Interview with Owler CEO Tim Harsch

I have written about Owler in the past on here. Most notably on this post that was a review of the product: http://bohamrick.com/i-am-a-howler-for-owler/. I also included it in my book, Tech Tools for the Sales Professional. Tim reached out to me to thank me for the review. He also showed me the new Owler Pro offering. The more we talked, the more I seemed to like Tim. I asked him if I could interview him for the blog and here was the transcript of our conversation.

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Bo: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I would like to start with a few questions about you, then we will go into some questions about Owler. Since it is Graduation Season: What advice should a college graduate just entering the real world avoid?

Tim: Pursue your passion. Passions are created and formed by trying new things and learning. In my opinion, it’s much better to look for a role you can take on that will provide the steepest learning curve possible for you. As you learn you’ll find what you’re interested in and as you go deeper your passion may just grow for that.

Bo: I am going to shamelessly steal this one from Tim Ferris. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and Why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Tim: The Book of Joy by 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu – incredibly deep insights into how both handle the challenges of life and continue to maintain joyful, amazing attitudes. We can all learn an incredible amount from both.

Bo: While we are on the subject of books, Favorite sales book you have ever read?

Tim: Never Split the Difference.

Bo: How about a non-sales book?

Tim: Peak Performance

Bo: Do you listen to Podcasts? And what are your favorites?

Tim: NPR’s Planet Money and The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish.

Bo: I don’t remember who turned me on to the The Knowledge Project but it is a good listen. I always feel like I need a pen and paper with me when listening.

Do you have a favorite email newsletter you would recommend…or blogs?

Tim: Owler :), I am a big fan of the blog Stratechery.

Bo: What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Tim: A few years ago, I was introduced to swimming in San Francisco Bay and have completely fallen in love with it. The first time I went in I wore a wetsuit, but when an 85-year-old came over to me and explained that I didn’t need it before jumping in himself, I stopped wearing it. I now regularly start my day (even in the winter with water temps in the low 50’s high 40’s) by going for a dip in the bay.

Image result for swimming in san francisco bay

Bo: What has been the greatest investment you’ve ever made? This could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc?

Tim: Swimming lessons in my 20’s. What started as a challenge has become one of my passions.

Bo: What is the one thing you need when you travel?

Tim: I always travel with a battery pack to charge my phone.

Bo: I agree, I wrote about my favorite on in my What’s in my Bag 2018 and 2019 editions. What is the one app on your phone you use the most?

Tim: For Audiobooks, The Apple Books app.

Bo: What are you watching on Netflix?

Tim: Street Food

Bo: I have not watched that one. I just started Undercover. I’ll have to add Street Food to the list. What purchase of $100 or less has positively impacted your life in the last six months?

Tim: Google Home Mesh WiFi Router. No longer have to play tech support, since it just works.

Bo: What is one sales tip you would give to someone just getting started in sales, other than sign up for Owler?

Tim: Put in the time, It takes time to learn, so dive in and don’t avoid the reps. The best way to learn is by doing.

Bo: Do you have a favorite failure in your life?

Tim: Too many to pick a favorite! I have learned from each and every one, and continue to do so.

Bo: Tell me about an accomplishment that has shaped your career?

Tim: I originally got into tech by starting a website building business in high school that I ran and grew throughout college as well.

Bo: So, lets jump into Owler, What was your motivation to start Owler?

Tim: Jim Fowler, the founder and CEO of Jigsaw.com, and Founder and now Chairman here at Owler, originated the idea when he realized that there still was no accurate and trustworthy way to stay up to date on companies. We both knew the power of crowdsourcing and what a community can do from Jigsaw, so we wanted to apply that to this problem as well.

Bo: What has been the most surprising thing about scaling Owler?

Tim: The most surprising part of scaling Owler has been learning from the community the most interesting aspects of companies to focus on and where there is the most demand for further information. Specifically, we originally thought of News as just a minor feature that was nice to have, but being able to track and follow the companies that you are interacting with whether it be for sales, marketing, or competitive intelligence has become core to the Owler Platform and the primary reason many people come to us.

Bo: If you only had 2 hours a week to work on Owler, what would you focus on?

Tim: I would focus on continuing to grow the amazing team we have here at Owler.

Bo: Tell me about Owler Pro, and why should I use it over the free offering?

Tim: The free offering is incredible and millions of people get a massive amount of value out of it each and every day. Pro is for people who are interacting with dozens or even hundreds of companies and want to plug directly into CRMs as well as get alerts on new types of events from those companies. Instead of having to manually follow each new company as it comes in and you start interacting with them you can sit back and relax as it all happens for you.

Bo: Is there a trick or hack that makes using Owler more effective?

Tim: Plugging Owler into Salesforce is like a super-power. You can truly “set it and forget it” and as you go about your typical day in Salesforce you know that anytime, anything happens with one of the companies you’re working with you’ll be the first to know.

Bo: Tim, Thank you for your time today. I appreciate the feedback

Tim: You’re welcome Bo.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out Owler!

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