Dave Duke, co-founder and CEO of MetaCX (a pre-launch High Alpha company) and formerly vice president of customer success for Sigstr, is thankful for his family, for his career in tech, and to be a part of the tech community in Indianapolis — especially since it all could have turned out very differently.

From 2002-2004 as a recent Indiana University graduate with a degree in sports marketing, Dave was lucky to get the chance to work in pro sports with the Indiana Firebirds, a team in the Arena Football League that played its games at what is now Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“This is right when digital marketing started to pick up steam,” Dave said. “We were just beginning to dabble in it and I became fascinated by the possibilities of digital marketing while working in my first sales job selling season tickets.”

Everything came together for Dave in 2005. The interest in digital marketing led him to a new job with a little known (but fast-growing) email company called ExactTarget, and his girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal and made the move from Chicago to join Dave in Indianapolis.

“The only reason I’m here is because my wife Vikki moved down here from Chicago when we got married, which was a big decision. It was right when I joined ExactTarget and lucky for me joining ExactTarget turned out to be a really great decision. Had she not decided to move here and support me in that transition, I may not have ended up on this path.”

When Dave joined ExactTarget (now Salesforce), there were only about 100 employees and the brand was just starting to emerge as one of the dominant players in email marketing. He rapidly advanced from account manager to team leader then manager of a small- to medium-sized business account team. After eight years with the company working closely with clients, Dave was tapped to help develop ExactTarget’s first-ever customer experience team.

“I don’t think anybody really knew where it was going early on, but to have an opportunity to come together with such an amazingly talented group of people to define an industry and impact our community in such a positive way was truly unique,” Dave said. “I will be forever grateful for the experiences and relationships that ExactTarget offered me.”

At the 10-year mark and a couple years into the Salesforce acquisition, Dave started itching for another software experience. He knew that moving from an established, well-funded company like Salesforce to a startup could be risky — especially since he and Vikki now had their toddler Olivia to consider, too — but it just felt right for their family.

When Dave joined Sigstr as VP of Customer Success a little over a year ago, he was employee number four and he took on building the Customer Success function from the ground up. Sigstr is a software-as-a-service platform that turns your everyday emails into a powerful marketing channel through email signatures.

“I believe in what we are building at Sigstr and I am thankful to have an opportunity to influence the customer experience strategy that we are developing ,” Dave said. “It’s the ultimate challenge in business — satisfying customers and creating long term relationships — if you do it well the business will thrive.”

Part of that challenge is creating the Customer Success team. He contributed to the growth of various customer success initiatives at ExactTarget and now owns that responsibility at Sigstr. While joining the two companies at different stages the most important factor for both has been culture. “The culture piece is so important, I think about it every single day. I want to help build a positive and winning company culture while creating a healthy and vibrant dynamic within our Customer Success team.”

Being a part of the ExactTarget history — one of the the best tech stories in Indianapolis — is a real source of pride for Dave. He thinks it’s led to a lot of pride and passion throughout the tech scene.

“To see people so hungry and so willing to help each other build something of such magnitude was truly special,” said Dave. “There is so much to be excited about regarding the growth of tech and talent in this city. The technology community is getting stronger every day, the future is very bright.”

Dave’s daughter is now five years old and he is happy to be raising her in Indianapolis with Vikki. “Olivia is my greatest accomplishment. I’m blessed beyond belief to have her and Vikki in my life. Everything really comes back my family and creating a great life for us. That’s a huge motivation.”

Read more about Dave Duke in Crain’s Indianapolis “If I Knew Then” by Chris O’Malley.

Learn about TechPoint’s Tech 25: Recognizing Indiana’s Outstanding Tech Builders.

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