Sep
17
2021
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Defy Partners leads $3M round into sales intelligence platform Aircover

Aircover raised $3 million in seed funding to continue developing its real-time sales intelligence platform.

Defy Partners led the round with participation from Firebolt Ventures, Flex Capital, Ridge Ventures and a group of angel investors.

The company, headquartered in the Bay Area, aims to give sales teams insights relevant to closing the sale as they are meeting with customers. Aircover’s conversational AI software integrates with Zoom and automates parts of the sales process to lead to more effective conversations.

“One of the goals of launching the Zoom SDK was to provide developers with the tools they need to create valuable and engaging experiences for our mutual customers and integrations ecosystem,” said Zoom’s CTO Brendan Ittelson via email. “Aircover’s focus on building sales intelligence directly into the meeting, to guide customer-facing teams through the entire sales cycle, is the type of innovation we had envisioned when we set out to create a broader platform.”

Aircover’s founding team of Andrew Levy, Alex Young and Andrew’s brother David Levy worked together at Apteligent, a company co-founded and led by Andrew Levy, that was sold to VMware in 2017.

Chatting about pain points on the sales process over the years, Levy said it felt like the solution was always training the sales team more. However, by the time everyone was trained, that information would largely be out-of-date.

Instead, they created Aircover to be a software tool on top of video conferencing that performs real-time transcription of the conversation and then analysis to put the right content in front of the sales person at the right time based on customer issues and questions. This means that another sales expert doesn’t need to be pulled in or an additional call scheduled to provide answers to questions.

“We are anticipating that knowledge and parsing it out at key moments to provide more leverage to subject matter experts,” Andrew Levy told TechCrunch. “It’s like a sales assistant coming in to handle any issue.”

He considers Aircover in a similar realm with other sales team solutions, like Chorus.ai, which was recently scooped up by ZoomInfo, and Gong, but sees his company carving out space in real-time meeting experiences. Other tools also record the meetings, but to be reviewed after the call is completed.

“That can’t change the outcome of the sale, which is what we are trying to do,” Levy added.

The new funding will be used for product development. Levy intends to double his small engineering team by the end of the month.

He calls what Aircover is doing a “large interesting problem we are solving that requires some difficult technology because it is real time,” which is why the company was eager to partner with Bob Rosin, partner at Defy Partners, who joins Aircover’s board of directors as part of the investment.

Rosin joined Defy in 2020 after working on the leadership teams of Stripe, LinkedIn and Skype. He said sales and customer teams need tools in the moment, and while some are useful in retrospect, people want them to be live, in front of the customer.

“In the early days, tools helped before and after, but in the moment when they need the most help, we are not seeing many doing it,” Rosin added. “Aircover has come up with the complete solution.”

 

Sep
17
2021
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Ketch raises another $20M as demand grows for its privacy data control platform

Six months after securing a $23 million Series A round, Ketch, a startup providing online privacy regulation and data compliance, brought in an additional $20 million in A1 funding, this time led by Acrew Capital.

Returning with Acrew for the second round are CRV, super{set} (the startup studio founded by Ketch’s co-founders CEO Tom Chavez and CTO Vivek Vaidya), Ridge Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. The new investment gives Ketch a total of $43 million raised since the company came out of stealth earlier this year.

In 2020, Ketch introduced its data control platform for programmatic privacy, governance and security. The platform automates data control and consent management so that consumers’ privacy preferences are honored and implemented.

Enterprises are looking for a way to meet consumer needs and accommodate their rights and consents. At the same time, companies want data to fuel their growth and gain the trust of consumers, Chavez told TechCrunch.

There is also a matter of security, with much effort going into ransomware and malware, but Chavez feels a big opportunity is to bring security to the data wherever it lies. Once the infrastructure is in place for data control it needs to be at the level of individual cells and rows, he said.

“If someone wants to be deleted, there is a challenge in finding your specific row of data,” he added. “That is an exercise in data control.”

Ketch’s customer base grew by more than 300% since its March Series A announcement, and the new funding will go toward expanding its sales and go-to-market teams, Chavez said.

Ketch app. Image Credits: Ketch

This year, the company launched Ketch OTC, a free-to-use privacy tool that streamlines all aspects of privacy so that enterprise compliance programs build trust and reduce friction. Customer growth through OTC increased five times in six months. More recently, Qonsent, which developing a consent user experience, is using Ketch’s APIs and infrastructure, Chavez said.

When looking for strategic partners, Chavez and Vaidya wanted to have people around the table who have a deep context on what they were doing and could provide advice as they built out their products. They found that in Acrew founding partner Theresia Gouw, whom Chavez referred to as “the OG of privacy and security.”

Gouw has been investing in security and privacy for over 20 years and says Ketch is flipping the data privacy and security model on its head by putting it in the hands of developers. When she saw more people working from home and more data breaches, she saw an opportunity to increase and double down on Acrew’s initial investment.

She explained that Ketch is differentiating itself from competitors by taking data privacy and security and tying it to the data itself to empower software developers. With the OTC tool, similar to putting locks and cameras on a home, developers can download the API and attach rules to all of a user’s data.

“The magic of Ketch is that you can take the security and governance rules and embed them with the software and the piece of data,” Gouw added.

Jul
15
2021
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Lightyear nabs $13M Series A as online network procurement takes shape

It seems like everything is being pushed online now, but network procurement stubbornly has remained an in-person or phone-based negotiation. Lightyear, an early-stage New York City startup, decided to change that last year, and the company announced a $13.1 million Series A today.

The round was led by Ridge Ventures with participation from Zigg Capital and a slew of individual investors. Today’s investment comes on the heels of a $3.7 million seed round last October, bringing the total raised to $16.8 million.

CEO and co-founder Dennis Thankachan says that the company has been able to gain customers by offering a new way to procure network resources, which was a great improvement over manual negotiating.

“Last year we launched Lightyear, which was the first tool for buying your telecom infrastructure on the web. And although changing behaviors and the way that enterprises have done things for years is difficult, the status quo in telecom has been zero transparency, no web-based ways to do things, and oftentimes interfacing with really, really large vendors where you have no negotiating leverage even if you’re a big enterprise. That experience was so poor that a lot of enterprises were extremely happy to see what we put in the market,” he said.

What Lightyear offers is an online marketplace where companies can interact with vendors and get a range of price quotes to make a more informed buying decision. The company spent a lot of time improving the product since last October when you could configure some basic stuff, get a price quote and Lightyear would help you buy it.

Now Thankachan says that the solution covers the full life cycle of services including configuring a bigger array of services, helping manage the installation of the services and helping reduce the amount of delays and errors in installs. Finally, they help track and manage network inventory and can automate renewal for a whole group of services.

That has resulted in 4X growth in just nine months since the last round. In addition, the company had relationships with 400 vendors in October and has grown that to mid-500 vendors today. The startup has also doubled the number of employees to around 20.

Thankachan says that as a person of color he is particularly cognizant about building a diverse and inclusive culture. “I’m a person of color, who has been a minority in different work environments in the past, and I know how that feels and how frustrating that can be for a person who feels like their voice is not heard. […] So I think we can start to build a culture that is not necessarily the norm in [the telecommunications industry] by trying to give opportunities to [underrepresented] people,” he said.

Yousuf Khan, a partner at Ridge Ventures, who is leading the round and will be joining the board under the terms of the deal, says that as a former CIO he found Lightyear’s approach quite appealing.

“As a former CIO and someone who has led global technology operations, it’s refreshing to see Lightyear transforming the way business infrastructure gets bought…I wish Lightyear existed during my years as a CIO,” Khan said in a statement.

 

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