"400 Emails a Day" (and Then Tell Your Team About Tt). How iDoneThis Gets Stuff Done

iDoneThis Screenshot

First full disclosure - we at Pipedrive are happy users of iDoneThis, a service that provides a simple way to make sure your team members know what everyone is up to - especially useful if your team is growing fast across multiple offices. As a "side benefit" everyone wants to get more and more impressive stuff done.

We got to know the people behind iDoneThis in the 2011 AngelPad batch, and we really like their views on increasing productivity and getting stuff done. So I had a little chat with co-founder Walter Chen to make sure our blog readers don't miss out on this goodness.

You recently closed another investment round for iDoneThis. Firstly congratulations! Any advice on successful fundraising for other entrepreneurs?

There was a point a few months in where I had hit rock bottom.  We'd raised only 2/3 of our round and we were running out of time and money.  I sat down with another entrepreneur who'd looked death in the face and lived to tell the story--he'd raised millions of dollars under arduous circumstances.

He looked me in the eye and in a few words, he got his message across. "400 emails a day," he said.

I didn't take it literally, but the message he conveyed in spirit was powerful.  If you want to raise, it's not about being the best salesman in the world and having the slickest tongue, it's about persistence and dogged determination.  I never sent 400 emails in a single day, but that attitude is what it takes.

I got back into my email and Pipedrive and ground it out.  A few weeks later, we'd not only raised the remainder of our round and hit our fundraising target, we'd nearly doubled it.

What was your fundraising process like? 

iDoneThis pipeline

Every day, I would have 4 websites open at all times: Gmail, AngelList, LinkedIn, and Pipedrive.  I used AngelList and LinkedIn to find investors and figure out how best to contact them.  I used Gmail to contact connections for introductions, follow up with investors, and email with fellow entrepreneurs for help and advice.  I used Pipedrive to manage this whole process.  Pipedrive told me who I'd contacted, who I should reach out to or follow up with, and how I was doing overall.

How did you arrive at a decision to use Pipedrive and what difference did this make, if any?

We chose Pipedrive because it's incredibly simple to use.  We looked at other CRM tools and they were way too complicated.  We looked at other simple productivity tools but they weren't fully-featured enough.

Pipedrive made a huge difference for us, because if you're going to send 400 emails a day, it's vital that you stay organized.  Without Pipedrive, I wouldn't know who I'd received an introduction to and who I needed to get connected with.  And I wouldn't have known who I had and hadn't followed up with.  Pipedrive made it easy for me to systematically track what I was learning about potential investors and then turn it into action.

If I didn't have Pipedrive, it would have been like traveling in a foreign country without a map--I would've been totally lost.

Most of our blog readers are active in sales, not fundraising. Would you like to share any approaches that have worked well for you in sales or business development?

To me, it's all about 400 emails a day.  Follow up relentlessly and without worry of getting rejected.

Leo Widrich, co-founder at Buffer, has a great article on this topic which he calls "ratio thinking."  As Leo puts it, in "whatever you do, try and find the percentage rate you need to succeed, instead of trying to succeed with each individual attempt."  Once you figure out the ratio you need to succeed, then the only thing you need to do is send 400 emails a day.

Any recent productivity tips that have resonated particularly well with yourself or iDoneThis community?

iDoneThis runs on the power of the done list.  The done list is a place where you write down what you've gotten done, not what you have to do.  There's a subtle but powerful psychological effect when you write down your accomplishments for the day and reflect on them--it actually raises your spirits emotionally and inspires you to get more done.

Pipedrive taps into this effect, too.  I used it to track how much money I had committed to our round, and I tried to make that number go up.  When I felt down, I took a look at my pipeline and it showed me how far I'd come, how many great opportunities and investors were still available, and motivated me to keep going.

Finally, what’s next for you and iDoneThis – any news to share?

We're working on making our customers happy -- awesome companies like Zappos, Shopify, and Uber -- and making it super simple to share daily and weekly snippets of what they get done every day.  The next big step for us is to integrate with products like Github, Asana, and even Pipedrive, to share your siloed accomplishments with the whole team.