THE UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION OF GOLDCAST'S B2B EVENTS PLATFORM
Palash Soni, Co-Founder and CEO of Goldcast
In this engaging discussion with Palash Soni, Co-Founder and CEO of Goldcast, we delve into the unique value proposition of their B2B events platform. Palash shares insights into the product’s differentiation from traditional webinar solutions, highlighting features like branded templates for diverse event types, streamlined event series management, robust data collection and integration capabilities, and an exceptionally user-friendly attendee experience. He emphasizes Goldcast’s strong commitment to data privacy and security, crucial for enterprise clients. Furthermore, Palash discusses Goldcast’s approach to B2B lead generation, leveraging a community-focused event program to engage and educate potential customers.
Goldcast is a tailored B2B events platform that transforms marketing through effortless hosting and engaging digital or in-person events.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and E-commerce as SEO. Today’s special guest is the Co-Founder and CEO of Goldcast. A tailored B2B events platform that transforms marketing through effortless hosting and engaging digital or in-person events. A big welcome to you, Palash, and I’m so happy to have you with me.
I’m excited to be here.
Brilliant. Let’s start with your journey, Palash. I would love to know about your early days here in India and how exactly Howard and Goldcast happened.
Yeah, I’m happy to take you through that, Harshit. I was trained as an engineer in one of the engineering institutes in India, IIT Kanpur. After that, I started my career in manufacturing. For a CPG firm called ITC, which is like PNG, called Unilever in the US. There I spent three years in manufacturing and I realized that while manufacturing is exciting, the real business of CPG is in marketing. Marketing is what drives that whole business. I got intrigued by it and I wanted to learn more about marketing. As a techie, how does one get into marketing? I started thinking about it and that took me to this company called Inmobi, which is an Ad Tech, MarTech company based out of India, and one of the soft bank-funded large tech companies that came out of India. I joined that company in 2015 in what is now called Customer Success. I spent the first two years there in different business roles, starting from Customer Success and then the next two years in Product Management. I learned a lot about everything in Ad Tech and MarTech. How B2B businesses work, how Ad Tech works. I learned a lot about that whole universe and it was very eye-opening for me and I loved it.
I’d always throughout this time wanted to be an entrepreneur. While I was at Inmobi, I used to travel a lot, but as a PM, I always felt that I was two steps behind. Right there, the product needed to be where we needed to be because we were very far removed from our customers. It was not just the physical distance because our core markets were in the US, and Europe, but also we were not in the thick of things. We were always trying to guess where the market was going to be. We were not skating to where the park was going to be. I thought that to build a great company, I needed to be in the US. That motivated me to come to the US. The CEO of Inmobi was an HBSLM. He volunteered to write me a recommendation. That’s how I ended up in the US.
That’s brilliant. Can you please tell us a bit more about Goldcast? Because to be honest, Goldcast focuses on virtual events and webinars. Can you please explain to us how exactly this platform differs from the traditional webinar solutions altogether? What is the unique value proposition here?
Yeah, definitely. Goldcast is a B2B events platform. That’s how we position ourselves. To understand how we differ, we have to start with who we cater to. Our target persona is a B2B marketing team that’s using the product to run events to generate pipeline for Build brand and generate pipeline for their business and need to provide data and generate Actionable Insights for their sales teams. That is the value prop of Goldcast. To do that, the product is built to do a few things that are very different from what the rest of the market can do. The number one thing is that Goldcast can do everything right from what is traditionally called a webinar, which is a single session, 30-45 minutes, one-hour session up to a very complex, multi-day, multi-track virtual conference. If you look at when this market became part of in early 2020, every product was built for the extreme of what I’m talking about, which is the big conferences. No one was anchored toward what a lot of B2B marketers need, which is a lot of repeatable events, what they want to do. In product launches, demand gen type of thought leadership events, customer training, customer webinars, all of those things.
Marketers wanted a single platform in which they could do all of this so that it’s easy for them to operate because marketing teams are small, they’re generally small, and they want people to operate from a single platform. The second value for all of this was the platform is extremely brandable. If you go to an Adobe event that’s running on Goldcast, it will look like Adobe. If you go to a GitHub event that’s running on Goldcast, it will look like GitHub. The product is very brandable without needing CSS or HTML. Marketers can themselves do it using the product itself. That sounds easy in practice, but it’s very hard to replicate for competitors because we build it that way. The brandability is very core to what marketing teams want. The third part, and which is very connected to what I talked about in the first point, which is marketers want one platform for everything, is the measurability and ROI aspect of all of this. Half of our platform is built like a Martech tool. The core value brought here is that marketers are ultimately doing all of this to generate pipelines and get data and insights about marketing activities.
You would know that as a marketer yourself. That is what we got. A lot of our platform is all about data, insights, analytics, and getting the workflows around events. What has happened inside the event, how can I get data from who attended my event? How does that impact the pipeline that is generated from the event in three months and six months, how can I connect to Salesforce, Market, or Hubspot? We have invested a lot of time, and effort in making sure that all that is 10X better and deeper than anything that exists in the market. That’s the secret sauce of why the product is so sticky and valuable to marketers that part is almost like a market product that helps the marketing teams ultimately prove the value of their event programs and get a seat at the table that they are generating value for the organization. Those are the three key value drops. If you look at all these, they don’t exist in a single platform. Sometimes products, they do webinars, but they only do webinars and they are just too simple for a bigger company to operate. Some people do virtual events, but they are too horizontal and they’re focused on everyone and not just the marketer and some are poor in terms of data.
But there’s everything that is missing and we got these three things right. That is what the marketer cares about and that’s what differentiates and makes us good and unique.
That’s brilliant. I’ll dig deep into these value propositions for sure in the coming few questions. But yeah, let’s direct this conversation to COVID-19. A lot of things changed. To be honest, the virtual experience, that landscape changed to a whole new level altogether at that time. How exactly Goldcast adapt to it and facilitate it altogether? Yeah, Harshit
We started in 2020, May. That’s when we decided to find the company. The idea for Goldcast came in when COVID had become something like it did not become, we didn’t know that the entire world would be locked down, but we knew that something was happening in March and April of 2020. We didn’t have to adapt. We were built for the digital-first.
Let’s talk about some of the key features and capabilities that Goldcast offers for event organizers and how these features enhance the attendees’ experience altogether.
Yeah, absolutely. In terms of the features for organizers, it broadly falls into these buckets. The thing that we take care of is that we want to always be mindful of who our customer is. Our customers are marketing teams in companies with more than 500 employees. That’s when the forecast starts becoming valuable and super sticky. Marketing teams in those companies are still smaller. It’s not that they are just the marketers, they’re still smaller, but they have a big audience and then they have a big pipeline going on their head and they have a lot of events, a big events program. What do they need? They need a way to run events repeatably and run very different events. One of the few features that help them do that is we have a few concepts of templates. Marketers can come in and they can create a branded template for the product. This is what the different types of events look like. This is how say my coffee chat will look like. This is what my customer training will look like. This is what my product launches will look like. This is what my quarter-deep conference will look like.
They do it once and then they can just copy that template into events over and over and be done with it. We have an implementation team that helps them set up that template. We do that for the customers a few times. That is number one. The second thing is that they can be a series of events. If you are doing, say, a product demo and say, Notion is a customer of ours and they are a customer and they do product demos every week. They want people to be able to come and select what they will attend. Say, they want to attend a demo this week or next week or the one, three weeks after, they can do it in one page. This is a complex orchestration that is hard to do on something like Zoom. You cannot even do it on Zoom or the regular webinar product. We make all of that happen in just a few weeks and you can transfer all that data into Marketo and things like that. The feature of doing an event series, we have made that easy. Then we have all the complicated features that we make it very easy to collect the data in forms, in registration, and then pass that on to your marketing operations side.
Things like collecting all the user data about which company they are from, what is their preferences, what products they like, etc, and then mapping that all into downstream systems in fields, in Salesforce, in HubSpot, etc. We make all of that happen within the product itself. Those are some of the features for organizers. In terms of attendees, there is a lot of stuff. The number one feature, I think which has had a disproportionate benefit for our attendees and organizers both is the flow of how people get into a podcast event. The moment you register for a podcast event, you get a calendar invitation right into your calendar. Inside the invitation itself, there is a link. You click on that link, you directly get into the event. You never have to log in via a password to do anything like that. It’s secure. It is soft to comply. It complies with every security regulation out there in the world and we have made that happen in a way that is very hard to replicate. If you reschedule the calendar invite and all the registrants’ calendars that gets rescheduled. We have made all of that dialysis workers.
This ensures that your attendance rate on Goldcast is 20% to 30% higher than any other platform. That is number one. The second is that within the event itself, you can do everything within the podcast itself where you don’t have to use any other tool like a Slido or Vision for engagement. You can do polls, you can do Q&A, you can do surveys, you can do everything. You don’t have to use Survey Monkey, for instance. People who do surveys on Goldcast, get a 20-30x response rate on Goldcast. For example, Mailchimp is our customer and they do surveys in our tool and they get 20x survey responses on our product. Vieting versus anything else that they use. That’s one valid problem. The third is that the product itself has built-in video production tools that make it look like it’s a very highly-produced show, even though it’s just two or three marketers doing it on the back end. You don’t need a video producer. You can do very cool things like put overlays and put your name cards and things like that. You would know that as a podcast producer. How challenging it could be for people who don’t know how to do that.
We make all of that happen in the stress of a live event. It’s not just easy to use and it’s easy to use for a two or three team of marketers. That’s the feature number three. The final thing is all the boring but very important things in analytics and the downstream system. We have a very robust Salesforce app that can give you all the data of ROI, pipeline, etc, and out-of-the-box reports that AEs can use and BDRs can use. Then we also have some very specific integrations for marketers like customers. Io. We have a segment integration, we have loco integration. These are all enterprisey things. But because of a focus on a large enterprise marketing team, we have all of those features that generally don’t exist with other event planning.
That’s the whole thing. That’s brilliant. You did mention security and data privacy, and that’s one of the major concerns, specifically because your target market is enterprise. In that space, that is the most important thing. That’s something that even I struggle with. Whenever I’m working with some enterprise clients of mine, tell me how exactly, You did mention that you take care of almost every norm in there. Talking about that safety? How exactly did that happen, to be honest, on the platform?
Yeah, that’s a great question, and that’s very important for our industry because events are very data-heavy. We are collecting a lot of data on behalf of our customers. From the get to the product is architected in a way where a customer’s data is siloed for that customer itself. Any data that our customer collects for their attendees and registrants and everything else, is just siloed for them and we never cross-pollinated across anyone else. That is core to the product’s architecture. From the get-go, even we had soft-to-compliance. I think one and a half years back when the company was only five or six-quarters old. We were able to do all of those data privacy, GDPR, those things because we knew that if we were going to work with marketers, which was our core thesis of the company, we would need all of these things. They are very sensitive about data. They don’t need the data to be shared between organizations or leaked out or things like that. We would need to build this into the product from the get-go. The core insight we had was the data needs to be siloed from the beginning.
We don’t need to collect anything that looks like advertising data, like a cookie, or we cannot use that data for anything that is advertising. For instance, a lot of our competitors, what they do is they would collect your data saying, Well, you attended event X for company A, and let me show you other events of company B, which looks like Company A. That requires them to get consent from you, ask you for cookies and things like that. We don’t do anything like that. If you are attending an event from some company, then you are that company’s property. We don’t take any data from you that looks like a cookie or anything like that because we are just a product. We are just treating ourselves as a SaaS tool. We are not a horizontal events platform. We are not a marketplace. That’s how we built the product. We have a very low footprint in terms of what data we take. That has allowed us to be very quick in terms of getting all these certifications and being security compliant. Okay.
Tell me one more thing, because what I’ve experienced in the past is enterprise clients are very hesitant when it comes to even convincing them, to be honest, that we will make sure that the security is top notch and your data is protected, all of those things. How do you tackle that problem, man?
Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s a combination of two things. The number one thing is that you need certification. Certification has become a must to get into enterprises. We made sure we had that. Second, you still need some social proof to get into enterprises. It’s a chicken and egg problem. You need a couple of enterprise logos to get into the next 10 enterprises. Who are those two enterprises going to be? It’s that typical startup-hustle, cold-start problem. How do you find those early adopters within enterprises? What we have found out is that within enterprises there are many very enterprising people also. No pun intended, but we have had people who are so forward-looking that they could even put startups into shape and those have ended up becoming enterprise customers. For instance, GitHub was our fifth customer. Over time, it has expanded to become our largest customer. Github, for all practical purposes, is a large enterprise. We have Zuora as a customer. Zuora was probably our 20th customer. It’s a public company and it’s a very large customer. We have a very deep partnership with them. We found out that it takes some time to find those people, but there are those people who will be willing to take up that on Upstarts.
Then from there, it’s just building that social proof and then going forward.
That’s right. Since you mentioned ROI and that is something that, again, in virtual events, it’s quite challenging to basically track down ROI and even monetize, to be honest. How exactly do you help in these scenarios?
Yeah. One of the core reasons why we go after B2B customers or B2B marketers and why we thought this was probably the only viable market in digital events was because we know, and I think everyone should have known that it would not be long-term possible to monetize work events, properly monetize via tickets and things like that. Even today we don’t have a proper ticketing feature on Goldcast. We can do ticketing, but it takes some effort to do that from our side and we never invested in it as a core feature. The way we help customers move our way is through the engagement that they generate with their customers. The events are a classic marketing activity in B2B marketing. It’s like you’re presenting content or you’re presenting some piece of information. Information. -information. That depends on the context of the event. What a day there could be a product demo, it could be a thought leadership, it could be anything. It could be people doing very high-touch ABN events where they have a wine tasting or things like that. There’s a collection of 30, or 40 high-touch VP-level people who are on the other side.
It depends very much on what that is, but it is ultimately some engagement that’s happening between the presenter and the audience. That engagement is what generates value. Our goal of the product is to make that engagement happen and make it as engaging as possible, take those signals, and push them into the system of records where you can make sense of those signals. Those engagement data points are what help you derive what the ROI is. For instance, a lot of our customers track how many of their ICP or named accounts attended the events. Within that, what senior titles attended, and how many sessions did they watch? How much did they actively engage? How much did they passively engage and did they lead score based on that? We provide all the signals for them to lead the score. They put workflows on things that were engagements. For example, if someone went to a booth that hosted some specific white paper from that customer, then they could trigger a sequence, an email sequence that talks more about that white paper and maybe an AA could follow up right after that. There are a lot of ways in which ROI could be generated from that, but ultimately it depends on what the company-specific processes are.
But it’s a classic marketing activity in the end. The companies are never looking to charge people money for that. They are just looking for engagement and then getting and measuring value out of that engagement.
All right. It’s been around three and a half years now, almost since you have launched the product. Let’s talk about some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in building and scaling Goldcast and how you overcame those.
That’s a great question. That challenge always changes, Harshit, as the company is growing. That challenge is different every quarter. But I think there are two challenges that at the stage that we are at right now, which is 120, 130 people and a Series B-ish scale. The number one challenge that is growing at this rate is that the gross playbook that works at, say, 1 million to $3 million, doesn’t exactly replicate from 3 million to 7, 8 million and doesn’t replicate exactly from 7-12 million. That challenge is harder when the efficiency benchmarks are changing rapidly. What used to be acceptable in the market last year is not acceptable anymore. That is a symptom of the macro environment and the interest in environments and everything else for good reasons, we all should be more efficient, but with changing expectations of how much can be spent on CAG, etc, the growth playbooks also changed. Delivering a $10-25 million group is a very different ball game than 4-10 million, although the growth rate exactly looks the same. Excel file, it looks similar. I think that’s a big challenge and I think every CEO at this stage will give you the same answer.
This is one. The second challenge is about remote. We are a fully remote company. We were born in a remote area. We have some concentration in Boston and Bangalore. Our leadership team is not very concentrated in Boston. Then we have an engineering concentration in Bangalore, but we are remote still, very remote. As the company grows, the challenge is how to keep a remote team together every time. Together means how do you keep everyone aligned? How do you onboard people effectively? How do you train people fast and effectively? How do you make them feel that we all are together in this? How do you keep the morale high? Some of these things, I think, take care of themselves in an office environment when people are coming together and they’re working and seeing each other together. In remote, all of these things are non-obvious. I think people, including myself and everyone else, during COVID, got very excited for a lot of light reasons that remote is working and we should all commit to remote work, which I think remote is working. I’m a big fan of remote. I have two kids and I love being at home and being able to spend time with them while being a founder.
But I think we still have a lot to discover as humanity on how to make remote work very effective. Reading the 500-page label from GitLab is not the answer to that. We need something more palatable, and I think we need a class of professionals, maybe HR professionals or people professionals who can make that scale across different startups. Just scaling remote work is the, I would say, second biggest talent that I have.
I think you’re pretty much right on that front because that’s one of the reasons I’m seeing the trend that many companies have started at least hybrid now. It could be like the start-ups that have launched during the COVID era altogether, even they have started switching to the hybrid solution where there are a few days office and then a few days work from home and stuff like that happening. I think I’m pretty sure people are still figuring out how to tackle this and keep the morale high altogether. I think we’re coming to a little bit of an end here, and I would love to have a marketing conversation with you. I would love to know how exactly and what things have been working in your favor when it comes to your own B2B lead generation.
That’s a great question, Harshit. In terms of lead gen, we eat our dog food. We are very heavy on doing our events. Our event program is community-led. A lot of our content is very geared towards our community of event marketers. It’s not just people who have the title of event marketers, but any marketer who uses events to do marketing. That includes demand gen product marketers and a lot of CSMs. That has worked a lot for us and then we have been able to build a very nice, engaged community around it. We see people coming over and over again and that drives a lot of second-hand virality for us as well. So a lot of success there. What we have learned in the last year is that in the early days, when it’s just founder and sub 1 million or 1-2, 3 million scale, when there’s early product market fit, I think it pays to invest in demand gen because the founder is driving the point of view and then there’s still early adopters who are buying a product. Demand gen should scale on getting the demand. Then very quickly there should be a shift to product marketing as you get into the late majority here because we had, as people know how to use a product in different scenarios.
That was true for earlier adopters, but in our late customers, as we started getting scale above 100 customers, we discovered—and we are now also discovering slightly late—that it is not clear to a lot of our customers how to use the product beyond that one use case they bought it for. Now we are investing a lot in product marketing, like how to use the product exactly, and what are the different use cases you use it for and things like that, which is very core, hard, full product marketing. That is one subtle shift in how we are doing it. But the core channel remains events. We also invest a lot in-person events. A lot of our deal acceleration happens through in-person events that we invite our customers and prospects who are already in the pipeline, in the HCH conversations into in-person events that do largely in larger US cities like New York, Boston, and South Seattle.
Got you. Since you’re keeping the community so engaged, I’m curious now, how is the churn rate for you?
I can not exactly give you the number, but our churn is, our retention is one of the best in this industry.
I’m not surprised anyway that happens automatically, right?
Yeah. It’s good. But there’s a lot of room for improvement here as well. That improvement would come from just being a lot more focused on ICP. In the early days, we were still focused on companies slightly smaller in size, like less than 200 people companies, and they have been hit a little harder by the recession, the tech meltdown. There’s a higher chance in that cohort. But in our cohort of 500-plus people companies are grossly tiny and very, very sorry.
It’s hard to earn though, such customers, but retention is not a problem with them. I think we’re coming to an end here, Palash. I would like to have a quick rapid-fire video. Are you ready for that?
Yes, let’s do it.
Okay. What habit holds you back the most?
Sleeping late at night.
Okay. What chore do you despise doing? What chore?
I just hate booking flights and hotels. It just gives me anxiety. I don’t know. But yeah. All right.
What subject do you find to be most fascinating?
Yes, human evolution.
What career did you dream of having as a kid?
As a kid, scientist.
Okay. Coming to my very last question, what did you last search on Google?
Last search? It was about some travel.
Okay. Do you hate travel? No, you hate traveling. You hate booking.
Thank you so much for all the time, and all the knowledge that you have shared in this session. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Thanks, Harshit. Very exciting talking to you. Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me on the show.
We are a Value-driven Marketing Agency Working Exclusively for SaaS and E-commerce Businesses.