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Bootstrapping a Big Data Company Using Services: DataSong CEO John Wallace (Part 7)

Posted on Friday, May 2nd 2014

Sramana Mitra: So your system recommends where to move the dollars to?

John Wallace: Correct.

Sramana Mitra: How do you sell this solution? What part of your organization is buying and how is the sales cycle?

John Wallace: I smiled real quick because I think there are different types of CEOs. Some are operationally focused. In my case, I would call myself a selling CEO. Having a quota between undergraduate and graduate school was probably part of that but I love being in front of clients and have them open up. What happens over the years is that the dialog keeps getting higher and higher in the organization. Our dialog is a CMO level dialog.

Sramana Mitra: Where do you start the sales cycle?

John Wallace: It’s typically one of two places. It could be one of the channel managers who has a budget to spend on. Then in a second or third meeting, I don’t think it usually kicks off the process. We end up collaborating quite a bit with the analytics teams in these companies. We come in making a lot of claims. Someone there has to hold us accountable.

Sramana Mitra: They all have analytics teams?

John Wallace: No, somebody that does customer insights or data analysis. We designed the process as a pilot. It’s not like inking your life away with us.

Sramana Mitra: So the analytics team buys?

John Wallace: They don’t fund it. It’s funded by the line of business. The analytics is along for the ride pretty much because our work is very transparent. We’re showing what we’re doing and they’re learning from what we’re doing. The collaboration has been a key to our success. It comes from the services background to say, “Here’s what we’re doing. We’ll show you weekly what the progress is.” If that analytics team has been there on average of five years and there’re five of them, that’s 25 years of experience we need on our camp.

Sramana Mitra: That team is also going to help you go beyond the pilot to a much broader deployment.

John Wallace: That part of the dialog, we need them for sure as champions. At that point, we always meet the head of marketing. When we finish that kind of work, it’s about three months of effort looking at a year of media. This might be $300 to $400 million of marketing spend. That’s usually a pretty interesting data point that makes its way up the chain.

Sramana Mitra: That’s where you get the bigger deal?

John Wallace: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Excellent. What else is interesting in your story?

John Wallace: I have one thing that I think we set aside earlier that I want to pick up on. I don’t think this is unique to us but I’d say we have a pretty high rate of learning. There are things that seemed like forever to figure out that we now take for granted. We are now constantly moving to the next portion of the problem. The problem just does seem to get bigger.

Sramana Mitra: It also productizes as you go along. The best practices get productized and the learnings from the different organization turn into features. It was great talking to you. Thank you.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping a Big Data Company Using Services: DataSong CEO John Wallace
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