Welcome to the NVCA Blog series, Building Better, where we celebrate the dynamic relationship between our VC members and their innovative portfolio companies around the nation. For today’s Building Better, we spoke with Neeraj Agrawal, General Partner at Battery Ventures, and with Ragy Thomas, Founder & CEO of Sprinklr, a Battery portfolio company. Learn about their partnership in the Q&A below!
Battery Ventures: Neeraj Agrawal, General Partner
Give us some background on Battery Ventures: How did the firm start, what is Battery Ventures’ mission and how does the firm strive to meet its goals?
Battery is a technology-focused investment firm that invests across stages and sectors from six global offices. The firm pursues investments ranging from seed-stage, consumer-Internet deals to buyouts of large software companies. The firm was founded in 1983 by Rick Frisbie, Howard Anderson and Bob Barrett. The trio’s first fund was capitalized at just $34 million; Battery’s most recent family of funds, raised last year, totaled $1.25 billion.
Battery’s mission is to invest in promising companies and ideas all over the globe. Battery’s ten general partners have a thesis-driven approach to investing, meaning they conduct intensive research to uncover potential winners in specific sectors, regardless of a company’s stage of growth or geography. The firm’s team works hard, but humbly, and seeks out entrepreneurs and executives who behave the same way.
What does Battery look for in a partner when choosing to invest in a portfolio company? What does Battery value? What does Battery value in the Sprinklr team?
Battery’s investment approach is research-driven and focuses on factors such a company’s management team, total addressable market and product-market fit. The firm values hard work, experience and leaders willing to take risks.
In terms of Sprinklr*, the team had incredible domain knowledge from the founder/CEO’s prior experience and had great insights about where this product market space was headed. Ragy was early in understanding how social media was going to impact workflow within large companies and how companies were going to be forced to cut across silos to engage in a real time, bi-directional world.
How does Battery support its portfolio companies? How does it help entrepreneurs grow and advance the VC industry?
Battery takes a hands-on approach to supporting its portfolio companies. Our global investment team provides lessons learned from prior companies that have gone through similar scaling challenges across team building, fundraising, product road map and go-to-market. Members of Battery’s investment team are always willing to roll up their sleeves to assist companies with everything from executive hires to market analysis to thinking through potential acquisitions.
Also key, the firm’s portfolio-services team fields executive experts in business development and customer introductions; talent acquisition; and marketing. Battery hosts a full program of industry-leading events such as CloudNY, the Leadership Summit, networking dinners (and many more!) to help founders network with each other – both from within the Battery portfolio and without. The events are key to supporting both our portfolio executives and the broader venture community as a whole.
Sprinklr: Ragy Thomas, Founder & CEO
What is the mission of your company and how did you start? How has your partnership with Battery Ventures helped you fulfill your mission?
Sprinklr’s mission is to enable every organization on the planet to make their customers happier. Battery Ventures, as Sprinklr’s first external investor, was an integral part of our early growth.
I founded Sprinklr in 2009, believing that the way brands reached, engaged and listened to customers would dramatically change with the growth of social media and messaging. How do you make someone truly happy? You really have to know them, be there for them and care for them. Sprinklr was built to help brands achieve this.
The first version of the product went live in January 2010. In March 2012, we closed our Series A after raising $5M from Battery Ventures. Today, Sprinklr has 1,400 employees and works with more than 1,000 global brands – including Cisco, Dell, L’Oreal, Microsoft, Nike, P&G, Samsung and Verizon. We help these brands listen to real-time public conversations from more than 1 billion customer profiles across the 25 social platforms, 10 messaging platforms, and web sources such as blogs, forums and review sites. Additionally, we make it possible for brands to quickly respond to customers, engage with them across channels and manage organizational silos. The result: brands can reduce point solutions and licensing costs, improve employee productivity, and increase customer happiness.
Where and how is your company looking to grow into the next 5 years?
There are more than 6,000 marketing technology companies. Most of these are point solutions that only offer one small capability. In the next five years, these point solutions will disappear as brands realize they need one, single platform to handle all of their customer-facing interactions across modern channels. This is where Sprinklr comes in – a complete, unified enterprise platform with products that manage the customer experience, social & messaging, care, advertising and marketing. And, we are the only enterprise social software with artificial intelligence capabilities built into the core of our platform.
In five years, we see ourselves as being one of the 3 to 5 strategic platforms which organizations will use to manage their Front Office — the customer-facing departments of the organization. Companies will have an application to manage CRM, another for email and Sprinklr to manage unstructured customer data while creating memorable customer experiences at scale.
In the next five years, we’ll continue to grow globally – hiring new employees and expanding our customer base. Sprinklr’s customers include Fortune 500 brands in every industry such as IBM, P&G, Hyatt, JPMorgan Chase, Nike, NASA, Samsung and Verizon.
How has Battery Ventures impacted your company’s future for the better?
Battery Ventures brought us patterns for success in our early stage of growth, which was incredibly valuable. They helped us avoid mistakes that common early-stage companies come across and they brought us their network of active supporters and coaches who were critical in the first stage of our journey.
What problem is your company trying to solve for?
Due to the growing use of social channels, messaging platforms, review sites, forums and more – customers now control the conversation. With so many touchpoints and channels, brands are overwhelmed. Inevitably, each customer-facing function turns to technology for help. They buy point solutions for marketing, others for sales, and still others for care. But these tools aren’t connected to one another; they weren’t designed for the speed, complexity, and scale of social; and they end up putting up even more walls between the company and its customers.
Sprinklr solves this challenge by replacing point solutions with a single platform. Sprinklr is designed to combine the functions of point solutions in areas like Listening, Publishing, Advertising, Content Management, Customer Care, and Reporting because we believe that a single integrated experience across those functions delivers a better employee experience and a better customer experience. As a result, organizations can reduce licensing costs, improve employee productivity, and improve customer happiness.
The information provided is solely intended for the use of entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs and founders regarding Battery Ventures potential financing capabilities for prospective portfolio companies. The information is current as of the date it was published. The contents are not intended to be used in the investment decision making process related to any product or fund managed by Battery Ventures. No assumption should be made that the investments identified above were or will be profitable. It should also not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or equal the performance of the companies identified above.
Content obtained from third-party sources, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified as to its accuracy or completeness and cannot be guaranteed. Battery Ventures has no obligation to update, modify or amend the content of this newsletter nor notify its readers in the event that any information, opinion, projection, forecast or estimate included, changes or subsequently becomes inaccurate.
*For a complete list of Battery Ventures’ investments, click here.
Cassie Ann Hodges serves as Director of Communications at NVCA where she leads NVCA’s strategic communications, branding and content development, and media efforts to better support and empower the venture community, startups, and entrepreneurs. She also oversees the NVCA StratComm Peer Group network and programming.