Thursday , October 22 2020

Outreach CEO Manny Medina on leading the unicorn startup in Seattle through the COVID 19 crisis

Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach, speaks at the GeekWire Summit 2019. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

"I love the man who can smile in trouble, who can gain strength from need and who can become brave by thinking."

Executives find inspiration in a variety of ways as they lead companies through the COVID 19 crisis. For Outreach CEO Manny MedinaIt is a quote from Thomas Paine that helps him repair the ship when it launches in Seattle.

"I try to be visible and to set the tone," he said.

Range is in a unique position amid the global pandemic. The multi-billion dollar sales company, one of the few unicorn startups in the Seattle region, helps customers automate and optimize communication with potential customers.

The sales process looks very different in the COVID-19 era. In the midst of the global pandemic, face-to-face meetings in chic restaurants or at large conferences are no longer possible due to social distance orders and work from home. Offers are closed through video conferencing tools, not dinner and a handshake.

Despite the economic slowdown, Medina said, business is still going well and the 550-strong startup has avoided firing employees. The company, which raised around $ 114 million a year ago, opposes the trend as more than 360 tech startups have cut nearly 36,000 positions to survive the COVID 19 storm.

"Many customers come to us and are looking for instructions on how to do this," Medina told GeekWire. "They want insight into the remote management of their teams and the control of their business."

Outreach achieved unicorn status with its latest round of funding. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

Some outreach customers such as DoorDash, DocuSign and Tableau are seeing an increase in demand. They use Outreach to handle the flood of incoming requests when more people order food delivery or use cloud-based software.

Other customers are withdrawing their expenses as the income dries up. Outreach helps them develop and test new product market adjustments, value propositions, and more, said Medina.

Medina said the company is doing "more check-ins than ever" with customers and "working hard to master the ability to build trusting relationships – at a distance".

"Just two months ago, it was religion that you had to meet someone in person to build trust … now we're doing everything via video," he said.

Outreach, which is number 12 on the GeekWire 200 list of top startups in the Pacific Northwest, is also launching new products for its over 4,000 customers. Kaia made her debut on Monday, a voice-controlled AI assistant that improves customer conversations in real time.

It also started its annual unleash event today and put the sales conference online for the first time. Outreach videotaped and produced keynotes and other sessions from speakers' homes across the country. Virtual demo booths were also created. Slack channels for more than 11,000 participants to interact with each other; and even made an outreach coloring book for kids. Medina called it a "Herculean effort."

Internally, Medina said he communicated too much and stayed as "talkative" as possible. He switched from sending weekly emails to sending weekly videos – "it helps me to be visible and show both a serious and optimistic tone," he said – and keeps weekly office hours through Zoom.

According to Medina, the transparency at Outreach is currently also enormous when it comes to business development, ongoing changes and future plans.

"I struggle with the same things everyone has – I am entertaining my toddler while trying to do my job," said the CEO. "I lack the energy I get through personal interactions. But I want to make sure that everyone knows that we are together and that we turn our backs on each other."

Outreach donates $ 100 a week to parents who are parents to buy educational materials, tutoring, tools, supplies, etc., and provides additional support beyond the health plan for employees whose families are affected by COVID-19.

The startup did not apply for a small business loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, despite pressure from investors, said Medina The New York Times last week.

Medina, a former Microsoft director, started a recruiting software startup called GroupTalent with his co-founders Andrew Kinzer, Gordon Hempton, and Wes Hather in 2011. But the entrepreneurs pivoted in 2014 to focus on building tools for sellers.

Outreach competes with companies such as Vymo, InsideSales and SalesLoft.

About Charlotte Polly Olsson

Charlotte Polly Olsson is a 53 years old personal trainer who enjoys relaxing, playing video games and cycling. She is generous and inspiring, but can also be very dull and a bit greedy.

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