Last summer, word started to trickle out about a young, stealth startup called RelateIQ that was rumored to be one of the more ambitious players among the new (and expanding) class of Big Data startups. Adam Evans and Steve Loughlin had founded RelateIQ the summer before to tackle some enduring problems in the way we manage our professional relationships — the same ones that led to the birth of Plaxo a decade ago, and many more since. Though we live in the Digital Age of smartphones and cloud computing, Evans and Louglin were frustrated by the fact that people still manually entering important professional data into aging and stuffy relationship management tools.
On a mission to change that by using Big Data to automate relationship tracking and by taking mobile seriously, RelateIQ was able to attract $9 million from Accel, Morgenthaler and SV Angel in Series A financing, while recruiting key advisors like LinkedIn’s former chief data scientist DJ Patil, Bob Cohn (of Octel, Lucent and Sequoia fame) and current Apple board member and former Intuit CEO, Bill Campbell. Fast forward to today and, after two years of extensive and stealthy testing and fueled by a hefty new round of funding from a roster of familiar names, the startup is finally throwing open its doors to the public.
The new Series B round, which was first reported by former colleague Evelyn Rusli of the WSJ, brings RelateIQ’s total funding to $29 million and values the company at $100 million. The company has since confirmed these numbers, telling us that its new, $20 million Series B round was co-led by Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale’s new, “smart enterprise”-focused venture capital firm, Formation 8 (which just raised its first, $448 million fund) and Accel Partners.
The lead investors were also accompanied by an impressive supporting cast, including Battery Ventures, AMC Cloud Ventures (via Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang), Thrive Capital, Allen & Co. and Facebook and Asana co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz — among others.
Not bad for a startup that works out of the basement of a home decor business in Palo Alto, right? (Never you mind that Facebook used to house its servers in the same basement before “The Social Network” Era.) In fact, considering that CRM and relationship intelligence software isn’t exactly The New Kid On The Block, it makes one wonder what it is about RelateIQ that attracted this gaggle of tech industry veterans.
Traditionally, the Customer Relationship Management space (and to a lesser degree social CRM) has been dominated by veteran enterprise software companies like Salesforce.com, Oracle and SAP. Today, however, the Bigs find themselves being chased by a bevy of startups that are trying to beat them at their own game by using advances in cloud computing and data tech (among others) to offer smarter, more consumer-friendly experiences or by moving downstream to bring enterprise-grade tech to startups and small businesses.
As Evelyn points out, this has forced CRM incumbents to modernize, get more mobile and social either by building out their platforms themselves and acquiring (like Jive’s buying Producteev), or by turning to Big Data startups to help them make sense of enormous data sets.
RelateIQ, which has 100 clients already in tow at launch including companies like T3 Advisors and WellnessFX, wants to go after the incumbents by not only offering social integration and data enrichment out of the box, but by significantly reducing the amount of manual data entry required to get more insight into their professional relationships. Features like the ability to quickly deploy new workflows, the founders explain, are attractive to teams that manage their business’ external relationships, whether in business development, sales or product, allowing them to get started immediately.
Of course, using algorithms and machines to try to better understand and glean insight from the chaos of human relationships is an uphill battle. RelateIQ wants to close that gap by sucking in and analyzing faster, on a bigger scale, and by offering more nuanced analysis of the details in your professional relationships, than the next guy.
It does that by automatically capturing data from email, voice, social networks and calendars and analyzing language in those communications to identify words and phrases in an email that might indicate a lead is getting ready to take the next step, or just the opposite. In other words, the idea is to reduce the amount of work you have to do and only surface the critical stuff you can’t ignore.
The startup’s SaaS service also eliminates the headache that results from the fact that your contact information is scattered across multiple platforms or hiding in someone’s spreadsheet or address book. RelateIQ cleans your contact info and merges it from across address books to give companies one reliable source of contact info, along with offering features of a digital personal assistant, like email tracking and prompts when you forget to reply to important contacts.
The other key to RelateIQ’s value proposition is mobile, allowing teams to track and manage their professional relationships in realtime, collaborate with colleagues and access dynamic reporting and updates contact info from native Android and iPhone apps. By adding an automated intelligence layer to relationship management, it becomes easier for overworked teams to prioritize legit leads and save those that are falling through the cracks by automatically bubbling up forgotten leads in your contact list.
The ability to do that on-the-go while you’re on a business trip — without having to manually log calls from your iPhone — is huge. But what is this all going to cost, your ask? While its mobile apps are free, its SaaS product runs $49/user/month or $99/user/month for its premium version.
For more, find RelateIQ at home here.