20VC: Raising $60M and Not Touching a Dollar of It; The 3 Decisions That Led to a Cash-Flow Positive Business, Why Not Being Able To Fundraise in the Early Days Can Help Build Your Business & What are the First Things To Break in Scaling Orgs with Sameer Shariff, CEO @ Cambly
Posted on 5th August 2022 by hstebbings1
Sameer Shariff is the Co-Founder and CEO @ Cambly, the company that allows you to become fluent faster through one-on-one video chat lessons with native English tutors. To date, Sameer has raised over $60M with Cambly from the best including Jeremy Levine @ Bessemer, Sarah Tavel @ Benchmark, Monashees, YC and more. Prior to founding Cambly, Sameer spent close to 5 years at Google on the Search Quality team and became the Tech Lead of the Search experiments team helping make experimentation a core part of the launch process.
In Today’s Episode with Sameer Sharif We Discuss:
1.) Entry into Startups and Co-Founding Cambly:
How did Sameer make his way into the world of tech with his joining Google straight out of college?
What were the 1-2 biggest takeaways from his time at Google? How did it shape his mindset?
What was the a-ha moment for Sameer with Cambly?
2.) The Trials and Tribulations of Leadership:
What does “high performance” mean to Sameer in business? How has it changed over time?
What are the first things to break in a scaling company?
How do the best companies retain speed and agility with scale?
What are the single biggest hiring mistakes Sameer has made? What did he learn?
3.) The Fundraise that Led to Cash Flow Positive:
Why does Sameer think it was so hard to fundraise for Cambly in the early days?
When they failed to raise their Series A, what 3-4 core decisions did they make to get Cambly to cash flow positive as fast as possible?
How did Sameer communicate their failed fundraising to the team? How did he do this in a way that rallied the troops and did not worry or scare them?
What was the tipping point for fundraising to become much much easier for the company?
Given they have not touched any of their Series A or Series B funds, how does Sameer think about the balance of growth vs profitability?
4.) Marketplace Dynamics 101:
How did Cambly acquire the first 100 customers on the demand side?
What is the most challenging dynamic of Cambly; demand or supply side?
Where does Sameer see most marketplace founders make the biggest mistakes?
What does Sameer know now on the intricacies of marketplace dynamics that he wishes he had known at the beginning?
Items Mentioned In Today’s Episode with Sameer Shariff: