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Steve Holm returns to Copper, and his vision is clear

Copper CEO on unfinished business and his relentless drive to deliver product value

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Author photo: Katrina Oko-Odoi

Katrina Oko-Odoi

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Lots of things are brewing at Copper these days, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sit down for a chat with our CEO. What better way to give you a front-row seat to the goings-on behind the scenes than hearing it straight from the source? In case you hadn’t heard, Steve Holm, one of Copper’s original visionaries, has returned as our CEO. With a rich history at Copper, and a diverse journey through the tech world in between, Steve brings a unique perspective to his new role.

A Q&A with Copper's CEO

We chatted with Steve about his career path, his return to Copper, and his vision for the future. Let’s dive in.

Copper: Can you share a bit about your early days at Copper, when it was still ProsperWorks?

Steve Holm: Absolutely. My journey with Copper began when the company was still in formation. I was at Base CRM at the time (which later became ZenDesk Sell), where I really fell in love with the CRM space — especially the focus on simplicity and mobile-first design. So when I met Jon Lee, the original founder, I was captivated by his vision of a “Google CRM.” It was all about leveraging Google's productivity suite to create a seamless CRM experience. I came on board as the first product and design leader. We had a clear goal back then: to build something unique from scratch, focusing on great design and Google integration. Those early years, growing the company from nothing to $25M in annual recurring revenue (ARR) over 5 years, were incredibly rewarding.

Since your first role at Copper, you’ve had quite a journey. Could you tell us about that?

After Copper, I moved to Dropbox to lead their Ecosystem team, learning how to navigate and influence in a large-scale company. We developed an API and built a marketplace to allow other companies to develop integrations with the platform. After Dropbox, I joined Podium, a Communication and Lead Conversion tool for local businesses, where I focused on bringing a self-service engine to life and transforming the user experience. I led initiatives to improve the core experience at the same time as we were adding new features.

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What sparked your interest in returning to Copper as CEO?

My connection with Copper never really faded. Throughout my career, I stayed in touch with key leaders and team members, including the board chair. What really drew me back was the shift I noticed in Copper's focus in recent years, more towards marketing and sales-oriented motions. And so I started talking to the board about the opportunities I saw to refocus efforts back on the product, thinking more about innovation instead of just sales and marketing. When you’re in a crowded market like CRM, you need to do a lot of innovating to carve out a clear space in the market and keep building for that. I saw a lot of areas that could be improved to create a superior product.

I feel like Copper has such amazing potential to be something unique for different types of customers. I wanted to come back and try to revive that innovative spirit that Copper once had. I firmly believe that’s what’s going to get us to the next level of growth.

Transitioning from product design to CEO is a somewhat unusual trajectory. How did your background prepare you for this?

As a design leader, my focus was always on connecting product experiences to customer value and business outcomes. When you think about it, this skill is directly transferable to a CEO role. A CEO needs to articulate a clear vision and ensure it resonates with the team, customers, and stakeholders. My past experiences have helped me cultivate the ability to influence, execute, and drive impactful outcomes to be successful in this role. I’m focused on guiding the entire team to clearly connect the dots between what they’re doing and the impact they’re having on the business and for our customers.

What are your main goals coming into this new role?

My number one goal has been to reconnect with our customers — to understand what works, what doesn't, and what they truly need. A second piece has been to analyze market trends and behaviors and better understand our competitive landscape. The insights we’ve gained have helped us get clear on who our ideal customers are and double down on being mission-critical for this specific set of businesses, rather than just okay for a broader audience. From all of our learnings, we’re confident in our investment in building a tool for relationship-centric businesses that sell differently and need a platform that reflects their business flows.

How do you envision Copper's future under your leadership?

The next phase for Copper is all about enhancing the product experience. We’re hard at work improving existing features and adding new ones that provide real value, especially for service-based organizations. We’ve spent a lot of time with this customer base, really understanding how they serve their clients in order to build a product that makes these processes, and the entire client journey, easier for them.

As a SaaS company, our goal is to provide software that creates customer value through a superior product experience and great support for our customers. We're in an era where business software needs to be as intuitive and well-designed as consumer apps, and that’s the bar we’re aiming to meet at Copper.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

I feel more strongly about Copper’s vision and mission today than I have about any other company that I’ve worked with. I'm excited about this new chapter at Copper, and thrilled to take our awesome customer base along with us for this journey.

To hear more from Steve and see what's on our 2024 roadmap, watch our latest Coffee with Copper webinar.

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