Founder Facts (FF): Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Diwaker Singh (DS): I am Diwaker Singh, the Founder and CEO of Crikle.
Crikle is an easy to use, web-based sales solution that provides a salesperson with everything they need, to organise and efficiently conduct a remote sales meeting. Crikle is comprised of five core components - customer engagement, information management, sales enablement, content management and sales analytics. By extending the trusted, personalised sales environment remotely, Crikle helps sales teams engage with customers in a unique and personalised way, reducing sales cycles and growing sustainable revenue and profitability.
Crikle, for me, is a very interesting opportunity and a new challenge that I am looking forward to lead to success.
FF: What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
DS: I have been an entrepreneur for 30+ years and have enjoyed every moment of it. My experience at over 20 companies has seen me act as a founder, CEO, executive, Board member/Chairman, investor and advisor - you could say that I have worn many hats! Over the past two decades my focus has been on emerging markets. In that, I have been a part of technology business exits to prominent acquirers such as Microsoft, Qualcomm, Naspers, Francisco Partners and Fitbit.
Each of these experiences, no matter the role, has enabled learnings that were diverse and different to one another.
Last year we saw workplaces being disrupted on all sides, and along with it, daily habits, schedules, thoughts, and feelings changed. Not only are sales teams now working from home, but the buyers are too. Sales people have been using standalone tools to get their job done, but it's a lot to juggle and the reality is that none of these tools are fit for purpose. There’s something missing that brings it all together for them and makes their job easier - that’s where Crikle comes in. We’re the only solution of our kind that is made specifically for sales people selling remotely.
FF: What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
DS: Being the first of its kind, Crikle has gone through many stages to find what really works - for us and for the customer. It took over a year to build version 1 of the product and it went through three attritions, a number of pilots and finally a good MVP, before we could claim product market fit.
The reality is that customers are less patient on a video call than they are in person. Remote sellers need to keep their customer constantly engaged and ensure that the sales pitch is concise and to the point. We are continuously trying to build a product that helps salespeople keep those customers interested so that they can effectively sell their product and close leads quicker.
FF: Who is your target market?
DS: We have customers in industries including SaaS, marketing services, event management, financial services, DIY, interior decorators and architects, travel, pharmaceuticals, gaming, and general product sales. Recently we realised that although Crikle works well for many different types of industries, we need to focus on a chosen few. This enables us to provide the best user experience for our customers in that preferred segment.
FF: How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
DS: As a startup we have the opportunity to pave our own way. We are open to trying out all avenues and not to limit ourselves to the possibilities that are out there. Paid advertisements, social media campaigns, and general networking has all seen success - but to do those things there needs to be a strong product behind it that can speak for itself. Product led growth is becoming more and more popular as the quick, yet tested, way forward. Our focus is on building a product that sells itself to the customer, something that a salesperson would truly benefit from using and that makes their job a lot easier.
FF: Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
DS: In mid-January of this year we had our commercial launch on Product Hunt. In doing this we had an additional platform to reach people and had the opportunity to discuss our product with them. That launch built a lot of momentum for us - we saw a large increase in new users coming to the platform who showed interest in Crikle..
Each new Crikle user is assigned their own customer relationship manager who guides them through the platform. They offer 1:1 personalised demos, answer any outstanding questions, and support them along their Crikle journey. Those relationships are very important to us - not only to keep our customers happy but to get valuable feedback from them about the platform.
FF: What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
DS: I try to build the best teams in the business. I share my vision with them, empower and incentivise them to serve our customers, and explain why ethics are important. I trust them and get them to trust me, and then, finally, lead by example.
We keep a very flat structure at Crikle - everyone has a voice and we want to hear it. Communication is very open for us and that’s what gives our team a chance to come up with great ideas and move the business forward in an exciting way. I’m a believer that having a good team is the easiest path to success.
FF: What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
DS: At Crikle we practice what we preach: less admin = more time to work on the interesting part of the job. Each team at Crikle has their own channels and software tools that they choose to use to help them do their tasks more efficiently and effectively. We do have a few key apps that are used company-wide, like Slack, that help us communicate quick thoughts with one another very easily.
Crikle is integrated with Hubspot and Salesforce so that our customers can reduce their admin, too. The ability to auto-sync calls and key information pieces into these systems means that Crikle users are able to focus on what really matters: building a relationship with the customer.
FF: What are the most important lessons you have learned on your business journey?
DS: All organisations, especially start-ups, need to be ready to adapt to change because not all circumstances are in one’s control. The pandemic has been a great teacher for that. What has changed for our customer and how can we meet their new needs? How are we positioning ourselves in the market to best showcase our product’s benefits? A successful product will be one that adapts to weather these storms.
FF: what is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
DS: I enjoy waking up every morning to the realization that the day could be filled with interesting challenges and go to sleep each night knowing that tomorrow will be another interesting day. This is a pattern that I have learnt to enjoy.
FF: What is your least favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
DS: Working so closely with a product every day can sometimes lead you to get too focused on a specific version of what it should look and feel like - but that might not be the best version of the product for your consumer. I try to make sure my team and I don’t slip into denial with that. It’s important to make sure we’re getting that reality check and are constantly seeking feedback from the customer.
FF: What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
DS: I have learnt what I know today primarily from the amazing people that I work with, now and in the past. Everyone has a special skill or experience to share, and that is my most valuable education.
FF: Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
DS: Our vision for Crikle is to pioneer technology solutions for remote selling. We still have many miles to go before we can claim to have achieved our vision. But I believe that Crikle will become the remote sellers best friend – this is what we are going to continuously strive for.