How to Go From AE to CEO | Kris Rudeegraap

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When at university, Kris got some seed money from the Center for Entrepreneurship to start a business. After that, he went down the Senior Enterprise Accounts Executive path to learn as much as possible about how startups work.  

In the early days, Kris was all about networking. Each week he would choose three or four events from an events website and go and meet people.

He was in sales during the day, and in the evenings, he surrounded himself with inspiring people. He was networking his way to success by finding other potential cofounders, advisors, and mentors. That was his path of getting to understand what he did not know. He learned that anyone and everyone can be an entrepreneur.

He wanted to network with as many people as possible to max out his LinkedIn game and create an environment conducive to others wanting to start companies. 

For Kris, it was all about keeping the momentum going and keeping his mind focused on startups until he felt ready to start his own company. He wanted to have the best problem solution, a good network of people, and a pain point big enough to make him want to make the jump to starting his own company.

Wanting to click a button to make it easier for him to send someone a gift card for Starbucks coffee was an ‘aha’ moment for him. The first version of Sendoso was CoffeeSender.Com. 

It started as a side-business. Then Kris’s friend joined forces with him as the co-founder and started selling the app. Kris was more focused on the product and post-customer side of things. 

After generating a couple of hundred thousand dollars in sales, they moved into the next stage, and Kris quit his job. He soon realized that he needed more than just coffee gift cards to make huge money. So, based on customer feedback and his past pain of trying to do direct mail and gifting, Kris got led to Sendoso. 

Early on, they invested in SDRs and the outbound engine. They planned to have a strong AE to SDR ratio. They still have a strong method for making sure that there are enough meetings to go around as they hire more AEs. 

They invested in the brand, and partnerships were also powerful in the early days. 

Kris’s advice to someone starting their company is to just do it. Don’t hesitate. Just build it and get across the finish line with the first version. Then focus on sales as soon as possible to build momentum. After that, build a team of people who are having fun and loving what they do.

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