50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2019

An Interview with Dan Turchin, Astound Co-founder and Chief Product Officer: “We Help Employees at Large Enterprises Love their Work by Automating the Process of Delivering Better Answers the First Time.”


“Astound is using AI-driven automation to define the future of work and enhance the employee experience”

While there have been advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) this year, Astound is poised to skyrocket in growth by 2020. Companies in multiple industries depend on the technology to gain greater insight, connect with customers and make better-informed business decisions. The technology has been identified as a top strategic initiative for 2020 by leading research firms including IDC, Forrester, and Gartner.

We’re thrilled to present Astound as a Top 50 Best Workplaces award winner.

The company’s AI platform is purpose-built for enterprise service management and automates answers to routine questions, accurately assigns and categorizes incidents, recommends the best resolutions, and delivers predictive analytics for organizations that fall in the IT and HR domain. Astound is the only company that has an AI platform that automates the full lifecycle of employee service requests.

Astound partners with leading enterprise IT software vendors such as ServiceNow, Atlassian, and Salesforce to offer out-of-the-box integrations with ITSM, knowledge management, Customer Service Management (CSM), and social collaboration solutions.

The company was incorporated in 2015 and is headquartered in Menlo Park, California. It has an additional office location in Hyderabad, India.

Dan Turchin, Astound Co-founder/CPO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company founded?

Employees at large enterprises deserve better service at work. The most successful companies outperform their peers by treating employees like customers. When employees love work, they deliver better business outcomes. Attrition is lower and both engagement and productivity are higher. We set up Astound to improve work-life for every employee who has ever called the help desk.

Q. Describe your first successful customer project at Astound.

One of our first customers, a Fortune 50 fast-food chain, saved $3M in the first year using the Astound AI platform. Since then, we’re proud to say every customer using Astound has experienced similar benefits.

Q. Describe your product offerings and your company’s path to growth.

We took the founding vision – improving employee experiences at large enterprises – and wrapped four apps around the service lifecycle to automate the process of requesting and receiving IT and HR service. Our platform now has four AI-driven apps that span the service lifecycle: Answers (the virtual agent for employees), Predict (intelligent routing), Advise (contextual recommendations), and Analyze (predictive analytics).

Q. What would you say are the five greatest assets to your organization and why?

Forget the ‘AI’ part and focus on the ‘service’ part. Every company wants to deliver better employee experiences. Separate the ‘how’ from the ‘what’ and focus on improving key metrics like Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR), cost per ticket, and self-service adoption.

Other factors that make Astound stand out from the competition:

  • We invest in our team as we do in our customers.
  • We create a safe work environment where every team member can do the best work of their lives.
  • We hire the “whole person” and make sure our culture takes into account everyone’s priorities and unique situations at home and at work.
  • As a product philosophy, first, make humans smarter. We don’t focus on job elimination through automation. We focus on augmenting innate human traits like intuition and judgment.
  • We value diversity in our hiring practices. Diverse backgrounds and ideas lead to stronger cultures and better products.

Q. The definition of a great company includes a culture of listening to what employees want to do and a commitment to help them do it. Do you agree with this statement?

Yes. Enthusiastically! Our greatest moments are when employees with bold ideas get inspired to share them with others and we end up shifting product strategy or creating new marketing campaigns based on ideas we wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

Moreover, we encourage all employees to invest in new skills every quarter by attending seminars, networking with peers, and teaching at brown bag events. Part of “hiring the whole employee” is encouraging everyone to pursue their passions in ways that ultimately benefit Astound.

Q. What are the reasons behind your company’s consistent growth?

Everyone in the company is committed to improving one key metric: customer value. As long as we remain focused on delivering more value than customers expect, we’ll always have the strongest products, the most motivated team members,
and the best culture.

Q. ‘It is difficult to start a venture, but far more difficult to maintain it’. How would you and your team interpret this saying?

Our mission, vision, and values haven’t changed. As long as we’re consistent about those and as long as we focus on creating customer value, we’ll continue to grow. Scaling a company is easy if it’s built on a solid foundation of trust, respect, and relentless commitment to customers.

Q. How does your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?

Astound is improving work life for everyone who has ever called the help desk. We’re proud to have defined the way the next billion employees will work. We take the responsibility seriously! And so far, it’s working.

Q. Do you have any new products coming out soon?

Yes. We’ll be announcing new apps and features in the second half of 2019.

Q. Where do you see yourself and your company two years from now?

The only metric that matters is customer value. Based on that, we envision hundreds of new organizations having adopted Astound to deliver better employee service. To achieve that, we’ll continue growing the team and creating a work environment where every employee is empowered to do the best work of their life.

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“Our mission is to make enterprise service excellent for all employees by automating the resolution of common issues using cognitive technologies like AI, natural language processing, and machine learning.”