Fast Company

Box CEO Aaron Levie On Scheduling Face Time With Customers

What did you learn in 2012 that you will carry forth with you into 2013?

"Being in Silicon Valley, you start to have a routine way of doing work, and of experiencing computing and technology. But we have a lot of customers that are doing completely different things than we would think about while sitting around at product manager meeting. You just don't have visibility or insight into certain industries like, say, construction or pharmaceuticals, and you could never be able to imagine what's going on. There are all these experiences we would never have been able to hypothesize about. So while I haven't yet gone to a construction site--it's on my Box bucket list--we try to bring as much of those experiences inward as possible. We probably have a couple dozen customers that come to Box's headquarters every week, which is an extremely small subset of all the customers that we talk to obviously, but it gives us a pretty unique and interesting and broad perspective on every different industry. One day we'll be meeting with a Fortune 500 consumer goods company, and the next day we'll be meeting this CIO from a 5,000-person equipment-rental company.

"At the same time, we try to get out of the office. Anytime I go to a different city, I try to meet up with customers in that area. I was in LA a few months ago meeting with movie studios and talent agencies to learn how they use Box and the cloud. I actually used to intern at Paramount in college, so it was fun coming back and trying to sell to everybody there, rather than trying to get a job. I'm no longer an unpaid intern, though sometimes it feels that way. So, how does having Box on the iPad enable my talent agency clients to get more deals or customers? It puts me in their shoes. I think the big thing is that when you move out of the tech space you realize--and it's all too obvious--that companies are trying to use technology to enable their business. We're building technology for the sake of innovation--for the sake of building exciting stuff that people can live and work off of. But for our customers, technology is meant to be a tool--and getting out of the office is always a good reminder of that."

More Lessons for 2013 from some of today's most innovative business thought leaders here.

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