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Raising Funding on AngelList: Contactually CEO Zvi Band (Part 3)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 5th 2017

Sramana Mitra: Artificial intelligence is something I know a lot about. Help me understand algorithmically or heuristically what the software is doing. How do you decide on what you are recommending a sales person to do?

Zvi Band: We have an exact picture of who you know, when was the last time you spoke to them, and all the context around that. Then you train our system. You say, “Over here are my hot leads. Over here are my past clients. These are my investors.” You can apply certain ruleset on top of that. You can say, “In general, I want to talk to all my sales leads once a week.” We make it very easy. We built game mechanics so you can easily categorize people, and we can do that automatically for you.

Then we can say, “We know that Sramana wants to stay in touch with her sales leads once a week, there’s a sales lead over here that she hasn’t actually talked to in 10 days.” Our system will then come up with that proactive notification. The next morning, it will say, “Sramana, you need to talk to Jeff over there. He’s a sales lead that you haven’t spoken to in 10 days. Here’s an email template that you can use. Here’s what he’s posting about on social media. Here are the last 10 things that you’ve talked about and the notes that you’ve recorded.”

Sramana Mitra: You started this company in 2011?

Zvi Band: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What did you start with? What were the conditions? Who was involved besides yourself? How did you build the software?

Zvi Band: Early on, we bootstrapped it. I was running my own consulting firm. I had one developer working for me full-time, and then I had a number of freelancers. I had my full-time developer work with me on the prototype. The prototype looked very different than it does today. It was, in hindsight, a terrible idea. It was a prototype, so it was valuable in that way as it allowed us to learn. The developer ended up becoming my co-founder.

We built the prototype over the course of a weekend and then started showing it to people. The initial feedback was, “I like you but I hate how it works, but you’re onto something. Let me tell you about an issue I have that is somewhat related to what you’re trying to solve.” That was the magic moment. That customer development helped us start to change the product and prototype.

We ended up bringing in a third person knowing that I and my co-founder were developers. I wanted someone who would be more business-oriented. That ended up being my co-founder Tony. The three of us worked on the idea. Jeff and I built it, and Tony trying to do customer development. We bootstrapped it for about four or five months just showing it to friends and continued to work on the prototype. Then we ended up raising in October of 2011. That was our first round of first funding.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Raising Funding on AngelList: Contactually CEO Zvi Band
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