Unicorns have been inspiring awe and wonder in twelve-year-old girls since time immemorial. Wall Street has been slower to appreciate their spellbinding existence but now investment firms are more than happy to join the hunt for their own $1 billion tech-equivalent to equine magic.
Enter Outreach, a software company that promises to automate mundane tasks for busy sales teams. Since their unconventional beginning in 2014, the company has hit several important milestones over the years. Most recently, they were the first company in the sales-engagement market to join the unicorn club after hitting the enchanted ten-digit number for valuation.
Manny Medina started Outreach by accident. He was trying to get his recruiting software startup, GroupTalent, off the ground but it was floundering. As part of his effort to save the business, the founders wrote a work-flow app that would automate cold-calling and follow-up emails for the sales team. The tool also enhanced engagement with potential clients – “it allowed us to plug in a set of writers so that they could personalize the emails,” he explained in an interview.
“People were like, I don’t want to buy your recruiting product. I want to buy your sales tool. And that was the birth of Outreach,” Medina remembered. In their first two years of operation, the company went from $0 to $10 million in revenue. They now have offices in three states and employ people in twelve.
Outreach has successfully raised close to $240 million since their inception. Their most recent funding round was led by Seattle-based Lone Pine Capital. Meritech Capital Partners, Lemonade Capital, Microsoft Ventures, DFJ Growth, Mayfield, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital and Trinity Ventures also made capital commitments.
“We want to focus on mission-critical applications – the painkillers, not the vitamins; the must-haves, not the nice-to-haves,” George Bischof, a managing director at Meritech said in an interview. “With Outreach, the engagement at the user level is so strong.”
They are using the latest round of $114 million to ensure they can properly integrate across all communication channels, augment its engineering capabilities, and international expansion efforts. Outreach software already integrates with Microsoft and Salesforce offerings for managing customer relationships and are currently working on connecting with SAP by the end of the year.
“Sales engagement is a very hot category so sales teams are realizing they need software for their actions,” Manny Medina, CEO of Outreach, said in an interview. He is not alone in thinking so either – the software company can count some of the world’s leading tech companies as clients, including Microsoft, Adobe, Okta, Zendesk and Docusign.