Rob Kall, co-founder of Cien, Inc., is a successful serial entrepreneur who conceived of Cien as a result of his prior experience driving sales productivity.
"As the CEO at my last venture, I was responsible for a lot of sales and saw the problems of really understanding sales productivity," he said. "I thought that there had to be a better way. My co-founder, Ben Strum, and I thought about it. He is experienced in machine learning and saw the potential to use that technology to solve this problem."
Cien uses machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI), to measure factors that traditional CRMs cannot measure. "Using Cien, you can increase the productivity of your sales team enormously and achieve an ROI of over 1,000 percent," Kall explained. "We quantify metrics in three broad categories, rep quality, lead quality and macro events. Rep quality measures the leading indicators of sales representative productivity like product knowledge, work ethic and ability to close deals. Lead quality measures the lead's level of interest or whether they are hot or cold leads. Macro events are things like seasonality."
Cien has created database called the Timemachine database that parses a company's CRM and other data to calculate Cien's metrics along those three categories. As a machine learning application, the more data it can parse, the better it will perform. The company has announced its second $1 million seed round after previously raising $1 million in funding.
Kall's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to seize the day. "The most important thing, because time is not your friend, is that there is no better time than right now to start something," he said. "If you don’t have the financial resources or experience to do something right away, then join someone who is already doing it. You'll learn a lot, have fun and make money. Then a couple years later, you can strike out on your own."