Hard Work, Love and Humility…Our Recipe For Success


It’s been an amazing year for 6sense. As an outsider I heard and saw the buzz about 6sense, but once I got behind the curtain, I have had the opportunity to see exactly what is driving their momentum.

Having worked with startups for the better part of my career, I look for common traits that I consider predictors that the company has a stronger than average chance to step above the noise and has a chance to matter. Here are the 6 factors I use to evaluate early stage tech companies and how I ultimately decided 6sense would be my home:

  1. A cohesive culture. What I saw in 6sense was a place where people have fun while being heads down on getting to the task at hand.
    • Fun
      • Seeing videos of 6sensers in green onesies at a SF Giants game
      • Entire team going out for bowling, pool, eating together
    • Getting to task at hand
      • Daily standups where everyone is expected to share exactly what they are working on that day
        • Chance to ask for help and collaborate
      • Open work environment with everyone collaborating
        • No egos
        • No offices
  1. Pace/cadence of doing business. Startups only have one chance to be young. If they don’t set the good habits when the pressure is light, they are going to have a hard time scaling.
    • I saw that 6sense was rigorous in evaluating who they will work with
      • 6sense wants be sure that every client was successful. So, rather than take on science projects or one off consulting efforts for revenue, 6sense has decided not to engage when it is bad for the company and or client
    • At the time I joined there were a number of VCs engaging 6sense. While the company was not in need of cash, Amanda had the vision to recognize that, under the right conditions, an infusion could be great for the company. Amanda took her time in evaluating the best options for 6sense rather than taking the first term sheet, and she did so with the following recognition:
      • Having the right partner brings credibility…(Secrets out now so I can proudly say Bain Venture has just invested $20M in 6sense!)
      • Having this cash on hand will allow us to scale the team to meet what is clearly strong demand as we go into second quarter of 2015
  1. Relevance of the technology/quantifiable value. It doesn’t matter how pretty we think we are…There are many nice to have technologies and plumbing like tools, but it is hard to say they drive growth and those companies will quickly be commodities.
    • Having met several 6sense customers before joining, they talked about the solution as a game changer that was truly unique in the market of predictive
    • Clients shared their own reports with pride on the impact 6sense is having on their business and it was huge
    • Clients spoke to $10s of millions of dollars they attribute to 6sense
  1. Visionary leadership/humility of leadership. I saw a number of videos by Amanda Kahlow before joining 6sense but that barely scratches the surface on recognizing what an amazing person she is. So, I might share some of the traits that led to my decision and make me happy and proud every day about my decision to join 6sense
    • Her passion for her team
      • Not afraid to hug, say she loves you, send smiley faces, etc.
    • Her tough love leadership
      • Very direct with asks
      • Holds us as accountable as she holds herself
      • Her humility in accepting help and sharing responsibility as she is growing 6sense
    • I refer to our CSO Mark Dye as Tommy…(Pinball Wizard). He is hyper reactive and, while he has set larger strategy, he has amazing and dynamic instincts which allow him to calmly react to whatever comes up
  1. Is the technology a commodity buy? Some technologies take time to become commoditized, while others hit the market that way, whether for the value they deliver or because there are too many competitors in market
  • This was an important measure for me based on the state of the predictive intelligence market
    • Understanding how many companies loosely use words like predictive analytics, I needed to recognize the unique differences of 6sense
  • What I saw was that 6sense was solving “big boy” challenges vs. things like lead scoring and other point solutions
  • What I realized was the long journey 6sense started on nearly 14 years ago has allowed us to do the right things to solve big challenges in an inherently different way. Whether good luck or brilliance, 6sense was so far ahead of the curve that they were solving for big challenges at a natural pace without worrying, because they had (and still don’t have) no real competition…
  • Thinking about why they are being commoditized like so many others coming into the space of predictive, I use the analogy of making a soufflé. There are a lot of steps and ingredients that go into the soufflé, but that’s only part of the battle…the right temperature and the right amount of time, etc. If you don’t make it perfect you risk it falling. 6sense has mastered the soufflé, while other companies coming to market are making their dessert without all of the ingredients and trying to bake in half the time…Oh yeah, 6sense is also using a few thousand secret ingredients !!!
  1. Are they gaining velocity on closing business? Anyone remember Flock of Seagulls? There are a lot of “one hit wonders” who close a client or two but lose momentum for any number of reasons.
    • Having come out of stealth less than a year ago, you assume it might take a year to get more than 1 or two clients. Seeing 6sense quickly climb above 10 clients was validation to me that the market is “getting” 6sense

In closing…I have made some really good moves in my career and some less good moves, but if this is not my last home I am in trouble, because I don’t think I can ever replicate all of the things that are so special about 6sense – Culture, Relevance, Humility, Customer Focus, support of a market and stability and wisdom that comes from some amazing investors.



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