Neil Patel

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In the bustling landscape of entrepreneurship, where dreams collide with reality, and visionaries transform industries, few narratives resonate as profoundly as that of Armon Petrossian.

From his humble beginnings in Portland, Oregon, to the pulsating heart of Silicon Valley, Armon’s journey is not just a tale of success but a testament to the power of perseverance, innovation, and the pursuit of a bold vision.

His company, Coalesce, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Emergence Capital, 11.2 Capital, GreatPoint Ventures, and Industry Ventures.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Armon’s journey from Portland to Silicon Valley showcases the power of determination and resilience.
  • Armon’s immersion in China and Europe broadened his horizons and fueled his entrepreneurial drive.
  • Armon’s side hustle in short-term rentals provided the foundation for pursuing his entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Armon’s deep understanding of data analytics paved the way for Coalesce’s revolutionary approach to data transformation.
  • Armon’s journey from angel investments to series B funding underscores the importance of unwavering determination and clear vision.
  • Armon emphasizes the importance of building habits and systems to sustain a healthy and sustainable entrepreneurial journey.
  • Armon’s mission with Coalesce is a testament to the transformative power of perseverance, innovation, and unwavering belief in a bold vision.



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About Armon Petrossian:

As Co-Founder and CEO, Armon created Coalesce, the only data transformation tool built for scale. Prior, Armon was part of the founding team at WhereScape US, a leading provider of data automation software. At WhereScape, Armon served as national sales manager for almost a decade.

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Connect with Armon Petrossian:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmaker show. So today. We have a very exciting founder with a really inspiring story. You know it’s going to be a very inspiring episode so brace yourself for it. You know we’re gonna be talking about capital raising. You know he’s done it all the way through the series b you know what has happened you know every step of the way. Especially. On the series. A also what how he was able to put himself in the position to be able to start this rocket ship that he’s on. But again all the good stuff that we like to hear when it comes down to building scaling financing and beyond so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today arm on petrosian welcome to the show.

Armon Petrossian: Love it. What an intro. Thanks Alejandro absolute pleasure to be here. Looking forward to this.

Alejandro Cremades: So born and raised team Portland Oregon give us a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up arm on.

Armon Petrossian: Um, life was grown up great I you know I was a first generation american both my parents are armenian and I grew up in Portland Oregon and it was a lovely upbringing to be honest I mean it was ah pretty standard.

Armon Petrossian: Ah, bringing I would say you know I went to public schools through elementary middle school high school and I loved I loved being from Portland I loved being from that area. It was a really great place to grow up.

Alejandro Cremades: I Mean it sounds like the entrepreneurial you know bug You know it kind of like was in you I mean what? where’s this coming from is there like anyone in the family that is ah an entrepreneur like what where’s this coming from right.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah, it’s interesting I would say my family lineage is pretty crazy. That being said is riddled with entrepreneurial spirit and growing up. My father was a real estate broker and so he was the hardest working person that I’ve ever seen and was his own kind of solopreneur I would call it. He never had a team but he was an incredibly effective realtor and so I think even at a young age. Observing him and how he went about his day-to-day and how serious he took his job was something that was instilled in me and I always was passionate about entrepreneurship even as a little kid I was selling candy in the treehouse in my backyard and so. At least to the neighborhood and so there was always different things that I was trying to do to continue to enhance my entrepreneurial spirit and by a large part of that I think does come from your family and the people that you’re surrounded by so I was fortunate I was very fortunate and grateful for that.

Alejandro Cremades: So you ended up going to the University Of Oregon and out of all things you studied their business mandarin chinese and you know finance you know so how do you find yourself all of a southern in China in Shanghai.

Armon Petrossian: Um, what an insane story. How I even ended up there in the first place is kind of ridiculous I was in college I was very interested in business as you can imagine. And so I would do these informational interviews with anybody that was in my network that I thought was very successful in their career which was usually my friend’s parents I thought I think that might be a little strange I was in high school and I would try to interview my friends’ parents and understand what led to their success. And so one of the people I respected the most suggested that I learn a foreign language and so I was like okay yeah, that sounds like a pretty good idea that that would separate myself as I go into the business world I should learn a foreign language and at the time and yeah I think still to this day. China is a very quickly emerging market. And so he suggested Mandarin would be a good option and I went back to college or while I was in college later on I pretty quickly made the decision that I’m going to go study abroad in China and so I go to the the. Like the study abroad office at University Of Oregon I walk in there with a ton of confidence I go straight to the person at the front desk and I say hey I’m going to sign up to go to live in China for a year and study abroad there and the person was like okay I’m looking at your curriculum of your history with classes.

Armon Petrossian: And looks like you’ve never taken a mandarin class. So are you sure you want to sign up for a year there and I was like yeah yeah, no I’m I’m sure and they’re like have have you done your research. Do. You know what? you’re walking into I said I mean ah’ve I’ve done some and the lady suggests why don’t you go back and do a little bit more research and come back here once you’ve made up your mind. So a little bit frustrated I go back to my place I’m like all right fine I’ll go do some research and I looked up I pulled up my web browser went to Google images and I typed in Shanghai china and I see these amazing pictures of the bund in China if you Google them now. You’d see it this amazing skyline. Super modern, high-tech looking skyline was in the James Bond movie and I’m like thinking back to itm like yeah okay I think I did my research close the laptop next day I walked back in like did extensive research I’m ready to go and so the lady’s like all right? Well if you do this, you do have to sign up for summer courses learning Mandarin before you go so committed to it. And I do the three months intensive courses in Eugene Oregon where the u of o is and I get on a plane um I ended up going to Europe in between for a couple months and then I finally land in Shanghai and my god it was not what I saw in those Google images. Pictures coming out of the airport and I realized like at that moment the term culture shock started to sink in and I knew I was in for a ride for that next year as I saw just things that I did not expect to see whether it was smog whether it was the infrastructure whether it was the vehicles.

Armon Petrossian: You know the energy the just sheer of population of people and I and I like I said I knew I was in for a ride I was a little nervous going into it I was a little scared but it ended up becoming probably the best lesson for me as an individual and one of the fastest or most. Growth experiences that I’ve shared with myself and throughout my entire life being there for a year so

Alejandro Cremades: Well well during during your university years too. I mean you did quite some travel I mean not only China you also were in Europe you know and you were bouncing from Amsterdam to Spain to italy so I guess. All these troubles. How do you think they opened up your worldview and the way that you you know the lens that you look at things from.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah, yeah, so so this was really the first time so I was I was 20 turning 21 years old and this is really the first time I had ever left the country or did any significant travel on my own as an individual and I think. Growing up in Portland Oregon and going to college in Oregon you’re generally speaking going to know people you’re going to have mutual relationships with people anywhere you go. It’s not It’s it’s not uncommon to know people and have familiarity and have some level of identity with who you are. And it wasn’t until I left where being in a foreign country with nobody that you know no relationships. No pre-existing relationships. Are you really forced to realize who you are as a person in the first place and start to understand and comprehend. Your own identity and so going through that experience was one of the most illuminating things that brought brought me seems weird to say this but brought me closer to myself and who I am and also just exposed me to have to learn how to create relationships out of thin air. And connect with people who I didn’t have any preexisting context with and so that was very much emphasized living in China where I knew nobody or I guess not only did I not know anybody I also had no idea what the culture was like I had no idea how operations were run. There wasn’t any familiarity so it was a complete.

Armon Petrossian: Flip your world upside down moment and I was obligated to kind of proceed and learn how to live my life in general and make friends and I just manage all the other things that come with with your life in a foreign country. So.

Alejandro Cremades: So eventually for you. You come back to the Us and you become an intern to where escape and it sounds like that experience was quite a life changing.

Armon Petrossian: Um, it was yeah so so basically 1 thing that I felt really strongly about while I was in college and about to come out of college. Was I didn’t really care what company I was going to go work for I had a general idea that I was interested in software or tech and real estate. But I I didn’t really care as much what company I worked for specifically. I was so much more passionate about finding somebody who I could model my career after based on their skill sets and in some degree a ah ah, mentor type figure and so that was my focus and there was a very specific person who. Happened to be at the company where escape that I really wanted to work for because my thinking was if I could obtain just half of their charisma energy thinking communication skills fill in the blank then I’d be very successful. My career career regardless of where I go and so. That just so happened to be in the etl space or in the data analytics industry and so I basically pitched him on bringing me on as an intern and ah pretty quickly that became a thing.

Armon Petrossian: And as I worked there and was exposed to the analytics industry as a whole and as the business continued to grow I was fortunate to have a lot of experiences around touching every part of the business at at warescape and. Was given a lot more responsibilities than I would say I was fully qualified for which allowed me to step up and rise to certain occasions which which ultimately led to me falling in love with the analytics industry and the general space. And building so many relationships which are what led to us starting coalesce and so that unconventional path to founding a software company I would say was all driven purely based on the fact that I wanted to work for a specific person. Not that I had ever intended to get into data Warehousing Data Analytics data engineering into anything in that space and I looking back on it was one of the best decisions that could have ever made.

Alejandro Cremades: So Then let’s talk about him. You know to starting the company but but but obviously just before you did have something on the side. You know that was like a nice kickstart into the whole entrepreneurial thing before you actually win full Force. No so. What happened there with the airbnb you know style you know site Gig. So.

Armon Petrossian: Um, yeah, yeah, good question. So basically as I mentioned earlier I’ve always been passionate bit on about entrepreneurship and when I was at warescape there was. Kind of 2 paths I saw the business unfolding. There was either 1 path where the existing organization organization stays the same it ends up taking on some investment and starts to move into the direction of building a next generation product um or something else would happen and there would be a different. Structure it would get acquired or something would something would shift to gears where that wouldn’t happen and so my thinking was I should build the financial freedom for myself. So that way at some point if the opportunity presented itself I could pursue my own. Software company and so the entire time I was there I effectively found a unique code path to circumventing the regulations associated with short-term rentals in the city of Portland where I was living where I would buy. Homes and convert them into legal bed and breakfasts and advertise them on Airbnb and so that became a really awesome side hustle for me. It also helped me operate a business as a solopreneur. Um, and so that.

Armon Petrossian: That that kind of self-awareness for me at least allowed me to be in the position where I had the financial freedom to not let the opportunity cost of starting a business and not being able to pay a salary to myself. Ah, allow me to go and pursue what became coalesce later and there’s some people in this world who can go and you know pursue a company and you know, kind of like live in a shoebox or or maybe they have a different ah setup where money isn’t in a problem and they can. Start a company and not be stressed out whereas for me I felt very strongly that if I didn’t have a standard of living that allowed me to think clearly and make decisions the way that I wanted to then I wouldn’t be in the right position to pursue a company or at least I wouldn’t make the right. Right? decisions. So It’s really critical that I set up some type of foundation that would allow me to maintain the standard of living that I wanted while while I would pursue something that would initially be more risky quote. Unquote.

Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s talk about a pursuing The more risky quote unquote with calles. So so talk to us about how was that incubation process you know from the moment that one day you got the idea to win the moment that you were like Okay, let’s go. Let’s do it. Okay.

Armon Petrossian: So.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah, so my cofounder and I we were incredibly fortunate because we worked together. At this point we’ve worked together for almost a decade and we were exposed to such a large volume. Of massive scale data warehouse implementations at our previous company warescape and there we were. We were we learned about the core concept of what could actually solve these very common breaking points that. You only see as you pass the threshold of being literally the world like some of the world’s largest most complex data warehouse or data engineering projects and so we were staring these problems in the face and ah solution in the face over and over and over again all day and. As that was happening the core team there always fantasized at being about being able to take take a concept take all the learnings we had of dealing with these massive scale implementations and start from scratch and build. Ah, cloud native solution focused on solving the problem which is the biggest bottleneck in analytics today and where coalesce serves which is the data transformation component and so as that company whereski was gaining more momentum. We ended up getting acquired.

Armon Petrossian: And it became clear that what we wanted to accomplish was not going to happen at that company and that exact same night I got a phone call from satish and he was like dude this is our chance we’ve got all the relationships in the industry. We’ve got a crystal clear vision of what we need to build. We’ve got relationships with partners customers. A go-to-market team. All we need to do is put pen to paper and so pretty quickly we left and we went straight into stealth and got working and we were so lucky because we were able to. Gip the ideation phase and the typical startup and the whole find product market fit phase largely because we had so much exposure to the exact space that we wanted to build a product in and so many relationships in that space and so when I hear about founders who. I have so much great respect for founders who go through the process of finding product market fit and that can oftentime takes many years whereas for us. We were able to shave off several years of our company journey because we had so much clarity on what we wanted to accomplish and so that was the genesis. For us building. What is coalesce today and what’s led us to have such quick growth and what’s typically a very competitive industry.

Alejandro Cremades: So talk to us about the you know the business model. How do you guys make money. Yeah.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah, So we’re a software product and we we effectively help Data Engineers be exponentially more productive compared to any other alternative in the industry and so customers buy our product as a developer solution and we’ll pay an annual. Subscription or a multi-year subscription to license our product and use it every day when it comes to delivering their snowflake data projects.

Alejandro Cremades: So then also what was that the journey like of raising money because I know that you guys have raised quite a bit of money. How much capital have you guys raised today? yes.

Armon Petrossian: 81000000 I think is the exact number. It’s probably close to that. Yeah.

Alejandro Cremades: And you guys have done a couple of rounds. So how how has it been to going from 1 financing cycle to the next with a company.

Armon Petrossian: Um, every every cycle has been crazy I would say they’ve they’ve all been very different and so the first round we ever raised was a angels round and like angel investors or family and friends round. Whatever you want to call it. And this was one of the biggest challenges for me because you know again I I grew up I was born and raised in Portland Oregon I had no connections to the venture capital industry or financial institutions or any type of investors that were focused on high-growth startups and so. Ah, for me, it was all about figuring out those relationships and fortunately because there was a lot of people that both my cofounder and I were close with that knew the problem area that we were going after solving we were able to raise roughly a million dollars from close connections and people who. Believed in what we were going to build because they had seen the problem firsthand and so that gave us a little bit of fuel to build our minimum viable product that we could then go and kind of shop to potential customers. But it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco ah just over three years ago to actually start the fundraising process of going venture capital backed and me walking into that I mean I moved here knowing pretty much nobody having 0 relationships in the venture capital industry and had to start from scratch and figure it out and that whole journey has been.

Armon Petrossian: It’s been a crazy one. It’s been a super fun one and it’s obviously been a successful one so far. So so that that was ah that was a big move for me was actually uprooting myself and moving out here with that vision in mind I just had a feeling that this would be the right place to be to do it.

Alejandro Cremades: You were talking about figuring out the venture capital world. What have you figured out you know, ah see having be having a serious b in already and having raised you know the 80000000 but but boxs plus what have you figured out so far that has impressed you the most. So.

Armon Petrossian: Thing.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah, so I would say that it’s been going through several rounds now so we did our seed our series a and our series B There was a lot of learnings in in every round and I would say I don’t know if there’s anything. That’s. Necessarily impressed me the most but but from the learnings it was incredibly eye-opening to go through the fundraising process and meet so many different venture Capital firms and understand what the process looks like. And how different it was from my expectations and so I had a completely misrepresented idea of what fundraising should be and how it goes and there were so many learnings going through the past 3 rounds that I would say. I would have never known unless I actually did it or at least spoke to somebody who had been there and done that but I would say the biggest things I’ve learned at the at the end of the day is there are a ton of investors out there. There are firms that have really flashy sexy brands to them that you’re we’re all familiar with and then there’s other firms that don’t have as well-known brands and for whatever reason we seem to think that because there’s a strong brand associated with the venture capital firm that they must have the sharpest most knowledgeable.

Armon Petrossian: Ah, strongest people at those businesses and me going through the process of talking to every single one of them in this area I’ve learned is completely false my initial perception of it was completely false. There are so many firms that disappointed me. That I spoke to that I came into Starry eyeed thinking they were going to be the most knowledgeable best investors I could have ever found and then there’s been so many firms that have just absolutely impressed me that I would have never expected to be what they were and so it’s ah that that whole. Process was eliminating as a founder and as an entrepreneur.

Alejandro Cremades: So In this case, you know for you I mean obviously the when you raise money it needs to come with a vision right? because they’re they’re betting on a vision these investors and you have like great Investors. So I Guess as you’re thinking about that Vision. You know that got excited. You know into the future that you’re living into the investors. The employees if I was to ask you? you know? let’s say you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of call is is fully realized what does that world look like.

Armon Petrossian: Um, yeah, so so pretty much since the history of analytics was even started. There has been so many flaws in the process I would say a ah lot of them are being solved. But the the biggest issue in the analytics industry today is that is the process of taking data once it’s landed in its raw format and getting it to the point that it’s consumable in a way that has proper governance. Has proper documentation has minimal technical debt and has traceability or lineage as a common term in the industry and there is a fractured approach There’s a fractured architecture of different different technologies. For people of varying technical skillsets and as a result there isn’t any clarity. There isn’t any holistic view of what goes on in the manufacturing or assembly line of taking the parts if you will the the data and getting it to the final product. And so assuming this vision. Our vision has been fully realized at coalesce what you would see is organizations that can actually produce data at a rate that is faster than the consumers of data.

Armon Petrossian: Could ever possibly imagine and that there is visibility into how things were built what was built with a level of modularity and standardization that allows for them to make changes quickly in a world where analytics projects then flourish and insights. Are available at the snap of the finger for any decision that anybody would want to make when driving their companies. Forward.

Alejandro Cremades: So We’re talking about the future here but I want to talk about the past and do so with all legs of reflection because I mean you guys have been pushing this for now you know close to 4 years. So if I was to put you to a time machine Armon And. Bring you back in time to maybe that moment where you guys were like screw. It. Let’s do it. You know, kind of thing and you’re able to stop that younger you know self and and give that younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.

Armon Petrossian: Sister.

Armon Petrossian: Yeah,, That’s a great question. So if I were to be able to go back in time and give myself some advice right before any of this I Think the. Most important thing that I would share with my younger self would be to build habits build like seriously be disciplined about building habits that allow you to manage all levels of your. Life in a way that’s healthy and sustainable whether whether that’s exercise whether that’s your mental health whether that’s physical recovery whether that’s your diet food whether that’s fun and things that you want to enjoy experiences you want to enjoy figure out. Those habits figure out those systems and focus on them like it’s do or die because those habits that foundation is what allows you to go through the absolute roller coaster journey of starting a company and without them. You’re going to be.. You’re going to be in a much much more difficult situation and you may not. You may not wake up every morning and and love what you’re doing and be excited. There is a lot of work that goes into this and the most important piece is building the right foundation The right systems for you to be successful.

Alejandro Cremades: I Love it Armon for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

Armon Petrossian: I’m super active on Linkedin we do Linkedin lives Webinars I’m I’m pretty easy to reach just find me on Linkedin if you want to touch base. It’s it’s pretty simple to find me and connect with me or shoot me a follow and if there’s ever anything that people want. Or any questions they have about the interview I’m happy to answer so yeah, feel free to reach out.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey armon thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an absolute honor to have you with us. So.

Armon Petrossian: Thanks ah, Alejandro the the honor is mine. The pleasure is mine man this was great. Had a lot of fun.


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