Meet Sallyann Della Casa, Founder of GLEAC.
GLEAC MVP was built and tested in 2018 with PWC being one of their first clients, then they hired their first tech team in India in 2019 and are eager to see what happens next as they hit their first 8 figure valuation with institutional investors out of the US, India and APAC reason joining them on this adventure.
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Table of Contents
Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Sallyann Della Casa: We launched our B2C APP to a 25million user base on Oct 1, 2021, having been selected as the official APP for Expo 2020 the Future is Human Pavilion. I know… the pressure is real to not screw up and totally kill it! We just won at Cogx 2021 last month the best Diversity in A.I. for our 360 mentor feedback loop built into our APP where users get to see how other users answer the same questions so they can pay attention to blank spots, hidden areas or simply open up their world view to applying human skills to situations. We are wrapping up a paid pilot with 15 of the biggest brands in the world under the Richemont Group such as Cartier, Mont Blanc, etc. ( I hope they love us and convert into a full 1-year contract).
We got selected by Hub 71 in Abu Dhabi as a high potential start-up and that means they pay for us to move our teams there ( up to 5) for two years and cover housing, offices, health insurance and network us with investors and potential clients… it’s exciting. We won $15k in AWS credits the past month for being a finalist at GES awards out of Europe…. losing sometimes has perks also. And we got a $10m valuation from our seed rounds that we closed in April this year from US institutional investors. Wohooo. All of this from a tech founder with no tech background…. I could not have dreamed this up even if I wanted to 4 years ago.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Sallyann Della Casa: I have 0 tech background. I was a lawyer for 10 years and then ran a Foundation. I am so unprepared for being a tech start-up founder… it’s scary. But you know what…. I can learn anything really fast. I am prime to action and don’t mind messing up and then getting up and saying “Ok let’s go again”. Tech is just a channel, just like the book I published a few years back to deliver my body of work. I have a strength in “human skills development” which is what I do… just through tech now. If I had to do it all over again I would have found a CTO partner since I did everything anyone can do wrong and then some. You name it and I have done it. I often feel I lost a good 1-2 years just screwing up on the tech but I have not given up. The tech today is stronger and ready to scale.
And yes, every single day as a startup founder I, like most, get up in absolute fear going “WTF” am I doing thinking I can build the next unicorn and/or impact the next billion. So giving up is like daily sweat, like a good workout. You just take a shower, you freshen up, and say “Let’s go!” …I feel great!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Sallyann Della Casa: Most Founders focus on building the perfect product and not sales. Without sales, you don’t have any validation that what you are building actually solves a problem for anyone. So while most founders don’t really go into business to be salespeople, it’s where you should be spending most of your time. Trust me …I have learned that the hard way. Sales matter most.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Sallyann Della Casa: Resilience are those days you can’t make payroll but you know you will find a way to make it no matter what. Resilience is going after the next client after some pilots didn’t convert into paying customers and they tell you the product is not that great. Resilience is building your product/company when everyone around you is wondering what the heck are you smoking and so excited about since they don’t see it Resilience is shedding lots of tears by yourself due to pure exhaustion and loneliness but still showing up full of energy for your team. Resilience is talking to yet another investor after the last 3 said NO thank you.
Resilience is that silent inner knowing deep inside of you (no matter what you are facing) which says you are kind, you are smart and you are beautiful.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Sallyann Della Casa: We lost two deals recently to Linkedin and Udemy Enterprise. I am trying to salvage them moving it from either OR GLEAC to an AND GLEAC by showing:
- Learning requires practice/application of what is learned and feedback from those who have been there and done that. Gleac is the only platform that has a 360 mentor feedback loop from industry experts in your answers when you practice a skill.
- Hi-tech Learning requires a hi-touch community. Nobody does this as well as we do. Our industry expert does talk shows, weekly fun mentor events such as show tell and hell, one on one coaching keeps engagement and retention high. We make people feel really good at all touchpoints.
- We have a pending patent on our system and did our homework and as such our measure on human skills is taken really seriously and not just a touchy-feely soft skills platform.
What do you consider are your strengths when dealing with staff workers, colleagues, senior management, and customers?
Sallyann Della Casa:
- I ensure the energy I bring to every person is my 200%.
- I am at a point with my success where I can share openly my failures and vulnerabilities out loud. It makes people feel inspired, and think that anything is possible if she is doing it.
- I am brave and think on my feet and it makes me super creative and intuitive.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Sallyann Della Casa: 200%. It is a double edge sword since folks often see the brand as you. But then I think about Steve Jobs or Richard Branson and those company brands are so tied to them and they scaled massively. We are the human skills platform and it is impossible to be that and not be human. I am as human as they get ….imperfectly perfect.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Sallyann Della Casa: Laissez-faire is my default style but it can only work with highly motivated and competent people. You just gather them and they lead the way alongside you.
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Sallyann Della Casa: I am mature enough to know my boundaries personally and professionally. I think the younger Sallyann was trying to please everyone and she got lost in the equation. This time my sense of self and what works and does not work for me is super clear.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Sallyann Della Casa: When choosing investors, choose the ones who will and want to be sitting at the table with you when the shit hits the fan. And the shit does hit the fan in all businesses at various points.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Sallyann Della Casa for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Sallyann Della Casa or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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