Spero Ventures
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Spero Ventures

Make Your Customers Successful

Sean Behr, Founder & CEO, STRATIM | Season 1, Episode 8

Great companies are built through constant experimentation, learning & iteration

“With both of my last startups, I learned it’s really difficult to get the right product or the right product-market fit on the first try. You learn something along the way, and you tweak a little bit more, and you keep tweaking. Many times, you think, ‘Well, once we get to product-market fit, we’ll stop.’ The truth is that you’re always going to keep experimenting.

Learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can

“STRATIM started out as an on-demand valet parking service called Zirx. When we first launched, we thought we had product-market fit. Our customers loved us, our parking garage vendors loved us, it was wonderful. But we didn’t make any money.

Scaling doesn’t mean following a basic playbook

“Especially when you’re scaling a company, it’s important to always question your assumptions. I remember with Zirx, we assumed all cities would be the same. We thought we could just build a playbook and expand city-by-city following that same outline. That doesn’t work. No two cities were the same. Things that worked well from a customer acquisition or operational standpoint in one city failed miserably in another city.

Authenticity and transparency are critical aspects of leadership

“People don’t often tell you how important authenticity is in order to be a good leader, but it’s obvious when it’s there and when it’s not. When you’re authentic with people, they’ll rally for you. When you’re not authentic, things are much more difficult.

Your role as CEO and founder is to lead by fostering the culture, hiring great people, and setting goals

“The hardest thing about being a founder is that no one tells you how to do it. There is no book called ‘Here’s How to Be a Founder’. So you get to work. And the next day you show up, and there’s still no book, so you keep going.

Put in place core values to codify your culture, not invent it

“By establishing a set of core values, you’re creating an environment where people know what’s expected of them and what’s going to make them successful. I’ve always spent a lot of time on them. They’re a critical part of the company building process.

It’s important to hire people who can quickly adapt, have taken personal risks, and are self-reflective

“You’re going to face challenges throughout your startup. The question is — do you have the right people on the bus to solve these challenges, even the ones that we can’t foresee yet?

  1. Has this person ever taken a leap? I look for people who’ve gone out on a limb for something, because that’s usually a good indicator of success in a startup. The leap they’ve taken can be anything. It can be, ‘I moved across the country,’ or, ‘I quit my job and went back to school.’
  2. Can this person look back at the choices they’ve made and honestly say they’d do something differently? I’m interested in how the person answers the question. I don’t want people who are going to give some fabricated answer that just makes them look good. I’m looking for people who can self-evaluate themselves in an honest way. Because the point here is to determine their authenticity.”

Make your customers successful, not happy

“My team and I always strive to make our customers successful. Notice I’m saying ‘successful,’ and not ‘happy.’ I honestly don’t care how happy our customers are. It’s not my job to make them happy. My job is to make customers successful. I want customers to use STRATIM and get promoted, get a great review, or get a great raise. And the reason why is because they brought in STRATIM that made their company more efficient, lowered their costs, or gave their organization better transparency.

The best way to grow your customer base is to build great products

“You can probably sell somebody on using an inferior product, but eventually they’re going to figure out that it’s an inferior product and not return. What really grows your customer base is that if you solve a really big problem for your customers, they will become your salespeople for you.



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Spero Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm driven to deliver value to shareholders and society.