From a Cold Email to Investment: Why We Invested in Fullcast
Conventional wisdom is that entrepreneurs seeking VC funding shouldn’t waste their time cold-emailing VCs. One day, our public mailbox, firstname.lastname@example.org received an email from Fullcast CEO, Dharmesh Singh. Dharmesh was raising funds to transition out of the seed stage into the expansion phase and was looking for an investor who could help them accelerate their go-to-market operations. He found our article on post-seed / pre-A fundraising and realized we’d be a great partner. He did his research on us and on our investment criteria, so we gladly responded.
On our first call, Dharmesh introduced me to the antiquated world of enterprise sales planning and revenue operations. It’s a world still using a patchwork of Excel, custom code, IT admin resources, and 3rd party consultants to plan sales operations. He explained how Fullcast empowers leading SaaS companies to plan, execute, and analyze their GTM strategy and to execute against it all with the Fullcast platform, fully integrated with Salesforce.com, and no IT needed.
Market Timing: The Rise of the CRO and RevOps
With the emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) role and dedicated RevOps roles within the past decade, Fullcast is entering the market at an ideal time. RevOps is increasingly becoming a valued and critical business function at all companies.
RevOps has also become increasingly complex. RevOps includes quota setting, territory planning, and rep capacity planning. It also covers designing and implementing complex rules that model when to add, move, or reassign reps based on real-time changes in the pipeline, headcount, and changes to market conditions like we experienced in March of 2020.
SaaS and technology companies are growing and scaling faster than ever. The velocity of hiring, employee churn, and executing GTM at scale is ever-increasing and more complex than ever, further exacerbating sales GTM inefficiencies. In addition, the ubiquity of distributed and remote teams and the need for continuous adaptation and planning due to COVID-19 has created a world where sales leaders need to operate more flexibly and to be able to plan continuously. The “Annual” Sales GTM planning cycle is becoming a thing of the past - instead, sales teams need to be tweaking their sales and revenue operations on a weekly basis.
Companies that understand the function of RevOps and aligned their teams towards it grew their revenue 19% faster than those who didn’t.
Fullcast gives its customers a platform to seamlessly automate the planning and execution of revenue operations in Salesforce.com without requiring dedicated IT resources, sales operations people, or consultants.
Product Elegance and Sophistication
As part of Companyon’s due diligence, we asked the Fullcast team to give a sales pitch and product demo to some of the enterprise sales leaders and sales ops leaders in our Venture Partner network. These sales leaders have lived with the sales GTM planning and execution pain point for decades. They peppered the Fullcast team with all sorts of product capability questions and threw numerous edge cases at them. Fullcast seemed to have all of the capabilities that would automate what these sales leaders had struggled with in their business planning. Their feedback to me was, “If it actually does everything they say it does, this is solving a huge issue that every enterprise has.”
When reflecting on the question of how this team got their product so right when so many others have delivered cumbersome solutions that require heavy customization and consulting engagements to cater to sales and marketing organizations, I realized that this was a case of extreme founder-market fit. Founders Dharmesh Singh and Bala Balabaskaran were at Salesforce.com together and were responsible for solving this problem for Salesforce.com’s own sales and revenue operations. They personally owned these problems and had to build automated systems and tools to solve them.
This is at the root of Fullcast’s strongest differentiators against legacy general-purpose planning tools like Anaplan and Xactly which were primarily built for finance departments.
Fullcast is built by RevOps leaders for RevOps leaders and their customers can instantaly recognize that when they see the product for the first time.
After finding conviction around the team, market, and platform, we realized that Fullcast was the RevOps software industry’s best-kept secret - quite literally. As a seed-stage company focused on product development, early customer adoption, and finding product-market fit, it’s not surprising that Fullcast was virtually invisible to Google, Gartner, and G2. They had a founder-led sales effort and no marketing team. Customers were finding Fullcast through referrals and some impressive founder outreach and community building, which was a great approach to find product-market fit, but not scalable.
Fullcast also had feature-based messaging and positioning, a home-grown website, and a marketing and selling emphasis on features and capabilities, vs. customer value and ROI.
Most expansion-stage VCs shy away from investing in companies with such gaps in their go-to-market infrastructure, but this is where we roll up our sleeves at Companyon Ventures.
We’re proud to have led a comprehensive process of GTM transformation with the Fullcast team, starting with a revamp of the company’s messaging and positioning led by our Operating Partner, David McFarlane and our Platform Team partners at Ideometry. Founders usually have the best marketing content in their heads- we use a framework to extract it and help organize it for consumption by the outside world. Once the messaging and positioning framework was developed, Ideometry redesigned and rebuilt Fullcast’s website using the new messaging and positioning content which is now live! We also took the lead on implementing the demand-generation program, tools, and process.
In parallel, we brought in our recruiting partners to help the company find a sales leader for the company who recently joined the company. Our platform partners also built out a marketing automation infrastructure, creative marketing content, and started running demand-generation campaigns which are in full swing now. We also built out a fully integrated SaaS and Financial KPI dashboard to help the company identify, understand, and measure their key KPIs. We consider all of these activities to be critical to a company’s path to a downstream outsized expansion funding round like our portfolio companies, RoadSync and Apty recently closed.
We’re confident that the team Fullcast would have done fantasist things without us, but we’re proud to have helped turbo-charge their expansion efforts and add our go-to-market expertise and bandwidth to the company. We’re lucky to have Epic Ventures, WestWave Capital, and CreativeCo Capital as co-investors in this round with us and Bob DeSantis joining the board. They’re each adding their own unique value to the team Fullcast.
To bring this back to back to where I started with the topic of cold-emailng VCs, definitely skip the untargeted mass emails. But, if you do target your investors with some old-fashioned research and thoughtful outreach, good things can come from it.
Tom Lazay is a General Partner at Companyon Ventures, funding B2B software startups into their expansion-stage by injecting decades of startup and VC experience through operational hands-on investing. The Boston-based firm leads post-seed, pre-expansion rounds in capital-efficient startups across North America that are ready to scale. Companyon’s capital and expertise help scale portfolio companies into a supersized Series A or non-dilutive growth. The firm invests in startups with $1-3M in recurring revenue aiming to scale by 2-3x in the first year with help from its growth-ops Platform Team that offers experience, tools, and playbooks used in top-performing software startups.