Zennify

The Story: A Q&A with Founder and CEO Manvir Sandhu

What is Zennify’s founding story?

It all started in 2012. Co-founders Nathan Mueller, Jesse Barker, and I were working at Hewlett Packard, implementing and managing Salesforce for 100,000+ users, when UNICEF invited us to solve a major infectious disease challenge in Haiti. Vaccine quality was compromised due to refrigerator temperature volatility. Bootstrapped and pressed for time, we designed and developed a cloud-based Salesforce IOT solution to track and manage temperature data, and, within months, the entire country had a potential solution to protect the vaccine supply. Post go-live, our solution was published in a leading global medical journal as the WHO and UNICEF’s gold standard for developing nations and it got us on-stage at Dreamforce.

From our first days as Salesforce consultants, we carried a deep conviction that people could solve any major challenge with the right technology. Our experience in Haiti was the first time we truly put those beliefs about innovation to the test—and it worked. That was the moment Zennify began.

Zennify embodies a lifelong dream of building a visionary technology firm that cares about solutions because it cares about people. We built a diverse team that seeks the unique, the unorthodox, and the unusual to keep a fresh perspective that drives meaningful innovation. We have created a place where people love their job because they see and feel the impact of their exceptional solutions every day; a place where they feel valued for who they are just as much as the work they do.

What’s your company’s vision and how do you live those words?

We are problem solvers and relationship builders that strive to create solutions, opportunities and sustained success for our people, customers, community and future generations. Our vision is to be the most trusted, impactful and inspirational advisor in the consulting ecosystem.

We do this in a few ways. First, by leading with our values, which revolve around integrity, authenticity, equality and passion. When you cultivate a team that believes in these principles, you get a company filled with good people who care about solving complex problems. Who respect others and the communities around us.

This shows up in our work with customers, and the kinds of programs and investments we make. For example, ZennLab is all about fostering innovation and passion in our employees. Our ZennEarth and ZennforGood initiatives inspire us to keep giving back.

Your background isn’t in financial services, but it’s the industry in which Zennify is most well known. This isn’t usually the case. How did you decide to specialize in financial services, and why are you so passionate about helping companies in this space?

Part of it is being in the right place at the right time, and part of it is where our passions lie. Because of our heritage, Zennify started out in the Health and Life Sciences (HLS) space and we still have a number of customers there. However, when Salesforce began to verticalize more heavily in 2015, we worked with them on a very high profile competitive displacement in financial services. When Salesforce was coming to market with Financial Service Cloud, they invited us in as a strategic partner based on that work, and it’s been a closer relationship ever since.

Our focus in this space also comes down to wanting to work on complex problems. The pandemic accelerated the need for financial institutions to transform quickly. When physical branches and interactions became inaccessible and customers increasingly began to interact with their financial services partners digitally, we were there. Financial institutions require IT/digital modernization to sustain and progress, and Zennify’s expertise as a trusted advisor and cloud technology expert can support these requirements.

Zennify has been a trusted partner for Salesforce since its earliest days, but nCino is becoming a bigger piece of your portfolio. What’s driving this demand?

As a trusted advisor to banks, it is critical that we can advise on solutions that enable not just a superior customer experience, but also enable operational efficiencies and employee experience. nCino is built on the Salesforce platform and is a natural extension into middle and back office operations, a space many of our customers need to digitally transform to stay competitive. They come to us looking for a skilled partner to tie together systems and provide strategic guidance on how to use these across functions to get results.

Your employee-driven innovation lab, ZennLab, contributes a lot of intellectual property to support your customer work. Why has this initiative been so successful, and what are you working on now in the Lab?

ZennLab is a spot on representation of our company culture. Our solution engineers, technical architects, developers, and more are incredibly passionate about the work they deliver. The idea of ZennLab bubbled up from within our organization as an opportunity to create even more of the solutions we love to create (some of it even being done on personal time) because of this passion. ZennLab is a place for our teams to assemble packaged solutions for common business problems. We aim to get our clients results fast, and these tools are critical.

ZennLab is currently working on several MuleSoft integrations with common core systems used by banks and credit unions. It’s amazing to see these solutions save months of manual work hours by automating complex processes!

Zennify walks the walk when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Your leadership team is incredibly diverse, with women holding 60%+ of director level roles. What do you think is the key to your success when others have found this so hard? 

I think it’s quickly evident to talent that we’re different from other consultancies out there when it comes to diversity and equity. We’ve been fortunate to have some amazing female leaders with us since day 1—some that have grown from consultants to C-level executives. This real world display of upward mobility and commitment to growing talent is partly why, I think, diverse talent wants to work at Zennify. We have invested in partnerships with grassroots and established programs to bring in talent that breaks employment cycles in communities. We have some incredible individuals with us that come from Merit America, Grow with Google and other programs, and it’s truly a blessing to be able to provide opportunities to such amazing people. There’s never any question that we treat any groups with anything less than equality.

You were recently named a 2021 Most Admired CEO by Sacramento Business Journal, and spend a lot of time coaching entrepreneurs in your hometown. Why is that so important to you?

When we started Zennify, tapping into the local community was a huge help for me. I believe in sharing what I can with budding local entrepreneurs. The resources in Sacramento are immense with a huge talent pool, diversity of backgrounds and ideas, community groups that support idea development and more. Also, we were fortunate in that local partners such as the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and Merit America who have connected Zennify to the amazing talent in the region.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you on this journey?

Tercera values so many of the things we’ve built our company around: diversity and inclusion, being mission-driven, enabling a remote workforce, leading with an industry-specific lens to solving clients’ business challenges, and more. I think Chris Barbin and the Tercera team’s successful track record of building one of the first Salesforce consultancies for the enterprise, and its success in the cloud consulting space is a huge advantage to Zennify as we continue to scale. Their partners can offer insights and connections that will make us better.

Hakkoda

The Story: A Q&A with CEO and founder Erik Duffield

What prompted you to start Hakkoda?

Hakkoda is the culmination of a 25 year career in data, analytics and professional services. Starting a company has always been in the back of my mind, but two trends in particular catalyzed the decision to start Hakkoda:

  1. Businesses are now migrating vast amounts of data to the cloud in an effort to make it faster, more accessible and more governed — but it’s not always pretty. They need help.
  2. Talent is reprioritizing what’s important post-pandemic, searching for forward-thinking organizations that are rooted in purpose, with a strong community and development opportunities.

This is an incredible opportunity to build a company from the ground up that gives customers what they need in this new digital world, and gives employees the opportunity to do amazing things and work in an environment where they feel motivated and valued. Plus, it’s always fun to do cool new shit.

What’s your company’s mission and why is the team so passionate about it?

Our mission is to ignite the power of data and embolden the changemakers to create a better world.  This mission drives what we do and why we do it.

To ignite the power of data means we have to make it move faster, make it more secure and accessible, higher quality, and infinitely more usable. That’s why we carry data all the way through to automated decisioning and rich data applications — to power the innovation our clients need. We believe the answers to the world’s greatest challenges exist in data. We help our clients with their biggest data challenges, volunteer our capabilities to help the organizations working to save our oceans.

You both left big roles at two of the biggest brands in services — Deloitte and McKinsey – to start Hakkoda. What made you decide to make the move?

It wasn’t about leaving Deloitte. I recognized the confluence of a huge market opportunity that I happen to have a deep background in and that I am very passionate about personally. That and being able to work with this founding team again.

Why are you so excited about the market opportunity with Snowflake?

I love the scale of Snowflake’s vision. The Data Cloud is poised to have an impact way beyond a cloud data warehouse. I believe the market will absorb its capabilities over time and they’ll need an innovative partner to support their journey.

Hakkoda is in a unique position to build a services firm in the post-pandemic world. How are you looking at things differently than how you’ve built teams in the past?

Talent is reprioritizing what they value, and they’re looking for different qualities from the organizations they work for and with.

The first, is having a meaningful purpose. One that is authentic and intrinsic to the company – not a bolt on. When you start with a clean sheet of paper you can wire this into the company’s DNA and recruit for it. The second is creating a feeling of community. This goes beyond creating colleagues, it’s about being mutually invested in each other and aligned in purpose. And last but not least is the investment in continuous learning. A commitment to this is required to attract and retain the top talent, but we’re also turning learning outside to help our customers to modernize and evolve.

You’re building out your Customer Innovation Center in Costa Rica. Tell us a little about that decision and why do you think it’ll set you apart?

Three simple but important things.

Timezone: The timezone enables us to attract great talent that can work directly with our customers.

Talent: Strong technical talent combined with university and governmental organizations leaning in to shape talent with modern skills and investing in innovation.

Purpose: Given Costa Rica’s strong brand in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance, we are wiring in higher values. It’s not about finding the lowest labor costs. Instead are valuing inspired, passionate team members. This sends strong signals to local talent, US employees and customers.

One of Hakkoda’s co-founders is 100% dedicated to talent, culture and wellness. Why do you think that’s such a critical focus area for Hakkoda as it builds?

The value we bring to our customers is our team and our solutions, which coincidentally, are also developed by our team. We can’t provide this value if we can’t attract, retain and inspire top talent. I love that wellness is part of it in a very real way. We really do focus on the whole person. It’s better for our clients and a much better way to go through life.

Hakkoda’s Scalable Teams model is unique in the industry. Can you explain the model, and why it’s a great thing for both customers and your internal teams?

Scalable Teams is how we address our customer’s highest need. They need talent that is skilled in modern tools and architectures and able to work collaboratively. Talent that is enabled by our technology, operational processes and commercial models.

As the skills mix changes from migration to modernization, or from analytics to data science, we are able to adapt the team, retain the knowledge and co-innovate with our customers. As backlogs ebb and flow, clients can scale up and down the team to match their needs. It’s much more collaborative and flexible than legacy service models. Much more third wave.

Why do you think Tercera is a great partner for you on this journey?

Tercera was an easy choice due to depth of experience, a big vision for this space and an alignment on what a next generation services organization should look like.

Terazo

THE FOUNDER’S STORY: A Q&A WITH MARK WENSELL

What prompted you to start Terazo?

In my previous role as the CIO of a large colocation hosting company, I was constantly looking for development resources for new work. We had a great internal team, but they had their hands full building things we were already committed to and we needed more resources to grow as a company. We partnered with various software development companies but found they were either very project oriented, or staff augmentation oriented. In both cases they weren’t invested with us on the outcomes of the programs we were working on. They also approached problems as either app-focused or language-focused, rather than platform-focused.

I wanted a different kind of partner, one that took a holistic platform approach because we had chosen APIs as a strategic element of our growth strategy. We wanted to join the “API economy” but we couldn’t find any software development companies that had a background in that, who could build something that was truly scalable and scale their own approach.

Taking what I learned from that, I wanted to start a company that would have been the vendor I was looking for, but couldn’t find. A software development company that would understand our business and be with us for our whole journey. A professional services firm to help clients build the platforms they needed with API-first technologies, and be with them on the next steps of the journey to run, maintain, and grow as the needs of the business evolved.

Why do you think being API-first is so important in today’s digital world?

It’s really about the speed of innovation. Things move fast in a digital world, and that pace is only going to increase. To compete, stay relevant and meet customers where they are, businesses need to take a builder-mindset.

With an API-first or programmatic approach, customers can evolve their business processes and introduce new capabilities faster. APIs allow businesses to expose the back-end of their operations and systems programmatically to customers and partners, which means they can build whatever they need. With APIs, systems can talk to other systems, automating data and transaction flows between companies. This frees up the people to focus on other things.

With web and mobile apps, and even SaaS, you are much more limited to the defined functionality of these apps. SaaS applications are still valuable to businesses. They take a lot of risk off the table for companies, but it’s a prescribed solution. Eventually companies hit a limit with the “out of the box” functionality of these software packages. They find themselves innovating in lockstep with competitors because they are working from the same playing field. Thankfully some SaaS applications also expose APIs which can help businesses include them within their overall enterprise platforms, beyond just what the SaaS UI offers, in an integrated way.

With a programmatic approach, there is no limit. With the right skills and strategy, a company can create new offerings and new ways to engage with customers and partners that are truly differentiating. APIs make this far easier. For example, it used to be that if you wanted to build even the simplest SMS service from scratch, it was a huge undertaking. Now it is trivial to get up and running on a platform like Twilio in minutes. The capabilities you get day-one with any of the cloud-first or API-first platforms like Twilio cover a lot of heavy lifting and groundwork, but that last mile is still up to you. And that’s where the real magic happens.

What’s your mission and why are you so passionate about it?

Our mission is really two-fold: To help our customers in a way that generates real business value for them, and to be a great place for people to work and grow their careers.

We’re a values-driven company, and one of our core values is “Level the Field”. There are a lot of companies out there that are not the Googles or Amazons of their industry. They don’t have thousands of developers. Our job is to infuse aspects of a tech company mindset so they can be more competitive because that is going to be important for the long term. Not just for survival, but to give them the ability to thrive in the new world we’re in where these capabilities are a necessity.

The other side of it is creating opportunities for our team to learn and grow. I really want people to look back on their time here and say, “I learned a different way to look at business and to grow personally and professionally during my time at Terazo.”

Terazo has won a number of Top Places to Work awards. What do you think makes the company and team so special?

Going back to our values-based approach, I think it’s not just how we do what we do, but who we work with and the type of project we do. One of the things we talk about a lot is the value of “Seek Meaningful Work” , which means we have to go find interesting work and work that really moves the needle.

Great developers, great data analysts and great engagement leads all want to help people at their core — that’s why they got into technology. Technology is a means to an end, so we’re constantly trying to find ways to connect them with engagements where their talents can change outcomes. Ultimately that’s what gets people excited about working here.

It has a virtuous cycle effect too, because our clients see the outcomes we’ve achieved, and they ask for more. I look at a lot of development shops that have a much more transactional project-minded approach to things and when a project is done, it’s done. Ultimately that becomes a bit of a grind, both for the clients and for the employees. That’s a negative cycle we work to avoid.

What three words would you use to describe Terazo’s culture?

If I had to pick three words they would be confidence, humility, and fearless.

With the track record we have and the results we’ve piled up, our team has earned a level of confidence that is deserved. Our team really knows their stuff. They have both a philosophy and a method of execution that they know gets results. But I think we’re also very humble for the skill sets and capabilities we have. We pride ourselves on being approachable, team-oriented and extremely easy to work with. Clients leading big transformational projects want to work with a humble but confident team.

Lastly, fearless. This isn’t cookie cutter work. Every client is different, every implementation is different. This requires us to be OK trying new things, pushing the envelope, even going out on a limb a little bit. I think our clients want that. Competitive edges are not gained by playing it safe.

You’ve been building and leading services organizations for 20 years. What do you think is the secret to building talented, highly motivated teams?

First, you must care about people and see people as the solution, not technology. And then you must find people that feel the same way. I’d say that’s one thing that’s really a hallmark of Terazo. People here really do care about others and they come to work, finding a way to put that care into action.

From a “technical work” standpoint, some people want to stay behind the scenes creating a product, and not talking to customers. I think we’re very different. Being a services business gives our team opportunities to talk directly to customers and clients and understand things that allow us to grow our capabilities at a higher rate. We want to build a culture that attracts and rewards that kind of thinking. We’ve built a recruiting process that brings people in and gives them insights into how we think. That’s enabled us to build a pretty powerful team of intellectually curious people who are eager to find the solution to any client challenge.

Why did you decide to partner with Tercera?

It was pretty straightforward because Tercera was clearly looking at what’s coming in the same way we did. They were one of the very first people to not ask us “What product are you creating?” They valued services business for what they were, not for what they were doing in the interim before creating some product.

The Tercera team also saw the promise of how disruptive what’s coming is going to be, where the value is created, and what needs to be done to create that value. The partners had personal experience working with Salesforce, which was probably the very first, cloud-first, programmatic platform. They had incredible experiences from their work at Appirio before they formed Tercera, which ultimately gave them insights into what that would look like going forward with other platforms like Twilio. So, I think from an investor standpoint, their hands-on, first-hand experience growing a company in a similar space was very compelling to us.

On our own, we’d have to grow organically to meet a need we think is greater than we can fill today otherwise. So honestly, it’s the right meeting of somebody who believes in the same ecosystem and capabilities we believe in, and sees the immediate need for us to scale up to meet that need. We see a wave coming that, if we’re not a much larger company, we’re not going to be able to handle. We see larger client opportunities with deeper and more complex needs than ever before. We’re going to have to “level up” Terazo to take advantage of that opportunity, and Tercera came along at the right time and was clearly the right strategic partner to work with to help us grow.

BeyondID

THE FOUNDER’S STORY: A Q&A WITH ARUN SHRESTHA

What prompted you to start BeyondID?

I’ve had the good fortune to work inside some of the best technology companies in the world, from building services organizations at early integration and identity pioneers like SeeBeyond and Okta, to managing large enterprise software and services teams at Sun Microsystem and Oracle. That experience showed me that, even with the best technology, getting everything to work together inside a large enterprise can be very messy and few organizations have the skills and resources to do it well. This is especially true in security and identity, where the complexity is high but so are the risks.

When I joined Okta in 2012 to build its customer success and services organization, the company had less than 50 employees and less than 100 customers. The idea of using a cloud service to manage identity was a pretty new concept, and I spent 5 years traveling around the globe helping some of Okta’s biggest customers see the impact it could have on their business. We were incredibly successful and Okta soon had more than 3600 customers!  But I missed being an entrepreneur and felt it was my time to give back to the world that has given me so much. I have worked for some incredible brands over the years, and I wanted to build my own and put the knowledge I had gained into action.

So my co-founders and I started BeyondID, a cloud systems integrator and managed service provider for identity and cybersecurity, to help enterprises operate in a different way. Cloud is all about speed and agility, yet most of the big SIs are still optimized for the on-prem world with giant deals that take months or years to finish. We want to free customers from the tyranny of this old GSI model.

You’ve been building successful services teams for a long time and seen a lot of technology shifts over the years. What’s one of your secrets to success?

I’ve worked with thousands of global companies, representing some of the most iconic tech brands out there – Sun, Oracle and now Okta. What’s been consistent across every successful customer engagement is having a service mindset — doing everything possible to turn a customer into a Raving Fan. My secret to success is assembling great teams across the globe who embody that service mindset, and channeling my team’s focus and energy on making every customer a raving fan.

What’s your company’s mission and why are you so passionate about it?

Our mission is to help companies become secure, agile and future-proof. We use those words very deliberately.

By secure, we mean that we want to be a force for good in the world. There are a lot of negative forces at play today with cybercrime and false information. The technology that is supposed to make people happier and more productive, can harm society and the economy. We want to help businesses put the safeguards into place so people can trust again, can trust them with their data.

By agile, we mean helping businesses use cloud as a platform for growth. This next wave of the cloud is fundamentally changing the way people build and scale a business. It’s a foundation for invention and innovation, and it lets businesses move faster than they ever could before. If we started BeyondID 10 years ago, we couldn’t move half as fast as we can today.

By future-proof, we mean helping businesses adopt an architecture that will help them become more resilient as things change and evolve. Because they will! If a business is building on top of the right technology, running services in the cloud, they can ride the wave of innovation happening at that foundational layer without being distracted from their core competency – serving their customers.

What three words would you use to describe your culture?

1) Innovation; 2) Integrity; and 3) Growth. We are innovative, with a high degree of integrity and focused on growth.

What makes the BeyondID team special?

Our global team is dedicated to the success of our customers, making every one of our customers a Raving Fan of BeyondID. Despite the fact that our team operates from many different locations, we are united in that purpose and it motivates us every day. Our focus on customer success is at the core of our business and helps drive our objectives, both as individuals and as an organization.

What do you think is the biggest opportunity (or challenge) for enterprises in this next wave of cloud computing?

Enterprises face a number of challenges in their digital transformation journey, including the security of their cloud environment, connecting their legacy systems with cloud applications, and managing implementation and technical support, all while controlling costs. BeyondID helps businesses across industries overcome these challenges so they can increase revenue, reduce costs and improve their customers’ experience.

Why do you feel Tercera is the perfect partner for you?

Tercera has the foresight to recognize the Third Wave of cloud computing will fundamentally change the market dynamics within cloud services, and the professional service organizations that support the vendors and customers in that market. Now service providers are not only a key component to an organization’s success, but also at the center of how an organization acquires, manages and deploys the applications needed to safely manage their users and resources. As former enterprise business operators, Tercera’s founders bring the experience, counsel, vast network connections and the growth capital required to accelerate our growth. We believe BeyondID and other companies will greatly benefit from Tercera’s expertise and their focus on helping growth-stage organizations succeed.