Data science and mobility: The trends that will transform the next decade of CRM

Announcing our newest investment in Clari

I spent my first eight years in the enterprise software business during the birth of the CRM industry beginning in 1994. Prior to companies like Siebel, Aurum, and Vantive who were all started in this era, “sales force automation” consisted of a CD-ROM used by an individual salesperson to track their contacts and opportunities.

The revolution that Siebel ushered in was the concept that sales contacts and opportunities were an enterprise asset that should be tracked and stored centrally. And that selling was really a team sport and had to be jointly managed by groups of salespeople, sales managers, and sales operations.

What made this all possible was the confluence of two factors: client-server technology and laptop penetration. And as a result, the CRM industry went from a sleepy collection of hundreds of point vendors to the largest space in enterprise software. subsequently took the leadership mantle from Siebel by significantly lowering the total cost of ownership by leveraging the cloud and a multi-tenant architecture.

We believe the next wave of innovation is about to happen in the CRM space thanks to the confluence of two new factors: mobility and data science. And we’re thrilled to announce our funding of the company that is leading this charge: Clari.

We are excited to be backing the world-class Clari founders, Andy Byrne and Venkat Rangan, and the amazing team they have assembled. They have completely reimagined the CRM experience for sales reps with a mobile app that quickly and easily captures the critical information about pipeline progress while focusing the rep on the high value tasks required to win and close business. Clari’s mobile app changes how sales data is captured by dramatically simplifying data entry and enabling passive capture of many other signals. Data science is what allows this data (much of which is unstructured) to be structured and analyzed, leading to predictive insights in sales which have never before been possible. Lastly, Clari is built in such a way that it leverages and improves upon the existing CRM investments that enterprises have made – no need to discard the underlying CRM infrastructure.

We have been really impressed with the quality of the team at Clari and have been truly blown away by their product roadmap. This team is absolutely committed to re-inventing CRM by putting the sales rep at the center of their solution. While sales managers love Clari, the key to Clari’s success is the engagement by individual sales executives who use Clari to spend their time on the highest and most productive selling activities.

Like laptops and client-server in the 1990s, mobility and data science as harnessed by the team at Clari will lead to the next revolution in CRM. We are proud to welcome Clari as our newest portfolio company at Bain Capital Ventures!



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Data-Driven Content Marketing – Announcing the Launch of Captora

Today, one of our most exciting portfolio companies, Captora, publicly announced its Series B funding led by NEA. .

We have had the good fortune of working with the Captora founders since late 2012.   We knew Anindo Mukherjee, Captora’s CTO from his time at Bloomreach and he brings incredible strengths in machine learning and data science. We introduced Anindo to Srihari Kumar, Captora’s head of product who was previously a founder of a marketing automation company, LeadFormix. Srihari brings strong product expertise and domain experience in the marketing automation space. And to round out the team is Paul Albright, Captora’s CEO, who previously was the CRO of Marketo and who has successfully helped a number of successful software companies scale including Informatica and Success Factors.

It’s been incredible to watch the evolution of Captora from their early days working in our Palo Alto office in late 2012 to their Series A funding in spring of 2013 and now year later, having accomplished an array of amazing milestones culminating in today’s launch and their new funding.

The problem Captora is addressing is very simple: how can b2b CMO’s more intelligently manage, create, and optimize their content across channels to increase conversions while improving productivity. Every modern b2b CMO knows that the key to building the “top of funnel” is content marketing. Yet these CMOs don’t have the tools to help them figure out which content to create, where that content should be placed, how well that content is performing, and which content should be retired. As a result, the process today is manual and ad-hoc and ultimately sub-optimal. For most CMOs, content marketing today is not a “machine” that can be managed, scaled, and measured the way other key processes within sales and marketing are managed today.

What makes this problem especially tough is the fact that marketing content is typically unstructured, the volume of content is massive, and this content is incredibly dynamic (based on changes in market, competition, product features, etc).

Captora has created the first data-driven marketing solution to help CMOs 1. Determine where they have content gaps relative to their competitors 2. Quickly and easily create new content to address these gaps. 3. Measure the efficacy and conversion rates of each piece of content and 4. Extend the reach via a range of channels for high performing content. For the Captora customers that use the system, the solution is “magical” and results in more leads, higher conversion rates, and ultimately more revenue.

We are proud to be working with Anindo, Srihari, and Paul and the entire Captora team. Thanks to Captora, content marketing will never be the same!

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Customer Success Doesn’t Matter

Customer success doesn’t matter is everything”

Back in my role running sales and marketing at Trilogy, I learned one of my first lessons about business: “customer success doesn’t matter.”   While the statement sounds ridiculous, in the world of enterprise software circa 1995, it was actually true.  We could sell a customer tens of millions worth of software and get paid entirely up front even though the deployment could take many months or even years.  And if for some reason the deployment was delayed or the software didn’t deliver, the customer would pay us millions more for our consultants to fix the issue.  The entire industry of 1990s enterprise software was built on this bizarre premise.

But as we all know in the technology industry, times have changed and this approach to business ultimately was wrong and unsustainable . The growth of SaaS and the switch to a subscription-billing model has forced vendors to deliver value early and often.  Even outside of the software space, the bar around customer success has been raised dramatically.  Customers across the board are more educated, more vocal, and more willing to switch.  This empowerment of the customer (through the web and social media) combined with the growth of the subscription economy has driven a sea change in global business, elevating customer success to a C-suite initiative.

It is this sea change that led us to invest in Gainsight.

Today we’re pleased to announce our investment behind Nick Mehta and the entire team at Gainsight, the leading provider of SaaS solutions to manage customer success.  With Gainsight’s solution, companies can now see a daily snapshot of the health of their customers.   They can proactively manage their most at-risk customers ahead of the curve leveraging early warning triggers from the Gainsight system.   And they can, for the first time, truly see a 360 degree view of their customers: financial data, billing data, support call data, product adoption data, and activity data all in one place.

And just as companies have systemized their acquisition of new customer logos using software from companies like Salesforce and Marketo, with Gainsight, a company can now systematize the management of the entire customer lifecycle post initial sale.  What this means in financial terms is reduced churn, higher revenue, and increased up-sells.  In other words, every business that has an ongoing relationship with its customers needs Gainsight. 

The team at Gainsight impressed us with their product vision, their leadership, and most importantly with their passion for customer success.  These guys really do walk the walk and we heard in customer call after customer call how committed and focused the Gainsight team has been on their success.

We are proud to welcome them to the Bain Capital Ventures portfolio and we look forward to the journey with them to help every business in the world deliver customer success!

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Big Data meets Marketing Again – this time in the world of “offline” CPG

Today InfoScout announced the launch of their company and their analytics dashboard for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) marketers. Bain Capital Ventures, along with Founder Collective and Dunnhumby Ventures, led a $5M Series A funding round in the company. We are thrilled to be partnering with the InfoScout founders, Jared and Jon, along with the entire InfoScout team.

We’ve discussed in the past here and here the rise of Marketing as the next great function in enterprise technology. A new wave of startups is leveraging Big Data and cloud computing to deliver incredible power to CMOs, giving them access to real-time insights and helping them drive faster, more data-driven decisions. InfoScout is leading this trend in the CPG industry where the marketing challenge is even more acute since the CPG brands don’t’ have direct access to the customer data (this is owned by the retailers) and the customer purchases take place primarily offline.

Given the lack of access to customer data, the 4 trillion-dollar industry of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) spends tens of billions of dollars on market research, syndicated data, and panel data to determine which products are selling to whom and why. For instance, why are a particular cereal brand’s sales declining? Are households substituting the brand for a private label brand? Are they shifting to other breakfast substitutes such as yogurt and granola bars? Or, are they simply eating less breakfast? Retail point of sale (POS) data is helpful for understanding aggregate SKU sales by retailer but sheds zero light on the behavior of individual consumers or segments of households.

The incumbent market research firms have tried to solve this problem by conducting surveys of households or by building panels of families who have to “self-report” their purchase behavior with the assistance of proprietary hardware solutions. The problem with the legacy data providers is that their solutions are typically not real-time (they often are one to two quarters behind); they have significant underlying data problems because they rely on human recollection and require significant reporting effort; and their solutions require significant professional services and consulting support to use.

InfoScout is entering this market with a disruptive solution – the first module of which they are launching today. With InfoScout’s dashboard, marketers at retailers and brands can access real-time household purchase data built on fifteen million offline receipts captured a year (via smartphones) containing 100 million SKU-level purchases with accurate prices and descriptions. The marketers can review and manipulate this data in an easy to use web and mobile interface – no coding, no data consultants, and no data warehouse folks required. Brand managers, shopper marketing analysts, CMOs, and CEOs can now for the first time (without calling a data jockey internally) see how their new product launches are performing instantly; how their marketing campaigns are affecting household buyer behavior; how competitor’s launches are impacting their sales; and whether these insights are consistent by demographic and geographic segment. In addition, because InfoScout has the richest data solution for offline CPG purchase data, these marketers can drill into granular levels of analysis that were never before possible.

Jared and Jon are domain experts who have spent years in this industry. They know their customers well and are the first ones to build a solution the market has been asking for. The launch of the analytics dashboard is just a preview of the many great things InfoScout will be introducing in the coming months. We are proud to be backing Jared and Jon and to welcome them to our family of CMO oriented companies alongside Bloomreach, Captora, Cquotient, Hooklogic, Optimizely, Persado, Survey Monkey, Symphony Commerce, and Tellapart.

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“Magic in a Can” Why we invested in Optimizely

Today Optimizely announced their Series A funding round of $28 million led by new investors Benchmark and Bain Capital Ventures along with several other existing seed investors. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Optimizely founders, Dan and Pete, as well as the entire Optimizely team.

We’ve discussed in the past here and here the rise of Marketing as the next great function in enterprise technology. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are leveraging big data to drive marketing insights, campaigns, programs, and personalization that have never before been possible. A new wave of startups is giving incredible power to these CMOs, allowing them to optimize their programs without having to deal with the bottlenecks of corporate IT. Optimizely is clearly leading this trend.

With the Optimizely solution, CMOs and their marketing teams can now set up UX experiments and A/B tests on their websites in a matter of minutes, without any IT involvement. As we spoke to users of Optimizely, we heard the same refrain over and over: “thanks to Optimizely, we are running 10x the number of experiments – this has led to new levels of iteration which in turn has driven more traffic, higher conversion, and increased revenue”.

Over the past few months, we have seen the Optimizely team in action in front of multiple CMOs of large multi-billion dollar ecommerce companies. It’s been incredible to see the reaction of these CMOs as Dan and Travis have, in a matter of a few clicks, moved around images, text, headlines, fonts, and buttons on the retailers’ site. One CMO sat back after the demo and said, “Wow- this is magic in a can! We have to use this solution”.

The power of Optimizely has led to an extremely high velocity business. Prospective users can try the solution simply by going to (I’d encourage anyone reading this post to try it out for your own website!) The implementation effort requires only the addition of one line of JavaScript to your web page. And while the solution is extremely powerful, the cost is dramatically lower than many other competitive solutions which have the hallmarks of classic heavyweight enterprise software: long sales cycles, long implementation cycles, and heavy professional services.

Because of this velocity, Dan and Pete have built a double-digit revenue business growing at exponential rates without raising equity capital before today. This is an incredible achievement!

Most importantly, Dan and Pete have managed this extraordinary growth without sacrificing their commitment to their users and their commitment to a strong culture and team at Optimizely. When we visited the Optimizely headquarters and watched the team in action, it was clear they have the ingredients and DNA of a “built to last” company. This is a real testament to the leadership and vision of the founders.

We are proud to welcome Optimizely to our family of CMO oriented companies alongside Bloomreach, Captora, Cquotient, Hooklogic, Infoscout, Persado, Sneakpeeq, Survey Monkey, and Tellapart.


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Commerce technology is a massive opportunity (and retail is not dead)

Commerce technology is a massive opportunity (and retail is not dead) (via Pando Daily)

By Ajay Agarwal On February 22, 2013There has been recent discussion about whether retail is dead. We couldn’t disagree more. We predict that over the next five years consumers will experience completely new retail models that effectively use physical locations combined with world class Internet…

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What’s next after SaaS? Big Data Applications

Today one of our portfolio companies, Bloomreach, announced a new funding round led by NEA and their partners Scott Sandell and Ravi Viswanathan.  Bain Capital Ventures and Lightspeed also participated in the round.  We are thrilled to work with NEA and welcome them to Bloomreach.  I have known NEA for 17 years…their managing partner, Peter Barris, was on the board of Trilogy.  Peter, Scott, Ravi and the entire partnership at NEA are world-class.

I had the good fortune of meeting Raj De Datta and Ashutosh Garg, the co-founders of Bloomreach, four years ago.  At the time, it was the two of them and an idea. The founders wanted to solve the “content discovery” problem online and make sure that every web business in the world could be effectively “found” by their respective customers.   Together, we at Bain Capital Ventures and the founders spoke to over 25 CMOs to validate this opportunity – the feedback was extremely strong and helped shape the initial product vision. We subsequently led the Series A funding in March of 2009, alongside a great group of strategic angel investors.

Less than four years later, Bloomreach employs 100 people and is on path to being the fastest growing SaaS company in history.  They are one of the pioneers in the emerging Big Data Applications space:  using data from inside and outside the enterprise to transform enterprise functions.  Bloomreach uses techniques such as machine learning, web crawling, and search technology to mine a massive amount of data. That data drives marketing insights, new customer traffic and most importantly, new revenue.  On average, BloomReach customers see 94% lift in non-branded, natural search traffic.

Unlike the last generation of SaaS and cloud marketing applications, Bloomreach is not a “form on top of a database” or a repository of manually entered data and workflow.  These types of sales and marketing automation solutions are necessary and important, but fail to deliver real measurable business value and ROI to the enterprise.  In contrast, Bloomreach and companies like it are helping web businesses large and small enjoy high margin revenue through an automated service and by doing so, are transforming the marketing function….which we believe is the next 10 Billion dollar opportunity in enterprise technology

Raj and Ashutosh have been outstanding founders and exemplary leaders.  They have created a company and culture that is built to last.  The last four years have been a fantastic journey.  The opportunity for Bloomreach is awesome and we look forward to deploying the new funding in relentless pursuit of our vision.

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