Building the Next App Store with Mark Bubien, Sales Engineering Leader
We’re excited to spotlight Mark Bubien, Sales Engineering leader at Instabase. In this spotlight, we’ll highlight Mark’s journey to Instabase, where he sees Instabase heading, and his personal journey.
About Mark: Mark is one of the founding members of the UK team at Instabase and leads Sales Engineering. He is focused on building teams that combine technical expertise and commercial acumen, and is passionate about developing people. He spent 8 years as a software developer before jumping into presales in 2017 at AppDynamics where he stepped up to lead one of the UK Sales Engineering teams after 18 months. His speciality subjects outside of tech are watches and whiskey.
How did you decide to join Instabase?
Every now and then you get a phone call that changes your life. My last one was on a sunny day back in May 2020. It was from Christiana, the lead Go To Market recruiter at Instabase. She told me that they were building a platform that was going to be the future of computing and was putting together a world class Sales Engineering team to be an integral part of the Go to Market – would I be interested in hearing more? After a twenty minute conversation I put down the phone and sat back in my chair – my interest was spiked.
I immediately started doing some research. I discovered that the company was building an operating system and app store, but for the enterprise. Being a massive Apple fanboy this sounded too good not to find out more – I love how Apple has revolutionized the consumer app market with iOS and after working with banks, insurers and retailers for the last 10 years I could see that the possibilities were endless.
Fast forward two weeks and I was on a call with CEO and founder – Anant Bhardwaj. We started digging into the reasons why he started Instabase and the journey he’d been on from his PHD studies at MIT to raising over $130 million to build the business. There was one big question on my mind though – “Anant, you’re pitching this as the operating system for the enterprise – and this really excites me – but you seem to have concentrated on solving a document understanding problem at the moment. How come?” He proceeded to explain that Instabase is architected so that discreet building blocks using best in breed technologies can be deployed on top of the highly scalable infrastructure. These can be combined, augmented with custom logic and packaged into standalone solutions to solve some of the largest and most common problems businesses are facing today. It just so happened that all the businesses Anant and the team spoke to were trying to solve a common problem – how do you extract information trapped in semi-structured, highly variable documents in a scalable way? He told me that the team got to work constructing the building blocks to solve this problem – for example a block for digitizing the documents using a range of best in class OCR engines, a block to split up and classify large PDF packets into their constituent documents, a block to quickly configure extraction using computer vision, natural language processing, structural detection and algorithmic constraints, a block to validate extracted information against external schemas and APIs, and so on. But document understanding is only one problem in a sea of thousands, and Instabase could provide building blocks to fix these as well. The penny was dropping.
Then he shared his screen and showed me a demo. It was at this point I knew I had to be part of the Instabase story.
What gets you excited about the future of Instabase?
Technology is cool – I got my first Game Boy aged six and have been fascinated since. Following studying for my degree in Computer Science I went on an 8 year journey into software engineering, working for a range of companies from tiny Soho startup to multinational banking giant, experiencing all of the great and not-so-great things that come with being a developer in companies of different sizes. And then in 2017 I had an epiphany. I wasn’t enjoying cranking out code every day and I certainly wasn’t the type to ‘plug in’ every morning and go for nine hours straight – as much as I enjoyed building things I really got my satisfaction from spending time with the team and our end users, understanding how the work I was doing on a daily basis was impacting their businesses. I was introduced to Sales Engineering by some colleagues I did my internship with. They explained that the role required someone who understands technology and can articulate it to others, but enjoys getting involved with customers and solving real world problems. This sounded like the perfect role for me and I spent the next three years learning my craft from some of the best minds in the industry, constantly being pushed outside of my comfort zone and taking on challenges that scared the hell out of me. It was incredible.
The time I spent both as a Sales Engineer and a leader working with and learning from some of the largest and most successful enterprises in the world further cemented my view that technology is only relevant if it is serving a purpose and making our lives better. Every bank wants to be able to provide mortgage decisions faster than their competitors or cut down the manual effort required for their KYC process, every insurer wants their teams to spend less time manually processing claims and every logistics company has to deal with an endless stream of forms.
The power of Instabase is in taking cutting edge technologies (built by Instabase and third parties), quickly combining them to achieve real world objectives like these in a fraction of the time it would take to build something from scratch and then scaling across an organization.
As a Sales Engineering leader I’m excited by a few things in particular:
The people – to build an incredible company you need more than an incredible product – you need the right people. I’ve been blown away by how smart, ambitious and humble the tribe is here at Instabase. Having the opportunity to help people develop both as professionals and as people is something that really drives me, and it’s great to see the team here growing so quickly.
The problems we’re solving – seeing customers like NatWest Group and Standard Chartered using our technology, in production, to solve real world use cases and streamline their businesses is inspiring to be part of.
The rate of innovation – it’s incredible to see how quickly the product is evolving. The constant innovation of the platform is making it quicker and easier for our customers to build solutions for their most complex problems, and on a personal level it’s great to get to play with the tech on a daily basis!
The culture – company culture and the behaviors it drives fascinates me. We make a conscious effort as leaders to drive a culture that always expects excellence in each other and operates with urgency, but paramount to this is prioritizing taking care of our people and being good human beings.
It’s been almost a year since my phone rang on that sunny May day and changed the course of my professional life. I truly believe that at Instabase we have a chance to change the course of computing as well, and I’m so excited to be part of it.Building the Next App Store with Mark Bubien, Sales Engineering Leader