Ross Chaldecott: I Have Experienced First Hand What It’s Like To Grow and Scale Teams and Cultures in Some of the Most Forward Thinking Companies in Tech Today

Ross Chaldecott

Ross Chaldecott of Kinde.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Kinde. I have more than 20 years of experience working in executive design leadership roles at global tech leaders and startups.

Before starting Kinde I was Director of UX at Shopify. Previously I was at Campaign Monitor and Atlassian.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

I think all too many early stage founders get stuck thinking about building a product when they should be thinking about building a company.

Yes, you have to build an amazing product and get really good at GTM, but if you’re not also deliberately building a great culture and the right mechanisms for scale, then in the long run you’re going to struggle to get people to buy into your mission and want to come on the journey with you.

At Kinde we’re building a generational business solving, what we believe, to be one of the biggest problems in tech today.

Every member of our team is here because they care deeply about creating a new reality and doing something that others would consider impossible. You don’t achieve that without looking further than the single product you’re building.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

Every experience in your life leads to what you are supposed to become.

It took me 20 years of learning about Kinde’s problem space and understanding why it sucks for so many people, to finally be able to build a company around it.

Without that time to ferment, we would have a weaker vision and a weaker ability to execute on it. Have patience.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

Having grown up in Atlassian, as we grew from 300 people to an IPO, and then again leading an amazing design group at Shopify, I have experienced first hand what it’s like to grow and scale teams and cultures in some of the most forward thinking companies in tech today.

As we’re trying to build Kinde to be something truly special in this world, a lot of those learnings have really helped to inform the way we think about things.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Learning how to build at scale and cope with the speed of really fast moving companies.

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That’s always challenging and involves discipline in terms of trying to make sure I’m focused on the thing that will make the biggest impact for our company.

This means getting really good at focusing – making sure I do the most important things when they matter – as well as delegating and then creating and space and alignment for the team to do their best work.

Creating an environment where people feel empowered to make decisions and run independently is critical for us to be able to build and move at speed.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Kinde is the result of every one of our founding team experiencing the same problem for too many years and wanting to do something to fix it.

Every time an early stage SaaS founder gets started, they go and build the same key pieces of infrastructure: Authentication and User Management (so that their customers can sign in and sign out of their product), Feature Flags (so that they can control who sees what in the product), Experimentation (so that they can test different product changes with their users), and billing (so that they can charge for their product).

Every single SaaS company we met, and each one of us in our various roles, encountered this same problem.

Where teams are building infrastructure, rather than building their actual products and their product value. And so we wanted to do something to fix that.

Where do you see your business in five years?

Five years out tends to be fairly hypothetical, so we as a company choose to think a lot more about what we can control and what we can impact.

Make the right decisions and build an amazing company and product, the outcome will take care of itself.

This means we focus our energy on building a product that will solve as big a problem as possible, and do that in a beautifully simple way; and building the best growth and acquisition machine possible.

If we can do those two things and make as many customers as possible successful, then we will be successful as a company and make as much impact as possible.

This all stems from building a great team and company culture that will last the next hundred years. The product that we build today may have totally changed in 5 years time, but the culture and discipline are the things we want to last.

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Our purpose as a company is to create a world with more founders – and so we spend a lot of time thinking about how to help more people take their first steps in entrepreneurship.

Today that means helping as many teams to grow and scale great technical products, but in time we hope to be able to help anyone with an idea to turn that into a product.

That’s a longer part of the journey for us. So for us we chose to think both shorter term, and then much longer. Much more interesting than 5 years is 100 years.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

Kinde’s product vision stems from a somewhat heretical view that bundling together SaaS infrastructure into a single horizontal platform will be more powerful and empowering than single products loosely coupled.

We adopt the bundling over unbundling philosophy. But in order to get there we have a lot of product to build. Any powerful horizontal platform is always going to take a lot of investment and lot of effort.

So we’re focusing our energy today on making sure we have the best first wedge possible. A product that will enable and empower our customers enough that they will fall in love with us and want to come along for the rest of our journey.

For us that first wedge is Authentication and User Management, and we’re already seeing a lot of very passionate customers falling in love with the simplicity and elegance of our product, as well as the legendary service that we’re trying to build.

We have a long journey ahead of us but the end result will be a product that redefines infrastructure and becomes a category maker.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

We launched on Product Hunt a little while back and the response was phenomenal. Seeing the result of all our teams effort translate into this one event was awesome.

And clearly Kinde resonated with people. We got featured in the PH newsletter twice and had thousands of people flock to our site and sign up to try Kinde.

That really was such a tangible example in my mind of what we can achieve as a company when we’re all pulling together to bring about something amazing.

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We’ve brought together the most exciting bunch of people I’ve ever worked with and given them a lot of ownership, and the result is a team that is determined and focused on achieving our Mission.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

Any startup has to sell. As a team, and as a founder, it’s a critical part of the job to constantly be selling Kinde. Making sure we spread the word as much as possible.

We do this through both more traditional inbound marketing like social and paid, but also through outbound approaches directly to our audience to make sure as many people as possible hear about us.

We also spend a lot of time building really great content to make sure that we can help as many founders as possible take their first steps on their journey to entrepreneurship.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Starting a company is the hardest thing you will ever do so make sure you’re building something that will make an impact in the universe – then make that your mission.

After that go find a group of people who deeply resonate with that mission and set them loose on it. Remind them of that mission every chance you get. You will be an unstoppable force.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

This business was never about a financial reward for me, it was always about creating as much impact in the world as possible.

This is where our purpose of creating a world with more founders comes into play. We believe that founders are the people who create the biggest change in the world.

They advance humanity more than any others. So for us as a company, and for me personally, the greatest outcome is to enable as many founders as possible to take their first steps on the road to entrepreneurship.

The perfect future is one where Kinde is at the heart of hundreds of thousands of businesses, helping them to change the world for the better. If we can achieve that we will have achieved our purpose.

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