#HerImpact: Building the Most Progressive Marketing Tech Community in the World. The Story of Insider’s Co-founder & CEO, Hande Cilingir8 Mar 2019 BASINDA BLOG
Endeavor Entrepreneur Hande Cilingir created the world’s first Growth Management Platform, shaping the future of customer experience delivery by democratizing predictive, machine learning and AI technologies for marketers around the world.
From 6 Desks to 19 Regions
Starting with 6 desks within a small home office, Hande Cilingir, co-founder and CEO at Insider, along with the 5 co-founders, wanted to go where others dare not. She wanted to create a strong community made of extraordinary over-achievers, “… the creative spirits. The underdogs. The resolute. The determined. The outsiders. The defiant. The independent thinkers. The fighters and the true believers” as expressed in Sequoia’s ethos. She is currently running the company present in 19 countries including Japan, the UK, Australia and Singapore, managing hypergrowth to democratize predictive, machine learning and AI technologies around the globe. As Ben Horowitz defines in his book, Hard Thing about Hard Things, Hande is a true “wartime CEO,” battling in both competitive and emerging markets. Hande was recently ranked as one of the top three women CEOs outside of the US by Crunchbase and was granted the most successful woman entrepreneur of the year by Microsoft. She was awarded by Junior Chambers International (JCI) and was selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur in 2014.
“Ever since our very beginning, from our 6 desks within a small home office, we wanted to go where others dare not, that’s how we moved East, where we saw a hungry yet high-potential market. We settled and partnered, giving our full attention to local demands. After developing our muscles in the more mobile oriented markets of the East, we also wanted to develop our muscles in more developed markets like Japan and the UK. Yet we needed to develop new categories that would disrupt the customer experience delivery scene. That was essential to become the only tech company out there using these two typed of muscles, creating a greater global impact,” said Hande.
Hande met two of the co-founders when they were studying at the London School of Economics. After graduation, she wanted to start a global tech company of her own but decided to gain expertise in unfamiliar new markets first. Her curiosity led her to China, where she did her master’s degree in Shanghai Normal University and worked for top brands like PepsiCo and Starmall.
One day, the idea of building an international school inspired her to quit her job overnight and start her entrepreneurship journey. She co-founded an English school named English & More International Learning Centre (now IM Academy) and disrupted the industry by establishing a highly-reputable education center, where students received a world-class education. The school was acquired in 2011, ending her first entrepreneurship journey with a lucrative exit, planting the seeds for Insider.
Identifying ‘The Missing’ and Becoming a Category Leader
It all started when Hande and the co-founder team found ‘the missing’ in the digital marketing technology space. They wanted to help marketers create more intelligent interactions with their customers through exposing them to the most relevant content on their preferred channels, delivering fuss-free experiences. Together they set out on a mission to simplify the lives of digital marketers while helping them foster more mindful customer experiences for millions. Last year, Insider launched a new category, the world’s first integrated Growth Management Platform (GMP). Primarily, GMP offers digital marketers a full suite of features across the entire growth funnel, from Acquisition to Activation, Retention and Revenue. Powered by deep AI and Machine Learning capabilities, the Insider platform delivers real-time insights and personalization across web, mobile web, mobile app and ad channels.
Read more on Hande’s latest blog: A year in review & the way we see it in 2019: AI, CDPs, Mobile, Data Privacy & More.
Their endless dedication and persistence in creating new technologies to shape customer experiences reaped the rewards. They partnered with one of the world’s top venture capital firms, Sequoia in 2018.
“We were impressed with Insider’s AI platform, and the profound impact on their customer’s key metrics: lower customer acquisition costs, higher retention, faster growth. These customers quickly started to use more and more products from the Insider platform. That has put Insider on a fast growth trajectory, especially in Asia,” said Pieter Kemps, Principal at Sequoia India (Singapore) Pte Ltd.
Insider’s team is now over 350 people around the globe across 19 offices in Europe, Nordics and Asia Pacific, including Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney, London, and more. Now Insider has over 450 clients, including top brands like Samsung, Singapore Airlines, Uniqlo, Virgin, Watsons, Huawei, IKEA, Nissan, LG, Puma, Unilever, McDonald’s, Hyundai, and Estee Lauder.
“None of these would have been possible without the passion, dedication and endless care of our team,” said Hande. Despite all hardships along the way, Hande always found a way to turn obstacles into opportunities. “We know that great things never come from comfort zones,” she said. “It requires blood, sweat, and tears with endless care to create something beyond the expectations. Lasting success can only be achieved if you put in the hard work” said Hande.
The Underdogs: Building the Most Progressive Tech Culture
Hande invests significant amount of her time to build and retain a strong community culture which has been a core element of Insider’s success around the world. “We inspire and challenge each other to cultivate a unique culture that drives us to create technologies fostering deeper and more meaningful experiences for millions, every day,” said Hande.
“We are a global community, with a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds,” Hande says. “However, we manage to stay true to our culture and the core values behind our determination: care. We care about each other as much as we do about the world we live in. That’s what makes us an empowered community” said Hande.
“Insider feeds from a strong engineering culture. Coding is the heart of what we do but we acknowledge that codes die, codes break, codes evolve. What’s permanent is our engineering mind. Insider’s Engineering team is where you can find the best tech minds in the industry fostering in what they are naturally good at, pushing each other’s limits to build disruptive technologies. We overcome challenges through hard work and innovation” said Hande.
Women Achievement in Tech
Thriving on change and impact is woven into the DNA of Insider. Hande’s making sure that Insider is always thinking of ways to enable, challenge, and foster people looking to grow and innovate in their careers, especially young women.
“ 6 years ago, we started out with the mission of making an impact in the world, in multiple ways. One way we accomplish this is through our 1+1+1 program where we empower students, primarily female students who didn’t have equal access to opportunities. It’s an undeniable fact that young women in developing countries feel the adversities more than anyone else. As Insiders, we wanted to turn this around and offer them equal space in the technology world. We’re working hard each day to support and mentor students in coding, communication and leadership skills,” said Hande.
“Every day I push my boundaries to bring out the best in me because I’m working with the most brilliant and passionate tech minds around the world to solve the most challenging problems. I feel lucky to be surrounded by innovative, empowering and groundbreaking women at Insider. I’m proud to be a part of a strong engineering culture always thinking of ways to enable, challenge, and foster people, especially young women looking to grow and innovate in their careers.”
“I’m surrounded by brilliant women from a diverse range of backgrounds and regions, breaking grounds with new ideas and spearheading new concepts on digital experiences around the world. I’m excited to face everything head on together and accomplish what we set out to do. We disrupt the status quo, step out of comfort zones, and fearlessly pursue initiatives to create impact in every country we are in.”
Nadia Rodiukova, Shareholder & Country Manager, Thailand