CEO sync | interview with Sagi Rodin - CEO and co-founder of Frontegg
Frontegg, fresh off a 25 million Series A, is pioneering a massive shift in the user management space.
As part of our CEO Sync interview series, Swimm sat down with Sagi Rodin, Frontegg’s CEO and Co-Founder, to learn more about how Frontegg’s end-to-end infrastructure is allowing SaaS providers to implement a wide range of self-served features like power authentication flows, webhooks, onboarding, billing options, and more.
Swimm’s interview with Sagi Rodin
We are excited to share Swimm’s interview with Sagi Rodin, and hear more about this fast-growing company and Sagi’s fascinating personal journey.
Lots of folks out there dream about starting a startup. We’d love to know all about Frontegg, including Frontegg’s backstory.
Aviad Mizrachi and I co-founded Frontegg in 2019. Besides sharing an insatiable passion for innovation, we soon realized that we can only make a difference by venturing out and building a startup from scratch. It was obvious that our offering had to be SaaS-centric since the world was already gravitating towards that space.
We soon entered stealth mode and started working on our secret sauce, aimed at eliminating user management issues that are plaguing SaaS companies to this very day. Drawing inspiration from what Shopify did for eCommerce and Wix for business web pages, we created a plug-and-play solution for companies looking to implement self-served product capabilities within their products.
Together with a few design partners that bought into our vision and initial value proposition, we dug into it. The mission back then was clear - creating a first demonstration of allowing early-stage SaaS startups to bring their product into the market much faster with enterprise-grade quality.
Can you share a bit more about how Frontegg picked its name?
We were looking for a thought-provoking name that wasn’t generic in any way or form. There are many ways to interpret this name. Some people think that we are referring to the product being at the front - since we’re not only providing backend infrastructure but actually full-stack, customer-facing capabilities. Others feel that it’s all about the SaaS egg hatching (just like innovation).
I’m glad to share with you that there is no wrong answer to this question.
The subject of building on experiences is important for all of us: can you share more about the ways in which your previous positions helped give you the experience to get Frontegg to the place “moment” that it is now.
Working at Checkpoint helped us understand the importance of having dynamic authentication flows, ideally with multiple options like Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Social Logins, and more.
Having worked on dozens of modern SaaS applications and as time passed, it got clear that there’s a standardized way apps are presented to end-users and companies. It starts with fundamental authentication flows with advanced features like Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Social Logins, and more. These are the first experiences a customer has within any SaaS product.
But we soon realized that user management goes way beyond authentication. Both Aviad and I have years of full-stack development experience under our belts. We realize the importance of having plug-and-play solutions that eventually allow devs to focus on what matters most - innovation. We know that getting user management requests out of the way fast(er) is extremely important today.
Once we started adding new features to our end-to-end offering, we gained a bird’s-eye view of how SaaS ecosystems work. It was a no-brainer to invest in the user experience, which has to be self-served and multi-tenant by design.
How does Frontegg empower developers?
Developers want to deal with cool stuff and the reality is that they have to deal with a lot of missions that are not at the core of the business for the company, which are also not exciting to work on from a technical point of view. Actually, according to recent research we conducted, developers claim to spend only 20% of their time building core business capabilities.
The idea of not intriguing the minds of our most important assets at a company - our engineers, is absurd. Especially at these times when it’s so hard to find good talent, we don’t want to bring one and then bore them with non-core tasks.
Frontegg frees up developers from dealing with these kinds of repetitive feature requests, and in turn, they can contribute to the most exciting technology the company produces. Developers will tell you that they are far from excited to build more account settings screens. We take care of these common features so your developers can truly innovate and focus on what matters - the core technology.
When you were growing up, what did you imagine growing up to be/do?
As a kid, I had a lot of interests - music, movies, and sports. I’m also a foodie and enjoy cooking food whenever I have a spare moment. But I always looked at personal computers and gaming consoles with extra zest. I really loved technology and was sure that I am going to be involved in one way or another. The internet revolution and rapid digitalization of the software industry fascinated me.
We had floppy discs in the 90s, CDs in the 00s, and now everything is online. These transitions were rapid and changed our usage patterns so drastically that many still fail to realize how dramatic they were in the bigger picture.
I started developing customer-facing websites with ASP 3.0 when I was 15. For me, it has always been about fascinating users with experiences that I’ve built and getting their feedback. I’ve got to witness the evolution of the web during the years as a developer and an executive. Over the last decade, I simply decided that I want to be a part of these tech shifts as an entrepreneur.
Was there a teacher/mentor that had a profound effect on you? Or tell us about advice that has helped shape how you lead your life.
I personally believe that there is something to be learned from all successful executives or powerful influencers. Besides looking up to legendary executives like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and more recently Elon Musk, I have made it a habit to observe how successful people work. They know how to hire the right people to free up time and focus on what matters most - achieving sustainable growth.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career thus far?
I have led engineering and product teams in different constellations, all challenging in their own way. For example, managing R&D in a very low-budget startup is a challenge since every position matters and you have to hire strong talents to make an impact. Managing R&D in large enterprises means dealing with procedures and policies while ensuring compliance with very demanding industry standards.
That being said, I definitely think that starting my own startup is the biggest challenge, especially while also raising 3 small kids with a “minor pandemic period” to top it off. The secret to going through this is definitely having very strong partners on-board. I have my wife and family at home, and my co-founder and Frontegg core-team members at work. Otherwise, this simply cannot work!
What’s your top management tip?
You need to hire the right people from the get-go. When you have hungry and capable professionals working for you, it makes life easier. Scaling up is all about strategy and establishing new collaborations, both time-consuming processes.
You don’t have to micromanage all processes when you have capable developers, marketing ninjas, and sales champions handling your ongoing tasks.
What is the book/website/podcast that has most influenced you?
It’s hard to pick one because I read a lot and am influenced by many experts. On the PLG front, there are some very capable influencers I am in touch with. You can find them in our Top PLG Experts to Follow in 2022 list.
On the marketing side, experts like Neil Patel, Seth Godin, Adam Grant, and Rand Fishkin inspire me with their penetrating podcasts, informative blog posts, and social media activity.
What piece of wisdom would you give your 20-year-old self about building a professional career?
You must have heard this before, but people must really work on what they like to do and follow their passion. I personally was a tech-savvy person with a demonstrated knack for coding. That’s what I ended up doing. I could have ignored the distractions and started my business journey a little earlier, but the experience I have amassed over the years is only helping me overcome today's challenges.
Tell us something fun and interesting about what it’s like to work at Frontegg. It could be absolutely anything!
As you already know, we recently announced our $25 million Series A. Frontegg is growing at a rapid pace on all fronts. Our product team is growing fast and some really talented developers have joined us in recent weeks. The same applies to our sales and marketing teams, which are generating unique content at an escalating pace. These trends are expected to continue in 2022 and beyond.
On the social side of things, we are really focused on creating a “work hard, play hard” culture, with true diversity in our workforce. It’s amazing to see everyone working together. Many of the people here joined during the covid quarantines and did not have the chance to meet each other. But our office still has a special vibe with people that are just enjoying spending their time with one another.
Our product is changing the way SaaS companies build their self-served products while also helping them focus on their core tech development. Fasten your seatbelts. Frontegg is now all set to penetrate the US market in 2022. We’ll also be extending our offering and adding many exciting features to our platform.
Huge thanks to Sagi for sharing his story, and Frontegg’s story with us. We look forward to watching Frontegg’s user management platform continue to shape the Product-led growth market.
Stay tuned for more interviews in Swimm’s CEO Sync series. And if your R&D team wants to learn about Continuous Documentation and how to create docs coupled with your code so that your documentation is always up to date and fully integrated into your dev workflow, sign up for a 1:1 demo.