SmartCue helps sales teams build a library of personalized demos for their buyers and deliver them in a streamlined and effective way that helps them close deals faster.
What led to the conception of SmartCue?
It was a culmination of two events that led me to seriously pursue building SmartCue. Around 2018, as the Director of Solutions Architecture at a late-stage startup, my team and I had designed and were deploying a sales enablement tool for our sales team. During the training, one of the reps came up to me and said “This efficiency tool only improves the efficiency of the folks we report to. But for us, it only adds friction to my workflow!” This was a big aha moment for me when I saw how there was a gap between what sales teams needed and what solutions at that time were provided.
The second was the onset of the pandemic and as a result, virtual selling became mainstream. A side effect of virtual selling was that sales reps could no longer just wine & dine or schmooze their prospects. They had a short 30-minute Zoom call to convince their prospects that their solution or product solves the prospect’s pain points. And NOW - the Product HAD to shine! Product demos were now an even more critical piece in the sales process.
That essentially was the perfect storm for me to try and solve this problem of standardized yet personalized product demos. I went back to first principles. The bedrock of our product is to reduce or eliminate friction in sales reps' workflows. And that’s what culminated in SmartCue.
Solo founders often have to talk about the biggest challenges in their startup journey. Can you instead share with us the biggest delight of being a solo founder?
Being a solo founder is certainly a lonely journey. But it does come with some perks - fast(er) decision-making and a clear hierarchy in terms of it. However, I will caveat this by saying that if I ever startup again - I’ll most certainly bring on a co-founder. The benefits far outweigh the downsides!
What differentiates SmartCue from its competitors?
I realized that while there were tons of tools out there for improving sales effectiveness, all of them required a steep learning curve and significant lift from product, marketing and sales teams to make them work. Our extreme focus on simplicity and speed are our key differentiators.
Teams using SmartCue can increase their efficiency without having to jump through hoops and relearn a bunch of tools and workflows.
Startup founders are closely involved in the hiring process at the initial stages. Can you share how you hired the first team member?
As a first time, solo founder, I’ve made my share of poor hiring decisions. But through them, I’d like to believe I’ve improved my process and skillset to identify, hire and train the right person. I found my first PM through angel.co and put them through a rigorous screening test. The purpose of the test was to ensure that the folks who weren’t motivated wouldn’t even bother applying and to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff so that the folks I interview were good fits. Post-that, I had this individual interview with 3-4 of my closest advisors for culture fit, tech skills, people skills and core values. The whole process took less than 10 days and we onboarded the person in less than 2 weeks.
Who motivates you at a personal level?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I’ve always worked at startups but never run one on my own. So I’ve always had this itch of doing something of my own and then measuring myself against my family! In addition, I’ve been grateful to have learnt a lot from some great bosses over the years. It would be a shame to not push myself and see if I can be a shadow of all these great men and women who’ve nurtured me! Hopefully, I’ll be able to live up to that and see them be proud of me.
Read more: Founder Stories: Rushabh Sheth (Docsumo)