Oct. 4, 2022

162: Eric Appel, CRO @ Island: why stealth is sexy and the different way Island has built the sales team


Today we welcome Eric Appel, Worldwide Head of Sales for Island, pioneers in the enterprise browser category.

In this episode we talk about

  • Why Eric didn’t hire startup sales people
  • Why it mattered to work with an exec team that has worked together for a long time
  • Why 90% of first meetings convert to 2nd meetings
  • How they exited stealth mode with real, live paying customers
  • The first deal they closed


“Sometimes when you change one thing, you change everything.” My first thought when I heard this tag line: urgggh, here we go again!  Another cyber security company is going to over hype themselves. But when I found out what they were building, my mind changed.  It might just be true for Island!

Eric remembers nearly everything about the day Island scored their first order. It was a big moment, and the next 10-11 orders were equally noteworthy, especially when you consider that Island was still in stealth mode. They eventually came out of stealth with a roster of prominent and influential clients where they’d proven their use cases and won over the CISOs.

Coming out of stealth—and growing into that position—meant growing their sales team. Unlike most startups, Island went deep, into their networks. They hired folks they trusted, had worked with, colleagues and friends who had proven sales successes and a network to bring with them. Island also came to depend on the satisfied CISOs they worked with to talk about the product in their underground chat spaces, peer to peer. The rise in interest and confidence was something a sales pitch could never achieve on its own.

Join me for a discussion with Eric Appel—a self-described early bird who likes to wake up to “the promise of the day”—who has helped Island seize that promise as well. “Sometimes when you change one thing, you change everything.” Now I’m a believer.