Startup of the Month: Zennify

Consulting firm guides companies through digital upgrade

Back Web Only Feb 6, 2020 By Russell Nichols

With industries moving at the speed of the internet, many companies have trouble keeping pace. Zennify, a Sacramento-based cloud solutions and consulting firm, wants to help legacy businesses catch up to 21st century technology before competition takes over their markets and shuts them down.

“Everything is getting disrupted,” says Manvir Sandhu, Zennify’s CEO and one of three cofounders. “If you’re still doing this in an ancient fashion, you’re going to get your clock cleaned.”

The idea for Zennify took shape in 2010, when a major earthquake in Haiti wrecked the nation’s infrastructure. In the middle of a cholera outbreak, power outages were ruining the viability of life-saving vaccines. Utilizing the Salesforce platform, Sandhu, along with Nathan Mueller and Jesse Barker, integrated sensors and cloud technology into vaccine fridges after the crisis, allowing authorities to remotely monitor the temperatures of vaccines and alert them to problems.

The implementation was such a global success, the three former Hewlett-Packard employees decided to launch Zennify in 2013, leveraging the Salesforce platform to help businesses in the financial, health and agriculture sectors better connect through the cloud and other digital services.

The biggest challenges in health care and banking revolve around questions of how to secure data. Sandhu says Zennify has learned to perfect that, but with many older institutions resistant to change, convincing some companies why they need to upgrade isn’t always easy.

“A lot of it is cultural, a change management factor,” Sandhu says. “Part of our job is we have to demystify the technology. Part of becoming that trusted adviser is to articulate solutions and processes in a way that’s digestible, flexible and caters to the organization.”

Finding technical talent was also a challenge. In the beginning, the cofounders of Zennify launched operations in Dallas, Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho, at the same time, but chose Sacramento as its hub after working with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council.

“Zennify’s incredible growth and strong promise of future success proves the greater Sacramento region is the place for startups to quickly scale,” says Barry Broome, CEO and president of GSEC.

The main deciding factor was the talent pool from the local university computer science departments, Sandhu says. GSEC, he adds, helped start conversations between the team and the universities, facilitated relationships with local experts and brokers, and promoted the grand openings with local media to garner positive attention.

Since selecting Sacramento as the firm’s technology headquarters in 2017, the startup has increased the number of employees from 24 to 102 (with half of the technology and engineering hires coming from Sacramento State). In a three-year period, they scaled from home offices to coworking spaces and, ultimately, to a 10,000-square-foot office. Zennify is approaching $20 million in revenue, Sandhu says.

In 2019, Zennify was ranked by Inc. at No. 632 on its list of the 5,000 fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S. Last year, Zennify also signed an agreement for a $2.5 million investment to enable expansion and growth of its consulting practice, Sandhu says. According to Sherrick Murdoff, vice president of partner investments and mergers and acquisitions at Salesforce, Zennify is one of its fastest growing consulting partners.

“Not only have we been impressed with their year-on-year growth, but also their commitment to customer success which is extremely well aligned with Salesforce,” says Murdoff, who praises the startup for its expertise in financial services and its great reputation with customers.

Some people think a customer-centric approach delays growth, Sandhu says, but Zennify’s numbers prove this model to be a sustainable one. And despite the rapid growth, the startup remains focused on its employees, bringing a sense of ease to the difficult digital transitions.

“Zen is a state of calm,” Sandhu says. “Major transformations can be stressful. We bring calm to that chaos. It doesn’t have to involve lawyers and all this red tape and bureaucracy.”

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