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In this two-part podcast, host Stephen Cummins chats with Bill about the colorful origins of the founding of Braze and why lean startup methodology is not really the be-all and end-all for realizing audacious visions.

A lot has happened in the 9+ years since Braze—then known as Appboy—was founded. Mobile devices have gone from common to ubiquitous, message personalization and cross-channel engagement have gone from cutting-edge concepts to marketing table stakes, and Braze grew to more than 600 employees and over $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR). How did we get here?

At last year’s annual Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Braze Cofounder and CEO Bill Magnuson sat down with Stephen Cummins of the 14 Minutes of SaaS podcast to explore the moment of serendipity on a New York City street corner that led to the founding of Braze, the fundamental human struggle to understand and communicate more effectively, and the power of curiosity. Magnuson recalled that he “couldn’t shake the feeling that the entire world was changing on the back of mobile and I was sitting in an industry, decades-old, that was not moving very fast.” He had a front row seat working at Google during the birth of Android and the rise of mobile and the modern smartphone revolution. “I had the strong conviction that it was going to fundamentally change the world and wanted to make sure that I was going to be there and be a part of it.”

Today, Braze helps brands communicate in more meaningful ways with their customers by leveraging data and technology to allow marketers to better understand customers when they are interacting with a brand. But finding the company’s product/market fit took care, thought, and a lot of work. In the second part of the series, Magnuson noted that he “had this fundamental belief that real meaningful at scale businesses would be built in mobile and that mobile itself would also disrupt an already operating giant—like the generational enterprises in the world. But it wasn’t being released in the early days of the mobile ecosystem. And so, what I wanted to do was build something that assumed that that future was coming.” By building Braze, Magnuson and Cofounder and CTO Jon Hyman embraced that vision and used it to help chart a course forward.

As all of us move into an increasingly technology-driven future, Magnuson expects the customer engagement landscape to keep shifting and evolving as time goes on. With more devices, platforms, channels, and customer touchpoints emerging—and the ones that already exist becoming more complex and sophisticated—the onus will be on marketing, growth, and engagement teams to navigate how to appropriately reach and engage their customers across the full spectrum of digital experiences while also respecting their privacy rights and personal preferences.

To make that happen, brands will need to prioritize real-time experiences and brand humanity when they’re laying out (and evolving) their strategic vision and building out the technology stacks that support their customer engagement efforts.

To listen to both parts of this conversation, tune in to the 14 Minutes of SaaS podcast everywhere podcasts can be found.

Erin Pricoli

Erin works with the Communications team to manage social media channels and assist with PR efforts at Braze. She recently graduated from Manhattan College and lover of all things fitness + coffee.