You can read a company’s ‘about’ page as many times as you want and you will still not get a full picture of what the company does, how it operates, and what its key drivers are for business decisions. If you are in sales, you need to know what makes the company tick and what better way to do this than to talk to executives who have previously worked at those companies? Introducing Emissary, the platform that connects your sales team with past executives, giving your team invaluable insight on how to make the perfect pitch. Started by one of the first 20 users of Facebook, this is the company that can make the difference between deal and a no-deal.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder and CEO David Hammer about the startup and his most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
The Series A we announced was $10 million, led by Canaan Partners and G20 Ventures. This follows a previous $2 million seed round of financing from The New York Times, Google Ventures, and Nextview Ventures.
Tell us about your product or service.
Emissary is the only platform providing exclusive insights directly from the minds of business executives to leading enterprise sales teams. By delivering actionable and personalized intelligence not available anywhere online, Emissary is a must-have tool for sales teams to close big business deals.
By directly connecting clients to former executives who have accumulated invaluable knowledge throughout their careers, Emissary takes over where Google searches, social networks and sales automation software leave off. Over 5,000 experienced business leaders on Emissary provide personalized insights about the organizations they have previously worked for – such as what the company culture is, who the key decision makers are and how the company makes buying decisions.
Examples of Emissaries in action include identifying who the important decision makers are at a given company, what price ranges or contract terms a client will want and other personalized, relationship-driven advice to help throughout the sales process.
Emissaries are top business executives from across industries who have been thoroughly vetted by Emissary. Every one of them has recently worked in senior positions at large global companies and they are now making the knowledge they have accumulated throughout their careers available to people who can benefit from it. Emissaries include former executives from Nordstrom, Estee Lauder, Coca Cola, Samsung, Caterpillar, JPMorgan Chase, FedEx, Costco, The Home Depot, Uber, Omnicom Media Group and thousands of other top companies.
What inspired you to start the company?
I spent six years as a product manager at Google, where I was recruited by Marissa Mayer and worked under the now CEO Sundar Pichai. Before that, I was at Harvard where I studied with Mark Zuckerberg and witnessed the meteoric rise of Facebook – I was actually one of the first 20 people to first sign up for the social networking platform.
Over the span of six years at Google, I led the company’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) ad technology, ultimately leading the product team behind DoubleClick Bid Manager (currently responsible for billions of dollars in annual revenue for the company).
Those experiences helped me really understand the unique value of using technology to make real human connections. I came to realize that there were limits to the information available online. No amount of friending on Facebook or searches on Google can replicate the value of personalized, relationship-driven knowledge from experts. That’s a problem we’re trying to solve with Emissary by making the implicit information in the minds of experts available at scale to people who can benefit from it.
How is it different?
We aren’t aware of any other businesses or services that provide direct access to top executives with personal knowledge about the decision making process at leading global companies.
Unlike sales consultants, who actively try to make sales for companies, Emissary’s tech platform connects clients to top executives who provide personalized and actionable intelligence to make those sales teams more successful at any point throughout the procurement process. Emissary is scalable across the enterprise to unlock in-depth, strategy-driven solutions for entire sales teams.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The market for Emissary is massive. Every marketing firm, ad agency and sales department would benefit from it. Anyone who needs personal guidance to close business deals would find incredible value from the Emissaries on our platform. Our clients understand that relationship-driven intelligence that’s personalized and from a trusted source can often make the difference between whether you close a deal or not.
What’s your business model?
Signing up for Emissary requires an upfront commitment that typically starts in the tens of thousands of dollars, with the price depending on each client’s specific needs. This cost includes a package of engagements with Emissaries. Clients sign on for 6 month or 12 month contracts with Emissary.
What are customers saying about Emissary?
The feedback from customers has been incredibly positive. We have actually been in beta since mid-2015 so have been successfully working with clients across industries since then.
What was the funding process like?
We were really fortunate to get connected with Bob Hower at G20 Ventures who shared our vision before we even began a fundraising process and saw strong interest from a number of other VC firms. We’re grateful that we were able to raise quickly in the middle of a fairly turbulent environment for fundraising.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenge was finding firms and partners who really aligned with our vision, mission and strategy. We’re really excited to be working with two top-notch firms who share our alignment.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
There was a lot of excitement early on because we were directly addressing the challenges enterprise sales teams face every day in a completely new way. Pulling from my time at Google and experiences at Harvard, I developed Emissary to finally make the implicit knowledge and useful information in top executives’ minds available at scale. Our investors see the implicit value of personalized and actionable knowledge.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Over the next 6 months we’ll be scaling out the business aggressively – growing the number of Emissaries and clients substantially. We also expect to be introducing more of our technology platform with some very cool features coming soon.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We believe we have the opportunity to match every sales professional with an Emissary that can arm them with highly-actionable knowledge that cannot be found through any search engine or sales automation tool. There are thousands of Emissaries on the platform already and we continue to add Emissaries at a rapid pace.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Two of our favorites in the neighborhood: The Whiskey Tavern on Baxter St. and Attaboy in the Lower East Side.