Startup Spotlight: Pipedrive's CRM for SMBs
Two former door-to-door salesmen learn a $50,000 lesson and launch an award-winning CRM startup.
By Holly Rudolph
Thank goodness it’s…Tuesday? Maybe, if you’re trying to close a sale -- and you’re in Australia.
Tuesday stood out as the best day of the week for closing a sale Down Under when Pipedrive, a developer of cloud-based sales software for small businesses, analyzed its customers’ sales cycles. In most countries, including the U.S., Friday is the best weekday to get a "yes" answer.
"We have more than 10,000 customers in 100-plus countries, though, and they all use our product in more or less the same way," said the startup's co-founder Timo Rein. He believes by providing tracking feedback throughout the sales process, his software helps motivate salespeople during tough stretches. "In sales, you aren’t getting a 'yes' answer every day."
Rein and Pipedrive partner Urmas Purde learned the ups and downs of the sales process the same way: door-to-door sales. Natives of Estonia, they started their careers selling educational books for a Nashville, Tenn., company that trained college students from around the world to work as independent contractors.
They did well. "Estonians were the company’s most successful salespeople," according to Rein. After college, the partners parlayed their experience into a company providing sales training in the Baltics. But the various types of CRM software they encountered were a "key pain point to sales." Rein maintains the problem was that programs had been built by developers who didn’t know the sales process.
CRM for Salespeople
After their fourth attempt at buying new CRM software – to the tune of $50,000 – turned out to be a waste of money, Rein and Purde teamed with software engineers to create their own sales pipeline software.
"Pipedrive is unlike other CRM software, which tends to focus more on managerial oversight and reporting and not the end user," Rein says. "This is a day-to-day, hour-by-hour tool for salespeople themselves that helps visualize the sales pipeline and make sure important activities and conversations won’t get dropped. That’s particularly useful for managing complex deals."
In 2012, Pipeline was incubated with funding from AngelPad. In all, the company has secured more than $13 million from partners such as Paua Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. That includes a $9 million Series A round of funding earlier this year that will allow the company to build additional technology, hire more employees and increase its marketing around the world.
Today Pipedrive has nearly 80 employees, with offices in both the U.S. (California and New York) and Estonia. Most engineering and technical functions are handled in Estonia, along with product management, design and customer support, although the company is currently ramping up operations in New York. The software is localized in 10 languages. Pipedrive integrates with a variety of other software, such as Google Apps, MailChimp, Yesware and Zapier, and offers a powerful API for those that like to create their own software solutions.
Pipedrive's Next Chapter
The company recently appointed a new CEO, Steve Oriola. His experience includes working with email marketing company Constant Contact
"Steve has 20 years of experience helping early-stage tech companies like ours grow. In particular, his broad operating experience and startup background will help us accelerate into the next chapter of our growth," said Sharna Brockett, a company spokesperson.
Pipedrive’s customers include international mobile payment company Fortumo; Postmates, a service that connects customers with local couriers in major cities; Social Driver, a digital marketing agency; and 360 Services, which provides fire protection services to businesses.
This summer, Pipedrive was named the Best B2B Startup of the Year by members of The Europas, the European Tech Startup Conference and Awards in London.
"It’s a nice affirmation that what we are doing – making the lives of salespeople easier around the world – is a worthwhile cause," Rein said.
Fast Facts about Pipedrive
Founders: Martin Tajur, Ragnar Sass, Urmas Purde, Timo Rein, Martin Henk
Product: Cloud-based sales software for small businesses
HQ: Menlo Park, Calif. (moving to NYC this year); Tallinn, Estonia
Customers: More than 10,000 customers in 100-plus countries, including Fortumo, Postmates, Blippar and Discovery Channel
Funding: $13.4 million in funding, with investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Paua Ventures, Rembrandt Venture Partners, Monashees Capital, AngelPad, Storm Ventures and TMT Investments