In 2009 my partner and I took a walk down Sand Hill Road (notable for its concentration of venture capital companies) to pitch our road-less-traveled approach to disrupting nonprofit technology with mobile, social and cloud.
Every VC we met with loved what we were creating, but less than a few liked how we were doing it. Our software leveraged the Salesforce platform to create the world’s first cloud based donor engagement and fundraising application and make it available on the AppExchange. Nonprofits could simply go online to the AppExchange and sign up for the 100% online app. They could get implementation support from us or one of the many qualified consulting partners in the Salesforce ecosystem. And importantly, we could ride the coattails of Salesforce’s constant stream of innovation to deliver hundreds of new features to customers three times a year in line with Salesforce’s release schedule – all with no downtime.
But there was a catch. Because we created our software on the Salesforce platform, we would have to share part of our revenue with Salesforce. The VC’s favored proprietary platforms that we could “own” and “control” – and accordingly politely declined to support our cause. They said “the demand is there. The markets, and our world, need what you are creating. But you should do this on your own.” We disagreed.
As Dov Seidman says in his book “How” – we believed “How we do anything means everything.” Our mission was to positively impact our world by putting the best technology in as many nonprofit hands as quickly as possible. The fastest, most effective, most secure, most scalable way to do this was on Salesforce.
Salesforce was HOW we could accomplish our mission, because:
1. There is strength in numbers. With $3B+ in revenue, over 30% annual growth and 100,000+ companies as customers Salesforce.com is the indisputable gold standard by which cloud wannabes measure themselves.
2. Salesforce pioneered the whole “Customer Relationship Management in the cloud” space nearly fifteen years ago. If you’re going to create a cloud-based donor engagement and fundraising application solution and Salesforce wants to be your partner, it would be foolish to attempt to invent something new.
3. Salesforce is our innovation partner. The knowledge and tools Salesforce has amassed over fifteen years is embedded in the Salesforce Platform and services to help developers leverage it. It is a not-so-subtle distinction; rather than creating and managing the plumbing (aka technical infrastructure), including that all-important move to mobility and direct social connections, at the core of relationship management (and the revisions and updates that come with it) 100% of our focus is on solutions that apply that platform’s core capabilities to nonprofits’ business needs. The result is that we can deliver more value, more quickly, more sustainably.
4. If you haven’t already heard, CEO Marc Benioff is deeply committed to causes that make the world a better place. Through the Salesforce.com Foundation the company has awarded over $53M in grants and services to 20,000 nonprofits. Beyond making technology and services available for innovators like roundCorner, the company provides incentives to its 10,000 employees that have resulted in 580,000 hours of volunteer service in their communities and for causes worldwide. They are a company that truly commits time, money, technology and effort to causes and those who drive them.
In retrospect, that day spent on Sand Hill Road was really the beginning of a journey that is taking roundCorner exciting places with Salesforce. Sharing our vision of the Connected Constituent, they are supporting us as a full partner and accelerating our ability to innovate solutions that can literally help make the world a better place.
Today, roundCorner is a growing team (we’re hiring – click here to join us) of nonprofit industry experts, Salesforce superstars or both. We’ve recently been named by CIO Review magazine as one of the Most Promising Salesforce Solution Providers in its annual award list released this week. Our flagship product roundCause is the best-in-class model for delivering Enterprise Nonprofit CRM in the cloud and as a result of our decision to partner with Salesforce:
Yes, we’ve taken the road-less-traveled approach to disrupting nonprofit technology with mobile, social and cloud but we’re confident that we’ll soon see many more cars on this road.
Dan Lammot is President & Founding Partner of roundCorner.com, a Salesforce.com backed team of more than sixty people will work tirelessly in partnership with you to transform the way you achieve your mission. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him @roundlammot.