This article is part of High Alpha’s CEO Spotlight series. We regularly sit down with High Alpha portfolio CEOs and leaders to dig into their business, team, and story. You’ll get an inside look at the companies in our portfolio and their incredible leaders and teams.
In September of 2021, High Alpha Capital company Logik.io raised over $10M in seed funding led by High Alpha with participation from Salesforce Ventures and other private investors. Logik.io is purpose-built to complement and enhance Salesforce CPQ and E-commerce platforms and provides high-performance, headless configuration technology that alleviates the operational limitations of traditional configurators.
Logik.io is led by Co-Founder and CEO Christopher Shutts, a pioneer of modern technology in the CPQ space. Before Logik.io, Chris co-founded BigMachines with current co-founder Godard Abel. They sold the business to Oracle in 2013, and Chris remained as Vice President of CPQ Cloud Development at Oracle until 2020.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris to talk more about the company, his background, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
Tell us about Logik.io.
Logik.io is about a year old now, and we supply technology that helps people sell their products more efficiently. Essentially, it is a guided selling configuration technology designed to augment Salesforce configure-price-quote functionality. We also sell it to companies that want to do self-service transactions with their products.
For someone unfamiliar, could you describe the CPQ space?
Configure price quote (CPQ) is a term that started about 15 years ago. Before we founded BigMachines, that term did not exist. Configure price quote is really intended for companies that sell complicated products or a product with many options. Essentially, CPQ makes a novice salesperson the best salesperson because it guides you through a product’s complexity, ensures that the product is compatible and works, and generates a proposal with everything priced correctly.
What led you to entrepreneurship?
My journey as an entrepreneur started when I was at MIT studying mechanical engineering. I met Godard Abel, and we became very close friends. We studied engineering together, got our degrees, and ultimately went our separate ways. I went to work for Case building tractors, and Godard went to work for McKinsey as a consultant.
After five years of working separately, we had the idea to start BigMachines. We knew there was a huge opportunity to reimagine how industrial equipment was sold because, at the time, it was very inefficient. Godard and I founded BigMachines in January of 2000 to solve that pain point. We made many mistakes along the way; we learned how to hire employees, how to sell a product, and how to perfect a product.
We partnered with Salesforce in 2005, and the business took off. We branched out from industrial equipment into new spaces like high-tech, medical devices, and business services. We learned how to grow and scale and make customers successful with our technology.
When was the moment you decided to start Logik.io?
Godard and I sold BigMachines to Oracle in 2013 and we continued to work on various investments together. I stayed with Oracle for a couple of years before retiring in 2020. In December 2020, Godard and I were approached by Salesforce, and they said, “you both have knowledge in the CPQ space, and we are looking for ways to service big accounts we work with. Can you help us?” That was the impetus for starting Logik.io.
What are the advantages of a tight-knit team that’s worked together for over a decade?
Venture capitalists love founders that have done it before. At first, I thought that didn’t matter, but it has proven to be a huge help for us at Logik.io.
When we started Logik.io, we were fortunate to put together a team that had done everything before. In addition to our founding team’s experience, all of our leaders — engineering, product, sales, and marketing — have also grown up in startups. When you put a team like that together, you are so much more productive and efficient with your use of capital.
Regardless of experience, it is still very challenging to start a company. But when you go through it the first time, you learn a lot of best practices and tips along the way that you can apply the second time around.
My recommendation for first-time founders is to get good advice from people that have done it before and use them in an advisory board capacity.
Tell me about Logik.io’s partnership with Threekit. What does that unlock for you?
Visualizing what you are configuring in real-time is super important when you get into certain verticals. We recognized this was a gap in our CPQ offering.
Take the configuration of a couch for example. While this is a relatively simple thing to configure, you could have different fabrics, sizes, or types of wood for the feet. Before you spend money on a couch, you want to see a realistic image of it. Ideally, you want to use augmented reality, and you want to put it in your living room. If you can see it staged in your home, you’re fairly comfortable with buying the couch, because you are sure that it’s going to be what you want when it shows up. The couch is one example, but there are thousands of examples where real-time visualization is super important; that’s precisely what Threekit specializes in.
We know that there’s a significant shift to visualization in the sales configuration market as these transactions become self-service. So, that’s one of the ways you can help speed up the migration of these self-service transactions to visualize them better. Thus, when we started Logik.io, we knew we wanted to embed Threekit’s technology in Logik.io. On the flip side, Threekit has customers that need advanced configuration. So, they use our technology and resell it. It’s a win-win partnership and a huge differentiator for us.
Any favorite books or podcasts you would recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
When I first started BigMachines, we encouraged team members to read Built to Last. In the book, they take a bunch of different industries and take two companies and look at the evolution of those companies over time. They did this in seventeen different areas and compiled a list of what was unique about all of the winners and what was unique about all of the losers. Ultimately, they ended up with a list of 20 characteristics that were different between the winners and losers.
Any learnings you would like to share that significantly impacted your journey?
Culture trumps strategy. You can have the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have a good company culture, you’re not going to ultimately win in your market.
When we started Logik.io, we spent a lot of time thinking about who we wanted to be and what kind of culture we wanted to cultivate. That conversation predicated what we talk about as a team in our all-hands meetings. Some of our core values include:
- Customer success equals our success
- One team, one family
- Improve 1% every time
We have also adopted the one-to-one giving model, where you donate 1% equity, 1% time, and 1% of your product to charity.