Max Rudman, CEO of Prodly of Prodly.
Tell us about yourself?
I guess you could call me a serial entrepreneur.
My first company was SteelBrick, which had a successful outcome—it was sold to Salesforce.
Now I’m back at it with Prodly. I love building things, whether it’s products, companies, or value for customers by solving problems for them. I also really enjoy seeing employees succeed through the opportunities my company gives them to build their careers.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
There’s a prevailing wisdom that founding a startup is easy and glamorous. The media contributes to glamorizing the founder.
You could even say it fosters the cult of the founder. However, at the end of the day, a startup is extremely hard work. So if you’re in it for fame, or even for money, that’s probably a bad reason.
What drives you has to be more—it has to be the passion for whatever it is that you’re doing and building.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
It’s taught me about grit and how to persevere. It’s also taught me the importance of surrounding myself with the right people.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I’d encourage myself to get better at hiring and recruiting. Thanks to my background as an engineer, I’m skilled at building a product.
But to build a company, you also need sales, marketing, and other teams—and no single person is good at all those things. The way to scale a company is by hiring the best people you can find.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
When you’re passionate and driven, it’s hard to compartmentalize.
I’ve grown better at maintaining a good work-life balance over the years because I have a family and friends, but I think about Prodly all the time—almost every waking hour. I don’t know how you can’t.
However, I know it’s important to relax. Fortunately, I like food, wine, and travel. They help me take my mind off Prodly when I have some downtime.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
My first startup influenced Prodly in a number of ways. We uncovered the problem our current product solves in my previous startup.
There was a need for our solution, so we began developing it. My first startup was also a learning experience, as well as a way to hone my recruiting and hiring skills.
I interacted with many different people and learnt what worked and what didn’t. Every hire you make is another signal that builds up your internal database.
The trick is to pattern match. For me, it’s also important to work with great people and bring them along for the journey.
People I previously worked with at SteelBrick and Salesforce like David Clark, our Vice President of Product, have joined me at Prodly.
The better your network is, the more talent you have to draw on. In a broader sense, the story of Salesforce and Marc Benioff in particular has been one of the inspirations behind both of my companies.
Pat Lencioni and his organizational health principles also resonate deeply with me. And more recently, we’ve incorporated many of the principles of “No Rules Rules” by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer into our company.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
My superpower is to find elegant solutions to complex business problems.
The challenges we’re solving right now are important, but they’re the stepping stones to much bigger problems.
And being able to recognize those bigger challenges and find solutions to them is what I do best.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
I think a lot of founders are product-oriented and there’s the tendency to think if you build a great product, customers will come. But that’s not always how it works—certainly not in enterprise software.
Initially, nobody’s going to tell you how to position your product in the market and get it in front of customers.
So in the early stages, before you can hire a dedicated sales team, you have to do it yourself to be successful.
In reality, everything in life is about sales, so I look at it more as a life skill than an entrepreneurial skill.
As an engineer, I’m instinctively quite nuanced, and that doesn’t pair well with selling. However, I’ve become better at it, and I constantly work to improve even more.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
We’re headquartered in Silicon Valley, which still has the highest concentration of talent, startups, and capital.
Although it’s the #1 place to build a startup, that doesn’t mean everyone has to be local—in fact, most of our people aren’t.
Some of our executive leadership is here; plus, we have a global team with employees in the US, Canada, the UK, Malta, Cyprus, and other countries.
But being connected to this amazing, vibrant startup ecosystem is very helpful.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
The high cost of living, which translates into high cost of labor and high payroll.
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
The fact that California is already one of the most expensive states to live in combined with the cost of living crisis has resulted in us having fewer employees in the Golden State.
However, as I mentioned before, we recruit globally, and our team is dispersed throughout multiple countries.
Talent density is one of our main organizational objectives, so we look for the most talented people—no matter where they are.
So far, I believe we’ve been incredibly successful in finding the best of the best, as well as in creating a virtual environment where they can comfortably and successfully work together.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
It’s tough, because there are many giant tech companies we’re competing with for talent. But I think the same dynamics are emerging in other regions.
For example, there’s steep competition for engineers anywhere in the world. To attract them, you have to be as fair and as close to top of market as you can afford.
There’s also an important cultural aspect. Just like the founder of a company shouldn’t be motivated by money, your most successful employees are primarily motivated by a mission, by promoting the impact of the product.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
Because we’re a global company with a dispersed, mostly remote workforce, this doesn’t really apply. I think the hybrid work environment is the future.
At Prodly, we’re creating clusters of employees in the same geographic areas so there can be some in-person interaction coupled with the flexibility of a virtual setup.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
I see a massive opportunity for us given our vision. It depends on how well we execute—and that depends on how well we hire.
I hope that in five years, we’ll be a tremendous success, either as a standalone company or as a successful acquisition that produces financial returns for us as a team and for our investors.
And hopefully we’ll continue to have a lot of fun doing it!
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Visit us at www.prodly.co for more information and a demo, or reach out to us on LinkedIn.
To learn more about what we do, check out the on-demand webinar “DevOps 101 for Salesforce Admins.”
We discuss how Salesforce admins can leverage DevOps to implement, migrate, and release data—plus, how they can make the most of their release management strategy by familiarizing themselves with DevOps capabilities.
The topics we cover include: What exactly DevOps is and why it matters Quick tips for Salesforce admins for leveraging DevOps Why Salesforce admins have traditionally found DevOps challenging to use—and how to change that In the longer term, you can also chat with us in person and see our DevOps products in action at events throughout the year.
We regularly attend Salesforce’s annual TrailblazerDx and Dreamforce conferences in San Francisco, as well as Salesforce World Tours events across the globe.
We have an enthusiastic team of employees who enjoy going to these events and making them not just informative, but also fun experiences for our prospects, customers, and partners.
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