SalesTechStar Interview with Joe Walsh, CEO of Thryv

Joe Walsh, CEO of Thryv chats about automation trends among SMBs in this quick catch-up:


Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Joe, tell us about yourself and your journey at Thryv since joining…how has the platform grown/evolved over the years?

I’m an entrepreneur with over three decades of experience building and growing businesses. I was CEO at Yellowbook, a yellow pages publisher we took from $20 million to $2 billion in revenues, eventually going public on the London Stock Exchange as part of the $4 billion Yell Group. Later I became Executive Chairman of Cambium Learning, a SaaS platform for kids educational materials, which we took from $0.70 a share to $14.50 and sold to Vista Equity Partners.

As the CEO at Thryv Holdings, Inc., the mission has been to pivot from a marketing services company that delivers leads to small businesses into a SaaS platform that, in addition to delivering leads, provides software that simplifies how small businesses manage their time, process payments and interact with their customers.

The past seven years have been a journey of applying an idea, and after listening to customer and market feedback, shifting and learning how to become the technology small businesses – especially in the service sector – can’t do without.

We have over 46,000 small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) on our Thryv platform today, giving them the tools needed to not only move their entire operation into the cloud but to become easier to do business with and compete with enterprise-level players.

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What are some of the key tech trends and tech adoption challenges you often see in small business teams that you’d like to talk about here?

The 2020s will be the decade when local, independent small businesses automate their operations and migrate them to the cloud. This happened with large enterprises in the 2010s. We are essentially putting the small business owner’s office in their pocket so they can run their business from anywhere. This is essential for them to remain relevant because another key trend is that consumers live on their smartphones and expect the same level of service from a small business that they receive from Amazon, Uber or Domino’s – informational transparency, automated communications, and seamless interactivity.

Another important trend is that consumers now prefer to use digital payment solutions and SMBs are adopting digital payment platforms to serve them. To address the SMBs’ needs for payment processing, we introduced ThryvPay – a payment processing platform that can be customized to address the way that a business owner wants to accept payments and how their customers want to pay.

Lastly, it seems every year a new platform emerges that fosters easier consumer communication. Web Chat, Email, SMS Messaging, Facebook and Instagram Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram – each of these create the likelihood of a missed or delayed customer interaction. Each simultaneously makes it easier for consumers, while creating ongoing headaches and challenges for growing small businesses. In Thryv, we created a unified inbox where the SMB can utilize these communication platforms on one screen with their customer, enabling them to remain organized and streamlined while being responsive to the customer’s preferred communication tools.

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What in your view are some of the top technologies that SMB teams need to be looking more sincerely at, to enable better internal processes and outcomes?

Our SMB customers tell us that, with the aftermath of the pandemic and the current supply chain challenges, they are finding it difficult to staff and service their customers. As a result, they need to find cost and staffing efficiencies. And they’ve shared that Thryv, because it automates much of the client communication that used to be handled manually, essentially replaces the need for a personal assistant. Thryv simplifies the SMB’s social media and client referral and review processes, enabling the SMB to generate new business with less legwork than without it.

When it comes to optimizing a brand’s digital transformation initiatives, what are some of the top practices you’d share?

Move with the market. Ultimately stay as close as possible to your customers and your target market. Get out of the office and into their world to understand their pains. Ensure your strategies stay grounded in reality.

Overcommunicate – The business isn’t just changing for your clients, it’s changing for your employees. Ensure they are a part of this transformation. Help them adapt. Invest in cross-training, employee enrichment, growth and development. Share the vision, then seek out every opportunity to share incremental proof points showing that the strategy is paying off.

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A few thoughts on the future of B2B technology and the overall market?

We have a product roadmap filled with innovation and opportunities to deliver faster time-to-value results and be a differentiator for SMBs to compete against enterprise-grade competition. We also invest and innovate heavily in customer success – we partner with our SMB customer from when they request a product demo, to when they are onboarded, and when they ramp up their learning in the initial weeks following a purchase. We make sure that clients who entrust Thryv with their business have 24/7 expert support so they can learn on a timetable that works for them. This is one of our biggest differentiators.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!

Small, local businesses are the backbone of America, and we at Thryv are determined to ensure they succeed. By using Thryv to automate their businesses, small business owners can remain relevant with today’s mobile consumer and gain time back in their own daily lives to focus on their passion.

Thryv has been around in one form or another for more than 125 years, always with one goal in mind — helping small businesses compete and win. Thryv provides the technology, software and local business automation tools small business owners need to better manage their time, communicate with clients, and get paid, so they can take control of their business and be more successful.

Joe Walsh serves as Chairman and CEO.  He is charged with leading the overall company strategy and operations. A respected leader in the industry, Joe brings a wealth of experience to Thryv with previous leadership roles in a variety of companies. Throughout his career, Joe has successfully guided companies through significant growth periods, mergers and acquisitions, international expansions, and public listings and restructurings. Joe brought a new strategic direction to Thryv.

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