like most of the time. So there's that now in the first hires is interesting because you were like, I know this is it. I'm going to hire some engineers. You built it, which is interesting. I was talking to Brian Long the other day from Attentive. I know we got to jump soon, but I had him on the pod. I asked him, I was like, who would you hire first? Because I'm in this phase right now for distributor, right? And I'm like, well, we already have engineers and stuff, but I'm thinking like next key hires besides an engineer. And he goes, two people. He goes, I hired a salesperson first, which most people will tell you not to hire a salesperson until you're ready, whatever. But he's like, no, you test the messaging. You're doing sales yourself, but you have someone else testing the messaging with you and figuring it out. And then second, he goes a recruiter. A recruiter that early? He's like, yeah, dude. He's like, because that's one of the main things. Once you know you have something or you're bullish on it, it's building the team. And he's like, most people say they do it 80% of the time. But if you go look in their calendars, he said it's BS.

Kris Rudeegraap:But they know that's what they should be doing. I think the sales piece too is important because a lot of founders get stuck with founder sales and they have this If you're a passionate founder, you could kind of sell anything to anybody. And so you're kind of faking a bit product market fit or what I call go to market fit. So you're like, Oh yeah, I just got like 50 customers myself. I'm going to go and scale this. But it's not until you find a stranger who has to go sell this. that you can really determine, is there even a bigger demand? So I think it is critical to bring on those salespeople, test messaging, and test a stranger coming in, building pipeline that's repeatable and scalable.

Andy Mewborn:Yeah, that's interesting. So that changed my mindset because my ego was like, no, I was in sales. I'm going to do the first sales. And your ego says that, but then... And Brian knows what he's doing. This is like his second hit, you know, so I'm like, OK, I'm going to listen to you, Brian. I'm going to listen to you, man. So anyways, well, hey, Chris, man, thanks for hopping on.

Kris Rudeegraap:Of course.

Andy Mewborn:This was fun. Yeah, this was awesome. I know I have a lot of energy, so thank you for hanging in there.

Kris Rudeegraap:Well, awesome having me on. Thank you. And then we'll talk again soon, man.

Andy Mewborn:All right, man. I'll talk to you soon.