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"A bizarro-world Salesforce": Parker Conrad talks compound startups with Strictly VC

Nathaniel BrewsterNov 18, 2021

To our CEO Parker Conrad, the conventional wisdom of building a startup focused on solving a niche problem is obsolete. There is far more potential for success when one builds multiple products in parallel, addressing a large and complex business problem from multiple angles. He calls it a compound startup. 

Speaking with Connie Loizos of Strictly VC, Parker expands on this vision and how Rippling’s been built to fulfill it. He also touches on how his personal journey as an entrepreneur helped Rippling succeed in the ultra-competitive world of SaaS startups. 

Watch the conversation

The highlights

  • Just like Salesforce ties everything together through the customer, Rippling is building an operating system for business that ties everything together through the employee. As Parker puts it, Rippling is like “this bizarro-world version of Salesforce where everything is re-centered around employee data.” 
  • Employee data helps create a unified schema across many different types of business software. With such a schema in place, you can start to build dynamic workflows that trigger, and are triggered by, employee actions in Rippling as well as those in other pieces of software. 
  • Rippling is what Parker calls “a compound startup.” Compound startups require building multiple different products in parallel and help solve larger business problems that span distinct business systems. While they may be trickier to launch than a traditional SaaS startup, compound startups provide far greater opportunities for growth and returns. 
  • Most of the conventional wisdom around building a company is focus, focus, focus—set your sights on a narrow problem, and solve it well. While that advice was right at one point, it’s wrong today. It’s exactly why businesses have a collection of 100 separate point source solutions that they must manage independently, and exactly why Rippling exists. 
  • Rippling employs more than 50 former founders to help build specific product lines and run them as general managers.