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10 lessons on bootstrapping a $200m business | Patrick Campbell (ProfitWell)
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10 lessons on bootstrapping a $200m business | Patrick Campbell (ProfitWell)

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Patrick Campbell is the founder and CEO of ProfitWell, which he bootstrapped and sold for over $200 million. In this special episode, we explore 10 big ideas from Patrick, including counterintuitive advice for hiring, setting company values, creating winning pricing and retention strategies, determining the right time to raise money, and more. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to scale your SaaS business, this must-listen episode offers practical and actionable advice that will help you avoid missteps and think differently.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Google, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the transcript for this episode and all past episodes at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/episodes/. Today’s transcript will be live by 8 a.m. PT.

Where to find Patrick Campbell:

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/Patticus

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickccampbell/

• Email: pc@patticus.com

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

Referenced:

• Douglas Atkin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doatkin/

• Patrick Campbell’s guest post on Lenny’s Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/saas-pricing-strategy/comments

• ProfitWell: https://www.profitwell.com/

• The Cadence: How to Operate a SaaS Startup: https://medium.com/craft-ventures/the-cadence-how-to-operate-a-saas-startup-436aa8099e8

• Edward Snowden on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Snowden

• The Flywheel: https://www.hubspot.com/flywheel

High Output Management: https://www.amazon.com/High-Output-Management-Andrew-Grove/dp/0679762884

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts: https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Bets-Making-Smarter-Decisions/dp/0735216355

Powerful: https://www.amazon.com/Powerful/dp/1939714206/r

The West Wing on HBOMax: https://www.hbomax.com/series/urn:hbo:series:GX5nwgQDNJZ6aoQEAAAHJ

• Notion: https://www.notion.so/

• Descript: https://www.descript.com/

• Coda: https://coda.io/

• KTool: https://ktool.io/

• Tweet Hunter: https://tweethunter.io/

• Apple Watch Ultra: https://www.apple.com/apple-watch-ultra/

• Loom: https://www.loom.com/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Patrick’s background

(05:12) Building a team

(07:38) How ProfitWell handled a conflict using their guiding principle, the most charitable interpretation

(10:41) Why new hires need to fit in with the company culture

(12:19) The bootstrapping vs. funding debate

(13:38) When founders should think about raising funds 

(18:08) When and how companies should make pricing changes to their products or services

(23:46) Strategic retention and tactical retention, and why the latter is often missed 

(28:48) Why people don’t want to pay for a SaaS analytics tool

(29:56) The importance of mission metrics for shipping

(34:42) First-principle thinking, the “5 whys,” and Patrick’s alternative approach

(40:21) The importance of frequent customer research

(43:15) Simple strategies for doing customer research

(46:13) Understanding your competitors

(51:06) Why veterans make great hires 

(54:08) Why local strategies are more effective for some companies

(59:21) Why the middle of the funnel is the biggest opportunity 

(1:04:54) Lightning round

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

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