Interviewer: Jorge Soto, Founder at Sales4StartUps, Startup Sales Enthusiast
Jorge: What was the inspiration behind launching Refresh and how did the founding team meet?
Bhavin: I was inspired to launch Refresh after visiting Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian mission with the U.S. government about 10 years ago.
I was working at a company called LeapFrog that makes educational products, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approached us to develop a product to help educate illiterate Afghan women on the basics of prenatal health towards their goal of winning over the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people.
On the trip I traveled with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson. I saw that the staff created an amazingly detailed briefing book for Secretary Thompson. It detailed who we were meeting, what the secretary should say to them, his previous promises, their concerns, etc.
Secretary Thompson used this critical context to connect with people including the lead General in Afghanistan, and it completely changed our trip for the better.
As soon as I saw that briefing book I knew I had to have that sort of critical information, and I wanted others to have it too. It took 10 years to make the idea a reality, but that was the inspiration.
I met my co-founder, Paul Tyma, on FounderDating. It’s an online network for entrepreneurs to connect. We had shared passion for a product that could use social and web data to generate insights about people — a digital briefing book.
Jorge: How do you believe that mobile has changed the way sales people communicate and sell today?
Bhavin: A sales person reliably spends almost 4 hours a week updating their CRM data. Responding to emails, reaching out, and researching their leads or contacts typically takes even more time. Before the advances in mobile, most of that time had to be spent at a desktop.
For field sales and other relationship-based sales, mobile allows salespeople to spend more time out of the office in meetings or conversations with leads. Having access to a CRM, and to a vast corpus of social data, on their mobile phones enables them to be as informed and responsive on the road as they would be in the office.
With Refresh, sales people can also have access to an unprecedented level of detailed context about their prospects and customers. The app allows them to focus on establishing a trusting relationship, which is key for any top sales person.
Jorge: What are the primary mistakes do you see b2b startups make during the early days?
Bhavin: B2B startups benefit from customer awareness as much as B2C. Having a free version of your product gives you a massive lead-generation advantage to those that keep their entire product behind a pay wall or an enterprise sale.
Jorge: What should founders be focused on during the first 1.5 years of their company’s existence?
Bhavin: Build a great team that wants to work together. Charge for your product even if it’s not ready. You will learn more from paying customers than you will from free customers.
Jorge: What are the most challenging aspects of launching a b2b startup?
Bhavin: Customer and product cycles are long. As a result, it may take you a full year to get feedback that a particular product or feature need to be re-developed. Launching largely relies on the primary research or insight you bring to the table when the company is founded.
Jorge: What does Refresh do and how can sales teams leverage it to sell more?
Bhavin: Refresh finds common ground with the people you meet. It searches the web and social networks to deliver insights about your contacts: mutual interests, shared passions, and important moments. This sort of context lays the foundation for better relationships and prepares you to connect with people.
For sales teams, the application is clear. You can immediately establish rapport with a customer or a lead by talking about a shared friend that you previously didn’t know about, or mutual interest in a sports team, or a recent travel destination.
Establishing trust is critical for sales teams, and sales teams often tell us that they close more deals as a direct result of commonalities that Refresh found.
Refresh’s newest offering, Refresh for Salesforce makes this seamless with sales team’s who use Salesforce.
Jorge: What’s Refresh’s primary target market?
Bhavin: We focus on a number of different industries and roles. We’ve seen significant adoption in customer-facing and external roles including sales, consulting and account management. But Refresh is also widely used amongst executives… really anybody who has a very busy calendar.
Jorge: Does Refresh integrate into any 3rd party cloud services?
Bhavin: Yes we integrate with Salesforce and Salesforce 1 Mobile.