[00:00:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the Revenue Engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena. And I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue, generators, innovators, and disruptors revenue leaders in sales, in marketing. And of course in operations. Together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers the revenue engine. Are you ready? Let's get to it.
Life is known to throw us all curve balls at some point for Gabriella DeFlorio as a competitive cross-country and track athlete. This was no different as a one-time Olympic trials, hopeful seven lake surgeries later, she turned her passion towards technology. After being a part of different early stage companies, she saw where companies were struggling from a revenue perspective and decided to start Prelay a platform that is helping revenue teams work together and navigate complex deal cycles more effectively.
Today's podcast is sponsored by Outreach.io. Outreach is the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators for revenue innovators outreach allows you to commit to an accurate sales forecast, replace manual. Realtime guidance and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win more often. Traditional tools don't work in a hybrid sales world. Find out why Outreach is the right solution at click.outreach.io/revengine
in this episode of the Revenue Engine podcast, Gabriella DeFlorio, the CEO and co-founder of Prelay shares her journey, how she has, has applied the same perseverance and persistence to her company and what organizations should be doing today to drive better collaboration to power revenue growth.
So super excited to be here today with Gabriella DeFlorio, the co-founder and CEO of Prelay. Prelay is a purpose-built platform for revenue teams and their internal stakeholders to work together effectively to drive more revenue faster. So welcome Gabriella, and thank you so much for joining me. I'm super excited to learn more about your journey.
[00:02:34] Gabriella DeFlorio: Oh, yeah. Thank you so much for having me and excited to share a little bit more.
[00:02:38] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Perfect. So before we dive into Prelay, let's talk a little bit about your backstory because you have a really interesting story. You know, you're a competitive athlete and I'm sure that, you know, your current perspective and some of the values were probably shaped pretty significantly by, you know, that prior life. Can you share maybe some of your pre tech journey and some of that backstory?
[00:02:59] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah, happy to, I think. Something that I feel very lucky that I was able to experience prior to hopping into tech. I actually stemmed from the Midwest so very much different from a typical kind of Silicon valley. I had no idea that I would be making my way up to the west coast at some point in time in my life and kind of making my way to tack it all.
You know, in, within Michigan, I went to the university of Michigan. Even as a child. I there's always kind of an athlete. A lot of my overall kind of time was spent on beyond just academics, like a lot of athletics and really trying to figure out where my passion lied. And I think you know, quickly learned especially before hopping into college, that I, I had a huge passion for running and it was a passion that allowed me to learn a lot about myself.
Learned a ton in colleges I'll share a little bit here. And I am, again, very lucky that I was able to kind of experience that time period prior to hopping into such a you know, extremely interesting period within tasks at, when I headed over to Michigan Was very much focused on running and still hearing focus on academics.
My, my mindset was like, how can I become a professional runner or post college? How can I make it to Olympic trials? How can I be able to really put myself to another level by running, competing with some of the best in the world directly up at Michigan we had coach McGuire there and he was the Olympic coach.
He coach multiple Olympians in the mile, steeple chase plenty of other races in track. And it was something for me that I felt like if I put myself within a group that would push me to the next level that I would get there. I think that was a huge learning that. Things don't always work that workout as planned.
So for me, my backstory was actually a lot more of a rocky road than I ever expected. I headed to Michigan actually injured at first. So I started having some pains in my calves and I was like, oh, this is I interesting, but I think I should be able to, you know, get it fixed and, you know, great trainers and everything about.
But I quickly realized after competing and traveling and having a great experience that I wasn't running as fast as I wanted to. And it was a frustrating, frustrating time for me of realizing, I just put all the work I want into something and the results might not come out because of physical limitations.
And so I started you know, figuring out that I might need to look further into. And after some diagnosis of kind of what was going on, I realized that I had to get surgeries done. And at first I thought it was one surgery. And I ended up turning into seven. And so it went from me walking into the university of like, you know, thinking I would have all of these goals you know, a hide.
To realizing am I a runner anymore? And you know, what is my my identity and you know, why, what really drives me and what is my passion anymore. Right. And so huge learning going through adversity of figuring out, you know, what's next. And during that time, I got to get really involved into the business programs at Michigan.
And that's where I was lucky enough to. Start to scale out like you know, communities and organizations that Michigan works with the MBA students and BBA students alike and started really building Egypt, like overall kind of agency towards something and overall identity. For myself that went far beyond running and started getting me closer to, you know, if anything, not thinking tech, but at some point talk in my life as I'll share more.
I ended up actually leaving the university and I, you know, had to pause my running career, knowing that that wasn't going to be kind of a future state for me. And I ended up thinking I was going to go off to Booz Allen Hamilton and do consulting like the traditional kind of Midwestern you know, university of Michigan.
And I right as I was waiting in my security clearance by friend reached out and I was very much. Board wanting to work and high energy as ever I'm needing to, you know, really put my mind to something. And he had reached out saying, Hey, I have this project at this HR tech company. We're trying to scale out this community around like retailers and making sure that we can kind of bring on these hourly workers onto our platform so that we can figure on the other end of things, how we can start to automate a lot of these workers.
So in the end, it was in hiring of these workers, workers. And the idea was a company called fountain. They specifically were onboard IQ at the time they rebranded these specifically, we're automating the hiring process for you know, hourly workers and on that. And I was able to work directly with engineers, giggling out the scale and growth of a company, very early stages.
And I was honestly able to not fully commit at the time and work on a project. That's where I started seeing a lot of my passion that I lost with. Really coming into play. So I was actually able to hop into Silicon valley through there and realized that, you know, consulting wasn't for me, nine to five wasn't for me being able to grow and build something of my own alongside of other people.
And I would say on my own, I'm like more of the department and there wasn't necessarily a founder at the time. That's where I started getting the taste for passionate guy. That's kind of how I broke into tack. So it was a really bumpy ride to get to tech, but as I'll share a little bit more like we, I ended up definitely kind of.
Finding a lot of passion here and obviously that's why I've stuck around for some time.
[00:08:40] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. That's interesting. It's funny how you've had a fall into tech you know, from the Midwest now you're out here in the Silicon valley, right in the area. So you talked a little bit about, you know, working, you know, with this kind of early stage HR tech company, and you probably learned a great deal about, you know, Go to market building and scaling a business.
So maybe, can you talk a little bit more about sort of that earlier tech experience and you know, some of those things that maybe you learned kind of through that process?
[00:09:07] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah. So I was able to work with a ton of like with this year's directly in the founders directly. During that period of time, I also got to.
Really figure out how to build a company in a business and scale distribution and as the market was changing. So I, the first company I was at fountain, we were selling to the Uber's of the world to door dash, all these different on-demand companies. When the on demand boom was happening, all those companies were flourishing.
And I got to see a lot of that kind of come into play and figure out how can we start to scale around that from a pricing structure perspective, from a peer distribution perspective on getting in front of different stakeholders at a regional level is they're all kind of scaling up different regions.
And that's how we ended up having to kind of sell to them. So a lot of the overall sales motion and figuring out how do we scale it, this process, and then figure out how do we actually care a lot of people along that process. Willing when I had to focus on initially and then likewise at another company to work HR tech, FinTech company very similar case where we were in kind of right when equal Equifax was kind of coming into play, obviously a lot of.
Allegations and overall you know, things that articles that were coming out about like the facts and we were trying to come in and really break through the noise and make sure that we were securing employment and income verification data. And that's where I. Similarly, got to figure out the scale and distribution model around.
How do we figure out on two sides of the marketplace for one, like for employment and income verification, like you have background check providers, you have maybe lenders, other people that are having to come in and figure out the verifications, make sure that they're getting the income and employment verifications complete.
How do we make sure that those people are coming through? And then on the other side of things, how do we figure out how to scale this out to employers? How do we scale out to specifically large companies that are needing to process their employment and income verifications, but they don't want to touch all of them.
They want to start automating these. So a lot of that scale around figuring out the sales motion, as well as those. So figuring out what works for top down versus bottom up and how do we figure out this kind of self service model and getting. Kind of users to our products, but also getting to a point of figuring out kind of more of that top-down sales motion.
You can imagine, as I'm explaining the song, it was complex, right. It was really a complex scenario of having to. For one, we were collecting a lot of private information. And so we had to really explain ourselves in most conversations around security overall privacy around the data, ensuring that we were implementing it properly with their core integrations.
That's really where I started to see a lot of things come into play that went toward Prelay was what I never really, I kind of started later on. Really that complexity that come into play that really complexity that went far beyond the rep. Are we able to answer a lot of these questions for these enterprises?
How are we able to prove to them that. So a lot of the like tech experience I really gathered was kind of dealing with complexity of markets, complexity of sales and how we can really monetize around a lot of the core process there.
[00:12:24] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. So let's talk about Prelay. So first of all, I'd love to hear about how the name Prelay was conceived. Like how did that name even get chosen?
[00:12:33] Gabriella DeFlorio: So it was a lot of what I just explained. So like, With, when we are dealing with a lot of those questions from like the PII information, ensuring that we have the privacy and making sure that we were thinking through kind of security stocks that we needed, hot product questions in general.
That's where I started seeing a lot of, kind of lack of like lots of sharing of information proactively with not running. We ended up having 10 minutes, have a huge lag as we are covered in questions and needs of the buyer and customer. As we are trying to gather this information. That it started to add up time.
And if anything, I was oftentimes the blocker. I was the one that was actually receiving a lot of these questions and ensuring that I was able to get it to the right person within the organization. So I actually started like a lot of it and named it that Prelay specifically based upon kind of process and relay of information throughout an organization.
There's also, obviously I think a straightforward kind of name that was not used in other ways as well. So, yeah, it was, you know, a fracture, the first thing I thought. And now it's, you know, since then.
[00:13:41] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love that. So you talked a little bit about, you know, how this idea came about, right? Based upon, you know, your experience in these different types of technology companies and how the complexity of, you know, how you go to market and how you get information to the right people at the right time. So can you share a little bit more about. That original vision for the company when you know you and your co-founders started and then if that's evolved or changed at all.
[00:14:07] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah. Yeah. I guess I can kind of walk you through the founding story. So yeah, I initially kind of you know, came in unemployed, like trying to build this out, really focused on what was to come didn't name Prelay at the time, but what was the common industry? And then in my mindset at first, Really thinking through, how do I ensure that we can have these teams collaborate as easily as possible?
And, you know, I wanted to go far beyond just collaboration. I wanted to figure out how do we. Insights to management around how these teams are getting these things done during the deal, whether it's running proof of concepts, whether it's running kind of overall getting a hold of like sales engineers, getting a hold of a deal desk.
These are all kind of the initial points where I wanted to dive in deeper and figure out the real problems of the industry. I think oftentimes a lot of founders tend to kind of build a product. Without thinking through an user that is inherently kind of dealing with a lot of the problems across the board.
So that's kind of where we work, where I started with a lot of user research. And then I was able to bring to my co-founder a little bit later on where we started to really map out the MVP. We started to build out the mean. And a lot of them mean products was honestly like, how do we route the right information to the right person at the company?
And it was a very basic product at first, but it was something that we saw ourselves kind of building upon upfront. So as you could tell, it was really ensuring that we were fitting within current workflows as well as also making sure that we are kind of providing a lot of this overall kind of information to whoever it might be within the organization that would make sense in a certain period of time.
So that was kind of the initial, like piece was how do we bring these teams together? I would say a lot of the initial piece was like mainly as season reps. As time went on, we've really kind of expanded within the organization.
[00:15:54] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Okay. Got it. So, you know, you touched on this a little bit, but I mean, you know, as a rev ops leader myself, you know, one of the areas of focus is literally driving that alignment right across the revenue team, people process technology data, right.
And then with the revenue cycle, you know, More and more complex, especially in B2B, right. And B2B, SAS organizations. It's not uncommon, right. To see these silos and these broken handoffs and the broken data stream. Right. Not getting the right data to the right people at the right time. What advice, I guess, would you give to maybe CRS or other revenue leaders really to help create that better alignment across the selling team?
Like, are there some of those do's and don'ts that you can share?
[00:16:35] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah. Generally speaking, what we always say is typically what you see as only tip of the iceberg, like for us, what we typically find is that there so much more execution that goes far beyond the current tooling provides. And what else too is when you think about the CRO, right?
CRO has to really make sure that things are running efficiently in multiple different places. So it really goes far. Like typically they think through kind of like, how do we align incentives, maybe talk through comp plans, like different KPIs. They need to be heading OTRs across the board. But what we really think from that perspective is how do you really think through how teams can really execute at scale versus just thinking through like aligned incentives?
I think overall, especially with more kind of distributed teams coming into play. What we find is, you know, you really need to start thinking through how your team kind of operationalizes a lot of these fields, the Juliet and you know, how do you really ensure each leader that, you know, as a CRO that falls within your realm is also bought into that bought into really thinking through the execution, really operationalizing a lot of these core pieces and really trying to align expectations across those teams, because what we find.
The expectations tend to be pretty far off. People aren't really aware of what other teams are working through. Typically, as you mentioned, the handoffs they're kind of torn and broken. People are just kind of tossing over the wall and what we find there. Again, it's not, it's not that individuals do not know what they're doing, but rather.
It's more of just, it's not being fully operationalized thoughtfully. It's not really mapped out at scale of figuring out what is the best way for us to be doing these handoffs. What, what's the best way for us to be looping in these different team members across. And beyond Euro, I mean, even for more rural specific team leaders just bought an understanding how your team can best enable and collaborate with other teams is the huge portion.
You know, the conversations we have and the overall customers we have that think through this lens are the ones that are really wanting to take all of the operationalization and figuring out ways that their team can be running as you know, efficient at scale. And so really thinking through about scale and how your team can run.
On a very complex deal. Those deals that might be more strategic is something to really take a step back on and really think through and think through how they're working with other team members internally. Because again, I think in this kind of remote hybrid world is really interesting because I think everyone's rethinking.
How do we all work together in general? Like across the org, right? You have HR, you have you know, you have finance across the board. How do you really think through a, through a deal then? How do you think through how your teams work through a deal? Especially if you're not in the same place at the same time, right?
You might have different time zones. That's really where we kind of come into play is really thinking through how do you really think through more of those how your team is working together on those core deals? And I think that even starts at the CRO level, but obviously you can tell starts to really break down toward even before.
[00:19:41] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yep. Yep. That's great. That's great feedback. Yeah. Really with the remote shift and as such, it's just really gotten, you know, having organizations really think differently, right. Starting to really think differently about how we coordinate and how we how we collaborate. I saw the statement on the Prelay website that says Prelay is shifting the paradigm of the revenue journey. So how do you think about this paradigm and you know, what needs to happen and maybe how does Prelay help?
[00:20:07] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah, I mean, I think it goes back to what we were just talking about is like the remote hybrid world, just shifting a lot of things, right. I think times are changing and how people fit together, both synchronously and you think and so really from our perspective, we view it as like, Follow through on that change, right?
Ensuring that teams can still successfully execute on high value deals successfully, no matter what. Right. I think the biggest thing. You do not want to skew their overall success and goals that they can be achieving, just because they're in different locations. I think this has been an adjustment that everyone's had to make.
And from our perspective, we actually view ourselves as really. You know, helping to propel people forward as they're trying to make this adjustment from kind of in-person deal making to kind of full on remote.
[00:20:56] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. So let's shift gears a little bit and let's talk about mindset and overthinking. I listened to a portion of another podcast where you were a guest and you were talking about the similarities between a performance in athletics and in sales. So can you share maybe your perspective on how these are similar and how some of the key strengths really in mindset that enable high performance in athletics actually translate really well to high performance in sales?
[00:21:23] Gabriella DeFlorio: I think two things. I think there's really clear analogies with sales and athletics and specific, specifically more performance driven athletics, like running, swimming, things that you're having to hit very clear metrics, time on just like sales, right? You're having to hit your quota. When that comes into play, it's all on you, right. To perform.
And that's really a huge difficulty of mindset, making sure that you can be performing at the right time. And really when I think about overall, how that compares from my time in athletics to fails a huge piece of that is really making sure that you're not overthinking how you're doing things trusting in your training or practice you've done.
Right. With athletics, your con constantly like for us with running, we're running 60 plus miles a week, just to prep for our five cabin, which is a ton of training just to go into right. A very, not quick run because five is still a pretty long, a few miles, but it's the same thing for. Training for, you know, selling any sort of products you're putting in a ton of time.
You're having your leaders coach you through the process to make sure that you can be really achieving success in these. And oftentimes it's not easy, right? Especially in a performance with athletics, you're competing at a very high level. It's very nerve wracking, right? People might be watching you. You might have certain expectations of Vetrix to be having a certain time to be heading.
And that's no difference with sales, right? You're having to hit these key metrics of quotas across the board. And it's oftentimes not easy when you're doing strategic deals, right. You're oftentimes selling to leaders across the board. That might have much more experience than you have, but in the end, you're really having to show your expertise you have within the product and industry you're selling.
And I think a huge piece of that. It goes into training and making sure you all prepare. So I'm a huge advocate for being. Extremely well-prepared and knowing, and trusting and your preparedness and that you've trained. And you put in all the work that you could to have a great performance in the end.
So very similar. I think it's, I think it's super interesting as well.
[00:23:37] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Oh, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. I think that's great. So actually one of the core values also of Prelay I saw was passion lens. Can you talk a little bit more about this value and you know, what it means and maybe how it's helped you in your team?
[00:23:51] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah, for sure. Well I feel like overall, like most values kind of, at least the roots start with the founder and extend out to the team. So like for me, you know, passion is what keeps me going every day. Like the more work I put in to be my best and what I'm passionate about, the more I've grown rapidly and just learn.
And it was the same with our team. Yeah. I think in general, we try to really find people that are extremely passionate and it's honestly very hard to find oftentimes it really does take a special kind of person. Yeah. It's very difficult. Right. I think oftentimes people just want to pop into jobs and not really thinking through if they'll really enjoy it.
Right. And I think a huge piece of that is just like really finding that special kind of person that's driven by past. And really ensuring that through finding these people, we can really help to grow them through them, leveraging all the passionate about half of the industry for the role they're working on for the market we're working within whatever it might be.
For them to continuously growing their career, learning a time at night, I think in the end, right. As a collective group of people, we're all kind of working off of our passions to help grow this company. So I think it's something that's at the really heart and soul of freelance, and I think it's super important for a lot of companies to really think through. How are they instilling passion within the company? Cause I think that's the biggest driver for growth.
[00:25:16] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. I love that. I love that quote in that, in that value. So as I think about, you know, the revenue engine and think about this podcast, I always hope others will be able to learn right. How to accelerate revenue growth and truly power the revenue engine.
If you think about, you know, what are the top, maybe two or three, you know, a couple of things that you think that, you know, all CEOs or maybe founders should really be thinking about today to drive revenue growth.
[00:25:41] Gabriella DeFlorio: Yeah. And I think this is actually something that I like a question I get often because oftentimes a lot of founders and CEOs of tech companies tend to be more tactical and haven't really had kind of go to market.
So whenever I provide some recommendations here, it's typically kind of top two things are one distribution model, making sure you find one that's fit for your business. I think a lot of people tend to go toward trends, tend to go toward things that other people are doing and that they want to try and replicate, but it's all dependent on the product.
You have the market you're in, who you're selling to, like it's not one size fits all. And so making sure you really understand what's fit for your business is the number of. I think another one that's really important. Oftentimes, I think a product is super important to have and having a strong word that is obviously useful to make sure you're providing a great user experience, but in the end, what's really the most important thing is positioning.
How are you positioning your product or service? It's for one, obviously great for demand gen and interest in your product, but it's also just helpful for understanding in the sales cycle. What do you actually do and how can I be adopting your product? And I think that's a huge limitation that oftentimes teams have that they.
Or to a small scale with a lot of their positioning of what their products can do. And not inevitably kind of might scale down the sales process might not be able to resonate with the buyer in front of you. So positioning, I think is actually one of the most important pieces of scaling at a company.
[00:27:10] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. So, are there things that maybe you wish you knew earlier, or maybe you might do differently if you could do it all over again?
[00:27:18] Gabriella DeFlorio: I mean, I think that there's always like in hindsight things to do better. Like I think with most founders, like they're always trying to get perfection in anything they're doing. I think a huge piece of what I've really learned for me. I, I. I love making sure that we can really going like the running at full speed ahead and making sure that we're making the right decisions along the way.
But I think a huge piece of that is really patients, especially when you're trying to find new hires, making sure a patient to find the right ones. I think it's really easy to feel like you need to, you know, quickly hire and make sure that you're bringing people onto the team. But what the most important thing is, is actually quality of hires and making sure that it's a good fit for both you and the higher in the end.
And so I think just patience, honestly, I think patience. A hard thing to do with startups. And I think that's the one thing that I've done a little differently here and there. It's just like holding onto.
[00:28:17] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. That's great advice. Thank you. So thank you so much for joining me. But as we wrap up and before I let you go, I always ask the guests two things.
So one is, you know, what is the one thing about Gabriella that others would be surprised to know?
And to what is that one thing that you want everyone to know about you? And I have found that sometimes they're the same thing that's happened for some guests for those same thing, but really, so one thing that others would be surprised to learn, and one thing that you really want people to know about you.
[00:28:51] Gabriella DeFlorio: Might be a little different. With a surprised to hear about me, which is funny. I think a lot of our customers and our employees alike, I think most of the time they think I'm can just be chatting all day and I can talk all the time and probably come across as very extroverted then, but I actually grew up extremely introverted and very shy.
So like no one would have done that. And it's honestly the 10 years that I've really been just more extroverted. I can talk anyone's ear off, but that's typically a surprise to most of them, which for any, any of them listening to would probably be laughing here. So and then on the other side of things with like Hey, the one thing I, you know, that I'd want people to know about me, I think, I think in the end, going back to what we talked about on the podcast, like, I think you can tell.
With any founder too, but for me, I think my passion super seriously. So with running, I put my all in there and that's the same with Prelay so my passion right now is Prelay. So for me, at least if anybody's listening to this podcast, if you want to talk shop in this space, even B2B, tech sphere. I love all of that stuff. So feel free to reach out to me. I always love to connect with new people and also just love talking shop about taxi and where attended and everything.
[00:30:12] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks for sharing that. And yeah, I would definitely would have been surprised. I think most people are surprised when they see somebody, you know, in your position that says that, but I think we've had a couple. guests definitely the have admitted to that. So thank you. So thank you so much for joining me, Gabriella. I really enjoyed your story and just great insights and really just appreciate your time. I hope that I know that the audience will definitely learn quite a bit from your story, so thank you again.
[00:30:38] Gabriella DeFlorio: Thank you so much for having me.
This episode was digitally transcribed.