Founder Spotlight: Kushal Shah

After the acquisition of Ekata, Kushal Shah was thinking about an extended vacation in India before this opportunity came suddenly knocking. The opportunity to serve some of the existing Ekata customers again and for those he had built products for in the past was too good of an opportunity to pass on. It was an easy decision, and Kushal dove right in. Since then, Kushal has been on this exciting journey with his co-founder, Jordan Reynolds, building Trestle from the ground up.

Kushal grew up in India, came to the U.S. for his M.S. in Computer Science, and has had various Product and GTM experiences at both small and large companies. Most recently, he led Ekata’s company growth from a less than 10-person team to a fast-growing global business with 300+ employees spread across three continents. Through the years, the vision and execution that he led have also been instrumental in Ekata’s acquisition in June 2021 at $850 MM. 

Here’s what he has to say about what excites him about the days to come at Trestle. 

Tell us about your role. What do you build? How did you land here?

I am the co-founder and CEO at Trestle. We are building identity products that create, develop and reinforce customer relationships. I have been in the identity space for 10+ years now – first with my earlier startup, then Whitepages and Ekata. This has given me a unique perspective on this space: how this data adds value for a broad swath of industries and customers and how to leverage the data to build solutions that increase the business value 10X for our customers. We did that at Ekata, and now I am focused on the call center and lead verification use cases where we don’t just return data but build differentiated solutions that can add business value.

On how I landed here – I have been in this space for a while, and I truly believe this is my calling. Serving the customers through identity data and understanding the importance of data security and privacy are things I see myself doing for years to come. So in that regard, starting Trestle was very natural for me to take on post my stint at Ekata.

What does your daily routine look like?

As you can imagine with a startup in its early stages, it is all over the place. Most of my time is spent talking to customers and ensuring their needs are being met, as well as building the underlying platform and product. This can be in any form – from working through our data vendor relationships, improving the product, business conversations, hiring and building the team. I’m essentially doing whatever it takes to ensure a smooth transition for our customers and give them business continuity.

What is your proudest moment at Trestle?

For me, Trestle is something that makes me proud every day. We all talk about serving our customers, but not every day do you get an opportunity to build a company from the ground up. This ability to take on the baton and deliver for our customers in a tight timeline is something I am proud of, and there is no doubt it will be the highlight of my career. 

What excites you most about Trestle?

What excites me most is that we are just getting started. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. We have such a unique opportunity where we are starting with a strong customer base who we have worked with prior. We have a certain understanding of their needs, but there is also a huge opportunity to dive deep, learn more about this space and determine how we can further add value for them. I am looking forward to figuring this out with my co-founder, Jordan, and the rest of our team.

Which Trestle value do you relate with the most?

This is a tough one. Jordan and I spent quite some time figuring out our values, and for us, it was about the values we will leverage as we build the business. Our values will be talked about constantly and not just left on the website to never come back and revisit. How so? Well, you will see us using these values daily in our conversations, both internally and externally. They reinforce what we are trying to do, give the ‘why’ behind it, and align everyone to the goals and the company vision. Each one of our values is truly near and dear to us. 

The value I relate to the most, though, is diving deep. The culture we are building at Trestle is one where everyone is expected to get their hands dirty, understand the “why” behind the task at hand, ask the right questions, and then deliver with no work being too big or too small for anyone. This ensures high quality of work from the team and motivates everyone to put in their best effort to deliver on the customer promises.