This week, we have an interview with Nima Hakimi, CEO of SafeSoft Solutions, speaking about how the company got its start, and what it’s like to manage a fast-growing technology startup.
Can you tell us a little about how you started SafeSoft Solutions?
Back in 2005, a close friend in the mortgage business expressed a need for a specialized telephone system to support high volumes of outbound calls in response to mortgage inquiries.
We saw an opportunity, so we started developing what is now our Market Dialer. We worked closely with this mortgage company and its team of 20 people to develop the product and work through the early bugs.
Once we got it working, word spread, and we saw demand from other, similar, firms. The driving force was that other solutions on the market were too expensive. Our goal was to deliver a more affordable, and effective, solution, and I believe we succeeded in doing so.
Our momentum started to grow, and we started online marketing campaigns, and brought in a couple more developers and sales reps. Everyone was wearing multiple hats, taking support calls, developing new business and so on.
In 2008, we expanded and moved to our current office and began hiring more developers and support staff.
What makes SafeSoft Solutions different from the competition?
We are more of a business consultant than a pure technology vendor – beyond providing the technology, we are there to enhance sales and marketing productivity.
We refuse to simply hand over the product and walk away after the sale. The technology alone is not enough – we offer advanced services that enable our customers to leverage the technology to achieve optimal sales performance as measured by production and cost of sales.
Tell us about the technology used by SafeSoft Solutions and Market Dialer?
Our products are built on a proven, scalable, cloud-computing infrastructure enabled by the best technology in scalable database architectures, load distribution, and virtualization management. We partner with leading national telecom carriers to ensure the highest service availability and voice quality.
The core of our software is the product of extensive proprietary development with open APIs to facilitate integration with leading third-party CRM and marketing automation tools.
Can you give us every day scenarios where your technology is used?
Our products and services are used by various companies looking to improve sales and marketing productivity, across a range of verticals, such as finance, mortgage, home improvement, outsourced lead generation or telemarketing. Many of these businesses don’t necessarily think of themselves as operating a call center – they’re just looking for ways to drive customers to their door and increase business.
However, we also service call center operators and business process outsourcing companies working to improve sales and marketing productivity for their customers.
In any event, it’s all about driving higher revenue and lowering cost-of-sales.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about cloud-based call-center technology?
SafeSoft has tremendous uptime performance, which sometimes surprises customers who have tried competing products only to suffer frequent service outages. It doesn’t need to be that way – we’ve figured out how build a stable, scalable platform.
People are also surprised to find out how affordable our solution is – remember that we started from the point of delivering an affordable product in a market with expensive competition.
Finally, our solution is easy to learn and implement – it doesn’t take long to get up and running and seeing results. Many of our customers have reported that it was only a matter of days before they could start seeing the return-on-investment.
As CEO, how do you spend most of your time, day-to-day?
In the early days, I did everything! HR, finance, marketing, sales, you name it.
As we’ve grown, I’ve been able to shift more to planning and managing growth, including recruiting and hiring talent. Figuring out how to attract the best talent is always on my mind – I believe that if we get the right people in the most important positions first, managing and maintaining growth will be simplified.
The team reports up to me in weekly leadership meetings, and the management team reports back to the employees at regular company meetings.
How do you define “customer success” ?
Helping the customer to do what they don’t know how to do best, so they can focus on what they do know about their business. In other words, we deliver on the promise of cloud-based solutions – let us focus on the technology while you run your business. The intent is to give the customer as much time as possible to focus on their business.
After that, it’s all about enabling the customer to leverage the technology for faster growth and higher productivity.
What excites you in 2013?
We reported record growth in 2012, including deeper penetration in the upper market segments. We believe we can continue that momentum in 2013, and we continue to invest in the development of our platform. We’re ramping up our sales and support structure in response to this growth.
We’ve also opened a sales office in the Philippines. The Philippines’ call center market has recently surpassed India’s to become the world leader, and various estimates forecast a $15 billion to $20 billion market in 2016. The country has a highly-skilled, college-educated workforce which is highly proficient in English – this is helping to drive the growth there and win business from North American brands. We think it’s a great time to enter this market.