Traction Gets Automated Insights and Windsor Circle to Google Demo Day
A look back at a year of growth at two Durham startups chosen to pitch at Google in April
BY LAURA BAVERMAN
Filed Under: NEWS: Startups
Automated Insights grew so quick last year that's it's offering $5K to anyone who refers the startup's next employees.
The Durham company of 25 workers expects its software that turns data into stories to write more than a billion pieces this year for companies like Yahoo Fantasy Sports, the Associated Press, Bloomberg and Microsoft. That's up from 300 million in 2013.
Windsor Circle, meanwhile, contracted with its first reseller just a week ago—the email marketing company Silverpop. It joined industry leader ExactTarget's marketplace last year, and began to release some compelling white papers about its retention marketing platform—helping e-commerce companies hit records for one-day sales and annual sales from targeted e-mail.
American Underground's Adam Klein says traction and capital efficiency won these two companies a spot to pitch at Google's first Demo Day in Palo Alto next month. They'll be up against eight other startups from Nashville, Ontario, Chicago, Detroit, Denver and Minneapolis, all in different stages of development, all hoping to raise money.
They've been promised at least 100 investors will be in the audience.
For Automated Insights, any additional funding will be opportunistic, says CEO Robbie Allen (pictured right). The company raised $5.3 million in two rounds several years ago. Because it has a lot of paying customers, Automated Insights hasn't needed any additional funds to grow.
But if a Silicon Valley investor wants in and the terms are right, the company could be more aggressive in sales and marketing and speed up plans to improve the product.
The Google opportunity also gives Allen the chance to show off a new tool called Site ai, which provides a narrative around web traffic based on Google Analytics data. Automated Insights plans to target a version of the platform to digital and marketing agencies.
Allen also hopes investors are impressed by two important accolades for the company last year. It was named Best Place to Work in the Triangle and the most innovative tech company in North Carolina.
"That was pretty special," Allen says. "It means it's a fun place to work but we're also working on potentially groundbreaking technology."
Windsor Circle has made its own ruckus, but in the retail industry. By analyzing data about customers and targeting email messages, it recently helped Dum Dum sucker maker Spangler Candy earn its highest e-commerce sales in one day since it started selling product online in 1998. And Coffee4Less.com boosted its sales by $1 million last year solely from Windsor's platform, representing about a 5 percent boost in total sales, says Windsor's Vice President of Marketing Andrew Pearson.
But the Silverpop and relationships like it represents the biggest opportunity for scaling the company, Pearson says.
"Our team doesn't have to go out and be on the front lines selling it to clients of email providers," he says. "We can focus on the upsells and deeper functionality."
In an email yesterday, CEO Matt Williamson (pictured left) called the Google pitch an opportunity to stand out "among thousands of great technology companies" and explain "why your company is the one that is most likely to change society for the good."
And if Windsor can walk away with more funds (It has raised $2.83 million so far), it will also prove its place among the up-and-coming marketing automation companies around the globe. (Marketing software startup Smarter Remarketer, for example, recently raised $7 million in investment.)
"We love our investors, but Google is going to introduce us to 100 VCs, where in North Carolina, we've sort of met them all," Pearson says.
One man in town has had the opportunity to work closely with both companies as they grow. Lister Delgado of IDEA Fund Partners was the first investor in both companies and he's anxious for more companies outside the region to validate his bets.
"Innovation, fast growth, great CEOs, that's why I think they made it to Google," he says. "These are companies that are starting to get out of startup mode. They've proven their concepts at a small scale and need funding to accelerate their growth."
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