A Q&A with Stitch co-founder and CEO Somrat Niyogi. The San Francisco-based startup, which is a mobile productivity platform for salespeople, is launching the public beta of its mobile email app today. It was founded last year and has raised $3.25 million in Seed funding to this point.
SUB: Please describe Stitch and your primary innovation.
Niyogi: Stitch helps salespeople close more deals by making them more responsive. We are building a mobile-first sales productivity platform, and our first product is a mobile email application for salespeople.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Niyogi: Our initial target market is salespeople, but it could be anyone that cares about being responsive. When we think about salespeople, we include consultants, business development executives, lawyers, realtors—anyone whose paycheck depends on building great client relationships.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Stitch from the competition?
Niyogi: Our real competition is the default mobile mail application that comes with the phone—Apple Mail. While Mail is a good app, it’s not the best tool for everyone. We feel Apple Mail under serves the needs of sales professionals because it lacks the tools and information for this group to be effective. Instead, they have to go back to their desk to reply to customer requests. Our application is 100 percent geared towards helping salespeople close more deals. With our first version, salespeople can now access the files they use, track important emails and be more responsive with easy access to frequently used content.
SUB: You just launched to the public. Why was now the right time to launch?
Niyogi: We are always launching, but this time we’re doing it publicly in beta. It felt right to launch now publicly because the application is mature enough to really be valuable to a salesperson. Even though we’re launching, we recognize this is just the beginning. As a matter of fact, we have been in private alpha for the last few months with a couple hundred daily users. Given the engagement we saw with the initial features, we thought this was the time to tell our story to a broader audience.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Niyogi: Stitch has raised $3.25 million in Seed funding from Google Ventures, SoftTech, Freestyle Capital, Foundation Capital, Eniac Ventures, and other top-tier VCs and Angels such as Brad Garlinghouse, Tom Conrad, and Eric Hahn.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Stitch? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Niyogi: Mobile and tablets are changing the way sales professionals and organizations remain competitive. The modern salesperson is selling 24/7 and needs to be effective constantly.
When we thought about this shift to mobile, we came to the conclusion that there was one application that mattered the most to salespeople—email. Email is the killer sales application on the phone. I have been a CEO the last few years, and before that I have carried a sales quota. I know the value of being responsive to customers, partners, investors; it’s the difference between winning and losing. Yet if you talk to any salesperson, they find themselves constantly going back to their desk to get work done. We don’t have the right tools to make the work we want to get done easier on-the-go. The simple things are difficult and we found salespeople going back to their desk rather than taking action now. We asked ourselves: “How can we help salespeople be more responsive? How can we create a world where salespeople can be more efficient through these micro-moments throughout the day? How do we give salespeople the right tools and insights so they can close more deals?” And that’s why we started Stitch.
Niyogi: It started with building the right team. We have the best team to deliver the vision of a mobile-first sales productivity platform. I wanted to put together a team of experts—a team who knew how to build the products to serve our target audience. Given our sales focus, our co-founders are all ex-Salesforce.com, so we have a built-in empathy for the sales professional. One of our co-founders is a designer, because we believe design and user experience are essential for a successful product. We also have engineers with deep email expertise with backgrounds from Nokia and Good Technology, and CRM application expertise from companies like SugarCRM.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding the best people to build the company you are trying to create. Once the team is together, everything else falls into place.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Niyogi: Our platform brings together the services you use for work so you can be more effective on the go. ‘Stitch’ embodies this spirit—we’re an application stitching together other applications and services.
But that’s only part of the name story. In the early days of the company, I was talking to a friend of the company who was considering joining. It was one of those Justin Timberlake moments, where he didn’t join because it wasn’t the right timing. But he was out jogging and thinking about our product, and he emailed us later that night with the name ‘Stitch.’ If he’s reading this, thanks!
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Niyogi: With any company, the hardest thing is execution. It’s execution across everything—hiring, product, engineering, design. With limited resources, we have to be efficient with our time and resources, but it starts with hiring the best people for the job right now. Our seasoned and experienced team is rolling up their sleeves and building to win.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Niyogi: Our application is currently free while in beta. We plan to introduce different payment plans later this year.
SUB: What are your goals for Stitch over the next year or so?
Niyogi: We want to be the go-to mobile sales application; the mobile application that salespeople demand because we help them close more deals. We have a long way to go to accomplish this goal, and we’re excited to hear from users about how we can make Stitch their go-to mobile sales application.