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Bootstrap First with Services from London, Raise Money Later: Rich Waldron, CEO of Tray.io (Part 6)

Posted on Friday, Jun 26th 2020

Sramana Mitra: Talk to me about your go-to market strategy. What has worked? What turned out to be the repeatable customer acquisition strategy?

Rich Waldron: For a long time, we were relying on partner referrals. To this day, they still make up a healthy portion of our go-to market. To really stand on your own feet, you need to control your own destiny in terms of customer acquisition.

For us, we were really focused on trying to build an inbound model that we can support. That hasn’t been done before in our category. Zappier built a fantastic business that is inbound-driven and does a great job for non-technical users. On the heavyweight side of things, these were selling outbound top-down.

The vision for us was selling bottoms-up. What if someone could land on your website, try the product remotely, and you could scale from there? That was what we set out to do. What worked was building a strategy around the different services that you can connect to.

We found that people would be looking for connecting services. We heavily index and have a great SEO play that has performed very well. We partner with a lot of organizations. Over time, we became synonymous with heavyweight enterprise integration or automation.

What worked for us there is starting to build out stories, building out landing pages, building out documents that explained how to do complex automations within different departments, and targeting key users in those areas.

As we scaled, we built out an SDR function. We began to introduce outbound into the model but our focus has been inbound. It’s been driven by people coming to, bringing demand in, and then expanding the accounts at the other side.

Sramana Mitra: What about competitive positioning? There are all these companies like MuleSoft and Postman who have gone after the integration space in a big way. What did you encounter when you came into the market? How did you position yourself to differentiate?

Rich Waldron: Initially, the market that we saw was extremely underserved. You can define integration into two key categories. One is the iPaaS segment which is Mulesoft, Informatica, and Tipco targeting IT organizations. It’s a heavyweight robust integration platform that is sold to a CIO in a traditional manner.

On the flipside, you would have a number of entrants, of which Zappier is the best in class, where you may be a marketing person or a sales person. You want to do a simple A to B type integration and you’re able to do it without needing engineering support or additional services.

These companies have grown and they’ve taken on more and more SaaS. They’re growing their own data lakes in each department. The integration challenge has grown really big outside of IT. If you think about your sales or marketing function, all of these have a huge number of individual applications, a lot of data, and they’re becoming very data-driven.

What you see is these ops individuals who are patching everything and keeping it running and making sure that data is clean. What we observed is that when selling into this type of space, it’s very difficult to go and take on a million-dollar a year Informatica product that requires a lot of additional support and a Java engineering skill set to maintain.

On the flipside, some of the earlier-stage organizations that can support the simpler workflow weren’t built to support some of the challenges that happen in that middle ground. From a technical perspective, they’re very similar to what happens at later stages.

From a competitive perspective, these were people who were pulling engineers from other teams to write code. The challenge is positioning that something like Tray exists and that it can solve these problems. You really have to boil down your messaging. If you go in and say that you can build any workflow on Tray, you’ll overwhelm the prospect.

We started with solving very simple problems within each of these teams. Over time, they would then see that they can peel back and do more and more as a result. That meant that we are able to be very early into a very big opportunity and win some great customers that became vocal over time.

There was more competitors. We see different organizations depending on who we’re selling to. The differentiation and positioning for Tray is very clear. We are a modern automation platform. We can handle extreme throughput. We have large Fortune 50 customers who are doing billions of transactions on us a month. You can sign up on our website and get the kind of experience you would expect with any best-in-class SaaS. That, in itself, is unique. You are able to demonstrate that on a phone call. It’s a very powerful message. It allows you to make it clear where your differentiation lies.

Sramana Mitra: When you bring people into your website through content marketing and SEO and you want people to self-serve, what is the trigger of starting that? What kind of use cases do you bring them in through?

Rich Waldron: Just an enormous breadth of use cases.

Sramana Mitra: Do you not project certain use cases?

Rich Waldron: We do. We have over 500,000 landing pages today. There are different paths in and each one of them has a unique story and a very unique positioning for what you’re able to do and how you do it. As a result, we have a very clear idea when a prospect speaks to an SDR what it is they’re trying to achieve.

We’re able to offer a specialized and clear experience for people as they come through the door. Over time, people are catching on to the fact that being able to introduce this to my organization is really important. They start to find a more high-level use case.

How do I go about automating my experience? We have content that speaks to that. But word of mouth is really powerful here because once you get those initial customers and if they have a good enough experience, they’re in very powerful networks themselves. They will go out and explain the insight that they’ve gained but also why they have an advantage.

That ends up becoming important from a marketing standpoint. It does take time to build it up. In the early days, it was just a combination of us getting out there and getting in front of companies and then using that as a blueprint to serve our own inbound and outbound strategies.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrap First with Services from London, Raise Money Later: Rich Waldron, CEO of Tray.io
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