Business Power Tools: Mavenlink's CEO Shares His Favorite Tech

By Juan Martinez Features PCmag

Ray Grainger is the only CEO I know who has ever lived in Antarctica. So, when I asked him to name some of his favorite technology toys, I figured he'd provide me with a list of drones designed to capture 4K video of exotic locales or wearables that can alert him to when his biometrics reach dangerous levels. Well, it turns out that Grainger, the founder of Mavenlink, a project management (PM) tech startup, is a much more responsible tech buyer than he is a world traveler.

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Mavenlink provides professional services firms with a one-stop solution for accounting, business intelligence (BI), collaboration, and PM. Grainger's company and its more than 200 employees help organizations overcome digital obstacles when planning projects across teams, companies, and regions. This includes things such as staying on budget, simplifying group work, keeping track of time and expenses, among many other use cases.

I spoke with Grainger about the tech he uses at home and at work to ensure that both his personal and professional lives smoothly run. Here are his eight go-to applications and tools for work and play.

1. Salesforce

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No shocker here. Like many organizations, Mavenlink uses Salesforce, the popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool, to manage its sales funnel. Whenever people fill out forms and landing pages requesting additional information about Mavenlink, that information is captured and funneled into Salesforce where it's sorted and fed to sales staff who can then reach out to prospects and leads. Grainger refers to the tool as the company's "central opportunity management and contracting system."

2. HubSpot

What good is all that data if you can't effectively communicate with potential customers? That's why Grainger and Mavenlink use HubSpot for marketing automation.

"With thousands of leads generated a month, and people who just want to know about us but aren't ready to buy, we need to have a process for nurturing and engagement," Grainger said. "HubSpot allows us to manage this for tens of thousands of users of our products."

3. Google Hangouts

Mavenlink is a close-knit organization. Grainger works in a big glass room where employees are encouraged to enter and leave at their leisure, and where they're free to work on Grainger's white board to demonstrate ideas to colleagues. Because the company runs seven offices, employees often communicate via Google Hangouts in lieu of a phone call. The company runs global town hall meetings during which all of the company's offices tune in to listen to Grainger talk about the state of the company and ask questions about Mavenlink's roadmap. These global town hall meetings are run via Google Hangouts as well.

"We like Google's infrastructure, Gmail, Google Calendar," Grainger said. "These are good productivity tools."

4. MacBook Pro

Grainger and the vast majority of his staff use recently released MacBook Pros. When asked why he chose a Mac over a PC, Grainger replied, "It really started out of our engineering group. They felt more comfortable developing with the development tools in the Mac environment. It was the best option for Flash memory at the time: just open your computer and be ready to go. From a maintenance experience, it was easier to maintain. Although it was more expensive, even as a startup, we decided to go that way."

Today, everyone at Mavenlink uses a Mac save for four of the company's accounts who prefer to use PCs because of organic Windows apps such as Microsoft Excel.

5. iPhone 6S

Three-quarters of Mavenlink's staff use iOS by choice, Grainger said. The company has a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy that lets its employees choose their own smartphones. Grainger, a dedicated iPhone user, hasn't upgraded to the Apple iPhone 7 or Apple iPhone 7 Plus—a curious choice for someone so steeped in tech.

I found it curious that a tech junkie like Grainger, the founder of a tech startup for crying out loud, would allow himself to be a year behind the cutting edge of mobile tech. "The 6S is starting to slow down a bit, but I'm waiting for the big release for the 10-year anniversary iPhone," he explained.

6. LinkedIn

Mavenlink uses LinkedIn as its primary recruitment tool. It's where the company posts its job openings and proactively seeks out job candidates for open positions. The company also uses LinkedIn Navigator for prospecting and sales insights. LinkedIn Navigator lets companies search for, connect with, and learn about specific buyers on the network.

7. Evernote

Grainger uses Evernote to capture his own thoughts and organize content that he finds online. Evernote, which started out as a note-taking tool, is also a document sharing and collaboration app that lets you embed audio and images into notes, and synch files back to a home or office computer.

8. Amazon Echo

At home, Grainger is in the process of automating all of his gadgets so that they work in sync with his Amazon Echo. He's connected the Echo to his Nest thermostat and security camera, integrated the device with his Phillips Hue Lighting system, and has got it connected to his streaming music services.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.