Some startup stories go way back to the founders’ roots. Chris Colburn and Alec Robinson met in high school while growing up in Raleigh. Now they have built a startup together, one that hopes to transform the experience of sales engineers performing software demos to potential customers.
Demostory is, in some ways, a Covid success story. When the pandemic hit, Colburn and Robinson started coworking together. Inevitably, they started bouncing business ideas off each other, and Demostory was the one that stuck.
It was the perfect way to enable enterprise sales engineers to be more successful at their jobs. This was a particular pain point Colburn and Robinson were all too familiar with in their past roles, and they knew Demostory would have helped them in their prior jobs every single day.
When conducting a demo, sales engineers often have to show how their platforms work from several different user perspectives. But in Chrome or Safari, you can only be logged in as one type of user at one time. This makes selling the story of how several users interact with a software increasingly difficult.
Now this problem is solved with Demostory, which serves more than 100 users at 20 companies.
“We weren’t building a product that we (just) hoped would have an impact, like people do,” Robinson said. “Chris lived this every day. And Chris knew. And all of our customers that see this product, they get it immediately, like this is just an absolute no-brainer.”
Already, many sales engineers have convinced their bosses of Demostory’s appeal by initially using it as a free trial. The tool alleviates stress and ultimately leads to higher sales rates because the sales engineers aren’t spending time getting flustered and switching between incognito modes and multiple browsers.
Even though Demostory is quickly gaining momentum, the first-time founders acknowledged they had to adjust their expectations around just how soon they would achieve complete success.
“Things take longer than you think they’re going to,” Colburn said. “I thought we’d be thousands of users and living on the beach within a year. It just takes more time.”
“If you keep pushing forward, it may not feel like you’ve made a lot of progress,” Colburn added. “And then you kind of look behind and realize, oh, wow, we’ve done a lot in the last three months, even though day by day, it may not feel like you’re moving forward.”
Ultimately, startup success isn’t linear, Robinson said. But launching Demostory amid the pandemic gave them unique advantages. For one, sales engineers were relying on Zoom demos more than ever, which brought increased difficulties in holding a potential client’s attention and thus a greater demand.
The timing of the pandemic also provided the motivation to try something new and take a chance, according to Colburn.
“I basically was like, if I’m going to try something, I might as well do it now,” Colburn said. “The world’s kind of crazy, so it made it feel easier for me to leave my job.”
When the Demostory founders look at their company’s impact, they say they know they’re making sales engineers’ lives easier. And that’s been the vision from the start.
“It can be a somewhat lonely job, where people don’t realize the effort and the work that goes into giving a really good hour, two-hour presentation,” Colburn said. “We try to empower those people and provide a tool that’s helping the individual sales engineer with their job. So it’s not a tool that makes your boss be able to track you better. This is a tool that helps you be better at your job.”
When everything comes down to one demo, that’s a lot of pressure. So it’s vital to make sure sales engineers are using the best tools available, and that’s what Demostory aims to be.
“You have millions of dollars that go into all the development, all the sales, marketing, and it all ends up in just one big moment,” Colburn said. “You’re in front of a customer and you’re showing the software.”
Moving into the rest of 2022 and beyond, Demostory is looking to grow and increase awareness among potential customers.
“We have product-market fit,” Colburn said. “Customers absolutely love us. Having a demo browser is a new concept. We know it makes a huge impact. The big focus now is scaling.”