Only two things matter when building a startup: the product, and the people. I would say focus on the people first. And everything else will follow!
MEDIA 7: Can you please take us through the professional journey that made you a successful entrepreneur today?
SHAFQAT ISLAM: I only had one job before becoming a CEO — I worked for Merrill Lynch, leading a technology team. It was a really great opportunity that gave me a chance to develop my leadership skills. (As an aside, I always encourage people to get a job before becoming an entrepreneur. That way, you know what it’s like to have a “good” boss vs. a “bad” boss — and hopefully, it becomes easier to emulate those better qualities). After Merrill Lynch, we founded NewsCred. That was an unbelievable ride, and we learned a lot along the way simply by “doing” — until we eventually sold that business and spun out Welcome!
M7: Gartner recognized Welcome, for the fourth year, as a leader in the industry in the 2021 CMP Magic Quadrant. What has been the strategy behind achieving such prestigious recognition?
SI: We take a lot of pride in our leadership position — that’s a big part of it. We strive to be 1% better every day, knowing we have some stellar companies out there trying to chase us down. Of course, it helps that our product is world-class. Not only is it rooted in core content features across ideation, editorial planning, creative workflows, publishing, measurement, and more, but we also offer deep campaign planning, asset management, and work management solutions. Together, it’s a product strategy that has propelled us to the very top of the quadrant and the #1 ranking in CMP use cases for four consecutive years.
It’s all part of our mission: to unleash the potential of marketers. We want to help all kinds of marketing teams reimagine the way they plan campaigns, create content, and measure their value. So, we’re always humbled by Gartner’s recognition. We believe it’s a testament to both our product capabilities of today and our vision for tomorrow. But while it’s been a remarkable journey for us so far, our mission is not yet complete!
In order to find a qualified audience, you need to start by understanding who they are, and providing a very clear, immediate value.
M7: How does Welcome help marketing teams optimize their operations using a single workspace?
SI: First and foremost, Welcome is purpose-built for marketing teams — so everything is designed and engineered with the marketer in mind. We’re not some generic project management tool masquerading our platform for a myriad of departments! Instead, we focus relentlessly on giving marketing teams a single workspace that helps them execute their entire campaign and content lifecycle— from planning to production to measurement and back again. All from within Welcome. All with really thoughtful, purpose-built functionality.
Specifically, we help marketers:
· Set, share, & visualize the entire marketing plan
· Centralize collaboration, manage resources and get more done (together)
· Create compelling, high-quality content and campaign assets
· Publish content to every channel, from one location
· Store assets to make it really easy to find and reuse content
· Leverage analytics and insights to work smarter, faster, & better
M7: What are the top challenges you see for the industry in general and Welcome this year?
SI: We speak with thousands of marketers — of all kinds, in all industries, and across the world — and the common themes (challenges) we often hear are around visibility, speed, and measurement. And the symptoms, we believe, can be boiled down to silos. Team silos, process silos, and tech silos.
· When everything is decentralized, it’s difficult to know what the plan is (or even, has the plan changed?), who is doing what, and where things stand — i.e. visibility.
· When everything is decentralized, it’s harder to collaborate with the team members you rely on to get your campaigns and content out the door — i.e. speed.
· When everything is decentralized, it’s (near) impossible to understand what’s working (both from an operational and performance standpoint) — i.e. measurement.
Most of us know (and feel) this reality. Being a marketer today is straight-up difficult. Business demands (e.g. more production, faster growth) are on the rise. But if we’re going to overcome these challenges and meet these expectations, we need to reimagine how we (as marketing teams) work, and the tools we use to help us execute. That’s why Welcome exists.
Being a marketer today is straight-up difficult. Business demands are on the rise.
M7: What according to you is the best way to find a qualified audience for your product?
SI: In order to find a qualified audience, you need to start by understanding who they are, and providing a very clear, immediate value. If you do that well, your audience will find you, engage with your brand and/or product, and become advocates (helping to attract other, qualified individuals)! That’s why we launched a completely free version of our product.
Our target audiences are core marketing and creative professionals. And we know the folks moving into leadership roles within those teams are part of a new breed — they’re a new type of buyer. In many cases, they are savvy marketers who want to “feel”, “see”, and “touch” — i.e. they want to be confident they’re making an informed decision. By offering a completely free version of our product, we’re able to provide them immediate value — sometimes in the very first interaction with our brand!
M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
SI: Only two things matter when building a startup: the product, and the people. And in fact, the product is built by the people. So really, the only thing that matters is putting together an amazing team — one that is highly skilled has great core values, and makes it fun to come to work every day. So, I would say focus on the people first. And everything else will follow!