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Deal Radar 2010: LeadForce1 California, Michigan

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 28th 2010

Through its marketing automation 2.0 approach, LeadForce1 aims to provide the missing link between Web analytics and customer relationship management (CRM systems), thus enabling B2B sales and marketing teams to uncover previously hidden leads, new prospect opportunities, and critical business intelligence within existing accounts. LeadForce1’s SaaS product deploys a patent-pending intent determination algorithm that spots sales opportunities among website visitors and moves those opportunities through successive stages in the sales pipeline.

LeadForce1 was founded in early 2008 by Srihari Kumar (CEO), Sushil Jha (chief revenue officer), Shreesha Ramdas (COO). Kumar was a founder of Yodlee and held various positions at Microsoft, where he helped to build the first version of Windows Media Server, InMage Systems, and RingCube. Jha and Ramdas co-founded online marketing firm OuterJoin, which was later merged into LeadForce1. Jha held sales and marketing positions at Satyam Infoway, Catalytic Software, and ICL-UK, and Ramdas at Catalytic Software, Yodlee, MW2 Consulting, Sprint India, and TCS. The company has close to 150 employees spread across its offices in California, Michigan, and India.

LeadForce1’s product is an integrated platform composed of several solutions. The LeadForce1 component determines the intent of online visitors by analyzing their browsing behavior, provides a complete picture of their identity (including name, title, and company), and qualifies them based on the level of interest and intent in specific website content based on their online behavior. LeadForce1 also enables a single view of multiple visitors (i.e. buying team) from a single company, which enables the application to determine which phase the company is in the decision-making process. LeadForce1 says that this function helps marketing teams to run more customized lead nurturing programs and enables sales teams to create targeted sales pitches, ensuring shorter sales cycles and higher conversion rates.

Once a prospect has been converted into a customer, the collaborative LeadForce1 platform provides up-sell opportunities within the customer organization and among its channel partners. Lead intelligence which ensures that only qualified leads go down the sales funnel to help sales and marketing better align their efforts. The other components of the marketing automation platform – EmailForce1, CallForce1, and BuzzForce1 – give customers more insight into their marketing campaigns and help them measure the exact return on their marketing investments. The software is available in five editions, beginning with starter for $99 per user per month and going up to enterprise for $599 per user per month, with a minimum of 10 users for this version.

LeadForce1’s TAM calculations are based on the market intelligence and forecasts from Forrester Research. The company believes that it can track in the middle ground between best- and worst-case scenarios, with its SaaS model providing some additional momentum. According to Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Suresh Vittal, SaaS will grow its market share from 26% in 2007 to approximately 45% by 2013. Forrester Research forecasts that the global market for marketing automation solutions will generate more than $2.904 billion in revenue in 2010, growing to $5.454 billion by 2013. Included in these figures is revenue for software, licensing, and maintenance.

LeadForce1 targets B2B marketers, which are becoming dependent on online marketing programs to generate an increasingly greater proportion of their sales leads. More and more B2B marketers are shifting program, advertising, and media dollars from traditional outlets to less-expensive digital ones. Again according to Forrester Research, 72% of respondents in a recent survey said they would shift budget dollars among alternative tactics and focus more spending on online tactics. LeadForce1 targets enterprise customers in all size segments, but it is most attractive to enterprises with annual sales of $10 million or more.

The company’s first 200 clients were signed before the official launch as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations. LeadForce1 had crossed the $1 million revenue mark before its launch on March 9, 2010, without spending any money marketing its product. It has more than 200 customers, including DA Software, Symphony Services, GlobalLogic, 24*7 Customer.com, and Netmagic Solutions, and has processed over 11 million corporate website visitors.

LeadForce1 raised a $1.6 million angel round led by Brocade founder Kumar Mallavali in April 2009. The company was profitable at the time, and funds from the round were used to support the rapidly growing customer and partner base. The founders are committed to building the company through revenues over the next two years. LeadForce1 is doubling every quarter in customers and in revenue bookings and projects annual revenue of $6 million in CY2010 and $250 million in CY2013, with a goal of 5% market share by that time.

When LeadForce1 was founded, notable marketing automation players were Eloqua, Silverpop, Marketo, Genius, and InsideView. The rest of the market was more segmented, selling select solutions such as email marketing tools or lead management tools. InsideView remains most significant player in B2B lead generation at present and is strong at what one user describes as “micro-level account research.” Unlike some its competitors, InsideView offers a free, entry-level version of its product. In terms of advanced function support, notable players are Eloqua, Market2Lead, and Neolane. Silverpop, Manticore Technology, Marketbright, and Marketo also offer comprehensive solutions. It’s a crowded space, with many firms making similar-sounding claims. LeadForce1 believes that where is stands out is the end-to-end nature of its solution and the intent determination algorithm, which it says boosts the quality of the online visitor intelligence collected, thus changing profoundly the way that leads are scored, nurtured, and acted upon by marketing and sales.

Distribution and channel partnerships are the key to LeadForce1’s growth strategy. Partnership opportunities include marketing agencies, which will contribute a “value-added services” component to the LeadForce1 solution such as online marketing campaign execution, lead generation, and implementation of best practices for sales teams; e-mail campaign providers to enable LeadForce1 to gain insight into leads across the multiple email campaigns; marketing automation players to help LeadForce1 ensure sales enablement capabilities along with marketing operations; and sales operations for integrated solution with LeadForce1 to ensure that sales operations will be able to prioritize leads and size up opportunities.

The company is too early in its life cycle to think about an exit. It will make a call on which direction to proceed based on revenue growth over the next two years.

Recommended Readings
Deal Radar 2009: Eloqua
Deal Radar 2009: Silverpop

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2010

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