In our employee interview series, we introduce you to the people responsible for making AppFolio a wonderful, intellectually challenging, and dynamic place to work. Today we feature Albert Oaten, VP of Market Development. Albert spends his days identifying new markets and uncovering ways to help the people in these markets achieve their objectives. And since Albert loves learning about different businesses, this is an ideal role for him. The following is our interview of Albert:
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you find your way to AppFolio?
I was the first sales person for GoToAssist and GoToMyPC. I was employee number 38 and now there are thousands of employees there. At AppFolio, I was employee number 4 and we now have hundreds. Very few people get the opportunity to be a part of building something and seeing it achieve long-term success. I've been fortunate- not just with our achievements, but also with having the opportunity to be an integral part of building a business- not just once, but twice.
As the VP of Market Development what are your roles and responsibilities?
I like the early process of identifying the right markets where we can provide the most value to customers and how to engage those customers in a way they appreciate. I am currently focusing on our SecureDocs product and how it fits into the virtual data room market.
Walk us through a typical day at the office.
I don't have a typical day. My day is about identifying new markets and determining how best to create awareness, value, and trust within those markets. I don't subscribe to a one-size fits all approach, so I adjust my day and my work based on what I hear from that particular market. I get to talk to many different people from different businesses and in different roles every day. I learn what matters to them and how our product might help them in achieving their objectives. The ideas and processes I test can change, because some markets respond to certain activities and others don't.
What do you like most about your job?
I love learning about different businesses, especially startups and entrepreneurs. The creativity and ambition people have is amazing. I get completely absorbed in learning about their businesses.
How do you know when SecureDocs should expand into a new market?
Customers tell us when we are in the right spot. We practice something called market validation, which basically says don't invest too deeply into the market until the customers demonstrate their belief in your value proposition by buying your product. After that, we measure their "happiness" with our product. If all those items align positively, we know we are on the right track and can begin expanding rapidly.
What new markets are you currently exploring, and why?
Startup companies in technology and life science have lots of sensitive information - market intelligence, intellectual property, etc. that they must protect for themselves and their investors. In addition, their fundraising requirements point to repeated use of SecureDocs, which allows them to share information without giving up control of the documents. They can also audit potential investors, partners, and VCs to determine their level of interest. Their response to us has been very positive.
Long term, the increasing public disclosures of major security breaches, email hacking, Dropbox hacking, and malware at companies like Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, the NY Times, major law firms, and other major organizations, makes me believe that our challenge will be to prioritize which markets to focus on.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I have two boys - 8 and 11, so I crush them at Jujitsu, Kung Fu, and high-performance tickling. Outside of them, I love to play tennis, paddleboard, and learn about almost anything... except the Kardashians. I don't understand the interest in celebrities without clear talent for anything other than being a celebrity.