LeanData provides SaaS solutions targeted at the intersection of sales and marketing operations. To date, the company has played in the account-based marketing (ABM) space, specifically with a focus on getting high-quality leads routed to the right person within a sales organization at the right time.
Going forward, LeanData will expand its offerings to sales operations by including other similarly straightforward, high-ROI pieces of functionality, thus helping to make these folks “OpsStars” as they like to say.
We think it’s a fruitful space in which to be innovating and are excited to have led a $10 million financing for LeanData to support the company’s product expansion and overall growth.
We’ve known LeanData almost forever. CEO Evan Liang and investor/board director Ravi Mohan of Shasta Ventures are former colleagues, and also good friends. Evan is sharp and diligent, plus he brings a valuable customer-oriented viewpoint having run a marketing organization previously. Perhaps just as important, he’s got an in-check ego that allows him to take the best from what others bring to the table. That low ego trait seems shared by the rest of LeanData’s executive team, including co-founding CTO Kelvin Cheung, an MIT-pedigreed, scalable systems expert; Hendrick Lee, who leads product; and Brian Birkett, who is in charge of sales. They’re a group that on a personal level we look forward to working with.
Our history with LeanData also goes back beyond just knowing the team. A few years ago when LeanData was tuning its core fuzzy-logic matching capabilities by cleaning up data between marketing automation and sales automation solutions Sapphire helped line up several trial customers (not so hard…the company was solving an acknowledged pain-point). But, we are a growth-stage venture capital firm, so despite liking both the end market and LeanData team we knew we should wait for the company to hit a stride before investing.
Well, it happened. We stayed in touch with LeanData and kept tabs on the overall market in which it plays*. The theme of ABM especially resonated with our enterprise-oriented brains. And LeanData got big enough to have data around its own sales and marketing functions that we could evaluate.
All signs were positive, so we asked Evan to come by our office for a more formal pitch. In some respects, the deal was sealed by a single slide — that of the customer base. The number of companies from Sapphire’s own portfolio using LeanData’s solution was remarkable. We’re biased, obviously, but we think those companies are well run, so broad usage indicated to us a high-value solution.
Naturally, we did our diligence, which included checking to make sure some non-VC-backed, Valley companies were using the product as well (see our blog about this issue). And at one point, there really was this “wow, everyone’s doing it” moment that was a huge step forward in the investment process.
It feels great to be getting involved as an investor. We’ve already been evangelizing the solution to companies within our portfolio that aren’t among the converted based on our strong belief that LeanData is good for sales operations.
Looking ahead we’re excited to work with the LeanData team to evolve beyond lead routing-centered ABM and provide a suite of solutions focused on turning Sales Ops teams into OpsStars.
If you’re involved in Sales Ops and haven’t checked out LeanData yet we think you should. After all, everyone’s doing it…
Note from Dave: A team effort, the beauty of our collaborative approach at Sapphire is sometimes levering up on the expertise of your teammates; my co-author, Rajeev Dham, and colleague, Doug, are the real gurus when it comes to solutions for sales and marketing organizations.
The portfolio companies referred to above do not necessarily represent all of the investments made or recommended by Sapphire Ventures and were not selected based on the return on Sapphire Ventures’ investment in them. It should not be assumed that the specific investments identified and discussed herein were or will be profitable. Not all investments made by Sapphire Ventures will be profitable or will equal the performance of the companies identified above. Sapphire Ventures’ investments can be viewed here.