Salesforce and Startups a Sensible Pairing

When Salesforce first launched at the turn of the millennium, the company’s offerings targeted smaller companies. Over the years, however, its focus shifted to the enterprise.

Today, only about one-third of Salesforce customers are small- to medium-sized businesses. But the company has placed a renewed emphasis on this demographic with Salesforce for Startups, branding targeted directly at entrepreneurs.

In May, Salesforce for Startups formally announced their entry into Canada. Through a partnership with Communitech in Waterloo, Salesforce is looking to foster the growth of Canadian startups.

“The goal is to infuse what we’re good at,” says Ludo Ulrich, head of startup relations for Salesforce. “All customers expect rock star service nowadays and you need to know how to do marketing, so all of these things that Salesforce is known for, we want to offer above and beyond what these programs offer and give it a human touch.”

Specifically Salesforce supports Communitech’s Rev program, a sales accelerator that enables high-potential startups to scale revenue growth quickly. Salesforce provides training, mentorship and resources to Rev companies, working closely with Communitech to support the growth of the broader local startup ecosystem.

“Salesforce is an ideal partner for Communitech and the Rev program,” Iain Klugman, CEO, Communitech said at the spring launch. “With their industry leading technology and expertise, Salesforce can provide the mentorship, training and resources that will help our companies scale quickly.”

“I like the idea of unlocking the potential of these talents, these young grads from Waterloo who are inspired to work at a startup but don’t know what they can bring to the table,” Ulrich added at the time. “The startup community can really create jobs, innovation and opportunities for students and we want to be a part of that.”

These days, Ulrich says Salesforce is getting reached out to by startups regularly, and the most important thing is educating the entrepreneurs—now just which specific products can help them grow, but also the fundamentals behind creating a real business. Future Canadian partnerships like the one with Communitech are likely because that’s where Salesforce has an opportunity to offer support that is deeper and more meaningful than just customer service related to their platform. Winning a customer over at this young, tender stage can also breed strong loyalty.

Salesforce’s renewed commitment to startups is evident everywhere. A little over a year ago, Ulrich’s position didn’t even exist. Now he’s leading an entire team dedicated to startups.At Dreamforce in San Francisco last week, Salesforce hosted a two-day Startup Summit to make the event more accessible to entrepreneurs. It was the first summit of its kind at Salesforce.

Salesforce for Startups appears to be more than just a mere marketing effort. It appears to be a mission.