EP 12: Anisha Nandi, CEO at Verbate.io
James Mackey 0:12
Hello, and welcome to Scale by Design. Today we are joined by Anisha Nandi. Anisha, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Anisha Nandi 0:17
I'm doing well. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here, James.
James Mackey 0:20
Yeah, for sure. So before we jump into it, could you just share a little bit about your background and experience?
Anisha Nandi 0:27
Yeah, absolutely. So I founded Verbate, you know, the typical story of building the tool that I wished I had, as well as my co-founder. I actually come from the corporate media world, I worked a lot in digital newsrooms, and was really passionate about the idea of bringing your whole self to work, right? I thought it always made our business better. It may be better, it made my teams better. And then the shift to distributed work happened. And of course, every workplace was trying to figure out what that meant. How can we really keep our people connected and have that sense of community and still bring themselves to work in their fullest sense?
And so my days in the corporate media world, really managing different folks and different types of team dynamics. And then my co-founder's experience in the tech world, we both saw this enormous opportunity specifically with employee resource groups to fuel that mission. And so Verbate was born.
James Mackey 1:19
That's awesome. And so at your prior employers before you started your own company, like NBC, and CBS, did they all have ERGs? Is it accurate? Is that where you kind of learn more about them and where you saw the opportunity?
Anisha Nandi 1:33
Yeah, totally. So especially at NBC, we had a pretty robust ERG program. And even at the Comcast level as well, there are a lot of different communities, networks, and Employee Resource Groups. Specifically, I was involved with our employee resource group over at NBC News. Personally, I'm Trinidadian, an Indian. I was born in England, I grew up in New York. And so I really have this kind of multitude of different identities. And especially as a journalist, you want to bring that with you to work right and make your team stronger, it makes the stories that you pitch even richer and gives you just a perspective on the world that's really valuable. And to be honest with you, as a journalist, I was always figuring out how to do more of that.
So I was involved with that erg. I think what's really interesting is we're seeing more and more of these groups pop up that encompass more and more of your identity and experience, right? Personally, I never really had a group to represent my Trinidadian identity, right? And so I think what's really interesting is, as we talk to more companies, we're seeing them really expand the scope and the size of these groups, right, almost every company we talked to is also launching a parent's group or a mental health group. And so it's like, it's really becoming an amazing way to bring more and more of yourself to work.
James Mackey 2:47
Yeah, for sure. And so I've actually heard a lot of mixed reviews about ERG. I've heard from some people that, you know, their company had a really incredible ERG group that was actually producing good outcomes for employees. And then I've also heard other situations in which they are like, really not properly run, and there's really nobody qualified to lead the charge.
So I'm just curious, does your product help companies run ERGs effectively? So it's actually producing the outcomes that are why the group has started? Or is it more so compliance? Is that part of the gap that you're solving?
Anisha Nandi 3:34
Yeah, definitely, I think I think there's a lot in there to unpack. And I'll kind of start with where we see the trend lines moving and why we even started vervain. So what we saw happening across so many different industries across so many different companies, my co-founder, and I talked to tons of people, leaders, and, you know, CEOs, and when there was a shift to distributed and hybrid work, almost every single company was rethinking how do we keep people connected? How do we have that sense of community at work? Especially when we can't come into the office anymore? Right? We can't have a cold brew and beautiful offices. That is what's bringing people together. What can we do? And pretty universally, we heard a lot of companies, not surprisingly, doubling down on employee resource groups in some way, shape, or form because it was, you know, that a lot of companies already had ERGs. And they were like, Oh, this is the natural place where we can foster a sense of community.
To your point, though, a lot of these groups are bootstrapped. Right, I mean, you have volunteer employees running them, who are giving extra time on top of their original function. Maybe they're a product manager or an engineer or a CX person in their team. And now they're dedicating extra time as a lead to run the erg. And so the number one word we hear from that, from that group of folks is burnout, right? This is a lot of work to take on. And from those company leaders to be frank with you a lot of the time they were just like, we have no way to actually we're doubling down, we're giving them budgets, we're giving them more of the engagement budget, etc. But we don't know how to measure success, right? Like, we don't know how to know if they're doing all of the great things we think they are.
So that's really where we come in is that sense of alignment, giving the ERG leads better automation, integration tools, like really just being able to just do the work easier, save them time and money. And then we give the company leaders that sense of alignment so they can understand what impact these groups are having.
James Mackey 5:21
For sure. ERGs are typically at larger companies, right? Do you work with startups and growth-stage companies or is it primarily like established mid-market enterprise works?
Anisha Nandi 5:33
Honestly, it's everybody. We have talked to companies that have 200 employees that have ERGs. It's now every single company has either started an erg program, or has had one for decades, and the term that we hear a lot is erg, 2.0, from those legacy types of companies.
They're like, we've had a women's group and a black group and an LGBTQ plus group and a parents group forever. Now we want to add four more and make sure that they feel really robust again, and aligned with the company's initiatives. But then from the smaller orgs and startups we hear like, we know we have to do this, we want to do it right from the start. And that's ironic, both of those groups are going to come to a platform like Burberry and kind of have the same basic needs of alignment and organization, and collaboration. Okay, cool.
James Mackey 6:16
So at this point, it sounds like you are pretty much targeting the entire market. Or do you have kind of like an ideal customer profile that you're really focused on getting started with right now?
Anisha Nandi 6:28
Yeah, so we started with, like, 500 to 2000 people for employee companies, mainly in the tech sector. And those folks loved us. They're very forward-thinking, like I said, they already had ERGs, or they were launching ERGs. What's been really surprising and really interesting for us is we've been getting a lot more interest both inbound and outbound from those more legacy companies, manufacturing, corporate media, pharmaceutical companies that are having that kind of like ERG 2.0 problem where they're like, We need to revamp these groups and make sure that they're at the center of our culture and strategy.
James Mackey 7:07
Okay, cool. Nice. Well, that sounds really cool. And I think, probably in the enterprise space two, right? There's gonna be a huge demand for this. So is the idea kind of like as the product continues to mature to push upmarket to those fortune 500 orgs, as well?
Anisha Nandi 7:22
Yeah, I think so. So for us, we have been getting some inbound from some of those folks already. And we're doing some early exploration on just like, what is it? What does it mean to serve those fortune 500 company-type companies, it's an exciting thing to be seeing happening. For us, our ICP is more like 500, all the way up to like 20k employees. That's been interesting.
I think the real kind of requirement for us that we often see our product, really hitting the nail on the head, if we can have that, in our customer profile, is having that DIB program manager in the seat. So that's actually the second fastest-growing role in America right now. And this person is basically being tasked with managing the ERG program at large. And so knowing that that program manager is there and doing the work, that's really kind of our one requirement or at least one thing that we really love to see in a company that's going to work with us.
James Mackey 8:18
Okay, that's really cool. And that's also something you can put into like a data tool to come up with target accounts, right, where you can actually specifically target that profile.
Anisha Nandi 8:31
100%, you can do that. And the other thing that we're really excited about is that person, that program manager that's really focused on ERGs at the company. And with a lot of the DIB initiatives that are going on, that person feels really alone right now, they really need a sense of community, and they want to connect with other people in the space. And so we're working a lot on creating that sense of community for them as well. Okay, nice.
James Mackey 8:51
Nice. So, given the theme of the show, which is figuring out how to do things at scale, how should companies think about scaling? ERGs?
I mean, we've gotten into this a little bit in terms of the 2.0, you know, working obviously, leveraging technology to produce better outcomes. But, what are some of the first things that you kind of recommend to companies when they're thinking about taking the ERG to the next level? Or maybe what are some of the core product features that you have that enable them to do so? What's the focus, I guess?
Anisha Nandi 9:25
Yeah, absolutely. So our two main, like super users are that program manager that sets up kind of a bird's eye view of all of the ergs that accompany and is tasked with managing them and understanding their success. And then the next super user is really that erg lead. They're the ones that are doing the work kind of off the side of their desk, and they really need a better way to just manage that work and make it more efficient and even level it up in terms of strategy. So with those two users in mind, there are really a couple of things that are really important that we talk to companies about when they think about how we can scale our ERG.
One is that sense of alignment right? You touched on it earlier, we really emphasize that you have to have that sense of alignment across the board, both for the ERG leads your program manager, and your executive leadership, right? What do you want from your ERGs? What are your goals for them? Do you want them to help with retention or engagement? And if so, how can you start to build up to that? And how can you build almost an OKR-style framework around what that actually looks like? And so one of the things we do on the platform is, you know, we actually help them set goals and we help them ladder up to them so that everybody is consistently aligned across the board.
James Mackey 10:29
So it's almost like performance management for ERGs. So that is kind of the analogy you sometimes use, or?
Anisha Nandi 10:39
So we often say we're like the operating system for employee resource groups. So everything from, you know, down to budget tracking all the way up to goal alignment, we kind of help them put it all in one place so that you essentially tell that story around. What are these groups doing for our business? Right?
I think that's a really important part that honestly, sometimes people are a little bit scared to tackle things like, how is it being tied to business imperatives? Right? At the end of the day, these groups are functioning within a business that has to generate profit and revenue, and how can we contribute in a way that feels authentic, both to the group and also to the business? And that's kind of how we like to create that alignment.
James Mackey 11:16
Yeah, it's like, how do you connect values with business outcomes? So it's almost like Lattice for ERGs?
Anisha Nandi 11:23
Yeah, we think about Lattice a lot, because I think they do this thing where they took something that people were like, oh, you know, this is obviously important to our business. But we can be doing so much more with this right? Performance management was something that maybe people weren't thinking as deeply about, right?
So yeah, there's a lot to be done, I think that the gold structure is really interesting, even being able to, you know, the granular level of being able to track goals that both, as I said, feel good to the ERG and to that manager is so important. And it's just not happening a lot of the time. And the wonderful thing that happens is you start to see a flywheel of, you know, once you can give that program manager that bird's eye view and also that sense of alignment, you start to collect some data as well around membership growth or engagement, etc. And you start to be able to tell this really beautiful quantitative and qualitative story about what the ERGs are doing.
James Mackey 12:10
Okay, so basically, an ERG business outcome that you can produce is like, you know, potentially, how our ERG is in our organization helping us increase tenure, for instance, right? Or possibly even just like down the pipe employee performance reviews, right? If you have a more engaged employee base, they're probably going to be able to contribute more to the organization as well. Right? I mean, is that kind of like typically like the business use case? Or what are you seeing out there?
Anisha Nandi 12:42
Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting, right? So big companies, especially we're talking about enterprise clients, right? A lot of the companies that have had ERGs forever have already been drawing those lines between those dots for ages. So for example, AT&T credits their black ERG, I think they call it the network with being really closely tied to helping their underrepresented specifically, a lot of their black employees are better retained, the better engaged as well as have leadership opportunities, right?
I think the stat that they like to flout is like 85.6% of their black employees are retained, that's retention. And the network, which is their black ERG, has 11,000 members. And so they are able to kind of tie that together. Like we really this is one of the things we do to support them, right? And so we've seen big companies really be able to kind of draw those lines between dots.
What we're trying to do is basically bring that level of granularity some of that data, some of that storytelling to everybody else that may be just launching their ergs or is really trying to revamp them, because right now, to be honest with you, that business case is really fuzzy.
James Mackey 13:46
Right. I mean, I think a lot of companies probably don't even know where to start.
Anisha Nandi 13:50
Yeah, 100%. And again, the fact that they're not doing basic things, like even really setting goals or tracking budget, right? Like, it just feels really overwhelming for a lot of folks, especially that program manager that a lot of the time is coming over from like an HRBP role or a recruiting role. And they've never really had to do a job like this before. And so being able to give them that level of guidance, and some of that like framework and some of those best practices is really valuable.
James Mackey 14:14
Okay, so this brings structure to the role it sounds like as well.
Anisha Nandi 14:17
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because it's a developing role. I think a lot of people are still trying to figure out, like, what are the best ways to do this, and a lot of the times we'll talk to big companies that, you know, have even been doing ERGs really well quote, unquote, and they're like, I don't know, either. I'm still figuring it out. So I think a lot of Greenfield to just like, really rethink how these groups can be looked at.
James Mackey 14:39
So is there a compliance layer to this?
Anisha Nandi 14:43
In what sense? In terms of like from our perspective, for ERGs?
James Mackey 14:46
Yeah, like running ERG, and yeah, I guess like if there is, does your product kind of consider that? I'm just wondering if these large companies have a compliance aspect to it.
Anisha Nandi 14:57
Yeah, I think it's always something worth thinking about and keeping in the back of our heads. I think one of the things that we think deeply about in terms of like, what is that next iteration after we can give that structure to a lot of different companies and really create a well-run, you know, well-aligned program, what we actually hear a lot as like that next step for ERGs is plugging them not just into your retention and engagement strategy, but also into other parts of your business, right?
So we hear a lot of people talk about, you know, how can our ERGs or communities impact our product directly? How can it impact our marketing? How can they impact our marketing strategy? How can they impact our corporate social responsibility strategy? And so that's, that's where a lot of our thinking at least goes in terms of like, what comes next for these groups once you can really supercharge them?
James Mackey 15:48
Okay, cool. And you think typically, companies are starting to look at this, at like the 500 employee range, is that when
Anisha Nandi 15:55
We typically see them start a programme. Yeah, it's really interesting. I mean, we have that 500 mark is like, when you definitely have an erg program, if not thinking about it, like at that point, you're absolutely you've either considered it or you're definitely trying to launch one. But again, we've seen like, really young companies, we've talked to one of the interesting trends that we're just seeing from our own conversations is, like, really, young crypto companies, especially, are very forward thinking and are launching ERG with even just 80 employees. Right?
And, anytime they reach a critical mass of like, Hey, we have a few different, you know, groups naturally forming and Slack channels or whatever it may be. Maybe they're interest-based groups, right? Maybe it's all the folks that really, you know, love a certain activity. Maybe it's all the groups that live in Brooklyn, right? And so, it's interesting to see these trends develop. And while 500 is the mark, you're absolutely thinking about it. We see companies as young as 50 to 80 employees thinking about it, too.
James Mackey 16:56
Yeah, I definitely could see through the 500 mark, it makes sense to me also, just in terms of companies having the budget and bandwidth. Because for instance, like we're 40 people all in. I don't have the time to be focused on that, because I'm focusing on growing the business, and we don't have the budget to have somebody dedicated to that.
Anisha Nandi 17:21
Fair enough. And you probably already, especially at like, 40, right, you probably already have a lot of those natural connections just happening.
James Mackey 17:30
I think so. I think conversations are kind of happening on the side, right? But it's just not like a formal, like, company-sponsored type of deal.
Anisha Nandi 17:38
Right. But I think you're right, I think, naturally, it's just like the human component of like, a lot of these groups will form naturally once you reach that 200 to 500 mark. And it's also, of course, the business case of like, the bigger companies are probably going to have the budget for it, they're going to have that program manager and see, they're probably just going to already be putting that a little bit of that structure in place and realizing like, Oh, if we're going to do this, right, we need to be able to, like, set this up sustainably.
James Mackey 18:07
What goes into the budget? Is it primarily the person overseeing the ERGs? Or are there other kinds of expenses to kind of factor in? Well, I guess, like your products, right?
Anisha Nandi 18:19
Yeah, that's definitely part of it. I mean, yeah, just right off the bat increasingly are seeing software or any type of tooling be factored in, it's just becoming increasingly clear, especially in like a hybrid work world, like, it is too much to manage, if you're just doing it the old way, which I'm not kidding. He was like a 70-page, Google Doc, and like, 15, Slack channels. And to be honest, when these groups were, you know, maybe throwing a happy hour or planning a couple of things here and there. That was fine, right? That was a fine amount of structure.
But if you are going to expect them to influence retention and engagement, recruiting is one we hear a lot, right? Even for product marketing, you need to give them a little bit more infrastructure. But yeah, that being said, it's an interesting move to see that engagement budget kind of shift to these groups increasingly,
James Mackey 19:06
For sure. So do you think the person overseeing ERGs should be held accountable for business outcomes? Like if they're running the programs? Like do you feel like that should be a performance-driven rule? Or is it more of just like, let's support these different groups?
Anisha Nandi 19:24
I think it can't hurt. Right. Like I think that there is definitely a split sometimes on how to think about it. You know this work is hard, especially when we talk to customers. One of the things that I deeply understand is, as a woman of color who was involved in building these programs, sometimes it's emotional work, right? Like it's literally your identity and people's experiences coming to work with them. And so you have to be sensitive around making sure that you're dealing with that with the amount of care that it deserves.
But also to your point, if you are going to assign a role if you are going to say this program manager again a second fastest growing role in America, second only to vaccine specialists, right? Yeah, I love that's like my favorite Fun fact, I'm like, we'll take it, we'll take a backseat to vaccine specialist. But yeah, this person is really rapidly being hired into this role, if you want them to be able to say, hey, my job is super important to this company, it can never hurt to be able to say, Hey, this is how it actually ties to business outcomes. This is how it ties to making our business stronger.
So that's kind of the way we see it. And also, I wanted to mention to your earlier question as well, that budget is also broken down into things like, you know, increasingly, each ERG has a budget anywhere from a few thousand dollars, all the way up to we've heard of like 10s of 1000s of dollars at something companies, it's up to 100 grand, right, because they also have different chapters regionally.
So each ERG has its own budget to do its different initiatives and events. You have the program manager, that's obviously part of that budget line item, hopefully, a software tool like forbade. And then also, you know, increasingly, they're dealing with your engagement team, your recruitment team, all of these different teams to make sure that the idea of inclusion and belonging is at the center of everything.
James Mackey 21:01
Nice, very cool. So how does it influence product and marketing? Do you have any examples of that that you can share?
Anisha Nandi 21:10
Yeah, it's really interesting. So there are a couple, kind of really obvious ways that we always hear for product focus groups is a big one, right? So if you are thinking about a specific feature or a new line of product that you want to launch, these groups are really valuable to tap into is that they have, you know, this aggregated form of experience or identity, internally at your company that you can trust, right, we've heard of big clothing, retail companies really tapping into their women's group to understand like, you know, different ways that they might want to both build a product around it, but then also market it right. That's another big one we hear. It's like marketing campaigns, how to tap into these groups as well.
The recruiting is a big sector, we hear a lot as well as like really using ERGs and different communities within your company to reach underrepresented recruits or underrepresented groups of people that you might want to tap More into. And then the other big one we always hear is like corporate social responsibility, right, using these groups to really inform your giving or volunteering strategy.
James Mackey 22:09
Okay, yeah, for sure. I could totally see that. Like, I could definitely see it from a talent acquisition perspective, and employee engagement and retention. So that's really cool. I love the idea of tying it to business outcomes because it's like this, you know, like, we're here to work and do a job. And so how does it correlate to what we're doing on a day-to-day basis at work?
Anisha Nandi 22:33
In an ideal world, it should make sense to all of the parties involved, right, that alignment. Another interesting thing we always hear is like, sometimes these groups are influencing policy right now, a lot of parent groups are helping their companies craft, you know, policies around caregiving or leave for new parents, right? And so it's like being able to tap into that group in your organization and say, hey, help us come, you know, come to the table and help us craft something that feels good for everybody.
James Mackey 22:59
Right. Like part of the benefits plan, right?
Anisha Nandi 23:03
Yeah, exactly. So there's just so many ways that again, once you like, create those, those different swim lanes and those different ways to be able to have that conversation, it really becomes something that is super powerful for everybody involved.
James Mackey 23:14
Yeah, and the benefits plan is another way that directly impacts talent acquisition, right? Like when you're making offers to candidates, and they're asking, Okay, what are the benefits and perks of working here? It's a huge driver of why people accept offers.
Anisha Nandi 23:27
100%. And it's all really tied together, right? One of the things that we're seeing so much is like, if you go to pretty much any company's recruitment page today like their ERGs are the second or third, you know, mod modular chunk on their recruiting page, right? Because then you can link out to so many other things that they do for the company, or you can talk about like you said, benefits, it just, it's such a, it's such a great way to show as we care about our employees, and we understand that you all have needs outside of work and inside of work that we can acknowledge.
James Mackey 23:55
So quick, kind of like a side question, I think somewhat correlated, but have you heard of like personalized benefits plans, where it's like, there's a whole range of benefits that you can choose from and you can kind of decide what you want. Like, do you want, you know, more stock options, or do you want, you know, more in terms of kind of credits or whatever it might be for childcare?
Do you feel like the ERG concept kind of also plays into the concept of personalized benefits or just kind of curious to get your thoughts on that? Do you have any opinions there?
Anisha Nandi 24:24
Yeah. I mean, it's one of those things where I mean, you're definitely hitting on why we get so excited about this, this space is that there really are just so many opportunities from here. So it's always something we've thought about. It's something that potential customers and folks have floated to us as a way that ERGs could integrate into their systems.
I think today we're very laser-focused on that infrastructure layer, even at a baseline level of just making sure people feel aligned across the board. And then it's Greenfield from here, but I think today it's just like there's such a level of disorganization. If I can be honest with you and a lot of companies and confusion that getting that like they sign in constructor is necessary to unlock any of those other things.
James Mackey 25:02
Yeah, I can totally see that. I think that makes a lot of sense to me, just based on what you're saying. And, so one of the things we wanted to talk about today was just really talking about the products, right? Trying to figure out where to start, right?
How are you thinking about the product roadmap at this point,, obviously, you're thinking about the infrastructure layer, you're thinking about the core outcomes that companies need to produce. So what's next? How do you see the products continuing to evolve?
Anisha Nandi 25:37
I'm gonna steal one of my co-founders' favorite points to always make here. He comes from the FinTech world. So he comes over from Betterment. And one of the things that were really powerful over there is the idea of, you know, really democratizing access to not only financial systems, but also advice, right, I think a lot of it was one of those fields that were just again, very confusing, and people were like, I don't know about if I have access to the best way to think about this, right. And a lot of that kind of thinking applies to what we're doing today in the DEIB space and the ERG space.
For us on our product roadmap today, again, that infrastructure, that baseline level of alignment of collaboration of workflows is so necessary, but what we're layering on top of it today. And next in our roadmap, is that sense of guidance, right? Not only can we give you the best practices in the workflows and the templates and the integrations, but we're also going to be kind of helping you think through what should I be thinking about. What should I be doing? What should our ERGs be influencing the product, maybe we're not ready for that yet, right?
And so for us, that's a lot of the stuff that's happening in the app, but it's also happening through our community efforts, and through our ways that we're connecting folks, just in these efforts that we're doing, both for growth, marketing, but then also just to have people feel supported in the space. And then in the long term, we're really forming our thesis around some of those larger kinds of business strategy items that these ERGs can plug into. But honestly, I think everybody needs a little bit more infrastructure before they can get there yet.
James Mackey 27:05
Yeah, for sure. So I feel like one of the ways you can help guide them in terms of what outcomes they need to produce is through reporting. You know, the templated reports that you put in can be based around the criteria that you feel to be most important.
Anisha Nandi 27:20
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you're reading our product roadmap a little bit here. But that's one of those areas that every customer is so excited about, right? Even just to be able to say, hey, let's look at what's going on in our ERGs, click export and you can see how membership has grown, how engagement has grown, maybe start to tie it to some of those retentions, engagement numbers. And again, that alignment, right? You can not only show that to your ERG leads, but now your executive sponsor is your CEO, everybody starts to understand, oh, this is why this is amazing. This is why we're doubling down on it. Let's beef up budgets again next year.
James Mackey 27:51
For sure. I was actually a recruitment advisor for a company called Emtrain. And it was like a culture platform. It did much more than compliance. But basically, they had a mission to end workplace harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias. And they worked with a lot of enterprise companies. And one of the features that a lot of these organizations were really excited about was the idea of benchmarking. So they would actually share the data and aggregate in terms of the outcomes and the progress that their customers were able to make. And the customers obviously like what they are currently doing.
I'm just wondering, like, it's obviously not the same thing here. But similar in a sense. So I'm curious, have you ever thought of doing some kind of aggregate data benchmarking or possibly, like selling that separately as data or something like that?
Anisha Nandi 28:41
We've absolutely thought about it. I think it's something that two things come up here. I think one is absolutely something that I think a lot of people would be super interested in. Definitely. Even if you're just thinking, right, like, I'm a growth stage company, pre IPO, I'm in the tech sector, and I do A, B, and C like, I would like to know, am I on the right track? Do other companies of my shape and size typically have more ERGs or less ERGs? Again, they're just like a lot of confusion in space. And there's not a lot of connection and understanding of what else is going on. To fold there, though, I think that a lot of companies while they do want to see that comparative metric, sometimes if it's too early on in their journey, it's not always helpful, because it's kind of like, oh, well, I'm that company, as great as they are might not actually know what the answer is either.
And so that's why today, we've kind of gone the route of like, let's provide some of that guidance and best practices from day one. And as I think as more of this space develops, that benchmarking becomes really interesting. And also the cross-company collaboration, right? A lot of companies want to collaborate with each other. And so again, our brain goes into network effects. Very much so but there's a lot of exciting stuff.
James Mackey 29:45
Yeah, for sure. Because I could see maybe when the space is a little bit more mature, like this idea of like, you know, since there's a lot of people starting out, it's like, what does good look like? What outcomes like what progress should we be making? I mean, I guess like, you can just say, Okay, year over year, quarter over quarter, depending on the size of the company, what type of progress are we making here? Right? Yeah, that's really interesting.
Anisha Nandi 30:12
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's totally an opportunity for that. And I think I'd be really interested in seeing where we are in five to five years, even in this space, right? And seeing like, are some of those baselines a little bit more clear? I think today again, and this was an assumption that even as entrepreneurs we had going into it, I think we thought that a lot of the big companies have that figured out yet. And even some of the I'm not going to name drop anyone, but even some of the companies with the best ERG programs, we've chatted with them, and they're still like, we're still figuring it out.
James Mackey 30:37
Like, how do we actually measure success?
Anisha Nandi 30:42
Exactly. And I think a big part of that is the timing here, right? I think that so much of the progress that's happened in terms of ERG is really being at the centre of culture and strategy happened over a really condensed time period over the past two to three years, as we all went through that rapid shift to distributed work. And a lot of the social movements we saw happen happened. It just kind of left a lot of companies grappling for answers in a very short period of time. So a lot of folks still feel like they're playing catch up.
James Mackey 31:09
Yeah, for sure. I can see like, there are so many different features and rollouts you could do for this product. And I don't know if you've heard of Pavilion, but it's like a community-based company. They have executive programs, and they also have Founder CEO programs, by the way where it's really cool because you can get in a cohort with like, 50, other founder CEOs. And there's only one person per industry allowed. So you don't have to worry about competitive things. But it's cool because you can talk with other founder CEOs. And usually, we have the same problems, right? Like, we're dealing with the same stuff. And there are CEOs, from different levels of growth.
But anyway, Sam Jacobs, he's the founder and CEO. And one of the things that I learned from him, he's like, talking about experience operators, right, like an experience like founders, co-founders, and basically what he's saying is like, you know, people that have been doing this the longest, they're the best at it. They know how to do fewer things, but just over-deliver on those things versus doing too much stuff, but then providing a crappy experience. So I always thought that that's the hard part, right? Because you can look at all these different applications for your product, but then it's like, you don't want to do a bunch of stuff half-baked, or you don't have the ability to like actually have the budget to build it out the right way, or the bandwidth or whatever else. Right? It's like having the discipline to be laser-focused on like, let's get these few things right. So they're like really good
Anisha Nandi 32:36
100%. And that's where my co-founder, I feel super lucky to have a co-founder that has that background in product because he's been awesome at having that laser-focused vision. And it really is just balanced at this point between like, Okay, what do we really think this space needs? And what do we know in our gut, and just from our, the some of the authority that we've already built up, but then also really just listening to your customers, right? And if you can kind of correlate those two factors as best as possible. That's led us straight so far. So hopefully, we'll be able to keep doing it.
James Mackey 33:03
For sure. So are you guys bootstrapped? Or did you take on funding? Or what's the strategy there? How are you gonna continue to build a little bit of both?
Anisha Nandi 33:12
Yeah, we've done a little bit of both, we're trying to stay as scrappy as possible. To your point earlier, I think that, honestly, we've just surrounded ourselves with some really awesome strategic folks. And they have helped us accelerate past a lot of our early milestones. And so we're just gonna keep doing that and seeing where it leads us.
James Mackey 33:29
All right, cool. So do you see fundraising in the near future? Or, are you gonna try to stay scrappy, or at some point, do you see yourself accelerating growth?
Anisha Nandi 33:41
I think like any smart entrepreneur. I think that fundraising is always in the future. I think I'm always building those relationships and thinking about it. But right now, we're just super laser-focused on sales and products.
James Mackey 33:53
That's really cool. Nice, nice. Well, this has been a really fun conversation. I love the product idea. I think it's becoming more and more relevant. And I think the ICP, like what you're discussing, is the perfect place to start it just like when you're explaining it, it just makes a lot of sense. To me, it's like, right, where companies really have the budget and the focus to start doing this. Right. And we've been successful enough to get to that point.
And then I could definitely see the enterprise application, right, like, you know, once you build out more like the product roadmap and feature set and like can start to push upmarket incrementally and I see a huge opportunity they're like, Yeah, I think that that's gonna play very well at some point in the Fortune 500 market like there's Is there any kind of like competitor out there that's really crushing it at a mid-market enterprise level or you're kind of like the first ones doing this.
Anisha Nandi 34:46
It depends on how you look at it, not the answer is there's no huge, prevalent winner in this space yet. Again, I think a big part of that is timing. We are really fortunate and we're just being good entrepreneurs at looking at this as the right time to be building this product in some like donation platforms, etc that have started to think about this, but really not really solving that pain point of like that infrastructure layer. It's more so from like an angle of donations, etc, which I think is important, but I think it's just a different entry point.
James Mackey 35:15
Yeah, I think so. I think you have to tie it to business outcomes to sell large subscriptions to big companies. Right?
Anisha Nandi 35:24
That finally makes sense, right? I think that might not have made sense two or three years ago when those companies were started, right? And I think people are finally ready to really think about it like that.
Yeah, for sure. I think it's, it's perfect timing. So I'm really pumped to see how your team continues to scale and grow, and I'll be rooting for you. And, you know, obviously, if I can make any interest for you just let me know. Basically, my role now is like talking with founders, CEOs, executives, and venture capitalists. And that's literally like, all I do. So there's ever, any kind of interest I can make for your team, I'd love to as well.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, James, I appreciate that. And when you all become a fortune 500 Or even before we'll come to help you out with your ERGs.
James Mackey 36:07
Oh, it's gonna happen. Just watch us. So my goal is to get us to like 200-300 people over the next couple of years.
Anisha Nandi 36:15
Perfect. Well, I know who to talk to and you start to find some communities.
James Mackey 36:18
Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it. I'm excited about that. Oh, one last question. Are you gonna be at Dreamforce?
Anisha Nandi 36:24
This week, we're not going to be at Dreamforce. We're thinking about it, but I don't think we'll be able to make it.
James Mackey 36:32
Okay. Cool. I guess I could have asked you that after we stopped doing the show. Anyways. But yeah, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much for joining us. If people want to follow you online, where can they find you?
Anisha Nandi 36:45
Yeah, so the best place is really LinkedIn. You can find us on our LinkedIn page, Verbate. And then I'm on all the things personally as well and Anisha Nandi at LinkedIn or Twitter, all that good stuff.
James Mackey 36:58
Okay, great. Well, thanks so much for joining us and for everybody tuning in, thank you, and we're looking forward to seeing you next time.