BCom alum revolutionizes the art of sales with AI and ingenuity
Kris Hartvigsen was a successful sales professional with an entrepreneurial spirit and an affinity for computers. The UBC Sauder School of Business Bachelor of Commerce ('94) alum channeled these talents into creating Dooly, a tech company that addresses a pain point shared by salespeople everywhere. Dooly’s fan base is exploding and the company has raised over $100 million in capital to date.
Founded in 2016 by Hartvigsen and partner Justin Vaillancourt, Dooly’s software solution uses artificial intelligence to streamline daily administrative tasks currently robbing up to a fourth of salespeople's time. Dooly instantly syncs one’s calendar, customer notes and account updates to CRM (customer relationship management) programs – freeing up sales teams to spend more time selling.
Named after the expression duly noted, Dooly was born out of Hartvigsen’s frustration over the tedious deskwork he endured throughout his sales career
“Even when I was earning triple my quota, I still had to spend hours entering data that was never used for anything,” explains Hartvigsen. “All that administrative work was taking me out of my high-performance, high-value mode.”
Dooly is much more than an add-on to Salesforce, Google Workspace and Slack; it’s becoming a powerful tool for remote sales teams. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, user growth has more than tripled and investors are excited. In May, the company closed an $80 million USD Series B round of funding, bringing the company’s total funding to date to $105 million USD.
Collaborating with Creative Destruction Lab – Vancouver
Hartvigsen says his Commerce education, and subsequent mentorship program 20 years later at CDL-Vancouver, helped guide his career success.
“When we entered CDL, we were about a year into our journey and we felt we could use some bright minds to help drive forcing functions in the business,” Hartvigsen explains. “We met a lot of smart people who asked really hard questions and we had to do the work and come back with good answers. It was a really good experience.”
Paul Cubbon, Assistant Dean, Innovation at the UBC Sauder School of Business and Leader: Creative Destruction Lab – Vancouver notes:
“Although CDL’s process and community of experts can systematically reduce risk, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with technology start-ups, and it’s a long road. It’s the founders and the teams that they recruit that ultimately build on the potential – harnessing the advice and the funding. When we see companies break through in the way that Dooly has, it makes all of our efforts worthwhile,” says Cubbon. “Equally rewarding was a recent conversation with Kris. He had just closed the most recent funding, but his comment to me was: How can I help the next set of founders at CDL? The busiest, most successful people invariably are the ones looking to give back before they are asked.”
Building a talented team and caring culture
With the company’s financial future secure, Hartvigsen is directing his energy toward assembling a leadership team to drive the company’s next stage of growth. After conducting a global search, Dooly added four new executives – all women.
“We were looking for the best people in every discipline and the women we hired were the best,” says Hartvigsen. “We live in a time where there’s talent everywhere and we should be actively creating diverse teams.”
Hartvigsen is also focused on cultivating his company’s culture. Some of the values he holds dear are: Staying curious, being non-judgemental, and having empathy for others.
“My personal approach to responsible leadership is open conversations. I think shying away from difficult conversations is exactly the wrong approach.”
To encourage open and frank discussion, each week the Dooly team attends a digital meeting called Fired Up. Employees provide business updates, but they also talk about current affairs and share perspectives and experiences.
“On National Indigenous Peoples Day, we talked about the Indigenous experience in Canada and the mass burial sites being uncovered at Residential Schools. There were some tears. This was genocide and it happened in our own backyard. I think we have a responsibility, as leaders, to confront these kinds of topics head on.”
When the office is the Internet
While Dooly maintains office space in a 1910 heritage building on Beatty Street in downtown Vancouver, Hartvigsen says the team is enabled to work anywhere in the world. A national headquarters, he says, is a thing of the past.
“Virtual work doesn’t change the way you think and what you do, it just changes where you do it. The onus is on leaders to be communicative and engaging, but people naturally create outlets to talk about stuff. We have Slack channels to talk about wine, culture, sports, you name it. People create bonds regardless of geography.”
Advice for business students: have conviction and confidence
When Hartvigsen gets asked by young people what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur, he doesn’t sugar coat.
“You have to come into it with a plan to work hard and a conviction that you have a great product around an interesting problem that you’re really passionate about. And you have to be able to persuade other people to get really passionate about it as well.”
Reflecting on how his talents as a sales leader come in handy in the role of CEO, Hartvigsen says it helps to be comfortable with rejection.
“In sales, there are more no’s than yes’s, by a substantial number. If you aren’t losing deals, you either have the perfect product or you haven’t talked to enough people.”
But based on the reviews posted by ecstatic users, Dooly is becoming a favourite work tool. With the community of Dooly adopters growing organically, the company is benefiting from word-of-mouth buzz – one of the most successful marketing strategies ever invented and one that Hartvigsen knows well.