Change Starts with Us: Introducing Drift for Black-owned Businesses

How to Take Racial Bias Out of Software

Back in June, our CEO, David Cancel, sent an email to the company.

David said, “it shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America for Black men and women to fear that by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they could be an Ahmaud Arbery, a Breonna Taylor, or a George Floyd. It shouldn’t be normal. We need to all work to create a new normal.”

Since our founding, but especially in light of recent events, we’ve taken time as a company to commit to fostering and demanding a community of diversity, inclusion, and respect. We’ve taken the time to educate ourselves about the history of racism. We donated to causes like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Color of Change, and more. And we’ve committed to having an open dialogue internally and externally about how we can support the Black community.

But none of this was enough. We still wanted to figure out how we could use our unique position – as a tech platform that helps accelerate revenue – to make a meaningful difference for Black-owned businesses.

Around the same time, COVID data was released showing that Black business owners were the hardest hit.


So we got to work.

Drift_Black-owned business initiative

We applied an engineering principle – known as a tracer bullet – to our outreach. In other words, we started with one business to see what we could learn, and created a repeatable process.

Our goal was to create a lean and low-friction Drift onboarding workflow that Black-owned businesses can use, at the level they need, to increase their sales leads.

Here’s how it works in action:

Meet William Murrell

William Murrell

William Murrell started his career as one of the very few Black engineers at IBM, and went on to own Boston’s largest and only Black-owned computer store. In order to connect people with more Black-owned businesses, William started

My family came across William’s website about 15 years ago when we were new to the Boston area and were looking for activities on weekends, events, and community news. I later met William after reading about his experience in tech and business, and over the course of the last decade we’ve been in touch, cross-referencing sites and information, getting his views on events and Black-owned businesses. I first heard of David Cancel from William several years ago, and when I joined Drift as a Director of Engineering last year, William reminded me that he was already using Drift on his website – which receives 30,000 visits per month.

Learn more about how William built his company and why he believes community is essential to helping BIPOC businesses grow in this episode of The American Dream.

What William Is Doing with Drift

When Melissa Leffler, Drift’s VP of Engineering, and Julie Hogan, Drift’s VP of Customer Experience, reached out to me about their idea to create a frictionless path for Black-owned businesses to leverage Drift, how to test the idea, and which business to reach out to, William was first to come to mind.

William loved Drift because, as he puts it:

  • Drift makes you look bigger as a company
  • It is the first handshake with site visitors
  • Drift generates sales leads – it really works!
  • Email is messy, Drift is a cleaner channel to respond within 2 – 3 minutes with the mobile app

But, he had some pain points – and we knew he could be doing more with Drift.

He wanted to implement Drift in order to create, or even replace the need for a sales representative. Specifically, he was looking for Drift to:

  • Drive the CRM, make the CRM “intelligent”
  • Show more specific content through small, linkable material
  • Create a chat conversation that could happen immediately on mobile or desktop
  • Add Drift contacts into email sequences

So our Onboarding team crafted a plan. In just seven weeks, William has seen:

  • 110% increase in conversations
  • Increase in higher quality inquiries
  • Real-time engagements, including with PBS’s This Old House, a high-value target

So what’s next? We want to help as many Black-owned businesses as possible realize results like these for themselves. If you want to try Drift out for your site, simply click here and you’ll be directed to a member of our team.