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31 min read

PODCAST: How to Use Your Business' Most Powerful Weapon - Your Customer's Voice

3/9/20 6:03 AM

Star Talks: Episode 11 with Vinay Bhagat: Star Talks is the podcast of small conversations that inspire you to do big things and on this episode Vinay Bhagat, the founder and CEO of TrustRadius, shares how earning his MBA at Harvard rounded him out as a person and how getting fired prompted him to start his own company. He talks about as an individual, when developing your career it's important to have a growth mindset by being honest about what you do and don't know while also having the humility to learn from the people around you, and how TrustRadius equips companies with the power to share their customers voice and the role customer feedback should have in your sales process 

Episode 11 - Vinay

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Here's the episode transcript:

 

Vinay, thank you so much for joining the show.

Vinay (01:30):

Sam, excited to be with you today.

 

Vinay, saying that you're an incredibly successful entrepreneurs is definitely an understatement. So tell us a little bit of your backstory, where'd you go up and what about your upbringing sets you on this entrepreneurial path?

Vinay (01:44):

That's a really interesting question, Sam. So I grew up in the UK, I'm of Indian origin. My parents were immigrants to the UK. My dad was car designer the Ford motor company, but he always had had some kind of side business that he operated. For many years he used to actually go drive up to London and buy digital watches or briefcases or jeans from wholesalers and then resell them in the Ford motor company. And actually then developed a network of people who would sell across Europe for him. And you know, pretty soon he was making a lot more money from his side hustle than his main job.

Vinay (02:24):

And I used to go with him at age 10 and kind of get exposed and, and it'd be part of that journey with him. That being said Indian parents are very focused on education and so I kind of probably over-indexed on doing the right safe things, going to the right schools before I actually eventually, so the later in life you know, took the risk. But my first entrepreneurial experience was actually at around age 11, outside of working with my dad where I realized that I used to really be into hard rock music and I used to see a really great records in the bargain bins and UK record stores and realized that my friends who are not as diligent at sifting through those bargain bins would pay more for them. So my first entrepreneurial opportunity was basically arbitraging records, buying them for 99 Pence and selling them for three pounds to my friends.

 

That's awesome. So do you still have that same love for hard rock music or have your tastes changed?

Vinay (03:31):

I love a diversity of music today. Hard rock, still very much there, but I, you know, alternative you know, classical jazz techno, I have fairly diverse taste. I'm not a big country fan, but aside from that, like most us.

 

Okay. What are some of the things that you're listening to? What are some of the bands you're listening to or some of the artists that you're listening to nowadays?

Vinay (03:54):

Well, honestly, I have young kids, 10 and 11, and my daughter is really into musicals. She wants to be a singer. So most of the time I'm listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and Wicked right now. Really cool. It's not necessarily what I would choose practively to listen to, but that's what I ended up listening to most of the time.

 

That's very cool. Awesome. so taking it back a little bit, so you, you know, like you had mentioned, you did a lot of schooling. You're, you know, a very successful and accomplished student. You know, I'll just run through some of the things here. Earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in your electrical information sciences from the university of Cambridge, a master's in engineering economic systems from Stanford and an MBA in business from Harvard where you are actually a Baker scholar, which means that you finished in the top 5% of your class, so very great student. So to tell us about the path that you took from the university of Cambridge, studying engineering, then flipping it around to getting an MBA at Harvard in business.

Vinay (04:58):

Yeah, I mean I, I in high school in England you have to commit pretty early to the path you want to tell you can, I'd always liked math and science and didn't like the idea of going to medicine, which was kind of the normal route for a lot of the kids of immigrant parents. I was afraid of blood and needles and surgery, so I knew that wasn't a path for me. So I went into engineering and and loved kind of the analytics of it all but wasn't necessarily passionate about being an engineer myself and was always attracted sort of the world of business and economics. So when I graduated from Cambridge, I had the challenge to go to Stanford on a scholarship and studied a program that was in many ways a cross over for people who had a science engineering background.

Vinay (05:47):

So go learn macro economics and decision theory. And it was just, you know, a great, a great opportunity to get exposure to be in California where the weather is warm and the girls are pretty, it's just a fun experience I've got to say. And you know, the British education system is quite rigid. You focus very, very narrowly on one thing. And in California, Stanford, I had a chance to really diversify. It took some school, some classes to the business school, I learned Japanese. It was just a really great opportunity to cast a wide net and explore. And from there I joined Bain Consulting, the management consulting firm. And that was just a great experience to get grounded and schooled in business. I ended up transferring that to London, living in Hong Kong for a few years, living in Eastern Europe for a little bit, but it was a really really good indoctrination into business.

Vinay (06:43):

It built my confidence up tremendously where I got exposure to a lot of senior executives. I got to work in lots of different industries and I was extremely happy there. But it was actually the managing partner at Bain in Hong Kong who said, you really need to go to business school. It will open your eyes up to the world. It will, you know, it will round you out as a person. So when I went to, to business school, you know, there were a number of things that I appreciated out of it. One was just the people you know, some of those guys are still some of my best friends today and, and the network is tremendous, but there's also a lot of exposure. You have amazing people at Warren Buffet come speak to the school class and you're just exposed to all these amazing people.

Vinay (07:27):

I spent a summer on, on wall street and investment banking and doing some private equity. And I realized I really didn't like banking. I like private equity, but wanted to always be the guy on the other side of the table who is actually operating something. And that's what really kind of re-cemented the idea that I would like to be an entrepreneur. And so leaving business school, I knew tech was hot. I got recruited by a company in Austin to come join them. And, and that's really sort of the first foray in commitment to, to the path of really wanting to, to walk, to, to build my life as an entrepreneur.

 

Oh, interesting. So that role that you got recruited back out into Austin, was that trilogy software?

Vinay (08:09):

Yes, it was. Yeah. Trilogy was a company that was pretty hot in Austin in the, in the late nineties.

Vinay (08:15):

And they did a lot of recruiting to kind of bring great people to, to Austin the company itself and did not being not a good fit for me. I was a bit of a mismatch and frankly I was fired from the role, which in hindsight was the best thing that ever happens me because I think part of having a little of that schooling and working at the right companies made me rather risk averse and afraid to leap. But I think getting fired plus it being the late nineties where there was a sense of hope that you could do anything. The venture capital market was flowing and flush with capital inspired me to take the risk and actually go do my first company versus you know, getting a job. So I'm actually really grateful for that experience. As I've met with, with other entrepreneurs, I've found that there's a common pattern where something happens in that life and that's the thing that kind of kicks them too, to actually take, take that leap. Otherwise it can be hard to, to take that

 

Yeah, I think that's, that's really interesting. So the, the first company you started was, was Convio, correct?

Vinay (09:22):

Yes, that's correct.

 

Okay. And so that was later acquired by Blackboard for 325 million. So very successful. What is Convio?

Vinay (09:33):

Yeah, it was a, an online fundraising platform for the nonprofit sector. So when I started the company you know, nonprofits were raising very little money online. Many of them didn't even have websites. And I looked at what was happening in the commercial world and, and obviously saw the advent of eCommerce and said, there's an obvious crossover opportunity here. You know, the initiation of the idea actually came when I volunteered at a PBS pledge drive at my local television station and I was literally answering the phone, writing people's information on an index card, handing it to the head of development and fundraising.

Vinay (10:10):

And he who keyed it into that system and said, you know, there's a much better way to do this. Have you heard of the internet? It could change your life. Now the question was, is it a real opportunity? Is it a large opportunity? Can you build a real business? And, and, and to most people, the idea of building a commercial business to the nonprofit sector was crazy. But what I saw was there were actually successful software companies operating in the industry. Blackboard, the company that acquired me was an example of such a company that was already doing a few hundred million in revenue in the sector, but no one was attacking this opportunity of the web. And I just saw an enormous opportunity to make charities just a lot more effective. So we became a fun online communications marketing platform. If you've ever been solicited by a friend who, who's like doing a marathon or a bike ride.

Vinay (11:00):

We pioneered that technology to do peer to peer fundraising. A lot of people do it now today. But we were one of the original companies who pioneered the notion of online fundraising. So by the time we exited, we were doing about $2 billion of charitable processing and fundraising for our customers. We worked with most of the big name charities, the Red Cross, American cancer, to help them enact all their fundraising. And we built a successful company. You know, we grew to almost a hundred million in revenue. We took it public and we got acquired but the thing that was cool about it for me was really two things that we want just building a better mass trap, peanuts, you know, an existing technology and making it slightly better. We were actually changing an industry, you know, we created thousands of jobs in the sector. We changed how nonprofits fund raised to be more effective and efficient.

Vinay (11:49):

And I'm a very mission driven person. I like to do things that aren't just commercially and successful but have an impact on the world. And so for that, to me that company was extremely fulfilling in that regard.

 

You know, it's interesting as you talked about, you kind of played it safe and you were a little more risk averse and then you started Convio, you raise money, you took it public, you were acquired. Tell us a little bit about like the, I guess the, the maturation or the transformation that took place inside of you from being someone who, you know, tended to be a little bit more safe to someone who was really willing to risk at all.

Vinay (12:23):

Yeah, it's a great question. You know, you're thrown in the deep end and you have to sink or swim, right as soon as you raise capital, as soon as you hire people, their lives are depending on you.

Vinay (12:36):

As soon as you have customers that their livelihood is depending on you, you have commitments, you have to go make it work. And I was 28 and I frankly didn't really know what I was doing, but I had to learn it really, really fast. And I made some rookie mistakes. You know, one of the things I did and it was kind of characteristic of companies at that time is I overextended. We ran faster then the market was ready to, to evolve. You know, we grew my team within three years to about 75 people and we were ahead of where we were on revenue. And we were ahead of where the market was in terms of ability to sort of absorb a new idea and concept. And I have to go through the very, very tough phase of actually shrinking the company back to 45 people and then starting to grow again.

Vinay (13:22):

We laid a thrived, but that was a really hard thing to go through emotionally. And I had to learn a lot of things and in hindsight could have been avoided. Just by being being a little bit more conservative frankly, and not being overly exuberant. One of the mistakes that a lot of early first time entrepreneurs make is that they get Rose colored spectacles and thinking the overoptimistic and you've just got to be, you've got to pressure test things. You've got to be extremely intellectually honest about the reality of your business and, and, and sometimes the timing of a market, you can have a great idea and a great product, but new ideas take time to just stay right. They take time to, to evolve. So timing factors are incredibly important. The other thing was you know, I had a lot to learn, so I was the CEO of the company for four years and then the board brought in an outside experienced operator who I worked with.

Vinay (14:15):

I became chief strategy officer and ran product, was very involved in major accounts, sales public, the public persona of the company, etc. And worked with him closely over a period of eight years to take the company public and get it acquired. But I think as a, as an individual that you develop your career, it's really important to have a growth mindset and be honest about what you know and don't know and who you can learn from. And so that's always been a really important part of my life is just trying to understand how I can learn how I can improve myself and, and grow up and go on that journey. But you know, now I think I've arrived at a place where I believe entrepreneurship is not about risk-taking. It's about it's about risk calculation and mitigation. You've got to play some bets, but you've got to do so in a highly calculated fashion because you know, capitals at risk, you have a responsibility to invest as your own responsibility to your employees. It's about taking a proper risk, managing and mitigating those risks as well.

 

So you talked about maybe going too fast, what were some of the signs that you were maybe moving too fast, faster than the market really was calling for? What were some of the signs that you that you were doing that, that you were going too fast?

Vinay (15:33):

I mean, it really shows up in your unit economics, right? In your cost of customer acquisition. If the metrics get out of whack in terms of things like your CAC ratios, your burn rate you've got a moderate that you want to make sure that your company has sufficient runway. And then just, you know, just the signals you get from listening to the market and having conversations. You know, if you speak to a hundred people, what proportion of those people are ready to absorb? I'm a big follower of like, you know, Jeffrey Moore and crossing the chasm and I'm a firm believer that, you know, sometimes your early customers are easy to win and, and it's easy to believe and, and, and, and inappropriately extrapolate the other customers. They're going to be like them. You know, early adopters think differently.

Vinay (16:19):

They can connect the dots, they see things that you see. Whereas the early majority or the mainstream market takes more time to absorb ideas. They need more evidence and proof. They're more risk averse and you have to just understand that it's going to take more time to onboard them. And therefore if time is important in a new adoption life cycle and you need to make sure you don't run out of capital, you don't ever extend yourself during that period. Now there are of course products that you know, become a tornado very quickly and catch on fire where the timing is really, really right. But I would say those are the exceptions.

 

So Blackboard was acquired, or excuse me, Convio was acquired by Blackboard and then in 2012 you founded TrustRadius. So what is TrustRadius and tell us what the first year was like?

Vinay (18:15):

Yeah. So we are a customer review platform for enterprise technology and the birthing idea of TrustRadius originated in my experience at Convio where my team was buying different enterprise software products. Of note, we bought an expensive corporate HR system. It was a $200,000 investment for the company. Very material investment that was rolled out to all of our employees. My team you know, read analyst reports from Gardner, they spoke to the vendor, they spoke to the references provided by the vendor, but we still ended up making a bad decision where we ended up buying a solution that was perhaps a good solution for the market at large, but didn't work in our specific use case. And when I kind of dug in and deconstructed, you know, I asked the question, did we speak to anyone who has the same use case as us? And the answer was no.

Vinay (19:10):

And it just seems to be a really flawed model where analyst reports are highly generic. You know, candidly, it's sometimes hard to trust what you're getting from a brand directly. And even references may, may not always be people who are in the same exact scenario as you. And it's just so critical as a software buyer to be able to understand the whole truth. You know, the analogy I'd use is if you're hiring someone or more extremely, if you are marrying someone, you'd want to know the whole person before you hired them or married them. And you know, unfortunately, oftentimes we make technology or business decisions where we have partial data. And I just thought there was an opportunity to create just a lot more transparency and help buyers buy more effectively. And I thought it was crazy that I could get more intelligence about a pizza parlor than I could about a piece of enterprise software.

Vinay (19:59):

So that was the initial inspiration. But you know, I also felt there was a huge opportunity for marketers and sellers to activate the voice of their customers better. If you genuinely provide a good product, if you genuinely provide high quality service, there's no more powerful weapon than the voice of your customer. Some of the top sellers that Convio used to always say to me, we need more case studies. And, and you know, one time one of my guys are selling to a hospital in Memphis and said, you know, I need a case study from a Southern hospital. I don't need a California or PBS station example they're not going to relate to it. And that kind of brings me to the point about, again, use case is so important. Buyers, want to hear from people in the same situation as them in the same region with the same industry, the same company size.

Vinay (20:53):

They want to know that it applies to them. And so I just saw this huge opportunity to help connect the dots between buyers and sellers to create trust and to do so in a way that was, you know, appropriate for complex enterprise decisions. So the TrustRadius operates a public review site, about a half a million buyers of enterprise software and hardware come to our platform every month. We're growing really quickly. We'll be at over a million by the end of this year. And they come to us to get advice. They can trust to read detailed reviews about products and in some cases the partners like yourselves that work with those products and to be able to feel comfortable making a decision. They run comparisons, they don't know who to look at, they come and they do identification of solutions on our site. We also work with technology brands to help them activate their customers to market and sell on their behalf.

Vinay (21:59):

Creating reviews that live on TrustRadius that tell their unique competitive narrative and story, but also taking that content and re-purposing it in their own channels to improve the mind, to improve conversion, to enable sales. The last thing that we do is we help brands would bait or an intelligence to help them market and sell more offensively.

 

Very cool. So what sets TrustRadius apart from other software review platforms?

Vinay (22:26):

Quality. We have put a maniacal emphasis on making sure that the data on our side is real, that we, we do go to extreme lengths to make sure we don't publish fraudulent reviews. We are the only platform that has an algorithm that correct bias in, in, in reviews. One of the things that has happened in our industry as reviews have become more influential is that vendors try and gain the system.

Vinay (22:54):

One major security company, I won't name pays their top salespeople $1,000 to go and get a five star with you on, on certain sites. So there's been ramping gaming in the industry. I'm just like, you know, people have tried to game Amazon and that's a material problem and we have gone to great lengths to to correct that. Most recently we've launched an initiative called the 'true campaign' where we've enlisted a number of companies including SAP, IBM cloud, Tipco etc. to participate in committing to us that they will openly ask all customers for reviews, not just cherry pick. When you do that, everybody is better served. The buyer gets the whole picture and understands if a product is genuinely a good fit for their use case because it's a bad thing when someone buys a product that's not good for their use case cause it causes churn, it causes disruption, it causes dissatisfied customer causes, negative word of mouth.

Vinay (23:54):

It may be a quick sale, but the long-term cost that wastes the short and benefit and so that transparency is really important. Plus if vendors do get some critical feedback from their customers, which they're scared of, sometimes it helps them become a better company, they listen to that feedback, they can correct the roadmap to address it or they can determine that certain customer segments aren't a good fit for them. So the whole system benefits when there's full transparency and you can trust in the data. The other aspects of quality is that we have demonstrably more useful product reviews. Most of the people in my marketplace really operate as lead arbitrage sites where the content is after an thought. They care just about the audience. They don't care about the content. We found in our research that the content really matters. That bias actually downplay the importance of a score.

Vinay (24:45):

They don't want to work for the product. That seems like it has a terrible score, but they know that the score doesn't tell the whole picture. They want to understand the nuance about does this product work for my unique use case and what and what is it really going to be like to work with this company? In the case of you know, scenarios like yours where we worked with a software company but also channel partners, people want to know what's the channel, partner experience. Like the product may be grid, but is the channel partner reliable? So people are seeking the whole picture before they buy and in fact, our research suggests that if people don't have the whole picture, they they have pause, which means they maybe don't buy or they protract the purchasing process. So there's a, there's a great opportunity to help both parties here by again, bringing high quality content that both helps the buy and helps the seller. And that's how unique point of difference is that quality of data, the quality of content on TrustRadius is just so much more useful that people can have trusted system.

 

So one of TrustRadius is brand messages is "let your customers do the talking." What, what role do you think that the customer voice plays in the sales cycle? Is it at the beginning, is it at the middle? Is that at the end? What are, what are some ways that you're, that you see brands being successful using the customer voice and where are, where are places where brands can really stand to improve at doing this?

Vinay (26:14):

It's throughout the journey. Now if you read all of the research from, you know, folks like serious decisions buyers are now doing 67% of that research outside of contact with the vendor, sometimes pre-contact with the vendor as well. So clearly that's an early phase where people are just trying to do that homework through independent sources. And it's critical to make sure as a brand that you are represented in the venues where people are likely to go and we're one of the top three venues that people can go to to do that research. And frankly, again, post serious research, 43% of decisions are made before someone even contacts the vendor. And so it's really critical to make sure you're represented that your telling your narrative and that you have appropriate scale of representation again in those primary venues.

Vinay (27:07):

The buyers will also come to our site when that building shortlists where they're trying to narrow their choice. The most popular page on our site is actually a side-by-side comparison where in your industry someone might compare SAPB1 with NetSuite or Microsoft dynamics. And we tend to rank extremely well on their search terms. So about 40, 50% of our audience comes in on competitive terms and then people will even use it further along where they're trying to do internal business case justification. We see from our analytics on our site that a lot of people actually copy and paste sections of reviews to use an internal selling presentations to say, you know, this is the path we want to go, go down. And, and, and it's validation, you know, in decades past people would say, well, it's a leader in the God and magic quadrant.

Vinay (27:58):

Today's generation you know, a lot of decisions that are being made by millennials who've grown up with social media and Google and Yelp and all the folks who rely on advice from Gartner they'd rather hear from their peers. So they will take data from TrustRadius to validate their opinions of their peers and relay to their bosses. So that's how the buyer is using our platform. Savvy sellers will suddenly point to their reviews, but they'll actually deconstruct the reviews and use them across the journey. One of the ways that we help brands do that is to actually curate quotes and then to syndicate them to landing pages. So we have a lot of examples of companies who have used review quotes, dynamically syndicated their website, either on product pages or on a conversion pages to improve, improve trust and ultimately to improve conversion. We work with a security company called Alien Vault that seen about a 30% lifting conversion across this website through incorporating dynamically syndicated review quotes.

Vinay (29:00):

And they've done so in an intelligent way where if they've got a page for financial services or a page for for government customers, they'll have appropriate content show up and each of those pages. And then sales enablement or channel partner enablement where brands enable their sales teams or that channel teams to use the voice of the customer to prospect, to differentiate, to answer objections. Again, if a sales person faces barriers along their journey of getting in the door, getting an appointment, and then seeing someone that they are value, influencing someone that they're the best solution, then ultimately getting them to make the leap to spend money. Customer evidence, customer voice can be used at every stage of that journey to help bring assurance and validation. Don't trust me, trust my customers who are just like you in your own friends.

 

So many of our listeners are professionals, leading companies and invariably they're always well pretty consistently at least evaluating software products of one sort or the other. So if you were in their shoes, which you were, which isn't what is what inspired you to, to start TrustRadius, but put yourself in their shoes for a moment, how would you advise them to evaluate and select the right software solution for their requirements?

Vinay (30:25):

You know, the way that people can use TrustRadius is so that's only coming to the side filtering to find reviews from people in the same situation as them. We also try and do things like putting the most useful content forward. Like we grade every review and we put the most useful reviews at the top of the page or the most recent reviews at the top of the page. But oftentimes people want to run filters and find people who have the same use case industry as them. So find the people who are most like you read their reviews, use the tools to be able to do side by side comparisons and then use those, use the insights from their views to ask the vendor tough questions. You know, don't just take their statements on faith validate their claims just like you would with any other material purchase that you are making in your life.

Vinay (31:12):

And then you can also engage with people. Either through asking a question on our platform or sometimes people will actually do back channel references, they'll say, but go to someone on LinkedIn and say, we read your review and TrustRadius, we'd really like to have a conversation with you. So the dynamics around purchasing have changed now where it's so much easier to do activity diligence versus just launch trusting the voice of, of a vendor. And so as a savvy buyer, if it's a material purchase that either cost money or it's going to be instrumental to a business, you know, you're supposed to, you need to do due diligence. You don't want to find yourself in the position we found ourselves in where we'd committed $200,000, had a two year commitment we couldn't get out of and a lot of egg on our faces because we, we picked the wrong product.

Vinay (31:59):

The cost of picking the wrong products is really high and confidence by speaking to people or reading content from people in the same situation as you.

 

So what's next for TrustRadius?

Vinay (32:13):

Well this year is a lot about scale. So as I mentioned, we have about a half million people using our site a month right now and that's growing nicely and we anticipate growing to North of a million this year. It's expanding our coverage to new product categories. And also just, you know, improving how we as a business operate in terms of how we go to market, improving our brand awareness, improving our differentiation in the market, and improving the obvious obviousness of our value. Whenever you bring a new concept market, that's sort of, again, an evolution where again, you work with early adopters and then you become a mainstream phenomena have to cross the chasm to where we become a mainstream phenomenon, not just used by millions of buyers, but where every technology brand needs, feels that they need to be just been in the TrustRadius eco-system.

 

Interesting. So from a taking it kind of back a little bit you know, we've learned a lot about some of the things that you've done at TrustRadius and Convio, but you serve on S.t Jude's children's research hospital foundation as a member of on the digital advisory council. Why did you start doing this?

Vinay (33:26):

Yeah, I don't do that anymore, but I did it for a period of time when I was at a Convio. I was invited to St. Jude's was one of our customers. And I just really, really believed in the mission of the organization. I thought they did fantastic work. I had a chance to view the facility and just, you know, honestly, meeting the children is heart wrenching, but also just seeing their approach to science. They have some of the world's best scientists and the fact that they open source their research, they're not trying to keep it in the silo and just keep it to themselves. They want, if they find you know, treatment pathways for different strands of cancer, they want the whole world to benefit from their research. The fact that they don't charge the families who come there and they even provide free housing for them.

Vinay (34:11):

In many instances as well. I just found the mission super compelling and the people really passionate. And so I was extremely honored when they invited me to be on their advisory board for awhile. And my role there was actually really interesting. I got to serve with a bunch of other tech leaders you know, lead us at companies like Target, the retail store, the CIO there, etc and had a chance to just contribute to how they thought about their strategy in terms of how they would use you know, the internet and technology to run their organization more effectively. So it's always an honor to serve, but it's also an honor to serve an organization that just does incredible work and helps people in such a way.

 

So when I look and I try to run a thread through your, your background and your, your experience, you know, through from Convio, through TrustRadius, through your work with St Jude's children's hospital, there seems to be this outwardly focused sort of helping to solve a problem to an under-served market. What, what is, where does this come from? Like how does this, these principles and these values set have come through in your work?

Vinay (35:19):

I'm a very mission driven person. You know, we have one life to live. And you know, suddenly, you know, I like commercial expense success. I like to be financially secure and, and provide for my family. I like nice things, but that isn't what drives me. What drives me is driving change, seeing the world about a place and, and making outcomes. And you know, there were some times there are things like Convenia was an extremely mission-oriented place where we're literally helping charities, you know, get more effective and efficient. In the case of TrustRadius, I just saw a massive disconnect and a massive pain point and a massive opportunity to disrupt an incumbent industry. You know, frankly think the technology analyst industry is absolutely right for disruption and also a chance to just help buyers, make much better decisions. I felt the pain firsthand of being in the shoes of making expensive and painful and operationally challenging decision and I didn't want others to be in those shoes and I thought that I could create, you know, a better model for that.

Vinay (36:26):

Intellectually, I find that that type of problem solving super interesting and I love the entrepreneurial process of birthing a new idea and seeing it take shape and form, seeing people get value from it. And building a passionate group of individuals who love being on a mission together, having a mission makes building a company so much more enjoyable. Hmm.

 

Yeah, that's a great point. If any of our listeners and subscribers want to reach out to you, Vinay, what's the best way for them to do that?

Vinay (36:57):

vinay@trustradius.com is my email address and feel free to connect on LinkedIn. Tell me that you listen to the podcast. So I have some context. I'm on Twitter. My handle is Vinay Bhagat, I'm not as avid on Twitter as I am on LinkedIn, but certainly LinkedIn and email at easy ways to reach me.

 

Awesome. Thanks Vinay. So I always do ask every guest this question and you're involved in a lot of work that really helps a lot of other people you've been doing that your entire career. So I've, it's shed some light on, you know, what is the most rewarding thing about what you do?

Vinay (37:35):

Probably growing people inside the company. You know, one of the things that I'm proud of stuff from my Convio experience just when it's, when I meet alumni of our company, of my last company, they always say that was the best time of my career. I love the mountains, we work, we really great people. And you know, the thing that really, really delights me is when you see people just, just thrive. And it could be inside the company, it could be outside of the company. I was just catching up last night with a young man who spent a year here in sales at TrustRadius.

Vinay (38:11):

I was a mentor to him and now he's actually head of sales and marketing at a successful company in Silicon Valley. And I love seeing people grow and evolve and I really like working with people who have a growth mindset and want to be better people. So you know, that's, that's what motivates me. Of course I love the impact that we have on our market as well. Hearing from our buyers about how we've helped them, seeing the growth in the, in the, in the engine of our business, hearing from our customers about the impact that we're having and how seeing customers get promoted because that being successful at applying new technology and new ideas to their work. But there's something really important about human growth, whether that's inside our company or outside and, and just seeing that happen really is very rewarding for me.

 

Awesome. Well Vinay you're doing excellent work. I applaud you. You're doing a lot of great things. I'm really interested in continuing to watch TrustRadius grow. You guys are doing awesome work over there. Would love to have you back on on another episode in the future to sort of sort of round two to get to hear what TrustRadius is doing and what you guys are up to over there and really appreciate you having on the show. Thanks for taking the time.

Vinay (39:24):

Sam, thank you. Really appreciate it.

 

If you'd like to suggest a guest, be a guest yourself, or if you have something to say, leave a comment below or send your message to StarTalks@StellarOneConsulting.com.

Kelsie Linden

Written by Kelsie Linden

Marketing Specialist at Stellar One Consulting

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