Interview with Vamshi Mokshagundam, Co-Founder and CEO, Siftery
Tell us about your journey as a tech-entrepreneur. What galvanized your co-founders to build Siftery?
Ayan and I both started our careers in technology just as virtualization and cloud computing were taking shape. As we helped companies understand and adopt these technologies, we had a ring-side view of how they evolved and what drove their success. We picked early the signal of how the emergence of cloud and SaaS models would fundamentally change the way companies buy, build and use software, and over many cups of coffee and conversations, figured out that many of the existing pieces in the ecosystem – from analyst companies to VARs – would no longer be relevant and were ripe for disruption. That’s where our entrepreneurial journey started.
What is the most exciting part about leading a global B2B software tracking platform into 2018?
It’s often mentioned that spend on software and SaaS specifically continues to grow by double-digit percentages each year. What’s less understood is that this spend is increasingly divided into a greater number of solutions (we have a little over 41,000 in our database). We’re really excited about building a platform that can help companies track this new world of SaaS confidently, by having a single source of truth and a dashboard from which they can manage their SaaS licenses.
For starters, it gives us a unique vantage point to view the B2B tech landscape evolving in real-time! More excitingly though, we’re now able to provide our users with a deeper understanding of how effective their software dollars really are and what they can do to make them even more impactful. This is an important part of our mission at Siftery – which is to help businesses better discover, buy and manage their software stacks.
How do you see the convergence of marketing, sales and data analytic technologies influencing B2B ecosystem by 2020?
On the sell-side, we certainly see this convergence in action, with many traditional B2B sales and marketing processes heavily utilizing behavior, technographic and social graphs to be more effective. Predicting intent, scoring lead quality, account-specific messaging are all examples of data-driven processes that are now the norm in the B2B world. Our contrarian view though is that more of the B2b ecosystem, particularly the SMB and mid-market segments, is moving towards a self-service approach where most software and services are bought not sold.
How have software review, recommendations, and tracking platforms converged together with the explosion of new tech solutions?
We don’t believe the convergence has happened yet, with Siftery and a handful of other products at the vanguard all being relatively young. But it’s easy to see what’s driving the need for this – more businesses are investing in more software to automate more business processes than ever, so much so that software-related spend is now the #2 line item on most companies’ budget. Any tools that can help companies optimize this spend for impact, whether they operate at the selection, purchase or post-purchase phase are useful, but a platform that can work across all three phases is so much more valuable.
Which industries are particularly keen on leveraging real-time tech tracking and review systems? How do SMBs/agencies benefit from these review platforms?
Siftery’s database of software solutions now includes over 41,000 products grouped into more than 700 categories and sub-categories. We really see interest across many different vendor categories, but certainly those with a lot of competition and new entrants stand out. A standout examples is marketing automation, as well as analytics and business intelligence.
As for industries leveraging Siftery data, most of our customers today are other tech companies or investors.
One of my favorite Siftery Discover features are our category heatmaps, which can quickly give you a sense for what’s the target market for a particular product.
A good example to check out for this is our CRM Platforms category. In a world of software overabundance, this kind of intelligence can help SMBs quickly narrow down which solutions are most likely to cater to their needs.
In 2018, what should be a CMO’s strategy to deliver unique brand messaging without compromising on the customer experience?
It’s easier than ever to start a SaaS offering. Even in new categories, ss soon as one product starts gaining traction many competitors – often spread around the world – start appearing. To stand out in a crowded field, the best way we’ve found to cut through the noise is to create value first – even if means offering something for free. This is an approach that has been tirelessly championed at Siftery by our CMO/Head of Growth Gerry.
We have the world’s best technographic data (a database of 41,000+ software products and their usage across 1M top companies), yet we’ve made a lot of it accessible for free as a resource for investors and marketers. We have also created many free tools that make use of the data in unique ways, and have several more planned. These tools have brought us the most user growth and helped us close our most valuable partnerships.
What disruptions do you expect in the data management and mobile advertising ecosystem? What are your predictions for these technologies/solutions in 2018?
Mobile marketing is becoming increasingly powerful as companies are able to leverage powerful new datasets, immediate feedback loops, location-based triggers/ mobile beacons, and increasingly powerful mobile mareting automation solutions. I expect mobile marketing spend to grow by double digits each year the next decade.
What startups in the tech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
Some companies that are particularly interesting to us are Zapier, Crunchbase, Segment, and Drift. Zapier and Segment are making it much easier for different software tools to work together, helping drive the trend of adopting a greater number of specialized tools within organizations large and small. Crunchbase has recently launched a new data marketplace which we see as a game-changer. Drift is facilitating the transition to the new world in which software is bought and not sold; we see some interesting complements between what we’re doing and Drift’s approach to sales enablement.
Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
One of our most successful digital campaigns so far involved using a few different datasets to narrow down our target audience and messaging. For our new product, Siftery Track, we’ve been targeting CFOs/Heads of Finance. Before looking for specific contacts, we define our list of companies by using Crunchbase to produce an initial target list (e.g. companies that have raised at least Series A round). We then take this group of companies and use Siftery’s technographic data look for those who are using at least one, and preferably several, of what we call “big ticket” SaaS products as a signal that the company is likely to benefit from a SaaS management solution. We then use Clearbit to find the most relevant contact at those companies. When we reach out to them, our message includes a mention of the products that we know they’re using and we could help them track.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric ecosystem as a business leader?
AI’s potential is constrained by the strength of the data it can access. In powering the software discovery and management platform of the future, our approach has been to start with the fundamentals and build a best-in-class dataset.
We’re also experimenting with AI ourselves through our personalized product recommendations engine. We can surface recommended software for any user based on a number of signals including product ratings, what a company is already using, and company similarity
How do you get tech and people to converge at one place?
It’s usually getting people away from tech that I have a problem with
What apps/software/tools you can’t live without?
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I do email-only windows during my commute from Mountain View to San Francisco and back.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Never think small, but always start small”
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Vamshi! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
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.