The Startupeable Show
The Startupeable Show
🎧 Elias Torres, cofounder of Drift - Embracing Conflicting Advice, Why Product Defensibility is Dying & The Future of SaaS

🎧 Elias Torres, cofounder of Drift - Embracing Conflicting Advice, Why Product Defensibility is Dying & The Future of SaaS

Lessons Learned from a Serial Entrepreneur

This week I talked to Elias Torres from Drift to understand the importance of embracing conflicting ideas to achieve success, how to become comfortable with taking risks, and how to connect with extraordinary people.

Elias co-founded Drift, a software platform that helps over 50,000 businesses like Okta and Adobe deliver personalized conversations with their customers. Drift reached unicorn status in 2021 when private equity firm Vista Equity Partners acquired a majority stake.

We also discussed the future of the SaaS industry, why he believes product defensibility is no longer feasible, and how to think about building a SaaS business in this context, including the implications of AI. 

Before Drift, Elias spent a decade at IBM, founded Performable, which was acquired by HubSpot, and became VP of Engineering for HubSpot following the acquisition. Currently, he is building Novy, a team specializing in developing and deploying cutting-edge AI solutions.

Learn about the lessons of founding a unicorn startup here:

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🗒 Show notes:

[08:13] - The Biggest Dichotomy 

[16:47] - What Is Your Notion of Risk?

[22:21] - Step #1 to Become Successful

[29:37] - The Dichotomy of Product Differentiation

[33:45] - Copy Others AND Be Yourself

[40:22] - Advice for SaaS Founders Today

🧠 Key Takeaways

#1 Take more risks: Define clearly what the risk of a decision is and the consequences it can have for you. This exercise can help you see if the decision is as risky as it looked at first glance, or if the stakes are lower than you thought. For example, if you’re risking losing your house or visa, be careful when deciding. But if you’re risking having to find another job and think you can find a new one, then the risk might not be as high.

#2 Be comfortable with conflicting ideas: Sometimes as a founder, you hear conflicting advice about the same thing, but it’s not that one is right and the other is wrong. Both are right, and you have to figure out how they fit together. For example, in SaaS, you hear that product differentiation is essential for success, and you hear that it is not. What this means is that your product needs to be different to succeed, but that alone won’t lead to success, you need more differentiating elements to get there.

#3 Follow the advice: Sometimes people ask for advice when they only want encouragement and stories. While encouragement is important, taking action on the advice is more helpful to succeed. If the advice makes sense to you, take action and see where it takes you. You can judge if it was good advice or not, based on the results. 

😲You won’t hear this anywhere else

“Copy the product, because you don’t waste time. That way you get started, practice and you have something to show. That way you learn about the problem and how other people solve it.  And then, you have to figure out how you make it different and find your own way to succeed. The world is too crowded with businesses, so you have to differentiate yourself.”

The Startupeable Show
The Startupeable Show
The Startupeable Show is an open exploration of the markets, technologies, and trends that are reshaping business in the U.S. and around the world, and the people behind them.
During each interview, host Enzo Cavalie delves deep into our guest's 'earned secrets': their unique points of view on their industries, the key insights behind their success, and their practical strategies for company building.