On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a bit about your role at DataFox and how you got here? (What inspired you to co-found DataFox?)
I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of DataFox. My three co-founders and I were inspired to build DataFox four years ago. We saw first-hand how the explosion of information available to people working in sales, marketing, and investing jobs was making it difficult to be productive at work. We set out to use Artificial Intelligence to help people make better decisions for their business.
Every day, DataFox captures millions of data points about companies and people, and triggers suggestions based on that data right in our customers’ workflows. If you work in marketing or sales, for example, you’ll get to work in the morning with DataFox already having updated essential information in your CRM, and orchestrating your next actions to help you connect to the right people at the right time, close deals and grow your business.
MTS: What sets apart DataFox’s CRM Orchestration platform from the competition?
DataFox helps customers hit and exceed their goals by surfacing essential data through seamless workflow integrations. Our CRM Orchestration platform connects the dots between the information already in your systems and the millions of data points we surface externally, to deliver actionable insights. For example, DataFox might recognize that a key prospect you met six months ago is attending a marketing conference or sales summit in your city in two weeks, and recently ramped up hiring. DataFox delivers this insight via your CRM, email, or even Slack, so you can act on it immediately. This level of multidimensional insight is truly unique in how it can help you achieve your goals.
MTS: What sets DataFox’s Company Signals apart?
With the explosion of business information, it’s harder and harder to surface insights that matter. Just think how noisy Google Alerts become when you turn them on for a company or person you’re trying to keep track of. DataFox’s Company Signals leverages machine learning to monitor millions of companies and people, structuring the business signals you’re actually interested in. Our customers can choose from over 70 signal types, including product launches, funding rounds, key hires, office openings, and more. This is the most targeted way to stay informed about the companies that matter to you.
MTS: Your Conference Intelligence tool seems to have no competition right now, what brought about this development?
Our Conference Intelligence product is a classic example of the success that comes from listening intently to your customers, especially early on in a startup’s life. Many of our early customers were investors and sales reps who despite the world’s migration online, still relied heavily on in-person conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions to meet people, build relationships, and close deals.
Our customers used DataFox to research companies they met at these events. Before long, we started getting requests to help them analyze conference attendees before heading to events, and – better yet – help them decide which events to prioritize in the first place. Over time, our Conference Intelligence product has grown to be the pre-eminent tool for anyone looking to be data-driven in preparing for and doing deals at live conferences. By the way, the conference industry is a $30B business in the US alone – so ignore it at your own peril!
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
In working with our customers, it’s been exciting to discover other AI-based technologies that help sales teams hit and exceed their goals. One area I’m particularly bullish on is technology that helps with sales coaching and forecasting. Call recording companies like Chorus and TalkIQ use machine learning to parse sales calls, delivering suggestions related to each participant’s air time, rebuttals to mentions of competitors, and other information pertaining to common questions. On the forecasting side, InsightSquared is a cool company that analyzes past sales forecasts relative to ultimate outcomes to help managers dial in and enhances the accuracy of their forecasts going forward.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
I think we might see major breakthroughs in generalized AI in the coming years, but for now I think the biggest benefits business leaders can capitalize on are in applied AI, meaning AI developed for specific use-cases. I also think it behooves leaders to realize that your AI is only as good as your data, or said another way, “garbage in garbage out.” So regardless if AI is a 2017, 2018, or 2019 initiative for your business, it will pay to start structuring and cleaning your business data now.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Collaboratively. I work best when surrounded by an amazing team who I know will be able to tackle certain projects much more effectively than I would! I’m happy to play the role of coordinator, filling in any gaps and making sure information is shared efficiently.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Evernote – I take notes on literally everything, and it gives me peace of mind to know that I can always refer back to takeaways from a conversation I had or project I worked on.
Boomerang – I use this Gmail plugin to have my sent emails bounce back to me if they aren’t responded to by a given deadline.
Typinator – a text replacement tool that allows me to save frequently used phrases or templates that I can insert with a short code.
Todoist – my to do list: syncs well between laptop and phone. The first to do list app that has enabled me to stop carrying around a paper version.
Pocket – for saving news articles to read later. Use the Chrome plugin so you can save articles with one click.
Calendly – scheduling tool that helps avoid the hassle of back-and-forths by sharing a link where people can book a time that’s available on your calendar.
MTS: What is your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I love starting the day early. I wake up around 5:45-6am and get to the office by 6:15-6:30am (my office is a 10-minute walk from home). Those first few hours of the day are sacred, I try to move one big project forward and prepare for all the meetings I have coming up that day.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m currently reading Sapiens, about the history of the human race. It’s a fascinating window into the incredible coincidence that mankind has developed this way and made it this far.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A culture of transparency is a powerful way to motivate employees. I’ve gone way beyond what felt natural to me, to foster a spirit of openness and information-sharing at DataFox. I share our quarterly board decks, we have All Hands meetings every week to highlight successes and challenges facing the company, and I think this has helped build the cohesion and motivation that permeates our team today.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
This isn’t particularly unique, and it’s certainly a double-edged sword, but I’m obsessed with efficiency. Although it can stress out my friends, family, and travel companions, it does allow me to multitask, constantly prioritize, and endeavor to move the most important projects forward.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answer to these questions you would love to read:
Marc Benioff (Salesforce CEO)
MTS: Thank you Bastiaan! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
I’m CEO and Co-Founder of DataFox (www.datafox.com), an Artificial Intelligence platform that provides sales, marketing and investing teams with the insights they need to identify new business opportunities.
Prior to DataFox, I worked as a Growth Equity Investor in Goldman Sachs’ Special Situations Group in London.
DataFox helps industry-leading businesses gain control of customer insights with CRM Orchestration. DataFox’s machine learning and natural language processing algorithms structure data on millions of businesses and deliver reliable insights into the workflows where they’re most needed.
Backed by Goldman Sachs, Green Visor, Google Ventures, and Slack, DataFox is used by high-growth startups and Fortune 500 companies like UPS, Visa, Twilio, and InsightSquared to identify and accelerate business opportunities. For more information, visit www.datafox.com.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.