The story of RevGenius with Co-Founder Jared Robin
40 min read
Welcome to our 24th episode of The Sales Syndicate Podcast. In this episode, Jamie Pagan, Associate Director of Marketing at Selligence, sits down with Jared Robin, Co-Founder at RevGenius, to find out how it all started.
Along with a deep dive into the history of a 35,000 strong community, Jared shares his advice for those wanting to start their own community.
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Oh, hello and welcome to, I think episode 24 of the Sales Syndrome podcast. So we seem to be picking up the pace slightly in rattling through these episodes, but it's going to be a good one today. So I'm joined by Jared Robbins from Revgenius. Now I don't think Revgenius needs any introduction, but Jared, I'll hand it over to you to just give us a brief introduction to yourself and Revgenius. So I'm Jared. I'm co-founder of Revgenius.
years come June grew this community to 35,000 plus sales, marketing, rev ops, and customer success professionals worldwide. In a three year period, our mission is to bring inspiration and creativity to the revenue world. We started as a free community, still are, but recently we also launched rev room, which is for senior leadership, VPs, C level directors at some bigger companies
them a space where they could trust and collaborate on the future of a business to business go to market. So lots of moving parts, lots of excitement. Yeah. And I was going to say, I've seen tons about it on LinkedIn. So I imagine it's been a busy, well, busy few months, but busy couple of weeks, especially. Yeah. The feedback has been great. We're blessed. And we've just been interviewing some members
which is always humbling and I'm grateful for the experience. If you apply for Revroom and you make the shortlist, there's probably a 50% chance I'm going to be the one interviewing you.
Well, I mean, it's so tell us just quickly before we go into the story about RevGenis and how it came to be. Obviously we touched on Revroom there. So just give us a quick overview of what Revroom is. Yeah. So essentially, Revroom is a space for senior leaders to have a support system. The
We're curious revenue leaders who want to collaborate on the future of B2B go to market. We found in the space, there was a handful of different communities, but ones that actually connected one another and had that empathetic vibe to the senior leaders and helped one another get through challenges, seemed to be a gap that was shared with multiple senior leaders.
it and sure enough
It seems like the case. So we, you know, in just a couple of weeks, we have close to 300 people on our wait list and we're getting, and this week or last Friday, I should say, we just started getting some interviews down on the calendar and meeting some people and the people have been exceptional and they help one another with real-time business cases that they're going through,
and their sales, marketing, rev ops, and customer success leaders in each group. So we're pretty hype on that. And we're limiting the size of the groups to 150 people. So even if we grow to a thousand or 10,000, if we're so fortunate, it'll never feel like that many people are around you
But we've certainly heard some of the challenges with communities in general. It sounds super exciting and the feedback I've seen online and the bits that I've seen in feed look really, really good. So I'll be interested to sort of keep my eyes on that over the coming months. But I think you've jumped on today really to tell us about the story of RevGenius. I know you mentioned that it's been three years now, but let's just rewind the clock
on your social media, which I thought were very, very interesting. I think there was one of a sleeping bag in a room. Tell us the story of how it came to be, how it all started. Yeah. So full disclosure, I'm not sleeping in a sleeping bag in that room anymore. That's good. So that actually was my first foray into tech in general, where that picture comes from. But
2020, right? As we were like getting into it and, uh, Galen Garmai, the, the original co-founder and myself found a need. Uh, people needed other people, they needed support systems. The world was pandemonium. There were some other communities, but we saw, um, there was a massive gap in like an, an open, inclusive, no cost community. There was others that were
just for leaders only or both, or just content sites, et cetera. So we went ahead and created it. And it started on LinkedIn. We met the original folks on LinkedIn and we created a LinkedIn DM group. And when we broke, it was just about 25 or 30 people, nothing super or seemingly not like hectic numbers.
one another broke the app, the LinkedIn app every day for every person at some point. And then people are like, okay, I really like you all, but we need to go to Slack. So they told us, and that was the beginning of listening to the people. The Revgenius name came about pre Slack. We started figuring it out. And the original idea that we were toying with of Revgenius was to create a centralized place for all the
essentially in sales and then were like in sales and marketing. And then later it became sales marketing and go to market as a whole, right? But the thought was there was dozens, if not hundreds of events, a good percentage of which we signed up for ourselves, like coming into our inbox every single week. And there was no place to centralize all of them.
dozen SaaS companies with awesome webinars, another dozen communities with great content and stuff. It all hit the same person, so to speak, but how do you know what to go to? And that was the original idea. So we created a Google Doc. We circulated it across the first 25 people in LinkedIn. And we realized quickly that I don't think that they really
much or cared about it, but they cared about one another. We didn't care to really survey them. On the dock, we just went with it and we realized that we had a community, not a centralized place for events. Then we started creating our own events and we grew fast. We grew quickly for a couple main things or a small handful of main reasons. People have been asking me a lot lately.
What's the secret sauce to growing? And people are looking for tactics. And there's certainly some of those, some more successful than others, but to really heighten how successful a community or company is in general, it starts with solving a major challenge. And the bigger challenge that
exponential growth on top of it. And this is often lost, right? Like people will come up with their own thing and maybe talk to a couple of people that think it's a good idea and then like push it down the proverbial throats of others and use some of these tactics to do it that have been successful in other ways. But like, listen, at the core, people felt lost during COVID, like literally.
Um, uncertainty was like, at like weird heights. We're seeing some of that today, but it was like even weirder because nobody had ever dealt with a pandemic. Some people have dealt with a recession, right? Um, and some people are learning to deal with the recession, but yeah, weird times. Uh, and, and, you know, frankly, we're seeing some, some super weird times right now. So I'm doubling down.
to help combat that. But when you have that core challenge and you create a space to do that, then all I had to do was tell a lot of people. So the solving the challenge teamed with me reaching out to hundreds of people every single day in all channels, asking them to join,
Um, helped us grow so fast. So, like, 1000 members, 1 month, 2000 members, the next 3000, the next dipped a little bit. And we intentionally slowed the growth as well at some point. Because it was just like, we were, we were churning people as quickly as we were bringing them on because it was just pandemonium in our community. But that's the next story. So then, uh, you know, we.
So to speak, you know, found better folks for what we were trying to build and where we were at. And yeah, today is super excited. Like, we're going to recalibrate some things within RevGenius to make it even better for the times, as I said, you know, building for the times. And it's not even
You're calibrating like when you're a 35,000 person community, it's quite a bit different than a 3,500 person community and it's light years different than the 350 person community. So yet most people prefer the micro communities to an extent. So how can we create that type of energy so that people could realize more value today in these tricky economic climates?
also create a space for revenue leaders. And that's what Revroom is. But the highest echelon of titles, so to speak, of revenue leaders and a safe space for them as well. So lots we're working on, lots we've learned. And it's interesting. So the things I've learned building Revgenius, if I were to do it again, I am doing it again with Revroom in real time.
exciting and it's kind of...
slightly nerve wracking, but like exciting. And then the thing is I'm learning building rev room. Can I put back into rev genius without charging for certain things still, like still sticking with that MO of being open, inclusive and all of that. And we're about to run a test on that. So you'll see that soon enough everywhere. So man, Jamie, you called me at a great time. I couldn't be more passionate
for what we're building reinvigorated because you get, you learn a lot along the way, you become humbled a lot along the way, you become unsure if things are gonna work along the way and test different things. And you have made a time where I couldn't be more confident about the direction of what we're building and how we're gonna help the larger community as a whole. Our overall goal,
vision long-term is we want to be the de facto most important resource for any go-to-market or revenue professional in the space. And we're well on our way and it's exciting. I mean, you went on for sort of 10 minutes there and I think that just goes to show, like you said, the passion and the excitement that space that you're currently in. And I think you can definitely see that across your channels. Thanks for letting me. Yeah.
because I think the first was that initial growth period. So you said you were sort of acting like an SDR, just, you know, asking hundreds of people today, but like what, what are some of the tactics then that would work best then for that initial, like trying to build a community? What, what worked well? How did you get started with it? Tell them what we're doing and just ask them for their email to join. Like just.
Like it's not a close if it's for $0. And if it feels like it has to be a quote unquote close for $0, you're doing something wrong. Like you need to make it as simple as possible for people to say yes. And I always had a funny thing. Like if they asked me for a phone call to like learn more, I wasn't doing something right. Because that's way too much time to spend for a $0 acquisition. Now,
Let me, and that's moving fast, right? Now don't get me wrong. Phone calls all day long with members to understand how to build this thing better and all of that. But, um, from like a figuring out what messaging worked standpoint and like trying to move fast standpoint, that's how I thought it. And of course I'd hop on calls from time to time. But if you, if you have to hop on five calls a day to get five members, when I'm trying to get 30 members a day on.
Like, there's a big gap there. No I think that speaks volumes and sort of aligns with a lot of the B2B messaging work that marketers, sales teams in terms of their outbound that they're doing every single day. And I think that's quite an interesting thing you were saying there. If you're not able to get immediate positive feedback from a simple message and they need more information, then you've sort of failed the first hurdle, haven't you?
And I think that's something that everyone can take something away from, you know, messaging on the website, whatever it is, messaging in your outbound sequences or outbound approaches. So I think that's a really good piece of advice there. Yeah, it's messaging, right? Like when you literally have a no cost community.
and you're trying to just drive as much value as possible.
It's like, if they say no, it's learning why. Um, and you can learn why in like a back and forth conversation on LinkedIn or via chat somewhere, right. Um, and then incorporating that, right? Like when, when, when I'm telling you like rev rooms being created and then build around it, right? So when I'm telling you rev rooms being created, there's like 150 person cap. That's because like we've heard like what doesn't work and we want to like create a product that's able to move.
super fast because it's meeting needs and we're listening to the why, like why people would join or why they wouldn't. I think the sort of on that, why they would join. The second point I want to cover was we talk a lot about this sort of offering value as part of the community. So what would you say, you know, RevGenius in its current state, what is the most valuable thing about
perspective, marketing perspective, and a GTM perspective, what do you think are the most valuable sort of trends you're seeing in terms of what people are getting from that community? Yeah. So, you know, it depends on who you are, but in general, the expansion of your network and connections quite a bit and how that also impacts the reach on LinkedIn, which is like a common social network where they could see value quickly based on how many more connections that
have, how further their post-reach, how they use that for prospecting, et cetera. And also just a space where you could ask questions and get answers where you don't have to connect with somebody on LinkedIn, so to speak, and not have them connect to actually have conversation with them. And that's one of the benefits of Slack. And then also that you could
for any questions or challenges you might have. So you have difficulty building a playbook or this challenge happened in the workspace or how do I come up with the best sequence possible? You have a space to ask that. You really can't do that on LinkedIn. What are you going to do it in a post or DM like 20, 30, 40 people? It's like cold outreach, right?
difficult use of LinkedIn, that isn't really intended. And because it's synchronous Slack, you get the answers pretty fast. So what are some of the most active channels? So for those that we've touched on what RevGenius is, the community side of it, but for those who haven't been inside it, what are some of the most active channels? Like some of the most popular communities or groups on the RevGenius community now? Yeah. Great.
Great question. Sales, marketing, rev ops, those channels are big. Memes get some engagement. That's a fun one. Introductions, intros is probably the most engaged because that's where people are introducing one another and finding out who's in the community and connecting with one another. That's big. And then the general channel. We're going to double down on the sales, marketing, rev ops and customer success channels. That's going to be part
reinvigoration of certain aspects, strategies. They're very engaged, but we're going to be
adding some programming and stuff there even more. Yeah. I think I've, um, I shared some stuff in the last couple of weeks where I was just asking for people's, um, sort of feedback on version A or version B of a particular sort of like website visual. And you, you see a ton of, there's a ton of stuff like that where people are saying, you know, can you give me some advice on great tools for lead channel? Can you give me, um, a subject line that's worked really well? Like, what do you think of this? And I think that's, I think that seems to me for me from a, from a marketing
probably the most valuable thing from my perspective is actually getting that instantaneous real-time feedback that you don't have to pay $1,500 a month to get. Yeah. And you know what's cool? I've gone every single way about like being in Slack in particular. Earlier on, I'm like, we have to leave Slack. Like there's, this isn't going to scale.
Like the data is hard to get out. We have to stay on the free plan. So we have like limited capabilities.
and all of this. And my thinking was right at the time, or it was fine, I should say. And right now I'm thinking we can't not use Slack. And for, because this is what people are using for their work. Sure. Eight out of 10, not 10 out of 10. Understood. But like, this is big. Getting data out. Now there's more ways to do that. There's more systems
There's, and this is how people in the B2B world are interacting now, right? And um...
So it's exciting and getting it synchronous. Now, do we add asynchronous things on the website? Maybe. And I've thought about that before.
I think we have to be, we're intentionally extremely deliberate. And I do want to, and what does that look like? Is that a message board? Is that like, I don't think it's a mighty networks or a circle. Like I know those community tools out there. Of course, I was meeting with them at the beginning, but.
It's a careful mix, but like part of it to your point is being on Slack and having the right interactions happening. Now, some of the stuff, obviously it's a community for people to engage and ask for feedback and share things. But you guys also host a lot of events yourself. So you've obviously got your own podcasts or I should say live sessions. So do you want to just tell us a bit about some of the additional events and value that you can get out of the platform?
Aside from that just general community. Yeah. We have weekly regular LinkedIn lives and I, and SelleGence leans into, you know, a good share of those where we have different programming for different parts of the community for sales, for marketing, for rev ops, for CS, the outbound 2.0, the new idea of outbound, whether you're a BDR or demand gen leader, like fused into one there, which is pretty cool. And that happens at a regular cadence.
We also have sponsored events where it's the one off, where we work uniquely with sponsors to create a whole event around a certain topic. And we help bring that event to what the community wants, right? Because sometimes a sponsor will want one thing and the community really needs or is asking for something else. So we'll find that happy middle ground.
annually. This will be our third year. That's going to be digital this year as well. And for our executive leaders in the community, we're doing dinners now, which are spectacular and they're going over very well and they're very cool. I saw one of those on LinkedIn. Was it this week? Last week, I think. I think it was last week. It was definitely last week. Yeah. I miss, I must admit, I do miss those business dinners. It's been a really good
it's been a while since I've been to one and it looked really, really good. It was, what was it, New York? It was New York. We went to Keens, which is a really cool old school steakhouse. The best part about these is the networking with one another, but also working with one another to solve top of mind challenges in person. So you have your icebreaker, you have your intros,
But like where the value outside of a phenomenal dinner comes in is like masterminding your top challenges with other people in your same exact role or close to it at other companies to best understand what they're doing. So like, I just think that's so rad. Come with a challenge.
get a really incredible networking experience, but also answers to key challenges outside of typical business hours. So it's like the most efficient way you could spend your night. And it's pretty cool. Yeah. So it's like a very informal, entertaining workshop. Yeah. Yeah. Super cool. And depending on how the room set up, if there's multiple tables and there typically are each table will have like a focus
on one of the members of the tables challenge. And they'll all like brainstorm or give feedback if they have an answer that worked in the past and all of that to really help one another and lift one another. And that's what community is about. Community is about learning together, learning from one another, helping one another and giving. So dinner is just another way to do it.
Strategy and workshops with steak and red wine sounds pretty good to me. So I think that might be something we have to try. It's super cool. And then at a certain part of the night, no pun intended, things tip over in an even more casual way, which is nice as well. So we've sort of touched on Revrim already, but what's to come then? What does the next three to six months look like for Revgenius?
Great question. Build better processes with Revroom. Fill out our first group there for sure. Do more in-person events, whether it's dinners or meetups or the like in New York City and in the US. We're most likely not going to be doing anything outside the US in the next three to six months. Launch Revcon.
RevCon. So that'll probably be within the next one month and start formalizing the speakers and all of that there. Also, and I'm foreshadowing because we haven't really put our OKRs down for next quarter yet. We have a couple of weeks to do that. We were doing ours today actually. It's funny. We'll probably do it too late, like is normal,
90% of what I say is going to be fact. The other 10% might be wishful thinking on my part. That might miss the cut. It's just how it works.
We're also going to, well, we're bringing on our new head of content, April, which is great. We're going to be doing more with partnerships like GTM Partners, which is amazing. Sangram over there is doing a phenomenal job in creating a new GTM resource for the space with this consulting
Like to better, we're going to relaunch some parts of Revgenius to like as busy as it is and as much as it helps now. I want to blow it through the roof. Like I want to like make it there. There's no doubt that this is Revgenius and you're going to see some of that. So I'm
I'm really bullish on RevGenius and RevRoom and what we're about to do. So there's a ton of stuff coming down the pipeline, which is very, very exciting. Oh, and also we're rebuilding our RevGenius mag right now. It's in development. It's close to being ready and you're going to see a lot more content on our website as well.
Is this, is that sort of your blog in essence? Yeah. Yeah. Branded in a slightly different way, but yes, absolutely. Nice. I think that's a digital mag. Yeah. Yeah. Cause that sort of fits really nicely alongside your kind of, like you said, the easiest way to build a community is give value for free, like incredible value or something that's, you know, beyond value. Well, that's the easiest way to build a community. So if you're able to provide more valuable content alongside the community, it's only going to help you guys
scale like you said, be bullish. You hit the nail on the head. Community in a word is content in many different ways, shapes and facets. And how you could harness that content, you could scale so much stuff. One of the gaps, we've been doing a great job of putting out content and we've been doing a mediocre job of leveraging that content for growth. So...
We're going to move in the right direction with that. It seems to be a lot of not necessarily problems, but a lot of companies, areas for development that says that they produce great content, but they don't necessarily get it out there. And I think we can all aim to get better distribution and like better leverage from that content. So I think that's, I mean, for us, that's definitely something that we're doing a podcast a week.
our aspirations and our goals. And I think, yeah, that seems to be a very, very interesting topical one for 2023 for sure. So like, think about this. We have those weekly LinkedIn lives. We'll have some round tables built in that probably won't be leveraged. That'll probably be like behind closed doors, so to speak. We have our partner events. We could have 10 to 20 different things a month right there. And then we're going to launch 20 articles a month and a
a week. And then we have partnerships at RevCon and all of that. So like, but what's cool is RevGenius Mag also gives the ability to like feature some of the RevGenius community leaders. Right? So like, it's also a really cool way to give back and stuff. And when you have a community around content, not just creating content, it's like a magical growth.
piece, right? Like where you can have some really nice loops, speaking to a marketer, you know, where folks could write, could share, want to write more, want to put out more that's read by more, incentivize to get traffic there, all that stuff. Yeah, because there's tons of people with great stuff to say, but I guess one of the
to look like a cesspool of rubbish, isn't it? I call it mediocrity. There's stuff that's rubbish out there for sure, but I think in general, the people that care, it's a cesspool. I don't know if that's a harsh word, but it's a holder of mediocrity. Five ways to improve your outbound sequences that are just fluff, that is everywhere.
hearing like 101 of how to define your ICP without going into like your perfect ICP or intent or stuff like that.
Like, come on, man, like, like you, you creating content for the future is big and not just saying AI is here to stay, but like understanding like more granularly, like nuances there and help folks. I think it's important to have content that pushes like from a thought leadership perspective that it's actually thought leadership.
for tactical content that it's like best in class of tactics, you know, not just like a do video. It's cool. Here's your script. You need to, you need to really go in. I think it's important. Yeah. So that was, I think that was a much better explanation or way of phrasing assessable There's a lot of mediocre content out there. Mediocre. I think that's a, and I think I've always, weirdly I've always sort of said one of my mantras, I don't know if you want to call that, but I, I, I never want to be content
with mediocrity because then I feel like it's just a bit boring, isn't it? If you're content with mediocrity. So yeah, very interesting. So the last, I guess- And you have to push it and you have to push back on people, right? Because sometimes the best thought leaders and stuff will want to repurpose other articles that they've written elsewhere or want to say the same thing the same way. And you have to turn people away. If you're sensing that what they're going to be doing is redundant and not unique for you.
that sort of a magazine. We'll improve along the way. We're going to come out pretty good. I'm going to be moderately content and then we're going to improve. Well, don't let perfection get in the way of execution. No, done is better than perfect. Exactly. But curation is a wonderful thing, man. Curation is a secret sauce. Well, yeah, I won't ask you to share the secret sauce then.
to sort of tie things or wrap things up, let's say, is what, like, just a little bit of advice would you give to company, a person who wants to start building the community in any way, shape or form that they want to do it? Like you've shared some tips. What is like the single biggest tip for if you want to start tomorrow to build a community? So I was speaking to somebody like end of day yesterday on this. Context is important
So first and foremost, the biggest tip is create something that solves a challenge of a lot of people, a challenge that you probably at least know a little bit about so that you could help moderate that. Right? Like if I'm starting, if I hear there's a massive challenge in pollution or whatever in the world, but I don't have really knowledge or like super interest in like being that
it's not going to work. Right. Yeah. You're not going to set up Rev Recycling. That's not your next project. That's a good one though. I mean, you're going to write that one down. Unless, unless it like really, unless I really, really empathize with it, right. Because I personally would do something in the creative world because I spent a lot of time there and it seems like off, but for me it makes sense. Now. So the first thing is create something that solves a massive
trying to create a community to like, there's only two main reasons why a company, like a SaaS company would create community. Reason one, demand gen. Reason two, customer success. I'm not sure if there's really anything else outside of those two. So if it's customer success, that's an easier one in the sense that it's an easier one to get the community members to trust you and like feel warm and cozy, right?
it and you're literally here to help. Now, if you try to upsell them in every beat and turn, they will not trust you and they will leave. The basis of community is trust in a word. It's trust. Okay. So if you erode that trust, it's done. Now, if you're on the demand gen side of things, that's where it could get hairy because it's very easy for marketers that don't know about community to want to shove things down your throat, even when they think that they're not.
I'm not doing anything. I'm like, you don't see the nuances. You are doing things. Um, this is where it has to be really careful and you, and you really need to be solving a challenge. And.
Yeah, that's it. And the best companies, or the best, I should say the best community led companies, some of the best, had community at the start of community at the same time of the product, and let the product come out of the community and let the support come out of there. Those tend to be potent. They tend to be organic. You need it to be organic. If your purpose is to
events. Do a typical demand gen strategy. There's no harm in that. I think you should probably use some of the principles I said with community to really get better turnout, better stickiness, all of that. But you could have an event strategy. You could have a content strategy. That's quite normal. But if you want to have a community strategy
Community strategy, you're talking to people one-to-one and trust is the number one most important thing all the time, but this is where trust could erode your full relationship. You send somebody too many emails, they'll unsubscribe. No biggie. That doesn't mean that they're not going to use your product per se, but if you're one-to-one with them and you do too much of one thing or whatever, they could have a bad distaste for your whole brand.
the negative, but it could also be more potent to the positive. So just act accordingly. Thank you for listening. Yeah. That was some very, very good advice, but that was a whistle stop tool, let's say of RepGenius, the story of RepGenius. Hopefully anyone that's listening that hasn't already signed up will go and sign up. So go and take a look at the RepGenius channels, jump on there. There's like Jared's been saying, there's a ton of value on there. For anyone, you could
to you today alone. Send me a note. I'm here for it. But thanks for joining. Thanks for jumping on the podcast as well. Very much appreciated. I know we've got a couple of the live sessions coming up in the next couple of weeks for you guys as well. So hopefully those will go well. But yeah, so anyone listening, thank you for listening and join us in the next episode. Thank you so much for having me. And I'm really excited about what
and how you all are leaning into community. It's exciting. Yeah. We've got some, we're calling it search 3.0. That's all I'll say for now, but search 3.0. We'll definitely have to show you that because I think that's going to be, it's going to be game changing in the world of prospecting. Let's put it that way. We need more suggestions. It's becoming harder.
We'll have to, yeah, we'll get you involved. But that's a conversation for another day. But thanks for joining. Thanks for listening and we'll catch you in the next episode. Wonderful.