Building Software Companies on The Salesforce Platform

An interview with Brandon Metcalf, Co-Founder of Blueprint Advisory and Salesforce industry veteran.

Blueprint Advisory builds software companies on the Salesforce Platform — why did you decide to do this?

Blueprint Advisory emerged out of my previous life. I was one of the founders of a recruitment software company called Talent Rover, now called Bullhorn for Salesforce, it was founded in 2011 and we were acquired in 2018. I had spent nearly a decade in the staffing industry and became very frustrated with the software we used, so I decided we could build a better one.

We decided to build it on Salesforce because we saw the potential for making one unified operating system and felt the platform would give us a jump start and credibility.

Consequently, Talent Rover became a part of the amazing expansion of the AppExchange. This grew and deepened across the 2010s as the number of organizations being run on Salesforce mushroomed to make it one of the world’s most admired companies.

Our success led us to having 9 offices in 8 countries around the world, winning the global relationship with the largest client in our industry, the Adecco Group, and then having a tremendous exit just 7 years after launching.

It sounds like Talent Rover was a huge success, why do you think it worked so well?

It was an amazing experience that taught me and the team a lot. Scaling any business is very difficult, but to go from an idea to winning a global deal with a $26b company was an impossible mountain to climb — but we did it. The road was beyond challenging and most days we felt we were going to fail, but we stayed focused and refused to give in.

A foundation to our success was directly related to Salesforce. Being built on a multi-billion dollar platform that has earned a great deal of respect globally checks a lot of the boxes for customers to buy — specifically is it secure and reliable.

The acceleration that the platform provides with developing features enabled us to deliver faster than any of our competitors. This was key to winning deals, as we could focus really on what customers needed and wanted, and deliver them in weeks or months vs. years or never.

The partnership we developed with Salesforce was paramount to our success. There were times where we sold against Salesforce and times when we partnered with them to win deals. They were helpful, but we also needed to figure out how to work with them and manage the relationship. This took years of conversations, being flexible and focused on doing the right thing for the customer, my business, and for Salesforce. It eventually created a very strong and trusting partnership.

Will Salesforce Continue to Expand?

It’s been really exciting to be a part of the Salesforce story so far and I think the excitement is just beginning. Here is a slide from the investor deck from my other company, Place Technology, showing how we speak to investors and highlighting some of the billion-dollar “Salesforce-based Exits”. Talking to investors now compared to a decade ago, people are really paying attention to products built on the platform.

This is happening for all sorts of reasons, from the customer service ethos that underpins it, to the ease of integration between them, to the security that comes from running your business on a tried and tested platform, more and more businesses today are looking to build and to buy Salesforce native apps. The growth and the opportunity is just massive.

We understand that world. That is more than an issue of writing code and developing an app over time — we also are familiar with the Salesforce Ohana — and know what is likely to work within that ecosystem and how to thrive. We wanted to build on this experience and we saw a gap in the market for specialists to help businesses to create Salesforce-based software companies.

What differentiates Blueprint from others in this space?

I think we are the only former operators of a successful, global Salesforce-based software business who are offering this service. That is important because we can offer that background of product development combined with the sales, marketing, and operations experience of how to build the business — including how to partner with Salesforce and the Salesforce ecosystem. We can do this though through the lens of someone who’s actually been in our client’s shoes.

What services does Blueprint Advisory provide for customers?

Business leaders come to us with ideas for apps they want to take to market on Salesforce — the first stop for many customer-centric businesses looking for new software tools. We offer a bespoke service that takes a blue-sky idea to a working app and beyond.

Scoping the proposal

We start by helping the potential client to evaluate how the proposal will work in the ecosystem. Does the product idea make sense for the Salesforce Platform? Will it work with Salesforce products or will it be an independent application like Talent Rover was? Will it deliver against the client’s expectations? Is it a realistic idea that has potential to be a winner in a competitive marketplace?

Understanding the financials

We help our clients work out a financial forecast for the app, what the contractual terms might be, what the pricing structure might look like, who are they going to sell it to, where will they market it, and how profitable they might expect it to be, again based on our experience and knowledge of the ecosystem.

Designing and building the software

We have a track record of creating simple, mobile, effective apps. We also know the rules of the Salesforce Platform, what regulations and principles you have to comply with, what you can and can’t expect from Salesforce, how to work with partners inside and outside the organization. We also know what really works based on living it with Talent Rover and with Place.

Supporting the app

We don’t stop at building the app, we are not a standard implementation partner. At Blueprint Advisory we expect to build long-term relationships with our customers. We offer that ongoing support in terms of supporting customer success, delivering the product to our client’s customers, and establishing that the app really does provide the benefits that were promised.

Enhancing the app

When businesses buy apps today, they are often looking for software that is dynamic, not static, and which will be continually reviewed and updated. There is an art to incorporating customer feedback while bearing the needs of prospective clients and the wider market in mind. That is another service we provide.

What kinds of customers do you work with?

We work with a range of clients from Fortune 500 companies with international workforces to dynamic start-ups looking to expand rapidly. We are reasonably selective about the clients we take on. That is because we are looking for that long-term relationship and we want to be sure that we have the best chance possible of success. We want to work with customers who have terrific ideas that we can make a reality.

What is the advantage of building on the Salesforce Platform?

The platform offers tremendous advantages. An IDC white paper showed that by building on the platform you have $3.74m higher revenue per organization per year, 545% five-year return on investment, 83% less downtime, 57% shorter time of development, 29% increase in effectiveness, and 72% fewer bugs. If you combine that with the cost savings in areas like infrastructure, security, reliability, and access to core product features like reports, dashboards, email integration, and mobile — it really becomes clear of the advantages. Also, keep in mind that Salesforce itself is growing at an incredible rate and is projected to add $1.2T (yes, trillion) in net-new revenues by the end of 2024!

Dog dad, husband, entrepreneur, investor.

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