As an entrepreneur, Zvi Band had a pretty good thing going for himself. Back in 2009, just out of school, Zvi was working for a government, consulting firm but then started his own. Quickly, his client list included Ford, the New York Stock Exchange and Volkswagen to name a few. Although he knew the right people, he didn’t feel like that was what he was meant to be doing. As an independent contractor, he constantly felt the need for an assistant to keep up with his contacts and maintain his relationships.
That’s when the idea for Contactually was born. Founded in 2011 by Zvi Band, Contactually, now with 55 full-time employees, is an intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) platform to help professionals stay engaged with each other.
When starting Contactually, were there challenges or anything you didn’t expect?
When you’re starting a business you don’t necessarily know who the target audience is going to be. For example, specifically for Contactually, I started it to create my own niche with entrepreneurs, but early on I started seeing all these real estate agents coming on board with the application. I knew nothing about real estate and had never worked in real estate, but we started experimenting and now real estate is one of the biggest industries that we service.
We’re now considered one of the top CRM apps for real estate. We serve other industries too, but if you had told me when we started back in 2011 that we’d be one of the top CRMs for real estate, I would have asked you what a real estate agent does.
In terms of challenges, one the of the things that I really didn’t expect is that early on we spent too much time thinking about how we’d get the company to survive another month or two or three, and not necessarily what we wanted the company to look like in three years. We made a lot of short-sighted decisions about how we’d stay alive today, and not making sure the products or the business could be the best they could be in a few years.
How did you go about correcting that?
We built a product and very quickly slapped it together. We’d build entire features in a day and we didn’t necessarily make sure everything worked. We were just trying to ‘move fast and break things.’ We just wanted to learn as quickly as possible.
The next thing we knew we had thousands of paying customers, but they were encountering all these bugs and issues. When we started the company we didn’t care about that too much. We were like, “We’ll fix it later.” We found that we had to go back and spend a lot of time making sure the product was as good as it could be.
How does Contactually’s CRM differentiate itself from its competitors?
The core differentiation is that it’s all about making sure you’re building relationships, not just closing transactions. Most CRMs on the market are all about how to move a transaction from the very beginning to being a paying customer, and that’s it. We’re more focused on how to build and keep customers for life, or if a lead comes in how do I stay in touch with it.