Sharing learnings from the people building & working at companies in Boston.
NICK FRANCIS, HELP SCOUT
Tech In Boston #37: Interview with Nick Francis, Co-Founder & CEO, HelpScout
Nick Francis is the co-founder & CEO of Help Scout. Help Scout helps small businesses deliver personalize customer support with tools that are often only used by the big companies.
Nick and team moved to Boston in 2011 after getting into Techstars. They’ve been profitable for the past 18 months, and today raised a $6M Series A led by Brad Feld’s Foundry Group.
Help Scout has nearly 3,000 customers across 70 countries, including GrubHub, CrossFit, Buffer and AngelList.
ABOUT TECH IN BOSTON
Hey there, I’m Dave. Tech In Boston is a little side project I started in the spring of 2014.
I love hearing stories about people in the tech and startup world, how they work, what they do on a daily basis, and the things that have led to their success. But it felt like every article that I read or interview that I listened to was about someone out on the West Coast. That wasn’t always the case, but more often than not, it never seemed to be about someone working at a company in Boston.
I’m from the area, I love living and working here and I wanted to find a way to share the stories of the people in the community here, and that’s why I started Tech In Boston.
I’m not trying to break any news or spread any gossip. It’s just a conversation over a coffee or a beer with someone interesting on topics like building a company, product, sales, marketing and more. The goal is to share people’s stories and the things they’ve learned along the way in their career, all with a focus on Boston.
Tech In Boston has been a mini-MBA for me, and I’m hoping that it is for other people as well.
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"Dave did an excellent job of asking the right questions. You can tell that he is very prepared for each interview. His preparation plus his interview style made this really fun to do!"− Karen Rubin, Director of Product, Quantopian
"Dave is awesome! He does a lot for the tech community in Boston and is so laid back, nice and easy to work with. He’s also really professional and doesn’t waste any time. Loved working with him on the Tech in Boston podcast."− Kit Hickey, Co-Founder, Ministry of Supply
"I’m a huge fan of Tech in Boston. Dave is an excellent interviewer—thoughtful, prepared, and quick on his feet. We had a great rapport and I really enjoyed sharing my story with him. Tech in Boston is doing something fresh and genuinely helpful for entrepreneurs and others who want to get their arms around this ecosystem."− C.A. Webb, Executive Director, New England Venture Capital Association
"Tech In Boston is a great way to hear about the startups and people that are having an impact in Boston. Dave’s interview style is very straight forward and approachable and as a result, the guests always seem relaxed and comfortable. We’re happy to partner with Dave to syndicate the podcast every week on VentureFizz."− Keith Cline, Founder, VentureFizz
"I think Dave Gerhardt’s Tech In Boston podcast is one of the best things we have going. If you haven’t yet, give it a listen."− Meghan Anderson, Director, Product Marketing, HubSpot
- Chief Revenue Officer, Dyn
Kyle has led the overall sales, business development, customer service, and marketing efforts at Dyn since 2008. Based in Manchester, NH Dyn has been one of the fastest growing companies in New England — this quarter makes 24 successive quarters of double-digit revenue growth since 2009.
- Founder & CEO, Yesware
Matthew Bellows is Founder and CEO of Yesware. Yesware is used by more than 500,000 salespeople at companies like Acquia, Adroll, Groupon, Salesforce, Twilio, Yelp and Zendesk.
To date, Yesware has raised $19.7 million from Google Ventures, Foundry Group and Battery Ventures.
- Founder & CEO, FIKSU
A former computer science professor at UMass, Adler launched the company as Fluent Mobile in 2008 and the business was originally a mobile news aggregator. Fast forward to today and the company now known as Fiksu has hit $100M in revenue with over 900 customers, including those for companies like Coca-Cola, Disney, Topps, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Groupon.
- CMO, Apperian
Prior to Apperian, Mark was VP of Marketing at Spotfire, a Somerville startup that was acquired by TIBCO — and he’s also the co-founder of Boston Tech Jam (that awesome block party that you’ve all probably had free beer at!) Mark gives his take at what most startups get wrong with marketing, how good marketers earn their seat at the table, and the Boston companies that he’s keeping an eye on.
- Managing Partner, Founder Collective
After a career as an entrepreneur, Eric started Founder Collective with his partner Dave Frankel with the goal of launching a fund where all of the partners had experience starting a company of their own. An early investor in About.Me, Hotel Tonight, Kitchen Surfing, Skillshare, Uber and many others.
- Founder and CEO Raiz Labs
Greg Raiz is the Founder and CEO of Raiz Labs, a mobile software development company with offices in Boston and San Francisco. Greg is a leader in the Boston and SF technology and mobile community and started Raiz Labs in 2003 after previously working at Microsoft.
- Vice-President, Startup Institute
The Startup Institute has become a magnet for people looking to switch careers and join a startup. Since being spun out of TechStars over two years ago, the Startup Institute now has offices in Boston, Chicago, New York & Berlin. To date, they’ve helped people land jobs at over 170 local companies, including Fiksu, Ovuline, Nanigans, Constant Contact, Swipely and more, and they are quickly becoming the farm system for many local companies. Before joining the Startup Institute, Allan was Vice President of Business Development at MyEnergy, which was acquired by Nest in May 2013.
- Techstars Director and independent angel investor/entrepreneur
Ty says he is in the angel business because he loves the feeling of giving to others. After working on Wall Street, Ty founded eSecLending, building the company and selling it in 2006. His next project was BuysideFX. Now back full-time as an angel, Ty has invested in many local startups, including Crashlytics (acquired by Twitter), EverTrue, Objective Logistics, Kinvey, and Tech In Boston guests Drizly, CoachUp, Codeship, and Tablelist. Ty joined Techstars in December, 2014.
- Co-Founder & Head of Technology at Dunwello
Dunwello is focused on changing the way employee feedback is handled and is based on the idea that everyone should be both happy and productive at work. The founding team is comprised of Matt Brand and Matt Lauzon, and the team recently raised a seed round of $1.4 million. Matt Brand was previously part of the team at Tabblo, a Cambridge-based company founded by Antonio Rodriguez that was acquired by HP in 2007.
- National tech editor @ Streetwise Media/ @BostInno
Kyle has been a business and technology reporter and editor in Massachusetts since 2005. He was a senior staff writer for BetaBoston, a Boston Globe innovation news site, and technology editor for the Boston Business Journal. He has received several journalism awards from various New England news associations.
- Founder & CEO, Pixability
Pixability helps brands understand and measure their audiences and ad campaigns on YouTube. Bettina started the company in 2008 after attending MIT Sloan. Her first company, SVOX, provided voice recognition software currently used in all Android phones, Google Translate and in the navigation systems of most premium cars. SVOX was acquired by Nuance in 2011 for $125M. Ms. Hein is the author of “Video Editing for Dummies.”
- Head of Strategy & Partnerships, Plastiq
Plastiq lets you use your credit card for things that you normally couldn’t, like paying your landlord for rent or paying college tuition. Free for businesses to accept, Plastiq charges a discounted rate to the cardholder, who, in return, gets the convenience, flexibility and rewards of using a credit card. Sasha, responsible for relationships with payment networks, came to Plastiq after working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco. She’s been involved with just about everything in the tech and startup community since landing in Boston, including the MITX Future Leaders Group, The Startup Institute, Techstars, and General Assembly.
- Senior Managing Director, Common Angels Ventures
Maia Heymann has worked with dozens of startups in both Boston and Palo Alto during her 20+ year career as an an angel investor, VC and tech banker. Maia has made investments in over 40 tech software, mobile, and internet companies and was named the top angel investor in New England in 2012. She currently serves on the boards of Apperian, Fiksu, and Wymsee, and has held several other board seats in connection with her investments.
- Founder, Appcues
Appcues helps anyone build beautiful and simple user onboarding experiences. As a journalism major at Boston University, Jonathan taught himself how to code to help pay his way through college and eventually landed at HubSpot, where he led front-end development on their Social Inbox tool. He was able to get 20 people to put down their credit card before a product was even developed. As of early December 2014, over 100,000 users have been onboarded with Appcues.
- Director of Product Marketing at Hubspot
Responsible for bringing each one of Hubspot’s products to market, she’s one of the best out there when it comes to positioning, messaging and product launches.
- Founder & CEO of Privy
Lucky husband of @emjabb. Formerly founding team@oasyswater.
- Co-Founder, Ministry of Supply
The Ministry of Supply is a Boston startup creating high performance business apparel. Kit and her co-founders met at MIT in 2010, and shattered the Kickstarter fashion record by raising over $400,000 in 2012. Now they are focused on scaling and taking the business to the next level.
- Co-Founder and CEO, EverTrue
EverTrue is an SaaS platform that helps non-profits rack and engage alumni and donors. Brent describes himself as an entrepreneur and investor with broad experience ranging from early-stage venture financing and operations to late stage growth equity and leveraged buyouts. He’s interested in both building and mentoring early-stage startups with a specific focus on consumerization of the enterprise, mobile & tablet technology and social APIs.
- VP Marketing, Smarterer and Co-Founder, Intelligent.ly
In addition to her current roles, Sarah is also an Advisor to Flybridge Capital. Previously, she was the Director of Marketing at RunKeeper and was part of the Carbonite team leading up to the company’s 2010 IPO.
- Co-Founder, JessMeetKen
JessMeetKen, a 2014 MassChallenge Finalist, is an online dating platform at which women can recommend guys who may not be right for them, but could be great for someone else. The company is based on its co-founders’ (Ken and his wife Jess) true love story. Ken was the co-founder/CEO of HurryDate (sold to Spark Networks) before starting JessMeetKen.
- Executive Director, New England Venture Capital Association
NEVCA is focused on building community among more than 700 venture capital professionals from 90 firms in Boston and elsewhere. Prior to working at the NEVCA, C.A. spent time in a strategic marketing role for Whole Foods, ran marketing at Preserve, and served as Director of Marketing at Care.com. She says she is happiest on her bike.
- Co-Founder & CEO, Drizly
In 2012 Boston college grads Nick Rellas and Justin Robinson started to legally work within the system to make alcohol delivery a reality. In 2013, Drizly was born. Consumers of legal drinking age use the free mobile app or e-commerce Web site, to order alcoholic beverages. Delivery drivers validate IDs using proprietary technology. Drizly has raised $4.8 million to become the premier alcohol delivery service in more than 10 major cities across the United States.
- Principal, OpenView Venture Partners
Blake specializes in product-led businesses driving market dislocation. Prior to joining OpenView, he was a VP at Battery Ventures where he helped lead 10 investments, including Wayfair, Optimizely, Sprinklr, Catchpoint, Glassdoor, Tealium, Q2eBanking, Mass Relevance, and VSS Monitoring (acquired by Danaher). He began his career in the growth equity group at Kayne Anderson, a $25 billion private equity firm in Los Angeles.
- Co-Founder & CEO, Dunwello
Dunwello provides crowd-generated reviews of professionals in all fields. Matt founded the e-commerce jewelry site Gemvara in 2006 while still at Babson College and grew the team to 75 people before moving on in 2012. Matt was named to Inc. Magazine’s 2011 “30 under 30” list, BusinessWeek’s “Top Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 25.”
- Director of Product, Quantopian
Quantopian provides a platform for anyone to build, test, and execute trading algorithms. Karen was one of the first product managers at HubSpot after joining the company in 2008, and her teams helped build the first versions of many of the current HubSpot products. She also spent time as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Matrix Partners, helping the firm find and evaluate new companies.
- CEO, Mustbin
Mustbin provides a secure way to store anything using the camera on an iPhone. Saty was brought on as Mustbin’s first hire and built the product’s initial prototype, and moved from CTO to CEO in mid-2014. Mustbin was named Innovative Mobile App of the Year by MITX, and has raised over $6 million from (among others) Dharmesh Shah (co-founder of Hubspot) and Jonathan Kraft (president of the New England Patriots).
- Chief Digital Officer at Tablelist
Tablelist, a Boston startup that raised a $2M round of funding on AngelList in July, makes it easy for people to book table or bottle service at any nightclub in New York, Boston, or Las Vegas. Keith joined Tablelist from HubSpot where, as Head of Creative and Design, he was in charge of the company’s brand and helped HubSpot prep for the company’s IPO announcement. He also heads up the Boston chapter of CreativeMornings, a monthly breakfast lecture series for the local creative communities of some of the world’s largest cities.
- Co-Founder & CEO, Codeship
Codeship makes it fast and easy for developers to test and deploy their code. the idea for Codeship came about while Mo was the founder of a company fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe, and noticed that companies big and small weren’t moving fast enough in testing and deploying their applications. Mo and his team started working on a way to make a better testing product that was easier to use. Other companies started asking for the same functionality, so Mo and team put it online as Codeship, a product and full-time business.
- VP of Product & Marketing, Ovuline
Gina leads product devlopment at Ovuline, which uses data from health tracking and wearables to help couples conceive faster and have healthier pregnancies. The company has collected 40 million data points from 700,000 users since launch (2012 Techstars Boston). Before Ovuline, Gina founded Automatic Apparel, a vending machine startup that sells anything from earphones to underwear out of high-tech vending machines located in train stations, gyms, and airports. Her background in industrial engineering at USC led her to a job at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems before attending Harvard Business School.
- Chief Marketing Officer, Actifio
Actifio, which helps companies reduce the number of copies of data they need to store, recently raised $100 million at a $1.1 billion valuation, making it one of only two companies in the Boston area with a billion-dollar valuation. Mike, a graduate of Cornell and Harvard Business School, worked at agencies with high-profile clients including Zipcar, Adelphic Mobile, VSnap, BostInno, Gemvara, and Linkable Networks. He’s also a mentor at TechStars, on the board at the New England Venture Capital Association and an advisor to several Boston startups.
- Co-Founder and Director of Engineering at CoachUp
The idea for CoachUp, which connects athletes with private coaches, was based on Founder Jordan Fliegel’s experience that most private coaches don’t have the expertise or the platform to market their services and accept payment for those services. CoachUp initially received $28,000 in funding from Dharmesh Shah. CoachUp, now a MassChallenge and TechStars alum, serves more than 15,000 coaches and more than 42,000 athletes (including Boston Bruins President Cam Neely, Red Sox favorite Gabe Kapler, and Nerlens Noel of the Philadelphia 76ers), and most recently raised a $6.7 million Series A round in November.
- Co-Founder, Terrible Labs
Terrible labs is a design and development shop in Boston’s Leather District specializing in mobile and web apps using Ruby On rails. Cort is in charge of business development, running point on client projects and managing the sales process with potential clients. Before Terrible Labs, Cort was Chief Evangelist at SVNGR, and started Dart Boston, an organization bringing together passionate young professionals.
- Director of Marketing, Wistia
Wistia, a video hosting company in Cambridge, powers the online videos from well-known brands like JetBlue, Sam Adams, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Hubspot. Ezra, originally an engineer for a medical device company, was living with Chris Savage (Founder, CEO) and Brendan Schwartz (Founder, CTO), the founders of Wistia when they started the company. Ezra’s company ended up becoming the first Wistia customer, and they eventually got him to join Wistia a few years later after he graduated from Stanford Business School.
- Staff Writer for the Boston Globe’s BetaBoston
Seeker of adventure, a nice un-groomed trail, and a good post-race beer.
- VP of Marketing at DreamFund
DreamFund is a really interesting early stage company in the crowdfunding space. Different from companies like Kickstarter, DreamFund helps fund people’s personal dreams, like sending your daughter to college.