Invoca, which helps companies extract and use data from customer phone calls, is expanding today with the launch of products for e-commerce, customer experience and sales teams, as well as a new Invoca Exchange, where businesses can find all of the platform’s third-party integrations.
The company is making these announcements as part of its virtual Invoca Summit. Ahead of the event, CEO Gregg Johnson (previously an executive at Salesforce) told me that customers have been asking Invoca to expand beyond its previous focus on providing “conversation intelligence” to marketing teams.
“‘We need to get aligned on how we support the revenue journey,’” Johnson recalled businesses telling him. “We were already going down this path, but when COVID hit, we tripled down on it.”
He argued that the data that Invoca provides has become even more important during the pandemic and related lockdowns, when businesses only had “two sources of feedback” — digital interactions and customer conversations. And while there are plenty of analytics tools for tracking online behavior, Johnson said, “Customer conversations are really important because they get at why” people are behaving in a certain way.
And at the same time, Johnson said call center teams have had to shift to working at home, which meant that they had to switch to online software and “everything broke,” while supervisors “no longer had any visibility into how agents were performing.”
Image Credits: Invoca
Invoca is trying to address these issues by making sure that marketing, sales, customer experience and e-commerce teams all have access to the same call data.
For example, he said that agents at Invoca customer BBQGuys need data to understand what products to recommend for their customers if the specific grill that they want isn’t available. Or a healthcare provider might use call data to predict and prepare when COVID cases might be rising in their area.
“We’ve always viewed ourselves as an application and a platform,” Johnson added. “We already give you ability to use this data at Invoca to automatically apply these insights without any human intervention at all. So for us, we thought through use cases to feed this data into other tools and created four solutions … that are really joined at the hip.”
Invoca for eCommerce, Invoca for Customer Experience and the existing Invoca for Marketing product are all available now, while Invoca for Sales is currently signing up beta testers for November.
The Invoca Exchange, meanwhile, already includes more than 40 integrations, including Google, Salesforce, Facebook, Adobe, Tealium, and Five9. The company is also announcing new partnerships with FullStory and Criteo.
This is just something I’ve had a personal interest in since I was a kid. Dream come true I guess. My main selling points would be (Made in Canada) and would donate a certain percentage to Canadian charities like the Calgary Food Bank etc.
Also I would make sure to incorporate local pleasures like maple syrup, gooseberries etc.
I’m the founder of Pet Plate, a fresh-cooked, human-grade pet food subscription service. We use only the freshest ingredients to make our veterinarian designed meals, and all of our meals are personalized for your pup based on their specific health needs. My business has grown quickly, and we’ve shipped over 10 million meals to pet parents around the country. But in June of 2016, the investors on the hit TV show, “Shark Tank,” all told me they were out!
My experience on Shark Tank was a rollercoaster, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk about Pet Plate on Shark Tank twice. As a long-time casual watcher of the show, I was honored to be selected to pitch Pet Plate and never expected to be invited back to give an update on Pet Plate after not getting a deal during my original pitch. However, it was a long journey and I wanted to share my insights and learnings from my Shark Tank experiences.
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My interview process
I did not expect much to come from my initial attempt to be selected for the show.
The Shark Tank producers were having a local casting call for interested entrepreneurs during NYC TechDay, so I signed up when I arrived at the conference. I was amazed at the number of people who showed up to pitch to be on “Shark Tank.” The line of entrepreneurs wrapped around the convention center and pitches lasted the entire day.
After checking in, I sat and waited until my name was called. I remember waiting anxiously next to four or five other entrepreneurs for my turn to give my pitch, but I made sure to give it my best shot and to bring as much energy and enthusiasm as I could after a long day at a busy conference. I had about 90 seconds, and after what I thought wasn’t my best performance, the producers thanked me for my time and I went back to Pet Plate’s booth.
A week or two later, I was notified that I’d been selected to continue the process to be on “Shark Tank.” I had to film a few additional videos for the producers, but I was quickly told to get ready to fly to LA. It all moved pretty quickly after that, and before I knew it, I was devising a pitch for the Sharks and packing my suitcase to fly to LA in June of 2016.
Preparing to be on the show
I arrived in LA excited and anxious to meet the Sharks and to tell them about the amazing business I was building. I was picked up by Shark Tank staff members and brought to a hotel that would be my home base for the next few days. One of the best parts about the experience was getting to know the other entrepreneurs and their businesses. I love that the show brings in eclectic and diverse entrepreneurs, and it was fun getting to know them all. However, we all were quickly given a dose of reality when we arrived at the “Shark Tank” set the next day and continued to hone our pitches in front of the producers.
The entire “Shark Tank” crew was extremely helpful throughout the process, but we only had a few days to prepare our set and our pitches for showtime. The producers and director tried to simulate the experience of being on the show, and getting real-time feedback on my business underneath the bright lights was certainly a new experience. Luckily, I had my four-legged partner in crime, Winston, right there next to me to calm my nerves. He was the real star of the show.
After two days of practice, I felt ready and started to settle in.
I woke up early on the day of the pitch and was filled with nervous energy. However, when I got to the set, things started to come into focus. It was a long day, and all of the entrepreneurs who were being filmed for that weekend were all hanging out near the trailers, nervously practicing their lines.
When it was time for me to pitch, I had a final check in with the producers, and that’s when it started to sink in that this was really happening. It was showtime.
I started to walk down the hallway with Winston at my side and went to the spot we were directed to stand to give our pitch. Underneath the lights, I could see the Sharks, and the film crew started the countdown. That was certainly the longest 10 seconds of my life, but when it was time to go, I delivered my pitch and answered all of the Sharks’ questions as best I could. All in all, this lasted about 45 minutes.
Leaving without a deal
I was devastated when the last Shark, Mr. Wonderful, said no.
After walking away without a deal, my mind instantly went to what was next for me and my business. If you watch the show, you’ll see that I had to fight back a few tears. The entire experience was very taxing, so it was hard to walk away without a deal. I also believed very deeply in Pet Plate and didn’t agree with the Shark’s doubts in my business. It was all so much to take in.
I was brought to a trailer after filming my closing dialogue and one of the producers congratulated me on a job well done. They emphasized that I should continue to grow my business and not lose hope. Luckily, I took that to heart and stayed focused. However, I didn’t have much time to wallow, because within 30 minutes of leaving the stage, I was in a cab heading to LAX to fly home.
I thought a lot about what was next on that six-hour flight, but I landed in New York City determined to get back to work. Luckily, Pet Plate was able to quickly raise outside funding after the Sharks passed on the opportunity, and “Shark Tank” reached out to film what they called a “home package” on Pet Plate. I then worked hard for six months to be ready to capitalize on the “Shark Tank” exposure, and the episode helped us launch nationwide in 2017.
Fast forward two years later and the invite to participate in a Shark Tank update was almost as serendipitous as the first one. I was driving from a Pet Plate distribution center and one of the crew members from “Shark Tank” called to see how Pet Plate was doing since my appearance on the show. They were extremely impressed with our growth and asked if I would be willing to be on the show again.
The second time around, it was very rewarding to reflect and communicate all of the amazing things we’d done since the original episode. Not only did we prove the Sharks wrong, but we’d come incredibly far as a business. As an entrepreneur, it is hard to take time to reflect on how far the business has come, but seeing the progress presented on live TV in January 2019 was a surreal experience.
Reflecting on my Shark Tank experience
In all, my experiences on “Shark Tank” have been life changing for me and for my business. It reminded me that it’s important to take chances. I also became more comfortable pitching my business ideas and became better at communicating my ideas and answering questions. I also learned how to prep and coordinate for a major launch.
Finally, I also saw how much progress could be made with three years of hard work. Watching my original “Shark Tank” airing along with the update allowed me to see how far my business had come. It motivated me to continue pushing and to continue in proving the Sharks wrong.
The word “mortgage” can be a scary word; usually being associated with other scary words such as debt, and expenses. There’s another alarming word that comes to mind when we talk about a mortgage, and that’s frustration. The frustration you experience when you try to apply for a mortgage, and then there’s the long turnaround time. All this makes the experience of procuring a mortgage quite harrowing. However, UK-based Molo aims to change this.
It aims to make this process fast and transparent, and it has raised £266M (approx €292.6M).
Molo Raises €292.6M
Molo claims to be UK’s first, fully-digital mortgage lender. Ithas raised a further debt and equity funding of £266M (approx €292.6M) in its Series A round. The capital raise comes after the first tranche of £10M (approx €11M) for the Series A round that closed in January 2020.
The investment was led by global financial services firm Macquarie Group (Macquarie) and Patron Capital, a pan-European institutional investor focused on property-backed investments. The equity round was led by Yabeo, an international VC firm, and supported by existing shareholders Andenes Investments, GPS Ventures, among others. SpecFin Capital advised Molo.
The raised capital will be used to accelerate the company’s growth through additional online lending and investment in its proprietary technology and new product propositions, with an aim to achieve Molo’s vision of making homeownership easier for everyone.
London-based Molo was founded in 2017 by Francesca Carlesi and Leo Grunstein. It was launched in the UK at the end of 2018 as the first fully digital (the first player to offer mortgages underwritten fully online), direct to consumer, mortgage lender. It leverages a proprietary tech platform to deliver simpler and faster online, paperless, buy-to-let mortgages.
Molo uses a unique combination of automated decisioning and human expertise, that integrates with its partners’ systems including Experian (a consumer credit reporting company) and Rightmove (an online real estate portal) to deliver faster and more transparent mortgage loans directly to its customers.
Its vision is to make homeownership easier for everyone and this includes plans to offer residential mortgages in the future, in addition, to buy to let.
According to the company, it has experienced significantly higher volumes of online mortgage applications post COVID-19, which point to the growing popularity of digital lending and the convenience of its digital model. Molo claims that in August and September alone, its pipeline of buy to let mortgage applications exceeded £500M (approx €550M).
Today Condense Reality, a virtual reality startup developing technology to transform how viewers watch live entertainment and sports, has raised a seed round of more than €875K, including around €240K from SFC Capital, the most active seed-stage investor in the UK. The remaining funds come from two grant awards, as well as smaller commitments from…
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Yaw Aning named Malomo, the service he launched for small businesses to turn their order-tracking services into branded customer experiences, as a tribute to his mother, who was a small business owner herself.
“Malomo” means flowers in Swahili and it was the name of Aning’s mother’s small soap-making business which she built over the years — even as she was battling the cancer to which she would eventually succumb.
The small Indianapolis startup has just raised $ 2.8 million to expand its services providing a new marketing channel for the Shopify retailers of the world who can always use more ways to reach new customers, Aning said.
The financing came from the San Francisco-based firm, Base 10, and New York’s Harlem Capital, along with commitments from previous investors Hyde Park and High Alpha.
Aning came to entrepreneurship as an Orr Fellow, an Indiana program that takes 10 graduates and places them in high-growth companies. While Aning worked in corporate finance, he was always interested in the startup world, and started is first company, Pocket Tales, an online reading game for children.
That business was followed by Sticks and Leaves, a web design agency that gave Aning his first view into the opportunity that order tracking presented as a space for a better customer experience.
Along with co-founder Anthony Smith, Aning built a service that connects with a single click to the Shopify platform and creates custom, branded tracking pages for each brand. “It’s a landing page for a brand. They use it like they would use any marketing asset,” Aning said. “The strategy is to build up integrations to the other tools merchants use to create rich experiences leveraging those tools.”
SAP seemed to be all in on customer experience when it acquired Qualtrics for $ 8 billion in 2018. It continued on that journey today when it announced it was acquiring Austrian cloud marketing company Emarsys for an undisclosed amount of money.
Emarsys, which raised over $ 55 million, according to PitchBook data, gives SAP customer personalization technology. If you talk to any marketing automation vendor over the last several years, the focus has been on using a variety of data and touch points to understand the customer better, and deliver more meaningful online experiences.
With the pandemic closing or limiting access to brick and mortar stores, personalization has taken a new urgency as customers are increasingly shopping online and companies need to meet them where they are.
With Emarsys, the company is getting an omnichannel marketing solution that they say is designed to deliver messages to customers wherever they are including e-mail, mobile, social, SMS, and the web, and deliver that at scale.
When SAP announced it was spinning out Qualtrics a couple of months ago, just 20 months after buying, it left some question about whether SAP was fully committed to customer experience business.
Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials says that the acquisition shows that SAP is still very much in the game. “This illustrates that SAP is serious about CX and competing in a highly competitive space. Emarsys adds industry-specific customer engagement capabilities that should help SAP CX customers accelerate their efforts to provide their customers with the experiences they expect as their needs change over time,” Leary told TechCrunch.
As an ERP company at its core, SAP has traditionally focused on back office kind of operations, but Bob Stutz, president, SAP Customer Experience sees this acquisition as a way to continue bringing back office and front office operations together.
“With Emarsys technology, SAP Customer Experience solutions can link commerce signals with the back office and activate the preferred channel of the customer with a relevant and consistently personalized message, allowing customers the freedom to choose their own engagement,” Stutz said in a statement.
The company, which is based in Austria, was founded back in 2000 when marketing was a very different world. It has built a customer base of 1500 companies with 800 employees in 13 offices across the globe. All of this will become part of SAP, of course and come under Stutz’s purview.
As with all transactions of this type it will be subject to regulatory approval, but the deal is expected to close this quarter.
I bet everyone here had that overwhelming experience having too many things to do. So many that only the thought about it makes you anxious. And instead of doing something, you procrastinate and watch videos on YouTube.
I was that person. It's so hard to get yourself out of this state and start working. That's why I wanted to share my experience on how you can deal with an overwhelming amount of tasks. And hopefully, helping someone.
First, you need a place where you can write down every task and thought/idea. Paper notes and note apps don't work – you'll see why. I highly recommend using Trello for a number of reasons (described below).
The question is how to cheat your brain in the first place. He's the main reason why you're overwhelmed and why you're procrastinating. You need to realize that your brain LOVES it when something it's easy to do. The less power to use, the better.
Once you fool him and you start some action (like writing tasks down) then it becomes easier because you're in charge, not your brain. When you start writing TODOs and your brain sees that it's not that hard to use Trello (and it's actually enjoyable) he will let you go instead of procrastinating.
Steps for your brain
To your brain: I'm just gonna download that Trello app and create an account. It's an easy thing to do.
Create just one board and name it: My Company TODOs and then create 4 lists
Backlog (everything you need to do)
TODOs (the tasks that need to be done – it's the right time for them)
Trello is great cuz you have labels with colors (our brain loves it when it's colorful cuz it's easy). Use the labels and create the main categories that you will use later. For me they were: Marketing, Finance, Sales & BD, Dev
Start writing everything that comes to your mind in different cards in the Backlog list. Just let it out – everything. Use each card to add more info if needed – links, description, checklist, comments, etc. When you're done start adding labels to each card.
At some point (as it was for me) you might have too many tasks for one board and it becomes overwhelming again. In this case, it's time to create boards based on your main categories (labels) and move each task. Because each category had a color, you can use the same color (or image with that color) as a background for your new board. Again, it's colorful – something your brain likes.
Once you have all tasks you need goals. I repeat: Once you have all tasks you need goals! But why? Well, if you have four goals:
Getting a client until the end of the month (10 tasks)
Writing a blog post (7 tasks)
Designing a new website page (12 tasks)
Making industry research (6 tasks)
…and you need money – which one of the four tasks is the most important? Of course, it's number 1. You're starting prioritizing tasks. Now, instead of 35 tasks (total), your brain needs to focus only on 10. You guessed it – he loves that.
A side note
When you start working and closing tasks you'll start feeling better. It's because you're seeing progress and results. It motivates you which will probably boost your productivity and clear your mind instead of being stressed and anxious.