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VMblog Expert Interview: Vertis CEO Dave Withers talks about exiting stealth and a platform product to improve critical talent and location decisions


VMblog spoke to Dave Withers, Co-Founder & CEO of startup Vertis, which recently emerged from stealth with the Vertis Market Intelligence Platform already actively working for customers. Find out more in this Q&A.

VMblog:  What is Vertis and what is the Vertis Market Intelligence Platform?

Dave Withers:  My co-founders and I incorporated Vertis in June 2020 with the vision of building a world-class market intelligence platform that's never been done before to help bring unprecedented clarity to critical talent and location decisions. We've spent the last year or so building the platform based on the needs we've seen in the market and direct feedback from our early customers.

The Vertis Market Intelligence Platform is the only platform of its kind that unifies billions of data points and leverages proprietary data science to help business leaders create and implement people and workplace strategies. The initial inspiration for the company was the lack of data-driven decision-making we witnessed around significant CRE/workplace and workforce decisions. Market intelligence is not new. What's completely different about our approach is the breadth of data points that have never been collected, rationalized, and analyzed and presented in the way we're doing to drive action for our customers. We started exploring the space together pre-pandemic, and our solution crystallized when the realities of the pandemic - such as work from home and return to work issues - happened.

VMblog:  'Bringing unprecedented clarity to critical talent and location decisions' is quite a loaded statement.  What does that mean, and how does Vertis deliver on it?

Withers:  We were pretty lucky to work through these challenges as hybrid workplaces became more commonplace. Hybrid workplaces create complex labor challenges that can impede or inhibit already complex decision-making in a modern organization. Thus, we enable teams to make accurate, data-driven decisions quickly and compete more effectively. Decision-makers are constrained by legacy and manual processes, and they lack the data and analytics necessary for making strategic hiring and real estate decisions in today's dynamic environment. We sought to change that.

Vertis delivers that capability through Vertis Market Intelligence Platform, a SaaS offering that applies advanced data science to vast amounts of data. It delivers real-time insights to executive-, HR-, and Real Estate leaders in high-growth enterprise organizations. The platform analyzes data about people, career characteristics, location, and aspirations, using advanced data science to produce actionable recommendations in real-time. This approach accelerates business-critical decisions in today's dynamic, hybrid workplace with its complex labor challenges.

VMblog:  You've recently exited stealth mode.  Why is this the right time for that move?

Withers:  We are not just exiting stealth mode to announce funding and our idea. We are announcing our platform that is already GA [generally available] and in customers' hands to help them make business-critical decisions regarding their talent pool, location analysis, diversity issues, and other key workforce areas.

Okta and Better Mortgage are two of our publicly announced customers - their case studies are on our site. We will announce several more customers over the coming months, including more high-growth tech enterprises, real estate companies, and shared workplaces.

VMblog:  Let's learn a bit more about the people behind Vertis.  Who are you, and why do you have an interest in what you're offering?

Withers:  Vertis was founded in June 2020 by an experienced team of serial entrepreneurs and data science experts. The company's co-founders have previously founded and built numerous successful ventures. We also have experience from large enterprises over the past three decades, including Dell, EMC, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

I have a 25-year track record as a successful founder and technology executive with numerous successful exits, and I held senior positions at EMC and Dell post acquisitions. Our President and Chief Revenue Officer, Sam Hocking, is a serial fintech/proptech entrepreneur who has held senior executive leadership positions at BNP Paribas, Bank of America, and others. And Gordy Holterman, Vertis' Chief Strategy Officer, is an active entrepreneur, former hedge fund manager, and former senior executive at Wells Fargo. We also have a fantastic Advisory Board populated with several high-level executives, board members, investors, and entrepreneurs.

Why did we create this platform? We've all been through the experiences where enterprises resort to spending millions of dollars on specialized consultancy projects with prolonged timeframes, only to receive static, outdated information that lacks critical context. Our vision is to counter that by delivering instant recommendations and creative trendspotting.

VMblog:  How does the platform deliver on that vision?

Withers:  The Vertis Market Intelligence Platform delivers dynamic insights to executive, HR, and real estate leaders in high-growth enterprise organizations, allowing them to make accurate, data-driven decisions quickly. The data, accessible through the Vertis Market Intelligence Platform, enables organizations to make informed decisions about real estate, talent, and workforce expansion.

VMblog:  On the customer side of the equation, what is the business need behind the Vertis Market Intelligence Platform?  And how do you meet those needs?

Withers: Success is giving our customers the ability to make data-driven business-critical decisions. Such information once would take quarters to produce, usually through an expensive consulting project based on old static information. We put that information at their fingertips.

The Vertis Market Intelligence Platform brings together public data sets, alternative data sets, and customer data with the most granular data about people and how they want to live and work. This blends into a platform with proprietary data science ML [machine learning] models and a simple and easy-to-use UI. Even though it's SaaS and therefore easy and inexpensive to deploy, the platform can be user-defined with customizable settings. We go to great lengths to ensure the Vertis Market Intelligence Platform is a business tool and not a technology white elephant that nobody wants to use.

VMblog:  How have your customers responded to the Market Intelligence Platform?

Withers:  Let's look at Okta and Better Mortgage. Both companies have experienced explosive growth during the pandemic as they expanded their teams significantly. But these teams are geographically dispersed, and both companies needed a cohesive data-driven strategy for workplace solutions and locations. They also wanted a data-driven approach to focusing on the best talent pools. Lastly, they wanted better insights to execute their go-forward expansion plans from both a workforce and a workplace perspective.

As I mentioned earlier, both have case studies on our website that elaborate on how we impacted their performances. But I'll point out some highlights. Okta was ecstatic to learn that the annual cost to access the platform was the same as a single consultancy engagement - which it used several times in a year. We could help Okta gain substantial savings while also providing vastly improved insight for its growth and recruitment strategies.

Better as a company culture wants to be data-driven. The Vertis Market Intelligence Platform helped encourage that on many different levels, including real-time analysis and decision-making, discovering questions they never considered before, and enabling both ad-hoc and deeper data analysis. Our platform helped Better change its decision-making framework for the, well, better!

VMblog:  Do you see a big "return to work" coming, or will things remain hybrid?  What part does Vertis have to play in a return-to-work model?

Withers:  The workplace has entered uncharted waters, and it happened very quickly. You could almost say the rulebook has been thrown out. The real Daveger is to expect that what worked before will naturally work again. How do we adapt management and strategy to best embrace those changes? Not one size fits all. There will be a vast spectrum of outcomes for business, ranging from everyone back to work at a specific date, to hybrid situations, to some companies who have decided remote work is an excellent solution for their business for the foreseeable future.

Vertis enables our customers and partners to develop and execute a return to work/hybrid work strategy based on the needs of their business. We want to provide a solution that helps all these companies - regardless of their thesis on the future of work - make better data-driven decisions.

VMblog:  These are very challenging times.  Why would you decide to launch a new venture and bring a new product to market now amidst such a difficult situation?

Withers:  It's a cliche, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Or I can cite another chestnut: necessity is the mother of invention. The fact is that great ideas and products don't wait for the waters to be just right before launching. I've learned as a serial entrepreneur that while timing is everything, don't wait around, hoping the best time will arrive. You should act on opportunity and market needs, and we've followed that philosophy. This is why we could create Vertis and launch the platform during one of the most challenging times in living memory.

There is a genuine need for this solution, and it was accelerated - made more acute - by the pandemic. We had the vision, the right team, and the right timing to execute. It's always a good time to start a company when those elements come together. And the fact that we emerged from stealth not only with a general access product but also several customers gaining terrifically from it - that tells me our decision and timing couldn't have been better.


Published Monday, August 02, 2021 12:16 PM by David Marshall
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