SaaStr Podcast #350 with Contentstack Founder & CEO Neha Sampat

Ep. 350: Neha Sampat is the Founder and CEO @ Contentstack, a modern content management system bringing business and tech teams together to deliver personalised, omnichannel experiences. Atypical in our world, but Neha scaled the business to well over $1M in ARR before raising funding. Now Neha has raised over $31M from the likes of Insight Partners and Illuminate. Prior to Contentstack, Neha was the Founder and CEO @ Built.io and before that spent 10 years as the Founder and CEO @ Raw Engineering, building a leading digital transformation consultancy.

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How did Neha make her way into the world of SaaS and content management systems having previously built a digital transformation agency?
* How the heck did Neha scale Contentstack to over $1M in ARR without raising capital, whilst being based in the Bay? What were the signals that made Neha realize she had a scalable software business? What did Neha look for in her first seed round investors? How did that profile change when she went out to raise the Series A?
* How has being a sommelier helped Neha break the glass ceiling of business? What are some lessons Neha has learned in terms of building true and genuine relationships with customers beyond the transaction? What are the counter-intuitive strategies Neha has found work when it comes to motivating remote teams?
* Why did Neha decide to build out so much of the tech team well outside of the Bay in a town outside of Mumbai? Does Neha believe the future of tech is in the valley or decentralized?

 

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Jason Lemkin
SaaStr
Harry Stebbings
Neha Sampat

Below, we’ve shared the transcript of Harry’s interview with Neha.

Harry Stebbings: Welcome back. You are listening to the official SaaStr Podcast with me, Harry Stebbings. And diving straight into our show today, I’m very excited to welcome an incredible founder who did something very atypical for our industry. She scaled her business to well over a million dollars in ARR before ever raising any funding. Intrigued? You should be. And so with that, I’m very excited to welcome Neha Sampat, founder and CEO at Contentstack, a modern content management system, bringing business and tech teams together to deliver personalized omni-channel experiences. As I said, atypical in our world, but Neha scaled the business to well over a million in ARR before raising any funding, and now Neha has raised over $31 million in funding from the likes of Insight Partners and Illuminate. And prior to Contentstack, Neha was the founder and CEO at Built.io. And before that, spent 10 years as the founder and CEO at Raw Engineering, building a leading digital transformation consultancy.

Harry Stebbings: I do also want to say a huge thank you to the wonderful Teddie Wardi at Insight and Cindy Padnos at Illuminate for some fantastic question suggestions today. I really did so appreciate that. 

Harry Stebbings: But that’s enough from me. So now I’m very excited to welcome Neha Sampat, founder and CEO at Contentstack.

Harry Stebbings: Neha, it is such a joy to have you on the show today, I’ve heard so many great things, both from Cindy at Illuminate and Teddie at Insight. So thank you so much for joining me today.

Neha Sampat: Thank you. And thanks for having me on. I’m very excited to be here.

Harry Stebbings: Not at all. When Cindy says the incredible things she does, it’s an episode that I’ve been looking forward to. So I would love to kick off, though, with a little on you. So tell me, how did you make your way into the wonderful world of startups, but really come to found Contentstack?

Neha Sampat: So I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. When most kids played house, I always pretended I was running my own fashion firm or my own factory. I was always up to something. So when I was 12 years old, my best friend and I started a fan club for our favorite band, who I’m not going to name right now, and I charged teenagers all over the world $18 for a homemade fan club folder that we made ourselves. And we made over a thousand dollars in profit one summer and then reinvested that into creating a competitive Olympics event for our neighborhood.

Neha Sampat: And then that in turn funded our next young venture. And we essentially took bootstrapping to the next level when we were just kids. So it’s kind of in my blood. And from that point forward, went to high school and college like normal kids do. And I graduated and moved to Silicon Valley, not really knowing what I was getting into, but knowing that I wanted to be in something that was fast paced and exciting. And my brother actually pointed me to tech and to Silicon Valley. And so I moved and within a year of being in Silicon Valley, the entrepreneurial itch kicked back in and I ended up leaving the job I was in.

Neha Sampat: And I started a PR firm with my closest new friends from Silicon Valley. And we started to represent major consumer technology brands and then software brands. I essentially started off doing services in tech as a marketing person, and eventually went into product marketing and product management and realized that I have an incredible passion for products, and products that change the way that we work and the way that we do things. That eventually led me to building products. I built a parking app, Curb Karma, which we launched at TechCrunch Disrupt back in 2012.

Neha Sampat: I learned a lot about wine, so I launched some products around wine education, and that series of ventures eventually led me to where I am today, running a world class software company for enterprise companies.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask you a question? A lot of people are coming out of college today, and they’re questioning what to do with their careers in terms of direction. And they always ask me three options. They say, “Hey, I could join a startup. I can start a start up or I could join an incumbent.” I’m really intrigued, given your kind of ingrained entrepreneurship from birth, what do you advise those graduates and how do you think about the advice you give them?

Neha Sampat: It’s really funny, cause I think back to that time and how confident I was and how I thought I knew everything, and I really didn’t know that much. I just had the confidence, right? And so I go into this job thinking if I work for a PR firm, I can learn everything I need to learn and then eventually I’ll start my own. So I kind of had that intention, but a few weeks into it, I kind of already felt like I could do a better job on my own. I started thinking about spinning off to do my own thing right away. I feel like it depends on where you are in your kind of journey and your confidence.

Neha Sampat: If you feel like you’ve got it, if you’ve got the itch, I would say, just go for it because you learn so much in that journey that you can constantly pivot and change and continue to learn more. If you feel like you need to gain more experience, do that first, but just kind of have an eye on, what would you do differently? What would you take away from the experience and how would you put that to work?

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, I agree. I think the confidence is key, but I do want to move to Contentstack. As I said, I think one of the most fascinating things with Contentstack is the many narrative violations that worked out so well and gone against the grain of startup mythology. And one that I spoke to Cindy about before is, your scaling from nought to a million in ARR. And you scale to a million in ARR, based in SF without any outside funding, which seems pretty impossible and unheard of in today’s world. Bluntly, and thanks to Cindy at Illuminate, how the heck did you do that without taking any outside capital?

Neha Sampat: So it’s funny. We actually scaled pretty far beyond that before we raised funds, but essentially, for a Silicon Valley based startup, our playbook did not look like the companies around us. We were doing everything very different. For starters, I’m not an engineer and I’m a female. So running a tech company with a lot of engineers, as a CEO from my background, was already kind of against the odds. We built our engineering team in an unproven location in the outskirts of a city in Mumbai, in a city called [inaudible 00:07:55] which is not known for tech. There’s no tech schools there, but we were able to find undiscovered talent in a place that you wouldn’t necessarily expect it, which helped us to grow a team that was super talented.

Neha Sampat: We started off by building a profitable services business, and that services business helped us to uncover real use cases for the products that we wanted to build. As we started to build those products, we were doing that with the profits from the services business. So that allowed us to extend our time without needing any outside capital, and building really cool products that we were able to test in our customer base before we really essentially went to market. So we had almost like an incubation company within our own company, building incredible products that were super competitive. And when we were ready to take those to market and to actually put the fire behind them for go-to-market marketing, sales, all of that good stuff, that’s when we spun them out and started to look at raising funds.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask what were the signals to you, when you look at those kind of incubated products? What were the signals that made you go, “Absolutely. We’ve got a sustainable, scalable business here with these products, versus let’s keep incubating and keep doing more services.” What signals drove you to feel confident that you had the business?

Neha Sampat: The obvious thing is demand, right? We were not spending a ton of money on marketing. I would say we were very scrappy with what we were doing from a marketing perspective, but we were selling products and we were hearing from the market that they wanted more and that they wanted to talk to us and we couldn’t keep up with that demand. That sort of product market fit being in your face was probably the biggest thing. And then we were in two very distinct spaces that were really hot. One was an integration platform, as a [inaudible 00:09:40] space with a company called Built.io, and then content management, which was modernizing with Contentstack. And so we had both of these products under our services business, and they’re both really incredibly hot areas to grow. We realized if we don’t spin these out and give them what they need, we won’t be able to capitalize on either of them to their full extent. And so that was kind of the obvious moment for us to make that change.

Harry Stebbings: Speaking of capitalizing on that opportunity, then you decide to go out to raise the seed round. And that’s where Cindy comes in. But I guess my question is, and this was asked for by Cindy, so I guess there might be a little bit of bias, but what did you want in that seed investor, first off?

Neha Sampat: It really came down to sharing the excitement about our space and with Contentstack in particular, this is the product that I have had the most passion about from when I started doing entrepreneurial things many years ago. And the reason is, it actually is we’re in this world that’s changing and modernizing. There are people on the business side and people on the technical side that want different things. And we built a product that addresses both sides and addresses large organizations and enterprises, and it’s really hard to do that. Cindy got it right away, as did our other seed investor, Linnea from Gingerbread Capital. Both of them not only shared the passion for the product and what we were doing, and they believed in the opportunity, but they also shared a passion for our team and the rest of the founders. And we just felt that connection. So from a seed perspective, we were looking for that.

Harry Stebbings: Okay. So you’re looking for that shared excitement, the shared passion, the enthusiasm of the seed investor. When you think about the translation to the series A, obviously you got my former colleague and the wonderful Teddie from Insight onboard, but what did you want from the series A, and how was that different from that?

Neha Sampat: Yeah, so the series A, we actually raised a pretty sizable round. We did a 31 and a half million dollar series A, which is usually a B or further down. And so it was really about the scale. The reason that we raised such a large round was so that we could triple our sales teams, so we could get the go to market underway, so we could address all the demand that we were seeing. So what we were looking for there is a longer term partner, someone that potentially would have that multi-stage experience, that not only shared the excitement that we got at the earlier stage, but also understood our longterm vision and brought operational expertise to help us meet that scale and demand. So that’s where insight was an incredible fit for what we were trying to do.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think they have the funds to scale rounds as well. I do have to ask, though, because it’s a unique experience, bootstrapping then raising from more boutique seed firms, like as we said, Gingerbread and Illuminate, but then also adding Insights to the cap table. When you advise entrepreneurs today, what advice do you often find yourself giving them when it comes to fundraising?

Neha Sampat: I think the biggest thing that stood out to me is that you shouldn’t be married to your plan. You can learn as you go, you can pivot quickly. We essentially thought that we were going to do a series A a bit earlier, and we decided that the seed was enough to get us to the next inflection point. But that was sort of an argument we had to have in our heads. And if anything, I would go back to myself and say, you know what, that’s actually okay. And it’s going to turn out better as a result.

Neha Sampat: And so I think that’s the big thing. And then a couple of tactical things, we learned that all investors, whether they’re going to move forward or not, will want to have conversations with your customers, and customers are your lifeblood. They’re sort of the most precious currency you can give to an investor in the process. So I would just caution other founders that yes, you should ask your customers to support you, but do it in a way that’s a little bit more limited to getting further along in conversations with investors. And when you know that you’re likely to move forward, that’s when you bring your customers into the mix.

Harry Stebbings: I’m so with you on preserving the customers and you really don’t want to overload them. As you said, customers are King. But how do you think about diligencing, how far along the investor is, and is it right to put an FAQ pack together from your customers? How can you actually ensure that the lead is as warm as you think it is before you introduce them?

Neha Sampat: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, I think what I learned is the ones that were very serious about us and not just trying to learn about the space, were doing a lot of their own diligence. And it came back to me. I was getting text messages from either customers or other strategic partners in the industry that were saying, “Hey, I just heard from this investor, are you guys looking to raise?” You would know. If there’s a pulse on what you’re trying to do, you’ll find out about it and the better investors are doing their own homework before they’re really coming to you for that information.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, absolutely. I do have one more question on the investor to founder relationship [inaudible 00:14:14] in the last 18 months, I’ve joined my first boards, and I constantly think about what I can do to be the best board member that I can be. In your mind, what would you advise me, a freshly minted board member, on how I can be the best partner to you, the founder, and how I can build that relationship?

Neha Sampat: You know, I’m actually new to having investors on my board too, cause this has all happened in the last year, but what I get the most value from, and Teddie’s an incredible partner on my board, is that he listens and he provides insights, no pun intended, from the rest of the portfolio and from his own experience. And that’s, I think, the best thing that you can bring to the table and you’ve had some 2,500 conversations with either investors or entrepreneurs. So you’ve been exposed to so much information that just making things relatable, helping people to solve problems, that’s really what it comes down to and being supportive. It’s been a really weird year, and being an entrepreneur in general, there’s lots of ups and downs and smiles and frowns as Snoop Dogg would say, but it’s kind of rolling with that and being supportive and being able to kind of help point your entrepreneurs in the direction of something positive and progressive, to move the ball forward.

Harry Stebbings: You mentioned your relationship with Teddie there, and I obviously spoke to Teddie before the show and he mentioned the incredible relationship you have also, but he mentioned kind of the conviction building that was driven with the investment, largely being with you and just the faith that he had in you. I’d love to start on you as a leader. And when we look at your background, it’s also a fascinating background, because I think you’re the first guest I’ve ever had on the show, who’s a sommelier. I mean, first, congratulations on that. But I mean, second is also, and this one is from Teddie, how have you used that background as a sommelier to break the glass ceiling in business?

Neha Sampat: I love that question. It’s so incredible because when I became a certified sommelier, it was actually about 10 years ago. I did it as a hobby. It was something that I was passionate about. I love wine. I love the taste of it. I love what I’ve learned about the world and geography and history as a result of my studies of wine. I did not know that it was going to become such an incredible business tool, but it has. I’ll give you a few examples that stand out. I remember when I was first studying, before I even passed, I was so involved in it that people knew, and I was working at a wine bar and moonlighting and my whole company knew, and I got invited to so many executive events that I would not have otherwise qualified for, or so many conversations that I would most likely have been left out of, because of my wine experience.

Neha Sampat: You know, and it’s interesting how that has then led to events that we’ve been able to pull off within our customer base, with partners, with analysts, with press, just because they’re interested in the knowledge that we bring to the table from a wine perspective. Cause it’s just so different than sitting around and talking about tech and APIs and things like that. So it’s been an incredible tool to open doors and I didn’t know that’s what I was getting into, and we’ve actually been able to turn it into something that has been a business development tool and a customer relationship management tool and a lot of fun for the internal team employees, the brand, all that good stuff.

Harry Stebbings: I absolutely love it. Tell me, what’s your favorite wine?

Neha Sampat: I go through phases. So I’m currently really stuck on Italy and specifically the Piemonte region. I’m trying a lot of different Barolos.

Harry Stebbings: I am writing down, and I look forward to trying on your recommendation. In terms of counter intuition though, you said there about using wine is a customer relationship tactic, in terms of other counterintuitive elements, I spoke to your team and they spoke about what an incredible motivator you are of the team more broadly today. I guess the question for me was, what are some really counterintuitive lessons you’ve learned along the way, on what it takes to really motivate, especially remote teams? You mentioned the team in India earlier, how do you motivate them?

Neha Sampat: It’s interesting. This year has just been weird for everybody. We’ve gone through a lot of turbulence. More specifically, the pandemic has changed all of our lives in ways that we have yet to see the longer term impact. I think the big thing is, and I don’t know if this is necessarily counter-intuitive, but it’s really about the importance of motivation in turbulent times. That’s been a big focus area for the last quarter for me. And as a growing, scaling company, we had a lot of people that were new to Contentstack that joined early this year, and they didn’t necessarily know what they were getting into when all of a sudden we shut down all of our offices, everyone’s working from home. Luckily we did that early and we did it in a way that was pretty non-disruptive to not just employees, but our entire customer base.

Neha Sampat: That whole business continuity went flawlessly and people appreciated that. But at the same time, you have to think about the wellness of employees and they’re sitting at home and they’re dealing with all these new nuances and all of these different challenges of either being at home with kids or feeling lonely or trying to get medical attention when they need it, there’s just so much going on. A focus on people and wellness and just kind of checking in became a really important part of my daily process as a leader.

Neha Sampat: We did a lot and we’re still doing a lot to try to just keep everyone connected. In terms of our core values as a company, we’re pretty distributed. We’ve been distributed for a long time, but connection’s been super important and not being able to get together in person makes it harder to connect, but doing things like cooking classes online or working out together or offering people summer Fridays, things like that have helped us to continue to uphold our values, feel connected, feel like we’re not just colleagues, but a tribe.

Harry Stebbings: I have to ask one thing that I’m experiencing now in many different ways is all hands. And I didn’t necessarily have a love for all hands. I find the daily all hands for half an hour, it’s kind of a waste of time and not everyone gets to share a voice. I’m just not a fan. How do you approach all hands? I’m really intrigued. And how does that scale with the scaling of the team?

Neha Sampat: Yeah. So all hands meetings are, typically, they used to be more about reporting out business metrics and big things that were happening. What I find has happened in the last few months is they’ve become a little bit more about specific topics. We recently held an all hands called “Upholding Our Values,” specifically to talk about what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement and how that’s impacting people in the company, and what we’re doing about it as an organization and just giving people the platform to share and to be open and to talk about it.

Neha Sampat: I think that it’s crazy how that openness helps bring people together, that vulnerability and that emotional discussion. It’s usually not everybody who speaks up, but the people that are participating feel that connection as well. That’s the feedback I got from the team. So I think choosing ways to connect, that maybe is a little bit more emotional and not just tied to business and metrics and reporting is important. I think the other thing that’s worked well is having guests that people can connect with, having a customer come and speak about what all the hard work that people are doing is doing for them, and being able to feel that sense of significance as a result of all the hard work really connects people together. So those are the types of things we’ve been doing that I think are a little bit different.

Harry Stebbings: I love that, in terms of having a guest speaker. And it’s a really nice idea. In terms of the team itself ,though, I know that obviously you’re also a big proponent in terms of really building diversity throughout the organization. When building out the Contentstack team, I’m interested, did you consciously build diversity into the team? And if so, how so?

Neha Sampat: Yeah. I mean, diversity is a part of our core values. We actually talk about equity, diversity, inclusion a lot, probably before it became a very hot topic. I think part of that, if you think about just our leadership team, I mentioned this earlier, but as a non-engineer running a big engineering company, I’ve been able to bring value to the organization by understanding what the business is looking for, what our business and enterprise customers need, while my counterparts are bringing value from understanding the modern technology aspects of things.

Neha Sampat: We’ve always kind of had that mindset, that coming from different backgrounds and having different experiences, helps you to make better decisions. That sort of undeniable curiosity is what we look for when we build a team. So when I’m looking for candidates, not just for the leadership team, but across the board, we’re looking for people that have that curiosity, that like to learn with their colleagues, that are comfortable being challenged and that have this commitment to teamwork.

Neha Sampat: The idea of teamwork is that you can get aligned around an idea, even if you don’t agree with it, but then you can commit to moving forward. So this whole disagree and commit mentality is based on having a diverse mindset, having diverse experiences that help you to make more cohesive decisions in the long run. Diversity is a big part of how we think about hiring and building. It’s just a part of how we’ve adopted our culture. It’s just inherent in who we are.

Harry Stebbings: How do you respond to… I speak to many enterprise and SaaS founders and they say, “Harry, I know you think that we should do better, but it’s a pipeline problem, okay? It’s not our fault. It’s a pipeline problem.” How do you respond to that? I guess, is there anything that you do kind of deliberately, to ensure the top of the funnel is full of diverse candidates, not just being a pipeline problem?

Neha Sampat: There’s a few things. One thing that stood out to me and I stole this idea from one of the big firms, maybe three or four years ago, was in our CVs that we receive in India, we started to cross out the names of people, so people would not know the gender of the candidate. That actually helped us to just focus on the skillset and not have that subconscious bias that could exist in an organization, and little tricks and tools like that help you to eliminate what could be subconscious bias.

Neha Sampat: Beyond that, we actually have been talking about this a lot this year. How do you attract candidates that maybe don’t look like you? Right? How do you get them into the organization? Our talent acquisition team is specifically looking at going into areas that are underrepresented in the tech community, looking at minorities, working with organizations like Black Girls Code, to attract talent that might be different, or that might look different than the rest of the pool that we have. So it’s really about being proactive and looking for that talent. It’s not necessarily that the pipeline doesn’t exist, it’s just that the pipeline might not be looking at you. Some of that burden has to be on the organization and the talent acquisition team to go and find the talent to help make your organization more whole.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, I totally agree in terms of being much more deliberate about kind of finding them and filling the top of the funnel with diverse candidates. I do want to ask, in terms of the team’s location, because the majority of enterprise companies, as we know, are kind of Bay based, and you took the decision to move a large amount of the team from the Bay to Austin, Cindy told me. Why did you decide to do this? And what’s been the learnings in terms of what it takes to make that transition successful?

Neha Sampat: Yeah, it’s been an interesting transition to even accept that geographical distribution is a good thing. I went through that transition in my own head. I’ve seen a lot of companies starting to accept that now. Especially with this year, we’ll see a lot of that transition happening for many brands, but essentially, for us, we started off in San Francisco and Mumbai. Those were sort of our two locations and we grew the teams there. We had critical mass, we continued to just look locally, and eventually we found that we were finding talent in places outside of the Bay Area. A lot of that came from our own network. When you work with somebody that you really like, and they live somewhere else, you’re kind of open to giving them an opportunity. That started to happen more and more. And as we grew, we understood and realized that there’s talent everywhere.

Neha Sampat: By only looking in the Bay Area, we’re only limiting ourselves. And so we started to deliberately find a few new hotspots. So we’ve got a team in San Diego, a team in Austin, a team in San Francisco, and then Amsterdam, and a couple of places in India. We started to grow small bits of critical mass in each of those locations. I decided to move to Austin after we had already started that effort. I believe that there’s an incredible talent pool here in Austin. Part of my move was also based on wanting to grow the team here, as we continue to scale the company.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, how have you found the move, personally? The Bay is such a magnet town and the Bay does have such electricity around tech. How have you found it personally? I’m interested.

Neha Sampat: I lived in San Francisco for 20 years before moving here. So it was a big move and a big change for me. Honestly, I was really excited about being exposed to conversations that were not just about tech and going back to the diversity thing, right? You meet people that have so much talent, but it could be talking about music or playing instruments or screenwriters or people that are just really incredible at coding. There’s just so many different people here. After 20 years of having conversations about software and APIs and dot coms and all of those different buzzwords that built up over the years, it’s been really refreshing, actually, to be in a place where there’s other ideas and thoughts that essentially pique curiosity for the people around you.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, I’m totally with you, or it’s kind of that standing in the San Franciscan living room going, do you like to hike? Oh, me too. Me too. I love to hike. My favorite conversation that happens, I want to move into the quickfire, which is my favorite. Essentially, I’m going to say a short statement and then you give me your immediate thoughts. Does that sound okay?

Neha Sampat: Sure.

Harry Stebbings: Okay. So 60 seconds per one. Favorite book and why?

Neha Sampat: So I think my favorite book is probably The Hard Thing About Hard Things, and I have a lot of other favorites, but that one comes to mind just based on the conversation we’re having today. Really, the reason is it highlights the resilience and adaptability of entrepreneurs. And the fact that Ben Horowitz actually focuses in on some of the things that people don’t talk about in the MBA schools of the world, where you really learn through experience and going through some of the rough times and being an entrepreneur, like I said earlier, there’s just lots of ups and downs. And I think he does a really good job of capturing some of those.

Harry Stebbings: 30 seconds on each here, and this is a tough one, but biggest strength and biggest weakness as a leader.

Neha Sampat: I think my biggest strength is just my ability to be resilient and persevere and essentially reset. I have this concept that I call Tuesdays at noon, and this is based on the foghorn in San Francisco, which goes off every Tuesday at noon as a test. Every Tuesday at noon, I have an alarm set on my phone since I can no longer hear that fog horn, in which I reset, I let go of all the negativity, all the bad stuff, and then everything that I’ve learned, all the positive things, all the goodness, I take forward. And that’s just sort of helped me to kind of take a breath, realize that some things don’t go the way you want. Other things are great. And just focus on progress.

Harry Stebbings: I love that in terms of setting that foghorn on your phone. Tell me, biggest obstacle to success that you face and how did you overcome it?

Neha Sampat: I think the biggest obstacle is really just my background being a female and non-engineer, trying to prove myself in a tech bro world. I have to say, overcoming it is just continuing to persevere. I like to think about Nemo in Finding Nemo. Just keep swimming and just keep going. It’s like just keep swimming, just keep winning, keep proving yourself. And now I’ve established myself to a point where I can walk in with the credibility, but it took some time. I think I had to work harder than probably a lot of my peers.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask? And this is off schedule. Do you feel it’s getting better?

Neha Sampat: Yes and no. There’s definitely more awareness. And I think that’s been super important and I feel like allyship has been a big word this year. I feel like allyship for females in technology has also grown and that’s been good to see. There’s been more focus from investors on finding female founders and finding females on boards. So I think that there’s a step in the right direction, but we still have to move the needle quite a bit.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah. There’s still a lot to do. Tell me the biggest thing that you believe that most around you disbelieve.

Neha Sampat: This is a little bit of a tricky question because most around me are the people that I work with and spend a lot of time with, and they probably do agree with this and believe in this. But if you think about most of the world in my field, there’s this concept of all in one enterprise software. This is really hot because we just launched an alliance to combat that yesterday. So it’s top of mind, but there’s this concept of mach, which stands for a modern way of doing technology. And mach is essentially microservices, APIs, cloud native, headless, which is where Contentstack kind of fits in. For me, that is the better way. That’s the modern way. That’s why I built this business. There are still a lot of people that could be our buyers and prospects and potential partners that believe that an all in one enterprise suite is easier or better. Part of my vision and part of my goal is to combat that. That’s where I’ll go with that.

Harry Stebbings: Tell me, penultimate one here, what moment in your life served as an inflection point and maybe changed the way you think?

Neha Sampat: I think this goes back to where you discover talent and we kind of touched on it a couple of times, but I think my light bulb almost 10 years ago was when we started to hire people in this small part of Mumbai that nobody had thought of and nobody had heard of. It was like a place where factories existed and somewhat residential, and the people are so talented. They just did not have the opportunity to put that talent to work. So for me, I think that was a big light bulb, knowing that talent exists everywhere. If you can provide the opportunity for that talent to lighten up, it’s like magic.

Harry Stebbings: Final one, and probably the most important one. What do the next five years hold for you and for Contentstack? Can you paint that vision for me?

Neha Sampat: Yes, absolutely. So I talked a little bit about mach, and that really means taking over the old legacy way of doing things and doing things now in a modern way. What that really means is for brands to be able to bring their ideas for digital experiences to life. Imagine if you are out and about, living your life, and you’re able to consume the content that you care about at the right time, at the right place, on whatever device you want to see, or whether you’re carrying the device, or you’re looking at it in the sky, or it’s an AR experience.

Neha Sampat: All of that can be delivered in a way that’s cohesive and personalized and not intrusive and scary and very relevant. That’s sort of the vision for where we’re going with Contentstack as a product. In terms of the team and the company, we essentially will continue to scale and grow and make others believe in what I believe, which is that mach vision.

Harry Stebbings: I absolutely love that. It is such exciting times ahead, as I said, I spoke to Teddie and Cindy before, and they both echoed that. I just really appreciate you joining me today, so thank you so much for coming on the show.

Neha Sampat: Thank you, Harry. That was a lot of fun.

Harry Stebbings: So great to have Neha on the show there. If you’d like to see more from her, you can find her on Twitter @nehasf. Likewise, it’d be great to welcome you behind the scenes here. You can do so on Instagram @hstebbings1996. I always love to see you there. 

Harry Stebbings: As always, I so appreciate all of your support, and I can’t wait to bring you another phenomenal episode next week.

 

Published on July 8, 2020

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