How Jason Purcell turned Salsify into one of Boston’s fastest-growing tech companies

Justine  Hofherr

If you’ve ever gone shopping on your mobile phone and noticed that the brands appearing seem tailored to you, you might have Salsify to thank.

Salsify is a cloud-based product content management system that connects manufacturers, distributors and retailers so they can manage the content and communication necessary for e-commerce.

Founded in 2012, the fast-growing tech company recently relocated to a new office space in downtown Boston. We caught up with CEO and co-founder Jason Purcell about why Boston is the perfect spot to lay entrepreneurial roots, and how Salsify has created a unique work environment for tech workers.

Purcell (right) is a former general manager at Endeca, a software company (acquired by Oracle) that sold e-commerce search and customer experience management apps. He said this experience in the e-commerce realm prepared him to run Salsify.

The concept for Salsify emerged when Purcell realized how antiquated the work processes related to e-commerce were. For decades, retailers had been driving what was sold in market by choosing products from their suppliers, and merchandising and promoting these products themselves. But now, the consumer decides where and how they shop.

To meet these new demands, retailers asked brands to deliver more content than ever before — but brands can’t keep up with requests, nor do they have the technology to do so.

“Salespeople were literally sending sales sheets back and forth,” Purcell said. “I thought, ‘There has to be a better way to get that content in front of all of us.’”

Purcell and co-founders Rob Gonzalez and Jeremy Redburn set out to build a platform and a company that took the friction out of e-commerce and connected retailers and brands in a new way.

Today, Salsify's content management platform enables brands and retailers to manage, optimize, and syndicate their content in one place, which drives sales.

Salsify’s customers include big brands like Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Nine West and Overstock.com.

The company has experienced tremendous growth, starting 2015 with 30 employees and finishing the year with 80. Today, they have more than 100 workers (and they’re hiring for dozens of engineering and sales roles).

To help attract top talent, Purcell said Salsify offers a highly transparent culture that encourages creativity and accountability.

“We offer employees an incredible amount of latitude to make sure they’re having fun and participating,” Purcell said.

When one team member approached him with an interest in women in STEM, Purcell let her take the reigns on the initiative. This summer, Salsify hosted a group of 40 middle school female students at their offices where members from engineering, sales and marketing guided the girls to design, build and speak about initial prototypes of their own problem-solving software.

Over the next few years, Purcell said he expects Salsify to become one of Boston’s next great billion-dollar companies.

“We have a pretty neat opportunity. Boston has such a strong e-commerce community with companies like Hubspot, Acquia and Demandware,” Purcell said, adding that the city’s proximity to venture capital and top-tier universities makes it ideal for startups.

“There’s this huge open space of people who interact with products and my favorite challenge is solving how we create, optimize and share this type of content.” 

Photos via social media

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