Successful leaders are ambitious and dedicated from the start. Such leaders always go beyond traditional ideologies and have a strong work ethic. Jody Gidden, Co-founder and CEO of Introhive is one such dedicated and passionate leader.
Introhive is a SaaS-based relationship intelligence platform startup out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Its mission is to help its clients succeed by realizing the full value of their relationships and data. The company does that by making customer relationship management (CRM) tools more appealing to the professionals who rely on them—typically the folks in marketing, sales and business development.
Essentially, its software uses artificial intelligence to take manual, tedious CRM data entry and management off people’s plates, while also providing them with visualizations and insights into their business-relationship maps. So, they can not only make the connections they need faster but easily keep an eye on their ongoing relationships.
Some of the company’s best-known clients include consultants PwC, Ernst and Young and Grant Thornton; law firms Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Howard Kennedy LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP; and Commercial Real Estate Firms Colliers International and Cushman Wakefield.
Beyond professional services, Introhive is also seeing demand from other industry verticals including technology, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and life sciences.
Jody and Stewart Walchli, head of business development, launched Introhive in 2012. But the genesis behind Introhive probably started long before that, just before their company Chalk Media was acquired by BlackBerry in 2008.
Back then, they were trying to sell to Fortune 500 accounts and discovered how difficult it was to get warm introductions to these potential buyers. “The real challenge, we discovered, was a lack of visibility into business relationships. That was caused, in part, by unreliable or incomplete data in customer relationship management tools—aka CRMs,” Jody said.
They had a revelation then that this was a pain point that transcended any one business or even industry. So, they started Introhive with a goal: to help businesses succeed by making CRMs more appealing to the professionals who rely on them.
Today, Jody is the CEO as well as a co-founder, with a primary focus on product development.
Value Business Relationships
At its core, the Introhive platform uses artificial intelligence to do two things: 1) Take traditionally manual, time-consuming data entry and management off professionals’ plates — saving time and money across an organization; 2) Serve up easy-to-understand business-relationship data visualizations and insights. This information enables its users to not only keep an eye on their ongoing relationships with their customers but also more quickly make the new connections they need to grow their businesses.
Jody believes that relationships are really the root of every business or organization. He says, “What we’ve learned is that Introhive’s benefits and pain-point eliminations transcend industry. Whether you’re trying to stem customer or employee churn, smooth the way for a merger or acquisition, enhance your key account management or make legacy planning less tedious, relationship management—understanding what your network really looks like and where it’s strong or not so strong—is at the heart of your issue. And that’s where Introhive comes in.”
A clear proof point regarding how much the platform benefits users is its explosive growth. Today, Introhive’s platform has more than 150,000 users across more than 90 countries. In 2018 alone, it expanded its services into new global markets, including Germany, Ireland, and Australia, as well as a push into the Middle East with long-time partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
As an early adopter of Introhive’s software in its Canadian operation, PwC is also a good example of the platform’s benefits. During their initial Canadian launch, they saved more than 11,000 hours of partner and practitioner time and $375,000 in contact enrichment services via automation. Today that deployment has grown to over 100,000 users across 77 different countries
Innovation Through Personalization
Jody’s way of innovating its products and services is through personalization. “We make it a point to talk to our customers very regularly. At least 30 minutes a week. And that goes beyond onboarding, throughout their product journey. We do that not just to help them better use the tool to navigate business challenges, but also to get their feedback on what new features would really help them stand out and hit their goals,” he mentioned.
That’s why Introhive’s continuous-evolution roadmap includes ongoing research and development, too. So, it is consistently, regularly delivering enhancements and new features that add value.
A Dedicated Leader
Growing up, both Jody’s mother and father were entrepreneurs with their own independent businesses. Having that as a foundation and background definitely instilled a love of entrepreneurship in him at an early age. In fact, he actually started his first “business” venture in elementary school.
“That entrepreneurial spirit stayed with me, and since then I found that with enough tenacity and will, I could achieve what I put my mind to. In fact, I created my first startup without having finished my secondary education,” said Jody.
Jody created and led the software products of two other successful companies through to their acquisition, too (icGlobal that was sold to the leader in the space in 2001; SmartForce, and Scholars.com that was sold to CBT Systems).
“Tenacity and will. My motto is “success is half preparation and half intensity”, he added.
React Quickly and Creatively
Commenting on the hurdles which came across, Jody operated startups successfully through the dot com crash in 2001 and the financial crisis in 2008. “What I learned from those experiences is that it’s important to set extremely high standards and continue to adjust periodically. The important thing is to be able to react quickly and creatively,” states Jody.
To that end, one of the primary reasons that Introhive has made it past the risky early years of its business was due to its ability to manage costs in tough times and to raise enough capital to sustain the company.
The Future of AI
Jody believes the AI industry is now becoming a mainstream tool to solve business problems that couldn’t be solved as quickly or accurately before these technologies existed. He predicts the industry is going to see massive automation among a lot of the mundane business tasks in the years to come.
Words of Advice
When asked about a piece of advice to give to budding entrepreneurs, Jody advices emerging business leaders to hire people who share similar values to you. “I’ve found that people are committed to a goal when you’re making a major impact and when they get to work with a highly exceptional team,” said Jody.