#274 - Ryan Falkenberg, CEO CLEVVA - on becoming a magnet for the right customers and partners

A story about the big lessons learned in the past five years - and how that changed everything.

This podcast interview focuses on exploring the biggest business lessons learned after our last podcast interview 5 years ago. My guest is Ryan Falkenberg, Co-founder and Co-CEO of CLEVVA.

Ryan has always been fascinated by what makes people tick and what makes them perform optimally. He’s been frustrated at the slow pace of change when it comes to education and learning. To address that, he created a learning consultancy, Hi-Performance Learning, that aimed to push the boundaries of organizational learning through e-learning, gamification, and expert systems.

To then remove the constraints by tech. bandwidth, he founded CUDA Technologies.

Yet no matter how they optimized formal learning, a core problem remained. People still had to memorize and repeat complex decision formulas in a world that was accelerating. It was time for a complete rethink. This was the starting point for CLEVVA back in June 2011. In the meantime, CLEVVA has been in business for well over 12 years, and five years have passed since Ryan was on my podcast last.

This interview inspired me in many ways, and parts of it ended up in chapter 1 of my book, “The Remarkable Effect.”  Since so many things happened since I decided to invite Ryan back on my podcast. We explore the big lessons Ryan learned over the last five years. He shares a story about what made him realize they competed for the wrong business in the wrong market. He then explains what he changed from a mindset perspective and how that helped them get remarkable traction in a completely new category – thereby attracting the right customers and the right partners. Last but not least, he shares his experiences in how to create funding freedom for the business – and how that liberates them to do the right thing.

Here’s one of his quotes

We took ownership of the outcome. So we didn’t put on a lens of a Software as a Service company. We put on the lens as a solution as a service company. So we actually then got teams to be able to specialize in these conversations. And so that we could not just say to our customer, here’s the software, I’ll teach you how to build that conversation; we said we will deliver a virtual agent having those conversations, and it will be up and running in four weeks. And we will take ownership of that and be accountable for the performance. And so what changed as well is, is our customers didn’t feel we were having to convince them on our software. What we were showcasing is we actually were selling an outcome, a measurable outcome that would have conversations that mattered. 

During this interview, you will learn four things:

  1. That even if you add significant value, it doesn’t mean it will help you scale 
  2. The importance of clarifying what business you’re really in (and how that changes everything)
  3. How changing one small thing can move you from nice to have to ultra-sticky and mission-critical
  4. When you know the moment is right to build an ecosystem


For more information about the guest from this week:


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.