May 02, 2018 - Bree Burris
This week we sat down with Evan Barry, director of marketing at Raken, a Carlsbad-based construction software startup. Here's what he said:
1. Give your company’s 30 second elevator pitch.
Raken provides innovative mobile technology to streamline field and office workflows for the construction industry, which is notoriously slow at adopting new software. Raken's "digital toolbox" connects the field to the office with daily reports, time cards, project insights, photo management and more.
Our goal since the beginning was to create the fastest, easiest solution for construction workers in the field. When we launched the first version of the app in 2014, our corporate office was in Cardiff. In 2017, we moved to Carlsbad to take advantage of the new Make office building, which not only provided us room to grow but aligned with the company/work culture we wanted to maintain as we scaled.
2. Describe how your role makes an impact at your company. What’s your secret sauce for moving the company forward?
As the Director of Marketing of a B2B SaaS company, my number one goal is to drive top-of-funnel expansion. This directly correlates to the metric every department at Raken tries to improve: the company’s bottom line. We rely heavily on “inbound” leads, meaning marketing is ultimately responsible for generating leads rather than the sales team prospecting their own leads. This means I’m constantly looking for ways to drive brand awareness and convert visitors into leads via events, content, ads and the product.
Additionally, once a lead is captured, marketing is responsible for nurturing that lead all the way into a happy Raken customer. This means I work very closely with the sales and customer success teams to optimize the conversion rates between our various customer lifecycle stages. This includes creating case studies to educate prospects, drafting emails and push notifications to drive app adoption, and testing account-based marketing efforts on prospects of all sizes. I also get to work closely with the product development team to launch new features, optimize the onboarding flow, and build virality into the product. The most invigorating part of my job is being able to own so many projects while working with almost every team at Raken.
Given all the projects marketing owns, there is no way I’d be able to do it on my own. My secret sauce is hiring smart, self-driven employees with specialized skillsets and equipping them to do their job efficiently, autonomously, and with as few distractions or pain points as possible.
3. Describe some of the advantages to doing business in North County, along the 78 Corridor.
There are plenty of advantages to doing business in Carlsbad. To start, we’ve been able to attract talent from all over San Diego and even Los Angeles County. We have daily commuters that range from Orange Country to Pacific Beach. This provides us with a large candidate pool, by San Diego standards, allowing us to be very selective in our recruiting.
While recruiting at Raken, I’ve also noticed a large number of applicants from Silicon Valley or out-of-state that are hoping to move to San Diego, usually with their young families, and are looking for interesting companies to join. We also see a lot of experienced tech employees from Downtown San Diego who want to start families moving to the North County. Hiring for tech companies has been a challenge in North County, but as the area develops and the number of tech companies continues to grow, we’re seeing more and more talent attracted to the area.
There is also a rapidly growing tech community in North County. Organizations like Innovate78 and San Diego Venture Group are starting to host events in the area to facilitate networking and collaboration. Other organizations such as Lift Development Group and Ad Astra provide guidance and funding opportunities for under-represented founders. Coming to Raken from the tech environment of Silicon Valley, I’m constantly blown away by the amount of collaboration I see between companies of all industries in San Diego. For instance, in the past few months alone we’ve received donations for a fundraiser from local golf and craft beer companies, hosted another Carlsbad tech startup for a sales seminar, and attended a North Country tech meetup with more than 300 attendees. It’s an environment where everyone comes together to grow the region as a whole.
4. What’s ahead for your industry along the 78 Corridor and beyond?
I think North Country can become a place where software companies can thrive. San Diego has made a global impact when it comes to hardware, life sciences and beer, of course, but being in the software industry myself I’d love to see that industry continue to expand locally.
These aforementioned industries have been instrumental in creating the local business environment that we have today and are responsible for attracting a lot of the talent that we have. With the recent flood of local incubators, coworking spaces and rise in investment dollars available in the region, I think software companies will be the next to take off.
Software talent have many reasons to be drawn to San Diego but we’re not going to see a huge influx of tech talent until there are a larger number of opportunities available. Few people are willing to risk moving to a new city for a job, especially at a startup, unless there are backup options. I believe we’ll see tremendous growth in the number of software companies over the next 3-5 years.
5. Describe how the unique talent available in North County has affected your business’s success.
At Raken, we have a set of “guiding principles” that align the team on how we conduct business. While hiring, we try to find people who have shown signs of these principles at previous roles or during their interview. For example, we believe our employees should assume positive intent, act with a sense of urgency and treat others with respect.
As I mentioned previously, our location has allowed us to hire individuals from all parts of San Diego County. We’ve found a diverse, talented and passionate group of people that identify with these guiding principles. By finding employees who align with our principles, we’re better able to retain employees who are dedicated to turning Raken into a lasting, successful company.
For more on Raken’s culture, watch our “Meet the Team” video.
6. Describe how the Corridor’s quality of life influences your business.
Seeing as the beach is a five-minute walk from our office, I would be remised not mention the beach as one of the perks of North County San Diego. Our company has a recurring Friday morning “Beach Club” meeting before work. Everyone is invited to meet at Ponto to surf, swim or bodysurf before work.
Taking a step back, I think what really sets the 78 Corridor apart is the type of people that are attracted to living and working in the area. Always atop lists of “fittest cities,” “best beaches” and “top schools,” people are attracted to the area for its quality of life found outside of the office. Because of this, employees in the region appreciate the value of a work/life balance. They value time in with their families, in the sun, or at the gym, so when they come to work they bring positive energy and are their best selves. After living, seeing and hearing about some negative work experiences in Silicon Valley, I believe North Country’s environment facilitates successful, sustaining companies with happy, balanced employees.
7. Tell us what you want to see more of in North County – what would help your business and your employees thrive?
I want the industries that have propelled San Diego’s economy forward to continue to grow and succeed. I like that we have a very strong identity around innovative hardware, groundbreaking biotech and amazing craft breweries. This is what makes San Diego unique and has allowed our ecosystem to attract amazing people and have a unique identity. Unfortunately, there is a relatively large discrepancy between wages and cost of living in San Diego, especially North County. Since cost of living isn’t dropping anytime soon, the adjustment will likely have to come from the wage side if we are ever going to close that gap. If the traditional industries that have found success in the area can continue to drive those wages up, we’ll have success attracting new talent and the average wages of the area will rise. Much easier said than done.
At the same time, I think it would be a mistake to try to imitate Silicon Valley or other tech hubs. We need to keep a strong focus on the things that make the San Diego region unique. It will allow San Diego to continue to innovate and give talent all the more reason to move here. That being said, San Diego could benefit from more software developers so that our local companies and startups don’t have to rely on outsourced tech talent. This will make our companies that much more efficient and competitive nationally and globally.
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Image credit: Raken