Marketing & sales teams are typically very data and metrics-driven in terms of analyzing and tracking performance. A lot of that information is ultimately from internal systems which is tracking a company's own performance.
But, what about tracking everything that is going on within your industry outside of your four walls in terms of your competitive landscape? Historically, there wasn't really an easy way to gather this critical information and that is where Crayon comes into play. The company has addressed this missing gap in the market with a solution that helps you get a 360 degree view of your competitors and market.
Today, Crayon is announcing a $6M Series A round of funding led by Bedrock Capital. We caught up with Ellie Mirman, Crayon's CMO, to get the scoop on this new funding round, as well as what's next for the company.
Keith Cline: Congratulations on your Series A round of funding! What are the details on this round of funding, and how do you plan to use the capital to accelerate the business?
Ellie Mirman: We’re excited to announce that Crayon has raised $6M in Series A funding led by Bedrock Capital with participation from existing investors, including Baseline Ventures, Converge, Box Group, and both new and existing angel investors. Bedrock Capital recently raised a $127M fund to invest in "narrative-violating" or one-of-a-kind companies that are paving the way in new markets. The new funds will help us double the team (again) this year and support growth all across the business - from sales and marketing to product, engineering, and customer success. We grew 3X last year and will be keeping up the pace of exponential growth in 2019.
KC: How has the Competitive Intelligence industry changed since the company started?
EM: Most businesses are investing in CI in some way - 80% have at least some headcount dedicated to it according to the 2019 State of CI Report we released today. But many are still struggling to set goals, measure results, and integrate their competitive efforts into the rest of the organization. Only about half of businesses have goals or KPIs for their CI program, but those that do are nearly twice as likely to see more revenue as a result.
Nearly every market is getting more competitive - 87% specifically said that their market has become more competitive - so there’s an increasing pressure to solve the challenge of getting a handle on what’s happening outside a business’s four walls and translate that into effective strategies and tactics that help the company win. The report we published today uncovered a bunch of other interesting takeaways about how businesses are keeping tabs on their competitors and, most importantly, the results they’re seeing as a result across sales, marketing, product, and beyond.
KC: Who are you typically working with in terms of customers and how are they leveraging this information?
EM: Our customers span Fortune 500 enterprises to high growth startups across pretty much every industry. We’re partnering with some of the most sophisticated companies out there to power their market and competitive insight. They’re using Crayon to support their sales, marketing, product, and executive leadership teams - enabling them to win more deals, launch winning campaigns, and build and launch the best products. We’ve seen them accomplish some incredible things, including sales win rate increases of more than 50% and cost savings of tens of thousands of dollars annually.
KC: It has been a while since we’ve covered Crayon. What are some of the enhancements that you’ve made to the product?
EM: There’s been so much happening on the product side of the business, it’s hard to know where to start! In the last few months, we launched dynamic Battlecards so that our customers could translate the real-time competitive insight into impactful resources for their sales teams. Along with that, we launched an integration with Salesforce as well as sales enablement platforms so that battlecards could be accessed where sales teams spend their time. We’re highly focused on not just capturing complete, actionable competitive intelligence in real-time, but also helping our customers get that insight into the right hands so that every department can take advantage.
KC: What is the current state of the business in terms of growth and number of employees? What's your plan for hiring over the next year or so, and for what type of roles?
EM: We doubled the team last year and now have 70+ people, all here in Boston. We moved into a new office less than a year ago and have already outgrown it, so we’re about to double our office space, expanding in our same building. This will allow us to double the team again this year, hiring all across the board - engineering, product, sales, marketing, and customer success.
KC: What's the future outlook for Crayon?
EM: We see a huge opportunity to help businesses get data-driven about what’s happening outside their four walls, just as they are about what happens internally. We’re building the solution to make that possible at a time when more and more companies are trying to tackle this challenge. We’ve assembled an awesome team, partnered with incredible customers and investors, and we’re moving fast to help more businesses win with software-driven competitive insight.