Interview with Vivek Bhaskaran, Founder and CEO of QuestionPro

Marketing Darwinism spoke to an old friend and associate, Vivek Bhaskaran, Founder and CEO of QuestionPro.

MD: Vivek, some big changes in QuestionPro I see. Can you tell us more?

Vivek: Paul, thanks. Yes, we’ve moved the company to Austin, Texas and are ready for our next large phase of investment and growth. We hit 200 people and I realized that we were no longer the scrappy startup full of hungry, footloose folks. We are now an established brand with world-class talent and as such wanted to find a city that would sustain us as we double revenue and increase the team substantially. Austin has proved to be a perfect location for QP.

MD: Other than the move, what else is new and exciting at QP?

Vivek: Well, we’ve been asked by customers, partners, and users to help them use research, information gathering, and other elements to provide amazing experiences to their customers and ecosystem; as we thought about their feedback, we realized that while twenty years ago, we were a “survey” company, we are now truly a company that facilitates what we call “e(t)” or “experience transformation.” The markets are simply too crowded for any organization to NOT help its customers provide experiences to their customers. We are very happy with this concept, which we see not so much as a pivot but as a continuation of our QP proposition.

MD: Vivek, QuestionPro has a set of “sister” companies that you’ve helped create. Tell us about them.

Vivek: Well, even though we try to be humble, I must say that when I look at the family of companies that I’ve helped build, lead, and grow, I think first of my incredible partners in crime- the team. QuestionPro has people all across the globe- who think about the mothership as well as Ideascale and TryMyUI, both lead by incredible friends and leaders. There are so many synergies in the QP family of companies and each has grown magnificently. We know it’s a combination of hard-work and luck so every day we thank our customers and amazing associates for their contributions to this.

MD: What are some of the factors that aren’t captured in the numbers? Is there some sort of secret sauce?

Vivek: Well, I could say it’s our culture but so many organizations have great cultures. Frankly, I think it’s our business model which has always been predicated on ease of adoption, intense listening, and frictionless service. When your mantra is that you have to shave all friction out of the company in order to do what’s right- at the right price- for tens of thousands of customers then you’ll be successful irrespective of other factors. Well, you do need a great product too!

MD: How does Marketing fit into your growth planning?

Vivek: Throughout our history, we’ve oscillated on this question but now, we take marketing and the marketing community incredibly seriously. In fact, my mentor is a marketer who lives in the Seattle area and he has always beat me up on this matter. We’ve realized that great marketers think about audiences and experiences and worry a bit less about the numbers and ROI. They come from audience and experience. So, yes, we are investing heavily in marketing and it has paid dividends.

MD: Any parting thoughts?

Vivek: Well, I want to leave your readers with just a few thoughts. First, please check out QuestionPro and send me feedback if we don’t wow you. Second, for my fellow founders out there, build the company you want to build not the company that others put pressure on you to build. Finally, simplify always. Nothing else works.

Interview with Dharmesh Godha of Advaiya

Marketing Darwinism met up with Dharmesh Godha of Advaiya to see how the company is progressing and what their next “big bet” is on.

Marketing Darwinism:   Dharmesh, good to chat again.  I know you’ve done a lot with the company over the past several years; give us a refresher on who Advaiya is and what the company stands for.

Dharmesh:  Thanks Paul.  To start with, it’s worth mentioning our tagline here- “Making Technology Work.” While that might sound cliché, we find that the abundance of technology choices and methodologies of implementation actually can conspire to make it difficult for companies to make the optimal bets.  Further, technology by itself doesn’t solve problems, so we work hard to make customers’ technology choices work in their context and in a manner that most befits them. 

We started the company for this reason.  No doubt, along the way, we took some turns, hit a few dead-ends but also found a few amazing areas to focus on.  All companies evolve.  Interestingly, we have come full-circle to a real competency- helping companies digitize in their own contexts and without the orthodoxies often imposed by technology-forward perspectives that don’t recognize that there are multiple paths to success.

So that’s a long way to say that we stand for driving our customers’ growth and success in their own image not in some “perfect state.” We have found that that state doesn’t exist!

Marketing Darwinism: This sounds like “Digital Transformation”.  Is that what you focus on?

Dharmesh: Yes and no.  DT is an amazing phrase but it has come to mean too many things at once.  We look at things in a forward-yet-practical way- start with a particular need a company has- a baby step- and get it right- technically, culturally, and contextually.  Then help the company use success in that one area or workload to change other area, processes, and workloads.  So yes it is transforming companies with digital technologies but it’s not about a “DT” button you can press and voila! -things work. 

Marketing Darwinism: You work with some amazingly successful, big names.  Does that create pressure on the company?

Dharmesh: We work with the largest of the large tech companies and with startups.  We are drawn to challenges and patterns where we can honestly add value.  We also work with a variety of organizations in what are called “traditional” industries.  That’s where most of the work done is and where most people in the country are employed.  We learn amazing things from manufacturing and services companies daily and can then apply these learnings to other companies looking to evolve and hone their offerings.  Yes, the “ways” of large companies can create pressure but we thrive in the cauldron and love every minute of it.

Marketing Darwinism: What are your big bets for 2019 and 2020? What are you most excited about?

Dharmesh: We are incredibly excited about helping companies find new life with the proper use of the amazing Business Applications and Analytics packages  available in the market today.   It was unheard of, even a few years ago, to be able to run complex infrastructure with complex tasks in an agile manner without pitting IT and Business against each other.  We thrive on building internal bridges in our customers and watching them do amazing things.  So, I can say that our big bet for the next 18 month is Business Apps.and Analytics  We also have invested heavily in our “Managed Services” business which is growing rapidly and allowing us to really feel “as one” with many of our customers.

Marketing Darwinism:   We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Marketing.  Two prongs here- what are you doing to help your customers market and how are you using marketing to gain traction?

Dharmesh: Great questions.  We continue to do a lot of work in what we call TMAAS- Technical Marketing-As-A-Service.  We believe that Enterprise technology has to be talked about in a narrative manner that connects value to all aspects of purchase, implementation and tweaking.  We also believe that Brand building and Sales Enablement are connected and we offer that perspective to our customers.

In terms of our own efforts, we gain a lot from events, 1: few executive conclaves, and work of mouth marketing.  Though we are small, we spend considerably in those areas and have been lucky to realize success there.  Increasingly, we co-market with our customers and this also has yielded fruit.

Marketing Darwinism:   Any parting thoughts?

Dharmesh: Thanks so much Paul. We want believe that global delivery models aligned to real value conversations are the keys to success.  We hope to double our size in the next 18 months and are very thankful to our customers, partners, and well-wishers for all their support.

Real Estate, Real AI, Real Value

Submitted article by Romi Mahajan

Chief Commercial Officer, Quantarium

The world of technology is known as much for its hype as it is for its legitimate innovations.  Atone level, this is understandable. Dreamers can only accomplish big things when they dream big and followup on those dreams with supporting rhetoric. At a different level, however, it serves to dupe consumers, customers,and investors into alchemist fantasies that often defy the laws of physics.  What we need, naturally, is a balance.

With AI, and claims about it, we as a community have come to the point where we have to decide if we are okay with “fact-checking.”  Are all claims about AI fair and accurate?  Do all companies that claim to be “doing AI” pass muster in that regard? After all, haven’t many organizations referred to any and all of their “data”initiatives as AI? Have we diluted the term so as to make it meaningless?

Discerning investors have started to kick the AI tires.  Highly skilled Scientists and Engineers increasingly refuse to be beguiled by marketing claims, choosing instead to dig deeply into the code and methodologies surrounding its production before allowing themselves to be recruited by the countless organizations that seek the limited supply of talent. 

Perhaps more relevant, still, is that people in all roles ask one fundamental question:  “Is there any relevant and practical application to the AI work you are doing?”

On all these matters, Quantarium can hold its head high.  From “Real AI” to “Real Applications of AI,”Quantarium is altering and enhancing our notions of what is possible in residential real estate, the world’s single largest asset class.

Take for instance an important but mundane question, likely asked by millions of people every day.  “What is my house worth?”  Several pundits will offer several answers to this question, no doubt.  But, will the answers be accurate and in this case, what does accuracy even mean?  What data goes into the answer?  Do we have all the data we need?  Is it all available? Do the data we collect account for every single aspect of the house that could or should go into the valuation? 

Now take an extrapolation of this question with magnified scale.  Imagine you are the CEO of a large bank that “owns” half-a-million residential mortgages. What is your portfolio worth?  How much risk are you holding in the portfolio?  Are you too exposed in a particular geography or demographic?  Do you have sufficient data and the ability to process and make sense out of it?  Can you do this all with the speed that is called for by regulation and market conditions?

These questions are easy to pose but hard to answer.  Further, while these questions may not seem “sexy,” they underscore the reality of the single biggest source of economic value and for most families the single largest source of equity.  Using AI to drive accuracy, speed, and scale in this market is complex, genuine and incredibly important.Indeed, real AI applied to real industries with real outcomes is the name of the game. Therein lies the balance we seek, the convergence of both the hype and of the reality.

Interview with Christopher Woodrow, CEO of MovieCoin

Marketing Darwinism caught up with Christopher Woodrow, CEO of MovieCoin, an innovative company that tokenizes movie projects and other real assets. By writing these assets to the blockchain and using smart contracts to automate transaction, the company is digitizing the entertainment industry’s inefficient, paper-based supply chain. With its goal to bring significant volumes of new investment capital into the film business by transforming traditional financing processes, MovieCoin is creating “Hollywood 2.0.”

MD:  Christopher, tell us about MovieCoin.  What you have going on seems revolutionary.

Christopher:  Thank you, Paul. We started MovieCoin in 2017 after realizing that blockchain and security tokens had the potential to bring unprecedented levels of transparency and liquidity into the film economy.

Shortly thereafter we started seeking a qualified technical partner who could help bring life to our vision of creating access, unleashing creativity, improving liquidity, and boosting cross-industry collaboration in the entertainment industry. That’s when we met Igor Khmel, founder and CEO at technology development firm BANKEX,  and realized there was tremendous synergy between the two sides. The technology we’re developing sets us up for huge success in 2019 and beyond.

MD:  If we understand properly, there are several components to your business.  Can you shed some light here?

Absolutely. The MovieCoin platform includes a website, wallet, distributed application and mobile application, which enable accredited investors to participate in financing quality feature films initially sourced by MovieCoin’s seasoned media executives and held within the company’s Smart Fund. Investing in this portfolio requires purchasing MovieCoin Smart Fund (“MSF”) security tokens that represent an ownership stake in the Fund. They offer a more liquid means of entry into film financing than traditional methods lacking a secondary market.

A separate cryptocurrency, Moviecoin Tokens, will denominate value for B2B and B2C transactions throughout MovieCoin’s ecosystem. Moviecoin Tokens (“MOV”) are publicly available as a cash substitute that brings more speed and transparency to revenue distribution and tracking. This holistic view of product performance, including revenue shares; licensing ownership; and intellectual property rights, prevents third-parties from holding onto capital owed to investors and talent for longer than necessary.

Over time, the company will also introduce MovieCoin ‘as-a-Service’, inviting major film studios to market their own film and television financing opportunities to a broader audience using MSF tokens. MOV tokens also provide consumer behavior data to help businesses refine their marketing efforts.

MD:  This makes perfect sense. Tell us about the team you’ve assembled to tackle this. 

Well I’m a financer and film producer who has led the production of box office successes including “Black Mass,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” and Academy Award Best Picture, “Birdman.” The company’s broader executive team brings a wealth of experience from investment banking; portfolio management; corporate law; film financing, production and distribution; technology deployment and public company management. Combined with outstanding technologists and marketers, we have a well-rounded team that fundamentally believes in this opportunity to create Hollywood 2.0.

MD:  You refer to your Bankex partnership often.  Can you explain a bit more?

BANKEX is a critical partner in our mission to launch MovieCoin. Igor Khmel, founder and CEO, is a visionary in the world of financial technology who’s created a preeminent bank-as-a-service blockchain-based company. By combining their technical expertise with our inherent knowledge of film financing, production and distribution, this cooperation will be the foundation for MovieCoin’s success.

MD:  Any parting thoughts?

There are several components to our company that, while complex, will act in unison to democratize access, share knowledge, and improve the film and entertainment industry as we know it. I ask anyone who is keen to learn more about MovieCoin to reach out to us via our social channels with all your questions, sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates, or check out the company’s whitepaper

Interview with Joe Martin CEO of CloudFit Software and Kyle Wagner CFO of CloudFit Software

Marketing Darwinism: I’m very interested in CloudFit’s strategy. Can you tell our readers a bit more about it?

JM: Thanks Paul for your affirmation. CloudFit is in the “Managed Digital Transformation” space. What this means specifically is that Digital Transformation is very much a function of embracing the cloud and that migrating your applications and workloads to the cloud is not a “one and done” exercise. Cloud Migration as a concept has to be understand as both a set of generalizable principles but also as a very individual factor as each business has its own priorities and constraints. Our software and services accelerate this journey and allow customers to “migrate, monitor, and measure” their cloud applications.

Marketing Darwinism: Fascinating. So is this mostly about financial savings (since you mentioned acceleration?)

KW: It’s about operational excellence of which a piece is financial savings, a piece is accountability, and a piece is working in the background so that the organization can grow its core business and innovate versus getting all its energies caught up in the transformation itself. As a CFO I think about my peers and their needs but I also think about the roles of the CIO and CEO as they are charged with technology-enabled futures.

Marketing Darwinism: You two boast 4 decades of collective Microsoft experience and your three other Principals add another 4 decades. Wow! Tell me about that.

JM and KW: Microsoft has played a huge role in our collective learning and imagination. We are humbled to have been part of Microsoft’s journey to the forefront of Enterprise Computing, Cloud Services, and related areas. We are proud of the large scale we helped enable. Microsoft and its amazing people continue to be core partners and vectors for our success. Clearly, the customers are our main focus and at times they run hybrid or non-Microsoft environments. As a software and services company we have to both respect the customers’ needs but also remember where we came from!

Marketing Darwinism: You are a young company but have already done a major acquisition. That’s very ambitious. Am I reading this correctly?

JM: Paul thanks for this question. Yes, our acquisition of Composable Systems cemented both our team but also our ongoing and deep relationships with core customers. We are indeed young but are very hungry to add value and wanted to create a force multiplier early. We welcomed not only the revenue and customer streams but also the team and expertise.

KW: I’d like to add to this too. We all have had big company backgrounds as you know; I’ve also had the pleasure to help build one of the fastest growing technology companies in the Northwest and understand the importance of building the right team and equipping them with the right tools from the get-go. We didn’t start CloudFit to be a lifestyle business but instead of grow quickly as a function of our value-add.

Marketing Darwinism: What do your customers say about you?

JM: Paul, thanks for bringing it back to them. We get very favorable reviews from our customers, many of whom consider us as key partners in their Digital Transformation. In the earlier days, we had a few hiccups and we learned from these. We went in with confident humility and have improved our customer story, interaction, and value-delivery each and every day. We hope to continue to improve. But overall we feel very good about this area of our business.

Marketing Darwinism: What’s the “Garden-variety” case for someone to contact CloudFit?

KW and JM: We believe that any organization that knows they want to transform but needs to understand what the journey is and how to do it in a methodical and accountable way while accelerating time to value is a perfect conversation for us. We want to partner with all organizations that are entering this journey and need to connect their Business needs with this IT process. We believe that Managed Digital Transformation is a very large space and is where the puck is going.

Interview with Samir Saluja, Co-Founder of DeriveOne

Marketing Darwinism caught up with Samir Saluja, Co-Founder of DeriveOne and former Microsoft Learning Executive.

Marketing Darwinism: Samir, you left Microsoft to start DeriveOne with your partner Jason Talwar. Tell us about that transition.

Microsoft played a huge role in my development and in my understanding of the needs of customers. It also helped me understand the importance of data and using data for scale. What Jason and I realized is that despite the importance of data in the organizational and business world, most were not conceiving of it correctly or in the most efficient manner. We saw that “data for data’s sake” started becoming the essential mantra for companies and we wanted to help them avoid that trap. Thus we started DeriveOne. We consider Microsoft a key partner so still are in the ecosystem.

Marketing Darwinism: “Data for data’s sake?” What do you mean?

Samir: Data has come to be seen as an important commodity and as such companies are scrambling to ingest it and even hoard it. Ingestion is great but what about digestion? How do you use this data? What about data-overload? What about useless data? What about “fake” data? The point here is that data is not an unalloyed good if not trained on decisions. In fact, we believe you need to look at the decisions first and figure out the data needed based on the decisions not just because “data is good.”

Marketing Darwinism: You have a very varied background. Tell us more about your journey.

Samir: Thanks Paul. I have spent time in the Peace Corp, as an entrepreneur, as a business-owner, as a Microsoft employee and as a volunteer. All of these experiences helped me converge on being who I am today, personally and professionally. The Peace Corp helped me learn to listen, empathize and act. Being an entrepreneur taught me about risk and reward. Microsoft helped me understand the importance scaling through partnerships. DeriveOne has helped me realize the value of focus.

Marketing Darwinism: Why should an organization hire DeriveOne?

Samir: We believe that partnering with our customers in the context of what they need and what their customers need is crucial. We help organizations, medium to large and even some startups, use data to hone and focus their customer segmentation strategy, the cognitive diversity of their teams, and to inculcate the culture of decision-driven data. We believe that methodology matters, eliciting what the true decisions that need to be made is key, and delivering accountability is necessary. We are humbled daily by interest in our company.

Interview with Clement Ifrim, CEO and Co-Founder, Quantarium

Marketing Darwinism: Clement, tell us about Quantarium.

Clement: The company is inspired by insights from Quantum Physics and the potential inherent in applying them to Machine Learning approaches within an A.I. framework. We have organically gathered the analytical methods of fields as far reaching as Quantitative Genetics to build a leading Artificial Intelligence company that enables competitive advantage in vertical industries via advanced predictive and propensity models along with smart decision-engines. To be sure, there remains a lot for Quantarium to accomplish and indeed we have the ambition to match, though we are quite proud of our synthesis to date and the benefits our customers are enjoying each day.

Marketing Darwinism: Can you tell us which verticals you focus on mostly?

Clement: The beauty and peril of A.I. is that it can seemingly apply to everything and that can be intoxicating, thus both market and organizational focus to execute become paramount. Our first salvo is residential Real Estate, a $20 Trillion asset class that represents in a meaningful personal perspective, the most important of all sectors because it constitutes the largest purchase a family ever makes. Quantarium looks at Real Estate from a perspective not only of Data (and there is a lot of Data!) but also of modeling scenarios of what “could” be. For both financial institutions that “own” and service mortgages and for the individuals who own homes, understanding the “deep” economics is very important. From valuations to other analytical models, Quantarium intends to revolutionize the approach and economics.

Marketing Darwinism: Clement, you have a background in large companies like Microsoft, how is it being a CEO of a start-up.

Clement: Thanks for the question. There is nothing headier than building something with world-class people who humble me every day with their vigor and intelligence. At Microsoft, I learned how to manage A+ teams and to think about products and customers at scale. Applying that to the need for speed in the startup world is my biggest challenge and joy.

Marketing Darwinism: Clement, I must ask you this. A.I. has become a “buzz phrase” …how do you distinguish yourself.

Clement: You are certainly correct about that. The technology business is very much about fashion and phraseology. Unfortunately, it is also often about false claims as well. Quantarium’s founders team, with Ph.D’s and accomplished experts in the field, undertook the approach that A.I. is best when it enhances the ability for people to both arrive at a valuable truth in a quicker and more judicious fashion, and then start to predict future truths, or certainties, given the current business exigencies. Quantarium established itself as an A.I. company from the get-go, it’s in our DNA; as a matter of fact, the first platform Quantarium built, QVM/Quantarium Valuation Model relied on M.L./A.I. technologies such as evolutionary programming when “Artificial Intelligence” was not such a buzz phrase yet. Our team consists not only of award winning Mathematicians and Engineers but also of some of the best “technology translators” in the industry. Algorithms and A.I. are indeed assets, however when you add them to the human agency and agility, you get real applications of real A.I.

Marketing Darwinism: What’s in store for Quantarium in the next phase of your growth?

Clement: Good question. While structured as a tridimensional growth approach, with a clear focus on increasing market share, innovation / differentiated I.P. and product expansion, in many ways we’ve been silent for too long. We enjoy genuine, solid relationships with our customers and partners but haven’t “splashed” in the market yet. That has been by design but the time has now come to shout from the rooftops. We’re showing up at conferences like the O’Reilly AI Summit and Strata. While we remain humble and true to ourselves, we are bold at the same time so watch out for us.

About Clement

Clement is Co-Founder and CEO of Quantarium, an Artificial Intelligence company enabling vertical industries via advanced Predictive and Analytic models, and smart decision-ing engines. As the name of the company suggests, inspired by Quantum Physics and fueled by the power and potential of Machine Learning such as synthesizing and leveraging approaches from Quantitative Genetics, towards resolving significant predictive challenges, Clement is an accomplished international professional for leveraging Data Science and A.I. as well as a proven business leader.

With degrees in Computer Science, Clement spent 14 years building large-scale and Enterprise-level software products and services in areas traversing Content Management and Enterprise Search. Responsible for strategy and product development, Clement directed enterprise teams for Microsoft such as SharePoint, and MS Enterprise Search, while building a proven track-record for recruiting and developing teams with exceptional culture. Prior to Microsoft, Clement started and ran several software companies.

Originally hailing from Romania, Clement lives in the Seattle-area with his wife and children. He is actively involved in a variety of philanthropies and applies philosophy to technology as he builds lasting companies.

Digital Transformation is not just for Large Enterprises

Marketing Darwinism caught up with Kathy Visser-May, CMO of Acumatica, the world’s fastest growing Cloud ERP company. Kathy is a celebrated Marketer with experience traversing technology giants like Microsoft and PeopleSoft/Oracle and hyper-growth companies like Acumatica. Recently, she was named a CRN 2018 Woman in the Channel.

MD: Kathy, tell us a bit about Acumatica. We hear about the torrid growth. Any color you can add?

Kathy: Thanks Paul. Acumatica is focused on helping mid-size companies transform their business with a modern system that grows as they grow. The most forward-thinking companies are disrupting themselves to ensure they continue to be the architects of their future. This trend is affecting all industries, it doesn’t matter if you build buildings, manufacture auto parts, sell shoes online; disruption is happening, requiring companies to change how they operate and provide value to customers. As a result, the requirements of a mid market business to be competitive today are as complex as large enterprises were 10 years ago.

We have built a flexible, powerful, and secure platform that offers them speed and scale and connects their business in an end-to-end way. The growth is testament to the quality of the product and our unique licensing and deployment models that enable customers to scale as their business grows.

MD: You emphasize the Channel a great deal at Acumatica. Is it true that you are a 100%- Through-Channel company?

Kathy: For us, the Channel is our lifeblood. These amazing companies sell to and service customers with a deep understanding of their business needs across many industries and geographies. I like to say we don’t compete with our channel, we feed it. My team spends 50%+ of our resources and marketing dollars on creating high quality sales leads for our partners. Partners tell me all the time one of the reasons, in addition to our modern, cloud solution, they love selling Acumatica is because of our commitment to this model. We provide the Channel not only with technical knowledge but sales and implementation support as well. Such harmony is unheard of typically. So, yes, we are 100% Channel.

MD: You mentioned Digital Transformation. What does this mean specifically in the Acumatica context?

We love the phrase Digital Transformation but are also aware of its shortcomings. For many businesses, the phrase implies something arcane and something “other” than what they are doing. But when you inspect the issue, ask the right questions, and find out that these very organizations are migrating to the cloud, digitizing process, and unifying Business and IT, you realize that they are in fact doing Digital Transformation. In our conception, it’s about two things: Operations and Customer Experience. We help Medium-sized companies operate in a manner that allows them to spend their energies engaging with customers and conferring that constantly-improving experience that their rightfully demanding customers ask for. The core concept of the DX journey is that the system at the center of the business must be one that is capable of housing the data needed across the business operations and the ability to provide real-time data and connection across all systems. Systems that house islands of data that have to be synchronized and reconciled are no longer effective in the modern world.

MD: ERP can at times seem “old hat.” What about emerging technologies?

Kathy: There are a few things embedded in this question. For some, the idea of ERP might seem to be yesterday’s news but for growing companies seeking to improve their engagement and experience, ERP can very well be a fresh and new way to approach their business. We are adaptable, flexible, and natively Cloud-based not cumbersome and laborious to implement. Interestingly, emerging technologies, especially AI, are a core pillar of our business. 75% of our resources are technical and we never have and never will stop engineering new products that transform how businesses operate and deliver value to customers.

Interview with Tom Taylor of Blueprint Technologies

Marketing Darwinism met up with Tom Taylor, Managing Director of Blueprint Technologies on his recent trip to NYC. Excerpts from the conversation:

MD: Tom, Blueprint has won award after award for phenomenal growth and customer satisfaction. What’s going on?

Tom: Thanks a ton; we are humbled by the recognition. We believe our success can be attributed to a combination of our unique perspective, drive for innovation, laser focus on the customer, and the quality of our team, our customers, and our partners. We’ve been very agile in addressing market and customer needs – we move quickly and have established a solid track record of delivering superior customer value.

MD: Great. You lead Client Development at Blueprint, tell us about your approach and where Marketing fits in.

Tom: Our approach is very execution-oriented. We hire entrepreneurial doers with amazing track records in industry and surround them with top-notch technologists and delivery professionals to amplify their effectiveness. That’s a core part of the collaborative approach we take at Blueprint – Client Development doesn’t end with the team I lead, it runs across the entire company. At Blueprint, “all hands on deck” really means that everyone aligns around customer value, and delivery excellence.

MD: Marketing?

Tom: We’re constantly refining the sophistication of the handshake between Marketing and Client Development, and investing strategically to really accelerate this. Tight integration between Marketing and Client Development is what will continue to drive momentum and support scale as we continue to grow.

MD: What do you see in the Marketplace?

Tom: We’re lucky to be in the Seattle area, which is at the forefront of a good number of key technology trends. Data Science, AI, Machine Learning, Business Process Automation, Cloud Solutions – all of these are top of mind for many of our customers right now. We often find that while the organizations we work with aspire to these higher order capabilities, they have foundational enablers that need to be addressed at the core infrastructure level around cloud migration, data engineering, modern workforce tool sets, etc. One of Blueprint’s key value propositions is our ability to traverse and up-level the entire organizational capabilities stack from core infrastructure up to customer experience optimization – this allows our customers to achieve wholistic digital transformation rather than just incremental single-point solutions.

Interview with Srivats Srinivasan of Nayamode

I sat down with Srivats Srinivasan, an associate and entrepreneur. Srivats’ company, Nayamode, just acquired a Bay-Area agency called Bluewave. Interesting to see Seattle companies buying Bay Area outfits! I was particularly interested in this because of the role Marketing plays in Digital Transformation- this acquisition was based on Nayamode rounding out its Digital Transformation services.

Some excerpts from the chat …

Marketing Darwinism: Srivats, congratulations on both Nayamode’s success and the recent acquisition of Bluewave. Tell us more about your strategy.

SS: Thanks. We felt strongly that growth and evolution – really our journey to the next phase – required deepening elements of our skill-set as it pertains to the overall rubric of Digital Transformation. In this case, we were enamored with Bluewave’s deep design and visual storytelling track-record and understood that it was a key element in this next phase for us. The strong team and delightful customer base was a wonderful addition too!

Marketing Darwinism: You mentioned Digital Transformation. In your conception, what does it mean exactly?

SS: Yes, we understand that it is a term bandied about, almost in fact too much. In our view, Digital Transformation is about using technology judiciously and in context to create products, processes, and services that enhance and accelerate the best parts of the organization and keep the worst tendencies at bay. Digital Transformation is neither a one-size fits all “thing” nor is it an overnight turn. As with most fundamental shifts, there is a journey required and technology plays only so big a role.

Marketing Darwinism: Nayamode is one of those interesting stories insofar as you’ve grown without really marketing yourself in a broad sense. As Marketers, our readers would love to understand a bit more about your strategy here.

SS: You are no doubt generally correct but we are changing! At the outset, we grew through the sales process, leveraging our connections and experience in Marketing in large organizations, mostly in technology. As we grew, we certainly evolved, but were lucky in that our customers and we created deep partnerships in which as long as we continued to do great work and listen, we remained loyal to each other. Also, we had a bit of the “Cobbler’s Children” problem in which we paid so much attention externally that at times we neglected ourselves. That has changed however. In this phase, very much the most exciting phase in our history as a company, telling our story will be an integral part of the strategy. We are humbled to be included, for instance, in this blog.

Editor’s Note: While in some cases Marketing is an afterthought, we believe that Marketing firms can lead the process of Digital Transformation because of their keen view of the customer and their expertise in pivoting quickly based on business models and customer needs. This traverses the B to B and B to C spaces. We want to hear about other cases of M&A by Marketing companies looking to complete their Digital Transformation portfolios.