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Billion Dollar Unicorns: InsideSales.com Bootstraps First, Raises Money Later

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 16th 2015

Analysts estimate the sales acceleration technology market to be worth $12.8 billion. Billion Dollar Unicorn club member InsideSales.com is making big inroads in this market.

InsideSales.com’s Offerings

Provo, Utah-based InsideSales.com was founded in 2004 by David Elkington and Ken Krogue. InsideSales initially began as an outsourced web application development firm that David set up while doing his Masters in 2002. The firm built a framework and a platform that was ubiquitously usable to create web database applications and was able to create HR, inventory, and accounting systems, depending on what their customers wanted them to build. They bootstrapped their venture and made sure that they owned the IP and gave out irrevocable site licenses to their clients. Within two years, they were able to build a revenue base to pay for the development of a product, while building IP and expertise. The company clocked over a million in annual revenues by 2004 and had established a good development team. By 2004, even though Dave had not yet completed his Masters, he had all the mathematical and the algorithmic background needed to understand the coding required to set up his new venture. Thus began the new venture InsideSales.com.

The founders were very clear from the beginning that they wanted to create an artificial intelligence learning platform that would be able to predict how users behave. Being bootstrapped, the company did not have enough cash to go around initially. But to survive, they made sure that they gave the customers what they demanded, essentially bootstrapping using services. Soon though, they managed to build a sales management solution platform. They built a web database platform that would help companies with web marketing-generated leads to be handed over to their sales team. Their tools included dialing, click-to-call, and emailing capabilities.

Today, InsideSales.com offers a comprehensive sales acceleration platform that creates high performance sales teams through their technology. InsideSales claims that their customers are able to see sales grow by as much as 30% within 90 days of deploying the tool. The platform includes capabilities like predictive analysis, data visualization, effective communication tools, and gamification capabilities to motivate the sales team by making the sales process more visual and fun.

InsideSales.com’s Financials

The platform was offered as a per user per month subscription service. They offer three tiers of products. The basic Communicate version is priced at $125 per user per month and comes with features like Next Call, a call dialing service; Click to Call, a single-click dialing, auto call logging CRM; automatic logging of Inbound calls to CRM; call recording solution, an email tracking service, and the ability to send text and fax messages as part of a sales pitch.

The second level of service is offered under the Elevate brand and is priced at $195 per user per month. The service includes additional features such as dynamic updating of the Next Call list, displaying local numbers to prospects in the US, a drag-and-drop interface for routing inbound calls, gamification capabilities, and tracking of all e-mail and web interactions. Their highest priced product is the Accelarate that is priced at $295 per user per month and comes with predictive opportunity scoring, prescriptive prioritization based on the likelihood of contact and a suite that is customized to the customer.

InsideSales does not disclose detailed financials. But when I spoke with Dave earlier this year, he mentioned that their revenues, in the first year, had fallen from over a million to $400,000 before regaining growth to over 100% annually. By 2012, they had generated $12.5 million in revenues and were already profitable. In 2013, revenues grew to $25 million and continue to grow at more than 100% year on year.

InsideSales was bootstrapped for a while. In 2012, they began raising venture funding and have raised $201.2 million so far with investments from Salesforce Ventures, Hummer Winblad, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Microsoft, Polaris Partners, US Venture Partners, Zetta Venture Partners, Acadia Woods Partners, and EPIC Ventures. Their last round of funding was held in March this year when they raised $60.6 million at a reported valuation of $1.5 billion. An earlier round, held in April last year, had valued them at $1 billion. The new funding is expected to be used to further integrate InsideSales’s tools with both Salesforce.com’s and Microsoft’s tools.

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. Unicorns will also be discussed with some special guests during our 1M/1M Roundtable programs over the next few weeks. To be a part of the conversation, please register here. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns


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