When you ask Button CEO Mike Jaconi what his company is going to spend a fresh $20 million dollars in funding on, his answer isn’t the typical fallback on the overly-generic word “growth.”
He responds with one of the his company’s core values: “Provide omotenashi.”
The Japanese philosophy of whole-hearted hospitality is one that powers both the business and the company’s culture.
“The easiest literal translation [of omotenashi] is the ability of the host to predict what his or her guest wants before he or she asks for it,” Jaconi once summed up for Business Insider.
Being able to predict what a user wants before they want it is what Jaconi has built a business on. The B2B startup powers deep-linking, or the connections between the apps you use, through its Button Marketplace.
For example, if you’re using Foursquare and find a restaurant you like, Button powers the option to pulls up the Uber app with the address already selected. Its business model based on linking intent with what comes next — like wanting to make a reservation after scouring a restaurant page — embodies omotenashi, Jaconi believes.
Creating those “A-ha” moments where users already find what they’re looking for has also turned into a lucrative business for the three-year-old startup. Button is now generating revenue in the tens of millions, Jaconi told Business Insider, although it’s not yet profitable.
On Wednesday, the company plans to announce that it’s raised an additional $20 million in venture funding from Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investors. That brings the company’s total funding to $34 million.
With the new round, Jaconi says he wants to continue to provide omotenashi for everyone and grow his company more into markets in Asia and Europe.
Travel, for example, is one big opportunity that he anticipates for the company, and a new funding round will help the company go after big travel deals.
“If you search flights and hotels, you should be able to book in a deep link flow,” Jaconi said.
However, his belief in the Japanese philosophy extends beyond the business and directly to his employees. Button was ranked number one on Crain’s New York best startups to work for in 2015, and ranked 13th in the city for the past year.
Wednesday’s funding round is equally about growing the business as it is Button’s employees, according to Jaconi. He personally made a commitment to everyone on his 40-person staff to help them grow in their careers during their time at the startup.
“The thing that I’ve learned is that startups make it and they don’t,” Jaconi earlier told Business Insider. “The one thing that’s indelible is what those people felt they grew with.”
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