MarketWaves Demo Day kickoff: Slync CEO Kirchner talks customer-centricity

Chris Kirchner talks about his experience starting a young company, and how companies interact in the supply chain to lead off the exciting Demo Day competition.

In fireside chat style, Lisa McGinty interviewed Chris Kirchner, CEO, chairman, and cofounder of

McGinty: What is the biggest challenge you faced and biggest lesson you learned when starting your company last year?

Kirchner: I was an outsider to the startup ecosystem, and you can imagine how that was in the Bay Area where you can throw a rock and hit a startup. Learning how the ecosystem works was important for us as an enterprise company; just figuring out how those pieces worked together. When it comes to investors in the supply chain space there’s a lot of investors that actually don’t know the space. So we were doing a lot of educating for potential investors.

McGinty: What was it like to be one of the Best in Show winners of the Demo Day competition at Transparency18 in May?

Kirchner: It meant a lot. It was the first time we’d shown our company to the live public, and opened ourselves up for building momentum. We’ve tripled in size since then. It was a catalyst for growth and recognition that we existed. I ran out of business cards very quickly that day.

McGinty: What areas in the system do you see as having the most potential for growth?

Kirchner: Every company we work with we look for learning everything we can about what they’re doing so we can know how to help. It’s about collecting data, but we’re also getting better in the industry about learning what to do with the information once we have it. There’s a lot of opportunities, and it’s a really fun time to be in this space right now because of all that opportunity. It’s truly a blast to work with our customers every day, and learn about what they’re doing and how we can help. 

Whether you are directly in the logistics space or in the global supply chain space or even a manufacturer, there’s a lot here for everyone.

It takes a lot of courage and maybe a lot of foolishness to jump initially, but we’ve been really lucky to work with the right customers, and we went really market first. We spent a lot of time learning about what companies need in the first place. Asking the questions first is critical. Listening to customers first. On a daily basis we speak with startups who build tech first and then try and jam it into the system. Build and innovate with your product market fit in the first place. We didn’t have to try and figure out who our market was because we already knew. Focus on the customer. They’re the ones that are going to pay your bills and keep the lights on. Make them successful and you’ll be successful.

Customter-centricity has always been our focus. Everyone gets caught up in raising money. People rush and jump the gun there. Patience and bringing in the customers first. If you do that the investors and employees will come.

McGinty: Lasting advice for the startups about to demo?

Kirchner: Just know your space. There’s a lot of competition out there. Have fun and know who you’re doing this for.

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.