Interview With Puneet Kataria
Describe your product or service:
“Customer success intelligence software.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We're customers too. And with every product we invest in, we want to, we must, and we should be successful in getting the value (success) that was promised.
Our mission is to enable every SaaS business to deliver success, not just technology. Why, because every customer deserves to be successful.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“We were backed with $1 million in March 2018 by Pi Ventures and Axilor Ventures.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
Currently, we are a lean team of 25 employees. The company was founded by Puneet Kataria and Amritpal Singh in 2018. Before co-founding CustomerSuccessBox, Kataria was a VP of Sales & Marketing at a SaaS company and saw the problems of churn firsthand. He acts as the company’s CEO. He was also named on LinkedIn’s top voices list in 2019 and is among the 2021 top 100 customer success influencers globally. Before CustomerSuccessBox, Singh developed four other platforms from scratch and co-founded a healthcare startup. He is a regular open-source contributor and leads technology and engineering.
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“I am deeply passionate about the four product joys. The joy of innovating, the joy of selling, the joy of subscribing, and the joy of retaining customers. While in my last job as a VP of worldwide sales for a SaaS company, I was incentivized based on MRR where a couple of months later I realized that my sales teams were making incentives except me because that's when I learned about this seven years ago. I was like, ‘what's wrong,’ and I learned that there's a leak in the bucket, something called churn. And fast forward to today, I decided to fix it back then. Decided to set up hopefully, what we call, leave a positive thing in the universe of our own selves, and [that shaped] into CustomerSuccessBox.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We were very clear about what we wanted to do. We wanted to be all the tools that a Customer Success Manager, a Customer Success Team, and basically everything that a modern Customer-centric function will require to be as customer-centric as possible to deliver all the customer success functions. Hence, we came out with CustomerSuccessBox as the name.
We thought about CustomerSuccessAI as an option as we are very AI-driven.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I took my first job as an Engineer at Central Research Laboratory wherein I realised that data is everything.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“For the longest time, I have been working in the technology space, having worked in HCL, IBM, and likes. When in the latter half [of this career], I switched to VP of worldwide Sales in a SaaS company, I saw a problem that can be solved or made better, and that motivated me to start my own business.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“The greatest challenge was looking at Customer Success from a very data-driven, big data, and AI-driven perspective. Traditional Customer Success existed under the umbrella role of account manager, which is fundamentally seen as a sales and a relationship-driven role, where we felt that relationship definitely has its place, but with the amount of data that we all are generating in our day to day lives today, it was very clear that this could be a new set of parameter, a new angle which can dramatically change the way technology can support delivery, helping a CSM be more proactive.
Basically, the entire thing that we were trying to figure out was if the industry [was] ready for a change like this. We got a clear answer when we spoke to the Customer Success community and felt that the market is even hungrier about the idea than we originally thought about the fact that we were questioning. They were in fact very encouraging, ready, they loved us, and that is how we overcame this doubt.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“CustomerSuccessBox is an AI-powered customer success software that aims to onboard, retain, upsell, and drive MRR growth for B2B SaaS.
From my perspective, attempting to grow revenues by attracting new customers without retaining existing ones is like trying to fill a leaky bucket. CustomerSuccessBox’s vision is to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate customer onboarding, product usage analysis, and user communication. In doing so, we expect to lower the cost of delivering customer success services and extend the lifetime value of the end customer. And more importantly, to remove the dependency on a full-time CS ops role to configure and calibrate the Customer Success platform. With Customer Success Intelligence, CustomerSuccessBox recommends specific next best action for each account coaching CSMs to be more effective.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“CustomerSuccessBox’s growth strategies lie in customer retention, upselling, expansion, and referrals. To that extent, the marketing strategy has been to focus purely on Organic marketing and participation in webinars, podcasts, and SaaS events for networking and marketing collaboration.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Engagement through communities.
Organic marketing [like] blogs, guides, [and] ebooks.
Attending various SaaS events and conferences.
Word of mouth awareness from initial existing customers.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Like any other SaaS company, we measure the success of our business using metrics like MRR, ARR, LTV, Churn Rate, etc.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“One of my favourite podcasts has to be 'Freakonomics - The hidden side of everything.'
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Asana and Slack”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“The fact that the amount of help you get from other entrepreneurs is insane.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“By planning my day. I strictly follow my calendar wherein I mark slots for my family and me time along with business commitments.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“I am personally driven by the contagious motivations and energies that I receive from others. I need to meet people [and] I need to talk to people to get motivated and to get the kick every day. By always learning and working with fine people, all the team that we’ve got, all the customers who keep pushing us to do better, all the community members who are always encouraging, and whoever is posting this award keeps me motivated and focused.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“A habit to keep me physically fit, meditation, yoga, and scheduling my day.”
More on CustomerSuccessBox
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Puneet Kataria of CustomerSuccessBox that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.