My guest on this episode is Nick Buchanan. Nick and his father founded a data software business called BUCS Analytics in 2006. BUCS builds deep analytical dashboards for CEOs that pull from internal data sources like ERPs, inventory systems, and more. Long-time customer Trevor Flannigan, COO of the Flint Group, introduced us after hearing about my deep curiosity of data companies.
Nick and I talk about building the company with his father, building momentum in product development and sticking close to customers, hiring a talented team, and how to find groups and peers to help guide your entrepreneurial journey.
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(2:15) – What is Bucs Analytics and the founding story?
(7:35) – Are there any industries you’ve specialized in?
(9:38) – Can you walk through product development?
(13:11) – How do you decide on outcomes of experiments where results come out similar?
(16:25) – Are there 2-3 ways you measure engagement and value?
(17:41) – What’s been the process of evolution on the sales side?
(20:53) – What are the channels you’re hoping to develop further?
(22:13) – What are the benefits of having a group of peers over time?
(25:34) – Is there one change or development in your peer group that’s helped the most?
(27:35) – Where was your mindset when starting Bucks and how has it changed over time?
(29:19) – What are some of the most successful ways you’ve found to attract and keep talent at Bucks?
(32:21) – what does it look like fulfilling a new employee’s goals?
(34:46) – What’ve you learned the most about managing change in a company?
(36:37) – What’s your philosophy for setting goals?
(39:21) – Have you ever made secondary adjustments to annual goals?
(40:30) – What goal do you feel you’re the most excited to achieve this year?
(41:13) – What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on?
(42:40) – What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
Alex Bridgeman: I’m really glad that Trevor was able to introduce us. It’s great to meet you and to chat with you a little bit more. Can you walk us through kind of BUCS Analytics as a company and the product itself and then the founding story of the business?
Nick Buchanan: Yeah. First, thanks for having me on. Like we discussed, as Trevor turned me on to the podcast, it’s been a lot of fun to listen to and a lot of great guests on it and enjoyed it. So BUCS was founded a little over 10 years ago, started with my father. We were- I started my career in public accounting with Deloitte mostly in audit but had the opportunity to do a few consulting jobs around like activity based costing, balanced scorecards, M&A transaction bankruptcies. So, all over the board. He has worked 25 plus years with Sprint in everything from being some of the first people to buy up cellular spectrum to run their supply chain, helping them overhaul billing, a wide variety of different projects. And so as he had left there, he had started doing consulting with small, small medium businesses, one of which was a Berkshire backed company. And as I got burnout with Deloitte, I had the opportunity to go do some projects with him. And when we first started, we were focused primarily on how do we help companies understand return on investment capital. So simple concept, but one that a lot of midmarket businesses didn’t understand, how are they using their capital within their businesses, and then driving that down to a very granular level to help them understand how are they getting a return by customer, by vendor, by product. So, a very dynamic product that helped tie together balance sheet and income statement items. And people started to see a lot of value. But where there were barriers to get in, where people didn’t know how to get data. And so I had the opportunity to start to- that was, if somebody said, I’d love to use your product, I just don’t know how to get integrated, I would start spending time saying I can figure it out. And so, they would give me free rein on their system to go in and help pull the data out to integrate with our system. And so, what we found through that time is people had more need for data than just the one KPI we were focused on. And people were spending a lot of time monitoring their businesses through just 20 tab Excel spreadsheets, through everybody in the organization spending time creating monitoring analysis to help them understand what’s going on. So that was kind of the beginning of BUCS. And where it’s turned to now after learning that is a data aggregation platform targeted towards financial accounting and operational analysts. And so, what that means is we’ve spent as businesses the last 10 to 20 years digitizing workflows through accounting systems, CRM systems, payroll systems. And that’s been really good at driving productivity because people are able to capture data. But what that’s done is create stores of data in the cloud on prem in flat files, all these different spots. And what BUCS does is enable to pretty quickly, without any technical background, integrate all those data sources into a legible single source of truth, to now have an automated flow of information into all your different reporting channels, whether that’s a BI tool like Tableau or Power BI, email, Excel, PDFs. It’s one source of truth to drive all those reporting needs. And so, it’s kind of a unique spot. You have some large players working with ETL pipelines, or you have other customer or other products that are really out of like canned reports that are focused on specific reporting needs. And we kind of found that if we make it very efficient to get data, our clients, which are typically private equity firms and private equity backed companies, are able to get the information they need, they set it up, and now their team is focused on value creation and using those information. Instead of the pivot cut paste data jockeying that a lot of people have learned to love, create these massive Excel spreadsheets that, as one of our board members talks about, I’d spend two weeks aggregating that data to report to the board, to then spend the next two weeks disaggregating that data to help answer questions, and then I’d start the cycle all over again the next month. And he became a fan of us because we could basically automate that whole workflow. You’re able to take a financial statement and drill down in real time down to a transaction to help understand what’s causing that variance or blip on your radar that you want to go investigate.
Alex Bridgeman: And are there a few industries that you’ve specialized in, or is it pretty broad in terms of where it applies?
Nick Buchanan: It’s been pretty broad. We started with our working capital background in distribution manufacturing. But now we have- we’ve kind of grown into SaaS, other SaaS companies, we’ve grown into service companies, product companies, and the data models pretty- because it retains all the granularity of your data from your GL down to all the different applications that post data to that ledger, it’s pretty flexible to support really any industry, and they range in size from 10 million up to Fortune 500 companies that are using our platform now. So, it’s pretty broad. We’ve tried to focus on certain sectors, and they all tend to lead us back to it’s more of the decision makers and leaders in the organization than the industry. So we want to find high growth companies because they see value in our product, especially in a time where the economy’s pretty dynamic. We’ve seen that over the last two years as we’ve seen the ups and downs for COVID through the boom over the last 18 months to now the fears of recession. So being able to quickly have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in your business is important. And then the other aspect, we help mitigate the risk of human capital. Where it’s become hard to attract and retain talent, we have a solution that for a fraction of a FP&A resource helps deliver information well beyond what any one to three people could produce in these organizations. So, they see the value of how we can help them. We’re the spores of information that is going to help drive their business.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, no kidding. Can you walk through the product development journey and maybe describe any points where you felt like momentum started to accelerate and how the product was being created?
Nick Buchanan: Yeah. So, as I talked about a little bit with the origins of kind of finding those barriers to entry, or the barriers to get people on board were always access to data. And so, through the product development lifecycle, it was we’ve always been self-funded, so it was creating enough demand from customers to help advance our product. And it’s been a lot of, one, early on, it was how do I just get seats at the table? So how do I network around Kansas City and just get invited into different rooms where people are using information and volunteer myself to help bring together the data needed, sometimes at little or no cost. So that got me a lot of experience just seeing what people needed to drive decisions in these spaces. And then as we were- as we’ve grown from that point, like the beginning of what we call BUCS connect now, that turned into early on creating Excel spreadsheets that we would post on the web through like a login page and refresh those early in the morning. And people would start to say- you’d start to see people logging on more to our web player than like the monthly refreshes we were doing before. So, you could start to create a business case that there’s more demand here. They’re logging in, they’re logging in every day now versus once a month. And so always through from those beginning stages to now understanding just putting other products out there and testing and watching, looking, understanding what customers were asking for and also getting a direct feedback loop of when we post a new product out there, who’s logging in? Who’s using it? Are they using it more? And so, a constant feedback cycle. I liked how one of your podcasts lately, I think it’s Sean Joy, where he’s talking about the cruises, similar thing where they were- he would do a donuts cruise or an adult cruise and just different industry but same product is how do you listen to your customers and always- I think that’s very important and even as we’ve grown, that’s one of the areas I want to stay in. It is always being able to talk to our customers and listen to what they’re needing because you’re able to test different ideas to see does, one, does that help communicate what we do clearer to draw in more customers and the value proposition, does it become an easier thing for customers to buy into? And then, two, if they say yes, are they really validating that yes per usage and other metrics. We’re looking on the backend to not, I guess, drive our development off of facts and not creating a false narrative of this is what we think the customers want, versus this is what we validated the customers wanted.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, and I bet for some of those experiments that it’s probably fairly straightforward to see ones that have failed and that nobody’s using or no one’s utilizing, and the opposite as well, the ones that everyone’s using and people love. But for any experiments you ran where the result was kind of in the middle where it’s not being over utilized but there’s still like some people using it here and there, how do you decide what to do with those kinds of experiments?
Nick Buchanan: So we’ve learned that if you give something away for free and people say yes, it’s not a good signal that they’d actually buy it in real life. An example of that is we came out with the first version of what we now call our BUCS Insights Report used in M&A. So sign an LOI, and it’s a report we can often generate within 24 hours after integration with our system, very deep dive into behavioral patterns and key financial metrics that give a- just help people get up to the learning curve on a company that they’re looking to acquire. The first version of that we brought out to 10 different people and said like we’ll just load it for free if you just give us feedback, if you look at it and give us feedback. Well, we loaded it for free 10 times and could never schedule a follow up meeting to get feedback. So, it’s easy to say yes, easy to integrate, and there was just no follow up. And so, then it was going- so that was one thing we learned is there’s not any skin in the game, oftentimes there’s no- it’s very hard to get a follow up on. And on the second, as we’ve started to toss the idea around that product a little bit more, it was floating around and doing a little bit more discovery. Like that was an if you build it, they will come kind of idea. And so, then it was okay, people said yes to and they liked the idea, how do we actually get them engaged. And that’s where we switched it around from a let me tell you about your own business, because they already knew what that business was, to who’s trying to learn about a business really fast. So it kind of helped us pivot. You pitch that idea to an individual owner, they said great, but they didn’t really care. You started pitching that idea to a sale side investment banker or a PE firm or others that were trying to ramp up. So it was I think that was one of those areas that we learned a lot from of it’s a good idea, but people said they liked it, but there’s really no follow up to it. How do we go back to the drawing board and ask why that was. And that was kind of the conclusion we came up with is we’re selling it to people that already knew their business like the back of their hand. And so, who was the right audience. So that was one of those learning curves that now it’s a great product, and it’s a great lead to get in the door in a lot of spaces. But it was the first introduction of it almost had us just throw it in a drawer and forget about it type of area.
Alex Bridgeman: And for measuring how valuable customers view a certain feature or product that you’re sharing or trying to get feedback on, are there kind of maybe two to three ways that you measure engagement and value to that customer that helps you determine if that’s a feature you’ll keep or implement?
Nick Buchanan: It is 100% usage. So, we can see who logs in and how often they’re logging in. That’s been the key to all of it is saying if we put something out for clients to log in and use, and they never log in, we can see there’s multiple dimensions. There’s analysis they can log into, and there’s different areas of those analysis. And so, we can monitor all of those different aspects of usage. And that’s one area that you start to pick up on, where’s the highest concentration at, and that helps feed our marketing and messaging as we go look at new customers, and then also where we focus more time on with existing customers.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, and switching gears a little bit, there’s a- I’m becoming really fascinated by sales teams and how they’re developed and structured. I’d love to hear about your team broadly and kind of its evolution over time, but especially on the sales side. I imagine that early on, you and your dad are probably doing a lot of the sales yourselves. But what’s been the process evolution on the sales side for you?
Nick Buchanan: We are in the middle of that right now. So we have a sales team of one right now, besides myself. And I would say 70% of new business has been through referrals so far. And that’s one of the areas we’ve really focused on over the last six months of how do we create the collateral, the messaging, all the content needed to help. As I talked about earlier, we’re looking to rapidly expand that team over the next 12 months. So, what collateral do we need in that space? So it’s been, one, making products like that Insights report was the first step, something that’s very concrete because when you talk about data, it can be very abstract. And people have all different types of uses, all different types of applications stacks, all- how I look at sales is going to be different than how you look at sales. And so, it becomes very personal. And so like the Insights report was the first time that we could print something out and say, hey, let us plug in, we’ll give you this back in 24 hours. And so, as he would say, that was the first piece of information or first piece of collateral that really started making his job easier to open up new doors. And from that, it started to get, and as we’ve grown the team, it started to- we started to really breakout improved pricing. So, it’s very transparent. What are our customers buying? Data connections and integrations. And so how do we align pricing very closely to that. So then another point that they can easily go communicate – how much does this cost? To what are the solutions we’re providing. And it’s just turned down into a simple matrix. We price connections, integration, and FP&A time. And so that’s what we’re selling – integration into applications, the presentation of that data, and then augmented FP&A hours on the side. And it was- that was where we’ve spent a lot of time. It’s amazing how difficult that can be to work through that and getting our team together and others involved. So, it’s been arming our sales team, or I guess, our one person that’s solely focused on sales with that improved information. And they’re really going out and testing and making sure that resonates. And so as we are bringing on new sales people now, that’s been the sales process of being a relationship type of sales organization to try to generate more of a here’s collateral and drive leads into our business going forward.
Alex Bridgeman: And are you looking to develop kind of an outbound strategy as well or double down on referrals and marketing? What are kind of the channels you’re hoping to develop further?
Nick Buchanan: We are trying to move away from the referral base and more outbound to draw customers into our business. And that’s looking at different email campaigns, messaging, case studies, and then also channel partners, different financial advisors, investment banks, private equity firms. As we get in and we help one, we start to create a pretty good network. There are other areas, going back to the Insights report, that’s been heavily used in the M&A space. And in the M&A space, we have a buyer, a seller, an accountant, and an investment banker, and so we’re usually getting it through one. And that also helps drive three new relationships that have really driven that referral network as well. But it’s still driving those referrals, but also making sure we’re creating other campaigns to drive awareness to those audiences and new audiences going forward.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing that I know you’ve given a lot of thought to and are passionate about is making sure you find a peer group as your company grows. Kind of talk about how you found different peers over time and some of the benefits to having that group of people that you can talk with and get to know better who are maybe a couple of steps ahead of you business-wise.
Nick Buchanan: Yeah. So, it’s progressed through time as we’ve been through this 10 years. At first it was when we were first starting our company and working from home, I found a group, we called ourselves Casey Roundtable, that would get together every other week for breakfast. And kind of it started with four or five of us and grew, kind of grew over time. But it was getting together every other week to, one, create that office environment that none of us had because we were starting businesses in our houses, and then to bounce ideas off of each other. And the core of that group still 10 years later, we still get together once a month or once a quarter to have my wife calls it a support group, I call it peer group. But one, talk about different struggles we’re having, and then two, just take a- share ideas to help expand how we’re thinking. So, every once and a while, we will have a Fridea that is Friday lunch, and we all bring a new idea to the table and share. And so like, just to challenge each other in how we’re thinking about businesses and different problems. That was early on. Now, it’s finding mentors, people that are, like you said, a few years ahead of us that can share different experiences or connect you to people that can help solve problems, whether that’s questions about leadership, comp structure, organizational structure, fundraising. And that’s been good because I always think it’s you can- it’s nice to have people that are in the same spot in life because you have a lot of responsibility, and you can get home, and it can be sometimes hard to just set things down. You can set down your phone, you can close your laptop, but there’s still thoughts going through your brain of what’s going on at work now, what you want to accomplish this week, this month, this year. And so having people that you can talk to both very honestly about struggles you’re having or successes you are having. And they are both- they are both supportive in both areas and want to help you in both of those areas and have been there before, has been very key. I recently joined a group called Pipelines; it’s been great as well. It’s 12 different companies around the Midwest that are all roughly in the same stages and then a larger group that has been there and been through class before that. And again, same thing, it’s a family that you can go to that when something’s going very bad or something’s going very well, they are just there to support you, listen, and make sure you are navigating that challenge or opportunity as best you can because they’ve been there before.
Alex Bridgeman: Where do you feel like having that peer group has helped you the most? Is there any one improvement or change that you’ve made that you feel like you can tag most closely to that peer group?
Nick Buchanan: The one thing is they tend to be high performers. And so, they help to set the bar high. And it is- and I think they’re all sitting there trying to push each other. Instead of like there’s always competition, but it’s kind of beyond that of they see your potential. And so when you- if you’re lifting the bar as high as you can, and you start to get tired and set it down, they help you lift it back up and continue to push. And so, I think that’s one of the areas that- and it’s vague, but it covers a lot of space of when you are- when you need pushed, there is no- they’re there texting you or calling you and checking on you to make sure you are trying to reach your full potential. And they’re all leaders and I think it’s an important thing on leadership. They get as much excitement, I think good peer groups, good mentors, good leaders get as much excitement about who they have influence and their success on. So if you think about like great coaches or great business leaders, you think about like GE or you think about like a Hayden Fry in football. They never get talked about without their whole family tree of great leaders of influence. And I think it’s the same thing if you find a good peer group, a good mentor. They get as much joy out of influencing your success and helping you succeed, and being behind the scenes is no greater joy than success they have themselves. And so I think that’s one of the things that I found through it is just having that group there that is just selfless in that and then wanting to see you succeed.
Alex Bridgeman: Has that been an evolution for you too where you’ve expanded your vision and thought bigger about the things you can accomplish over time? I’d be curious what your mindset was in starting BUCS and maybe where it is today and how much it’s changed.
Nick Buchanan: Yeah, I think, so that’s- yeah, that’s changed a lot. When we started BUCS, I was single, and just I thought it was just a lot of fun being able to see all these different businesses, all these different problems, and just sit there and learn what- just learn what these other cool people in the city were doing and getting exposure to that. Then you get married and have children, and all of a sudden, it quickly changed to okay, I have to create something, now it’s time to like create a company and do something more out of it. And so that’s been, over the decade, has been very- it’s changed the way you looked at the business and then also, look at what you’re doing. It’s we started to grow, we started grow our team. And it’s more about how do we create something bigger than just, I guess, myself and my dad who started the company and get other people involved that can help I think create something pretty awesome. And that’s where the goal’s gone today is if we are creating a solution that our clients rave about and then also a company that attracts top talent, I think there’s just a lot of potential there with where we can go.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, the top talent piece is super crucial, especially for a company like yours where it’s small but growing quickly. What are some of the most successful ways you found to attract and keep talent at BUCS?
Nick Buchanan: From our first hires, I think, when we were talking, really first two guys, couple guys that we brought on, and we were talking about what we were doing, I kind of shared my story of like this is the exposure I’ve got, these are problems I’ve got to solve. And I will promise you that as you spend- if you put into- if you are dedicated and put in time at BUCS, you will be very- you’ll look back on it as a great time in your career and something that helped accelerate you learn more and kind of surpass your peers by the exposure you’re getting in this position. And that’s something I still think about every day as we bring in talent, both as we bring in talent in different departments or as we bring on new leaders in our organization. There are some things that- we just hired a COO who’s just absolutely amazing. And she brings things to the table through her experience that I’ve just never had exposure to. And so, what that allows, what she brings to the table is fulfilling that promise to everybody else as well. They are learning from her and getting training and learning how to solve problems in ways that I just don’t have the experience. So that’s how we’ve kind of gone around retaining, attracting the first talent. And holding true to that promise I think has helped us continue to attract talent going forward. And it’s created a fun culture. I think we have a lot of fun in the office with we’re unique in a tech startup that people still want to come in the office. And we’ve had to get larger space over the last two years as we’ve grown. And so that helps as well. The culture just kind of builds on itself. People want to be here. People think they are creating value for themselves in the company by being here. And that just continues to attract, I think, new talent as they see what we’re doing. It’s been pretty fun to be a part of.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, in many ways, you’re a steward of that person’s career when they come to join your team at least for that period of time in their career, and it’s a big responsibility.
Nick Buchanan: Yeah, they are giving a lot to you and you hope they are able to take- gain as much or more from what they’ve given to the organization. So I think they all see that and know we really believe that, and so it helps continue to drive that forward.
Alex Bridgeman: You mentioned also that you want to make sure that these folks’ experiences with BUCS are of course really positive and you do what you’re saying you’re going to do. What does that look like for a new employee joining BUCS? Like when you say you want to fulfill their goals for time with you, what does that typically look like?
Nick Buchanan: In the past, it’s been- I think there’s been somewhat- it hasn’t been as organized as it’s becoming. Like, in the past, it was really, hey, we have a three man team, this is what we want to accomplish next year, here’s the revenue goals, this the different areas we want to accomplish in product marketing, organizational wise. And they’ve had to- we’ve kind of just broke that off as we look at our quarterly goals or annual goals. We want to implement health care, now you go figure out how we get a health care plan. It’s kind of like learning early on just being thrown to the fire. And a lot of people who were brought on thrive in that. As we’ve grown, I kind of mentioned earlier, we are going through performance planning and comp plans now, and that’s getting much more structured, trying to get feedback from people in there as they have their one on ones and other peer reviews of what do you want to accomplish, let’s put that into a plan to help you develop those skills. And that’s a lot of, again, what the new COO or different team members are bringing to the table that I never had the experience. And so, it’s we are now creating more of a formalized plan for them to achieve those goals. But I hope other people also see that as when we think there’s a gap in the resources available to you, we want to make sure we’re bringing on leadership and team members to help fill those voids. And I’m not sitting there thinking that I have all the answers or know everything. So that’s- I think they build confidence in all of us by being able to listen and then help bring in people to fill gaps where we have gaps.
Alex Bridgeman: You mentioned how much the company has grown. And I imagine there’s a ton of change management going on as the company morphs into a new form, maybe on an annual or quarterly basis. What do you feel like you’ve learned the most about managing change within a company and within a team?
Nick Buchanan: One, as you faced challenges, you always seem to get through it. And so the more you stress or panic around change, just the more I think you’re in a hamster wheel. And so as you see change and good things happen or bad things happen, being able to stay calm and think about what’s going on and what’s needed to navigate that change. That’s, I think, very important to just sit back and be able to listen and bring it all in. And then change management going forward, developing a plan as we go through, and we’ve always had an annual budget. And then we can do latest estimates. And we can set, as we try to use EOS and implement that more, set rocks and set different goals for us as we look at the quarter and the year. I think by having that plan and measuring against that plan helps you understand where things are deviating from it and helps you better adjust to what’s needed going forward. If you are having higher churn with customers, or people aren’t logging on as much, or you’re blowing out of- blowing your budget out of the water in certain areas, having that benchmark, whether it was accurate or not, at least gives you some way to say this is what I thought, and this is what’s actually happening. And why was there that difference? And how do we adapt? And this is the new normal. Or how do we change that and get back to plan of where we thought it was?
Alex Bridgeman: What’s your philosophy for setting goals? Setting goals that your team can achieve but also have enough ambition that there’s some stretch there. What’s your overall goal setting philosophy?
Nick Buchanan: I think it’s important. So overall, when I look at a budget, I have to, like when I set the plan for 2023, when we look at it as a leadership team, we have to sit there and ask, one, I think we can honestly look in the mirror and say if we hit this goal, do you think, at the end of the year, do you think we would feel good? One, is it a layup and we think it’s just too easy, and so we’re not pushing ourselves? Or is it so unrealistic that halfway through the year, everybody’s going to be demotivated, and they’re going to say, like, why are we working hard? We’re not going to hit our annual bonus. So there’s I think, one, if we can set a plan, and we look through it and say from all of our different metrics, this looks realistic and this looks like if we get to December 31, and we hit this goal, you just, you’d feel really good. I think that’s just the first test, because we’ve had two or three really high growth years and our goal is to continue to build on that growth. So, I think you just use logic and also just being honest with yourself of saying how do we feel this goal is. And then also, making sure everybody is being able to participate in the success if you hit that goal. So we have a profits interest plan, and we have annual bonuses that are all aligned with that goal. And we run it by everybody to say here are the customers we think we’re going to bring on, here’s our churn rate that you’re getting measured against, here is X, Y, and Z, and this is how we’re going to accomplish it. We look at it several different ways to make sure it looks reasonable and looks like it’s going to be challenging. So that philosophy, I don’t think too good of a stretch goal is- I think it can be very risky and too short of a goal that you can just win on, that’s just a no brainer to win on probably doesn’t push you enough to say, who can we really become and where are we going?
Alex Bridgeman: Have you ever made adjustments to annual goals where maybe halfway through the year, you’re realizing that the goal you set, maybe not on the upper end, like the goal you set is becoming more of a layup because your team is just improving or there’s some product that is more successful than you thought it was? Do you create any stretch goals or like a secondary goal that incentivizes the team further? Or is there just a- I’d be curious, like intra year goal setting or goal adjustment, perhaps.
Nick Buchanan: We have that broken down on a- like our annual goal on a monthly basis. We haven’t a date ever adjusted a goal. And we have not had a stretch goal. We’ve talked about it this year of what is just an absurd goal that if we hit it, something fun will happen in the company. So if we hit for 30% above our goal, X, Y and Z, we could do X, Y, or Z or something like that. We started talking about that; we haven’t done it yet. It’s really around- We’ve talked about it, we just haven’t done it. I like the idea of it. But I think we need some maturity more in our go-to market strategy and some of the things we talked about earlier around sales of, hey, how can we really just accelerate this engine three times as much and really think we can hit a 3x year?
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, absolutely. What goal do you feel like you’re most excited to achieve this year, either financial or more qualitative?
Nick Buchanan: The goal around growing the sales team and the sales engine is one I think we are feeling very strongly about and that’s something that will- I mean, it’s related to top line, but there’s more, I guess, qualitative factors around it than quantitative factors. And being able to get that built out and be successful doing it opens up a lot of opportunity. So, that’s one that I’m really excited about. And seeing it mature has been fun to be a part of.
Alex Bridgeman: First closing question for you. What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on over the last couple of years?
Nick Buchanan: I would say raising capital was one, an idea we thought we’d never explore. And I started to change my opinion on that recently. So I see that in the startup world, you’d see a lot of people celebrating about a raise instead of other successes. And I was always around like how do we get customers to fund it and how do we drive demand and do it ourselves. But as we’ve grown and we’ve continued to improve the way we communicate what we do and the value we provide, that’s started creating more conversations around people that really can be strategic partners for us and just very valuable members of our team by giving them different ways to participate in our success. And so, we’ve started to explore that side of the business. And that’s something that, really, if you asked me a year ago, wasn’t that interested in, and now really excited about how we have evolved and grown and some of the opportunities I think that can help us to achieve our goals and success going forward.
Alex Bridgeman: What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
Nick Buchanan: So I’ve thought about this a lot. We see a lot of businesses. And as I read this question and I’ve heard on the podcast other responses. Somebody said to me once, I like to invest in businesses that are successful in spite of themselves, which I thought was really funny. It was a capital allocator guy, and he ran a family office. And so that was a funny comment because I’m like that makes a lot of sense. That’s a lot of value creation. And I’d say there’s one company that comes to mind, one of our first customers that is like the complete opposite of this. The company Xikar, and they were- they sold high end cigar accessories. And the founders and the COO were so deliberate on every single action that they- it was one of the best run companies I’ve ever seen. And you could see that in their profit, you could see that in when they finally exited, the value people put on how well of a company they created. And I can see that as early on in my career, I could go into that company, leave, and go to anotherclient, and I’d always just walk away saying, holy cow, look at talent they’ve been able to retain. And it went down to the founder would, before he hired anybody for a job, would spend a week, a month doing that job, writing down the job description, writing down what success looked like for that role. So very deliberate in the positions they created and who they hired for. To when they started using our platforms, it was very important that any piece of information that they had access to would change behavior and not- one of the comments was, we don’t want information that’s nice to know, we want information that’s going to change behaviors or drive behavior. And so it’s just everything was they were very focused, laser focused on their budget, on their team, on their development of the team. We started working with them eight years ago, and they were acquired and so no longer our customer. And that happened four years ago, and still a business that I think of in my mind of how do we become more like Xikar in how we grow our team and how we develop our talent and how we are just laser focused in everything we do. Let’s goal benchmark that.
Alex Bridgeman: Yeah, that is a cool one to have. Thank you so much, Nick, for coming on the podcast. It’s great to get to chat with you more. I’m hopeful I get to drive down to Kansas City at some point in the near future, get to spend more time. But until then, looking forward to chatting again here pretty soon.
Nick Buchanan: Thanks for having me. Love the podcast and thankful to be able to be a part of it.