We recently announced our latest seed investment in Belgian customer data platform, Journy.io. With our experience as founders - turned - SaaS investors, we’ve felt the pain journy is solving first-hand. Here are the 5 main reasons we invested - from the brain of Pete, our Entrepreneur-in-Residence and MessageBird veteran.
There’s an old cliché that the three most important factors in business are “location, location, location.” This was the key variable because nearly every customer journey ended with a purchase in a conveniently located brick-and-mortar store.
In today’s omni-channel world, a “typical customer journey” no longer exists. Purchase decisions can literally be made anywhere and anytime. One could easily argue that the main success factors have now become “data, data, and... data.”
But while most businesses know that data is important, without proper tools to help them, they can fall into the trap of spending all their time looking for needles in a haystack rather than simply focusing on enabling better customer experiences.
At Peak Capital, we collectively believe that the emergence of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) to help businesses solve this specific problem is a massive opportunity. That’s why we’re excited to now include journy.io as part of our portfolio of SaaS startups.
The Journey to our journy.io Investment
When I first joined the Peak Capital team as an Entrepreneur in Residence four months ago, I reviewed the pitch decks of nearly every open investment opportunity we had to see which ones I might want to champion.
When I presented my findings to the rest of the team, the startup I put on the top of my list was journy.io. (And this was before their top competitor was acquired for $3.2 billion, but more on that later...)
For context, journy.io is a cloud-based CDP that empowers marketing, sales, and support teams to have more successful conversations with their customers by adding contextual and behavioural intelligence to tools they already use.
Having worked at Retail and CX companies most of my career, I’ve experienced first-hand the value of having real-time customer data readily available.
So when I saw Willem Delbare was an angel investor in journy.io, I wasn’t surprised at all. As a serial tech entrepreneur and former co-founder of Teamleader, he’s very familiar with the challenges of getting business data to the right place at the right time.
In the funding press release, Willem does a great job of describing the challenge developers currently face in businesses of all sizes --
"I keep receiving requests to hook up our own app to our CRM and to ever-changing other marketing tools, in order to internally share what users are doing in our app. It is a lot of hard work to build, to secure, and to maintain...and certainly costly, too."
Investment Reason 1: Simplified Data Acquisition & Insights = A Real Problem with a Large TAM
If, like Willem and me, you’ve worked in a tech startup, you’re aware of how challenging it can be to manage all the requests for developer resources... “Can you connect a new data feed for me?”, “Can you integrate our new support software with Slack?”, “Can you approve access to sensitive business data for this new hire?”
Until fairly recently, connecting data feeds was typically done in an ad hoc way where someone with a little bit of tech know-how could use an automation tool like Zapier to push data from one system to another. (Related, Zapier does such a good job at this simple task it is now valued at over $4B 😲)
Relying on Zapier will work ok for a simple integration with your CRM & Ticketing system. But it will become a nightmare as your business grows, and you need to continually approve access or create custom data feeds.
This is exactly the problem that journy.io exists to solve - and they’re not alone. There are other CDPs working to solve this challenge in unique ways. Segment is likely the best-known one, especially after its recent $3.2 billion dollar acquisition by Twilio.
But like their acquirer, Segment is very much a developer-first company. The wider reality is that most mid-market and small companies don’t have dedicated data scientists or developers available to spend countless hours extracting the full value out of Segment’s enterprise-grade platform. This leaves a significant gap in the market that we believe journy.io is well positioned to fill.
In short, if journy.io can continue to deliver on the promise of making it as easy to set up customer data pipelines as it is to set up an automated email campaign on Mailchimp, they have a truly massive opportunity ahead of them.
Investment Reason 2: Fills in the Data Gaps for SMEs
Wouldn’t it be great if small to mid-sized companies could become as data-driven as publicly-traded businesses? Of course it would. But the reality is SMEs simply don’t have the budgets, nor the tech talent, needed to dig as deep into their “data haystack” as enterprises can today.
And that’s what I love about journy.io’s solution and opportunity. If I were to sum up what their platform does in one sentence, it would be, “In a very affordable way, journy.io takes customer interaction data and automatically converts it into insights that make SME employees more informed and efficient on a day-to-day basis.”
Even by connecting 1 or 2 data sources to journy.io, an SME can see immediate ROI and unlock insights that were previously only available to larger competitors.
Investment Reason 3: Enhances Customer Data in Existing Tools
My other favorite thing about journy.io’s vision is that businesses who want to use their service don’t have to make employees change how they currently work.
journy.io’s AI tooling can automatically enhance data fields within popular SaaS systems like Pipedrive and Hubspot. This improved data can then be used to help marketing, sales, and support staff do exactly what they’re doing today, but in a more informed way.
And finally, there’s been buzz around SaaS software vendors being able to provide “360-Degree Customer Views” for a long time. But to truly capture every touch point throughout an omni-channel customer journey, these solutions really need a data platform partner, like journy.io, to turn the hype into reality.
(Yes, that’s a not so subtle hint to partner development professionals at SaaS solutions to connect with the journy.io team ASAP to create an integration together. 😉)
Investment Reason 4: “All-Star” Level P-Scores
When I was initially reviewing journy.io’s pitch deck, it definitely checked Peak Capital’s Thesis, Timing, & Traction boxes. But the reason I really championed the investment was the strong product vision of the Team.
journy.io CEO, Yves Delongie, is a serial entrepreneur and has advised several startups on their growth strategy. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has a strong grasp of what it takes to score high on my Product Strategy Scorecard.
I was also very impressed by Hans Ott’s insights into the data challenges of SMEs. As journy’s CTO and co-founder, he has a clear product vision that will help guide his engineering team as they build out a world-class CDP.
From our very first call together, it was clear that these two co-founders were incredibly passionate about building something that would benefit fellow startups around the world. Also impressive was that not only had they built a great initial product and team, but they had mostly bootstrapped their way to this point.
Investment Reason 5: Customers, customers, and... customers - The Real Success Factor
Even though I’ve focused on the value of data in driving this investment, at the end of the day, how well your company responds to the needs of both existing and potential customers is what will ultimately determine your success.
Throughout the investment process, the passion that Yves, Hans and the team had for “helping their customers help customers” shined through. I believe this will ultimately be the key factor that helps them grow their startup over the coming months and years. Personally, I can’t wait to see where their journey goes!
PS - If I hadn’t been working on building my own startup, I would’ve been very tempted to join the journy.io team myself. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to get in at the start of what’s sure to be an amazing ride, take a look at journy.io’s job listings on Peak Capital’s portfolio job page: https://jobs.peak.capital/