Founders in Focus: John Ballinger from Goodsign

This month, I’m joined by John Ballinger (Founder and Chief Tree Planting Officer ) from Goodsign.



We’ve recently expanded the coverage for FIF to founders outside our portfolio to help shine a light on the amazing builders in the broader start-up community!  

This month, I’m joined by John Ballinger (Founder and Chief Tree Planting Officer ) from Goodsign. John was previously Co-founder and CTO of AskNicely, a customer experience platform helping over 1,000 businesses globally and their frontline teams deliver great experiences using real-time customer feedback, who have raised over $15m to date from prominent VCs such as Nexus Venture Partners, Blackbird Ventures and Icehouse Ventures. 

John Ballinger.jpg

In this conversation, we explore John’s “whys” for Goodsign, a better way of delivering value to customers and his mission to plant 1,000,000 trees along the way!  

Goodsign’s elevator pitch

Effortless e-signatures that don't cost the earth, we're planting one million trees. 

Where did the inspiration for Goodsign come from?  

John: Out of sheer frustration with the market-leading product. When I tried to use a feature offered and it wasn't available on our plan. That was the final straw. I left the company I had founded and started GoodSign.  

I also wanted to try different ideas around transparency, pricing and social good. E-signatures is a well-established category. If you're going to make any impact, you need to be different on every level.  

There has been a major shift happening in the B2B world with many SaaS companies now embracing usage-based pricing models. What are your thoughts on the key reasons that companies are undergoing this transformation and differences in strategy for optimising compared to traditional subscription models?

John: The largest two companies I can think of today that are usage-based are AWS and Twilio. You can start off spending $5 a month on their services and scale to tens of thousands of dollars. It's brilliant. I've adopted usage-based as a defensive strategy. All large companies have a sales team. These teams are incentivised to sell as much as possible, upfront, for long periods, using complex contracts. Usage-based requires no contracts, no term agreements, and you can get started for $5.  

Usage-based pricing might be the Achilles' heel of large businesses. My intuition says, if you are going to tackle this pricing model, leave the sales team at the front door.  

A distinct advantage of usage-based is the ability to innovate within your product. For example, getting documents signed quickly is a key problem. It would be easy to offer a service that costs 100 credits, to get an important contract signed quicker. Now the cost of a transaction can be matched to the value it provides.  

Goodsign has pledged to plant 1 million trees! What drives you to lead with a purpose-driven culture and to ensure profit and purpose coexists?  

we're on a mission to plant a million trees

John: 1,000,000 - that's a lot of trees. Purpose has a cost, but that cost can still be a line item within your financial accounts. Trees is a line item within the marketing budget. Instead of sending this marketing money to Google or Facebook, it's spent on trying to save the planet. This resonates with people.  

Why did I choose trees? A simple filter I have is to imagine I'm 80. From here, look back at your life and think "what have I done for the world?". For me, I'm scared by global warming. When my time is up, I want to say "I tried to make a difference". More people should try this.  

What is your utopian vision for Goodsign?  

Three things: 

1.     That the founders reading this will find a purpose that they believe in. Something big. Something they can attach a goal to. When your time is up, will you be proud of what you've achieved?  

2.     That their companies become more transparent. GoodSign shares sales revenue, trees planted, customer growth and costs. Today our decisions are simple, but as we go forward we will share those. Transparency puts a very strong filter on the decisions you make. Would you make the same decision if you didn't have to share the outcome?  

3.     We plant 1 million trees on this planet we call home. Make a difference now, join me.  

Learn more about Goodsign.



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