Today, I am incredibly excited to share that Saleswhale has raised a US$5.3 million Series A round of funding, led by Monk’s Hill Ventures (MHV). Our earlier investors GREE Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, and Y Combinator returned to participate in this round.
Back in December 2015, Venus, Ethan, and I left our jobs to build Saleswhale full-time. We worked out of Starbucks, where we had to nurse a single cup of coffee as long as possible to avoid being chased away.
We have come a long way since then.
We graduated from Y Combinator in 2016. Raised US$1.2 million in seed funding. Shipped a kick-ass product. Worked with over 145 teams from mid-market and Fortune 500 companies. Grew revenues 24.1x in 2018. Our AI sales assistants have also engaged in 1,100,000 conversations to date, and collected 300,000 data points.
A big thanks goes out to all our customers. Thank you for taking a chance on an early-stage startup, and championing us internally to your stakeholders. We couldn’t have done it without you.
What makes me the proudest, however, is the incredible team we have built. The crazy, thoughtful, kind, intellectually curious, and funny bunch of people at Saleswhale makes coming to work everyday a joy. It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to work alongside all of you.
To the Saleswhale team, thank you :)
Christmas celebration in 2018
How we met MHV
I was still a mobile iOS engineer then, and I was showing him one of my side projects.
What struck me was how down-to-earth and technical he was for a VC. He was playing with the product, asking insightful questions, traversing the idea space with me, and geeking out about configuring the app on the fly using JSON metadata.
I was left with a deep impression. I remember remarking to Venus that if we were to start a startup one day, it would be probably great to partner with MHV. Entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs.
As for Kuo-Yi, I was lucky enough to meet him in Mountain View at Red Rock Coffee back when Saleswhale was going through Y Combinator. I vividly remember Kuo-Yi sharing about how his team developed the conviction to lead early investments into Twilio, and chatting about enterprise sales.
MHV eventually participated in our seed round, and fast forward to today, they are leading our Series A.
Why are we building Saleswhale?
Saleswhale exists to solve a fundamental problem prevalent in many enterprises today: sales and marketing misalignment.
Marketing teams spend millions of dollars to hit lead generation goals. They produce events, trade shows, webinars, blog posts, white papers, paid ads, and run marketing automation campaigns.
But often, their hard-won leads are not effectively qualified or followed up upon effectively. Lots of high-quality leads fall through the cracks during the hand-off from marketing to sales.
Marketing blames Sales for not converting leads into customers. Sales blames Marketing for bringing in low quality leads.
That’s where we come in.
Saleswhale deploys AI sales assistants that engage and qualify leads, at scale. These AI assistants are intelligent enough to hold back-and-forth email conversations using natural language. When a lead is ready for a sales conversation, the AI sales assistants hand them over seamlessly to (human) salespeople.
Over the last two years, we know we have built something enterprises want. In fact, many of our enterprise customers LOVE their AI sales assistants. They see their AI assistant as a core member of their teams, often referring to them during internal meetings by their first names.
What’s next for Saleswhale?
It’s often said that raising money is not success. It’s not actually a milestone for a company. That’s because it’s probably the easiest thing, compared to almost everything else that is required to make a startup successful.
And I think that is true.
I like to think of this round of funding as an enabler. It puts us in a position to do the other harder things.
There’s still a huge amount of work left to do.
We are going to double down on our AI sales assistant by building more conversational capabilities, workflow enhancements, integrations, and robust enterprise-level features. To do that, we plan to bring on board many more engineers and product managers.
Our first order of business is growing the team. We currently have 28 intellectually curious, fun, and candid team players, and we plan to double the team by the end of this year.
We have always believed that AI assistants will become a ubiquitous part of the enterprise. This is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to show you what’s coming next.
Saleswhale is growing fast and is actively hiring! Interested in joining us? Check out our latest job openings.