What tips does anyone have for this situation when meeting with clients that sign up for yearly contracts? So often I see companies brag about having been in business for 20 years, or they have hundreds of clients. How would you present yourself when you don’t have that client base?
I’ve been a contractor for a company for three years (by choice) that, when I began, was a complete mess. Through working with the founder over the years, I’ve helped grow the company and bring it out of the state it was in to something we’re all proud of. The most recent funding round valued the company at $ 25M.
At the beginning, the founder was terrible at all things legal and contracts. We agreed that I would receive equity based on a milestone that was achieved, but I received no tax paperwork or anything formal from the company detailing the number of units like a stock purchase agreement -just a percentage noted down on a very loose contract. I made sure when the cap table was released after the funding round immediately following the milestone that I was on it and the amount of shares allocated to me made sense – it did.
I received another 1% as part of my new post-funding contractor agreement to be vested over 3 years. Again no documents from the company detailing specifics on unit amount or shareholder rights – just a loose contract and the percentage detailed on the countersigned agreement.
I never filed an 83b with the IRS because of the lack of clarity or stock agreements, which I imagine is going to cost me dearly. Every time I ask for guidance from the company lawyer, he seems to have no idea what documents I need. I asked our interim CFO, who is now gone, and he had no idea either. I’m just trying to figure out what I was supposed to receive so I can take action.
Can anyone provide guidance on how things should’ve gone down (the co is a Del C Corp) and what steps I might need to take next? I have a feeling the company will be sold soon and I want to have my ducks in a row.
Strapi, the company behind the popular open-source headless CMS also called Strapi, has raised a $ 10 million Series A round led by Index Ventures. The company previously raised a $ 4 million seed round led by Accel and Stride.vc in October 2019.
Strapi is a headless content management system, which means that the back end and the front end operate totally separately. You can run Strapi on your own server and write content and pages for your site by connecting to Strapi’s admin interface.
After that, the front-end part of your application can fetch content from your Strapi instance using an API and display it to your customers and readers.
There are many advantages in separating the front end from the back end. First, it gives you a ton of flexibility when it comes to displaying your content. You can use a popular front-end framework, such as React, Vue and Angular, or develop your own custom front end.
When you want to update the design of your site, you can just switch from one front end to another with Strapi running like usual behind the scene.
Similarly, it offers more flexibility when it comes to server architecture. For instance, you could also leverage Strapi to build static websites and distribute them using a content delivery network, such as Cloudflare or AWS Cloudfront. You could imagine using Gatsby combined with a CDN to deploy your site on the edge. Most of your traffic will go through your CDN instead of hitting your servers directly.
Additionally, Strapi can be used to distribute content to different front ends. For instance, you could use a Strapi instance for the content of your website and your mobile app.
Strapi proves that eventually everything becomes an API. Sure, a headless CMS is probably overkill for most projects. But if you’re running a large scale application, Strapi can fit nicely in your architecture. Companies using Strapi include IBM, NASA and Walmart.
Many well-known open-source business angels have also invested in Strapi, such as Augusto Marietti and Marco Palladino from Kong, David Cramer from Sentry, Florian Douetteau from Dataiku, Solomon Hykes from Docker, Guillermo Rauch from Cloudup, Socket.io, Next.js and Zeit.co, and Eli Collins from Cloudera.
French startup Contentsquare, a global leader in experience analytics works with the mission to empower brands to create better experiences and analyses customer behaviour via billions of anonymous app, mobile, and web interactions. Now, Contentsquare has secured $ 190 million (nearly €174 million) Series D funding led by BlackRock’s Private Equity Partners team.
This takes the overall funding raised by the company to $ 310 million (nearly €280 million) and the investor joins the existing investors such as Bpifrance, Canaan, Eurazeo Growth, Highland Europe, GPE Hermes, KKR, and H14 that also participated in the recent investment round.
Plans to expand internationally
Contentsquare will use the fresh capital to continue to invest heavily in innovation. This includes predictive and AI-based analytics. Also, the company will use the investment to expand its business across Europe, Asia, US, and the Middle East. Contentsquare already has eight offices in Paris, Munich, London, New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Singapore.
“This investment during these uncertain times is a proof of the fantastic job our teams have done,” said Jonathan Cherki, Founder and CEO, Contentsquare. “It validates the strength of our vision for the next 5 years and extends our global leadership in experience analytics at a time when these capabilities are critical to all businesses. We have the ambition to accelerate the world’s digital transformation, by unlocking a full understanding of online behaviours.”
“Already a fast-growing market, experience analytics is now a must-have for businesses,” said Nathalie von Niederhaeusern from BlackRock, who is joining Contentsquare’s Board of Directors. “Contentsquare has unique assets: strong behavioural data and AI algorithms, deep understanding of digital consumers, a large database of benchmarks, a great leadership team and R&D depth. With their client roster, they are defining the experience analytics market globally.”
What does Contentsquare do?
Founded in 2012 by Jonathan Cherki, Contentsquare adheres to data privacy laws including California CCPA and EU GDPR. It transforms knowledge into intelligent recommendations that will help increase engagements, revenue, and growth. It integrates a broad set of data including UX, content, product, acquisition channel, pricing, and technical performance. And, this French company provides more accurate insights as well as AI-powered recommendations for improved digital results.
This platform is trusted by over 700 enterprise customers including Global Fortune 100 and industry powerhouses such as American Express, Best Buy, Dell, Ikea, LVMH, T-Mobile, Salesforce, Sephora and Toyota. It has built a strong ecosystem that is integrated with numerous tech vendors and has established strategic partnerships with digital marketing solutions providers and consultants across the world.
The platform analyses over 10 trillion consumer interactions including $ 1.4B of e-commerce sales per day. Furthermore, Contentsquare created the COVID-19 eCommerce Impact Data Hub providing tracking and analysis of the pandemic on digital consumer behaviour across industries and geographies.
“Our clients and partners will benefit from the acceleration of our innovation, both organically with important R&D recruitments and through acquisitions,” added Jonathan Cherki. “We will also invest in sales and marketing in key geographies to fuel our rapid market expansion.”
Main image picture credits: Contentsquare
Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.
The post French experience analytics company Contentsquare secures €174M in Series D funding round appeared first on Silicon Canals .
LET'S DO THIS!
I've been getting some questions recently from people that have reached out to me for advice and I wanted to pay it forward to the community. I've advised a ton of businesses from idea, to seed, to raising money and exiting.
My focus is on business strategy, sales, and marketing. All around building repeatable processes and streamlining operations.
This is what I advise my clients to do right now –
General thoughts about B2B and B2C
If you're B2B you're looking at either ongoing services or software and in some cases a little of both.
If you're B2C you should be looking at consumable products, things people buy multiple times, with high LTV (lifetime value) customers or a product with a subscription element. NO OTHER EXCEPTIONS HERE.
If you're selling into either businesses or consumers today, it's all about perceived value, which means there is some wiggle room depending on who you're selling to, BUT the following really should be held as foundational:
These are pretty much the only reasons people buy things for B2B:
- It saves them time (reduces friction or replaces a time consuming task)
- Makes/saves them money (creates revenue/ adds value that lets them win business)
- Adoption is simple for their workforce (is easy to incorporate into an existing workflow and anyone can use it/cost of switching in relearning)
- Adds transparency and allows for bigger insights (provides data)
- B2C additional one – provides them joy or enhances their life
The most high growth businesses usually knock out at least two of the above. Really high growth companies hit four or more.
Uber is an example of hitting just about all of them:
- No need to call a cab company and hope they show up, know where they are
- Saves them money, no more guessing on price and subsidized rides
- Just download an app on your existing phone and add your cc number
- Tells me where my ride is, how long until they come to me, and how much it will cost
- Gives me an easy way to get a ride when parking is tough or drinking is involved because of their reliability
This works for a lot of businesses though – and there are more than a few SaaS companies that I’m close with that have nailed the majority of them and are creeping up in clients and funding as a result in historically busy spaces.
Overall management advice because it’s more important than people think
Managing is tough, just because someone was a great employee doesn’t make them a great manager and just because someone is an executive doesn’t make them a great communicator.
Respect that everyone has different ways of communicating.
Two lessons I’ve learned from working with a ton of senior leadership.
Internally, break down everything into little goals, constantly ask yourself "What's my goal?" when it relates to calls, emails, outreach, posting, hiring, meetings, etc.
Make that shit your mantra then distill it down to the simplest form it can be.
You should always strive for clear and concise communication throughout all interactions. If you disagree with a request or find it not in the best interest, agree anyway first, then raise questions about it. Remember, we’re all in this together and our goal as a company is to help everyone clearly articulate “What’s my goal?” at a micro level to encourage good communication.
Record all your processes from day one – process is what sets apart winners and losers, always be looking to improve your processes because down the line you're going to be looking to automate these – having records of your approach and what worked and didn't will be invaluable while growing, scaling, or building systems to streamline your approach.
There is a tool for everything, that doesn’t mean you should use every tool. Find what works for your team and what has the highest level of adoption, create good habits around using the tools that provide you the best organization.
Pep talk done let’s get down to business
When you're starting out the only things that matter are:
Business strategy, partnerships, product, and marketing strategy.
IN THAT ORDER
Some of you will argue a team should be included, but I’m of the belief that if you nail all the above correctly, the people you have running it don’t matter as much. It’s more a matter of consistency and process than the people are executing.
Today most smart businesses follow the same path:
- Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay)
- Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
- Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
- Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
- Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
The above if done correctly massively increases your chances of success
Let’s go over them one by one. (this post only covers number 1 – let me know in the comments if you want me to write up 2 through 5)
REVENUE AND MONETIZATION – Will they pay? Do they have money?
The following three questions can help you quickly weed out your ideas:
- Is what you’re building something that people are used to paying for?
- Is the part of the business you’re looking at a cost center or a revenue generator?
- Is what you’re providing a race to the bottom or increasingly a data play?
You're answers should be, YES, Revenue Generator, Data Play.
This is your best shot at success. Even a reduction in costs isn't as sexy all the time. Just compare your support budget to your marketing budget and these things become clear.
Story time relevant to number 2 above – cost center v revenue generator
We were using a series of three tools to automate a series of tasks we all hated. The three tools cost us around $ 1500 a month, the tools that did all the automation that we added, less than $ 200. We had to use the other tool either way but for $ 200 we were able to automate 80% of our work. To us we would have paid 10x for those solutions. The gap was we didn’t have any other good options to accomplish what we needed.
I thought about building out a system and a product to fit this space, knowing the amount of savings this provided, but I ran into a problem – People weren't used to paying that amount for what we could provide, the part of the business was viewed as a cost center, and the data play is something that hadn't been used in that way before. Great idea, needed, proven out, but not marketable.
You always want to be part of revenue creation – people are willing to pay more just about every time.
Even really good ideas sometimes aren’t worth pursuing if the market conditions can’t support them.
If you hit all the above three then we can move on to the best steps for getting this up and running.
The steps for validating an idea
- Market knowledge
- Competitor research
- Earmarked budget
Know the industry you're entering.
Please, for the love of everything, only start a company if you have intimate domain experience. Put differently, if someone was looking for someone to present even at a local level around what you're building would you be able to speak articulately about it where people would respect your opinion because of past work you've done?
If the answer is Yes, pat yourself on the back.
If it is no, stop, don’t pass go, you’re stuck with two options –
- Recruit someone to work with you that has enough domain knowledge for the both of you, or
- Go get some experience in the field, then come back to your plan
Far too often I talk to people that have had massive success or are really really smart, but they are taking on a project or product that is outside of their sweet spot. This leads to utter and total chaos and really is a waste of time and money in the vast majority of cases.
Those that don’t know, partner. We’ll get to more of this in the second step, I’ve seen this work with companies where some groups lacked complete domain expertise. These were 3x CEOs and founders with healthy exits. This is harder to do, but works if you're smart about it.
So what happens when a founder doesn’t have domain level experience especially in the early going, problems with go to market and validation, sometimes a general lack of understanding of business principles and market conditions. The result 99.9% of the time is that without domain expertise, founders end up misjudging the market massively and fail to provide the appropriate value.
They often find themselves playing catch up and not in a good way, this is something that is easy to avoid, but hard to admit to oneself.
I’m a huge proponent of learning an industry on the fly, but I feel like the better decision when possible is to get paid by someone else while you’re learning.
But what about getting advisors and consultants to help me bridge the gap?
I’ve seen this one in person, I’ve been part of this one, people don’t listen all the time. In some of the companies I’ve done work for, I’ve laid out what steps they should take, and watched as they fought back based on calculations that lacked all possible basis of being remotely possible losing millions of dollars in the process. The lack of domain expertise kills you when it comes to decision making if you’re not open to listening. But as an advisor, your job isn’t to make decisions for the teams, it’s to provide guidance and engage in conversations to bring issues to light and help people focus on goals.
I've literally called business results months in advance in single meetings with executives only to watch things play out exactly how I predicted – usually negatively.
Competitor Research (this is just an overview – this is it's own post and a half)
- Selling to someone that is using an existing solution is easier than enticing someone on a new concept or idea – cheaper too
- If there's competitor there are easy ways to build entire spreadsheets of their client list
- Look for industries within those client lists to build case studies around
- Remember you're in the game of creating content – be a resource for your community
- Qualify potential customers by using their opinions in your content marketing
- Use existing platforms for distribution where possible (integrations anyone?)
You have more competitors that you know when launching a product, even if you’re a market first, you’re going to quickly find that the barriers to entry are steep and if the market is big enough people will be able to out spend, out maneuver, and out shout you pretty quickly.
This shouldn’t deter you, it just means you need to be smarter.
Know the entire landscape for the type of product that you are creating. Know all the sort of competitors, talk to people and see what they are using, ask questions on Reddit and in other forums, understand who people know in the market.
Then go to G2 and capterra and every other place that people talk about those products, scrape all the reviews with pros and cons – on some websites the reviewers even have linkedin links – go to their profiles learn about the companies they work for, the roles they have etc.
There is so much data out there, work smart from the start.
This is literally a post in it’s own or a chapter of a book. (if you’re reading this and you want me to break this down I can in another form).
Correlate what your competitors do well, what they lack, and everything else in between.
If you look up CRM you’ll see more than 250 listed probably more than 300 now, not including all the new ones like airtable and others that have popped up recently that aren’t direct traditional CRMs but just as useful.
That’s a lot of space junk to get through.
But there’s an easy way to get through it.
NICHE YOUR SHIT DOWN
The biggest problem that most companies have is being able to properly niche down to the most ideal customer profile first, then work to expand the market after the fact.
Remember that perceived value comment from way above.
So how do you find yourself in the best possible chance of creating something that you can do well with?
Build something that people are paying for, generates revenue for the business, and includes a data play as icing on the cake that improves processes and decision making.
This will never work in broad terms, you need to be specific.
One of the most common missteps people have is saying, their product is for everyone or every business. This is a red flag, don’t do this. Focus on doing one thing better than everyone else, look for data that supports a 10x uptick. This is basically required if you want someone to give your product a try as moving things over from an existing system are annoying.
Your product needs to be very narrow, when you think you’ve gone narrow, you need to go more narrow.
We’re a helpdesk product.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $ 10 million in annual revenue.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $ 10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $ 10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $ 10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
Just keep going deeper.
There are perks to going deeper –
The deeper you go usually the less competition you have – the more specific and tailored the easier the sales pitch is because you spend time creating things to help with workflows that relate to how they are working. When you know these workflows it's easier to have meaningful conversations.
I’ve harped on the idea of process the entire time. And I’m going to continue to do it. Build things to simplify processes and watch people sign up and pay you to solve their problems.
The ideal solution is turnkey that works with all the workflows people have or simplifies them with the amount of tools out there find the ones that you want to be part of the process with and integrate deeply.
Is the budget expanding, will it be expanded if you can tie results back to your product?
This is actually really important because it comes to the ability to grow an account once you are in the account. Some businesses are better than others.
If you’re a support desk product like above, and you reduce the amount of work people need to do, you’re reducing seats, if you can’t add features and other elements to increase the revenue per account or the size of the support team you’ve actually tapped out. This is the argument behind being a revenue generation company rather than a cost center. When it comes to a cost center it’s a race to the bottom and kills expansion, it forces you to always be acquiring new customers to increase revenue.
This should be plenty to digest as you're thinking of ideas to pursue.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, hope this helps people out.
I've got to stop here, we hit question 1 of 5 and we've barely scratched the surface.
OurCrowd portfolio company Zebra Medical Vision, a deep-learning Medtech company, has announced its fifth FDA 510(k) clearance for its Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCF) product.
Read more here.