As sons of tradesmen, both Ara Mahdessian and Vahe Kuzoyan grew up in the industry, and after earning degrees from prestigious schools, they used their new skills to return to their roots.
Eight years later, the two co-founders of home service software company ServiceTitan, which employs 300 people in California and Georgia, are sitting down with PM to discuss their company, their families, their goals and the trends they are seeing in the market today.
PM: You both emigrated to the U.S. as young children — what was that experience like for you and your families, and how has that helped shape who you are today?
AM: We’re both Armenian. Our fathers started residential contracting businesses when they immigrated to the U.S. We watched our fathers make the sort of sacrifices that are natural to contractors running their own businesses — the toll of physical labor plus the stresses of maintaining and growing revenue, satisfying customers and ensuring the day-to-day business ran smoothly, while still affording time with our families.
VK: We knew how much our fathers sacrificed to not only raise their families in America but also to send us to two of the most prestigious colleges in the country. I earned degrees in Neuroscience, Business and Computer Science from the University of Southern California while Ara studied Management Science and Engineering at Stanford.
PM: You are both sons of tradesmen — at what age did you become involved in the industry, and were you in the industry up until you founded ServiceTitan eight years ago?
AM: Our fathers were tradesmen, so we’ve been close to it our entire lives. We have benefited greatly from the opportunities our fathers gave us through their hard work and sacrifice.
VK: We began ServiceTitan eight years ago to begin repaying that debt, not just to our fathers, but to the thousands of contractors and home service entrepreneurs who give so much to their families and their customers.
PM: What prompted you to create ServiceTitan, and what was your original goal?
AM: To transform people’s lives. The home services industry has historically been underserved by technology. There was no reason back then, or today, that our customers shouldn’t have powerful, easy-to-use software just like every other industry. So we built it.
VK: Truthfully, I just wanted to be useful to my dad! I wanted to give him a tool that would help him grow his business and make his life a little easier. I couldn’t think of a better application for everything I had learned about building software.
PM: What do you hope ServiceTitan can do for other contractors and tradesmen?
AM: It’s doing it. ServiceTitan customers are reporting increased profits, their customers are receiving even better service and they have insights into their business that, if they had them before, weren’t nearly as easy to access as they are with ServiceTitan.
VK: I hope technicians and CSRs feel more like experts. They now have so much information at their fingertips, so many tools to delight the homeowner.
PM: What are some of the technology trends you are seeing in your field, and how are you staying on tops of those trends?
AM: The Internet of Things will be big for the home services. ServiceTitan is working with all of the right people to make sure that internet-connected equipment sends alerts to the contractor in a way that is simple to setup while still satisfying the manufacturer.
VK: That’s going to happen all through ServiceTitan.
PM: By all accounts, your story is an example of the American dream — what would you say to others who may be in a similar situation?
AM: Set your sights on achieving the extraordinary and don’t stop until you get there. And never forget where you came from or the people who gave so much for you to get where you are.
VK: Take every opportunity to learn. Education paired with drive is an unbeatable combination.
PM: How do you gather feedback from your customers, and how do you make sure you are taking that feedback into consideration during product development?
AM: Every ServiceTitan customer has a dedicated Success Manager who stays with them for the life of their account. Whether it’s phone calls or emails, they’re in frequent contact to ensure that that customer is getting every bit of value out of ServiceTitan. We get a lot of valuable insight from that interaction.
VK: Our customers also know exactly what their business needs so they’ll stop us at a tradeshow or send us a text, “Hey, have you thought about this?” We update the product every 6-8 weeks so ServiceTitan is never lacking for new features.
PM: How many employees do you have, and what is your company culture like?
AM: We are at nearly 300 of the best team members in all of Los Angeles, and now Atlanta. We just opened a second office to help serve our East Coast customers better.
VK: Every Titan is maniacally focused on our customers’ success and the success of their fellow team members.
PM: What do you like to do in your free time?
AM: I love spending time with my family, but if I have to name an outside interest, it would be soccer.
VK: I love being with my family away from work. Skiing is my hobby.
PM: What is one interesting thing about you that most people do not know?
AM: We have a philanthropic relationship with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
VK: We and our fellow Titans participate in fundraisers, blood drives, charity walks and other events. It’s been very rewarding to give back to the community.