How to fundraise with Pipedrive (and how we raised our $700k seed round)

A bit of news: we’ve closed our seed round, as TechCrunch reported today. Andy McLoughlin (co-founder of Huddle) and Christopher Muenchhoff trusted us enough to invest again, and we’re glad to have TMT Investments aboard. We’re going to use the $700k raised to speed up product development and having a larger footprint in the US, our biggest market.

That I guess pretty much covers it. Because we used Pipedrive for fundraising I thought I’d share what we did and what were the results – perhaps useful for anyone raising funds for their startup, favourite charity or cause.

We started fundraising actively mid-April. One of the first things to do was defining stages in our pipeline:

Idea – this stage contained all investors we wanted to connect with for this round. Main goal in this stage was to get some kind of response. We declared a deal lost when we got no response within two weeks from our follow-up e-mail. By the way, around half of prospects had contacted us through AngelList at some point, the rest came through AngelPad, our existing networks and actively asking for intros.
Connected – deals got moved to this stage once we got a reply other than “No, thanks” from an investor. Main goal in this stage was to schedule a call, if investor showed interest.
Call/meeting done – A 30-minute call was a deciding factor for both us and investors about the decision to move forward. Main objective here was to identify mutual fit and serious interest (or move the deal to Lost.)
Considers investment – deals got to this stage if we found fit and serious interest from investors; in most cases, a number of e-mails were exchanged to answer additional questions.
Asked/received terms – At this stage we negotiated a lot, as not all interested investors agreed with our terms at first.
Documents signed – speaks for itself.

We declared the deal “Won” once money had been wired to our account. I’m obviously biased, but I must say Pipedrive was great for managing the fundraising process. It was a team effort, and each of us knew what was going on by just glancing at the pipeline. Because we used the email dropbox feature, and added notes from calls to Pipedrive, almost all detail was easily accessible as well.

What comes to results, this is what our fundraising process and numbers looks like in hindsight, expressed as a pipeline.

5 closed out of 93 – what happened to the remaining 95%?

We tend to be pretty analytical about pipelines, and naturally we’ve done a bit of a post mortem to our fundraising efforts. We got no response from 37 investors, so we don’t know why we were not an appealing investment target for them. For the rest, this is what we learned:

“Drop the ball” means stopping to respond to emails, without giving a clear reason. Needless to say that in most cases, it was not us that dropped the ball :)

We could do very little to overcome some of the objections, for example in cases where someone had already invested in a competing company. But it was encouraging to see that “Too early, let’s talk at series A” was the number one reason for not investing in us. We know what to do about overcoming this objection in the future!

If you have something similar ahead of you, perhaps the following is useful.

1. Make sure YOU are managing the process. Don’t be afraid to declare a deal “lost” if you don’t hear back from someone in reasonable time. This frees up your time to look for other opportunities.
2. Be confident. Perhaps it’s too obvious but confidence in what you’re building and how well it serves the market is more important than prettyness of your slides or AngelList profile.
3. Reach out to more investors you think is necessary. This may give you the luxury to choose who you’ll be working with.

If you have any comments or questions on fundraising, or using Pipedrive for that, please get in touch or write a comment below.

Drumroll.. we’ve released our new shiny API

Almost all software gets better with an API. This lets users link up the different tools they use and build quite complex customizations with relative ease. We’ve had a closed beta API out for some time already, and today we’re making it publicly available for everyone. If you want Pipedrive to integrate with one of your other tools, head to Pipedrive API documentation and check it out.

Early uses of Pipedrive API

The fact that the first version of our API wasn’t perfect didn’t stop our users from developing some smart uses for it:

  • Call centre platform Natural Contact has integrated Pipedrive with their call centre software. Call lists are pulled to dialler based on filters in Pipedrive and made available for agents making calls. After each call, a closed call activity is created and associated with the person dialled, and sent back to Pipedrive.
  • Fairsetup is Harvard Innovation Lab based company that links employee compensation to their impact. Email is an important marketing channel to them, and they’re using our API to remove contacts that already exist in Pipedrive as leads from new email campaigns to prospects.
  • wi2be is a brazil-based developer and merchant of microwave point-to-point radio solutions. If a prospect asks for a quote via their website, our email API sends out a notification that creates a new deal in Pipedrive, available for the sales team to follow up.

 

For the technologically minded

We aim to keep this blog readable for most of our users, so I won’t get into too much technical detail here. I’ll just mention that the Pipedrive API has a very standardized RESTful URL scheme, and PUT and DELETE methods are supported for various operations in addition to POST and GET.

Also, the API comes with our official API client for NodeJS based apps – it helps you get started with using our API right away without having the need to start from scratch. See more information about the NodeJS client.

Got a good use case or a question?

Last but not least, this is just the start and we’ll be improving the API in the future. We’d like to get your feedback and answer any questions you may have. Also, we’d love to hear about creative uses for our API and share these on this blog in the future. Please get in touch via “Help and feedback” button in the app or add a comment below, and let’s talk.

The one Twitter trick that Pipedrive founders master

Pipedrive has five co-founders that all use Twitter. Lighty, I should add, because their accounts are not used that much, neither for promoting Pipedrive nor casual social media chatter. When I started advising the company on marketing matters I’ve encouraged non-tech members of the team to take a more active role on Twitter. Share insights, grow followers, participate in conversations kind of thing. This seemed very appropriate for a startup without a marketing budget.

They were polite and kind of tried but the one thing they’ve done exceptionally really well is … ignore my advice. So today, 18 months since our first chats, Pipedrive business founders don’t “engage” with the followers, they don’t share interesting articles they read and they don’t follow people to grow their own influence. They don’t use Twitter at all like all the “social media gurus” recommend.

Why ignoring Twitter is a good thing

Spending next to no time on Twitter has allowed the team to focus on what they’re good at. Build a product that people love and use in-person sales skills, for example. As a startup you have limited resources and spreading them to thin can cost you dearly. If you’re a social media aficionado by nature, congratulations, you can use it to promote your business among other things. If using Twitter doesn’t come naturally to you, forgetting about it might be the right thing to do.

That said, most companies need to invest a little bit of time into Twitter, to respond to people’s @mentions and put out a tweet when the blog or product has been updated. But this takes next to no time. Pipedrive founders are a living case study that once the bare minimum is done, you can safely ignore Twitter and … get on with your work.

Meet the team

Here’s the founding team of Pipedrive, through the lens of Twitter:

@Tajur – Klout score at 26 and “shopping” and “family” listed as topics Martin is influential about hasn’t stopped him from kicking ass in design and development of Pipedrive.
@urmaspurde – hasn’t sent an @mention to anyone in the last couple of months – but looks after legal and partner sides of things #likeaboss.
@nokkloom- the most active Twitter user of this quintet, mostly for social, not business purposes. Influential about Television and Evolution, among other things, if Klout is to be trusted. But he sure knows how to make users happy.
@ragnars. 4 tweets in July, one in June – the usual pattern, unless he’s organising a hackatlon, in which case this shoots up to dozens of tweets per day. Lack of tweets hasn’t stopped him from being a killer networker which has resulted in some important hires.
@timorein – probably the worst Twitter user on the Northern hemisphere, with last tweet originating from May 11th. Yours truly has to ping him on Skype to remind him to tweet about blog posts he has published. But when it comes to product and setting direction, he’s brilliant.

See also: Forget Engagement, Consumers Want Simplicity