Interview With Abhijeet Vijayvergiya
Describe your product or service:
“Connected revenue enablement platform for modern businesses that drives visibility and collaboration across the revenue function to boost revenue growth & sales productivity.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We at Nektar.ai are reimagining the future of modern B2B sales!
- We believe that the tools should work for humans and not the other way round.
- We are on a mission to change the falling sales rep productivity.
- We focus on the user and not just for the buyer.
- We want to "democratize quota attainment" and have all sales reps hit their quota and not just a few rock stars.
- We take pride in [our] diverse and remote-first work culture, so anyone, anywhere, can be part of our team and join us in this exciting journey.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Venture capital; our founding story is here”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“16 member team”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I lived through the pain point of being a sales rep, [then a] manager, and then a VP [of] Sales. [I] hated firing sales reps [and] wanted to help other sales teams and founders go through a transition from founder-led sales to a [better] predictable sales engine. That was the foundation of Nektar.ai in November [of] 2020.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“I began my career in SaaS in the customer success function, where I spent a lot of time helping users adopt the product and deliver return on investment to the buyers. I was later encouraged to move into sales to support the founding team [to] distribute the product that saw a solid product-market fit.
Here my background in customer success helped me deliver a lot of value to the sales organization. I started winning many deals due to my understanding of use cases, customer pain points, and numerous success stories of existing customers that I could contextually share in any sales meeting.
We grew the team fast (5 to 50 people in 18 months). I transitioned from an individual contributor role to a team manager and became part of the company’s board of directors.
Building a scalable and repeatable sales engine now became the highest priority. Unfortunately, that was easier said than done and proved to be super hard as I went through a steep learning curve in that process.
I leaned on to my peers at other SaaS startups to take their help and advice. I realized that almost everyone was having a tough time transitioning from a founder-led sales process to create a predictable & repeatable sales engine.
I tried many tools, processes, methodologies, sales training, and enablement programs but struggled to scale and sustain the best practices across the fast-growing sales team.
I always felt a significant gap in getting the correct and complete data from CRM and other tools. This data that [is] missing can provide visibility and drive collaboration needed across the GTM team required for timely decision making to win a critical deal, penetrate a strategic account, or deploy our sales playbook.
Like other fast-growing sales organizations, we ran into a scenario where we had to let go of salespeople and hire new ones. I always hated firing sales reps and felt that ... the sales leadership could better enable the salespeople and set them up for success.
Over the last few years, I have been on a mission to drive productivity and started exploring ways to enable more reps to become successful, more first-line managers to be better coaches, and more revenue teams to become productive.
What started as a pain point I was personally solving for became the very foundation of Nektar.ai.
For me, the final trigger point was this article that came in Forbes, “57% of AE’s missed their quota last year,” and I realized that there was a global pain point around sales rep productivity.
I started speaking to numerous sales leaders and founders. I realized they all bake in the inefficiency (less than 70% reps meeting quota) and attrition (30-40%+) as they plan their sales capacity to hit their number. The sales plan and the revenue model incorporates bodies and numbers and not people to be successful.
I decided to quit and do something about it and started Nektar.ai in Feb 2020, along with my old friend from IIT Kharagpur, Aravind Ravi Sulekha.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Nektar is also called Amrit (elixir) — the drink of the gods in Sanskrit. It is valuable. Honey is also called Nektar, which is made by honeybees who work hard to convert pollen into something valuable, just like sales reps work hard and deliver money (revenue) for the organization.
We are a product built for sales teams and felt Nektar belonged to us as a company name.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“Hiring a distributed team and scaling it. We have now mastered it and find ourselves to be very productive.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Fast-growing, modern B2B sales teams that are digitally distributed and work remotely/hybrid. B2B sales are complex yet collaborative, and we provide unprecedented intelligence, automation, and collaboration to make them successful.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“[Nektar.Ai] started with an early access program and [is] now scaling through outbound led direct sales. [We want to] be a thought leader in our space and show the world what the future of sales should look like and develop the market further.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Word of mouth, network, outbound, early access program.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“[The number] of users using the platform every week, time we save for our users, and improving leading indicators of revenue success for our customers.”
What's your favorite entrepreneurial book and podcast?
“‘Atomic Habits,’ ‘The Mom Test,’ and ‘The Sales Hacker Podcast.’”
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
“Stay Humble, Believe in your vision, and continue to iterate.”
Who is your support system?
“My family and running.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I am motivated by the pain I faced as a salesperson and want to help other sales professionals going through the same.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Stay disciplined, [maintain] focused execution, and bring in work-life integration to sustain through the journey. Plan before you execute.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Helping my customers to become successful, building a great team and a world-class product in an insanely short period of time.”
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More on Nektar.ai
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Abhijeet Vijayvergiya of Nektar.ai that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.
Nektar.ai, a software as a service (SaaS) startup company, announced it raised $8.1 million to fuel the growth of its B2B sales software.