GE 272: How a Software Engineer Became an Entrepreneur Out of Necessity (And Doubles Their Revenue YoY!) (podcast) With James Smith

James smith Bugsnag

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with James Smith, Founder of Bugsnag, an automated crash protection platform for web and mobile. Bugsnag allows its customers to make data-driven decisions about building new features and fixing glitches.

Tune in to hear how James turned his passion into his profession, how Bugsnag’s Customer Success Team owns up to their motto of “Land and Expand”, and why attending conferences can be a lucrative decision.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • [00:52] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast!
  • [01:45] James moved to the US in 2009 to join a Y-Combinator.
  • [01:58] His background is in software engineering.
  • [02:24] He and his partner created Bugsnag to solve a problem they encountered when creating software.
  • [03:04] Bugsnag is a subscription-based service that charges monthly or annually, depending on the contract.
  • [03:12] The cost of Bugsnag also scales depending on how big the customer’s organization is and how many crashes they encounter.
  • [03:50] They have different pricing tiers, including an initial free plan.
  • [04:18] People will set up an account for a small app or side project and eventually, Bugsnag will become a part of that company’s internal processes.
  • [06:35] Bugsnag keeps their exact revenue numbers under wraps, but they have doubled in revenue every year.
  • [07:45] They have customers who pay into the mid-six figures.
  • [08:00] Bugsnag assigns a Customer Success Manager when the client pays $10,000/year or more.
  • [08:35] James considers himself a builder at heart, who got into technology out of necessity; he wanted to solve the problems that he encountered.
  • [10:20] He went from playing with Legos to playing with code.
  • [11:30] He doesn’t have as much time these days to contribute to Open Source.
  • [12:45] There are customers who send hundreds of millions of crash reports per day.
  • [12:55] Either Bugsnag gets broader distribution inside a given organization or they expand by rolling out across multiple applications.
  • [13:58] The impact Bugsnag has is viral; its influence spreads from team to team, whether Android or iOS.
  • [14:22] The best example of this is a large consumer mobile tech company. They started on a low-level plan with Bugsnag ($29/Month) to help with an internal app they built.
  • [14:54] One day, the main app this company made went online and they required the services of Bugsnag.
  • [15:30] This led to a huge spike in business from one specific customer.
  • [16:25] “Land and Expand” has been a key model for the Customer Success Team.
  • [18:00] They have always had great success with live events.
  • [18:11] Their motto for advertising is “Be classy and be credible”.
  • [18:40] Conferences have allowed Bugsnag to find some of their larger customers.
  • [20:10] Bugsnag goes to relatively small conferences, like React Native.
  • [20:43] They tend to look at their sales-assisted customers, but don’t look at the SMB aspect.
  • [21:00] They have done larger conferences like Velocity, but the impact for Bugsnag has been harder to measure.
  • [23:00] James has found that that hardest thing is knowing when to “step on the gas”.
  • [24:10] James thinks that pricing is probably the hardest thing for a SAAS-based company to figure out.
  • [26:02] Two new tools that James believes have added value to his life are Carta, a cap table management service; and Gusto, a payroll product.
  • [27:51] James recommends the book Influence by Robert Cialdini.

Resources from the interview:

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