Blog HubSpot | 13 minute read

Podcast Pit Stop: Brian Garvey on How Partners Contribute to the Flywheel

Posted by Arielle Walsh on May 20, 2022
Arielle Walsh
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Brian Garvey, VP of Worldwide Solutions Partners at HubSpot, explains how the partner ecosystem can generate a domino effect that impacts the company’s ability to scale, its customer success management, and the product roadmap. Prior to HubSpot, Brian led Strategy and Enablement at Amazon Web Services. His work at AWS was centered around reinventing computing and elastic computing to recreate that industry. Brian now brings his knowledge of science and analytics into the world of sales. Listen as he describes the Partner Ecosystem that he and his team have built as well as his vision and aspirations for its future impact.

Take 20 minutes to listen and then head back to the races! 🏁🏆

 Pitstop Highlights

The Relationship Between Partners and Customer Support

Just like with any support organization, the demand for customer support often exceeds the supply. With this, Brian and his team began to think about how they would reinvent work in their mechanisms to ensure that the demand for help can meet the supply. Brian and the partner ecosystem rethought how they would get that need for help to people who would be able to service it. Today, the team continues to experiment with this implementation and work on more ways to provide effective customer support. 

Partners and Their Impact on the Product Roadmap

After a brief customer call, Brian had realized the untapped potential and intellectual property that these calls hold–an opportunity that Hubspot could really use in terms of the product roadmap. Capturing the importance of these customer calls is integral in triggering the momentum many companies need to lead to big things later on. 

Creating an Ecosystem as a Solution for Growing SMB

Creating an ecosystem is all about becoming a “one-stop-shop” for small and medium-sized businesses looking to scale. It’s important to think about companies having the ability to come to a platform to find the help they need to grow and scale. When it comes to thinking about partners, it’s all about making sure that customers can find any help that they may need and access it in a way that's convenient for them. 

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Full Transcript:

Brendan: Hey everybody, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevOps podcast, where we talk to execs who have competed and won, taking their companies from high growth to high scale. Well, my name is Brendan Tolleson. I am the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners, and I'm delighted to have with me today, Brian Garvey, for this edition of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Brian. 

Brian: Brendan, Thanks so much for having me. 

Brendan: Absolutely. Well, Brian is in terms of your title, Brian, I want to make sure I get this right. It's what VP of Worldwide for the Services Partners. Is that correct? Solutions partners? 

Brian: Yep, Solutions Partners. 

Brendan: And so it's a fancy word for saying that you basically own the partner ecosystem for Hubspot, correct? 

Brian: That's right. That's right.

Brendan: OK, well, great. Well, we're delighted to have you today. We'll kind of get into the whole partner side in terms of big idea, but for now, let's get to know you a little bit. We talked a little bit about what your title is, but what does that really look like in practice? And ultimately, how did you get to hubspot? 

Brian: Yeah, sounds great. Well, by way of a quick intro, I think I probably have one of the best jobs in Hubspot, to be honest with you. I get the tremendous fortune of working with our internal teams and our ecosystem to help customers get the help that they need to grow better. It just it's a every day. I think I have the benefit and good fortune to connect with customers and partners and hear their stories and how they're growing better together and all of the good that happens as a result of that. So it's been an incredible opportunity for me to join the Solutions Partner team and the ecosystem and work more closely with partners and you and others. So very excited about that. In terms of how I got to HubSpot prior to joining, I was I was at Amazon. I led strategy and in an enablement for Amazon Web services, and I was very fortunate to get into a very early. I mean, we had our early leadership meetings in the back of a fish restaurant sort of up so pretty early there, and it was very exciting time to reinvent computing and think about the elasticity and on demand compute capacity and so on, and sort of create that industry or recreate that industry and all of the opportunities that flowed from that sort of overnight. I think one of the use cases that was very meaningful to me workloads was in the health care and life sciences space. And you think about prior to compute and elastic computing, a certain drug treatments and so on were cost prohibitive. And overnight those things became possible as we helped the demand for compute capacity and supply for compute capacity, better reach equilibrium and all of the possibilities that flowed from that and the good that can ultimately come from it. So very fortunate had a lot of fun, lots of learnings, and it was spectacular. Then about 2015-2016 my wife and I started a family and the sort of Seattle, Boston to Seattle Sunday night to Friday night commute kind of became a little bit untenable. So it was about the same time that a very good friend of mine, mutual friend of Brian Higgins and mine, a VC in Boston, connected us and we started talking about one thing or another, flywheels and so on. And Brian invited me to inbound 2017 and it was in the keynote where I got the opportunity to see firsthand just how passionate Hubspot's customers are as they reacted to some of the new product announcements and and I was immediately hooked. We had customers stood up and we're literally high fiving and chest puffing in front of that level of enthusiasm, I think is worth paying attention to. And joined. And it was the technology and the roadmap and customers that I think brought me to HubSpot. I think one of the things that's been so amazing are the incredible people at HubSpot. The people really do make HubSpot such a special place. So very fortunate to be here. 

Brendan: That's a good story, it's hard to fake passion, and when you talk about Hubspot's focused on the flywheel and putting the customer in the center. That's a great example of just that continued focus on what happens when you do that. So, Brian, before we transition to a big idea, we do have a tradition here at pit stops of podium is to get to know our guests outside of work. So in that spirit, what are three fun facts about you that our audience should know? 

Brian: Got it! Three fun facts. That's a great question. I'd have to say I don't know if it's a fun fact or not. The best thing about me is my wife and my family. I think in terms of fun fact, I met my wife during the 2010 Boston Marathon. I ran that on a dare. There is no reason that I should have been there having run more than a mile in the year prior. Wow yeah, but I made it. I just figured someone dared me and I showed up and he didn't show up. So we're no longer friends. But I was there anyway, so decided to run. And see how far I could make it and one foot in front of the other. I found myself in Kenmore Square. 

Brendan: And what was your what was your time? 

Brian: Oh, I'm not going to reveal that.

Brendan: That's a lot of fun that you finished. 

Brian: And as I'm running through Kenmore Square. My wife now yells out from the crowd, “hey, do you want me to run you in?” And I said, “yeah, you know, I think you're kidding.” And the next thing I knew she was climbing over the barricade, talking her way past the police, and I'm trying to do then be witty as I meet this, this beautiful woman. So that's probably one fun fact. Another fun fact would be we then started a family. As I mentioned, we have three wonderful young girls. Bibb, who is six, just turned six. Hadley, who's four, and my daughter Juliette, who is one. The only other fun fact that I could share. I know you had Yamini on recently. I know she's not a coffee drinker. I'm a coffee drinker. Sorry, six cups of coffee a day. As you can probably tell that that's probably the third fun facts. I have a coffee mug collection, which is totally uncharacteristic for me, but I have it and I enjoy it. 

Brendan: So what's your favorite coffee mug? 

Brian: It's got to be the HubSpot coffee mug. 

Brendan: I need to get one of those. I'm a collector as well. I have to talk to a few people that I know at HubSpot. See if we can make that work. All right. Well, hey, I love, love learning about the people on our show. Thank you for doing that. Let's transition to the big idea, which is really the role of how partners contribute to the flywheel. So we're talking about Hubspot, the month of HubSpot and talking to different executives. Flywheel is definitely a theme. Partners definitely play a role. 

Brian: So incredible talent. They provide critical scale to HubSpot platform extensibility, new innovation. They are truly helping our customers grow better through different technology advancements and their expertise. 

Brendan: That's great, and I think it's oftentimes, especially with scaling companies, it's the partner because the partner community can sometimes be neglected or at least not the investment probably deserves or the attention it deserves. Oftentimes you think about direct sales, you think about digital marketing, but there's a third lever that you can pull that enables tremendous scale within the partner environment. And so let's dive in a little bit. So there are kind of three areas that we want to talk about, and there's the customer support side, there's the roadmap and there's ultimately the ecosystem that you start to build around your company. Let's talk about how partners. We'll start with the first one in terms of customer support. So how can partners be leveraged as it relates to the customer support function of an organization? 

Brian: Yeah so from my experience, this actually happened during my onboarding at HubSpot. I had the opportunity to sort of join some early discussions as part of my onboarding process to learn about HubSpot support organization. And I think just like any support organization, at times, the demand for support exceeds the supply of that support. And at Hubspot, the team does a phenomenal job, of course, trying to predict and forecast that demand and make sure that we're able to meet that demand. But from time to time, there are unexpected events that arise, and what you're left with is a situation where you're using what I would refer to as sort of kind of arcane methods, old school methods to help them, the market or the need for help and the supply of help reach that equilibrium. Right support moves in seconds. And the way that they recruit additional support is they pick up the phone and they call recruiting and recruiting as best. They try still or sort of constrained by the time that it takes to find people and make them offers and ramp them. So we're talking about support that moves in seconds and recruiting cycles that move in months or quarters. And during these conversations, what struck me was the underlying problem is very similar to on demand compute capacity and the elasticity of computing only. We're talking about the elasticity of help. And so what we started to think deeply about and I continue to think about it now is how do we reinvent and rethink work and our mechanisms to ensure that demand for help can find the supply of help? So as we thought about that, we thought it dawned on me. We have this ecosystem that knows HubSpot as well or better than we do. And what we need to do is think rethink how we get that need for help to the people who can, who can service it. And so that continues to be something that we are experimenting with and thinking big about. And I will say aspirationally we do have the big things that we are thinking about in that space. But that's ultimately, I think, one of the ways in which partners can be so critical to an organization help an organization scale. 

Brendan: Yeah, I love that response, and I was even telling some of my colleagues that I see almost like a mad scientist in terms of how you think about solving these problems, and it's not necessarily the traditional path, but it's ways of applying knowledge from different disciplines into this category. And it makes a world of sense. And I think it's a really good transition into how to leverage partners in the sports side, but also into kind of product roadmap. And so you mentioned how partners, you know, HubSpot maybe as well, if not a little bit better than some within the four walls of HubSpot. So there's not only support. Let's talk about how they impact the roadmap. 

Brian: Yeah. So that initial exposure to the support organization really got me hooked and as I dug in, really sort of uncovered a lot of untapped potential in the partner ecosystem as part of my role there. This was when I led strategy and operations for our customer success organization. I had the opportunity to join a lot of customer calls. And I remember one call in particular was a particularly challenging problem in the dealing with email deliverability in the health care and life sciences space, something that I'm very passionate about and interested in. And we brought some really brilliant folks from HubSpot to bear on the call and solved it in the moment. And what happened next was really interesting to me personally. Everyone sort of high fived and people felt great about what had just the solution that was just invented basically and kind of high fived and hung up the phone and went on to their next call, like no one took the opportunity that sort of capture that IP, that intellectual property and make it repeatable and sort of share it. And so to me, ultimately, this is where the domino effect really comes into play in. When I say domino effect, you know, in the spirit of your mat scientist reference, like everyone typically thinks of like equally sized dominoes toppling one another. But the interesting thing to me about domino is it can move another domino that's roughly 1 and 1/2 times its mass. And so you start off with something very small a 5 millimeter domino in a row of, I think it's 29 dominoes by the 29th domino. You've got something that's big enough to topple the Empire State Building. And so I get off of this email deliverability column, I think to myself, like that was a five domino. What we're not doing is capturing it and putting it in a position to be able to trigger that momentum in that domino effect and lead to really big things later on. And so we sat down and really thought about how can we rethink things and leverage the HubSpot IP to scale with expert partners, which is core to our strategies. 

Brendan: Yeah, I remember when you were first talking about the domino effect, I love that visual. And I think it speaks really well into kind of that last syllable that we want to talk about, which is there is a momentum that's created when you leverage partners to do things like support and form the roadmap based on the customer issues, you start to build an ecosystem and it becomes much larger than just a partnership. So let's talk a little bit about that aspect of a future state when you think about what a partner, model or motion could look like. And just overall with Hubspot, what does that look like in your mind? 

Brian: So speaking purely from my own personal sort of aspirations, I think it's about becoming a one stop shop for small and medium sized businesses, businesses that are looking to grow better and scale. I think about aggregating the supply and demand for help and all of those things that go into helping those organizations grow and scale better and being able to come to that one place. And find any type of help that you need. I think that that is just such a powerful opportunity for us to help our customers grow and scale better. I'm really excited about that personally, and I think that there's kind of two pieces to that. In my mind, there is creating a marketplace where you can find anything that you need and also the ability to find it. The discovery, you know, I think it's analogous to the grand bazaar, one of the world's largest marketplaces, but it's not enough to just have it all in one place. You need to be able to find it. And so I think as we think about partners, that is making sure that customers can come and find any help that they need. And access it efficiently and well through new mechanisms and discovery that I think is a really big idea. It's a really exciting opportunity to do a lot of good in the world. So I'm excited about that and thinking big about it constantly. 

Brendan: Yeah, that is a huge idea. It's to your point, it's almost like that B to C motion that Amazon has mastered and how do you apply it into your space? And I think that would get all partners excited and ultimately the customers exciting, and it speaks to the mission of putting the customer in the store, the flywheel O'Brien. I really appreciated learning from you as it relates to how HubSpot thinks about what role partners can play not only in the flywheel, but ultimately helping organizations scale. This has been truly informative for me if our audience wants to engage with you. What's a practical next step that they can take? Are there social channels that you're a part of and where do you write?

Brian: I think it would be just great for people to know how they can follow you going forward. Yeah, HubSpot is very committed to the publishing blogs and content, and so I would definitely suggest following that material, there's a wealth of material out there to help customers and organizations grow and scale better. For me personally, I'm on LinkedIn. I cross, publish and and publish blog posts on LinkedIn and different mediums there, so I would love to connect with listeners and anyone interested in this space. And thinking about this space. It's obviously something that I spent a lot of time on, so we look forward to connecting. 

Brendan: Great well, thank you, Brian. I really appreciate you stopping by and we'll be in touch. 

Brian: Brilliant. Thanks so much for having me and thanks so much for everything that you're doing for HubSpot and customers. Run it. 

 

Pit Stops to Podium: A RevPartners Podcast

On the RevPartners Podcast, we talk to executives who have competed and won, accelerating their companies from High Growth to High Scale. Hosted by RevPartners Co-founder and CEO, Brendan Tolleson. Take some quick notes from each week's "Crew Chief" and then head back to the races!

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