Sramana Mitra: What happens next? You’ve got this hundred or so customers. You’ve got some validation. Were you ready to quit the job?
Cedric Savarese: Yes, we moved to a slightly bigger town but were still in the same area. I was hoping to find other people to help me grow the company. At this point, just by talking to existing customers and getting their input and feedback, I had seen some demand for Salesforce. I was vaguely aware of it, but it wasn’t as huge as it is today.
Salesforce, today, is probably the largest SaaS company in the world. I had some customers who talked to me about it. I looked into it. There were a couple of things that interested me. The first one is that they had a marketplace. Not being a marketer and not having a sales team, it was a no-brainer. If I’m visible on that marketplace, I get the exposure to their customer base. It’s definitely a big advantage for me.
As a developer, I was thinking about how to work with that partner. Some companies make it hard. Some companies make it easy. Salesforce made it really easy. There was no upfront cost. There was plenty of documentation. I was able to build this integration and develop a tool that was more valuable to my customer and get the ad exposure through the marketplace.
Sramana Mitra: What did that do to your customer base? Once you were integrated into Salesforce AppExchange, what was the inflection point in the lead? From a hundred customers’ level, what did that go to after you integrated with Salesforce?
Cedric Savarese: The number of customers has grown steadily over the years. It’s not like there was a huge inflection point. We have thousands of customers and we have hundreds of thousands of people who try out our product when you could get a free trial. At one point, we had a free account. We don’t have that anymore. What Salesforce has done for us is, it brought us different kinds of customers. Before, it was small businesses and individuals. Through Salesforce, now we have Fortune 500 companies and very large organizations.
Sramana Mitra: How do you differentiate vis-a-vis your competitors? When you started, what was the competitive landscape and how did the competitive landscape evolve as you went along?
Cedric Savarese: There’s definitely a lot of competition. There was some competition when I started and more competitors popped up since then. We still find new competitors every other week. That tells me that it’s a big market. There’re a lot of people who have that need to collect data and then process that data easily. Competition is good in that sense. There’re a couple of things that we’ve done to help us differentiate ourselves from our competition.
The first one is what I talked about – Salesforce integration and being able to be in that space and understand that space very well and understand how our customers use Salesforce and what their needs are. Having that kind of first move advantage was good for us because we’ve been able to build an integration that is miles ahead of anything our competitors are doing in that particular space.
The other thing is by the nature of talking to those customers, they have needs that are somewhat different than small businesses, especially around security and privacy of data. We collect sensitive data on their behalf and we want to make sure that we’re handling that data correctly while it’s in our possession. That forced us to raise the bar in terms of how much we invest in security and compliance.
Now we have HIPAA-compliant offering. We have third-party audits. These are things that our competitors don’t have and things that are hard for a new entrant in the market to do.