Visible with Mike Preuss

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In this episode, I talk with Mike Preuss, the founder, and CEO of Visible, a tool that helps privately held companies report data to their investors and provide qualitative updates alongside that data. Visible takes data from many different systems you use for your business and puts that into one central place for companies to visualize that data and provide updates to send to investors. One of their core product principles is that they did not want to create another app or system in which you could access data. Instead, they created a product in which anything you can build in Visible, can be rendered directly in the inbox of whoever is receiving it.

Companies that are reporting data to their investors are much more likely to get follow-on funding are much more likely to have successful future raises, and we want to make sure we build tools that keep that in mind.
— Mike Preuss

Mike shares how Visible is being used in ways that were never envisioned by the founders, but that has helped them grow the product out in ways that make them more versatile. They also use customer feedback and requests to grow new features, as well as enter new global markets. He discusses the differentiation between Visible and their competitors, and how they plan to focus in on a particular type of customer in regards to who they target in the market.

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Topics In This Episode:

  • Monitoring competitors in the area of their services, blog content, and web traffic

  • Updating customer experience based on feedback

  • Global growth and integration

  • Referrals versus marketing

  • Content creation strategies

  • Updating the company mission and values

  • Product development and roadmap

Contact Info:

Email: Mike@visible.vc
Twitter: @mikepreuss

Transcript

Mike Kelly:                         
Welcome to the podcast. Today we have Mike Preuss, founder and CEO of Visible. Mike, welcome to the podcast man.

Mike Preuss:                     
Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate you taking the time.

Mike Kelly:                         
Why don't we start with a quick elevator pitch for Visible? What do you guys do?

Mike Preuss:                     
Visible is a tool that helps privately held companies report data to their investors and provide qualitative Updates alongside that data.

Mike Kelly:                         
What does that actually look like? Can you maybe go into a little bit more detail and what the application does?

Mike Preuss:                     
Visible really is broken into a couple of core parts of the experience. The first are what we call Updates. Really when you think of an Update, it's a text document that has Rich Texts that you can put into it, but in addition to that Rich Text, you have what we call charts or data visualizations. So you can build really beautiful looking traction charts and KPI charts and all different types of visualizations that you can use to tell the story of that data.

Mike Preuss:                     
To help automate that, we integrate with a suite of different services that companies use to run their business. So think QuickBooks or Xero for accounting and finance. We integrate with Salesforce and HubSpot for CRM data, do analytics and mixed panel maybe for your web based or event driven data and help automate that entire process.

Mike Preuss:                     
Really what we're doing is taking data from all these disparate systems that you're using to run your business, putting that in one central place where then companies can visualize that data, put it into Updates that I mentioned and then send that out to their investors. One of the things that we think is pretty unique about Visible, or at least one of our product principles is that anything that you can build within Visible can be rendered directly in the email inbox of whoever's receiving it.

Mike Preuss:                     
What we see is that people don't want yet another application to manage or have to sign into, just give it to me where I'm already at and for 99% of people that's email.

Mike Kelly:                         
That's awesome. Thanks. For someone who's listening, can you provide any sort of like a vanity metrics or traction metrics around where you guys are out on the journey? That could be number of companies using Visible, actual revenue, fundraising, anything you're open to sharing.

Mike Preuss:                     
We have over 2,000 companies that are using Visible to report data to their investors and those are all paying customers. It widely ranges in terms of what people are paying. We first started out, we're charging 19 bucks a month and we've grandfathered people into that pricing plan and some people are paying us 200 bucks a month, but for the most part, all of our customers are companies that have stake holder attached to them, whether that's an investor, potential investor, maybe by an angel investor that are going to need Updates.

Mike Preuss:                     
But yeah, we have 2,000 of them all across the globe. So one of the things I think is really cool about Visible is that we have customers on every continent minus Antarctica, but we have trying to find someone that we can get a customer there so we can say, "Hey, we have one," but we have customers all across the globe.

Mike Preuss:                     
It's a problem that's not just specific to the valley or San Francisco, it's a global problem. We certainly didn't intend that as a strategy, but it's just naturally happened as we've built the company.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right. That's it for my canned questions. Now I get to ask fun questions. I'm super intrigued at the network effects that comes out of a product like this, how often do you see an investor who gets invited to Visible and one of their investments then come back and be like, "Holy crap! I need every one of my startups to be in this platform."

Mike Preuss:                     
That's a great question. And I'm really embarrassed to say that I don't know. You figured we would knowing that we track data and we think this is our core competency. I would say 20 to 30% ... At least a third of our customers are coming word of mouth or through our prod referral. That we do.

Mike Preuss:                     
What we're trying to get better at is actually understanding how people are coming into our funnel. Literally before I joined this podcast, one of our team members, Matt, sent me a note saying, "Hey, this is cool. This company just signed up because they were receiving an Update that ..." The CEO was an angel investor. He's getting Updates from one of our customers and he just created a trial on Visible himself.

Mike Preuss:                     
And so that's the vitality you're speaking to, in terms of having really good data. I wish we did and it's something that we're literally trying to figure out right now, but yeah, you can imagine that there's all these really interesting stories of the vitality of the product. Just another anecdote, we have a set of accelerators in the Middle East using Visible for all their portfolio companies.

Mike Preuss:                     
And one of those portfolio companies were sending Updates out to investors. A gentleman who happened to be in Egypt and he is starting a company that is helping individuals get access to banking in Yemen because of the big war going on there. And so he wants to be able to send Updates out, so like UNICEF and these other organizations that are funding that project.

Mike Preuss:                     
There's all kinds of really cool little viral stories about how people come into our world. I just don't have a great sense for the hard data yet. Maybe next time we talk I do.

Mike Kelly:                         
Those are some awesome little snippets of how to use that. That's great. That actually begs the question, which is normally one of my leading questions in a competition. 'Cause there were a couple of different use cases in there. So when you think of competitors in the space for Visible, who comes to mind?

Mike Kelly:                         
Because it was more like, especially with the example of funders for the ... I'm blanking on the war that you said, but basically funding organizations for the person who's helping getting small loans, is that right?

Mike Preuss:                     
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
How common is that where you find out that somebody is using the platform? It's not like that's wrong, but it's certainly not what you thought you were building. How common is that?

Mike Preuss:                     
I would say 50% of our customers are straight up using Visible to report data to investors. That we do know. And then the other 50% is a mixture. Certainly some of those are still doing investor reporting, but some might be sending a weekly team notes to everyone in the company. Some might be sending it to their clients. So we have a lot of accounting and finance firms that are using Visible, getting data out of QuickBooks and sending it to their clients as a report that they can use for their own reporting.

Mike Preuss:                     
That's not necessarily in the use case of investor reporting, but certainly one that's been adopted. We have a company that is a purveyor of honey in New Zealand that's using Visible for their management team. There's certainly wide use cases, and I think in terms of competitors, to answer your first question, that spans really the gamut.

Mike Preuss:                     
In the visualizing data and producing reports, you could argue that we are a BI tool, and there's folks like Grow and Domo and Klipfolio and Geckoboard and Google Data Studio and Quicksight AWS, Amazon SPICE. Those are suite of BI tools out there and we can be considered competitive with them.

Mike Preuss:                     
On the productivity side, there's Microsoft Office and that has Excel and PowerPoint, in those tools. Google's got their own set of tools. There's email and there's Mailchimp and has all these other kind of tools that if you piece them together it could be what Visible does. And then like in the VC startup space, there's all our tools too. There's direct competitors through ours.

Mike Preuss:                     
Foundersuite being one. There's Carta, Gust, AngelList. These are all people that maybe do a part of what we do or thinking about doing something with you, and those are in our direct vertical. As we think about how do we message or market against that, we had a team member, Andrew, who joined in the fall and if you looked at our marketing and messaging a year ago, it's kind of like Visible could be used for all of these different use cases that I just mentioned.

Mike Preuss:                     
And we've actually really narrowed our focus in like we want. Seed to series A companies using Visible the report data to their investors. That's where we think we have the best chance to win and get traction. And if someone comes to Visible and starts using it in a different way that's totally fine, but we're not necessarily going to market to that use case because there's a lot of competition out there.

Mike Preuss:                     
A lot of the BI tools are getting priced to like free, like a lot of people are giving those tools away for free now to get you part of their ecosystem. And so we want to be really careful in terms of how we think about our positioning and we believe we have the best chance to win in the investor VC reporting space.

Mike Kelly:                         
Seed to series A. I liked that. How often when you get a seed company on board ... How much of your project is educational versus they come in and they already know what to share with investors? Obviously if they're a serial entrepreneur, they probably have some idea of what an investor is looking for, but I'm thinking of, well, partly myself, back when I was first time at this, but then also other people that I get to work with in some of my other roles, like they have no idea what to do.

Mike Kelly:                         
When I was playing around with Visible part of the attraction was like, well, some of it is like you're leading the witness. Like, "Hey, if you're not reporting on sales data, maybe you should be because we integrate with HubSpot." You're leading them down that path, but then how much of that is like, are they reaching out to you guys saying like, "Hey, what do I put here? Like what is the kind of thing my investor would want to see?"

Mike Preuss:                     
We have a lot of that. Starting a company and getting investors for that company, that's a pretty new just like concept in general. Venture capital, yes is decades old, but there's never been more capital in the ecosystem. More companies are being started than ever and so a lot of people don't know how to report to investors or what to include and what are best practices for that.

Mike Preuss:                     
So we do have a good amount of people coming into Visible saying, "Hey, what should I report?" And this is something that we actually ... I think we do a pretty good job on the content side of things in terms of writing really interesting pieces about what you should be including.

Mike Preuss:                     
Our top content for last year, I think our top five posts were all some sort of template and we really lack on the product side to be honest, in terms of being able to lead and coach and prescribe, and so hopefully by the time this podcast airs, Visible will actually have templates in it. So that's something that we're working on as we speak and should be wrapped up soon where a company can come in and say, "Hey, I'm a SaaS company. I am this size. What should I be reporting to my investors?"

Mike Preuss:                     
It might seem obvious, but it's like, "Hey, they're going to care about burn headcount. What is total ARR growth? What is your churn percent of customers, churn percent of ARR? How much is my sales and marketing span? What's my customer acquisition cost?" There's a lot of opportunity for us to take the platform that we've built and start actually getting a little bit more prescriptive in terms of how we can help companies.

Mike Preuss:                     
'Cause right now it's completely a blank slate and completely customizable, which is great because we can say yes to a lot of things when people ask us if we can do that, but in terms of a initial experience, if you're a first time founder, it might be pretty daunting.

Mike Preuss:                     
That's the one thing that we're changing right now is how do we get the time to value for our customers to be quick. Because what we do see it's like when someone comes in and knows what they're doing, we have people converting 12 hours to be a customer for a year. That's not uncommon. But we also see like customers that come in, they want to use Visible, but they're like, "What do I report?" So we got to set a call, maybe set another demo, build a template form.

Mike Preuss:                     
And that entire time from trial to buy it might take 90 days. It just depends on how well the company understands what they want to do, and that's a big opportunity for us to bring some of that in the product. I think maybe the reason why we weren't doing that before is because we were trying to build the tool that solved all these different use cases and now that we've really honed in on startups reporting data to investors, we can be a lot more prescriptive in the product itself in terms of what you might want to track and share.

Mike Kelly:                         
When you're developing that product roadmap ... I know you guys are like in the middle of it right now with templates and some other stuff that you're working on, but as you play that out over the next couple of years, because you've decided to focus on startups reporting to investors, Seed to Series A, how are you figuring out what are those ... I'd love and your answer might be you don't know and it might be we have these awesome processes that we follow, but how do you and the team decide what are the features?

Mike Kelly:                         
How much of that is looking at competitors in the space, first talking to founders and finding an unmet need versus any other thing you guys might be doing?

Mike Preuss:                     
I think a third is what is the market saying? What are competitors doing? Where's the market going? What's happening there? A third is being dictated by the market at a macro level. A third being dictated by, what are our current customers saying to us? What are they saying they need? How can we make the experience better for them?

Mike Preuss:                     
And what's interesting is now that we've been around for four years, we've seen companies on Visible go through multiple rounds of financing and those needs may change over time, and so we're just getting a lot of interesting data there. Then a third being like, what are potential customers saying or users and maybe they're not buying or adopting Visible because of x, y, z reason, and so we're going to take all those data points together and develop our roadmap and what we want to focus on.

Mike Preuss:                     
To answer that question a little bit deeper, I think templates are a good example of, here's what potential users or customers are sitting there saying, "Hey, I want to use Visible. I just don't know how to use it." And so that's a decision that was driven by a lot of customers. In terms of some other things that maybe you've heard from customers or the market is if you think about getting investors or financing your business, it's really no different than like a sales and marketing function that you might be running for your product.

Mike Preuss:                     
Where at the top of the funnel you might have just awareness and then below that you might be identifying prospecting accounts, get them into some sales process and funnel, and then you close them as a customer, and then that gets handed off to the customer success function where their job is to delight or retain and maybe even expand that account. And when you think about that for a company and their investment, it's really no different.

Mike Preuss:                     
"I need to identify prospect and drive awareness for my company to investors. From there, some percentages then will fit my ideal customer profile and I'm going to want to engage with them on talking more about my business and getting into maybe deal with them. And then from there they're going to write a check and be an investor in my business."

Mike Preuss:                     
And I think Visible right now is well situated as a customer success tool. It's like how are we engaging and retaining and upselling your customers, your investors, but I think you might start to see us move up the funnel in terms of product functionality and what you can expect from Visible because we want to be a tool that's used for all different parts of the fundraising lifecycle as a company.

Mike Preuss:                     
We've seen our customers have raised $600 million in follow-on funding in the last 12 months, which I think is really cool. We were just looking at that data and pulled it all down and said, "Great, from one customer join Visible to now, how much funding did they raise?" And it's over $600 million.

Mike Preuss:                     
You could argue causation versus correlation, but really what that means is like, hey, investors and companies that are reporting data to investors are much more likely to get follow-on funding, are much more likely to have successful future raises. And we want to make sure that we build tools that keep that in mind too.

Mike Kelly:                         
Awesome. I'm going to pop the stack a little bit and go back to an early part of that answer. So when you're looking at competitors in the space, how do you guys do that? Do you just have a product owner whose job it is to be on top of those products and look at what they're announcing and look at new features that come out? Are you tracking that stuff in a spreadsheet, in a tool somewhere? I'd love like tactically like what's your process for staying on top of what other people are doing?

Mike Preuss:                     
That's a good question. And my answer is probably no different than a lot of people that start a process early, which is it's in a Google Sheet. We have a Google Sheet, it's got competitors in there and it's got some information about, we might have Google Alerts set up, we might be following their blog and web traffic in a SEO type tool, but it's not terribly sophisticated.

Mike Preuss:                     
As we mature as a company, I'm sure there's probably a tool or something that we would want us to use to track those, but right now, yes, it's primarily like a piecemeal solution of spreadsheets and a couple other tools that we're using just to monitor what our competitors are doing.

Mike Kelly:                         
Don't feel bad, I ask that question to everybody and that's everybody's answer. You're all good. Then switch back over to the customer side. When you're talking to existing customers or maybe trial users you don't convert and you're getting their feedback, do you have any heuristics for how you manage the outliers versus, "No, no. This is really the voice of the customer. We've heard this for the 50th time. This is a real thing. We've got to do this."

Mike Kelly:                         
What are some of those thresholds for you and the team as you reflect on some of that feedback?

Mike Preuss:                     
One of the things that we're starting to do is we have the mission and the values of the company that we're updating and standardizing right now. So what we believe in as a product and company, we have our quarterly goals in terms of here's where we want to be and think what success looks like at the end of the quarter, and then we have our where do we want to be at the end of the year?

Mike Preuss:                     
When we're talking to current customers, so a real example, one of our things that I mentioned is time to value. How do we get a customer getting value more in Visible quicker. And that's what this whole last quarter was about, which is reducing that. And so what we did and looked at is we talked to customers and we said, "What's the part about Visible you love the most, that you couldn't live without, and how are you using that?"

Mike Preuss:                     
What we saw for a lot of those, if not all the customers and they're saying, "Hey, I love ..." Part of our product's called Updates. "I love Updates and that's why I am a huge fan of Visible." Well, Updates are actually buried in the UI a little bit and might take a couple of clicks to get there. And so we're updating just a complete experience be more Update driven than other different parts of the application.

Mike Preuss:                     
So that inferred that product decision. And then in terms of some other things, templates being a big one. So what do I report on? Potential customers are saying, "Hey, I'm a hardware company. I'm in Colorado. What should I be tracking and sharing with investors?" And that might be very different than a SaaS company, but we have an opportunity to delight that customer and get value for them right away through some template.

Mike Preuss:                     
And so that's why we're building templates. We take all the different data points, the voice of the customer, the voice of the potential customer and we run that through our own framework of goals and what's our mission and run it through our own models and be like, "Yep, that makes sense, or like, "Hey, this is outside of the strike zone for what we want to accomplish," and maybe we put down on the backlog or the icebox or completely discard it.

Mike Preuss:                     
Usually, if someone's saying, "Hey, this is how I want to engage with an investor," we definitely want to be part of that conversation and understand the nuances and an opportunity that we have to build product for that.

Mike Kelly:                         
At the start of that, you mentioned ... There's a theme here by the way, like the very first thing you say in an answer apparently, it's a thing.

Mike Preuss:                     
Maybe I should just say pause after that and you have some rambling answer then.

Mike Kelly:                         
Sorry about that. I'm not doing this on purpose, I promise. I'm finding this stuff, like you drop in these little bits that I find super interesting, I want to pull on them. At the start of that, you said you guys are right now in the process of updating your mission and values. Well, two parts. One why? And then two, I'd love if you could talk at all about the process you're using with your team to do that.

Mike Preuss:                     
I hinted it earlier that we went through this transformation of our marketing and messaging and so we looked at our mission or what we believed in a year ago, it was, what if everyone could tell the story of their data?. That was like we are messing around with this idea of like, having a question be part of our mission or vision, so you can never really accomplish it.

Mike Preuss:                     
Now, we want to Update that because it doesn't necessarily reflect how our customers are using Visible, where we see the product going, and so literally, it's something that we haven't started yet and that we will next week in terms of updating these, but we tease them out in one on ones with everyone in the company, talk about it holistically as a group at an offsite and get feedback from everyone.

Mike Preuss:                     
So it's very much like a bottoms up approach and also a one on one conversation I like to have with everyone in the organization. We're seven people, it's not like we're a big company in terms of headcount, but we have some ambitious growth goals and as we bring other people into our team and our culture, we want to make sure those are established. And so in that's why we're updating them now.

Mike Kelly:                         
I love it. That's great.

Mike Kelly:                         
So you guys are ... And I want to test this 'cause I'm assuming this is true, but I've never asked you this. You guys are a marketing driven organization, not sales driven? You're getting people to drop on the website and then convert them or you do reach out?

Mike Preuss:                     
That is correct. As of right now, we are 100% inbound as I go to market strategy.

Mike Kelly:                         
Nice. Talk a little bit about that. In particular, how do you think of cutting through the noise? And when I say noise, I mean tons of noise. Like the entrepreneur right now is like the person that everybody wants to sell to, it's not just in SaaS, that's like people want to give them money, people want to give them loans for you. It's a very highly prized market to go after. So how do you cut through that general noise and then how have you been successful developing a message that converts even in the very specific space that you compete?

Mike Preuss:                     
The way we started our content strategy was, as I started Visible, I had questions I was asking. An investor said, "Hey, can you put a total adjustable market analysis together?" And I googled total adjustable market template or analysis and I couldn't find anything. I was like, "Hmm, okay."

Mike Preuss:                     
So I built my own and then open sourced that. More or less meaning I just put it a template online. And now chances are if you go type in (TAM) template or total adjustable template, we'll rank number one for that. And so we try to have a very authentic voice and we don't try to sell Visible, we try to sell the idea that all of these companies have hard questions to answer and your time is limited. Like can we create tools or contents that are valuable to the entrepreneur and then maybe insert ourselves into that conversation somewhere down the line.

Mike Preuss:                     
And so things that perform really well for us are our templates. So that (TAM) template I mentioned. Last week I was going through, I was like, "I wonder what our cohort retention is now that we have a couple quarters of data under our belt." And I found some helpful blog posts, but I didn't find like a plug and play template. And so I built a Google Sheet one and I'm pretty confident that that will be something that's very valuable to customers as well.

Mike Preuss:                     
We just try to find and make little tools or pieces of content that hopefully will give the entrepreneur a little bit of a leg up and make life a little bit easier. And then we've done what we call The Founders Forward. So we have a weekly newsletter that gets sends out of every Thursday, 4:00 PM Central Time it goes out. I think we've sent like a hundred of these in a row.

Mike Preuss:                     
Back in the fall, we renamed it The Founders Forward, and that's where we want our hub of all things for founders to be. And that has a completely different brand. So if you go and look at our blog, it's yellow, it's black, it doesn't resemble our brand really at all, and that's intentional. We wanted that to be a resource for founders and not necessarily to sell Visible.

Mike Preuss:                     
When you get that email, it doesn't necessarily look like our brand, it's a separate brand. It says powered by Visible at the bottom, but we just want that to be a newsletter that people look forward to getting every week. A lot of inspiration from that was taken from the Mattermark Daily when that existed, which was an awesome resource that I think everyone loved reading. And so we took that and wanted it to live on, and so we send that out every Thursday.

Mike Preuss:                     
Some other things for content that we do in cutting through the noise, a lot if it is founder referrals too. How can we get other founders referring founders to Visible and how do we incentivize them to do that and talk about Visible. We keep testing things. I don't think we've found anything that's like super scalable yet because people refer things to founders in all different ways.

Mike Preuss:                     
But we do see that coming through like, "Hey, so and so told me about your product and I'm excited to try it out." And so really it just comes down to authenticity and helping them solve problems.

Mike Kelly:                         
While you're talking, I'm looking through some of this content. Actually, I have already opened fundraise tracking tool, which is a cool little tool. While you're talking I grabbed that 'cause I'm doing a little fundraising right now, so that's very timely.

Mike Kelly:                         
Dude, this is excellent content. How do you guys as a team figure out how to come up with ... What's your content calendar look like? Maybe we'll start there and how do you guys feed the beast?

Mike Preuss:                     
You're asking the wrong person. Andrew and Matt on our team had done just an incredible job of our content and producing high quality content, but to give you a better answer, we'll have like a theme for the month and we'll build the content around that. We usually try to launch one big rock of content and then smaller little ones stemming from that.

Mike Preuss:                     
The fundraise tracking tool, I'm glad you saw that. I completely forgot to mention it. That was something that was like, people were like, "Hmm." As a product, we were like, "Would it be interesting to have a tool to help you track a fundraise and almost like a CRM within Visible?" And to answer that question like, well, why don't we just make a Google Sheet template because that's how most people start an idea, they're like, "I was using Excel for this and Excel is not great, so I want to build an application."

Mike Preuss:                     
So like let's just build the prototype, which is the Excel sheet and if people really like that, that template, we'll build a product from that. And so I think a lot of the times we're talking to customers and founders all the time, they're like, "Hey, I have a problem with this or a problem with that," and that feeds a lot of the content calendar.

Mike Preuss:                     
But now as we think about the rest of the year, we will have probably a more holistic marketing strategy around what we want to build, but a lot of times it's a founder that comes to us or ourselves and we're like, "Hey, we have this problem." And then we solve it and then we just put it on the blog and that way the founder doesn't have to solve it and we do it for them and we put it on the blog.

Mike Preuss:                     
A lot of it's just driven by our community or things we encounter everyday ourselves.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right. I will do one last quick call out here. If you're listening to this podcast, you need to go check out visible.vc/blog. This is fantastic content and if you're listening to this podcast, this is the content you want to be reading. Seriously. This is really good stuff.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right, I'll move off of that. Sorry, it's not a paid advertisement.

Mike Preuss:                     
I'm gonna let you plug the blog any day, all day. You let me know. I'll let you talk as much as you want.

Mike Kelly:                         
Seriously, I'm going to lose a couple of hours this weekend to some of this stuff. This is really good stuff. Okay.

Mike Preuss:                     
Yeah. Awesome.

Mike Kelly:                         
Back to the market, so you've got customers in every continent. Do you guys have that focus on purpose or that's just how everything fell in and where things are shaping up or do you purposefully market globally? What does that look like?

Mike Preuss:                     
I think startups as a language is like a global thing. Where a lot of the content that's being produced, not by us, but just for startups in general, a lot of it is its own language and a lot of in English. It's not like we're internationalizing our content, our application, it's all in English, but that's what a lot of startup content typically is in.

Mike Preuss:                     
And in terms of how that happen ... I think some of the viral aspects of Visible definitely played a role where you might have an investor ... One of our investors is Kima ventures. They are a French venture fund and they found out about Visible from one of our customers that was in France and they probably were a company that had investors in the States and found us that way.

Mike Preuss:                     
There's like 102 degrees of separation connecting the global ecosystem in terms of startups and so it was not intentional that we did that. But some of the stuff is ... We do have a good amount of customers in Australia and New Zealand and the reason we do is because we integrate with the tool there called Xero. Xero is the same thing as QuickBooks online essentially.

Mike Preuss:                     
They're probably hate that I said that, but it's an online accounting finance tool, and we built an integration with them and that company actually was started and headquartered in New Zealand. And so by nature like everyone there uses that tool, and a customer said, "Hey, I'll pay you for a year up front if you do x, y and z with this tool." And we were early and we said, "Absolutely."

Mike Preuss:                     
We did it, we built it and self fulfilling at that point then. Because other people find it and they're like, "Hey, if you do this, I'll buy." And so we keep improving that particular integration that does really well for us, and so by nature of that company being started in that part of the world, we do have a lot of customers, but it's not a strategy for us.

Mike Preuss:                     
We don't have a international strategy yet. Maybe at some point we will. I think we want to get better at winning customers in North America first and then figure out how we could go and expand it to other big ecosystems across the world.

Mike Kelly:                         
How successful have app integrations, 'cause I'm assuming you're like in a Xero marketplace, in a HubSpot marketplace, in a QuickBooks marketplace. How successful has that integration strategy been? Do you see much of your traffic coming from those tools to you?

Mike Preuss:                     
The shortest answer is it works okay. As a strategy, it's one of those things like what you put into it is probably what you get out of it. And so if you look at HubSpot for example, we probably could be marketing into the HubSpot ecosystem better, but maybe we're not. Xero, we spent quite some time in. Certain ones performing really well and certain ones don't. It just depends on the integration and how much effort we put into it.

Mike Preuss:                     
The other tricky problem when we're marketing our service on a app store of another service is that investor reporting is very specific. It's not like saying, "Hey, I want to see what CRM just integrates with." It's like where does investor reporting fall in Xero's world. Is that a BI tool? Is that a reporting tool? We don't necessarily fall on or any particular category, which is a challenge, but certain ones do perform well for us. Xero in particular. I know I mentioned that, but they've been a great partner for us.

Mike Kelly:                         
That's cool. All right, I'm going to move to a couple of more rapid fire questions. Is that okay?

Mike Preuss:                     
Yeah.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right. What's the best book you've read in the last couple of months?

Mike Preuss:                     
Best book I read, Culture Code. It's awesome. Just book about high performing culture. I would highly recommend it. It was recommended to me by someone here in Chicago. Alito, she does awesome work with cultures and companies. She gave it to me as a gift after a meeting I had with her, which I thought was really cool. Like I want to buy people books after I have meetings with them now.

Mike Kelly:                         
Oh man, I'm a massive fan of that strategy. Can I actually give you a little hack?

Mike Preuss:                     
Yes.

Mike Kelly:                         
I probably shouldn't disclose this 'cause this might come off as a little disingenuous, but please, if you've received a book for me, this is not disingenuous. There's a product out there called MailLift. If you go to maillift.com and they might hate this endorsement because I believe they wouldn't desire to be a bulk mailing platform, but what MailLift does is they do handwritten notes for as part of your sales campaign.

Mike Kelly:                         
You can integrate them with your CRM and then they'll do a handwritten thank you and you just have them as part of your workflow. But they also have, if you log in to their website, you can send one letter at a time. If you wanted to send one little handwritten letter at a time through MailLift you could, and again this is the part that they probably don't love because that doesn't really scale, but the hack is you can drop ship things to MailLift and they will include it in your letter.

Mike Kelly:                         
You could send them like you could send them-

Mike Preuss:                     
Oh, I love that.

Mike Kelly:                         
I just send them books from Amazon. So they probably have like 30 books from Amazon for me right now that I can then say, "Okay, I just met with this person, I want to send them a copy of ..." Some of my go-tos would be like a zero to one, if it's a founder who's just getting started, if it's somebody who's juggling too many tasks, that might be the book essentialism.

Mike Kelly:                         
At different stages of the journey I have like different books that I might send. So then you just type in the note you want to send and you put the book on it and you just click go and then five days later that person gets a handwritten note with a book. Pretty for an awesome-

Mike Preuss:                     
Do they actually hand-write it or is it like a machine handwriting it?

Mike Kelly:                         
No, seriously they handwrite it. It si pretty awesome. And they'll even give you a photo, like I can log in and click view on the thing that gets sent out and you get to see the photo of the handwritten note next to the book. From a quality control perspective, it's really cool. And please, again, if you've gotten one of these for me, this is not disingenuous, it's just a way to save time.

Mike Kelly:                         
I really do mean what I write in the note 'cause I'm trying to make it a thoughtful personal note, but dude, it's a huge time saver.

Mike Preuss:                     
I'm gonna totally stick with that. I love that. I'm on their site right now.

Mike Kelly:                         
Yeah, it's awesome. All right, well good. That was an awesome degression. What was the name of that book again? Real quick so I can write it down.

Mike Preuss:                     
Culture Code.

Mike Kelly:                         
Culture Code. Awesome. All right. What is the thing that you're most excited about personally this year it getting better at?

Mike Preuss:                     
That's a great question. Personally getting better at, listening for me. So I had the personality where I tend to want information faster or might erupt and I just want to be a better listener in general. It was one of my things that I wanted to improve in 2018, which I certainly did. And I think it's incredibly important and want to improve it in 2019 as well.

Mike Kelly:                         
Any insights into how you got better in 2018? Any tips for things that you tried that worked?

Mike Preuss:                     
For me, it was if I found myself wanting to jump in, I would just have to be like, "Nope, don't do it." And it was more of just like breaking a habit. Maybe I should have asked people of what they do, but for me, it was just like mind over matter and just getting better at don't jump in right away, it'll probably get discussed anyways. And so for me, it was just really being conscious of when I'm talking verse others. It was just more time being in tune with how I actually communicate.

Mike Kelly:                         
That's awesome. That's a good goal. I like it.

Mike Preuss:                     
Thanks.

Mike Kelly:                         
All right Mike, I really appreciate you taking the time. If people would like to connect with you and learn more, where can they do that?

Mike Preuss:                     
Yeah, they can just email me. It's mike@Visible.vc. So they're happy to email me there. Twitter as well it's just MikePreuss. Either of those I would love to chat.

Mike Kelly:                         
Awesome. Thanks for coming on the show.

Mike Preuss:                     
Thanks for having me.