Building market momentum for a new business management ERP-type of solution is never easy, even in good times. These days, its particularly challenging. But that hasn’t stopped Striven, which provides a fully integrated all-in-one software system for small businesses, from moving ahead.
Below is my conversation with Scott Hammer, Marketing Manager of Striven, about the company, what it does and why they are excited about their offering and the market opportunity.
Laurie: Can you tell me a bit about Striven’s background? I understand it’s an offshoot of another company.
Scott: Yes, Striven is a product developed by Miles Technologies. Miles has been in business for over 22 years, providing IT services, custom software solutions, marketing, and web development. Our headquarters is in Lumberton, New Jersey, we and have remote offices all over the country, and some international locations. We have over 250 full-time employees and at least another 250 part-time remote employees.
Miles Technologies was founded by our CEO, Chris Miles. While you could categorize Miles Technologies as a B2B, our mission, as stated, is “helping people accomplish more.” We never lose sight of the fact that businesses are comprised of the people who make them work. We feel that focusing on the people behind the organization is the way to make the most direct and positive impact on the organization itself.
Laurie: So how did Striven come about?
Scott: Striven is a natural result of our 20+ years in business. We’ve combined the talents of our expert employees and what we’ve learned working with thousands of companies over the years to create a true end-to-end software solution that helps businesses run more efficiently and effectively. We brought Striven to market about a year ago.
Laurie: Can you give me an overview about the solution?
Scott: Striven is a cloud-based all-in-one business management solution—a single software that powers all of the core processes a business needs to run effectively. That includes accounting, CRM & sales, project management, HR, inventory and operations. Striven is a single, coherent system— not a collection of apps or modules. That means every single employee of a company can work in Striven, using the same interface. Depending on job role, my dashboard might look different than yours, but that’s the key to Striven: it’s fully customizable.
It provides tools for scheduling, reporting, document storage, and goal tracking help with daily work. Striven also has portals for customers, vendors, and candidates, so you can connect all of your external stakeholders seamlessly. I could probably go on listing its features, like the fact that Striven can even control your building’s doors and lights, but it’s probably enough at this point to say that Striven is an intensely powerful and comprehensive system. In short, it does what businesses need now and in the future.
Laurie: What types of businesses did you develop the solution for?
Scott: Striven was designed with SMBs in mind. Our customers work in various industries, including transportation & logistics, medical, IT, property management, construction, manufacturing, and many more.
We’re industry-focused, but we also understand that businesses within the same industry work in different ways. Think about it: if we all operated the same way, we’d all have the same level of success. But of course, we don’t— our goal with Striven is to make those operations more efficient while honoring what our customers have learned works best for them.
Laurie: Who does Striven compete with, and how do you differentiate from competitors?
Scott: There are plenty of all-in-one and ERP systems that compete with Striven. From the biggest and most established companies in the SaaS industry like NetSuite, SAP, and Acumatica to products we’re seeing a lot more of lately, like Zoho or Odoo.
A quick look at Striven will show that we offer similar functionality to these products. Let’s put it this way: features are features. They all look and work a little differently, depending on what system you’re talking about. We believe that we can go toe-to-toe on functionality any day and offer a more affordable solution than our competitors.
Unlike many of our competitors, our customer service is 100% US-based and completely in-house. That means the people who support Striven are sitting about 20 feet away from the people who develop it.
What are the advantages of in-house support? Fast response time, for one. We can respond to requests in minutes, not hours or days. Response time is critical when employees just need to get something done. But it means nothing without a great resolution strategy. If you’re a Striven customer, you can get an assigned advisor to your account. This isn’t some third-party person who is bouncing support back and forth between you and your vendor. It’s an iterative, responsive, and direct process. That’s how we guarantee success— it’s also why we have a 90+% retention rate with our customers.
Laurie: What resources do you have/plan to have to help people get up, running and productive quickly?
Scott: When an organization is onboarding new software, management is usually worried about time and productivity lost in the transition. That’s completely understandable because they need processes in place for training employees on new software. That’s especially challenging if those employees have used the same software for years.
Let’s be clear: the ways we use software at work are extensions of the fundamental ways we understand our jobs. We know where to click, what’s going to happen next, and exactly how long any given process takes. When you shake that up, productivity can take a hit.
Striven’s support methods are designed to tackle these issues head-on. The in-house support I mentioned earlier is on a live chat all day. We’ll also respond immediately to support tickets or phone calls. But we’re more proactive than that. We have a full certification and training program that can be done either remotely or in-person. We also have comprehensive user documentation and training videos on our YouTube channel. Simply put, we have resources for just about every process in Striven. Our goal is that new users adopt swiftly and become more productive, not less, than they were before.
Laurie: You’ve been in the market for about a year. What are you learning from early adopters?
Scott: We learn SO much from early adopters. A friend told me once that in 5 minutes, a customer can tell you the answer to the question you’ve had in your head for 5 years. As we’ve entered the market, we’ve certainly found that to be true.
In fact, we find customer feedback so important, we prioritize it in open channels. We survey our customers, listen to them intently, and consider how their suggestions can make a really positive impact on the software and our other customers. We implement feature updates every 5 weeks. These aren’t just bug fixes— they’re major functional advancements. And many of them come directly from customer suggestions. We believe customers should have a say in the software they use. That’s not true of just early adopters— it should be true now and forever.
We’re learning that our policy of open communication helps our customers thrive with our software as it informs the future of our development roadmap.
Laurie: What do you see as the biggest market opportunities and challenges for Striven?
Scott: We face the kinds of challenges that many of our competitors also share. There’s a lot of noise out there. It’s difficult for potential customers to really understand the value of a product, or the quality of service, until they actually walk through the door.
That’s also the source of our biggest opportunity. Ultimately, we can all only offer ourselves. In other words, we offer our level of service, our commitment to customer satisfaction, and a product that we know works for the people who use it. When people get to see the very real and very human experience, they have with us, they feel like they’ve really discovered something new.
One of our customers recently told us that finding Striven felt like “stumbling upon a goldmine.” That’s how we want everyone to feel at first. But the ultimate goal of Striven is to help SMB owners, executives, and employees understand that they were actually sitting on the goldmine the whole time— it’s their business. No software is, in itself, a solution. Used well and supported well, we can help an organization achieve its vision with the same feeling of promise its founders had when they first started.
Laurie: How can SMBs learn more and evaluate the solution?
Scott: SMBs can visit our website at www.striven.com to get an overview of Striven. For more hands-on experience, they can schedule a demo with one of our senior technology advisors or sign up for a completely free version.
© SMB Group 2020