Benafsha Irani, founder of West Coast Consulting Group.

Benafsha Irani, founder of West Coast Consulting Group.

Benafsha Irani is a force to be reckoned with. As the founder of West Coast Consulting Group, Benafsha has traveled the world, launched innovative apps on the AppExchange, and helped grow and scale her business — all with a smile on her face.

“I feel like without Salesforce, we might have been boring,” Irani said laughingly. “But this has been such a fun journey!”

Read more to learn about this Trailblazer and where she draws inspiration to keep learning and find joy along the path to success.

How did West Coast Consulting Group get involved with Salesforce?

Benafsha Irani: When we started in 2004, we were based in San Francisco and we wanted to be part of something real that involved new technology. Marc Benioff had these “no software” stickers all over the city, and the entire team was curious to see how this software company could have “no software.” We went to hear Marc speak and were immediately hooked. It was a broad-thinking strategy that wasn’t just about software sales — he wanted to bring communities together and also incorporate nonprofit work into the industry. Not only that, but it was an agile platform that really works! There was so much we could do with just the click of a button. West Coast signed up to be a partner right then.

What was the first app you ever developed?

Benafsha: That’s an interesting story. We kept hearing “AppExchange is the thing!”, so after some encouragement, we launched our very first AppExchange app, called CloudCollect. We also now have a medical device sales app called MedTech SalesTracker, and we’re launching a marketing dashboard app soon. It’s all been a very fun journey, and I feel like Salesforce has really helped us do some exciting things along the way.

What’s your favorite app on AppExchange? Why do you love it?

Benafsha: My favorite app on the AppExchange is from Salesforce Labs, and it’s a dashboard app. I feel like most people don’t even know it exists, but it’s an app that helps you get started on some of the most powerful features of Salesforce, which are dashboarding and reporting. It’s a great place to see the power of Salesforce and it’s free!

Benafsha Irani pictured with Parker Harris at a recent Dreamforce event.

Benafsha Irani pictured with Parker Harris at a recent Dreamforce event.

Tell us, where was your favorite place to travel and why?

Benafsha: I can talk about travel a lot! I once went to the Maldives using my miles, and another time I flew my mom to Sydney because she always wanted to go to Australia. We celebrated her 60th birthday and even had dinner at the famous Sydney Opera House on her birthday. I also walked on the Sydney Harbor Bridge on that trip! I’m a little bit scared of heights, but it was an amazing experience.

What was the last book you read?

Benafsha: The last book I read was Michelle Obama’s book Becoming. I really liked it. She is very inspirational, and I love her confidence. You know, she gets things done. When she wants something, she does it, but in a nice way.

Are you streaming any great shows or movies right now?

Benafsha: It’s funny, but I’m not a big TV person. I have too much work to do normally, but when I do get a couple of minutes to relax, I like watching comedies. I feel like there’s so much unhappiness right now in the world. I like happy endings and the positivity of fun and silly movies.

Who would you consider to be the biggest influence in your life? We’d love to hear about them.

Benafsha: My grandmother. You could say the Americanized version of her name would be Kate, but it’s a Persian name: Katayun. She grew up in Iran in a village that’s now a UNESCO Heritage site called Yazd and she wanted to study and become a judge. But a rule came out when she was in high school that girls could only study until the 8th grade, so she had to give up her dream. But because she never really completed her education, she always told me to make sure I took the opportunity to study and become somebody. I took a lot of inspiration from her story.

What does being a Trailblazer mean to you?

Benafsha: I think Trailblazer in my mind is someone who is creative, doesn’t shy away from doing new things, and is always doing their best. It’s not just about making money and being a billionaire, it’s about giving your whole self and trying it all with a passion. For me it’s less about the materialistic outcome, and more the experience. Always be innovating and learning new things. That’s the fun part about being part of the Salesforce community.

What advice would you offer to those who are just starting out on the platform?

Benafsha: Understand the power of the platform! Many times people don’t even know what’s out there. Sometimes people have Sales Cloud and they think that’s all Salesforce offers, but there’s Service Cloud, Slack, and so much more. And it all really works together. People have to realize the power of the platform and make success happen.

Want to hear more about Benafsha’s path to accomplishment? See how Capital One is working with AppExchange partners like West Coast Consulting Group to support diversity efforts while extending Salesforce and driving business success. You can also explore innovations from diverse-owned businesses on AppExchange here.