Meet the Founders: Sendoso
In Struck Capital’s ‘Meet the Founders’ Series, we will go in-depth with the brilliant entrepreneurs of our portfolio who are building the next generation of human-centric technologies.
Kris Rudeegraap is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sendoso, the leading Sending Platform, which helps revenue-driving teams stand out by giving them new ways to engage at strategic points throughout the customer journey. With personalized gifts, branded swag, eGifts, and virtual experiences at scale, Sendoso customers see significant time savings per campaign, an increase in conversion rates, and higher retention rates.
Sendoso recently announced a $100m Series C led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. Struck Capital first invested in Sendoso’s Seed round, and has continued to invest in each of Sendoso’s subsequent rounds of financing including their Series C.
Q: How did your early career journey inform the development of Sendoso? When did the idea first hit you and Braydan (Sendoso’s other Co-Founder), and when did you know that you had to pursue it?
Kris: The Sendoso story really starts 5 years ago when things all kicked off. Prior to founding Sendoso, I spent about 10 years in software sales myself, most recently at TalkDesk as a Senior Account Executive. When I was in that sales role, in the trenches, I found myself sending out a million emails and finding that this was a really ‘spray & pray’, spammy, and impersonal way of engaging with prospective customers, so I found myself getting more creative: writing handwritten notes, sending TalkDesk swag and finding quirky gifts off of Amazon, and more. With that, I also found myself sending out Starbucks gift cards. It turned out Braydan — a longtime friend and fellow sales leader at a different organization — had been doing the same thing!
One day, Braydan and I met up in San Francisco and asked ourselves: “why isn’t there a platform that allows you to send out anything you’d like at the click of a button on Salesforce?” This question got us thinking, and we realized that there were already hundreds of billions being spent on corporate gifting, swag, and beyond, with no software to bring it all together. Realizing that there was a problem there, we felt like we could be onto something, and brought the concept to some trusted friends and customers, who quickly raised their hands in interest. We got to building, and once we launched we immediately had customers and began to scale.
Q: What are some of the milestones, key experiences, and lessons that helped you accelerate Sendoso’s growth? Do you have a favorite story from the early days?
Kris: We’ve worked hard and been so lucky to see many milestones here at Sendoso. The first one was on our ‘day one’ when Braydan and I first quit our jobs to build our vision full-time. Looking back, it was a big thing to leave a comfortable role that you enjoyed, but I’ll always be thankful that I took that leap of faith. Our official product launch was another huge milestone, as was securing our first customer (who, I am proud to say, is still a customer to this day!). Our first sales hire was also a big day for us: when we began building the company, it was Braydan, myself, and some amazing engineers. We were able to quickly find product-market fit, so I knew that at least Braydan and I could sell our vision, but I really wanted to see if we could find our go-to-market fit, where even a new hire could go out and successfully sell the product. Turns out, they could! We found someone excellent (also still with the company!) and knew that we were ready to really scale. Beyond this, it was big for us to hit $1m in ARR and raise our first round of VC funding — it meant a lot to know that others saw as big a vision as we did — and now we are onto a $100m fundraise.
Some key lessons we’ve learned along the way include that you should always be hiring! We are at 500+ people now, and from day one we had to hire people that are smarter than us and had to get really good at delegating. Coming from sales I found it really natural to sell people on our vision, and I continue to believe that the best founders fully understand and appreciate the power of recruiting good people. Also, really talk to your customers. Every year I do a customer roadshow, and even this year I met with 95 customers virtually. Lastly, build an advisory group. We have assembled an amazing group of people who have ‘been there, done that’ and it has been an excellent experience to have a collection of professionals and supporters on our side.
Q: Looking ahead, what is next on the horizon for you and the team with the fundraise in hand?
Kris: The biggest thing for us is to continue our hard-earned category leadership and investing in product development and R&D. We all feel that we are just scratching the surface — there are so many companies out there that haven’t yet heard of us and still need us, so we want to continue to scale and find ways to support meaningful customer engagement everywhere. We are also incredibly excited to continue growing the team around the world: we are opening up an office in Dublin, Ireland to expand the business internationally. This will just be the start!
Q: What is the best piece of advice/guidance you received when building Sendoso (and/or early in your entrepreneurial journey)? What is one piece of advice you’d pass on to aspiring founders?
Kris: Back in college one thing that I learned when meeting with another entrepreneur was that ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ — it really encompasses some great advice for entrepreneurs who I’ve sometimes seen put their heads fully down to build without thinking about who they are building for (and who they could be building with). It is always worth your time to stay curious and meet good people.
Beyond this, always celebrate the small wins. In the early days of building a company there are a million things for you to worry about which can certainly get overwhelming, and so it’s also important to take time and be very intentional about celebrating your vision, your team, and the hard work you’ve invested to take steps forward. This helps you create a culture of winning and celebrating, which is an incredibly powerful thing to cultivate within an organization. I can still remember the early days when Braydan and I would get ‘happy hour’ at Chipotle, and would grab a beer, chips and guac, and just celebrate together the small wins of the day that would snowball into much bigger things down the road.