Transforming the Process of Making Business Connections
Every company is under pressure to recruit the best talent and sell bigger deals. But despite the rise of platforms like LinkedIn and Salesforce, it is still very difficult for businesspeople to make those connections that truly move the needle.
Let’s say you’re a salesperson and you’re calling on Company X, hoping to sign up a new customer. Your first step will probably be to go to LinkedIn and figure out who in your network knows people at Company X so you can ask for introductions.
And, hey, it turns out your college friend Emily is connected to the VP of engineering at Company X. So you reach out to Emily for an introduction. But a few days later, Emily gets back to you and says, yes, she’s connected to the VP but they only met once at cocktail party five years ago and haven’t spoken since.
This is the problem with platforms like LinkedIn. They’re a bit like playing the lottery.
But what if you could choose the winning numbers every time? What if you could instantly connect the dots and jump straight to warm — even hot — opportunities based on real relationships? What if you could get a “network relationship” score that shows how strong every relationship is, as well as a list of five people in your network who really do know that VP of engineering — ranked in order of who knows the VP best?
That’s the premise behind our latest investment, Connect The Dots. The company has built a network intelligence platform that uses AI to map and manage professional relationships. Connect The Dots works by analyzing many years’ worth of behavioral data associated with email to deliver a richly detailed view of users’ relationships and contacts. Users can opt in to share their relationships with close contacts, delivering valuable insights into who knows who and how well they know each other.
At a time when every potential buyer is inundated with marketing messages and spambots, it can seem nearly impossible to break through the noise. So these warm, sometimes even red-hot, introductions are a much more effective way of prospecting and selling. With Connect The Dots, you can look across your network and your coworkers’ network to quickly find the best path in. You’ll actually know who’s in active email communication with the target you’re trying to reach. As a result, you can connect to that person much more efficiently than you might otherwise.
A platform that delivers the inside scoop
But Connect the Dots is not just for salespeople. It’s for everyone. Personally, it’s the first place I go every morning.
Say I want an update on one of our portfolio companies today. Now that everyone in my firm is using Connect The Dots, I can see who’s in regular contact with that company and I can go to them for the latest news. When the platform achieves widespread adoption, there is a network effect. As our interactions increase, we grow the number of contacts and strengthen the signal of each or our relationships.
Say we’re looking to hire a VP of marketing for one of our portfolio companies. I’ll instantly know who in our firm knows this or that candidate directly. Or let’s say we’re being approached by an entrepreneur as part of a fundraise. I can immediately see who in my network knows the entrepreneur best.
And I not only get the inside scoop on individuals, I also get valuable insight into companies and their organizational structure. I can type in a company name and see who the key people are before I reach out to them. And the system is always updating in real time, so if a person leaves a company or a new person joins, I always have the latest contact information. That’s pretty cool, especially since there are companies like ZoomInfo and Dun & Bradstreet that charge a lot of money for that information. With a platform like Connect The Dots, I can do my job much more efficiently and cost-effectively.
An inherently viral app
There are several other aspects of Connect The Dots that really impress me. First, it’s a product-led growth company. The product itself is the main engine for acquiring, activating, and retaining customers. Users organically flock to the platform. This is different from an enterprise sales team trying to sell directly to a key decision-maker at the top of the food chain, such as a CIO.
Second, Connect The Dots is inherently viral. This is a platform that quickly jumps from a single user to a group of users within a company. As it expands, one plus one plus one doesn’t equal three. It equals much more, because the service is getting stickier and the value proposition growing. Even better, the platform can spread from users at one company to users at other companies.
Finally, the founders are world-class. Drew Sechrist, founder and CEO of Connect The Dots, is the best salesperson I’ve ever met. He was one of the first salespeople at Salesforce and was part of the team that grew Salesforce from $0 to over $1 billion in revenue. During that time, he was both the number one sales manager globally and the number one account executive globally, helping Salesforce define best practices for both high-volume sales and large-enterprise transactions. Drew’s co-founder, Ian Swinson, was the longtime Head of UI and Design at Salesforce, as well as holding design leadership roles at Facebook and Anaplan. They started Connect The Dots to provide businesspeople with the sort of truly transformative network intelligence that has not existed until now.
The power of classic Series A
Our investment in Connect The Dots underscores the power of a classic Series A investment. Classic Series A is a combination of the right amount of capital and the right amount of industry expertise to build a global, category-leading company. Classic Series A can also help set you up for a classic Series B and classic Series C financing round, which can result in higher valuations over time and increase the chance of success.
From the beginning, we helped Drew as he thought about starting this company. We worked closely with him to determine the right time to launch and how to get the startup off the ground. Ultimately, we led a $5 million classic series A round, in which our firm invested $4 million at inception — literally the week after Connect The Dots was formally founded. Velvet Sea Ventures joined the $5 million Classic Series A syndicate for a large part of the last $1 million on an introduction from another angel investor.
Cloud Apps Capital Partners also introduced Connect The Dots to co-investor Norwest Venture Partners, which spearheaded a new $15 million round to bring the company’s total funding to $20 million. Velvet Sea also made a significant investment in the Series A led by Norwest as did we.
I couldn’t be more excited about Connect The Dots. I truly believe the company will transform business and become one of the most valuable tech companies in the world.
~ Matt Holleran, General Partner, Cloud Apps Capital Partners