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In episode #39, we talk with Jan Niklas, co-founder and CEO of Valuecase, a software that simplifies the collaboration between customer-facing teams and their buyers. Their vision is to redefine how millions of B2B sellers and buyers across the globe interact and close deals.

Valuecase’s Inception

Jan Niklas, co-founder and CEO of Valuecase, shares his rich background in management consulting and data science, which sparked the inception of Valuecase – a platform revolutionizing the collaboration between sales teams and buyers. Valuecase’s vision is to redefine how millions of B2B sellers and buyers across the globe interact and close deals.

Jan Niklas explains that his experience working in management consulting, where he was exposed to large data pools and sales and marketing processes, highlighted a striking difference between the B2C and B2B worlds. In the B2C space, companies have access to vast amounts of customer data and can optimize their engagement and sales processes accordingly. However, in the B2B world, Jan Niklas was shocked by the lack of knowledge about customers and the fragmented nature of the sales process, which often involves multiple stakeholders within a buying organization.

This realization led Jan Niklas and his co-founder, Leonard, to start validating the idea for Valuecase. They conducted extensive outreach, interviewing over 60-80 industry leaders and potential customers, to map out the problem and develop the initial solution concept.


Fundraising and Investor Relationships

Jan Niklas explains that in the early days of Valuecase, raising venture capital was not even a question, as it was a common path for startups in 2020-2021. The founders focused on validating the idea and securing initial development customers before approaching investors.

The fundraising process evolved into a collaborative effort to validate the idea. Jan Niklas emphasizes the importance of carefully planning the investor outreach, targeting the right individuals who can not only provide funding but also become customers or introduce the founders to potential customers.

Jan Niklas learned the value of thorough preparation, including creating a structured list of target investors and understanding why they would be a good fit. He also highlights the power of introductions, as they are often more effective than cold outreach.


Improving LinkedIn Messaging and Redefining Sales

Valuecase’s founders utilized LinkedIn as a key channel for initial customer outreach and validation. Jan Niklas emphasizes the importance of providing value to the reader in messaging, rather than being overly salesy or provocative. He shares examples of successful messaging, such as highlighting the project management nature of B2B sales and the need for better collaboration tools.

As Valuecase’s product evolved, the founders continued to iterate on their messaging, experimenting with A/B testing on platforms like Meta to identify the most effective approaches. Jan Niklas also discusses the challenges faced by B2B companies due to shrinking budgets and centralized decision-making, leading to longer sales cycles. He believes that Valuecase’s collaborative workspace and project management features can help sales teams navigate these challenges and increase their win rates.


Navigating Team Location and Customer Adoption

Jan Niklas has a strong opinion on the importance of having an in-house sales team, rather than outsourcing. He believes that having the sales team in-house and even involving the founders in sales activities, is crucial for learning about the product, customers, and market. He also advocates for having the sales team, and potentially the entire company, co-located in the same office, as he believes this fosters better collaboration and learning.

Valuecase’s journey highlights the symbiotic relationship between early customers and investors. The founders’ ability to secure development customers through their initial outreach efforts helped them attract investment, and the inbound demand they experienced after launching their proper product and announcing their second funding round was a pivotal moment, validating the product’s market fit.


Biggest Wins and Failures

One of the biggest lessons was the importance of staying true to their beliefs and not compromising too much to accommodate others, as this can dilute the founders’ vision. Another challenge was navigating the hiring process, as Jan Niklas found that his previous experience in interviewing at McKinsey did not directly translate to the needs of a startup.

On the wins side, Jan Niklas highlights Valuecase’s ability to adapt quickly to market changes, such as the shift in budgets and decision-making processes due to the economic climate. The company’s agility in raising additional funding and adjusting their messaging and positioning accordingly was a key factor in their success. He also emphasizes the importance of preparation and prioritization, which he believes are crucial for founders to maintain focus and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Overall, Valuecase’s journey showcases the challenges and opportunities of building a B2B SaaS company in a rapidly evolving market. Jan Niklas’s insights on sales, team dynamics, and fundraising provide valuable lessons for other founders navigating similar paths.

Head of Growth,