When I moved to California, I decided I would learn to surf. This was 2005 and – thanks to the internet – travel had become a little easier, so I found a surf camp in Bahia, Brazil and set off for two weeks. Which morphed into six weeks. Being a little older than the backpacker crowd, I had many interesting conversations with the local entrepreneurs supporting the industry, talking email marketing strategy with the surf camp and partnerships with a surfboard shaper.Fast forward 10 years and Brazilian entrepreneurship is thriving – while Brazil’s overall GDP fell 4% in 2015, the tech industry grew 20% YOY, from 2014 to 2015.According to ABStartups, which was founded to promote and represent Brazilian startups, there were over 4,000 early-stage startups in Brazil at the end of 2015, after more than an 18% surge within a six-month period. Interestingly, FinTech and B2B services lead that growth. With 250% growth in the number of transactions, the tech sector across Latin America has actually grown measurably the past five years in terms of VC investment. Brazil leads the way in investment dollars across Latin America, accounting for close to 60%.
We launched Salesforce for Startups in October 2014 at Dreamforce '14. We just finished up Dreamforce ’16, which marks our two-year anniversary.I felt really good about our first year as we were incredibly scrappy, focused on building a platform to enable us to execute on our vision of a self-service program to help startups build, grow and give back with Salesforce. Here’s a look at that first year.We dove into our second year focused on growth. I really wanted to see us optimize and leverage the platform we had built to expand globally. Innovation happens everywhere...so, we should be everywhere, helping startups.Don't feel like reading? Check out this fun infographic.
This week at Dreamforce, we celebrated startups from around the world in the Startup Valley. More than 35 inspiring entrepreneurs, with startups ranging from 3D-printed fine jewelry to apps to streamline your sales process, showcased their products and share ideas with attendees of all types.As part of the Startup Valley, we setup a little podcast studio in an Airstream. To share the fun with everyone, we interviewed many of the startups who joined us.
On Friday, we featured the first batch of the Salesforce Incubator. Jason Lemkin, founder of SaaStr, Jason Green, founding partner at Emergence Capital, and Mark Goldstein, founder of Bad Ass Advisors, joined us to interview each of them.
Listen to Startup Valley at Dreamforce to learn about the wins and challenges of these entrepreneurs.
Dreamforce is our annual, 4-day event hosted in our hometown of San Francisco. The world's largest software conference, we welcome thousands of customers from all over the world who join us to learn and get inspired.Last year, Salesforce for Startups hosted Startup Summit, for startups. This year, we're doing things a little differently. We'd like to provide startups with big exposure and our general attendees with inspiration, so we've crafted a Startup Trail – open to anyone – to enable attendees get inspired by the next generation of innovators.
WHAT TO SEE
STARTUP VALLEYThe Startup Valley is at the heart of the Startup Trail. Here we will showcase 35+ innovative startups from around the globe using Salesforce to build, grow and give back – swing by to check out what they do, and how Salesforce enables them to do it. A great way to start and end each day at Dreamforce!
I count myself lucky to work for a company that Forbes has considered one of the most innovative for six years running and even called the “innovator of the decade.” In fact, innovation is one of our core values here at Salesforce; part of what enables the company to move as quickly as it does, is our unique culture.That’s why today I’m very proud to announce the first batch of startups to join the Salesforce Incubator at 650 7th Street in San Francisco.
This year at Dreamforce, Salesforce for Startups invites you to get inspired by the startup community. We’ve put together six innovative panels featuring 20+ startup founders and leaders. Timothy Tuttle, founder and CEO of MindMeld, is one of them.A former AI researcher at MIT, Timothy founded MindMeld in 2011 to push the boundaries of natural language understanding. In 2014, MindMeld launched a platform to enable companies to create intelligent conversational interfaces for any app or device.Tim took the time to answer our questions and share his thoughts on how AI startups impact the enterprise.
Many forms of artificial intelligence—from decision support to fully automated systems—are disrupting our lives but remain difficult to grasp. What would be your two-sentence version of “AI for Dummies?”Artificial intelligence is the ability for machines to perform actions thought to require intelligence. One approach is for machines to mimic humans, so that an average person cannot tell if they are dealing with a person or a machine. However, AI today also encompasses machines doing things that humans cannot do, or cannot do easily, that require a degree of analysis and predictive, cognitive and decision-making behaviors.
How do they impact the way companies interact with customers?
Natural language conversational interfaces will provide the most compelling and engaging omnichannel experiences available, for multiple industries. They facilitate human-like interactions that are not only natural and intuitive, but also highly personalized and brand-specific. Conversational interfaces provide customer satisfaction by responding to queries with efficiency and expertise. Importantly, natural language results in a rich trove of customer insights—from intent to sentiment—that brands can derive deep analytics from to inform business decisions.
What are the key challenges in your field that you were able to overcome as a startup?
The biggest challenge when you’re on the leading edge of a new industry is educating the market and your customers. When MindMeld first started, companies did not understand why they needed this technology, and they didn’t believe it could possibly be as advanced as it actually is. Over just the past year, we’ve seen an enormous attitudinal shift. Most major brands now understand that conversational AI is the future. These days our conversations are about timelines and specific goals, rather than pitching the basic concept behind what we do.
How does Salesforce enable you to reach your goals?
Our target market stretches across many verticals and thousands of companies. We use Sales Cloud to track a large number of target accounts through a relatively long sales cycle. In conjunction with Sales Cloud, we also use Pardot to manage our marketing programs.
Can you name two other startups doing amazing work in different fields of AI?
There are many startups doing really cool work these days. There are multiple names deserving of a mention here, but two of them that come to mind are Blippar (who use image recognition and augmented reality to display information about real-life objects) and Vicarious, a startup with some really interesting people behind it that learned how to solve CAPTCHAs in 2013.
What's coming next?
MindMeld is working with a number of leading international brands on solutions that shift perceptions of conversational AI across the tech industry. These are solutions that feature a level of natural language sophistication that the market has not yet seen. We are hopeful that when these launch—expectedly before the year is out—they will create awareness of what AI can do for people in their everyday lives.
Come to Dreamforce to learn more about how Salesforce is delivering AI to everyone with Salesforce Einstein and our panel discussion, How AI Startups Will Impact the Enterprise.
Since Salesforce for Startups launched in October 2014, over 6,000 brilliant entrepreneurs across more than 130 countries have joined the program. Members like Automatic, GoSquared and OneMob have tapped into our technology and ecosystem to build and grow their businesses to become thriving customer- and community-focused companies. Leading accelerators and organizations across the world have aligned with us and continue to share our belief that the customer is the most important ingredient in transforming a startup from an idea to a successful company.That’s why today, at TrailheadDX, Salesforce's developer conference, we’re excited to announce a new incubator for startups and consulting firms to deliver innovative solutions to their customers.Salesforce is founded on innovation. As a startup, Salesforce was the first to launch a multi-tenant cloud product, a subscription-based revenue model and new philanthropic model, the 1-1-1 model. The Salesforce Incubator will build on our heritage of innovation to help customer- and community-focused startups build, grow and give back.Based in the Bay Area, the Salesforce Incubator will provide a workspace for select companies to innovate, collaborate, share best practices and interact with the Salesforce ecosystem. Paying homage to our roots as a SaaS pioneer, our first batch will focus on SaaS companies built utilizing the Salesforce App Cloud.Salesforce has the most passionate and unique developer, partner and customer ecosystem in the world. We’ve been blown away by the innovation showcased by the startups in our community and look forward to nurturing the next generation of innovative companies.Stay tuned @salesforcestart – we will announce our first batch on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.The Salesforce for Startups Team
As you may know, Dreamforce is our annual, 4-day event, hosted in our hometown of San Francisco. What you may not know is that throughout the year, we host the Salesforce World Tour in cities all over the world. These are great events for startups, in particular, as they’re free, packed into one full day and you have the opportunity to find answers to your questions.Given the fact that Amsterdam hosts one of the most innovative startup ecosystems in Europe, we decided to host the first-ever Startup Village at Salesforce World Tour Amsterdam on Thursday, 14 April. WHAT'S HAPPENINGBring your questions to the Startup Village welcome desk – Salesforce for Startups and Salesforce Ventures will be there to welcome you!We’ll kickstart a day of sessions with the CTO of the City of Amsterdam, Ger Baron, at 9.00. Learn more about our sessions here.WHO TO MEETWatching a session? Introduce yourself to your neighbor as you’ll join our partner Startupbootcamp's Smart City & Living 2016 cohort, who we’re delighted to have in attendance.At 15.00, we'll host a fireside chat with Neelie Kroes, Special Envoy for StartupDelta and member of the Salesforce Board of Directors, will discuss her efforts to boost the Dutch startup ecosystem.Throughout the day, we will showcase some of the great startups already using Salesforce to build, grow and give back. Stop by to check out what they do, and how Salesforce enables them to do it.
Before Salesforce became the leader in enterprise SaaS, we were a startup focused on many non-traditional business strategies. These learnings, along with those from other SaaS leaders, are now shared in our recently released guide, The SaaS Startup Founder’s Guide.
Our guide features advice and best practices from SaaS startup founders and long-time industry players including Aaron Ross, Elay Cohen, Jason Lemkin, Judy Loehr, Mike Wolff, Tien Tzuo and other experts. It is meant to provide you with a fundamental understanding of the business model of SaaS, as well as provide key go-to-market plays that will help your startup grow.Download the guide today, for free: