Business-to-business (B2B) selling has steadily evolved as buyers increasingly engage with vendors on their own terms through digital channels. As a result, gaining B2B buyers’ attention and keeping them engaged virtually throughout the buying cycle requires deeper customer intelligence and better customer analytics than ever before.
As a result, the worldwide customer intelligence and analytics applications software market was already a $13.2 billion industry in 2020 and growing fast, according to IDC.
One company, Databook, set out to provide sales teams with the deep insights and customer intelligence data once only available to world-class consulting teams. Founded in 2017 by former Accenture partner Anand Shah along with long-time friend and former BBC producer Alex Barrett to build an AI-powered SaaS platform that automated and augmented smart pitches with targeted market insights.
Shah was the founder and led Accenture’s Global Insights group and was responsible for leading a global team of consultants to drive a multi-billion-dollar pipeline at Accenture’s largest accounts and industries globally. Along the way, he found that the process of aggregating the right data and insights for their strategy pitches was a costly and time-consuming process.
“I kind of stepped away in order to think through how we could automate some of this and make it more scalable. It was extremely time consuming and very manually intensive. And it took me on a journey where I left Accenture in 2015 moved to the Bay Area and I spent time working with a number of VCs and entrepreneurs. And it became really obvious that actually the “Bloomberg for sales” needed to exist, there was nothing like this solution in the market. And I had perfected that in a process driven, analogue way, at Accenture. So, the idea of Databook would be to digitise that. So, I took the idea, digitised it and put it into a mobile app 2017,” says Shah.
And while Databook was born, the soft launch coming out of stealth mode was described by Shah as a disaster. Shah likened it to giving a Ferrari to salespeople who had never driven before. It was so powerful; they didn’t know what to do with it. Then he Barrett and their small start-up team realised they needed to make it more relevant to salespeople’s challenges. They turned the mobile app into a desktop application on the web and built in PowerPoint solutions with it.
“And here we are now, five years from that origin of where we started with the idea. And we’re very, very fortunate to count amongst our customers, Microsoft, Salesforce, Databricks and many of the largest companies in the world, including Accenture, and others who are now using Databook. Around 50% of all enterprise software sellers in the world have access to Databook. And they’re using it to drive their revenue, drive their pipeline, drive bigger deals, and be more relevant not just at the C-suite, but at every level of the organisation to better understand their customers issues,” says Shah
Sellers can become instant experts on their customer’s business through the Databook platform. According to Shah, they press one button, and they can get a point of view on the company’s strategy, read up on their customer’s business, allowing them to be more relevant in terms of the solutions they are most likely to be interested in and buy. As well as find out who would be the individuals at those companies who have the most pain and urgency to go and engage.
Databook claims that its software helps clients to grow their pipelines by 3x, generate 2.5x larger deals, and speed up cycle times by 1.5x. The start-up has experienced four consecutive years of 300% growth.The firm’s headcount has doubled since April 2021 and now has some 100 employees and revenues have exceeded 300% year-over-year growth for the past four years.
Unusual for a Silicon Valley start-up, Databook sees its diverse workforce as a key advantage. “We’ve been very fortunate that we hire people purely based on their performance and their ambition and attitude. And we’ve now got about 40% of our board comprised of what you would call traditionally underrepresented communities, about 40% of our company comes from those underrepresented communities, as does 56% of our leadership team. So, we’re a highly diverse team, continue to focus on that, and make sure we are continuing to do that going forward,” says Shah
Its dramatic growth trajectory and future prospects have allowed Databook to raise a total of $71million in venture funding to date. On February 14, 2022, the firm secured its $50 million Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from DFJ Growth and previous investors Threshold, Microsoft’s Venture Fund M12, Salesforce Ventures, and Haystack. The placement valued the company at $550 million up from its A round valuation of $84.3 million, less than year earlier.
Shah’s journey to building a start-up bootstrapped from the beginning with his own funds is not the typical Silicon Valley founder’s story. He grew up in the UK and graduated from Imperial College London and later received his Master of Science and Finance from the ICMA Centre preparing for a career in finance. He went on to work for Goldman Sachs, but only briefly before joining management consulting firm Accenture, where he would build a highly successful career for the next fourteen years. Along the way he earned Executive MBAs from both Columbia Business School and London Business School.
His consulting career is more typical of the path to a Senior Partner role, rather than that of an entrepreneur. Yet his experience successfully creating the strategy and pitch decks that would grow 10-million-dollar accounts into billion-dollar-accounts led him to eventually replicate that process into a software platform. “That’s the kind of origination story that Accenture loved to see. And I think a lot of our customers now at Databook are really looking for how do you get a toehold in the organization. How to be relevant to your customer. And how to keep on driving value so they keep on calling you back and you’re driving value through the entire lifecycle of your engagement,” says Shah. He and his wife moved to Denmark for a time to work with a client to implement Accenture’s strategy recommendations, then moved back to London once the engagement was over to focus on training Accenture consultants to be more strategic in their client pitches and engagements. His work leading Accenture’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum on Digital Transformation led Shah and his now growing family to San Francisco, prior to founding Databook.
As the future? “We’ve been quite clear with anyone who’s joined Databook, that I would love to take the company public in the next five years. And to do that, we need to probably be doing about $200 million in top line annual run rate. So that’s nontrivial. But we have a path towards that. More broadly, we are looking to build a pretty iconic company. Just as people go to a weather application on their phone to find out if it’s raining or sunny, if it’s cold or hot, we want Databook to be the platform of choice for when enterprise sellers are looking to understand their customers and meet their quota. So just like Microsoft had that dream of putting a desktop in everyone’s home back in the 90s. My goal is to get Databook into the hands of every enterprise seller globally,” concludes Shah.