Insight's Growth Gurus series showcases inspiring leaders from our portfolio of growth-stage software and internet companies. In this interview, we interviewed Neha Sampat, CEO of Contentstack. Neha is an outspoken advocate for women in leadership, she can often be found appearing on keynote stages or expert panels discussing her experiences as an entrepreneur and the future of headless CMS technology.
How did the founding team of Contentstack come together?
About 10 years ago, I started a company called Raw Engineering with my Co-Founder, Nishant Patel. We began as a services company helping companies adopt modern technologies, cloud computing, and all the new API based technologies. We slowly discovered that we were evolving into a product focused company and formed a team that included leaders across marketing, sales and engineering. Contentstack spun out of our Engineering Team. Given the fact that we all had worked together for a while and had a sound foundational leadership allowed us to hit the ground running.
What was it like transitioning from a services company to a product-focused company?
It felt organic because we were a team that had worked together for quite a while. We were very passionate about the products that we were building inside the services arm of the company, but we had this professional services DNA. Being an enterprise focused company and having enterprise customers, it actually helped a lot that we came from a services background because we were able to onboard customers with the kind of care that you would expect from a services organization. We did it in a way that was tied to a licensing model and subscriptions, which allowed us to scale the company quickly.
What were some of the early challenges that Contentstack faced?
The one thing that made me most nervous was finding the right members of the team. We were lucky to start off with great leaders, but the next step is building out a high growth team. What matters more to me than anything is maintaining the culture that we have. We have this magical spirit that’s encompassed in the phrase, “One team, one dream.”
On the engineering side, we need to balance innovation with keeping the current product operational. It’s sort of like having to change an engine in a moving car without causing any friction, which is something we’ve gotten really good at.
How do you think managing KPIs and staying data driven has helped you scale?
We’re very customer centric. Our customer success team is called “The Owls” because they are constantly keeping track of what’s happening. We look at our metrics in terms of how our response time is with customers, which I’m proud to share that our customer response time to support tickets is under three minutes. It’s a 24/7 model that our customers are noticeably talking about in the market. In summary, it’s important for us to be attentive to what the customers are trying to accomplish and then help them to get there.
What aspect do you believe is most important when evaluating an investor?
For us, our decision to fundraise was focused on the appropriate time to do so. When we made the decision to raise our Series A, our decision on what investor to partner with came down to culture fit and coming from a place of trust. That’s what I love about Insight. It’s a multi-stage firm that can grow as the company grows.
How do you see yourself and the company evolving over the coming years?
What’s exciting is that we’re just at the cusp of seeing all these new and modern digital experiences come to life. The dream for us is to be the go-to solution for content when brands, technologies, and organizations want to reach their users and audiences at the right time, place, and way.
How have you evolved as a leader throughout Contentstack’s journey?
I focus a lot of my time on finding the right people and motivating them to do the best work of their career. That means hiring a lot of smart people that know how to do things I don’t. It’s important to continue to have the vision, but also to make sure that your North Star is everyone’s North Star. That’s where “One team, one dream” really comes to life for us.
It seems like you were bit early by the bug of entrepreneurial spirit, do you think there are enough opportunities for women to have the same motivations and opportunity?
Part of why I was always so motivated is that I was surrounded by people that wanted me to do well. I was raised the same way my brothers were. I always try to help make Silicon Valley become a level playing field, and it’s not quite there yet, but there’s a lot of awareness around it. One of the things we’ve done to remove gender barriers in the workplace is to remove names from resumes, so candidates are being evaluated purely on their skillset and experience. There are a lot of little things that organizations can do to ensure a level playing field.
Like many CEOs, you’re always travelling. How do you manage to find time for yourself?
Luckily, I really enjoy travelling and the people I get to work with. Some of these people are my closest friends and almost family. When we travel, we always make time to sneak in a really great meal or glass of wine. Also, exploring the local culture, community, and connecting with people.
I know you’re a sommelier. How has that helped you in your career?
It’s pretty funny because it started off as just a hobby. I’ve always loved wine, studied French in undergrad, and got bit by the bug early. I’ve been able to incorporate wine tastings and events into our business development in all the companies I’ve been involved in. It’s a great way to attract people at large conferences and build a network through wine.