Why I Joined MadKudu

Romeo Leon

It has been a couple of weeks since I joined MadKudu as VP of Customer Success. Having built and led several post-sales teams in leading SaaS B2B companies, I’ve never been more excited as I am now with my decision to join MadKudu. While I’ve been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to join other incredible and fast-growing SaaS B2B start-ups, I joined MadKudu primarily because it felt right. Francis, one of the co-founders of MadKudu, said it best when he said to me that the sum of my professional experience is madly relevant to what they’re doing at the company. It's as if “it was meant to be.” Needless to say, I shared that same sentiment! Reflecting on my decision, I thought I’d share with you additional details for why being part of the MadKudu team is special!

A Modern and Innovative Solution to a Known Business Problem

While the Covid pandemic resulted in historically high unemployment rates, certain sectors of the economy thrived in the new business environment. Particularly, specific segments of the SaaS B2B companies that addressed problems exacerbated by the Covid pandemic saw interest, usage, and customer acquisition accelerate significantly in 2020. For example, companies that offered tools to bridge communication and collaboration issues in a remote world had an explosion of new business. Zoom and Asana are great examples. In addition, the new reality of the remote work world affected the ability of certain teams and departments within businesses to change specific motions in their go-to-market. A prime example of this is Sales teams within B2B companies that can no longer depend on their field presence to prospect and generate new customer interest, acquisition, and influence deal velocity faster. That said, companies that help the customer acquisition motion by strategically focusing the efforts of their Sales team to prioritize customer prospects with a higher likelihood of converting to revenue will have a competitive advantage against the competition. While this problem is by no means novel, solving it effectively requires a new approach given the failure of traditional solutions that identify sales prospects or leads in the customer acquisition funnel. MadKudu absolutely shines in solving this problem given their innovative approach of leveraging best in class data science practices to confidently predict one’s propensity to buy as well as expose additional indicators of interest. This approach is vastly different from traditional methods of identifying leads where the criteria is dependent on someone’s arbitrary decision resulting in a weighted score that is not informed by past outcomes. I would argue that without experience and historical data of past outcomes, one’s instinct cannot be relied on. This archaic approach, unfortunately, does not “trust the data” and historical outcomes to correctly inform customers of their true ICP. MadKudu takes a contrarian approach by using data and historical outcomes to predict highly confident customer conversions using data science and machine learning techniques. 

While I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of companies that have been on the bleeding edge of technology, most often than not, the problems being solved in the frontier are less defined. The reason why I’m so attracted to companies that have a disruptive approach to an existing problem is the ability to scale quickly. With MadKudu, the problem we are trying to solve is well defined, and we are employing a unique and innovative solution to solving this problem. Scaling companies is something I’ve experienced, led, and loved. With the right execution, I believe MadKudu is primed for incredible growth and has the opportunity to be the new standard in marketing and sales revenue optimization.

At the Right Place, At the Right Time with the Right Talent

In my write-up above, I discussed how changes to market dynamics due to Covid has increased demand for services that directly address the new business environment. While we all wish to go back to “the way things were” and get back to “normal,” I believe Covid has fundamentally changed how businesses operate going forward to remain competitive. There simply is no turning back! I don’t see the emerging operating model (e.g., remote work) to revert to pre-Covid operating models given there’s strong evidence that it works and likely hasn’t negatively impacted employee performance and productivity. While demand for MadKudu was already high pre-pandemic, I see businesses looking to further leverage modern technology in their tech stack to adapt enablement technologies like MadKudu even more. Therefore, I believe that there is very strong market validation of our solution (i.e., place) as well as permanent changes to the operating model due to the pandemic (i.e., time). 

Of course, being at the right place at the right time means absolutely nothing if you don’t have the talented people to execute the strategic business plan. On that topic, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by everyone I’ve met at MadKudu. Specifically, it's how people in the company practice the fundamental values of resilience, being a lifelong learner, authenticity, and customer obsession. In fact, during the interview process, aside from AWS, MadKudu impressed me on how they screen for a candidate’s fit on the company’s values. I resonated so much with this given its similarity to my approach and training of hiring managers when screening candidates. 

In addition, I’ve been impressed by the intellectual horsepower of the people I’ve met at MadKudu. With regards to the CS team, I’m extremely fortunate to have such a talented staff who are super passionate about making our customers successful. While it's only been two weeks since I started at MadKudu, I can say that working with the current CS team has been such a fun experience. On that note, if I had to suggest a fifth value for the company to adopt, it would be “have fun”. From my perspective, what’s the point if you’re not having fun with what you’re doing and the people you interact with on a regular basis? I believe this is true in one’s personal or professional life. 

Goldilocks - The Perfect Fit

My friends and family know how passionate I am about playing music, particularly wielding the holy trinity of rock instruments (i.e., guitar, bass, and drums). During the pandemic, I played music as a way to remain engaged, productive, and frankly, sane. One day, I was itching to buy a new guitar that truly represented me or at least my perception of who I think I was as a guitar player at the time. Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t find my existing gear enjoyable to play. But like a parent that has several kids, you have a favorite kid now and then (j/k). As far as the guitars I owned, my Fender Stratocaster can sometimes be too smooth and flashy, while my Gibson Les Paul Standard is a bit too heavy with a tone that is too thick for certain compositions. So during the pandemic, I bought a working man’s guitar, the Fender Telecaster in “candy apple red” and made in the USA. Famous wielders of the Telecaster include Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend, Muddy Waters, Chrissy Hynde, Keith Richards, and my hero, Eddie Vedder. While these musicians may not have the finger speed and dexterity of a virtuoso like Eddie Van Halen or Slash, they can absolutely write songs that last the test of time. Even if I purchased a red Telecaster, I named it “Goldilocks” because it just feels right - like it was meant for me.

How is this relevant? Like my Fender Telecaster, MadKudu is my “Goldilocks.” It fits perfectly! As I reflect on my previous professional experience in building teams at SaaS B2B companies, I believe all that experience has prepared me for this opportunity. My combined experience in Business Intelligence at GoodData, AI/Machine Learning at Figure Eight, eDiscovery at CaseCentral and Digital Marketing at Shutterstock/WebDAM seems like the perfect combination to help drive the success of MadKudu’s customers. Lastly, I found strong alignment with MadKudu’s founders in terms of decision making, general approach and values. During the interview process, I probed and directly asked how decisions are made at the executive level. Sam and Francis' decision-making process really resonated with me, given I have a similar approach. Founder-led companies at times don’t make it due to egos and inability to let go. Sam and Francis are incredibly humble, and the same goes for the staff at MadKudu.

As I mentioned, I’ve never been more excited about joining a new company as an executive than I am with joining MadKudu. Given my background, I expect to contribute immediately to building a world-class CS team and ensuring our customers derive maximum value from our product.

If you’re interested in building the MadKudu CS team and company with me, feel free to email me directly at romeo@MadKudu.com. We have several open roles spanning across departments. Please see our job page here. Let’s do great things together! And I promise you, we will have fun doing it!

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