Founders Panel: How to Accelerate Sales and Customer Onboarding with Embedded Integrations – Register2020-09-09T00:54:43+00:00

Founders Panel: How to Accelerate Sales and Customer Onboarding with Embedded Integrations

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With and
Kim Loughead Kim Loughead VP Product Marketing
Audrey Walby Audrey Walby Founder/President
Jotham Ty Jotham Ty Founder

The ease in which your product connects with other applications and the number of applications it can connect with have a major impact in your company’s ability to close deals and onboard customers efficiently.

While your SaaS product is quickly growing, so are the number of customers waiting for their apps to be integrated into your platform. The customer onboarding process and managing varying degrees of project complexity needs to accelerate. Most product and customer success leaders quickly find themselves at crossroads on how to accelerate customer onboarding and reduce implementation costs as they hit high growth phases.

In this on-demand webinar, Celigo hosts a founders panel with Audrey Walby, Founder of SAFIO Solutions and Jotham Ty, Founder of Gappify to discuss:

  • A different approach for product to support customer integrations needs based on business operations and growth inflection points
  • Buy vs. build decision criteria
  • Key criteria for selecting an embedded integration partner
  • Results achieved in scaling sales and customer onboarding


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Full Webinar Transcript
Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon, everyone. My name’s Kim Loughead. I’m VP of Product Marketing here at Celigo, and welcome to our webinar today, How to Accelerate Sales and Customer Onboarding with Embedded Integrations. Super excited to have with me today Jothan Ty who is CEO at Gappify and Audrey Walby who is founder/president at SAFIO Solutions. So today’s session is a little bit different. We’re going to make it a bit more interview-style, a little Q&A throughout. So really wanted to be interactive with you guys as well, so if you have any questions, please put them into the Q&A panel, and we’ll ask them as we go along. We are recording today’s session, so you’ll get a recording of it in your email box tomorrow morning along with the slides as well. So with that, I’m going to. ask first Jotham to sort of introduce himself and a little bit about Gappify. Yes. Thanks, Kim. So my name is Jotham Ty and I am the founder and CEO of Gappify, and at Gappify, we are a provider of cloud-based accounting bots for the controllership team and some of the automations that we have, and our suite today include vendor onboarding, collections, vendor accrual confirmation, and confirming purchase orders. So as a company, we are backed by Morgan Stanley and also have a small investment from the AICPA. Our mission is pretty simple, we want to automate a lot of the pesky manual repetitive tasks that corporate accounts have to do. That way, we can elevate our profession and get them to be more analytical, strategic, and in a moment, I’ll talk about configuration-type work. Thanks, Jotham. So, off to you, Audrey. Okay. My name is Audrey Walby and I’m the founder of SAFIo Solutions, and we are a forecasting platform that helps companies optimize their inventories and identify opportunities and liabilities. We are web-based and we service three different areas of business, e-commerce, omnichannel, and the enterprise, and we help companies have vision to their inventory and demand by gathering their data together, connecting it to their various sources, different marketing platforms, 3PLs, and then we provide a proprietary forecasting platform once we’ve gathered all that information together so that they can forecast and optimize your inventory, and then we deliver custom data analytics so that they can do further analysis and reporting. Great. Thanks so much. So we’re going to start off with just talking a little bit about how SAFIO and Gappify are using Celigo’s embedded integrations, They are slightly different use cases. So we’re going to start off with Jotham and if you could sort of explain how you’re using Celigo. Yes. So our company uses today to have our process bot- and his name is Allen- connect to different systems. So yeah, mailing right now with our company stage we’re more most focused on at NetSuite. But basically, with Celigo’s product, we can pull data from that suite depending on what automations our customers have. We can pull vendor records, customer records, transactions, and so on. And of course, once [inaudible] is doing all this work in our platform and environment we also use Sligo to push data back and create transactions like journal entries and update vendor records and so on. Perfect. And Audrey? Okay, so our forecasting platform needs to be connected to our clients’ place of record, and that place of record could either be various marketplaces like Shopify, Amazon perhaps Quick Books 3PL or it can be ERP systems like NetSuite, Sage, Epicore and various other ones. And so we use Sligo to connect to our clients’ sources of records and create flows to help them achieve the results that they’re looking for. Fantastic. Alright. So the next sort of section we’re going to go through a few kind of questions arounds. What’s problem at Safio, we’re trying to solve some of the decision-making process a little bit on the results side that type of thing. So again we would do want this to be interactive. So I going to pepper the panelists with some questions, but I’m very open to having questions from the audience as well as we go through. So sort of setting the stage, you both have slightly different use cases for leading embedded integrations. And there was like specific problems so helping the audience kind of understand, how to identify the problems maybe what were some inflection points that you saw or what was your strategy to begin with, with integrations that sort of said, “Okay we’re going to need an integration solution and we’ll go from there.”? So [inaudible] with Jotham you started off knowing you needed integration in your product that maybe walk us through a little bit about how you got to knowing that you wanted it as part of your platform. Yeah, I apologize there may be some background noise with it’s either police sirens or some kind of ambulance, I promise you they’re not picking up here [laughter]. That’s good. So our story goes back several years actually and it starts with inception of our products. So we knew what we wanted our product to do which was to interact with an ERP system and process calculations and do confirmations and get all the mechanical things that accounts hate to do. Obviously, a critical piece to that model is being able to connect to a system, right? So as we’re building out our product the question that we were solving for was whether A we want to go out and use the services of a third-party connector to connect into different systems like NetSuite or two, should I start growing a team of engineers who can build support APIs across multiple systems. So from our standpoint, we wanted to get our product out to the market very quickly. Obviously, wanted to start generating early revenues from customers that were really excited about our product. So from our standpoint, we went with Sligo and yeah, obviously, more reasons in this but at least from inception we knew we can get our product to market using the model that we have designed. And I think one of the things you said that was really important and is sort of that last bullet there that you wanted to make sure it wasn’t it wasn’t sort of a dev effort. That seemed to be important to you from the get-go that you wanted to make sure it was– a non-technical user could [crosstalk]. Yeah. Absolutely. That is a huge part of not only our product model but our company’s mission statement, right? So we are in the business of providing accounting automation. But fundamentally, we want to help accountants develop new skills. So we want them to get away from rolling forward spreadsheets and sending emails to confirm information. And we want them to take on more modern-type tasks. So integrations and maintaining it is certainly a big part of it. So it’s important for us in the iPaaS selection that we choose to have the ability to train our internal accountants to use the connector solution in this case because we want them to be part of the onboarding process for our customers. We want our customers talking to fellow accountants to set up their automations and us. obviously allows us to do that. Sure. And then Audrey, again slightly different use cases, it’s more about sort of enabling your onboarding team or whoever is doing that onboarding of your client so maybe– so talk a little bit about where you were at, what sort of drove you to looking for something different, and then– yeah, some of the pain that you were seeing in your original process. Okay. So we needed to connect to our forecasting platform to our clients. And we have various clients coming from three different channels of business. You have e-commerce that just has platforms. You have omnichannel that has multiple connections, platforms. They might have EDI. They might have a 3PL. And then you have enterprise which generally has an ERP system. And so our challenge was to make sure that we would be able to connect to all those different types of businesses. And we had first gone out and worked with a partner that said they could do the job and sort of did not deliver. So that caused us to start to look for another service. And the reason we needed to find another service is part of our process is we have to gather a lot of data that’s used in forecasting. And then it has to be properly mapped and connected with flows going in and out of various sources of information. And so we needed a reliable system, a reliable platform like Celigo that had service and that provided notifications in case there was a drop-off or something didn’t go accordingly. And so the problem was because of the varied connections we really needed somebody who already has everything set up and in their library to already have the connections and make it easy. And previously, every other installation with our previous provider was a custom coding. And it was a development project. And it took too long and was too expensive. So we’re very pleased making the move to Celigo. Well, we’re very pleased to have you. Thank you. [laughter] We touched on it a little bit. But sort of digging a little bit deeper on this buy versus build decision because that always and more so, I think for you potentially, Joseph, is do I want to own this? Do I want to have ultimate control over how I integrate with these APIs? Or is that something that I can use a best of breed solution for? And it’s always a bit of a pro and con list that folks go through to make that decision. So obviously both of you have already gone through that process and landed on the buy side, but maybe we could go through a little bit of more detail about how you got there. What was your thinking? What were some of the key criteria that you put out that you wanted to make sure that that the platform or the solution you selected fulfilled and if there was any sort of dealbreakers or anything like that? So maybe this time we’ll start with you, Audrey, for a change. Okay. So when we were looking at making a change, we were looking at different options, perhaps building an API. But then when you build an API, there’s the cost of maintaining it and upgrading it with all the upgrades for the connections that you have and then also getting approval on the process to access into people’s systems. So that seemed to be a long timeframe plus cost prohibitive and so we wanted to start looking around to find a platform– an integration platform that was reliable and would make the most efficient use of our monetary resources and human resources ecause we did not want to spend a lot of time having any allocation to development. So that’s why searching for a platform really worked well for us. We could keep our team size the same and we have our business intelligence team now doing the connections in Celigo because it’s so easy and efficient. Great. So same question over to you, Joseph. Yeah. So our buy versus build decision, I guess I would sum it up in three main criteria. One is to speed to market. I mentioned this already earlier. So we had to make this decision early in our, obviously, product life cycle before we went live with our product. So one of the considerations was how quickly can we spin up an integration to NetSuite? Should we buy or should we build a team and figure out how to go about building APIs and connecting it to NetSuite’s APIs. So just from a purely time perspective it was a no-brainer. Going with the buy solution made perfect sense. Another criteria was, and is still, cost. So probably not a surprise because I’m an accountant, cost-sensitive for sure. So when we lined up the forecasts and the projections of what it would cost to use a tool like Celigo’s or to grow a team, whether it’s onshore or offshore, the math came out pretty clearly that buying was actually more cost-effective in the long run. So that was definitely huge for us And then lastly, and I also touched on this earlier, accountants have to be able to use the product. So when it was time for us to decide which provider to use within the buy group, we chose because I looked at the UX and UI, played around with some flows myself, and I was like, “Hey, you know what? I can do this as an accountant. That means the implement mentors that we hired internally, they’re gonna be accountants too. They’ll be able to use this as well and we can align with the vision that we have of elevating the accounting profession that way.” G reat. Yeah. When we we talked earlier with the three of us, it seemed like the theme was a few things, like deciding how you really wanted to use your resources, especially as early-stage startups, you want to focus your resources on where it really matters, which is on your product, not on stuff that’s not maybe core to your functionality. Maintenance, ease of use maintenance sort of falls into that same bucket. And then cost effectiveness, not only in the near-term but in the in the long-term. This is something that as you grow and scale that will grow and scale with you without being, as you say, cost-prohibitive. So is that a fair summary? Yes, exactly. Yep,Absolutely. All right. All right. So let’s move to the next thing. So once you decided to go with a platform approach– I know you all, obviously, ended up with Celigo but as you were sort of looking in the market– there’s lots of options out there. What were some of the key criteria that you were looking for and then were there any things that if the platform didn’t do X it was just off the table so maybe some guidance there on– as people are starting to think about, “Okay. Well, maybe if I go with a platform approach what should I really look for in that platform?” and pitch that one over to you Jothan. Yeah. So forgive me. I know I touched on some of these points already but I’ll try to articulate in a different way but for us, again, ease of use. The first bullet here on the slide is absolutely essential. So our model is one where we don’t rely on developers or people with engineering experience to maintain and build integrations on behalf of our end customers. So for a simple accountant like me, a debits and credits kind of guy, to be able to navigate around the platform, build flows, and connect into multiple applications not just NetSuite– but I can say with a lot of pride here that I’ve built connections in Jira and figured out how to do handlebars. The way it’s arranged in the back end just flows really well. It’s easy for me to– it’s not intimidating, right? I think one of the first concerns of a non engineer or non developer looking into a new application is getting overwhelmed with a lot of bells and whistles and layouts being all messy. But when I first looked at Celigo I was like, “Hey, we can figure this out,” and so that was the biggest driver for our decision. And, of course, over time our bot is going to talk to more applications not just NetSuite, not just Jira. So just seeing the rich list of different applications that has pre-built connections into is a huge plus for us. Right. And for those on the phone that might not know what handlebars means, it’s a list of functions that you can call. It’s a bit of a scripted language native to So, Audrey, same sort of question to you. You’d already had a bit of a bad experience, so I’m assuming your criteria became a bit more strict second go around. So maybe kind of walk us through what that was for you. Sure, definitely. The system had to be updated, reliable, and secure and by that making sure that all the connecting APIs– I mean, it’s nice that Celigo does the updates on the APIs versus us having to do the updates. The pricing model needed to fit into our business model so that we weren’t all priced in the marketplace by having a connection platform and then it needed to be easy to understand so that when we were quoting our clients, we knew exactly what the cost structure was. And one of the other criteria also is and a huge plus is that we were able to use personnel that we already had on staff because the connections are so easy and, previously, it was a big development project that we had to outsource, and it took too much time and money. So having a platform with the connections readily available that we can use personnel and staff is a big plus. Great. Are you using any of the templates, or built-in templates yet? I’m not sure. We are in the process of– looking into building templates. And right now, we’re using mainly connectors and flows. And then the next step will be to create templates. Okay. Cool. So, now we’ve– you guys are obviously, have been using Endnote, just as you guys have been a pseudo customer for a while. Audrey, you’re relatively new to the family. But you’ve both been able to get to a point where you’re seeing value and even ROI. So maybe start with you Audrey on this one. Just a little bit about now you’ve implemented, you’re using Sligo to do some of your onbooking. Walk us through what your world looks like now in comparison to what it was before? Okay. Our clients are very happy because everything’s been very smooth with the transition, and the import– and connection of data. So there haven’t been any problems. The internal team we have is very happy, because the system is very good, and allows us to do some of the flow changes and connections that we previously could not do. And they also receive an email in the event that a certain import did not work. Which is very positive otherwise they would have to log on and look on the old system. And so that’s very important. And then, like I said, we brought the onboarding in-house, and the business intelligence team is doing the onboarding. Versus having it outsourced, and having it take too much time and slow to react. And so, we’ve also reduced our onboarding time from– you’ve got two week period to probably down to just a few days between– by the time you do the test back and forth. And so that’s really positive. And regarding the return on investment, I mean, we’ve only been with legal since like, March of this year. But probably by the end of the year, we estimate that we’re already going to have an ROI of like, three times return on the investment that we made. So we are very, very pleased being here. And being on the Sligo system. Great. And do you think, when you’re talking to your potential customers and you talk about the integration piece, does it help you in that sales, is to basically sort of have that ability to check that box on the integration side? Oh, absolutely. The confidence level went up dramatically, which helps us close more sales. Just because the sales team has the confidence that we have such a strong partner with the integration side, and that it’s working smooth, and that it really opened up the door of options regarding the fold back and forth of what we can provide the client. Awesome. And then, just on your sides, this is more like getting your that market and just selling as many of those little boxes as you can, right? Yeah, yeah. And the solution makes it easy for us to do that and to do it very quickly too, Kim. So in our case, obviously, with any software provider, customer experience is important. Yeah, because of this model that we have where we are able to leverage a connector like yours, we can deliver some [inaudible] [bots?] in very little time– a small time period. So in our case, we have an SLA where we want our customers to spend less than six hours on implementation. So they come and talk to us, tell us what they want our bot Alan to do. And because of Celigo, we can connect very easily and see their applications, it’s a quick install of a Celigo bundle. A lot of our end customers already actually have that bundle, Kim. So yeah, that takes care of that step. And then from there, they just assign a new user account and that’s sweet. And they’re up and running. So this model has really done wonders for us. We want to reduce the time to implement even more. And this is specific to accounting, but it’s critical for us to get these automation solutions going quickly because for those that know what we do on a day to day basis, we’re trying to close books at the end of the month and then fit in improvement projects in between. So if it takes us three months to start and stop an implementation, that just becomes a really messy implementation cycle. But thanks to the piece, that is the integration piece of our product model, yeah, we can do this in between closes and we can get customers live quickly. So from an ROI perspective, I covered it already earlier. Just look at the hard costs alone. Cost of using a third-party provider like Celigo versus the hard costs of additional headcount and all the costs associated with adding that headcount. So for us, the hard cost savings is a no brainer. Our soft cost for the reasons I mentioned, speed to delivery is a big plus. We’re at a point now where this is scalable. So the processes that we have in place to create imports and exports and create flows and connections, we’ve got that down, it’s repeatable. Copy and paste. So it’s going to allow us to really grow and scale our company in the right ways that matter to our customers. Great. Appreciate that. So sort of as we kind of get to the end here, I mean you guys are both founders and CEOs of your companies. You have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders and integration and getting your platforms connected to the rest of the world is a key decision. But there’s lots of other decisions you have to make as well. So when you think about other founders or CEOs that may be on the call today, some practical tips for them to think about as they’re trying to figure out what their internal tech stacks need to look like to make sure that their organizations can scale as yours have. And Justin, may we start off with you? Yeah. So for our company specifically, we took on investor capital earlier. So of course with that comes the responsibility of providing updates and making sure there’s alignment on progress and growth. So for us and given that a lot of investors don’t know, even sophisticated ones don’t know how APIs work and why they’re important to a product delivery model. Yeah, just that noise alone, right? So imagine me having to raise another round of capital with investors and having some line items related to headcount that’s needed to connect into different systems. Yeah, the messaging and getting people on the same page on understanding why that’s important is hard, right? So there’s optics of just building a bigger team because you need to maintain integrations but with a third-party provider, it’s one item, the cost-benefit. Yeah, definitely checks out.and we get, [inaudible] from it. So for us, we have a good number of investors in our cap table who want updates. I can go to them every month and– I actually have a quarterly investor call– live investor call in a couple of days. Actually, it’s tomorrow now that I think about it. Uh-oh. Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, so one– I have to talk about Kim, is maintaining API. Is because that’s already taken care of [inaudible]. I can talk about the next young new cool features in our roadmap and that’s what they want to hear. So yeah, I mean, I think if any founder is listening to this, it is such a no brainer, Kim. Awesome. Yeah. We had our investor meeting last week. So I understand your pain. Well– Fun stuff. And Audrey, from your perspective, what are some sort of tips that you would give another CEO who’s trying to figure out how to get customers onto their platform as quickly as possible? Just from your perspective, sort of balancing that need to get them on quickly as well as obviously managing costs and making sure your team is as efficient as possible. Sure. So CEOs have a lot of responsibilities. And for us, client satisfaction is number one. And one of the main challenges and it used to be a challenge was obviously integrating with a client’s source of record. And so really reducing a lot of the stress and headache for myself and the rest of the team, to go to an integration platform like [inaudible] was really fantastic because it was a reliable way to have those integrations regarding investors. It was speed to revenue, which as a startup that’s very important. And also it’s a very efficient and cost-effective solution because you don’t have to expend resources to do the development and rely on someone else’s time schedule. So it has been fantastic all the way around and has definitely reduced the challenges and stress levels for, like I said, both myself and the team, associated being a startup. That’s one less thing to worry about. Awesome. Great. Well, that’s sort of the end of where we’re at today. We’re going to open it up to the audience for any additional questions they may have. I think we covered a lot of ground today on why you want to potentially look at a platform vs. maybe building or coding directly to the APIs, what are some of the key criteria we should look for in a platform that’s going to be a long term partner for you because it’s definitely a strategic decision. And then some of the results that a couple of our friends here have experienced so far with it. If you want to learn more about either integration IO or Safio or Gappify, the links are here. I want to take the time to thank Jotham and Audrey for all of their insights today and the copious plugs for Sligo. I appreciate that. Since it wasn’t necessary but we definitely appreciate it along the way. We’re happy to have you as part of the family and hope to continue to serve you well in the long term. So with that, we’re going to end today’s session and I appreciate everybody’s time in attendance. Thanks very much. Thank you very much. Thank you.