By Eric Liaw, Jason Kong , Sandy Miller and Tom Loverro
Today, IVP is thrilled to announce our investment in Podium, a next-generation customer communication platform for local businesses. IVP is the lead investor in a $60 million Series B round of financing. Sandy Miller will join the board as a Director, and Tom Loverro will join as an Observer. IVP has had the opportunity to support some of the best software companies, including GitHub (MSFT), Mulesoft (CRM), Dropbox (IPO), Slack, and AppDynamics (CSCO). We are looking forward to partnering with the Podium team and existing investors Accel Partners, Summit Partners, GV and Y Combinator to transform the way offline businesses and customers interact.
The Underserved Majority
In the past decade, we’ve seen a massive increase in online-enabled commerce, with industries such as retail and electronics heavily impacted by online distribution channels. At the same time, offline, local retail sales comprised 91% of total US commerce in 2017, according to data from the US Census Bureau. While ecommerce and technology companies have been able to create a delightful customer experience, there is a large segment of transactions where only going in person will do: car repairs, home services, healthcare visits, the list goes on. These offline establishments have largely been left behind when it comes to the adoption of consumer-facing technology.
Crossing the Offline-Online Chasm
Podium offers a communication and messaging platform geared towards the business user to manage and maximize their customer touchpoints across all channels. Founded in 2014, Podium began with helping local businesses with online discovery while closing the loop on the customer journey through the solicitation and collection of reviews – Google, Apple and Facebook local search are the Yellow Pages of our generation. Podium provides a single pane of glass, the Podium Messaging Platform, for today’s ever expanding list of customer preferred communications, including SMS, webchat, Facebook Messenger, Google and Apple business chat and online customer reviews.
Improving the Consumer Experience
From a consumer vantage point, the way that we would like to interact with offline business is evolving. Only 15% of millennials surveyed prefer phone calls as a primary method of communication. Even email isn’t the preferred communication channel for many as inboxes overflow from neglect. The consumer tech giants are capitalizing on this trend by rolling out messaging plays that connect the consumer to business. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen the roll-outs or announcements of Google Business Click to Message, WhatsApp for Business, Facebook Messenger for Business and Apple Business Chat. As consumers move towards these more convenient, abbreviated and mobile-native modes of communication, local businesses will need to adapt and meet their customers where they are.
A 5-Star Company
Our excitement around Podium comes from both the tremendous market opportunity at hand as well as the company’s execution to date. Podium’s customers shared stories with us about Podium revolutionizing the way they run their businesses, from attracting new customers to measuring existing customer satisfaction. Many also highlighted the importance of Podium augmenting their CRMs, which are often industry specific. For some job functions, the time spent within the Podium platform rivaled what we saw for office workers in Slack. The result has been a financial profile that can best be described as incredibly efficient growth at scale—the combination of growth and efficiency only seen where excellent product-market fit exists. It is amazing progress for a company that was in the Y Combinator class of Winter 2016! IVP couldn’t be more excited to partner with Eric, Dennis, Adam and the entire Podium team to continue carrying the conversation forward.
Eric Liaw, Jason Kong , Sandy Miller and Tom Loverro are Investors at IVP, a later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA.