Enable bags $45M for B2B rebate management platform

Enable, a startup developing a cloud-based software tool for business-to-business rebate management, announced Wednesday a $45 million Series B funding round.

The round is led by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Menlo Ventures and Sierra Ventures, and a group of angel investors. Including the new round, the company has raised a total of $62 million, which includes a $13 million Series A raised in 2020.

The company, which started in the U.K. and moved to San Francisco in 2020, was co-founded by Andrew Butt and Denys Shortt in 2015 but launched fully in 2016. Its technology automates how distributors and manufacturers create, execute and track rebates. These types of trading programs are a common industry practice and are relied on by distributors as a way to turn a profit.

Since raising its Series A last year, Butt, chief executive officer, moved to the Bay Area, grew its North American operations to 60 people, tripled revenue and more than tripled its customer base, he told TechCrunch. The new funding will be used for product innovation and building sales and go-to-market teams.

“The Series A was proving traction in the U.S. and Canada and gave us the ability to hire a U.S. leadership team,” he added. “When we saw that momentum, the market size was large and the opportunity was now getting bigger and bigger, we started scaling up the business.”

As customer needs changed and incentives were growing in terms of revenue and profitability, Enable saw that they were more critical to manage; the incentives needed to be more dynamic and easy to make targeted and personalized. In a sense, incentives have “gone from being blunt instruments to very sharp in size and volume,” Butt said.

Reaching the year over year revenue doubling was a milestone for the company, and his immediate next steps are to get a fully ramped team so Enable can continue on that growth trajectory. The market for incentives is big, but “there is no credible competition,” so the company is also working to build that distribution and sales team now, he added.

It was also over the past year that Butt met Sean Jacobsohn, partner at Norwest Venture Partners, who, as part of the investment, joined Enable’s board of directors.

Jacobsohn had noticed Enable and asked for an introduction to the company when it hired Jerry Brooner as its president of global field operations. Jacobsohn was tracking Brooner’s next moves after leaving Scout, a Workday company, and the hire got his attention.

Enable checks all of the boxes Jacobsohn said he looks for in a company: strong CEO, a good team and good customer feedback — many of them were dissatisfied with the legacy software, he said.

“I also love companies going after a big market where there is no credible competition,” Jacobsohn added. “There is a lot of greenfield space here. What’s great about a player like that is they can come in, create a category and be the new generation cloud player. This isn’t something someone can wake up and start. You need deep domain expertise.”

 


By Christine Hall

Spectro Cloud launches with $7.5M investment to help developers build Kubernetes clusters their way

By now, we know that Kubernetes is a wildly popular container management platform, but if you want to use it, you pretty much have to choose between having someone manage it for you or building it yourself. Spectro Cloud emerged from stealth today with a $7.5 million investment to give you a third choice which falls somewhere in the middle.

The funding was led by Sierra Ventures with participation from Boldstart Ventures.

Ed Sim, founder at Boldstart says he liked the team and the tech. “Spectro Cloud is solving a massive pain that every large enterprise is struggling with; how to roll your own Kubernetes service on a managed platform without being beholden to any large vendor.” Sim told TechCrunch.

Spectro co-founder and CEO Tenry Fu says that an enterprise should not have to compromise between control and ease of use. “We want to be the first company that brings an easy-to-use managed Kubernetes experience to the enterprise, but also gives them the flexibility to define their own Kubernetes infrastructure stacks at scale,” Fu explained.

Fu says that the stack in this instance consists of the base operating system to the Kubernetes version to the storage, networking and other layers like security, logging, monitoring, load balancing or anything that’s infrastructure related around Kubernetes.

“Within an organization in the enterprise you can serve the needs of your various groups, down to pretty granular level with respect to what’s in your infrastructure stack, and then you don’t have to worry about lifecycle management,” he explained. That’s because they handle that for you, while still giving you that control.

That not only gives enterprise developers greater deployment flexibility, it gives them the ability to move between cloud infrastructure providers more easily, something that is top of mind today as companies don’t want to be locked into a single vendor.

“There’s an infrastructure control continuum that forces enterprises into trade offs against these needs. At one extreme, the managed offerings offer a kind of nirvana around ease of use, but it’s at the expense of control over things like the cloud that you’re on or when you adopt new ecosystem options like updated versions of Kubernetes.”

Fu and his co-founders have a deep background in this, having previously been part of CliQr, a company that helped customers manage applications across hybrid cloud environments. They sold that company to Cisco in 2016, and began developing Spectro Cloud last spring.

It’s early days, but the company has been working with 16 Beta customers.


By Ron Miller

TextIQ, a machine learning platform for parsing sensitive corporate data, raises $12.6M

TextIQ, a machine learning system that parses and understands sensitive corporate data, has raised $12.6 million in Series A funding led by FirstMark Capital, with participation from Sierra Ventures.

TextIQ started as cofounder Apoorv Agarwal’s Columbia thesis project titled “Social Network Extraction From Text.” The algorithm he built was able to read a novel, like Jane Austen’s Emma, for example, and understand the social hierarchy and interactions between characters.

This people-centric approach to parsing unstructured data eventually became the kernel of TextIQ, which helps corporations find what they’re looking for in a sea of unstructured, and highly sensitive, data.

The platform started out as a tool used by corporate legal teams. Lawyers often have to manually look through troves of documents and conversations (text messages, emails, Slack, etc.) to find specific evidence or information. Even using search, these teams spend loads of time and resources looking through the search results, which usually aren’t as accurate as they should be.

“The status quo for this is to use search terms and hire hundreds of humans, if not thousands, to look for things that match their search terms,” said Agarwal. “It’s super expensive, and it can take months to go through millions of documents. And it’s still risky, because they could be missing sensitive information. Compared to the status quo, TextIQ is not only cheaper and faster but, most interestingly, it’s much more accurate.”

Following success with legal teams, TextIQ expanded into HR/compliance, giving companies the ability to retrieve sensitive information about internal compliance issues without a manual search. Because TextIQ understands who a person is relative to the rest of the organization, and learns that organization’s ‘language’, it can more thoroughly extract what’s relevant to the inquiry from all that unstructured data in Slack, email, etc.

More recently, in the wake of GDPR, TextIQ has expanded its product suite to work in the privacy realm. When a company is asked by a customer to get access to all their data, or to be forgotten, the process can take an enormous amount of resources. Even then, bits of data might fall through the cracks.

For example, if a customer emailed Customer Service years ago, that might not come up in the company’s manual search efforts to find all of that customer’s data. But since TextIQ understands this unstructured data with a person-centric approach, that email wouldn’t slip by its system, according to Agarwal.

Given the sensitivity of the data, TextIQ functions behind a corporation’s firewall, meaning that TextIQ simply provides the software to parse the data rather than taking on any liability for the data itself. In other words, the technology comes to the data, and not the other way around.

TextIQ operates on a tiered subscription model, and offers the product for a fraction of the value they provide in savings when clients switch over from a manual search. The company declined to share any further details on pricing.

Former Apple and Oracle General Counsel Dan Cooperman, former Verizon General Counsel Randal Milch, former Baxter International Global General Counsel Marla Persky, and former Nationwide Insurance Chief Legal and Governance Officer Patricia Hatler are on the advisory board for TextIQ.

The company has plans to go on a hiring spree following the new funding, looking to fill positions in R&D, engineering, product development, finance, and sales. Cofounder and COO Omar Haroun added that the company achieved profitability in its first quarter entering the market and has been profitable for eight consecutive quarters.


By Jordan Crook