From salesman to CEO: my journey in enterprise SaaS
I have been selling and buying SaaS applications for more than 15 years, and I love SaaS. Something our team observed is that with the explosive growth of SaaS, along with ease of purchase, organizations lacked technology to discover, manage, and optimize their SaaS investments. There was a huge opportunity in front of Zylo to disrupt the traditional ways companies managed software with a focus on legacy on-premise systems, heavy-weight implementations and large investments. That is what is so exciting to me about Zylo.
Nearly every enterprise includes “shifting to the cloud” in their strategic vision today. According to Gartner, “by 2019, more than 30 percent of the 100 largest vendors’ new software investments will have shifted from cloud-first to cloud-only.” Zylo is a platform built for every enterprise operating in a cloud environment. It is a quick time-to-value solution that is lightweight for clients to implement.
We love SaaS and the Cloud at Zylo. The growing ecosystem is what will continue to increase the value in our solution. Via partnerships, Zylo ingests and organizes the data that enterprise companies are already using in order to provide a single view of all SaaS and cloud expenses throughout the organization.
My Journey from Sales to CEO
I spent fifteen years as a sales producer and leader at three different organizations: ExactTarget, Shoutlet and Sprout Social. I had a lot of experience in sales — much longer than I thought I would. I think that prepared me better to be a VP of sales and actually skip the traditional “move up the ranks” path because, in the startup world, I don’t know that it actually works that way. I was in a better place to have learned enough and had enough experiences that I could be a better VP of sales to grow a team and hire really good reps. That’s because I knew what it was like first-hand.
I would sit in meetings and say, “It feels almost like my gut is telling me this or that” to make certain decisions. Someone told me your gut instinct is actually a collection of experiences that you’ve had. So your gut generally is factual, data-driven. That’s what your gut is, it’s your experiences.
My long-term vision was to become a CEO of a company and Scott Dorsey, who was CEO of ExactTarget, told me one good attribute of a CEO was to be really, really good at sales. There is a lot more to running a company than just selling, but by building a team of top talent with which we co-founded the business, we now have an all-star team that makes up the right building blocks to create our brand new company.
While discussing building the foundation at Zylo, my team heard me say this all the time: “no bad bricks, only good ones,” when stressing quality in everything we do. I don’t know all of the answers to reach $100 million in revenue or how to become a unicorn, but I am confident that with great teammates, investors, customers, friends, and working forward brick by brick, we have a chance to make it to the top — to build the next generation platform for companies to optimize their cloud investments.
One thing that does feel exactly the same after my transition from sales to CEO … quarter end.
About Eric Christopher
Eric Christopher is co-founder and CEO of Zylo, the leading SaaS optimization platform that transforms how companies manage and optimize the vast and accelerating number of cloud-based applications organizations rely on today. Eric launched the company in 2016 with 16 years of sales and management experience in the SaaS space, including his recent position as SVP of Sales at Sprout Social in Chicago.