After a successful 2011, Birst Inc. continues on the path of growth with its most recent acquisition of $26 million worth of new investments. This particular round of funding was led by Sequoia Capital, and was also participated in by Hummer Winblad as well as DAG Ventures.
The company’s CEO Brad Peters recently shared more about this funding in this e-interview with Lead411:
Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?
We generally compete against the on-premise players. There are two classes of competitors we usually run into. One are the data discovery vendors such as QlikView which within a single offering allow you to take raw data, make it “analytic ready” and then be able to explore it via visualization capabilities such as dashboards and ad hoc queries. Birst offers very similar capabilities within a single tool as well. The big difference is Birst can handle more complex analytic challenges and doesn’t run into scalability issues as the number of data sources and volume increase—allowing it to serve as analytic platform for an entire organization and not a department or two.
The other class of competitors we run into are the more traditional “big BI” suite platforms which include SAP Business Objects, Oracle OIBEE, and MicroStrategy. While highly capable and scalable solutions, they are the opposite of the data discovery ones in terms of complexity, agility and cost. They were also built up via acquisition and generally require a high level of services to deploy, making them expensive to own versus our single, integrated solution.
Ironically, we encounter our SaaS BI brethren a lot less frequently.
What percentage of your marketing budget are spent on the following?
A. Advertising – 10%
B. Social Media Marketing – 10%
C. SEO – 10%
D. PR – 25%
E. Direct Marketing – 40%
F. Other – 5%
What marketing tactic has given you the highest ROI? What percentage ROI do you get back on this?
Promoting a free trial of Birst is among our highest ROI marketing tactics. We offer such on our website and such is among our highest converting assets. It serves a finite, self-selecting audience, however, the costs to build and promote are minimal. 1,000%+ ROI is not unheard of.
What do you plan to spend your new funding on? Product development? Marketing?
We’re using the funding to scale our operations faster than we would have been able to otherwise. This means increased investments in infrastructure and development, expanding our partner channel, and further building out sales and marketing. We also plan to accelerate our international expansion.
If this is your first round of financing and you’re the CEO, how many hours did you put into working on getting your financing? Was that taking up the most of your day?
This is not our first round of financing. Birst has been around since 2005 and we’ve done a couple of rounds of prior funding. This last round was from growth investors. It took considerably less time to secure a far larger funding amount, which I find ironic. However, such makes sense since our business is more established than it was before—we have a proven business model in place, a proven product, with customers. The risk has been greatly mitigated for investors which makes it a more straightforward investment proposition.
If you are the CEO, what are your biggest challenges?
My biggest challenges are meeting our growth needs without compromising on quality. Birst doubled revenue and increased our overall customer base by more than 40% last year. In order to sustain this growth, we are constantly hiring, bringing on new partners, and expanding our infrastructure. What has made Birst successful is bringing together the right team of innovative, driven individuals with deep analytics and BI expertise. As we continue our growth, we need to maintain vigilance that new employees and partners fit this mold.
How many employees do you have?
We’re close to 100 and adding new employees weekly.
When were you founded?
I co-founded the company in 2005.
How much did your revenue increase (if any) this year over last year?
Revenue has more than doubled in the last year.
Want to know more about their recent funding? You can view their press release here.