Flash: Echobot & Leadfeeder Acquired & Merged

Growth equity firm Great Hill Partners invested €180 million in Echobot and Leadfeeder, merging the firms into a Sales Intelligence and Go-to-market platform.  Both firms are based in Europe (Germany and Finland) and will benefit from the roadmap set out by North American RevTech firms.

The merged firm will be based in Karlsruhe, Germany, with Echobot CEO Bastian Karweg continuing as CEO.  Leadfeeder CEO Pekka Koskinen will become the CPO.  The combined company has a headcount of 250 across six offices in Europe and the US.  The new firm’s Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) exceeds €20 million. 

Leadfeeder serves around 7,000 customers and Echobot 1,500.

Echobot’s European data coverage

Echobot offers a Sales Intelligence and B2B DaaS platform for the D-A-CH region, UK, and France.  Late last year, it added a broader European data pack.  It supports a database of 20 million European companies and over 60 million GDPR-compliant contacts.  Company and contact data is derived from both registered filings and open web sources and includes directors, shareholders, and financials. 

Echobot takes a “True Compliance” approach which gathers data only from publicly accessible sources.  Furthermore, it provides verification links to the source URLs that allow reps to answer the question, “where did my data come from?”  All data is hosted in Germany.

Echobot’s products include TARGET (prospecting), CONNECT (Sales Intelligence), DATACARE (B2B DaaS), and an API.  In addition, Echobot offers CRM integrations with HubSpot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and SugarCRM.

“It is our goal to be the leading sales intelligence and go-to-market platform to our core European and North American markets,” said Karweg.  “Thanks to Great Hill, we have now assembled the best data, AI / ML, talent, and operating experience to achieve just that.  We are increasingly seeing organizations looking to take advantage of their own data and third-party data, and then to augment this intelligence with better, more personalized outreach.  The combination of Echobot and Leadfeeder is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a massive market opportunity at the early stages of adoption.”

Leadfeeder IP-to-Account Visitor Intelligence

Leadfeeder offers website visitor intelligence that maps IP addresses to company intelligence.  During the pandemic, it worked to identify remote workers and map them to their employers, helping refine which companies are in-market.  It also supports connectors for Google Analytics, chatbots, audience retargeting, major CRMs, Zapier, and Slack.

“Integrating Leadfeeder’s web visitor identification system with Echobot’s data and prospecting solutions creates a unique platform upon which we can both enable organizations to identify and engage high-intent prospects as well as introduce incremental applications that enhance B2B sales and marketing operations,” said Koskinen.

Karweg envisions an ABM workflow that begins with an ICP analysis that identifies net-new accounts.  The ICP is then mapped against Leadfeeder’s visitor intelligence and Echobot’s firmographics and event triggers to identify high-value, in-market accounts for programmatic marketing.  While programmatic campaigns are not yet supported, they are in development.

Great Hill Partners has also committed an additional €50 million toward future acquisitions.  In an interview with GZ Consulting, Echobot CEO Bastian Karweg indicated that the €50M in dry powder would be used towards acquiring talent, RevTech functionality, or expanded content.

The equity acquisition is a combination of primary and secondary funding, with Great Hill Partners buying out many of the original investors.  It named Growth Partner Derek Schoettle Chairman of the Board and placed Great Hill Partners Managing Director Chris Gaffney and Vice President Greg Stewart on the board of the merged organization.

Schoettle is also on the board of ABX Platform Terminus, another Great Hill investment.  He was the CEO of ZoomInfo when DiscoverOrg acquired it in 2019 (DiscoverOrg subsequently assumed the name ZoomInfo), so he and the new board members offer deep Go-to-Market domain expertise.

“Go-to-market is one of the fastest-growing areas of B2B software.  Sales and marketing organizations need timely, accurate information and intelligent systems to identify and engage their prospects in an increasingly personalized, automated fashion.  By bringing together Echobot and Leadfeeder, we can create the next-generation sales intelligence and go-to-market platform,” stated Derek Schoettle.

The transaction is a merger of equals bringing together two firms of roughly the same revenue and employee base.  Both firms have over €10M in ARR and are growing rapidly.  Echobot grew 70% last year, while Leadfeeder had a 50% growth figure.  Echobot has long been profitable, and Leadfeeder is nearing profitability. 

The firms will initially run as independent brands as they merge their operations and platforms.  The deal closed a few weeks ago but was announced this morning.  Thus, they have already begun combining finance and HR.  The two brands will be maintained in the near term with rebranding under consideration for 2023 as Echobot is also the name of a Mirai malware variant.

Valuation figures were not disclosed, but the final price was determined before the recent valuation declines and did not change.  The firms were both being advised by GP Bullhound, which suggested that packaging the two firms together would result in a more effective growth equity round.  Furthermore, the two companies offered features on each other’s roadmap so were logical complements.

Europe has been tracking behind the US in the Sales Intelligence space, with several national champions now looking to offer European datasets and local UIs.  European sales intelligence and B2B DaaS solutions must meet higher data compliance and privacy standards, incorporate registered data from national registers, support multiple currencies, and many languages.

Echobot covers the D-A-CH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), the UK, and France, with a general European data package added late last year.  A Nordic data package has been accelerated due to the merger, which would increase its competitiveness against Dun & Bradstreet and Vainu.

“One of the most requested developments for 2021 was to access data from the entire European market.  That was not only requested from German customers with a strong export to European countries, but also from new, international users that want to expand into Europe,” explained Karweg last November when Echobot added coverage of over twenty European countries.

“Europe is not one country but many, and there are differences between them, whether it’s to do with culture or data compliance,” remarked Schoettle.  “Having a platform that is unique and linguistic-specific, and serving its markets with high-quality data, is a differentiator.”

“It’s a dream match,” argued Koskinen.  While previously the firm purchased contact data from multiple sources, “it has been difficult to get sufficiently up-to-date and accurate data.”  With the merger, Leadfeeder will offer better data quality and “have all the expertise in-house” to expand its coverage.

Along with higher quality data, Leedfeeder will benefit from a broader set of firmographics, financials, and sales triggers for data enrichment and lead scoring.  Leadfeeder will also be able to cross-sell Echobot’s sales intelligence, prospecting, and data enrichment services to its 7,000 customers.

“We want to be the biggest in Europe,” stated Koskinen.  “It’s going to take a few years, but I think we’re succeeding…We have long had customers all over the world.  After the merger, we will be able to offer something that no one else can.”

Echobot offers German and English-language Sales Triggers.

Vainu Workflow Triggers

Sales Intelligence vendor Vainu has added a set of Workflow Triggers that take automated actions based upon CRM data updates.  As Vainu enriches CRMs with financial data mined from European registered data filings, it has raw, current data for triggering activities.  Admins set up the trigger rules, and Vainu creates “smart actions” such as creating CRM Tasks, adding a row in Google Sheets, or sending a Slack notice.

For example, a Workflow Trigger may be set up to look for SaaS companies that meet the “Rule of 40” condition (revenue growth plus profitability margin).

Vainu CEO Mikko Honkanen notes that trigger rules and ratios will vary by industry and may include custom rules specific to each of Vainu’s customers.  Thus, the Rule of 40 “is typical of the software industry but isn’t that critical for other businesses.  For being truly data-driven, each company has its own magic numbers based on the data points of their interest.”

Vainu claims that it supports thousands of data points for triggered workflows, kicking off both sales notifications and custom marketing messages associated with each trigger.

“Some people might want to know when a company starts using lead capture forms on its website.  Someone else might want to be alerted as soon as a company adds a new environmental standard to their corporate social responsibility web page.  Or when a company appoints a new CEO. Or when it adds an auxiliary name that includes the word ‘restaurant’ in it.  The most valuable trigger event is often a change in that specific event.”

Vainu CEO Mikko Honkanen

Along with data changes, actions may be based upon any of seventy event triggers or new accounts meeting ICP criteria.

Vainu, headquartered in Helsinki, emphasizes the value of dynamic data fed into enterprise platforms.  Dynamic data ensures that decision-making is based upon timely and accurate data.  It also allows salespeople to be customer-centric.

“By having access to data that informs them of the current situation of an organization, as well as what recent changes the organization has undergone, salespeople are able to tailor their messaging and offer a personalized experience,” blogged Vainu marketer Nikolai Bang. Vainu covers nearly thirty million companies across Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom.  Triggers are based upon the licensed countries.

Vainu Sales Triggers support automated Workflows.

Dun & Bradstreet Acquires Bisnode (Part II)

[Part I] Last week, Dun & Bradstreet announced the acquisition of Bisnode Business Information Group for $818 million. The deal greatly strengthens their European presence across 18 countries, including the Nordics, D-A-CH, and Eastern Europe.


When the deal closes, Dun & Bradstreet will “rapidly introduce” its credit and supplier risk management solutions, along with its sales and marketing services, to clients across Europe, “providing vital business intelligence to help them compete, thrive and grow.”

Ratos AB CEO Jonas Wiström noted that Bisnode’s focus has “improved customer offering, stability, and profitability,” but that ongoing growth “requires that Bisnode participate in the consolidation that is taking place in the increasingly global market for data and analytics.”  

Over the past four years, Bisnode has doubled its operating margin from 7% to 14%.  In H1 2020, eleven to the twelve companies within the Bisnode group improved their earnings.

“We are convinced that Dun & Bradstreet is the best possible partner to lead this consolidation. The combined strengths of our assets and capabilities will greatly serve our respective clients, increase competitiveness and position Dun & Bradstreet/Bisnode for long-term growth. I look forward to joining the Dun & Bradstreet International Strategic Advisory Board.”

Ratos AB CEO Jonas Wiström

Ratos’ strategy is to hold companies that are or can become market leaders, but Bisnode, as a standalone organization, is not in a position to build a market-leading position in data and analytics.

Dun & Bradstreet offers a suite of advanced B2B sales and marketing solutions that can be cross-sold into the Bisnode customer base.  Cross-sale opportunities include D&B Lattice (a customer data platform), D&B Analytics, D&B ABM Platform, D&B Audience Solutions (Visitor Intelligence, webforms, and programmatic advertising), D&B Optimizer (DaaS enrichment and validation), D&B Direct (API), and D&B Hoovers.

Dun & Bradstreet anticipates operational efficiencies from migrating Bisnode customers off legacy platforms onto Dun & Bradstreet solutions, more efficient data sourcing and curation, and leveraging global resources to make all functions more efficient.  

Owning the full revenue stream of Dun & Bradstreet products increases the profitability of localizing services due to the removal of revenue shares and the availability of local sales and support teams.  The D-A-CH region would likely be the initial target for localization.  For example, D&B Hoovers has Nordic, German, and Austrian financials and corporate linkages, but the UI and event triggers are only in English. 

“When you get into some of those 18 countries within the Bisnode territory, there wasn’t that level of localization” as compared to the UK, said Jabbour.  “So there is a fantastic opportunity to bring our modern platforms [and] modern APIs and make small tweaks from a localization perspective.”

“The products that we have rolled out have been very successful,” continued Jabbour.  Dun & Bradstreet expects continued success and greater market focus on the Bisnode markets.  During the pandemic, Dun & Bradstreet’s product sales by Bisnode grew “nicely.”

“The closer we can get to the headquarters of any business and really share our value proposition [and] ways [that] we can help that business grow their revenues, improve their margins, and remain compliant,” the greater the opportunity.  “We have a lot of confidence in our go-to-market approach, and this simplifies it because now there is one instead of two companies involved in serving that large enterprise on a global basis,” observed Jabbour.

Another advantage of direct ownership is Dun & Bradstreet is no longer looking to influence the sales team but will have direct control over incentive and compensation plans.


Continue to Part III.

Vainu for CRM

Finnish sales intelligence vendor Vainu announced the immediate availability of their new Vainu for CRM connectors.  The new service supports data viewing, synchronization, prospecting, and triggered alerting in Salesforce, MS Dynamics 365, HubSpot, and Pipedrive.  Additional CRM integrations are planned.

Vainu launched its original prospecting service in 2014 but is looking to make its data more consumable by embedding it into user workflows. According to Vainu Head of Marketing Mikko Luhtava, Vainu’s retention rate is much higher when there is a clear user workflow.  Thus, the goal was to make the sales rep’s experience as “frictionless as possible.”

“Since we founded Vainu, we’ve known that in addition to the who, when, what, and why of sales, the other challenge is to get people to actually use that information.  We realized that the key to success there is removing friction; making data as easy as possible to consume.  With Vainu for CRM, we’ve done exactly that—embedded into everything you do in the CRM, real-time company data will be hard to avoid.”

CEO Mikko Honkanen

The sync initially updates account and opportunity records, but additional record types will be supported in the future.  Custom field mapping and update / overlay rules are also planned.

Data syncing is asynchronous and bi-directional.  “Any time you add a record to the CRM, it will search Vainu to fill in data, and any time Vainu receives an update on a company, it will push the update to CRMs with that entity in the database in a matter of minutes,” said Luhtava.

Multi-variable fuzzy matching logic is employed with match confidence scores.  Vainu also supports auto-match functionality for new records and Send to CRM from the Vainu browser service.  Additional features include duplicate record checking and “stare and compare” updates by sales reps.

“Syncing up with a CRM requires an excellent matching tool, and ours is world-class,” said CTO Tuomas Rasila.  “Instead of merely matching based on global unique identifiers, it compares the full extent of a company record to our database to increase our confidence rating in the match.  Once connected, our platform learns from everything salespeople are doing in the CRM to deliver information that’s as relevant as possible.  And since everything is automated, the data-driven experience won’t require endless effort on our customers’ end.”

Vainu for CRM includes two advanced features: CRM-Vainu joint-variable prospecting and triggered workflows.  Joint-variable prospecting allows sales or marketing to build lists using both CRM and Vainu variables.  For example, a targeted prospecting list can be built for a territory which excludes current accounts or for which there was no recent activity. Over 100 joint selects are available. The only other vendor that provides such a feature is D&B Hoovers.

Workflows can be triggered by any of Vainu’s event triggers, which are derived from news, filings, and data changes.  Vainu supports 55 triggers which can be combined with keywords.  Both general company-level events (e.g. mergers, acquisitions, expansions, funding) and “very detailed, database-specific” triggers such as new vehicles, new website registrations, and new technology deployments are available.

“With the trigger-based approach, the likelihood of bringing in a new customer is more than two-times higher if there is an event within a prospect that triggers you to reach out to them.”

Vainu

Triggered events are displayed within the CRM and Slack.  They can also be sent as email alerts and through Zapier connectors.  Workflows are currently available for Nordic companies and the Netherlands.

Vainu includes connectors as part of their standard subscription.  Pricing begins at €6,600 per year for one country and five seats.

Helsinki-based Vainu has grown revenue to €15 million in five years.  The firm supports over 2,000 customers, including EY, Santander, Bridgestone, SAP, and Telia.  

The Vainu database covers Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands with registry data matched against web mined intelligence and 55 business signals.  France, Britain, and the United States are currently in beta.

US data is gathered from state Attorneys General filings supplemented with crawled intelligence.  At the moment, the US database is mostly being sold for data projects.

Vainu sells databases by country with both local language and English user interfaces.


See Previous Post: Vainu Rebrands (24-09-2019)

Vainu Control analyzes the “revenue impact of your data usage.”

Vainu Rebrands

Finnish sales intelligence vendor Vainu rebranded earlier this week. The goal was to provide a unified view of the company.  Vainu is focused on company intelligence but includes registered contact/director details and mined data. The firm also offers CRM and MAP data enrichment and hygiene services.

Unlike most sales intelligence databases, Vainu is available in English, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Danish and French.  Country datasets include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and The Netherlands with detailed financial data available for Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  Beta datasets are available for France, the UK, and the US with additional countries being developed.

Core UK data is gathered from Companies House.  US data is aggregated from state filings.

I’ve been planning on covering Vainu for the past six months but was waiting for an event.  Rebranding is as good a reason any.

Vainu was launched in 2014 and crowdsourced its initial dog nose logo (Vainu is a Finnish word for the scent picked up by an animal).  The website design and other branding aspects were inconsistent.

“Everything else was pretty much put together ad hoc after that: color schemes and supporting visuals for our first website layout, stock photos for our first slide decks, different messages to cater to the situations at hand.  The end result has been just as fragmented or ad hoc as our strategy: we’ve looked and felt different and sounded different in any situation.”

Mikko Luhtava, Vainu Head of Communications

Now that the firm has 2,000 customers and 180 employees, they felt it was time to formalize their brand with a new logo, tagline, and website with real images and black, white, and yellow text.

Vainu argues that B2B Sales is still stuck in the era of spam emails and cold calling lists.  “While buyers are looking for a real conversation, one where they’re engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity targets and sales quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” blogged Luhtava.

Thus, the firm offers “real-time B2B sales.”  It is akin to SalesLoft’s call for authenticity in sales.  “While buyers are looking for a real conversation, one where they’re engaged and understood, salespeople are looking at activity targets and sales quota, merely treating buyers as numbers,” stated Luhtava.  “At Vainu, we believe there’s a right way of doing B2B sales—a way that is personalized, a way that uses data, a way that focuses on the buyer.  And we’ve made it our mission to make salespeople better at their jobs, by bringing real-time company data to every customer interaction.  We call this real-time sales.

Vainu supports company list building.  Selects include firmographics, technographics, buying signals (sales triggers), and account intelligence from the company’s CRM.  Trigger alerts cover company announcements, personnel changes, technology updates, and new additions to a prospect list.

The Vainu database covers nearly 60 million active companies and includes company profiles, technology stacks, corporate financials, and recent company news.

CRM admins can setup data syncing and enrichment with Salesforce, MS Dynamics, HubSpot, Pipedrive, Upsales, and SuperOffice.  Zapier is available for other platforms.  The firm also supports an API.

Vainu enriches leads before they are loaded into MAPs assisting with lead scoring and routing.

Vainu also offers bulk data for data modeling including business registry data, website information, and open and web-crawled intelligence.  Applications include churn prediction, account scoring, and financial services risk calculations.

Pricing begins at €6,600 (£6,000 or $7,250) per year for five reps plus a one-time onboarding fee of €600 for a single country database.  Each additional country dataset is priced at €3,000.  At 25 seats, the service is priced at €30,600 (£28,000 or $33,650) with a one-time onboarding fee of €2,100.  Each additional country dataset is priced at €3,000.  Nordic financial data adds €2,400.