Google for Startups Builds The Backbone of Their CRM with Lab5

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Tens of thousands of people hired by Campus startups since their founding in 2012
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Global expansion and onboarding into new markets: Germany, Tokyo, and Brazil
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Deeper levels of communications segmentation and analytics
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Higher levels of representation from typically under-recognized and under-funded groups within the GFS community
Google for Startups

Google for Startups (“GFS”) operates seven Campus spaces across the world that serve as a hub for growing startups. They work out of London, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Seoul, Sao Paulo, and Tokyo. Their mission: support a growing network of startups, tech partners, and diversity-focused organizations, and connect them to the best of Google’s resources. These resources come in the form of events, mentors, accelerators, business development programs. 

GFS came to Lab5 with a vision - scale their data operations across each global campus, to better communicate with their audience and understand the impact of their work.

The Challenge 

Google for Startups originally existed as one campus, located in the heart of London’s thriving tech scene. Since 2012, the Campus operations have scaled to seven Campuses across the world, and Lab5 has been with them since they initially launched additional Campuses. 

Campuses are thriving hubs of activity; there are events, short-term programs supporting entrepreneurs from all around the world, and long-term accelerators co-existing in the building. There are cafes, working spaces, and auditoriums for large-scale events. They regularly run conferences, hackathons, events, and meetups at night and on weekends, as well as during the normal workday. In other words, daily logistics and communications are quite complex. 

GFS’s mission is to “level the playing field for startup founders and communities to succeed.” That means it’s important for GFS to keep track of who joins the community, and even more important to highlight their best success stories. 

Lab5’s CRM framework needs to tick several boxes: adhere to security and compliance standards, keep track of who joins the community, ensure that important communications and success stories are surfaced, and continually push for ways that GFS can level up its impact. This is a challenge enough for one Campus, but as Campuses grow internationally, a new level of streamlining is required. 

Lab5’s Approach

“Lab5 has scaled our data operations work, so we’re able to measure the impact of our work, and better track engagement with our users,” said Cass Forsyth, Global Marketing Lead at GFS. “They support our team from all angles through the CRM. Whether it’s marketers, program managers, or actual data analysts, they make sure that everyone is inputting correct information and getting what they need out of it.” 

What information is input? The data is multi-faceted. At any given moment, GFS is running: an EMEA Accelerator in Madrid, a 12-week Women Founders Mentorship program in London, a 12-week skill building program for Black founders in Tel Aviv, Startup School trainings in Warsaw, office hours in Tokyo, and hosting a rotating-group of individual founders in their cafe spaces with free WiFi. 

At any given time, Lab5 needs to track metrics like: program applicants, program registrants, individuals who have entered and exited the building, contractors and catering services, A/V for events and training spaces, room schedules, and logistics around accelerators working in the spaces. In addition, the CRM handles all emails and communications sent out to the Campus communities at large. 

One major initiative that the CRM must account for is GFS’s yearly deep-dive into their impact. That means tabulating data around funding raised, hires made, community size, and demographic representation. 

In order to do this, Lab5 implemented a fully custom survey built on Salesforce. They maintained a look and feel consistent with GFS's brand so the user experience felt aligned. They also enabled local translations for each market, so users could report their data in their local language, as well as in English.

Lab5 implemented logic into each form, to show certain questions to an appropriate audience based on key variables within the database. For example, if a contact was a program alumni, they would not show questions for program entrants, and would instead switch to alumni-focused questions. By building surveys on Salesforce, Lab5 could fully integrate with the GFS CRM and catalyze easy reporting and data visualizations on a team-wide dashboard. They saved countless hours of organizing, cleaning uploading and analyzing data, which in turn meant reduced turnaround time between a survey's launch and the release of the annual Impact Report.

Over the years, with all the data housed in the CRM, GFS can view year-on-year changes to their most important metrics. That makes measuring an initiative's success much easier. They can also spot untapped opportunities thanks to a streamlined and comprehensive data analysis. And they're not alone in this process; Lab5's team of analysts conducts a full data analysis of the survey responses to inform the GFS team's business decisions. Lab5 also produces internal reports that can be easily shared across the company to key stakeholders.

The Results

“Plain and simple, we need to understand how Google can be helpful to each individual founder. At an ecosystem level, the data Lab5 has helped us manage is crucial to those decisions,” Forsyth said. “They’ve done a great job of understanding our team and our work, so they can adapt technical solutions to meet our needs.” 

As the Campus mission has grown, so has their physical presence across the globe. 

Lab5 has played an agile and flexible role, helping the Campus CRM’s scale along with the size of their presence. They have ensured that data collected in Tokyo maps back to data collected in Warsaw and Sao Paolo, and then all of that data is streamlined to give an accurate picture of overall global impact for the metrics that matter. 

Said Forsyth, “We’ve changed fairly rapidly, in line with what our communities are doing. Lab5 understands that, and has helped us adapt the way we work to the tools that will function for those changing needs.”

During the COVID pandemic, Lab5 has helped GFS make another about-face in terms of their offerings, their mission, and their day-to-day work: “Because we haven’t accessed our physical spaces in a year, a really sound digital community and relationship management has been even more important. As we look to keep in touch with our alumni and our communities virtually, Lab5 has been a critical partner.” 

Business Process Improvement and Automation
Email & Social Marketing
Program Management and Impact Measurement
Branded Experiences for Customers & Partners
Lab5 brings an unparalleled depth of technical knowledge about the CRM tools we need. They’ve put the building blocks in place for us to analyze the makeup of our communities and see the impact of our work.
Cass Forsyth, Global Marketing Lead at GFS
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