Sramana Mitra: What was your revenue in 2016 that you raised the $20 million against?
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: Over $10 million in annual recurring.
Sramana Mitra: You mentioned something about Argentina. Why Argentina? How did Argentina come into the picture?
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: There are two values that I think helped Quantic Mind. One is persistence. Failure is going to keep happening. The second and the most important one is people. The way we’ve invested with people is trying to go after people who we believe are really smart and who can help us up our game at every step of the way.
In 2014 as we were starting to do the proof of concept, one of our customers had put a message at the Stanford’s email distribution list saying, “I’m starting to build a business. I’m wondering if someone can help me with my digital marketing efforts.” This was as we were collecting feedback for our MVP. This person Diego was like, “Why don’t I give you guys an opportunity? While you guys are developing the product, you can help me in figuring out how digital marketing works.”
We started building the product with feedback from him. We were doing really well for him. He built a Groupon for Argentina and later sold it. He said, “I really like what you are doing. Why don’t we see if there’s a way we can work together?” We said, “We don’t know what you’re going to work on but we think you’re a really smart person. We think we should have you on the team.” We brought him in. Today, we have 40 or 50 people in Argentina.
Sramana Mitra: Awesome.
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: We are 130 with about 40 in Argentina. We’ll go where the people are smart. Even though we are a startup, we have people in five countries and 10 states in the United States. We’ll support that as long as we can because we believe people are the single most important thing.
Sramana Mitra: It’s becoming more common to have people in a very distributed fashion. I’m seeing it everywhere. We operate 100% virtual. It’s very easy to manage these groups.
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: It does take people who are extremely motivated and who have their own gratification tied to the work that they’re doing. The instrumentation that’s available today between Slack and videoconferencing makes physical presence optional.
Sramana Mitra: If you want to build an operation in a remote location, the first guy who’s going to pull that operation together makes all the difference.
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: One of the important things is leadership. That’s one of the critical things. Diego was critical to the company.
Sramana Mitra: What are your plans for 2018?
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: What is really important are two things. One is to create a culture where people are challenged every day and bring the best work that they can. I want to make sure that we can grow. That’s really important.
When people see QuanticMind, people should think that we hire well. The people who work here should be hirable at any company without any second thought. I love the concept of PayPal Mafia. I sure do hope and think about this. I hope there is a QuanticMind mafia 20 years down the lane. That will be extremely gratifying for me. The second piece is from a customer standpoint.
I feel like for sales, you have Salesforce. Marketing teams don’t have that. I don’t know if you’ve seen these marketing tech stacks. It’s crazy. It’s 5,000 companies. If you’ve seen Gartner reports, the CMOs are going to spend more money than the CIOs on software solutions.
Sramana Mitra: MarTech is big market right now.
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: I want to simplify that. Customers have that data in 20 different solutions, it’s never going to work. From a product evolution standpoint, that’s where we’re moving towards. For the company, growth comes from customer acquisition. We’ll be investing a lot in sales and marketing. We’re looking to go international.
Sramana Mitra: Do you believe in raising huge amounts of capital? You’ve already raised $35 million, right?
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Do you plan to raise more?
Chaitanya Chandrasekhar: That depends. At any given point in time, we want to give ourselves the option. If we want to scale on our own, we can scale on our own. If you think where the huge part of capital goes, it’s for new acquisition. That’s what we’re thinking about. Right now, it’s been trying to invest in the sales and marketing efforts.
Sramana Mitra: Excellent story. Thank you for your time.