In this post of "My First 1000 Users", we will cover the story of Sprinto and how it went from 0 to generating seven figures in annual revenue using word of mouth.
The content of this case study is taken from the podcast episode I recorded with Girish Redekar, the cofounder of Sprinto.
Let's dive in.
How did Girish get the idea of starting Sprinto?
Sprinto is a platform that helps SaaS companies become compliant with frameworks like SOC 2, ISO 27001, HIPAA, GDPR & PCI DSS.
Traditionally getting these compliance cost months of work and thousands of dollars. Sprinto automates this process and gets the work done 10X faster with a fraction of the cost.
Before starting Sprinto, Girish ran a B2B SaaS company, Recruiterbox, and grew it to 2500+ customers. During this phase, he was exposed to the whole problem of obtaining compliance for his company.
Since getting these compliance was a major priority for his company, he got a front-row seat to what compliance meant and how painful it was to obtain them.
Since he didn't have a pleasant experience while acquiring the various compliance, he decided to solve this issue for other companies.
How did Girish build Sprinto's MVP and test his assumptions?
In his previous startup, Girish did not do any validation exercises. This resulted in him building products for three years before finding something the market wanted.
So when starting Sprinto, Girish paid particular attention to validating his idea before building on it.
Girish drew inspiration from the book "The Mom Test" by Rob Fitzpatrick on how to reduce biases when conducting customer interviews.
The book helped him and his team conduct well-rounded interviews.
Sprinto's team conducted many interviews to evaluate whether the problem of obtaining compliance was as widespread and urgent as they had assumed it to be.
The interviews also helped nail down the actual problem owners. They found that since major big clients required compliance before working with a vendor, obtaining compliance was often a revenue blocker and a pressing issue for any founder looking to close a big client.
Girish did not employ any validation practice for his first startup and hence took three years to find a product market fit.
How did Girish get people to accept his ICP research interview requests?
The profile Girish wanted to talk to were startup founders, and since Girish had been a part of the startup community, he reached out to his network for the initial interviews.
He then asked all the initial attendees for references of 3 more people he could talk to.
Warm referrals work way better than cold outreach. This enabled Girish to convert one of every three introductions into a research interview. He kept increasing his circle following this strategy.
Always reach out to your closest network for feedback while building out an idea.
What did Sprinto's MVP look like?
Girish followed a counterintuitive strategy when building his MVP.
Most businesses work with a few beta customers and then build their MVPs based on their feedback. However, Girish realized that the most important stakeholders for his startup were auditors over beta customers.
Sprinto's team used to go to auditors to get their company audited and, in the process, asked many questions to understand how auditing was done.
After a few dozen audits, they started developing a small product version.
The team completed the first audit using a spreadsheet, and towards the end of dozens of audits, they could conduct an audit using their product.
There was a gradual shift where Sprinto's team replaced bits of the spreadsheet's process with parts of their product.
Girish had a fully functional MVP with only 2-3 beta customers using this approach.
The MVP got richer by the number of audits they went through rather than the number of customers they got.
First 100 users
Girish's product was aimed at SaaS founders. Since he was a founder, he found his first few customers within his closest network. He also approached startup communities to spread the word about his product.
Until a year ago, Girish did not have a marketing engine. So the first 100 customers of Sprinto came solely through word of mouth.
For the first 50 customers, Girish did not incentivize the word-of-mouth approach. Founders usually reach out to their fellow founders for potential solutions. Since compliance was a large blocker to revenue and a significant concern for most founders, Sprinto started getting recommended among founders.
Once Sprinto's team realized this was happening, they started giving discounts for customer advocacy. This helped have a compounding effect.
Sprinto solved compliance issues for SaaS founders, so once any founder gained value from using Sprinto, he was more than happy to recommend it to his peers.
Journey beyond 100 customers
Today Sprinto is pulling in a 7 figure annual revenue while working with just a few hundred customers.
Beyond the first 100 customers, the team started working on building a marketing channel.
They slowly started working on a content, SEO, and SEM strategy.
Girish also does podcasts and a few events to spread awareness about his product.
The most important factor about Sprinto is that people search for help with compliance when it becomes a problem for their company. If people search on Google about the issue you are trying to solve, you can start tapping into it through SEO, SEM, and content.
How does Girish approach content and SEO?
A lot of precursor things happen before somebody becomes a potential customer of Sprinto and starts looking for compliance services.
Sprinto's team has mapped out their customer journey, and they plan content to get in front of their potential customers at each stage of the funnel.
For example, they target the queries like
What is SOC 2 compliance?
What does it take to become SOC 2 compliant?
How to find an auditor?
Thus targeting top, middle, and bottom of funnel keywords through their content, helping people move through different awareness stages.
Sprinto's team started implementing their content strategy just six months ago, so they are yet to see substantial results coming from their content.
Other channels that are generating results for Sprinto are SEM and outbound marketing.
Since Sprinto has mapped out its customer journey, they have a clear idea of what kind of content resonates with its potential audience at different awareness stages.
What was the biggest mistake Girish made in his founder journey?
Girish has been the founder of two companies, Recruiterbox and Sprinto.
Sprinto started accepting customers 12 months ago, so it's too early for Girish to identify any significant mistakes he has made during this journey.
But during the early days of Recruiterbox, he was the biggest opposer of SEO and content. His cofounders at Recruiterbox were keen on using SEO and content to grow their startup. Still, Girish argued that since their competitors had bigger pockets, they would always be able to invest more in content to land the top placements on Google. Girish thought SEO and content were a zero-sum game.
Girish's cofounders convinced him to give content marketing a shot, and just by implementing basic SEO practices to his website, Girish immediately started seeing growth in organic traffic.
So one of the biggest mistakes Girish made as a founder was not doing things that were compounding in nature. If Girish had started implementing good content marketing and SEO strategies earlier, his startup could have grown exponentially.
Girish was able to grow Sprinto exponentially using content and word of mouth because of his experience at Recruiterbox.
The Bottom Line
A founder should always be learning from his mistakes. Girish took three years to find a product-market fit for his first startup because he skipped the ICP research and validation stage. He also didn't believe in the power of SEO and content marketing.
But he learned from his mistakes and achieved exponential growth in his second startup by employing good product validation and SEO practices at Sprinto.
Each week, we'll be sending you a new case study like this. No BS. No Fluff. Only actionable insights on how to grow a B2B SaaS from successful examples.