Alexander Aghassipour

Cofounder, Zendesk

In the 13 years since Zendesk was founded out of a loft in Copenhagen, the company has gone from a customer-relationship management (CRM) upstart to a public business worth more than $10 billion.

“We used to have to tell customers that SaaS was a good thing,” cofounder Alexander Aghassipour says, referring to software as a service. “Enterprise technology was terrible, all about features and never about the customer.”

Aghassipour was part of the journey from day one, and spent a decade in the US iterating the company’s product as its chief product officer. Zendesk may be firmly established now, but Aghassipour says there’s still more to do.

Now back in Denmark, his transformational role is about keeping a steady hand at the tiller. The company is still in growth mode, and Aghassipour’s job is to maintain the firm’s vision and consistency of culture.

“Thirteen years ago we kickstarted a mindset that customer support is part of the marketing to potential customers,” he says. “Now my role is making sure that our original vision is still the shining star within the company and getting everyone on the same page.”

Not changing things for the sake of it may go against the "move fast and break things" mantra of most startups, but Aghassipour believes customers and users prefer that the business focuses on its best ideas.