Harnessing the true power of relationships

Affinity, a relationship intelligence platform for dealmakers, leverages the power of authentic connections with clients and among employees to drive growth.

Affinity Cofounders and CEOs Shubham Goel (left) and Ray Zhou (right).

Shubham Goel and Ray Zhou cofounded Affinity in 2014 because they believed in the power of relationships to shape and transform business. “We started Affinity to prove our theory that the biggest economies are driven by relationships,” says co-CEO Zhou. Now, the San Francisco-based relationship intelligence platform helps dealmakers at more than 2,000 institutions worldwide to make introductions, build connections, and facilitate business transactions. 

Affinity’s platform uses innovative technology to streamline the way dealmakers source and manage their professional relationships. According to Zhou, most people’s known relationship data exists in cell phone contacts, social networks, or customer relationship management technologies (CRMs) which may not provide a complete picture of their professional networks. “The problem with these systems is that they are manual—they’re only as good as their human input,” he says. “When we think about it, how accurate is social media for capturing who we genuinely know?”

Instead, Affinity’s technology employs automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence technologies to capture data and build relationship insights buried inside calendars, emails, and public information of which most people are unaware, Zhou says. “We call it ‘data exhaust’—it’s ‘waste’ data that we harness and stitch together,” Zhou explains. “We use it to build a powerful and accurate picture of a professional network.”

Understanding your own network and using it to build relationships with clients is critical to providing them with the best service. "If you want to deliver great products and services to customers, you need to understand their goals,” co-CEO Goel says. “Investing time in getting to know them and building organic relationships help you do that, which leads to the most successful and happy client relationships.”

But relationship-building is more than a customer-facing strategy at Affinity. Goel and Zhou have worked to prioritize relationships internally, as well. “Building and emphasizing authentic, human connections in the workplace encourages collaboration and ensures employees are engaged and excited to create their best work, which ultimately helps the company win,” Zhou says. “We very intentionally create a culture where time at work is time spent with people you enjoy working with,” adds Goel; “people who don’t just see you as a number, but as someone with dreams and aspirations.” From the company’s immersive on-boarding experiences to regular one-on-one check-ins, as well as more tangible offerings like monthly grocery stipends, fitness contests, and an industry-leading benefits package, Affinity recognizes relationships are the foundation of any business and has prioritized a workplace culture in which people, as Goel says, “care personally for each other.”

With employee growth reaching nearly 500% since 2018, it’s clear that the company’s efforts are working. Employees value its dynamic and supportive workplace culture. “Our retention rates have been amazing, even through the Great Resignation,” Goel says. “Very few people have left the company which is a testament to our core values and speaks to the true power personal relationships can hold in a business setting.” For Zhou, the connection between workplace culture and Affinity’s success is clear: “If you have a culture where people intrinsically care and want to build incredible internal bonds, all the best ideas flow downstream,” he says. “The rest takes care of itself.”

To learn more about what makes Affinity a great place to work visit Affinity.co.