Category Archives: SFE Client News

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company

December 9, 2016

5 Sales Disciplines of a VC-Backed Growth Company
(lessons from our in-the-field experience)

All VC-backed companies need to grow. For start-ups and mature companies alike, there is actually a real cost to not expandingsales and distribution quickly enough. But in our experience, growth can also be risky and expensive if not done well.

We set out to write an advice piece listing the top-5 successful sales disciplines for rapidly growing VC-backed companies, based on our 20-year experience leading their sales teams. A bit of Googling to see who else has written on the topic shows that everyone from Harvard Business Review to McKinsey has compiled lists of do’s and don’ts. These are analysts and consultants who don’t get their hands dirty with the actual selling, preferring to conduct surveys and wax philosophically instead.

Unlike those consultants, SFE works directly with technology startups–typically funded by top-tier VC firms–as we lead their international sales expansions. We’re hands-on, selling in-the-field in 28 countries and holding direct responsibility for sales results. Working with as many companies as we have, it’s easy for us to see some common patterns that lead some VC-backed company to success (and others to failure) from direct experience and without any surveys:

1.) High-growth companies aim for sales growth and profits

VCs want their portfolio companies to go from zero to a thousand miles an hour as quickly as possible, and if it means bleeding red ink that’s OK in the short term. But eventually the company needs to exit and, in the past few years, capital markets have grown leery of growth-at-all-costs unless there is some proof that profitability can be achieved. The most successful companies we’ve worked with are hell-bent on global growth, but they approach new market opportunities with both a global domination and a profitability mindset.

2.) High-growth companies see macro opportunities before they become ‘obvious’
When Wikipedia launched in 2001 as a community-maintained online dictionary, the folks at Microsoft’s Encarta group were probably laughing. When Apple nixed the CD drive from its new MacBook Air in 2008, it was heresy. When Google started working on self-driving cars in 2009, it was perceived as an indulgent sci-fi exercise. High-growth companies see macro trends long before they become ‘obvious’ and they act quickly and decisively even as the critics tease them.

In a more mundane example, several of our clients at SFE have been doubling-down their investments in expanding to the UK market even as critics fret over Brexit because, in the macro view, now is actually the best time to enter UK since 1955.

3.) High-growth companies keep their burn rate in check

The advantage of having VC capital backing you is that you can burn cash to out-distance competitors. But that doesn’t mean that your spending goes un-checked. Series B and C rounds are raised mostly for fueling sales and marketing. And the smart companies we work with expand their sales and distribution channels aggressively, usually investing in international markets sooner rather than later.

You do not need to drop $1M in opening a London office, which can distract senior management and delay customer engagement, and which ignores the entire rest of Europe. Smart companies invest in services that deliver actual revenue — like like developing channels and doing localized lead generation in each target country. Our clients at SFE leverage our network of in-country sales consultants — located in 28 countries throughout Europe — to test new regions cost-effectively and to develop distribution and sales results using local contacts.

4.) High-growth companies stay focused

A small or medium sized company typically can do only one thing really well. If you try to do too much, your competitor who is doing ‘just the one’ will do it better and will win. High-growth companies have a discipline of focus, which starts with product development and core messaging, and continues all the way through to international expansion. They stay focused on core verticals, and they build their sales and marketing tools and service teams around those core verticals.

5.) High-growth companies keep the core team lean and trust Partners for growth

Adding employees increases capacity, but it also increases management overhead and fixed costs — not to mention it can also dilute founders’ equity. The high-growth companies we work with often use best-of-breed contract services — from legal and accounting, to marketing and international sales expansion. They keep their core team lean and focused on developing a core product value and customer service, and they leverage a network of specialized partners that are highly qualified and can provide the flexibility to grow and adapt to an ever changing environment.

If you manage a high-growth company, we want to talk to you. Since 2003, SFE has lead successful international sales and distribution growth for more than 200 clients into Europe and other expansion markets.

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder


Big Data Science, Without the Coding

December 1, 2016

Data scientists are among the highest paid and most difficult to fill engineering positions within data-driven enterprises today. Accure lets companies automate many of the big data analytics set-up and analysis tasks without writing a single line of code. Accure’s platform uses built-in, ready to use algorithms to do both supervised and unsupervised machine learning and prediction analytics.

Accure brought in SFE to expand their platform sales into enterprises focused in key verticals including Healthcare, Telecom, Retail, and Social Media. SFE’s understanding of the technology and our extensive sales contacts within enterprises in their key vertical markets was key to us winning the deal.

About Accure

Accure helps data-driven companies to connect to all data sources, aggregate and transform their data, build big data analytics based on machine learning and NLP, and apply statistical science so that customers can get actionable insights in a fraction of the time and cost.  Accure’s flagship ‘Momentum’ solution is a big data analytics platform that simplifies bringing big data from multiple sources (such as RDBMS, NoSQL, flat files, and TCP/IP streams) to high scale storage and processing systems built on top of Hadoop. Data from multiple sources can be merged, correlated, and transformed in the format required to solve the business problem. 

Realities of Selling into Post-Brexit UK

November 8, 2016

Realities of Selling into Post-Brexit UK

Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU on June 23, the Pound has been pummeled, politicians have resigned, and investors were spooked. But UK citizens and companies have largely gone about their business as usual. The country still spends $28.9 Billion on imports and represents the 5th largest economy in the world. The reality for companies selling into the UK market is the economic dynamics and exchange rates are working in their favor, making it is increasingly affordable to sell there.

While we’re not economy experts or fortunetellers here at SFE, we do enough business across borders that we feel it’s important to track and report to you on this dynamic new post-Brexit environment. Our UK sales partners have had front-row seats to witness the gyrations.

Financial markets hate uncertainty, so the reaction of the British Pound is hardly surprising considering that UK witnessed in quick succession a vote to leave the EU, resignation of its Prime Minister, and a leadership crisis in the Labor party.

The position of the Pound continues to decline against the US Dollar, but this imbalance has its benefits: UK exporters will benefit, as well as tourism, and perhaps most importantly businesses selling into the UK from abroad have discovered an overall improvement in the risk profile. That is, it has become much less costly for software and technology companies to launch and sell into post-Brexit UK.

Further, the change to the ‘back of the queue’ view on trade from the US, quickly followed by Canada, Australia, Germany and 11 others—all now seeking trading agreements—mean the fifth largest world economy will not disappear overnight. This fact was recognized by Theresa May, who has appointed a new role to the Cabinet of Secretary of State for International Trade. Imports into UK have averaged USD $28.9 Billion annually since 1955 and reached an all-time monthly high in August 2016.

At SFE, our value as a beachhead for new business development in Europe has only improved as a result. And while we cannot predict market fluctuations in the distant future, what we can say with some confidence now is that the UK is very much open for business and trading partners will not be so quick to erect barriers as the rhetoric may have once indicated.

Interestingly, some are positioning this post-Brexit window as a chance to strengthen a UK manufacturing industry that has been gradually eroded in the last 15 years – good news for software and equipment vendors alike. Further, the IMF revised their UK growth expectations and, in fact, they now forecast more positive growth for the UK in the next two years than for France and Germany. And despite some uncertainties over Brexit, the UK will remain attractive to foreign investors because of the transparency of its legal and regulatory environments.

To those living in the UK there is economic concern, but tempered now with a sense of excitement in the air as the dust settles. The one thing that we can be sure of is that the post-Brexit environment can create opportunity and this could be the best time to launch in the UK with lower costs and potentially high rewards.

Rick Pizzoli
CEO & Founder

Arrayent – “SFE Goes All-In on IoT”

The number of IoT devices (aka the Internet of Things) is forecast to surpass the number of mobile phones on the planet within the next two years. But IoT is nothing without the platform technology to connect to the Internet. Arrayent develops that technology – secure, affordable and reliable Internet connectivity that powers IoT products from major household brands like Whirlpool, Nest, and LiftMaster.

SFE is pleased to announce that Arrayent has hired our outsourced sales services to expand their sales in Europe. SFE’s team of experienced sales professionals brings their existing buyer contacts and relationships within large device manufacturers and consumer electronics companies to quickly gain sales traction for Arrayent.

About Arrayent

Arrayent’s Connect Platform lets major consumer brands to transform traditional products into connected IoT devices. Leading brands including Whirlpool, Procter & Gamble, Pentair, Maytag Commercial Laundry®, LiftMaster, Chamberlain and others choose Arrayent to cost effectively add Internet connectivity to their products.

Qualifiio – “Qualifio Outsources European Sales Responsibility to SFE”

Digital marketing campaigns become more creative and more sophisticated every year, and Qualifio develops the technology used to design, publish, and measure these campaigns. The company has grown successfully in France and United Kingdom, attracting well-known customers including l’Oreal, Le Parisien, Bridgestone, Y&R, Total, and dozens more.

Seeing an opportunity to expand their sales throughout the rest of Europe, Qualifiio evaluated the cost of establishing sales teams in each country and decided instead to hire SFE’s on-demand sales professionals, who are already in-country. SFE is now on board to sell Qualifio into the marketing departments of major ad agencies, media companies and consumer products brands in the UK and throughout Europe.

About Qualifio

Qualifio is a web-based software platform for digital marketers to create and host quizzes, contests, sweepstakes, and other interactive customer engagement campaigns. The company works with media, agencies and brands to attract new website visitors, increase registrations, and qualify and monetize their audiences.

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Brainwave – “SFE Secures Expansion Success for Brainwave”

Security breaches of sensitive data make news headlines almost daily, and are especially serious for companies in regulated industries like financial services. The French software vendor Brainwave is a global leader in providing access rights security analytics to help stop these security breaches from happening – saving millions in liability costs, and protecting corporate reputations and customer privacy.

SFE is pleased to announce that Brainwave has hired our outsourced sales services to expand their sales reach to 27 countries throughout Europe, resulting in a sales footprint 4x larger than their current territories in France, Canada, and North America. SFE’s team of experienced sales professionals brings their existing buyer contacts and relationships within large enterprises to quickly gain sales traction for Brainwave.

About Brainwave

Brainwave’s flagship product is ‘Brainwave Identity GRC,’ an out-of-the-box solution for audit and control of enterprise user access rights to IT systems: access accounts, roles, financial transactions, directory access, and more.

By using Brainwave Identity GRC, enterprises from industrial sectors and regulated industries can significantly reduce their risks of fraud and data leaks by ensuring that access rights to sensitive information are managed on a need-to-have basis. Unlike traditional identity management solutions, the Brainwave solution can be up-and-running in just days, and can secure 100% of all enterprise applications and data.

Learn more about Brainwave here:

Appaloosa – “No More Unsecure App Distribution: Appaloosa Hires SFE for European Expansion of Private Enterprise App Stores”

As more enterprises develop their own proprietary apps for their mobile employees, distribution of those apps has relied upon notoriously un-secure public stores like Google Play, Apple App Store, and Microsoft Store. Moreover, app updates and management is complicated by having to deal with a third-party app store.

Appaloosa has solved these problems by creating an enterprise-grade SaaS platform where companies can deploy their own private app store. With Appaloosa, companies can test and distribute apps to their employees securely, as well as control and revoke access, implement roll-backs, and integrate directly into enterprise user directories like LDAP and Active Directory.

The French company hired Sales Force Europe and its team of seasoned enterprise sales professionals to expand sales in Europe. SFE’s team of seasoned enterprise sales professionals can call upon their existing network of enterprise technology buyers to significantly accelerate sales for Appaloosa in 27 European countries.

About Appaloosa

Appaloosa is a simple & secure enterprise app store. We help companies deploy mobile apps privately to employees and partners. Join our 150 000 users and create a free trial account at Private Enterprise App Store Appaloosa-Store enables BYOD with a native mobile app store, available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Distribute custom-built third-party or web apps privately and over-the-air in just minutes. Scale to thousands of users. Whether you plan to test your app on a group of employees or deploy an app to your whole organization, Appaloosa-Store grows with you. Create and manage multiple stores to better target specific employee roles. Safe and secure deployment Integrate your App Store authentication with LDAP or Google SSO. Prevent data loss with our App Kill Switch without taking over control of the user’s device.



Bonjour! Livefyre – “Launches in France”

“Today, Livefyre officially expands into France, marking our second European launch since we announced our UK presence in September 2013. Since then, we’ve garnered more than 25 European-based enterprise customers  including leading publishers and brands like News UK, Times Online, Unilever, The Sun, Fabulous, The Scottish Sun, Decca Records, Time Out Global and Germany’s Motain”.

The list also includes several high-profile French customers, including Le Monde,Liberation and M6.

“France has some of the most well respected media brands in the world,” said Livefyre founder and CEO Jordan Kretchmer. “This high caliber of journalistic quality is complemented by the country’s growing appetite to engage in social media. We have found French publishers and brands eager to offer their readers and fans unparalleled social interactions on their own websites and apps.”

More information: Livefyre

Miradore Newsletter

In this newsletter:

  • Miradore 3.6.4 (On-Premise) released
    • The new version of Miradore introduces basic support for DirectAccess, a feature in Windows Server 2012 that enables direct connections to organizations’ private networks without the need for traditional Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections.
  • MSP Console 1.4.0 (On-premise) released
    • Added usability and browser compatibility improvements to the latest MSP Console version. Additionally, MSP Console server requirements have been updated with the adoption of the .NET 4.5 framework.
  • Windows Phone support added to Miradore Online
    • On June 12th, Miradore introduced Windows Phone support to Miradore Online.
  • Insights about data quality and BYOD challenges
    • Read the blog post by Simo Kari for examples on how poor data quality shows, what kind of consequences it can have, and how it can be addressed.

More information: Miradore Newsletter