All successful businesses start the same way. Whether it's an ice cream store or a cloud storage company, all good companies have the same foundation: they solve a problem for customers. Can't find a good sundae in town? A new ice cream store will have you loading up on frozen desserts. Want an easy way to store and access your files? That new cloud service will do the auto-syncing and downloading for you.

But that problem-solving is only the start. The question for really successful businesses is how high you can build on that foundation.

WalkMe was founded five years ago in Tel Aviv to solve everyone's problem. Dan Adika, the company's CEO, wanted to replace the video tutorials that no one watches and the help pages that no one ever reads with website walkthroughs that show users exactly what they need to do.

"We started as a guidance tool," he says. "We showed users how to complete any task they were doing online as they were doing it. It's like a GPS for websites."

Used on sites as well-known as Eventbrite and Crunchbase, WalkMe provides a layer between the user and the site. The process starts with a search ("How do I create an event?" for example.) But instead of offering a page of search results, users then see a balloon floating over the next button they need to press. When they follow that command, they're taken to the next step and shown exactly what to do. The system even scrolls down the page for the user and can respond to conditions. Entering particular keywords into a text field, for example, could trigger a new direction for the walkthrough depending on what the user is trying to achieve.

Creating the walkthroughs is simple too. Adika says the company set the goal of enabling any manager to create a walkthrough in five minutes without help. "I want my mom to be able to go into Salesforce and do it," he says.

Companies only need to click through the process themselves. WalkMe records the steps and allows them to enter their explanations into the balloons. After acquiring Abbi in January, they can even do it for mobile devices. Now based in San Francisco, the company has raised almost $100 million in funding and employs some 470 people.

But while it's easy to see the value of a website walkthrough, WalkMe's real value lies in the help it offers to its clients. Mastercard uses it on Salesforce to help its own employees make more sales, and by tracking how customers follow the path laid out by the walkthrough, the company is able to offer detailed customer analytics. What started as a simple upgrade to Help pages has grown into an employee management and data analytics tool.

"If you talk to a customer here and a customer here they will tell it's a completely different product," says Dan Adika. "One will say it's an enabler for sales. The other will say it's support for event organizers."

In addition to Mastercard, the system is used by companies as large as IBM, Unilever and Sony. The company's most recent valuation put it at $400 million.

Solving a customer's problem is always a great way for a business to begin. It's when you solve a problem the customer didn't know he had that success really starts to happen.

Published on: Apr 12, 2017