Lola.com CEO, Mike Volpe, shares how he is aligning his team to disrupt the $1.3 trillion business travel market

Episode 9 December 19, 2019 00:36:28
Lola.com CEO, Mike Volpe, shares how he is aligning his team to disrupt the $1.3 trillion business travel market
The Breakout Growth Podcast
Lola.com CEO, Mike Volpe, shares how he is aligning his team to disrupt the $1.3 trillion business travel market

Dec 19 2019 | 00:36:28

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Show Notes

In this episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews Mike Volpe, CEO of Lola.com, a SaaS platform disrupting the $1.3 trillion business travel market. As the former CMO at Hubspot, Mike provides an interesting perspective on growth since he now oversees all of the key growth levers in the business.   

Initially, Lola wasn't focused on the B2B market. The founder previously helped build Kayak.com so he has a strong background in the consumer travel space.  But by studying their early passionate customers the Lola team realized their product was resonating most with business travelers. Given Mike’s background growing B2B SaaS companies, he was an ideal CEO to recruit to help lead the company into this opportunity. 

Mike credits Lola’s rapid growth to having a fantastic product serving a very large market. Lola provides value to both travel managers and road warriors. For travel managers, Lola helps them save significantly on their travel expenses and gain better visibility and control over their corporate travel. For road warriors, Lola helps improve the overall travel experience. 

As CEO, Mike believes an important part of his role is to keep the overall team aligned and pulling in the same direction. One of the most effective ways he helps to drive this alignment and cross-functional collaboration is through a monthly full-day meeting between the functional leads. By carving out a full day, they go beyond surface level reporting to actually working with each other to achieve the company objectives. 

Another key part of Mike’s role as CEO is to ensure that the company isn’t just growing quickly but it is maintaining strong unit economics as it does so. He explains that the B2B travel space has attracted so much investment capital that it would be easy to pursue growth at any cost. He believes that it is critical to take a more sustainable approach to growth. 

Learn more about CEO Mike Volpe at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikevolpe

Learn more about Lola at www.Lola.com

 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 2 00:08 come 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 3 00:23 All right. In this episode we'll [email protected] which is a B2B travel platform founded by the creators of kayak. I'm speaking with their CEO, Mike Volpi. And Mike was hired into the business about a year and a half ago. He was previously the founding COO at HubSpot. So he brings a pretty interesting perspective as someone who used to be a CMO and now as a CEO and so clearly has more growth levers that he controls as a CEO. So we'll uh, we'll get his perspective on that. Uh, since joining lola.com the company has done really well. They had just out of dialed in the product market fit as he, as he was joining the company. And so they've really accelerated, I'm sure part of that is having good product market fit and part of that is having the right leader in place. And so we'll talk a bit about some of the things that he's done in particular, some of the challenges and opportunities in driving adoption after the sales. So that's pretty unique to a B to B SAS businesses. Once you've made that initial sale, you still need to get people to use the product. And so some of the things that they're doing around driving that adoption, but we cover a lot. So let's go ahead and get started. Speaker 3 01:40 All right. Hey Mike, welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Speaker 5 01:44 Thanks for having me. This is going to be a lot of fun. Speaker 3 01:45 Yeah man, I'm excited to dig into this with you. So I've been looking at what you've been doing at Lola for a while and, and kind of digging into the data before getting ready for this podcast, it looked like, uh, potentially I'm, it's really hard to see with external data, but it looked like growth had maybe flattened out a bit before you got to Lola. But since you've been there, it seems like it's really accelerated quite a bit. So I'm curious what gave you the confidence to, uh, to, to want to take a risk on a company like Lola and, and made you feel like you could be successful there? Yeah, it was, Speaker 5 02:17 it was sort of less of a flattening out and more of a, a, the company had tried a couple of different business models more than the consumer side of travel. The founder of the company is a guy named Paul English who was co founder of kayak. And so when he started Lola, he was looking to do sort of a new version of consumer travel app. And what they found was is that their most active users were business travelers. And that kind of in this whole journey of finding product market fit led them down the road of going after B2B travel and corporate travel management. And it was around that time that they had sort of built the MVP of that product that Paul, uh, I've known him for a number of years cause we're both entrepreneurs here in Boston. Um, grabbed me to have breakfast and just hang out and chat and um, and actually asked me about joining the business because other, they had less B2B kind of, you know, SAS SMB kind of go to market expertise on the team. Speaker 5 03:14 Um, and I got really excited about both the opportunity to work with Paul and the team that he had put together, just knowing how, uh, amazing a product he had. He and his team had built a kayak and then also got really excited about the market. I mean, I think it's, there's one point $3 trillion that's spent on business travel every year and the vast majority of it in the small to medium size business segment is still run and purchased through consumer sites like kayak. And it just seemed like there was a really big opportunity there within the mid market and it just, uh, it just felt like the right thing to do. But you know, big market and opportunity to work with Paul and just felt like it'd be an exciting new challenge. And that's awesome. So Paul's stayed involved to what role did he know? Speaker 5 03:53 So he, he gladly gave up the CEO job because there's many aspects of it that are, are not where he gets his energy from. He is a product and engineering guy through and through. And uh, so he's full time on product and engineering. And so he does a lot of work with the design team, product managers, uh, and then a lot of work with the engineering team to. Awesome. And so you mentioned that part of you coming in was dialing in on that product market fit and seeing that it was, that the opportunity is more on the business side. So it's a good segue to get into, uh, a bit about what the product is and, and what product market fit potentially. It looks like their value proposition, how you guys make money. Can you touch on some of those things? Yeah, sure. So we, uh, we help companies save time and money and better manage all of their corporate travel spend. Speaker 5 04:40 And so the value proposition there is number one, the company and the finance team get better control and visibility over the flights and hotels and other travel-related things that people are purchasing. Uh, the second aspect is, uh, I don't go into more detail on this in a minute, is that we actually help companies save money because we have access to $40 billion in buying power that, um, gets better negotiated rates. Uh, and that's something that's, you know, exclusive to Lola in this partnership we have the American express. Uh, and then the third piece of it is that we can help make your employees your travelers a lot happier because it's a really simple, easy to use app that people love. And then we also have 24, seven human driven support from travel experts. Um, so you're not leaving your employees out there to call, you know, an airline and wait on hold for 30 minutes anymore. Speaker 5 05:25 They're getting proactive support from one of our agents. As soon as they detect that there's a problem. So it's really kind of a win-win. And one of our customers, which is a software company called flywheel, the VP of finance role, Bola out. And he said it was the first time he ever got emails from employees saying, thank you for rolling out this new tool. Oftentimes finance is kind of the, you know, locked down, you know, employees don't like all the tools and systems and processes you're putting in front of them. Uh, but this was the first time he ever rolled something out. Employees said, you know, thank you. This is such a better, easier process. I love the service. Like this is amazing. And on the flip side, he's like, wow, no, I better control the visibility over our travel spend. So it's kind of a win win. Speaker 3 06:06 That's awesome. Yeah. I mean, as a, as a, I was talking about before we got started, I spent so much time on the road these days that I definitely, I understand some of the pain, it's business travel, it's more, you know, me as an individual booking and managing that business travel. So would I, would I kind of fit within that target market or is it, is it really when it's more of a, a company that you've got, you've got the, you know, processes and things that that need to go together there. Speaker 5 06:33 B, I mean an individual yet an individual like you would be a little bit atypical. The value prop for you would be, uh, the potential to save some money through those negotiated rates that we have that are exclusive to us and then better and then better service. Speaker 3 06:45 Yeah, that's why I was thinking that the 24 hour support kind of jumps out. Speaker 5 06:49 That would jump out to you. I think, you know, the, the value prop we have around control and visibility and making sure that, you know, employees aren't buying $2,000 flights from Boston to San Francisco. That's something you care less about because you're spending your own money and so you're buying the things that you want to buy and actually be, or you're potentially even getting reimbursed by clients and things like that. So there would definitely be some value prop for you. But I'd say the core market we strive after is definitely companies that are sort of above, you know, 20, 30 employees and higher than that. Uh, and then we don't, we don't try to sell into the world's largest enterprises because, um, there's a product from SAP called concur, which kind of, uh, has a pretty good seating in that market. And there's just a bunch of, you know, as soon as you get to a company with, you know, 10,000 employees, there's a whole level of complexity there that we don't currently address. Super well. So we're really kind of firmly in the mid market. Speaker 3 07:40 And then, so you touched on that a lot of these companies were previously kind of booking through the consumer platforms. Was there anything else they were doing? Speaker 5 07:49 Um, no. I mean the finance team would sort of, the problems with that were, you know, somebody would book a flight on cardiac and the employee would think it would be within the company's kind of, you know, guidelines. Um, but maybe they bought a premium economy, you know, extra leg room seat. They weren't supposed to, but they wouldn't know that at the time that they're buying it. And then the finance team doesn't learn about that until the employees already paid for the flight and their credit card taking the flight and then puts it on their expense report. And then all of a sudden finances in this awkward position of being the, you know, the bad person going back to the employee being like, well, I can't reimburse you for this whole flight because it didn't conform to a policy and blah, blah, blah. And you know, if you have that real time visibility or the person buys it, they're seeing if it's in or out of policy at the time that they're buying it, they're probably saving money on buying it through Lola the first place. And then the second that purchases is finance can actually see it. Um, and if they need to make any adjustments at that time, they can. So it's, it's again, it's really taking everything from kind of this real time lagged sort of world with a lot of uncertainty to give employees the certainty that what they're buying, um, you know, is the right thing for the business and conformance all the rules and gives finance the ability to kind of see things in real and just have that assurance that everything's going the right way Speaker 3 08:58 and they, and then finance can put up those guide rails without having to, having to hand slap afterwards for, for, for booking the wrong kind of stuff. Yeah. Speaker 5 09:06 It removes those really awkward conversations afterwards. Um, and again, it's also just great as a business. Maybe you're spending only a few hundred thousand dollars on travel, but to pull that with, you know, thousands of other businesses and then even some very large businesses through American express and then, you know, to get rates from the airlines that are based in 40 billion in buying power, uh, you know, versus $400,000 in buying power. It gives you a lot of leverage as well. Speaker 3 09:30 <inaudible> that's, that makes a lot of sense. So I, I'm sure a big factor in all of the gross success that you've had then is just, just the, the right product and market and that value proposition really resonating with, with, uh, what customers' needs are right now. But what else would you attribute the growth to? Speaker 5 09:49 Um, I'd say it's, it's also a really fast, simple, easy product. I think that this industry is, um, you know, it when you say to someone, Oh, you have a corporate travel system. I think the stereotypical thing they picture in their head is something was designed in 1996 and a super clunky and slow. And when you demo Lola, people are like, Oh, like this is different than what I expected. Uh, and then when they go to implement and use it, it's just so fast and easy. I mean we have, you know, really high adoption rates, um, that happened very quickly and we have customer success people that will hold our customers through the process. But a lot of our customers actually get the first email after they sign up and they actually self onboard. And so, you know, if you want, if you want the help, we're there to help you. Speaker 5 10:39 And we have customer success team, but oftentimes they're really just doing kind of a little bit of troubleshooting or uh, you know, addressing any sort of issues that came up along the way and not, you know, getting people into the product initially. Cause it's, it's one of those things. We have a consumer product driven product team and I think that that's really helped the growth a lot. We've been able to I think have require less investment on the people side, um, to support the customer base, which just gives you a lot more ability to lead on the growth side. Speaker 3 11:04 That's awesome. Yeah, I think that like that, that kayak background, I think you're seeing it in so many, so many business applications now. If you can take really good consumer experience people and you know, it's still people inside businesses that have to use these products and, and being able to be really, you know, build really intuitive interfaces that, uh, are, are easy to use. And so that's, that's pretty cool. Having that and kayak is, is really well known for being super usable and good on the consumer side. So it makes sense that that background will help you guys quite a bit. Yeah. Paul would argue that kayak has gotten worse and they've added like too many bells and whistles and lots of stuff that's kind of distracting in the past couple of years since he's been gone. Speaker 5 11:49 I don't as a super fast, I mean just, you know, the fastest product out there and super easy to use. I and lots of people, I mean I fell in love with that product early on and it's a great product. Speaker 3 12:00 So, so when you compare your experience, I mean we got to know each other when you were at HubSpot, uh, I know you've done some other things in between, but when you compare your sort of HubSpot experience for one thing, like I want the things I think that HubSpot's done really well over the years is that they've, they've not creeped into the big enterprise side that they've, they've kind of served that wide end of the market where customer acquisition and retention and conversion become really important and it's, and it's less about super enterprisey sales process. Um, how does that relate to what you're doing now? And is that a what, what are the areas where it's maybe more challenging what you're doing and what maybe where you have different types of opportunities and what your, Speaker 5 12:40 I think it's really interesting because I think most companies as you get, once you get to a certain point of scale, your growth needs to come from either having a broader and broader solution or your growth needs to come from serving a larger number of companies within, but within the same type of solution. But meaning that you may be starting mid-market, you go to enterprise, but with the same type of solution. And um, HubSpot, I think we debated that actually for years. Uh, but I think we at the end of the day smartly chose to produce a broader solution but stay focused on the bid market and there's a slight drift up market but also slight drift down markets. So there was a little bit of broadening there, but mostly it was moved from marketing to sales to CRM to now service and you know, all the other things. Speaker 5 13:28 And that was kind of like the growth trajectory. But you're right, I think the classic growth trajectory with a, with a SAS company is to stay within your vertical but then March up into the enterprise and continue to serve the smaller businesses, but also do the much bigger deals. You know, for us, I think what we found is early on we thought that may be the best target market would be under 50 or under a hundred employees. I think what we've learned is it's more likely to be 502 or sorry, 50 employees to maybe a thousand employees kind of in that range. Um, but I don't think that we have any big plans to go up into the enterprise enterprise. Um, a because I think that some other folks in the market that are doing that. And B, I think our real DNA, I mean we have it, it's a blend of kayak and HubSpot DNA and none of that screams enterprise. It really screams getting very good at the SMB market. And so that's really where we're focused. So I think you'll see us, um, think more about the growth plays more like HubSpot has done. Speaker 3 14:23 Yeah. And then, um, you know, you mentioned that when you came in, Paul, move more into the, uh, purely focusing on the product side and clearly your, your background as CMO at HubSpot means that you've, you've got a lot of strengths on the marketing side. Have you, have you kind of been able then to just, just trust that he's got the, the product side probably pretty well dialed in and, and has freed you up to do more, more marketing and growth as CEO? Or how do, how do you kind of fit a marketing growth into your time as CEO? Speaker 5 14:57 Yeah, he and I definitely don't only color inside the lines and there's definitely, you know, him pitching on the sales and marketing side of things and be pitching in on the product side of things. But I think that one of the things that made me feel really good about taking my first CEO job here was that, um, you know, we had Paul, um, and just such a great leader in terms of product and engineering and that was the part of the business that I had the least experience with. And so I was really excited, uh, and I thought that that would sort of position me well in the company while it be successful. Um, but yeah, I think he and I both spend a lot of our time thinking about growth. I think we come at it from different angles, but a lot of times, you know, I'll, I mean, I just recently last month came to him and said, okay, here's where the conversion rates in our process could be higher. You know, what can we think about from a product perspective to help improve that? Right? Um, or here's the major objections we're hearing in our sales process. Should we prioritize some of those things in the roadmap? And so a lot of our conversations, almost all of our conversations are related to growth and the intersection of, you know, sales marketing, product Speaker 3 16:06 <inaudible> well that's awesome. I think that that's more and more realization over the years. It's just the whole kind of interdependence of, of conversion and retention and engagement and monetization. And if you don't nail those things, customer acquisitions really hard to, to scale profitably. And, um, a lot of times it's just, it's, you're coming at it from such different, uh, kind of viewpoints as from, from the marketing side and then the, the, you know, product and engineering side. So I think given that, yeah, as, as founder, having someone on the product and engineering side that cares a lot about the big picture and growth and then your ability to collaborate with them has gotta be a huge advantage for you guys. Speaker 5 16:50 Yeah, it works really well. We've got a really good thing going here and this is Paul's fifth company. So I think the good news is it's not either of our first rodeo and I think we've, uh, again still have a ton to learn and we're always sort of learning new models and new things like that. But I, I think we both have an understanding of how a lot of the growth of a company really comes from being in the right place at the right time and having everything really well aligned to pushing in the same direction. Um, and that means kind of having, you know, product sales, marketing, all of it kind of like, you know, even customer success and service and support, all sort of like tightly aligned around who the target customer is, what the growth trajectory is. Like how do you get those folks on board? Where do you find them? How do you make them successful? All those things. Speaker 3 17:35 So how have you organized those teams? Speaker 5 17:38 They're, they're organized relatively traditionally. Um, you know, uh, Paul manages product and engineering. Um, I managed the rest of this stuff and uh, sort of of the go to market side of the house and then, you know, also finance and ops. But I'd say we get that team together. We don't do the weekly management thing, a team meeting thing. That was actually something from HubSpot where we didn't do weekly, um, kind of, you know, 90 minute meetings. We did, um, monthly full day meetings. And I really liked that because it turned those meetings into a little bit more kind of thinking time and debating time than a, you know, let me list off the five things I'm doing. So I look in front of my peers time and um, and we've adapted, adopted that here at Loyola. So we get the full management team together monthly and usually Paul and I and meet in advance and pick the like, you know, two things. We're going to dive into a debate. And you know, we've got that meeting coming up next week and part of what we do is go through the numbers from last month and part of what we do is go through a couple of larger strategic issues, um, and we give that team an opportunity to work very cross-functionally, uh, and sort of debate a lot of the key issues. Speaker 3 18:41 That's, that's amazing. I actually hadn't heard that HubSpot does a monthly cross functional leadership meetings. I at that. That makes a ton of sense. It's probably, yeah, it's probably a little <inaudible> Speaker 5 18:53 different now because it's a much larger scale business with like, you know, thousands and thousands of employees in global and there's probably a little bit more tactical coordination needs to happen. But yeah, for the first eight, nine years, uh, there was no, you know, weekly management meeting and it was a monthly, we call it an offsite, but we would do it in the office. Um, but it was, but it would be, it would have the feeling of an offsite where you were really kind of sequestering yourself for a day and debating a lot of the key issues. Speaker 3 19:19 That's, yeah, I mean, I so much of my time now is actually facilitating those meetings with companies. So I'm, I'm bringing together cross functional leaders and do a single full day offsite and being able to see teams that they're in, a lot of companies that the functional leads spend almost no time talking together or like you said, they're just there. They're doing a quick report in a weekly meeting, but there's no collaboration and discussion and what's the big picture goals and how do we work together to achieve those goals. And so I've seen just the power of doing that just a single time, but to do that on a monthly basis seems, seems amazing. That's, um, I'm a, I love that. Speaker 5 19:59 Yeah. Well, I mean, your job as CEO is definitely to make a lot of the linkages cross-functionally. And there'll be a lot of times where I see one group, you know, doing or saying something and I'll kind of plug them into another group and say, Oh, you really can talk to this person and see if you can kind of align on this thing. Um, but it's even better if I don't have to do that because there is that cross functional work happening without me. Um, and so we definitely try to instill a lot of that and we have the benefit that we have a very short sales cycle because we're in the mid market. And so, you know, we close our books monthly sales quarters, our monthly, like everything we do is a monthly cadence to the business and that really gives us the ability of every month there's like new data that's worth looking at, you know, versus the enterprise. I've been places where if you got together monthly, there wouldn't be a whole lot to talk about. Cause it's really more of a quarterly cadence. Speaker 3 20:45 Yeah. Big pipeline discussion more. Anything else? I'm sure you, each of the teams have their own sort of a set of goals and objectives and metrics that they're, they're individually responsible for. But then is there is a kind of a, a broader North star metric and in those meetings you talk about your kind of kind of broader mission and progress on that mission or is it, is it super tactical or how do you kind of balance between those things? Speaker 5 21:11 Yeah, I um, a couple of things. So we adopted the Salesforce, I don't really even call it, it's called the V two mom. It's vision, values, methods, emissions and metrics. And so we're actually, they say measures but measures and metrics that same thing. And so that's what we use to really align the company. And then each department has their own and you know, so we've got two major goals for the company and they are, and I think we actually have like a one, two, three. I think we actually have four key ways that we measure those metrics. So we don't have like one North star metric. But the couple of things we're really focused on now without going into like the specific detail on it, is continuing to have the number one product in the industry. Cause I do think that having the world's best product is really key to our success. Speaker 5 21:56 And then number two is continuing to focus on having really good unit economics. Uh, because we're in a market now, there's just so much VC money available and we've raised a lot. We've raised over 80 million, but we have competitors in other companies or industry that have raised a hundred or 500 million and they're doing some unnatural things. And I want to make sure that we're always building sort of a healthy business. That's kind of like the second thing that we sort of keep ourselves in check on. Um, but each one we have that V two mom and that describes kind of our vision, our mission, um, and all the things like that for both the company. And then each of the leaders of the different departments have theirs as well. And we talk about that stuff in every single, we have a monthly all hands team meeting where we review all the metrics with the team and the other key initiatives we are working on. And that's where we sort of stay aligned on that stuff. Speaker 3 22:44 And then is is just like overall profit growth or overall revenue growth. Then the leading over overall metric. I know you said there's not sort of a single North star metric, but, but ultimately it feels like you, how do you know you're making progress on mission and vision? Speaker 5 23:00 I mean there's ways to measure that. You have the best product and we, we do have the highest ratings. If you look at like our star ratings and customer review sites, uh, you know, we also look at NPS. We have like a customer satisfaction thing that goes out every time there's a customer service interaction. So, you know, in terms of like having the best product, there's a couple of metrics we use there. Uh, and then unit economics. It's all sort of the typical SAS, math, LTV to CAC and probably be the one that kind of rolls up the key aspects of that. Although there's always, you know, one piece of it or two pieces of it that usually try to work on as a business. I mean, if you had to push me, push me on one, one thing, it probably would be revenue growth. But the reality is if I spent a kajillion dollars to get that revenue growth Speaker 3 23:41 <inaudible> yeah. So Speaker 5 23:44 it's like, it's, it's, I mean we, we just were in that annual planning season, I just had a board meeting where we talked about how, you know, the plan for next year. It's like, there's a lot of things you can balance here. It's like you can have really high growth. It'd be a bad dude and economics and horrible cash burn or you can have really great cash burn and unit economics, but you didn't really bad growth. And you know, all those things are kind of a balancing act and we're trying to, you know, to grow but also grow smartly. Um, because we feel like, you know, especially looking at the, we work IPO and things like that, the idea that you can burn money forever, um, just isn't a thing. And so again, growth is very important, but it needs to be growth in the right way. Speaker 3 24:21 Yup. Now makes, makes a ton of sense. So kind of going back out to the, the individual customer and thinking about how a company initially discovers you, and then, you know, they get to the state where as you said, they're, they're writing into their finance team going, Oh my God, I love this thing. What's, what's sort of the path that they follow to get there? Speaker 5 24:42 I, yeah, the major paths are either, um, word of mouth or somebody who's heard of us or uses a prior company or things like that. Or they're specifically in the market and searching and looking. And so either search for us or just, you know, directly type in lola.com, um, and then find us. And then it's usually a pretty short sales cycle, less than 30 days in most cases. Um, and then from there, another key part of the journey is after they purchase is, uh, is actually the implementation and the rollout because this is the kind of thing that is purchased by a small group of people in the company, but it's used by a lot of people in the company. And so that's just a really critical aspect of getting from, you know, the buy in that you had from the finance department and maybe somebody in operations or maybe the EA or an office manager and getting from that to the whole company using it and buying it. Speaker 3 25:32 <inaudible> so how much experimentation have you done to help, uh, drive acceleration inside a company once that initial groups bought it? I'm sure that there's learning that happens between these companies that that could probably be communicated to other companies. Speaker 5 25:46 Yeah, we, you know, we've done some of that, but I think that again, we've, we've only been selling for 14 months and, um, we've definitely learned a lot in that process. But I don't know. I would, I would not give us an a or B. I'd give us a C on our post sale, like implementation, customer success, sort of experimentation. I think we do a really good job of that. And mostly because the metrics are actually pretty good. We haven't really prioritized a lot of experimentation there. Um, but I think that's a real opportunity for us is to do more there. We've definitely done a few things on the app side of different notifications of what that onboarding experience is like on the product side. But I think there's a few other things we're thinking about trying that we haven't any tried on the people side of that experience. Speaker 3 26:33 <inaudible> and I mean, one of the things that seems a little bit different with what you're doing compared to say a Slack where, um, you know, Slack doesn't have majority of the people buying into it. It's going to stick in a company because you know, you can't have multiple communications platforms with what you're doing. If, if, uh, if you had some laggards that are still booking travel the old way, you could still somewhat be successful inside of a company. At least that's my perception. Correct me if I'm wrong on that. So it's, it seems like maybe there's a little less. Speaker 5 27:01 Yeah, I will. I'd say that, that, that yeah, that knife has two edges. Right? And so the one way that it cons is we're not going to get kicked out if you have 90% adoption. Uh, whereas it Slack can be a temporary, the company not using it. Um, it probably not going to happen but I, but you're probably going to get kicked out or you know, it'd be a problem. But the flip side is if you have 10 travelers that use it and love it, it doesn't suck the rest of the company in as much. There's the word of the mouth about the fact and things like that, but it's not like the fact that you're using it to travel necessitates that your coworker uses it. Right? Like you're not, you know, so it's, there's that knife definitely cuts both ways. And so you're right, the positive is we don't get kicked out or if we're not 100% adoption, but we also don't have as many forces like viral effects that help them go from, you know, five people in the company to 500 people in the company. Speaker 3 27:52 <inaudible> but also feels like then over time you have an opportunity where you probably inside your existing customer base, there's still expansion opportunities as you, as you dial in, how do you, how do you, how do you get better at driving referral? What, what are the triggers that get existing employees to bring another employees onto the platform? Speaker 5 28:12 Oh yeah, no, there's a million things we can do in that area and there's a hundred things we have done in that area. I think, you know, in some ways it's never going to be, you know, Slack is like the classic example of something like that and it's never going to be quite as strong as that. Cause the whole point of that product is to communicate with your fellow employees. But you're absolutely right. There's a, there's a million little things and things that we have done. Like there's a really cool feature that makes it really easy for someone to book on behalf of another employee. So often used by EAs or office manager and that really helps spread adoption. There's cool ways for people to share a trip. So let's say you're going to Dreamforce and you can easily share your trip and someone could easily like rebook the same itinerary so they can get on your same plight and stay at the same place. Speaker 5 28:56 So there's definitely things like that and there's more things we can do in the product there that sort of helped with that. Um, but again, you know, to a certain degree it's sort of you're asserting to put yourself up and say like, are we ever going to have the vitality of the SOC has? And the answer's probably no. But I think there's other ways, other things we can do in terms of, you know, word of mouth and like other things like that that we can do that really drive a ton of growth in different ways. Speaker 3 29:19 <inaudible> so if you don't stick in an organization, and if you don't feel comfortable answering this, that's not a problem. But if you don't stick in a, in an organization, what would be a typical reason that they would, would give up on using Lola? Speaker 5 29:33 Um, I would say if you've got a small number of travelers, if you've got a finance team that doesn't care too much about saving money and that small number of travelers are really frequent on the road every single week, and they've got their whole system down, like they only stay at Marriott's. They book everything through the Marriott app. They only fly American airlines. They pulled everything through the American airlines app and they've just, and they just are maybe, you know, been doing it that way for five years and they do not want to change. And they have, and they have status at Marriott and American airlines and they get good service from them because of that. And it's only those three or four travelers and maybe some EA buys it because, um, you know, she thinks it'll make her life easier for booking for a couple of other people or things like that. Speaker 5 30:20 But it's hard. It's harder to environment like that if it's small number of travelers that are really stuck in their ways. Um, you know, I'd say it's situations like that, but I'd say usually, you know, as long as you do a good job of making sure you're selling on both sides. So you're selling to both, um, the uh, finance department and like the operations side of the business and some of the travelers are going to be using it. It's hard to sell all of them, but you kind of get both of those groups on board, then you can be really successful. Speaker 3 30:48 And is there any limitation on, on perks for the road warrior in terms of, you know, you mentioned like Marriott points or, or airline points or is there anything that, that they're not, Speaker 5 31:00 yeah, no. One of the things that's really special about us is we let all the people earn all of their points, you know, for any hotel robe, typically we'll have six to eight different rates available and some of those will be through Expedia and we'll be nonrefundable and super cheap but won't have points and they won't be refundable. And then some will be through the hotel directly and they'll give you double points or something or they give you points and, but it will be refundable and some may be through a different channel. So we have like multiple places that we source all that stuff from and people can kind of pick and choose. So points are important to you, you can always get points through us. Um, and we've sort of just said, you know what, we try to be kind of agnostic in terms of those programs and we automatically apply points of your booking and things like that. Speaker 5 31:44 So one of the things I love about it is I've got all my stuff saved them, Lola and then whatever airline or hotel like I'm buying from, it's literally like two clicks because it's got my credit card saved, it's got all my numbers saved and whatever. And it just knows, you know, when I'm buying a Hilton, like I should apply the Hilton number and I don't need to like, you know, type everything again. So just, it makes all that stuff easy. Um, but yeah, no, we're definitely, um, we try to let people earn their points as much as possible. Speaker 3 32:06 That makes sense. Yeah. I just took a trip to Brazil that was two red eye flights for one night in Brazil. So two red eye flights in three days. And I was thinking, well at least it's business and I'm getting some points for this. And then I look at my ticket and it says no points because the airline was a sponsor of the event. And I'm like, Speaker 5 32:25 yeah, yeah. Sometimes it's stuff how it's, it's funny like the travel industry, there is a lot of like little details, a lot of asterisks in terms of the terms and conditions of a lot of stuff. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 3 32:35 Suddenly that travel became a little more painful. Um, well cool. Well I'm, I'm really excited about everything that you guys have done with Lola. It's, uh, as you, as you've walked through the story there, it's amazing as one, one last question that I would have is if you look back at, uh, what, what you did previously and, and you've been there now about a year and a half, is there anything that you've learned about growth in that year and a half that, that you feel is kind of a, we saved your thinking around growth in, in that year and a half that you want to end with? Speaker 5 33:07 There's things that you know intellectually and then there's things that you, you feel and really know in your heart, in your gut. And I'd say something that having run marketing previously I knew was how important product was to growth. And now being CEO, it's gone from something I know in my brain to something that's like in my bloodstream and is in my heart and my gut. Uh, and so I'd say that's the thing where again, as someone who had less experience in the product side of things, you knew intellectually how important it was. But now it's like I feel it every single day. Um, and so I'd say that's the one thing, especially in this day and age where, um, you know, a lot of the other marketing channels have gotten a lot more crowded. Having that world's best product that stands above the rest. It has, it has the product being a key part of the growth is just so important. Speaker 3 33:59 Absolutely. And I think, um, from a sustainable growth perspective, you can, you could figure out a single channel that can refer a lot of people, but again, that channel may dry up or the economics may may fall apart in that channel. But when, when your growth is, is driven off of having a great product and particularly like with, with, uh, more and more referrals off of excited customers who are using that product, it just, you can, you can ultimately build a, a long burning fire of growth, much better than you can in sort of the, the hit-driven channel driven, uh, just just kind of blast some people and then, and then need to figure out the next good way to get a bunch of people in. So Speaker 5 34:40 yeah, no, you're right. All those things. And then also net dollar retention being, you know, greater than 100% because there's opportunities to, you know, have customers, you know, earn more revenue for you through usage, through upgrading new features and things like that too. So it's, it's all those things and then even year on year if the customers themselves are also growing. That's fantastic. Speaker 3 34:58 Yeah. And that it's just that whole interdependence I think is probably the hardest part of growth is because now, just as as we were we're touching on is that you've got, you've got these different teams that are all playing an important role in driving sustainable growth. And traditionally as organizations grow, those teams become so much more siloed that it's really hard for them to work together. So that, that'd be a couple of my key takeaways from you guys is the fact that you, um, it was really that dialing in product market fit that that marked your entry point into the business as CEO. And then the fact that you have this monthly meeting where you're bringing together these, these functional to not just update and report to people and what's going on in their functioning, but think about that big picture and how to work together to achieve the broader goals of the business. And, uh, and then just, you know, have, having all of those parts work together really well is a, is an important part of driving sustainable growth. And, uh, not, not surprising you guys are doing, uh, as, as well as it appears that you're doing. So thank. Thank you so much for, for taking the time today. No, thanks a ton for having me. Shawn's been a lot of fun. Speaker 1 36:05 <inaudible> Speaker 2 36:10 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. Speaker 1 36:23 <inaudible>.

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