Q&A

Executive Profile: Ganesh Shankar of RFPIO Inc.

Source: Software Executive magazine

By Ganesh Shankar

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WHAT ABOUT RUNNING A SOFTWARE COMPANY IS KEEPING YOU UP AT NIGHT?

When we started RFPIO, my primary concern was to get that first customer. That kept me up at night. Then, my focus turned to fundraising. Now that we have more than $25 million in funding and thousands of users, we’re in a great spot, but I’m still very focused on making sure we are doing everything that we can to support our customers. We want to make our customers feel special and keep them delighted even as we continue to grow and scale to add more customers. Another question that’s on my mind right now is: How can we maintain the same great company culture and momentum as we continue to grow?

HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?

I think success is time-bound — it’s a rolling thing, not a fixed thing. At any given time, success could look different. At this stage of RFPIO’s growth, if I can manage time between a startup and my family, then I’ll feel successful.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE ABOUT FINANCING THE GROWTH OF A BUSINESS?

The ideal situation would be the business financing itself, but that may not be practical or possible. My advice for financing is to push it as far as you can down the line so that you have better negotiation power and validations. Every milestone you achieve as a company could help you get a better deal on the table. Milestones could be a number of things, but you need to be able to maintain your company’s level of activity and growth without “starving” from the lack of funding. You need to strike a balance. At the same time, people recommend taking money when you don’t need it. As much as that’s true, we had to create a situation where a year from now, we still didn’t need it. Even if we secured the funding in 2019 or 2020, we’d still not need it, and creating that environment is key.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?

My biggest challenge is my career/home-life balance, which changes, depending on the stage of your career, the size of the company, and the age of your family. When we started RFPIO, I had a baby and we had to be up at night. Four years later, my challenge is getting my kids to school and being the dad they want me to be. As a CEO, it’s not possible to turn off my thinking about work when I get home. There’s no switch. I try, but I’m not successful every time.

WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN’T LEADING A SOFTWARE COMPANY?

My wife is a big opponent of plastic, so I probably would explore marketing something eco-friendly.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED FROM A PEER?

I can think of two good pieces of advice: 1. Time kills deals, and 2. Compensation drives behavior.

WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK ON YOUR SHELF?

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE?

My leadership style is focused on understanding what all of your direct reports expect out of you. Meeting their expectations can be challenging, but knowing what they are and marching toward them is an important aspect of a leader. Having a clear idea of what the person’s expectations are; the goal is to someday achieve that and provide that environment, even if it’s not possible in the short term. Striving toward that is key. My management style is to be aggressive but to also trust my employees to do their best jobs. Sometimes you have to lead by example but let them do their jobs.


Ganesh Shankar
CEO RFPIO Inc.

Beaverton, OR
Number Of Employees: 50+

Year Founded: 2015
Customers: Over 20,000 Enterprise Users
Website: www.rfpio.com
Industries: Technology, healthcare, ļ¬nancial services, business services, marketing and sales 
Recent Awards:
G2 Crowd Leader (2019)
Capterra, Best Value (2018)
Portland Business Journal’s “40 under 40” (2018)
Portland Business Journal’s Small Business Innovation Award (2017)
CIO Application’s Top 25 Salesforce Solution Providers (2017)
The SaaS Awards, Top 5 Project Management Applications