Our entrepreneur in the spotlight this month is Claire Vo, CEO & Co-Founder of Experiment Engine. I first met Claire when she was overseeing a worldwide team in Electronic Arts’ Customer Experience group, when EA was a potential customer of my start-up Social Dynamx. Immediately I recognized an entrepreneur in the making. A rare combination of strong communications and tech talents – Claire has some major chops in both analytics and user experience and design. But what you’ll appreciate most is her authenticity – she brings her femininity proudly into her leadership role and doesn’t try to act in a way that doesn’t feel right for her or the culture she’s building. Like many entrepreneurs, her passion was ignited straight from personal experience – she and her partner EJ experienced firsthand the big gaps in testing and optimizing their own websites, and they seized the opportunity to do something about it, never looking back. Her business is on quite a trajectory. Enjoy hearing more about her journey below.
Company: Experiment Engine
1. Did you have an ‘aha’ moment in wanting to start Experiment Engine?
Working together for several years, EJ (my cofounder) and I had always been frustrated by not being able to run as many A/B tests as we wanted on our websites. It wasn’t for lack of technology — we always had a tool available for testing, but it was the process and resources that were sorely lacking. We thought if we could make testing easier, more fun, and less cumbersome, teams would test more and grow their businesses faster. That’s why we built the Experiment Engine platform and how we’re helping customers today.
2. What customer problems are you solving at Experiment Engine?
Experiment Engine customers know that conversion optimization & A/B testing are critical to growing their business, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to make it happen. We provide a complete, technology-driven solution that helps companies like UnderArmour, Insightly, and The Honest Company increase their testing velocity and drive wins fast.
3. How did you make your first sale in the company?
We simply built the product and asked someone if they would pay for it! Our first prototype was built in under a month and we had our first paying customer within 6 weeks of launching. We have always been customer driven and having market validation by paying customers was one of the first goals in the early months of Experiment Engine.
4. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Experimentation is fun to me, and I get to do it everyday inside Experiment Engine as well as with our customers.
5. What aspect of your company culture are you most proud?
Our culture is built around what feels authentic to us, not a cliched view of what a startup should be or act like. For Experiment Engine, that means we value inclusiveness, intellectual honesty, and a fun sense of experimentation. All of our cultural touchpoints from the inside jokes to our Texas + Testing themed shirts (Come and Test It!) to our team outings develop naturally from the awesome dynamic we have here in the office.
6. Besides money, what are your favorite ways to compensate people?
It’s so important to verbally recognize your team members for the big and small ways they make a difference in the company I try to make sure to do it publically as well as privately. Besides recognition and appreciation (which go a long way, in my book), I think it’s important to offer benefits that people really want, not just the ones that make you feel like a cool startup. For us, that means lots of topo chico in the fridge (who needs a kegerator?), and a work life setup that works for everyone in the team, from the recent college grads to the new parents and beyond.
7. How do you conquer those moments of doubt that so often stifle or stop many entrepreneurs with great ideas…what pushes you through?
Two things: 1) Sleep on it. The doubts usually don’t last till sunrise. And 2) Surround yourself with great mentors and investors who have been there. They’ve seen this a thousand times and are pretty great at providing context when you’re up against something hard.