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Our first 10 years of RD Station and the outlook for the next 10, together with TOTVS

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Our first 10 years of RD Station and the outlook for the next 10, together with TOTVS

We are living in a very special moment. A few days ago, we announced the acquisition of RD Station by TOTVS , the largest transaction by a private software company (SaaS) in Brazil. In this post I want to tell you why we understand that this is a very important framework for the future, not only for the DR, but for our ecosystem as a whole.

Let’s start this story from the beginning …

RD recently completed 10 years of existence. Today, in 2021, we can say that Digital Marketing is already consolidated in the market. It is easy to find companies of all sizes executing Inbound Marketing strategies , structuring the areas of Inside Sales and Customer Success, hiring (and developing) SaaS products.

It is so natural that many find it difficult to imagine what it was like ten years ago. Do you remember what it was like?

TOTVS
RD Station headquarters in Florianópolis.
How RD Station came about
RD was born out of a pain that we, the founders, experienced in previous initiatives. We knew that Digital Marketing was a powerful tool to boost the results of a company, be it B2C or B2B. However, for most people the concepts were very complex. Few professionals understood this environment, especially in the context of SMEs. Big brands “outsourced” this complexity to the few digital agencies at the time, often at exorbitant costs.

In turn, the entire method was still largely based on old advertising precepts. Success was most often measured by vanity metrics (likes, views, media mentions, awards at Cannes) and the model was still based on user / customer disruption driven by large media budgets.
The name “Digitais Results” was something of a manifesto in this context. We understood that Digital Marketing could be much simpler, more accessible and results-oriented. We had the vision that an intuitive and integrated software, driven by a suitable methodology, could be a very important tool for SMEs to grow and prosper in an increasingly digital world.
However, there was no market for what we set out to create. The logic that we used at that time was simple: if we did not try to educate SMEs and spread the concepts and practices of Digital New Zealand Phone Number List that we knew, there would be no demand to capture customers. At that time, no one was looking for Marketing Automation solutions. The search volume for that term in Brazil was zero.
However, we knew of the potential this had to help companies grow in a predictable and scalable way and we worked hard to try to promote these concepts to as many people as possible.

Education as the first pillar
Education has always been the starting point of everything we do. On the company’s zero day we put this blog on the air and began to produce posts, eBooks, webinars, newsletters, etc. When we publicly announced RD Station Marketing, 18 months later, we already had the first tens of thousands of people consuming our content on a monthly basis and acting as the basis for the release of the software.

New-Zealand Phone Number List

Subsequently, we ventured to create our first RD Summit in 2013, when we managed to bring together some 300 of the pioneers in the discussion and implementation of Digital  Gulf Email List Marketing in Brazil. Then we created RD University, we launched a blog and specific initiatives for our partners , we gave life to a new traveling event (RD on the Road), we explored different channels and formats of Digital Marketing, all with the same spirit: trying to generate value through to share knowledge and experiences.

We can say that all these initiatives have evolved a lot and that today, RD Station has its own and very relevant audience: we have more than 1.5 million visitors to our websites and blogs every month, hundreds of thousands of leads generated for our own business and more than 20,000 people attend our events annually.

I want to reinforce that, although we started this movement, today it is much bigger than the DR. We have a large number of people in the market who help us daily in this work of education, evangelization and improvement, which we are happy to call friends after all these years.

The RD team at the opening of the RD Summit 2019, in Florianópolis.
Integrated platform
This educational work helped create a demand that needed to be met. We started months ago, our concern was to find the famous produce market falling into place. We knew that there would be something that would help SMEs to be successful in digital marketing, but we did not know exactly what to offer, how to serve customers, how to sell, how much to charge, etc.

Being an initial group of people in the Product / Engineering area, we are obliged to assume these answers beyond technology. We take a lot of things “by hand” in the first 1-2 years to learn in depth or in profile, given the challenges of two of our clients. In parallel, we are developing software to solve the problems that we would discover. More than that: we create software to cover our own needs, we bet little on Digital Marketing for the growth of our own DR. I looked at RD and two more demanding clients at RD Station.
eid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, said a phrase that became famous: “If you were embarrassed about the first version of your product, you launched it too late.” The first version of RD Station Marketing was very limited, unpolished, and aesthetically questionable. Over the years, we have worked hard to evolve the software, guided primarily by great vision and increasingly by specific feedback from all our customers and partners, who continually challenge us.

In 2018 we took the first step towards our vision of the platform, acquiring PlugCRM, and transforming it into what is now RD Station CRM , a product that has also evolved a lot and has grown more than 15 times in the last two and a half years. We have also replicated the App Store concept to enable and organize third-party software integrations with RD Station . There are over 100 partners offering integrations with us.

Today, the two products have a prominent position and leadership in Brazil, demonstrated by the awards we recently received in various categories of the B2B Stack Awards . There are tens of thousands of users per month who entrust their operations to RD Station, generating 30 billion interactions with their customers per year.

Despite the advances in these 10 years, we continue to invest significantly in research and development. In 2021 alone, more than USD 17 million were invested in our products, in an effort to make them increasingly accessible to newcomers, increasingly broad to cover use cases from the most different industries, and increasingly powerful to satisfy the needs of our most advanced clients, including ourselves.

Partner ecosystem
As we brought our first clients to RD Station, we came across a special type of client: agencies and marketing consultants. At the beginning, they asked us for things like discounts for more than one subscription, flexibility in the exchange of contracts, managing multiple accounts with the same login, among others.

Little by little, we understood that they played a fundamental role in the value chain, helping clients who needed (or preferred) closer guidance and support, as well as providing specific services, such as content creation, campaign management, analysis. and optimizations.

With this achievement, in 2014 we created the first version of our partner program, which has evolved significantly since then. It is a symbiotic relationship between RD – which provides support with software, development of agencies such as companies, training of professionals and some benefits – and allies, who help us with market education, customer acquisition and service offers (increasingly) added value in the upper part of the platform. Today, approximately half of our clients are directly supported by more than 2,000 partners.

However, the most rewarding point of this process was seeing the development of this community. RD helps with various initiatives, but increasingly it is the allies themselves who support and motivate each other to grow. They understood and internalized that the great challenge we have is the formation of the market. They know that the “enemy” is not the agency that is next door, but the old, expensive and inefficient way of doing Marketing and Sales.

RD would not be what it is without these partners and we are very happy to know that we have made a positive contribution to the growth of many people and companies in this ecosystem.

TOTVS
Eric Santos at the RD Summit 2019.
Customer success
The great closeness with the clients from the beginning helped us a lot to understand their main barriers and difficulties and how necessary it was to have different points of contact along the journey to unlock it and help the client expand the results. Although there are cases that we admired in the world of software, whose products were 100% self-service, we embraced the idea of ​​proximity and proactive contact with our customers, so much so that it became a formal value of our cultural code.

This is now recognized as one of RD’s differentials relative to competitors and, as mentioned above, our allies also play a key role in this successful delivery. RD was one of the first companies to adopt and promote the Customer Success movement in Brazil.

Little by little, we also realized that our business model depended on it. Using terms from the SaaS area, we are moving toward a model that favors Lifetime Value (LTV) much more value than First Contract (ACV). More than acquiring logos, we want customers for life. This was a long process that required several adjustments, some of which were very difficult for the organization.

The sustainability of the business model was one of the main factors that allowed us to capture four rounds of investment in venture capital . These resources allowed investments in the product, structure and internal processes, but especially in the DR’s main asset, which are the RDoers.

Talent development
We always give credit to the potential for talent development. The founders have several very positive experiences in this regard, from student organizations since college, to the first companies and startups we got involved in before RD.

In addition, it was a necessity: we did not have market professionals with experience in Inbound Marketing, Inside Sales, Customer Success, SaaS management, among others. We needed to train people. As a result, we always value talent and culture over experience and technical knowledge (should you have to choose). It was a bet that could not be better.

This is perhaps the DR’s greatest legacy to the ecosystem in a few more decades. We have a team of people who are references in the most diverse areas. We also learned how to better work on that partnership with talents over time: on the one hand, we were able to offer development and learning opportunities “out of the curve”. On the other, we are committed to transformation and results within a jointly defined mission, which we internally call Tour of Duty.

This mental model even helps us understand that, although there is an expectation of stability within the deadline of each tour, in the end it gives us an open moment to discuss paths. I am proud to see so many people who were part of the team continue to make a difference in other startups, scale-ups and larger companies, or even entrepreneurs.

RDoers are developed, contribute to expanding our educational initiatives (even outside of Brazil), improve our platform, strengthen our partner ecosystem and help provide success to clients within an efficient and scalable business model. The talents close that virtuous cycle in RD, our flywheel.

TOTVS
RD Station employees at company headquarters, early 2020.
The next 10 years and why we chose TOTVS as a partner
While we can acknowledge the progress of the first 10 years, we understand that we are only at the beginning of this journey. We have an extremely ambitious vision of the future, which contemplates the growth and consolidation of what we already have, the evolution towards a complete platform of growth solutions for SMEs and the international expansion project.

Over the past year, we started a discussion about the possible paths we could take towards this vision. The conversation with TOTVS started in this context. From the first moment they showed how much they understood that RD was a different company in several aspects, and that any model that we were discussing would only make sense if we could preserve those components that make us unique and enhance our existing plan with more access to the market, capital, channels. of distribution, experience and structure.

These were fundamental premises in our agreement. We would maintain autonomy and independence. There are no changes in management, brand, team or product.

We, the founders, remain the partners in front of the business and we are motivated to continue growing and moving towards this vision. TOTVS takes on the role that our investors have played over the years – DGF, Redpoint eVentures, Astella, Endeavor Catalyst, TPG and Riverwood – with whom we will be forever grateful for their trust and support.

On the other hand, we now have a partnership with the largest software company in Brazil , a public company with outstanding leadership, with more than USD 355 million in annual revenues, 50% market share in management solutions in Brazil ( 32% in LATAM), and with systems through which 25% of Brazil’s GDP and 1/3 of the CLT pass each year. It has more than 40 thousand medium-sized companies as clients, a great opportunity for the expansion of our products and also of the services of our partners.

More importantly, TOTVS recognizes the special company that RD is and is making a very significant investment in several respects. For this bet to make sense, they are convinced that it is essential that RD continues to fly and they understand that the best way to achieve this is to accelerate the path we are already on, in the way we already do.

To close this post, I would like to especially thank my co-founder friends Guilherme Lopes, Bruno Ghisi, Pedro Bachiega and André Siqueira , for the great collaboration throughout the trip so far; to our families, for all the support and understanding in the good and difficult times; to our incredible clients and partners who support and trust in our work and surprise us daily with examples of determination and creativity. And finally, to all RDoers (current and past). It is truly a privilege to be able to work with so many good and good people. This achievement belongs to all of us.

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