WED JUL 31 2019

Why I joined Aviso as CEO

by Trevor Rodrigues-Templar

I recently joined Aviso, a predictive AI startup that supercharges guided selling, as CEO. In this journey, I’m excited to work closely with Tae Hea Naam and the team at Storm Ventures towards the new frontier of Sales; build upon the prescient vision of unicorn founder KV Rao. Being a CEO is a surreal experience. It acts as a truth serum for your ecosystem (people tell you things they’ve been waiting to for a long time) and for your own self (you ask yourself things you’ve not asked in a while). I wrote this post to share my motivations to undertake this journey. When I was following my passion for math, game theory, and gritty contact sports in university, I never thought then that I would spend two amazing decades in sales. I grew up in Europe and Asia surrounded by academics, diplomats, and naval officers. Sales seemed high on personal touch, but low on the prefrontal cortex. I wanted to be at the frontier of action, do a Ph.D in game theory, race in F1, play with the All Blacks. What happened? Meeting amazing sellers happened. As a consultant in aerospace and defense, I found sales leaders were some of the people I related to most in companies I consulted with. They were only a little like Glengarry Glenross. They were a blend of passion and numbers. They leveraged and hedged risks. They were not afraid to make big bets if their intuition and the data supported it. They were modern pioneers. As I took the plunge into the deep end of selling, I also learned that sales was hard. It was a whole-body problem. It needed strategy, story, operational discipline, and an ability to hear "no" ninety-nine times before succeeding once. It had a lot more in common with the kinds of risks Magellan took circumnavigating the globe than a 9 to 5 job of emails and cold calls. As a new sales manager who had never carried a bag, I had to embrace that this was a different career path than any I had envisioned. I relied heavily on my experience of varied cultures and viewpoints, and applied it to sales. Great selling meant thriving in unstructured environments, while bringing process change and discipline. I learned in my revenue leadership roles at Oracle, Salesforce, and that while great sales teams learn to be comfortable doing the uncomfortable, the technologies to serve great sales teams tend to make them more of the latter than productive. All these years, I’ve been conscious and intentional about pitching to where the puck is going to be. And regardless of what technologies I’ve sold, the one question I get most from other sales leaders, CEOs, and investors is:
“Trevor, how do you guide your salespeople and get teams to consistently exceed quota? In other words: since CRM isn't living up to its promise, where do you see it in the next 5-10 years?”
After all, Uber gets us to destinations easier. Waze gets us to destinations faster. Tesla gets us to our destinations hands-free. What do salespeople have as a system of guidance? Guidance is more than just going tactically from point A to point B. It is about looking at dynamic buyer markets through a different lens, of learning how to approach problems with a beginners mind and bringing teams together around a customer’s needs. In a world where a majority of the buyer’s journey is spent digitally, how do you predict deals and drive outcomes? When I first came across Aviso and met KV, I was quite amazed. Starting with deep AI, SaaS, and Wall Street roots (KV had built Zuora, now a unicorn, ground up and was on the founding team at Webex), their AI had delivered 90% plus accuracy for forecasts at a billion-dollar scale. The team had built a platform that could align both forecasting with sales execution. I’ve joined Aviso as CEO to build a new kind of AI Compass for a more guided future for sales teams. I’ve also joined to build a new kind of company that shows the true power of a future, where humans and AI work together to get to our human goals faster, where salespeople spend their time focused on closing more deals, versus getting lost in the fog of CRM. Today we are focused on helping drive revenue growth and we aspire to take the power of predictive AI to help everyone in the world make better decisions and get guidance to get to their goals. If salespeople are modern explorers, AI can be their compass. A compass towards greater purpose, not just incremental revenue, but acceleration of outcomes in any industry. I’ll end this post with one of my favorite Marcus Aurelius quote:
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
As a CEO, my goal is to build a culture that embraces transparency and clarity; a team that constantly challenges its assumptions and embraces suspending judgment in the status quo. I strongly believe everybody wins in an ecosystem where we leverage the best networks; where talent flourishes and works fluidly regardless of boundaries of geography, gender, race, space, and time. We’re hiring. Join us on this journey in our Redwood City and India offices.