Bootstrapped co-founder and CEO James O’Neill of Wildjar sat down with the GetLatka team for the first time in two years to discuss how the call tracking and analytics platform is progressing. Wildjar is O’Neill’s first startup, having launched it with his co-founder in 2016. O’Neill proclaimed that he’s passionate and driven about IPAs and APIs. In this interview with Nathan Latka, the co-founder shared how the company doubled its MRR in two years, why he thinks he can do better than his current 122% net dollar retention, and what kind of businesses he’s eyeing for acquisition.
- 304 customers
- $310,000 MRR
- Team of 6
304 customers spend $1,000 per month for customer journey insights
According to co-founder O’Neill, the problem that Wildjar solves for businesses is knowing what digital channels are driving inbound phone leads. “There’s a disconnect between the online and offline customer journey when a customer picks up the phone,” he explained. Wildjar ties recorded call data into a customer’s existing tech stack, from CRM to analytics, to create a more complete view of the customer’s journey. While the ACV from two years ago remained constant at 12,000, O’Neill shared that the SaaS’ approach to customer acquisition underwent some changes over the last 24 months.
Team grows from 5 to 10, then shrinks to 6
Although the SaaS’ current business metrics impressed Latka, CEO O’Neill revealed that the last two years included some challenging times as he revealed insights from a failed sales development strategy, which saw the team expand from 5 to 10, then contract to 6. O’Neill summarized the experience: “Our customers still spend $1,000 per month, but we approach the market differently. We started as a product-led platform. Then we went down a sales development path by hiring people (3 salespeople and a customer success person). But we’re not salespeople, and we weren’t good at training.” He added, “It didn’t work, and we went back to a pure product inbound product strategy.”
304 customers know what the caller’s journey looks like with Wildjar
Co-founder O’Neill shared the challenges that today’s sales teams face when getting an inbound call: they have no idea what the customer journey has been like before calling. “People search for months before making a call. The prospect first goes into the CRM when they call. Yet the salesperson doesn’t know what their journey has been like. We are integrating into Dialpad, Talkdesk, and other cloud-based call centers so we can tell what their journey looks like before the call,” explained O’Neill.
Today, O’Neill says the company serves 304 customers, sharing that last month’s revenue came in at $310,000. He and his co-founder share 5% of the gross profit each month with employees. Last month, that translated to $12,000 last month against a healthy $240,000 in total profit. O’Neill revealed that the company’s only salesperson gets a larger share, as they don’t receive an individual commission on sales. The CEO noted that all employees, including support, tech, and implementation, impact profit and thus get a piece of the revenue share. The quicker they resolve issues, for instance, the more profit will be left. The co-founder also shared that while there’s currently no option pool at exit, he and his founder have been discussing options internally.
“Sticky product” delivers 122% net dollar retention
When Latka queried O’Neill about the company’s churn and net dollar retention, the co-founder quickly noted that their numbers took a hit during their failed outbound sales strategy experiment. “Our churn went up, but it’s finally settling in,” he explained. Nevertheless, O’Neill surprised Latka when he shared that Wildjar’s net dollar retention currently sits at 122%. Latka praised the figure, but O’Neill insists it could be better and that they’re actively working on improving the figure.
“Free” 2 months during onboarding to boost retention
O’Neill shared that one way that the company has improved retention is to give new customers the first two months free during the onboarding process. “While yes, there’s a cost incurred, it helps boost retention,” he explained.
$50,000 revenue per employee per month, 4-5X competitors
As Latka marveled at the $50,000 revenue per employee per month figure, he asked O’Neill how it felt to be delivering 4-5X what his VC-backed competitors are doing. “It’s exciting,” exclaimed the CEO. Latka referred to his business as “a beautiful example of a bootstrapped founder doing it right, growing faster than his VC-backed competitors.” O’Neill also shared that they’ve used some revenue to help fund another startup and a charity business.
What’s next as MRR doubles from $150,000 2 years ago to $310,000 today
With an MRR that doubled in the last 24 months from $150,000 to $310,000, Latka asked O’Neill what was next for Wildjar. The CEO admitted they’re open to opportunities, as they originally built the business thinking it would be a 5-year journey. “We know we are not salespeople. We are product people, so we would need a good fit with a company that could execute a sales strategy to put us into those tools,” explained O’Neill. He added that some companies in the US and UK have already begun to roll up companies like theirs. Latka mentioned SalesLoft, and the CEO clarified that businesses like that don’t do what they do: “Our IP sits before the call comes in. We’re really good at it,” he said.
Potential acquisition targets?
CEO O’Neill shared that he and his co-founder are currently looking at potential acquisitions. “We’ve identified a few businesses recently. Debt is easy now; maybe we should do a debt raise,” he pondered. The co-founder shared that they’re looking at similar businesses: competitors who have been in market a long time but haven’t evolved. They’re not moving forward, and they’re on old systems. “We know we can migrate their platform easily to our platform. We are already winning their customers,” he noted. Latka clarified that O’Neill could buy an extension that kills their code base, transition their system to yours, and transition to your tech stack. O’Neill agreed. The CEO also alluded to the fact that they were also looking at complementary businesses like SMS, where they are already technically a provider.
Wildjar Co-founder and CEO James O’Neill revealed that he’s not a big reader but had recently finished Traction by Gino Wickman. He doesn’t follow any CEO in particular. Just like the last interview, James still swears by Slack as his favorite online tool to build Wildjar. James just turned 37, noting that he was flying home to Scotland from Singapore on his birthday, so “I had a 45-hour birthday.” He is married with three children. Most recently, he was only getting 3-4 hours of sleep after the birth of his third child, but now he’s back to his usual 6. At 20, he wishes he knew that you don’t have to be the biggest company in the world. It’s enough to be good and profitable. The bootstrapped co-founder added, “I wish I had started earlier.”