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Affinity raised funds worth $80M to help close deals

A customer relationship intelligence company, Affinity has raised funds worth $80 million. Relationships ultimately close deals, but long-term relationships come with a lot of baggage, i.e. email interactions, documents, and meetings. All of these interactions are referred to by the CEO and co-founder Ray Zhou as the “data exhaust”. Thus, the startup wants to take all this data exhaust and apply machine learning analysis to it. All this to provide insights on who in the organization has the best chance of getting that initial meeting and closing the deal.

Details about Affinity

The startup is based in San Francisco. It focuses on industries like investment banking, private equity, venture capital, consulting, and real estate. The CEO says that there aren’t many CRM systems or networking platforms in these industries. At least not many that cater to needs for long-term relationships. Hence, Stanford grads Zhou and co-founder Shubham Goel started the company after recognizing this shortcoming.

The Series C funding round was led by Menlo Ventures. It was joined by Advance Venture Partners, Sprints Capital, Pear Ventures. Furthermore, Sway Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Teamworthy, and ECT Capital Partners’ Brian N. Sheth also joined. The new funding gives the company $120 million in total funding since it was founded in 2014.

New age CRM by the company

Data shows that up to 90% of company profiles and contact information living in traditional CRM systems are incomplete or out of date. However, Gartner reported the global CRM software market grew 12.6% to $69 billion in 2020.

This number is almost bigger than sales. Relationships are the biggest industry in the world. They are the type of asset that separates the winners from the losers. Hence to overcome the problem of outdated data, Affinity created a new breed of CRM. This CRM automates the inputting of that data constantly. It adds information like revenue, staff size, and funding from proprietary data sources, to assign a score to a potential opportunity and increase the chances of closing a deal.

Plans with the funding

The startup intends to use the new funding to expand sales, marketing, and engineering to support new products and customers. The company has 125 employees currently; Zhou expects to be over 200 by next year.

To date, the company’s platform has analyzed over 18 trillion emails and 213 million calendar events. It currently drives over 500,000 new introductions and tracks 450,000 deals per month. The company also has more than 1,700 customers in 70 countries, boasting a list that includes Bain Capital Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, SoftBank Group, Nike, Qualcomm, and Twilio.

Tyler Sosin, the partner at Menlo Ventures, said he met Zhou and Goel at a time when the firm was looking into CRM companies. But it wasn’t until years later that the company came up again when Menlo itself wanted to work with a more modern platform.

As a user of Affinity himself, Sosin said the platform gives him the data he cares about and “removes the manual drudgery of entry and friction in the process.” The company also built a product that was intuitive to navigate.

“We have always had an interest in getting CRMs to the next generation, and Affinity is defining itself in a new category of relationship intelligence and just crushing it in the private capital markets,” he said. “They are scaling at an impressive growth rate and solving a hard problem that we don’t see many other companies in the space doing.”

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