Stantive, which had a long relationship with Salesforce as a customer before becoming a business partner during the past decade, is now building out its own channel for its CMS solution and seeing strong results.
SAN FRANCISCO — Kingston ON-based Stantive, which makes a content management system [CMS] natively built on the Salesforce App Cloud, has done very well through its long term relationship with Salesforce. It is now leveraging that relationship further, as their success has begun to attract partners of their own, and they are building out a channel that is significantly increasing their revenues.
The company that became Stantive is an ancient one by the standards of IT. They started in 1992 as an independent Sun sales organization, which sold Sun gear on Sun paper into areas that Sun didn’t think were worthy of a direct sales effort. Their original base was Kingston, and they moved up into the Ottawa area in 1998. That’s also the year that the Stantive name came into being.
“We sold Sun right until 2009 when Sun was bought,” said Doug Girvin, Stantive’s CEO and Founder. “We had been looking for an exit anyway. Sun management in the later years had begun to see us as more of a threat.”
By that time, Stantive had already established a relationship with Salesforce – as a customer.
“We attended our first Dreamforce in 2005,” Girvin said. “There were 400 people there and I was told that 100 of them were employees that Salesforce sent to make the event look larger!”
Girvin said that by then, the company was already believing that only a few large organizations would eventually own their own gear, while everyone else – which would mean almost everyone in Canada – would wind up in a utility model.
“2005-2006 was also the time Salesforce started to open up the platform,” he indicated. “In 2008, they announced the Force.com Sites, which allowed us to take data and applications from Salesforce and publish them securely to the public web. As a result, we got into the pilot program and built a prototype CMS.”
Stantive launched what became their flagship OrchestraCMS product in early 2010.
“The Canadian market then was in the dumps after the 2008 crash, and the U.S. in 2010 wasn’t a great market either,” Girvin said. “Our first major customer was a Fortune 200 company’s UK division, and that yanked us up a curve quickly. We have three releases a year – like Salesforce – trailing them by 6-8 weeks.”
Since then, the business has grown steadily.
“We are a platform and do content, which means we have pockets of customers everywhere,” Girvin said. “We did a lot in governance, and compliance. Our biggest installations are in regulated industries like life sciences and financial services, although our biggest client is a large retailer. While we started in the enterprise, and have had great success with large Fortune 500 companies, we scale down well, and are starting to address the midmarket with prepackaged solutions.”
The relationship with Salesforce has deepened simultaneously.
“Salesforce asked us a year ago to be involved with their Platinum program,” Girvin stated. “There are only between 30 and 40 of those in North America. This elevated our relationship to a real strategic partnership with a lot of strategic value. For us, Salesforce went from being an opaque black box with programs for us, to where we were getting access to key executives. We now have 15-20 people aligned with Salesforce regularly on various levels.”
For most of their existence, Stantive didn’t have partners of their own at all.
“Partners typically follow you into a market – not lead you,” Girvin said. “In the early days, the channel didn’t want anything to do with us, so we reluctantly built up a professional services capability.”
Stantive decided last year that OrchestraCMS’s success had created a fertile ground to build a channel to extend their reach.
“This was about 14 months ago, and last fall, we put a framework together for a channel,” Girvin said. “We tripled down on it this spring, to create a comprehensive program around OrchestraCMS for training and go-to-market.”
The results to date have been spectacular.
“In Q1 this year, 90 per cent of our business was done directly.” Girvin indicated. “In Q3, 90 per cent was channel in Q3, and Q4 will also be 90 per cent channel – but for a much bigger pie.”
Looking forward, as use of Salesforce Lightning develops, Girvin expects their own channel business to grow.
“Salesforce has been tremendously encouraging ISV partnering, and a positive upshot of Lightning is that we can quickly assemble a solution that faces outward. It’s easier for us to publish into Salesforce internally with Lightning Experience. Lightning effectively becomes a channel for us.”