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How Adam Honig is Taking on the $54B CRM Industry

Billion Dollar Tech

Release Date: 09/29/2022

The Tech Career Toolkit - From MIT's Famed Career Accelerator Program show art The Tech Career Toolkit - From MIT's Famed Career Accelerator Program

Billion Dollar Tech

“Leadership isn’t a single thing. It’s a bunch of things together,” says Mark Herschberg, the co-founder and one of the principal developers of MIT’s famed Career Accelerator Program. The program teaches future tech leaders the soft skills like communication, networking and negotiating that they don’t teach in school but are crucial to success. Here Mark discusses the origins of the program as well as the most important aspects of communication and how those aspects all build on each other.  Mark discusses the importance of career planning, and dismantles the myth of the...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“Wouldn't you respond to someone that knows you like a friend better than someone who called like a robot that's just doing outreach?” asks Leena Joshi, Co-Founder and CEO of Closefactor, which applies machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing to the go-to market process. They help go- to market teams find their exact right accounts and to generate pipeline more efficiently and at a larger scale. This creates higher closed one growth rates and results in less wasted time, as well as making for a more personalized approach. One of the most important things in...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“Be perpetually paranoid and constantly thinking about how you're going to die," Mike Silagadze jokes about the mindset it takes to navigate the constant fluctuations and risks (and resulting stress) of founding a company, especially in the tech space. He has plenty of experience in the area. He first founded TopHat right out of university. Discusses the challenges of founding a business in the edtech space TopHat, where they worked to replace existing paper materials with digital materials, particularly the overall lack of incentive and the competing and contradicting demands of too many...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“Increasing human freedom and economic freedom around the world is just a mission that I'm really passionate about,” says Peter Smith, Founder and CEO of Blockchain.com. That mission has remained at the heart of Blockchain since its inception in 2009. When still a graduate student at the London School of Economics, Peter became interested in the intersection of economy and technology, long before they were attached at the hip as they are now. Today, digital money is the greatest example of this intersection, and the Internet is the world’s largest GDP.  One major misunderstanding...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“A lot of people mistake activity for progress,” says Fineas Tatar, Co-CEO and Founder of Viva, “What matters is is working on priorities that actually move the needle forward.” Many CEOs, particularly of startups, don’t know what their priorities are and therefore what tasks to focus on and in what order. As new leaders, they try to do everything themselves instead of effectively delegating. As a result, time gets wasted, less gets done, and quality suffers. Fineas discusses his approach to effective time management, including starting with a mission or objective and working...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“You’ve got to be willing to swing, which means, by definition, sometimes you’re going to miss,” Brendan says on this solo episode of Billion Dollar Tech, as he takes us step by step through the set of criteria he used to evaluate his first venture investment. Determining the risk versus reward ratio of a company is one important factor in any investment decision. Another major factor was that the company (which he won’t name, but you might certainly recognize) had an impressive network. As Brendan often reminds us, "Your network is your net worth.”  Don’t be afraid to ask...

Billion Dollar Breakdown: Matt Kerbel of Lyft, MeUndies, Call of Duty show art Billion Dollar Breakdown: Matt Kerbel of Lyft, MeUndies, Call of Duty

Billion Dollar Tech

“Once people form an opinion it’s almost impossible to change their minds even in the face of overwhelming evidence,” Brendan explains. That’s why it’s so important to establish your brand’s identity and make your market truly care about it. This is especially important in today’s overcrowded space, and so Brendan presents the key takeaways from his interview with Matt Kerbel, marketing leader for superstar brands like MeUndies and Lyft.  As cliche as it might be, it’s as true as ever: speak to one specific audience. What is meant for someone will inevitably fail to meet...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“The purpose of marketing is to find that intersection between what’s important to people, what they’re looking to do and solve for in their lives, and how your company can uniquely help them achieve that,” says Matt Kerbel, Director of Strategic Brand Planning at Turo. According to Matt, the three main things to avoid are what he refers to as the three Ps: perfectionism, pandering, and plagiarism.  Essentially, you’re marketing to people, not just businesses, and influencing a small group of passionate people who will help spread your message is more effective than trying to...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“Patience is just so overrated,” Brendan says on this episode of the Billion Dollar Breakdown, where he comments on the key takeaways from his interview with SoftLedger co-founder Ben Taylor. Patience is a virtue that runs through much of Ben’s founding story and Brendan’s resulting advice, the first being to learn to solve your own problem. This is where it helps to have some time and experience in the field in which you’re trying to innovate, rather than starting a business when you’re very young.  You must have patience when people are telling you that there is no need for...

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Billion Dollar Tech

“Making things quicker is the theme for what we’re working on,” says Ben Taylor, founder of SoftLedger, accounting software that’s disrupting the software space. After working in accounting for a number of years, Ben saw a need to eliminate the time-consuming and tedious tasks involved in keeping the financial records of his company, such as having to repeat things, go back and fix things manually.  Not everyone saw this need right away, though, and were happy to continue using Excel because it was ‘good enough.’ His idea for SoftLedger was rejected, thousands of times more...

More Episodes

“We’re going to build Scarlett Johansonn for Salesforce!” Adam Honig declared to his business partner after watching the Spike Jonez movie Her, starring the actress. Frustrated with Salesforce and other CRM services, he thought, why not have a virtual assistant, like the one voiced by Johansonn, to replace all of that extra work employees are tasked with. This led to founding Spiro, which, among other things, listens to phone calls and reads emails, to deal with those tasks not only faster but more efficiently. Ultimately, Spiro hopes to “kill CRM” and replace it with a new application theory it calls “proactive relationship management.” 

This technology upgrade only works because it recognizes a pain point and offers a better solution to those currently available. In fact, a major problem with sales across the board, Adam insists, is that people constantly want a technological solution that is neither innovative nor efficient. More focus needs to be returned to good old-fashioned problem solving, and segmenting, to make sure the right message, and the right solution, are getting to the right person. 

Serving your customer in need, not the one your ego is drawn to, should always be paramount. Hear who Adam’s biggest competitor is, why he compares the art of sales to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and which feature of LinkedIn might be making you look like a real ass.


“A lot of the new technology gets in the way. The emails, the subject, the body content, the calls to action, gloss over the most important thing that salespeople can be doing, which is really striving to understand the needs and desires of their prospects, to help them.”(4:13-4:33 | Adam)

“So you need to really understand the pain, and you need to be able to help people articulate that pain in a way that’s going to get the organization to take action.” (9:43-9:53 | Adam)

“I love LinkedIn, it’s a great platform, but it kills me. The number of terrible pitches I get every day, I cannot believe. Everybody talks about, ‘Me, me me. Here’s my thing, in your face.’ And if I don’t respond, ‘Let me send you fifteen automated followups to that thing.” (14:53-15:16 | Adam)

“My big competitor is Bill Gates with Microsoft Excel.” (25:01-25:05 | Adam)

“You’ve got to know your segment. That’s the whole thing.” (40:00-40:02 | Adam)

Connect with Brendan Dell:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendandell/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BrendanDell
Instagram: @thebrendandell
TikTok: @brendandell39 

Buy a copy of Brendan’s Book, The 12 Immutable Laws of High-Impact Messaging: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780578210926 


Connect with Adam Honig and Spiro:
LinkedIn: @ Adam Honig
Twitter: @adamhonig


Check out Adam Honig’s recommended reads:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie



Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman 



The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein


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