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Episode Info: Boost VC S5EP4 Streak CRMIf You Can’t Be a Unicorn, Be a Workhorse—with Aleem MawaniNot every startup can be the proverbial venture unicorn. But just because a company isn’t valued at $1B or more doesn’t mean it’s dead. So, how do you build a profitable, growing tech workhorse? And how might venture evolve a new model that supports these businesses? Aleem Mawani is the Cofounder of Streak, a CRM for Gmail that helps small teams manage any workflow from their inbox, including sales, project management, fundraising, customer support, hiring and business development. Prior to Streak, Aleem served as a Program Manager at Microsoft and Product Manager at Google, and he earned his MBA at Harvard Business School. Today, Aleem joins us to explain what inspired his team to build Streak, sharing their customer-centric process for adding new features and making pricing decisions. He discusses the concerns founders have around building on a centralized service like Gmail and how his team mitigated their risk simply by talking to the team at Google. Listen in for Aleem’s insight on building a profitable tech workhorse (as opposed to a unicorn) and learn how venture might innovate to accommodate growing companies like Streak. Topics CoveredHow Aleem came to build the Streak CRM for GmailNeeded CRM for sales in work with previous startupRealized Salesforce was overkill for small teams The Streak team’s current process for adding featuresImbed selves with customers, listen to storiesOffer for free rather than upsell for retention How Aleem’s team makes decisions around pricingFind ‘point at which people start caring’Negotiate with clients with 20+ users How Aleem thinks about when to start charging customersEnterprise software can charge from Day OneConsider risk won’t be able to charge later How Aleem benefitted from work experience at GoogleBackground in free products, understand scaleFamiliar with Gmail team and Google’s priorities The top concerns for building on a centralized servicePlatform risk (e.g.: What if Gmail builds this?)Change product in way not aligned with yours The benefits of being a profitable workhorse like StreakOffer engineers stability but with startup feelNot necessary to stop and raise money Aleem’s insight on the need for innovation in ventureModel only appropriate for unicorns that scale fastNo mechanism for long-term investor relationship The challenge around brainstorming during a pandemicRemote works well for executing projects ‘in flight’Much harder to launch new initiatives on Zoom Aleem’s personal definition of success and fulfillmentFind something you enjoy, become masterful at itPursue purpose with time for human connection Connect with AleemStreak on Twitter on Facebook on LinkedIn on LinkedIn
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