If you’ve crossed paths with a sales rep during the last few years — or even sat in the vicinity of one at lunch time — odds are you’ve heard of Outreach.
And you can expect to hear a lot more about them in the future. Today, the Seattle company reached an important milestone, having raised $114 million in venture capital at a $1.1 billion valuation.
As co-founder and CEO Manny Medina wrote in a blog post this morning, “That’s right: Outreach is officially a ‘unicorn.’”
The company started life as a recruiting tool in 2013. At the time, the team was sourcing job candidates and potential customers through emails and phone calls — a laborious and often frustrating process.
“We got into a position where we had two months of cash left,” Medina said in an interview with Built In Seattle. “But we figured that if we could build workflows to generate 10 times more meetings per sales rep, we could dig ourselves out of that problem.”
So the team got to work building software to automate the more time-consuming and repetitive tasks that tend to clog a salesperson’s day, and ended up with enough meetings to survive.
Before they knew it, Medina said, conversations with customers shifted away from the recruiting service they were actually selling and toward that internal tool, instead.
“People were saying, ‘I don’t want to buy your service — I want to buy this tool.’”
That was at the end of 2013. Medina and his team spent most of 2014 in development, and by 2015, they had begun selling the new tool. The result: a sales engagement platform that automates a number of sales tasks — tracking down phone numbers, rescheduling meetings when it detects an “out of office” notification, and many more — thereby boosting a sales team’s productivity.
We’re one of the few SaaS companies out there that has the desire to serve the entire gamut of the market.”
Medina said the company will use the funding to build up its technological capabilities, particularly in the fields of data analytics and natural language processing, which are key to helping the software understand the sentiments of individual emails. The company, which currently employs around 350 people, also plans to build out its sales, customer success, engineering and machine learning teams.
Connecticut-based Lone Pine Capital led the Series E round, which brings Outreach’s funding total to $239 million. Lemonade Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Microsoft Ventures, DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital and Trinity Ventures also participated.
Medina said the company has a strong revenue stream complementing this latest cash infusion. Outreach currently boasts more than 3,300 customers.
“We’re one of the few SaaS companies out there that has the desire to serve the entire gamut of the market, from a micro-startup all the way up to large enterprises,” Medina said. “So to realize our full vision, we need to be fluent in both high velocity service models and enterprise deployment.”
“That’s an ambitious undertaking, and we decided we are the team to do it.”