What do you do when you see your first startup sell for over $US400 million to a company like Oracle?
Come back and run another startup in the same space.
That’s what Godard Abel is doing with his startup Steelbrick, a company that offers quote-to-cash technology that makes it easier for sales people to put together complex quotes and billings for potential customers.
Abel has a history in the quote-to-cash industry. His first startup, BigMachines, offered a similar software targeting larger enterprises, and Abel ran the company for over 11 years before selling majority stake to Vista Equity and JMI Equity in 2011. Two years later, the two private equity firms sold the company to Oracle for over $US400 million.
For the grind of it
“I could have just never worked again. But I think what’s good about having a break is, I realised how I do enjoy the grind of [running a startup],” Abel told us.
In late 2013, Abel decided to return to the quote-to-cash space when he first met Steelbrick founder Max Rudman. The company was growing fast and was unique in that it made quote-to-cash software available to small and medium sized businesses, a segment that historically couldn’t afford it due to its high cost.
Quote-to-cash software simplifies the sales process by automatically putting together the right product offering and financial terms of the contract, while also taking care of paperwork like contracts and invoicing. Salespeople deal with thousands of potential product packages and pricing options, especially when you’re in the enterprise software space, and it could often take months to close a deal due to the complexity of the deal.
So far, quote-to-cash software has largely been only available to large enterprises who had the money to afford it. But Steelbrick is one of the leading companies to make it available to smaller startups, at a fraction of a cost and much shorter instalment time. Abel pointed out Steelbrick’s deployment at Cloudera, a data software company last valued at roughly $US5 billion, took only about two weeks, as opposed to the months or years it would have normally taken with larger enterprise software.
“What’s unique about Steelbrick is we’re going after the mid-market and SMB companies, and we’re really the first company in our market that can serve the high growth, smaller companies,” he said. “For those kinds of companies, we’re the only option because Steelbrick can go live in less than a quarter.”
Tens of millions of dollars
Abel didn’t share any of the company’s financials, but did note that the company’s revenue’s in the “tens of millions of dollars” range, and has grown 4X from last year.
That growth, in fact, is what made Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) general partner Jules Maltz lead a $US48 million series C funding on Tuesday. Matlz has a track record of investing in successful fast-growth companies, including Dropbox, Zendesk, Slack, and Zenefits.
“We don’t back early stage companies. We’re backing big companies that we think have the potential to be future public companies, and we see that in the financials and performance of Steelbrick,” Martz told us.
The investment may have to do with the growing size of the overall quote-to-cash market in general. Gartner estimates the current quote-to-cash market at around $US31 billion and expects it to reach $US41 billion by 2018. Apttus, for example, another quote-to-cash software maker targeting larger enterprises, recently raised $US108 million at over a $US1 billion valuation.
“We’re flattered to be included in that group of companies in which [Martz] has invested in, and we expect to be able to deliver similar growth,” Abel said. “Now we can focus 100% over the next couple of years really building the company the way we want to build.”
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