Mixcloud is a popular online music streaming service that makes it easy to listen and distribute radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts, with a reach of 10 million across its platforms. Mixcloud are a happy Pipedrive user and they have interesting views on questions that a sales management system can help to ask and answer. So we had a chat with co-founder Nikhil Shah.
Unlike many other music startups and technology companies Mixcloud hasn't raised outside funding and is doing great. What's your secret sauce?
From the start we've been very close to the community we serve which has helped us build the right product for many stakeholders. We didn't manage to raise investment early on, and so we needed to make sure that Mixcloud works for all the different pieces of the ecosystem: our listeners, DJ's and producers, and brands that promote themselves on Mixcloud. Lots of companies can design their product in a user-centric way, we've also had to learn how to be customer-centric.
It definitely hasn't been smooth sailing. Bootstrapping a startup has its challenges and finding great people hasn't been easy at any stage. Hiring comes down to a shared vision and so we're not looking for people to get a job done but rather people that believe in what we do. Having a vision and being able to communicate it clearly is crucial in building a team.
What has worked well for you in sales and business development?
We have what people call an inbound sales strategy. We started out working with the best clubs, festivals and DJs, and their communities. This got the attention of the first brands that wanted to reach the growing community of trend setters on Mixcloud. And this allowed us to develop the model initially without too much cold calling.
We're now developing our outbound sales strategy. We aim to "fish where the fish are". It's quite simple - we're looking for brands that are active in the music space, social media and branded content. When we find interesting prospects we try to use "warm introductions" as much as possible, we're heavy LinkedIn users.
Another thing we're aiming to do more of now is hiring people at a senior level. People that are already well connected in networks we want to reach.
What is your sales process like?
Our sales pipeline is not that different from the Pipedrive default one. Everyone throws their prospect ideas under "Ideas" and the rest is self explanatory. We use multiple pipelines, one for brand partnership, one for media partnerships and one for getting big name DJ's to use our platform.
What software were you using before Pipedrive (if any)?
We were and still are using Highrise. While Pipedrive is great for managing sales, we use the former for contact management, for example our media list, festival partners, etc. And we still use good old spreadsheets every now and then. Sometimes it's better to see all the data in one place.
What has changed since you switched to Pipedrive?
While using software like Pipedrive can lead to being more disciplined about your sales pipeline, in our case it was more about correlation rather than causation. We signed up for Pipedrive because we had gotten more rigorous about managing our deals and wanted our tools to reflect and aid that. The fact that our team was growing also played a role.
So we had started to ask serious sales questions already, but seeing our deals laid out in a simple way like they are in Pipedrive got us asking better questions. What's in our funnel? Are we talking to enough people? Are our deal sizes big enough? Are enough converting to closed deals? Pipedrive has helped us to think more strategically about our sales process.
Finally, what's next for you and Mixcloud - any news to share?
We're about to open a US office in NYC soon, which is big news for us. And we're always hiring, so do check out our jobs page for more.
The following Mixcloud mix was playing while typing up the interview with Nikhil (and no animals were hurt)