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AiThority Interview with Tim Harsch, CEO at Owler

Tim Harsch, CEO of Owler

Tell us about your journey in the business intelligence industry. What inspired you to start Owler?

I worked alongside Jim Fowler at his company Jigsaw in 2008. As a contact information database company, Jigsaw focused on crowdsourcing. We quickly realized the importance of company information and began to invest in it. Salesforce bought Jigsaw soon after in 2010 and wasn’t interested in pursuing company information as an internal project, but we saw the power of crowdsourcing. During this period, data wasn’t updated for around 90 days at a time with traditional internal curation models. We took advantage of the early opportunity to derive value from this type of data and built Owler. Since then, we’ve focused on building tools for sales teams to track companies in real-time to make personalized outreach and closing in on prospects easier and more efficient.

Tell us more about the future of sales intelligence apps and how companies should plan their Slack/Salesforce product roadmaps with Owler’s customized apps?

Sales intelligence once consisted of very little information with sales teams walking into an office with hardcopy documents. We now have everything available online and are better informed, but the data is not in a format that can really be leveraged in the best way possible and Owler Max aims to change that. The next phase of sales intelligence will leverage tools like Owler Max and AI-powered platforms to help sales professionals sift through the white noise and focus on the tasks that drive deals.

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How much has Owler evolved as a business intelligence tool since its inception? What are the key milestones in the journey?

In the beginning of Owler’s journey, the market challenge was to gather accurate and up-to-date information on businesses. We decided to crowdsource the information to take a different approach and needed a community of people to do so. We initially experienced a slow growth trajectory in building the community but over time and with the right strategies, we have since successfully attracted more than 5 million business professionals to the Owler platform.

The Meltwater acquisition in 2021 was a very positive experience for us. The Meltwater team and company as a whole has been very welcoming. You hear a lot of horror stories regarding acquisitions, but we are very fortunate to have joined a very supportive company. Sales intelligence was a new market for Meltwater, but the team made an effort to learn with and alongside us, which has been an incredible experience that allowed us to build the foundation for Owler Max.

You work with some of the biggest brands. Could you tell us how these companies managed to transform their digital journeys using Owler?

The organizations we work with have had immense success with Owler tools. Anitian, a cloud security and compliance automation client of ours, recently wanted to conduct competitor analysis and research potential clients but was dealing with outdated information. With the help of Owler, Anitian improved its sales pipeline, earning over $1 million in business using Owler’s competitive intelligence data.

Tell us more about Owler Max and how you unify marketing and sales efforts for the users?

Sales and marketing teams are often working towards the same goal, but completely siloed from each other. At the end of the day, both teams are working to establish and foster relationships with key audiences and Owler Max arms them with the right information while removing barriers to collaboration through its Slack and Salesforce integrations.

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What are the unique features of Owler Max that distinguishes it from other sales technology tools?

One of the most important aspects of Owler Max is its ability to cut down on time spent on researching new prospects, giving valuable time back to sales teams and enhancing collaboration. It’s rare that sales teams are in an office together now and going forward; integrations with Slack and Salesforce cut down redundancies and help support remote teamwork through better collaboration.

What is your take on the growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Automation capabilities for self-service sales and marketing reporting and processes- does AI make your work easy?

AI absolutely makes the sales process easier and much simpler to scale. The ability to personalize even at a wider scale becomes possible with AI. This stems from the ability to equip sales teams with better information for any decisions that are being made across the business, instead of having to wade through a sea of endless data to get there. AI arms sales professionals with the information they need, when they need it, so they can spend their mental resources on more of the critical thinking tasks, like personalization and relationship building.

What do you think about the hiring marketplace in Cloud and automation industries?

Remote-first and hybrid work is inevitable, and organizations need to recognize that in order to scale. Ideally, organizations should already have brought on Cloud and automation talent long before the pandemic so bringing on this talent is critical for businesses resilience. The future will be built on cloud platforms so it’s crucial that organizations have the right teams in place to navigate the evolving business landscape.

What kind of data management analysis and reporting capabilities do you offer with Owler Max? Tell us a little bit about its AI capabilities?

AI is leveraged at multiple levels: first to sort through millions of source news articles, blog posts, website updates and other changes each day, and then to select the most relevant information to each individual member of Owler who is receiving any content. Reporting can be done directly via the website or in Salesforce’s advanced tools as well.

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What key lessons did you learn from the pandemic? How are you planning to build a better future for your workforce using these lessons?

The biggest lesson we learned from the pandemic was the ability to step away from the business mindset and see those around you not as coworkers or prospects – but as people. Everything became a bit more humanized as opposed to being fully transactional as we literally got glimpses into people’s lives with every video call.

This made us more thoughtful on how we communicate, whether it’s respecting people’s work/life boundaries or making sure we have enough moments to connect. You don’t realize how much comes out of ad hoc conversations, so there’s a balance between providing opportunities to do so, without bleeding into personal time. We’ll be taking these factors into consideration for the long term.

Thank you, Tim! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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Tim Harsch is based out of San Mateo, California, United States and works at Owler as CEO & Co-Founder.

Entrepreneur and product specialist. Love world changing ideas built on simplicity. Particularly interested in B2B applications involving crowdsourcing.

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Owler is the world’s largest community-driven business information and insights platform. Owler provides exclusive firmographic and competitive data on over 15 million private and public businesses, curated from a community of 5 million business professionals. Owler helps professionals outsmart their competition with actionable insights and real-time alerts about the companies that matter to them.

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