Insent Seed Round

Chatbot vendor Insent.AI closed on a $2 million seed round “to help mid-market B2B companies improve how they identify and communicate with potential buyers.” The firm, which competes against Intercom, Terminus Chat, and Drift, calls itself a “human-first chatbot.”

Insent said that it isn’t “just building a chatbot that generates leads, but a collaborative platform that is going to help marketers create, nurture qualified opportunities, and shorten sales cycles.”

The goal is to remove “digital walls” between buyers and sellers by replacing web forms and follow-ups “with instant live conversations on websites” that schedule meetings and deliver “personalized content recommendations based on engagement history.”

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform,” with MAPs, CRMs, and ABM Platforms “to help sales teams talk to engaged prospects while they’re on the website.”

According to Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey, “integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

“By guiding their buyers at the right time and proactively alerting your salespeople, Insent generates new revenue opportunities and accelerates existing ones,” said CEO Arjun Pillai.

Emergent Ventures led the round with participation from BAM Ventures, TechStars, Arka Venture Labs, Arali Ventures, and Bizable founder Aaron Bird.  Funds will be deployed to expand its chatbot integrations and add engineering, sales, and marketing headcount.  Another area of development is improving its visitor data intelligence to improve personalization.

“We believe the B2B sales process currently has unnecessary friction for both buyers and sellers,” said Anupam Rastogi, Partner at Emergent Ventures.  “As an increasing proportion of sales is digitally intermediated and more leads are generated online, we believe Insent has a tremendous opportunity to help both buyers and sellers do their work more effectively and connect seamlessly.”

Initially, the pandemic slowed Instent’s growth as marketing teams reduced budgets and delayed decisions, but chatbots are high on the list of MarTech digital acquisition solutions.  Since May, revenue has quadrupled.

Aaron Bird, former VP at Adobe and CEO of Bizable, remarked that marketing had undergone two major paradigm shifts over the past few years, the rise of ABM and a focus on the buyer experience at the heart of the sales process; however, “companies are yet to start adapting to this paradigm. Insent is a key piece of the puzzle to help them do so.”

Insent stress-tested various platforms before settling on MongoDB and AWS.  Pillai contends that the platform gives them a five-year or six-year window before rearchitecting.  The platform was designed with an account-based, versus lead-based, architecture that ties leads to accounts for account-based orchestration.

“So, the architecture is obviously manually decided.  But as far as the scaling is concerned, it is all automated,” said Pillai. “There are enough database services that will enable us to run automated services of scaling up and scaling down … to make sure that when you are sleeping if a customer connects a 10 million [record] database, the system scales up.”

Insent is using 6Sense for visitor identification. “We go and task 6Sense through an API,” said Pillai. “We take that data, and we do further processing of that data.  All of this happens in microseconds.  Basically, the moment somebody lands on the website, boom, the API call comes back with the data based on that website, company visitor.”

Insent was founded in 2018 and has forty employees in the US, Canada, and India.

Insent Integrates with MS Teams

Conversation Marketing platform Insent.AI integrated its service with Microsoft Teams, notifying users when customers and prospects are ready to chat.  The conversation is conducted within Teams via an MS Teams AppSource app.

“With the Insent app for Teams, your team can get notifications for the incoming chats from your buyers, view detailed visitor insights to understand the context and strike up more personalized conversations, and make the necessary hand-offs inside your chosen MS channels,” blogged Insent Digital Marketer Aatharsha Jey.

Insent describes itself as an “integration first platform.”  According to Jey ”integrations should be planned and carried out in a way that does not ask people to change their behaviors in order to adopt a new tool.”

Insent offers “Advanced Enterprise-grade routing,” which directs conversations to the CRM account owners.  If the account owner is not available, calls are routed via a set of fallback rules based on time of day and location to other reps or the chatbot.

Insent emphasizes the value of “human-first conversations” with bots serving as a backup channel:

“Chatbots were meant to be your second line of defense, built to support marketing and sales when your team isn’t available – not pretend to be human.”

Insent Website

@ Mentions allow users to include additional staff in the conversation.  It is not necessary to register individual users.  Simply tagging them directs Insent to create a user profile based upon MS Teams data.

Insent also offers integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, and Slack.

Outreach, Cognism, Drift, Alyce, and Sendoso Make LinkedIn’s Top Startups List

Five vendors covered in my newsletters and blog made LinkedIn’s Top 50 US or Top 10 UK startups list, an indicator to the economic vibrancy of SalesTech and MarTech solutions, particularly during the pandemic.

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach placed #6 in the US, its second year making the list.

“We work hard to be a great place to work and to create an environment where [the] top talent of any background feels welcome and can thrive,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina.  “We’re always looking for passionate, tenacious employees who think differently and live and breathe our core value of having each other’s backs. I’m thrilled that we continue to attract the best of the best, and LinkedIn named us one of the top startups in the US.”

Outreach focused on “emerging and resilient startups that are navigating the ever-evolving nature of work in the wake of COVID-19.” The firm also focused on delivering sales management tools during the pandemic, helping “leaders closely monitor their team’s success and keep employees motivated and productive.”

Cognism that was named a top 10 UK Startup to Watch, placing at Number 9.  The firm which, was founded in 2015, has performed well during the pandemic and recently acquired German signature-block messaging firm Mailtastic.  They have already opened a UK Mailtastic office and closed their first UK deals.

According to CEO James Isilay, “We have just made a key hire in the US and will be expanding the offering there from October.”

Following a staff survey, Cognism will be moving to a smaller office presence and emphasize WFH options.

“Despite a challenging year with the pandemic, Cognism has continued its strong growth recently passing the key $10 million ARR mark,” wrote CEO James Isilay. “We see growth accelerating next year as we bring our go-to-market intelligence and engagement platform to new markets across Europe.”

Two tactile marketing companies, Alyce (35) and Sendoso (46), made the list.  Both firms positioned direct mail e-gifting as a method to connect with customers and prospects during the pandemic.

“While many companies and entire industries were dramatically impacted by the pandemic, the need to create personal bonds as the world moved almost fully digital in the age of no major trade shows, events, and public networking became ever more paramount,” wrote Alyce. “Alyce actually thrived as a company, and swiftly pivoted to deliver digital gifts for their enterprise customers looking to create personal experience moments for their audience.  Despite the market shifts, Alyce has experienced a milestone year of growth, with a vast percentage of its Annual Recurring Revenue (AAR) coming from its enterprise customer base and new use-case expansion, more than 5x-ing over last year.”

Conversational Marketing firm Drift, which recently broadened its vision to Revenue Acceleration, landed at #21 on the list.  Drift offers chatbots, email, video, and a new Prospector service for intent monitoring.

Firms were based upon four criteria: employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from LinkedIn’s Top Companies list.  Startups must be no more than seven years old and have at least 50 employees.

Drift Revenue Acceleration Platform

Drift announced its new Revenue Acceleration Platform, which it described as a new category that expands its original positioning of Conversational Marketing to a broader company vision.  

Revenue Acceleration “combines conversation, marketing, and conversational sales to help companies grow revenue and increase customer lifetime value,” said Drift CEO David Cancel.

Drift still backs Conversational Marketing and Sales “100%,” but is expanding its vision of marketing to impacting the entire customer lifecycle “from acquisition to renewal to expansion.”

“We weren’t thinking big enough,” posted Cancel.

Cancel described marketing as evolving across a series of eras.  In the 20th century, “the madmen era,” marketing focused on the brand and didn’t have a seat in the C-Suite.  Marketing was “in service to the CEO.”  The Internet brought us the second era, “the demand generation era,” when “we became reliant on do-it-yourself in human ops,” and the CMO role was created.  Marketing focused on lead creation and was “in service to the CRO.”

However, the world of marketing is continuing to evolve.  Demand generation is “not enough anymore.”  We are now entering the third era, “the revenue era,” which is broader than Drift’s original vision of Conversation Intelligence.  

“We had a vision of the world where people are free to have a conversation with any business, at any time, on their terms.  We thought what we were doing was helping marketers drive more leads.  But what we found is that when companies adopted Conversational Marketing, it wasn’t just about marketing.  In fact, what we were doing was unifying sales and marketing and directly impacting revenue.  And not just revenue from new business, but revenue across the entire customer lifecycle.  We have already seen this transition with some companies.”

Drift CEO David Cancel

COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to this new era where the buyer is in control, “digital is everywhere, and the best experience, story, and service wins.” The new Revenue Acceleration Platform brings together Drift Chat, AI [chatbot] Automation, email, video, and a new Drift Prospector service.  


Tomorrow’s blog covers the new Drift Prospector Service. Here is a graphical preview: