Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to the breakout growth podcast, where Sean Ellis interviews, leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis,
Speaker 1 00:00:24 This week's episode of the breakout growth podcast, Ethan Gar and I chat with Pat Kensal, founder and CEO of notarize, which is a company that makes it possible to notarize documents online. So notarize was already on a massive growth Tara prior to the pandemic, but obviously COVID lockdowns accelerated growth a lot, in fact, taking it to 600%. So I think that's one of the biggest growth rates we've seen so far on an annual level. And, uh, not surprisingly all that growth has helped them attract additional capital, which they announced earlier this month that they brought in more than a additional $130 million. So lots of money, lots of growth. This is a really great conversation. What, what did, what jumped out at you, Ethan? Um, that was particularly interesting from this conversation. You know, there's so many really interesting things, but I think it became clear that the biggest growth lever for notarize was overcoming all the murky regulations around notarization that and other hurdles that would make potential customers have hesitant to even trust the legitimacy of online notarization.
Speaker 1 00:01:25 Uh, I think that really stood out to me and how they did that, I think provides some great lessons for our audience. Yeah, well, in particular w what I, what I liked about what they did there was, uh, one of the things Pat said was very early on. He saw there was a ton of demand from particular industries like the mortgage industry and that, uh, they were, they were afraid of those murky regulations. So what the notarize team did was really partnered with these prospective customers to help get the laws clarified in their States so that they could have a lot more confidence using a service like notarize. So I thought that was super, super interesting for sure. It seems like that was, has been a big driver for the business and that they're continuously helping new industry partners integrate notary solutions into their actual workflows.
Speaker 1 00:02:10 Um, it seems like they're, you know, they were really in a prime position to help during the pandemic, um, after working through all those kinks. Yeah. Yeah. I think you're exactly right. Those the years leading up to the pandemic, help them get the business in order so that once the pandemic hit, they, they were able to be a machine that could really absorb all of that growth and not, not end up dropping the ball and not surprisingly all that growth has led them to be on a hiring tear right now. And, uh, Pat actually mentioned after our conversation that they're looking to hire more growth and marketing talent. So anyone who wants a seat on a rocket ship that, uh, you know, I think that's one of the, one of the secrets in growth is when you have that strong product market fit, if you can get a growth role or a marketing role in a company like that, you're going to be a lot more successful. And I really feel like
Speaker 2 00:03:00 Notarize was going to continue to grow really well following the lockdowns of the pen before. So, um, should we dive in? We should, but just one other thing, uh, I wanted to mention to our audience that Sean just published a great article on breakout growth.net. Um, and I really recommend you go check it out. It's probably the most controversial thing you've, uh, probably the most controversial recommendation you make around growth, Sean, but, um, it's a really good one for anyone trying to learn from customers. So, uh, let's get, let's get into it, but I wanted to mention that first.
Speaker 1 00:03:30 No, thanks, Ethan. I, I appreciate it. And, uh, yeah, let's dive in. Cool. All right. Hey Pat, welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Thrilled to be here. Yeah, I'm, we're, we're excited to have you on, and I'm also joined by my cohost. Do you think Gar welcome Ethan.
Speaker 2 00:03:53 Thanks, Sean. Looking forward to this one.
Speaker 1 00:03:55 Yeah, this should be fun. So, um, Pat it's, uh, it's been a few years since we talked about notarized, but, uh, kind of crazy that, um, you and I sat down in the really early days when you were getting started with it. And, um, I hadn't really followed what was going on, but, um, clearly something good is going on cause I'm seeing a lot more of it. Um, but before we kind of jump into what it is or like what, how you're growing and what's been going on, can you just make a quick introduction to what notarize it?
Speaker 2 00:04:23 Yeah, sure. So notarize.com and it is exactly what you think it is. So it's the, uh, ability to jump online. On-demand in less than 30 seconds, legally notarize a document online. And I think what people don't appreciate is how much notarization stand in the way of business and of, you know, some critical transactions. So buying a home, buying or selling a car, opening a bank account, transferring assets. So really what we do is for the first time ever, we let industries digitize these really critical transactions, instantaneous on demand, higher security. Oh, that's awesome. When did you actually start the company and how did you recognize that the opportunity was there? Yeah, I started the company, uh, actually, uh, yesterday six years ago. So on four 20, 2015, I was trying to scratch my own itch. And so I ran a company previously called, um, spindle.
Speaker 2 00:05:20 It was a search business and I sold that company to Twitter in 2013 joined Polaris, which is how I've got to know Sean back in the day. And, uh, I was just doing my thing. I was making investments. Uh, I led the series a or seed series a and series B in a company called drizzly, uh, which recently has been a news, uh, lob suppose I was doing my thing. Right. Uh, and then Twitter went public and I needed to get a notarized form so that I could basically claim my shares from that acquisition. So I went to the ups store, got this document notarized, uh, moved down with my life and kind of fast forward 10 days I got a phone call and said, Hey, congratulations. We claimed your stock. The bad news is we did it basically illegally because this notary screwed it up. So they stamped it. Didn't sign it. They said, you can't unwind this. You got to go find this person. So I live in downtown Boston, it's a ups store at the end of the block I go in there. Guy's not there. Guy's not there. Guy's not there. I finally go in he's there. He refuses to do it. It's a big pain in the ass. So that was the, I don't know if you'd call it an aha moment or just that Jesus Christ. I don't ever want to go through this again, moment in my life.
Speaker 2 00:06:30 Never again. Honestly, if you think about like these critical transactions in people's life and the business, that depends upon them. You know, my, my thought was, there's just gotta be a better way. So I get on the internet, I started searching and my first conclusion was like, okay, this sucks. Cause it has to suck. Right. And the, the laws and the regulations say you have to meet in person. Um, so I was initially just kind of discouraged and thought to hell with it. Um, but I just kept digging, kept poking around, you know, found a law in Virginia, you know, found that, um, someone had tried it before it got, so I got in touch with Shawn, um, was able to get, you know, his input before you even headed down the path. And, um,
Speaker 1 00:07:06 So a little context on, uh, when, when you mentioned that I had some experience with it. Um, I had been on the board of directors of a company called sign now and, uh, sign now had at one point, decided that they wanted to, uh, kind of extend the e-signature business to try to do online notarization and, um, had some, some early, uh, traction with it. But it was, it was so constrained by laws. I remember the celebration of like, I think Virginia was one of the first to actually legalize it and, and just kinda trying to pioneer through, through it a bit. And that, that company eventually said, okay, well, we're just going to focus on the, on the e-signature space and, uh, and sold to Barracuda networks. But, um, clearly, clearly the space has opened up, um, considerably in the years that you've started.
Speaker 1 00:08:00 And, um, you know, but what particularly jumped out at me a couple of weeks ago was seeing the $130 million fundraise that you just completed, which takes your total up, I think North of 200 million. And so, um, it's, uh, clearly somebody figured out that this was a much better way to do notarization and, uh, I'm sure that they figured out through the efforts that you're doing. Um, I assume a lot of this was probably, uh, the pandemic helped quite a bit as people couldn't meet face to face. Can you, can you give some context on what, what started to make this work as a, as a business opportunity?
Speaker 2 00:08:35 Yeah, I've been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It was the honest answer, uh, and a lot of money. Um, and, uh, you know, so maybe to pick up where, where your story ends. So, um, you know, Virginia by chance passed a law back in 2012. And I started the company in 2015 and we launched in January of, and before we launched, I went in and met the Virginia secretary of state and I said, Hey, I've got this thing. I've built it. I comply with the law, but I'm going to launch a national service out of Virginia. And I wanted to be sure that's what they intended. Right. And you know, it's gotta be a national service otherwise, what the hell? And so they agreed. They said that was their intention. And, um, but they said to me, they said, look, no, one's come knocking on our door on this for years.
Speaker 2 00:09:18 It's this law that got passed and it's just sort of sitting over there in the corner. And I said, well, look, I'm going to go convince people that you can do this. And so I think that's the thing that as a company, we, we deserve the most credit for. So we launched the product on, on February six, I think in 2016 or fourth, I forget. And, um, and I got this big fancy video of a guy in a wig. You know, it's gotten hundreds and hundreds of thousands of views. This video we produced and immediately two things happened so massive enterprise interest, huge, you know, mortgage lenders, banks, auto insurers. And they basically called her two things, which was, if you think it sucks to get a document notarized, imagine being us and having to manage that 500,000 times a year or a million times a year.
Speaker 2 00:10:02 And then two is, if you can really figure this out, it's going to transform the way we interact with our customers, run our organization. And then the third set of phone calls was from regulators that basically said over my dead body, right. And you're not doing this and blah, blah, blah. It's not legal or, or whatever. And so, you know, we, we sit at this point, spent tens of millions of dollars traveling the country. We've convinced federal agencies, um, we'd pass 34 state laws at this point. Um, and so a lot of that happened pre COVID. So, you know, our plan as a company going into 2020, it was to have a great year. You know, we had grown 400% in 2019, we had some really, really fantastic customers and great, um, distribution partners. That's been a big focus of ours, which has, you know, probably a good conversation for your audience. Um, and then COVID hit. And, but when COVID hit, uh, we had a really great legal framework for the company and a bunch of great partners. So with those partners that is, they just stepped on the gas. Right. Um, and as a company, we grew about 600% last year. Um, and it, you know, the most recent update is yes, we raised about a hundred and, um, $132 million.
Speaker 3 00:11:09 That's incredible. How did you drive acceleration into the opportunities created by the need to notarize documents online?
Speaker 2 00:11:17 Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. So, um, our business is primarily driven by word of mouth, right. Um, and so the, I think if you go outside and you ask, um, the average consumer, can you notarize a document on the internet? You know, it has 100 people, all 100 people are gonna say no. And when people hear about it, it frankly blows their mind. So we've been a word of mouth driven business. We have amazing customers, partners. When are the largest home builder, really the largest real estate company, you know, Redfin, Tia, Transamerica, homeless, what's crazy is virtually all of them called us and came inbound. So as a company, we've this sort of product policy led organization and our sales organization has basically been accepting inbound phone calls. Right. Um, so what happened with COVID is, you know, we really were forced to mature our, our go to market. Um, you know, the end of March last year, more than 3000 companies came inbound in like a week. Um, every, every large bank, everyone that you could think of, um, you know, it came inbound and we had, you know, a four person sales team. Um, and, uh, you know, now today we have a really amazing team. That's a hell of a lot bigger, but, um, it was pretty wild, you know, it was just the, kind of the snake that was trying to swallow the elephant. Wow.
Speaker 1 00:12:33 Did, was it, um, I guess at that point, it must've been more, more challenging kind of operationally to process all of that business. Then, then you probably, weren't thinking about how do we get more or you're thinking about how do we digest what we've got, I assume.
Speaker 2 00:12:48 Yeah, that's a really good point. And that's basically been the crux of the last year for us and what I'm most proud of. So I think it's important to note, it's not just software, it's a software enabled service, right? So we have notaries across the country who answered these calls. We commit to SLS. Our average response time is less than 30 seconds. We're online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So it's a business that never sleeps, but we have, we have to match supply and demand. So for every inbound caller, we have to have a notary that can answer the call. And a lot of our contracts were minimum commitments, not maximums, right. And everyone, all, everyone, all at once across all industries went to the max. And normally in our business, you know, real estate is busy on Fridays, but not on Tuesdays.
Speaker 2 00:13:33 And so we have the ability to sort of load balance that demand, but it went to the roof. And so we were really forced as a company to take a step back, look at what we were doing in a manual process, build self-serve tools, automate things. So now we're at the point where a notary can sign up, they can totally validate all their own credentials. They can use a training simulator. Um, they can link their bank account through Stripe and get going and actually get paid same day, you know, fully automated. And that in and of itself was a huge, huge lift, but it's allowed us to scale really, really wildly, um, improve our margins. And, um,
Speaker 1 00:14:06 Is, is it still, um, primarily like working through the Virginia laws or you may have touched on this and I missed it, but is it have, have the other state's laws kind of caught up and is it more, uh, dispersed or is it still, is Virginia still playing a really important role?
Speaker 2 00:14:22 Uh, other States have caught up Virginia is still plays an important role because, you know, we have a lot of people there, but, um, and it was the model, right? So, so really we accomplished two things. One is a legal argument that you could do this nationally. And I think, um, really simply if you get a driver's license in Massachusetts, you can drive down Florida. If you get a marriage license in one state it's valid in another state. Um, and then, you know, the internet, I think people who work in the online space are familiar with this concept of jurisdiction. Where's my company located, where am I serving customers? And so we were able to convince people, you could do this across state lines. Second thing that happened is we started passing state laws, which really normalize this. So a lot of folks basically said, I can't bet my business on one state law, but then Texas passed. Nevada passed, you know, Ohio, you know, Florida again now 34 States and they're all relatively uniform. So we have no reason. All of those States now that serve trans transactions are people nationally.
Speaker 1 00:15:24 And then I assume that this being a catalyst that drove a lot of those legal changes now that people have experienced it online, um, it would, it doesn't make sense that people would go backwards, but I'm curious like how much you've, you've sort of thought about, uh, you know, pandemic it's like needed to do this, but do you see long-term behavior change now that now that you've kind of cleared the road around some of the regulations that were preventing?
Speaker 2 00:15:52 Yeah. I mean, I absolutely unequivocably. Yes. Um, I think for us, you know, like we have some no-code solutions for people to get going quickly and we're, we're proud of those, a customer calls us in and we can get them going today, but obviously the real benefit to anything like this is to do an API integration, to, um, you know, do form validation, all of these things, right. Um, and you drive higher conversion rates and you reduce errors and you save costs. And when companies do those things, they don't go back. Right. You get to the point of a fully automated experience with complete visibility and automation and triggered alerts and all that sort of stuff. Uh, you don't go back. And so, you know, we have now, you know, 10 of the fortune 100 that, you know, have completed that work and are, are scaling.
Speaker 2 00:16:42 And, um, and then secondly, um, there's nobody who likes getting a document notarized in person, right. Who wants to leave work, or go home and leave home and go travel around and go on Twitter search for it, like search for any bank plus notary. And it's people yelling at them like I'm in your lobby. The guy's not here. What the hell? Right. So it's, there's just, there's no going back. That's amazing. I was curious, um, if you had, if you had had government relations experience yourself, or if you had had that on your team going into this, or is that something you've developed over just by necessity? I got very lucky. So I, I started the company. I was kind of a one man band working with an agency, uh, for a period of time to get the first version of the product built. And I went looking for a business partner.
Speaker 2 00:17:32 Um, I met someone named Adam paced on, and he was in DC at the time. Uh, and again, Virginia DC, right. If you've been to the area, you know, they're just across the bridge. Right. So, um, so Adam joined us my co-founder and, uh, he was someone with, uh, government experience, um, had worked on Capitol Hill, uh, in Congress, um, and really worked at the intersection of FinTech and policy. And so he really helped drive a lot of the initial strategy and really the strategy was to get off our butts and go talk to people. Right. And, you know, again, we launched the product in February of 16, almost immediately, a bunch of associations of regulators came out and said, no, or we're going to study this. And he said, look, they created a committee of 16 secretaries of state. The meeting is in six weeks, we have six weeks to go visit 16 secretaries of state.
Speaker 2 00:18:26 And we did. And so we got them, planes are flying around and it was really great because we sat down and we said, we have nothing to sell. Right. We just want to explain this concept to you, how we're serving people, how it's legal in your state. Um, and we got really positive feedback. We ultimately changed that organization's position officially, but really positive feedback about them, the engagement. And so we've continued that we've, we're, we're everywhere. Uh, a bunch of trade associations got involved, we'd share their committees. Um, we had a general counsel who was remarkably impactful, Michael CHODOs today. We have a phenomenal team. I honestly, I think there's Google Microsoft. And then I think I would put our government policy team against any, any technology company with exception of maybe the, the largest we've sled by a woman named Nicole Booth who joined from Quicken. And she's just built a phenomenal team
Speaker 1 00:19:16 Prior to the pandemic. What were the key drivers of,
Speaker 2 00:19:21 Yeah, I think word of mouth, frankly, um, you know, a little bit of search marketing, but as a company, you know, like up until recently, we spent like $3,000 a month in marketing. Um, and I think the thing about us that's so strange is literally everyone who matters, uh, already knows about us. And it's because we changed the law in their state, or we got their trade association to change its policies. So, you know, if you're, if you're a regional bank or home builder, for example, or title agent down in Florida, you know, it took three years to get the law passed. And every year, you know, they solicited letters of support and all that sort of stuff. So, so the government affairs thing is actually been hugely impactful in our business, in, in creating a brand in creating trust, the exp being seen as that market leader. And we've been able to really partner with a lot of great people through that, uh, these days we're starting much more traditional, you know, paid and other sort of marketing efforts.
Speaker 1 00:20:19 Yeah. In terms of that word of mouth, what, um, is, is it re like word of mouth from kind of all constituents or is there one group that maybe pushes it a bit more?
Speaker 2 00:20:30 Yeah. It was the housing finance industry that really some mortgage and title that cared at at first and, you know, a cool story. So again, we, we, we launched the product, there's this meeting down in, in Washington, DC of the national association of secretaries of state. And I show up and, uh, I remember the woman gets up and she says, we don't normally have a lot of people here, but it's like standing room only. And she says, can you say who you are, uh, who you're with and what your position is on the issue. And it's like, you know, bank of America, Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae, FHA, CFA, you know, it's like the entire national industry in this room. And they're like, this is the key missing thing to digitize the mortgage process. We've wanted this for years. We hate it. We think this is, you know, again, that'd be the end of the earth.
Speaker 2 00:21:22 And then it comes around to the end of the table and there's Adam and myself. And we're like, Oh, you know, we're patting that on from notarize. Uh, and at a time where like a five person company. Right. Um, but that's when we knew we were onto something like, you know, where there's smoke, there's fire. Right. And, um, and I give that group a lot of credit, you know, the mortgage bankers association, the American land title association, they really created a forum. And what they did is they forced the conversation out in the public. Uh, and we haven't worked through it. And we got to a place where now everyone's doing this right. Uh, and now other industries have sort of been able to jump on that bandwagon and use a lot of that legal research and work that, that the housing industry did.
Speaker 1 00:22:02 Right. But it sounds like, you know, more than just word of mouth, they, they actually helped to help, help to push regulation to make it possible. Which was, was one of the key, key barriers to, to make any happen at all.
Speaker 2 00:22:15 Yeah. The bill that gets passed now is referred to oftentimes as the NBA all to bill. So the mortgage bankers association, you know, American land title association, and they're, they're their, I mean, their members want it and they do a fantastic job. Now, the national association of realtors are actually an investor in, in our company and they're extremely supportive at the federal and state level. So, I mean, I'm often asked how do you change a law? And my re my responses. You've got to have people who give a shit. Right. And I think what's so interesting about our businesses, all these people really care, and they want to see, they wanna see this future realized. So,
Speaker 1 00:22:53 Cause I'm in particularly like, you know, if you're, if you're trying to close deals, like the mortgage industry is any, any friction that slows down the closing of a deal, it means it means the deals get lost it's within their, within their best interests to try to make the process as smooth as possible. I would think that's exactly right. Yeah. So, so beyond the legal friction, is there any other major challenges that come to mind that, that, uh, made it harder to, uh, to, to, to initially scale the business?
Speaker 2 00:23:22 Yeah, I would say education. Uh, and I would say there's this concept that I think of a lot, which I kind of call like product delivery fit, but maybe to take them in, in sequence. So in the educational camp, historically, a very, very large organization has the, has the research and the resources to make a buying decision for a product. Right. Um, they can take our positioning and say, okay, we agree with you. This is legal. Here's how we're going to do it. But when you go to market or, or SMB, they just don't have the resources. And they're like, you know, okay, it's legal says who. Right. Um, so a lot of the same conversation and that's where today what's been great with COVID and the market tractional sort of stuff is it's like, says who, well, I mean, sitting in Wells Fargo just invested in our company, right.
Speaker 2 00:24:08 Um, you know, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac publicly support it. So it says to them, right? So the educational challenge has gotten easier, but this product delivery fit thing, you know, I, we're talking about product market fit and I'm not trying to coin a phrase or anything, but like, I just think that we have something people want, but at the end of the day, it also has to be easier for the business user in their everyday process. Right. And we go into a lot of industries, it could be auto mortgage title banking, and exactly what you said earlier, which is if you're a mortgage lender, you know, you have to close the deal. And especially these days with the mortgage rates where they are, everyone who might be doing five deals a day or a week is doing 15. Right. And so taking data out of a system King in, into another system, although it's this amazing experience for the consumer.
Speaker 2 00:25:04 And, and there's a lot of promise if it's more work to do, they're just not going to do it. Right. And so how do we take this product and embed it seamlessly into their business process, into the tools that they use. So that for that end user, it's actually an exceptional, better experience saves me time. Right. Um, I can get more deals done in a day. And the reality for us is that's different in every single industry that we're in, um, for all these, all these different reasons. And so we've really had to focus hard on, on, on how to do that.
Speaker 1 00:25:38 Yeah, no, it's interesting. You talk about product delivery as like a, as, as a, as an important growth lever. I often think of that as, as just speed to value. And, uh, if you can, if you can get someone to experience the value of it fast, then, then you can convince them that it'll be fast every time, but it's, it's kind of getting them through that skeptical period until they realize, Oh, wait, that wasn't so hard. Wow. That was really beneficial. And then, and then like once you get them to there, hopefully it's, it's a matter of, you know, you, you're, you're over the biggest hump to get them to come back and do it many more times going forward. So, um, that's definitely an area that I've seen, whether whether in your business I can see cause there's some skepticism anyway, and people have long built habits around, around signing and notarization, but in really any business, I think that that kind of speed to value is critical for driving, driving more people to adopt a new solution. So, um, Ethan, how are you doing? You got any questions? Yeah. I was curious, curious, what are the key success metrics and your team focus
Speaker 3 00:26:44 On? And do you have like a single metric that helps you align the team towards the mission?
Speaker 2 00:26:48 Yeah. So for us, we focused on meetings. Um, so we ultimately think of these as video meetings. Right. Um, and so a lot of metrics keyed off that. So just the number, right. And so if the number of meetings we're hosting on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is going up, basically everything is taken care of itself as a company. Right. Um, and then also the number of attempted meetings to complete a transaction, the failed meetings for different reasons. Right. And that really has a huge impact on our cogs and margins and stuff like that. So, so really driving successful meeting count is a huge, um, uh, metric for us. And it's definitely, you know, companies or organizations, right? So at the end of the day, uh, you know, we serve consumers. So any consumer can pick up our, their mobile phone and do this right now.
Speaker 2 00:27:40 Um, but ultimately we want to get businesses to integrate us into these business processes who are managing, uh, volumes. So, uh, from that company's metric, there's a lot of things to hang off that how many people are trying, how many people are completing their first meeting when they try their third, their fifth, you know, just like Twitter, what was it, seven users, right. We have these kind of magic metrics that we track related to raw customer count. And then, and then meeting count and, um, like any company, we have too many metrics, but those are the two that if, if we, if we solve those where we're looking good
Speaker 3 00:28:15 And a meeting just for, for clarity essentially means that once you establish a video meeting, that's when the notarization takes place.
Speaker 2 00:28:23 Exactly. Um, and, and a successful meeting is everything's filled in properly that, you know, dah, dah, dah, and it's a successful transaction. And, and interestingly, uh, we actually switched to more of an e-commerce model, uh, meaning, uh, you only pay for success when you access the document. And so we used to charge up front and now we say, you can go all the way through to having a successful meeting and seeing your completed document and you don't pay it until you want to download it. Um, yeah.
Speaker 3 00:28:55 So can you tell us a little bit about how your teams are organized for growth, uh, you know, for product marketing and growth, how those, how, how you've set things up?
Speaker 2 00:29:04 Yeah. I mean, as I mentioned earlier, you know, we didn't have huge investment in these areas, even, you know, a year ago, we now have made a ton of progress. Um, you know, we brought in, uh, our first president and chief commercial officer, someone named Larry Dangelo out of log, man. Um, and I actually think there's a lot of corollaries, uh, with logging in as a business, um, one, you know, video conferencing, software, stuff like that. But to, you know, we have a, a, um, e-commerce consumer business. We have freemium experiences, which Sean of course knows more about than anyone, you know, we have, um, pay by credit card. Uh, we have actual channel partners, we have integrated developer partners, you know, so just the complexity of our business is really trying to get all of these things to fire in concert. Um, and so Larry's really been helpful there, but separately now, w we think about it in terms of verticals, right?
Speaker 2 00:29:59 So we have high-velocity SMB, we have an enterprise vertical, we have a real estate, uh, vertical, um, and we're going to build those out over the course of time auto and other school will follow from that. Um, and one of the things that's really interesting for us as we've made changes over the course of time where we've really brought sales customer success, um, support closer together, uh, and the realization is most of our businesses is transactions. Like we, we sign a customer, we need to get that time to value. We need to penetrate these accounts and, and scale the volume by going across use cases by getting integrations done. So we've really had to think long and hard about the, sort of the compensation model sales through activation, you know, new business through customer success. Um, so it's, you know, it's been a lot interesting.
Speaker 2 00:30:49 Um, so have you found the organization to become getting more siloed as you've grown? I, it sounds like you've, uh, you've been growing fast. Um, and have you tried to, have you had to work to try to be more cross-functional? Yeah, we went this past 12 months from about a hundred to 250 people give or take. So, um, you know, every week I do the new hire and I was always more people, more people in it. Um, and, uh, I think a challenge of our business is you can't not know how the whole thing works. Um, and so while we have these silos, we really need to bring people up to speed and teach them the business. Um, you know, you're on the phone with the customer, you know, can I do this well, you can't answer that question unless you understand, you know, the legal issues, um, what aspects of the platform are configurable versus not. So we've, we've made a huge investment in, you know, training, um, you know, things of that nature, but, um, you know, it's a, it's a real challenge,
Speaker 1 00:31:52 Really cool to see the focus on making sure the team understands how the whole thing works. I agree that that, that I think helps to how's it break down the silos when you're not just looking at your kinda little, little scope of responsibility, but you understand how that fits with the big picture. Um, I'm curious if you, if you think that really is only unique to your business or you feel like all businesses should be doing that a lot more, um, but it's, it's particularly important in your business. How do you think about that extending outside of, uh, outside of notarized?
Speaker 2 00:32:24 I think everyone should be doing it more, but I think it's particularly important to our business. I mean, we, we offer a legal service, you know, if it ain't legally valid and what the hell is the point of do it in the first place. Right? So for our customers, um, they expect us to produce a notarization and if it's not executed properly, or if you do it in a place that's not permissible, that's bad. Um, so as a whole company, we're very focused on that. And in a lot of ways, we're the company that tells people sometimes what they can't do, right. Uh, you know, w we get credibility from that. You know, my, I think our superpower is an organization. And what I love about what we do is, you know, we get a call literally today, we got a whole new vertical and industry that came to us and it happens all the time.
Speaker 2 00:33:11 And they say, Hey, I I'm trying to sell a car on the internet. And I got to do this thing, you know, can you help us? Um, and we get to unpack that problem and understand it's not just notary law. It might be DMV issues or real property law or insurance regulations. Um, and we get to work with these amazing companies and move online for the first time. Right. And transform the way they work. It's really fun. And I think, I think if we can get the whole company or more of the company in a position to do that, I mean, what an incredible, um, you know, scaled way to go take on the world
Speaker 1 00:33:50 For sure. And speaking of taking on the world, I think, you know, it sounds like for so much of the business, it was, it was kind of those, those legal frictions that might've made growth a lot harder as, as the pandemic, as, as helped to clear away some of those frictions out of, out of necessity. How do you, how do you, I mean, I've got to assume that, that, uh, that there's probably a lot, and maybe that's part of the fundraising that you've you've brought in is to now make sure that you own as much of the market as possible, but, so how important do you think it is to take the Slack out of the market and how, how do you, how, how do you go about doing that?
Speaker 2 00:34:31 Yeah, I mean, we're laser focused on distribution partners right now. I think a realization that we have had, um, so a couple of things. So one over the course of time, we've gone from being control freaks with a managed service to having exceptional software that uplevels everyone. And, and so we started out, it was only our notaries, a small number of transactions. And if you think about that legal, you know, regulatory risk, the way that we've succeeded was by succeeding with the business, right? This is effective. We can do this, but we learned, we got feedback, we built more tools, you know, ways to ensure that notaries can be successful as we've done that, we've opened it up. So now we have business partners with their people on the platform, right. Um, and sort of these, these strides over the course of time to really open up the platform, but where we are today is really a realization that it's not our customer in a lot of cases, right?
Speaker 2 00:35:28 So we work with a bunch of amazing brands and it's about their digital experience, right? They're building an application to sell someone a on the internet and they have this immersive experience they've acquired this customer. So we're very focused on SDKs and other things to, to snap into those experiences and give them complete control over what they want to do. Um, but with all of the compliance and <inaudible> rights. So, um, and that for us, I mean, we're signing just tons and tons of distribution partnerships. The other thing is that I think chief among them is Adobe. So they're a huge partner of ours now. Um, anyone who uses Adobe sign or, um, basically, you know, PDF Acrobat stuff, we'll soon CR see us. Um, and then, uh, we're going to really pick up on the marketing side and just to point a Slack, I mean, it's awareness. We should have everyone know about us.
Speaker 1 00:36:23 Right. But I, I actually do see a lot more defensibility as you talk through that. And then there's definitely, there's the ecosystems and integration parts that you're talking about, but there's, there's just like the whole network effect of, of all of those businesses that you've, you've built those relationships with, that you're, that you're kind of plugged deeply into. Um, it sounds like it would be probably harder to others get to get started. And then you even mentioned that, that, you know, most people today are discovering through word of mouth. And of course you can, you can turn that up by doing more marketing and other things, but word of mouth is really hard for someone else to replicate. So that's, that's actually a good thing when, when word of mouth is an important growth driver in the business, but, um, in terms of kind of like the path that someone would take from initially discovering it, particularly the target customers of, of probably some of the businesses of originally discovering it to where they're to there, where they're really like locked in and raving fans of it. Um, what's what, what does that look like for most companies,
Speaker 2 00:37:23 Uh, a successful meeting, honestly, or number of successful meetings and on the consumer side, most people find us in a moment of desperation, right? You have this thing you have to get done. It's been sitting on your desk, shit. What am I going to do? They go on the internet, they see this online notarization thing, and they think, okay, I'll give this a whirl. And they do. And in less than five minutes, they have this PDF document back that, Oh my God. Right. And those people become, frankly, stark raving fans go on the internet. They're like posting about this is like the greatest thing ever. Uh, and largely, I think it's just because of the, in personal terms, so horrible we're being compared to that, right. Uh, for businesses, it's about getting the document back, right? So your business, you may have tried as, as a consumer, you're like, are people really going to do this?
Speaker 2 00:38:13 Right? So they upload a document, they send out a transaction. So you may be a private wealth advisor who needs a power of attorney and your clients traveling. So you're there over, you know, pre COVID they're in Europe, they're whatnot. Uh, and you find us and UK, again, I'll give this thing a whirl and all of a sudden, like it, six minutes later, it's back, it's in your inbox. It's perfectly executed. You call your client. And like, that was amazing, right? So that's the magic moment for us is getting people to this point of having done it, experienced the product. Um, you know, and, and, uh, we do everything we can to turn it drives exactly that did, notary's actually played a big role in driving referrals. They do. Um, you know, it depends. I think, I think there are many, many millions of notaries in the country. Um, there's a professional set of notaries that's in the, in the hundreds of thousands and they absolutely do have clients. So we just announced, uh, that notaries now can use our software to serve their own clients and their own books of business and really control a captive book. And that's been the last thing we haven't offered. Um, so, you know, we've got thousands that have signed up and are waiting for that product and it's out in a couple of weeks. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:39:25 Wow. Well, this is, this is like a fascinating glimpse into a business that's really kind of transforming sort of, not just, not just your area of business, but probably like transformative to entire industries that rely on, on notarization. So super, super exciting story to go through. And I'm sure we could, we could keep asking a million questions on it, but one that we really like to end with is just, um, what do you, what do you feel like particularly say, um, you know, through this pandemic, or maybe just in the, in the year leading up to it, um, that you understand about growth now that, uh, that maybe you didn't understand about growth as well? Um, you know, a couple of years ago.
Speaker 2 00:40:09 Yeah. Eventually you need great go-to-market people. Uh, and honestly I know that sounds dumb, but, um, you know, I'm a PM by background, I love to build things and I've, I've spent so much of our time energy money on trying to build product led growth. Um, and we've been very, very successful. Um, I think SEO is, is underrated, which has been hugely impactful in our business. Um, but at the end of the day, uh, products like ours need to be sold. Um, and that is a craft, you know, it's a trade. Um, and it's something that, um, you know, I, I recommend in given my experience really bringing in sooner, sooner than we did,
Speaker 1 00:40:56 But I, but it still feels like I'm clearly you're in a really good place right now, but it still feels like when, when I, I kind of look at the whole thing and that some of the key takeaways that I'm getting that the, that the corporate demand was, was there a pretty quickly. So I know a lot of times that that's what your go to market would be focused on is trying to get that corporate demand going. And that the, the real challenge was that the legal friction and, and by, by really working with corporates that wanted something like this, particularly in the mortgage industry to, to overcome some of that legal friction, um, tiny wise, it seems like you, you got yourself in a position where you could really, uh, really be helpful in a, in a, in a critical service during the pandemic to supercharge things. But I don't think you would have been able to kind of hit the ground running, going into the pandemic and make much of a dent if you hadn't sort of gone through the hard work up to that point. But it's a, it's just really fascinating to, to see, you know, it's not like, um, like Uber or something where they, where they got the taxi drivers to go out and advocate on their behalf. Like you, you were, you were really aligned on the, on the corporate demand side. And, um,
Speaker 2 00:42:10 Well, that's, what's interesting, you know, relative to Uber is like, you take a ride to the airport and you get out of the car, you're at the airport, right. Um, with the notarization, if you get a notarized document and you take it to the bank, they can say, no, go home, you know, try again. And that's where we were really forced to go out and to have these conversations and to get approvals. But, you know, we we've always had extraordinary demand, but like, what do you do when suddenly 10 banks want to sign up at once? Right. And, you know, discovery calls and, and, and all of the things that, you know, people know how to do at scale, you know, with, with sales background and, and real skill and development, but like, or it's just me as a founder on the phone up 22 hours a day, uh, you know, so just the work of actually winning business and activating them.
Speaker 2 00:42:59 And, um, so, and I, I say, I think for us, that's really been instructive for growth, and I may have hit on this earlier. Um, you gotta, you gotta know the service that you provide. And I think in real estate, there's an expression which has been really valuable, which is, you're only as good as your last closing. So you could have done a thousand transactions, but if you blow up one is a big, big, big deal. And so for us, you know, you can't do a thousand transactions until you can do one, five, 10, you know, perfectly and, um, and really polishing the rock. There is just hugely valuable for us.
Speaker 1 00:43:32 Yeah. And so how, how many years of execution did you have going into the pandemic?
Speaker 2 00:43:39 Almost five. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:43:41 I mean, so it feels like you really, at least operationally understood the business really well at that point to, you know, obviously there's always going to be massive scaling challenges when you, when you grow really fast. But, um, it, it definitely, it definitely sounds like, kind of, thank God you had that, that, that, that run-up time there. But for me to be able to look at this industry and having kind of experienced that from the inside and it's total nascency to where you've taken it, it is a I'm amazed and, uh, really impressed. And then I I'm I'm with you that like what, now that people are experiencing it this way, and that there's a lot more legal acceptance around, it's kind of the same thing that happened in e-signature that like, once, once it becomes standard that people accept any signature, then, then, then it's a lot easier to get everyone to accept it. And, uh, and so, yeah, it's, it's really, it's exciting to see where you are with it and, and, and where you're gonna take it from here. So I don't know, Ethan, did you have any other key takeaways
Speaker 3 00:44:43 I didn't hit on? Yeah. I was just kind of impressed from the beginning. It sounds like you and your team just had this great ability to raise your hand and ask, you know, how do we do this and figure it out, uh, you know, from the government relations side to just, uh, really focusing on your go to market strategy. It's just, uh, it seems like you've always had the ability to, to just figure it out. And a lot of that I think starts with just being able to say, Hey, we don't know, let's go figure it out and solve the problem, but I just want you to know Pat, I am in the process of refinancing my house and I can never, I can, I can't say ever before, I've been excited to get something notarized, but I can't wait to use the service. Okay, nice.
Speaker 3 00:45:25 Maybe I'll maybe I'll end with this story if you'll indulge me, which is we recently, I mean, just very recently had 106 year old man use the service and without getting into the company, um, they thought he was dead. And in order for him to continue his benefits, he needed to prove he was alive. And to do that, he needed to get a notarization done and 106, no issue completed the transaction. But just to just imagine the pandemic that we're in and in order for this guy to prove that he was alive to keep receiving benefits, he otherwise would have had to gone out and risk exposing himself. And those are the sorts of things that we see every day and it keeps it going. That's amazing, but it does feel like you heard our echo pharmacy interview and heard that they had a 97, <inaudible> 60 beat it by nine years. Trust me. I was amazed.
Speaker 1 00:46:20 That is not a super cool Pat. Well, congratulations again on all the success. And, uh, we're, we're excited to see where you take it from here.
Speaker 3 00:46:28 Yeah. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
Speaker 1 00:46:31 Yeah. To everyone listening. Thanks for tuning in. And, uh, we'll, uh, we'll get another episode out to you soon. Bye.
Speaker 0 00:46:42 Thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you're at it subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.