Our mission at Braze is to forge human connections between consumers and the brands they love. Some of these brands, like Pizza Hut, HBO, and Etsy, have millions of loyal customers around the world. But while these household-name brands may steal the headlines, they are not the only brands we serve.
For example, have you heard of Cutback Coach? Their mission is to "build healthier drinking habits." Cutback Coach helps every user develop a custom plan based on that user's current drinking habits and goals, then pings them daily via SMS to help them track progress and stay on target. What a fantastic way to help people improve their lives. The New York Times, USA Today, and Mashable all seem to agree. As do top-tier venture capitalists, who recently invested $3.1M in Cutback Coach.
Braze has served Cutback Coach from Day 1, when they had one employee and no customers yet. According to founder and CEO (and that first employee), Nick Allen, they "chose to build the first version of our product entirely on Braze. Braze let us do very sophisticated things in a very simple way. I don't know of anything else in the market that gives users this much power and freedom."
In addition to Cutback Coach, Braze already serves hundreds of innovative companies and emerging disruptors across a variety of industries. Some have a few hundred thousand users and are growing rapidly, while others are still pre-launch but already have a clear vision and a large market opportunity ahead of them. What they have in common is that they are passionate about delivering a meaningful customer experience to support a world-class product or service.
From my conversations with a few dozen of our small and mid-sized business (SMB) customers over the past few weeks, I came away with three clear takeaways:
1. Customer engagement matters to businesses of all sizes
In the spectrum from “nice-to-have” to “must-have,” customer engagement falls somewhere between oxygen and sunlight. Businesses can't exist without customers. And they won't keep their customers for long if they can't engage them thoughtfully. Last year showed us the importance of effective engagement—especially digital engagement—for businesses of all sizes. At Braze, we have seen several brands prioritize and accelerate their customer engagement initiatives in the last twelve months. As a consumer myself, I hope this trend continues. I am certainly more connected to the brands that engage with me thoughtfully and respectfully, and I wish more brands would take the time to do so.
2. In a must-have category, using the best solution matters and startups need every edge they can get in a competitive market
Historically, customer engagement, as a technology category, required a massive upfront investment of time and money, which meant only enterprises with large budgets and long time horizons could afford it. Not anymore. Braze, for one, has been at the forefront of democratizing customer engagement and making our best-in-class technology available to companies of all sizes. Our small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers achieve initial value in a short time, with typical “go-lives” happening in just a few weeks. And once they’re live, they can rest easy knowing that they use the same powerful and flexible solution that the world’s leading global brands do—not a cheap imitation.
Why should startups care about using the best customer engagement solution? Isn’t it all about controlling costs at this stage? Not exactly. Businesses naturally want to grow. Some need to grow in order to meet investor expectations. The most efficient way to grow faster is to engage existing customers and deliver such a great experience that they become loyal advocates for your brand.
What does it take to make this happen? Our SMB customers expect best-in-class customer engagement technology to deliver both the full breadth of today’s engagement channels (so brands can engage beyond just email) and the depth of the platform’s core capabilities (so brands can effectively Listen, Understand, and Act). They chose Braze because they wanted both the best solution and a technology that would scale with them. The value that Braze creates for startups and small businesses is massive, and it’s measurable. In fact, in a recent Total Economic Impact (TEI) study, Forrester concluded that Braze delivers a 840% ROI over a three-year period. In a highly competitive market, startups need every edge they can get, and there are few bigger edges than the ability to engage with your customers using technology that has a track record of delivering market-leading ROI.
3. Every Braze customer benefits from our broad, global customer community and our market-leading success and support
Braze serves a diverse set of brands across the globe. We have worked very hard to ensure that every type and size of company, from pre-launch startups to Fortune 100 brands, will find Braze (the product) to be an effective solution and Braze (the company) to be a high value-add, long-term partner. All this hard work means that we learn lessons from every corner of the world. Because we learn more faster, we can grow faster, which allows us to invest more in R&D, which then helps us serve our customers better. In contrast, vendors who are SMB-specific or are otherwise limited in their reach often fail to scale with high-growth startup customers, making them unreliable long-term partners.
Our customers also learn from each other, as part of a global community of customer engagement professionals. You can see this for yourself in Braze Bonfire. Our Bonfire community is proof positive that startups and enterprises have a lot to learn from each other, and that together, we can elevate the function of customer engagement globally. Bonfire is just the first step, however. We also conduct regular webinars for our SMB customers, such as the one we recently completed titled “Demystifying Deliverability,” led by our own email deliverability expert Andrew Barrett, who works with customers of all sizes and maturity levels. In addition, we have a robust customer education program, including a path to Braze certification for customers of every kind. We will continue to invest in these areas as we strive to ensure the long-term success of our SMB and startup customers.
Finally, while innovative technology is a necessary ingredient, it is rarely sufficient on its own. That’s why we give every SMB customer access to our world-class customer success managers (CSMs), who help customers tackle strategic challenges and ensure that they get the most out of Braze. Plus, our regional coverage model ensures that any customer in need of technical support can access our award-winning global support team at any time of the day or night—as we like to say, the sun never sets on Braze Support.
I’ll end by reiterating our mission at Braze, which is to forge human connections between consumers and the brands they love. If you are building a brand and business for the long term, Braze is here to help you achieve your true potential and build long-lasting relationships with your customers. Join us.
Sunny Manivannan is the VP and GM of Global SMB at Braze, and thoroughly enjoys being a Boston sports fan in New York City. Previously, Sunny served in various marketing and general management roles at Coupa Software (NASDAQ:COUP), and was formerly a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and an aerospace engineer at General Electric.