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November 10, 2016

Crayon Is Bringing Your Marketing & Sales Teams The Competitive Intelligence They Crave

It’s likely that your marketing and sales teams spend a lot of time evaluating and monitoring the competitive landscape. To keep tabs on competitors, they might subscribe to Google alerts or maybe there is a an intern or a junior member of the marketing team who pulls together reports in a manual fashion. Unfortunately, these manual efforts are incredibly time consuming and ultimately, they are not able to track all the useful information that is available online.

Enter Crayon, a Boston startup, which is looking to change the game and bring an automated and more complete way of monitoring your competitors.

When we last wrote about Crayon, they had just raised an initial $1.5M round of funding from a who’s who of angel investors like Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan, Mike Volpe, Jennifer Lum, Eric Ries and others. The company’s initial product, called Inspire, has been focused on helping marketers with the creative process by being able to browse 36+ million websites and landing pages. Think of it like Pinterest or Houzz for marketing inspiration.
Crayon Team Photo Boston
Crayon Team Photo

Today, the company is announcing a new $3.35M seed round of funding led by Founder Collective and Baseline Ventures. The round also included participation from BoxGroup, Converge Venture Partners, Scott Belsky (founder of Behance), along with Mike Volpe (ex HubSpot CMO) and Yoav Shapira (ex HubSpot VP Engineering) of Operator.vc.

Along with the new round of funding, Crayon is also hoping to make your marketing and sales teams more effective with its Intel product, a real-time competitive intelligence solution which produces an all encompassing dashboard of insights about your competitors.

“Today’s current manual efforts generate a small amount of the data which is available out there,” said Jonah Lopin, founder at Crayon. “By using our Intel product, you will be able to track over 100 categories of information about a company, like a company’s website, landing pages, blog, social media channels or even things like Reddit or discussion groups in Quora.”

The idea for Crayon came about from Lopin’s days at HubSpot. He was the company’s 6th employee and ended up being HubSpot’s VP of Customer Success. Over his tenure, HubSpot brought on over 8K customers, which gave him a tremendous amount of insight into how marketing organizations operated.

“I noticed that marketing teams had an increasingly deep level of understanding about the performance of their own campaigns and marketing efforts, but they had no data coming in from the outside about their competitors.”

Crayon Intel Product Screenshot
Crayon's Intel Product
From a technical point of view, it’s a challenging problem to solve. The team at Crayon had to figure out a starting point on how to track a company and then figure out how to expand and generate a comprehensive digital footprint from there. “If someone simply makes a small edit to a web page like adding a period to the end of a sentence,” said Lopin “our system needs to understand that it is not a meaningful change. But if there was a small edit to a company’s pricing, then that would be very meaningful.”
 
If a company is looking to invest in a solution which helps a company understand its market and competitive landscape, then the ROI from Crayon is easy to position. According to Lopin, there’s three ways to look at how Crayon’s Intel product will make an impact. First, it will save companies time as they move away from its pre-existing manual efforts. Second, Intel will help your sales team close more deals by being able to better position yourself company against competitors. Third, the marketing function should have better results too by differentiating your value proposition from the competition.

Crayon tracks 117M web pages across 7.4M domains across 2.3M companies. The company has over 42,000 users and its sales have quadrupled since July, including signing up companies like Zendesk and Boston based Continuum Managed Services.

Lopin was also proud of Crayon’s ability to attract east and west coast investors from the Forbes Midas Touch List. Eric Paley (#56) of Founder Collective was an early investor in Uber, Cruise Automation, The Trade Desk and more. Steve Anderson (ranked #2) of Baseline Ventures includes companies like Instagram, Twitter, ExactTarget, Stitch Fix, and others as investments.

"We are a very ambitious team, as we are on to something that has the potential to be big," said Lopin. Crayon currently has 9 employees and a handful of contractors. The plan is grow aggressively next year by either doubling or tripling headcount across product, engineering, and sales.  

Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images via Crayon