Appy Choudhary is a sales leader who has over 14 years of experience with an MBA and Engineering background. He has built and led sales teams, achieved individual revenue quotas, developed go-to-market strategies, managed regional sales, and recently, has been a hiring machine (hired 35+ sales reps in the last 3 years). Appy is a top performer at his current company, Blend, built an SDR team from scratch at his previous company, LaunchDarkly, and has also been a Director of Sales in the past. He’s well versed with different sales methodologies including The Sandler System and MEDDIC, and has gone through various Sales Leadership training such as SaaSy, TenBound, and CloseLoop.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Appy Choudhary: I started with Sales 14 years ago in Thailand when I was working in the travel industry. That’s when I was dealing with B2B/B2C travel companies and hotel chains, traveling extensively for conferences and meeting clients all across South East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. After spending 5 years in this industry, I joined a Singapore headquartered mobile advertising tech company called BuzzCity as a Sales Director managing their regional sales office in Thailand. As sales became more and more consultative, I decided to take a pause (in 2015) and pursue a full-time MBA from Hult International Business School in San Francisco – that’s what got me here.
During my MBA, I was elected as the class representative and also won multiple competitions. As soon as I graduated, I got a Sales role in an advertising tech company named PulsePoint. I worked at PulsePoint for a couple of years and understood how SaaS sales happen in North America. After PulsePoint, I joined a Series B startup called LaunchDarkly which was into feature flagging – basically a DevOps tool. I was one of the founding members of the sales team and their VP of Sales back then, Hector Hernandez, hired me as an individual contributor to build an SDR team from scratch.
I started creating the initial SDR playbook and spent a lot of time hiring the right people. During my time at LaunchDarkly, in a span of 2 years, I had hired/onboarded/ramped over 24 SDRs (as a direct hiring manager), lead 3 SDR Leaders, promoted 8 SDRs within different departments of the company, I myself got promoted thrice, my manager changed thrice, and onboarded some really cool tools (Outreach, ZoomInfo, Apollo, etc.). Overall, it was a pretty exciting time where I got to work for an awesome product with truly amazing and smart people. I then moved on to a fintech Series E mid-size startup called Blend (where I am currently working) as their SDR Leader.
It’s been an exciting time at Blend as we’ve raised money twice in the last 1 year (Series F of $75M and Series G of $300M), our company valuation doubled from 1.7B in Sept 2020 to 3.3B in April, we acquired a pretty big company of 1,100 employees called Title365 – all of this happened in a span of 6-8 months. I’ve hired 11+ reps on my team in the last 2 quarters, 60% of the team has already been promoted in the last 9 months, and I’ve been lucky enough to win the Bailey Award by our CEO, Nima Ghamsari, which is the company top performer award for 2020. Now, at this stage, as we’re tremendously growing, I am focused on further building the team and have taken over bigger strategic initiatives for 2021-2022.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Appy Choudhary: There are two people who’ve been great mentors during my journey and helped me reach where I am today. My first mentor has been my father who I spent my initial 25 years of life learning from.
He taught me the value of hard work, ethics, being thankful, and most importantly, the way of living life. Those values help me every day in being happy and satisfied. My other mentor is my previous manager, Hector Hernandez, who was earlier VP of Sales at LaunchDarkly and hired me as one of the founding members of the sales team. He taught me the importance of building processes, creating documentation, and staying organized. Because of Hector’s guidance and mentorship, I was able to create a team of 20+ sales rockstars in a span of 2 years at LaunchDarkly.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Appy Choudhary: During the last decade, I’ve worked for both, crazy growing startups, as well as startups that are stuck where they are and have struggled to grow. Joining a startup involves a lot of risk for one’s personal and professional growth and needs a huge commitment, however, is equally very rewarding. The amount of learning and growth that goes into working at a startup itself is worth the opportunity. One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve received from many people is to stay away from the startup ecosystem.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Appy Choudhary: I work for a fintech startup called Blend that helps lenders streamline the customer journey for any banking product from application to close. The company enables customers to process more than $3.5 billion in mortgages and consumer loans per day, helping millions of consumers get into homes and gain access to the capital they need to lead better lives.
As mortgage interest rates have been at an all-time low, people have been refinancing their mortgages because of which, we have seen a tremendous increase in the usage of our platform. Similarly, the pandemic has also realized a lot of financial institutions including banks and credit unions that digital transformation is very important to sustain and grow. Luckily, I work for such an industry that has been positively impacted by the pandemic.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Appy Choudhary: As heard multiple times from my CEO and senior executives of the company, creating long-term value for our customers makes us stand out from the competition.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Appy Choudhary: Having effective communication, being process-oriented, and sharing my vision with the people I work with have been the three character traits that have been most instrumental to my success.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Appy Choudhary: We all have often heard the quote, “First impression is the Last Impression”. I will not say that the first impression is the last impression, but it is very true that it is rather difficult to change the first impression. While it is important to make a good first impression for personal branding, your last impression is well, more lasting. It is by definition the last time someone or an organization will see you so it is a forever impression. A first impression is as it sounds – it is the first of many impressions and is equally important for personal branding.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Appy Choudhary: It’s hard to choose one favorite leadership style, so I’ve selected 3 leadership styles that I prefer and follow at my workplace:
- Coaching style: I try to recognize my team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and motivations to help each individual improve. I also try to set smart goals and then provide regular feedback with challenging projects to promote growth.
- Servant style: I live by a people-first mindset and believe that when my team members feel personally and professionally fulfilled, they’re more effective and more likely to regularly produce great work. This also helps me boost employee loyalty and productivity, improve employee development and decision-making, cultivate trust and create future leaders.
- Democratic style: I ask for input and consider feedback from my team before making a decision. Because my team members feel their voice is heard and their contributions matter, I have a team fostering higher levels of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Appy Choudhary: I think it is a part of both. Successful entrepreneurs are indeed born, and they need to apply their traits a certain way. However, no one is born with all the traits necessary to be 100% successful on their own. There is no “one-man-band” in entrepreneurship. Along the way, every successful entrepreneur has learned new traits, making mentorship an absolute must. Every entrepreneur on the planet had some type of mentor or network of people that they could turn to for advice, learn from and bounce ideas off of.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Appy Choudhary: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from Jack Welch and it says, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others”.
As I have grown in my journey, I have realized that once you become a leader, you are only successful when you are able to grow others around you. And this is only possible when one stops thinking just about themself and thinks about the team they closely work with.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Appy Choudhary for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Appy Choudhary or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Did you enjoy this article? Check out similar stories:
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.