In our fifth edition, we speak with Gary Hoberman — CEO and founder of Unqork, pioneer of the Codeless as a Service (CaaS) category. Gary is a really fascinating entrepreneur. His past roles include Managing Director at Citi and Global CIO at MetLife. In these roles, he’s been responsible for thousands of engineers and billions of dollars in technology spend. This is also where he experienced a problem that he felt needed to be solved and left the corporate world behind to launch Unqork in 2017. Here are the top lessons founders can learn from my interview with Gary.

#1: Abandon comfort to pursue your mission. 

“I view technology as magical. It’s a skill, it’s an art form, programming, as we call it, as a language. And you have to be skilled in that language. And communicating with a machine to do things is magical, when it works. When it doesn’t work, we’re all frustrated, as everyone is. But the reality is, I jumped right on Wall Street after college to build trading systems and platforms to change the world. And that was my goal when I left the corporate world after 25 years managing 10,000 engineers and spending over a billion a year and influencing 9 billion a year of technology spend, I left the world because what I had seen of that magic was disappearing. I like to say I jumped out of the C suite and the corporate jet into zone five of United.”

💡Actionable takeaway: Find a problem you are so passionate about solving that you are willing to leave the comfortable behind to pursue the opportunity to solve that problem.

#2: Articulate a clear category story.

“When we called it no code, there was no one else. We were the only enterprise, no code. The challenge we’ve had is that the categories themselves have kind of been blurred. So, low code, no code. And the reality is, there’s only one no code player, which is us in the enterprise. Everyone else is low code, and even the word code, that’s what we’re getting away from.

Codeless as a service to us, is a layer in the infrastructure. It’s not a tool. All these concepts and applications and what the research group show, they’re all tools. They’re all a tool. New tool belt to do a workflow or to do a UI, or to do an integration. They’re all tools. We kind of view the world differently in that there’s a layer that’s been missing above the cloud, an infrastructure layer called codeless. And that layer is an engine. It’s cloud agnostic. So runs on any cloud provider you can use Amazon, Google or Microsoft today easily and switch between with a click of a button.”

💡Actionable takeaway: If you’re creating a new category, be prepared to present a compelling narrative about why this category is necessary. Explain the problem it solves, why the currently existing categories aren’t capable of solving the problem, and the benefits the new category can bring.

#3: Show, don’t tell. 

“If I’m in a client meeting for the first time, second time, I still will build software in front of them using Unqork. That’s how we basically got to where we are. We would say, hey, you’re my client, you’re a bank, you’re a Silicon Valley bank. Interesting. What do you want to build? Do you want to build an interest rate check system of balance and controls? And we’ve done that, not for them, but for others, do you want to build? And so when you think about that, it’s always, let’s talk about the capabilities of the platform, but to me it is about being visible and being out there to share it, because there is nothing like us. So think about replacing a programming language like Java with data. No one’s ever even tried it before us, no one’s ever attempted that.”

💡Actionable takeaway: For revolutionary and novel products, ensure you have a way demonstrate them in action during sales conversations, providing a hands-on experience that brings their unique capabilities to life and helps customers grasp their potential.

#4: Name and define a movement around what you enable customers to do.

“What the technology enables, which is brand new in concept, is what we call business-led IT. And what I mean by that is the business is always technically leading technology. Just if you sit in the seat where I sat as a CIO, the business is always driving. Here’s the products we’re going to launch us here. Here’s changes we need to do for regulatory purposes. Here’s the drive in operations for efficiency. They’re prioritizing these investments and strategy. And technology is executing. And in the best worlds, technology is driving those decisions. They’re helping the business come to those conclusions and driving those and owning those. In those worlds where technology is the driver, they bring us in first.

Technology wants a platform to deliver faster for their business because the reality is code isn’t doing it. It’s difficult to code. And in reality, the platforms that they’re seeing aren’t doing it. And their goal is to deliver business value and that’s it. And this is a way to do it. So their engineers could focus on what’s truly critical for their programming skills, which is not what Unqork does. So if we could do 90% of what they’re doing today, we free up those engineers to focus on algorithms that we never even dreamed of before, which is amazing. That’s how I view the world. But the reality is, business-led IT is very different. Business-led IT to us means it’s a technology in which the business could build with it together, instead of translating a business requirement into a Word document to be interpreted by an engineer into code. Together the technology and the business could describe what they need in data using our drag and drop visual tool.”

💡Actionable takeaways: Frame what you enable your customers to do as a new and different approach they can embrace to solve their problems. Name this approach, create a movement around it, then be the loudest voice in the room evangelizing the benefits it can bring to your customers.

#5: Sell benefits, not features.

“CIOs love Unqork because they can own the control plane for the first time. They could see performance, they could see security, they could see reusability, they could understand deployments versioning of software. Rollback one click. Rollback one click. Compare who changed what in an environment. These are things technology doesn’t even have today that they get with Unqork. So, to me, it’s around enabling the business to move faster, driving innovation, driving optimization, driving migrations, enabling technology discovery better, and enabling them to achieve what they’ve been missing for the last 30 years, which is getting the value from technology that they’re making their investments in.”

💡Actionable takeaways: Don’t make your pitch all about features and capabilities. This is not what drives buyers to make decisions. Instead, focus on the benefits and transformation your product can bring to customers.