Startup Q&A - Gryphon Networks Shares Their 20-Year History in Boston Tech
Boston has a rich history of tech companies that are decades old, but still going strong. Although an interesting part of that is many of these companies tend to keep a low-profile, as they are heads down and working creating software, hardware, etc. but still remain important fixtures in the tech ecosystem.
Gryphon Networks is one such company. Founded in 1998, the company evolved from a telephone-sales enablement company to develop their own unique cloud-based SaaS platform.
The company’s Chief Revenue Officer Eric Esfahanian connected with us to talk about the history of the company, including how they’ve grown and evolved over the last 20 years and how the name of the company highlights their culture and mission.
CB: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins of Gryphon Networks?
EE: Gryphon Networks was founded in 1998 in response to the growth of Do-Not-Call compliance legislation and the need for greater sales management visibility. At that time, we set out to help companies solve two of the biggest problem they faced:
Gain better visibility into the phone-based sales activities of reps
Transform the way firms market via the telephone
Since then our clients have:
Completed more than a billion call attempts
Booked 20MM appointments by phone
Recorded 190MM post-call outcomes
Spoken to customers for a total of 804MM minutes (That’s 1,500 years of call duration)
Today, Gryphon is used by more 200 organizations; more than a dozen are Fortune 100 clients, including some of the largest banks, brokerage, insurance and consumer services firms in North America.
Gryphon’s CEO, Jeff Fotta, founded the company with his brother in 1998. In response to the do-not-call laws that were beginning to spring up at the state-level, they saw the opportunity to develop an innovative solution to help companies easily navigate the new regulatory maze that was emerging as a result of the new rules. The Gryphon solution was a true cloud service that wasn’t dependent on any particular equipment or telephone carrier and didn’t require any knowledge of the various laws themselves. As the rules and restrictions grew in complexity and scope while large sales teams were becoming highly decentralized, the Gryphon solution was simple and reliable enough to capitalize on this first wave of growth.
CB: Gryphon Networks was founded back in the 90s during the early-Internet days. What was the landscape like for the company during that time period?
EE: The laws themselves were only part of the problem. Managers were also dealing with their inability to control and track sales activity at the branch or mobile level. Call centers were filled with tools to track activity, but outside those four walls, it was like the wild west. CRM and Salesforce.com emerged from that strain of need, and Gryphon did as well. Because our service is delivered in the network of any telephone, we were able to bridge the visibility gap that existed around phone-based communication…a challenge that companies are still dealing with almost 20 years later.
Our mission has always been to help companies gain control over phone-based communication to ensure brand preservation, reduce regulatory risk and increase management visibility into the daily activity of large sales forces independent of device or network. We were the first to market with intellectual property and patents related to real-time in-network telephone screening, DTMF tagging, and more than 20 other key network-delivered intelligence.
CB: What is the ultimate goal of Gryphon Networks?
EE: Our internal mantra is “Get Better Every Day.” We measure ourselves against this standard and make sure that as individuals and teams, we are always improving ourselves, our service and our collaborations.
If you ask any sales manager what one of the biggest challenges they have in executing their job function is, they’ll likely tell you that it’s getting a clear, accurate understanding of the behavior that drives results and the visibility into actual attainment of activity against goals. So, our customer-facing mantra is the same; help managers get better every day at coaching and training their reps, so their reps do THEIR job better. And that includes recruiting and even hiring. Imagine hiring with a clear quantitative understanding of what success looks like. How would that change your interview process? How would it change the candidate’s perception of their own success at your company... if they know going in what they need to do to be successful? This two-way accountability is so valuable these days, and I predict it will become the standard level of expectation for promising candidates and employers very soon.
Our goal is to transform the ART of sales leadership to magnify the importance of day-to-day sales activity as the best source of relevant insight to improve team and individual sales effectiveness.
Our focus isn’t to simply promote some new widgets to view activity or clever dialing software to make calls, but more so is the philosophy of effective sales management and the promotion of the methods and processes used to deliver on that promise.
CB: Explain what your company does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service/etc. how does it work? Any use case that stands out to you?
EE: Gryphon has been a pioneer in advanced telephony services, compliance, and SaaS-based sales performance systems for almost 20 years. Simply put, we give companies an easy way to capture, manage and consume sales activity data conducted via the telephone regardless of phone, carrier or rep location. Our clients enjoy 100% accurate visibility into the activities of their large distributed or branch sales personnel without any new hardware or software required.
The Gryphon Sales Intelligence System (SIS) is a highly sophisticated telephony platform that captures all phone-based agent/customer interaction data from any device or carrier used to make and receive sales and service calls.
It consists of three key components:
Universal Access enables agents to make and receive work-related calls from any phone, anywhere.
2. CONTROL & ANALYTICS PROCESSING ENGINE, “THE BRAIN”:
SecureCloud is the control layer that screens dialed numbers against company-specific rules and captures all interaction data, including call audio from each customer call automatically at the network level.
Gryphon Sales Performance Dashboard shows agents’ calling data in context to specific goals in real-time with 100% accuracy. Managers know exactly where to put their attention without having to sift through mountains of data or rely on rep self-reporting.
We have two successful use cases. The first explains how we have helped Belmont Savings Bank increase conversion rates by 200%. The second illustrates how we helped New York Life improve the phone communication of their reps, representing a 20% improvement in agent effectiveness.
CB: How many products has Gryphon Networks developed over its lifespan? How long did the development process take for each?
EE: Gryphon’s cloud base Sales Intelligence solution was developed over the course of almost 20 years in various iterations. What started as a simple DNC screening IVR app turned into a centralized compliance certification engine for all marketing channels with full indemnification. Our in-network service delivery became Universal Access for agents to make and receive calls from any device or location. Our compliance audit portal has evolved into a robust sales performance dashboard that provides highly relevant, real-time actionable insights for managers on-demand.
Gryphon’s entire heritage has been one of true technological visionary, and our product strategy has been one of continuous evolution based on technological breakthrough combined with a laser-focus on the application of technology to solve client problems that really matter.
CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?
EE: We have about 60 full-time employees and we are looking to hire for positions in sales, client services, and marketing, as well as product management and development.
CB: Has your company participated in any trade shows/meetup events in the Boston area? What about events outside of Boston?
EE: Time is our greatest challenge. As a small, highly productive team, we can’t be everywhere at the same time, so we have not been able to participate in many of the terrific industry events Boston has to offer. I like to think that our sacrifice has been validated because Gryphon has recently been recognized as a top 10 leader in Boston's B2B tech scene. Regardless, I expect you will be seeing more of us at local events this year as the team grows. We love our role in the local tech scene and are committed to supporting it.
CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?
EE: Gryphon is a privately held company that provides highly innovative cloud services to Fortune 500 clientele. Though we are not seeking investment at this time, it’s notable that we are profitable, heavily invested in R&D and completely in charge of our own destiny. It’s a great position to be in and we are wildly focused on extending our lead in the key markets we serve.
CB: I’m always interested in how a startup came up with its name. How did Gryphon Networks get its name?
EE: For those who might not follow Greek mythology, the Gryphon is a hybrid creature with the lower body of a lion and upper body of an eagle.
According to the website gryphonpages.com (a site dedicated to all things gryphon-related): “More fierce than dragons, nobler than unicorns, the Gryphon is probably one of the most celebrated yet most misunderstood mythical creatures in our history.”
For a company originally focused on services to support do-not-contact marketing compliance, the implied explanation for the Gryphon name was that “we will keep your company from incurring fines and brand damage of do-not-contact violations (i.e. protecting the gold).”
However, the company has evolved, and so has its “raison d’etre.” The 21st-century definition of the Gryphon hasn’t changed, but the 21st-century has evolved the definition of the “gold” that it sought to protect. Gryphon still protects our clients’ gold, but rather than conventional gold, the golden goose and lifeblood of optimal revenue creation is INFORMATION. We are protecting the data that will multiply the amount of gold, not just protect it. Of course, we are talking about daily selling activities.
Day-to-day sales activity IS the gold! It is of tremendous value to 21st-century sales organizations, precisely because it is so difficult to obtain accurate timely phone-based sales stats. Because of the limitations of CRM systems and rep self-reporting, managers can’t capture it effectively and its value is never truly realized.
True to form, Gryphon “protects the gold” by making it dead-simple to capture rep activity from anywhere and immediately process calling activity into the spun gold of realistic benchmarks, better rep effectiveness and improved coaching/training.
CB: Any other additional comments you’d like to make?
EE: For 2018, we are excited about building out our capabilities inside and outside of CRM. For firms wedded to CRM systems, our services will work seamlessly to augment the value they hope to obtain from that investment. For companies with users that don’t require CRM, we will provide a true one-of-a-kind experience for inbound and outbound telephone activity that is simple to use, cost-effective and essential to the continuous improvement of the sales teams whose goal will remain to “get better every day.”