Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, and a self-titled "most dangerous kind of entrepreneur" also happens to be a great gardener. And a dad to three kids. And a mountain biker. And a photographer and part-time astronomer (he has telescopes).
And did you know he once went to a coffee plantation in Costa Rica? He says he went there to see the source of the coffee he drank.
"I really encourage you to do this. When you are into something, and you go to the source, and you learn the methodology of the creation of that thing, you get an appreciation," he says.
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, should operate in a similar way, he says, appreciating the metaphor. Sales and marketing people should be able to go to the "source" of all the lifestyle and social situations that create sales and buying opportunities.
Nimble takes that inherently social process of business sales and marketing and makes the administrative tasks of those roles equally social. In that way, nothing gets lost to time, the social stream, or administrative boredom and frustration.
Unlike other CRM platforms, this one takes social contacts directly from the web, as they are published and curated on several different platforms, and puts it all on one platform that is completely open--and free--for individuals. If a person in your contact list has several profiles--on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook--for example (there are currently no other social platforms available for consolidating), it will show all of these contacts on one screen and give you the option of adding them. You have then at your disposal a list of location points, and a screen that enables messaging, action items and a constant stream of conversation so that you know where you began, where you are in the present, and where you ended once the deals are done.
In the example above, a company's Twitter profile is shown, along with (right sidebar) Twitter conversations, and (bottom of picture) a template for tracking actions, conversations, and activities.
A teams and organizations versions will go for $10-$20 a month.
Nimble is an active open platform that lowers inefficiency and let's business and sales people socialize and communicate with others to make money.
"It's through these conversations that we grow," says Ferrara. "Life is social, business is social. Back in the day, we got to know people by going to their office, looking at the pictures on their walls, the books they read. Social media is making it easier to do that electronically."
Ferrara created what feels like a social version of Salesforce.com because he understood that the experience of tracking all of a salesperson's contacts and connections, conversations and even the tone and culture of each social network was way too complicated to enable powerful sales results.
"I couldn't work that way anymore, and I built Nimble. It unifies your contacts, your calendar and your social stream into one solution that allows you to connect and communicate with you want to associate with."
As businesses struggle with the tensions caused by the power of social media, solutions like Nimble seem to make sense. They empower companies to collaborate internally and communicate externally and have it wrapped around one piece. This is advantageous for them, if so much of their clients' and their potential clients' interests are being taken up by Facebook or other social platforms. Ferrara says Nimble solves the "islands of information" problem.
"A lot of what people are saying in the social stream are really good sales opportunities," he says. How people talk about the products they love and how they interact with the things that a sales person might be selling them anyway goes a long way to influencing their own future buying behavior.
"And the best part about that is, you don't have to write it down, all you do is do what you do every day anyway, and Nimble collects that. I can see all of the things we used to communicate."
Here are some fun facts about Ferrara and Nimble:
*He started his first foray into CRM with a company called Goldmine. He started it with $3000 and he did it in his garage.
*Interestingly, with the proceeds of Goldmine he is also creating, developing and marketing Nimble. From his garage. He has a team of ten in his garage and a dev team of 25 in Ukraine.
*He claims he has not spent any money on traditional marketing and advertising and he prefers it this way. He runs by social and word-of-mouth.
And he does gardening.
"I am a gardener of relationships. I do my best to tend the garden and maintain my relationship with my wife, and we are approaching twenty years coming up."
But don't think he's sappy.
"I am the most dangerous kind of entrepreneur ... I am doing it because I actually dig this kind of stuff. I like building stuff that makes people more successful."
[Image: Flickr user clarissa]