Building the Rocket Ship as You Pilot It: How Trulioo Navigated a New CEO, Global Expansion, and COVID During a Period of Hypergrowth

When Steve Munford joined leading digital identity verification provider Trulioo as the new CEO as the company expanded its global footprint, he knew to be mindful of common pitfalls like making quick decisions and sweeping changes without appreciating the historical context. Instead, he took time to analyze the business from top to bottom and build relationships with Trulioo’s co-founders Stephen Ufford and Tanis Jorge. Rather than slowing down his work at Trulioo, it helped Steve accelerate his impact, knowing that he wasn’t duplicating previously unsuccessful efforts or making decisions that would clash with the mission-driven corporate culture. By developing that framework with the founders and the company at large, he was able to ensure that he was building the company for the long-term without breaking all of the things that already worked.

Trulioo provides businesses with instant digital identity verification that support compliance requirements, mitigate risk, and reduce friction in the onboarding process. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, demand increased significantly alongside Trulioo’s customers’ digital initiatives. Trulioo had always planned to expand its services globally, but this hypergrowth needed a clear roadmap to be executed diligently. The company planned to scale multiple functions, while also opening offices and growing headcount across the globe. To help prioritize product and go-to-market strategies, Trulioo leaned into two key features: customer feedback and a truly global workforce. Customer feedback helped Trulioo look around corners to see which identity verification features and regulatory hurdles were becoming top of mind for its customers. By establishing a global workforce, the company was confident in knowing that they truly understood their customers’ needs – who were themselves increasingly global – as well as the nuances of the markets they were entering into.

In this episode of Growth Journeys, we discuss how Trulioo navigated hyper growth accelerated by digitization during COVID-19, while building out thoughtful global operations and go-to-market strategies built for the long haul. Steve explains why he prioritizes building trust with founding executives and expanding global offices. He also walks us through Trulioo’s mission driven culture, and how the company is executing on its goal to enable everyone on the planet to participate in a global, increasingly digital economy.

Key Takeaways:

  • How Steve navigated stepping into the CEO role at a company that was previously founder-led.

For CEOs joining companies that were previously founder-led, it can be extremely tempting to implement changes quickly in order to create impact. But Steve advocates a different approach and suggests that new executives instead spend that time analyzing what’s been working at the company, and what impact the founders had on that success to date. “You have to start by [asking yourself] ‘What is going to be missing when that founder steps aside from the business?’”

He advocates for taking as much time as possible to watch, learn, and digest, and understand why certain moves have been made, and others haven’t. Doing so allows a new outside CEO to truly understand the culture and nuances of an organization before making sweeping changes. He also suggests building a partnership with the founders, when possible, to build trust and open communication. “The goal is not to slow things down, but further accelerate them. You have got to make sure that when you step in, you’re not doing any harm, but setting both you and the company up to go even faster.”

  • The benefits of building a diverse workforce when expanding a company into new markets across the globe.

One of the first tasks Steve tackled at Trulioo was going to market globally, during a pandemic that had made operations go virtual. Until then, Trulioo had been headquartered in Vancouver, and it could have been simpler to continue with the same team at first. But each market operates differently, and nuances can vary wildly from country to country, which is why Trulioo continued its plan to create a diverse, global workforce. “If you’re going to have a global company…you need to have offices, locations, and workforces all around the world. You need to have a leadership team that is truly multicultural, diverse, and is able to motivate and understand the nuances of the culture,” says Steve.

Indeed, Steve suggests that leadership teams actively prioritize being diverse and cross-cultural as they scale. However, while having a global presence is critical for market presence, go-to-to-market strategies, and talent development as a company grows, for a tech company based outside of the US, having a strong presence in the US is also important.

  • Using customer feedback to understand new markets, prioritize product iteration, and drive growth.

While Trulioo had always planned to expand its identity verification services across the globe, the pandemic accelerated the demand for the company’s services. While there was no shortage of varying needs and priorities, Steve and his team used one criterion to really prioritize its hypergrowth strategy: customer feedback. Because Trulioo works with some of the largest companies across many verticals, their feedback was critical in helping Trulioo craft its product and go-to market roadmaps. “[Our customers] guide us to the countries that they want to move into next. They guide us on how they see the identity landscape changing, where fraud is coming from, or where the regulatory environment is going. Through that dialogue, we’re able to really help prioritize our roadmap, prioritize where we need to innovate, and prioritize areas that we should partner with,” says Steve.

  • How Trulioo’s mission of fostering global inclusion for everyone in the digital economy has helped guide the company’s culture, product, and growth journey.

Providing identity verification services and building a robust identity network is built on the company’s core mission to advance financial inclusion. Trulioo aims to enable everyone on the planet to participate in the global economy no matter where they are. That mission is engrained in how Trulioo creates services and products, even if someone isn’t a customer or employee of a company using Trulioo yet. By thinking about future users, Trulioo is able to think more long term and build products that enable even more people to access high value services online. Says Steve, “We are a mission driven company, and ultimately I think our customers appreciate that because when we go about helping them do their jobs, we’re coming at it from a place of purpose. I think that really comes through.”

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