Organizations are constantly faced with a plethora of vendor apps in their daily operations. From Gmail, and Hubspot, to Salesforce, the amount of app and context switch every employee goes through to perform one single task is a common pain that’s often swept under the rug. Today, custom software is revolutionizing the way businesses operate with easy-to-use contextual tools and seamless adoptions that add features to existing apps instead of purchasing a completely different tool.
On today’s episode of Startups On Demand, I am joined by Yaniv Tross, Co-Founder and CEO at Ply, a cutting-edge tool that lets users build features into the apps they already use. We talked about Yaniv’s diverse career background, the launch of Ply, and why simplicity is key in building apps.
Omri: In your LinkedIn profile, there’s a tagline where you said “you believe in humans and numbers, nothing else matters.” Explain that to me.
Yaniv: We work all day and everyone has their own beliefs. I just narrowed it down to the things that matter to me, which are people – in work, life, and friendship. I think that’s what also creates everything else, mainly about technology. People say “they built that thing” – THEY is the main thing, not the thing that they built. And I’m a numbers guy – I analyze everything. It’s easier for me to see numbers. They speak to me, in a way. That’s the summary of how I see things.
Omri: You said that numbers jump out for you. How does that translate into what you’re doing in marketing and on the product side? Do you use a dashboard for the numbers to come to you? How does it work?
Yaniv: A lot of dashboards. I think one of the challenges is having too many metrics. We measure a lot of things, but in a typical month or week, we just focus on a specific metric. For example, one of our metrics for a really long time is we want to get self-service right. Self-service is not a thing, you need a metric. And there are a lot of metrics you can have. But then we just chose one, and that was the number of people who signed up; how many people who understood what we want from them; understand what the product does, have an idea, can build it, publish it, and use it. So that’s one metric, it’s a percent. So that was the goal, and if it’s too vague, we drill down.
Omri: You have a diverse career background, to say the least. Can you walk me through your experiences?
Yaniv: I usually say I don’t have any background. I thought I wanted to be a comedian, and I did that for 2 to 3 years. And I’m not very good at it. It takes a while to understand that, and it’s not an easy thing! But it’s been an amazing experience, and one of the most teaching and frightening things is to tell jokes in front of a live audience until you’ve felt like telling a joke and hearing nothing from 100 people in a room. Until you feel that, it’s an experience, and you take it!
I started Tross, and for a few months, we did advertising for nightclubs and restaurants. We also did Israel’s biggest brands like telecom companies and banks. But mostly, what we did was startups. In the first few years of the company, we were the marketing agency for startups – mostly for B2B, SaaS, and security companies. And in the last 3 or 4 years of the company, it was all about crowdfunding. Basically, the launch of B2C hardware brands.
Omri: So guys built Ply. Can you explain a little bit about the product?
Yaniv: Sure. Ply, at its essence, is an internal feature builder. People are familiar with the concept of internal tooling. Most of our days, we spend in front of our computers. And software is built on how you work that makes organizations way more efficient, so we didn’t invent this concept. It used to be very expensive to build software. You need to have a 5,000-person support center in order to justify the budget for custom software. And then, it started with frameworks and computing, and everything just got really cheap. And the last move is the low-code/no-code apps and tools out there. And all of them are towards the holy grail of great custom software.
Even a lot of organizations use or build a lot of custom software, either from scratch or based on these platforms. At the end of the day, most of the people’s time is spent on vendor apps. So you’re in front of Gmail, Salesforce, or Zendesk. To us, it makes more sense to customize those apps to make an impact. With Ply, users can build features into Gmail, Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. Users can build simple features or extremely complex features with all their business logic connected to their tools and internal databases.
The first benefit is that it’s contextual. When you need to do something, you don’t have to go anywhere. Ply is contextual and it knows what you’re looking at. And the second benefit is adoption. When a medium or big company has a lot of internal tools, which is usually the case, they just grow and grow. And at some point, people don’t know what to use anymore. Or even if they do, they just don’t use it. With adoption, there’s nothing new to learn. When you can click a button, you can use Ply.
Omri: How does your day look like?
Yaniv: I think the magic of being productive is how I can be productive. I’m not really that neurotic. I’m not organized. I would not take on the responsibility to organize all of the tasks for a company. Some CEOs would do. My role is to do the best job I can to find the people who can do their job. I automate the things that I can, and build all the things that I need, but not overdo it.