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Brex's $12B story, AI in HR & a guide on the BEST cold call...

Plus: HUGE announcement for Tech Creator! 🎉

Welcome to the exciting launch of the revamped Tech Creator!

📢 Breaking News! We're thrilled to unveil our upgraded approach to Tech Creator. Evolving beyond merely reporting the latest news updates, we aspire to become your ultimate destination for all things tech.

In today's edition, we introduce three new sections dedicated to showcasing the pinnacle of startup growth, HR insights, and sales strategies.

Rest assured, we haven't forgotten our roots - there's still a dedicated space for both the freshest news and nostalgic tech throwbacks.

Let's delve right in!

A special note from our sponsor Sidebar   👋 

Sidebar is an exclusive, highly curated leadership program designed to propel you to new professional heights. Tap into a small group of peers (think: Fortune 500 execs and start-up CEOs) who have best-in-class experience in their industry for advice, new perspectives, and raw feedback to catalyze your professional growth. Get started today!


From zero to $12.3 billion in 6 years: How Brex conquered fintech

We bring you 8 takeaways, you can steal from Brex's playbook:

  1. Solve a problem you know first-hand

  • Startups struggled to get corporate credit cards from traditional banks due to a lack of credit history.

  • Traditional banks had slow, manual processes and archaic digital experiences

  • Founders saw this pain point first-hand and decided to build a solution

  1. Build an MVP focused on solving that core problem

  • Brex started with a core offering - A corporate credit card for startups with fast sign-up, higher limits without personal guarantees, and automated expense tracking.

  • Brex built a full credit card processing stack in-house for flexibility and scale

  • Having a clear focus on your initial product allows you to refine functionalities and gain traction.

  1. Co-create your MVP with early users 

  • The founders scraped LinkedIn for foreign founders and got family and friends involved, getting 85 pilot customers for feedback.

  • They constantly engaged with pilot customers to refine the product features based on real-world needs.

  1. Focus on creative user acquisition strategies & retention

  • Brex used billboards, cold emails, podcasts, and partnerships with the press for user acquisition

  • Tied sales compensation to revenue goals and had aggressive quotas

  • Focused heavily on NPS, churn analysis, and making product stickier based on feedback

  1. Expanded into a full financial operating platform (not just a tool)

  • Evolved from corporate cards to a full financial operating platform

  • Multiple revenue streams - interchange fees, interest income, SaaS fees, referral fees

  • Launched venture debt offering, integrated travel solution

  • Brex grew it to $100 million in ARR in little more than a year, with Doordash, and Scale as its customers.

  1. Set up referrals and CS teams from day one

  • Created a custom startup division with dedicated support for larger customers.

  • Brex prioritized building a strong customer success team to ensure user satisfaction and encourage referrals, fostering long-term customer relationships.

  1. Strategic acquisitions to add capabilities

  • Acquired Pry Financials for $90M to add financial planning tools.

  1. Evolve offerings for different customer segments

  • Initially targeted startups, then SMBs, before refocusing solely on startups/enterprises.

  • Raised over $1 billion from top VCs signaling immense potential.

In summary, Brex succeeded through laser focus on solving a key customer pain point, continuous innovation based on user feedback, creative growth strategies, and strategic moves to capture more of the financial software stack over time.

A special note from our sponsor Camunda 

Automating tedious, recurring processes is a must for any organization looking to stay competitive and keep their customers (and employees!) happy. However, these processes often include a variety of endpoints — from legacy systems to APIs — which introduce challenges around visibility, scalability, and flexibility.

Learn how process orchestration coordinates even the most complex tasks, no matter the people, systems, and devices involved.


How you can use generative AI to automate HR processes

There’s simply no denying that generative AI tools like ChatGPT are making waves and HR departments are also exploring “how to take advantage of AI to automate”

The uses are pretty wide-ranging when it comes to automating HR processes. 


For starters, hiring and recruiting is a major area that can benefit. 

AI can scan the web for candidate qualifications based on their skills, certifications, code samples etc. and match them to open roles. 

Tools like Eightfold AI, Beamery, SeekOut are doing really neat stuff here, automatically funneling top talent into your recruiting pipelines. 

Workforce planning + retention:

But AI can lend a hand well beyond just sourcing candidates. It can actually inform your overall workforce planning and corporate strategy. 

By crunching internal data alongside external market signals, an AI can advise when you should be ramping up hiring for certain roles versus putting the brakes on. 

Pretty handy to have that predictive capability.


Training and L&D is another big area ripe for automation. 

The AI can scan for the hot skills companies are seeking, then automatically build out full training curricula to upskill your workforce. 

Companies like TalentGuard’s WorkForce GPT are doing fascinating work here.

Final words:

The overall benefit is AI can take tedious, repetitive tasks off your plate so your team can focus on the bigger strategic issues. Things like automating common employee questions through a chatbot frees you up to design better people programs versus just putting out fires.

Of course, there are challenges too. 

We're still really early with this tech, so there are open questions around bias, privacy, and accuracy that can't be ignored.

But overall, HR is on the cusp of potential huge efficiency and productivity gains by integrating generative AI capabilities into hiring, workforce planning, training, and other areas. 

It's an exciting frontier that could revolutionize how we do people ops!


Your ultimate guide on how to open the BEST cold call

Let's face it, your prospect is busy. Their time is valuable, and they're not interested in another generic pitch.

The key is to understand their pain points. 

The four questions prospects ask themselves when receiving a cold call are:

  1. Who is this?

  2. What does this have to do with me?

  3. Why should I care?

  4. What do they want from me?

A great cold call opener has four components to address these questions, and it needs to capture the prospect's attention like a masterful opening act before the headliner takes the stage.

  1. An introduction - stating who you are

  • Short, simple, and to the point. 

  • This is like the opening comic warming up the crowd with a few quick jokes to get them engaged and ready for more entertainment to come.

  • “Hey Mat, this is Nikita from Tech Creator…

  1. A relevance statement - show you’ve done your homework!

  • Relevance is the biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful cold callers

  • Take the time to research your accounts and understand their current priorities, this will lead to more engaged prospects, provide you with valuable insights, and ultimately maximize your demo bookings.

  • “I came across a recent press release that WMI is using their recent round of funding to support an expansion into the UAE markets…”

  1. A value statement giving a reason for them to care

  • The value statement answers why should the prospect care about your call at all?

  • Briefly explain how your solution makes their life easier or better.

  • Refrain from using technical jargon, the simpler the value statement = the better it closes. 

  •  "We have a solution that makes this process easier and faster"

  1. A launch question to indicate what you want from them

  • Simply put, it’s the CTA you want at the end of your call.

  • Unless and until the prospect is contributing to the conversation in a valuable way, the call is incomplete.

  • Avoid yes/no questions or anything too broad.

  • Use open-ended situational questions like "How are you handling X today?"

Quick summary:

The introduction simply states your name and company. The relevance statement shows you researched their company/situation. The value statement teases how your solution can help make something easier/better for them. The launch is an open-ended question to get them engaged in conversation.

Bonus tips: Include keeping the opener concise within 25-30 seconds, allowing reps to use natural language instead of scripts, injecting some humor, and avoiding cliched openers. 

Being relevant and showing you understand the prospect's situation is key to an effective cold call opener.

Latest tech news:

Tech throwback: 2/4/2024

Way back in 1980, Microsoft wasn't the software giant we know today.

In fact, their very first foray into hardware was the oddly named "SoftCard."

This little circuit board supercharged Apple II by letting it run CP/M programs (remember those?) For a cool $349, you could ditch the clunky 40-column display and embrace the world of 80 columns – perfect for rocking the then-popular word processor WordStar.

The SoftCard was such a hit, it raked in half of Microsoft's revenue at one point! Not bad for a little circuit board!

While it was eventually discontinued, it's a fun reminder of Microsoft's early days and how innovation can come in all shapes and sizes.

That’s a wrap! We’ll see you next week for more…