A Q&A with Immediately co-founder and CEO Branko Cerny. The San Francisco-based startup, which has built a cross-platform email productivity tool for salespeople, launched out of beta in late October. It was founded last year by Cerny and CTO James Mock.
SUB: Please describe Immediately and your primary innovation.
Cerny: Immediately is a cross-platform email tool for salespeople designed to enable closing deals from anywhere, as opportunities happen.
Immediately was founded on a big challenge: Can we build a mobile email tool so powerful yet elegant that salespeople will want to use it at 10 p.m. while walking their dog? All salespeople want to be able to capture opportunities while away from their desks, but the quality expectation is really high. We strive to make salespeople feel like we’re giving them a full-fledged mobile extension of the processes they’ve developed for themselves on desktop over the years.
It feels magical—send sales emails from your computer, and then get notified on your phone if they get opened when you’re away from your desk. From both your phone and your computer, you can track when your emails get opened, get reminders to follow up with leads, offer suitable meeting times in a couple taps, and use email templates for sales pitches. Immediately automatically syncs your prospect emails into Salesforce, and pulls relevant contact information from LinkedIn, so that you always know who you’re talking to at-a-glance.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Cerny: We’re targeting salespeople, inside and outside. If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where you missed an opportunity because you didn’t know about it or because you didn’t have the right tools on you to capitalize on it, we want to be your solution.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Immediately from the competition?
Cerny: Sales enablement is a huge space with a lot of players and fragmentation. If you’re a salesperson, you most likely use a CRM system, lead gen software, a campaign tool, and a bunch of email tools. We want to be the ones to consolidate the workflow a bit. Email is where the action happens, and there should be no need to have five apps opened to be able to reply to a sales prospect’s inquiry.
To be able to become a trusted interface for sales enablement, you need to get the user experience right. That is why we’re putting so much emphasis on mobile-first, and a clean, smooth, reliable user experience. Going forward, we plan to leverage our platform to do more-and-more about actionable data—without leaving Immediately, you will soon be able to see what your highest-priority opportunities are, get the right context, and instantaneously take action.
SUB: You just announced your public launch. Was this a launch out of beta?
Cerny: Yes, we were in beta for a while, where we piloted with our first five customer companies and a few hundred individual salespeople.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point?
Cerny: We’ve raised funding from Angel investors and a couple of Seed-stage institutional investors. We haven’t yet announced all of it, as we’re finalizing some details.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Immediately? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Cerny: Prior to Immediately, the team launched SquareOne, a mobile email assistant for the consumer space. We applied the technical and UX lessons learned into a more defined space and created Immediately.
Soon, we will add layers of intelligence that will make suggestions on how users can be more effective in their communication process. Maybe they’re sending the wrong pitch, or maybe they’re sending it at the wrong time, or to the wrong person, and we want to be the ones to help them figure that out.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Cerny: Sales, or closing deals in general, is no longer a 9-to-5 job. You’re always selling, always closing. If you don’t, your competition will. And so having perfectly-timed actionable information, and the right tools to take action, is the winning formula. We give you both, as opportunities happen, immediately.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Cerny: In an active space such as sales productivity, it is always difficult to get customer mindshare. There are so many tools to choose from. We want to stay true to our focus on having the product with the most powerful feature set and best experience for the end user, which takes patience and resources. Luckily, we’ve got the support of some fantastic investors and advisors.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Cerny: Currently, we are free for individual users, and have a paid tier for enterprises. Very soon, we will be coming out with a ‘Pro’ version of the product, which will have a much deeper integration with CRM systems, and which will require a monthly subscription to use.
SUB: What are your goals for Immediately over the next year or so?
Cerny: We want to go from giving salespeople the tools to do their job, to also helping them make more informed decisions, and do their job better. There is a massive opportunity to meaningfully interpret email data in order to make our users more effective at their jobs, and we’re very excited to do that.