Given our obsession with enterprise go-to-market, we know how critical it is for businesses to have a successful customer success organization – that’s why we invested in Catalyst. If we could name just a few things Co-Founder and CEO Edward Chiu has impressed us with over the years, it would be his consistent, humble leadership (check out his LinkedIn posts which garner 100s of likes/comments thanks to his transparency in shared experiences), his execution in hiring (check out lessons from their new CRO here), and his creativity which has helped the company continue to scale through today’s down market.
We chatted with Edward about his operator to founder journey, and the learned tactics he deploys under the hood at Catalyst to keep scaling:
What does Catalyst do? What are you trying to disrupt?
Catalyst is a customer growth platform designed to drive growth through customers. Trusted by leading technology companies such as Braze, Spring Health, Attentive, Fivetran, and more, Catalyst guides Sales and Success teams to turn customers into an engine for growth.
What’s your background and how has your expertise helped you tackle this problem / build this product?
Catalyst was born out of frustration and necessity. My brother and Co-Founder, Kevin Chiu, and I were previously Customer Success leaders at DigitalOcean, which gave us a unique point of view into the pain points at hand - we were tired of sifting through meeting notes, juggling email campaigns, tracking down customer activity data, prioritizing customer needs, and navigating endless tabs and windows. With no comparable tool on the market addressing these issues in a cost and time effective manner, we decided to build our own.
Catalyst started as a deliberate tool targeted to a specific enterprise pain point - this wasn’t just an idea we came up with over the weekend. After supporting over $150M ARR at DigitalOcean, we decided to spin out as our own company.
What’s the #1 thing you learned about building and engaging a community of users?
We try to take a modern approach to what organizations look for in vendors as well as what will improve the market. The focal point of all of our community efforts is, “will this create an impact?”
A lot of community building initiatives tend to be self-serving or networking-focused. We go above and beyond that. As an example, our “Coaching Corner” is the largest community and mentorship program within the Customer Success industry. We connect top Customer Success leaders across companies like Amazon, ZoomInfo, ServiceNow, Sendoso, and more, to coach the next generation of Customer Success people who are striving to scale to the next level. Additionally, we publish data like our Customer Success Compensation Report to bring better transparency to employees across hundreds of organizations. These are the kind of initiatives that help our community all while introducing them to Catalyst.
What’s been the #1 hurdle selling to your customers? How are you overcoming that hurdle?
Our biggest sales challenge is to re-engineer the minds of enterprises who have been conditioned by incumbents in the market with a bad precedent that it takes 6 months to a year to deploy this type of software.
Our average deployment time is 30 days, which is unheard of in this industry. We are also consistently ranked #1 on G2 when it comes to fastest ROI. To sell this value, we are very thoughtful in explaining what customers’ onboarding and implementation experience will look like.
Buying our competitors is like coming home after a long day at work to make a Blue Apron meal – DIY. Whereas, we view ourselves as a Michelin star restaurant – customized support that tells customers our specific expectations and instructions for deployment.
What’s the long-term vision for Catalyst?
We want to be the #1 revenue platform for all organizations. We know that in this down market, revenue is the most important winning factor. We want to be the tool that shifts dependency from new business to the existing customers – those that already know you, use your tool, and are excited about you - in order to generate the most revenue.
How would you summarize your fundraising experience?
It’s been pretty clear to investors that there's a shift from new business sales revenue to post- sales revenue. Now that new business sales are going down, layoffs are happening, and budgets are tight, many organizations and investors are finally realizing that the best way to extract revenue is from existing customers. While investors like Work-Bench identified this early on, we’re now on a part of the journey where the market is advertising for us and we don’t have to justify the problem statement.
What’s the #1 piece of advice you wish you knew earlier?
Hire the best culture fit possible, not necessarily the best talent. In the past, we hired some great talent who ultimately just cared about a paycheck versus the company’s mission and vision. I advise taking the time to find a person who is just as talented, but also equally as passionate about the company’s future.
Culture is everything in the early-days of startup life. A couple of bad hires can derail your company for years.
To vet if someone is a culture fit, first and early-on define what you believe is your culture and your values. Then during the hiring process, ask if those values align with them and how and where it resonates the most. You’ll be able to see if they’re faking their answers relatively easily.
To learn more about Catalyst’s customer revenue management platform, reach out to their team here or request a demo here.