Salesloft Customers LOVED the product
The company’s first product, Prospector, was simple but powerful. It helped Sales Development Reps (SDRs) build authentic and personalized emails at scale to help drive meetings, dramatically improving their productivity and increasing conversion rates. From the very beginning, Salesloft customers loved the product. The team was laser-focused on creating customer delight and relished in their customers’ success. Salesloft was very sales-driven from the start. They ate their own cooking so to speak, and were very focused on efficient customer acquisition and being thoughtful on how they grew the business. We knew, though, that Prospector had some risks by being dependent on sites like LinkedIn. What really attracted us was a product in the works they had recently launched called Cadence.
A Shared Vision for Sales Engagement
Sales engagement was still an emerging category at the time and we had been looking at a number of new companies trying to tackle the space. CRM had existed for a while, but Salesforce and other similar platforms were built primarily for sales managers who needed a tool for forecasting and less so for the salespeople in the trenches. Salesloft saw the opportunity to build for salespeople first. They knew that down the line, making sales people 20-25% more productive and capturing the insights from the engagement data would provide incredible value to customers. We shared that vision and opportunity and immediately resonated with Kyle’s vision for the Cadence product.
It Takes a Village
One thing we’ve learned about successful startups is that you can’t do it alone. Kyle was a recruiter in his former career and that showed. He had attracted an amazing COO Rob Forman and had built an exceptional relationship with him. He had attracted some heavy hitter investors in the Atlanta area, including Dave Cummings and Tom Noonan who agreed to serve on the board. It was clear to us that Kyle would overcome any barriers to attract the talent needed to build a billion-dollar business in Atlanta.
Conviction to Win Big in the Long Term
Three months after we closed the Series A, our fears of the risks on the Prospector product came to light. The team made the very difficult conclusion to shut the product down. We went from a multi-million ARR business generating cash to a few hundred thousand in ARR. It was a “burn the bridge behind us” moment where leadership had the conviction to do what was right for the company in the long run. As investors, we were 100% aligned. It’s those moments that determine whether you are focused on winning big in the long run or saving face. Our process at Emergence requires “unanimous enthusiasm” and we had built that conviction in the team and the vision of the Cadence product, not the ARR run rate of the business. Despite that conviction, it was clear the company would need more time to build back the business’s growth. David Cummings from Atlanta Ventures stepped up to lead an inside round with us. It was an example of how our philosophy of unanimous enthusiasm strengthened our resolve during a challenging moment at Salesloft.
Why Focus Matters
With its new found focus and no fallback plan, the company doubled down on Cadence and recovered its momentum. Doug Landis and Tammy Han on our platform team spent a lot of time with the company, revamping their positioning, rewriting sales decks, and helping build out their sales team. We worked in partnership to recruit and build an extraordinary management team with incredible talent like CTO Scott Mitchell, CRO Steve Goldberg, CMO Sydney Sloan, CFO Chad Gold, and CPO Ellie Fields. Together, they make up a SaaS dream team, and it’s no accident the company has grown from a couple hundred thousand in ARR to over $100M in revenue today.
Culture AND Performance
From the very beginning, one of the most evident things about Kyle as a CEO was his focus on culture. It was the first thing he talked about in investor meetings. A lot of entrepreneurial leaders are scared to talk about culture with investors, but Kyle never shied from it. He has a tradition of weekly emails to the whole company energizing and giving kudos to people. It is one of many little things he does to institutionalize culture. He was very focused on giving back to the Atlanta ecosystem and embodies a servant leadership mentality of helping others achieve their goals in life. We resonated a lot with his core values and intentionality around building a company that people would love to work for and be successful at. He cares deeply about the people at Salesloft and it is ingrained in every decision he makes. At the same time, he is intensely performance-driven and won’t shy from making tough decisions. It’s this combination of culture and performance that makes him an exceptional CEO.
Onward and Upward!
Every great journey has many chapters. It’s been an honor and privilege to be an active part of the journey at Salesloft from the early days. We aspire to become the most important partner to our entrepreneurs and are proud of the opportunity we’ve had to be deeply involved with Kyle and team these past seven years. Salesloft has dramatically changed the lives of hundreds of employees, impacted over 100,000 sellers on the Salesloft platform, and forever changed the Atlanta tech ecosystem. It’s a testament to what can be accomplished with bold, long-term vision and the determination to bring energy, passion, and care every day to fulfilling that vision. Today’s announcement marks an incredible milestone and the beginning of a new chapter in Salesloft’s evolution. To Kyle, Rob, and the entire Salesloft team, it’s been an honor and a privilege to be alongside you for the last seven years and we are excited to be investors in this next chapter and see you scale to new heights.
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