When Austin Wang, co-founder and CTO of AppExchange partner Groove, speaks of his Taiwanese parents, he often discusses their perseverance after immigrating to the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. Wang said watching his parents rigorously provide for their family taught him the lifelong lesson of the necessity of hard work.
“My two role models are definitely my Mom and my Dad,” Wang said. “They came to America as immigrants, and they’re some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. Just watching the sacrifices they made as I was growing up served as a model for how hard I wanted to work and push myself to make something successful.”
Wang’s parents’ everlasting lessons of good work ethic, combined with his observant and diligent personality, pushed him to co-found Groove in 2014.
“I think being a business owner is the continuation of my family’s immigration story,” Wang said. “I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have my parents. Through decades of dedicated work, they were able to build a solid financial future for our family here in the United States. They gave me the latitude, the courage, and the safety nets to take bigger risks.”
Wang started his career at Google as a salesperson. While he was learning the ropes, he said it was impossible for him not to take his parents’ hard work to heart and see where he could make a difference in the industry.
“Even though it was a very fun, exciting, and challenging role, I realized that even a tech-forward company with unlimited resources like Google was still struggling with basic problems like getting their salespeople to use a CRM and use it fully,” Wang said. “I saw how hard it was for people to be super productive, which led me to start Groove.”
Groove’s other co-founder, Chris Rothstein, also worked at Google, and the two started to discuss better solutions to grow efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
“While working at Google, we got to see some of the problems salespeople and sales teams face from many different perspectives,” Wang said. “ We started gathering an inventory of these problems and exploring ways we could solve them.”
Their relationship-based sales engagement platform grew from those humble beginnings and is now available on AppExchange and thriving in the Salesforce ecosystem.
“Eventually, we both quit Google and started just hacking on prototypes and trying to get people to not just use them, but also get value out of them,” Wang said. “We were out to prove these were great ideas.”
Shortly after leaving their former employer, Groove’s team started to work within the Salesforce ecosystem, and it was there that the diverse-owned business started to scale.
“We started working with the Salesforce Platform,” Wang said. “It was wonderful to launch something people could install directly into their CRM, that gave them so much value without having to learn some other tool that lives outside of Salesforce.”
Wang added that the Salesforce platform gave Groove the tools and opportunity for “the highest likelihood of long-term success.”
“Salesforce is a big enabler of innovation since we’re able to tie in seamlessly with an organization’s data,” Wang said. “And although there are some limits, there are generally creative options for everything.”
According to Wang, being a partner on the AppExchange has allowed their team to help Salesforce customers push for perfect productivity every day.
Wang is also proud of his diverse-owned business’s place in the Salesforce ecosystem and how companies like his help create space and representation for others looking to follow in his footsteps.
“I think it’s very important for people to know about diverse-owned businesses — and not just because owning a business is one of the main ways that you can take control over your own financial future,” Wang said. “I want people to be inspired to think of themselves in a different way or have a different idea of what they might be capable of doing with their lives.”
He added that input from others with backgrounds different from your own can lead to unique ideas for business and teams.
“I think diversity is just so important in every context because there are so many different ideas or approaches based on your background or situation which can lead to better products and help solve problems in novel ways. A larger pool of ideas helps create a better solution in the end.”
With diversity and inclusion helping move his business forward, Wang hopes others are inspired to add new voices to their choirs and new colors to their tapestries.
“Growing up as a Chinese American, diversity is one of the key things about being an American. Supporting diversity to me means just embracing the strength of what makes America such a great country, which is so many people from different backgrounds striving together to live a good life and improve things for those around them,” Wang said. “I think those different diversities coming together — that’s what forms the backbone and strength of what makes America awesome.”
When faced with perceived ceilings or walls, Wang’s advice is to remember there are always windows to open.
“The opportunity is there,” Wang said. “None of those walls and ceilings are as strong as a person’s drive and creativity. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives there’s no barrier to starting a business. America is one of the truest meritocracies in the world where, especially in tech, the quality of what you build is ultimately what determines your success.”
Want to hear more about Austin’s path to accomplishment? See how Capital One works with AppExchange partners like Groove to support diversity efforts while extending Salesforce and driving business success. You can also learn more about building your own business on the Salesforce Platform here.
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