Hi! It’s me, Spiffy the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on entrepreneurs making a difference in healthcare for all of us around the world! Today’s rockstar is Jason VandeBoom, founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign!
Spiffy: Welcome Jason, it’s great to meet you! Tell me about ActiveCampaign and the challenges you’re addressing.
Jason: Thanks for having me Spiffy! Our mission at ActiveCampaign is to help businesses of all sizes create amazing customer experiences across their entire customer lifecycle. Our platform is designed to enable the companies themselves to create ideal customer experiences for their unique needs to foster growth. Our vision is to displace stale and enterprise-focused platforms that ignore the needs of small businesses. Every business, regardless of size, should have access to automation support as they seek to create great customer experiences.
Spiffy: So, what would you say was the key motivating factor in focusing on customer service?
Jason: When I first started ActiveCampaign, I handled every customer inquiry myself no matter the size. I’d spend hours making sure that customers got what they needed. And I saw early on what a huge difference it made in retention and referrals. I found there was a real need for this kind of advanced tech at an affordable price for businesses of all sizes. There’s a misconception that small businesses are simple, but they actually have complex needs and limited resources. That’s where we support them.
Spiffy: I see! And how is ActiveCampaign working to create a more equitable world?
Jason: The stakes have never been higher for small businesses! Since the start of the pandemic, we've seen SMBs (small and medium businesses) lead the way in innovation by opening online stores, conducting more customer engagement through digital channels, and doing more with fewer resources — just to improve the customer experience. We’re helping SMBs around the world create great customer experiences, enabling them to compete with enterprises right now, and succeed in the long-term.
Spiffy: Wow, Jason, this is really phenomenal. Have you experienced any milestones recently?
Jason: Actually, Spiffy, we’re lucky to have experienced tremendous growth this year. Key milestones in 2020 included a $100 million Series B funding round, $100 million ARR (annual recurring revenue), serving 120,000 customers in 170 countries, and having over 700 employees with the goal of increasing to 1,000 employees within 2021. Our growth shows that our solution is solving a problem facing businesses globally. We serve companies of all sizes, primarily SMBs. They are the true backbone of the global economy. When they excel, we excel, and so do all the economies that they’re a part of.
Spiffy: So with all this success, have you ever experienced times of failure? And if you did, what did you learn?
Jason: My biggest piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to follow your gut about what’s right for you, your customers, and your team. The times I haven’t listened to my gut, I’ve regretted it. For example, one common piece of advice is that start-ups should do one niche thing well. Staying focused sounds smart, but when my team followed this advice, it stifled our innovation and took us a while to get back on our growth pattern. For us, pursuing several paths and validating each is the best way to innovate.
Spiffy: What a key lesson, Jason! What about something unexpected you’ve learned recently; do you have any examples of that?
Jason: Yes, Spiffy, I learned how to prioritize mental health since working remotely. Pre-pandemic, I thought I had a good work-life balance and promoted that with my team. But being in quarantine made me, and the rest of my team, revisit our employee benefits to make sure we’re giving employees better balance in their current situation. We’ve increased flex hours, launched new benefits like mental health counseling and isolation support groups, and offered stress-relieving perks like access to a meditation app.
Spiffy: Way to go, Jason! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Jason: I have one more piece of advice, Spiffy. Over invest in your customers. Often, companies treat customer support as a cost center, and they spend a lot of effort reducing this cost. I think the opposite is true. We treat it as a research and development or innovation investment. By investing in customers with one-to-one support, consulting, and training, we have managed to amass incredibly high customer reviews and brand advocates. We’ve experienced the effectiveness because around half of our leads are from customer referrals.
Spiffy: Wise words, indeed! It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Jason! Time for me to blast off.
Jason VandeBoom is the founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign. Having founded ActiveCampaign as a means to fund his education, Jason pursued a degree in fine arts until shifting his focus entirely to growing the company. He is a self-taught software engineer and technologist.