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SalesOMMO – Building a virtual companion for people in sales and business development

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Bianca Iulia Simion

· 4 min read
SalesOMMO – Building a virtual companion for people in sales and business development
Dive into an interview with Mihai Guran, an angel investor turned entrepreneur, empowering professionals with data-driven insights and human-centric strategies.

Mihai Guran has more than 25 years of experience in international business development, sales and marketing, and management and he is also an angel investor with + 20 tech startups in his portfolio, many of which accessed multi-million-euro funding.

Mihai managed to scale 10x B2B revenues and sales teams in four years on a territory spanning from North America to Europe and the Middle East for Bitdefender, scaled sales teams and significantly increased market share for Dell, or restructured the teams to reignite growth for HP in Romania and other countries in CEE. Since 2018 Mihai worked as a consultant and strategic advisor with over 30 tech companies, developing together disruptive business strategies and assisting them to grow their sales teams.

Mihai is an engineer who has also an MBA from Henley Business School in the UK, and a Certificate of Specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Harvard Business School. He was involved in tech community development and was elected twice as vice president/board member of TechAngels Romania.

Starting in 2023, he got together with three founders and two co-founders and started to develop SalesOMMO, an AI-based virtual companion tailored for people in sales and business development people, epitomizing Guran's fervent passion for sales in software and tech companies. Let’s learn more about it, from Mihai.

1. What 'aha' moment led to the founding of SalesOMMO?

Sales is a lifetime “acquaintance” for me and many pain points I felt are the basis for several aha moments embedded into SalesOMMO. Salespeople are considered aggressive because they need to reach out to many prospects to achieve an appointment. This leads to 8 out of 10 salespeople being quickly burned out and to frustrated customers, feeling harassed. During a discussion I had with my partner Alex, at that time my customer, he shared with me that he was experimenting with OpenAI/ChatGPT on how can AI be deployed to research information in prospecting organizations closer to the ideal target profiles.

For many years I knew that automating customer research is possible, even if not easy to design and implement. During the conversation with Alex, we both realized that by wisely deploying the new AI LLMs (large language models) a product can be built to save time and be extremely useful for all people in B2B sales for customer research automation, helping them understand customer context fast, and further prepare their meetings to be more effective.

2. How did you meet your co-founder?

Alex approached me with a direct cold message almost two years ago, trying to develop his network and expand his consultancy services in the MVP and tech products area. Because the message was personalized for me, it managed to raise my attention and interest, therefore I answered it and we further agreed to have an exploratory discussion on how we could help each other and collaborate. A few months later we started an optimization engagement for the sales and marketing operations that Alex was running at that time.

Radu is our other partner, and I met him more than 10 years ago when he was a trainer at HP delivering a corporate educational program. He impressed me with his level of professionalism (and I have been in many pieces of training in Romania and abroad in my career), and he still remembers when I provided him with this feedback. A couple of years later I managed to attract Radu to work for Bitdefender as we were looking for a top enablement manager to be able to train our global sales force – and this is how we ended up working together for so many years ever since.

3. What was your driving force behind venturing into the tech entrepreneurial lifestyle, and what specific change did you aspire to bring?

During a mentorship engagement in one of the early How-to-Web editions, I realized that there are many extraordinary tech people around, skilled at building products, but with little knowledge in scaling their businesses at the international level. The first mission I assumed as an entrepreneur building my consultancy company was “to help hi-tech companies to expand globally, to do it quickly, and to do it professionally”, and most of my customers were tech companies scaling their business and sales organization.

Following my experiences as a consultant, mentor, and later also angel investor, working with many tech companies I discovered that there is a lot of pressure building to deliver growth, with so many activities to do for people in sales, either founders or executives.

Because of the pressure and lack of time, they don’t prepare as they should all of their customer engagements, losing the opportunity to establish trust and develop a relationship from the first contact, by attuning the communication to their customer’s context with a personalized message, like the one Alex sent me.

At SalesOMMO there are different things that we want to change: first, is to help people in sales (either sales executives, or founders) prepare better their meetings to be more trusted by their customers from the first meeting, be more successful in what they do, and improve their performance and predictability of their professional lives.

But, at the same time, we will also help buyers decrease the frustrations they have due to being exposed to many unsolicited messages that are not at all related to their context, as well as save their time wasted in useless conversations that don’t add value due to lack of proper preparation.

4. How does SalesOMMO empower sales and marketing professionals?

First of all, it will help them save time by automating customer research, with a brief on the company, person, and industry insights being almost instantly generated before the meetings.

Second, we will help people in sales understand the insights from data and information, providing them with in-product training and explanations on what to look for, and why is it important.

Last but not least, by providing them with an extremely easy-to-use product that will brief them just in time before each meeting, we will change their behavior, raising the quality of preparation for each customer interaction, across all stages of the sales cycle.

5. How do you scale your business, driving financial success?

SalesOMMO is launched as an individual product, targeted at people in sales that bring value to the organizations they work for, with already existing budgets for sales tools. Inside the product, we built features that will generate a positive flying wheel to drive product-led growth via enthusiastic users who will be able to share profiles researched with peers or managers.

For mid and large organizations, we will do direct sales, and we plan to start building, training, and performing with a direct sales organization once we have the company version of our product available.

Across both segments – individual users or organizations – we shall consider also the opportunity to expand from the very beginning to global markets. The product is designed and will be used in English, and we plan to make it available to developed markets such as the US, UK, or countries in the EU that have high-growth companies expanding into English-speaking territories.

6. What partnerships are essential for you to scale?

The partnership with the Romanian tech community already plays an essential role for us, helped us accelerate our business (via RubikHub Garage program), pitch it to hundreds of angels and VCs (via RubikHub, Techcelerator, How-to-Web, and TechAngels Romania), and fund it (via Growceanu, our lead investor, and now also via SeedBlink, our partner for completing our pre-seed round).

In addition, we already uncovered from the first market interactions a request to partner with people and organizations that do sales training, because SalesOMMO is a product that can be essential for embedding best practices for people in sales.

We already have essential technology partners for getting access to data, as well as for automation and integrations, out of which we can name also two stars of the Romanian tech ecosystem - Veridion, and PROCESIO – that we have worked in close collaboration with from our early days.

Moving to the next level we will need to decide on another essential partner: the VC fund that can help us grow and scale at a global level. We already pitched several VCs and have follow-on discussions with both local and international investment funds, and selecting the next lead investor will be another essential step for us.

We also have a comprehensive tech stack – we run in the cloud on AWS, we integrate with OpenAI, we integrate with data providers and CRM systems such as HubSpot, and we plan to do more integrations and develop partnerships with the ones that will be essential for us to grow.

7. What challenges lie ahead of SalesOMMO?

We will be entering a global competitive market, with many incumbent large providers and hundreds of specialized tools. We plan to differentiate by building an easy-to-use product, deploying the latest integrations and AI developments intelligently, and setting the base of a global aspirational brand for our target users.

Raising early-stage funding to grow it is not as easy these days as it used to be until a couple of years ago, with global uncertainties and specific factors affecting the amount of funding available, with pressure on valuation, and more time needed to close.

We also see a challenge in the complexity of the product we want to build, by integrating knowledge in various areas and different technologies - i.e. a complex and scalable cloud-based stack, data from various providers via APIs, and commercially available AI technologies. We also plan to build our own AI models, as well as to deploy psychology tests and research results to help people in sales know themselves better to perform better, building on the founders’ team's diverse experiences.

8. What potential exit scenarios do you foresee for investors supporting SalesOMMO, considering its trajectory and market positioning?

We see two possible exit scenarios.

The first one is to be targeted and acquired by a large player, immediately after our product finds the initial market fit and gets some traction. This can provide some advantages to early-stage investors in the shorter term, but it is not aligned with the long-term objective of founding them.

The second exit scenario is the one we prefer, and this is by developing the product, the company, and the brand globally, up to the level where we will be able to do a public listing of the company. This scenario might take longer, but we appreciate that investors might get liquidity possibilities at the moment of future funding rounds.

9. Looking ahead, how do you envision SalesOMMO's growth trajectory within the sales and marketing technology sector?

In our vision, technology will enable people in sales to attune faster and better to customers' contexts, allowing them to gain trust and facilitate the development of relationships faster, while communication waste and the omnipresent spam annoying all of us, either buyers or sellers, will need to stop.

SalesOMMO will play an important role in this transformation by facilitating human-to-human interactions, with our users leading the way in setting and driving a new standard in sales and business development activities. They will run better-prepared meetings, they will add value, and personalize all of their interactions - either calls, emails, or meetings, allowing them to gain the trust of their customers and develop relationships faster.

10. Do you have a mentor or figure in the tech industry whom you deeply admire?

There are several people that I admire and who influenced my tech industry journey by helping me or guiding me in key moments, like Bogdan Iordache who encouraged me to develop sales training for early-stage tech companies and mentor them, or Malin Stefanescu who attracted me in TechAngels and further guided me in becoming an angel investor.

I also enjoying a lot working with, as well as learning from Mihai Darzan, CEO and Founder of Ringhel Team and PROCESIO. I admire his entrepreneurial spirit, the capacity to adapt to any startup challenge, and how he built an extremely capable team.

I also admire and learnt a lot from people like Florin Tufan who managed so fast the growth of Veridion, managing to attract the right funding at the right time, and also strong women in tech such as AnaMaria Onica of VoxiKids, Ruxandra Cord of TheCordAi, and Irina Constantin of Vaunt.

11. Why should investors consider joining SalesOMMO's journey?

SalesOMMO is proposing a modern solution to real-world problems of busy people in sales. Our users save time and increase their effectiveness when interacting with their customers, and in time they will become more efficient.

The solution can scale at a global level, addressing companies in all segments, and implementing a B2B SaaS business model, while the team has the necessary experience and track record in the execution of expansion plans.

The market we address is extremely large and competitive - a sales automation market, with large incumbent players that might be potentially interested in our acquisition, potentially offering investors an early exit possibility. However, the size of the market, with tens of millions of potential users is also providing an opportunity that is preferred by us as founders, and that can lead to outstanding rewards for our investors: to scale the company to a unicorn level and list it on a stock exchange, building a global product and a brand that people will love.

Explore the opportunity on SeedBlink.

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