Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 24 January 2022
Categories B2B, Technology

Podcast - Interview with Zeb Evans, CEO and Founder of ClickUp

Part of our special series of episodes that we're recording in partnership with the European PR Agency, Tyto, and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Zeb Evans, CEO and Founder of ClickUp.

Part of our special series of episodes that we’re recording in partnership with the European PR Agency, Tyto, and their Own Without Borders podcast. 

Russell Goldsmith and Tyto's founder, Brendon Craigie were joined online from San Diego by Zeb Evans, Founder and CEO of the customisable workplace productivity platform ClickUp.

ClickUp is the leading project management platform that’s helping businesses of all sizes and industries work more efficiently with organisation at the forefront. In December 2020, ClickUp announced $100m Series B funding, meaning they reached a $1bn valuation.

ClickUp is a platform where you can replace all your workplace productivity software with one, where you can work with your teams on projects, tasks, docs and goals.

Zeb said that they promise that ClickUp will save a day every week, by replacing several applications there is a natural efficiency than context switching.

Zeb added that instead of you accommodating the platform, meaning you have to change the way that you work, adapt to the way the software works, at ClickUp ‘you come to us’, and the software works for the way that you want to work.

Zeb explained that they provide coaching on replacing one thing at a time, as they don't necessarily want people replacing everything on day one, as that can be very challenging and unless you're a small company, it's not practical to experience change management like that.

Company Background

Zeb founded ClickUp in 2017.  He said he has been an entrepreneur since he was born, always creating businesses.

It was started with base camp when it was just Zeb and then at the end of that company's lifecycle, they were at about 70 people, and they still had base camp. Along with JIRA for engineering, Asana for lists, Trello for boards, approvals software, Evernote, Google Sheets, Google Docs, To-do lists for personal reminders, Slack and Skype.

He said it was a total mess of productivity applications, and that he couldn’t help but feel less productive by using so many different applications.

So ClickUp was initially created as an internal tool to solve those problems and they began realising that there was a gap in the market in this industry, and their mission for saving themselves time and increasing productivity could serve as a world mission, making everyone more productive and better at utilising time.

Raising Finance

Zeb said that you can build a very sustainable business without raising, although he doesn’t necessarily advocate it, especially if you’re not in a competitive industry. He said if you are, you need to raise if other competitors are doing the same.

Zeb describes that one of the biggest things that he discounts before raising was having access to better talent. You do have that attractiveness from candidates, especially the Silicon Valley ones, he said.

Meeting Richard Branson

Speaking on meeting Richard Branson, Zeb explained that they sat and talked for six hours straight, he asked him a couple of questions at first, one of which being how do you hire people, specifically leaders, what do you look for in leaders?

The answer being; hire the right people for your culture, which is very important because you don't just hire for the experience you've got to hire people that also match your culture, otherwise it's going to be a misfit in the company.

The other question Zeb asked was, how do you know when it's right to focus your time on other things and how can you focus your time?

Branson explained that you have to figure out how not to work. Zeb said that was really good advice for him, because he thinks especially as a founder and as an entrepreneur, you always try to do everything. And even as you scale there's lots of things that he could let go of right now.

Priorities for the Coming Months

Zeb believes they are about 75% of the way there on their vision for ClickUp, and he thinks the next six months or so will see them close to developing that full vision.

Zed explained there's a couple of big pieces of the ecosystem that they don't have today and that they will have over the next few months. One of them includes virtual whiteboarding, a big piece of the productivity ecosystem, being very complementary to ClickUp’s software today.

ClickUp grew from roughly 60 to 600 employees in a year Zeb said, during that period, some things broke down and one of those things was hiring in the engineering department.

He said although their engineering team today is small, much smaller than people might think, they’re playing catch-up, by hiring a lot more engineers and having that maintainability and focus on reliability.

Final Thoughts

Zebs advice goes back to repeating yourself, he said that’s the best guidance he’d give himself early on.

He said instead of saying something once, and assuming a year later that those people still know, repeat, repeat, repeat, especially in your vision and especially in your core values.

Tyto has launched an ebook off the back of this series, it builds on the inspiration behind the series and hopes to inspire leaders of the future. It’s a consolidation of the highlights from the first 15 Unicorn leaders. Growing Without Borders, the unicorn's CEO guide to communication culture is available on Tyto’s website.

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