Sramana Mitra: Why build on top of Salesforce?
John Stewart: We had built our MRP system on top of it when I had the manufacturing company. Salesforce’s ecosystem was really starting to explode. It was everywhere. I knew how to build a services business very well. It seemed to be that it was less specialized than the hardcore engineering services we were doing, which very much fluctuated with the state of the economy versus something like Salesforce, which is constantly in demand.
We went out and specialized in doing SI services for small manufacturers. We were just doing project work. In mid-2011, one of my clients said, “What we really need to do is see where our garbage cans are on the map.” We built the first version of MapAnything in late 2011. We put it on the App Exchange in 2012.
We didn’t really think much about it. It was early 2013 when we decided to rebrand the company from Saber Solutions to CloudBuild software company. At that time, we had three or four software products. No one really knew the other products. MapAnything got more and more popular. Eventually we rebranded from CloudBuild to MapAnything. We’d come in and say, “We’re CloudBuild.” People don’t know us, but people know MapAnything. We changed the name.
Sramana Mitra: What did MapAnything do?
John Stewart: It lets you visualize your Salesforce data on a map. It’s very useful for field sales, territory planning, and field marketing.
Sramana Mitra: You were selling on the Salesforce App Exchange?
John Stewart: Correct. We listed it on the App Exchange in 2012, but there’s a difference between listing something and actively selling it as a software company. In early 2013, we started this transition. In late 2013, it was decided that we were going to start winding down our consulting services business and focusing on software. From 2013 to December 2015 when we took our Series A, we bootstrapped ourselves via services work.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down on your bootstrapping using services period. In our program, we use bootstrapping using services as a core methodology for business building. Tell us a bit more about how that period went. You started this company with four apps in 2010.
John Stewart: No, we didn’t. We started in 2009 as a Salesforce services company. It was in late 2011 that we started putting the product in the App Exchange, but that wasn’t really our primary business. Those products were just there as ancillary to our services business.
Sramana Mitra: How big did the services business get to by that point? When you started doing these software on the side, how big was the services business?
John Stewart: I think maybe $3 million.
Sramana Mitra: How did you find the customers for the services business?
John Stewart: The Salesforce ecosystem is very large. If you’ve got capability, there’s no shortage of work on the Salesforce ecosystem.