Creating a New Industry Category: Lessons from Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight

First off, I want to thank listeners, especially the enterprise community, for their warm reception of my podcast, How to B2B a CEO. It has been a lot of fun for me to connect with old friends who are currently leading some of the fastest-growing and most respected enterprise companies out there. And, hopefully, our conversations about scaling a startup and growing into a CEO have been helpful to founders.

What I’ve especially enjoyed is diving into one specific value or lesson from their early days that they look back on as crucial to their company’s success. For Jyoti Bansal, founder and CEO of AppDynamics, learning how to tell his company’s story was key. With Dheeraj Pandey, founder, chairman, and CEO of Nutanix, what stood out from our conversation was his commitment to people first, whether those people were his employees, customers or his family.

In my most recent conversation with Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, we spoke at length about how he was able to develop an entirely new industry category: customer success. He did this through what I hear from a lot of successful entrepreneurs: the power of information advantage.

“If you want to create something great, sometimes you need the information advantage that you know it’s a big problem, but no one else does.” 

Nick felt the problem of customer retention first hand in his previous business and knew it was a big issue that he could solve. However at the time, there was no category for “customer success,” the service that his current company, Gainsight, now creates solutions for. As Nick puts it:

“Customer Success is all about that: driving retention of customers, expansion in their spending and advocacy. And the way you do that is understanding what that customer’s desired outcomes are… and making sure that your whole company is mobilized to get them what they are looking for.”

People historically considered customer success more of a feature, maybe a small product, but definitely not a category. Nick and his team were motivated in their early days by the fact that they knew something the rest of the industry didn’t—and had the ability to prove everyone wrong. The power of information advantage. They were able to rally behind this power and turn Gainsight into what it is today, the leading customer success management platform, working with companies like DocuSign, Box, Cisco and more to keep customers happy and coming back.

I think this lesson is important for every entrepreneur to keep in the back of their minds—whether they are feeling stuck in their current role at a company or in the early days of building something new. Always be on the look out for small holes or pain points in your industry that others may not be focusing on yet. Come up with a solution to that problem, rally behind it with a strong team, and then create a brand new industry out of whole cloth… Well, maybe there are a few more steps in there, but an open mind goes a long way toward building something that lasts!

To hear more of my conversation with Nick Mehta, listen to episode three of How to B2B a CEO.

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