Accel Partners wants to solve the question for startups, “Who does this marketing thing I need?”
It’s doing that with an online tool called Growthverse, an interactive visualization of companies in the marketing technology ecosystem. It launched earlier this year but since receiving a lot of feedback, Accel Partners has refined it with a big update today into what it hopes is a tool that helps startups navigate the complicated landscape. Founders can dig into specific areas of marketing technology, finding out which companies build the tools they need and getting a quick glance at each company.
Accel Partners’ Kobie Fuller said that the goal was to produce a tool that showed a comprehensive landscape of the marketing ecosystem — of which, there are several already in existence — that was less overwhelming. Examples of that are finding companies that are focused on paid acquisition or content marketing, and in those circles diving into mobile advertising and videos respectively.
Fuller likened Growthverse to an onion, where founders can peel back the layers of the technology they need to find the exact companies they can work with that specialize in those fields.
“It’s still confusing but we’re doing our part to make it a little easier,” he said. “If we’re able to do that, we’ve done our job. It’s a problem we both emotionally identify with. If we’re able to have knowledge and development a platform that can do that, and we can leverage our brainpower and the communities, we’re done a big service to marketing technology as a whole.”
To be sure, tools like this have become more useful as the marketing technology ecosystem has sprawled out. There is a lot of duplication of effort and, inevitably, as an ecosystem gets crowded consolidation happens and the best products need to be sifted out from everything that’s out there. A tool like this could be useful to companies to navigate the complex marketing technology ecosystem given how crowded it has become and how much overlap there is.
Some have already tried to demystify the ecosystem before. In a sense, Growthverse is kind of a response to the Lumascapes — large charts of the ecosystem which are incredibly complex and may take a lot of time and effort to understand and navigate. Lumascapes themselves are somewhat of an example of how complicated and crowded various ecosystems have become.
Fuller said that, if the firm has clear domain expertise in areas that are equally confusing, it may consider building similar tools for those areas. For this one, the idea came from Fuller and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO at Mozilla, with the two coming up with it over lunch and then bringing in the digital agency Beutler Ink after compiling all their data and research. (Kaykas-Wolff had a burger while Fuller, “who’s a heck of a lot healthier” according to Wolff probably had a salad).
“This gives our companies a good primer on what’s available out there,” 500 Startups distribution partner Tammy Camp said.
Accel Partners isn’t the only VC firm trying to demystify the startup landscape. Venture capitalists in recent years have started blogs and presented data for startups about various ecosystems. Bessemer Venture Partners, for example, has its “State of the Cloud” report, and Andreessen Horowitz has its reports like a recent big report on US tech funding.
And of course, there’s an opportunity here to find companies that are under the radar if companies request to be included in the visualization — something that’s incredibly valuable for firms looking to invest. That’s not the intent of the service, but there certainly is a ton of valuable underlying data, Fuller said.
“We want marketers to have this as the first resource they go to when they are developing their marketing stack,” Kaykas-Wolff said. “It’s important to educate people about the technologies that are available. The more people who try to help and make those tools freely available, and the more educated marketers are about the technology, the better off all of us are going to be. A rising tide floats all boats.”