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My Next Big Leap

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This is a reposted article from LinkedIn published by Jen Grant on March 30, 2020.

What a bizarre time to jump from a safe job at Google to a Series A start-up.

It’s not like I haven’t experienced hurdles in my career, I am a woman executive after all. I graduated Business School in 2001, as the dot-com busted, 9/11 frightened everyone, and I drove back to the Bay Area knowing there were no jobs. Then in 2008, I made my big leap to Box, leaving Google right in the middle of a recession as Lehman Brothers shut down and the markets were in a tailspin.

So now, 30 days into my new role as CEO of Turbo Systems, we are all home, sheltering-in-place, and trying to slow the spread of this virus.

I am reminded of the opening words of the first Box video, “Business today is different…”

We now have many roles we are called on to play. We have our families to take care of by social distancing from parents or by helping kids learn online. We have our local communities to think about, checking in on our neighbors (from 6 feet away). And maybe there are things we can do as global citizens. I have a sewing machine. This weekend I want to learn how to make masks.

As CEO of Turbo Systems, I have the opportunity to serve in an additional way. I have the opportunity to keep my employees working, to keep the economy going, and create more jobs by growing revenue. Can we make software to help other companies survive this crisis? I believe we can. An awesome responsibility, but I am inspired by it and ready to go.

So why Turbo Systems?

1 – Hari Subramanian. I found a partner in Hari that I thought would take years to locate. He is brilliant, enthusiastic, funny, and wants nothing more than to create great software. And, even though many people told him to be CEO, he was very clear that he did not want that job. His love of building products superseded any irrational ego-focused need to ‘be the boss.’ I feel honored that he is trusting me with his company and believes that I can grow this business. And I will.

2 – Enthusiastic Customers. Every time I’ve jumped to a new company, I have looked for that spark of enthusiasm from a customer that shows there’s a there-there. Not just your friend that signed up to help you out, but a true customer that digs your product because it is helping them achieve something. That’s what I saw at Box, at Elastic, at Looker and now at Turbo. Early customer champions are a critical early sign of success.

2 – A Product that Improves Lives.  At Box, we were making it easier for everyone to collaborate. We wanted to break down the technology walls so people could get their work done faster with less frustration. At Looker, we saw that people couldn’t get access to data. Either there was a data bottleneck with systems too complex to use, or there was data chaos with everyone utilizing their own data sources and disagreeing on the conclusions. We wanted to bring data and insights to everyone at a company so that everyone could do their best work.

Turbo Systems is on a mission to bring great software to every employee by making it easy for anyone to build mobile apps that accelerate their work.

Even before the crisis we’re experiencing today, many were working outside office walls. Deskless workers make up to 80% or 2.7 billion of the global working population (The Rise of the Deskless Workforce report). We have great apps for our personal lives: banking, travel, vacations, and paying the bills; but enterprise software has been slow to create simple user-friendly mobile apps for employees to be productive. And many companies, big and small, have already spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to get these enterprise software solutions up and running. While these large deployments do take care of complex back-office functions, they are not set-up to be agile and address the constantly changing requirements of business.

What if you didn’t have to replace those systems and could just enhance them with the mobile solutions you need? A platform that makes it easy for you to create simple mobile apps, deploy to your employees, and adjust those apps quickly as your requirements change.

That’s what Turbo Systems is delivering to field service companies like United Services Technologies (UST) which services commercial food equipment in major grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Ralphs and Albertsons. UST is one of the companies supporting the essential businesses that we need to keep running as the rest of us stay home. They have created a Turbo app to help give employees visibility into parts inventory and manage their work orders. And over time, they intend to create more mobile apps to help their field technicians connect with customers.

Turbo makes it easy to engage employees with user-friendly apps that help get work done. It’s as simple as that.

So that’s why I’m here. The people, the customers, and the product feels right to me. And just like Box, Elastic, and Looker, I know I can lead this company to success.

So in this scary and uncertain time, I want to reassure those around me.

To my friends and family: I got this.

To my Turbo employees: I got you.

Let’s do this.

About the Author Jen Grant is the CEO of Turbo Systems. She has spent the last 15 years building companies from the ground-up and taking multiple companies to over a billion-dollar valuation. As CMO, Jen Grant led Looker’s marketing until the 2.6B acquisition by Google in 2019, led the rebrand of Elastic and built the team that took the company public for 2.4B in 2018, and grew Box from a small start-up to an industry-leading enterprise content company with a 1.7B IPO in 2015. Prior to that, Grant spent 4 years at Google leading the Google Apps EDU, Gmail and Book Search marketing teams. She holds an MBA from Wharton and a BA from Princeton.
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