Digital sales document startup Qwilr has raised $10.8 million in Series A funding, as the world moves to remote working, and embraces tech that will help with the shift.
The round was led by AirTree Ventures, and Skip Capital also invested, along with Typeform co-founder Robert Muñoz.
Founded by former Googler Mark Tanner and childhood friend Dylan Baskind in 2014, Qwilr creates interactive online documents for sales and marketing teams to present to potential clients.
The product intends to turn a “slow, ugly, dumb” process into something that’s faster, more beautiful and more intelligent, Tanner tells SmartCompany.
The startup raised $1.5 million back in 2017. Since then, it’s grown from 15 people to 40, expanded into Europe and the US, and seen revenues double, year-on-year.
It’s also broadened its product offering, working on integrating customer data, implementing design principles for users, and automating processes and updates in order to speed up the sales cycle.
Of course, as the COVID-19 pandemic has led businesses all over the world to adopt remote working, integrated workflow tools are suddenly front-and-centre.
Qwilr itself has had a largely remote team right from the start, Tanner notes.
“We use our own product … we’ve eaten our own dog food.”
And while this has been billed as a tricky time to raise startup capital, this funding round was closed just before the pandemic hit, the founder explains.
Still, he doesn’t get the sense the investors are concerned about the business.
“Our own growth numbers already support that,” he says.
“The space that we’re in, B2B software and collaboration tools, is one of the few that is growing at the moment.”
Qwilr’s products may not be mainstream just yet, but COVID-19 is moving the remote work revolution forward by leaps and bounds.
“As people move to remote, they move towards this realisation that the old way of doing it isn’t working,” Tanner says.
“This is a conversation that has been happening for a long time, it’s been a question of when.
“For some companies, that answer is now.”
Tanner does admit that, for Qwilr, April was a slower month than usual. The startup has a fairly broad customer base, he notes.
“We’ve got customers who are in retail, events and hospitality,” he says.
“Of course those segments got hit.”
At the same time, the startup has clients that are software companies, professional services providers and consultancies.
“Those have all been incredibly strong and resilient,” he says.
Now some of these companies have moved to remote work, they’re noticing areas in which they can improve processes, Tanner suggests.
And, he says, moving away from ugly, slow and dumb is more important than ever.
“Almost everyone’s pipeline is looking lighter than usual — there are less new deals coming in,” he notes.
“Which makes it all the more important that you work really hard to win those deals if you can.”
The importance of excellence
Tanner believes the COVID-19 pandemic could bring permanent changes to the way we work; a crisis like this “speeds up trends that are already happening”, he says.
“One of them has been across remote work.”
And this will, in turn, speed up the move away from paper documents and pdfs.
“Paper and pdf, which were already old and clunky and silly, have just been exposed as more so,” he notes.
At the same time, nobody is doing face-to-faces sales, meaning the collateral you offer potential customers is more important than ever.
“It’s really important to have that be excellent now,” Tanner says.
He’s talking about integrated video, interactive resources, different sections for different features, and a function for booking a time for a demo.
“It can’t just be some ugly pdf,” he stresses.
Tanner compares the buying experience for consumers in e-commerce to B2B sales. In the latter, there are pdfs and print-outs. People manually sign forms and scan them. Then, someone manually types the details into a database.
“It’s ridiculous,” he says.
“I’m not saying everyone will change immediately — that’s not how humans are or how inertia is — but this feels like a relatively big pull forward.”