Saleo Early-Stage Funding Round for Live Demos

Recently founded demo experience software company Saleo received $1.5 million in early-stage investment for its live demo platform.  Funding came from Tech Square Ventures, Jon Hallett, Kyle Porter, Rob Forman, Tim Kopp, John Hanger, Bryan Wade, and Eric Spett.  The firm is based in Atlanta, as are most of the investors.

Justin McDonald and Daniel Hellerman, experienced RevTech execs who previously worked at Terminus (three of the investors are Terminus executives), founded Saleo.  In addition, McDonald launched Ramble Chat which he subsequently sold to Terminus.

“We believe that every software company should have the means to deliver the perfect software demo that ‘wows’ their buyers every time.  No more missing data, hours of prep time, or sub-par generic demos,” posted McDonald on LinkedIn.

Saleo enables real-time customization of demo environments and supports collaboration among revenue teams during the demo creation process.  As a result, Saleo helps revenue teams “shorten their sales cycle, increase win rates, and close more deals by removing the burden of missing data, outdated demo environments, and time-consuming demo prep.”

Saleo supports a demo library that can be personalized by industry, company, use case, and job function.  Successful demos can be shared as a template or cloned and customized.  In addition, Saleo provides revenue teams with complete control over the demo environment, including graphs, metrics, tables, text, and images, “enabling you to create the perfect software demo that connects directly to your customer’s pain points and lands exactly the way you want.”

“We’re the only technology that allows software companies to manipulate and customize their live demo environment. Other players breaking in are taking screenshots of existing applications and making changes to them.”

Saleo CEO Justin McDonald

Saleo has a no-code integration that runs with any browser-based SaaS app via a Chrome extension that connects to their SaaS platform.  Time-based metrics are always current.  Furthermore, Saleo doesn’t operate as a screen capture service but demos the firm’s live SaaS product without requiring any embedded code.

“Saleo represents one of those very rare early-stage companies that is launched with such a compelling combination of team, vision, product, and market potential.  Saleo’s customers have been blown away by the impact on sales conversion.” said Jon Hallett of Hallett Capital.  “I was stunned when I saw how easy it was to use and the potential sales impact it represents for future customers.  Of all the new companies I have seen this year, this one has me the most excited.”

“SaaS companies have always struggled to deliver great software demos – either in the time investment to prepare a sales demonstration, or the myriad of challenges around missing data or how to customize a demo for different buyers,” said Salesloft CEO Kyle Porter.  “Saleo has created an ingenious solution to help sales engineers and account executives demo their software apps like never before, and most importantly, increase their win rates.  I am excited to be a part of it.”

Saleo currently has four remote employees and is looking at office space. It plans to expand to twelve headcount by the end of the year, with hires in engineering, sales and customer services. It expects to close a seed funding round in the next six months and sign forty customers before the end of the year.

Terminus was signed as Saleo’s first customer.

RevenueBase $6M Seed Round

B2B data vendor RevenueBase closed a $6 million seed round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.  Additional investors include 2 Lanterns, Argon Ventures, Converge, Feldsmith Capital, Good Friends, Graph Ventures, Gutbrain Ventures, KOA Labs, PBJ Capital, and Service Provider Capital.  The round was oversubscribed as RevenueBase enjoyed significant investor interest.

As part of the round, RevenueBase named three Directors to its Board:

  • Kent Bennett, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Bob Davoli, Founder and Managing Director of GutBrain
  • Jude McColgan, former CEO of Localytics

RevenueBase launched last spring looking to solve issues in the B2B data market, including difficulty in identifying and engaging with Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) prospects and marketing’s reliance upon spammy demand generation instead of well-targeted messages.  RevenueBase trebled its revenue over the past year and expects to do the same this year.  It has already onboarded twenty customers, with a focus on selling data as a strategic asset to the CMO or CRO.

RevenueBase was founded by industry veterans Mark Feldman, the VP of Marketing at NetProspex before its acquisition by Dun & Bradstreet, and Milenko Beslic, who built Cheapflights, the travel industry’s first metasearch engine.  As a marketing head at Backupify, Motion Recruitment, and Localytics, Feldman became frustrated with B2B data issues, including misalignment with the sales and marketing team’s go-to-market strategy, data decay, difficulty acquiring data, and managing disparate vendors and formats.  His stint as a B2B data customer led him to return to the B2B data space and create a product that broadly aggregates company, contact, and custom customer-specific insight data that aligns 1:1 with each customers’ go-to-market strategies.

Custom insights can be any variable that enables targeting of the right businesses.  For example,

  • Does the company offer a mobile app?
  • Are they a managed service provider?
  • Do they have a call center?
  • Do they sell perishable food products?

RevenueBase then builds a custom database for clients that it calls a Revenue Database, which is updated on an ongoing basis.

“We saw a whitespace for a company like RevenueBase, especially given that we’ve seen little real innovation or change in this market over the past decade leading businesspeople to be bombarded with impersonal and poorly targeted messages multiple times a day.  This situation has been made worse by ‘The Great Resignation,’ during which so many people have left their positions, and the data hasn’t kept up with those changes. Milenko and I knew that we could build a better solution to make it easier for companies to access more buyers in order to increase revenue.  We’re excited to have the support of great investors who are on board with our vision.”

CEO Mark Feldman

RevenueBase will deploy its funds towards building a customer UX and a set of enterprise software integrations for CRMs and MAPs.  It is also looking to grow its headcount from twelve to twenty before the end of the year.

“We think the opportunity to be the B2B data refinement layer powering growth-oriented companies is massive,” said Bennett.  “We are impressed with RevenueBase’s early traction and Mark’s and Milenko’s appetite to transform the B2B data industry.” 

Feldman argues that RevenueBase is distinguished across three dimensions: “completeness of data, data accuracy at scale, and ease.”  RevenueBase offers a high-touch, white-glove offering customized to each of its clients.  It begins with customer alignment, holding a set of discovery workshops that identify each customer’s “revenue archetype.”  RevenueBase then queries its 700 million global contacts database to build tailored databases for its clients.

RevenueBase maintains a database of 700 million global contacts.

Revenue Archetypes consist of an ICP, market segmentation, pains addressed, buyer personas, sales showstoppers, and custom insights that enable buyers to be engaged more personally. 

“A revenue archetype is a model of what your ideal customer looks like, i.e., one you can derive revenue from,” Feldman explained to GZ Consulting.  “It’s where there is a mutual benefit.  They need your product/service and will pay a fair price for it.  They also will favor you over the competition because your solution will result in the best cost-benefit tradeoff for the customer.“

Conversely, the Revenue Archetype also defines companies that are not good fits such as industries or geographies that require a standard not met by a firm’s offerings (e.g., HIPAA or GDPR requirements).  It also identifies roles not involved in purchasing a company’s products or services.  These individuals may be too junior in the organization or may not work in functions that use a company’s products or services.

RevenueBase argues that its knowledge graph technology improves the set of discoverable relationships, including the “longtail of customer-specific insights,” stated Feldman.  For example, RevenueBase can identify partners, investors, technologies in use, revenue streams, business models, key resources, and modern industries (such as Fintech and SaaS) that do not fall into standard industry classifications.

Conventional firmographics vendors must have a product manager pre-define the company attributes to be collected and then build these definitions into its data collection methodology and structure.  Because RevenueBase employs a graph database, it is not subject to these structural limitations and can identify uncommon or industry-specific elements that define the ICP.  The data structure also supports multi-point verification and data attribution.  In addition, data fields with high probabilities of changing, such as email addresses, job titles, and current employers, are re-verified at least four times per year.

RevenueBase promises to “replace all of your data vendors with one solution” that “reaches every company and decision-maker across the globe that will benefit from your unique offering.”  By delivering high-quality, targeted data directly to sales and marketing systems, revenue teams avoid time-consuming sales rep data research and managing databases. Data quality steps include custom research, quarterly email re-verification, and annual phone checks.  Data is delivered via a quarterly secure CSV file transfer with a 90% accuracy SLA.

Highspot $248M Series F

Sales Enablement Platform vendor Highspot closed on a $248 million Series F that valued the firm at $3.5 billion, up from its February valuation of $2.3 billion.  The firm, founded in 2012, has raised $648 million to date.  The round was led by B Capital Group and D1 Capital Partners, with Iconiq Growth, Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire, and Tiger Global Management also participating.

“Technologies that unlock human potential are foundational to our economic future,” said Rashmi Gopinath, General Partner, B Capital.  “Highspot’s undeniable performance, coupled with the enthusiasm of their customer base, is a testament to how transformative their technology is for companies across industries and geographies.  We believe Highspot’s platform is an imperative for businesses aiming to drive sustainable growth.”

Highspot will deploy the funds to hire additional staff and open offices in the EMEA and APAC regions.  The firm, which doubled in size over the past two years to 800 employees, plans to add 500 staff over the next twelve months.  Highspot is based in Seattle, with offices in London, Munich, and Paris.

The pandemic accelerated demand for digital platforms such as Highspot as “road warriors have become home warriors,” said Wahbe.  In addition, the shift from traditional selling to digital required new tools and skills.  “Salespeople have to be better than ever in holding the attention of the customer.”

“Even before the onset of the pandemic, buyers were trending toward self-reliance with a plethora of resources at their fingertips, researching vendors on their own time and relying on salespeople as mere transaction facilitators,” Wahbe told VentureBeat via email. The sudden shift to a remote business landscape caused by COVID-19 accelerated this trend, and now modern buyers prefer — and expect — fully virtual sales … A handful of sales tech companies anticipated the trend toward digital selling and strategically designed their products to help turn salespeople from transaction helpers into heroes. Highspot is one such company.”

Highspot CEO Robert Wahbe, “Highspot raises $248M to bolster sales enablement using AI,” VentureBeat (January 13, 2022)

The firm, which has over 170 open positions, is broadly hiring across engineering, product, design, marketing, and sales.

“We see an incredible opportunity in front of us,” said CEO Robert Wahbe. “We need to continue to invest very significantly and invest in our go-to-market team, invest in our product, and [invest in] the capabilities of our product.”

Last month, Highspot announced a quartet of executive hires:

  • Arvind Prakash, Product Management VP: Prakash is a global product and technology leader with over twenty years of experience at Compass, Expedia Group, and Microsoft.
  • John Zhang, Engineering VP: Zhang held Engineering roles at Microsoft, Twitter and Weibo.
  • Julie Valenti, Account Management VP: Valenti has over twenty years of experience running customer-facing teams at DocuSign, Oracle, Responsys, and Yesmail.
  • Kelly Lewis, Revenue Enablement VP: Lewis joins with over 15 years of experience in revenue leadership and technology sales.  Lewis is a former Highspot customer joining from Amwell.

Highspot supports content recommendations, content engagement analytics, sales training, and sales coaching

The recently launched Highspot Marketplace is a partner exchange for marketing, sales, enablement, and customer success partners.  Companies can import packages of content, tools, and training from two dozen partners, including Sandler, Challenger, and Winning by Design.

Highspot Sales Training Dashboard

Highspot has grown revenue 935% over the last three years and posted an Annual Recurring Revenue net retention rate of 130% over the past year. 

Last year, platform usage increased 150%, with Highspot providing training to eight million salespeople, channel partners, service reps, and customers in digital sales experiences.  Highspot counts DocuSign, General Motors, Nestle, Siemens, and Verizon Media among its 700+ customers.

Wahbe envisions the firm going public but did not set an IPO timeframe. “Our focus continues to be on building a significant company in the enablement space,” said Wahbe. “We’re focused on growing the company, which of course then enables us to go public.”

Cognism $87.5M Series C

London-based Sales Intelligence vendor Cognism closed on an $87.5 million (£64m) Series C.  The round was led by Viking Global Investors and Blue Cloud Ventures, with follow-on investors AXA Venture Partners, Swisscom Ventures, and Volution.

Total funding is just shy of $130 million.

The funds will be deployed for European expansion and strengthening Cognism’s position in the United States.  Growth will be a “combination of organic growth and acquisitions.”

“The funding will help us empower many more businesses with international sales intelligence over the coming years, setting a new standard in data quality and compliance,” explained CEO James Isilay.  “It will accelerate our growth and global expansion plans as the leading provider of intelligent B2B sales data.”

“We will be organically expanding in the United States this year and have just hired new sales leadership (Mark Sparaco) to accelerate our growth,” Isilay told GZ Consulting.  “Europe remains our primary focus, but we see significant differentiation to other providers in our US and International data that we see significant growth opportunities.”

The firm will remain focused on improving its global data coverage and Sales Intelligence capabilities in 2022.  Roadmap features include marketing enhancements and localization in non-English speaking countries.

Cognism is coming off another strong year, with ARR growth hitting 100%.  They have over 1,000 customers, located in over forty countries.

Isilay is targeting another year of 100%+ growth and stated that Cognism is off to a good start in January with a “record revenue month.”

2021 data improvements include Diamond Data and the addition of Bombora’s intent data set as a premium offering.  Diamond data provides “the most accurate, GDPR & CCPA compliant phone-verified contacts for business development teams internationally, setting a new standard in data quality,” boasted the firm.

The Diamonds-on-Demand request feature supports on-demand phone verification from both the web application and the Cognism Chrome extension.  Users click on a Diamond Verify button to initiate the verification process, which is completed within 48 hours.  In addition, users can track the status on the platform.

“No other software company offers a truly global sales intelligence platform like Cognism. “By pairing our premium quality contact data with advanced contextual data points like technographics and buyer intent signals, we help modern revenue teams connect with confidence and exceed targets. We enable them to build a meaningful connection with their next best customer in the most predictable, efficient, and cost-effective way.”

Cognism CEO James Isilay

Cognism has grown to over 250 employees in seven countries: the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, South Africa, Croatia, Macedonia, and Germany.

Cognism did not state its market valuation.

Cognism also announced that it is SOC II Type 2 compliant.  The designation confirms that Cognism meets AICPA’s Trust Services Criteria for Security, Availability, Confidentiality, Processing Integrity, and Privacy with regards to data.

“We live and breathe security and compliance at Cognism as we handle large amounts of company data that help our customers reach new target audiences,” blogged Cognism CTO Stjepan Buljat. “Most companies, when they start their SOC 2 compliance journey, choose to select type 1 qualification, whereas we’ve selected the more complex type 2 route – often described as the difference between a balance sheet audit and a full audit of financial operations.  Type 2 looks at the information security controls we have in action and confirms that we’re organised to handle the data privacy concerns of the largest companies on the planet.”

Cognism Funding History (Source: Owler)

Intentsify Equity Round

Intent data vendor Intentsify announced that it received a strategic investment from BV Investment Partners, a middle-market private equity firm that focuses on the tech sector.  The new funds will help the firm accelerate growth and product development.

Intentsify, founded in 2018, continued its pace of strong growth in 2021.  The firm quadrupled revenue in 2019 and 2020 and expected to treble income in 2021 (as of mid-December). In addition, it has grown its customer base to over 150 customers.

Venn-diagram-intent-data-sources
Intentsify layers multiple, complementary intent feeds into its proprietary intent dataset.

“B2B organizations are increasingly leveraging multiple sources of intent data to focus time, efforts, and resources where and how they’ll have the most impact,” said Intentsify CEO Marc Laplante.  “The problem is most B2B companies struggle to quickly gather, analyze, and act on buyer intent signals, which change on a weekly basis. Intentsify is streamlining all of this so our customers can more effectively scale account-based demand and revenue. We are excited to partner with BV who understands our business and has the expertise to help us take Intentsify to the next level.”

Intentsify’s Intent Activation software ingests multiple categories of intent data from several proprietary data sources “to deliver a broader, more accurate view into which targeted accounts are in-market to purchase and the issues they care about.”

Intent data is gathered from over 50 billion intent signals per month from over 5,000 B2B media sites. Intentsify also includes Visitor tracking as part of its offering.

Intentsify offers a pair of Intent Activation Solutions for Demand Generation and Programmatic Marketing. Intent-Activated Demand Generation helps marketers engage target personas at accounts displaying relevant research activity while Intent-Activated Programmatic targets key personas “at the right locations among in-market target accounts.”

“Intentsify uses its proprietary technology backed by a global data science team to power numerous marketing, sales, and customer success use cases,” stated Justin Harrison, Managing Partner of BV Investment Partners.  “Intentsify’s co-founders have long experience in this field and are acknowledged thought leaders in the intent data space who have built a strong company with an impressive leadership team, and we look forward to working with them to scale their business.”

Intentsify did not disclose the size of the investment.

Vista Equity Takes Majority Stake in Salesloft

Salesloft has been building out its deal intelligence alongside conversations and cadences.

Vista Equity announced that it took a majority stake in Sales Engagement vendor Salesloft.  CEO Kyle Porter indicated that the round values Salesloft above $2.3 billion.  Salesloft is on a roll, hitting $100 million in annual recurring revenue this summer and growing annual revenue 50% this year.

Salesloft rebranded this fall with new positioning around the “Modern Revenue Workspace.”  Its Winter 2021 release included sentiment analysis for inbound emails and an AI Chrome extension tool for optimizing emails.  Salesloft also recently opened a German data center, helping it comply with GDPR and European data hosting requirements.

According to Vista Equity, Salesloft is the most capital-efficient business in its space, meaning that they are enjoying smart growth.

“This means customers can trust that we will continue to deliver the best products and service in our industry,” stated VP of Product Management Frank Dale.

At the beginning of the year, Salesloft closed on a $100 million round that valued the firm at $1.1 billion.  The January investors, led by Owl Rock Capital, have retained their stakes in the firm.

Porter told the Wall Street Journal that he foresees an IPO but did not provide details on timing.

“From day one, Salesloft’s vision has been to help sellers more successfully engage with and serve their buyers.  This investment is a huge milestone in Salesloft’s journey to becoming the most loved brand in sales technology.  It gives us the resources we need to continue serving our amazing customers, while innovating solutions to solve the complex challenges faced by sellers.”

Salesloft CEO Kyle Porter

The additional funds will be deployed towards product development and market expansion, focusing on the Asia Pacific region, and “tripling down” in EMEA.  Salesloft is enjoying triple-digit growth in EMEA after opening its London EMEA HQ in April 2019.

“This deal is about GROWTH for our CUSTOMERS,” posted Porter on LinkedIn.  “We’re growing >50% annually as the most efficient player in our category, which is critical to long-term sustainability and success.  We will be fueling significant innovation and customer services as a result of this deal.”

“This partnership with Vista is about the future we’re building for our customers,” commented CRO Steve Goldberg.  “It’s about making the lives and jobs of sellers easier.  It’s about quickly delivering the solutions and experience they need to win.”

“Vista is proud to be a preferred partner for founders of fast-growing, high-performing, high-potential companies, and we are excited to work with Kyle and the Salesloft team,” said Monti Saroya, co-head of the Flagship Fund and senior managing director at Vista.  “Salesloft has built an incredible enterprise software platform that provides tangible ROI by empowering sales teams and managers to increase productivity, and we are excited to bring our decades of enterprise software experience to help Salesloft further fuel its growth trajectory and global expansion.”

Vista wrote a long blog welcoming Salesloft, but the piece did not focus on Salesloft’s current positioning or value proposition.  Instead, Vista discussed its long history working with Porter (it was a Series A investor), Porter’s focus on recruiting talent and helping build the Atlanta tech ecosystem, and his willingness to mothball the Prospector product so the company could focus on building out its Cadence service.

I would add a few other notes about Kyle, whom I’ve known for just as long.  He is a natural-born storyteller who exudes enthusiasm, just as every sales rep should.  He also emphasizes authenticity in sales, the need to balance automation with personalization (a variation on authenticity), and the importance of building a strong company culture.

David Cummings, who has served on Salesloft’s Board since its early days, lauded Kyle Porter and his willingness to pivot the company for growth and recruit top talent.

“Salesloft is mostly the story of the will, determination, and grit of the entrepreneur Kyle Porter.  From a full reboot of the business in the early days, to multiple pivots, and recently navigating the pandemic, Kyle has endured the high highs and low lows of entrepreneurship many times over.  And one of his superpowers is recruiting an amazing team starting with Rob Foreman.  Rob was introduced to Kyle through a chance encounter at a local event.  From there, the two hit it off and developed one of the strongest yin/yang partnerships I’ve ever seen.  The team grew to include incredible leaders across all the functions including Ellie, Sydney, Scott, Chad, Steve, and many others.”

“Kyle was the visionary all along,” continued Cummings.  “Through a strong focus on organization health, never-ending love for the customer (#saleslove), bold acquisitions of several companies, and masterful fundraising, Kyle operated in one of the most aggressive, yet thoughtful, ways imaginable.”

The RevTech space has some excellent CEOs who match product vision and intelligent growth with passion and a stakeholder perspective.  Besides Porter, the industry is lucky to have Henry Schuck (ZoomInfo CEO), Manny Medina (Outreach CEO), Jon Miller (Founder of Engagio and Marketo and currently the Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Demandbase), Sangram Vajre (co-founder of Terminus, author, and leader of the Flip My Funnel movement), and others.

Salesloft supports 4,000 customers, including IBM, Google, Cisco, Shopify, and LinkedIn.

As part of the transaction, Vista will be joining Salesloft’s Board, and Cummings will be exiting it.

Openprise $16M Series A

RevOps Automation Platform Openprise closed on an oversubscribed Series A last month.  The $16 million round was led by SIG Asia Investment, an affiliate of the Susquehanna International Group, with new investments from Banyan Pacific and Citta Capital.  Existing investors Alumni Venture Group and AI List also participated.

Funding will accelerate development on the Openprise RevOps Automation Platform and scale up the sales and marketing teams.

Openprise supports data management, enrichment, and hygiene across sales, marketing, customer success, BI, and analytics platforms.  Features include data deduplication, data onboarding, lead-to-account matching, lead routing, attribution, and account scoring.

Openprise RevOps automation capabilities.

Openprise cited a recent Gartner forecast that 75% of high-growth companies will deploy a RevOps model by 2025.  “A move from sales enablement to revenue enablement is needed in today’s rapidly shifting buying and selling dynamic to support this RevOps imperative.”

“Openprise is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the momentum in companies moving to a RevOps model,” stated Anne Marie McCallion, its PR rep.

“When companies move to a RevOps model in order to better align marketing and sales, they soon identify huge gaps in their joint processes and data that aren’t addressed by traditional marketing and sales automation solutions like Marketo, Salesforce, and Salesloft,” said Openprise CEO Ed King.  “Openprise is fueling the RevOps revolution by providing a single, no-code platform that can automate hundreds of RevOps processes and deliver go-to-market-ready data for the entire RevTech stack.”

Openprise customers include UI Path, Vimeo, Zendesk, Okta, Nutanix, Freshworks, Splunk, and Zscaler.

Openprise will face stiffer competition from RingLead, which was acquired by ZoomInfo in September.

IT Central Station $30M Series A

Tech review site IT Central Station closed on a $30 million Series A led by Invictus Growth Partners.  The site grew ARR 124%, surpassed 500,000 registered members, and was visited by 3.5 million enterprise software buyers over the past year.  The firm was bootstrapped in 2012 and has been self-funded until now.  It is both profitable and cash-flow positive.

The funds will be employed to rebrand the site as PeerSpot, expand its coverage of new enterprise tech categories, and accelerate sales and marketing.  Hiring will be concentrated in the R&D, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success departments.

IT Central Station has focused on core IT sectors such as Cybersecurity, DevOps, and IT management; however, it does not have the profile breadth of some of the major review sites.

“Now we are expanding to categories where IT is not the primary buyer but is still on the buying committee,” explained CEO Russell Rothstein to GZ Consulting.  “Following that we will expand our coverage for all enterprise technology categories, including mid-market.”

The new brand and site will be launched in January 2022.

“IT Central Station has succeeded in building a platform that tech buyers trust and enables vendor marketers to achieve strong ROI,” said Rothstein.  “We are in the top of the first inning in our plan to build the world’s largest B2B marketplace for enterprise technology, built upon a foundation of verified user-generated content and peer reviews.  The Invictus team adds deep operating expertise, including a uniquely valuable approach to data science, and I am thrilled to have Invictus as our partner for the next stage of our growth.”

Rothstein explained that as a bootstrapped company, the firm didn’t have the marketing resources of other sites, so he focused on the depth and value of reviews, high-quality intent data, and building its customer success team.  Along with rapid revenue growth, the firm posted a net retention rate of 142% last year.

“People trust their peers more than any industry analysts or so-called experts,” said Rothstein. As a result, younger tech buyers expect to “go online to tap into the knowledge of their peers as part of the buying process.  It’s just natural for them.”

Rothstein argues that IT Central Station’s reviews are “the most in-depth,” with an average length of 620 words.  In addition, it offers a “Zero Fake Reviews” commitment, with a triple authentication process (LinkedIn profiles, community policing, and human oversight) for validating reviews.  First, reviews are checked to ensure the individual does not work for the reviewed company or one of its competitors.  The job function is also verified to ensure that a qualified individual wrote it.

“Every review has to have pros and cons. We don’t accept any five-star ‘everything’s perfect’ reviews without any room for improvement,” explained Rothstein.  “Reviews have to have both room for improvement as well as value that you get from the product.”

Conversely, IT Central Station also filters out reviews that are purely negative rants.

“If someone’s having such an extreme opinion, then they’re not really presenting a realistic picture,” continued Rothstein.  “It’s just losing credibility.  People aren’t going to believe the review and it just reflects poorly on the review site itself.  So we really aim to get that balance in every review.”

Rothstein explained that IT Central Station has a strong community that both polices the site for biased reviews and supports active Q&A discussions.

Profiles include an overview, filterable reviews, pros and cons, pricing, alternatives, “Many of our customers generate millions of dollars in pipeline and closed business from IT Central Station leads and intent data,” blogged Rothstein.  “They’ve given us high marks with an average 70 Net Promoter Score (NPS) over the past four quarters. That’s world-class NPS, putting us at the level of Apple and Starbucks.”

IT Central Station profile of MS Azure.

IT Central Station argues that review sites mostly attract “high intent buyers” in the decision phase of the buyer’s journey.  Furthermore, Demand Gen’s 2021 Buyers Survey found that most purchasers reached out to peers and existing users before contacting any vendors.

“People don’t read complex product reviews just for kicks – they are looking for help in choosing what product to buy,” added IT Central Station Content Manager Rony Sklar.  “B2B buyers who are about to spend a lot of money on an enterprise solution want to know what their peers’ experiences have been with the solutions they’re considering before making a purchase.  Because review sites have this highly targeted, homogenous audience whose main logical use case for a review site is researching a purchase, all the site visitors exhibit a degree of intent. Unlike other types of data, this intent data is low funnel and has a high degree of accuracy because there is no guesswork involved. The intent data generated by a review platform shows you exactly which companies are researching you and your competitors.”

Along with CSV files and webhooks, IT Central Station delivers integrated intent data to Salesforce, Demandbase, and LinkedIn.  In addition, the firm will be announcing support for 6sense, Marketo, HubSpot, Outreach, and Metadata in the coming months. 

“We can provide [intent data] at the contact level, but also aggregate it at the account level, as we can associate multiple people at the same company,” stated Rothstein.  “We provide a proprietary Buyer Intent Score for each account that incorporates activity done both at the contact and overall account level for each account.  For contact level, we provide email, phone, title, function, job level, and BANT information.  We also provide product interests per contact, so you can see which products the contact is researching and comparing, with the level of depth of their research.”

Intent data is updated daily. “Making the right enterprise software purchasing decisions has never been more mission critical for the success of growing businesses and the careers of enterprise software buyers,” said Invictus Managing Partner William Nettles.  “IT Central Station’s reviews have proven to be a must have for enterprises to validate the performance of their products, while providing buyers the most trusted and reliable data for their buying decisions. We are thrilled to partner with Russell and his team to help them scale the business to the benefit of enterprise software buyers globally.”

LeadIQ $30M Series B

Account Based Prospecting Platform LeadIQ announced a $30 million Series B led by Cathay Innovation, with Fresco Capital, Strong Ventures, and Eight Road Ventures joining the round.  The round brings total funding to $42 million.

The funds will be deployed to accelerate the product roadmap in account prioritization, buying team and contact personalization, and sales team collaboration.  Funds will also be used to fill key management positions for managing its growth and expansion as CEO Mei Siauw plans to double the firm’s headcount over the next eighteen months.

LeadIQ still has $6 million available from its Series A but is looking to expand from lead management into broader account management; thus, it is raising the necessary funds for new product development. 

According to Cathay Innovation, LeadIQ has “some of the best enterprise SaaS unit economics we’ve seen.”

Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch reported that “the company also sports net retention figures of around 125% and a strong ratio of account size versus customer acquisition costs.  Those are the sorts of metrics that SaaS investors covet.”

LeadIQ, founded in 2015, is based in San Francisco and Singapore.  It employs a remote workforce of 115 in 22 countries and serves companies in 45 countries.  Over the past year, the company quadrupled its ARR to “eight digits.”  The firm supports over 20,000 sales professionals across 1,200 enterprise and mid-market deployments.

LeadIQ automates sales rep prospecting workflows.

LeadIQ functionality helps sales teams “focus on the right activities and automate the rest.”  Its Chrome extension supports prospecting and lead capture from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, capturing both individual contacts and filtered contact lists.  Leads may be exported to Salesforce, HubSpot, Outreach, and Salesloft, with duplicates blocked.  Contacts sent to Outreach and Salesloft kick off cadences.

“With 65% of teams missing revenue targets, outbound sales efficiency is a major challenge for enterprises globally,” said founder and CEO Mei Siauw. “Today, account-based prospecting is still highly manual and time-consuming thanks to fragmented data across multiple systems, repetitive busywork, low-quality research, and varying privacy laws. We built LeadIQ to help sales teams everywhere make authentic prospect connections with a more thoughtful approach. The numbers speak volumes, where we tripled growth in our enterprise and mid-market segments year-over-year. With this latest financing, we look forward to working with current and new investors like Cathay Innovation, who have the global reach and local market expertise across the US, Europe, and Asia to help us scale further during this next phase of growth.”

LeadIQ CEI Mei Siauw

Other features include

  • Email verification
  • Lead, Contacts, and Account enrichment and update
  • Territory management recognizes when reps are capturing leads that do not conform with their territory
  • Contact tracking that alerts reps when contacts change companies or titles.
  • An admin portal that helps customers comply with regulations such as GDPR and CCPA

“Led by a resilient and tenacious CEO with incredible vision, LeadIQ offers a next-gen platform that is the glue that unifies sales at the top of the funnel to provide the most comprehensive solution on the market,” said Cathay Innovation CEO Denis Barrier.  “Its workflow automation builds a strong moat and competitive advantage, which is critical with the pandemic-era digital transformation and subsequent talent wars forcing sales leaders to prioritize efficiency and effectiveness beyond the quota. We look forward to leveraging our resources worldwide to accelerate the company further onto the global stage.”

LeadIQ begins at $720 per rep on an annual basis for the Starter Plan.  Sales reps receive 250 verified emails per month and 25 mobile numbers.  However, the Starter Plan only supports Google Sheets and HubSpot Capture.

The Pro Plan doubles the price and monthly data plan.  Pro includes Salesforce and SEP integrations and lets users enrich CSV files of up to 100 rows.

Pricing for the Enterprise Edition runs at $135 per rep per month and includes job change notifications, prospecting, a team analytics dashboard, and priority support.  The Enterprise plan requires a minimum of twenty users, so it begins at $32,400. LeadIQ did not disclose its current valuation.

Flash: Groove Series B and Product Enhancements

Sales Engagement Platform Groove closed on a $45 million Series B led by Viking Global Investors.  Previous investors Capital One Ventures, Level Equity, Quest Venture Partners, and Uncork Capital also participated.  The funds will be deployed for international expansion and continued growth in the enterprise segment.

The round brings total funding to $61 million.  Groove did not disclose its market valuation following Round B.

“We’re experiencing explosive growth in the enterprise segment of the market,” Groove VP of Marketing Kristin Hersant told GZ Consulting.  “This latest round of funding will enable us to invest more heavily in R&D while expanding our operations in EMEA and doubling down on the sales and marketing engine that’s fueling this growth.”

Enterprise ARR is up 114% over the past years.  New enterprise clients include Activision, iHeartMedia, LexisNexis, New Relic, TIBCO, Veeva, and Wintrust.

Although Salesforce’s first cloud was the Sales Cloud, digital selling remains an issue for many Salesforce customers.  An August 2021 Forrester report on the “State of CRM” found that 57% of respondents struggled to offer solid customer experiences due to poor integration and accessibility.

Groove, a native Salesforce Sales Engagement application, “solves this accessibility problem by meeting sellers where they already work, increasing rep productivity while ensuring over 90% Salesforce adoption,” wrote Groove.

“This notion of the sales engagement platform as a cockpit for sellers is likely to continue to drive further integrations between other sales tech categories and these platforms as the advantages of bringing everything to the seller where they sell (the original vision for CRM technology) become more widely recognized,” said Anthony McPartlin, Principal Analyst for Forrester Research in a recent blog post.

“Our enterprise customers want to enable the modern seller while ensuring the highest levels of enterprise security and compliance.  We’re capturing a significant amount of enterprise market share from our competition because our platform was built for the needs of large, complex organizations that rely on Salesforce as their system of record.  We bring automation to the seller instead of requiring that they work out of a separate system. This flexibility ensures extremely high user adoption rates, even with technology averse sellers in non-tech industries.”

Groove CEO Chris Rothstein

Groove also announced a pair of product enhancements that meet “the unique needs of complex organizations.”  The first new feature is automatic logging to custom objects.  The second new capability, OmniActions, “enables reps to complete any sales action without leaving their workflows.”

Groove Custom Objects for Salesforce.

“By seamlessly integrating valuable CRM data into specialized workflows for different roles, teams, and industries, Groove drives CRM adoption and enables revenue teams to get a more complete picture of all sales activities.  The addition of automatic logging to custom objects and OmniActions provides customers even more flexibility for executing, capturing, and properly associating activities with both standard and custom Salesforce objects.  With these new features, Groove strengthens its position as the only sales engagement platform that can easily fit into an organization’s complex and dynamic sales workflows.”

“One of the great things about Groove is its ability to flex to any organization’s sales process, regardless of how much they have customized Salesforce.  Today, we’ve made it even easier for reps to complete, assign, and track their activities without having to leave their workflows.  That means more time for reps to sell, more complete data for managers to manage their teams, and more flexibility for admins to maintain established and successful processes.”

Groove VP of Product Sonia Sarao

Groove’s Advanced Activity Capture now automatically logs activity to custom objects, “minimizing the manual work required by sellers while ensuring complete visibility into account health and opportunities.”

Activity Capture may be configured by profile, allowing for customization at the functional or team level.

OmniActions lets reps manage or execute any activity outside of their regular Flows with automated real-time activity logging.  OmniActions is fully integrated with the Groove Omnibar, supporting actions in Google Workspace, Microsoft Outlook, Salesforce, or the Groove app.

Groove OmniActions

“This combination gives sellers a 360-degree view of their prospects’ and customers’ lifecycle from details and activity to actions – all in their workflow,” wrote the firm.  “OmniActions enables revenue organizations to associate all activities with open opportunities, whether they are part of a single action or multi-step Flow.  By accurately associating all types of activities, revenue teams can take advantage of more accurate reporting and insights into the sales process.”

Groove continues its rapid growth, making the Inc. 5000 for the past three years.  It has over 70,000 users.