An Interview with Entrepreneur Evan Liang

Introduction

Evan Liang is a Co-Founder and CEO of LeanData. Evan Liang along with the co-founder, Kelvin Cheung founded the company in 2012. Over the nearly seven years since founding, LeanData has become the essential platform for B2B enterprises and their revenue teams to align around data to deliver a streamlined buying experience and accelerate time to revenue.

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.

In an exclusive interview with Devathon, LeanData co-founder and CEO Evan Liang traces his journey so far and his plans for the years ahead.

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

I’ve been working with and inspired by entrepreneurs my entire career. My first job out of school was as a junior VC at Battery Ventures where I got to learn from and work with start-ups on a day to day basis. Then during the dot-com bust, I gained hands-on experience turning around troubled companies and discovered that I loved the pace and adrenaline rush of actually “getting stuff done.” That’s when I decided I wanted to be a player and not just a coach, so I built a career to get to where I am today. Coming to work every day, this is my dream job especially as I get to work with great customers and employees and learn from them every single day during the highs and lows.

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

The toughest part of being an entrepreneur is tuning out all the noise about how to grow your company (there are so many how-to blogs) yet trying to learn from others who have done it before. What works for one startup does not necessarily work for another, yet many companies go thru similar challenges as they scale especially in enterprise software. My biggest failures had come when we tried to mimic someone’s else without making sure it was the right play for us at that time. On the flip side, when we took the time to understand our problems especially in go to the market and then selectively applied lessons from other companies we were able to find a playbook that drove the business.

Tell us something about LeanData.

LeanData is the leader in Lead-to-Account Matching, Routing, and Marketing Attribution. We stand at the center of your CRM, connecting the right data to the right people. Our company is nearly seven years old, with 400 high-growth customers including Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Epson, Mercer. LeanData has close to 100 employees based in Sunnyvale, California.

What are your growth plans for the near future?

We are focusing on enhancing our core platform. Furthermore, we are building innovative integrations with key partners that will enable us to deliver joint solutions to customers that will allow them to connect the right data to the right people to drive growth and revenue.

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

The one thing I would do differently is to be more thoughtful in the order and exact background of the executives I bring onto the team based upon the company’s needs at each stage. For example, based upon my experience, the first marketing hire I would make early on is a product marketer, which we did not bring on until our 4th or 5th year. In the early days, it’s all about product/market fit so the faster you can iterate on both your product and how you position the product the better chance you have to hit the sweet spot. Once you have some sales, you then need to arm your sales team with a simple message and collateral which is again product marketing. Many folks try to hire demand gen too early because they want inbound leads but if you don’t have product/market or a simple sales message a lot of that money goes to waste.

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?

Timing is so crucial in the success or failure of a startup. Too early and you run out of money before the market is ready, too late and the competition beats you to it. Similarly, I think the timing is critical to establishing an entrepreneurial career, especially in enterprise software. Too early and you don’t have enough career experiences to be successful, too late and the opportunity cost may be too high, or you have family obligations that can hold you back. Just like product/market fit is critical, startup/life stage fit is a crucial consideration for if you are ready to take the leap of faith. I waited to start my company until I felt my situation was in a stable state that I could afford to take the career risk. I’m pleased I did because you need that stability at home so you can give what you need to see a growing business thru the good and bad times. My quick advice.

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.