Our Investment Philosophy: Stand for the SMBs

By Bradford Coffey, Chief Strategy Officer at HubSpot

HubSpot began more than ten years ago with an electric insight. The internet had democratized attention. Businesses no longer needed massive advertising budgets to draw interest. That one shift, sparked by the rise of search, content marketing and SEO did more to put small and medium sized businesses on an even playing field with enterprises than any previous advancement. HubSpot began as a tool to help SMBs harness that advantage.

Fast forward ten years and a lot has changed. The rules of the internet have evolved. It’s harder to run a budget-free marketing strategy today, but new opportunities have opened up.

And that principle which HubSpot was founded on has stayed with us. We aim to find ways to democratize strategies and technologies that have historically only belonged to resource-rich enterprises. It’s infused our product development and increasingly, as we invest in other businesses, we get to embed it in that investment philosophy.

AI and BI: Intelligence for all

Enterprises used to eclipse SMBs because they had better, more harnessable data. Business intelligence software culls through millions of data points to surface insights that help enterprises plug gaps, find opportunities and grow. Artificial intelligence finds and learns from patterns in that same sea of data to automatically optimize business functions and tailor communications creating a better experience for all. Utilized well, these systems can transform a business and vastly improve the customer experience — something to which all companies aspire. So why should they just sit in the hands of massive companies? With our own platform and through our investments we’ve been trying to bring artificial intelligence and business intelligence to all.

In February, HubSpot invested in Crystal, technology that helps businesses of all sizes leverage artificial intelligence to make communications more relevant. Crystal uses machine learning to analyze people’s online presence to predict their personality with 85% accuracy, and then uses your ongoing communication to improve recommendations and insights.

Enterprises shouldn’t have a monopoly on artificial intelligence.

Small and growing businesses can use artificial intelligence like Crystal to ensure that, as the company scales, communications remain as personally relevant to the consumer as they were from day one.

Investing in SMB success

Today, I’m happy to share that we’ve made another investment to bringing-technology-fueled insights to SMBs. We’ve joined Toba Capital, Peterson Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners, and Kickstart Seed Fund in a Series B investment in the business intelligence tool Grow.com.

Like HubSpot, Grow.com is squarely focused in the SMB market. Rob Nelson launched Grow in 2014 with the goal of simplifying reporting and analytics for SMBs. Cost and complexity had put other BI products out of reach for many small to mid-sized companies. Nelson and team built Grow to be accessible to non-technical users and affordable for growth-stage businesses.

I’m proud of this investment, not only because I believe in the people behind the company, but because I believe in their aspiration.

Sometimes a philosophy only comes into view with practice.

As I look at HubSpot’s investments over the last year — Terminus, Pandadoc, Sigstr, Drift, Crystal, Grow.com — it’s clear how central this idea of democratizing enterprise technology to SMBs has become to our investment decisions. I’m eager to expand even further on this mission.