Cascade raises $40 million to disrupt the consultancy industry

cascade

Cascade CEO Tom Wright (left) and GM and COO Karim Zuhri. Source: supplied.

Strategy execution platform Cascade — used by industry leaders University of Sydney, AstraZeneca and American Express — has raised $40 million in series A funding to shake up the consultancy sector.

The tech platform wants to disrupt the established world of big consultants, which brings in $1 trillion globally each year and is dominated by several major players. 

Companies are increasingly seeking more effective ways to implement and manage strategic execution, especially as they scale, the startup says. Its technology lets companies combine strategy, project management, KPIs and outcome tracking on a single platform that aligns teams on a global scale.

The latest round was led by ex-Sequoia investor Mickey Arabelovic’s Telescope Partners and included Five V and Carthona from Australia who provided the previous seed round.

The fresh injection of funds follows a $5 million seed round several months ago.

Dynamic business strategy

Cascade CEO Tom Wright tells SmartCompany the investor commitment shows there is considerable appetite to “significantly rethink” strategy execution. 

The platform frees companies from static presentations and spreadsheets toward a dynamic process that helps them manage and measure strategic outcomes internally, Wright says. 

Where “strategy” often gets a bad rap — particularly at larger organisations — Cascade’s services enable companies to take a 360-degree view of the processes that go into business transformation.

Additionally, bringing in consultancies that come with considerable costs and lengthy project times is no longer the most effective way for companies to measure the success of their projects. 

“Strategies can’t be static in a fast-changing world,” Wright says.

“The platform allows organisations to pivot quickly when facing new challenges and respond rapidly to any shifts,” he says, adding its customers say it gives them a clear advantage by creating a dynamic environment where teams and businesses evolve together to understand what’s working and quickly address what isn’t.

Wright says the evidence for this can be seen in the firms that have taken up the software in recent months. 

“We don’t have a specific industry focus, because we see quite broad applicability,” he says.

“However, when we look at the last couple of years, you know, the biggest increase in usage that we’ve seen … has come from pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies.”

These are companies that have had to “change really quickly”, Wright says, to deliver COVID-19 vaccines and scale up medical supplies. 

“To deliver that kind of alignment, and to deliver the kind of change, you don’t have time to go and hire consultants to kind of go in and do interviews,” he says. 

Funds to grow user-base into the millions 

While more than 6000 global teams are already using the software, Cascade says it expects the platform will have several million users by 2025. 

Customers currently include American Express, AstraZeneca, Carhartt, Caterpillar and Toshiba. 

Wright says the new capital will help accelerate its product roadmap and expand growth in Australia, as well as in North America and Europe.

The startup also plans to direct its fresh funding toward improving the platform’s functionality across project management features; portfolio management; and performance management.

“Cascade is one of the only platforms out there that not only understands what companies are doing; it understands how well they’re doing, because it has all the KPIs. It has the revenue goals, the customer acquisition goals  — but also understands what got them there,” Wright says. 

Next will be leveling up its technology to have the kind of predictive capabilities that will allow it to advise companies on future moves.

“Delivering predictive insights using the unique data that we’ve got is where we want to be in a couple of years time,” he says. 

Wright says Cascade is seeing companies across a range of sizes and industries experimenting with how they can better manage change and strategy as they are forced to be more nimble in a post-COVID world.

“Who is better positioned to give you advice?” Wright says.

“A consultant that has spoken to 200 people and looked at maybe 50, or 60, things that you do? Or a piece of software that has the input from 20,000 people and everything that they’re working on?”

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