Startup Spotlight: Aptivio
In 2018, Guy Mounier founded Aptivio, the world’s first Opportunity Cloud for Real-Time Sales Coaching. Today, Aptivio is on a mission to help 36 million B2B Relationship Sellers uncover revenue opportunities and guide their high-value actions.
Prior to Aptivio, Guy co-founded and ran CustomerMatrix, a FinTech for Corporate KYC and Client Onboarding backed by HSBC Ventures and acquired by Med Tech Group in December 2017. Additionally, Guy co-founded, bootstrapped, and ran BA Insight to become the leader in Agile Information Integration Platform for improving employee and customer interactions.
Guy is part of the 2014 Young Leader program of the French American Foundation, which is dedicated to helping strengthen the relationship between France and the United States. He also volunteers and helps fundraise on behalf of several non-profit organizations in the areas of STEM Education, High-Tech Accelerators, and Young Entrepreneurs.
Check out what he has to share about building Aptivio and growing his superstar team.
— In a single sentence, what does Aptivio do?
Aptivio provides real-time opportunity guidance for B2B Sales Reps.
– How did Aptivio come to be? What was the problem you found and the ‘aha’ moment?
We developed our domain expertise at a prior FinTech Startup called CustomerMatrix and focused on Know-Your-Customer (KYC) for Corporate Client Onboarding. Financial Services firms do not simply sell a product, but also buy risk, hence they have developed advanced methodologies to monitor company behaviors through social media and news, internet searches, web profiles, job postings, etc. to anticipate potential demand and risk. We coined the term “Opportunity Science” then to describe such approach.
The “aha” moment came when we realized that the most important aspect of connecting Relationship Managers to Opportunity in real-time required to be at the point-of-need. Too often cross-sell/upsell analytics or net new leads are generated out-of-context and ignored by the frontlines. The key is in recognizing the context in which the Sales Rep is, be it prospecting in LinkedIn, emailing a client in Office 365, mapping an account in Salesforce, or reviewing a sales forecast in Einstein, and instantly pushing contextual insights and actions associated with the opportunity, risk, or buyer detected for that Client.
Aptivio has built from scratch the world’s first Opportunity Cloud that help 36 million B2B Sales Reps uncover hidden revenue opportunities and guide their high-value actions. It monitors 1 million businesses 24/7 and globally, as well as over 1 Billion behavioral data points describing that Clients are doing and saying in order to anticipate what they are thinking. We leverage Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to process such a gigantic amount of data.
— What sets Aptivio apart in the market?
Our sales process mining engine leverages AI and billions of behavioral data points per day to automatically onboard our customers’ go-to-market playbook, and continuously improve the quality of sales coaching from user feedback. The current status quo is the development of expensive and suboptimal manual or ML model-driven workflows. This “deep tech” approach represents 16 to 35 person-years of effort to replicate and is currently in a patent-filing stage.
Our business model is also quite disruptive. Unlike other pure-play vendors in the AI Sales Assistant space such as Clari, People.ai, Chorus.ai, to just name a few, we do not compete head-to-head with major CRM platforms such as Salesforce Einstein, Microsoft Power, Oracle CX, and SAP C4C. Instead, we fuel the digital sales assistant offered by major CRM vendors with our Opportunity Cloud unique ability to detect hidden revenue opportunities, right buyers, competitive blind spots, and best pathways to successful outcomes.
Lastly our proprietary data and intelligence captured in the platform improves our ability to match B2B Sales Reps to the relevant opportunities. It learns from users accepting or dismissing the action alert recommendations. It also applies sales best practices across boundaries of the organization.
— What are people most excited by when they first see Aptivio?
Sales Operations and Leadership teams are most excited about our ability to generate better quota attainment, sales efficiency, and better adoption of the Cloud CRM investment. The outcome can be linked to a single metric: our 80% daily active use which demonstrates the relevancy of the sales coaching delivered by Aptivio. With time allocation across potential opportunities being the single most important decision to be made by a Sales Rep, their reliance on Aptivio for real-time guidance demonstrates the quality of insights they are getting.
— Have you pursued funding and if so, what steps did you take?
We are pursuing Seed funding, and the process is going well despite the Covid-19 crisis, as we are already 60% committed. While investors focus has shifted first and foremost on portfolio companies, some do make net new investments selectively. Our focus on Enterprise Clients and digital transformation initiatives have made us particularly recession-resistant compared to other sectors.
— What KPIs are you tracking that you think will lead to revenue generation/growth?
The early indicators for Aptivio’s exponential revenue growth are:
- The Number of CRM Account Executives incentivized in selling digital sales assistants + co-selling Aptivio, a certified ISV partner.
- The Number of Clients who refer us to their Peers and Partners to empower them with Joint Go-To-Market.
- The Number of Sign-ups for free trials that take place in the various CRM Marketplaces.
- The Number of Joint Webinars and other Joint Marketing Postings that we do with CRM Partners to boost SEO and awareness of our solution.
Aptivio is my 3rd Startup, and I have raised $30 million in equity for past 2 Startups (1 expansion-stage and 1 acquisition). I have found that the most important thing when you walk into a meeting with a potential investor is to be truly ready for fundraising. Nowadays, you can readily find Advisors, Incubators and Growth Accelerator which will groom you to ensure that you meet the criteria, both in terms of proper level of traction, investor pitch quality, and in terms of targeting investors that will understand your space. Take advantage of these resources. I did for Aptivio, and I can attest that even if I had experience raising investor money, the perspective you get from peers and advisors remain priceless. You are just too close to your opportunity to answer as objectively as you should the hard questions: Why This, Why You, Why Now.
— Who is your cloud provider?
Our Cloud provider for Big Data storage and compute is Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. It has been one of the most reliable and secure Infrastructure Cloud we have used to date, and we have had a lot of experience running Cloud services on top of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services before.
We also leverage Microsoft Azure Cloud for their micro-services orchestration capabilities, called Logic Apps, which enable us to quickly assemble scalable backend workflows across hundreds of data and enrichment APIs.
— How do you build and develop talent?
Aptivio has developed an extensive set of self-service help centers and online certifications targeted to both Clients and Employees. When a new employee joins the company, he or she goes through a rigorous on-boarding process that involve a set of fundamental skills required to be up-to-speed on the various technologies that we use internally.
On an on-going basis, we support the tuition or training costs reimbursement that help enhance the skills of our employees, with both a direct benefit to their productivity on the job, and the long-term employability in the labor market.
— What’s been the biggest success for the team?
The biggest success for the team is a recent one. We discovered in the process of pivoting and trial and error in our search for product-market fit. We finally uncovered a profound shift in both client and sales behavior taking place: The decentralized approach of empowering Sales Reps directly with the means to conduct client opportunity discovery and outreach.
That profoundly important discovery led us to shift our go-to-market approach to partnering with major CRM platforms’ digital sales assistants, aimed at coaching Sales Reps at the point-of-need. As a result, we are seeing an exponential increase in the number of qualified sales leads we are receiving from CRM Vendors and Partners Sales Teams, both eager to leverage external data to improve the relevancy and quality of sales coaching provided.
— What are the biggest challenges for the team?
One of the biggest challenges for the team has been on the development of a scalable product. Given the enormous amount of data to process (a trillion data points so far), and the complexity of the data types, mostly unstructured with fuzzy association to relevant Companies, People, and Products, as a result “connecting-the-dots” has been a particularly difficult exercise.
Another major challenge has been in finding our product market fit. When you gather a lot of useful customer insights, it can be tempting to have a centralized approach to lead generation, and therefore target the Chief Marketing Officer with your offering. However, we noticed rather quickly that beyond cutting through the overwhelming number of lead generation offerings in the market, the conversion results are quite poor, mainly driven by both Client AND Sales Rep resistance to mass-marketing outreach. Such resistance manifests itself in the form of spam/junk filter policies in the Enterprise, or lead fatigue among Sales teams that ignore the deluge of “prioritized” leads they receive.
— What milestone are you most proud of so far?
As an early stage Startup, what we are most proud of is figuring out our product-market fit. It took us a few pivots to reach our inflection point, but we finally cracked the code to 80%+ daily active use of our Sales Coaching front-end, a level only seen in Facebook and other social media platforms.
After 12+ months of business development efforts, we struck formal strategic partnerships with major CRM platforms and their built-in digital sales assistants such as Oracle CX Sales Assistant, Salesforce Einstein, Microsoft Power, and SAP C4C Sales Assistant. It enabled us to “compute” the sales context, figure out relevant actions to recommend, and push an action alert that would be timely for the Sales Rep.
— What advice would you give to other founders?
The main advice would give to founders today when starting a new company is to leverage incubators or accelerators. Beside the resources made available such as free cloud credits and potential equity investment in your company, it also gives you a definitive edge when fundraising with institutional investors, simply because you have already been vetted among many other startups.
Aptivio is part of the Oracle for Startups program currently. We enjoy the balance we found in getting substantial discounts on the costs of the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, especially given the data storage and compute-intensive nature of our business. We also benefit from a go-to-market team that connects us with the relevant product teams and relevant Account Executives.
We’re building a joint offer with the Oracle CX Digital Sales Assistant product team and running webinars target to the CX Sales team. Eventually, we plan on presenting at OpenWorld towards the end of the year, hopefully with a joint Oracle CX Sales customer!