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2023 Update: Sean Steigerwald

The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.Sean Steigerwald is up. And...

In case you missed his story in 2019, you may want to start here first.

Sean Steigerwald

What is your name & current role?

Sean Steigerwald, Founder/CEO at CustomeriQ

Explain to the audience what it is that you do, or if it failed, what you did do?

We help teams capture all the customer feedback around their company and make it searchable and synthesized with AI. This helps them to inform their product roadmap using real customer feedback, position solutions in ways customers understand, and optimize customer support, and generally create better experiences for customers.

Since you last shared on Hardly Hustle, what have you been up to?

Last we spoke I was running Malartu, an analytics platform for SMB. We have since merged Malartu with FORT Capital Resources and built an amazing new platform called Fortify. Fortify helps vendors originate customer loans to acquire equipment/software at the point of sale. I'm still actively involved with the Fortify/FORT team and really excited to see where this goes.

Since your last story, any responses you’d tweak or add to?

It's funny reading back through these. I agree with most of my answers but of course, have not always followed by own advice :) I've recently been reminded how motivating it is to me to solve big problems. Like most entrepreneurs I went through a year or two phase where I mistakingly convinced myself that it would be "easier" to build a "boring" business like consulting or SMB-related work. Turns out it's not easier. Building any businesses is hard work. The grass is not greener.


So it's important to love what you're working on before any other aspect of the business. You need to get excited on Sunday evening that you get to work on it on Monday. For me, that tends to be new technology that solves big problems. Being back in that sphere is so freaking fun. My motivations have also expanded to not just building cool tech but building a company I love working at. I am motivated to make the journey as fun as the destination. Which means working on something exciting with inspirational people I love being around. I'm excited to build a culture of hard work, accountability, and a lot of winning, with really great people.

What have you automated or thought about automating in your day to day to make life easier?

I really hate emptying the dishwasher

What hire has made the most impact for you?

Finding someone with a complimentary skill set but equal (or higher) work ethic is such an invigorating experience. These are the people you get energy from after every conversation. Although not a "hire" CustomerIQ cofounder, Brian, is that for me and I've had cofounders and colleagues like that in the past. 

At the end of every day Brian and I do a quick sync/standup and every single time I'm fired up. Hard to measure that impact but it's big. That energy is a big factor I look for in who I work with.

Has your work-life balance gotten better or worse, and why?

It's about the same. When you're building a company the two kind of merge into one. Not in a bad way, just that I'm almost always thinking about CustomerIQ. I make an effort to be fully present when I'm with friends and loved ones, but if I'm left to my own thoughts you can bet I'm thinking about work. But I think that's okay. This work is a ton of fun.

What’s one thing you’re bullish on or think is a good idea?

I think large language models, and their various components (like embeddings, search, etc.), are 100X more impactful than what most people realize today. I certainly plan on demonstrating that with CustomerIQ, but there are near-limitless good ideas to come from this wave that haven't been thought of yet.

What is one business tool or resource you can’t live without?

My phone

What is one "life hack" or one tool in your life, personal or professional, that has made a large impact?

ChatGPT is like having the world's smartest personal assistant for $240/yr. In the same conversation it can help you brainstorm a cold email to a sales prospect then switch to talking through possible hyperparameters for your new search algorithm... I mean come on.


I list this as a life hack because I'm tried to introduce use cases to many people and they don't seem to recognize the advantage.


# of Employees?


Current revenue?

Not provided.

Projected revenue?

Not provided.

Any call to action?


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