Know what works with Zack Cox

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On this episode, Brad is sitting down with Zack Cox, cofounder of Pidgi.  Pidgi is a lead Intelligence as a Service. Pidgi helps sellers break into new accounts by identifying and tracking the job movements of past product users and former buyers.

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Episode Transcript

On this episode, Brad is sitting down with Zack Cox, cofounder of Pidgi.  Pidgi is a lead Intelligence as a Service. Pidgi helps sellers break into new accounts by identifying and tracking the job movements of past product users and former buyers.

Zack: [00:00:00] Who else needs another marketing tour? A sales tool. I mean, for God’s sakes, the place is just saturated, right? So if you have persona, uh, your personas, you’re messaging, everything’s dialed in, why not just multiply that with, with volume, right? Because we’re still a three man team. It’s a, it’s a all founding team.

You know, I lead sales and business development. I can’t be a thousand places at once. If I know what’s working, why not double down instead of investing? PPC or some of this other stuff that we, we just know might not convert because in the space that we’re in, 

Brad: welcome to Decision Point, a podcast about overcoming adversity in sales and the growth that we experience in the process.

I’m Brad Siemens.

So first off, I saw you went to Miami, is that right? Yes, that’s right. Miami, Ohio. Okay. Are you from the Midwest? 

Zack: I’m from Cincinnati, 

Brad: yeah. Okay, so you’re right. That was pretty close to home then. Um, That’s right. So how’d you end up in Arizona? 

Zack: It’s funny. So after [00:01:00] Miami, I actually shipped out to, uh, Seattle, Washington.

I was out there for a couple years and then about three years after Seattle, I moved down to Scottdale, Arizona, um, with my past employer, sap, and I’ve been here ever 

Brad: since. Okay. Tell me a little bit about the business. Tell me kind of how you guys got to the business model and kind of walk me through what you guys.

Zack: Sure. So how we started, essentially when I was a sales rep at SAP Concur, it was harped on leadership, um, to be finding and selling to our past users and buyers, right? So we’re looking for VP of finance, CFOs, AP managers that have used our tool both in the travel and expense and the invoice side that have moved to.

For companies, right? And at scale when a company has, you know, 40,000 customers, there’s a lot of end users to kind of track and monitor. So we were doing this completely manual, right? SDRs are doing it manual. We were doing it manual. It’s terrible. It’s a dreadful process. Um, you have to interface between all these different tools just to get [00:02:00] to a lead that might actually not be a, a former pass user.

So I went to one of our co-founders, Bachelor party, Ben. We were at his bachelor party in Shelan, Washington, and I was chatting with his brother who was a developer and just toying with the idea of saying, Hey, can we build this? Is this possible? Like, how would this work? So we chatted and then we met again, uh, for Ben’s wedding, and I finally recruited him to say, Okay, he’ll be a partner in this.

So Dennis and myself were at this since October of 2021, and in January of 2022, we actually recruited Ben from Amazon to come manage the product full time. So we have a team of three. And so fast forward to present. We’re not bootstrapped, we’re customer funded. It’s what we say. Um, he is got that from another call earlier this morning.

I thought that was pretty good. Now we’re, we’re in in the trenches. We’re go to market. We’re trying to land our first handful of 

Brad: customer. So do you think about being bootstrapped and customer funded as being two separate things? Cuz you’re not putting your own money into it, or you just like the [00:03:00] cu you just like the customer funded.

Zack: I actually talked to the ceo, uh, David from, uh, Whistle as, uh, SDR Outsourcing Services and I’d said that we were bootstrapped and he said, Yeah, we like to call that customer funded around here. So I was like, you know what? I think we’re gonna adopt that, but adopt that customer funded for, for, for a while.

We were pretty bootstrapped , which outta 

Brad: our. Now have you guys, do you have plans on raising money or are you guys gonna try to stay customer funded? 

Zack: We do, yes. It’s a, it’s, it’s in the, the plans we’re gonna see how we can do for another quarter. We kind of like the idea of being scrappy and just experimenting with things.

But yeah, it’s, it’s an ongoing conversation and we’ll see what the market trends are. But, you know, we’re having conversations with VCs and there’s definitely some interest there. It’s just us really turning it on. If you. 

Brad: Yeah, I think the big thing is trying to fo or kind of think around, you know, how are you in a winner take all market is a big thing.

Cause I think most markets are not winner take all. I think there’s plenty of space. Uh, you know, if you look at most of the B2B software space [00:04:00] market, I did not think is winner take all, and then you gotta kind of ask yourself like, okay, what are you bringing the unique to the table? And um, I think a lot of companies go out and try to raise.

When they really just have people in process problems and it just makes, uh, the problems that they had worse by throwing more money on it. I’ve been in both scenarios. The company I had before this one, we raised a ton. I mean, it felt like a ton of money to us. Uh, when you see rounds at like 120 million , that’s not a lot, but we raised a lot of money and, um, it, it just really compounded issues that we, that we had.

So, um, let me ask you this. So how’d you get into sales? What was your trajectory coming outta coming outta Miami of Ohio? 

Zack: Um, I think coming outta Miami, Ohio. So the first company that I worked for is a company called Brook Source. Um, its it, uh, recruiting firm based out of Indianapolis. Yeah, it’s Indy company.

Yeah, and I just connected with my, the first manager that actually ever hired me. Um, it just felt like a fit. We talked, I think, for an extra [00:05:00] 30 minutes in our scheduled time. 

Brad: So did you know you were gonna go into the sales space or you weren’t, you weren’t sure at that point? 

Zack: Um, I wasn’t sure. I was kind of one of those college kids that was just like, I’m not really sure where I wanna land, but I was extremely attracted to.

Uh, technology, b2b, sas, and I actually had told the manager that hired me in Cincinnati, I said, Look, I wanna move out of Cincinnati within 12 months. What are my options? He said, Well, we’re planning on opening an office in Dallas and Seattle, so bust your ass. We’ll see where you’re at, and then we can see, you know, what office fits best for you.

And then sure enough, it was about the 18th, about 18 month mark. I was in Seattle now. 

Brad: Now, did you like your time in Seattle? 

Zack: I loved it. Yeah, it was awesome. I mean, look, I’m a Midwest kid that went to, you know, big, big city, um, right there on the water. Yeah, I had a great time. Met awesome friends, and pretty much launched my 

Brad: career.

I got a lot of geographical questions, but we’ll keep, uh, we’ll kind of keep, we’ll keep going down this. So when you think about your product, um, you can probably fit it in about anywhere, uh, you know, in terms [00:06:00] of anybody that’s selling needs to know where people have moved. Mm-hmm. , where are you guys finding traction?

Zack: We’re finding traction on the marketing side and the sales development side, right. Sales development, that’s obviously a, can be a brutal role. They’re, they’re asked to do a lot, especially on the manual research and prepping of lists and finding the right people to reach out to, and we can kind of aggregate some of that data and consolidate it into a single interface so they can say, Hey, we, I found these 20 people.

Change jobs in my territory. This is easy, easy pickings for me to call today and maybe through the end of the week. Right. But also on the marking side, we’re seeing traction from outbound folks that are doing email newsletters. Cuz we were told in that, you know, some companies are, are finding out that people are changing jobs based on the bounce backs they get from their newsletter.

So that’s a. Reactive way to look at things. Right. So there’s definitely been some outbound interest from the marketing team and, and CMOs as well. Now 

Brad: are you going out to the internet and finding, are you, are you leveraging, you know, kind of online resources to figure [00:07:00] out if somebody’s moved? 

Zack: Yeah, so Kudo to the product team, Ben and Dennis, they’ve, Ben has some ex experience with machine learning back at his Amazon days.

So they basically built this machine learning model that aggregates a lot of sources from the internet career, um, resume sites, LinkedIn, Google, api, and we basically just create this high level funnel that really narrows down within Piggy. So by the time it gets to the end user, it’s, it’s, That’s running Gun 

Brad: man.

How’d you come up with piggy? It sounds like a nickname. Your, your grandma might come like my call. I feel like that might be like a nickname your grandma might call you. Yeah. 

Zack: Uh, well I came on it cuz you know B2B sa I was looking for a name that’s, that’s one word easy. It sticks. And I don’t know what came across, but one of my buddies had mentioned, he said the word piggy and he just spelled it with the.

So I quickly checked that the domain was available in Sounded really nice off the tongue and I was like, I’m 

Brad: going with it. So there’s so many like little things to kind of zoom in on about this story that I think are [00:08:00] funny. One, you’re at a bachelor party and uh, there’s all these bachelor things going on and you’re like, Hey, come over here.

What do you think about this business model? Uh, is really funny. And then the fact that you’re Google and Piggy, did you do it right in front of. Were you, like, you said it, you immediately got your phone out. It 

Zack: it, yeah, it was over chat. Uh, it was over chat and I was like, Oh, that, that sounds slick. And I knew I wanted in the domain name.

I was like, Man, this could be perfect. And then, yeah, boom. Had it, 

Brad: So SalesLoft used to do a conference, or Kyle Porter and a couple guys down in Laman used to do a conference called, basically like the Unbound Conference that HubSpot does. But they did it for outbound. I can’t remember what they called.

But anyways, I went down, I went down to it and the guy that spoke, his name’s Alan N. If I knew what he was gonna talk about, I would’ve sponsored the whole weekend. But he talked, he primarily talked about outbound and he used the word allbound. So he said, Hey, there’s all this. He’s like, If I hear one more person say inbound’s better than outbound, this guy owned a big email marketing company.

He said, I’m gonna lose my mind. But what his point was is like, Hey, [00:09:00] to be successful in sales, It’s not one or the other. It’s all of the things you gotta do. All the things that drive in leads, you gotta do inbounds, you gotta do outbound, um, you gotta do stuff on LinkedIn, you gotta have an inbound, you gotta have an outbound sales team.

You gotta, there’s not one thing. You gotta do all the things. And I looked down, there’s a guy from Arizona named Scott, and he’s sitting there googling it on his phone and he bought the domain allbound and then he built a company on, on the name Allbound. Pretty successful company. Yeah. For his successful company.

So yeah, he was sitting, uh, I can’t remember Scott’s last name, but I looked down the, I looked right at him and he was like sitting there on his phone, you know, buying it, 

Zack: you know, moments like that. They could just, they could just come, they just kind of hit you in the, in the wind and you just gotta know to capitalize on it.

And I said, You know what? I’ve been maing over the name potentials and all of these suck. I hate. And this just came. So yeah, I ran with it. But yeah, it’s, it’s a good 

Brad: story, man. I wish I could, you know, Scott’s last name since he’s in your backyard, 

Zack: I don’t know, but I know one of the VCs here that has funded his company, so that’s how I’m familiar.

[00:10:00] Um, 

Brad: yeah, it’s a bit, it’s, yeah, it’s gotten a lot. They’ve been a success, but No, it is funny cuz he literally bought it, you know, he bought it right there on, on site when, when, uh, Alan Na came up with the, with the word. So you, so I’m gonna transition the topic a little bit. You and I got connected on LinkedIn because you talked about outsourcing your sales develop.

And, um, you really got my gears turning. I came from the business model that I have today is a, is a root of the outsourced appointment setting model. And I have a lot of opinions on it. And I would love to kind of hear kind of your thought and process. And I knew you used the word, I think your post basically said, Hey, as a startup and you’re sort of, this is, you’re a first time founder, right?

That’s right. Okay. So you’re out there trying to figure stuff out. So I’d love to kind of hear your thoughts on outsourcing. I can tell you a little bit about mine and we sort, we can sort of walk through this together, but I’d love to, You really got my gears turning when you brought up that post, and so I made a couple subsequential posts, okay.

That have probably made some gurus mad. But anyways, I’d love to talk about this, this subject. [00:11:00] 

Zack: Yeah, let’s talk about that subject. So my take is, you know, and it could be from, uh, a naive perspective, right? Like I, I’ve never hired teams. I’ve never managed teams, uh, but I’ve worked, certainly worked on sales teams.

And I look back at my career so far approaching 10 years and actually professional career, right? Some of the best times and some of my best memories and best times as a sales rep has come When I was in the office sharing that camaraderie. Hitting the floor with people being on the phones. Right? And you know that that’s very particular to sales and sales SDRs.

And as I was writing that post out, I’m coming across a lot of sdr, kind of outsourcing companies on LinkedIn. Some seem to be better than others. And I’ve talked to some of the founders and I love the idea of outsourcing to a company that has 15 SDRs on the floor. They’re being led by, you know, a 20, 25 year sales.

Who’s been there, done that and is there to kind of, you know, get the troops rallied, let’s hit the phones, let’s talk, let’s kind of have that banter. Cuz sales and SDRs, they need that. Right? It’s very hard to get jazzed on the [00:12:00] phone sitting in your second bedroom to dial 50 calls, you know, a day. That’s hard.

No, you do. 

Brad: I’ve been having conversations with, uh, people just about the, about this very subject about sales. The fact that we’ve really lost sales culture. One of my first memories, I kinda have two memories that really shaped my business career. Both of them came from a call center experience. So my dad owned a call center and they did lead generation for mortgage company.

So in order to get to, I’d go to his office after school. I also was the night DJ on the night shift, so I had to run the call center software. I think I was officially the call center manager, but I thought I was the DJ cuz I got to play all the music. So that night I, I’d have, there was maybe, I don’t know, 200.

300 night shift reps and I’d, I’d, I’d like crank up the music and get everybody all jazzed up to make call California. The other memory I had was to get, when I was at the night shift DJ, to get to my dad’s office, I had to go up to the sales room and I remember walking on the floor and there’s probably 15, got 10, 15 guys selling and there was Phil and Ryan.

[00:13:00] Ryan was a girl and that might have been why I was down there cuz she had just graduated college and I’m like a senior in high school and I thought she was really cute. So I think part of the reason why I might have been hanging out there was cuz of her, but. There are all these guys that I learned to sell from because I sit there and listen to them.

You know, I’m there and there’s a big whiteboard and they’re putting their numbers up there. And I’m probably, I mean, I probably, I’m totally a distraction to the sales manager cuz I’m the, the owner’s kid and I’m trying to hang out in the sales meeting. But that’s really where I learned to sell and I got my initial experiences and eventually they’ll let me pick up the phone and I’ll sell a deal before I go up to college.

But I learned from these guys. Since we’ve moved virtual that’s really been pulled out of a lot of sales cultures is that camaraderie. And I don’t know that all sales is team oriented, but I definitely think software sales is, you know, it’s tribal, it’s fraternal, it’s something that’s shared with other people.

One of the best tips I ever learned, I learned from sitting at a co-working [00:14:00] space a decade ago listening to a guy named Matt Mul pitch, and he was a police officer that taught himself to code. That build a software company and then he sold it. He’s a multimillionaire and he is such a fascinating guy because he decided when he started the company that he wasn’t gonna pay himself more than a teacher’s salary.

He bootstrapped the whole company, sold it. He’s a multimillionaire. I pick him up for lunch and he always, I’m like, Hey, are you getting a house yet? And he’s like, Nah. Everything out there is too. I’m like, Bro, you’re like literally like we have more money than, than tons of like all the software founders we know combined.

I love that. So, but the point is, I learned from him. He used to say this thing that I learned from sitting there around him, which was he’d get somebody to the spot, he’d say, Mr. Police Officer. Cause he sold the police officers. He’d say, If you don’t buy this today, if you don’t buy my solution, how are you gonna solve this?

And he would just be quiet and they would talk. And you know, I’ve used [00:15:00] that multiple times throughout my career. I mean, like I said, it was probably a decade ago, but that’s something I, I learned from that tribal experience of sitting next, like sitting next and learning to somebody else. And I really do think we have an interesting road ahead of us.

When we think about the fact that we pulled that out of a lot of, I mean, most sales cultures have have it stripped out and then the people coming outta college don’t know any different. So they don’t know that they need 

Zack: that. Let me tell you, Brad, and they’re not gonna learn it from scrolling through LinkedIn and reading a bunch of long winded posts about what to do on the sales call when it’s all contradicting each other, 

Brad: it is all contr.

Why is there so much contradicting information? 

Zack: I don’t know. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna entertain that. All I can say say last. Yeah. All I could say is there’s absolutely truth in, to your point, and I did this at Brook Source where I was shadowing, being out on the road all day, doing client drops, shaking hands, just being there, hearing it, seeing the interaction.

So much different than doing [00:16:00] this, you know, over Zoom. Oh. And so, back to my previous point on that post is I’d rather just, you know, pay i’ll, I’ll pay for the culture. It’s not even, I’m paying. The meetings booked and the demos I’ll pay for that culture. You know, that’s where, where I kind of looked at it.

Where you 

Brad: were looking at it. Yeah. And I think that’s a really interesting take. I, I think a couple people chimed in on one of my posts and felt like I was being anti outsourcing. I’m not anti outsourcing. I think one of the challenges. That you have as a startup, if you don’t know your messaging, it’s really hard to hand that off to somebody else.

Yep. Cause nobody’s gonna care about you as much as you care about yourself. You know, you’re messaging, I think one of the reasons that it’s frowned upon, and I don’t, and I, I think you can make it work. And I definitely think there’s parts of the cycle that you can pull apart, like email and list creation, um, and, and be able to manage those aspects, um, really well, um, in an outsourced.

Perspective on the phone side, I just think you run the risk. It has everything to do with who you hire, [00:17:00] whether you hire somebody internally to do it, or you hire somebody externally. Lead generation on the outbound side has to do with people. And either they hire good people or you hire good people, but it’s all about the people.

And, um, if you can find a firm that has that and can, I think the, the risk you run into with an outsourced vendor, um, if you outsource the appointment setting, lead generation, I think could be that, you know, as long as their clients aren’t moving around on them. Then you’re good. Mm-hmm. , I think there’s a little bit of fragility and it all has to do with who you, who you hire, right?

But if their clients are moving around, then it puts pressure on them and they gotta move all their people around. And you’re only as good as the people setting the appointments for you. And so if I were in your shoes and I was gonna go outsource it, I just, you know, I have lots of questions around the recruiting process.

Client retention cuz all those things impact, you know, how they’re setting appointments or how, how the, the flow’s going for you. Um, but I do like the idea about, like the [00:18:00] idea around culture. You’re outsourcing the culture piece to somebody else. That’s an interesting, that’s an interesting take. 

Zack: And that’s the way that I talked about it with my team because, you know, you look at our situation.

We’re not gonna go out and get real estate anytime soon. Right. So those first couple hires there are gonna be remote. Everyone’s gonna be in their, you know, in their environment, in their call space. Right. And you know, I was thinking about same rules apply with kind of VC and funding, right? Like VCs want to come in when they know that you’ve established your messaging and they know that their, their funds are going to put gas on the.

I think the same could apply for, you know, an SDR outsource team. This is the messaging that’s working, here are the icp, here are the personas. Yeah. Double down on this and let’s see if we can get some, you know, up to the right trajectory. 

Brad: A hundred percent. And that’s how I would think about it. Cause I don’t think there’s anything wrong.

I think the issues become, if you don’t know what you want, it’s really hard to have somebody else take it over. [00:19:00] You know, if, if I don’t know who we’re targeting and I don’t know the, if I don’t know the ICPs and I don’t know the messaging, which I think in your case is based on the product. It’s really simple.

It’s, it’s a VP of sales, most likely maybe an inside sales manager. Your use case is really tight. People have left the company. We need to track them down. I think it’s, But hey, we’re launching a product. We don’t how it’s, I mean, what you guys are developing, people are doing by hand, and I think a lot of sales products are like that.

Is that you’ve had sales teams that have really not that need, have needed help for years and never got the products they. . And so a lot of this stuff, there’s already a product created for it. It’s called some interns on a spreadsheet. Yeah, . 

Zack: And let me, let me pose a different spin on that too. That’s completely right.

Yeah. And the other spin on there is like, who, who else needs another marketing tour? A sales tool. I mean, for God’s sakes, the place is just saturated, right? So if you have persona, uh, your personas, you’re messaging, everything’s dialed in, why not just multiply [00:20:00] that with, with volume? Right, because we’re still a three man team.

It’s a, it’s an all founding team. You know, I lead sales and business development. I can’t be a thousand places at once. If I know what’s working, why not, you know, double down instead of investing in, you know, PPC or some of this other stuff that we, that we just know might not convert. Because in the space that we’re in, 

Brad: Yeah.

Let me ask you this. What’s the one thing that you’re like the most passionate about right now? And it could be work, it could be sales, but what’s the thing that’s getting you up in the, what’s getting you up in the morning every day? 

Zack: I think it’s the team for sure. Um, when I first shipped to Seattle with Brook Source, we had a four five man team.

And we were scrappy, we were extremely scrappy, we were close, we were tight. And now, you know, I went to Concur. I was at a big team, a lot of people moving around. Now I’m back in a team where it’s just, there’s three people. We’re all in this driver’s seat and let’s figure it out. Like that’s kind of what drives me.

Everything else will figure out because we’re, we have a really good team in place, but just being able to [00:21:00] work with my friends and just calling the shots, it’s, that’s the best part. 

Brad: Man, something to be said. I, uh, David Cummings, who, uh, started part out, who I’m a real big fan of, he says, You know, the reality is as a startup founder, there’s not a lot of stuff that you’re actually in control of.

You can’t control the economy. I mean, whether you think you can or not, you can’t control the economy. You can’t control the business atmosphere. You can’t control your competitors. You can’t control your clients, but you can’t control who you hire. I do think an add on to that, that I’ve always thought about, that’s super important.

You can control who you bring on as a. Um, when you’re a, when you’re a software company, that kind of goes out, you know, you can pick who you work with. And I think that’s the nice thing about being, being a founder and doing your own thing, is you get to pick the people around you. And there’s something to be said about waking up in the morning and going out, working with the people you like, um, that you wanna be around.

So. Well, this was great, Zach. I appreciate your time coming on and, uh, uh, love having you and best of luck to piggy and, um, we’ll see you. 

Zack: Likewise. Thanks for having me, Brad. [00:22:00] Chat soon. Hey, you’re welcome.

On this episode, Brad is sitting down with Zack Cox, cofounder of Pidgi.  Pidgi is a lead Intelligence as a Service. Pidgi helps sellers break into new accounts by identifying and tracking the job movements of past product users and former buyers.

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