• By Sin Mei Chiu
  • April 15, 2015

Abbas Tahzib joins Sentiance as SVP EMEA

abbas_camerafacing_webAbbas Tahzib brings over 15 years experience in digital sales and marketing to Sentiance. He will help drive the sales strategy, to ensure Sentiance’s commercial business will grow rapidly. Abbas is a constant optimist who embraces international travel and cultures, along with a deep passion for digital media and the latest gadgets.

We’re very honored to welcome someone with impressive international sales credentials to our rapidly expanding team! How did you come in contact with us and what made you decide to choose for Sentiance?

I actually started off my career in the early 2000s, launching some of the first mobile data solutions & multimedia services for mobile operators. Back then, such services introduced an innovative way of mobile working and/or entertainment. At the time, such services were complex and for most consumers the potential benefits were a distant thought.

Fast-forward to today, we all recognize how the mobile device has become an integral part of our life, where it helps to better organize, communicate, entertain, facilitate and provide information during our day.

The mobile is helping people decide what restaurant to have lunch today and dinner tomorrow. Where and at what time the taxi-driver is supposed to pick you up to take you to the airport to catch your flight, while using the airline’s mobile app to check-in and get your m-boarding pass on your mobile. Nowadays, it is evident that people rely on their mobile device to get through their day. The challenge for app developers is context: if your mobile app does not help them or provide a relevant experience, consumers find will find another app that will.

I was very impressed to learn how Sentiance’s solution provides app developers with intelligence tools to help increase context, usage and satisfaction of their mobile app. Understanding Sentiance’s lofty goals to grow Internationally and my experience building a global business, I felt it was the ideal match.

Since you’ve already built up several technology ventures and led market entries for a number of US-based companies, it is safe to say that you are accustomed to accelerating global sales efforts. How do you approach the development process for an effective sales strategy?

 I had the great opportunity to build a global business from scratch for a number of US start-ups during my career. Though the companies, propositions and approach may have differed, what is always important is to understand that a start-up cannot afford extensive sales cycles or wanting to be everything to every potential customer. Cost of sales will skyrocket and operationally it is unmanageable.

The technology behind a product is always amazing, but have you taken the market’s perspective into account? Technology itself won’t sell!

Fortunately today, it is becoming more acceptable for customers to trial a beta-version of your product, which helps the client to get acquainted with the product and for the company better adapt the product to the client’s needs. For example, offering pilot projects helps define a sales execution strategy, particularly when they are used to build your first case studies.

 These initial efforts help shape a compelling value proposition, based on which we can formulate a solid sales strategy to build a sustainable business, a foundation which if correctly implemented, will allow a startup to significantly scale sales.

 Every textbook about getting sales and building relationships mentions achieving the right product/market fit for your clients. How would you explain our unique position and what do you think is the core value that Sentiance can add?

That philosophy remains 100% correct. However, you may believe your product can cover multiple client segments, but for a start-up it is unrealistic from a sales perspective to have such an approach. You need to set realistic goals, thereby deciding on what initial client segments to focus on to build a solid foundation of business. Once that has been achieved, you can consider extending the offering to serve other types of customers.

I’m very encouraged by Sentiance’s Context Suite being able to be integrated within an existing mobile app quite easily and start delivering app developers with a new level of mobile personalization and engagement towards their own users.

 Having successfully worked in the land of opportunity and being an avid investor in early stage start-ups, do you think Europe or Belgium is ready to provide an answer to the start-up culture and technology drive of the US?

 Absolutely! Over the past years, there have been a great number of European start-ups, which have grown a successful business. To name a few: Spotify, Shazam, Transferwise, Skyscanner, and Soundcloud.

What has helped to drive this is an increased ability for Europeans to access venture capitalist funding, which was not an easy task years ago. Combined with the challenging economy that Europe has faced, Europeans have shifted towards a more entrepreneurial approach to do business. There is now more interest for talented graduate students to join early stage start-ups to make their mark, rather than joining the usual big corporation.

There are a number of exciting start-ups active in Belgium, including Sentiance. We have a great young and talented team, which I’m very glad to add my contribution towards achieving our lofty goals.

As you’ve been involved with the mobile for more than a decade, how do you think this way of interaction can still be innovative and create commercial success?

As I mentioned earlier, mobile has shifted from a side-show to integral component of our daily lives. The mobile experience needs to be more than ever contextual and predictive to our every growing needs. There is still a lot of innovation needed to achieve this.

Many of us like to use their spare time to engage in sports or music, how do you like to clear your head?

That’s easy: head to the gym for a workout. I enjoy it, as you go through a lot of thoughts and emotions: motivating yourself to actually go to the gym, getting through the first minutes of a warm-up to loosen your muscles, then challenging yourself to push harder, lift heavier weights, and making sure to change up your routine often. It’s all up to you. I love that challenge each time.

Since we’ve rarely seen you in a shirt, do you think the suit and tie days are over?

Oh, I have worn my share of suit and matching ties in my career. Over the past 10 years, the dot.com environment in our society has influenced the way we dress to work, even at traditional corporations. But, make no mistake; appearance makes a difference in the way a sales-person is perceived by a customer. Whether in a suit or wearing a jeans and a t-shirt, it is important to have a professional and tidy appearance towards a client. Depending on the type of customer/segment, I would definitely consider putting on a suit and tie.

If there is one advice you might give to any person, what would it be?

I love this quote by Michael Jordan: “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” Don’t be afraid to fail. Take responsibility, understand what went wrong and do it right next time.

Abbas joined the team as per the 1st of April and is bringing international sales experience to Sentiance. If you have questions for Abbas or would like to discuss possibilities to do business together, you can reach him at abbas.tahzib@sentiance.com, or tweet to him at @abbastahzib. If you’d like to work with Abbas to deliver quality slideware, if you love social media and if you know how to get the most out of trade shows and conferences – Sentiance is looking to hire a marketing coordinator. Find out more on our jobs page.