May 17, 2018

Startup Q&A - Spiro Technologies Effectively Adds AI to CRM and Sales

A proper customer relationship management (or CRM) platform is something any sales team, big or small, needs to have, that goes without saying. However, there is a company in Downtown Boston that is utilizing AI to create a different kind of CRM software.

Founded in 2014, Spiro Technologies is that company. Co-Founder and VP of Growth Justin Kao spoke with us about how the company is using AI and what kinds of clients are using their software. Kao also went into detail into their time at the TiE ScaleUp accelerator and the other events they have participated in.

Colin Barry [CB]: I’m a big fan of the phrase “origin story.” What are the origins of Spiro Technologies?

Justin Kao
Justin Kao, Co-Founder and VP of Growth at Spiro Technologies

Justin Kao [JK]: My co-founders (Adam Honig and Andy Levi) and I had spent our previous life in the CRM consulting space, building CRM for a lot of huge enterprise companies. We saw that based on what companies were spending on CRM vs how many people actually used it that there was a big gap in the market.

We believed that the answer is to not to only just automate tasks but to actually change the way they interact with software.

CB: What is the ultimate goal of Spiro Technologies?

JK: We want to push the boundaries of how people are using AI in the enterprise. We believe that eventually, the software will not be something you have to actively use but something that just happens in the background as you’re going about your day.

We also want to build a big company in Boston!  

CB: Explain what your company does. If it’s a particular software/platform/service/etc. how does it work?

JK: Spiro is a software that connects to all your traditional communication channels, like your email, phone, and calendar. By using AI to scan all these different communication channels, Spiro automatically knows who you are selling to and adds them to your database for you.

Spiro will also gather more information about these folks, as well as give you proactive recommendations on when the best time to follow up with them is. All the while, Spiro is gathering insights on how you sell to learn more and give better recommendations in the future.  

CB: How long was the development process on Spiro’s CRM platform?

JK: We’ve spent about two-and-a-half years training the AI on about 15,000 free users before it was ready for our enterprise customers. We’re still making a lot of improvements, and we push new releases about every two weeks.

CB: Who are some of Spiro’s clients? Any use case that stands out to you?

JK: Spiro’s customers range from small hot tub stores in Arizona to Fortune 500 companies. The one thing that sticks out with most of our customers though is that they’ve often tried a mainstream CRM in the past, and just found it not worth the money. They all want to try something drastically different.

CB: How big is the team? Looking to hire any particular position in the upcoming months?

JK: There are currently 14 of us in Boston. We’re growing the sales team, so if you know anyone... reach out to us!  

CB: Your company was part of the TiE ScaleUp cohort. Tell me more about your time at the accelerator. Has your company participated in any trade shows/meetup events in the Boston area? What about events outside of Boston?

JK: TiE was great. I feel like when you work at a startup, it’s really easy to get trapped in your own bubble and TiE was the perfect opportunity to talk to network with other startup leaders. Specifically, the mentor program was a great experience and I got to really dig into our processes with our two amazing mentors, Sara Gifford and Bill Asher.

Locally, we’ve participated in Boston New Technology, Mass Innovation Nights and Enterprise Sales Forum Meetup, all of which were great and I’d highly recommend!

CB: Is the company bootstrapped or seeking investments?

JK: We’ve raised about $4.5 million to date.

CB: It’s sometimes hard coming up with a good and memorable name for a company. How did Spiro get its name?

JK: Spiro derives its name from the Latin word spirare, which means to breathe. We’re trying to breathe new life into sales effectiveness!

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Spiro Technologies.