How Zeb Evans Created ClickUp from Lifestyle-Threatening Moments

How Zeb Evans Created ClickUp from Lifestyle-Threatening Moments

Foundr Journal publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s finest entrepreneurs. Our article content highlight vital takeaways from each month’s cover element. We talked with Zeb Evans, cofounder of ClickUp, about disrupting the undertaking management field. Read excerpts from that in-depth dialogue down below. To browse extra, subscribe to the magazine.


The 17-calendar year-old’s hand shook as he elevated the gun to Zeb Evans’ brow. Adrenaline overcome Evans’ overall body as the metallic rubbed against his skin. Then, in that minute of extraordinary uncertainty, he obtained clarity.

His identity didn’t need to have to be defined by a diploma.

“I had that realization when I had the gun pointed to my head—that this is not what I want to do with my life,” Evans says.

Evans was an undergraduate scholar when he was a sufferer of a house invasion theft. The good thing is, he wasn’t harmed, but his foreseeable future had a new outlook.

“[I realized,] I do not want to go do the job for an individual else. I never want to keep on mastering business enterprise, mainly because you study business enterprise by undertaking,” Evans states.

The upcoming working day, Evans dropped out of school and started out doing the job as an entrepreneur. Twelve a long time immediately after the house invasion, Evans is now CEO and co-founder of ClickUp, an all-in-one particular productiveness administration instrument valued at $4 billion.

The robbery wasn’t the only near-demise incident that formed Evans’ journey. Due to the fact that fateful day, Evans has expert a quantity of life-modifying moments that have informed his entrepreneurial path and contributed to his latest operate: disrupting the task administration market with ClickUp.

The Remedy That Grew to become ClickUp

ClickUp begun as a indicates to an conclude. Evans wanted to generate a competitor to Craigslist by making buyer and vendor communications safer. But prior to tackling his following startup job, Evans preferred to solve a productivity dilemma that had bothered him considering that his to start with organization.

“It was just this clusterf**k of efficiency resources. And they were supposed to make you far more effective, but I couldn’t aid but imagine that we had been fewer effective by employing all of these different resources.”

He begun finding out weighty-hitter efficiency platforms like Asana and Trello to see if there had been techniques to unify their solutions. As he and his group commenced developing their tailor made device, they uncovered they weren’t the only kinds discouraged with the highly-priced and sophisticated tech stack necessary for numerous organizations to get up and functioning.

“We considered it was just likely to be an inner resource at 1st, aimed at conserving ourselves time. And then we shifted that to saving the environment time when we realized that there’s a massive want for this.”

In 2017, Evans stopped battling Craigslist and started out building an all-in-a single resolution for efficiency, ClickUp. He established up the business in signature Silicon Valley style: a two-story household the place the compact group labored on the initial ground and slept on the 2nd.

Evans even now misses the speed at which the crew labored on their product in individuals early days. If they determined on a feature to create on Monday, they’d ship it by Sunday.

“It’s all about the product in the early days,” Evans states. “We have been 100 per cent local community-led, 100 % local community-driven, and I was the item person—the only product or service person.”

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The initial variation of ClickUp was constructed in six months making use of $2.5 million from the sale of Evans’s earlier enterprise. To contend with the productivity business institution, the workforce employed an organic Website positioning strategy by focusing on search conditions related with Trello, Asana, and productivity software package.

Evans characteristics ClickUp’s quick progress to the community of customers and their lively involvement in the product’s progress.

“You have to use your buyers,” Evans claims. “You just cannot consider motion on every thing, but you can get motion on the traits, the popular designs that folks constantly bring up.”

Scaling to Billions

ClickUp proved profitable appropriate out of the gate, and the group promptly outgrew its first household/business office place. In 2020, ClickUp was named the most effective task management product or service by Proddys, the gold standard award for the solution administration group.

That is when Evans started reaching out to traders for the first time. Traders had been stunned that ClickUp was not burning dollars and even additional shocked that the business was worthwhile.

“If you can make a rewarding small business at 1st, you know you have a company,” Evans says.

“Too lots of corporations go and get funded, and they do not have a authentic enterprise.”

ClickUp raised funds by a large-web retention model—meaning they anticipated to develop their customer base, and then people consumers would pay back again tenfold.

“When you raise a whole lot of capital, it is Ok to improve inefficiently. But you have to have an understanding of how to [move] toward efficiency,” Evans suggests.

Zeb evans foundr cover
Zeb Evans on the deal with of Foundr Journal issue 112

With a worthwhile model, traders, and energetic buyers, ClickUp has exploded in advancement about the earlier two a long time and now has offices in San Diego, Salt Lake Metropolis, and Dublin.

Evans claims the major problem of ClickUp’s swift rise has been controlling tradition. The crew is 40 p.c remote, but Evans suggests distant communication can only go so much in developing a cultural relationship. That’s why the company delivers the workforce jointly in particular person multiple moments a 12 months and encourages area staff to be in the place of work 2 times a 7 days.

Evans’ other culture preserver is utilizing the company’s core values to mentor employees. “I believe, as the founder, you assume every person sees the vision,” Evans states. “But the reality is individuals require to be reinforced with this stuff extremely usually.”

Evans claims it’s also significant for core values to evolve together with the business.

“You’ve acquired to be Okay with it currently being dynamic,” he suggests. For example, a person of ClickUp’s early values was “progress above perfection.” As the business scaled and its techniques grew to become extra robust, the price was tailored to “progress toward perfection.”

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