Foundr Journal publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s best entrepreneurs. Our articles spotlight key takeaways from every month’s cowl function. We talked with Zeb Evans, cofounder of ClickUp, about disrupting the undertaking administration trade. Learn excerpts from that in-depth dialog under. To learn extra, subscribe to the journal.
The 17-year-old’s hand shook as he raised the gun to Zeb Evans’ brow. Adrenaline overwhelmed Evans’ physique because the metallic rubbed towards his pores and skin. Then, in that second of utmost uncertainty, he gained readability.
His identification didn’t should be outlined by a diploma.
“I had that realization after I had the gun pointed to my head—that this isn’t what I need to do with my life,” Evans says.
Evans was an undergraduate scholar when he was a sufferer of a house invasion theft. Luckily, he wasn’t harmed, however his future had a brand new outlook.
“[I realized,] I don’t need to go work for another person. I don’t need to proceed studying enterprise, since you be taught enterprise by doing,” Evans says.
The subsequent day, Evans dropped out of college and began working as an entrepreneur. Twelve years after the house invasion, Evans is now CEO and co-founder of ClickUp, an all-in-one productiveness administration device valued at $4 billion.
The theft wasn’t the one near-death incident that formed Evans’ journey. Since that fateful day, Evans has skilled various life-changing moments which have knowledgeable his entrepreneurial path and contributed to his present work: disrupting the undertaking administration trade with ClickUp.
The Resolution That Turned ClickUp
ClickUp began as a way to an finish. Evans needed to create a competitor to Craigslist by making purchaser and vendor communications safer. However earlier than tackling his subsequent startup undertaking, Evans needed to unravel a productiveness downside that had bothered him since his first enterprise.
“It was simply this clusterf**ok of productiveness instruments. And so they had been alleged to make you extra productive, however I couldn’t assist however assume that we had been much less productive through the use of all of those completely different instruments.”
He began learning heavy-hitter productiveness platforms like Asana and Trello to see if there have been methods to unify their options. As he and his group started constructing their customized device, they found they weren’t the one ones annoyed with the expensive and complex tech stack needed for a lot of companies to stand up and working.
“We thought it was simply going to be an inside device at first, aimed toward saving ourselves time. After which we shifted that to saving the world time as soon as we realized that there’s an enormous want for this.”
In 2017, Evans stopped battling Craigslist and began constructing an all-in-one answer for productiveness, ClickUp. He arrange the enterprise in signature Silicon Valley vogue: a two-story home the place the small group labored on the primary ground and slept on the second.
Evans nonetheless misses the pace at which the group labored on their product in these early days. In the event that they selected a function to construct on Monday, they’d ship it by Sunday.
“It’s all concerning the product within the early days,” Evans says. “We had been 100% community-led, 100% community-driven, and I used to be the product individual—the one product individual.”
The primary model of ClickUp was inbuilt six months utilizing $2.5 million from the sale of Evans’s earlier enterprise. To compete with the productiveness trade institution, the group used an natural search engine optimisation technique by concentrating on search phrases related to Trello, Asana, and productiveness software program.
Evans attributes ClickUp’s quick development to the group of customers and their lively involvement within the product’s growth.
“You must use your customers,” Evans says. “You possibly can’t take motion on all the pieces, however you’ll be able to take motion on the developments, the frequent patterns that individuals constantly convey up.”
Scaling to Billions
ClickUp proved profitable proper out of the gate, and the group rapidly outgrew its authentic home/workplace house. In 2020, ClickUp was named the perfect undertaking administration product by Proddys, the gold commonplace award for the product administration group.
That’s when Evans began reaching out to buyers for the primary time. Traders had been shocked that ClickUp wasn’t burning cash and much more shocked that the corporate was worthwhile.
“In case you can create a worthwhile enterprise at first, you realize you’ve got a enterprise,” Evans says.
“Too many corporations go and get funded, and so they don’t have an actual enterprise.”
ClickUp raised capital via a high-net retention mannequin—which means they anticipated to broaden their buyer base, after which these prospects would pay again tenfold.
“While you elevate a variety of capital, it’s OK to develop inefficiently. However it’s a must to perceive methods to [move] towards effectivity,” Evans says.
With a worthwhile mannequin, buyers, and lively customers, ClickUp has exploded in development over the previous two years and now has workplaces in San Diego, Salt Lake Metropolis, and Dublin.
Evans says the principle problem of ClickUp’s swift rise has been managing tradition. The group is 40 p.c distant, however Evans says distant communication can solely go to date in constructing a cultural connection. That’s why the corporate brings the group collectively in individual a number of occasions a 12 months and encourages native employees to be within the workplace twice every week.
Evans’ different tradition preserver is utilizing the corporate’s core values to teach staff. “I feel, because the founder, you assume everybody sees the imaginative and prescient,” Evans says. “However the actuality is individuals should be bolstered with these items very continuously.”
Evans says it’s additionally essential for core values to evolve alongside the corporate.
“You’ve bought to be OK with it being dynamic,” he says. For instance, considered one of ClickUp’s early values was “progress over perfection.” As the corporate scaled and its techniques turned extra strong, the worth was tailored to “progress towards perfection.”