In The Room with Kashish Gupta, Co-CEO of HighTouch
It’s been a busy few years for the Hightouch team as they have built a product that redefines data access on top of your data warehouse. With Kashish, we start at the beginning.
As a boy, he moved early from a small town in India to Atlanta where he learned core life skills from his father, who ran a local gas station. He was a curious kid who started engaging in the Atlanta innovation ecosystem while in high school. This pension for learning brought him to UPenn where he completed two degrees, one in economics and computer science and the other in machine learning and robotics. He learned through his college start-up Mama’s cooking the challenge regulation can have on your go-to-market.
After undergrad, the entrepreneur bug never went away. When COVID hit in 2020, he and his co-founder were forced to pivot their initial product, an AI-travel booking service, to what is now Hightouch. This was only after completely YC, and taking on their initial funding for a completely different business! And what a pivot it was — Hightouch has gone on to raise $50+ million in venture financing with their last round valued at $450 million just shy of a year ago. So what is HighTouch? In short, they sync customer data from your data warehouse into tools your business teams rely on.
In today’s episode, we explore insights and themes such as what is the modern data stack and what it means for businesses, how to scale your founding team, and what the future holds in the age of democratized data.
Let’s open the door.
What is the Modern Data Stack?
The modern data stack is a term coined over the past few years which is used in reference to building technology products and systems on top of your data warehouse, like a Snowflake. You can read more about this concept in a blog published by Hightouch over this summer. Kashish spent his time with us describing how Hightouch fits into the modern data stack, specifically through their framing of “Reverse ETL” or “Reverse Extract Transform and Load”. It has historically been a core focus of the data community to have a central place for storage of one’s data. Hightouch has positioned themselves as a tool which empowers your teams to extract data from your data warehouse and use it in systems like your Hubspot later. Interestingly, Kashish’s first business was unrelated to the modern data stack, but through a COVID-prompted pivot, he and his co-founders found themselves entranced with the rapidly evolving ecosystem surrounding data warehouses. It helped that Josh and Tejas had previously worked a Segment, a customer data platform.
Tl:dr the modern data stack is a framework through which industry experts are describing the evolution of how data is being stored and used in the technology products that power our modern world. Hightouch is a rising start in this stack.
How do you Scale your Founding Team?
With three co-founders, the Hightouch team had to learn to divide and conquer as their business rapidly scaled over the past two years. We talked with Kashish about how he, Tejas, and Josh have broken up their responsibilities across marketing, sales, technology and other categories. They have relied on a foundation of trust for day-to-day decision making. Kashish trusts Tejas to make a decision he would agree with so that their leadership can scale. As you think about growing your start-up, it is important to leverage your existing foundation with each other to let go scale yourself, and in turn your business.
Tl:dr trust is crucial for your founding team from day 1, but businesses only scale as each of you grows your trust in one another and the team.
What does the age of democratized data hold for businesses?
Kashish unpacks the “why now” of the modern data stack for the ecosystem. He calls out the decoupling of compute and storage in the cost to any one business, and how this abstraction has enabled exponential growth in data stored. The opportunity it presents is one of nearly infinite data to be used by upstream stakeholders from product managers, to marketers, to sales ops, and more. There is a shift to make this data usable and accessible for non-technical stakeholders within a business. What if a growth marketer could pull real time data analytics from their data warehouse? This is the kind of future Kashish and the hightouch team are empowering with their platform.
Tl:dr fundamental shifts in the cost to store, and run, data has unlocked more affordable access to insights about what is happening with your customers. Hightouch is bullish on what this will mean for the growth and success of businesses everywhere.