May 17th, 2017 | by

Launching and growing a business has never been easy, but it used to be a lot harder. Not long ago, large enterprises—with deeply entrenched incumbent business relationships, rolodexes, and enormous advertising budgets—wined, dined, and golfed with their customers more than any small business could ever afford or imagine.

Startups and challengers—even those with disruptive offerings—faced a significant uphill battle to win new business at scale and steal market share from industry leaders, because they had limited visibility and access to buyers.

Rapid growth is a natural expectation for tech start-ups at a time when data is widely available to all businesses, from startup to blue chip. But the availability of data isn’t a universal promise of success.


From high-growth companies MongoDB, Cloudera, Birst, Actifio, and DiscoverOrg, come first-hand insights on finding success through high-quality marketing and sales intelligence.

The Availability of Data Has Made Growth More Accessible

Today, the availability of data and intelligence is breaking down barriers between buyers and sellers, making transformational growth accessible to companies of all sizes. Startups, small businesses, consulting firms, agencies, and even enterprises all benefit from access to more information about their prospects and customers.

Buyers are taking notice. According to’s State of the Connected Customer survey, 57% of buyers are ready to take their business elsewhere if their vendor fails to anticipate their needs.

Get interviews and the whole story from Cloudera, MongoDB, and other industry leaders.

Lessons from Cloudera, MongoDB, Actifio, Birst, and DiscoverOrg

Despite today’s wide availability of data and intelligence, many companies still cite “lack of high-quality account and contact data, information, and intelligence” as a top inhibitor to growth. This is according to findings from a survey conducted by DiscoverOrg and Smart Selling Tools, which found that nearly half of all companies surveyed wrestle with bad data or lack of data.

Not all data sources are created equal. Many companies still struggle with the ripple effects of importing bad data into their systems or working with volume data providers that do not guarantee data quality. Sales and marketing professionals should carefully evaluate data accuracy and credibility before investing in a data source. Once the problem of sourcing high-quality data has been resolved, the focus can shift to embedding data effectively in sales and marketing processes.

Hypergrowth Companies Use Data to Fuel Growth and Disruption

The mere availability of high-quality data and intelligence alone does not create growth. Embedding data deeply into sales processes and systems can result in new opportunities, greater value from sales and marketing technology investments, and market share captured from some of the biggest names in business. Growth arises from smart integration.

What is Disruption?

Each year, CNBC profiles the top 50 disruptive companies in the CNBC Disruptor 50. While they do not disclose their criteria for selection, they describe disruptors in this manner:

These companies have entered the traditional sectors and turned them upside down. It’s not about one product or delivery method. It’s the power of a company to displace the established incumbents in its own industry, prompting a ripple effect throughout its economic ecosystem.

A true disruptor’s power is seen in its effects on multiple industries. It’s about the private companies with the greatest potential to disrupt the public giants.

Getting the First Step Right—The Prerequisite to Growth and Disruption

Growth begins with a real need and a great product that addresses that need. Without those two prerequisites, companies that get out of the gates quickly may experience a short burst of rapid revenue growth but often hit a ceiling when customer churn erodes the base due to poor product-market fit.

According to a study of 3,200 high-tech startups conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley and Stanford, over 90% of high-growth internet startups fail within the first three years. Of the early failures, 74% failed because of premature scaling. What is premature scaling? In short, it means investing in growing business before clearly understanding and effectively solving a customer need.

Growth strategies are no substitute for poor products, or products that don’t address a real market need. Fast-growing companies take time to first understand their customers, get the product-market fit right—and then scale.

Learn how disruptors like Cloudera, Birst, and others are using the democratization of data for rapid growth.

Disruptors Focus on Solving Customer Needs First, Then Growth

Actifio is a model of sustainable high growth. The data virtualization company, founded in 2009, decouples data from infrastructure for improvements in business resiliency, agility, and access to the cloud. Revenue is now estimated to be between $50 and $100 million.

So what factors have led to Actifio’s success? Ryan Johnson, Global Inside Sales Manager, explains:

“We did a really good job landing in the enterprise space in our early years, and those customers are becoming successful and raising their hands to validate that the technology actually works and delivers on its business value promise.

“But there’s also a greater need for companies to be able to migrate and manage data across a hybrid cloud landscape. The recent uptick in Microsoft’s presence in the cloud market alongside Amazon Web Services, and now Google and Oracle are starting to move into the space, has made our value proposition a lot stronger: Companies need to consolidate infrastructure across multiple platforms, whether they be legacy systems or something relatively new like Oracle Cloud. The enterprise needs to embrace the cloud, but also drive costs down with a single system of record that helps them use data as a critical asset.”

Is there any question that Actfio understands the unfolding demand their customers have for their offering? Disruptors focus first on customer needs and solve them effectively, then turn their vision toward scalable growth.

How Data is Democratizing Growth and Driving Disruption

In this resource we explore 15 lessons with interviews from sales leaders, like Ryan Johnson, at rapidly growing companies about how data and intelligence are enabling scalable growth and disruption.

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Justin Withers
About the author

Justin Withers

Justin is the Vice President, Product Management and Product Marketing at DiscoverOrg and brings a decade of experience driving pipeline and revenue growth at B2B technology companies. Justin has authored several research reports including DiscoverOrg's 2017 Growth Drivers Report: Unlock the Sales and Marketing Secrets of the Fastest Growing Companies. Justin is passionate about the power of data and content to educate, influence, and enable sales and marketing team execution.