An Interview with Entrepreneur Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is the Founder of Clozd, world-class services and technology for win-loss analysis. Prior to founding Clozd, Andrew was the general manager for an enterprise software product line at Qualtrics. Qualtrics is the largest pre-IPO tech company in Utah, valued at $2.5 Billion at their last funding round. Andrew spent 8 years at Qualtrics, helping the company grow from 30 to more than 1,500 employees. In March 2017, Andrew's passion for entrepreneurship lured him away from Qualtrics to found Clozd.

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In the following interview, Andrew talks about his entrepreneurial journey, struggles and the lessons learned along the journey.

When did you first discover your entrepreneurial spirit and how is your entrepreneurial career developing so far?

I've had a passion for entrepreneurship since I was a kid. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I'd come up with silly ideas like selling drawings at garage sales. I believe that true entrepreneurs are always spotting opportunities. In 2012, I nearly left Qualtrics to pursue a new venture but was persuaded to stay by the Qualtrics founders. They gave me the opportunity to build and launch an entirely new product line. I was fortunate to have great opportunities while at Qualtrics, but I've never been happier than when I finally left to pursue my entrepreneurial dream.

What has been the biggest success and biggest failure stories you went through?

Within 18 months, Clozd has emerged as a viable, cash-flow positive, and rapidly-growing business. While the jury is still out on how successful the venture will become, I consider Clozd to be my greatest success. The opportunity costs of leaving Qualtrics were very high - but I have no regrets. While at Qualtrics I would think about entrepreneurship every single day, longing for the day when I would be my own boss, control my own destiny and take part fully in the upside (or downside) of my own venture. Taking on the risk to dive into entrepreneurship is a decision I'm very proud of. At the same time, it hasn't been easy and there have been many obvious failures along the way. One of our biggest failures was being tentative about growing our team after our early successes. True entrepreneurs have to repeatedly take risks and invest in themselves and their business. We were too slow to invest in recruiting and growing our team and we felt the effects later.

How did you come up with the idea for Clozd and how did it all start?

The concept for Clozd stemmed from work I was involved in at Qualtrics. I oversaw a project to analyze why we were winning and losing sales opportunities. We evaluated partners that could help us conduct a thorough win-loss analysis but were disappointed by what the vendors offered. Based on the expertise we had developed at Qualtrics, my partner and I were perfectly positioned to found Clozd and offer a better solution for win-loss analysis. Not surprisingly, Qualtrics was impressed by what we developed and is now a client of ours.

Tell us something about Clozd

Clozd helps B2B solution providers (enterprise software companies, financial services firms, hardware manufacturers, etc.) to conduct a rigorous win-loss analysis. Our consultants interview the buyers at their won and lost accounts to uncover the reasons why they did or didn't move forward. We then synthesize the findings over time and deliver them back to our clients via innovative technology. The insights enable our clients to improve their products/services, foster strategic alignment, capture competitive intelligence, and ultimately improve their sales win rates.

What are your growth plans for the near future?

We are still a small team. In the coming years, we will scale our consulting, sales and software development teams. We will continue to disrupt the win-loss space by developing innovative software that enables our clients to take meaningful action on win-loss insights. It is likely that as we continue to prove our business model and expand our revenue base, we will pursue funding to accelerate our growth; but, it's a decision we will make cautiously given that we are already cash-flow positive and growing fast.

Looking back, what did you learn and what would you have done differently?

Looking back there's not much I would have done differently. I view each setback and failure as a valuable learning experience. Perhaps I would just go back and leave Qualtrics sooner. There's nothing like leading a small, agile team through the highs and lows of launching a new venture. I've never had so much fun.

In your opinion, what are the hurdles that keep people away from starting an entrepreneurial career? What advice would you give to the new entrepreneurs?

There are many hurdles that keep people from pursuing their entrepreneurial dream. The stakes are high. For most people, there are significant opportunity costs when leaving an established career (good salaries, fringe benefits, comfortable work schedules, etc.).
If you are considering an entrepreneurial venture I would make a few suggestions. First, prove to yourself that you can succeed by achieving success in your current role. Build confidence and a track record of success before taking the plunge. Second, if you're like me you'll see opportunities all around you - almost daily. You'll cycle through dozens of business ideas. The right idea is the one that sticks. It's the idea that doesn't go away the longer and harder you vet it. After a full year of vetting Clozd, it was still the only idea I could focus on. Nothing else came close. I was a horse with blinders on. That's when I realized that Clozd was the right idea, worth leaving Qualtrics for. Third, find the right partner - someone with complementary skills - someone who is so good they make you feel inadequate and feels the same about you. It's the classic 1+1=3. You'll get farther, faster and pick each other up when they're down. I couldn't have built Clozd on my own.

Are you an entrepreneur looking for your MVP built? Get in touch with us at hello@devathon.com

Devathon has built software for companies backed by the world's leading investors like Betaworks, Greylock, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, KPCB, Lightspeed and many more.