Scaling to $100 million ARR: 3 founders share their insights

Last week at TechCrunch Disrupt, Alex Wilhelm hosted a panel titled “Getting to $100 million ARR” on the Extra Crunch Stage. He was joined by three executives, including Vineet Jain, CEO and co-founder at Egnyte, Michal Tsur, president and co-founder at Kaltura and Sid Sijbrandij, CEO at GitLab.

The panelists discussed their path to building successful companies — all of which could go public in the next year or two.

Here are our five favorite takeaways from the panel. These notions should offer founders some inspiration, and perhaps a little guidance as they scale their own startup. After all, $100 million in ARR is merely the pre-IPO milestone. After that things get even harder.

Everyone faces hard times, but you can work through them

Jain told the story of how his company was just two years old in 2013 when he was trying to raise its Series B and facing rejection at every turn. What’s worse, he was at risk of running out of money in 30 days, the startup death knell.

“In 2011, when I was trying to raise a Series B, I had dealt with 13 rejections from Monday morning partner meetings at all the venture firms that I can think of [there] on Sand Hill Road — and I was thinking, ‘Okay, how will I run my payroll?’ I was 30 days out from running out of cash,” Jain said.

A chance breakfast with a VC he knew from a previous venture led to a meeting with his firm, Kleiner Perkins. Jain said he had figured Kleiner wouldn’t be interested in his startup because it was too early-stage, but the friend told him to give it a shot. He got his Series B term sheet later that week.

What worked there? It was key that the VC knew him, believed in him, and, as Jain said, personal reputation matters. In this case it saved Egnyte, now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

On the theme of working through hard times, Kaltura’s Tsur said every startup will face a bad quarter or two, but that the best way to cope was to analyze and fix underlying problems.

“If somebody tells you that they did not have such a quarter, they’re probably lying,” she said.

“I’ve been running products and platforms for most of my time with Kaltura, so I’ve always been looking at it from a product perspective. And you know, ultimately whenever we have plateaued, we look very seriously at whether it’s the market, whether it’s the product, whether it’s the people. And, you know, ultimately, adjust as much as we could,” said Tsur.

It’s not the size of your A round that matters, it’s getting it done