Sprinklr is the embodiment of a tech unicorn. Solution-focused, data-driven, and generating buzz consistently, Sprinklr boasts a valuation far north of $1.8 billion (at the time of this piece). We spoke with the charismatic founder and CEO, Ragy Thomas, about his company’s startup journey and why NYC was the right place to launch.
Tell us about your company’s beginnings. What did you see (or not see) in the market that led you to launch?
In 2008, I was President of Epsilon Interactive Services Group, a division of Alliance Data Systems that provided email marketing technology and interactive agency services. During this time, I saw that email was changing the way that businesses communicated with customers and realized that the same thing would happen with social media. It was clear that social would create new opportunities and new challenges for how brands communicate with customers.
In 2009, I launched Sprinklr to solve the biggest problem facing every modern enterprise in today’s social world — managing experiences across every single customer touchpoint. Today, Sprinklr provides the most complete social media and customer experience management platform for the enterprise. We help more than 1,200 of the world’s largest brands do marketing, advertising, research, care, and commerce on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and 22 other social channels globally – all on one integrated platform.
What were some of the biggest challenges that your team faced at zero stage?
In the early days of Sprinklr, we were often ridiculed for our strategy. We pursued a platform strategy as opposed to a point solutions strategy, and we were ridiculed for this. If you go back six years, the startup world was going through the notion that you must be really specialized and simple and we just didn’t believe in that. We believed that big businesses needed a comprehensive, unified platform to interact with their customers in a human, intuitive way.
We learned not to get distracted by little things, and focus on the big picture. No matter what’s going on in the market, the philosophy I’ve used to build my business has always been the same: a relentless focus on fundamentals. We’ve focused on revenue growth and creating tangible value for customers with a credible solution to an incredibly pervasive problem. Those are the things that matter, and the things that will always win in the end.
Let’s look at the science behind your product. What makes it different from other offerings in this space?
Sprinklr is the only unified customer experience management platform purpose-built for today’s social world. From the beginning, we set out to build a powerful social media management platform that integrates with an organization’s existing infrastructure and allows employees across every customer-facing department to collaborate with unified data. We provide an external API available to build applications on Sprinklr and have over 100 total connections, including CRM, marketing automation, asset management, profile and message enrichment, and analytics systems.
We pride ourselves in the ability to drive real business results for brands. In fact, the average Sprinklr customer sees a 172% return on their investment in the first year of their contract and 236% in their second year.
Another key differentiator for Sprinklr is our vast relationships with channel partners. Unlike competitors, Sprinklr has a direct relationship and access to more than 21 channel partners, including Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and more. This, along with content for over 120 countries in over 110 languages, paired with the breadth of enterprise platform applications (i.e. Salesforce, SAP, Marketo, Adobe and more) allow brands to achieve a true 360-degree view of the customer by having a presence at every user touchpoint.
Lastly, Sprinklr’s platform is proudly secure for our customers. Leading financial services companies like JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo depend on Sprinklr because of our governance, compliance and security capabilities. Sprinklr has top-tier security and compliance certifications, such as SOC 1 and 2 certifications, FFIEC, and more.
How do you translate your brand’s message in a way that gets you heard above the noise?
We only have one “true north” at Sprinklr: creating value for our customers. We obsess over it. Sprinklr creates value by helping companies solve their problems, and the Fortune 500 brands we work with have a very big one on their hands: figuring how to engage with each of their customers in a meaningful way, at scale, across every social channel. We provide a unique solution to an obvious problem, and that leads to immense value for our customers.
There is a lot of noise around digital transformation and social media crises, but we don’t feed into the noise. We provide the solution to the noise. And that’s how we get heard.
Let’s talk about brand values. What means the most to your company besides industry success?
Sprinklr is unique in that its core values come directly up from the company’s employees, not down from the boardroom. Our core values are: It’s ok; Sprinkle, don’t shout; Fix it don’t complain; Never ever give up; and Passionately and genuinely care.
These are the personality traits and core values that our company runs on. They’re written on our walls, woven into emails, mentioned in board meetings. They keep us unified.
Success to me is about the people. I want my team to feel empowered, inspired and equipped to tackle any challenge. As we continue to grow and scale as a business, maintaining strong values and a positive culture is critical.
There’s always been this rivalry between Silicon Valley and NYC in tech. What are some tangible benefits to being based in NYC?
New York was an easy choice for me to build our headquarters. My life is here and it’s truly a one-of-a-kind city. The business landscape in New York is incredibly challenging, without a doubt, but it’s the right kind of challenges you need as a startup. If you can do it in New York, you can do it anywhere.
For Sprinklr, we also had a big advantage by being physically close to our prospects. We knew we wanted to target the enterprise and Fortune 500 landscape. Being one of the biggest business meccas in the world, and having a big focus on the advertising and marketing space, it was a perfect fit.
Name one place in your company’s NYC neighborhood (restaurant, cafe, etc) that you and your team just can’t live without.
Many employees in our NYC office occasionally moonlight as karaoke superstars and head to Koreatown for all the karaoke spots. Our office is also close to Bryant Park, which is our year-round destination for grabbing a breath of fresh air and our go-to outdoor spot to hang out and relax.