Sep
15
2021
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Relyance AI scores $25M Series A to ensure privacy compliance at the code level

Relyance AI, an early-stage startup that is helping companies stay in compliance with privacy laws at the code level, announced a $25 million Series A today. At the same time, they revealed a previously unannounced $5 million seed round.

Menlo Ventures and Unusual Ventures led the A round, while Unusual was sole lead on the seed. Serial entrepreneur Jyoti Bansal from Unusual will join the board under the terms of the deal. His partner John Vrionis had previously joined after the seed round. Matt Murphy from Menlo is coming on as a board observer. The company has now raised $30 million.

Relyance takes an unusual approach to verifying that data stays in compliance working at the code level, while ingesting contracts and existing legal requirements as code to ensure that a company is in compliance. Company co-CEO and co-founder Abhi Sharma says that code-level check is key to the solution. “For the first time, we are building the legal compliance and regulation into the source code,” Sharma told me.

He added, “Relyance is actually embedded within the DevOps pipeline of our customers’ infrastructure. So every time a new ETL pipeline is built or a machine learning model is receiving new source code, we do a compiler-like analysis of how personal sensitive data is flowing between internal microservices, data lakes and data warehouses, and then get a metadata analysis back to the privacy and compliance professionals [inside an organization].”

Leila R. Golchehreh, the other founder and co-CEO, brings a strong compliance background to the equation and has experienced the challenge of keeping companies in compliance firsthand. She said that Relyance also enables companies to define policy and contracts as code.

“Our approach is specifically to ingest contracts. We’ve actually created an algorithm around how [you] actually write a good data protection agreement. We’ve extracted those relevant provisions and we will compare that against [your] operational reality. So if there’s a disconnect, we will be able to raise that as an intelligent insight of a data misalignment,” she said.

With 32 employees, the co-founders hope to double or perhaps even triple that number in the next 12-18 months. Golchehreh and Sharma are a diverse co-founder team and they are attempting to build a company that reflects that. They believe being remote-first gives them a leg up in this regard, but they also have internal policies to drive it.

“The recruiters we work with have a mandate internally to say, ‘Hey, we really want to hire good people and diverse people.’ Relyance as a company is the genesis of two individuals from two completely different ends of the spectrum coming together. And I think hopefully, we can do our job of relaying that into the company as we scale,” Sharma said.

The two founders have been friends for several years and began talking about forming a company together in 2019 over a pizza dinner. The idea began to gel and they launched the company in February 2020. They spent some time talking to compliance pros to understand their requirements better, then in July 2020 began building the solution they have today. They released a beta in February and began quietly selling it in March.

Today they have a number of early customers working with their software, including Dialpad, Patreon, Samsara and True.

Jul
13
2021
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Product-led sales startup Endgame raises over $17M

Endgame, enabling software companies to turn customer observations into go-to-market strategies, announced Tuesday it raised a total of $17 million in back-to-back seed and Series A funding rounds.

The $12.25 million Series A was led by Menlo Ventures, while the $5 million seed round was led by Upfront Ventures. Also participating in the round are a group of investors including Todd and Rahul’s Fund, Liquid 2 Ventures and Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta.

Los Angeles-based Endgame was founded in 2020 and provides a self-service look at what’s happening in a software trial so that a sales team can prioritize accounts based on user behavior signals and act on them faster without having to be a data scientist or engineer.

Company CEO Alex Bilmes told TechCrunch that the concepts of product-led sales and product-led growth have taken over the sale of software. Today’s customers sign up for a trial, and if they like it, they invite their friends to try it.

However, at a certain point, some sales pressure is needed to close the deal. That’s where Endgame comes in: It shows who is doing what, and what features are being used — data that is typically opaque to sales and revenue teams.

Traditional customer relationship management systems are designed to be rep-driven, meaning the sales rep is responsible for adding notes. It’s simpler if a rep only has a few accounts, but across tens of millions of users, Endgame analyzes the data and identifies which accounts are most likely to convert, who are the users to engage, what makes a good customer and how to take action with the right people.

Endgame is not competing against other companies so much as in-house developers that are cobbling a bunch of apps together in efforts to create a system that works for them, Bilmes said.

“Most of this is solved with do-it-yourself,” he added. “I have built Endgame a number of times at other companies using databases and other piece-meals to put together something so I could mash data from lots of places and build subscriptive views for revenue teams. We compete with those data scientists and internal teams stitching together horizontal tools.”

Endgame is pre-revenue and is already catering to a group of beta customers like Figma, Loom, Airtable, Clubhouse, Mode, Retool and Algolia that are looking for a dedicated software platform to capture product-led value.

Bilmes said the customer relationship management market, both huge and fast-growing at 35% annually, is expected to reach $114 billion by 2027. To meet demand, he intends to use the new funds to continue hiring aggressively. He has already tripled the size of the team to nine in the past few months, and expects to double that in the coming year. In addition, funds will go toward R&D and to further define the product-led sales landscape.

Growth over the next year will be customer-focused as Endgame works to get into the hands of the right customers and making it as accessible as possible for people to begin doing product-led motions.

“Our efforts are product-focused,” Bilmes said. “We’ve seen more demand than we can possibly hope to fill given the problem is so real for so many.”

As part of the investment, Upfront Ventures Partner Kara Nortman and Menlo Ventures Partner Naomi Ionita will join Endgame’s board of directors. Sandhya Hegde, partner at Unusual Ventures, which also participated in both rounds, joins as a board observer to create an all-women investor board.

When Endgame was raising its seed fund, it wanted to work with Nortman, who has expertise in applying consumer concepts to enterprise, Bilmes said. When it came to the Series A, Bilmes said he felt Ionita was the perfect partner due to her similar background to Bilmes and expertise in teaching salespeople how to engage.

Ionita told TechCrunch she learned about Endgame from Nortman, with whom she has invested in other startups. The company understands the pain point and is for companies that offer a self-service version for the “why and how.”

“This intelligence doesn’t exist, and I know that because I lived it — building in-house or seeing companies flying blind,” she added. “Alex just gets this, and I see Endgame being the system of record and intelligence for bridging self-serve. They will be the final bridge that needs to exist between product teams and product-facing sales reps for which accounts to address and why.”

 

Sep
02
2020
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Transposit scores $35M to build data-driven runbooks for faster disaster recovery

Transposit is a company built by engineers to help engineers, and one big way to help them is to get systems up and running faster when things go wrong — as they always will at some point. Transposit has come up with a way to build runbooks for faster disaster recovery, while using data to update them in an automated fashion.

Today, the company announced a $35 million Series B investment led by Altimeter Capital, with participation from existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, SignalFire and Unusual Ventures. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $50.4 million, according to the company.

Company CEO Divanny Lamas and CTO and founder Tina Huang see technology issues as less an engineering problem and more as a human problem, because it’s humans who have to clean up the messes when things go wrong. Huang says forgetting the human side of things is where she thinks technology has gone astray.

“We know that the real superpower of the product is that we focus on the human and the user side of things. And as a result, we’re building an engineering culture that I think is somewhat differentiated,” Huang told TechCrunch.

Transposit is a platform that at its core helps manage APIs, connections to other programs, so it starts with a basic understanding of how various underlying technologies work together inside a company. This is essential for a tool that is trying to help engineers in a moment of panic figure out how to get back to a working state.

When it comes to disaster recovery, there are essentially two pieces: getting the systems working again, then figuring out what happened. For the first piece, the company is building data-driven runbooks. By being data-driven, they aren’t static documents. Instead, the underlying machine learning algorithms can look at how the engineers recovered and adjust accordingly.

Transposit diaster recovery dashboard

Image Credits: Transposit

“We realized that no one was focusing on what we realize is the root problem here, which is how do I have access to the right set of data to make it easier to reconstruct that timeline, and understand what happened? We took those two pieces together, this notion that runbooks are a critical piece of how you spread knowledge and spread process, and this other piece, which is the data, is critical,” Huang said.

Today the company has 26 employees, including Huang and Lamas, who Huang brought on board from Splunk last year to be CEO. The company is somewhat unique having two women running the organization, and they are trying to build a diverse workforce as they build their company to 50 people in the next 12 months.

The current make-up is 47% female engineers, and the goal is to remain diverse as they build the company, something that Lamas admits is challenging to do. “I wish I had a magic answer, or that Tina had a magic answer. The reality is that we’re just very demanding on recruiters. And we are very insistent that we have a diverse pipeline of candidates, and are constantly looking at our numbers and looking at how we’re doing,” Lamas said.

She says being diverse actually makes it easier to recruit good candidates. “People want to work at diverse companies. And so it gives us a real edge from a kind of culture perspective, and we find that we get really amazing candidates that are just tired of the status quo. They’re tired of the old way of doing things and they want to work in a company that reflects the world that they want to live in,” she said.

The company, which launched in 2016, took a few years to build the first piece, the underlying API platform. This year it added the disaster recovery piece on top of that platform, and has been running its beta since the beginning of the summer. They hope to add additional beta customers before making it generally available later this year.

Feb
19
2020
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BluBracket scores $6.5M seed to help secure code in distributed environments

BluBracket, a new security startup from the folks who brought you Vera, came out of stealth today and announced a $6.5 million seed investment. Unusual Ventures led the round with participation by Point72 Ventures, SignalFire and Firebolt Ventures.

The company was launched by Ajay Arora and Prakash Linga, who until last year were CEO and CTO respectively at Vera, a security company that helps companies secure documents by having the security profile follow the document wherever it goes.

Arora says he and Linga are entrepreneurs at heart, and they were itching to start something new after more than five years at Vera. While Arora still sits on the Vera board, they decided to attack a new problem.

He says that the idea for BluBracket actually came out of conversations with Vera customers, who wanted something similar to Vera, except to protect code. “About 18-24 months ago, we started hearing from our customers, who were saying, ‘Hey you guys secure documents and files. What’s becoming really important for us is to be able to share code. Do you guys secure source code?’”

That was not a problem Vera was suited to solve, but it was a light bulb moment for Arora and Linga, who saw an opportunity and decided to seize it. Recognizing the way development teams operated has changed, they started BluBracket and developed a pair of products to handle the unique set of problems associated with a distributed set of developers working out of a Git repository — whether that’s GitHub, GitLab or BitBucket.

The first product is BluBracket CodeInsight, which is an auditing tool, available starting today. This tool gives companies full visibility into who has withdrawn the code from the Git repository. “Once they have a repo, and then developers clone it, we can help them understand what clones exist on what devices, what third parties have their code, and even be able to search open source projects for code that might have been pushed into open source. So we’re creating what we call a blueprint of where the enterprise code is,” Arora explained.

The second tool, BluBracket CodeSecure, which won’t be available until later in the year, is how you secure that code including the ability to classify code by level importance. Code tagged with the highest level of importance will have special status and companies can attach rules to it like that it can’t be distributed to an open source folder without explicit permission.

They believe the combination of these tools will enable companies to maintain control over the code, even in a distributed system. Arora says they have taken care to make sure that the system provides the needed security layer without affecting the operation of the continuous delivery pipeline.

“When you’re compiling or when you’re going from development to staging to production, in those cases because the code is sitting in Git, and the code itself has not been modified, BluBracket won’t break the chain,” he explained. If you tried to distribute special code outside the system, you might get a message that this requires authorization, depending on how the tags have been configured.

This is very early days for BluBracket, but the company takes its first steps as a startup this week and emerges from stealth next week at the RSA security conference in San Francisco. It will be participating in the RSA Sandbox competition for early security startups at the conference, as well.

Nov
26
2019
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Vivun snags $3M seed round to bring order to pre-sales

Vivun, a startup that wants to help companies keep better track of pre-sales data announced a $3 million seed round today led by Unusual Ventures, the venture firm run by Harness CEO Jyoti Bansal.

Vivun founder and CEO Matt Darrow says that pre-sales team works more closely with the customer than anyone else, delivering demos and proof of concepts, and generally helping sales get over the finish line. While sales has CRM to store knowledge about the customer, pre-sales has been lacking a tool to track info about their interactions with customers, and that’s what his company built.

“The main problem that we solve is we give technology to those pre-sales leaders to run and operate their teams, but then take those insights from the group that knows more about the technology and the customer than anybody else, and we deliver that across the organization to the product team, sales team and executive staff,” Darrow explained.

Darrow is a Zuora alumni, and his story is similar to that company’s founder Tien Tzuo, who built the first billing system for Salesforce, then founded Zuroa to build a subscription billing system for everyone else. Similarly, Darrow built a pre-sales tool for Zuroa after finding there wasn’t anything else out there that was devoted specifically to tracking that kind of information.

“At Zuora, I had to build everything from scratch. After the IPO, I realized that this is something that every tech company can take advantage of because every technology company will really need this role to be of high value and impact,” he said.

The company not only tracks information via a mobile app and browser tool, it also has a reporting dashboard to help companies understand and share the information the pre-sales team is hearing from the customer. For example, they might know that x number of customers have been asking for a certain feature, and this information can be organized and passed onto other parts of the company.

Screenshot: Vivun

Bansal, who was previously CEO and co-founder at AppDynamics, a company he sold to Cisco for $3.7 billion just before its IPO in 2017, saw a company filling a big hole in the enterprise software ecosystem. He is not just an investor, he’s also a customer.

“To be successful, a technology company needs to understand three things: where it will be in five years, what its customers need right now, and what the market wants that it’s not currently providing. Pre-sales has answers to all three questions and is a strategically important department that needs management, analytics, and tools for accelerating deals. Yet, no one was making software for this critical department until Vivun,” he said in a statement.

The company was founded in 2018 and has been bootstrapped until now. It spent the first year building out the product. Today, the company has 20 customers including SignalFx (acquired by Splunk in August for $1.05 billion) and Harness.

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