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BuyerAssist launches with $2M in funding to help B2B sales team keep their buyers engaged

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A group photo of BuyerAssist founders Shyam HN, Amit Dugar and Shankar Ganapathy

BuyerAssist founders Shyam HN, Amit Dugar and Shankar Ganapathy

Selling enterprise software is much more complicated than convincing a potential customer that your solution is the best and signing a contract. A recent Gartner study found that buying groups for B2B solutions can involve up to six to 10 decision makers, and that the majority of buyers said their most recent purchase was “very complex or difficult” as they came to a consensus while negotiating with vendors.

BuyerAssist, a new startup founded by former employees of sales readiness platform MindTickle, wants to make the buying process as smooth as possible. The company is launching its beta product to the public today with $2 million in seed funding led by Stellaris Venture Partners and Emergent Ventures, with participation from angel investors. The capital will be used for hiring in the U.S. and India, with plans to bring BuyerAssist’s platform out of beta later this year.

Headquartered in San Francisco, with an office in Pune, India, BuyerAssist.io was founded last year by Amit Dugar, Shankar Ganapathy and Shyam HN, all alumni of SoftBank Vision 2-backed MindTickle, a platform that enables companies to train their sales staff at scale. The philosophy behind BuyerAssist draws on HN and Ganapathy’s experience on the sales and marketing side of MindTickle: Ganapathy was its director of strategic accounts, while HN served as head of global sales development.

“We’ve sold half a million dollar deals, and deals where you have anywhere form 10 to 25 people involved from the buyer side,” HN told TechCrunch. “There’s a core team of about five to 10 people, but then there is also an extended team that comes and goes during the process.”

The pandemic added an extra layer of complexity to B2B sales, because many deals were done remotely. Furthermore, sales representatives get less time to interact with buyers. The Gartner report found that when B2B buying teams consider a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers, and the amount of time they spend interacting with any sales representative may be only 5% to 6%. This means vendors have to find ways to keep potential buyers engaged, while making the process easier for them.

BuyerAssist describes itself as a “operating system for B2B companies to deliver the most effective buying experience.” It helps by providing a centralized place to gather information that would usually be buried in emails and notes, and make it searchable. It also lets both vendors and buyers share information about their needs (like pricing, information security reviews and when they want to deploy software by), creating more transparency for each side, and stores important files like proposals, contracts and legal documentation.

For vendors, having information and questions from potential buyers organized in one place can help them better understand their deals pipeline and meet revenue goals. BuyerAssist also provides analytics that can help them retain more contracts. For example, it alerts vendors when buyers become less engaged, which may mean they are losing interest.

During its beta stage, BuyerAssist worked with four companies. The platform is currently focused on enterprise software and SaaS companies that do a lot of their sales remotely, but can be used for any complex sales process that involves multiple calls and emails. Other sectors BuyerAssist wants to enter include manufacturing and financial services.

BuyerAssist is part of a new crop of startups focused on helping vendors and buyers work together on complicated sales. Others include Accord, MetaCX, Dealpoint and Recapped.io. HN said that the space is still very new, so companies are still figuring out their positioning. In BuyerAssist’s case, this means focusing on buyer engagement, instead of mutual success plans or collaborations, from the beginning. HN said the company will double down on investing in two key areas of product development: building its enterprise grade product to support complex sales and becoming the preferred way for buying teams to engage with BuyerAssist’s clients.

In statement about the investment, Stellaris Venture Partners partner Alok Goyal said, “As a venture capitalist focusing on the SaaS space, we get to see hundreds of teams. But it is very rare to find teams that create a perfect storm of domain expertise, functional expertise in different areas of building SaaS companies and at the same time bringing the perfect complementarity between the founders.”

Anupam Rastogi, a partner at Emergent Ventures, said “What excites me about BuyerAssist is that it focuses on reducing friction between buyers and sellers. Buyers want more flexibility and less noise. Sellers want to run a more consistent sales process. BuyerAssist facilitates this, and enables both to build a long term partnership. This is where we see the industry heading in the years and decades to come.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/buyerassist-launches-with-2m-in-funding-to-help-b2b-sales-team-keep-their-buyers-engaged/

Crowdfunding

Fintech Holding Firm APPS Acquires Cloud enabled Software Company Clique Payments

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Atlantic-Pacific Processing Systems NV, Corp. (APPS), a Fintech holding company offering technology and financial services, has reportedly acquired Cloud-enabled software firm Clique Payments, Inc.

The acquisition should allow APPS to further expand its enterprise resource planning and accounting payments integrations solutions to include QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero, Sage and other software apps. It will also be offering support for various payment processing services and over 20 major payment gateways. The terms of the deal were not shared publicly.

Abe Maghaguian, President and CEO at APPS, stated:

“Clique’s reseller-focus is highly complementary. The acquisition is also a really good fit with our APPSos platform for merchant lifecycle management and will enable independent software vendors, independent sales organizations, payment facilitators and bank sponsorship clients to expand their offerings while helping their clients streamline operations. We are very excited about the acquisition and welcome Clique to the APPS family.”

Clique’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform offers a set of solutions that comes with integrated payments acceptance for accounting and ERP software. Clients are able to access a front-office point-of-sale system that allows merchants to handle different types of transactions, such as fully integrated EMV, along with swipe and key-entered payments synched with back-office accounting software in real time.

Additionally, the platform supports invoice creation with email and text delivery, recurring billing, convenience fees, tokenization and various other features.

APPS’ “semi-integrated” Cloud POS terminal comes with connections to widely-used payment processing providers and gateways. The firm’s payment facilitation program and platform are  supported as well. ISVs who would like to provide card present payment services using the payfac model have managed to integrate access to solutions they require (all from a single source).

APPS CIO Brent Gephart remarked:

“Acquiring Clique gives ISVs, ISOs and their merchant customers easy access to a comprehensive suite of products and services, including highly desirable payments integration application programming interfaces, user interfaces and plugins to top accounting and ERP platforms. We look forward to rolling out Clique capabilities to clients and others looking to expand their offerings through this time-tested platform,.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/06/176817-fintech-holding-firm-apps-acquires-cloud-enabled-software-company-clique-payments/

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SaaS

How to launch a successful RPA initiative

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Robotic process automation (RPA) is rapidly moving beyond the early adoption phase across verticals. Automating just basic workflow processes has resulted in such tremendous efficiency improvements and cost savings that businesses are adapting automation at scale and across the enterprise.

While there is a technical component to robotic automation, RPA is not a traditional IT-driven solution. It is, however, still important to align the business and IT processes around RPA. Adapting business automation for the enterprise should be approached as a business solution that happens to require some technical support.

A strong working relationship between the CFO and CIO will go a long way in getting IT behind, and in support of, the initiative rather than in front of it.

A strong working relationship between the CFO and CIO will go a long way in getting IT behind, and in support of, the initiative rather than in front of it.

More important to the success of a large-scale RPA initiative is support from senior business executives across all lines of business and at every step of the project, with clear communications and an advocacy plan all the way down to LOB managers and employees.

As we’ve seen in real-world examples, successful campaigns for deploying automation at scale require a systematic approach to developing a vision, gathering stakeholder and employee buy-in, identifying use cases, building a center of excellence (CoE) and establishing a governance model.

Create an overarching vision

Your strategy should include defining measurable, strategic objectives. Identify strategic areas that benefit most from automation, such as the supply chain, call centers, AP or revenue cycle, and start with obvious areas where business sees delays due to manual workflow processes. Remember, the goal is not to replace employees; you’re aiming to speed up processes, reduce errors, increase efficiencies and let your employees focus on higher value tasks.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/17/how-to-launch-a-successful-rpa-initiative/

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SaaS

Fortino Capital closes €105 million fund for promising early-stage B2B software & tech companies across Europe

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Fortino Capital Partners, a Benelux based venture capital and private equity investor in software and technology companies, announces the final closing of its third fund. Fortino Capital Venture II is a €105 million fund dedicated to promising early stage B2B software and technology companies across Europe with a focus on The Benelux, France and Germany.

Its predecessor, Fortino Capital Venture I was launched in 2016 with a capital of €80 million, and has made 18 investments in software companies including Teamleader (BE), BuyBay (NL) and inSided (NL). The fund has realized 10 exits so far, i.a., Trendminer (Software AG), Zentrick (Double Verify), Piesync (Hubspot), Melita (EQT), and more recently Bloomon (Bloom&Wild) and Riaktr (SDS).

Fortino Capital Venture II is looking to establish long term partnerships with passionate entrepreneurs who are building their business with the ambition and potential to become a winner in the market they operate in. The fund focuses on late Seed to Series A stage investments in B2B SaaS and technology companies with initial tickets ranging from €1 million – €3 million, and sufficient capacity for later funding rounds.

Duco Sickinghe, Managing Partner Fortino, explained more: “We are living through exciting times. As a reference B2B Saas investor, we would like to, more than ever, invest in digital platforms and  contribute to society. Our third Fortino, and our second VC, fund provides us with the critical mass and fire power we need to continue investing in B2B software. Companies in this space are the main engine driving a digital and sustainable economy.”

Fortino Capital aims to make a positive contribution by leveraging its deep operational and strategic expertise, especially in the area of product market fit and software development. Fortino has also launched an online community where founders and executives from Fortino portfolio companies meet on a regular basis for peer-to-peer networking and to have a sounding board with captains of industry. Fortino also grants access to its own talent acquisition resources that help its portfolio companies attract the right talent.

In addition to its loyal existing and reputable private investors base, a number of strong institutional investors such as EIF have signed up as cornerstone investors in the new fund, complemented with successful entrepreneurs from the region.

Fortino has also recently expanded its team in the Netherlands with experienced venture capital investors Marcel van der Heijden (former partner at Speedinvest) and Wouter Goossens (former Investment Director at ING Ventures).

Marcel van der Heijden, Partner at Fortino, said: “I am excited to have joined Fortino, to strengthen its Amsterdam team, and to hit the ground running working with the Kaizo team as a first investment. Fortino has a unique combination of deep Venture and Growth experience that can support founders very well along their journey. Rooted in the Benelux, the view of the fund and team is very clearly Pan-European.”

Next to its Venture Capital practice, Fortino also invests out of a different fund Fortino Capital Growth PE I. This is a growth private equity fund with a capital of €242 million targeting larger and more mature B2B software companies, supporting further organic growth combined with buy-and-build. The fund has invested in 7 companies so far, amongst which Maxxton (NL), Efficy CRM (BE), Odin Groep (NL), Tenzinger (NL) and Cenosco (NL).

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Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/06/fortino-capital-closes-e105-million-fund-for-promising-early-stage-b2b-software-tech-companies-across-europe/

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SaaS

Finland-based Contract Mill raises over €1 million to disrupt document automation business 

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Finnish startup Contract Mill has announced the successful closure of a funding round of over €1 million. The round was co-led by Swiss investment company Actium AG and Veenay Shah, founder of HighQ, together with multiple distinguished international investors from the UK and Sweden. The funding will be used to further expand its operations in the UK and Europe, and prepare for further growth in addition to the 15 markets where Contract Mill is already deployed.

Founded in 2016, Contract Mill is a no-code document automation SaaS platform – one of the first in the world to have a 100% visual automation interface. This next-generation SaaS makes the automation of even complex documents fast and easy, compared to traditional software that requires significant IT resources, time, and money to deploy.

Until now, powerful document automation software has been accessible only for a few – Contract Mill’s software is not only suited for all companies about to start their automation journey, but it also finally brings a real alternative for change for companies with existing incumbent solutions in use.

“As lawyers, we saw a huge underserved market – law firms and companies who needed document automation but who are not capable or willing anymore to take on the total cost of automation that is inherent in the complex incumbent systems,” said Kaisa Kromhof, founder and CEO of Contract Mill.

“We discovered that the market was missing a modern, state-of-the-art product that would combine true ease of use with powerful logic. So we decided to build such a product that we would love to use ourselves – high tech yet beautifully designed, self-explanatory to use, fun to work with, and accessible for everyone.”

Once a document template has been automated, users can generate new custom documents in minutes by answering a dynamic list of questions. Generated documents can be made in one or more languages, and they can form a total suite of many documents that are generated in one go instead of an inefficient and error-prone manual process.

When used by in-house legal teams, business people are empowered to do more themselves when it comes to legal documents, still being fully compliant, and in accordance with their company’s policies. Instead of high costs and the risk of failing to implement heavy contract lifecycle management (CLM) systems, in-house legal teams can cherry-pick the best parts like Contract Mill, and combine it to their existing systems with our extensive APIs and growing number of direct integrations,” said Kromhof.

Like many traditional industries, the law sector needs to grow with technology. Contract Mill makes it possible for law firms to digitize and scale their service delivery, as purely selling their own time does not scale indefinitely. Additionally, millennials entering the workforce are ready to embrace new, more efficient ways of working that disrupt how things have been traditionally done.

As corporate and transaction lawyers, we experience the increasing need to streamline the legal documentation processes on a daily basis. We are convinced that legal tech will eventually transform the legal industry, even though it has traditionally been slow to change. To achieve such a big transformation, a product must be not only technologically advanced but also easy and intuitive to use. We believe Contract Mill checks both those boxes,” said Till Spillmann, Partner and Chairman of Actium AG.

For legal service providers, the white-labeled, cloud-based technology of Contract Mill opens up new possibilities to generate new, scalable revenue streams.

“As part of our Legalbuddy online service, our clients can be granted access to predefined automated documents 24/7. This brings the client relationships beyond the mere provision of services paid by the hour and allows for the scalability of our business model by generating predictable and recurring subscription revenues,” said Ulf Linden, Founder of LegalWorks, Sweden, and customer of Contract Mill.

Contract Mill so far has offices in Helsinki and London. Its customers include a growing number of large international companies such as Bird&Bird, Solita, and TietoEvry, and a variety of businesses around the world like AdvisMe, Ijos Rechtsanwälte, and MK Law.

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Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/06/finland-based-contract-mill-raises-over-e1-million-to-disrupt-document-automation-business/

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