MarTech Interview with Marcin Cichon, CEO at Pricefx

Marcin Cichon, CEO at Pricefx

“As Machine Learning and AI continue to rapidly improve and evolve, we are looking to refine and implement these technologies across our products.”

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Hi Marcin, Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired the idea of Pricefx?

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Pricefx and I started the company because I saw a huge opportunity in the Pricing software industry. I had been in the software business for over 20 years already with 5 years in Pricing software. I knew that the industry had to change to meet the evolving needs of businesses. I wasn’t only focused on what was important at that time, I knew I had to build something that would grow and change with the future.

Existing pricing solutions at the time were expensive and only offered on-premise installations that did not meet the needs of a business needing to act fast – in fact, some of those first-generation solutions took years to implement. These offerings also came with multi-million dollar price tags and didn’t have the flexibility to do much more than the customer’s initial ask.

Lastly, at that time SaaS was a “foreign word” in our industry. Change and market condition shifts are inevitable and there wasn’t a solution that could address these needs.

In my career, I have always had a focus on the customer and addressing their needs, so I started Pricefx to fill the gaps and nearly a decade later, we’re doing it with what we like to call f-words – we’re fast to implement, flexible to configure, and friendly to learn and use. I also wanted to start a company that has a culture that’s apart from the normal stiff culture of the corporate and SaaS world so implementing f-words into our values is a good example of how we work.

How much has the Software Pricing and Recommendation platforms evolved in the last 2-3 years?

Demand for Pricing software platforms in the last three years has grown significantly and we’re seeing it firsthand, especially as Pricefx has doubled in both size and revenue in that timeframe, every year. Pricefx’s platform is constantly improving with three major releases per year, mainly based on customer’s needs.

We also just recently updated our entire user interface to something we call “Unity UI”, which is a sleek, modern, intuitive user interface that can also live and function inside other frontend applications, such as i.e. CRM solutions of SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft or SugarCRM. It not only improves the ease of use, consistency, and responsiveness of Pricefx to create a better user experience but it also does it on multiplicity of various devices.

With our recent funding, we are focused on further extension of our optimization capabilities, Artificial Intelligence, and offering higher value to our customers through specialized industry knowhow and expertise. It is these kinds of improvements that have helped platforms like ours stay current and continue to drive real profitability for customers.

And overall, the industry is continuing to evolve and grow as well – and we look forward to the next few years. Gartner’s Market Guide for B2B Price Optimization and Management (“PO&M”) Software for 2019 states that it expects “the PO&M market to continue to grow rapidly during the next three years” and that “PO&M software has a rapid payback on investment (often less than six months).”

What drives the current competition in the ‘Data Economy’? How would your recent funding enable customers and partners to meet growing demands in the industry?

Our recent funding will help us continue to do what we’ve been doing and what we are really good at – innovate and disrupt. Since the company’s inception, we have always focused on simpler, faster and more flexible ways to add value for our customers. If we don’t meet the needs and understand their goals, our business would not thrive.

The competition in the “Data Economy” and in the software industry, which is indispensable and its enabler, intensifies every year. Only those who innovate and reinvent themselves will survive and thrive. Pricefx is currently focusing a lot of its attention on what we call internally “platformization”.

We have been transforming our broad solution set into a technology platform enabling data and system integration, distribution of IP, inclusion, and enablement of open source methods and optimization algorithms, development and offering of partner solutions, and more. We are in the process of turning this technologically fully operational platform into a real ecosystem of connected solutions empowered and supported by Pricefx.

What Marketing, Sales and Messaging tools do you use for your business?

We use a full stack of Marketing Automation to power our growth. With Salesforce and Pardot as our foundation, we are leveraging LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Apollo, Drift, and a range of tools from Google, alongside our WordPress website CMS to enable full-funnel visibility with a high degree of granularity. This helps us achieve insight and predictability into our Marketing and Sales pipeline and allows us to power specific campaign activations towards specific geographic regions and industry vertical customer types.

Also, not to be underestimated, we employ the power of 1 to 1, in-person marketing by investing in a range of industry Event Marketing opportunities to reinforce our leadership position in the pricing industry and to connect with customers and prospects. We are big believers in technology, so this year we are experimenting with an Event Management tool called Bizzabo to help us integrate our off-line event investments with our digital demand-gen investments – but we never forget the power of meeting people in person and being present where the industry gathers.

What tools and technologies synergize/optimize results from CPQ platforms? What tools does your suite integrate with?

We believe that the impact of CPQ can be greatly enhanced by the integration of analytics and optimization technologies like Pricefx. We also know that the impact of analytics and optimization powered CPQ can be multiplied through the seamless integration with established business platforms used by our customers.

The Pricefx Platform enables this integration today with existing support for Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, and SAP via our plug-and-play apps. We also offer an expanding library of prebuilt integration API’s, enabling point and click connections with a variety of ERP, CRM, E-commerce and other existing enterprise systems. We also recently launched support for integrated workflows and E-signatures with DocuSign in our own CPQ product, to continue removing friction and improving the speed of delivery in CPQ performance.

Partnerships also play a key role in driving performance. Specifically for Pricefx, we believe in the power of healthy, well-functioning and prosperous for all participants partner ecosystem and invest a lot in very strong partners and relationships with other platforms. Just to name one of many well working and highly rewarded partnerships, we were very excited to be named as a gold-level partner in the SAP PartnerEdge Build program. We take pride in being a highly valued partner for price optimization solutions in the SAP App Center. We are the first ISV to reach this level for Build, showing a strong demand for innovative Cloud-based pricing solutions.

Apart from the Americas, which other geographies are you currently targeting to grow your revenue? Which industries have shown the fastest agility to adopt your platform?

Today, Pricefx is a global operating platform and solution provider with offices in US, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, and Australia. We are focusing our growth efforts on the US in 2020, while as a European founded company we continue to invest in growth across Europe with a focus on Germany, France, UK, and Nordics. In the APAC region, our focus is on Australia, New Zealand, and China.

Since our solution is industry agnostic in regards to its functional capabilities, our customers range across all industries from Automotive, Retail/E-commerce, Pharmaceuticals, Chemical and Industrial Manufacturing, Packaging and more.

Tell us about one epic moment from the decade (2011-2019) that changed your outlook into tech landscape

I may not be considered a “techy” but I spent my entire career in the software industry and in my 20 years prior to starting Pricefx, I was always frustrated with the complexity, enormous effort and long timelines required to configure interfaces and load data.

In 2012, approximately 12 months into the Pricefx adventure, our CTO presented us with an innovation that made us implement our analytical module PriceAnalyzer in less than 40 minutes, allowing to slice and dice hundreds of thousands of lines of complex transactional data. This was a breakthrough, and from that day on, Pricefx never was the same again. It is unbelievable how technology and software has evolved in the past decade, how quickly and inexpensively this technology can deliver value and enable competitive advantages.

On that day in 2012, I truly became a believer that what seemed hard or impossible in pricing with first-generation providers is, in fact, achievable, with half the effort and cost, and three times faster.

What are your predictions for the SaaS CPQ/Pricing industry and technology markets for 2020-2024?

Based on the predictions made by Gartner and by our partner and investor, Bain & Company, which are broadly in line, the market for Pricing SaaS will continue to grow by 25-30% annually – this is a healthy expansion and is based on a solid and increasing demand from businesses.

Further analysis shows that Pricefx was and continues to be able to grab approximately 30% of that growth, which will allow us to further innovate and continue offering ground-breaking solutions with real value to the Marketing and Sales department of our customers. We continue to believe that contextual analytics and price optimization focusing on individualized and/or dynamic pricing will play an increasingly important role in Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) and Sales and Marketing Automation over the next five years. As Machine Learning and AI continue to rapidly improve and evolve, we are looking to refine and implement these technologies across our products.

Also, the technologies powering Cloud applications will continue to improve rapidly resulting in further increase of speed and flexibility offered by Cloud solutions like Pricefx. In addition, we will continue to invest in Pricefx’s Accelerators, which power rapid enablement and shorten time to value for our customers in a way that has never existed before in pricing software.

This is great news for marketers and sales professionals. Pricing SaaS solutions like Pricefx will continue to be more powerful, less expensive, easier to implement and adopt, and will continue delivering substantial value.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

There are so many very impressive, innovative and disruptive companies in the SaaS world that it would hard to list them all. I am inspired by Workday and their rapid pace of achievements. I’m also impressed with startups like the Product Management platform provider Productboard, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) focused UiPath, which has reached Unicorn status and, in the Price Optimization space, I like what I see at Buynomics.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Among our customers there are two distinguished pricing industry thought leaders, whose opinions matter and I always listen when they speak up: Iron Mountain’s global VP of Pricing and Revenue management, Stephen Haggett, and Sonoco’s VP of global strategy, Brian Sharp. In terms of influential industry experts and insiders, I’d call out Madhavan Ramanujam, author of Monetizing Innovation, a very insightful pricing book and Mark Lewis, leading PO&M and CPQ analyst at Gartner.

Thank you, Marcin! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Marcin has over 20 years of experience in the software and software related consulting business with a success track record in establishing and growing new start-up operations in Europe. Before co-founding Price f(x), Marcin was responsible for Vendavo’s (leading provider of enterprise pricing software) operations in Europe as the “General Manager and VP Europe’. Between 2006 and 2010 Marcin quickly grew Vendavo’s European business to a profitable and well-functioning operations.

Prior to that Marcin was in charge of establishing and growing Ariba’s (leading provider of enterprise supply chain and sourcing software) European services business including a global near-shore center. Between his graduation as BA of Economics at the Zurich University in 1994 and start of his engagement with Ariba in 1999, Marcin was in charge of starting up and growing the supply chain system integration consulting business at Coopers&Lybrand in Switzerland and later at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Central Europe.

pricefx logo
Established in 2011 in Germany, Pricefx AG is a provider of full suite price management and CPQ SaaS solutions. Our suite is based on the latest in native cloud architecture and offers flexible support for the entire price management closed-loop cycle which includes pricing strategy, controlling, setting and realization.

Our solution is suitable for B2B and B2C clients and is able to serve a wide array of industries. The platform is also designed to meet the specific pricing challenges of commercial organizations of any size or geographical location.

Pricefx’s vision is to become the leading SaaS pricing solution provider by offering an easily implemented and flexible tool that is inexpensive, risk-free and fully comprehensive. Our business model is based entirely on the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers.

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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.