🌊 Private Communities 2.0: Revenue Squared's playbook from 0 to 400 members & CRO-GPT.
👋 Hello! I’m Ivan. Join +7K entrepreneurs surfing startup waves. Learn the best of what other founders have already figured out in under 3 minutes, 1-2x / month. Made in Spain, with a touch of Iberian dealflow.
🌊 Private Communities 2.0: Revenue Squared’s playbook.
💡 Making: Chief Revenue Officer GPT.
💵 Iberian Deals: 11 startup deals in Spain (>€60M).
🌊 Private Communities 2.0.
A year ago I wrote about Private Community businesses.
We’re now 400 members.
Tech sales is underrated: especially in the spanish-speaking world, where it is typically misunderstood (people think “car salesman”).
Top talent often doesn’t even know its an option: and that it can not only be very attractive in terms of income potential, but also in terms of career fulfilment.
Cleaning up your information diet and continuous learning is hard: Keeping up to date with the latest developments in sales - tooling, plabooks, market trends - is challenging, especially in a space mined with questionable “sales gurus”.
Sales can be lonely: And finding a curated peer group to bounce ideas off of when you are stuck, and that helps you guide your career choices, is hard.
Linkedin s*cks at community: People have spent the better part of the past 10 years being “harvested”, as passive consumers of information.
A highly curated paid membership community for the best tech sales professionals in the Spanish-speaking world.
Mission: Elevate the sales profession in the Spanish-speaking world
Vision: The sales profession is understood as a great career path - attracting more talent into the tech scene in the Spanish-speaking world, both in terms of its earning potential and how interesting / prestigious the job can be.
🗺 How we got here
Jorge (Head of EMEA at Canva) and I met at Facebook in 2017, through our mutual love of strangling each-other (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu):
We built the Bjj club at Facebook, then the boxing club, then the MMA club, then the… you get the idea. It became a little community within the office. We ended up with a budget to run mixed martial arts classes, in the basement, every day of the week.
I’m not sure if it had anything to do with Mark Zuckerberg picking up BJJ / MMA - I like to think it did. Here he is now reapping the rewards of the “gentle art”.
But I digress.
Jorge and I wanted to build something.
Here’s what we noticed:
We knew how to build a community, looked like we were good at it.
There were lots of support networks and training programs for technical profiles, but little attention being paid to sales as a discipline.
When looking at Spain and the broader spanish speaking world the picture was even worse. With a less developed tech and broader startup ecosystem, not only were support networks not present / underwhelming - sales wasn’t even on the map.
So we decided to create Revenue Squared - helping uplift Sales as a career path for top talent by bringing together the best sales professionals.
We started with a single dinner - bringing talented and interesting revenue professionals we thought we’d enjoy hanging out with. Oversubscribed.
We did another, then another - and figured out we were unto something.
We then launched a small slack surface for this cohort to help eachother.
A few weeks after launch - we had 60 members (all of which we interviewed).
They were mostly spanish-speaking sales leaders from unicorns and high-growth startups including Facebook, Deliveroo, Uber, Salesforce, TikTok, Cobee, Reveni, Personio, Job&Talent and many others.
This is where we also met Alvaro and invited him to join the team. As an ex-sales leader at an edtech company, we thought he’d add a lot of value.
Referrals starting pouring in, and we found ourselves with a Waitlist of >300 people.
The Value Proposition
After listening to all that was being discussed at the dinners, we came up with a plan:
Slack: A highly curated slack community. With 8 slack channels including general discussion, tooling, playbooks, hiring, must-reads, events, anonymous (for sensitive topics) and a couple others.
AMAs: A live “Ask Me Anything” pipeline of online events, 2x / month. Giving access to wolrd-class GTM leaders from success stories across Silicon Valley like Eran Aloni CCO @ Gong, Andy Byrne CEO @ Clari, or Aaron Ross from Predictable Revenue and many others, but also country managers and leaders from top scaleups in the Spanish-Speaking world like Iñigo Aguirre at Payhawk, Adeyemi Ajao founder at Tuenti (now Base10) and many others.
Events: in-person events, 1x / quarter. Running networking beers in Barcelona and Madrid, and a set of dinner with executive members focused around solving specific GTM problems that they come prepared with.
The Value Proposition 2.0.
One of the most fun things running this has been to observe how awesome stuff happens organically - where members are finding value that we did not necessarily anticipate, which includes a lot of the following:
Finding a job: we have a very active #hiring channel, with many members having found their next role from great companies hiring within the community itself.
Filling a job: many startups are posting open roles in this same #hiring channel.
Sales Insights: it is pretty outstanding to see someone post a complex problem in our #anonymous channel, and see 10+ people help dissect and solve it.
Information: you get a very high-fidelity sense of how companies are really performing by listening to their front-line troops. This helps our members know / decide where to look for their next career opportunities.
Dealflow: many folks are starting companies or are connected to founders.
From 60 to 400 members
Some important problems we had to solve:
Finding the right surface to build a community that generated the least friction. Preferably one where a potential community is already on, or has to do an adjacent “jump” to. In R2’s case, Slack or Linkedin were both good surfaces (a big % of SaaS companies use Slack, and most salespeople have multiple touchpoints in Linkedin throughout a work day - this translated into being top of mind, benefiting from notifications built into those platforms.
Find our first 100 “kindling members” / power users - we were lucky on this one thanks to our existing networks and the dinners that we hosted. Word-of-mouth largely did its thing.
Killing the cold-start problem - generating quality content and debate (sourcing good data, articles, insights, questions - being “real” / human), and incentivizing the First 100 to contribute was as much an art as a science. Here’s were we found Luisen (through Twitter) - who joined the team as a community manager / businesses man extraordinaire (we call him Salesforce’s real unicorn).
Widening our top-of-funnel - We opened a Linkedin account because we knew salespeople live on Linkedin (that will be our top of funnel) and startup to attempt adding value to the Spanish speaking sales world with insights, playbooks and high-quality information. Meanwhile, Tally.so Wailist kept growing, which gave us a lot of information about people’s level of interest and calibrating who would have interesting profilles. We kept interviewing prospective members.
The Great Filter of Monetizaiton - with a growing pipeline of qualified candidates, we decided to raised a paywall to act as a filter. We only wanted highly qualified members, who are there to help fulfil the community’s mission. We started with a 20 euro / monthly subscription, which we’ve continued to raise as demand grew (currently at 30 euros / month).
The Magic Number: 150 members - once we hit the 150 magic number, the slack community’s peer-to-peer value flywheel really started to kick off.
150-400: we kept very clear rules of conduct, launching incentive programs (mostly around engagement), and kept delivering on our value proposition.
Setting a high-bar on quality - so far we’ve been lucky to have an abundance of applications, and have kept a very high bar for admissions.
Capping the Community
Because we only want highly engaged members that are there to help fulfil the community’s mission - we’re going to hard cap the community shortly, based on finding the optimal point of total members Vs value (using community metrics).
Stripe issues: Around 5% of all subscribers experience Card failure issues, and you have to manually chase them.
B2C is hard, churn will come: Luckily we’ve grown organically / word-of-mouth because we’re good at content (now testing linkedin ads for the newsletter). Also a lot of our members have their companies pay for the membership (B2B angle).
Emotional rollercoaster: some days you think this is going to work / be great, others you think it’s going to crash and burn real quick.
Startup costs and fiscal inefficiencies in Spain are a distraction: but they are not as bad as some people make them to be. Should be streamlined though. My top 2 asks (for you, the regulator, if you are out there):
Fix Spain’s ESOP regulation: this is broken, and it is the biggest driver of wealth and spillover effects (get the flywheel going) of any startup ecosystem. Phantom shares are not a real solution and are (very) flawed. Don’t reinvent the wheel, copy what works in the US.
Hiring: narrow the gap between (real) company cost and what lands on the prospective employee’s bank account. Modulate for company maturity & size.
Keep growing our media channels: Linkedin + Newsletter.
Capping the private community: We’re going to cap the community shortly, based on finding the optimal point of members Vs value (community metrics).
Offer headhunting services: we’re getting a lot of requests for finding and placing talent - and feels like a natural thing to test considering our talent pool.
💡Making: Chief Revenue Officer GPT
My friends often ask GTM questions, so I’m running a little experiment.
I've trained a sales AI co-pilot: Chief Revenue Officer GPT
You can ask it:
How do I design an incentive system from scratch for a [insert business type / stage / specifications]?
What profile should I hire for my expansion to the UK?
What sales tech-stack should I use to solve for [xyz]?
How do I implement a data-driven sales process?
Give it a try and let me know your thoughts 👉 CRO GPT
💵 Iberian Deals
You love startups and want to enjoy a Spanish lifestyle? Come join the Spanish startup ecosystem. Here’s a list of recently funded startups:
UniversalDx (biotech) rasied 64M
Crisalion (mobility) raised 15M.
ID Finance raised 12M
Fractal (maintenance management) raised 10M.
Myruns (RFID tech) raised 7M.
Shakers (marketplace) raised 6M.
Atani (crypto) raised 6M.
ScrapAd (marketplace) raised 5M.
LastApp (SaaS TPV) raised 5M.
Piper (sales + ai) raised 3M.
Arcadia (spacetech) raised 2.8M.
Irisbond (eyetracking) raised 2M.
Uelz Pay (fintech) raised 800K.
P.s. IF you enjoyed this, I’d super appreciate a quick share on twitter or Linkedin 🙏🤙