- After 17 years of building its business, ActiveCampaign just raised $100 million in Series B funding.
- Instead of chasing investors, they’ve built a better product by ignoring the competition.
- ActiveCampaign sees itself as a business partner for organizations, rather than just a tool.
As startups grow, there’s often a question looming: when is the right time to take on investors?
Some businesses immediately chase investors, looking to monetize as quickly as possible. Others, however, bootstrap for as long as possible, investing all their energy into building the best product.
Jason VandeBoom, CEO and Founder of ActiveCampaign, spent 17 years building his product. He and his team created the category of
customer experience automation and continue to be industry leaders in the space. After bootstrapping and focusing on building a powerful platform, ActiveCampaign finally decided it was ready to take on investors. They’ve just closed Series B funding of $100 million, investing most of it back into their product.
Jason joined the podcast to share his tips for building a scalable business, how to stay focused on growth and ignore the competition and how to stay patient in a turbulent industry.
Interview Highlights — Jason VandeBoom from ActiveCampaign
Slow and steady wins the race
We’ve been around for 17 years, and people haven’t seen us raise a lot of capital. We took 13 years to raise our Series A and another few years for Series B. There’s an advantage to taking a long, slow start. That’s where a lot of the learnings of what we’re developing today came from.
There are some people who say you should either be all in on bootstrapping or all in on fundraising. I don’t think that’s realistic. We’ve tried to take a blended approach where we take elements of both.
My guiding light has always been to maintain as much optionality as possible. When you take too much investment too early, you lose optionability. We don’t allow a single customer to make up more than half a percent of our revenue for a reason. That’s because I want to do what feels right for innovation, not what feels right for any singular party.
And our fundraising really does go into improving the product. We added nearly 300 people in the last year, most of it being in product and tech.
Think globally, act locally
We’re in 161 countries right now, which is more than McDonald’s. That was without a lot of direct intention, meaning that until recently, we hadn’t really built a direct sales and customer support system in those regions. Within the last year or so, we’ve opened up offices in Sydney, Dublin and Brazil and we’re looking to address these offices with a bit more intention.
A common misconception is that to expand internationally as a business, you need a lot of capital. And that really isn’t true. If you take the approach of chasing customer value rather than chasing investors, you find a couple of key customers, help them succeed, and they’ll help spread your business.
For instance, we found that in a market like Brazil, the ability to market more locally and provide sales success and support locally has a real advantage.
Dominate a category by ignoring the competition
We’re at over 90,000 customers now, so many companies have their eyes on us. It’s important to realize that we’re not just the next generation of something that already exists. We created the category of customer experience automation, and we’re doing it in a way where we care about customer data and provide actionable ideas based on that data.
It goes against the thought process of a lot of incumbents in the space. But we really chase customer success because that leads to innovation. We don’t look to what our competitors are doing. That’ll lead to a company having decelerating growth because they’re only relying on past innovations
We’re part of a new era when it comes to customer experience. Our product isn’t just feature and function. It feels native and it’s fully connected. And we’re going to see platforms continue this trend and become partners with their clients, rather than just tools.
Invest in your customers’ success
We recently released a series of commitments to our customers in terms of pricing, working with us, the details that no one really puts on paper. But we’ve always lived by it and just thought that was how we did business.
From the beginning we’ve always put our customers first. When you get started on ActiveCampaign, you don’t have a blank slate and a looming question of how to automate your customer experience. We’ll tell you how we think you could save a little time on your sales process and your business and work with you to create an automation plan that works for your business.
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