I Co-Founded A Startup In The Czech Republic That Was Acquired By NICE inContact In Utah. Here’s Why.
This article was published in the Winter 2019 issue
by Vit Horky, Brand Embassy co-founder, Senior Director at NICE inContact
It’s been over three months since we decided to sell Brand Embassy, a digital customer service platform startup, to NICE inContact. Being a Czech-born startup founder, having lived both in Europe and the US for some time, and building our company from Central Europe to consequently become a part of a Utah-based company with over 1,500 employees in the US and over 3,000 customers globally is a huge jump. Let me share with you the reasons we decided to do that and what makes us excited about working with our new colleagues at NICE inContact, as it may help fellow entrepreneurs considering similar paths.
This May, NICE, a global company with over $1.5 billion in revenue and 30 offices worldwide acquired Brand Embassy, a startup company I founded with my partner Damian eight years ago in Prague, Czech Republic. Getting to the stage of receiving an offer from a market leader to acquire our company on favorable terms was a result of very turbulent times that, frankly, had caused me many sleepless nights and some gray hair in the past years.
Our team preparing for a key meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, the home of NICE inContact, a few days before the aquisition.
After six years of turbulent growth and “failing forward” we saw an opportunity to scale our operations even more by setting commercial partnerships with some of the largest technology providers in the market. We approached several large legacy providers and some high growth contact center platform vendors (generally helping businesses provide customer care via the phone) to integrate with our platform to provide digital care across over 30 digital channels to their customers. It worked. We signed several reseller, referral and OEM partnerships and gradually scaled our sales and pipeline generation. We signed our very first $1M deal that we considered as one of many to come.
The acquisition offer from NICE came after a year of commercial cooperation. The company knew our product, received some positive customer feedback, awarded us for being a good partner and we developed good personal relationships with key managers at the company.
Damian, my business partner, signing the last few sets of contracts at 6:00 AM in the morning the day of aquisition after three sleepless nights...
NICE inContact was born of a merger between NICE and inContact, three years before the Brand Embassy acquisition. inContact is also a SaaS cloud-based business with an open and pragmatic American culture and the strong leadership of Paul Jarman, its energetic CEO. Paul stayed with the company after the acquisition and became one of the key people driving overall change and “digitalization” of the well-established NICE. As part of the process we learned that NICE inContact is considered one of the best companies to work for in the area and it has attracted amazing talent across software engineering, product development, sales, and other roles over the years. As we were expected to work closely with the inContact folks, integrate Brand Embassy into its modern cloud-based platform built on micro-services, and become the catalyst of a company-wide initiative to become “Digital First,” it made our team and myself convinced. It also helped that the acquirer had made several successful mergers in the past.
It’s been six months since the acquisition. We’ve spent them mostly making sure our customers and team understand what happened and getting them excited about what comes next. We’ve already launched the most exciting digital customer service capabilities of Brand Embassy as a part of NICE inContact CXone and have already been closing and onboarding new customers.
Some of many fun memories from the "We Are One" party we organized after the aquisition for all team members, supporters and alumni to say a huge thanks for the joint success.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to go through the recent process and although the months following an acquisition can be challenging with the organization adapting to a new operating rhythm, I am delighted that these past 6 months have been overall smooth and we have retained all our customers and key employees over this time. I’m excited about the new chapter and thrilled about the ongoing innovation we’ll be delivering to the market. Stay tuned.
Read the rest of the articles in the Winter 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine