20 min read

30 | RevOps is the Swiss Army Knife of Business with Nabil Jallouli

Feb 6, 2023 2:05:00 PM



1. #1 reason why companies and startups fail is cofounder disagreement.
2. Let people fail and learn, that is the only way for them to grow when managing people. 
RevOps consists of three  main components:
1. Strategy and planning: key revenue and strategic projects
2. Revenue Analytics: precise and total manner of what drove the Business
3. Processes, Systems and Tools: free up from admin work


Nabil Jallouli is co-founder and CEO at Rollstack, a tool to embed data and visualizations in slides and docs. Prior to starting Rollstack, Nabil was the Global Director of RevOps at Deel and prior to that led analytics and strategy and operations teams at Pinterest and Groupon. He graduated from the Ecole Central Paris, the top engineering school in France, with a Masters of Science in Operations Research.

Rollstack is a simple yet powerful chart and visualization tool for slides and docs platforms. Rollstack is adopted by multiple teams ranging from business operations, finance, growth, marketing, analytics and sales who particularly enjoy the massive time gains when building charts, slides, and documents. Rollstack is also backed by Y Combinator.
Connect with our guest, Nabil Jallouli, on LinkedIn



[00:00:00] Islin Munisteri: . Hi, this is this, Islin Munisteri I am the host of the Rev Ops Careers podcast sponsored by Theia Strategies, and I'm excited to have Nabil Jallouli with us.

[00:00:15] Nabil Jallouli: Thank you so much for having me. Great to be here on this show.

[00:00:19] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. So Nabil is founder and c e o at Rollstack a tool to embed data and visualizations in slides and.

[00:00:28] And prior to starting Rollstack, Nabil was global director of Rev Ops offset deal, and prior to that led analytics and strategies and operations teams at Pinterest, Groupon. He graduated from the Cole Central Paris, which is the top engineering school in France of a Master's of Science and Operations Research.

[00:00:46] So, Rollstack which I got a demo of here pretty recently is a simple yet powerful chart and visualization tool for slides and doc platforms. The roll stack is [00:01:00] adopted by multiple teams ranging from business ops, finance, growth, marketing, analytics, and sales who particularly enjoy the massive time gains when building chart slides and documents.

[00:01:10] Roll Stack is also backed by Y Combinator, so it's great to have you. So how did you start your career in Rev ops?

[00:01:21] Nabil Jallouli: Look first of all, thank you so much for having me Islin on this podcast. It is my pleasure to to talk with your community and I'm sure constitute a lot of rev ops people.

[00:01:31] But as, as far as I'm concerned I wouldn't say that I was necessarily predestined, to rev ops. As you correctly mentioned, I have an engineering background in, in math and computer science during my bachelor years and then in operational research and technological innovation during my master's.

[00:01:46] But I started my career in analytics and data science that looked at the time as more of a fit to my background at Groupon, where at the end of my three years and a half there, I was responsible for the analytics and data science teams for [00:02:00] international. During my time there I was actually very much attracted by the commercial applications of data and very much drawn to what I was considering as just the complete opposite side of the spectrum of, my competencies namely in sales and marketing.

[00:02:15] Getting into rev ops was actually for me, a great opportunity to get closer to sales and working alongside some of the most talented sales leaders in the. It was also the chance to get more into the numbers because at the end, Rev Ops alongside sales are some of the teams that are closest to the numbers.

[00:02:37] And having been passionate my whole life about numbers, this felt like a natural home to me. After Groupon I joined Pinterest to lead sales strategy and operations across the biggest international markets prior to joining DL as their global director for rev ops. and with Rollstack I'm actually still staying very close to the Rev Ops community.

[00:02:55] I would say that Rev Ops community is among the ones that I chat with the [00:03:00] most, probably with the, with other teams such as strategy, bis ops, rev ops, growth, marketing, analytics, finance operations and sales. As with Rollstack, we're really building for these profiles and these teams.

[00:03:13] And truly building a product that really caters, as you correctly mentioned earlier, to all teams that are heavy builders of slides and documents, including all those that I just mentioned. In fact, roll stack is a powerful tool for building stunning charts and visualizations for your slides and document.

[00:03:31] With the ability to integrate actually that data directly where it's meant to be presented. So with Roll Stack, we really can easily create professional grade graphics that will impress your audience and make your data stand out. And the platform is just designed to make it very easy and very user friendly and intuitive to, to build those as opposed to some of the native capabilities of the, docs and, and presentation platform.

[00:03:57] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And I guess what was most [00:04:00] powerful about it is that, I don't know if this is in the works cuz I know we, we discussed this, but you're able to bring in data directly via a p i or something like that, from like your c r m, from various data sources. So can you talk more about

[00:04:13] Nabil Jallouli: that?

[00:04:15] Absolutely. So we're actually in the process of building integrations that would allow you to just integrate your data coming from any source, be it BI tool, it CRMs, or even directly from the data warehouse directly into places where data is meant to be presented. So namely presentations and documents.

[00:04:34] I just have those automatically updated that the frequency of your choice. That's absolutely right.

[00:04:41] Islin Munisteri: And is it, is there a HubSpot integration already, or,

[00:04:44] Nabil Jallouli: I love that you mentioned that, because there's actually one that most of, rev ops folks have been asking for, simply because we all know how terrible

[00:04:53] Native, rev ops folks have

[00:04:56] That is definitely something that is in the works and in plans. [00:05:00]

[00:05:00] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. That sounds great. So hopefully we'll get some native from a HubSpot visualization going pretty soon. That's great. And what is your biggest challenge in your current role as a founder and c e o?

[00:05:16] Nabil Jallouli: Yeah, that, is a great question. I think, it's really moving quickly and building and shipping fast. While, all while staying very close to what our customers want. We are very close to our customers and always make sure to engage them in whatever we build. In fact, they have been always the ones that have informed our roadmap.

[00:05:34] And as you correctly mentioned, so HubSpot is actually on one platform that comes really top of the list of the integration. Our customers want. This is an approach actually. The whole team has been, been following prior even to to starting to work together on Roll Stack at other companies in our past roles, either at Tesla and I five from my two co-founders or at Pinterest Groupon for myself.

[00:05:57] So by always, staying open to feedback [00:06:00] and keeping those just short iteration loops shipping and building fast just allows us to to address client needs from multiple angles and at troll stack. I'm actually really blessed to be working with with exceptional co-founders and engineers who truly ship at the speed of to.

[00:06:14] Islin Munisteri: Wow. So I guess what are you, what do you look for or what should you look for in a co-founder when you're starting a company from

[00:06:22] Nabil Jallouli: scratch? Yeah, I think y Combinator has some great advices that have, proven to be true for ourselves as well. We learned the hard way. My twin brother and I my twin brother, being actually one of my true co-founders.

[00:06:39] You know how important it is to just work with people that you already know. Rather than meeting co-founders in an event or in, don't have anything against, all those kind of matchup events. But it just much better to know the person prior, either in the context of work or in the personal [00:07:00] context or even both, if that's possible.

[00:07:02] Even though it's always hard to have all the stars aligned for people to truly engage, together at the right time, at the same time for both or for the three of them. But by knowing the person beforehand, you minimize the risks of just the person churning away from the the projects and the endeavor.

[00:07:22] I'm just going to do something else. Because, simply because, Fights and these agreements are completely normal. And ideally, yeah, you need to have a framework by which you resolve those easily. And I would say that's, same thing holds true for personal relationships as well.

[00:07:40] And. What happens if you already know the person is that, you come back to each other pretty quickly. And that reduces the risk of have just having one of the co-founders leave the company and and that, would essentially put the, just the whole company at risk.

[00:07:57] Can't remember the start top of my head, but [00:08:00] the number one reason why companies. is actually founders disagreement and can't remember if that 40% of, of the of the failures, but it's a pretty big chunk and probably one of the top three reasons why companies fail.

[00:08:15] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. So it's co-founder disagreement.

[00:08:18] Exactly. Wow. That's crazy. I had no idea. And I guess in making that transition from going to more of a executive leader to being like a co-founder, what was your biggest learning experience

[00:08:34] Nabil Jallouli: there? Yeah, that's actually a really good question. I would say it's actually an unlearning experience simply because building roll stack really requires me to unlearn some of the things that I learned working at big corporations.

[00:08:47] In, in fact, at large corporations there are teams handling. Pretty much every part of the business which highly rewards specialization. And also as companies tend to grow, the skillset that they would be [00:09:00] hiring for is around optimization, is around, being very much specialized in, in that given area that you've been hired to, to to do and work on.

[00:09:09] When building a company, it's actually a lot more about understanding multiple aspects of the business. It doesn't mean. It doesn't necessarily help to have a certain specialization. I think it does. But on top of that, you also need to understand multiple aspects of the business and be able to talk with multiple functions and departments and challenge them in the day-to-day.

[00:09:30] Actually, this is something that has always been in my DNA at school I didn't really have a subject preferences, but always liked and really worked on excelling on everything. And so liked that setup. But I think that it's also important to be able to go into the details and going very deep in, in just.

[00:09:50] Building and delivery. Now the another big learning experience was the first time I actually started managing people back six years ago. And I just had a very hard time delegating and letting people [00:10:00] try by themselves. I think that's classic mistake. And I think, even some of the very well known leaders still for some of them, have that even.

[00:10:11] I dunno how many years of management behind them. But, for me it was really that the fact that delegating and letting people try by themselves was difficult sometimes by stress about deadlines and others fearing about the quality of the output. But one important thing that I learned is you have to give people the time and just let them grow into a role.

[00:10:33] And ultimately a leader's role is really to allow. Her or his team to learn and grow in their scopes. And that can only be done by accepting that they will fail and just letting them fail. Sometimes obviously there are setups, again, deadlines being short staffed in a team that pushes, leaders and managers to just roll up their sleeves.

[00:10:56] I think generally you need to let people [00:11:00] fail and learn because that is the only way for them to grow. And it took me, I think at least four months or six months in, into the role to really understand that. But when I understood that, I just, start to, to just allow people to learn themselves.

[00:11:17] Islin Munisteri: Wow. That's a really hard one. The stomach, like letting people learn, like giving them time to learn, in those high stress environments.

[00:11:27] Nabil Jallouli: That's super, absolutely. And it's also a matter of trust, right? Because I think the reason why, you know, you hire someone or someone who's hired in the first place, maybe before.

[00:11:38] Having you manage the team is that, the company believed that they had the abilities to to do well their role. And I don't think that anyone can learn anything just a matter of being in the right setup. Having the right tools and materials to allow them to learn.

[00:11:55] And what mostly important is the attitude, because I think that's something that [00:12:00] unfortunately, is sometimes harder to change. But if the attitude is. Anyone can figure out anything and learn anything for sure.

[00:12:08] Islin Munisteri: Wow, that is quite enlightening. , hope people will Oh especially new managers will give their staff that, that grace to learn.

[00:12:19] And I guess what's the hardest pivoting a bit what, into more of the technical side. What's the hardest thing you've done with your tech?

[00:12:29] Nabil Jallouli: Oh that's a hard one. . I think one, one that that really comes to mind is is when a merger or acquisition or occurs in the life of a and while the intent of the merger acquisition is to drive synergies between companies and add value to each of them.

[00:12:46] With that, Classic saying that one plus one equal three it does create a terrible mess on the data and system sites. Simply because you essentially have two different systems and two different data architecture, two [00:13:00] different data warehouses, two different processes, tools, ways of working.

[00:13:06] Sometimes just, Even sales teams functions and names are different let alone, other departments. Finest teams can be reporting on things differently. Marketing teams can also be reporting on things differently. So there is this huge game of, on the data and backend side of how do we unify and merge the two models into one.

[00:13:34] And the two companies, processes, systems data models records into one. And that is a big challenge because sometimes you just, you don't have any kind of common base. You need to be creative. There is a lot of, data architecture going on in the very large sense of of the term.

[00:13:56] In just thinking about, what is, what common layer can just [00:14:00] encompass both structures, what structures become redundant and which ones need to replace others, what new ones need to be created. But it also means the European records which can be tough, especially when you don't even have, the same keys or record attributes across your two different orgs.

[00:14:22] And that's actually something that I had the the opportunity to, to at multiple occasions in the past and for which I really had to dig deep.

[00:14:31] Islin Munisteri: Wow, that's amazing. We might need to have you on an event talking about that

[00:14:39] Nabil Jallouli: Hopefully I won't have to do that again.

[00:14:42] Islin Munisteri: You're like, no more mergers for me. Okay. And what is your single source of truth in your tech stack?

[00:14:51] Nabil Jallouli: A hundred percent of the data warehouse. And if you're doing anything else, I think that's a huge mistake. I understand that the c r m is where companies [00:15:00] want all their data to be easily accessible. To sales teams and to inform the decision making, which completely makes sense.

[00:15:09] And I've seen actually many companies and talked to to many rev ops folks in, in companies where the c r M is actually the single source of truth. But you need to understand that CRMs are not well equipped to perform all the data engineering and algorithmic techniques needed to get the data.

[00:15:29] Cleaned and transformed. So it is a quick solution for companies that don't have a proper data team in place to just get their data actioned quickly. But that can quickly become a challenge over the long run and as companies start to scale and gotcha. Explaining why we all know these companies actually where people continuously complain about data quality issues, complaining about mismatches in their Salesforce [00:16:00] records, complaining about, numbers not matching between their.

[00:16:05] Tableau or their luer and their sales force, complaining about what they're seeing in maybe their internal tool or their internal system. And then what they're seeing in the c r m. And the main reason I would say, is not having the their warehouse as the single place where all the data is replicated, transformed, cleaned, and then, Fed into the different systems that need to leverage the data in order to make informed decisions and.

[00:16:39] I think as a starting point, companies can have CRMs as their single source of truth, and I'm not clearly not minimizing, the the importance of just having the data easily accessible within companies, especially to sales teams that need to make data driven decisions and just, have all the tools that they need to just be more [00:17:00] productive and to make smart decisions when it comes to managing their books.

[00:17:05] But again, over the long run, I think especially if companies, are thinking ahead having a proper, data strategy in place where data warehouse is the place where everything is processed, I think is definitely what makes sense over the long run. And today, the fact is with the modern data stack, For which, by the way, roll stack aims to bridge the last mile.

[00:17:27] Namely the gap between places where data comes from and consumed and places where it's presented. Just that modern L stack just allows you to to ingest data into your data warehouse, transform it very easily. And uh, days where data storage was expensive are gone now, with.

[00:17:50] I think with all the different data warehouses that we're aware of, data storage has become cheap. And with dbt now transformation is actually also pretty [00:18:00] easy. On the data replication front, there are multiple tools, either the the five trends of the world or the airbus that just allow you to replicate your data also pretty easily.

[00:18:11] And. The I think what's gonna be interesting to, to look at, and this is also the trend, that the troll stack aims to to address is around the data visualization piece. Because if you look at. The value that BI tools have been providing in the past, it was actually a mix across, all these functions that are all now handled directly in the data warehouse, because again, storage is cheap.

[00:18:35] At Tableau, or looker was expected to model the data, was expected to present the data. Sometimes was also expected to integrate with data sources, to ingest data. But now all this can be done in the data warehouse, which means. BI tools are essentially visualization tools. And that's it.

[00:18:54] Period. And now question mark about whether they are truly a fit because you wouldn't [00:19:00] visualize them, you wouldn't present to a leader or a VP or a board out of a BI tool, right? But you do see teams still building a lot of presentations and building documents to because that is the format that is presentable

[00:19:15] now there, unfortunately, the data is not live, and it stales pretty quickly. And this is again where, Allstar comes, comes into play.

[00:19:24] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha, Sounds great. And what's your philosophy on rev ops, on how teams should interact?

[00:19:34] Nabil Jallouli: Yeah, I, like this question because I think you know that as well, but rev ops is often seen as this, the Swiss knife or brain that should answer everything and any question that arises in the business, whether it's.

[00:19:50] Why the performance was down, why 2% yesterday or why, is the closing rate of this team, lower than this one. Or, [00:20:00] can I have the data or, why my system is not working, why my Salesforce is not working? Why am I you know HubSpot doesn't show data why there is a mismatch between my Salesforce and my BI tool, and I pass you the long list of questions that we get as rev ops leaders.

[00:20:17] But Rev Ops, I think is foremost a revenue generation function. And despite not being directly customer facing it is important for every project that rev ops undertakes, to be tied to a revenue goal, because I think ultimately the goal of rev ops is to drive revenue, yet it's not the sales team, that impacts directly revenue, but Rev ops is the coach and at the same time the referee of that sales team.

[00:20:52] This. What I'm saying is true for processes that save seller's time as well as systems [00:21:00] and tools that are put in place in order to increase seller's productivity. But ultimately, I think that any rev activity can have a dollar revenue impact attached to it. And I really think that, companies need to start considering Rev Ops that way.

[00:21:16] I think a lot of companies are not doing so, and I'd really like to think about Rev Ops in kind of, three essential components and three essential blocks. The first one is strategy and planning. So mainly thinking about what should be the key revenue initiatives and the key strategic projects that will enable companies to reach their revenue.

[00:21:42] And their growth targets plan for that accordingly, I think, most rev ops team are probably very happy to have wrapped up the planning phase at the end of last year and now entering more the the execution period. The [00:22:00] second component is around revenue analytics, simply because it is important to have a very.

[00:22:05] Granular level, view of your revenue with all the different breakdowns and slices and dices that allow you to analyze your revenue at any given time and to understand in a very precise and total manner what you know drove a certain performance. So revenue analytics is definitely a key component Rev Ops

[00:22:29] I think and, been talking with other data and rev ops leaders, but we all agreed that it's mistake to have data teams working in, in a silo and separately from rev ops teams simply because you lose that agility and that quick feedback loop in just implementing, new metrics and new operational.

[00:22:50] Definitions and metrics that evolve quickly with your business needs and, lose that, really, that velocity in building strong revenue [00:23:00] reporting. Really successful, companies that I've seen in the past handling the revenue analytics side have been truly incorporating that, that piece within Rev Ops.

[00:23:10] And then the third key component is around processes, systems, and tools that essentially aim to free up time for sellers from all those non-selling activities that sellers hate and call, admin work. Just to automate that as much as possible in order to maximize the time that sellers spend on doing what they do best, which is ultimately being in front of the client and selling.

[00:23:40] So I'll say these are, you know, , the tricky components of of rev ops. Now, rev ops is also a unifying function between marketing and sales simply. We've all been in these debates between marketing and sales and that blaming game around who is to blame or not [00:24:00] hitting revenue goals.

[00:24:02] Yes. Know, with , marketing teams, blaming sellers for not closing enough or not, having the right pitch in front of the client and then, Sellers blaming marketing teams for not giving them enough fleets. Rev ops is, and this is why I said earlier is at the same time, coach and judge so it's really, truly rev ops that is in charge in putting goals that, cut across both org and the unify, both organ at least on, on the goals side.

[00:24:34] And ultimately I think this is truly what drive. Goals, alignment is truly what drives the right behavior and the right execution between both teams. Wow. Just to know what way that resonates with you based on your past experiences.

[00:24:48] Islin Munisteri: Oh, yeah. You definitely have goal alignment between marketing and sales teams.

[00:24:52] It's, and it's always it's always kinda like a ongoing struggle. It seems like the, like someone [00:25:00] doesn't agree that's like an MQL ready to be tossed over. Like, does, another person says it's like we're not ready. In the HubSpot training they say to have some sort of like not a tribunal, but like a board made up of a few executives from marketing and sales to figure out why certain leads were rejected by sales.

[00:25:18] And then talk about it and go

[00:25:20] Nabil Jallouli: from there. Yeah,

[00:25:22] Islin Munisteri: absolutely. And what do you think of when I say the rev ops roadmap?

[00:25:31] Nabil Jallouli: I just think chaos. . Yeah. . But rev Ops for me, again, should really include, those three components that I just mentioned. So including, strategic planning around the key revenue initiatives and the. Revenue goals really broken down at almost the individual level processes and tools to put in place in order to fuel that growth and assist the sales team in in being more productive.

[00:25:57] And then, and by the way [00:26:00] around processes and tools, I think it's really hard nowadays because there are multiple solutions on, in, in the rev space and. And I really think that it's important for companies to to have a true assessment about, whether they need to buy a solution or other to build it in-house.

[00:26:15] If you are buying a slack, I think it's a no-brainer, or, a, a Jira, unless you know you are a Google or a Facebook and where you can build that in-house. It generally makes sense to buy that solution because it's not your core business. But generating revenue is a core competency of any company.

[00:26:39] And, with the I would say multiplication of tools in the space, it became easy for some organizations to just decide. Rev ops is something that they can just buy out of a box, and in, in a solution called Rev Ops that just solves all their problems. . Yeah. And then give them the implementation that they need.

[00:26:57] But it doesn't work like that. And [00:27:00] and the thing is, you need to hire rev ops teams and you need to hire data teams and sometimes, you know, consultants to to help you build those processes in house. I'm not saying that, there are solutions that are important and that drive value and that companies, can't truly build them in-house.

[00:27:21] But I'm, I'm just seeing a lot of companies go down too quickly, the road of buying instead of having a very rigorous assessment of buying versus building now. That put aside brings us to the third element, which is revenue analytics. That also companies need to consider as a key priority because if you don't have, a good understanding of your revenue and a detailed, view of uh, of your numbers, then you're pretty much blinding in driving your business.

[00:27:51] Yeah,

[00:27:52] Islin Munisteri: I agree. I agree with. That's why we got an accounting specialist pretty early on. [00:28:00]

[00:28:01] Nabil Jallouli: Wise Choice. .

[00:28:03] Islin Munisteri: Thank you. And what's, and finally, what's the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self?

[00:28:10] Nabil Jallouli: Yeah. I think in retrospect, I probably would have not changed much in, in terms of company choices as.

[00:28:16] I've always been in the mindset of just learning as much as possible prior to to starting a company. And every time I wanted to join a new company, I always asked myself, whether that. Was in the continuity of of my learning. I would say at Groupon I, truly learned all the mistakes and traps companies fall into while growing fast.

[00:28:32] And it just strikes me, how many companies are still to this day are producing the same mistakes when thinking about growth and expansion. by, expanding geographically before making their operations lean, efficient and just profitable in a small perimeter. But I think those days are over now with the cha in, in, in VC money.

[00:28:51] So we'd probably be seeing, companies come back to that lean operations model and and just, follow the [00:29:00] path of the Airbnbs and the Pinterests of the world. Were really careful each time they wanted to invest in a new market and were always, always had that profitability figure in mind.

[00:29:08] At Pinterest, I really saw how important technological and operational excellence true technology is. I think one, one metric that is overlooked Is enterprise value on number of employees or FTEs. You know, or company value essentially by number of employees or just revenue per employee.

[00:29:24] That truly indicates, you company's ability to grow without hiring. And if you look at, if you look at benchmark companies based on that metric, you'd be surprised how, companies stuck up. And I think Pinterest would be pretty highly ranked on that list. Alongside, obviously, the Googles and Facebook's of the world.

[00:29:43] My real advice and my big advice would be just to, to think more long term. Of course it's easier said than done because when you're right out of university, all you think of is starting to make your first buck. Sometimes, the short-term. Choice hinders the long-term perspective.[00:30:00]

[00:30:00] And and I think again as a young person, you don't necessarily think in, in 10 years timeframe, let alone five years timeframe. Actually think more in, in one year, in six months, in, in two years max. Yeah, just having a more long-term perspective and each time before making any choice or career choice, thinking about how that serves that long-term perspective and vision that you have.

[00:30:28] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. And I guess do we have anything else that you want to mention on the podcast?

[00:30:32] Nabil Jallouli: Yes. No, that I think the, your questions were, were amazing. It really covers pretty well rev ops to your audience. And one thing that I would love to say is is Happy New Year to everyone listening and to you Islin as well.

[00:30:44] I wish you all the best and for me last year and ended up fortunately with a pretty sad event, I lost my grandma that I was very close to. And those moments. Not want to finish the podcast on a sad note, but but rather on, on a good note because I think those moments just [00:31:00] reminds you that to spend more time with your loved ones and and to also, look forward to all those happy events that, that hopefully all of you will have in 2023.

[00:31:08] Yeah, we should all are very happy healthy cuz it's very important and And, hopefully for you the ability to achieve all your projects and and dreams.

[00:31:19] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. Cool. Thank you very much Nabil we'll have the podcast live soon. Thanks.

[00:31:25] Nabil Jallouli: Thank you. It was great chatting with you.

[00:31:27] Thanks for having me again. Bye-Bye.

Islin Munisteri

Written by Islin Munisteri