Pax8 is something of a rare breed amid the fast and furious world of startups — people don’t start and leave within a year’s time. And that’s because the company knows how to invest in its people, whether through learning and development opportunities or the leadership team’s commitment to promoting from within.
We spoke with three members of Pax8’s sales leadership team, all of whom have been at the company for five or more years. Their stories provide more than just a peek inside the company’s exciting cloud buying product — they’re living proof of Pax8’s culture and approach to retaining talent.
EMPLOYEES: 300-plus total; 275 in Colorado
WHAT THEY DO: Pax8 simplifies cloud buying and improves operational efficiency by aggregating all of the services a small or medium-sized business would need — from billing and provisioning to post-sale support.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Greenwood Village, Colorado
GOING OFF-SCRIPT: Pax8’s sales team takes a unique approach to selling, one that depends less on sales scripts than on investing in sales employees and giving them the tools they need to succeed, no matter the scenario.
PAX8 OF THE FUTURE: Seven years ago, Pax8 was just a twinkle in CEO John Street’s eye. Today, it’s a company of 290 and one of the fastest-growing startups in the Denver area.
Jared Pangretic, VP of Sales
As the VP of sales, Jared is responsible for the growth and health of the Pax8 sales organization, including the development and execution of go-to-market sales strategies, working cross-departmentally with vendors and partners, and growing the next batch of Pax8 sales leaders.
BEYOND WORK: Jared is a serious climber and does both rock climbing and mountaineering. Professionally, Jared thinks the sport is a perfect analogy for leadership: Be humble, expect challenges and use strong judgment to accomplish your goals.
How does the company promote employees’ growth? How did it promote your own growth?
When I started at Pax8, I was a jack-of-all-trades. I was selling, helping with order fulfillment and even doing some customer service.
We are extremely transparent about what the path to promotion looks like at Pax8. We have a leadership and mentorship program designed for aspiring leaders and a fast track to management if you choose to pursue it. Because of this attitude towards leading, I was able to take ownership of problems and implement changes relatively early in my career at Pax8.
Ultimately, people come first at Pax8. If our employees aren’t happy, how can we hope to provide a positive experience to our partners?”
What is unique about the sales team’s approach at Pax8? How is this different from other sales environments you’ve worked in?
Ultimately, people come first at Pax8. If our employees aren’t happy, how can we hope to provide a positive experience to our partners? We are here to build long-lasting relationships that are built upon trust and knowledge.
At other companies, I have been told that the customer is king and to always put them first. The focus is on our people at Pax8.
How has the company’s sales org changed in the time you’ve been with Pax8?
As we’ve entered into hypergrowth, our sales organization has evolved. We created new roles due to the needs of our partners and our vendors, which has allowed us to align ourselves with everyone’s goals, not just our own. That said, there are many positions and responsibilities that have remained the same as we have evolved — and our promotion paths have been basically the exact same for a long time now.
Nick Heddy, Chief Revenue Officer
As Pax8’s chief revenue officer, Nick oversees all revenue-generating activities at the company. That includes providing oversight and input for both the sales and marketing teams.
BEYOND WORK: Outside of work, Nick loves hunting for sport and playing basketball.
You started at Pax8 in a very different role as a cloud solutions manager. Give us a bird’s eye view of your career path at the company.
When I joined Pax8 in 2012, it was a very young startup and still proving a concept, so there was little structure in the sales organization. Since joining the company less than five years ago, I have been promoted to manager, director, VP of sales, SVP of sales and marketing, and in December, I was promoted to chief revenue officer. For me, working hard and staying humble was key to being promoted and given new opportunities within the company. It has been a wild and fun ride so far.
We have many cross-functional working groups, and we do our best to make sure no group becomes siloed.”
How has the company changed in the five years you’ve been with Pax8?
The company has changed dramatically since I came in as employee number eight. We’re now almost 300 employees. The biggest change when you are a small startup is that everyone has to do everything, and now we have specializations. We have many cross-functional working groups, and we do our best to make sure no group becomes siloed. This is a process driven by our Agile approach, stemming from our CTO Michael Dehmlow.
How have you grown as a leader? What have you learned about leadership from your team?
Working for John Street, Pax8’s founder and CEO, has been a doctorate course in business. He has been on the “Inc. 500” list five times. Throughout my time at Pax8, he has been a real mentor, and I feel lucky to have connected with him.
Tony Ceravolo, VP of Engineering
As VP of engineering at Pax8, Tony is in charge of the company’s development and quality assurance teams.
BEYOND WORK: Tony loves to read, and digs into everything from novels to books about leadership and management.
You’ve had more than a few title changes in your time at Pax8. What has your career progression at the company looked like?
I started with Pax8 in January 2015. At the time, the engineering team was all of three people, and I was brought in to backfill a back end position.
As our team grew, it was often my responsibility to help newer developers understand our application and assist those developers with projects. In January 2017, I was promoted to software team lead, which made those responsibilities officially part of my role, and later that year I was promoted again — this time to director of software engineering.
I became VP of engineering in late 2018. Today, my role is to manage both the development and quality assurance teams, as well as a more strategic role in determining which projects are a priority for the company as a whole.
Most developers work on at least one new feature almost every month and, as we scale, we’re always looking at new tech stacks for ways to be better and more efficient.”
What opportunities are there to work on different products, features or tech stacks at Pax8?
I think the rapid growth at Pax8 — we went from two developers and no QA team to a team of 30 software and QA engineers — leads to never-ending opportunities for working with new features and technology. The business presents our team with new challenges every day, and we are constantly coming up with new features to help address them. Most developers work on at least one new feature almost every month and, as we scale, we’re always looking at new tech stacks for ways to be better and more efficient.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about leadership in your time at Pax8?
I’m very fortunate to have had such a great boss to learn from. One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about his leadership style, and that I’ve tried to emulate with my own team, is that while he always makes himself available to help out when needed, he also empowers his team to take on big challenges. It’s tempting as a manager to try to be involved in everything, but I have an incredibly talented team, and sometimes the best thing to do is to hand over the reins.