About Timo Rein

Co-Founder and CEO of Pipedrive

Pipedrive is ready

I have a rather important announcement to make. This morning we released a relatively small feature that many customers had been vocally requesting (now when your rep marks a deal as “lost” a 250 word essay to explain their failure is mandatory). After the release we started planning the next development cycle and realised this had been not only the last outstanding feature request, but also the last item on our roadmap. Furthermore, our developers had managed to fix all outstanding bugs last week.

After some hours of heated discussion our product team declared Pipedrive to be fully complete. There is nothing we can add or improve. We’ve built the world’s first piece of software that doesn’t require, or even doesn’t accommodate, further enhancements.

To be honest, the decision to declare the product ready wasn’t quite unanimous. Our product lead suggested two more improvements to our mobile apps, but these could not be taken seriously, coming from someone who also wished his iPhone 5S had a bigger screen, an NFC chip and a replaceable battery.

The news has been warmly welcomed by our customers. In the words of Nikhil Shah, co-founder of music platform Mixcloud“As a company with a strong product led culture, we’re constantly iterating and improving our platform, and it seems like there’s always a million things to do! This is why I’m astounded with Pipedrive’s recent efforts. They’ve somehow managed to get to product completion, and we’re very happy users. It’s great to know that we are working with a final product and have no surprises to expect.”

completepipedrive-3

Operating the world’s first fully complete software product is not all good news. We’ve had to make the tough decision to let go all staff apart from a part-time accountant. I myself have just accepted a managerial role at Salesforce and others don’t seem to have too difficult of a time finding new jobs either. This is the true benefit of having a great team.

Over the years we’ve raised more than 3.5 million dollars and we’ve decided to pay out the unused funds as dividends to company co-founders. In the words of Jason M. Lemkin, one of our investors: “We always knew there was something special about Pipedrive, apart from the funny accents of founders. More people in the VC world should embrace the view that finalizing a product is a much better exit strategy than an IPO. For one thing, there’s a lot less paperwork.”

When we pre-announced the news to our investors a couple of reasonable questions came up, which we’re re-publishing here with their permission.

Q: Can you really be confident that there is nothing the team can do to improve Pipedrive?

Me: Just look at it.

Q: Have you considered that customer preferences and available technologies change and the product may need improvements in the future?

Me: It is likely that 3-5 years down the line a small sub-set of customers would like a new feature for our Products module. Several of our developers have expressed interest in adding that on their spare time.

Guess that’s it. This is the last post on this blog. None of us expected to reach product completion in less than 4 years, but we all feel very privileged for having been part of this journey. Thank you for your support, and enjoy using the world’s first complete software product!

PS. This was posted on April 1st :)

We’re switching to simple seat-based pricing from the new year

Pipedrive has been of a rare breed of sales software companies with plan-based pricing. While this has worked ok, many customers felt they were paying for seats they didn’t need and others worried about the significant increase in price if the maximum number of people within their plan was reached.

We’re thus switching to seat-based pricing from January 1st 2014 – a straightforward $9 (or €7) per seat per month. This price level reflects our belief that sales software should be affordable for all organizations.

There are good economical benefits for all parties involved. For one thing, it’s simpler – you’ll only pay for what you use and you’ll have more flexibility adding or removing people to your account without worrying about the cost. And from our point of view, this helps us monetize our customer base in a more fair way and reflect this in our investments into our product as well as support functions.

Please note that if you’re happy with the number of people available with your current plan, and don’t plan to add or remove people any time soon, you don’t need to switch to seat-based pricing. Your Pipedrive account will continue to work without interruption and your monthly charge will remain the same.

If you currently have a free trial account with us, and you like the plan-based pricing better, we advise to enter your payment details before Dec 31st 2013. And if you have any comments or questions, please get in touch.

Become a better closer with our new shiny Timeline View

timeline-view

We believe that the biggest benefit of Pipedrive is that it helps you focus. We hope you’ll agree it gives you an overview of ongoing deals and helps to pick the ones that need your attention today. And today we’re introducing another useful dimension to keep you focused – time period.

In sales, it’s bloody difficult to look ahead all the time

There’s a challenge in sales that almost everyone has faced to a larger or smaller extent. We spend most of the time trying to close deals that seem most likely to close. We’re handling calls, meetings, objections and the outrageous things competitors promise. And so we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture: who should I be talking to hit my monthly quota, and what can wait until later. The result can be painful: missed goals for yourself or the team, and smaller pay checks.

Another issue that many sales people face is clinging on to the Really Big Deals at the expense of business-as-usual. Sure, closing a big one would make a big impact on the bottom line of the company and your bonus, but often the attention the big deals receive is at the expense of smaller, but much more probable deals. Only a few things are (professionally speaking) worse than realizing your Big Deal is lost or postponed to the next quarter, and that none of the smaller deals is ready to close either.

Thirdly, there’s the fact that sales people are “reset” at the end of each month (or quarter) – closed deals contribute to your salary, and the new month promises a $0 paycheck. Back when I was active in sales, this zero always affected my emotional state, turning me into a very different sales person at the beginning of each month. Not looking ahead can cripple your emotional state at the beginning of each month or quarter.

All in all, there are two important dates for every salesman. One is today – to do list, emails that come, calls you make and receive. And the other is the last day the month or quarter. (Same is true in life in a way). Being focused on today’s activities or the big picture only is a good start, this is more than most people can be bothered. But you really want to keep an eye on both because this is how you can achieve exceptionally good results. And now you can do this with Pipedrive.

The timeline view is like a crystal ball that lets you look into the future (and see what action to take)

Timeline view arranges all open deals by expected close date. It shows the sales you’ve already made this month, and all the open sales which you may be able to close this month. This gives you a very good idea of the likely sales result at the end of the month or quarter. If you’re not happy with the results so far, find a suitable open deal you can close next, or work on adding more open deals to your pipeline and enjoy a stronger next period.

The effect of using timeline view makes every salesperson a bit more like a sales manager. If you use both our pipeline view and the new timeline view, you can anticipate and answer almost any question a manager would have, and more importantly, you’d have the data to back your answers.

Managers can use timeline view as their main view in case they want to spare themselves from digging in too deep into individual or combined pipelines. Timeline view is perfect for leading regular meetings with the team and discussing when certain deals will close, what needs to be done to close them, or to close them faster, and identifying forecasts that are too optimistic.

This means you’ll always have a great idea what the sales results will be. This also means you can correct course before it’s too late. All in all, it helps to make sure your commission is what you’re planning it to be.

See Timeline View in action:

When to use Pipeline view and when to use Timeline view

The Pipeline View most of you know well is great for tracking daily activities and more “tactical” planning. The new Timeline View is great looking ahead a couple of times a week to cover your “strategic” planning. Then again, it’s built in a way that if you like one more than the other, you can have either as your main working view.

In Pipeline View, a drag and drop of a deal helps you advance it to the next stage of your pipeline, in Timeline View a drag and drop moves the close date of a deal to next month or quarter.

What do I need to do to use the Timeline View?

* Start using the “expected close” date field

* Customize. Each business is different. It may be that you can invoice your customers only after you’ve delivered or implemented your service or product. In other words, you may want to see your won deals arranged by ‘delivery’ or ‘implementation’ date. Feel free, Pipedrive enables you to change the date field the deals are arranged by.

In addition, some of you like to track your results and operate in quarters, and some in months – you can choose your preference. Similarly, it’s a matter of taste to place either won or open deals on top.​

New investors, new fuel for growth

Today we’re announcing a new $2.4M seed round. It is co-led by Rembrandt Venture Partners and Storm Ventures, with participation from TMT Investments (who also participated in our last round) and a group of angel investors, namely Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Transferwise), Ott Kaukver (VP Engineering of Twilio), Rain Rannu (co-founder of Fortumo and Mobi Solutions) and Tytus Michalski (Managing Director of Fresco Capital Advisors).

This is important for us in two ways. Having a financial buffer obviously helps us make our team stronger faster. We’re currently looking for a Head of Marketing for our Palo Alto office and several engineers, designers and product leads for our Tallinn office. You’re very welcome to apply or send to a smart friend!

But as if not more importantly we’re very pleased to have new advisors and mentors. For example, Ott Kaukver has brought us his experience in building and scaling a tech team and Jason M. Lemkin of Storm Ventures (Co-Founder and past CEO of EchoSign) has been the best sparring partner imaginable on the business side of things.

You can read the rest of the news on TechCrunch or WSJ.

What to do when someone steals your startup idea

more_fake_brands_01The short answer is: get back to work and try not to worry about it too much. Swearing also helps, but is not critical.

Let me start the longer answer with some background information. Last summer we found out that a company in a large country we serve had blatantly copied our ideas about pipeline management software, our UX, design and large parts of our front-end code.

What comes to copying ideas it’s the sincerest form of flattery, as the old saying goes. But the opportunists had also copied our design pixel-for-pixel. Here’s an example of their little “spot the difference” game:

Copycat screenshot

In addition to design they were also using our code. The Easter egg we had planted (have you found it yet?) was fully functional, they hadn’t even bothered removing the Pipedrive logo that appears in some views. And all of this was done by people that initially approached to become a partner, then snatched up our local domain and then fell silent. We felt like we had been burgled.

Lawyer advises: send a “cease and desist”  letter, and elevate to lawsuit if necessary

We explained the situation to our lawyer whose advice was the following:

“Generally what happens in this situation is that either the company or its counsel sends a “cease and desist” letter to the other company telling them to stop copying look and feel.  Sometimes, these get elevated to lawsuits. (I’m thinking about Zynga – Vostu ).

Sometimes ends up being a bad public relations problem in the blogs. (I’m thinking about Curebit – 37Signals.)

You can’t really stop someone from copying – I think your response is to send a letter, and elevate to lawsuit if necessary.”

We got the copycat to make some retreats, and more importantly no real damage was done

We didn’t want to invest too much time into this, so we used a rather pragmatic approach to sending a “cease and desist” message. We got in touch via one of our investors, who is well connected in the country in question. He wrote a public Facebook post, pointing out the visual similarities and lines in their code that proved theft. The case got a few mentions in local blogs (which actually increased our signups – every cloud has a silver lining).

Although the accused denied any copying, they removed said lines of code and stopped our local domain redirect to their service. They also removed The Team section from their site.

Looking back, signups from that country have not slowed down, and the only tangible loss is our relevant domain.

What you can do to protect yourself against copycats

  • Get domains and protect your trademark in key markets as early as possible. As a startup you can’t protect yourself against everything because time and money is tight. But make sure you’re covered in key markets.
  • Plant watermarks in your software and/or encrypt it, so if there’s a need to pursue legal action, you can prove theft
  • If possible, look into patenting key components of your software – this offers more protection than copyright. More on that here.
  • Last but not least –  have a clear vision about how you want to change the world and don’t be dependent on any single feature. If your vision is any good there will be copycats. But if your vision is bigger than a feature (think cutting edge tech, API, partners, support, etc.), copycats won’t be your biggest worry.

Photo lovingly borrowed from this post, lots of more creative copying work to see there.

PS. If you’d like to see the sales software that inspired this copycat, you’re welcome to check out Pipedrive (it’s free for 30 days).

Sorry for the downtime this past week!

During the past 7 days Pipedrive has been inaccessible for a set of our users on multiple occasions and almost all users experienced the app as slow and unresponsive at times.

We understand the frustration this has caused, and we are very sorry for this!

Before I go into more detail I’d like to point out this is very unlikely to happen again. We’ve learned a lot about the weaknesses of our (now previous) setup, we’ve fixed the issues and put in place additional reliability measures.

Let me explain the reasons behind the outages in more detail. This may be too technical for some, but I’d like to openly share what went wrong and the fixes we’ve put in place.

Our first recent incident took place on January 17th at 6 PM GMT (10 AM Pacific Time). It was caused by an overload of one of our logging facilities, which in turn brought down our application servers one by one. This was caused by a design flaw in our architecture. We fixed this immediately but it took a while before all users could access the service as normal.

During the next following days, two things happened without any connection to the previous outage. First, one of our database servers experienced a physical malfunction. Second, another database server suffered from a storage facility overload. No data was lost in the process as we have multiple sets of backups — but again, the service was unavailable for a set of customers for approximately 30 minutes.

Yesterday around 10 PM GMT (2 PM PT) we discovered a bottleneck in our message broker cluster which caused all the application servers to queue up on accessing the message brokers. Thus no application servers were ready to do what they should have – serve requests. We immediately updated the configuration of the message broker cluster, to prevent this error from happening again.

Finally, today at around 9:15 AM GMT (1:15 AM PT) one of our database servers suffered from a storage facility overload one more (and final) time.

We’ve fixed the immediate issues and in the coming weeks we’ll be migrating our entire database stack to next-generation platform which has proven to be more reliable against negative effects from third party services as well as hardware malfunctions. In fact, we have been building our next-generation database stack for some time already, and it is soon reaching production-ready quality.

Onwards, then. And once again – sorry for these hiccups!

How you can move data between Mailchimp and Pipedrive

Quite a few of you have asked about integration with MailChimp, and we’ve just released a little something that makes it easier to send email campaigns to your Pipedrive contacts.

You can send a Mailchimp campaign to all your contacts but it’s more likely you’ll want to reach a smaller segment such as ‘people that have bought previously’ or ‘customers with custom field “interested in app development services” based in California’. You can use our filters feature to create a segment that’s relevant for the mailing (I’ve blogged about using filters here and here).

Once you’ve set the filters scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a MailChimp button next to the exporting options. Enter your MailChimp API key (that you can get from Account > API Keys & Authorized Apps) in the window that pops open and you’ll see all existing email lists you can add your segment to. Pick the list you want to add the Pipedrive contacts to, and then handle setting the campaign up in MailChimp as usual.

Please note that currently there is no way to create a new email list from within Pipedrive, so if you want to reach a certain type of customers for the first time, you’ll need to create a new empty list in MailChimp first.

How to pull new email subscribers to Pipedrive

Another thing we are often asked is pulling MailChimp subscribers to Pipedrive as new leads. This is something you can do with the help of Zapier. Their platform lets you create connections between the different software you use, including Pipedrive and MailChimp. It’s free to use if the number of tasks needed is small, and subscriptions start at $15 per month.

Start by entering API keys of both services, and follow the steps to specify what fields to import from MailChimp, what are the corresponding fields in Pipedrive and what pipeline stage to add the new deals to. And voila! when someone subscribes to your email list, they’ll appear in Pipedrive automagically in just moments.

Please note that as of publishing post there’s a small issue with setting the value for deals imported via Zapier, which we are investigating.

Using email marketing alongside direct sales is really powerful, and I hope these connections make it easier to do it.

15 lessons from 2012 (and meet our team)

What a year 2012 has been! We’ve made Pipedrive better, added thousands of customers, raised a bit of money and, last but not least, grown from 7 people in January to 15 today. And we haven’t properly introduced the new team members to you. Instead of the usual headshot, accompanied by two paragraphs about pets and hobbies, let us do this in a bit more useful way. Each team member, new and “old” will share one tip, lesson or nugget of wisdom from 2012.

My own takeaway from 2012 relates to the title CEO. I was thinking, “What’s the most important thing a CEO must focus on?” First, I thought, “Executing!” But it shouldn’t be about this only, because you may be easily executing the wrong things. So, I’ve understood that my most important task is to make sure we (1) make good decisions as a team, and (2) really execute them. At the beginning of the year I started a simple text file to record our important decisions. I regularly open and update it to see whether the team is doing the things we’ve agreed to do, and follow up when necessary.

Here’s what the rest of the team learned (in the order of sending me their tips):

Ragnar Sass (partnerships and HR, co-founder):
I’ve been hiring throughout my career, but 2012 was slightly different. I started to spend 2-3 times more time with each hire. This made our recruiting process slower, but it has paid off. As the company grows it’s very important that people share values and act as one team, not just have a good skill-set.

Martin Kapp (front-end developer):
To me 2012 has meant going back to my developer roots. And going full circle has been useful: I’m now a better coder thanks to my previous role as an architect in a much bigger team.

 

Henri Kroosmann (front-end developer):
This year I’ve learned that you don’t need to have a big team to build something that matters. I joined Pipedrive from Skype, which had gotten to a size where there was a person to do every little thing. In a smaller team you get more done because information doesn’t get lost and you don’t need to spend lots of time on “co-ordination”.

Maxim Wright (customer support):
After my first year here I’ve understood the importance of being personal and personable in addition to being responsive and professional. Almost every question and piece of feedback we receive is unique and the best way to support our customers is to really “be in their shoes”.

Elar Nellis (back-end developer, employee #1):
Working in a bigger group of developers is much more educational/interesting than in group of 2 developers. There is so much to learn from each other and there are many good ideas flying around the office all the time. It’s really motivating to see the product evolve as planned.

Mihkel Pukk (back-end developer):
At times it’s been hard to choose the right path, but the worst thing that can happen is not to choose and leave things as they were. I’ve discovered that while finding the one right answer may be daunting, pointing out all the wrong ones is easy. And so when making important choices I pick one that feels the most wrong and take path opposite of that. That’s what got me into software development this year. It may not be THE right thing, but i’m sure it’s going to take me closer to where I want to be.

Ivan Suhhonenko (infrastructure developer):
Over the last couple of years I’ve come to understand that career-wise the most important thing is the team you’re working with. Result-oriented, highly qualified team is the key factor for any success and as a newcomer to Pipedrive I’m really glad to have found one here.

Andris Reinman (back-end developer):
In addition to joining the Pipedrive team, 2012 been has about experiencing the growth of my 1 year old son. It appears that raising a child is in many ways like working in a startup, you never know what is waiting for you behind the corner. You think that you already knew everything about the kid and then, before you even realise it, he is doing something totally new and unexpected. Might get a bit hurt in the process but by the end of the day, it is a wonderful and exciting experience.

Alex Tsus (customer support):
My takeaway from 2012 as a support rep has been to keep personal feelings out of my work. Even with some really difficult cases and customers (yes, these sometimes happen) it’s always best if I put personal feelings aside and just focus on helping the customer.

Angel Pärn (back-end developer):
This year I’ve enjoyed experiencing the power of mixing three things: a good idea, a great team and powerful tools. And what comes to the latter I’m increasingly assured that tools or technologies are not paramount, they can be picked and built as you go along.

Urmas Purde (customer experience, co-founder):
This year I’ve learned that if your to do list doesn’t fit on a post-it note, you’re trying to do too much.

 

 

Martin Henk (customer support, co-founder):
In 2012 I learned that I can take a lot more stress than I thought I could. This realization came with moving my entire family to the other side of the globe. I had thought my job in leading our support team was challenging enough. But when the stress of relocating a family, dealing with finding a place to live, buying a used car, getting insurance on everything, getting your kids into kindergarten, etc etc. was added on top, I was pleased to learn I did not die. Lesson: don’t be afraid to put yourself out of your comfort zone to move forward in life.

Andrus Purde (marketing):
This year we stared putting serious effort into content marketing. In the beginning nothing much happened, but after six months results started to show and today, 12 months in, inbound marketing is one of our top marketing channels. Do your keyword research well, get started as early as possible and be (reasonably) patient – and signups and sales will follow.

Martin Tajur (design & tech, co-founder):
This may a be a little technical but in my view the main takeaway from 2012 was the beginning of our shift towards distributed data storage. What this means is that you’ll receive all the relevant data as it is created/updated, not just when you refresh the page. This has required a lot of engineering from both our back-end as well as front-end teams, and there’s still lots to do. But it will open up some cool new possibilities, so stay tuned for new useful features sporting these capabilities in 2013.

 

We won’t be taking a collective break over the upcoming holidays, but in case we don’t see you before – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sync your Google calendar and contacts with Pipedrive


(drumroll) Let me proudly announce a two-way integration between Pipedrive and Google Apps. It’s now very easy to keep your calendar events and Pipedrive activities as well as Google contacts and contacts in Pipedrive in sync. You can also sign in to Pipedrive with your Google account.

Calendar Sync

If you link your Google Calendar with Pipedrive all entries in your Google Calendar will be displayed in Pipedrive activities, and vice versa. All changes you make in either software will be reflected in the other as well. (There’s even a workaround to extend this to Outlook, see below).

Let me walk you through how to turn the sync on. First, go to ‘Settings‘ and without navigating further, select ‘Google Calendar‘ tab. Click on ‘Connect your account with Google‘ link and follow the instructions.

Once you’ve connected you Google account, go back to ‘Google Calendar‘ tab and click on ‘Enable Google Calendar sync‘.

You’re then prompted to specify the calendar which you would like Pipedrive to be in sync with. For example, you may not want Pipedrive activities to appear in your general calendar, but in the calendar you’ve named as Sales. Hit ‘Save‘ after you’ve made the selection from the drop-down.

Now your Google Calendar sync is activated, and all activities you create in Pipedrive will be synced to Google Calendar, and all Google Calendar events will be synced to Pipedrive. Note that we don’t export current activities to Google Calendar automatically — you can upload undone Pipedrive activities to Google Calendar yourself by clicking the ‘Upload unsynced activities’ button.

If you would like to connect Pipedrive with Outlook calendar, then there’s a way to do this, too. It takes one Google account, and a Google  Outlook sync software download to make this work (here’s a place to read about it, and get the download). This way you can set up a data flow which looks like this: Pipedrive ⥂ Google Calendar ⥂ Outlook Calendar.

Contact Sync

Setting up the sync for contacts is very similar. Click on ‘Enable Google Contacts sync‘ and again, make sure to choose whether you want to sync Pipedrive contacts with all your Google contacts, or a specific group of contacts.

After you hit ‘Save‘, your Google Contact sync is activated.

Pipedrive will import Google contacts (all or a specific group) along with their default fields, and look for matches in Pipedrive contacts (we use e-mail addresses, person name and phone number to find identical contacts). Pipedrive contacts that were not found in Google contacts will be exported to Google contacts. From this point forward, all contacts you add to Pipedrive or Google will be in sync.

Sign in with Google account

And finally, you can now continue to use your Pipedrive account name and password for logging in, or sign in with Google instead.

If you’re using Google Apps, this integration should remove a bit of hassle from your day. As always, feedback and comments welcome.

Learn to manage your sales pipeline in 4 minutes [video]

Many of our customers say that the main reason why they’ve started to use Pipedrive was that our software helps to improve their sales processes.That it helps people understand the basics of sales pipeline management without having to read a book about it or taking a costly course.

Which is great, but we have a feeling that if we explained the principles of sales pipeline management better, our software would be even more useful. And by the same token, if more people knew about the power of sales pipeline management, more people would want to use tools like ours. So we’ve created our first ever piece of video advice which gives you the basics of sales pipeline management in 4 minutes. Feel free to pass it on to any colleagues or friends that need to sell more, but that could use a solid methodology like this.

We’ll make more videos about sales pipeline management soon, and we’d love to get your input. Please let me know in comments if you (or any of your team members) have any questions relating to sales and/or sales pipeline management. We’ve worked in sales for more than 15 years, and we can answer by replying to your comment or even shooting a whole video in reply.