Kipu Announces Strategic Investment from TCV – Appoints Paul Joiner as CEO and Rick Pharr as COO

CORAL GABLES, Fla., June 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Kipu, maker of the widely-used KipuEMR, an electronic medical records (EMR) system specifically designed for substance use disorder (SUD) and behavioral health treatment organizations, today announced the appointment of two senior leaders and a strategic investment from growth equity firm TCV. As Kipu embarks on its next chapter of growth, the company has hired Paul Joiner as its new CEO, and Rick Pharr as its new COO. Paul and Rick bring deep industry expertise, including scaling multiple healthcare technology companies to several hundred million in revenue.

Kipu’s EMR and other software and value-added solutions are utilized daily by leading operators in the substance use disorder treatment and behavioral health industry. According to a March 2021 study published in JAMA, hospital costs in the U.S. for treating substance use disorder (SUD) and related health conditions total more than $13 billion annually. The total cost of treatment for all behavioral health disorders accounts for roughly 5% of total healthcare spending in the US, representing over $200 billion per year.

“Kipu is the category leader with tremendous momentum,” says TCV General Partner Nari Ansari and a member of the Kipu board of directors. “The company’s suite of software applications intelligently leverages data in all phases of patient care, enabling behavioral healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes and drive operational efficiencies. Kipu gives caregivers on the front lines the capabilities they urgently need to care for patients, while also helping their organizations succeed. We look forward to supporting the Kipu team as they help a growing number of client partners manage the entire patient life cycle.”

Paul Joiner is an accomplished leader in the healthcare industry who will join Kipu later this month. He comes to Kipu from Availity, a healthcare information technology network serving many of the largest and most respected provider and payer organizations in the US. As Availity’s COO, Paul was a major force for growth and innovation, nearly doubling the company’s revenue during his tenure. Paul served previously as VP of Corporate Development & Payer Solutions at Passport Health Communications, which was acquired by Experian in 2013.

“The behavioral health industry is the latest sector in healthcare to benefit from digital technology,” says Paul Joiner. “I am excited to join Kipu and support their mission to deliver end-to-end technology solutions that enable providers and patients to communicate effectively and deliver the best care and outcomes. With TCV’s backing, and building upon Kipu’s market-leadership position, we plan to invest heavily to accelerate Kipu’s technology platform innovation and continue to develop fully integrated software applications to drive relentless, market-leading innovation and world-class performance for our customers and their patients.”

Rick Pharr joins Kipu as COO after a successful tenure at WebPT, a provider of EMR and business management applications for the physical and other therapy markets. During his time as SVP of Operations, WebPT scaled to serve a client base of more than 20,000 clinics. Rick also led WebPT in providing exceptional customer experience, as evidenced by the company’s industry-leading net promoter score (NPS).

“Kipu has achieved significant momentum by helping customers deliver the best outcomes in the behavioral health field in recent years,” says Rick Pharr. “Having spent my career building businesses that focus on customer outcomes, I look forward to serving Kipu’s customers as they put the recovery of their patients above anything else. I’m eager to help the Kipu team take first-in-class customer experiences to the next level to become the gold-standard in the industry.”

TripleTree acted as advisor to TCV in connection with its investment.

About Kipu
Kipu is the leading enterprise software provider serving the substance use, mental health, and eating disorder communities with its cloud-based technology platform. The KipuEMR, a fully configurable electronic health record and integrated billing platform designed for — and within — the behavioral health industry, is the largest and most widely implemented EMR purpose-built for the addiction treatment industry. Kipu’s platform is used daily by more than 80,000 users at more than 1,900 facilities, globally. The KipuCRM is a companion platform that manages the entire patient life cycle from the very first call through admission, integrating call center, referral, and marketing campaign management. To read the latest news on Kipu, please visit https://www.kipu.health/kipu-news/ and connect with us on: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn.

About TCV
Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into innovative industry leaders across the internet and software sectors.

TCV has invested over $15 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 130 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Avalara, AxiomSL, Brex, ExactTarget, Facebook, Netflix, Peloton, Spotify, Zillow, Clio, Klarna, Payoneer, Revolut, Toast, Trade Republic, Wealthsimple and WorldRemit. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late-stage, and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

Media Contacts
Kipu
Sue Yap
Sue.Yap@kipu.health 
561-708-6798 

TCV
Katja Gagen
kgagen@tcv.com 
415-690-6689

SOURCE KipuHealth


FarEye Helps Enterprises Delight Their Consumers at Every Step of the Journey

By Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV

After perusing slick digital shopfronts for hours, checking AI-enabled online catalogs, and paying through seamless single-click checkouts, you may eventually be rewarded with ‘your delivery should arrive in 5-10 working days’ and left to pray that the shiny new gizmo you ordered will arrive in one piece. Sound familiar? For all the innovation and investment across most steps of the online purchasing journey, the actual delivery experience has been largely neglected. Yet, the surge in remote purchasing shows no signs of abating and consumers are demanding faster, better, and cheaper deliveries. This has placed the status quo under immense strain and the need for new solutions to help companies navigate this complexity today is greater than ever.

A New Frontier for Innovation in E-Commerce Enablement

E-commerce enablement has been a key investment theme for TCV, and we have made multiple investments across each step of the value chain. In early 2019, we invested in RELEX Solutions (Helsinki, Finland) which provides an AI-driven platform helping global retailers forecast demand and prepare their supply chain to execute against it. In 2020, we backed Spryker (Berlin, Germany) which helps enterprises build beautiful digital commerce platforms for B2B, B2C, and marketplaces. We also invested in Mollie (Amsterdam, Netherlands) which provides a seamless, easy-to-integrate online payments solution for merchants across Europe. Another recent investment is Trulioo (Vancouver, Canada) which provides seamless know-your-customer (KYC), and know-your-business (KYB) verification checks globally, enabling smooth onboarding of merchants and consumers onto online marketplaces and fintech platforms. Paradoxically, while the e-commerce experience may appear increasingly effortless for consumers, the underlying technology landscape has become increasingly sophisticated and complex.

Following our investments upstream in the ecommerce value chain, we cast our eye further down, identifying logistics as the natural next step. Within this untapped, vast market, last-mile delivery from a fulfilment center to a delivery endpoint like a consumer home has always been the most operationally complex and resource-intensive leg of the journey, absorbing nearly 50% of total logistics dollars spend, driven by inherent lack of economies of scale (disparate drop-off points) and its on-demand nature. Complexity has also compounded due to new delivery and fulfilment modes like micro-fulfilment centers, curb-side pick-up, etc. which strain already razor-thin margins for retailers and carriers alike. Even Amazon, the most sophisticated logistics machine in the world, has not been spared — as a percentage of retail-related sales, Amazon’s cost of fulfilment/shipping grew from ~16% to 32% between 2010-19. On the end-consumer front, delivery experiences have become a critical driver of satisfaction and repeat purchases, with delivery constituting the only physical touchpoint for online brands with their customers. In fact, 55% of US consumers have bought goods from one retailer over another because they provided more delivery options[1]. Throw all of the above in the mix and you have a market that is ripe for disruption. Enter FarEye – a next-generation intelligent software platform that helps enterprises to orchestrate all of their delivery logistics requirements.

We were thrilled to recently announce our investment in FarEye. Founded in India in 2009 by Kushal Nahata (CEO), Gautam Kumar (COO), and Gaurav Srivastava (CTO), the trio started their journey as logistics consultants, before settling on their strategy of building a software platform that would help companies navigate the immense complexities of managing last-mile deliveries. Having spent several years developing the product in India and South-East Asia, where delivery logistics challenges are even more pronounced than in Western economies, FarEye relocated headquarters to Chicago and moved towards global expansion, addressing the vast demand across Europe and the U.S.

Compelling ROI and an Enormous Market Opportunity

We first came to know FarEye through its superlative customer feedback and enormous ROI generated for customers – 22% improvement in first-attempt deliveries, two times improvement in courier satisfaction, and 24% increase in on-time deliveries all while providing complete visibility across the entire logistics operations. Spurred by these reviews, we got in touch with Kushal and were blown away by the depth of the platform as well as Kushal’s strategic and product vision.

The FarEye platform provides an incredible range of end-to-end functionality today — all deployed on fully multi-tenant, cloud-native infrastructure — that benefits retailers, carriers, manufacturers, and end consumers alike. Shippers and carriers benefit from automated order allocation and dispatching, real-time dynamic routing, loop optimization and electronic proof of delivery; their customers get slot-based & flexible delivery scheduling, automated alerts and notifications, the ability to real-time track their deliveries, and 24/7 chatbot-based customer support. FarEye also empowers enterprises with the latest advances in real-time tracking and tracing, ETA prediction based on real-time constraints such as traffic bottlenecks, and control-tower visibility of enterprise delivery activity.

At the heart of the FarEye platform is a low-code BPM engine that allows users to rapidly build delivery workflows that can be customized to meet the demands of a particular industry and customer. Customers today span hot-food delivery, pharmaceutical, packaged goods, housewares, industrial equipment, and more. FarEye even counts some of the largest global carriers among its clients. FarEye Delight has helped the company to quickly expand its existing customer base which increasingly rolls out the platform across new geographies and business units while growing its functionality with net retention that is best-in-class.

As e-commerce and broader home-delivery become the new normal, retailers across the world are racing to adapt, while those that do not face the risk of quickly falling behind. For TCV, FarEye is an excellent fit with our overarching strategy of investing early in what we believe to be the franchise technology companies of the future – no matter where they are founded. FarEye joins Cognite, Trulioo, Redis Labs, Revolut, Relex, Nubank, Klarna, Mambu, Mollie, Spryker, and Dream Sports among recent investments made outside the U.S. Based on our experience investing in many other global leaders that were once young growth-stage companies, we believe FarEye has the technology, talent, expertise, and strong track record to become a truly generational software business of the future.

***

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any of the data or statements by the author and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified above are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


[1] MetaPack Global eCommerce Consumer Report, 2020


FarEye Announces $100 Million Series E Round Led by TCV and Dragoneer

LONDON, May 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — FarEye, a leading end-to-end, global delivery management platform, has announced a USD 100 million Series E round led by TCV and Dragoneer Investment Group. Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, Fundamentum and Honeywell also participated in the round. The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s mission of empowering brands to provide Amazon Prime-like delivery experiences and redefining how products are delivered across diverse logistics networks. FarEye will further focus on expanding its software platform capabilities, drive European and North American expansion, and continue to attract world-class talent. As part of the transaction, Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV, will join FarEye’s board of directors.  

Founded in the year 2013 by Kushal Nahata, Gaurav Srivastava, & Gautam Kumar, FarEye is addressing a multi billion dollar delivery management market that continues to show double digit year on year growth. 

“We are very proud to have TCV and Dragoneer join our established investors to support our progress in becoming a global leader in delivery management,” Kushal Nahata, CEO and co-founder of FarEye, said. “The funding is very timely for the delivery and logistics sector as we have seen consumers spending $861 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 44% from $598 billion in 2019. The growth and the digital transformation in the logistics sector has created an opportunity for software platforms like FarEye to provide a superior customer experience. Our ambition is to enable thousands of businesses to provide Amazon-Prime-like delivery experience, and we aim to drive innovations that re-imagine how deliveries are being managed globally,” added Nahata.

FarEye’s intelligent & sophisticated platform is used by brands to launch and champion multiple delivery models like same-day, next-day, on-demand, and curbside from multiple inventory locations. More specifically, FarEye enables enterprise to:

  • Manage the end-to-end process of delivering goods or services to consumer and enterprise customers across both 3rd party and in-house fleet models
  • Provide end-customers with a positive delivery experience, all while significantly lowering logistics costs and giving unparalleled visibility and control across the entire process
  • Leverage a highly modular, cloud-native and low-code platform, which allows clients to build individualized workflows to suit their unique delivery requirements while ensuring the fastest time to value
  • Handle enterprise-scale volumes and compliance requirements

FarEye currently serves global enterprises across retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers & carriers, including DHL ecommerce, Amway, Dominos, Walmart, Posti, Gordon Foods, UPS and more.

The company’s platform processes over 100 million transactions each month, supports more than 25,000 drivers, and is integrated into a network of over two million vehicles. FarEye’s growth has accelerated over the last 12 months with particularly strong traction in Europe and North America. These markets collectively comprise over half of revenues and have grown nearly three times in the same period.

FarEye was recently recognized by Gartner in their inaugural Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms.

To support continued expansion, FarEye has also hired a number of senior executives over the last year including a new CRO, Amit Bagga (formerly President of APAC at BlueYonder and strategic sales leader at Oracle), and a new CPO, Suvrat Joshi (former executive at Dropbox, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft).

Gopi Vaddi, General Partner at TCV, said: “The logistics and supply chain industry is going through a long awaited software-led creative disruption, led by emerging leaders like FarEye that provide multi-tenant SaaS platforms with low code configuration to enhance visibility to the enterprise and deliver superlative last mile experiences for the end consumer. We, at TCV, are pleased to partner with Kushal, Gaurav,  Gautam and the entire management team. We have been impressed with FarEye’s platform capabilities and their long-term vision as a key enabler for digital transformation in logistics.”

“FarEye’s leading delivery management platform provides impressive visibility and control across the supply chain, which has never been more critical for retailers, manufacturers and 3PLs,” said Eric Jones, Partner at Dragoneer Investment Group. “We look forward to partnering with FarEye as they continue to redefine how products are delivered across diverse logistics networks and expand their footprint in Europe and North America.”

About FarEye: FarEye’s Intelligent Delivery Management Platform is making the delivery experience better for everyone. FarEye enables enterprises to deliver at reduced cost with a superior customer experience.

About TCV: Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies.

About Dragoneer Investment Group: Dragoneer is a growth-oriented investment firm with over $17 billion in long-duration capital from many of the world’s leading endowments, foundations, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices.

Media Contacts

FarEye
Komal Puri
komal.puri@getfareye.com

TCV
Katja Gagen
kgagen@tcv.com
+1 415 690 6689


Cognite Secures $150 Million Investment from TCV to Accelerate Digitalization of Global Industries

May 19, 2021 08:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time

OSLO, Norway & AUSTIN, Texas– (BUSINESS WIRE) —Cognite, a global leader in industrial software innovation, announced today that it has signed an investment round of $150M with leading global growth equity firm TCV, valuing the company at $1.6B. This investment marks one of the largest funding rounds for a SaaS company in Europe and confirms industrial digitalization as a global megatrend. The new valuation round constitutes unicorn status for Cognite.

“Cognite is building the future by redefining modern industrial data management,” said Jake Reynolds, General Partner at TCV.

“Cognite has had a remarkable growth journey since its founding in 2017, attracting top talent from across the globe, working feverishly to develop, deploy and verify the impact from its industrial software technology. As the global growth continues across industry verticals, there is significant interest from companies to partner with Cognite. We are very pleased to welcome TCV, a top-tier growth equity firm, on board, especially given their strong track record from building and scaling enterprise software companies globally,” said Øyvind Eriksen, President and CEO of Aker. “The investment is a testament to the Cognite growth journey so far and to its future potential. Moreover, it highlights the significant value creation taking place in Aker’s industrial software portfolio.”

TCV has a broad network and expertise in successfully scaling technology companies, including Netflix, OSIsoft, Splunk, Airbnb and Spotify. This new partnership allows Cognite to harness TCV’s expertise in international expansion for industrial software companies and complements earlier funding by global venture capital firm Accel, as both are committed to backing category-defining businesses. The partnership coupled with Aker, Cognite’s majority stakeholder, will accelerate the full-scale data-driven transformation of legacy industries to help make them more sustainable and profitable through digitalization and data. As part of the transaction, Jake Reynolds, general partner at TCV with a 20-year history in venture capital and technology investing, is joining the Cognite Board of Directors.

“Cognite is building the future by redefining modern industrial data management,” said Jake Reynolds. “Cognite is emerging as a leader of the pack through their proven industrial software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions as the world turns to digitalization to truly transform, and we look forward to partnering with them to revolutionize the industry as they grow and scale.”

Cognite’s flagship Industrial Data Ops product: Cognite Data Fusion (CDF) is currently digitalizing asset-intensive industries globally by making industrial data more accessible and meaningful to humans and machines, enabling clients to create value through AI-based applications and solutions. CDF is also a critical tool used by companies to actively participate in the energy transition through data liberation and contextualization to address transparency, accountability, and sustainability. CDF is deployed by Cognite customers worldwide including: bp, Saudi Aramco, Alfa Laval, Statnett, and Mitsubishi.

“Cognite is on a strong trajectory to help transform industry, and since our founding four years ago, we have managed to attract top global talent, and partner with top industrial companies to accelerate modern industrial data management worldwide,“ said Dr. John Markus Lervik, CEO and co-founder of Cognite. “The partnership with TCV allows us to amplify our software solutions to empower asset-intensive businesses to improve their sustainability and profitability of operations, and perfectly complements the extensive industrial knowledge brought in by our majority shareholder, Aker.”

Cognite continues rapid expansion, growing in valuation threefold since November in part due to a global collaboration with Microsoft and inclusion as a Top 200 Global Independent Software Vendor (ISV), a partnership with Accel, and post COVID demand for digitalization across industries. Cognite was founded in 2017 and is one of the fastest-growing industrial software companies in the world with over 500 employees across offices in Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East.

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $14 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 125 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including OSIsoft, Airbnb, Brex, ByteDance, Facebook, Hotmart, Netflix, Peloton, Spotify, Zillow, Clio, Redis Labs, Klarna, Mollie, Nubank, Payoneer, Revolut, Toast, Wealthsimple and WorldRemit. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

About Cognite

Cognite is a global industrial software-as-a-service (SaaS) company supporting the full-scale digital data-driven transformation of asset-intensive industries around the world. Our core product, Cognite Data Fusion (CDF), is an industrial data operations and contextualization platform, putting raw data into real-world industrial context, enabling rapid application & solution creation at scale. CDF powers companies with contextualized OT/IT/ET data to develop solutions that increase safety, sustainability, efficiency and drive revenue. Visit us at www.cognite.com and follow us on Twitter @CogniteData or at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cognitedata

Media Contacts

Michelle Holford Global PR Lead, Cognite
+1 (512) 744-3420 (US) or +47 482 90 454 (Norway)
michelle.holford@cognite.com

Katja Gagen Head of Marketing at TCV
+1 (415) 690-6689
kgagen@tcv.com


Toast Announces $400M in Series F Funding

OSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Toast, the fastest-growing restaurant management platform in the U.S., today announced a $400M Series F funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management with participation from Durable Capital Partners LP, TCV, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, G Squared, Light Street Capital, Alta Park Capital, and others.

Focused on empowering restaurants of all sizes to compete on a level playing field with global brands, Toast has quickly become the go-to partner for the restaurant industry, from entrepreneurs opening their first restaurant to enterprise brands scaling across hundreds of locations. During the course of 2019, revenue increased 109 percent as tens of thousands of new restaurants joined the Toast community.

“As a result of our tremendous growth and commitment to the restaurant industry, we have continued to see a significant amount of demand from the investor community,” said Chris Comparato, CEO at Toast. “As the clear platform leader in the restaurant space, we are excited to use this investment to extend our capabilities and drive a bigger impact for the restaurant industry.”

Toast will invest proceeds from this fundraise into its technology platform to meet the evolving needs of the restaurant industry including:

  • New products designed to both deepen restaurateurs’ connections with guests and increase restaurant revenue;
  • Hardware and software investments to increase speed of service, streamline the guest experience, and reduce operational costs;
  • Capabilities to improve the restaurant employee experience, reduce employee turnover, and address the industry’s pressing labor challenges; and,
  • Financial products that provide quick and reliable access to funding to help restaurateurs grow their businesses.

“Just as the retail industry weathered disruption from e-commerce over the past two decades, restaurateurs now face shifting consumer expectations and a changing landscape of tech players who threaten to erode restaurant brands,” said Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Toast wants to partner with the restaurant community to level the playing field and strengthen this nearly trillion dollar industry. We’re thrilled to continue to support this incredible team in 2020 and beyond.”

Restaurant owners and operators can learn more about Toast and schedule a personalized demo here.

About Toast
Launched in 2013, Toast is democratizing technology for restaurants of all sizes. Built exclusively for restaurants and driven by a passion to enable their success, Toast connects employees, operations, and guests on an easy-to-use platform so restaurateurs can stay one step ahead of a rapidly evolving hospitality market. Tens of thousands of restaurants partner with Toast to increase revenue, streamline operations, retain great employees, and create raving fans. Toast was named to the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Finals, and 2019 Forbes Cloud 100. Learn more at www.pos.toasttab.com.

Contacts

Karen DeVincent-Reinbold
Sr. PR & communications manager
media@toasttab.com
857-301-6074

Katja Gagen
TCV, Marketing
kgagen@tcv.com
415-690-6689


FULL POTENTIAL SAAS

We believe that SaaS vendors, particularly vertical and SMB, that provide a “system of record” are seeing massive increases in TAM, competitive moats, and economic opportunity. By extending and leveraging their workflow, data, and account ownership, SaaS vendors are delighting end customers while creating platform and networks.

With opportunity comes competition, both from within one’s category (e.g. application area) or from adjacent categories within one’s vertical (e.g. industry). As boards and management teams wake up to the opportunity, they realize that the race is on to capture the full potential of their vertical.

This post is a framework to help leaders of SaaS companies think through the strategic choices and hopefully increase the odds of reaching their full potential.Strategy is implemented by focused alignment of execution, talent, M&A, organizational structure, functional excellence, and financial and governance/board frameworks. I hope to write about these supporting pieces over time, but I wanted to start with strategy first.

Finally, I think it’s important to acknowledge that very few companies have reached “full potential,” and this framework is inherently aspirational. However, “most entrepreneurs aren’t building a house, they are putting bricks in the foundation of a skyscraper” (Naval Ravikant). Aspiration is important, so hopefully this is an articulation of what is possible.

Special thanks to my co-authors John Burke, Katja Gagen, and Payam Vadi from TCV as well as Tim Barash, Kevin Burke, Henrique Dubugras, Mike Ford, Marc Fredman, Noah Glass, Andrew Low Ah Kee, Ara Mahdessian, David McJannet, Aman Narang, Sankar Narayan, Githesh Ramamurthy, Jason Randall, Bob Solomon, Connor Theilmann, Dan Wernikoff, and Dai Williams for great insight and support in creating this framework to date. We’ve also learned a ton from working with great management teams in the TCV portfolio[1] as well as across a broad network of friends.

Lead the Category

This phase of the SaaS strategy is well understood so I won’t spend much time on it. A SaaS company aspires to:

  1. build a great product (and service)
  2. over time, build an efficient and repeatable go-to-market model (marketing -> sales -> onboarding)
  3. and then “add capital” and execution to press its advantage against sluggish incumbents or poorly capitalized competitors

This is the playbook that Omniture and our portfolio company ExactTarget pioneered a decade ago. Despite massive capital inflows into SaaS and deteriorating economics, this model generally still works today.

On the product side, scale in data + AI can create increasing differentiation. For example, when you start to have more data than anyone else, you can flip your product from being reactive to proactive — having the product tell users where to look and how to optimize the system. Both Xero and Shopify have done this well.

Five other things to think about in this early phase that don’t get enough attention:

  • Scalable onboarding: Onboarding friction can be unaccounted drivers of CAC and churn. A great onboarding process builds the trust and confidence that are the foundations of virality/word of mouth, future cross- as well as third party channel strategies. Carefully measure funnel metrics and be attentive to new customer NPS. Automate early as “throwing bodies at it” can create process debt that will be difficult to unwind later.
  • Expansion: Expansion drives net revenue retention and most of the strategies we are about to discuss. With all sales processes, it’s a lot easier to learn, iterate, and optimize with fewer bodies and less complexity.
  • UI and Architecture: Like onboarding, these can be long-lead time fixes that compound as your business scales and gets more complex. A specific call out is to plan for an API strategy. It can facilitate future partner strategies and increase the value and stickiness of your offering.
  • Pricing structure/strategy: You will constantly revisit tactics, but it’s important to have some sense of how your pricing structure might change over time.
  • Foundations for global, including a work culture that can support distributed executives and operations, and good product feedback loops that incorporate non-home market needs.

Hyperscale Locations, Feed the Beast

A lot of ink has been spilled on forward investing in sales and marketing, and arguably it’s part of a/the “lead the category” strategy. But, it’s worth a call out as it’s important you don’t take your eye off the ball too early. So much of winning and future monetization is getting location market share. When the wind is at your back, go get it done! Market structures have a nasty habit of shifting, future secular tailwinds may abate, or competitors may leapfrog your product or your go-to-market model. If your churn and sales economics are sound, keep “feeding the beast!”

One particularly powerful unlock is Channel. There are verticals and categories, where influencers in a channel are kingmakers and can help you engage with segments that are otherwise difficult or uneconomical to reach.  Furthermore, Channel partners’ engagement and contributions can enrich your products and increase overall customer value. A great example is in tax software, where Xero’s wooing of accountants proved to be an effective source of customers and a formidable competitive moat (thereby disrupting the incumbent provider). Xero went as far as offering free practice management tools to help accountants run and grow their business on Xero.

Win the Control Points: Own Your Vertical

This is where management teams are faced with a paradox of choice: “Where should we go next? How should we spend the next incremental dollar? On increasing ARPU, acquiring incremental locations, or expanding into new verticals, geos or segments?” At this juncture, it is my belief that you should focus on winning the control points. In vertical SaaS, there are typically one or two control points, “systems of record.” Usually one control point in the front office (e.g. Point of Sale, CRM, e-commerce) – “that drives sales, that grows the business, that serves as the cash register.” And one control point in the back office (e.g. general ledger) – “where everything else reconciles to.” Hopefully, you provide one of the systems of record, so go build or acquire the other system(s) of record and secure the high ground! 

Pragmatically, a system of record is the last software package a customer will “turn off” in a tough economic time.

I also like to think about the concept of “gravity”:

  • Workflow gravity – the system that all other systems integrate to – it’swhere the most users spend the most time. Not all workflows deliver the same value; in my experience the system of record workflow tends to deliver the most value.
  • Data gravity – the system that creates and holds the most critical information and is the hardest to migrate. That data can be critical to a client for a wide range of applications, from understanding their customers (e.g. CRM) to managing risk (e.g. compliance). Data also can be critical in two-level situations, such as loan underwriting (e.g. a bank underwriting a merchant’s risk via POS data) or supplier information management (e.g. a client managing risk by validating supplier capabilities and quality). Data depth and scope also create gravity where AI technologies can be highly productive.
  • Account gravity – the user/sponsor of the system is the highest-ranking individual in the customer organization; it’s the system that requires the biggest financial outlay, etc.

Winning the other system of record is not easy. By definition, a system of record is hard to displace and unless the market is greenfield pen and paper, competition can be challenging. You may be able to do it organically with product innovation, but M&A can be the more desirable path if “integration debt” is manageable. If M&A is not possible, a slow winnowing of your competitor may be the only approach available to you.

If you own multiple systems of record in a vertical, the benefits are enormous:

  • Customer delight: automation from integrated workflows and potentially unified data and data models allow efficiencies and offerings unavailable before
  • “SaaS as a Platform and SaaS as Network” opportunities
  • Stronger account ownership to capture incremental spend and drive more efficient growth
  • A new level of durability and stickiness

A good example is Veeva. The company started in 2007 with the launch of a CRM and a sales automation platform for pharma sales reps (e.g. record their activity, keep track of the doctors they meet with or drop off samples for, etc.). After becoming the dominant player in that category, Veeva saw an opportunity to move backward into research and development for their life science customers (developing new drugs, conducting clinical trials and bringing those drugs to market). In 2011 Veeva launched Vault, a suite of applications that first centered on the core content management needs for clinical trials, regulatory submissions, and quality documentation. The company then expanded to include a series of core data applications that help manage clinical trials, quality processes, safety processes, etc. Veeva is expected to finish 2019 with $1.1B in revenue (26% YoY Growth) and 37% EBIT margins. Vault represented 51% of total revenue and grew 38% YoY. Analysts also estimate Vault meaningfully expanded Veeva’s addressable market. 

Another recent example might be front office player Shopify’s $450M acquisition of 6 River Systems to move into back office fulfillment and warehouse management. Some financial analysts estimate that merchants spend up to ~10-15% of their GMV on logistics which could potentially provide multiples of Shopify’s current take rate.

Expand Headroom

With category leadership comes high market share and potentially high saturation. Long-term growth is driven by location growth, as there’s generally a finite share of wallet you can access. It’s important to invest in the S-curves of geos, segments, and adjacent verticals that can unlock new location TAM. This can take a couple of tries before you’re successful, so start this during your growth phase when there’s less pressure on maximizing profitability.

Extend Through the Value Chain

This stage of growth can be transformative. By leveraging the strengths of your core customers, you can expand into a new market with a new set of customers. Typical patterns include moving from front office software to extend to your customer’s customers, or from back office software and extending to suppliers. These can be riskier bets, but success can pay out big here:

  • Increased TAM
  • Workflow that spans multiple parties and creates increased customer value and vendor stickiness
  • Two-level network effects

Supplier

Extension seems to work best by “following the money” and leveraging purchasing power. TCV portfolio company Ariba articulated the “golden rule”— He with the gold rules! By using their leadership in procurement software at large corporate buyers, Ariba extended to build a robust suppliers software business for merchants that serviced those corporate buyers. More recently, Avetta has followed a similar path in the supplier information space by building a strong two-level network effect. We believe corporate clients want to be on Avetta because it has the largest network of suppliers, and suppliers want to be on Avetta because it has the most corporate clients. Avetta’s advantage gets stronger as it scales. Moreover, Avetta has an opportunity to help suppliers do more than just manage compliance information. As a result, Avetta sees growth in helping suppliers grow and operate their business.  

CCC is on the third generation of this approach. They started by serving large auto insurance carriers and then extended into autobody repair shops that serve the carriers. CCC is now in the process of expanding to parts suppliers. By getting all the key constituents on its software platform, CCC is able to leverage AI and automation to massively reduce friction and provide a great customer experience across all steps of the auto insurance process.

Employee

The employee opportunity is similar to the supplier opportunity in terms of “following the money.” Companies can use integrated payroll or time & attendance offerings to establish a relationship with the employee. Employees are also consumers who represent significant B2C opportunities such as consumer lending, insurance, etc. There are big dollars here, but perhaps less opportunity to build significant network effects.

Consumer

The consumer/demand opportunity is the white whale. We believe that SaaS companies tend to capture ~ 50-100bps of GMV for software subscription, whereas online demand channels can take 15-20% of GMV in categories such as hotels and restaurants. In addition to the massive revenue opportunity, Consumer also represents a strategic flank worth monitoring carefully. Online marketplaces have large competing salesforces that engage with your merchant customers and have strategic interests encroach on the software layer to try to control supply.  Booking.com bought Buuteeq and Hotel Ninjas to vertically integrate into hotel supply. Uber is rapidly expanding its driver offering to over-draft protection, a debit card, and likely lending over time to manage driver churn. This is another example of increasing marketplace + SaaS convergence.

That said, success stories of extending SaaS to Consumer are rare. Few SaaS companies have consumer product DNA, the funds, or the skills to build a consumer brand. While a SaaS provider can have a high market share of merchants in a vertical, it’s rare that it has the supply ubiquity that an online marketplace would require. Eventbrite is one of the few companies that has landed as a software tool for creators, built liquidity, and created a marketplace.

Some derivative Consumer monetization models include:

  • Consumer pay: FareHarbor approaches tour and activity operators with a free to merchant, consumer pay model: “We’ll build your website and booking engine for free, with no work on your part; you just pay us for payment processing and the customer will pay us a booking fee.”  
  • Channel management: SiteMinder offers channel management to help hotels manage existing channels in real time. SiteMinder has extended that value proposition to “Demand Plus,” an offering that helps hotels easily expand into new channels to scale demand.
  • Existing customers: While 15-20% marketplace take rates may be sensible for new customer acquisition/discovery, companies such as Olo are looking to move existing customers to lower cost channels through their dispatch offering while taking a much lower percentage of GMV.
  • Customer Co-opt: By seeing consumer data pass through their systems, some SaaS vendors are building consumer profile databases that they might monetize over time. In the recruiting market, we’ve seen players leverage job distribution tools to build a candidate database. Shopify similarly has built a large shopper profile database across all their merchants. While Shopify hasn’t monetized directly, the uplift in conversion rate is likely significant. This model is the most capital efficient but can create conflicts with the vendor’s core merchant customers.

The biggest benefit of extending through the value chain is that it gives you a beachhead and a right to win in a new vertical to start the “full potential” growth cycle again. As you do this, it’s important to reconsider your end market and focus. When Ariba transitioned from procurement software to supply network, they started to represent a front office “system of record” for their suppliers. In doing so, Ariba was both a large enterprise “procurement company” and an SMB “supplier enablement company.” The question was: “Which priority should dominate?” When extension leads to conflicts, there are no easy answers. As such, it is important to acknowledge that this growth strategy is ever-evolving.

Deepen Functionality/ Monetization

Deepen Functionality/Monetization doesn’t literally mean waiting to pursue this step until all other strategies have been completed. It’s more a reflection of priorities. Acquire as many customers as you can, win the control points, and you will likely have many of these profit pools locked up to pursue in the future.

In winning the key control points, for the same reason a single system of record has a lot of “gravity,” you now have an even stronger opportunity to turn your product into a channel. This enables entry into adjacencies with data, workflow, and account ownership advantages for you as well as for the end customer. The most extreme example is the “platform/ecosystem” play, where you monetize third party vendors that want access to the channel your product has become (e.g. Salesforce, Intuit, Shopify). However, most commonly a SaaS vendor will pursue additional monetization with in-house or white-labeled products.

Another key consideration in prioritizing adjacent function/monetization is consistency with your core go-to-market channel and proximity to key decision makers. Go-to-market will determine the financial leverage of the cross-sell and often the overall success. The core advantage of SMB software here is that often the decision-making is relatively consistent and concentrated across software purchases.

Every vertical is different, but there are some common functionality/monetization patterns emerging. Each of these patterns deserves its own write-up, but for the sake of brevity here are some highlights:

  • “Integrated payments -> integrated banking”: The attachment of payments to SaaS has been well covered. That trend is expanding to the attachment of integrated banking. I had an opportunity to interview two of the smartest people in the business, Tim Barash and Jackie Reses. Square is out front here with broad based merchant and consumer plays. To understand the magnitude of the opportunity, Square’s Subscription & Services (most of which are financial services) are expected to reach $1.3B in 2020. This represents 23% of 2020 total GAAP revenue and 47% of 2020 Total Gross Profit (incremental gross profit is ~90%). Brex is earlier in its progression, but we’re excited to see how the company leverages its initial corporate card and expense management offerings to extend into broader financial services.

  •  “Follow the workflow”: At times SaaS companies have actually observed customers at work or mapped out the physical sites to understand all the areas their workflow touches as areas of expansion.
  • “TAM shark”: HashiCorp CEO David McJannet describes expansion as “TAM Shark,” constantly circling the biggest, fastest growing (most change/opportunity) markets. He requires product managers to report on market size and growth of all adjacent categories to make sure they are focused on the biggest opportunities. Generally, over a 2-3 year period companies have one, maybe two opportunities to build distinct add-on businesses. Make sure you’re picking the biggest markets and therefore the biggest payoffs.

Summary

If the typical SaaS playbook is “Lead the Category” and “Hyperscale Locations,” clearly the full potential for vertical SaaS players is dramatically larger than conventional SaaS wisdom would suggest. We’re excited to work with — and hopefully invest in —the frontier players as they explore the “Full Potential of SaaS.”  

If you found this useful, let me know, and we’ll continue to publish and explore the topic. I look forward to hearing your adds, edits, and challenges.

Caveats

  • There’s a tension between aggregating as big a profit pool as quickly as possible vs. “winning the market.”
  • This framework is characterized as a sequential strategy. In reality, most companies are pursuing multiple steps concurrently, and the sequence is more a reflection of prioritization.
  • Time horizon: this approach is a long-term strategy to winning, which may often be at odds with short-term maximization of valuation multiple and financial performance.
  • This approach is informed by a U.S./western/mature approach. In emerging/more greenfield markets, less focus and value chain expansion earlier in company development may make sense.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the authors and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified above are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this document, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.

[1] See TCV’s SMB and Vertical SaaS investments at the end of the document.


At the Cutting Edge of the Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) Sector – Leveraging Compliance Data to Drive Business Value

By Nari Ansari and Gal Peleg

Compliance seems to divide enterprises into three categories: those that primarily publicize it as proof of “good governance,” those that actually push the boundaries far enough to bring consequences, and everyone else with their heads down, trying to address whatever regulatory standards govern their industry and the seemingly ever-changing nature of those standards.

Now a fourth group is emerging, charting their own course. These enterprises are turning compliance to their advantage by mining compliance data for digital gold: insights that increase efficiency and competitive advantage. Like the governance crowd, they have automated many compliance functions with emerging software solutions. They are looking at the resulting data with fresh eyes and using it to improve their businesses.

More Regulation…

Most people think of compliance in terms of rules and regulations imposed by lawmakers and other governing bodies, for good reason: there is a proliferation not just of new regulations but of whole new regulatory frameworks such as Dodd-Frank and GDPR. Even long-time frameworks such as SOX, HIPAA, and FCPA continue to evolve. Yet at the same time, many enterprises are setting rules of their own to address an increasingly complex environment that includes global supply chains, cybercrime, trade wars, Brexit, and other evolving risks.

In the end, it doesn’t matter where the rules come from: compliance, and the documentation that comes along with it, is essential for managing risks and maintaining brand reputation. The roster of damaged brands from just the past few years illustrates what can happen when risk and compliance management break down.

Until recently, enterprises managed compliance risks with home-grown, often siloed and disparate initiatives that focused on people and processes. The components included manual record-keeping, time-consuming audits, constant training, ever-lengthier supplier questionnaires, C-level compliance positions, and board-level reporting. The reams of information gathered and presented were considered useful mainly for answering a simple question: Are we compliant or not?

Then a new question arose: Can we at least automate and digitize risk and compliance data, like we have done with so many other processes? The answer to that question is clear: We can, thanks to a growing community of companies providing governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) technology solutions that automate the process of collecting, aggregating, analyzing, and presenting relevant data while reducing their costs to the organization.

…Meets Smarter Compliance

We believe that just as homegrown compliance structures created the opportunity for digitization, a critical mass of companies are now positioned for a new opportunity that may eclipse the earlier one. Data that was once viewed merely as fuel for the compliance machine can now be considered a strategic output in its own right, with value to the business beyond compliance.

Whether it’s a bank mining Know Your Customer data to pitch targeted travel insurance to its customers or a CPG manufacturer analyzing complaint data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to improve its manufacturing methods, we see an opportunity for companies to extract incremental, “offensive” business insight from large risk, compliance, and regulatory data sets.

Why Now?

This opportunity represents a convergence of what may seem unrelated factors. But let’s remember that in a globalized, highly competitive economy there are few trends that arise in isolation.

The first trend we note is a dramatic change in the people sitting in the chief compliance officer (CCO) chair. Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed the career backgrounds of 72 CCOs in banking, insurance and asset management and reported that “gone are the days of principally legal and compliance executives nabbing the top job in the compliance function.” So who’s getting the job instead? According to the report, it’s “broader-focused appointees from consulting, risk and audit. This new breed of appointees would be well-positioned to contextualize compliance (and the associated cultural change) in the wider picture of the organization.” In other words, compliance executive leadership is not just for lawyers and specialists – it’s for multidisciplinary executives who are as fluent with brand value and enterprise risk as they are with the P&L and operations.

The second trend we note is increased use of AI/ML. The transportation sector is a leading example, in part because it is heavily regulated. Shipping companies, notably UPS, now place dozens of monitors on their vehicles for compliance with internal and regulatory rules – and then apply AI to the monitor data to optimize delivery routes and driver behaviors in ways that squeeze out fuel costs and improve customer satisfaction. Fleet operators are further served by solutions from the likes of Keep Truckin, Samsara, and Geotab, which help improve driver safety and increase the precision of preventive maintenance.

The third trend is the evolving consumer privacy landscape. Ironically, more robust data protection and security regulations such as GDPR can actually serve to enhance business value by increasing the trust between companies and their customers. In its January 2018 report, “How GDPR is an Opportunity to Create Business Value”, Gartner notes that “handled effectively, there is great potential to obtain consent to increase data access, use, and sharing rights — aligned with goals of a wider organizational data and analytics strategy. This can help drive competitive advantage, while also helping to achieve compliance in other countries and regions.”

Examples of Leveraging Risk & Compliance Data to Drive Business Value

These are examples of companies that are helping advance the use of risk and compliance data for improving everything from customer experiences to supply chain performance to more effective emergency response:

  • Avetta’s customers use Avetta to certify compliance quality of its suppliers (green flag, yellow flag, red flag) and then mine the data to identify which suppliers are best trained and best equipped for certain on-site jobs.
  • Higher education institutions have long collected data to achieve and maintain external accreditation. Watermark Insights helps universities and colleges not only collect, digitize, and report on that data to demonstrate effectiveness, but also to use it to inform curricular changes and improve student outcomes. 
  • AxiomSL’s financial services clients utilize its data integrity and control platform and its risk calculation and reporting solutions to satisfy regulatory requirements across the globe systematically.  With trusted data, banks are now also able to identify opportunities to fine-tune capital/credit risk and deliver compelling business insights across the enterprise.
  • Global Trade Management solutions from the likes of Descartes and Amber Road (now a part of E2OPEN) have long been used to satisfy mandatory export compliance obligations (e.g. restricted party screenings) and to remain abreast of regional duty programs and tariffs. But by marrying these regulatory datasets with companies’ more “traditional” supply chain data (such as bill of materials and transportation fees), clients are now able to more accurately forecast true landed costs (the total price of the shipment including customs, duties, taxes, tariffs, etc.), all the while minimizing risks and delays.
  • Rave Mobile Safety enables schools to automate collection of and access to critical facility information (e.g., floor plans, alarm information), which they need to remain compliant with fire department ordinances – and it also provide 911 dispatchers and first responders better real-time capabilities when emergencies arise.
  • Information governance and eDiscovery vendor Nuix is well known for its deep technical capabilities in high speed processing and analytics around vast data sets, typically in the context of litigation and investigations.  But enterprise clients are also able to leverage the platform to create “data lakes”, making data more accessible for re-use in future investigations, litigations and data management programs, helping reduce costs.
  • Biopharma companies rely on software from ETQ for much more than compliance with FDA requirements; they also leverage the data to mitigate and prevent high-risk events, scale operations more effectively, and streamline their go-to-market activities.

There are many other examples of organizations across industries utilizing technology from GRC vendors to not only achieve their risk and compliance objectives, but also advance their strategic objectives.  The trend is still very much in its early days, but it provides an exciting avenue for continued growth in the sector.  As an experienced technology focused growth equity firm, TCV is committed to investing in the category innovators in the GRC space and has invested in such companies as Avalara, AxiomSL, Avetta, LegalZoom, Rave Mobile Safety, RiskMetrics Group, and Watermark Insights. 

***

The statements, views, and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies. For additional important disclaimers, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Making the Mundane Sexy: How Intuit Turned SMB Bookkeeping and DIY taxes into Massive Business Lines

Dan Wernikoff rose to become an EVP at Intuit and general manager of its small business unit and consumer tax group. In both cases he scaled the business-within-a-business from small groups of early adopters to huge hordes of happy SMBs and consumers, by relentlessly measuring early indicators, leveraging core strengths, and focusing on long-term growth goals.

In this conversation with TCV General Partner Tim McAdam, he shares:

  • Lessons about how selling into SMB markets differs from enterprise
  • The best metrics for tracking success, and
  • Why empathy and understanding matter more than slick ads and sales techniques.

He also explains how to infuse human expertise into SaaS models in a way that fits the SMB/consumer mindset.

For these insights and more, settle back and press play.

***

Dan Wernikoff is a former Venture Partner at TCV.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified above, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this document, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Webinar: Evolving from SaaS to Marketplace: Key Lessons for Tech Leaders in Making the Jump

The opportunity set for SaaS is on the rise. The original SaaS model that revolutionized software is now enabling SMB and vertical SaaS companies to evolve from tool companies to market makers. Pioneers of these new SaaS models not only provide a tech platform to service providers, but also strengthen their position by extending into marketplaces. When these providers aggregate enough supply, they leverage their data and mindshare advantages to create two-sided marketplaces that enjoy powerful network effects. The result is a much stronger financial profile, deeper moats, and a significantly larger TAM.

TCV recently hosted an offsite focused on emerging trends that we believe are dramatically expanding the opportunity set and economic strength of vertical and SMB SaaS companies. 

We were fortunate to have Brian Rothenberg as a speaker. Before joining a leading new early stage venture firm Defy as a Partner, Brian was on the leadership team that took Eventbrite from startup through IPO – while evolving the company from a SaaS platform for event venues to a marketplace for live experiences.

In this conversation with John Burke, EVP at TCV, Brian explains the steps and structures necessary to accomplish this strategic transformation and reach scale. He also offers priceless tips on timing and managing relationships with original SaaS clients that leaders can apply as they focus on dramatically expanding their addressable markets.

To talk about SaaS opportunities and get a copy of the presentation, please contact John Burke or Katja Gagen at TCV.

The statements, views, and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit https://www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at https://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Toast: Building a System of Record for the Restaurant Industry

We believe that many SMB and vertical SaaS companies are starting to exhibit platform characteristics. Some of these companies are beginning to build consumer and supplier networks that are dramatically expanding the SaaS model.

Toast is a pioneer in the space, powering restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that helps them streamline operations, increase revenue and deliver amazing guest experiences. No one lights up a room on these topics more than Tim Barash, Chief Business Officer and CFO at Toast. I’m also excited to welcome Tim as an Executive Advisor to TCV, where he will be working with TCV portfolio companies and helping us to assess new opportunities.

###

Dave: Tim, welcome to TCV, and thanks so much for spending time to share your thoughts with us!

Tim: I am excited to be a part of the team — it’s been great to meet with some of the founders of this incredible new class of companies, changing the rules of what has traditionally been considered SaaS.

Dave: Tell us about Toast. What is the company today, what’s its mission, and where is it going?

Tim: Toast is a company that is transforming the hospitality industry with an end-to-end platform, extending from a core commerce engine into guest experience, employee engagement, and financial services. Our mission is to empower the restaurant community to delight guests, do what they love, and thrive. We as Toasters are very passionate about bringing this mission to life for our customers. We launched our core offering in 2013 to the first few restaurants and today are serving tens of thousands of customers while still growing over 100%, with over 1,600 employees globally. It’s been a wild ride these past five years and it’s a really fun space with a creative and diverse customer set.

Dave: You and I recently hosted an offsite on “SaaS as a Platform.” Why is Toast a platform to its restaurant customers?  If you’re the CEO of a SaaS company, how do you know that you are or could be a platform?

Tim: Toast really extends all the way from the front of house to the back of the house, bringing restaurants into the 21st century with a cloud and mobility-first operating system, including hardware such as self-ordering kiosks and handhelds for order & pay-at-the-table and guest feedback. We’ve evolved from this core system of record into other high-value offerings, including payment processing, payroll & employee management software, credit and consumer-facing apps, and we’ve had great feedback from our customer base that they want us to continue to solve more problems for them between our first-party offerings and our deep partner network.

I think being the Platform or System of Record generally means you have the most mindshare and time spent on your system relative to others the same user may have. As important is where the data resides; in the restaurant vertical, the core data sets are menus, orders, guest data, and employee data, whereas other verticals like doctor’s offices might be more around scheduling, billing/invoicing, and insurance connectors. If the key personas are logging in multiple times per day and using your tool as the system of record for their most important data, it’s likely there are multiple platform opportunities to exploit to make their lives even easier.

Dave: Let’s first talk about payments. Generically the opportunity in payments is for SaaS companies to start monetizing flow through GMV. Why is this good for your customers, the end merchant, and your customer’s customer, the merchant’s consumer?

Tim: A lot of companies are starting to integrate payments mostly because it creates a much smoother, simpler experience for the merchant. It starts with onboarding and spans ongoing support and easy reconciliation of transactions and payments through the same software. Small businesses generally do not like having to deal with multiple vendors when they can use one holistic solution for what they are trying to get done.

What’s really compelling is what you can do for the merchant and the end user once you have payments integrated by capturing more data. An example is identifying the end user and better understand buying patterns and be able to help small businesses market to their customers in a more targeted and automated way.

There’s also very significant margin enhancement if you can get payments right, which can fuel higher investment levels in areas like Customer Success and R&D to deliver even more customer value by displacing a horizontal payments vendor.

Dave: I know you could hold a master class on just payments, but quickly what are three tips for getting started? Should you make them mandatory, or an option?

Tim: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a team here is important — you can get started with a referral partnership or go full bore and become a payment facilitator and handle all the risk, underwriting, and merchant-facing tech. It really depends on the available talent, domain knowledge, and capital access to get something off the ground. Once you’ve decided what to go with, here are three tips:

  1. Build a dedicated team that understands your payments space at a deep level — there can be a lot of new complexity across product, tech, risk/underwriting, pricing, go-to-market strategy, and customer success that may look and feel different from your existing business. Make sure at least 1-2 people are coming in with real payments or fintech experience. Card-present vs. eCommerce experience will likely be something to think about here.
  2. Resist the urge to over-monetize or make pricing overly complex — traditionally there have been some bad actors in the payments world and, as a result, a lot of these companies have low NPS and very high churn — great SaaS companies have the opposite, so don’t tempt fate for a few extra basis points.
  3. If you are doing anything other than an arms-length referral partnership, you should be taking payments-specific risk, fraud, and security very seriously.

Dave: Ok, so once you’ve launched payments, how would you extend next? I know it depends, so maybe talk about where you would go if you were a front office offering and a back-office offering. Or better yet, what is the prioritization framework for the different offerings?

Tim: I think the prioritization framework begins with mission — why does your company exist and what are the biggest problems in your industry that you have an unfair right to help solve? As an example, Toast is the source of lots of employee data and we kept hearing from our customers that, in the current macro environment, labor was their biggest concern, so we had both the market need and the natural entry point to get deeper into payroll and employee engagement.

On back-of-office solutions it’s likely things like payments, credit, payroll, insurance, and B2B/vendor marketplaces can be interesting depending on the platform and vertical. For front-of-house it’s likely more about CRM, marketing tools, loyalty programs, other commerce touchpoints, and the holy grail of leveraging supply of SMB’s to create a two-sided consumer marketplace. That said, there aren’t many companies that have made the B2B2C transition, yet it can be a tremendous value creator.

Dave: Credit is a big step change because it involves a balance sheet and underwriting to risk. What is your take?

Tim: I think this really depends on the execution muscle of your company — if you’ve already gone deep on something like payments, you may have some experience on the fraud and underwriting side, but getting into credit ups the ante in a big way. You need to feel confident you have some really strong players on data science, finance, and risk to go after this yourself. Starting with a partnership with a Kabbage, Fundbox, or OnDeck could be a way to dip the toe in the water before putting your capital at risk or trying to attract outside investors to supply the capital for a credit offering.

If you are going after this yourself, you will almost definitely want to find outside capital to offload most of the risk and balance sheet implications of a credit business, both for optics reasons with investors and because your capital is better put to use hiring engineering, sales, etc. than lending to your customers.

Dave: How about payroll? Big dollars given the per employee model. How do you know there’s real demand for payroll? Given the 50-state nature, would you do this in-house, partner, or buy?

Tim: If I think about this space, the only software business that didn’t have HCM/HRIS at its core that’s done this really well is Intuit, though Square is also starting to gain traction in their new offerings. Payroll/HCM is its own beast with its own ecosystem of products from worker’s comp and healthcare to newer technology offerings like same-day pay and employee management solutions. Similar to payments, capital, marketplaces, and other platform plays, the decision on whether to extend is all about whether you have a natural right to play. For Toast, we have restaurant employees clocking in and out every day on our platform, and managers/owners running staffing reports and approving hours before downloading the data and uploading to a payroll/HCM solution. This made it a pretty natural move to solve this disjointed experience for our customers.

If you’ve got the natural right to play, demand is probably dependent on the complexity in your vertical — if your customers only have 1-5 employees and not a lot of complexity around time and attendance, they may be using an offering from Intuit through their accounting package, or Gusto, or some other inexpensive and easy solution, making it more difficult to displace.

In terms of build/partner/buy, this could be a long slog to build, because of all the regulatory/compliance elements. Depending on your scale, partnering is likely the best way to enter into the space and learn this side of the business. Just be careful as one of the reasons to get into payroll/HCM is that it’s a fairly sticky product.

Dave: Ok, let’s get into the next-level network effects for SaaS companies. Most two-level networks tend to be “Big B to small B” in a buyer/supplier relationship. TCV invested in three of them over the years. To give the theme a plug — Ariba in procurement, CCC in the auto industry, and Avetta  in supplier information management and compliance. You sell into large company buyers and help them connect more efficiently to smaller/SMB consumers. Winning into the big buyers gives you a strong value proposition to small suppliers and gaining more suppliers in your network makes you even more attractive to the big buyers. It’s a virtuous cycle.

But every SaaS company, particularly vertical and SMB providers, can look to leverage consumer, employee, and supplier networks. What’s your take?

Tim: It’s a really exciting play that is starting to develop in SaaS. If done correctly, it can be a game changer in helping SMBs get the scale advantages of larger enterprises and change their businesses for the better.

Dave: Let’s take supplier networks first. Who is doing a good job getting into the supplier marketplace?

Tim: I think you just hit a few of the strong players earlier. What CCC has done with the auto parts marketplace is really exciting and a playbook that could be run by a lot of SaaS platforms in other verticals, especially something like construction or home services. I’ve seen a lot of startups try to create the supplier marketplaces in industries such as dental offices, restaurants, and others, but the standalone model can be difficult because they aren’t starting with one side of the marketplace already built up — that’s what’s so exciting about these platform opportunities for existing SaaS companies.

Dave: How about employees?

Tim: There are lot of interesting companies out there. For example, SnagAjob and ZipRecruiter are working on building out the marketplace. I think ZipRecruiter has been a really interesting story as they did leverage existing relationship with employers to create their marketplace. Over time, I think we will see a lot more of these models. There have been a few entrants into the “LinkedIn of hourly workers” space, and time will tell if something like that will be created or if more mindshare will go to vertical-specific SaaS/Employee Network plays. It’s interesting to think about the marginal utility of a horizontal employee network, certainly there are some generalists in this employee population but also a lot of specialization in specific trades and industries.

Dave: Consumers is probably where the big dollars are. Marketplaces regularly capture 10-40% of GMV to deliver consumers.  How can SaaS companies partake of the consumer opportunity?

Tim: I think it heavily depends on how valuable the supply side of the marketplace is. There are verticals including food, certain home services, hotels, etc. where quality and user-specific preference is going to really matter. If you have really compelling supply (especially if it is hard to access online), you can get real leverage in building out a consumer marketplace. If it’s something like transportation, it may be harder to have any real edge against a standalone marketplace startup.

If you are in a position to capitalize on a consumer network, I think creating a separate team to go after that opportunity in a big way is likely the right way to go as so many parts of the business will be different than your core SaaS team is used to working on. You want the unfair advantage of owning supply without a handicap of having a team that hasn’t built a consumer business before.

Dave: Well Tim, I know we could go on for hours on this topic. Thanks so much for taking the time today, and great to have you as part of the TCV team. I’m excited to work with you.

 ***

Tim Barash is an Executive Advisor at TCV.

The views and opinions expressed in the blog post above are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). This blog post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified above, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this document, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.