MindTouch, a cloud service that helps customers find answers to product questions using the company’s existing documentation, training materials and customer service documents, announced $12 million in funding after years of bootstrapping.
The round was led by PeakSpan Capital with participation from SK Ventures and SAP SE.
The company actually launched back in 2005 as an open source product, according to founder and CEO Aaron Fulkerson. It switched gears in 2010 and became a commercial cloud product.
What they do is take a company’s existing documentation and other materials and put it to work online where customers can access it and use it. They do this by breaking the content into small chunks and extracting metadata to make it searchable online. They then combine that with machine learning to organize logical learning paths through the materials. The end result is that it makes it easier for customers to search for and find the information they need without having to call customer service.
“We are delivering content in context just in time in a way that’s semantically rich so you can understand how customers are using it,” Fulkerson said.
This has several advantages for the companies using the service,. First of all, it increases organic traffic on the company website. It also increases the likelihood that someone researching a product will actually buy it, and it increases customer satisfaction — people who can find answers on their own are going to be happy.
Finally, it gives the companies using MindTouch access to granular statistics about how people are using the materials, which can prove highly valuable as part of the sales cycle. Companies can use this data to understand their customers’ interests and drive sales. It also gives valuable insight into the types of information customers are interested in and could help develop new features based on customer inquiries.
Fulkerson reports that his company has been able to build up its customer base to 400 without using outbound marketing or sales to this point, and customers include household names like Remington, Docker, Zenefits and Whirlpool.
The company went for funding now after all these years of bootstrapping because it wanted to get bigger. Fulkerson sees competition on the horizon and he will need substantial funds in the bank to fend that off and build a bigger company.
The $12 million it put together will go into building sales and marketing and some R&D to improve the product, Fulkerson said.