Why I joined Kustomer
The date was Thursday January 24, 2019 that TechCrunch alerted me to the article: Kustomer nabs $35M to take on Zendesk and Salesforce with its Slack like approach to CRM. The Series C, led by Battery Ventures, with Redpoint Ventures, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures, Social Leverage (Howard Lindzon’s fund) and Cisco Investments also participating, comes just seven months after the company raised a Series B of $26 million. This article caught my eye because of the gravitas of investors and the investment amount.
As a 15-year industry SaaS software veteran, having grown the likes of NetSuite and Mindjet from nothing to over $100M, I am intimately familiar with companies that raise significant amounts of money, but never quite find their footing in the marketplace. Co-Founders Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel have a vision that an omnichannel, single customer view — where customers’ histories and live questions exist together to provide agents the full picture to deal with the customer more efficiently — is more valuable for a company than a Zendesk or a Salesforce. I had to learn more about Kustomer.
The commitment that I made to myself early on in my career was that I would only work for a company in which I would invest my time and possibly my money. That company would have to be unique, different, defensible and desirable. In this case, Kustomer was the only company in the market that had an omnichannel, single timeline to engage with customers. They were different from Zendesk and Salesforce in that Kustomer is a workflow enabled application that encompasses all customer related systems into one application. They are defensible in that they have a four-year head start in the market and a well-funded war chest. They are desirable by customers because, well, customers love Kustomer. I needed to meet the team.
My background is the intersection of SaaS software and business technologies. I reached out to Vikas Bhambri, SVP of Sales and CX and asked for a meeting. Interestingly, he responded to me within a few hours. Within a day or so, I was put into the hiring queue. The initial conversations were intellectually stimulating, reflecting a culture to hire the best, while making the experience as pleasant as possible. Within a few weeks, I had met with the sales leadership and executive teams and was sold on the vision. I had to work at Kustomer.
Of course, the team wouldn’t make their decision on hiring me until the following Monday, so I had a long weekend thinking about Kustomer. The customer list was vast and their stories were filled with benefits like “improving visibility by 100% across channels”, “increasing customer satisfaction” and “40% improvement in response time.” These value propositions are music to my ears.
That Monday came quickly and I was happy to learn I was the new Head of the West. Thinking about the gravitas of the investors, the company stability, the culture and the product, I knew that I made the right decision. I am now a happy member of the Krew at Kustomer.