Today, I’m going to get a bit personal. I’m going to talk about who we are as a founding team, why we are crazy enough to take on CRM, and, if you stick around, what our favourite video game of all time is.
Oh hi there! I’m Chris Hamoen. I’ve been working at a hot tech startup in Toronto called Hubba for over 2 years. It was a wild ride - and I loved being part of a rockstar team. I was lucky to be a cog in that machine as Director of Growth - which was fun because I hadn’t worked outside of CRM before.
You see, before Hubba, I was in CRM for 18 years. Yes - eighteen years.
Wow. For this generation, that is a long time.
I have moved on to start a new CRM company called Account HQ. My co-founder, Anders Rawlins, has left IBM after 17 years to hop on board. We are in our early 40’s, we both want to take a big swing, and CRM is it.
Wait, another CRM company?
Some people think we are crazy. “You’re taking on salesforce? Microsoft Dynamics? SAP? Oracle??”.
In short, yes. But also no.
The problem is this - sales people still hate CRM. Read articles from 10+ years ago about why CRM isn’t working, and you’ll quickly discover the only thing that changed is that you use a browser instead of a desktop app. All the other problems remain.
In fact, a whole ecosystem of niche products have emerged to solve the user problem. That’s right - the CRM app has become just a platform, and you now buy additional apps to make it actually work for your team. Some call CRM a “system of record” (and here are some interesting thoughts on that).
Let’s stop for a second and think about that.
The super expensive CRM tool you bought is just a database, with basic forms, an API, and configurability. Basically, a data warehouse.
Every developer under 30 just rolled their eyes. (especially when they see the yearly CRM costs).
CRM isn’t just a database. A database is a database. To get a bit technical (and over-simplify) - if you mirror salesforce data to amazon redshift, connect your 3rd party apps to redshift instead, and add a reporting interface, why do you need your actual CRM tool for? To enter data, which is what the current crop of CRM vendors are the worst at.
The hundreds (thousands?) of other CRM players.
I could go on about how the small army of CRM competitors are essentially cheaper clones, are heavily verticalized, or have a non-scaleable trello-inspired interface.
Frankly, the last time there was a glimmer of innovation it was RelateIQ which was quickly snapped up.
Introducing Account HQ.
We are rebooting CRM by putting the focus on the Account. We are targeting manufacturing, industrial equipment, scientific instrumentation, and other similar companies.
The following principles and technologies drive everything we do:
- Consumer UX design
- Game Design Theory
- Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
- Value to the end user, and therefore to the company
Sounds great right? But what does it really mean?
Consumer UX Design
If you’ve ever used a CRM app, you know what an Account, Contact, Lead, Opportunity, Task, and Activity are. You know and are trained on the underlying data model.
Why? Shouldn’t the tool be smarter? Do you know the data model of the consumer apps you use? Take Facebook - would you say “I opened up my friends contact record, clicked the “log a wall post” button, filled out the fields, then clicked save & close”?
And that’s just Facebook. If you know Snapchat, you know the future of Consumer UX design is something completely different.
We’re bringing that to CRM.
Game Design Theory
This one gets me a little riled up. Gamification has been a concept for a long time in business software, but usually means a leaderboard and badges.
NO. JUST NO.
It’s why I’d rather use “game design theory.” Games are about progression. And progression can mean many different things, to many different types of users.
Isn’t your company also about progression? I’ll stop there for now, but I bet this one got you thinking.
Machine Learning & AI
I’ll let you in on a little secret - this stuff only works if the data is good. And if there is one truth with CRM - the data is decidedly not good. The most frequently used saying with CRM data is “garbage in, garbage out” - and trust me, much of the data is garbage.
The solution? Focus on the end user. It’s that simple - if end users are getting value, the data will improve. Which conveniently leads into our final core value….
Focus on Value for the End User
Let’s pause for a second and go back in time. If you are under 30, just skip the next paragraph.
Anyone remember ACT! or Goldmine? Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, these were tools for individual sales people to track their time. It made their Franklin Covey daytime electronic. And they loved it and religiously used it. They were designed for value to the end user. But along came CRM, which screwed it all up.
CRM is a management tool and is treated that way from design to implementation. Most vendors are guilty of this, and the ones who aren’t, don’t actually understand what sales people need, or will never scale to the enterprise.
We are building with a focus on the end user from the start. We are working daily with sales people in our target industries to understand their pains, what they would use and what they think of what we have built so far.
And they are excited. Which makes us very excited.
Wow that was more words than I expected.
If there is one lesson out of all of this, if you meet me at a party don’t ask me about CRM. I’ll probably talk your ear off about it. Because I love the promise of CRM and I'm incredibly excited about the future. It’s in our collective DNA.
Favourite Game of All Time?
If you made it this far, I now consider you a friend. I still say Knights of the Old Republic is one of the greatest games of all time. Currently you can occasionally catch me playing Blizzard games or squeezing in mobile games with my nephews and nieces.